CCA C12 - Reviews
Pros: Huge Bass response
Detail and Clarity
Nice Fit
Crazy affordable
Cons: Mids feel some hallow
CCA is brand of KZ which makes great works. C12 is one them.

Let's start with package: it's simple, with silicon tips( KZ tips ), box and some paper stuff. Actually enough for me. The cable is typical KZ cable. I buyed with cubic braider silver upgrade cable which is great and worth every penny.

About Sound:
General impression is really good for such a cheap earphones. General signature is V shaped. Clear sound with good layering, actually layering and seperation can be best of price range here. Bass bleed is minimum, sometimes appear but not really make annoying. Sound is not in fuller or massive way. More like analytical but not fatiguing. I think CCA make a great balance about sound.

BASS:
Bass is very powerful, Sub bass can goes deep. Weighty and massive. Bass lovers will be satisfy easily. Mid bass is hard and punchy, actually bit more than natural, in aggresive way. Generally i like the bass. Layering is also good on C12. Bass not incase other frequencies.

MİD: Mid section is clear. Not in warm or cold way. It's more like referance. Vocals are really clean that's pretty suprised me. Tonality feels little bit colder.C12's mids does not bother but at the same time i cant say the most fluidy or smooth.

HİGH: Highs are not harsh or too bright. There's a good balance. Well extended and detailed.

SOUNDSTAGE: For me above average. Both widely and deeply, really satisfy for price. Feels airy and comfortable about stage. I really like them.

FİT İSSUE: Fit is nice. Like ibasso it01. Maybe there's better on area but C12 gives you also very good fit.

COMPARASİON:

**** **** : **** is one of strongest price performance in area. CCA C12 is generally better than ****. More aggresive on bass, better seperation and layering and stage. **** feels narrower on stage, and clarity level is not C12 level but **** gives more fluidy and smooth sound which oppurtunity to longer listening season.

BQEYZ KC2 : KC2 is warm sounding earphone. Mids are fuller, high and bass section is not detailed or layered as C12. Generally C12 is better sounding earphones but depends to your expactations. Also KC2's fit is really problematic.

TIN T2 : CCA C12 can be upgrade for T2. For me every section on T2 is bit better on C12. Firstly huge bass response on C12 makes difference. Layering and stage is better too.
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Attachments

Tail
Tail
Hey! Have you heard TRN V90 and/or Blon BL03? How would you compare them with C12? As for the mids you mentioned "hollow". Is it too much V shaped? If you've heard C12s twin ZSX, which did you prefer? Thanks!
B
bahirtaha
Hello i tried Blons but i dont like the signature. Sounds very lineer to me. Bass is not deep and general sound not engaging. For CCA comparision C12 Clear winner for me. Deep bas and clear sound.Not hardly V shape but there's a good balance. Mids some hallow to my taste but its also quiet good. Reason why i said like that because i like most mids on a earphone and i am always ready for criticism them. Also C12's fit is waaay better. For ZSX i dont try them.
K
Pros: Good detail and better mids than expected, treble more linear than ZSX.
Cons: Same old KZ cable, shell not as comfortable as ZSX cousin.
disclaimer: I received the CCA C12 as a review sample on 9/10.

Unboxing / Packaging:

The CCA C12 arrived in a black lift-top box with a line drawing of the iem on the front and the specs on the reverse. The specs are a bit hard to read depending on angle of lighting as it is black on black. Once you lift the top, you are greeted with the earpieces resting in a tray with all other items hiding underneath. The kit is fairly sparse as it consists of the earpieces, cable, three sizes of tips, and the manual. This is not a let down as we are talking a 12 driver iem for less than $40. I'd much rather companies spend their money on R&D and better drivers than on cases, extra tips, etc.

CCA-C12-box-front.JPG CCA-C12-box-rear.JPG CCA-C12-box-inner.JPG CCA-C12-kit.JPG



Build/Fit:

The C12 uses a 3 part shell consisting of an outer metal faceplate, an inner plastic shell and a metal nozzle. Shape is a modified half circle with the nozzle exiting the top front and the bi-pin connector exiting the top rear. The nozzle has almost no rake so provides for fairly deep insertion but due to materials, isolation is only average. A single vent sits over the dynamic driver offset slightly from the middle of the driver to avoid the curvature of the nozzle. The face-plate has a lip around the the outer edge so it sits partially in the plastics shell as seen in the pictures below. This is the opposite of most of the KZ made models where the face-plate overlaps the shell. Seams are smooth, machining of the face-plate is well done with no obvious toolmarks and fit between parts is very good. The C12 is on the larger side, but sits fairly comfortably in ear and does not approach the size of the Zs10 that was uncomfortable for many. If the Zs5 series didn't bother you size wise, chances are the C12 won't either.

