Sunday, July 12, 2015

CHC Silverado Headphone Review

The California Headphone Company (CHC) Silverado over ear headphones represent a breath of fresh air, an extremely well built, extremely inexpensive headphone that doesn't break the bank while simultaneously performing far beyond their respective price point.  As of this writing, the CHC Silverado's will set you back a minuscule $50 dollars on Amazon.  Amazon lists them as 78% off (or $176.95 off) from the original price of $225 dollars. They are listed as being $200 dollars on the CHC official website, so their obviously appears to be some pricing confusion.  At $200 dollars, the CHC's wow factor is severely diminished, but the Silverado's have been listed as $50 dollars on Amazon for months now, so understand that this review will be inaccurate if the price happens to increase.  I cannot explain why the headphones are currently so inexpensive and CHC did not respond to my email inquiry, either way, the headphones are a deal of a lifetime at $50 dollars.

The CHC Silverado's are built like absolute tanks.  They are constructed from thick die-cast metal, beefy metal reinforced joints, and stitched leather.  The headphone adjustment rails are constructed from thick silver metal and give out an satisfying, audible "click" for each level of adjustment.  The hinges, also constructed from die-cast metal, allow for a 280 degree range of motion, allowing the Silverado's to "trip-fold" into a more compact package for storage and transport.  The pads are extremely thick, and use supple leather for added comfort.  The headband is also built with ample padding.  In terms of build quality alone, these are among some of the most ridiculously overbuilt, durable headphones I have ever used.  The quality of materials and construction quality is better than headphones three times its price.  The durable materials used do come at a cost, the Silverado's are a very heavy set of headphones.  These are not lightweight headphones that you forget are on your head, but the comfort level does not suffer terribly from the increased weight, and I would argue that the quality of construction outweighs the compromises made to comfort.  The CHC website states that the Silverado's are "built to last" and the quality of these headphones validates their point.

To the rest of the headphone, the cable is comparatively average in my opinion.  The cable is removable/ replaceable and has what CHC refers to as "Duo-Jack Technology" allowing another user to plug into a headphone located out on the cable, allowing for shared music.  The "Duo-Jack" mostly just gets in the way and irritates me, and really only serves to fill out a marketing bullet point on a spec sheet.  The cable construction itself is relatively average, it is braided which I actually tend to dislike (as the rubbing action of the cable against a surface can cause noise to be heard in the headphones) and although the CHC's are not plagued by this problem, I wish that they had chosen to just use a high quality rubberized cable.  The cable is also a Y design and plugs into each ear cup, and while I wish that CHC had opted for a single cable that plugged into just the left ear cup, the ridiculously low price of the Silverado's pretty much invalidates my complaint.  The cable also lacks an inline remote/ mic and iPod controls.  Overall the cable is cheap and very thin, but replacing the stock cable with a better one is always an option (NOTE: It has been indicated on some forums that CHC wires the cable in a way that makes 3rd party cables not an option.  This essentially means the CHC cable is proprietary.  I have not confirmed this however, and I will need to complete more research in order to provide a definitive answer)

For $50 dollars, the CHC's absolutely provide some of the best sound reproduction for the price.  While CHC markets the Silverado's as being designed for vocal, acoustic and guitar heavy music genres, the CHC's perform very well with almost all genres.  The bass response is definitely pumped up, keeping in line with the popular "more bass is better" trend found in most headphones nowadays. Fortunately, CHC didn't forget about the rest of the frequency range, upper midrange frequencies are nicely represented as is the treble.  Midrange on the whole is slightly recessed, with treble slightly exaggerated, they sound like darker versions of the ATH-M50's with less treble presence, if you are familiar with how those sound.  The CHC's are lacking in soundstage and are fairly two-dimensional in their sound reproduction, an attribute that I fully expected with a low priced, closed back headphone.  The have a low impedance rating and are easily driven to louder-than-you-should-ever-listen-to-anything-if-you-value-your-ears-volume-levels even from a portable device (in other words, no amp required!) Overall, I am very impressed with the CHC Silverado's.

In conclusion, the CHC Silverado's (at the $50 dollar price point) are absolutely some of the best over ear headphones you can buy.  These are by no means "audiophile" grade, hifi headphones.  Sonically, they are far from perfect, and I would argue that the full $200 dollar retail price these headphones, while still appealing, causes the Silverado's to lose a little bit of their flair, but the Silverado's are simply not a super accurate hifi headphones nor are they trying to be.

CLICK HERE for CHC Silverado Amazon Product Page

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