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Crosszone CZ-10 Headphones – Soundstage Excelsior

Crosszone CZ-10 Headphones – Soundstage Excelsior 

 

 

CZ-10 is a breath of fresh air, as I’ve only reviewed open-back headphones for most of this year, so having something closed back, or at least semi open is refreshing. This is a proper Japanese headphone, high-end with all the bells and whistles, priced at 900 USD, and has a magnesium alloy frame, two drivers per each cup, and they will be compared to Underwood HIFI LSA HP-1 (1400 USD), HIFIMAN He6SE (1800 USD), Crosszone CZ-1 (2000 USD), and Spirit Torino Super Leggera (2000 USD). 

 


 

 

 

Introduction

 

Crosszone Headphones are some of the best there are, especially when you want the widest, most impressive soundstage you can get, and out of a closed back headphone, the company being from Japan rather than China, and having served many headphones to music lovers over the years. I even know people who ended up purchasing the CZ-10 Headphones in Romania, after reading my review and testing my pair, so I can say with confidence that Crosszone is popular, and easy to trust. They offer Japanese standards of work and reliable builds for their headphones, with unique technologies and principles for all their headphones. 

 

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Crosszone, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I’d like to thank Crosszone for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Crosszone CZ-10 find their next music companion. 

 

 

 

Product Link

 

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3ACHS5a

 

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3lX7Ufl

 

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3jLzhq0

 

Official Link: https://crosszone-audio.com/products/headphone_cz-10/

 

 

 

Packaging

 

First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The package includes the headphones, and two cables. One of them is the cable for the headphones ends in a 3.5mm and the other one is ended in a 6.3mm connector. Since CZ-10 are hard to drive, having both is really welcome. 

 

 

There’s nothing else much in the package, but the package itself is really nice, standing true for high-end headphones, with a nice material protecting the headphones. A carrying case would’ve been welcome, but there wasn’t one included with the larger CZ-1 either so I digress. 

 

 

 

Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

 

We should start by saying that the headphones are really well made, from magnesium so they are both light and resistant, which I find really good. CZ-1 continues the fashion of CZ-10, and are quite hard to drive, with an impedance of about 75 OHMs, and a SPL of 100 dB. This means that you will need to knee and power to make them kick, and I wouldn’t recommend you to settle for less. 

 

 

Given their sound, I had best results with smoother, more lush and more natural sounding source above brighter and analytical sounding ones. This means that anything like Pablab M1Mini, Chord Mojo, iBasso DX300, Lotoo Paw 6000, and Astell&kern SE180 would work really well with CZ-10. 

 

 

I love the fact that you can use CZ-10 and have some passive noise isolation, and that goes to about 20 dB for most frequencies. This means that you never have to worry too much about outside noise, and for a headphone advertised for soundstage, this is a blessing. The overall comfort is heavenly with CZ-10, and despite the fact they are smaller than the original CZ-1, the cups are spacious, and have enough space for my elephantine ears. 

 

 

Overall, the headphones are made quite well, and the adjusting mechanism is indeed as promised, and puts absolutely no unnecessary pressure on your ears / head. In fact, the comfort is so good, those headphones are in the top 10 most comfy headphones I ever tested, so kudos to Crosszone for putting two headphones there, while Sennheiser was unable to do the same. 

 

 

The cable is probably the only thing that is a bit disappointing, but it has the same solid quality as CZ-1 had. The reason I think it is a bit disappointing is that CZ-10 has the same proprietary design and needs their own cables for the most part, and it is not easy to get a replacement. The headphones are also not as widely available as most models, being made in Japan and sold / marketed for the inner Japanese market. 

 

 

 

Youtube Video

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sound Quality

 

The sound of CZ-10 is deep, with excellent bass reach / depth, but not a huge quantity if you’re a basshead. Since they’re closed back headphones, I would have expected a really warm and bassy headphone, and I want to insist that all impressions taken for this review, while writing it, have been taken using Astell&Kern SE180 rather than my other typical DAPs. This is because CZ-10 is a bit lighter as a sound, and they like a warmer, bassier source more than anything else. I allowed CZ-10 10 minutes of listening before taking my impressions, or about 3-4 songs, as they have a somewhat colored sound with the more forward mids, and that takes some getting used to. Regardless of the volume pushed into them, there was never any distortion, even above 120dB, and even in the bass, which used to be a bit deficitary on Crosszone headphones, so I would rate the technical ability of CZ-10 extremely high. 

