CCA in ear monitors Impressions Thread
Sep 11, 2021 at 8:24 PM Post #2,986 of 3,126

axhng

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nice review! I saw uptown funk and had to click the link. Listening to this clip, the guy with the silver sax is on fire 🔥🔥🔥. I hear a few dB less too on the hand off @ 3:18, but if you look closely you can see that the lead sax on the right is mic'd directly on his horn. He's also probably a little hotter at the mixing board. The rest of the lineup are playing into floor mics, so I think the volume change is accurate!
Yeah, it was an amazing performance, so I listen to it quite often when trying new gear! maybe it's just my ears then, I still think that change sounds a bit bigger than what I'm used to hearing. Another area i noticed is at starting around 4:07 where it's the reverse in the hand off. In this area the 3rd guy is louder as it should be compared to the guy with the silver sax, but the difference is again bigger than I'm normally used to hearing, and EQ-ing up the 3 kHz region a bit brings it to a level that i'm more used to hearing on that track. So when listening to that cover with the NRA, those areas stood out to me a bit. But well, that pinna gain region is something that different folks will perceive differently as shown in the post by Precog, so i think it likely is just down to that. :joy:
 
Sep 12, 2021 at 12:18 PM Post #2,987 of 3,126

RikudouGoku

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CCA NRA review: https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/cca-nra.25400/reviews#review-26770

Rank: C-

NRA being CCA/KZ´s first iem that utilizes something other than a DD/BA is actually not the utter disaster (nor the budget killer) I was imagining. But that is all it is, there are other iems in the same price range that are a lot better than it (03/DQ6) that I would recommend ahead of it. Which means I cannot recommend it, other than to sate your curiosity and being a paying alpha tester.
Since it’s under a month of its release and KZ has announced their version of the NRA already, being the ZEX.
 
Sep 14, 2021 at 11:10 AM Post #2,989 of 3,126

Nimweth

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Sep 15, 2021 at 5:17 AM Post #2,990 of 3,126

webkinks

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It looks like I wont be receiving my NRA guys, as delivery guy lost the package :cry: , but the amount has been refunded by them. I'll wait for some Zex impressions, may be thats the train I want to catch.
 
Sep 15, 2021 at 12:20 PM Post #2,991 of 3,126

SpaceOperaVillain

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It looks like I wont be receiving my NRA guys, as delivery guy lost the package :cry: , but the amount has been refunded by them. I'll wait for some Zex impressions, may be thats the train I want to catch.

ah man, that stinks! I think if ZAS pricing is any indication, I'm guessing that ZEX will be priced above $70 USD. More than 3x the NRA. we still don't know for sure so that's just a guess.
 
Sep 15, 2021 at 2:10 PM Post #2,992 of 3,126

voicemaster

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I am ready for some ZEX!
 
Sep 15, 2021 at 2:18 PM Post #2,993 of 3,126

SpaceOperaVillain

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All About That Brass

Final music style impression on the NRA. I had a good A/B comparison between GK10, NRA, DQ6, and CCA's C12 this afternoon on Canadian Brass' recording of Brahms. I found some tips that cleaned up my GK10 a lot ... it still isn't quite enough to pull the Geek from a veiled treble presentation to my ears, but it helped immensely and made this pair acceptable without EQ for a lot of pieces, and solved most of the problems with midbass bleed (it's now very minor). My BA10 are currently resting in their box and I couldn't be bothered with wrestling the ZAX away from my spouse. Below impressions are without any EQ using my desktop dac/amp, which is just a big fuller sounding and puts out more juice than my BTR3K.



Background: I am a former low brass player (trombone, mostly, some baritone). When I hear these pieces above I'm listening for tonguing technique (the musical equivalent to articulating words): slurring (no tonguing between note changes), lagato (smooth note transitions - very light tonguing), and staccatos (hard note transitions, hard tongue technique), and their tone control while holding on and sustaining those longer notes. You can hear very accurate and efficient breathing in these pieces as well. I have also seen the Canadian Brass live a few times, as well as Dallas Brass, and more orchestra concerts and chamber music recitals than I dare to count. The listening impressions here are primarily about timbre and overall tonal balance of the ensemble (again, without any EQ). Texture refers to chords and the interaction of the different voices in the piece. My use of the word has nothing to do with transient response within a single voice (instrument).

Main Take-away: to my ears, the NRA has a better combination of tonal balance, timbre, and more coherency in multi-voiced texture in its presentation than any of my other chifi sets. It is better even than my cheapo AKG K52. It is about the same in terms of tonal balance on my 840s, but the timbre on those is a bit "dry" in their presentation.

