Status Audio CB-1 Review

Have you got $100 to spend on new headphones? Want lots of comforts and great sound?  You don’t need to read any; further, you can go out and buy the Status Audio CB-1.  If you want to know a little bit more about why I recommend the CB-1 so highly, you will want to read the rest of this review. 

Last week we reviewed the also excellent Status Audio OB-1, the companies flagship open-back headphone.  This week it’s all about the closed-back cans, which really impresses us from a price vs. performance standpoint.  We have talked a lot in the past about the benefits of open-back headphones, but it has always been hard to wholeheartedly recommend a set under $100 that sounds anywhere close to as good as these do. 

Build, Design & Packaging

The build quality of the Status Audio CB-1 is a bit of a mixed bag.  It impresses us when the price is taken into account, and it does have a few features that you commonly associate with more expensive headphones. Still, conversely, there are areas where improvement in material choice would have been greatly appreciated. 

Let’s start with the overall feel.  While nothing on the CB-1 feels like it is going to give out, there are still many cheap plastics used in the construction.  The earcups feel very chintzy, and to a lesser extent, so does the headband slider.  We would have much preferred to have seen a metal headband slider, as we had with the Status Audio OB-1, for some added peace of mind. In reality, the choice of materials didn’t affect usage, and we were still able to adjust and hold positions as you would expect, but in some areas, yes, they do feel somewhat cheap.

The good stuff you do get here is where the CB-1 starts to shine over its similarly priced competition.  The headband itself is flexible to a ridiculous extent. We were able to twist and contort it quite radically, and it always found its way back to the original shape.  It’s also very generously padded, meaning that the CB-1 is very comfortable to have on the head for long listening sessions.

Speaking of comfort.  Do you see those giant pads?  One of the first things I do with cheap headphones is to swap out the pads.  Most come with thin nasty plastic pads, but the CB-1’s are covered with thick memory foam and soft, breathable protein leather.  They are a very nice touch and one that all-day listeners will appreciate.

The CB-1 actually features a single entry detachable cable, of which 2 are included in the box.  The cables are both of excellent quality.  You get one long 5ft straight cable and another which is coiled for portable use.  Jacking points are great, both strong and robust, and they have excellent strain relief spring mechanisms, which should further the headphones’ longevity. 

However, both these cables are better suited for home use due to their sheer weight and size. A simple solution to make the headphones more portable was to grab this awesome V-Moda Speakeasy cable.  We found it drastically cuts the weight and has the bonus of making the headphones into a headset thanks to the inline microphone. You can now take and make calls on the CB-1.

The packaging is cheap but good-looking. It’s adequately protective of the headphones inside.  You don’t get any bells and whistles, just the headphones and 2 cables with a 1/4 inch Jack adapter on the inside.

One final thing as to the design worth mentioning is that Status Audio has chosen not to put any branding at all on the headphones.  This does make them look a bit generic in our eyes, but in the end, it cuts down on cost, so we are happy with that trade-off.  The companies’ ethos is to make non-branded headphones without sponsors or aggressive marketing to pass savings on to the consumer directly.

A new best sounding headphone under $100 (closed Back)

While the ultimate winner for sound under still $100 has to go to the Grado SR-80e, those things are open back and, as such, can’t be used as a direct comparison.  Instead, at under $100, 2 headphones spring to mind, the Noontec Zoro HD and the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. The Status Audio manages to best both of those on the sound front.

The Status Audio CB-1, for all intents and purposes, is a fairly neutral sounding headphone. They manage to bring out an impressive amount of detail for a sub $100, and the low end can actually extend quite far when the music selection requires it. 

The treble has a shine to it, revealing a lot of detail and energy in the music.  The top does actually work quite well with jazz and classical, which was surprising because so many cheap headphones really struggle in this regard. 

The mids are clear and reasonably fast, somewhat similar to what you might expect to find on Audio Technica’s more pricey ATH-M50x headphone.  The imaging was good, and we had no problem placing instruments in live recordings.  Maybe just the slightest touch of warmth and maybe just a little setback from the lows but impressive nonetheless.

The low end was fast, tight, and controlled.  Bass did extend down a fair amount but in no way is the CB-1 to be considered a headphone for bassheads. 

The soundstage was average with more depth than width but still nothing outstanding.  Users wanting a bigger soundstage should seriously consider the OB-1 as an alternative.

Isolation was poor at best, which was surprising given these are a fairly meaty-looking set of headphones.  The cheap plastic most likely plays the biggest role here, and we found that the CB-1 did let in a fair amount of ambient noise.  Therefore we wouldn’t recommend commuting, but they should be fine for less noisy crowded environments.

Cheap and Very Cheer – Great Sound Without Damage to the Wallet.

There are very few perfect headphones under $100, and whilst the Status Audio CB-1 is not without its flaws, they still have to be considered one of the best on the market. 

We would like to see improvements on the material choices in the future, but in terms of sound and comfort being combined with some nice higher-end touches like cables and pads, there really is no better-closed headphone at this price point. 

We continue to be impressed by Status’s ability to source genuinely great OEM gear, and it just goes to show how many headphones you can really get without breaking the bank.

It is an excellent choice if you are looking for a set of closed-back headphones right now if you want to spend under $100.

Audiophile Onhttp://www.audiophileon.com
Audiophile On is a website dedicated to high-end audio products. With over 15 years as a reviewer, all articles are hand-written by one person to allow the comparison of products. Headphones, earphones, speakers, amplifiers, or DAC's we cover here.

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