CCA CA16

durwood

100+ Head-Fier
CCA CA16 – Land Of Confusion
Pros: Interesting driver layout
Isolation
Smaller diameter nozzle for smaller ear canals
Cons: Eartips, uncommon shape that affects the entire frequency range. All silicone tips make these completely un-listenable.
Cable tangles easily – typical budget removable cable these days
Limp fuzzy bass
Compressed/non-cohesive midrange
BEGINNINGS

This was my first CCA endeavor although I have plenty of experience with the sister company KZ. Other CA models such as the CCA CA10 have gotten plenty of praise, so the CCA CA16 intrigued me given the new midrange balanced armature drivers, and I was particularly drawn to the layout of a 7mm dynamic driver surrounded by the BA drivers. I was hoping this would lead to a nice cohesive hybrid concept. Unfortunately for me this mystery all ended once they arrived.

SOUND

Isolation on the CCA CA16 is good since they fill my ear well, but I still find them uncomfortable after some time. Usually most sets fit me well. Smaller ears will most likely find them uncomfortable. This is where part of the confusion comes in, it sports a small diameter nozzle (smaller than Final E series) which none of my usual eartips fit, but has a larger shell. Unfortunately the foam tips that came included as a free gift from the seller are the wrong diameter so you have to push them down onto the larger part of the nozzle by the shell. Normally I do not mess around with trying to find the right tips unless there needs to be some tweaking to correct some deficiency. Optimistically I assume the manufacturer will include something somewhat usable. This set however requires better tips and I don’t think anything I have in the silicone family works with these at all. If I graded them primarily with the silicone tips they would end up in the drawer of forgotten mistakes.

With silicone tips of any nature, the bass is tubby and not particularly defined – bland sounding and lots of drawn out hum in the sub bass. The bass driver tends to get it’s signature from harmonics of a driver being pushed too much. Bass bleeds into the midrange with included tips. The gifted foam tips from the seller help, but they do not help too much with bass definition, still just harmonic fuzzy bass. This was most likely a design compromise to orient the BA drivers around the dynamic driver. Something larger probably would have made the shell too big. I have some other micro driver earphones like the KZ HDS3 and the Final E500 which do a better job with bass articulation.

Mids are recessed even though the bass and treble are not overly boosted, and strangely sound like they are struggling all the time especially given there are 4 BA drivers. It is quite annoying and tip rolling does not fix this area. Perhaps a result of too many drivers.

Treble is sharp with silicone eartips – foam eartips can alleviate this, however other undesirable traits remain. Quite often the lower highs sound as if they are run through a cheese grater…similar to listening to a garbled cassette tape or 128kbs or less mp3’s.. The treble is probably my least objectionable part of the the CCA CA16, but there is a weird valley that creates some of these oddities.

TECHNICALITIES

Congestion despite driver count, the bass doesn’t seem to be able to deliver the notes in a strong manner, and the midrange drivers hit a wall, everything in the midrange sounds compressed even though it is recessed. Timbre takes a hit because of the treble cheese grater syndrome. Vocals sit behind the mix to create illusion of depth, instrument spacing is good, width is average.

ENDING REMARKS

In general the CCA CA16 give me the sensation of having hung out at the local nightclub too long and everything heard is a blurry mess even though it is trying to masquerade as a balanced/neutral tuned earphone. Unless you want to play around with foam eartips to extract better qualities, I would not recommend since the bad outweighs the good. I cannot help but wonder what a larger nozzle might do, or perhaps reduce the driver count. I would still recommend a TRN V90 or Blon BL-03 over this attempt.

More graphs and pictures available at www.audioreviews.org
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DISCLAIMER
I received these unsolicated in exchange for a chance to review. Tested at: $59.
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xxAMAROKxx
xxAMAROKxx
Great review. It's nice to see the right rating. The sound from these earphones is not worth $60 and imho $10 KZ EDX sounds better. With silver cable CA16 sounds better I like their cohesive sound and quite nice tonality at mids, not dark, but nicely warm. Good for easy listening.

