Status Audio CB-1


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published: July-17-2022

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NO SMOOTHING is applied to the shown plots. Most measurement sites have some smoothing applied which ‘irons flat’ sharp peaks and ‘wiggles’. I do not use smoothing because some info about sound quality is lost when plots are smoothed.

Aside from a small correction of the microphone itself also some correction in the lowest frequencies is applied to the plots to compensate for the perceived loss of bass when using headphones. This is described HERE in more detail.
A ‘horizontal‘ frequency response curve on the shown frequency response plots on this website thus indicates a perceived ‘flat’ tonal signature.

ALL measurements are made with a good SEAL on a NOT industry standard home-made flatbed measurement rig.
The shape of your head, bone structure, pad size, pad ‘softness,  (compliance), hair or no hair and or wearing glasses may (drastically) change the frequency response of some headphones, so… your personal experience may differ substantially from these plots.

Frequency response (tonal balance) is the most sound-determining aspect of headphones. A horizontal line shows audible neutral response in the plots on this website. Deviations in different severity at different frequency bands have an effect on the sound character.
The bigger the deviation the stronger the effect.

Below an aid to help determining the sound character of headphones with relation to the frequency response.
descriptors2kl

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Status Audio CB-1

CB-1 kl

The Status Audio SACB1-SM is a closed over-ear headphone. It sells for around € 80.-
It is intended for professional use. Not all headphones intended for studio usage can be used for music enjoyment but this headphone is very well suited for this purpose. There are no logos nor flashy brand or other markings on this headphone.
It is mostly black plastic with some rose-goldish aluminium rings on it. Only SACB1-SM is barely visible on 1 ring which stands for Status Audio Closed Back Studio Monitor.

It comes in a box with a 3m long straight detachable cable and a coiled cable that is 1.2m but can stretch to 3m. There is a screw-on 6.3mm adapter included as well.
The build quality seems O.K. , certainly at this price point. No way to tell how it will hold over time.

The cable is slightly microphonic so in quiet passages and silences the cable rubbing against clothes is a little audible in the left cup. A locking 3.5mm TRS connector is plugged into the left cup. When one accidentally pulls on the cable it will stay put. One can also use regular 3mm TRS cables as long as the body is not too wide. Of course that cable will not lock.
The 3 meter cable is good for home and studio usage. For portable or desktop usage the coiled cable can be used.

The part of the headband that is resting on the head is feeling soft and is wide enough as to not create hot-spots. The covering is made of perforated pleather (protein leather). The top side is made from non perforated protein leather.
The headband can extend 35mm and adjusts easily. There is a scale on it.
The cups can fold into the headband which is easy for transport.
The cups can swivel 90 degrees and are spring loaded so they rotate into the listening position by themselves and thus cannot lay flat on a desk.  The cups can rotate almost 360 degrees.
Clamping force is pleasant out of the box (3.5N) and so is its weight of 281gram (without cable).

The left cup is the one with the cable entry. There are also L and R markings on the hinges.

With a sensitivity of 119dB/V (efficiency = 104dB/mW) and low impedance (36Ω measured) the CB-1 can be used directly from a phone and most audio interfaces and reach high enough levels for listening at very loud levels.  
A high efficiency and high power rating 50mm driver is used. The specs listed on the website, however, are very different from the measured ones. I reckon the listed power rating is incorrect and think the power rating is probably closer to 0.2W continuous.

The pleather leather-look pads are easily exchangeable and feel soft to the touch. There is regular foam inside (not the slow type). The contact area with the skin is rather large and the room for the ear is small so these headphones get hot and sweaty after a while. The pads have a 90mm outside diameter but the ‘cutout’ for the ears is small and oval. Height= 55mm, width= 40mm and depth= 19mm.
The 55mm height may be a bit on the small size for older people. It is causing some discomfort on the top of my pinnae after a few hours.
Due to the relatively large surface area with the skin the clamping force is distributed over a wider area.
These pads are mounted a bit loose on the baffle and thus easily rotate. As the inside is oval you may have to rotate the pads to the correct position now and then.
There are pictures of pads that have completely disintegrated after less than a year. Probably with heavy usage.
https://www.reddit.com/r/headphones/comments/7diumb/status_audio_cb1s_earpads_after_7_months/
There are also reports of people using it daily for > 1.5 years and are reporting the pads are still as new.
Pad wear also depends on skin, temperature, humidity, smoke etc. so longevity may well be long.
Only time will tell.