C12: just a bit thin in tonal balance in the the upper mids, owing to the gentle vee shape of this set. Timbre is good on all of the voices, but the trombone and french horns are a bit subdued because of those recessed upper mids. Overall presentation more crisp than the NRA, owing to its 5 BAs stuffed into them plus the well behaved 7mm DD. Its fair to say these have a drier and more analytical sound compared to the NRA. As a result, the timbre, while good, is not great. Transients and micro details are better than any of my other sets, excepting the BA10.

DQ6 has the brilliance (in spades!) that gives timbre of the higher voices that fun, brassy edge, but it is missing some frequencies down in the lower mids affecting its tonal balance. has less a bit less instrument separation and a bit less texture than the NRA. It's sharper high treble also sucks some of the tonal balance out of the baritone, french horn - kind of like the C12, but for completely different reasons. Transients are fine for being a 3-way dynamic. It's not especially fast, but it's adequate. Like the GK10 below, you could say it's more "musical".

vs. NRA: all in all, both the DQ6 and the C12 have great texture across the spectrum and are delightfully resonant when certain notes intersect just-so. The NRA edges both sets out on tonal balance and sounds more coherent even than the DQ6 to my ears. That could very well be due to the fact that the big 10mm triple magnet dynamic of the NRA is doing the vast majority of the work.

The GK10 rivals NRA in timbre in the lows and the mids, and is maybe juuuust a bit sweeter from it's budget piezo units. Unfortunately the warmer tuning veils the lead trumpeter, and transitions on lively segments still seem to have some fuzz on them. The GK10 lacks the crispiness in the transients that the NRA has, and there's not as much of the brass sparkle that my ears are expecting on the brilliance side of the frequency response of the highest voiced instruments. NRA delivers on both. Because of the veiled treble, the GK10's texture is also much diminished vis-a-vis the NRA, DQ6, or C12. The individual voices of the instruments tend to blends in together, just starting to slip down the slope of monotony. If "lyrical" or "musical" is a euphemism for being slightly muddy and less analytical, then sure, GK10 is "musical". Slow things down to lounge music pace ... and I'll still probably go for the GK10 as it has an edge on timbre. But, if I'm honest, I wouldn't really miss these too much if they were gone.


Summary: These minor differences on isolated pieces like ensemble and chamber music has a lot to explain with preferences in presentation in pop and rock music, which are compounded and easier to pick out with the insane array of studio and mixing techniques and artificial instruments. Those who like a neutral and more critical listening profile are going to prefer the NRA. Those who like a warm-neutral or U shaped audiophile type tuning are going to gravitate toward the GK10 (assuming it's firing on all cylinders for the listener). The GK10 has a unique presentation and profile that's difficult to explain. Folks who want vee shape fun are going to want the ZAX, BA10, or DQ6.

Honest to deities here, right now I would be fine with boxing up the rest of my chifi pairs and offering to someone as a starter kit and keeping the NRA.

... of course I would never be so daft as to do such a thing, but if I did, I could live with it. :ksc75smile:

thanks for reading, keep the reviews coming!
 
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Sep 16, 2021 at 6:14 AM Post #2,994 of 3,126

webkinks

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ah man, that stinks! I think if ZAS pricing is any indication, I'm guessing that ZEX will be priced above $70 USD. More than 3x the NRA. we still don't know for sure so that's just a guess.
yea lets see how zex will be perceived by people hopefully worth the price. btw when its will be released?
Also @SpaceOperaVillain thx for the detailed impressions and music share, I'm enjoying the piece more when listening to the nuances you described :L3000: :thumbsup:
 
Sep 16, 2021 at 9:09 AM Post #2,995 of 3,126

crabdog

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I haven't been keeping up with this thread but: I've been listening to the NRA for a few days and I think it's pretty nice. Fun tuning, great detail retrieval and solid, punchy bass. I Will start working on my full review soon.
 
Sep 16, 2021 at 12:07 PM Post #2,996 of 3,126

SpaceOperaVillain

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yea lets see how zex will be perceived by people hopefully worth the price. btw when its will be released?
Also @SpaceOperaVillain thx for the detailed impressions and music share, I'm enjoying the piece more when listening to the nuances you described :L3000: :thumbsup:

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

I've no idea when ZEX will be available. I've only see the glossy that RikudouGoku posted over in the KZ thread that announced the name in the comments and didn't give the full driver layout.