Wokei

Headphoneus Supremus
Could be better but for the price - YEAH !
Pros: Good punchy bass texture with excellent sub bass
Good balance with overall detail and clarity
Smooth and musical tuning
Cons: Cable is messy
Bare minimum accessories - no pouch/case
Design wise boring
CCA CA16 7BA + 1 DD Hybrid

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General Info :

1.Brand : CCCA

2. Model : CA16 7BA + 1DD

3. Earphone type : In Ear Monitor

4. Impedance : 24Ω

5. Plug Type : 3.5mm

6. Cable Length : 1.25m

7. Color Available : Black ONLY with no mic or with mic

8. Detachble Cable : 2 pin Interface 0.75mm

Accessories

1. 3x Pairs of Silicone Ear Tips

2. 1X Single Crystal Cooper Cable

3. Instruction Manual

BUILD & DESIGN

Comes with simple white box with brand name CCA on the front with no model indication and not much effort spent on the design and packaging as well bare minimum accessories which mean no case/pouch or cable tie . Accessories provided 3 sets silicone tips. Not much to complaint with selling price of USD 50 for 16 driver IEM.

CA16 is the classic design of many current offering in the market and personally imho it's boring especially with Black colour only either with mic or no mic. The housing is pretty thick compared to KZ - for those with small ear - beware !

Evaluation of CCA CA16 with the following :-

- Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 phone
- Shanling Mo DAp
- AK Jr DAP
- Cayin N3 DAP
- Fiio E12 Amp

Bass:

CA16 really makes an impression with me considering that I'm a treble head but the low end has good punchy bass texture. Imho sub bass is the scene stealer with good deep impact and never overshadowing mid bass and never over powering or too boomy. Good balance between low mid and sub bass and each blend seamlessly like the perfect house guest that never overstay its welcome..

Mids:

Mids are slightly recessed with bass being the dominant factor which makes the vocal wee bit laid back especially male vocal but less with female . Tested with the song " Fever" version by Peggy Lee and Elvis Presley - definitely vocal sound better with female voice . With more complicated tracks , it really show but still good enough with good imaging,separation and layering to stand toe to toe and doesn't seem out of place.

Treble:

Fear not for those who detest sibblance or fatiguing high as CA16 really does well with good details with enough sparkle to complement without feeling being left out. It can be better but imho it will appeal to wide spectrum of listeners whereby its a relaxed sound signature .

Soundstage:

Decent soundstage but more width with depth & height lacking . Imho this could be improved ( more air and less congested) considering the amount of drivers but overall has decent separation, imaging and positioning.

Conclusion:

Have no regret with purchasing CA16 considering the price paid for 16 drivers and happy with relaxed musical tuning. It actually does well with good balance of clarity and details with my favorite part of this tuning where the bass really shines coming from a treble head like me.

Bought from AK Audio Store from Aliexpress

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mrmoto050
mrmoto050
Great review, I will need to look into these.:L3000:
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ezekiel77
ezekiel77
The great Wokei has awoken!! Congrats on the front page!!
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Wokei
Wokei
not neccessary a good thing to be on the front page ....yawn !

Wretched Stare

Head-Fier
A well rounded IEM
Pros: Good sub bass, smooth transitions up the line, good resolution
Cons: cable is absolute rubbish, no case or pouch packaging is boring Build quality is a step back IMO
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The CA16 is the latest model from CCA in a wave of new models from TRN, BQEYZ, BGVP CVJ, etc. I was hoping for a updated C16 maybe some new tuning and the tuning is improved over the typical past offerings.
I'll start by saying I was most excited for this and the C10 pro coming out. I am a CCA fan and have or had everything they make so far except the wireless.

The box is the same minimalist packaging you find with almost every KZ/ CCA and others, this is fine for anything other than a flagship. The build quality is almost identical the the much cheaper KBEAR KS2, normally I would be fine with that but this is a flagship. but it is not the most important thing, even if I was looking forward to an upgraded C16 metal backplate or something original. The CA16 comfortable and Isolation was average the tips were new I liked the almost tube shape of them.