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Internals:

The C12, like its ZSX cousin, is a 6 driver per side design using a single 10 mm dynamic driver to provide low end grunt, four DWEK midrange balanced armatures to bring the mids to life, and a single 30095 balanced armature to give the highs a voice. Nominal impedance is listed as 24Ω with a sensitivity of 112dB/mW and is nearly identical to the ZSX but unlike the A10 clones, this one differs a bit in signature. I did find the C12 easy enough to drive from a smart-phone or tablet and while quality benefits from better sources, an external amp is really not necessary to run the C12 to its full ability.





Cable:

CCA has stuck with using the brown KZ cable thus far and the C12 retains it again. I am not a big fan as I find the splitter oddly placed which is then compounded by the lack of a chin slider. Luckily the hooded-bi-pin style connector is now popular enough that many replacement options are available. I promptly replaced the stock cable with an upgrade cable from Nicehck designed for the Nx7 and it worked perfectly and remedied some of the issues I have with the stock cable.

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Sound:

The C12 is tip sensitive and I found does its best with narrow bore silicones. I settled on a pair of Spin-fits for my listening and testing.

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Bass:

The C12 has good sub-bass when called upon with roll-off only becoming evident below 40Hz. Mid-bass has slightly less emphasis than the sub-bass but still provides good thump. Mid-bass attack is faster than decay and gives the bass a bit of extra fullness. Bass is not slow or muddy, and no big bloom is present, but it does feel slightly thickened at times. The attack gives the kick drum a nice snap on the initial hit and keeps the bass from sounding less defined. Overall, not a ton of detail in the bass, but a nice thick presentation that won't leave the user wanting for bass quantity.



Mids:

There is some mid-bass bleed that colors the lower mids, but it isn't overstated and brings some warmth to what might otherwise be a bit dry presentation by the balanced armatures. Mids start moving forward about as quickly as they transition from the bass while both male and female vocals have good weight, female vocals are a bit more forward in the mix and a bit more lively. Mids have better detail than expected at this price point and are surprisingly clean. String timbre is good but can be a slightly sharp-edged at times as the boosted lower treble comes into play and viola is typically a bit more natural than violin as a result. Guitar has good growl on electrics and fairly natural sound for acoustics.



Treble:

CCA has been doing a better job thus far with the 30095 in the treble than their KZ counterparts and with this model, although its twin has improved, the CCA remains a step ahead with a more linear and better tuned treble. Treble stays very level from 2kHz all the way through 6kHz before dropping back. This gives the presence region a bit of extra energy without becoming harsh or fatiguing. A later push back up at 10kHz brings back some top end air and sparkle without jumping way out in front of the rest of the signature. Treble detail is only average, but clarity is good and extension is better than expected. overall, this may be the best tuned treble out of a KZ family member to date.



Soundstage / Imaging:

This is where the C12 comes back down to earth. Soundstage is only average for class with considerably more width than depth and only minimal height. Instrument separation is above average and seating the orchestra shows good positioning for the most part although the stage feels a bit shallow and instruments are pushed closer together front to back than side to side in the presentation. Imaging is fairly good with spatial cues being well represented and movement around the stage being fairly well articulated. The problem I have with the imaging is at times when a vocalist moves in the mix it winds up behind the guitar or strings as the C12 pushes that upper-mid more forward in the mix. This is particularly true of lower range vocals in the baritone range.



Comparison:

Well after the recent releases where we have seen multiple brandings on the same iem, I thought we'd do a quick compare between the ZSX and the C12 since they are at the very least fraternal twins. Both share the same drivers, cable, and nozzle but differ in shell and faceplate and possibly cross-over. I find the ZSX to be slightly more comfortable with its more ergonomic shape, but I find the signature more pleasant on the C12 with a bit more treble linearity. No doubt these two share more in common than not, but they are not the same exact iem as we saw in the previous C10 round of releases.

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Thoughts / Conclusion:


Clear Concept Audio continues to be an interesting offshoot of the KZ family. At one point, I had thought CCA was going to be the flagship branding, then they released some lower end models, at another point I thought maybe they were a way to increase brand awareness by creating a different persona in the market, then they released two or three that were sonic duplicates of their KZ counterparts. Due to a communication miscue, I have two ZSX samples, and the C12 on my desk right now and my first thought in looking at the pile was "oh, goodie! another set of KZ triplets". I am happy to report that is not the case as both while certainly similar do have their own voicing as well as their own design aesthetic. For me, the better of the lot is the CCA C12. If I were buying one or the other, I'll take the slightly more bulky shell with the better treble over the ZSX with its more ergonomic shape and slightly spiky treble rendering.
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Wiljen
Wiljen
I did full reviews of both that detail my thoughts more thoroughly (both are here as well as my blog if memory serves). I think the v90 has a bit more sub-bass emphasis and is slightly larger in the bass overall both are fairly clean, with the c12 being slight
tighter and the v90 having a bit more visceral slam.
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Tail
Tail
Thanks! All I needed, V90 will be ordered this weekend most likely! Will check your blog :)
Gianluigib
Gianluigib
How you could consider the c12 less comfortable than zsx is a mistero for me.
Pros: A punchy, rapid and detailed bass, clear mids, perfect treble rolloff, decent soundstage and separation for an IEM in this price range or better.
An attractive casing that should appeal to most enthusiast.
Cons: That tangle prone cable we have all grown to know. The ear tips could be better too
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Let's just start out by saying this is not another KZ clone.
The C12 shares internals with the ZSX but the tuning is different in some noticeable ways.
The CCA has a better controlled treble and more linear presentation, the mids are detailed with minimal bass intrusion though noticeable more on heavy bass tracks but these do produce some great vocals for a V-shaped IEM, the bass is present and has a good depth and I like it's tight and punchy mid-bass and even if the sub-bass has a little thickness to it at times it's still quite detailed and enjoyable.
Soundstage is average with with a slight 3D feel but a little more intimate than the KZ'S but still very enjoyable.

Overall this is a great sounding budget IEM with a good looking shell and stands apart from the ZSX in some major ways.

People that complain about the ZSX larger size will find this one more comfortable because it's a slightly smaller case with a very different design.
I do find the ergonomics of the ZSX a little better but I have no problems with the comfort of the C12.

Let's just go with the CCA is a little more refined, looks great and is better for smaller ears. definitely a vast improvement over the CCA C10 at which I still like.
In the end ergonomics and aesthetics would be the deciding factor in your decision but there is more to these than just that.
Pros: Firm punchy bass
Clear open mids
Clean detailed highs
Attractive immediacy
Fast transient response
Cons: Minimal accessories
Tangly cable
The C12 is the latest flagship hybrid design from CCA (Clear Concept Audio) and it is a 6 driver IEM (1DD + 5BA). The Dynamic driver is 10mm in diameter and is a development of the unit featured in the CA4, a dual magnet design with a field strength of 1 Tesla. The balanced armatures include two sets of the new dual mid-high frequency design, named in Knowles-style as DWEK. These are coupled with the well-known 30095 driver covering the highest frequencies.

The C12 comes packaged in a black box the same size as the usual CCA/KZ packaging with an outline drawing of the IEMs in silver on the front. Sliding open the box, you are presented with the IEMs in a foam backing. The words “12 Units Hybrid Technology Earphone” are printed below. Under this foam insert you will find the detachable cable, a set of three Starline-type tips and documentation. A set of plain soft silicone tips with a medium bore are pre-fitted on the IEMs. The shell is very similar to that of the CA4, with the faceplates finished in a brushed metal with gold accents. There is an indented CCA logo in the centre filled with gold colour. Along the edge of the earpieces you will see the words “12 hybrid technology”. The resin underside is finished in a smoked grey colour which matches well with the faceplates. There are two pinhole vents on the inner surface of the earpieces.

The detachable cable is identical to that supplied with the CA4. It has a clear plastic connector (known as “Type C”) with the pins covered in a plastic shield. It is still possible to use other cables, which can be plugged into the protruding sockets on the IEMs. The cable itself is composed of braided copper and has a very long section between the chunky Y-split and the earpieces and as a result is somewhat prone to tangling. The plug is the usual right-angled plastic 3.5mm TRS type. It would have been good to see a more premium cable with a flagship model, and please, CCA, can we have a chin slider?

The earphones were left burning in for over 72 hours before testing and included tracks of white and pink noise, glide tones and other audio conditioning tracks. After this I used a Hifi Walker H2 DAP with a Fiio A5 amplifier and a Sony NWZ-A15 for evaluation. The supplied medium Starline tips were used but I changed the cable to a 16 core silver plated one from TRN. (See below)

The C12 displayed a clean, clear sound profile with a powerful bass foundation, open midrange and extended upper frequencies. Detail retrieval was excellent and separation very good. The soundstage was three-dimensional and extensive.

Bass

The bass was well-controlled and displayed good extension, with the lowest frequencies handled cleanly and with good texture. Messaien’s “Desseins Eternels” performed by Louis Thiry has some extremely low organ tones and the C12 passed this severe test with flying colours, reaching down to the lower 30Hz regions at the same time maintaining good timbre and resolution. In 1989, Canadian electronic music duo Francois Kiraly and Charles Crevier released a beautiful spacemusic album “Calypso”. “Castaway” ffeatures a plaintive melody underpinned by deep bass synth patches ON the C12, they possessed depth and impact and complemented the string and flute sounds perfectly. David Essex’s “Rock On” benefits from a superb production by Jeff Wayne (“War of the Worlds”). A prominent deep bass guitar forms the foundation for this track and it was beautifully reproduced by the C12 with an attractive “growl”. Brass and percussion remained clean and incisive with good stereo imagery.

