Misc, Reviews, Tech

California Headphone Company Silverado: the headphones for petite noggins

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This post is a little bit of a departure from the normal beauty-related content around here, but I feel like it really needs to be put out there. If you follow me on instagram, you might have noticed that music is another thing I love – live shows specifically, but I have to go to work sometimes. Our office recently moved to a smaller and much noisier location, so I went on the hunt for a pair of headphones so I could replace conversation and ringing phones with something that I actually want to listen to. I started looking at sites like headphonage.com to find high-quality headphones within my budget.

The quest started off with an audioholic friend lending me a pair of his headphones to try for a day – and that’s where I immediately ran into trouble. See, those headphones (I think they’re the audio-technica ATH-M50x) were made with the assumption that the folks wearing them would have average-sized adult human heads. Possibly a valid assumption for most of the population, but I guess I’m an outlier? In any case, I made it though maybe an hour with them. The headband was way too long, so if it rested on my head the ear cups would end up somewhere around my jawline, or if I placed them correctly over my ears then the headband would be way above my head and fall off every time I moved.

So then I turned to the internet, because the local stores here basically give you a choice between Bose, Skullcandy and Beats by Dre (nope, nope and hell no). As it turns out, not a lot comes up if you try to search for headphones for petite heads, and looking for ‘youth-sized’ headphones mainly just turns up noise-blocking ear protection for shooting sports or volume-limited headphones. Not exactly what I need, guys. A couple forum posts later, I got a recommendation for the CHC Silverados and decided to give them a try, since Amazon had them for $50 at the time (total steal). Hopefully this review will come up for other adults searching headphones for petite, child-sized, youth-sized, or otherwise miniature heads, and save you some time!

Build quality

California Headphone Company Silverado

These might be the most hipster-retro headphones ever to exist, and I mean that in the absolute best way possible. The overall look is inspired by WWII-era aviation headsets, and the construction is all metal (diecast, even) and leather – no plastic to be found. For the price I expected sort of mid-quality leather, but I actually wouldn’t be upset if I got a purse made out of this stuff. The leather on the ear cups is a bit thin, which is good and maybe bad; it’s incredibly soft, flexible and cushiony, but I’m mildly concerned about how it will hold up in the long term. But who knows, maybe that will end up being a total non-issue. Aside from that, they feel rock-solid. The cables also plug in with a nice, tight fit, so there’s no wiggling or twisting – and no crackling from a poor connection.


California Headphone Company Silverado

I can’t really claim to be the world’s foremost expert on all things audio. Well I could, but it would be a total lie. I do know what I like though, and I’ll notice it if my music sounds ‘off.’ CHC’s tagline on their website is “stop pretending to be a rap star” which I assume is a pointed jab at Beats. The Silverados (and CHC’s slightly more budget-friendly on-ear model, the Laredo) are tuned to sound best with less bass-heavy genres like country, rock and alternative. The mids and highs are definitely more crisp in these than my Klipsch s4i IEMs, but the bass isn’t wimpy either. There are a few dubstep playlists on Spotify that I use as my software-managing theme music, and these headphones handle them just fine. The passive noise isolation is good, too – just wearing them without playing anything will muffle most of the sound around me, and as soon as I start up the music I can successfully ignore everything that’s happening outside my office door.

This seems like as good a place as any to plop down the technical specs, so here ya go:

  • Over Ear
  • Cord: 3.9ft./1.2m
  • Driver: 40mm Titanium (1-9/16″)
  • Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz
  • Nominal impedance: 50 Ω
  • Total harmonic distortion: (THD)< 0.2%


California Headphone Company Silverado

The interwebs did not steer me wrong on this one. When they’re adjusted to the shortest setting, the headband rests on my head and the ear cups fit right over my ears, just like they’re supposed to. They’re a little bulky, but that’s kinda just how over-ear headphones are. The ear cups are hinged, so they fit against my head automatically. They also fold in for storage, though these definitely aren’t what I’d consider ‘portable’ – I usually leave them at work during the week and bring them home on weekends.

The only thing to beware of, maybe, is the clamp force on these suckers – it’s pretty tight. That actually seemed to be the only real complaint I found when I was looking up reviews. I stretched mine out by putting a few books in the center overnight, which made them more comfortable, though the pressure can be just a tiny bit too much after a few hours if I’m having sinus issues. That’s really a problem with my face more than the headphones though!

Bells & whistles

California Headphone Company Silverado

The cable included is pretty nice – it’s covered in a black and white knitted sheath, and can be disconnected from the headphones when you’re not using them. It also has a handy little jack on it so you can share with a friend. There are no inline volume controls though, which is ok by me. I mainly only use those if my music source isn’t handy (like when my iphone is in a belt pouch), but I’m not likely to be wearing these while I’m running or anything like that.

California Headphone Company Silverado

They also come with a leather carrying case – another nice touch. It has a velvet-lined interior with magnetic closure, and the back side has a spring-clip hook for easy carrying. I’ve put the Lorac Pro palette next to it for a fairly-universal size reference – my apologies to any dudes who stumble across this and have no idea what a Pro palette is :-)

In Short: These definitely have a spot in my top-five-favorite electronics purchases.

CHC Silverados (MSRP $199.95) are available at amazon.com (currently $106) and californiaheadphones.com


  1. Sen

    June 18, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Oh nice! I have a small head too so I have to make do with inner ears which just gives me a headache. I love the design on these! Definitely going to look into these :D

  2. Benoit

    June 20, 2014 at 1:50 am

    Well…that just happened! Haha :) I’ve been looking for a good pair of headphones, and the reviews on these are fantastic. I should have them by Saturday! :) Thanks for the suggestion!

    1. Nikki

      June 20, 2014 at 2:24 am

      Always glad to enable! I hope you love them as much as I do!

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