PROS: Thick cohesive tonality, natural enough timbre, high amount of sound layers, wide panoramic soundstage, fun weighty bass with good extension , lush breathy female vocal, generous accessories, sturdy built
CONS: Lack of air, not sparkly treble, compressed layering=hollow imaging&lack of soundstage dept, the treble can go a bit hot, bass bleed, average resolution&precision, big heavy housing, kinda audacious price range for a first offering, cheapish golden paint job
SOUND VALUE: 7.2/10
I literally can’t find any valuable info about this new Chinese earphones company apart from what’s written on the back of the box: ”Shenzhen jujiang electronics technology co. ltd”. This is the name of the Official distributor, manufacturer or company? Only Caishen knows. Even after a long investigation, I didn’t find anything about IEM or audio connected to this, but we know that a new IEM company birth every day in great Shenzhen technopole, so CCZ HIFI is one more of them.
Their first offering can be call as flagship because it sells for 200$, looks fancy, and have a 1DD+4BA hybrid drivers implementation. Let’s see in this review if this elusive company is a promising one or just another CCA or CVJ like over boosted with BA’s iem offering.
The boxing presentation is very nice and big in size. I enjoy the art cover which assumes China identity with beautiful golden Chinese calligraphy. Stoping the waifu visual approach, which is connected to Japanese culture, and digging into their incredibly rich culture for product design and marketing is more than refreshing. A lot of efforts have been made in packaging and the accessories included are of very good quality. Especially the cable which is a high-end single crystal copper cable with nylon braiding. Thick and sturdy and….2.5mm balanced! It includes as well a 2.5mm to 4.4mm balanced and 2.5mm to 3.5mm single-ended adapter, very useful for desktop use, though a bit cumbersome for portable use.
You have as well 7 pairs of ear tips. A very nice leather magnetic carrying case. And a cleaning brush and cloth. I think it’s pretty generous for a 200$ IEM, though L shape adapter would have been more adequate.
CONSTRUCTION is what I would call ”wannabe fancy” but questionable in terms of finish and QC. For example, the golden painting seems to easily fade away, my pair having some unpainted parts. The housing is very big, made of thick metal it has good weight too, but the universal ears molding shape is comfortable enough for me, still, it will be an issue for people with smaller ears and it’s far from being an IEM you forget that you wear. I’m not sure about the false back-venting design…especially about how to clean it once it get dust and stuffs stock in it. Still, in term of plain physical durability, due to its all thick metal construction, I think the PLUME promise long durability.
CRITICAL SOUNDS IMPRESSIONS
(source used: SMSL SU9-SH9, Xduoo X20, Xduoo XD05+)
TONALITY is a warm V to W shape with very boosted sub-bass, lean mids and crunchy treble. Cohesion is thick, sirupy, all glued together in a homogeneous way.
The PLUME doesn’t have typical balanced armature tonality and sounds more like a multi-DD iem than multi-BA due to it’s dense warm timbre and lush macro-resolution. It isn’t crisp neither cold, thin or analytical.
BASS is the warmest part of the sound and we have more quantity than quality here, the slam has loose rumble which can bleed on the lower mids and thicken them. Still, as a guilty pleasure, the low end delivers a thick weighty presence and can nicely extract sub-bass layers that will benefit synth-bass and digital instruments but will lack flexibility, resolution, and articulation for acoustic bass, cello, toms and pure sub-bass tone. This isn’t a clean transparent bass response, it’s opaque and gently boomy. The separation between sub-bass and kick is hollow. This bass is more physical than technical and dark in resolution. This isn’t the kind of bass you expect at this price range and surely the less refined aspect of PLUME sound.
MIDS are a hint recessed-warmed when bass occurs, but have thick lush presence, natural timbre and great layering. What impress me alot is the fact that both male and female vocal are full bodied. I rarely enjoy male vocal due to lack of presence or lower-mid body so this is sure very welcome even if it stole some air and clarity to macro-resolution. Female vocal are even more enjoyable and tonality right, they are wide in presence and have this hint of warmth and breathiness we rarely find with balanced armature, but still a hint of BA fuzzyness. The mid range isn’t very crisp and well resolve and lack proper space in imaging for precise instrument separation.
TREBLE is the crunchy type, with an overly saturated texture that thickens the rendering but stole its crispness in resolution and edge in attack. While not particularly natural-sounding, the highs aren’t too thin and metallic to sound artificial but their attack is bloomed by lack of control and the percussion seem a bit unbalanced, higher-pitched cymbals being picked up while other staying in shadow. Yep, these aren’t the fastest BA on the market and can goa bit shouty, but never in a harsh or overly trebly way. The PLUME seems to deal better with digital music like electro, pop, r&b, rap etc, than acoustic music like Classical and Jazz that need more refinement in tone, texture, and timbre rendering as well as more air and natural extension in upper highs.