Sound;
The CA16 offers a smooth V-shaped signature.

Bass:
The CCA has some decent resolution,texture and control. Mid Bass is nimble and SubBass is deep with a good amount low end rumble when needed.

Mids:
Mids are clean and pushed forward but not enough to be unnatural, the are free from most of the bass influence and have a light warmth to them they have some details but have some recession even if its less prominent with female vocals. The mids still perform well considering the $50+ and Vshape I can't complain to much.

Treble:
Highs are very detailed and yet more laid back than I was expecting, I found them to have some good sparkle on top but not to the point of ear fatigue, defiantly more reserved than previous CCA models. This was very well done IMO.

Soundstage:
Has a good width with a little less depth and height. The.instrument separation is better than I was expecting and imaging is precise, the CCA does a good job here too.

In conclusion:
The CCA CA16 is not a evolution of the C10, or the C16 for that matter its a different IEM in the line of good products offering value and performance at a cost. I find the build quality lackluster but the performance is good considering the price.
I like it, it does nothing terribly wrong but doesn't wow me its just a safe and pleasant IEM..
I hope to see this tuning continue with CCA get better with the next iteration.

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Shown here with a little tweaking I am enjoying it more.

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DallaPo

New Head-Fier
Drivers do not count
Pros: relaxed and musical listening
crossover ensures clean transitions
it covers all areas well ...
Cons: ... but has nothing that stands out
i like the mids to be a little fuller and crisper
Rating: 8
Sound: 7.8

Intro
Don't spill it! While we've recently been inundated with budget hybrid models that rely on quantitative driver numbers, such as the TRN VX (7), or CVJ CSN (6), the CA16 even goes one better and starts with 8 drivers (1DD & 7 BA). It is well known that KZ/CCA likes to indicate their driver number without really adding value, but nevertheless one is always a bit curious what the result will be.

It is a bit surreal that these 8 drivers are also available for about 50 €. There are no more drivers for less money so far, but as so often, the number of drivers is rarely a decisive criterion and also with the CA16 I sometimes wonder where the hell is the sonic advantage compared to the other IEMs of the company that are already offering a lot of drivers, like the C10 or C12.
Nevertheless, the CA16 surprises with an unexcited and quite balanced sound, but my enthusiasm is a bit limited and for my taste the CA16 doesn't get beyond a "good", which is not a bad thing at all and one should leave the church a bit in the village, also with regard to the price.


Handling
Minimalist, as always.
The typical KZ/CCA cable, which is usable, but surely won't win a prize in the category haptics and value, 3 sizes of silicone tips and the IEMs made of plastic.
These are based on a custom design, are comfortable to wear and make a rather robust impression, but the CA16 certainly doesn't set standards in workmanship and appearance, especially when compared to competitors with the same price tag, such as the TIN HIFI T2 PLUS.

Apart from the very good isolation, there's not much more to say, so let's leave it at that!

Sound
The CCA CA16, is a musical IEM that focuses more on the mid-bass and produces a really clean and dynamic bass for KZ/CCA conditions. Here I see the BA-Bass of the C16 and the DD-Bass of the C10 a bit further ahead, but the CA16 also has a good texture and nice punch. The sub-bass is missing a bit, but it sounds pleasantly natural without being a pain in the ass like many budget V-IEMs do.

Actually I could shorten the review and just write the CA16 sounds good, finished. I don't notice anything particularly outstanding, or special features that I could emphasize in an ornate way. Almost a bit boring. The mids get some warmth from the bass, are slightly reduced and can show their strengths when things get a bit easier. Sometimes they lack assertiveness, which makes them appear a bit thin and powerless. At the same time they can also score with a good resolution and natural timbre. You can't blame them too much, but I'd like them to be a little fuller and crisper. The mids are good, finished!

