Most bass players are quite familiar with the Orange brand, and for good reason. They have been a mainstay in high-end bass amplification for decades, and their classic and modern bass rigs have driven many a mean groove, especially in the various rock genres. We have taken some deep dives and reviewed several such rigs here in the pages of Bass Gear Magazine. You may not be aware, however, that Orange also happens to make some killer headphones. Orange offers two sets of cans, in fact: the (wired-only) O Edition Headphones, and the Bluetooth-enabled Crest Edition Wireless Headphones reviewed herein.
The Crest Edition Wireless Headphones ($130.27) are a sturdy, yet comfortable, over-the-ear, closed-back design, featuring 40mm drivers and 16-Ohm impedance. Orange claims a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz and sensitivity of 126dB (1kHz, 0.5 VRMS). In addition to Bluetooth, the Crest Edition headphones can also be directly connected with the supplied 1/8” aux cable (or any standard aux cable of your choice). The phones can handle both AAC and SBC codecs, the 4.1 Bluetooth supports multipoint pairing, as well as the following profiles: HFP v1.6, ACRCP v1.4, A2SP v1.2, DI v1.3, and HSP v1.2.
The main band is metal, with a rubberized coating and some padding on the skull side. Sizing adjustment should allow for just about any sized cranium (I have a gigantic hat size – 8 1/8, or thereabouts – and they fit me with room to spare) and there are notable “clicks” as you increase size. The cushions on the plastic housings are very soft and compress easily if you push down with your finger, but when the pressure is spread evenly around the circumference of the cup, they do a great job of sealing around your ear, but remaining very comfortable. The light weight (256 grams) also contributes to long-wearing comfort.
All of the controls are in the right can. In addition to the on/off button, the aux-in, USB charging port, LED (for indicating charging and “on” settings) and microphone, on the outside surface of the right can features a touch pad that has controls for volume, play/pause, skip to the next song, and more. It takes a little getting used to, but works fairly well. You can double tap the touchpad to access Siri or Google Assistant. In addition to the audio cable, the phones ship with a padded carry case and a USB charging cable. Speaking of charging, Orange claims a battery life of 27 hours (or 27 albums), though I never pushed it anywhere close to that long (and never lost charge during use).
Comparisons Between the Ears
I have owned/used headphones of one kind or the other for many years, whether they might be for studio use, private listening, or practice. Being a night owl (and having a family trying to sleep during the time that I most often have available for practicing), I have at least one set of phones next to my PC pretty much at all times. This past year, as I have unfortunately spent less time out playing on gigs, I have spent more time playing with a set of cans on my head. Fortunately, I have several nice options available, and I welcomed the chance to see how the Orange Crest Edition Wireless Headphones stacked up.
To be honest, when I first received the Crests, I was not aware of their price point. They arrived with a partial charge on the battery, so I quickly synched them up to my iPhone XS Max and fired up some tunes. My initial impressions were very positive: no obvious peaks or valleys, pretty good balance of clarity and fullness, and decent imaging/separation. They felt comfortable, had no connection issues, and sounded great. Time for a deeper look…
One of my go-to options – especially when learning new bass lines – have been my trusty set of Ashdown Meters OV-1 cans. These are the original, wired-only version (a newer, Bluetooth-enabled version is now available), while sold for $355 back in 2016. The OV-1’s have somewhat hyped bass response, which sometimes comes in handy when trying to pick out a bass line that is not prominent in the mix. For this head-to-head, I used the same aux cable connection to both cans. My source was the same setup I normally use when practicing: PC running iTunes, headphone out to the Aux In on my Phil Jones Bass Bighead Pro, which then powered the headphones. [I did later try PC to the Bighead Pro via USB (to the let the Bighead Pro do the DAC), with similar results, as far as how the two sets of cans compared to each other.]
