CCA CX10, at all good shops now
CCA are no strangers here. They have crossed the paths of the subjective review team on a few occasions now. We have assembled a C4, C10, C10 Pro, and a C12. There were parellels to be drawn from all models. All are hybrids. All are cheap for what they offer. All have cheap, bland packaging and bare bones for accesories. There are no frills to be had here. The romance only happens when you push the shells into the ears. I hasten to say, that is not the case for the CCA C4. That was not a great experience. It was too bassy and screechy, and cost about the price of a chocolate bar. Nay, nay and thrice nay! We must push ourselves up the ladder slightly to get a feel for something with some quality.
I have profound thanks for Better Audio US for being convinced to supply me with CCA’s TWS. CCA do 2 different one’s – the CX4 and CX10. The 4 being based on the CCA C4 and the 10 on the CCA C10. Needless to say, I have avoided the CX4. I want to give you, kind reader, the chance to experience, at least vicariously, something worth reading about. Perhaps even, something worth a punt. In other words, you might be here because you might want to take the plunge into the icy waters of the Truly Wireless. I can tell you already that you won’t be wasting your time here. I’ll let you into a secret already ; the CX10 is a TWS worth your time. It is a TWS of it’s time, and, for me, the TWS has come of age. At least for specific uses.
I must confess to being an utter idiot! When the package arrived, I hurriedly set ot work on it. I have a couple of TWS buds already, so I couldn’t imagine there being much difference between at least getting them to work. I had a brief look at the booklet supplied and put the CX10s to work. Nothing. Nowt! They are supposed to instantly go into pairing mode once taken from the case at the same time. No sound, no sign of led. It looked very much like a DOA. After 5 minutes of scratching my head I looked more carefully at the buds. They had almost see through tape over the connecting pins at the back of them. There was no connection reaching the buds and the bluetooth was not going to work like that! I peeled the tape off, put them back in the case and sure enough, on came the lights and the sweet Chinese lady started to whisper in my ear. Then it all went wrong again. The buds would stay on for a second and powered off. So near, and now I was failing again! Sensing a battery issue, I put them back in the case for an hour. Although the buds appeared to stay green throughout this process, clealrly they had run out of charge. After 15 minutes in the case I put them back on and, within a minute, low battery warning was being spoken to me. Please be aware that you are likely to come across the same problem if you buy these. I couldn’t find any mention that there was tape to remove and it’s quite difficult to see.
The only lights that you get are inside the charging box. This is the same on my 2 other TWS items. Nevertheless it’s a pain. It means you have to trust that recharging is taking place. As expected the charging box will recharge the buds several times(4), and a usb charging cable is supplied for the box. The quoted battery life is 4 hours for the buds, in practice it will be much less, depending on the volume, the codec, the quality of the signal etc.
Once out of the box and in pairing mode, it’s fairly easy to set up the CX10. I would force the phone to accept AAC, rather than SBC, when prompted that there could a problem with connectivity. So many useful tips for you! In truth, SBC is a poor audio quality codec. It requires much less power to run a stable coonection with, so your phone likes that and selfishly wants it. Bad phone! Naughty phone! I found that AAC is noticeably better sounding. You should not get dropouts from the CX10 if you put your phone in your pocket or are holding it in your hand. Therefore the near lossless AAC codec is for you. The lack of the aptX or LDAC codecs is not a cheapskate move on the part of CCA. Bandwidth is extremely limited on a TWS because the left carries all the information and it has to use a chunk of engine power to sync with the right bud and keep that connection strong. There’s not much left over to give us that magical sound we all crave. Thankfully, the sound should be good enough using the twin weapons of AAC and Bluetooth 5.0. The newest Bluetooth tech has much better signal and stability than 4.2, so we are good.
Ok, so here you see a few of the photos regarding the fit. I think you’ll agree, they look pretty well squashed in for a set of universals. I have been on a weeks worth of runs with the CCA. Nothing more than an initial adjustment was needed. The rest of the time I was able to concentrate fully on the pain of the run itself…
I am a fan of the CCA C10 sound. It has bass, whilst not particularly tight, it is pleasant without being ridiculously bloated, and forcing the mids and highs to be turned up in competition, or, worse still, to be muffled and distant. There is a smoothness to the standard C10; so much so that I prefer it to the shinier, punchier C10 Pro. I am pleased to say that, if anything, the CX10 is an improvement on the C10. We have a slightly thinner, tighter bass but the refinement of the mids and highs is still there. I would be pleased if I was to purchase these as an equivalent priced wired model, that’s how good they are! I never expected to say that for a TWS, certainly not this early on in the evolution of this genre. It took a budget king like CCA to do it. The sound stage is believably wide. I would be happy to recommend the CX10 for everything from Classical to Club; whilst I’m not a clubber, Eric Prydz’ Count on Me conveyed all the excitment necessary. The volume goes to dangerous levels, even when out on the run. The isolation achievable should be enough for relatively quiet listening volumes. It’s worth pointing out here that there is no volume adjustment on the gesture control; luckily there is a safety feature here. The CX10, on start up, will be at the 60% volume level. That should be more than enough on a standard walk or commute.
Vs. HiFiMan TWS600 & 800
I have 2 other models to compare the CX10 to.
The TWS600 retails for $49
and the 800 at $299
Sorry HiFiMan. Sound quality loses to the CX10 for both models. Bass in punchier than both the bass light 600 & 800. Detail(this could even be described as clarity) is slightly better on the 600 and slightly worse on the 800, which has been rolled back in the highs compared to the 600. On the 600 the sound signature is bass light, thin and sometimes screechy. This can be toned down with Sony Hybrid tips, but you’ll still hear it. Foamies can muffle out some of the detail on the 600 and add some bass, and foamies are an absolute must on the 800 for a half decent bass, but you can do fine with the cheap tips supplied with the CX10 to get a decent all round sound from them. And that’s before we even start on the fit issues with the HiFiMan TWS models. I need silicon wings to keep the 600s in, and after 5 minutes of running with the 800s, they’re determined to shoot free, especially when they sense a busy road they can drop onto….
There are many erphones on the market. Some look good, but don’t deliver. Some look awful, but sound good. Some are for specific tasks, (TWS, for exercising) and fail to do it properly. Some are built poorly or are unreliable. Some fit, but many don’t fit well at all. I could go on and on. I often do, that’s why this site is chock full of success and failure. Whoever is moving this brand, CCA, forward, is doing a very good job indeed. What criticism I can find of the CX10s are very few; the charging lights aren’t very reliable, as they always seem to be on green for the buds. The battery life is small in use; perhaps 3 hours or so using a decent codec and moving about at normal volume levels, the case and box are cheap and cheerful. Everything else, in other words, the important stuff, like sound, fit, connection and looks; all of those can be given a cheerful thumbs up. CCA has done us hifiers proud once again, and long may this honeymoon period last!