Audeze CRBN - Electrostatic Headphone - Official Thread

I’m super interested in these. There is every possibility that on my hifi roadmap I could take a detour to Electrostatland before I head to Planar Endgameville. Interesting that Audeze is getting into this field and I LOVE the story behind these. I’m curious to hear how it measures up against the best that Stax has to offer, though.

Your move Abyss. :wink:


Has it been four weeks yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? …

We’re all excited for and can’t wait to read what you write about them, when you get them.


Alas not, only two …

On the upside, my BHSE and KGSSHV Carbon arrived, so I’ll have had time with those and the SR-007MK2 and SR-009S when the CRBN do arrive.


Nothing went out to dealers as there aren’t any retail units available. The dealer that announced they were in stock swapped it over to pre-order a day after.

I would realistically expect dealers to get stock mid-late September at best, October is a possibility.


It has now been exactly four weeks since I placed my order for the CRBN.

At the time of order, as it does on the site right now, it said:

Expect a minimum four week lead time for shipping.

At this point I consider things being in the realm of it “could ship any time now”. Don’t remember being quite as eager to get my hands on a new headphone since working on my stabilized maple-burl Vérité Closed LTD with Zach …


So I’m going to give my initial impressions of the Audeze CRBN here, but I want everyone to know that this is just my perception when running it from the Shangri-la Jr. energizer. We’re currently working on getting other sources going as well. I also have to thank Sankar from Audeze for sending us a review unit!

Initial thoughts on the build - simply stunning! This has to be one of the best looking headphones I’ve ever come across. The… seemingly carbon piece inlay on the cup looks absolutely fantastic. Moreover, it’s also reasonably lightweight and more comfortable than Audeze’s planar flagship - albeit with slightly more clamp force.

Frequency Response:

It’s got ear gain! A surprise, but a welcome one to be sure. At the same time it’s quite relaxed in the mid treble, causing a bit of shout at times for me. I keep saying this but, I feel that ear gain can’t be evaluated without the context of the rest of the treble to ensure balance for resonant harmonics above. So… don’t treat this as merely adherence or deviation from a target, what matters more is the balance between fundamental tones and their resonant harmonics.

For those who are sensitive to mid treble, the CRBN sounds quite smooth for the consonant sibilant tones, but it’s definitely too relaxed there for me. The upper treble does sort of come back a bit though, so it’s not exactly that kind of congested sound one might associate with a midrange focused headphone. But yeah, the upper mid to treble balance isn’t quite to my taste, but it’s not far off either.

Like I mentioned, I still need to try this headphone off a number of sources but my initial assessment is that this headphone has strengths and weaknesses for its technical performance. The main strength so far is that… it doesn’t seem to have that ‘estat timbre’ that some have negatively associated with these types of headphones. It sounds a bit more natural for that quality. At the same time, while I’m getting good detail in the midrange, I don’t get quite the same detail in the treble, even after EQ to bring it a bit more in line with the target. But again, that could be something going on with the source being more well-suited to the Shangri-la Jr. So I’ll report back on this once I’ve tried more sources.

So far this is an interesting take on an estat - it’s quite different from the ones I’ve heard so far, which admittedly isn’t that many of them. I do think the bigger question worth asking though is… is this really worth looking into over Audeze’s planars? Well, certainly for the weight/comfort, yeah I can see that. But when strictly evaluating sound quality, I’m not sure it’s a straightforward or conclusive answer. Definitely worth a listen though if you have the chance.


Thanks for the impressions. Interesting. I’m curious to hear them too, I want to compare them to the LCD-R. Looking forward to the full review from you :slight_smile:

1 Like

Timbre gutcheck: do they still have e-stat timbre issues? Tbh the timbre is what has always heald me back from the architecture

It’s not like a DD headphone in that sense, but I was comparing it to the shangri-la Jr and while the Jr was more detailed, it definitely has that ‘estat timbre’, while the CRBN didn’t have that. I think I still prefer the detail of the Shangri-la Jr., but as I said I need to try the CRBN on more equipment.

Edit: to be clear, I think the CRBN has a more natural timbre than the Shangri-la jr, and that this is a strength of the CRBN.


No sus or raal timbre though it seems :confused:

Tbh thats my real hope, is one day we get sus or raal levels of timbre in an estat and I will probabaly immediately switch

Thanks for the impressions! I bet you’ve been very busy trying out headphones recently :grinning:
I don’t know if you can get a pair of 009/S or 007 (and a BHSE or Carbon) to compare. Being a detailhead and long time estat fan, that’s what I wanted to see the most. Looks like detail wise it might not be quite as good, I’m not even sure if the CRBN is as detailed as LCD4 from your brief impression.

1 Like

Well, like I mentioned earlier on, I’m just getting started with the energizer question, so that’s really just an indicator for how it is with the Jr. energizer.

1 Like

Ray Samuels has ordered a pair to see how they will pair with his A-10 Thunderbolt II electrostatic amplifier. The preferred headphones on this amplifier are the 009 / 009S. He could not get the same level of overall performance out of the HE60 and HE90 so sold them and kept the 009.

Obviously the A-10 is a small volume amplifier with less than 30 out in the wild.

1 Like

With high end estate (from my personal experience) you almost cant properly evaluate them without a BHSE or Carbon. They are too headphone amp dependent. The Hifiman energiser like even most Stax energisers is just OK as a source for estats generally but not much of a fair test for these or even high end Stax. Will be interested in seeing what you hear when you get better quality sources.

1 Like

At the risk of sounding a little ignorant can you please expand a little on ‘Ear Gain’? I have never seen that phrase before.


Victor B.


If you look on his YT channel he has a video explaining how to read FR graphs. Basicaky though your ear naturaky amplifies certain frequencies because of how it is shaped. That is the “ear gain” region


What a wonderful point about approaching FR as a balance between fundamental tones and resonant harmonics. That explains so much about the timbral changes to vocals and instruments I get when I EQ different regions.

When you mention ‘estat timbre’, what does that entail? I know it’s likely hard to describe, but as someone who hasn’t heard estats before, I was hoping to understand more about what makes them unique. When you say this differs from the estats you’ve heard so far, which ones have you heard and what sort of characteristics would you typically associate with estats?

How does this compare in terms of technicalities and presentation to TOTL planars and dynamics? To me, the tone of your initial impressions (based on source you’ve tried) sounds like it’s not that impressive technically - competent, but not a big step up from planars/dynamics which I feel people expect estats to be, but I’m not sure if I have the right read on that.


Some people describe this qualities as a kind of ‘ethereal’ character, but that’s also somewhat tied to the upper treble boost that many estats seem to have. I think the negative associations I’ve given to this quality is that it has a kind of ‘flatness’ or lack of grip/body to it, but this is something that also isn’t a ubiquitous complaint.

At the moment I don’t feel confident I can make any definitive statement on that given that I’ve only used one energizer. I should have a better read on that by next week though.

1 Like

Just to include a bit more explanation here in the thread, as Eskamobob1 wrote, ear gain = amplification of sound produced by the very shape of a human ear:

We see from the graph that sound from a speaker that measures flat in the normal way is boosted by the shape of the human ear in those frequencies that have a short enough wavelength to be effected by the relatively small size of an ear.

Equally important is that the signal boost we see in the green line is what the auditory nerves send to our brains. But our brains extract the extra detail information from the signal, then feed a perceived flat line response to our conscious awareness. So we never actually hear the signal boost that measuring devices show to be there. Psychoacoustics in action, grin.


Appreciate the explanation. Great to learn something new…

Victor B.