California Headphone Company has proven that amazing headphones don’t need to be pushed by a big brand name. They’ve just released their Laredo headphones, the entry-level model of their two-model lineup. The Laredo headphones are an affordable set of on-ear headphones that boom with quality and craftsmanship.
California Headphone Company has vowed to make a pair of headphones that will last forever. Forever’s a long time, but based on the build quality, these Laredos will surely be kicking over the next few years. The design of the California Headphone Company’s Laredo is anything but plain. The Laredos are a retro-looking pair of on-ear headphones with sound chambers and hinges constructed from die-cast brushed metal. This beautiful metal isn’t quite bronze, it has a hint of pink or gold hue to it, which contrasts the elegantly wrapped stitched black leather headband very nicely. The large earcups are attached to a metal slide for adjusting and swiveling.
As On-Ear Headphones, the Laredos are supposed to sit on your ears rather than around. Since the ear cups are large, those with smaller ears would find them to fit like over-ear headphones. The earcups are pretty cushiony and they’re also made of real leather. It’s tough to pinpoint, but these headphones get uncomfortable after about an hour. Eventually, it puts too much pressure on my large ears.
It’s nice to see California Headphone Company did not cheap out on Laredo’s cord. It’s a thick Y-shaped cable wrapped in black and white zigzagged (zebra) fabric. It’s as tangle-proof as headphone cables get. There’s no microphone or control buttons, and the cable is not removable, but it does have a built-in splitter near the bottom. This means a friend can plug in and jam out to the same tunes. The headphone cable uses a straight 3.5mm plug with a casing thin enough to accommodate most phone cases.
Even before breaking in the Laredos at all, they screamed with quality and fullness. They’re supposed to be tuned specifically for rock and country genres, highlighting vocals and guitars. They don’t sound unnecessarily skewed at all, in fact they sound extremely balanced. California Headphone Company attributes this natural centered audio technology to the metal sound chambers and titanium drivers which ‘create a rich, punchy sound signature that brings the vocals to the front.’ We believe it! While rock music and anything acoustic/unplugged sounds absolutely fantastic, rap, electronic, and heavy metal sound just as good. I fancy myself a music junkie, and find myself listening to a breadth of genres on a daily basis. There’s no specific type of music that sounded anything less than amazing with the Laredos.
Even if you’re no audiophile, headphone-snob, or musician, the audio clarity is quite apparent. Vocals are clearly defined, as are most instruments. The Laredos don’t distort, even at high volumes, and they’re even pretty generous to low-bitrate audio. Cali Headphone Co. has put great emphasis on the mid-range audio, which is why they’re extremely detailed and defined. The lows are still nice and bassy; they can get very thumpy and they keep up well with rap music.
While California Headphone Company is brand new, the creative and innovative minds are not. They come from Fanny Wang, another headphone brand we’re fond of. Fanny Wang is sort of the opposite, in that they’re more tuned and targeted for hiphop and fans of rap.
There’s a lot that make these Laredos stand out from other headphones: their amazing build quality, their retro WWII aviation-inspired design, and thick anti-tangle fabric headphone cable. But, what really makes them stand out from other on-ear headphones is their value. At the Laredo’s $100 price point, there’s nothing comparable. If you act fast, you can get them for $85 (including shipping) from Kickstarter. The Laredos will soon be available from CaliforniaHeadphones.com. If California Headphone Company’s Laredos sound this good, we can’t even imagine what their high-end model, the Silverados, could sound like (at twice the price).
The Good: Great Design, Amazing Build, Fantastic Audio Quality, Anti-Tangle Cord, reasonably priced
The Bad: Non-Removable Headphone Cable, No ControlTalk Button+Mic, Uncomfortable with Extended Use