These Bluetooth headphones from Status Audio are only $120 but sound like they cost twice as much - I was blown away by the quality
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- New York-based headphone brand Status Audio makes quality gear for surprisingly low prices.
- The new BT One is a pair of on-ear Bluetooth headphones that feel and sound like they should be more expensive, but cost just $120.
- I tested them out for myself and was impressed by the quality of the sound and ease of use when connecting to Bluetooth.
Status Audio was founded in 2013 in a small New York apartment with a simple business model: reduce costs on distribution, large marketing campaigns, and celebrity endorsements to deliver high-quality headphones at a low price. While the lineup has been decent so far, the new BT One headphones are sure to get Status some more attention.The new BT One is a Bluetooth, on-ear headphone sporting 40 mm drivers and a frequency response of 20 Hz-20k Hz. That's standard fare for wireless headphones that cost around $100, but what sets the BT On apart in an already crowded market is the use of Bluetooth 5.0 and excellent driver tuning.
I tried out these headphones for myself but to spoil it a bit - they're excellent and have sound quality that rival headphones twice as much. Here's a more in-depth look at my experiences with the BT One.
Read more: The best over-ear headphones you can buy
Status gives you a lot for your money with the BT One. Inside the box, you'll find the headphones, a hardshell case, 3.5 mm jack, and USB-C cable. While not uncommon to include a case, the excellent molding makes it easy and intuitive to store your headphones so there's no fighting with the collapsible design to figure out how to fit them in.
The 3.5 mm cable is solid and has a straight plug on one end and a 45-degree curve on the other. However, the included USB-C cable is only a foot long. I don't expect super high-quality cables or anything for $100, but the cable is so short that the headphones dangle slightly when plugged into the wall. But that's a small gripe, especially considering how fluid the rest of the set-up process is.
The right ear cup has three buttons and a power switch. Instead of holding down the X button while the device is searching, all you need to do is flip the power switch and a voice in the headphones will tell you that it's in pairing mode.If you're close to a device you've already connected to, it will connect automatically. There's a bit of an issue if there are multiple Bluetooth devices nearby, but that's easily solved by disabling Bluetooth on all but the one you want to use.
Similarly, when you're done, you just flip the switch and, once again, the voice will confirm that the headphones are shutting down.
I've used a fair share of Bluetooth headphones and none of them have felt as fluid as the BT One, especially at this price. I was set up and listening to music within seconds, without the need to dig into the instruction manual to find out which button starts the pairing process.
Using the BT One
Pairing the BT One is a dream, but so is actually using it. After pairing it with my phone, I used the included USB-C cable to charge for around an hour. It seems they came from the factory with a little juice, as the red light quickly turned blue indicating they were ready for my head.
The headband is very accommodating; the ear cups wind up near the bottom of my ears when the headband sits on top of my admittedly large head. Status uses a stepped adjustment band for the cans, which results in a satisfying and cranium shaking click for each step. Out of the box, the band is very rigid, holding the adjustment under a decent amount of pressure.
The on-ear design still digs into parts of your ear, but that's true of all on-ear headphones. That said, this is more accommodating than most. The ear pads are soft on the top but quickly become firm for the perfect amount of pressure, and while your ears may be slightly sore after hours of use, you probably won't notice it while music is playing.
For my first test, I walked around my house with the BT One for around two hours. I paired them with my phone in the basement and was able to maintain a signal around most of the house. Moving two floors apart from the source resulted in a few cutouts though. Even so, the performance is impressive.Read more: The best wireless Bluetooth headphones you can buy
Sound quality of the BT One
The most surprising part of the BT One is the sound quality. On-ear cans usually lack depth, particularly in the sub-bass region. However, Status Audio's excellent tuning makes them sing. With a clear cut in the nasty regions of the midrange, the BT One allows the bass to come through clearly without compromising the rest of the audio.
It's important to note the distinction between cutting and boosting. For example, when tuning a speaker, you could boost the bass but by doing so, you're effectively making it louder than everything else and, thus, drowning out the rest of the frequency spectrum. By cutting instead, you can exaggerate certain areas, such as the bass, while not overpowering the rest of the sound.
So while listening to music with the BT One, the sound doesn't have overpowering bass. Rather, it has an emphasis on bass that's pushed to the forefront from a cut slightly above it. By accomplishing the sound this way, Status Audio is also clearly separating the high and low end without nasty low-mid frequencies making the sound muddy.
More bass is one thing, but the result is much further reaching. Music has a surprising amount of depth and dynamics to it, which is something seldom seen from headphones under $200. Sections that are supposed to come in big have real impact with a solid amount of clarity in the top-end throughout.
However, there's a flip side to the cut. Depending on the music, there seems to be a slight - and emphasis on "slight" here - focus on the 500-600 Hz range, which would make sense if the headphones are cut around 200-300 Hz. It doesn't come up often in a full arrangement, but when midrange instruments are played in isolation, it's present.
That's not often the case though, and the slight bump to the mids isn't noticeable to the untrained ear. Even if it was, the trade-off is worth it. At the price Status Audio is selling the BT One, the sound is absolutely incredible.
What stands out most is the depth. The BT One produces sound like it's an over-ear headphone while still maintaining the ambient noise leak that on-ear cans are known for. When listening in a quiet room, it'd be easy to think the BT Ones are fully isolated from the outside world.
The bottom lineIt's hard to expect much from headphones around $100, but Status has raised the bar with the BT One. The fluid pairing process and excellent range take a back seat to the driver tuning. While using these headphones is a great experience, what's most impressive is the sound quality.
There isn't any muddiness in the lower mids usually seen with inexpensive headphones. Similarly, it's clear Status didn't try to boost the bass and overdrive the small drivers in the ear cups. Instead, by cutting some of the nasty regions in the lower mids, Status was able to achieve a sound that's full and rich, all while maintaining clarity in the top-end.
All in all, the BT One is a surprisingly impressive budget headphone solution.
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