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These over-ear headphones sound like full-on speakers, and you can't beat the price

If high-quality audio is what you're after, the V-Moda Crossfade 3 can fill your ears with premium sound at an accessible price.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Min Shin
The V-Moda Crossfade 3 headphones.

These headphones are as comfortable as they are brilliant-sounding. 

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

I've listened to a great many headphones over the years. My go-to headphones for listening to an audio playback of things like voiceovers have been the Audio-Technica ATH M50X for years. But that's a very specific purpose and it has nothing to do with listening to music. When I'm exercising, I use the Mojawa Run Plus bone-conducting headphones. As for listening to music when not exercising, I've used a mixed bag of earbuds that rarely gave me the sound I wanted.

So, when V-Moda reached out to me about the Crossfade 3 Wireless, I was more than happy to give them a try. I should preface this by saying any time a company contacts me to test headphones, I'm always skeptical. This is especially so when it's a company I'm not nearly as familiar with as, say, Audio-Technica, Sennheiser, or Focal. Even so, I'm always willing to hear what a company has to offer.

Also: The best over and on-ear headphones (and whether they're healthier than earbuds)

This time around, I was blown away. That may be partially because my expectations tend to be pretty low for most headphones on the market today (unless I'm looking at a $500+ piece of technology). So, when a company says its $300 headphones will impress, I tend to wobble between pessimism and optimism. 

That being said, I was certainly open to the new product and when it arrived, I immediately charged it up and connected it to my MacBook Pro. With Spotify open, I turned to my favorite band, Rush, to see how well these headphones withstood my scrutiny.

Also: The best noise-canceling headphones (and whether they protect your hearing)


I could end this review with that single word. Or, I could continue… which I will.

View at Amazon

The specs

Let's take a look at some specs, which are:

  • Qualcomm aptX HD and AAC codecs for premium Bluetooth sound
  • Wired operation (using the included cable) further improves the audio quality to an impressive 5–40,000Hz frequency response 
  • Official Hi-Res Audio certification from the Japan Audio Society
  • Up to 30 hours of battery life per charge
  • USB-C connectivity
  • Lightweight at 315 g/11 oz
  • CliqFold hinge for compact storage
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • Included protective carry case, USB-C cable, and 3.5mm phono cable with 1/4-inch adapter

Back to the sound

Beyond listening to Rush, I put these headphones through the paces of listening to different genres, including rock, prog, metal, alt, classical, soundtracks, and even connected them to my Switch to hear what my favorite game, Hollow Knight, sounded like with real speakers. No matter what I threw at the V-moda Crossfade 3 headphones, I was seriously impressed. The sound is rich, the bass full and deep, the midrange is spot on, the detail is tremendous, and the spatial separation rivals headphones that are far more expensive. 

Also: The best earbuds you can buy

In other words, these headphones punch way above their weight.

Another cool feature found with the Crossfade 3s is the on-ear music controls. On the right ear cup, you'll find three buttons and a slider. The slider is used to switch the headphones on and put them into pairing mode. The three buttons consist of two for volume control and one for managing playback and calls. There's also an app you can install on your phone that allows you to control EQ and other features. As I've stated on many occasions, I don't tend to install applications unless they are absolutely necessary. I found the out-of-the-box sound of the Crossfade 3 headphones to be so good, they didn't need the help of an app. 

The V-Moda Crossfade 3 music control buttons.

The on-ear music controls are easy to access.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

They really are that impressive. Listening to Tom Sawyer, from Rush's brilliant Moving Pictures on Spofity had me smiling and banging my head with utter joy at the reproduction. Every other piece of music I tested with the headphones was an equal pleasure. My all-time favorite piece of musical theater (Chess) was truly glorious.

Also: The best headphones for music

I know it might sound like hyperbole, but these headphones have become my favorite means of hearing the music I love. Whether I'm listening to vinyl, MP3s, streaming, or YouTube videos, the V-Moda Crossfade 3 headphones give new life to so much of the music I've known for years. If you're serious about your sound, and don't want to pay more than $500 for a pair of headphones, drop the $300 for these and be done with it.

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