ACC ARC Wired EMP Review
The CCA CRA is the latest IEM single dynamic driver from KZ’s sister brand. The CRA is the company’s entry-level model, starting at just $15. The combination of price and CCA’s reputation for producing high-value products has resulted in substantial excitement around this affordable IEM. We only had to bring in a unit to see what it was all about.
Design and comfort
CRAs are a fairly standard design for CCA/KZ products, with a thick design molded to the shape of the ear. The chunky shape makes it very easy to hold and place the headphones in your ears compared to some trickier competitors. Despite that, the headphones aren’t that big and don’t protrude too much from the side of your head.
CCAs have a transparent resin shell with a piece of zinc alloy bonded to the outside. The little piece of metal has a super polished finish and looks great. The rest of the headphones look great too with the clear plastic providing a great view of the single-driver unit inside.
The supplied cable is of reasonable quality for the price. It’s a bit thick but doesn’t bend and has no audible microphone. The cable plugs into the headphones with a QDC connector found on other KZ and CCA headphones. In fact, this cable is found on several other KZ and CCA products. It’s a decent cable and even has built-in ear hooks, unlike the mediocre fixed cable of the recently reviewed Moondrop Chu.
The cable comes with a built in microphone and there is no microphone free option as far as I know. You can always just replace the cable if the device you’re connecting to doesn’t support a TRRS cable.
The overall build quality of the CRA is outstanding for the price. Without any prior knowledge, it would be impossible to guess that these products cost only $15, with the overall quality of the materials exceeding that of products 3-4 times more expensive.
The ARCs are also very comfortable. The shape molded to my ears quite well and the provided silicone tips were comfortable. I was able to wear them for hours without any fatigue.
The CCA CRA features a single 10mm dynamic driver on each side. The CRAs are tuned to have a V-shaped sound, which isn’t unusual for CCA/KZ products, but it’s one of the most subtle and refined tones I’ve encountered of the two brands.
The bass on the CRA is prominent but not overwhelming. The mid-bass has a little extra warmth that rarely becomes distracting or significantly overlaps with the mid-bass. Low-end bass performance is impressive, with a good amount of rumble and thump but without going overboard.
The bass of the CRA is more pronounced than that of the KZ ZEX Pro (aka the CRN), especially in the upper bass region. The ZEX Pro, therefore, sounds cleaner and the CRA has a bit more bloat. The similarly priced Moondrop Chu is by far the leanest with borderline neutral bass presentation.
The midrange on the CRA has good tonality and timbre characteristics but is pulled back slightly in the mix. This is especially noticeable when listening at low volumes and vocals, for example, are simply not as involved or present in the mix.
Mid-range performance is a marked improvement over other CCA and KZ products (except the ZEX Pro). The CRA isn’t as dramatic V-shaped as its stablemates, resulting in a more balanced sonic signature.
The treble performance is also quite decent. There’s a hint of sibilance and crispness to certain notes at higher frequencies, but the sound never gets harsh or tiresome.
The overall tone of the CCA CRA is very nice and one of the best I’ve heard in this price range. The ZEX Pro is overall the better tuned of the two and the Chu is still the one to go for if you prefer a neutral sound, but the CRA is just fun to listen to, and in some cases actually has better wood more natural than the ZEX Pro.
In terms of technical performance, the CRA is doing quite well. There’s a good level of detail and resolution in the sound, which the ZEX Pro isn’t particularly good at and also a sore point for some other budget IEMs like the BLON BL-03. Imaging and sound staging are poor, as is typically the case with most IEMs.
Overall, the ARC sounds really impressive for the price. It’s almost unimaginable that you can now get such good sound at this price. And it goes without saying, but even though these are only $15, they easily outperform even the most expensive wireless headphones on the market. But anyone who loves wired audio already knew that.
At just $15, the CCA CRAs are exceptionally good value IEMs and an even better deal than the $20 Moondrop Chu. The Chu’s have a great neutral sound for the price, but the CRA’s have a more fun tune without being bass or treble cannons like some of the other models at this price point. The CRA also has a much nicer cable and design, and feels better built overall despite the lower price. This is a simple and highly recommended purchase for anyone looking for an entry-level pair of IEMs.
Thanks to Helmet space to provide the unit of review.