It’s easy to distinguish between two kinds of audiophiles in Malaysia, especially when it comes to their purchasing habits of audio accessories and peripherals.
The first group think that the more expensive, the higher the quality of sound reproduction. The other is of a rarer breed: they know more about the intricacies of what makes a great pair of headphones, and care less about what brand or price range it falls under.
And there has never been a group that lies in-between the two, but Status Audio wants to change that.
Little Known; Big Potential
Straight off the busy streets of Brooklyn, New York, is Status Audio, an audio brand that believes that quality audio products these days are not only over-priced, but under-performing and over-branded. They also feel that many brands spend way too much on advertising by paying for celebrity endorsements. While these tactics seem to make their brand popular, some music lovers don’t quite believe in them.
With that belief and business spirit, Status Audio was launched in 2013 with zero marketing campaigns or PR launches, and not a single paid celebrity endorsement. The company claims that they care more about their products, and aim to make their consumers happy.
Quality Over Quantity With Just 1 Model
Currently, the audio company has only a single model available — the HD One headphones. It comes in three colours: the red-on-black Classic, the Jetblack, and the Marathon red. For the purposes of this review, Status Audio kindly sent us the Classic and Jetblack.
The headphones are only available for purchase online, and cost USD49 (RM178). An additional USD5 (RM18) will be charged for International Express shipping via FedEx, which means in total the cost will be RM196.
What’s In The Box?
Upon unboxing the package, you’re immediately greeted with a thoughtful thank you card for purchasing their product. You’ll then see that your new pair of HD Ones are neatly folded together in a smooth suede pouch printed with their company logo. You’ll also get 2 auxiliary cables: a standard 3.5mm one in red, and a black one (also 3.5mm) with a mic and play/answer button.
HD One’s design was impressive for its price. It reminded me of my old pair of Fanny Wangs (and how expensive they were). The headphones has a matte finish, and while I was initially worried that this would attract fingerprints and oil smudges, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it barely did! The matte material is also somewhat unique.
I found that the provided cables looked a little cheap, but proved to be functional with their flat noodle design, preventing them from getting tied up or tangled. The pouch is awesome though, as I am a fan of suede, and it did a great job of keeping the headphones and cables together when they were in my backpack.
I must say that I was honestly only slightly impressed with the headphones’ performance when it came to audio playback. When I played my music, it felt as though everything was played in one place, without separation of vocals, bass and treble.
This doesn’t mean that it does poorly when it comes to playing music — quite the opposite, in fact: the HD Ones are capable of good (though not superbly great, I admit) sound reproduction. They may not be entirely comparable with high-end brands like Beats, Phillips and Sony, but you’d have to keep in mind that those cost at least 3 to 4 times more.
Ultimately, the HD One does do what it was made to do, by being a pair of affordable bass headphones that kicks butt. The bass is responsive and adaptive, almost as if it knows when to overpower, and when to sound all soft and deep.
Overall, the HD One sits comfortably over the ears and wearing it for long periods of time is no issue. However, as with most headphones, it isn’t so suitable for outdoor use because the hot and humid weather in Malaysia causes unavoidable perspiration which will result in some discomfort when wearing the headphones. Therefore, I would advice against wearing it when you’re walking or hanging outdoors during the day.
How Does It Compare?
It’s simple to decide where I stand on this. The HD One costs below RM200, and easily holds its own against mid- to top-range headphone models from bigger brands — what more can you ask for? I’m certainly no longer keen on getting back my pair of Fanny Wangs, nor my O’Neill Stretches.
It’s dollar-to-performance ratio cannot be compared, as it’s seriously low-cost for what it does compared to others. One of the reasons why prices are kept so low is because Status Audio doesn’t have a retail outlet, which saves costs for themselves and for buyers. And I’m not complaining: after all, this means that I can simply shop online and have my headphones shipped to my doorstep.
Status Audio Upcoming Launch At Lazada Malaysia
Interested audiophiles can also purchase the Status Audio HD One from well known e-commerce site Lazada Malaysia this coming June, according to the founder of Status Audio, James Bertuzzi. In a short exchange with him, he shared that Lazada was the first choice as the e-commerce platform to launch their headphones in Malaysia because it is very accessible to Western businesses, and Lazada has a large exposure to much of Southeast Asia.
For eager customers, they can purchase the HD One from Status Audio’s website which ships directly to Malaysia. One concern that pops into mind is the warranty claim since this product is from the States and that is often an issue when making an overseas purchase. James assured me though that their return policy is awesome, “Customers get 30 days to try the product, and if for whatever reason they don’t like it, they can return it with free shipping.”
For what it is, it’s cheap, reliable, and of satisfactory quality. The only let down for me here are the trebles and mids, which are just on par with other brands.
I’d recommend this for those on budgets: the quality-conscious aficionados, the newbie audiophiles, and the underpaid interns who want to enjoy good tunes every now and then. Experienced audiophiles, however, I’m sure have their own high-end preferences.