Glance at the Status Audio BT One, you probably won’t guess these stylish Bluetooth headphones cost just $99. For that price, they can’t look and sound great, right? Surprisingly, they can. They’re not the best wireless on-ears we’ve ever tested, but in this affordable price range, they’re up there. There’s no app or extra features—the focus is on quality bass depth and crisp high-frequency clarity. The formula works successfully enough to earn our Editors’ Choice for affordable wireless headphones.
Available in black or black-and-brown models, the supra-aural (on-ear) BT One headphones have a small frame and an understated cool, though the materials can feel a little budget on close inspection. The only branding is on the outer panel of the right ear cup—it almost looks the simple lettering like you might find on vintage electronic or studio gear. Oddly, the branding is likely to confuse some, as it doesn’t say Status Audio nor BT One, but an abbreviation meant to include those words and some others: SAHD1-BT. It looks cool, but it also makes the headphones sort of resemble a test sample or prototype.
The earcups and headband are generously padded with memory foam, and lined with a leather-like material. The underside of the headband has a mesh lining similar to material you find on running shoes—both the on-ear and headband fit is comfortable and relatively secure, though not suitable (nor intended) for exercise.
Along the outer panel of the right earcup, there are controls for power/pairing, a play/pause button that also answers calls or summons your phone’s voice assistant, and plus/minus buttons that handle both volume control and track navigation. We’re not fans of combining the volume and track navigation functions on the same buttons, as it’s far too easy to accidentally skip a track (by holding the button) when you meant to adjust the volume (which is achieved by tapping it). Other than that, the buttons are easy to operate once you remember which are which.
Status Audio estimates battery life to be roughly 30 hours, though your results will vary with your volume levels. An included audio cable can be used in passive mode when battery power is low, but it has no inline remote control or mic.
Aside from the audio cable, the headphones ship with a USB-C charging cable and a handsome hard shell zip-up case—the only item with the Status Audio logo—that the headphones fold down to fit into.
Internally, each earcup houses a 40mm dynamic driver, delivering a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz. On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the headphones deliver impressive low-frequency response. At top, unwise listening levels, the bass doesn’t distort, which isn’t always the case at this price. At more moderate volume levels, the bass depth is still robust, and matched nicely by crisp highs.
Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the BT One’s general sound signature. The drums on this track sound full and round—not overly thunderous like they can on bass-forward headphones, but not at all thin. Callahan’s baritone vocals also get a pleasant low-mid richness to them that is balanced with crisp high-mids, keeping things clear and defined. The acoustic strums benefit from some sculpting in the high-mids and highs, and the tape hiss sounds a tad boosted here—in others words, we have a bright, rich sound signature that definitely has some sculpting across the frequency range, but manages to keep things relatively balanced.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives an ideal amount of high-mid presence, allowing its attack to retain its punchy edge. The vinyl hiss and crackle that is usually relegated to background status is brought forward in the mix a bit, so there’s definitely some boosting and sculpting happening in the high-mids and highs. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with impressive depth—the sub-bass comes through clearly, and never sounds thinned out. But the deep lows also don’t sound like they’re being wildly boosted here—there’s boosting, but it’s never over the top. The vocals on this track are delivered with excellent clarity and no real sense of added sibilance, despite the noted sculpting in the higher frequencies.
Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, sound vibrant and lively through the BT One. The lower-register instrumentation and higher-register brass, strings, and vocals are balanced out nicely, with the lows getting a little extra push forward but the highs maintaining their prominence in the mix.
The mic offers excellent intelligibility. Using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 8, we didn’t hear a hint of Bluetooth fuzziness. The recording was crisp, clear, and even had a little bit of bass depth to it. This is one of the clearer wireless headphone mics we’ve tested in recent memory, and another big surprise given the price.
We tip our hat to Status Audio—for $99, the BT One headphones sound great and look cool. Visually, they’re reminiscent of far more expensive options like the $399 B&O Play Beoplay H8i and the $299 Master & Dynamic MW50. Sonically, they stand out with a refined sound signature in a price range that often features insanely boosted bass. There’s plenty of bass here, it’s just balanced in the mix.
If you have more room in your budget, we’re also fans of the $269 Marshall Mid ANC, good-looking on-ears with decent noise cancellation, while the $149 over-ear Urbanears Pampas offer a bass-forward audio experience in a stylish design. Thanks to their simplicity, attractive design, and impressive audio performance, however, Status Audio earns our Editors’ Choice for affordable Bluetooth headphones with the BT One.