CCA CA4 Review – Budget Friendly

Thank you Mr. Sunny of Better Audio for letting us give our honest take towards the CCA C10. Given that the review unit is from them and is free of charge, it doesn’t affect the honesty and integrity of this review.

The Company

CCA surfaced last 2018, it is a sub brand from KZ, yes the one that releases IEMs monthly. Kidding aside, CCA boomed after they released the CCA C16, an 8 Armature driver per side IEM. It shooked the budget category since it is only priced at 5000 Php (100 USD). After that, just like KZ they have released plenty of IEMs in less than a year some are highly praised while some doesn’t have the same hype as the C16. In general, from packaging to shell, it is almost identical to KZ but after hearing the ZS10 PRO and C10 I can assure you that they tune their IEMs differently and they are building different house sound.

CAA CA4

All CAA IEMs look similar to each other. The CA4 showcases a metal faceplate with a silver finish. However, this particular unit came in a clear shell in comparison to the CCA C10 which came in a purple/violet finish.

Technical Specifications:

Impedance: 23 Ω

Driver Configuration: 1BA + 1DD

Cable Length: 1.2m

Connection Type: 0.75mm 2 pin and 3.5mm

Sensitivity: 107 dB

Frequency Response Range: 20-40000Hz

Packaging

Of course, like what I’ve said it has the same Comparisonwhite box as with KZ products. The photo of the C10 is printed above it. Underneath is a transparent plastic teasing you to open it and use it ASAP. You’ll get 3 pairs of silicone tips, a copper cable and some paperworks, I’m quite disappointed because there’s still no carrying pouch or case like the BQ3 but that’s fine, I’m not expecting it from KZ or CCA.
Fit and Comfort

The seal and fit are both above average. It isn’t as sealed and as isolated as deep fitting IEMs like Etymotics or what, but it will not fall off if you find the right tips. To add to that, the earguides are quite good. Better than generic plastic feeling heat shrink earguides. No complains in this area, of course this will vary as we all have different ear shapes. But for someone who has enormous ears. these fit quite well.

Sound

Sub bass

It goes pretty deep. The last notes of Sting’s bass lines in “Englishman in New York” can be felt right from the get go. There is quantity but nothing really overwhelming. Kanye’s “Black Skinhead” has a lingering basssline before the chorus; though it can be felt, the quantity is just ample. So you’re not going to get usual lingering bass notes from budget IEMs. but it’s by no means lacking. Mid bass – The mid bass is a different story from the subs. there is a lot of quantity and weight in this frequency. It’s a bit loose and there is a tendency to bleed into the midrange. It’s clearly the most emphasized part of the spectrum when you listen to these IEMs. This bloat will appeal to a lot of regular consumer, but I believe a lot of purists will find this quite distracting. Leanne & Naara’s “Run Run” has a very euphoric bassline, the emphasis is at the sub bass when you use reference monitors such as the UERR, PP8, and INM3. While I know that comparison might be unfair, those IEMs are built for fidelity. The CA4 manages to emphasize the mid bass more than the sub bass in the aforementioned track.

Lower mids

The lower mids are recessed. Male vocals sound distan and thin, lacking authority. Also, there is bleeding coming from the bloated mid bass. For example, Patrick Stump’s vocals, alongside Lil Wayne’s bridge, at “Tiffany’s Blews” sound distant and lacking weight/authority. I thought at first that it might be because Fall Out Boy’s recording was a bit off. However, I tried it with another male vocal oriented track (i.e. Backstreet Boy’s “Larger Than Life”) and it still sounded off. It’s not totally bereft of details, just don’t expect much quantity and heft in this part of the spectrum.

Upper mids

This part of the spectrum is more redeeming. The upper mids showcases better detail, clarity, and balance. Positioning isn’t too farward so the snares won’t bother you with peaks. Female vocals are splendid for this price range. Leanne & Naara’s “New York And Back” showcases good timbre and is more natural to listen to in comparison to male vocals.

Treble

There is a bit of peak in the highs. Some my find it a bit sibilant, it’s tolerable for me but it’s there. As usual, I test the treble of every gear with Michael Jackson songs. Starting off with “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”, it sound a tad bit too peaky and unnatural. It probably helps give the IEM more perceived air, but the cymbal crashes are a bit too much sometimes. For treble heads, this would be great because you won’t hear an early roll off. Detailing is a bit off and artificial sounding. However, one can’t expect very good refinement at this price range.

Soundstage and imaging

Soundstage is not huge but it isn’t too closed in either. The lower mids being a tad bit recessed gives off a feeling of spaciousness, but if you listen to a track that has a lot of upper mids you’ll see the lack of space within the elements in the sound spectrum. Dua Lipa’s tracks highlights this, especially “New Rules”. It isn’t congested but it’s not colossal in spacing either. Imaging is above average though, cymbal crashes are positioned quite well in comparison to other old chifi offerings such as the KZ ZS3 and the KZ ZST.

Matching

Given the peaky treble and a highlighted upper mid region, the CA4 doesn’t pair that well with sources that are a bit bright.

Ibasso D14 Bushmaster

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The general consensus with the D14 is that it is clean and detailed; while this is true, it has a bit of an emphasis in the upper mid range and treble, having some sort of glare in the former. Listening to the CA4 was double-edged. It sounded clearer in comparison to driving it with a phone and a warm DAP (M3S), but it was peaky at times. Listening to a treble-oriented track, it was piercing at times even for a treble-head like me.

Shanling M3S

Shanling M3s ranges from warm to neutral with fantastic mids that has good balance between lushness and transparency. Sub bass has good texture and depth while the quantity is just moderate. Mid bass is fast enough with decent enough control, it has enough punch and speed but it doesn’t have the best texture out there. Midrange is slightly recessed, it is quite lush but still not muddy at all, upper midrange is not shrill nor sibilant like the zsn pro and it is quite forward compare to the lower midrange. Treble is positioned slightly forward making the overall sound signature as U shaped. It is quite sparkly but not too much, it has good extension and decay, the drawback here is that it sounds unrefined.

Comparison

KZ ZSN

The bass of the C4 sounds deeper and has more weight in comparison to the ZSN. Quality wise, the ZSN packs more texture but again it has less quantity and depth therefore I’ll give them a tie for bass. Midrange sounds smoother and more natural in the C4 while the ZSN sounds more transparent, they almost have identical positioning but I’ll choose the one with better timbre so the C4 gets the W. Treble goes to the ZSN, it may sound harsh for some but it has more sparkle, extension and resolution while the C4 sounds smoother and airier. Sound stage feels identical which includes layering and imaging prowess. Resolution goes to the ZSN since the C4 focused more on timbre and smoothness.

Conclusion

Well, the C4 will not blow your mind with unbelievable price to performance ratio. However, you will get what you pay for. Given that you’ll match it with a warm and/or smooth source, you’ll get a pretty good sound for the price. Pair it with a revealing source (or a bright one) would make the C4 sound peaky at times. The build is very good though, these can be daily beaters. Probably those IEMs you’ll just grab and not care about storing them carefully. If you like female vocals and songs that have a lot of snares, these will be a pleasant listen.

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