Hands-On Review: Crooks & Castles XL-CC1 Headphones

This image described by iPhone headphones, iPad headphones, iPod Touch headphones, studio reference headphones, Crooks-and-castles
For lots of people, the default audio earbuds that come with their phones or media players are just fine.  Then there's the audiophiles, the serious hi-fi nuts — the ones who SWEAR that vinyl albums sound better than CD's, much less MP3's.  The ones who, if they have to stoop to listening to those substandard media, will do it only if they can wring every last drop of fidelity out of the experience.

Sounds like a job for Bigr Audio, who offer a line of "reference headphones" that match the frequency response of the "cans" found in top-of-the-line recording studios.  One such example is the Crooks & Castles XL-CC1 (US$149.00).  Which begs the question: do ANY headphones justify a C-note 'n' a half MSRP, especially if they're going to be plugged into an iDevice?

Right from the start, you can see these are no vacuum-packed shelf-hangers.  The phones come in a handsome bamboo box PLUS a soft bamboo-fiber drawstring bag that doubles as a cleaning cloth.  Out of the bag, you can see that these babies are MASSIVE, but not opressively heavy, thanks to breathable padding on the earpieces and headband.  And check out the cable: it's flat and wide, to prevent tangling and improve signal quality.  Plus there's a built-in microphone with call answer/hangup button, so it's definitely smartphone ready.

In our (informal) tests, we determined that, yes, the sound is FANTASTIC out of the XL-CC1, both from the earpieces and the microphone.  Because $149 is a goodly amount of jack to drop on any set of headphones (even if you're one of those aforementioned audiophiles), you should try to take these for a test drive before buying.  Nevertheless, highly recommended.

Check out our hands-on review below:



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