Outside noises are decently attenuated and people around you can’t hear what is playing. The attenuation of outside noises is not as good as one might think. This is because there is some porting on the rear side of the driver so it is still somewhat ‘open’ to outside noises.

specifications:

Type: Over ear (circum-aural), closed
Usage: Home, studio, portable
Driver type: dynamic
Pads: replaceable, pleather
Collapsible: Yes.
Headphone cup connector: locking 3.5mm TRS jack
Cable entry: single sided (left).
Cable: 3m straight in a straight gold-plated 3.5mm TRS jack with a 6.3mm adapter + 1.2-3m coiled cable
Inner Pad dimensions: depth = 19mm, height = 55mm, width = 40mm
Driver size: 50mm Ø (47mm effective)
Max. power rating: 1.6W
Max. voltage: 7.6Vrms (22Vpp)
Max. current: 210mA
Max. S.P.L.: 136dB
Impedance: 36Ω (measured)
Efficiency: 104dB @ 1mW
Sensitivity: 119dB @ 1V
Weight: 281g. (without cable)
Clamping force: medium/low 3.5N
Accessories: 3m straight + 1.2m/3m coiled cable with 6.3mm screw-on adapter.

Subjective sound description:

This headphone as a neutral sound. These headphones sound very natural and have a dynamic ‘open’ sound. Bass is very well extended, assuming a good seal is achieved so no hairs or glasses between pad and head. Mids sound realistic and dynamic and ‘open’. Treble is present. Upper treble is somewhat recessed/subdued but does not sound rolled-off. It is lacking a bit in ‘air’ and ‘audiophile’ subtle details but not in an annoying way. Enjoyable treble without sharpness/harshness.
Overall a pleasant and realistic sound without an emphasis in bass, mids or treble.
This headphone can play quite loud without turning harsh/sharp.

Measurements:

Below the frequency response of the CB-1 (Left, Right)FR CB1The channel matching is not great between 100Hz and 500Hz there is a few dB difference.
Not enough to pull the balance to one side though. Bass extension is excellent and 15Hz (-3dB) is very deep. The few dB recession around 300Hz is not really audible.
The small emphasis between 1kHz and 2kHz is responsible for the forward/dynamic/open sounding mids. Up to 2kHz the response is very good.
The small recession between 2kHz and 6kHz is not an issue. Because the hearing has a small ‘boost’ in that area (drivers are not angled) the upper mids are perceived as flat.
There is a very narrow peak at 7kHz. As this very narrow and peaks just slightly above the mids this peak is not audible so no ‘sibilance/sharpness’. Above 8kHz the treble slowly rolls-off and is only 15dB down at 30kHz.

comparisons

Below the CB-1 compared to various (competing) closed headphones.
BC-1 comparo

Phase response

Below the phase response of the CB-1 (Left, Right)Phase Cb1

Slow phase shifts are not very audible. Sharp changes in a narrow frequency bands may well be audible. The steep changes above 8kHz are hitting -180 degrees (dotted lines) and even though they are steep are well above 8kHz and as long as L and R channel are not too different this will not affect the sound in a negative way.

output resistance / damping-factor

As this is a dynamic headphone the frequency response can be amplifier output resistance dependent when certain higher output resistance amplifiers are used.
Instead of showing impedance plots, which are hard to ‘read’ when it comes to assessing the tonal balance change in the real world, the CB-1 is measured via a
few different resistance outputs (0.2Ω, 10Ω, 32 and 120Ω). On a higher output resistance amplifier the output level will be lower of course due to voltage division. To compensate for this the amplifier is cranked up to the same level (11.8dB for 120Ω at 1kHz in this case). This way the plots are overlaid and it is easier to see how the tonal balance changes. Output resistances between the mentioned resistance values will result in tonal changes between those traces.R120 -11.8dB

The tonal balance does not change when a higher output resistance amplifier is used.  The CB-1 can thus be used with almost any music source and a higher output resistance will not change the tonal balance with this headphone.

seal

Seal is often an issue with closed-back headphones. Breaking the seal (improper fit on the head, hairs between head and headphone, glasses) usually means a loss of (sub)bass.
Perfect seal, seal broken with thin armed glasses, seal broken by thicker armed glasses and seal broken by glasses with arms not resting against the skin.Seal CB1

A slightly broken seal (glasses resting against the skin) does not influence on the tonality of this closed headphone very much. Only when the seal is substantially broken the bass suffers and bass sounds audibly lower to normal levels.

pad compression

Some headphones can change their tonal balance when the foam looses its strength and flattens a bit.
Below the pads compressed to 18mm, 15mm and 12mm thickness.pad compression CB1

The tonal balance thus does not change very much when pads age/compress a bit.