The highs are relaxed and offer enough information to keep you happy. Good detail reproduction and transparency, but also a bit thin, without too much headroom. They don't get on your nerves and prevent the CA16 from drifting off into the dark, but also don't bring the airiness to make the CA16 particularly open or spatial.
They fit in well with the relaxed signature and contribute their positive part to the good (I repeat) overall sonic presentation.

The stage is quite ordinary and is not really pronounced in any axis. The CA16 is not claustrophobic, but I have rather a subdued feeling and long for more openness and room to breathe when things get more hectic and unsorted. Here I would have expected much more, also in terms of separation, especially with regard to the number of drivers. The somewhat set-back voice positioning certainly plays a role here, especially when it comes to men. For minimalistic recordings/passages with fewer instruments, the CA16 positions itself much better and can convince here.

Outro
I am a fan of the C16 and therefore had quite high expectations of the CA16, as I expected a worthwhile impact from the dynamic driver.
Well, the CA16 loses the audiophile comparison in any case, but can assert itself in the all-round abilities (as long as you are not mainly at home in the rock/metal area) and is certainly the better choice for relaxed and musical listening. The CA16 is a good IEM, but the drivers are a bit wasted, although they are well implemented and the crossover ensures clean transitions. At this price I don't care if one or eight drivers will do the job, you should only adjust your expectations accordingly to avoid disappointment.
Therefore I don't want to make the CA16 worse than it is, because for 50 € you can't really do much wrong with it, even though this market is highly competitive and you'll certainly win with any imaginary IEM card quartet with the number of drivers in the price range. The CA16 has nothing that stands out for me, but it covers all areas well and is one of the most balanced KZ/CCA-IEMs. A solid B.

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lucasbrea
lucasbrea
Thanks for your review, do you like them more than the trn VX and CSN?

Wiljen

Headphoneus Supremus
CCA Ca16 - the best KZ to date
Pros: Good bass texture and quality, not just lots of it. Good mids, better treble than expected. Good stage size.
Cons: Build quality doesn’t match sound quality, cable is same old KZ with splitter too low. No case provided.
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disclaimer: I have reviewed a lot of KZ gear over the years, some I’ve bought, others were given to me as review samples, and others were purchased at a discount. I think I have every CCA model produced to date in my collection as well. So far CCA is much like its parent, kind of a mixed bag with some models outperforming their price point, others offering average value and one or two that just plain were not good. The CCA Ca16 is a departure from earlier models in that a direct KZ counterpart hasn’t been released yet, so unlike times past where we saw a KZ branded model and then a similar CCA, this time either the CCA came first, or their is not a matching KZ model. Time will tell. I received the Ca16 from Hifigo.com for purpose of this review. I have no financial interest in KZ, CCA, or Hifigo.

Unboxing / Packaging:
The Ca16 comes in a white lift-top style box that is perhaps a bit understated for a new flagship. No graphic of the model on the front and the specs are on a sticker rather than printed on the box itself. Inside, the no-frills packaging continues with the earpieces in a foam block at top and the cable and tips in a small box in the lower portion of the case. The kit is also meager for a flagship model consisting of the earpieces, cable, 3 sets of silicone tips, and the user manual. No case, cable tie, or foam tips are included in the package. It seems obvious that CCA does not see the Ca16 as the flagship as the AS16 still commands nearly double the cost with the C16 still retailing for a higher price at some outlets as well. The Ca16 is the budget 16 driver with the AS16 still remaining in the top spot.



Build/Fit:
The build on the Ca16 is a bit different too. Most of the housing is plastic with the exception of the nozzle and the Ca16 uses the now common semi-custom shape. The shell has more than the usual number of parts though. Looking at the under side of the shell, you can clearly see a seam that divides in the inner shell into the part holding the nozzle and the forward portion of the shell. This forward portion is shallow and rests on top of the main inner shell that runs the entire length of the faceplate. A raised bi-pin connector exits the top front, while the nozzle exits the lowest point of the iem with a slight foward rake. There are two vents on the underside, one near the nozzle and the second in the fold of the shell. These are most easily seen in the 3rd photo below. The seams are not quite as noticeable in use as they are in the photos, but still evident and gives the feel of a limited budget build as it is fairly apparent that fit and polish were not of primary importance.