I had the Meters set to “off” (they also have an “EQ” setting and a noise-cancelling setting). When plugged in, all of the Crest Edition controls are bypassed. Compared to the Crest phones, the Meters are – as expected – stronger in the bass, a bit darker, and definitely full and beefy. Switching to the Crests, the sound is more clear, detailed, and open. The Meters definitely sound more powerful, but the Crests are more natural and decidedly non-fatiguing. Paying more attention the low-end response, the Orange cans do seem to go as deep, but the Meters are just much more full and present in the lows. Switching the Meters to the EQ position made them sound even darker, and switching to the noise-cancelling mode made them sound less natural.
I spent some time comparing the Crest phones in both Bluetooth and wired modes. For this comparison, I went straight out of the PC’s headphone out, to remove the Bighead Pro from the equation. Some headphones are designed with one function – wired or wireless – in mind, and then add the second as an afterthought. This can sometimes lead to a particular set of phones sounding better, or at least different, in one mode versus the other. With the Crests, they sounded extremely similar in one mode compared to the other, with perhaps a tad bit more clarity and separation when using the cable.
Seeking out a competitor in a similar price range and with a very similar feature set, I also compared the Crest Edition Wireless Headphones to my Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT’s ($169-$179, street). Initially, I compared the two of them using the cable connection (from the Bighead Pro), but when I later compared the two of them using Bluetooth, the same sonic differences presented themselves. The AT’s definitely have more midrange content – in fact, this is really where these cans excel, if you like mids, at least. By contrast, the Crests sound smoother, and a tad bit scooped – or maybe “distant” is a better word – in the mids, particularly the upper midrange. The Orange cans also sound bigger and more full than the AT’s, placing them in between the AT’s and the Meters on the continuum of “big & full” scaling towards “clear and precise.” The Orange Crest Edition Headphones did stand out as the “Goldilocks” of the group, though after much back and forth, I found that with some content, I preferred the AT’s, with other content, the Crests, and yet other content, the Meters.
Like many things in both the realm of “bassdom” and in the “real world,” we will all have our own subjective preferences. This subjectivity most certainly applies to finding the ideal set of cans for a given listener. That being said, I found that to a certain extent, your ears/brain will adjust to the voicing of whatever set of cans you happen to be listening to. So even if they sound very different from each other when you switch immediately from one set to the other, once you have been listening for any period of time, your ultimate enjoyment levels may end up being quite similar.
Comfort is king, though, so I would most definitely suggest trying out a variety of headphones and paying attention to which ones feel comfortable on your noggin. It doesn’t matter if they sound exquisite, if you can’t stand to wear them for more than 20 minutes. Fatigue is another issue, but it is much harder to determine during a brief comparison. That being said, if a given set of cans strikes you as especially strident or piercing in certain range(s) right off the bat, then I would definitely move on. Fortunately, I find all three of the headphones mentioned herein to be both comfortable to wear and comfortable to listen to over the long haul.
It is also worth pointing out that a nice set of Bluetooth headphones can also save you some grief from watching movies too loud while everyone else is trying to sleep…
If you spend any appreciable amount of time practicing/jamming/recording/mixing through headphones, or just enjoying some music/movies/games privately, then doing such through a quality set of cans is a must. Spend the time to find a set that fits your budget, your preferences, and your head! The Orange Crest Edition Wireless Headphones definitely punch well above their price point, they are very comfortable to wear, and they strike a great balance of sonic qualities. I am very confident that I could use the Crests for all of my headphone needs and be quite happy. If you can audition a pair, then by all means, do so. But considering their very reasonable price point, many folks may be willing to jump in sight unseen (or unheard, at least). I would consider it a more than reasonable risk.
|Model:||Crest Edition Wireless Headphones|
|Sensitivity:||126dB (1kHz, 0.5 VRMS)|
|Frequency Response:||20Hz to 20kHz|
|Weight:||256 grams (0.56 lbs)|
|Connectivity:||Wireless Bluetooth (4.1) and wired|
|Audio Codecs:||AAC, SBC|
|Bluetooth Profiles:||HFP v1.6, AVRCP v1.4, A2DP v1.2, DI v1.3, HSP v1.2, A2DP Multipoint support|
|Included Extras:||1/8” audio cable, padded hard carry case, USB charger cable|