The V-moda Crossfade LPs were designed for people who like their music as loud as their fashion sense. They don't come cheap, but buy this £170 set of headphones and you'll guarantee yourself brutally deep bass and more than a few curious glances from onlookers.
Dude looks like a lady
If the Crossfades were a person, they'd be Elton John, and all other headphones would be America Ferrera's character in Ugly Betty. We're not implying anything about their sexual preference, rather the fact that their design is about as flamboyant as headphones come. V-moda CEO, Val Koulton, wanted the Crossfades to be "as unique as your style and music" and to "feel like you just hit the dance floor of a rocking club in Ibiza". We're not so convinced by that rhetoric, but the hyper-conspicuous blend of leather, shiny metal and matte or gloss plastic means you're sure to get noticed on your travels, regardless of whether you opt for the white pearl, phantom chrome, gunmetal black, nero or rouge models.
Relax, don't do it
The Crossfades are a large set of headphones, but they're deceptively comfortable. Don't be fooled by V-moda's claims that they're lightweight -- they're about as heavy as you'd expect a set of headphones to be. The memory-foam ear cushions feel luxurious and eliminate the pressure you'd otherwise feel from the highly sprung frame. That foam also does a great job of minimising sound leakage. The Crossfades are a loud set of headphones, but unless you take them off, you'll be the only person who ever knows.
Sounds like teen spirit
The sound quality of the Crossfades will divide opinion. Many so-called audiophiles will argue that their sound isn't terribly accurate because they have a definite bias towards the low end of the audio spectrum, which is true. Detail is often lost at the expense of bass trebel that hits you like a sledgehammer.
India Arie's awesome vocals on Brown Skin, for example, are muddied by bass. The mid and high frequencies are almost an afterthought to these cans, which almost spoil the song. Likewise, they made Seal's rich, fulsome voice sound like it was coming from under a duvet, failing to deliver the subtle nuances required to do his vocals justice. It's possible to tweak the graphic equaliser -- if you've got one on the audio device you're using -- to improve the balance of sound, but we really don't want to have to do that for every genre of music we're listening to.
Where the Crossfades excel is in delivering deep, thumping, unrelenting bass. Fling on some hip hop, dub step or drum & bass music and they'll blow your mind -- almost literally. The low-frequency drops from Kanye West's Love Lockdown knocks hard, as does the big, bad and heavy bassline from Leviticus' Burial. If you've ever enjoyed standing next to a subwoofer at a club, then you're already familiar with the brutality of the bass these things can deliver. Turn up the volume, particularly on systems with no decibel limiter, and you'll feel as if your ears are about to vibrate right off the side of your head.
Tech me down to the paradise city
There's nothing particularly sophisticated about how the Crossfades achieve their low-frequency death bass. They don't use multiple drivers, nor do they use batteries to power the single 50mm dual-diaphragm high-definition driver in each cup. Each diaphragm, however, is constructed of a softer inner ring, which brings that wonderful warbling bass. According to V-moda, the Crossfades have a frequency response of 5Hz-30kHz. These sort of figures should be taken with a pinch of salt, since they tell you relatively little about sound quality. For reference, the human ear can only hear about as low as 20Hz, so any aliens out there with superior bass-appreciation skills should definitely pick up a pair.
Many men (wish death)
Many will argue that the brutal levels of bass produced by these headphones isn't a good thing. They'll tell you that by adding so much to the low end, at the expense of the rest of the audio frequency, the Crossfades don't do justice to the original recording. These people have a point, but there are millions of listeners that will say the Crossfades add an x-factor -- a certain soul -- that's simply not present in rival sets.
Only the listener can decide which side of the fence they stand. If you're the type of person who goes to a club and annoys everyone by complaining about the acoustics, you'll hate these headphones as much as you hate getting beer spilled on your Gucci loafers. But, if you're the type of person who goes to a rave, drink in one hand, glowstick in the other, and grinds next to the speaker because you like the way it tickles your insides, you'll absolutely adore these things.
The V-moda Crossfade LPs don't concern themselves with the geeky, soulless art of hyper-accurate sound reproduction. Instead, they bombard your ears with brutal, occasionally dangerous, levels of bass. If you like your music loud, your bass low and your otolaryngological health at risk, these are the 'phones for you.
Edited by Emma Bayly