As one of Mr. Nozu’s main concerns was that the headphones were not being driven optimally in Munich, I of course made sure they were getting enough juice. I tried out a few of my amps with them for synergies sake but ended up preferring the sound of a single Questyle CMA800R along with the COS D1 DAC. Truthfully these should not be too power hungry with their 75 ohms impedance rating and slightly low 97db sensitivity but maybe the three drivers and technology is a little more demanding. While the numbers don’t suggest 0.5 watts to not be enough, I can happily say that these sound a lot better off my system than in the noisy showroom. To a point where if this is how I originally heard them I would never have had to be contacted by Crosszone. While it is without doubt that I am listening to them off almost £15,000 worth of equipment, if you are going to drop three thousand euros on some headphone you probably plan on having the gear to support them!
Something I perhaps did not pick up on in the busy, hot day in Munich was how well the ADC achieves its intended goal. If I was to pick out a sole successful point of these headphones beyond comfort it would be soundstage and spatial presentation. Thats where it truly excels and unlike with Lear’s NSS-U1 IEM which did create an illusion of bigger space, it doesn’t come with the trade off of a grotesquely uncontrolled bass and generally irregular frequency response. However what I will say is that the sound this imparts, when stepping back from a holographic stage, is pretty standard. It is rich, bodied and smooth and seems coherent top to bottom and has no obvious focal points but also misses any attributes that have a wow factor. To be a bit more blunt it doesn’t have the speed, micro detail, dynamic prowess or incredible transparency often found in my favorite high end headphones (Sennheiser HD800, Focal Elear & Utopia, Audeze). I guess it does have its star factor with its special technology, which seems to throw the sound projection out so that is laid in front of you instead of either side. Even compared to my HD800, which are known for a big soundstage, it seems to just have a ‘real’ display. The HD800 seems wider but is in line with your head, stretching out either side, while this is the full ticket of depth and positioning. I guess that would also hugely benefit your experience if you were to watch a movie, but I am not one to watch movies with headphones on. Most importantly it is great that they remove the claustrophobia often associated with closed back headphones!
The sound can come across a bit soft, without the most meaningful punch in the bass and a mushiness cast over the midrange. The treble is probably the area with the most snap to it. The bass was an area I was happy about in terms of presence and while sub-bass extension could perhaps show a little more reach, the subtle amount of boosting works nicely. These end up being a headphone that won’t be polarising in bass response such as the potentially lean Beyerdynamic T5P or potentially too bassy TH900. The rosy plumpness will treat you kind and suit from movies through to outrageously grand classical pieces.
The midrange just like the bass is handed out with just the right quantity. It has a similar body and tone to the bass, easy on the ears and not the most dynamic or powerful. That is because of a softness heard in this range that sticks around until the upper mid where just a little extra life is breathed into the sound adding some flare. The treble chirps and is extended but blends in effortlessly nonetheless. These are an unrestricted headphone that I can undoubtedly listen to for hours and hours on end. It is soft, pleasant and spread out in front of you to visualize the music.
I enjoy listening to these headphones. I go for hours. I try new music. I even mix up the genre without hesitation. BUT….
It is a hard pill to swallow.
These are an unheard of, brand new company and they are just jumping in at the deep end with a 3k can. No impressive showings at the cheaper end or even an intro to the technology for a little less, just a solitary big buck offering. While headphones are getting more and more expensive, with most brands like Mr. Speakers and ZMF they build their pedigree to get into this territory (not even this expensive may I add). Crosszone skipped all that. That being said I would be the first to admit if they truly deserved their price tag but they don’t. They show that this sort of technology can harness some obvious and enjoyable positives but it isn’t game changing, I still feel that the HD800s are a more “open” headphone. On top of that it just doesn’t have the technical ability to make me want to cough up this much money. Had these been £500 I reckon they’d have got a hearty recommendation, maybe even a good buy award but at this price I must admit I am a little puzzled?
I would like to see Crosszone stick around, put this tech into a cheaper package. There is surely more money in the mid-fi market anyway, more units will be shifted without doubt and with that they will start to make a name for themselves that may leave people falling in love with their unique style and open up their wallets for the CZ-1, as of now I think they have made things a little hard for themselves.