The past few years have been extremely exciting for tech enthusiasts as we are seeing a lot of really good stuff in the budget category. And a lot of this stuff doesn’t really perform crap anymore and IEMs are one of those things which have gotten really cheap from a few of these Chinese companies and my recent experience and investment with a few of this for this video has really surprised me of how good they are.
We are so used to the crappy quality of all these Bluetooth earbuds as most of the phones now don’t come with a 3.5mm jack anymore – and these consumer end earbuds are mostly bass-heavy – as of course no one wants clarity in their life as it’s mostly so full of lows.
So I chose these 3 earphones which are as cheap as any IEMs could be, and all of these are Chinese brands of course. Nothing beats the Chinese right now in terms of making good but cheap products. All of these cost me a thousand rupees each and they are slightly cheaper in US markets.
What are IEMs?
Now IEMs generally mean in-ear monitors and anything which has the word monitors associated with them – well they generally mean that those earphones, headphones, or speakers are meant to actually replicate a sound like how an audio engineer wanted it to sound like.
That means the sound drivers aren’t modified much to favor any one side of the frequency, with any sort of artificial boost. And that is mainly the lows as a lot of consumers tend to love bass-heavy sounds when they listen to a lot of stuff. Which in return sacrifices the clarity of a sound you are listening to. So the IEMs generally keep the frequencies as wide and as flat as possible so that you get to listen to something as pure as possible – without any artificial tinkering.
Monitors also mean to monitor something without these artificially boosted frequencies and hence any audio engineer or a video editor would always use a monitor to produce the stuff they produce.
Also IEMs generally have a unique shape and design which is more accustomed to how a human ear is shaped like. So they might tend to be more comfortable but not all IEMs end up doing so. So yeah, never fall into the impression that just because you are buying something which looks like an IEM, then it will end up being comfortable.
CCA is a Hongkong based company and I could only find their Twitter and aliexpress page.
The registered manufacturers of TRN are Dongguan Zuodu Acoustic Technology and they do have an official website which states they are based in Dongguan City in China. They have a pretty badly optimized website and everything was in a Chinese language.
The KZ website was the easiest to find and is well optimized and you’d notice that they have this huge catalog of almost everything which exists on this planet. It’s also based in Dongguan City in China so I am just guessing that all of these IEMs have the OEM somewhere in China.
The packaging is absolutely the same across all of these 3 IEMs. The dimensions of all these boxes and the supplied earbuds are also of the same size. How they disassemble is also the same. So yeah, same-ception.
The TRN MT1 came with a QC certificate, a manual, and a warranty card. The CCA CA2 came with a manual and a warranty card. And KZ – EDX Pro just came with a manual card.
The EDX pro looks the best one out of the lot, primarily because of the fact that the other 2 IEMs have these really obsolete-looking font logos slapped on them.
I felt the MT1 had the worst cable quality which gets tangled pretty easily and is quite loose. And then followed by CA2 which does resemble the quality of MT1 pretty closely but it does feel to have a better finish and the loops are quite intact. Even the finish and rigidity of the cable are better.
But the EDX Pro’s cable just stands out overall with this translucent wire covering over the loops of the cables providing it a better feel and finish in terms of being a cable that might just last the longest.
All the IEMs here have this curved cushioning around the earbuds so that you can figure this mess out and get them to fit your ears perfectly. But due to this specific reason, whenever I had to move away from my PC, I always preferred to get the pin out from the 3.5mm jack, rather than taking these IEMs out of my ears and putting them back in, as the latter sounds like an unpaid job.
The cables have the R and L denoted on them which were pretty hard to read on the MT1.
The shape of these IEMs might appear the same but there are some subtle differences. The CA2 is the largest with EDX pro being the smallest. The inside curve of the CA2 is the smoothest followed by EDX pro and then the MT1 has the sharpest round edge towards the inside.
Due to this very reason I experienced the CA2’s to be the most comfortable and then followed by the EDX Pros. I could really not feel any comfort with the MT1’s unfortunately, even if I tried to push these for more than 30 minutes in my ears.
All these 3 cables can connect to each of these IEMs with their 2 pin connector. So guess who would never run out of wires for these IEMs or any of the IEMs in the future which uses the same connector. Me.
All of these IEMs have a mic too on them and this is how they sound when recorded over a phone call. (From 5:55 in the video above)
No matter how I assess these earphones, make sure you are completely aware that these are the most affordable IEMs right now and that is why I am not going to compare them with anything priced twice or thrice of them. And also because I don’t have any more IEMs which cost twice or thrice of them.
The passive noise isolation of all these IEMs is great and at just 50% volume I can hardly hear anything around me. And the joy that I can’t hear any of the blabbering humans around me was immense.
Now all of these IEMs were majorly tested on my PC with Asus TUF X570 gaming plus motherboard, which has Realtek ALC S1200A 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC on it.
I mainly listened to these 3 tracks and Solarstone pure trance radio to test these 3 IEMs and here are some of my non-audiophile conclusions.
