QUICK, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say “headphones”? I’m sure right up there among the top answers are “small soundstage” and “in-the-head sound”.
Japan’s Crosszone aims to change the game with its debut closed-back headphones, the CZ-1. Although available internationally since 2016, the CZ-1 was launched only yesterday for the Malaysian market.
From the news release, Crosszone claims that the problem with conventional headphones is the “bi-phonic” sound they produce due to the drivers being so close to each ear. The result of this is an in-the-head sound that makes listeners feel like the music is in the middle of their head.
The CZ-1 is indeed a peculiar looking pair but don’t let the large, quirky ear cups put you off as they house Crosszone’s Acoustic Delay Chambers (ADC) and Acoustic Resonance Technology (ART).
Out of the box, these headphones come with an impedance of 75 ohms with 97dB sensitivity, and their frequency response is specified at between 20Hz and 40kHz. Being somewhat plus-sized, it comes to no surprise that they weigh a whooping 485g.
‘According to the website, “Crosszone’s CZ-1 is a unique headphone that achieves the External Sound Localisation effect with an original technology. Different from conventional headphones that have a problem known as internal sound localisation (in which the sound sources seems to be located inside the head), the CZ-1 uses ART and ADC to achieve this natural and spatial sound field. It simulates the experience and sound pathway listening with stereo speakers”.
Hidden inside each ear cups are three beryllium-plated drivers. That’s right, three.
A 23mm driver acts as a tweeter while a 40mm driver in hardened brass housing is the woofer. Aside from these two, another 40mm driver connected to the ADC ducting delivers the sound from the opposite channel. The duct provides time delay to simulate the effect of sound waves bouncing around the room before reaching your ears.
The result of this design is a permanent crossfeed effect that mixes the two channels giving you the experience of listening to a pair of speakers.
“The icing on the cake are the quality OFC cables bundled with the headphones; a 3.5m/6.3mm plug cable and a 1.5m/3.5mm plug cable. The ear cups are connected via 3.5mm TRRS plugs and are independent of cable orientation. What this means is the cables can go into whichever side while still maintaining the correct right and left channel. They are also non-microphonic allowing you to enjoy your music with no interference,” as explained by Malaysian distributor Audiomart’s representative MY Yong.
“Aside from the sound, these headphones are also very comfortable. The unique adjustment system allows them to fit various heads. We use a torsion spring system for their clamping that provides a linear tension no matter how wide you spread the ear cups apart,” he added.
Throughout testing, these proved to be very comfortable. That, and coupled with oversized triangular ear pads make them feel like pillows on your cheek.
The ear pads feel like suede and are supported by memory foam. Holding the CZ-1 in my hand, it is clear that no expense was spared in material selection. Where there’s plastic, they applied a beautiful speckled texture much like a DSLR camera body, and the speckled finishing on the ear cups extends to the metal yokes.
The ear-cups have a limited degree of vertical rotation and the yokes allows further horizontal rotation. None of the joints or moving parts have any play or creaking and adjusting them feels very satisfying.
Moving to the headbands, they are made of die-cast magnesium for rigidity and lightness. The adjustment system extends outward smoothly with no detents to accommodate larger heads.
Releasing a headphone marketed to the high-end audio community is a bold move for Crosszone, especially considering it is the company’s first product since its inception in 2016.
The Malaysian price is RM12,000 but the CZ-1 can be had for RM9,600 as pre-order until Aug 31, 2018 from Audiomart’s local reseller Stars Picker Audio Library.