 

 

The overall signature is extremely detailed, light, wide, holographic, fun, musical and smooth in the textures. They are far deeper and more corpulent if amped properly, and I noticed far more variation with sources than most headphones and IEMs out there. For this reason I recommend trying to have a mid to high end source for CZ-10, like iBasso DX300, Lotto Paw 6000, Pablab M-1 Mini, and a few others. I also recommend going with something that can deal a serious blow in the lows, and don’t be afraid to use some EQ, CZ-10 can totally take some if you know what you’re doing. 

 

The bass is deep, natural in speed, slightly fast, and really big if the song calls for it. This means that for lighter and snappier songs, the sound will be neutral and exactly as the band / master intended for it to be in the process. With Rap, Metal and Dubstep music, CZ-10 can vibrate on my head, while with classical and pop, they stay exactly where the music was supposed to hit. The bass is also quite nuanced and not a simple boom or a simple rumble, but everything in between and everything the bass should cover. Once again, this depends heavily on the source and how much power the source has, and with a lighter source you will never get to the maximum potential that CZ-10 has to offer. The bass is not overly textured, and its texture is slightly smoother, so it is never annoying or fatiguing, even when songs are quite aggressive or bass boosted. 

 

 

The midrange is the most colored part of CZ-10 and it has a more forward midrange that brings the voices closer to the listener. This is most probably a response to CZ-1 having been perceived as a headphone with slightly recessed midrange, thanks to their large and wide soundstage, and CrossZone went for a specific peak between 1kHz and 2kHz, or rather a mild bump, so that CZ-10 is never too recessed, and given their wide and holographic sound, and the passion most people have for vocals, it is understandable that they’d do this. I also think that the sound is one of the most detailed sounds you could have around this price point, with excellent render of both details and micro-detail, but with absolutely zero fatigue and a slightly more smooth presentation of textures. Even with artists like Apashe who uses a lot of hard bass and wide-sounding midrange interpretations, music is clean, clear and fun. In fact, CZ-10 is a very musical sounding headphone, and I enjoy it greatly, even with Rock, Metal and aggressive music. While it is not as fluid as RAD-0, it is still quite musical and fluid. 

 

The treble is where CZ-10 is smoother, more toned down and enjoyable for the masses. I heard a lot of headphones with a wide soundstage, like the HD800S, which relied a lot on their treble to sound wide, and lacked a healthy balance between bass midrange and the treble. If HD800S is a treble head headphone that can be bright and harsh at times, then CZ-10 is always enjoyable, and is a mid-bass centric headphone, with a smoother, lower in quantity and relaxed treble. Somehow, Crosszone managed to do what Japanese work always does, and refined a sound that’s almost impossible to find. They managed to make a detailed, lively, wide and fluid sound all without making it bright and all while giving it a healthy amount of bass that is able to mess with true rap and dubstep music. 

 

 

 

Comparisons 

 

I think I went a bit crazy with the comparisons part of today’s review, but I chose Underwood LSA HP-1, HE6SE, Crosszone CZ-1 and Spirit Torino Super Leggera to compare CZ-10 with. In fact, even though CZ-10 is nowhere near as expensive as most of the competition, it can still stand tall against such great cans, so I am excited to start writing. One interesting result that I’d like to mention is the pairing with Smyth A16, a DXP processor. Basically, you can increase the soundstage and 3D sound of CZ-10 even more using a singal processor, and A16 does some incredible things like expand the stage, to the point where CZ-10 sounds more than an open-back heaphone, it sounds like a complex 5.1 Home Theather Setup. 

 

 

Crosszone CZ-10 vs HIFIMAN He6SE (900 USD vs 1800 USD) – This one is a fun one because both headphones are similarly hard to drive. I never would have imagined I would be saying this, but CZ-10 is almost as hard to drive in reality as He6SE, and it has nowhere near as hard to drive numbers on paper, but in practice they will be mostly similar. This means that Arya, Thror and others are much easier to get going. Regardless, the comfort is better on CZ-10 thanks to the earcups shape, deeper earpads and more ergonomic design with less pressure on the head / ears. The overall sound is far more analytical on HE6SE, with more treble, a more natural toned midrange, and better resolution. CZ-10 is far more punchy, with more, deeper, and smoother bass, a smoother overall sound, more overall energy in the midrange, and with a fuller sound, He6SE sounding rather thin next to it. I prefer CZ-10 for most metal, rock, EDM, Dubstep and Pop, while I like using He6SE more for mixing, mastering and doing audio work where the latest word in technical ability is the most important aspect of the experience. 

