Current testing methodology is v1.2
November 26, 2020
2.99 x 2.99 x 0.83 in
The CCA CSA is an IEM in the ultra-budget spectrum, retailing for around $8 to $10, depending on where you shop.
As we all know, CCA is a sub-brand of KZ, a well-known Chi-fi brand manufacturing ultra-budget IEMs with decent quality.
To stay up-to-date with any new competitors in the same price range, I’m always on the lookout for cheaper units to review. Some reviews stated that the CCA CSA can compete with the MT1 and the EDX because of its similar profile.
However, the CSA already loses out because of its non-detachable cable, but who knows? Its sound quality might actually be able to compete. Let’s find out in this review!
Affordable earphones with mediocre sound – what you pay for is what you get.
The CCA CSA is a budget IEM from KZ’s sub-brand. Priced under $10, it’s an excellent addition to your collection of IEMs or a quick substitute to fulfill your curiosity about different sound qualities.
It has a great bass response, especially with songs with prominent bass instruments. It also has a recessed midrange that may fall into your preference for an instrumental prominent listening experience and a treble that isn’t that harsh to fit well with the rest of the mix.
- Driver: 10mm Single Dynamic Driver
- Cable: Non-detachable with 3.5mm plug
- Frequency: 10 – 20,000Hz
- Impedance: 23Ω
- Sensitivity: 112dB
What’s in the Box?
- CCA CSA Earphones
- 3 x pairs of silicone ear tips
- User guide
- Warranty card
Stuff I like
- Light and comfortable to wear
- Energetic sound
- Good clarity
Stuff I like less
- Non-detachable cable
- Recessed vocals
Comparable products to consider
Another set from the QKZ SK series, the SK5 has a warm V-shaped sound at an affordable price.
For around $15, the Lafitear LD3 has a great V-shaped sound with only a few drawbacks regarding its ergonomics.
The packaging of the CCA CSA is a simple box that’s smaller than the typical boxes produced by other budget Chi-fi brands.
These earphones have a clean aesthetic thanks to their plastic faceplate and shell, which are transparent so you can see the drivers and wirings inside.
Another thing to consider is that the CSA is smaller than other IEMs we’re fond of. Though it helps a lot with fit and comfort, some listeners may prefer IEMs in the standard size.
A few colorways of this IEM, such as black and green, are available on the internet. Other online stores also offer a version of the CSA with a mic.
Upon closer examination of the inclusions, we can observe that the ear tips, known as Starline tips, feature distinctive grooves resembling stars. This particular design of ear tips significantly helps in creating a tight seal and effectively canceling out surrounding noise.
The CCA CSA comes in a very similar shape to the CKX, which is made by the same brand. The CSA is primarily made of plastic which explains why they’re super affordable.
This doesn’t mean that they’re of poor quality. If you use it carefully and don’t drop it (like me), I believe its plastic shell and faceplate are strong enough to withstand months or years of use.
On the other hand, the cable has a generic and poorly-made feel, which may be prone to folding and creases. It also has a wire splitter which, I think, is made up of some type of metal and it splits the cable with the same diameter leading to the earbuds.
Additionally, listeners who use their IEMs with their smartphones may experience difficulties because the 3.5mm plug isn’t L-shaped.
Another thing I’m not keen on is that the cable is non-detachable, which stops us from potentially upgrading this IEM with better cables or changing them when they get faulty.
Overall, the CSA’s build quality is what you’d expect for its price. It’s not bad but it’s also not that good.
Fit and Comfort
Due to the CCA CSA’s size, the main problem I encountered with this unit was the trouble of looking for a good spot for my ears. It has a shorter nozzle making it hard for users to find the perfect seal in their ears.
I’m also not a fan of monitors with non-detachable cables, but I think this one is an understandable drawback as it helped reduce the CSA’s weight. So I can say that they’re pretty light to wear.
I also find the ear hooks a bit loose, which annoys me at times because it doesn’t look great for my ears when the hooks appear to be floating. A bit of heating and forming the hooks may help with this problem.
All in all, I’d say that the fit and comfort of the CCA CSA are mediocre but I won’t complain that much because of its affordability.
This may be the part where everybody questions, “Is it worth getting even if it’s cheap?” or “Is it just another ultra-budget IEM we will all forget after some time?”
I always try to be as neutral as possible when it comes to reviewing earphones. I think that my being pessimistic about every gear I get is one of the main reasons I always focus on the bad qualities, which is evident if you’ve read my past reviews.
The CCA CSA hints an energetic V-shaped sound but it’s also dry, which is an unsurprising trait you’d get from earphones within the budget price range.
It has a boomy bass that compensates for the other sections, a recessed midrange that can get overwhelming, and a weird treble that I’ll discuss more later.
The bass is both a pro and a con for the CCA CSA. Bass heads may either love or hate this IEM.
For me, the primary addition to its V-shaped sound is the boomy bass. The bass can be quite loud but it still doesn’t have much of an effect – much like watching a 4K movie with a lousy plot.
Bruno Mars’s “Chunky” has a boomy bass but I wish it had more depth. The good news is that it doesn’t feel overpowering even after the boomy sub-bass it produces.
The sub-bass and mid-bass bleed into the lower mids is one problem I discovered, which is typical of IEMs like these.
The overall bass presentation is nice but somehow thin. It fits well with EDM tracks and if you’re not that into bassy-sounding earphones, this is a great substitute.
The mids of the CCA CSA is where it starts to fall slowly, but still keeps up with the quality of the lows.
The first thing that I’d like to discuss regarding the midrange is the vocals. I observed that female vocals are much more forward with this IEM than males.
Female vocals are upfront but not to the point where it’s directly on your face but that doesn’t change the fact that the vocals are recessed. And in some instances, they change the vocal character of the vocalist entirely.
Instruments like acoustic guitars have nice air but lack micro-details.
An example I could give is the acoustic guitar intro in “The Only Exception” by Paramore, where the guitar sounds decent. Still, if you dig deeper, you’d notice the absence of the musicality of the instrument.
I have mixed feelings about the treble region of the CCA CSA. It’s decent but doesn’t meet the standard I was hoping for.
The first thing I did when testing the treble response of the CSA was to run it with some heavy and busy tracks to test whether its separation was good or otherwise. I was right.
It starts to get messy with fast tracks with a lot of instruments and it gets to the point that it’s all treble. I won’t recommend using this earphone if you’re into fast-paced tracks like songs from Dragonforce.
The good thing about the CSA is that it isn’t prone to harsh treble peaks which is a plus for treble-sensitive listeners.
All in all, the CSA is an okay choice if you’ve just started exploring IEMs or are simply on a strict budget.
There are better options online within this price range but if you want to try the CSA, go ahead because it’s really not that bad.
Even though this IEM has a recessed midrange, I believe it works best if you just want some instrumental goodness or lesser vocal experience.
I’d give the CCA CSA a rating of below average to average for its price. Maybe some EQ tweaking might help improve its overall sound quality.
Shaik, a college student, part-time musician, and proud fur parent. Currently pursuing his degree in architecture.
As a part-time musician, Shaik enjoys expressing his self creatively through music. Whether it's writing original songs or performing covers, music is a significant part of Shaik's life
This post was last updated on 2023-11-28 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.