Internals:
The Ca16 is an 8 driver per ear model with 7 balanced armatures and a single dynamic driver per side. It differs from the previous C16 and AS16 which use balanced armatures for the low end with the 7mm composite diaphragm dynamic providing the lows here. Four 50024 balanced armatures handle the mids and three 30095 balanced armatures handle the highs in the Ca16. The 30095 is in common with the C16 while none of the drivers are common with the AS16. With three 30095 drivers in the mix, this sounds like a recipe for a treble knife, but the crossover is well tuned to keep the top end from getting out of hand and maintaining balanced among the component drivers. Nominal impedance is listed as 24Ω with a sensitivity of 102 dB/mW putting the Ca16 in territory where one would expect it to perform well from a phone or tablet and in my findings it does. It scales qualitatively with source, but quantitatively does not need the additional power of a more potent amp.




Cable:
Those familiar with KZ and CCA will recognize the cable immediately and nothing has changed from previous generations. The south end has the 3.5mm 90º jack with good strain relief before the brown 4 strand copper cable exits. The cable itself is a double twist pattern up to the Y shaped plastic splitter that is entirely too low on the cable, then a pair of 2 strand twists head north to the pre-formed hooks, clear housings, and .75mm bi-pin connectors.




Sound:




Bass:
The Ca16 has good sub-bass quantity with good rumble when called upon and roll-off only becoming noticeable in the lower 30Hz range. Once above about 100Hz, there is a gradual drop off that gives the sub-bass a bit more prominence in the mix compared to the mid-bass but mid-bass retains good slam. Textures are better than expected and I don’t feel the Ca16 gives up much clarity in the bass by going to the dynamic as opposed to the earlier all BA 16 driver models. Speed is good with a bit slower decay than attack leaving just a touch of warmth and bleed at the transition between the dynamic and the Armature as we move into the mids.

Mids:
The transition from mid-bass to lower mids is very well done and smooth and honestly hard to pick out as a result. The lower mids have good clarity and while the Ca16 is a bit V-shaped it is hard to think of the lower mids as recessed. They are not emphasized, but they are far from absent or distant. Tonality is better than expected with strings having a more natural timbre than perhaps any other CCa/KZ model, and several others I have that cost a good bit more. Vocals are well rendered as well with good weight without getting syrupy as a result. Guitar growl is good as well although I would have liked just a bit more edge to them for metal as they seem a touch polite. Upper-mids are a step forward of the lower and as such female vocals step a bit forward. I did not find a tendency toward stridency, but did find that the Ca16 will reproduce sibilance if recorded into the track. Overall, very good mids and way better than I expected at the $55 mark.

Treble:
The lower treble continues the climb of the upper mids and then drops back some as you move into the true treble. It does have a touch of extra energy here, but again not as much as I anticipated with the driver arrangement involved, and not enough to make the treble shy run for the aisles. Treble comes across as well detailed with snare rattle being crisp and only a hint of a metallic edge to high-hat and cymbal (both of which were again better than I anticipated). I think moving the 30095s away from the nozzle probably helped here or perhaps there is something in the crossover design as well that is allowing the detail of the 30095 to show through without the piercing element that so commonly accompanies this driver.

Soundstage / Imaging:
The soundstage on the Ca16 is wider than deep, but does have good reasonable depth to it so doesn’t come across as disproportionate. Seating the orchestra is straight forward with no mis-placements and good instrument separation throughout. Layering is quite good as well with no tendency to compress unless tracks get extremely busy and even then the compression is only evident in the low end provided by the dynamic. It takes something really complex to trip the Ca16 up, I tried. Imaging is both accurate and reasonably precise with points in space well defined and movements easily tracked.

