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V-Moda XL Pads Review

Pro –

Improved comfort and isolation, More engaging sound, Larger soundstage

Cons –

Become compressed within the included case, Less balanced

Verdict –

The XL Pads provide an immediate ergonomic upgrade at the cost of sonic balance.


Introduction –

Though acclaimed for their build quality and customisability, comfort is a common complaint amongst V-Moda owners. This is primarily a result of their shallow hexagonal earpads that wear on the ear over longer listening. Luckily, V-Moda have a fix; the XL ear pads that offer twice the depth and a 30% increase in internal dimension. When equipped, they convert V-Moda’s headphones to true over-ears, drastically increasing comfort and aiding seal. You can read all about the XL pads and their compatibility here, and purchase a set for yourself here.

 

Install –

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V-Moda ear pads attach to the headphones via a proprietary mounting plate. As such, the pads are fairly easy to remove and install. There are a handful of clips around the perimeter of each earcup that the plate slots into. When removing the pads, hold the inside and outside of the side wall and pull away from the edge of the earcup. Be sure to hold a large area to avoid ripping the pad from the plate. The clips will disengage and the pad should come cleanly off. You can then install the XL pads, I found it easiest to slide one edge in first then press the subsequent edges into the remaining clips. On side note, it’s best not to frequently swap the pads as the mounting plate wears down near the clips.

 

Design –

The XL pads very much resemble the stock pads that come pre-equipped with over-ear V-Moda headphones. They’re hexagonal and attach via the same plastic mounting plate mechanism. However, the XL pads are noticeably more squared off; their sidewalls are thinner, permitting a larger internal space without increasing the external diameter, and they are immediately deeper than any pad included on a V-Moda headphone from factory.

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V-Moda XL Pad – Standard Crossfade 2 Wireless Pad

During wear, these changes make a world of difference. I have average sized ears on the wider side and found that they no longer contacted the drivers of the headphones. As a result, I didn’t experience outer ear discomfort when using my Crossfade 2 Wireless for longer periods of time. Along with an immediate comfort increase, the pads also offer noticeably improved isolation. Though they still don’t attenuate as much as a good noise cancelling headphone from Bose or Sony, isolation was easily sufficient for public transport and commute, with an appreciably more solid bass response in noisier environments.

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With the XL pads equipped, the headphones still fit inside the included carrying case though the pads do become slightly compressed. The type of foam inside the pads is also a little different. Where the original pads used a slow rebound memory foam padding, the XL pads are quicker to rebound and more sponge-like in feel. As such, they don’t quite conform to the ear as well as some pads, though I didn’t find this to be a huge issue during my testing. Of note, as a result of their stronger seal, the pads can get a little steamy on hotter days.

 

Sound –

To preface my impressions, I used the Crossfade 2 Wireless during all testing. Upon installation, the XL pads had an immediately noticeable effect on sound. After further comparison and testing, I found myself preferring the presentation of the stock pads on my Crossfade 2 Wireless. However, I’m sure just as many will prefer the more engaging sound provided by the XL pads and the comfort and isolation benefits will likely outweigh any sonic deficit to less critical listeners.

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The midrange takes the biggest hit, presence is reduced and vocals have a more laid-back stage position. As a result, some midrange details can sound a little distant and vocals sound slightly less natural. Increased lower-midrange recession also results in occasionally hollow sounding vocals that are perfectly enjoyable, but far from ideal.

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By contrast, bass is more upfront, especially sub-bass which may be a little too present given that V-Moda’s are already quite bassy. However, in loud environments, the more impactful low-end and greater isolation provided by the XL pads is well-judged. Still, beyond preferences in sound signature, bass quality does suffer, and lows don’t sound quite as controlled as they do with the stock earpads. As a result, more complex songs can sound a little muddy, but if you’re looking for a more physical low-end, the XL pads will provide it.

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Highs also appear to be brought forward, most notably middle-treble. This grants the headphones with more air, a prime contributor to the larger soundstage produced by the XL pads. In fact, with regards to soundstage, it’s a double whammy, due to both treble elevation and more laid-back midrange positioning that emphasize space. On the flipside, layering is poor, with a more jarring transition between foreground and background elements due to the more uneven midrange created by the XL pads.

 

Verdict –

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As someone who prioritises sound quality, I don’t find the XL pads to do the headphones justice for music; they’re a little too unbalanced for me and sap some technicality from the Crossfade’s performance. That being said, these types of sound changes may very well align with your preferences, and the XL pads more engaging sound is spot on for gaming and film. The pads also bring an immediate upgrade to comfort and isolation which will suit those that find V-Moda’s headphones to be uncomfortable stock. Ultimately, it’s a trade-off and one where some may not value the deficit in sound quality as much as the ergonomic benefits.

V-Moda’s XL pads are available from Amazon (International) for $19 USD at the time of writing. Please see my affiliate link for the most updated pricing, availability and configurations.

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