For Radiohead, the CA2’s were sharp and clear overall and the highs won’t hurt your ears. They will sound a bit soft in a way that they won’t pierce your ears but I am saying this comparatively. The lows aren’t as bassy as I felt they were on the EDX pro but just strike the perfect balance. The sound signature was very calm overall.
For chemical brothers, the CA2’s proved quite fast and adaptive for a song like this. They actually caught on to the fast-moving lows here better than EDX Pro – which generally behaved best in lows so far.
The star wars theme sounded the most balanced on the CA2’s. I felt these sounded the closest to how this track is supposed to sound.
KZ EDX Pro
For Radiohead, the vocals and the treble weren’t as sharp and lacked clarity if I compared these to the CA2’s. They suffer just a bit which is of course expected from a set of IEMs which lean more towards the lows.
For the chemical brother’s track, I think the CA2s did a better job with keeping up with the pace of this song as compared to the EDX Pro. And again, I am not saying these are bad, but the CA2’s were just slightly better in this aspect.
The star wars theme sounded rich and the dynamic range was the best here. So in this aspect, the EDX Pro’s were actually just slightly better than the CA2’s. And you won’t be wrong if are someone who might just like the CA2’s over the EDX pro’s for tracks like these as they perform so close that it falls in the realm of subjectivity.
On the first go, the EDX pro sounded wonderful for most of the trance music I typically listen to. The lows are ample for a balanced sound signature. But the vocals do feel a bit tiny on these. I wouldn’t call them terrible but yeah looks like they are the weakest point of them. They get ample frigging loud for sure. At max volume with bass-heavy tracks, you could feel the lows could suffer a bit as the IEMs reach their threshold but if you like that low rumble sound from the bass playing with the EQ a bit can get you there.
Also, the EDX pro will outperform any of these IEMs if you are someone who listens to trance mostly, like how I am as a listener for the past few years now. The lows really rumble the best on the EDX pro out of these 3 IEMs.
On a personal level, I didn’t like the MT1s at all when it comes to songs like the Radiohead. These IEMs have the weakest low-frequency performance. The vocals also sometimes sound a bit muffled as compared to the other two IEMs.
For the chemical brothers track, yes they were fast and quite adaptive but I am not sure if I could truly enjoy them in comparison to the other two IEMs.
For the star wars theme, the MT1 felt the least impactful too.
The TRNs have the least amount of low rumbles and listening to trance on this was a terrible experience for me at least. Of course for me at least – as I am the only one here testing all these tangled wires.
So the CA2’s are kinda in the middle of both of these options. The lows are richer than the MT1s and the mid and highs are richer and clearer than the EDX pro. I didn’t expect it to be this perfect amalgamation if compared against the other 2 options – as the brand doesn’t even have a website. But it performed better than I expected and is the most comfortable too. But yeah it’s definitely not a looker.
But if you love having good lows or bass then you can’t go wrong with the EDX Pro’s too by sacrificing some of the clarity the CA2’s have.
For gaming, I tested these headphones on Counterstrike Go. And the EDX Pro performed the worst during this test. The sounds of the bullets were way thinner and louder with a minimal amount of punch, that they actually dominated even the sounds of the footsteps making it harder to listen to anything else apart from just the gun firing in most of the scenarios.
The CA2’s fared the best when it came to being as fast as the game’s sounds and it maintained those heavy bullets and footsteps sounds quite well balanced and punchy enough to have that thumpy fun during a gaming session.
But if you need these specific sounds to be slightly less punchy then the TRN MT1 can be the next best option. It performed almost as fast as the CA2 but if you don’t want that 10-15% more lows which are there on the CA2 then you can go with the MT1.
So as a basic conclusion for gaming, the CCA CA2, and the TRN MT1 sounded so similar that I’d say if gaming is your priority then either of these will be good.
But yeah again, the CA2’s look to be a great overall performer if you don’t mind cutting off those 15-20% lows rumble which is there on the EDX Pro. But if you are someone who listens to music like trance, pop or hip hop and doesn’t plan to game much then the EDX Pros could be a really good option too.
And for the battery life – yeah we don’t have that stupid s### here.
🛒Amazon India [Paid links]
🛒KZ EDX Pro: https://amzn.to/3GoVBPJ
🛒TRN MT1: https://amzn.to/3314b8U
🛒CCA CA2: https://amzn.to/3Iw5LQE
🛒Amazon US [Paid links]
🛒KZ EDX Pro: https://amzn.to/3rNsl1e
🛒TRN MT1: https://amzn.to/3lHXMWU
🛒CCA CA2: https://amzn.to/3y9D3A3
So yeah this is my first attempt at reviewing any sort of audiophile gear and I could honestly do that as these are quite affordable for the price they come at. And for the super affordable pricing, they do outperform a lot of earphones or earbuds when it comes to having a balanced sound signature overall. When I mention oneplus buds z. For instance, these just blow the Sennheiser cx300s out of water in terms of clarity which still costs thrice as much as any of these.
You can also hop on to discord for more chit-chat on relevant content: https://discord.gg/TsMHuPhjQ2
Stay safe humans. That’s all for today. MuBot and his ears – OUT.