Comparisons:

CCA C16 / KZ As16
The comparison here is obvious with the pedigree involved, and to my ear shows the growth of KZ/CCA tuning over the last couple years. The C16 is more analytical, with slightly better detail in the lows, but lacks the extension on the low end of the Ca16, and at the same time packs more top end than the Ca16 giving the AS16 a brighter, hotter top end and a tendency toward sibilance. Overall, there is not a single attribute of the Ca16 that I think the AS16 does better and I suspect the C16/As16 may soon be dropped from their production catalog in favor of the Ca16.

TRN Vx –
Build quality goes to TRN hands down. The cast aluminum shell is better fit, finished, and polished than the Ca16 by a considerable margin. Cables are roughly equal so no points to either in that regard, but sonics go to the Ca16. Starting at the low end, the Vx has more bass, but not as clean. Moving to mids, the Vx does sound recessed vs the Ca16 sounding non emphasized by comparison. At the top end, the VX extends further, but at the expense of sounding harsh at times and being too bright for the treble sensitive. If you love a big V and want slam, the VX may be your pick and I can see it being preferred for watching movies due to that, but for orchestral music, the Ca16 is a big step up.

NiceHck Nx7 Pro –
Here we have a bit closer build quality between the two. Kit is better on the Nx7 as it includes the tuning filters and the case, but it needs those tuning filters to come close to the Ca16 sound wise, and even with the best of them (Silver) it doesn’t have the tonality or the natural timbre to vocals that the Ca16 brings to the table. Mids especially stand out on the Ca16 in comparison.


Thoughts / Conclusion:
A few years ago, we’d have expected a 16 driver in ear to be a proof of concept model and carry a price tag that approached that of a decent used car. Wow how times have changed. Today, we have our choice of multiple 6+ driver per side models in the sub-$100 space, and the options keep growing seemingly weekly. As I write this, I have the TRN VX staring at me as if to say “My turn next”. So where does the CCA Ca16 fit in the grand scheme of things today? To put it bluntly, it ought to be their flagship and they missed a bet by not packaging and marketing it as such. To my thinking it is more coherent, more mature sounding, and just plain an improvement in about every possible way over the earlier AS16 and C16 offerings. Unfortunately, the packaging and build don’t live up to that same standard. Having said that, we are the beneficiaries of that mistake as we now can purchase what I think is the best in-ear CCA has ever offered (and maybe KZ as well for that matter) for the paltry sum of $59. I can promise that while the build is entirely plastic, the cable is typical KZ, and the fit and finish is less than remarkable, the sonics will win you over. Highly recommended.
Lucozade 1
Lucozade 1
Very nice review thanks , only had the cca ca16 for a week or so but loving it so far, have the vx coming in today so looking forward to compairing the two.

Nimweth

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Powerful and clean bass with good resolution
Open and transparent mids with excellent layering and separation
Smooth treble with good extension and detail
Large soundstage
Very light and comfortable
Cons: Same old KZ/CCA cable: tangly.
Underwhelming accessories and packaging
Build quality not commensurate with a premium model
Introduction

The CA16 is the latest model from KZ’s sister company CCA (Clear Concept Audio) and is their first product for about 9 months. It is a hybrid design featuring eight drivers per side (1DD + 7BA). The dynamic driver is a new design with a 7mm diaphragm and dual Neodymium magnet and covers the bass region. The midrange is handled by two sets of the new dual BA type 50024 (four BAs in total). Whether these are the same as the DWEK units in the previous C12 model is not clear, though published illustrations of the two units are very similar. Three 30095 BAs are used for the treble frequencies in a configuration previously seen in two other recent multi-driver hybrids, TRN's VX (1DD + 6BA) and the CVJ CSN (1DD + 5BA) but was actually first used in the all-BA TRN BA5. There are no BA drivers placed within the nozzle as in previous designs.

Description

The earphones come in a sturdy white box with a linen finish, somewhat more substantial than the traditional CCA/KZ packaging we are used to. Opening the box the earphones are presented in a cardboard cut-out below a small envelope containing the documentation. Below this is another small box in which there are the spare eartips and the 2-pin cable. There are some specifications printed on the back. At this price this was a little disappointing, considering that the CVJ CSA at $17 comes in a wooden box and includes a better cable and a carrying pouch.