TECHNICALITIES are rather average for a multi-BA hybrid, it sure doesn’t use Knowles or Sonion in there because the attack lack speed, grip and natural decay. As well, timing is a bit off between DD and BA’s. Transparency isn’t there and highs can go sketchy and grainy-fuzzy. The resolution is average. IMAGING is hollow and muddy. Dynamic driver bass lack control and flexibility. Not very refined for 200$ if you ask me, even if the number of sounds layers are numerous, wide and rich.
Yep, this is guilty pleasure tuning done right IMO. In fact, the CCZ PLUME reminds me the KBear Believe with its lush thick bassy sound and impressive layering capabilities. I wasn’t expecting a warm tonality from this type of hybrid and I’m glad they make something different than more clinical tonality often found with this type of drivers implementation. I think CCZ wanna do a fun but easy-to-listen and engaging sounding IEM with the PLUME. For this, they use thick-sounding BA customize to avoid any harshness, to the cost of taming the resolution a bit as well as attack edge. Sure, if I enter critical listening mode I can find a lot of imperfection and limitations in terms of technicalities, but tonal balance is so good and richly layered that I get ”trap” in its holographic yet intimate sound presentation. The fact I can listen a long time without fatigue is a plus too. My biggest quirks about the PLUME is the lack of air as well as a darkened treble section that can hide micro-details and texture nuance. Accuracy and Clarity is both missing too, affecting imaging articulation a bit too much for my taste, so I can’t go inside the sound and freely travel in it’s spatiality, he comes to me, envelope me, encloses me in it’s colored musicality. The CCZ PLUME aren’t enough mature sounding for acoustic music, jazz or classical, they do better with anything pop, electronic, even rock can sound great due to bass thump.
Side notes: The PLUME doesn’t scale up with amping and is easy to drive. It pairs better with a clean cold crisp source. Not good with bassy warm source. Wide bore ear tips will help to open the sound, so the included one aren’t bad for that.
VS BQEYZ SPRING2 (140$ual DD-piezo+2BA)
So, let’s begin by saying the Spring2 are less warm, crisper in treble and have notably better tonal balance with less bass bloom. Spring2 is more brightish neutral to W shape than warmish V to W shape PLUME.
PLUME has weightier bass and lower mid, wider soundstage but less deep, poorer imaging, and slower transient response.
BASS is notably more boosted in the sub-region, and bleed more on lower mids with its rumble. Mids are a bit dryer and more recessed. Treble is less fast and snappy and doesn’t extract as well micro-details. Spring 2 have more air and less muddy attack.
Imaging is cleaner and more precise with Spring2, deeper in spatiality tough a bit less wide it’s more open.
Timbre and tone is more natural with Spring2.
Both tonality and technicalities are better with the BQEYZ SPRING2.
VS SEEAUDIO YUME (170$:1DD+2BA)
These aren’t similar at all, the YUME being notably more neutral and clean sounding. As well, the Knowles balanced armature offers way more transparent and controlled mids and treble. In fact, your ears need readjustment after all these weighty bass hits they get from the PLUME.
So, the PLUME is more aggressive V shape and warm, kick have more weight but less texture and resolution. Lower mids have more bloom. Mids are more recessed, grainy and recessed. YUME have crisper and notably more transparent mids, free of any bass bleed the low end dig deeper in a leaner less boomy way but is lighter and less rumbly. TREBLE is way more refined and control, more snappy in attack and extended. High are leaner and more balanced, less peaky too.
IMAGING is better articulated in layers due to prime transparency, instrument placement is more precise and well resolve.
CLARITY of the YUME is from another league, as well as tonal balance and well, all technicalities aspect like attack speed, timing and control, macro and micro-resolution. Dynamic weight go to the PLUME, but it will be a plus only for those that prefer bassy fun tuning over mature balanced neutrality with deep bass.
While the CCZ PLUME isn’t a giant killer in terms of technicalities in its price range, I do find its V shape tuning approach refreshing because of the rich amount of sound layers it has and overall good balance that does not obliterate nor overly recess the mid-range section. It’s thick, it’s lush, it’s unapologetically bassy and with the right music, it can give hella fun! I did enjoy the Plume with a clean crisp audio source that doesn’t have boosted bass or warm tonality, this way, we can enjoy wide layering richness. As well, i find the timbre quite dense for multi-BA hybrid, which is very welcome.
All in all, I think that CCZ is a new company to keep an eye on and I consider the PLUME quite good as a first offering, though neither maturely tuned or very refined in it’s technical balance.
PS: I wanna thank KEEPHIFI for sending me this review unit. I accept it because i’m always curious to try new promising company audio products. As always, i’m 100% independent and unbiased. (did i need to repeat this after 8 years of reviewing?)
You can buy the CCZ PLUME Here: