Audeze unveils CRBN electrostatic headphones

Audeze announces CRBN electrostatic audiophile headphones first developed for use in hospitals
(Image credit: Audeze)

High-end audio brand Audeze has unveiled its latest premium headphones CRBN, ultralight electrostatic over-ears designed to withstand some of the harshest listening environments.

Audeze may be best know for making domestic gaming headsets, but for the production of CRBN (pronounced carbon), the California based company was initially tasked to create headphones that could be safely used inside MRI (magnetic resonance imagining) scanners.

The results were deemed so successful that Audeze has decided to bring the same technology to its consumer headphones with the release of CRBN.

Weighing only 300 grams, the minimalist open-back design is geared toward comfort and luxury with plush, oversized earpads, etched grilles, magnesium housing and hand-stitched leather.

Audeze worked in conjunction with SMRT Image, a company that manufactures technology to aid communication and alleviate patient discomfort around MRI, to build a product that could overcome the difficult acoustic environment inside scanners where the SPL can hit 120 dB. Moreover, because the electromagnetic fields produced inside MRI scanners are both strong and sensitive to interference, conventional moving coil drivers with ferrous metals could not be used.

This led to the development of an electrostatic driver headset with a carbon nanotube diaphragm (that can be used within an MRI machine without issue) and active noise-cancelling to block out the noise, helping patients relax by listening to music or to respond to instructions from doctors.

Speaking about the release, Audeze CEO Sankar Thiagasamudram said: "CRBN headphones are a chance for us to make not only the best-sounding headphones in the world but headphones that have a purpose and measurable social impact.”

The CRBN headphones are terminated to a five-pin barrel connector designed to work with Stax Pro Bias 580 Volt amplifiers, and you can find a full list of compatible amplifiers here. The over-ears are available in black and can be yours for £4500/ $4500 / AU$6799. Every pair is made to order, though, so you'll need to wait at least four weeks for shipping.


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Mary is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and has over a decade of experience working as a sound engineer mixing live events, music and theatre. Her mixing credits include productions at The National Theatre and in the West End, as well as original musicals composed by Mark Knopfler, Tori Amos, Guy Chambers, Howard Goodall and Dan Gillespie Sells. 

  • Deliriumbassist
    "Audeze may be best know for making domestic gaming headsets"

    Are they really though? I think they're best known for making great sounding planar magnetic headphones and in-ears.