Status Audio may be a new name to me, but I’m so glad it sent its CB-1 headphones over for review. They’re affordable and ruggedly built, and the sound quality is as good as I’ve heard for the money — just $69 on Amazon (£44 in the UK).
It’s pretty much a no-frills design, but these closed-back headphones’ thick, plush ear pads have a quality feel that’s rare for affordable ‘phones. That said, isolation from external noise was only average for a headphone of this type.
The CB-1 comes with two cables, a 3-meter straight one, and a shorter coiled cable, so sure, the cables are user-replaceable. Both cables are terminated with beefy looking 3.5mm plugs, and you get a screw-on 6.3 adapter plug. Tech-wise, it sports a 50mm driver, with a 32-ohm impedance.
I like that the headband is hinged, so it folds for compact storage. It may be mostly made of plastic, but the CB-1 feels rugged enough to withstand rough handling.
The CB-1’s beautifully balanced tone came to the fore with the Christian McBride Big Band’s “Bringin’ It” album. The swinging horn charts might be too piercing with a lesser headphone, but the CB-1 had no such issues. They just let me hear how good this new recording really is.
The profoundly deep bass that massaged my eardrums with Paul Kalkbrenner’s hypnotic “Sky and Sand” recalls the best of Moby’s tunes from back in the day. The CB-1’s low bass oomph, control and finesse positively floored me.
With the CB-1s resting ever so comfortably on my noggin, I checked out the new Lee Ann Womack album, “The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone.” The sparse production on this record lets Womack’s vocals shine — her new country sound feels heartbreakingly authentic, that’s for sure. Nothing about the sound betrayed the CB-1’s price, so I just let Womack’s well-honed music sink in.
I knew the CB-1s were good, and at first I couldn’t lay my hands on a headphone to fairly compare it to, but then I came across the($119) I raved about last year. Alt-J’s “Relaxer” album sorted out the two ‘phones in a matter of minutes. The u-Jays put a lot more pressure against my ears, so they were much less comfy, and they sounded smaller, more confined and less spacious. The u-Jays robbed the vocals of their warmth, and it was a relief to go back to the CB-1s.
Summing up, it would be an understatement to say the Status Audio CB-1 surprised me. It really does sound better than anything I can think of for the price. It’s also pretty popular on Amazon, where it averages 4.5 stars in user reviews.