One thing we’ve noticed when reviewing so much audio gear is that the bar is set very high when it comes to studio headphones under $100. One of the pairs that keeps this bar up there is the CB-1 from Status Audio. While these closed-back over-ear phones may look a tad basic, both casual audiophiles and professionals rave about their high-end sound… That was enough for us – we had to check them out!
As affordable headphones go, the CB-1s are nothing extraordinary in design, but they offer a very sophisticated look, whether you are in the studio or chilling at home. The headband and cups are black with no obvious branding (which admittedly makes them look a little generic), while the gold detailing adds a touch of elegance.
Although a lot of plastic is used (well, something has to keep the costs low!) the overall build is fairly rugged and is completely foldable, for space-saving and easy transportation. This mechanism works well, no problems there. The adjustable headband itself is very flexible, not to mention well-padded, as are the ergonomic over-ear cups – these are overstuffed with memory foam and have soft leather outers, for a very secure fit that remains comfortable after hours of use.
Starting with what’s in the box, and you will find it comes with two detachable cables (one straight, one coiled), which are very good quality and feel robust compared to others in this price range. As you may expect, there’s also a 1/4” jack adapter in the box.
Moving onto tech and the CB-1s feature two 50mm drivers, providing a responsive sound, with an impedance of 32 ohms, meaning these are easily driven by a smartphone or tablet with no issues. Finally, there is a relatively flat frequency response of 15Hz to 30kHz. This all translates to a feeling of good value.
For cans under $100, the CB-1s offer a surprising amount of detail, which makes critical listening easy. There is a flat frequency response for a balanced sound across the spectrum – crisp trebles, smooth mids and powerful bass. On that note, this pair is not one for all-out bassheads (remember, these are studio phones not aimed at the general consumer), but there is more than enough punch in the low-end. Meanwhile, the closed-back design blocks out quite a bit of sound bleed, although these are not dedicated noise-isolating/cancelling phones.
They have their slight drawbacks in design, but for under $100 these CB-1s really are an excellent choice for both home and studio use, whether you are a casual user, a music producer or a mixing engineer. Comfort is superb, sound is natural and overall performance is way better than their petite price tag suggests.