Midrange

The midrange was perfectly balanced with the bass and treble and did not suffer from bass bleed, nor was it recessed. It displayed a typical CCA tonality with good clarity, detail and resolution. There was a mild lift towards the upper boundary with the treble which endowed this area with “sparkle”, and brought vocals somewhat forward in the mix. Enya’s “Echoes in Rain” from her “Dark Sky Island” album was a good example of this with lyrics clearly enunciated even allowing for the very powerful bass-driven accompaniment, and the character of Enya’s voice nicely preserved. MIDI guitarist Mark Dwane has revisited his first album “Monuments of Mars” in his latest opus, “Martian Apparitions”. Well-known for his audiophile standard recordings, this certainly applied here. In “Galaxis Chaos" the crisp, clean lead synth line stood out clearly from the powerful driving accompaniment, resulting in a very exciting presentation. Classical music also fared well, with Bax’s “Tintagel” showing an orchestra in full flight. Swirling string parts combined with snarling brass interjections in the dramatic introduction, to be followed by a beautifully expressed main theme in the strings set against a rocking woodwind accompaniment.

Treble

The treble had good extension and timbre. Separation was above average, enabling subtle details to emerge. In the Minuet from John Ireland’s “Downland Suite” by the English String Orchestra, the lead melody was nicely detailed with the differentiation of various instruments clearly defined. The lively accompaniment showed excellent timing and the counterpoint was easy to follow. Deuter’s “Petite Fleur” from the album “Land of Enchantment” features a lead melody resembling a music box. The attractive theme shone out clearly above the guitar and synthesised background and displayed a well-reproduced ambience. The high synth tones towards the conclusion were clear and pure in tone. The drums and percussion in Linton Kwesi Johnson’s “Man Free” cut through the production wonderfully. Sly Dunbar’s drumming here was exemplary, dovetailing beautifully with Robbie Shakespeare’s bass, with the high hats in the instrumental break superbly clean and incisive.

Soundstage

The C12 possessed an extensive panoramic soundstage, excellent layering and first-class separation. Jean-Michel Jarre’s “First Rendezvous” impressed greatly in this regard with the initial deep synthesiser drone echoing menacingly and the various string synth layers well-defined. Stereo imaging on this track was superb with electronic effects moving around the stage in entertaining fashion and the dynamic conclusion to the piece powerfully portrayed. The beautiful flute solo in Stuart Mitchell’s “Mausoleum at Halicarnassus” from his “Seven Wonders Suite” floated delicately above the orchestral accompaniment. Breath sounds could be heard clearly and the ambience of the recording venue added to the atmosphere, especially at the end of the track where the natural decay of the timpani could be heard in the distance. Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”took you to the sudio in authentic style with the performers laid out in a natural acoustic. Saxophone solo and bass in the centre, drums on the left and piano on the right. Joe Morello’s amazing drum solo came over superbly with a wonderful metallic sound to the cymbals and the timbre of the various drums nicely differentiated.

Conclusion

CCA seem to raise the bar with each successive release. After the impressively-detailed C16 and the accurate “warts and all” sound of the A10, the C12 adds a powerful bass foundation to the detail and precision of the earlier models. Boasting an impressive soundstage with excellent layering and separation, it has a largely neutral signature with an attractive sparkle in the upper register, and I feel it is the most accomplished IEM from CCA so far. Its closest competitor is the new KZ ZSX which shares the same components housed in a different shell and configuration. The ZSX has a deeper sub-bass presentation, a warmer overall tone and an immense soundstage, but does not display the same precision or detail retrieval as the C12. It makes for a more relaxing listen, whereas the C12 majors on detail and has a more incisive transient nature. Both are excellent IEMs and the choice between them will be largely a preference of sound signature.

N.B. The comparison between the ZSX and C12 was carried out using the stock cable and tips on both models to obtain an accurate appraisal as possible.

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Nimweth
Nimweth
I have reviewed all three on Head Fi if you want to read them they are all in the same style. In a nutshell, ZS10 pro is exciting and "in your face", C12 is V shaped and bright. ZSX is smoother and more relaxing. IMHO of course!
harry501501
harry501501
My brother is just a casual listener was listening to my zs10 Pro and was reluctant to take the c12 as an upgrade. He listened to it once out of politeness lol but instantly preferred it. His first words was the beat was far more realistic, he loves the c12 now
harry501501
harry501501
Not sure exactly what he meant but he did think it was a far better earphone instantly
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