The earpieces are formed from a glossy black plastic material and bear a prominent CCA logo. They are light in weight and do seem a little cheaply made compared to those of the C12 and C16 which feature metal faceplates. Considering that the CA16 is their flagship model, I would have expected a more substantial construction. The nozzle is gold-coloured with a silver mesh and there is a small pinhole vent at the base and another similar vent in the centre of the rear of the earpiece. The words "16 hybrid technology" are written on the side along with discreet channel identification. The shape is quite complex, resembling KZ's ZS4, and they are a little bulky but surprisingly comfortable to wear, not protruding very much from the ears. The supplied eartips are made of a white translucent silicone and have a fairly wide bore and parallel sides. The medium size is pre-fitted to the earpieces and I also found these very comfortable.

The supplied cable is the usual 4-core braided type seen on various CCA and KZ models. There is a long run from the chunky Y-split to the QDC connectors and no chin slider and it tangles very easily. It is terminated in a right angle 3.5mm plug. The ear guides are quite tightly curved but fit snugly round the ear.

The earphones were auditioned using a variety of sources, across a wide selection of musical genres, primarily my Xduoo X20 but also a Sony NWZ-A15, a Huawei smartphone and a CD player. The supplied cable and tips were used and a burn-in period of 100 hours was carried out. The CA16 proved slightly power-hungry, with my Huawei smartphone needing to be at 100% volume for an acceptable level and my Xduoo X20 DAP volume at around 50% compared to an average of 33%. The C16 scales well and benefits from using an improved cable (preferably balanced) which brought out extra detail and improved the staging as well as providing an enhanced volume level. Adding amplification (I used a Fiio A5) tightened the bass and improved impact and transient attack.

First Impressions

Initial impressions were very positive. It was clear that with the CA16, CCA had a more neutral or "audiophile" tuning in mind. Bass was firm, well-extended and possessed good resolution and texture. Midrange was free from bass bleed, open, expressive and clear and not noticeably recessed. Treble was sweet with good detail and extension, sounding airy and clean. The soundstage was expansive with precise imaging.

Bass

The new 7mm bass driver delivered an excellent performance with depth, resolution and texture all first class. The emphasis was well-judged, being set somewhere between the sub- and mid-bass and delivered both sub-bass rumble and mid-bass punch in equal measure. The integration with the other drivers was seamless.

In Richard Burmer's "A story from the Rain" the powerful drum strikes following the calm introduction hit hard with an impressive attack and decay while the percussive and woodwind elements remained clearly audible. The agility, speed and clarity in the fast paced sub-bass riff in "Siren's Song" from Mark Dwane's "Archives 2" was astounding with each note possessing depth and slam and being precisely defined while supporting wordless female vocals and incisive rhythmic elements. Everything was presented in perfect balance. A wonderful performance.

The beautiful recording of Symphony No. 3 by Saint-Saens with the CBSO conducted by Louis Fremaux and Christopher Robinson at the keyboard was another good example. In the second movement the organ returns to accompany the main melody after the bridge. At the 6:40 mark the organ is at its deepest with the 32’ pedal notes firm and powerful, superbly reproduced with depth, weight and wonderful timbre and forming a perfect foundation for the smooth string accompaniment.

David Essex's "Rock On" features double-tracked bass guitar and drums in a complex production by Jeff Wayne. Drums had good impact and speed whilst the bass guitar displayed impressive "growl" and texture even on the lowest notes.

Midrange

Openness and transparency were the keywords here with layering, imaging and separation clear and precise. The timbre was very natural. Andy Dragazis's "Figure Ground" from his album "Afterimages" presents solo cello against imaginative electronic and acoustic backgrounds. The timbre of the solo instrument was very natural with the accompaniment clear and delicately detailed and the choral effects at the conclusion soaring above the instrumentation to great effect.