 

Crosszone CZ-10 vs LSA HP-1 (900 USD vs 1400 USD) – If you’ve been following reviews on Kennerton and LSA, then you probably know that LSA has the most bass from any Kennerton headphones, and as a sub brand, it is really successful. The comfort is a bit better on CZ-10, as it is lighter, places less pressure on your head, and has a lighter more flexible cable. The overall quality of the sound is a bit better on HP-1 for technicalities and for being a less colored headphone in the midrange, being more neutral. This being said, CZ-10, if driven well, sounds wider, more holographic, with more punch and sub-bass. Being a more impactful headphone, I consider CZ-10 more fun for most music styles, including Metal, Rock, Pop, Dubstep, Rap, EDM. HP-1 being more neutral, works better if you prefer absolute honesty, and if you are into those precise sounds. 

 

Crosszone CZ-10 vs Spirit Torino Super Leggera (900 USD vs 2000 USD) – Super Leggera and CZ-10 may seem similar when reading my description of them, but I honestly do think that they are different headphones, with Super Leggera being more of an on-ear design, and with CZ-10 surely having a more comfortable design. When it comes to hard driving, both need a high-end source to sound nice, like Astell&Kern SE180, and both sound best with a good source. The sound is lighter on Super Leggera, and it sounds detailed, but more bright, more neutral, with less bass emphasis and especially in the sub lows, CZ-10 is stronger with a more punchy presentation. Super Leggera has more treble, and more impact with cymbal crashes, while CZ-10 does not focus on the treble too much. Super Leggera makes a better partner for acoustic music, room music, Jazz and maybe Classical, while I prefer CZ-10 for EDM, Dubstep, Metal, Rock, Country, and any music that relies on bass to sound good, especially Rap. 

 

Crosszone CZ-10 vs Crosszone CZ-1 (900 USD vs 2000 USD) – Comparing the new to the original is always a hard task, especially here where the original was more comfortable, with a better overall design, larger components, and more drivers. This being said, I am now able to get more bass, more punch and a warmer sound from CZ-10 than I ever was able to get from the original CZ-1. I may never have been able to drive the original as well as I am able to drive CZ-10 now, but Crosszone surely went for a warmer, more pleasing sound this time around, and CZ-1 sounds neutral, open, wider, more detailed, more layered and with more soundstage. By Comparison, CZ-10 sounds way smoother, with more bass, more punch, more depth, a more fun sound, and it is still wide and detailed. Having just half the price, if you don’t know that you want a really neutral sound, I would recommend the CZ-10 more, especially if you want a comfortable and fun headphone. 

 

 

 

Value and Conclusion

 

At the end of the day, the price of CZ-10 of about 900 USD, after conversion, is quite good. I actually think that judging from today’s market, there is quite a good place for CZ-10, and they are different from the original CZ-1. I honestly like them, and do think taht if you’re into soundstage, but don’t want a lot of treble like HD800S and Amiron have, and if you like a fuller, stronger and better rounded bass, and if you have the sources to power a hard to drive headphone, then CZ-10 is totally worth its money. 

 

 

You don’t get a very convincing package, you get no carrying case, and no extra pads, but with the original apds still surviving on CZ-1, it is possible that the package is enough. At any rate, the company will be more than happy to help if you need any extras from them, and while the cable is single ended only, aftermarket cable makers always found a way to make cables for unique headphones, even those with really rare connectors, so CZ-10 will make no exception, eventually. 

 

 

 

 

I will add CZ-10 to Audiophile-Heaven’s Hall Of Fame for their performance. It is an amazing headphone, with tons of detail and a nice punchy sound. 

 

 

At the end of today’s review, if you’re looking for a wide sounding headphone, with a more forward midrange, tons of detail, a nice well rounded bass, and if you have the means to drive them, Crozzone CZ-10 is an amazing option and will make their way into your heart for sure. 

 

 

 

Product Link

 

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3ACHS5a

 

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3lX7Ufl

 

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3jLzhq0

 

Official Link: https://crosszone-audio.com/products/headphone_cz-10/

 

 

 



 

 

 

— Please remember to stay safe, and always have fun while listening to music!—

 

 

 

 

 

Full Playlist used for this review

 

We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature.  PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality are all revealed by those songs. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music!

 

If you have a dime to spare (donate), it would make my day much brighter, as it would help me improve things around the website and increase the frequency of my posts.

 

Youtube Playlist

 

 

Tidal Playlist

 

https://listen.tidal.com/playlist/64555551-ec3c-4279-ae44-248fdfcf6c4b

 

 

 

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