The ZEX is hotly anticipated which worries me. If they copy NRAs arrangement of the stacked DD / MST unit and don't add too many BA drivers I think it has a chance. One of the things that really threw me off when I first got my C12 was trying to figure out why my ears were confused on certain pieces of music. Chifi is my first foray into multi-driver type hybrids in IEM like this. I've had the micro-dd driven Shure SE315 (no idea what the size was of the DD. Used that set for 5+ years), single BA Etymotic ER4 something or other (loonngg time ago), and loads of Sennheiser's older consumer single DD IEMs (even longer still). Then tons of consumable sony and panasonic buds of various kinds.

The C12's Achilles heel in an otherwise stupendously excellent budget product is a simple and mildly tragic shortcoming: the 7mm is moderately slower in its transient response than the lighting fast 5 BAs providing mids and treble. Re-tuned as a single driver, the 7mm might be perfectly acceptable as a single driver IEM. It has a very surprising amount of subbass and bass response across the range is "tight". That driver is probably perfectly acceptable on its own for most music. Unfortunately, when you have to hear it in stark contrast with 5 BA drivers, it loses its coherency and the different drivers seem to be fighting against one another when the music gets hard and heavy.

This is why single driver DDs are so popular. Even if the transients are a touch slower than BA designs it's just not obvious, and the more relaxed presentation elicits those superlatives like "fluid" and "lyrical". I suspect this is an unintended success in NRA's design - the stacked driver design, used by plenty of other companies - is just way more coherent than a DD/BA hybrid layout. SaldSald's measurements seem to indicate that the triple magnet unit is indeed doing a lot of the work here.

The high end brands go to great lengths to look for ways they can pad, tweak, and tune the enclosure to make up for these performance discrepancies in their hybrids. They are also using higher spec 3rd party components. Budget chifi sets just bolt it into the shell and let the listener deal with it. That's the difference between a $37 set and a $370 set. Occasionally the budget guys are allowed to spend more money in R&D and they get it right, or they take a short-cut and design decisions make things easy for them. The BA10 has no such coherency issues, for example.They are a downright monstrous pair of IEM. The KZ's ZAS hybrid unit that's out right now looks like they made an effort to tune the shell and paid some attention with mixing and harmonics before it hits the nozzle. Reviews have been mixed, sadly. Like with the C12, over time your ears start to pick up on these small differences in certain genres. Mastodon and Bach are both mortal enemies to the C12, acceptable on ZAX and DQ6, and great on BA10.

I really hope that KZ didn't cheap out too much in R&D on the ZEX, but I'm setting my expectations low. I've said it before in the KZ thread, but I think this company is at its best when the unit prices is well below $50. It seems to me like KZ/CCA's biggest successes are somewhat accidental or big underdog stories like the CSN or KS10 Pro, some of their TWS sets, and now this NRA. None of CCA's 16 driver hybrids have interested me that much, and its super confusing just trying to keep them all straight. But they do keep trying and iterating and improving, and they're one of the only chifi companies that puts up-front engineering into production like the bigger consumer brands (a la JBL or Harman) to provide volume based, low per-unit cost product with low defect rates.

Hopefully ZEX is a big success. We'll have to wait and see. For now I'm really digging these NRA.
 
Sep 17, 2021 at 1:16 AM Post #2,997 of 3,126

saldsald

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Added a switch for the electret driver for fun and easier comparison. :sweat_smile:
NRA Switch.jpeg

Seriously, it sounds so so much better without the electret.
 
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Sep 17, 2021 at 5:45 PM Post #3,000 of 3,126

PhonoPhi

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Added a switch for the electret driver for fun and easier comparison. :sweat_smile:


Seriously, it sounds so so much better without the electret.
Indeed, the smaller unit is much less prominent in response.

It is definitely not an electret - either some magnetostat or some flat suspended membrane.

Here are the inner parts:
20210917_144342.jpg

Two symmetric coils inside the ring magnets (8 Ohm each connected in parallel, so the total impedance is 4 Ohm).
In between is the rigid metal membrane that is at the bottom of the image. Interestingly, it is magnetic but not magnetized.

I am not sure whether this design is similar to other MSTs or some unique construction of KZ/CCA.

Because of the very rigid membrane, the amount of sound it can produce is fairly limited, and the range is limited as well: some output is from 1.2 kHz to 12.5 kHz, while the sound can be heard reasonably in the range of ca. 3.5 kHz to 7 kHz then decaying to oblivion by 12.5 kHz.

P. S. It was really hard to disassemble, please do kids-friendly designs next time, KZ/CCA :)
 

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