Benny Andersson's "Piano" is an album of solo piano pieces. "En skrift I snoen" has a lovely plaintive melody and the CA16's natural timbre portrayed Benny Andersson's Fazioli instrument accurately and with great musicality, depicting the subtle harmonics which defined the character of the instrument through attack, decay, sustain and release. The atmosphere and ambience of Linn Fajal's superb recording was captured perfectly.

Lee Holdridge's "Elegy for Harp and Strings", performed by the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra proceeded serenely on its way with the solo cello and harp clearly defined and presenting the lovely melody with sensitivity and feeling. The string counterpoint in an ascending and descending major scale was very effectively portrayed.

Treble

The treble was clean, extended and detailed. Slightly brighter than neutral but not tending to harshness or sibilance, it remained smooth and open. The decision not to place drivers in the nozzle has certainly paid off.

Sarah Chang's performance of Vaughan Williams's "The Lark Ascending" with the LPO under Bernard Haitink displayed this admirably, with the solo instrument clearly positioned in the stereo image with its timbre realistically depicted and every detail of the bowing authentically realised. The balance between the violin and orchestra was perfect.

Isao Tomita's "Electronic Realisation" of Grieg's "Solveig's Song" from his "Kosmos" album was exciting and powerful with the minor key swirling string figurations supporting the central melody to great effect and imparting an unsettling sense of foreboding. The dynamic range in this piece was thrilling, swelling to an impressive climax.

Supertramp's "Know who you Are" features acoustic guitars throughout with instruments placed left and right and the clear and distinctive vocals of Roger Hodgson in the centre. Each note of the guitars was well defined with the plectrum sounds easy to discern, even during the conclusion with a full string orchestral accompaniment. Once again the balance was perfectly judged.

Soundstage

The CA16's soundstage was impressive with excellent width and height, and the superb transparency of the midrange producing an unusually good depiction of depth. A good example of this was in Mychael Danna's "Sky 10" from his "Skys" album, a collection of electronic pieces inspired by Canadian skyscapes. The various layers of this densely scored synthesiser piece were laid bare and their layering and positioning within the image was very apparent. During the climaxes all the disparate elements retained focus.

The introduction to "Become Ocean" by John Luther Adams, performed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, features a deep sub-bass drone accompanied by delicate arpeggiated figuring and higher frequency drones forming a choral effect. It was redolent of rising from the depths, and the expansive nature of the soundstaging filled my head with sound.

Pink Floyd's "High Hopes" from "The Division Bell" begins with piano chords, tolling bells and nature sounds filling every available space in the image and the CA16 rose to the occasion admirably with all the various sounds occupying their allotted places and producing the intended spacious effect. David Gilmour's vocals stood out clearly from the background with the reverb on his vocal track very well-rendered.

Conclusion

With the CA16, CCA have delivered a well-balanced IEM with audiophile pretensions and fine musicality. It avoids the bright upper mid/lower treble emphasis of the C12, instead exhibiting a smooth transition between the drivers. The CA16 reminds us what this hobby is all about: the music. There is very little to criticise here and the choice between other competing models in the same price range will largely be a matter of personal preference. The KZ ZSX has a warm/neutral presentation with powerful bass and more reserved upper frequencies, but loses out to the CA16 in terms of detail and resolution. CVJ's CSN has a similar sound profile but is more neutral and is cooler in tonality, has superior build quality and a better cable. The TRN VX also has a quality alloy construction and is, according to recent reviews, more V-shaped with a bright treble, majoring on detail (I have one on the way!). The CA16 treads a middle path between these extremes, with an accurate timbre, a slightly warm tonality, excellent detail retrieval and expansive staging. It is without doubt, sonically, the best CCA design to date and is highly recommended.

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Last edited:
Nimweth
Nimweth
If you think the BA5 doesn't do bass, try this (loud!) :
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Julzz
It's hard to explain when I say lacks bass, I mean "Depth" of Bass, more powerful.
xxAMAROKxx
xxAMAROKxx
Fast Roll-off on my DAP and scc or occ cable and these are realy good :L3000:
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