Below the distortion measurements of the CB-1 (Right channel).
The plot above shows the level differences between the signal (upper trace) and the harmonics. Note that at around 30Hz the SPL is 93dB.dist R
Most people prefer to see percentages instead of level differences so below the exact same plot but normalized to the actual signal and level differences given in percentages.dist R percentDistortion levels in the lowest frequencies are mostly 2nd harmonic and remains below 1% above which is quite good for a 50mm driver. Note the 3rd harmonic distortion is even below 0.2% below 100Hz.
Distortion up to 90dB SPL is not an audible issue with this headphone.
The actual 2nd harmonic distortion above 1kHz may well be lower than 0.2% . A shortcoming of my measurement rig.

Linearity

While there was no reason to suspect linearity issues the S4R is measured at 4 different SPL levels. Once at 70dB, 80dB, 90dB and 97dB SPL. When the traces are overlaid and have the same shape then there is no compression.
compresssion CB1Some very small compression in the bass but this starts at SPL levels of 92dB and 97dB at round 30Hz. Not something that is very audible. At 2.5kHz there is also ‘something’ going on. The distortion plot in that frequency range (different measurement method and microphone) also shows some increase there.

Below the CSD (waterfall) plot of the CB-1. (Left and Right are overlaid)
CSD CB1This is quite messy for a dynamic headphone. There are some resonances between 800Hz and 3kHz which appear to be caused by the cups of the headphone. Sadly there isn’t any room inside the cups to address this. See picture below.
driver rearThe resonance at 7kHz is very short lived. The dip just below 10kHz also is a resonance ‘in disguise’. Too narrow to become an audible issue.

 

Below the Group Delay plot for the CB-1 (Left, Right)GD CB1There is almost no pad-bounce. Only at around 80-120Hz we see some of this. The left and right channel have some resonance issues at different frequencies at 900Hz and 1.5kHz.

A different plot is the spectrum plot. This basically is a CSD (Waterfall) plot but viewed from above where the level differences are color coded instead of being in the vertical axis. Also the frequency range of the spectrum plot is wider (from 100Hz instead of 500Hz). The time span is also bigger in the spectrum plots and expired time is shown from below to top where in the CSD the time is shown from rear to front.

Below the spectrum plot of the CB-1 (Right channel)
spectr R CB1
This also shows the resonances between 800Hz and 1.5kHz. Otherwise this looks fine.

Step response

Below the step response plot which, when the sound is balanced and well extended should show a fast rise to around 0dB, (indicating fast driver response) and then should be slightly sloping downwards indicating bass extension. (Left, Right)step Cb1
Bass extension is excellent. The horizontal trace drops hardly. The initial rise is 2.5dB short of 0dB but at the same level of the mids.

conclusion

The Status Audio CB-1 is a cheap over-ear closed studio headphone that is perfectly suited to be used in a studio, portable (directly from a phone) or at home as well.
It has a very neutral and pleasant ‘full’ and ‘dynamic’ sound without an emphasis in any frequency band or obvious deficiencies. Simply a good sounding headphone.
The pads do get warm and sweaty pretty quick in warmer conditions and the height of the pads is a bit on the small side.
Those looking for a closed headphone (with decent, not very good isolation) for in the studio, traveling or at home should consider this headphone when looking in the €60.- to € 100.- range. There are not many better sounding closed headphones (out of the box) in this price range.
It does not ‘beat’ some of the higher priced closed headphones but the CB-1 is not that far behind at all.
Only the ‘audiophile’ qualities like ‘air’ and ‘high quality smooth sparkly’ treble are somewhat missing.
Still, a very enjoyable headphone that does not sound rolled off nor sharp.

Longevity of the pads may be an issue. Pads that do not change the sound too much are the ones from OLLO Audio (S4X/S4R pads). These need some ‘trimming’ of the mounting ‘flap’.
Outer diameter of the pads is 90mm.

 

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