a few impressions from the SoCal meet:
" Audeze CRBN , silky, great low end for an estat, impressive soundstage, faster than the lcd-5 but without the same tactile feel. Sounded MUCH better out of the mjolnir audio than the Z10e. Very different than Stax, and I really enjoyed these. I may not even need to hear the sr-x9000 before deciding to put my order in. Sounds like the waitlist is until Jan … crazy."
"The best sound for me were the Audeze CRBN's. These are my next dream headphones. They sound totally different from Stax, and have their own sound signature that I really liked. They were musical and had a visceral slam/punch I haven't heard in my own collection of electrostatics. I've never heard the HE-90's, but the CRBN's sound like what I dream a HE-90 would sound like."
"Unfortunately I don't think they bring anything to the table. As a big 009 fan, I think if you are making a non typical estat-like estat, you better have something special to justify the specific amplifier requirement. This definitely doesn't have either the 007 magic or the 009's extreme detail and lightness. I might need some more time with it but so far I haven't found anything impressive from them."
"listened to the CRBN after auditioning the LCD-5. Solid headphone, although I preferred the HFM Shangri-la Jr. due to its superior soundstaging and overall refinement. Probably my favourite headphone that I heard today! I detected a bit of grain in cymbals on the CRBN, although the audition was too brief to make any definitive statements. Bass was definitely above average on both the Audeze and HFM by 'stat standards. Some dynamic compression seems to be a fact of life with this technology vis-a-vis planars, but the Shangri-la Jr. does offer more resolution than even the Susvara, and I'm intrigued for sure. Will listen to both again tomorrow and update my impressions."
"CRBN (some un-obtainium set up). After hearing these I understand why some people warship e-stats. The CRBNs have a delicate presentation, but they don’t ever sound thin or lacking in body. The overall frequency response is very similar to the LCD-5, but the presentation is a lot different. The bass is excellent in texture and level, easily better than the Susvara. Not as punchy as the LCD-5 though. Midrange is equal to or better than anything here. More body to the vocals than the Susvara. Treble, comparing here again to the Susvara, the Susvara are pretty magical, but I like the texture of the CRBN a little better. The soundstage on these is larger, open and layered in a way where I could easily forget I was wearing headphones. The build quality and comfort here again are equal to or better than anything. As far as pure aesthetics, these are the best looking headphones I have ever seen. In person they are stunning."
"I had a short opportunity to A/B test CRBN and 009s on Mytek & BH. (Also heard CRBN on Mjolnir Audio but I felt the A/B test was much more interesting.) CRBN sounds very tonally correct, polite, but didn’t carry the sparkles nearly as much. Sound stage is smaller than 009s. I felt CRBN is more similar to Elite and Utopia than to 009s. I personally would pick 009s every time over CRBN. I didn’t get to test bass heavy songs at all, which I heard is what CRBN excels at. What a pity."
"But now for me and the one BURNING question I had was how does CRBN sound on the Blue Hawaii Special Edition? As some one who still owns and enjoys the original 009 my curiosity was peaked!
And honestly... for starters I feel like CRBN does everything the original 009 set out out to, it retains that insane sense of speed and detail I love about 009 BUT has a slightly denser tone with noticeably stronger bass with all the detail and transparency I've come to expect. It's sound stage is a little more intimate too and all in all while I still love the original 009's lovely tone, exceptional nuance and delicacy. I could 100% see my-self picking up CRBN as a compliment for when I want that extra bit of weight, heft and intimacy without any lose in the speed or detail that I love about Electro Stats!
But overall I feel that CRBN really captures and delivers the true spirit of Audeze! Powerful, detailed TRUE to life BASS! A natural weighty mid range with amazing speed and clarity that alongside with crystal clear highs are all presented within an outstandingly cohesive and precise sound stage. I for one can't wait to get a little more time with BHSE and CRBN! It's likely going to become my new favourite thing to hear at each show until I'm ready to pick up a set for myself!"
"Overall a fluidic, semi-sweet / modestly dry (in a good way), linear sound with the full FR represented. Bass texture was spot on but overall leans ever so slightly towards a brighter signature not far off from Stax SR-009. Soundstage was great as well, but may be a small step behind Stax Lambda series in that regard. Sense of PRaT was nearly impeccable, though drums may not hit with quite as much authority as a well driven dynamic or planar headphone (something Mark Cohen of Audeze also confirmed). These pull it off so nicely that one may not even notice any shortcomings whatsoever, and can do almost any genre with finesse and seemingly left over headroom to boot. This paired exceptionally well with what I believe was the Mjolnir Audio Carbon e-stat energizer. For a comparison to the SR-009 I would have to do more testing, but I would say the SR-009 has superior sense of resolution, speed, depth and emotional / visceral quality. Not necessarily better overall, just different."
"Holy moley this was the headphone of the show for me. I'm an electrostatic headphone fan, and the CRBN's bass surprised me. I find the SR-009/009S to be too bright for me and I much prefer the Dan Clark Audio VOCE over them.
I don't know how the Mjölnir Audio Carbon sounds since the only thing usually at these shows is the Blue Hawaii, but the CRBN sounded pretty solid out of it. Volume-wise, I needed to turn the volume knob quite a ways for the CRBN, so either the Carbon doesn't output a lot of power (which I doubt since it's made by spritzer/Mjölnir Audio), or the CRBN isn't very sensitive (whose technical specification is unlisted on Audeze's website).
There was good texture and presence in the bass region, more so than the other estats I've heard, but it didn't overwhelm the midrange.
The midrange had excellent clarity and timbre overall, but was a tad bit warm-sounding to me from the bass region. Unlike any other estat I've heard, the bass seemed to take the main stage away from the midrange, as the mids seemed laid-back in comparison (which reminds me a bit of the 007 MKI from memory). The frequency response sounded more linear/smooth overall compared to what I'm used to hearing from the SR-404.
The treble, like a lot of estats, was silky smooth and retains a lot of detail overall.
Image separation paired with the Carbon sounded excellent, which is another feature I find estats to do well compared to other transducer types.
The soundstaging seemed a bit small compared to the 009/009s/VOCE to me, and was more rounded than the SR-Lambda series. Compared to what I'm used to hearing with the Lambda series, the images were spaced more around my head versus left/right and vertical, which I appreciate.
Also like most estats, I was able to turn up the volume really high without experiencing any fatigue. The other transducer types don't seem to be able to replicate this effect, and I have no idea why.
Comfort-wise, these rock. Audeze's headband on the CRBN is quite comfortable. Paired with the supple leather earpads, the CRBN fits snugly, but not too snug on my head. The oval-shaped earcups fit on my head pretty well even with glasses on. At 300 g, this thing is insanely light!
The "cube" pattern on the earcups' grill is also pretty unique-looking. I feel like I've seen this pattern somewhere else, but I can't put my finger on it at the moment. The strain relief parts from the earcup look more sturdy than those of STAX."