Review: Status Audio’s budget-friendly headphones sound too good for their price


As a tech journalist, I’m lucky enough to review a lot of expensive headphones, and try out even more. I like most of what I test – it’s really hard to find bad headphones nowadays – but it’s rare that I’m truly impressed.

Enter Status Audio, a small Brooklyn-based company that’s been gaining some momentum for its wallet-friendly headphones with legit audio chops. The company only sells directly to the consumer, which helps trim overhead costs from distributing and marketing its products and apply it to R&D instead.

CEO James Bertuzzi emailed me and casually offered two models up for review, the closed-back CB-1 and open-back OB-1 I was enticed by previous impressions comparing the former to the venerable Audio Technica ATH-M50, but at an alluring $79 bucks. The M50s are, after all, probably the most recommended headphones at the ~$150 price point, and with good reason.

A contender at half price is hard to ignore, given I’ve spent more sleepless nights than I care to admit researching some of the best budget options on audiophile forums throughout the years. Thankfully, Status Audio delivered in kind.

Design

Design-wise, the two have little in common. The CB-1 have a fairly generic DJ monitor look, with earcups that turn outwards so you can listen in on the outside world. They have a bit of a brushed pale gold trim that looks like it could come off after a few drops, but the headphones otherwise feel pretty durable. While they won’t win any style points, they don’t look bad either.

Status Audio OB-1 CB-1

The single-sided cable is removable, and the box comes with both coiled and long options. No microphone, but these aren’t really aimed at commuters (although they’re easy to drive out of a smartphone).

The CB-1 are amply padded, light and extremely comfortable to wear for hours on end. They also provide solid, though not exceptional isolation.

As a testament to Status Audio’s boutique nature, the company quickly responded to customer feedback after the release of the CB-1s and adjusted the padding on the cups to be softer and sit more comfortably around the ear.

The original pads had a narrower opening and used a less plushy foam. These feel like pillows for your ears.