The Ultra Cheap IEM Thread



…goes back to Unfortunately, this was the very last.

Update: hmmm…or should I keep them. Channel balance is not great, though.


Fascinated by this thread-- it had never occurred to me that there might be interesting headphones available on AliExpress, and I appreciate all the scouting everyone here has done.

There is a part of my that twinges a bit at seeing headphones that are “heavily inspired” by companies like Campfire-- but I don’t think the markets between $50 and $500 headphones overlap that often.

Definitely tempting to roll the dice on a pair of KZs.


Get the ZSN. Its $20. What do you have to lose?
Granted, I am enjoying the $20 Focal Spark too.


I concur: the ZSN has a very refined sound (compared to other KZs such as even the much more expensive AS10). And it is literally quite a handful: very well built with a great symbiosis of metal (faceplate) and plastic/resin (rest of earpiece). Cable is great, too.

The ZSN has better haptic than, let’s say, the Brainwavz B400 or UE900s.

@Jaethan: Here the classic intro to Knowledge Zenith Earphones.

Some “old” purists still treasure the $5 single DDs such as the EDR1, EDR2, HDS1, and HDS3. I would never part with these.


@Brause @antdroid: you guys are a terrible influence, and I really appreciate it.

I’ll order some today-- as soon as I figure out what colour will sound best.

I assume you’re ordering the non-mic version?


Purple…purple sounds the best!


@Jaethan, your wallet can be glad for having missed the hype of the last few years – and the tens of models KZ and competitors have released in a short period of time. The craze with cheap multi-drivers started in early 2017 and the first classic, the ZS5, appeared a few months later…which is superseded now by the ZS7 (which I don’t have or intend getting).

As to colours: green sounds always good but “audiophiles” prefer a luscious brown or a fruity grey :-).

I used to order the mic versions but now, having a Shanling player, I rather go for the non-mic cables.


You guys are all sick. I’m buying 3 pair. One to keep if I like it, the other as gifts. I’m sure someone will want them. They have to be better than old Apple earbuds.


110% agree … if it’s available in purple, that’s always the version to get!

And if not, it’s just an opportunity for modding …


I have a recipe for 3 bean salad using one kind of beans and magic markers.


Yes, but what color are those beans?!


As long as you avoid the LH Labs Knockoffs there’s no need to feel bad! KZ at least has branched out from ripping off Campfire’s design on some models but it’s inevitable when companies source their parts from China there will be somebody that is willing to take the design and make something much cheaper. Grabbing a pair is a bit like having the appetizer before the main course!

Let us know what you think of them vs the Etymotics and Orions!


Purple, of course.


There are HFers that claim the purple one sounds better due to the different colored cable. I dont know if that’s true or not though.


I’m not immune to peer pressure.


Purple was tempting, but the silver metal looked “cheaper” in the photographs. Not sure if that holds in real life-- but the green ones will match my eyes. :roll_eyes:


@Jaethan…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…but…but…PURPLE!! :wink:


Great to hear. This guide defines you, @BenignScrambler. It was my first serious reading of Chifi and I still treasure it. At the time, I was just attempting to understand how such forums worked and I read your profile with pleasure…all the good “mysterious” iems and headphones you owned. It also made me order all of the early KZ ones that were still available…which I would never give away.


Hi B9Scrambler! Nice to see you here!

Nice guide too!


Below is my review of the CCA-C10. Let me know if I need to change anything to comply with forum rules.


The CCA-C10 is an in-ear monitor with a hybrid driver configuration (1DD+4BA per side) that retails for approximately 28 at the time of this review. I purchased the C10 from the Nicehck Audio Store on AliExpress for .1 with the expectation of a fair and objective review.


I have used the CCA-C10 with the following sources:

Hidizs AP60II > CCA-C10

Windows 10 PC > JDS Labs The Element > CCA-C10

Windows 10 PC > Hidizs AP60II > CCA-C10

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Global > CCA-C10

Pixel 3 > Apple USB-C to 3.5mm dongle > CCA-C10

I have tested these headphones with local FLAC, Spotify Premium (256/320 kbps Ogg Vorbis), Youtube Music (256 kbps AAC), and Google Play Music (320kbps MP3).


The CCA-C10 comes in a small rectangular white box. The box pictures the CCA-C10 on the front and gives the manufacturer’s contact information and technical specifications for the IEM on the back. Inside the box are the IEMs, a detachable .75mm 2-pin cable, 4 sets of eartips (1 generic black silicone, 3 KZ Starline-type [S, M, L]), a user manual, and a warranty card. The CCA-C10 does not come with a carry bag or case.


The CCA-C10 is almost identical to the KZ ZSN in design, with a zinc alloy faceplate and a clear acrylic body. The CCA logo is printed on the faceplate along with the total driver count. The model name, “left” or “right”, and “10 Hybrid technology” are printed on the side of each housing. Each earpiece has small two circular vents on the inner face of the housing. Despite these vents, I experienced moderate driver flex when inserting the earphones. The nozzle does not have a lip for securing eartips.

The cable is braided copper with aluminium housings for the 2-pin connections and a rubber L-shaped housing for the 3.5mm jack. The 2-pin housing have blue and red markings to indicate left and right. The cable has pre-formed ear-guides without memory wire. There is no chin-adjustment choker. The cable is very tangle-prone and seems to attract static electricity.


The CCA-C10 is intended to be worn cable-up only. Comfort is excellent but getting a secure fit is difficult because the nozzles are at a strange angle relative to the housings. I felt like the nozzles would migrate out of my ear canals while wearing the C10s. I had to use the largest included Starline-type eartips to get a good seal. Isolation is average.


The CCA-C10 has a very mild airy V-shaped tuning. The extended and forceful sub-bass is the first thing I notice when I use the C10. The C10s have the best sub-bass I have heard on a sub-$50 IEM. Mid-bass is elevated without overwhelming either the sub-bass or the lower mids. The bass response is very quick for a dynamic driver with regards to both attack and decay. Bass texture is somewhat dry.

The lower mids are present and smooth without being either recessed or over-emphasized. Upper mids are more prominent without going overboard with presence. Detail retrieval is impressive for the price. There is a hint of sibilance on female vocals.

Treble is crisp, erring on the side of smoothness while still preserving an impressive amount of clarity. There is a good deal of air but not a ton of sparkle. Transients are convincing.

Imaging is realistic. Instrument separation is above average. Soundstage is wider and deeper than average.


My measurements were conducted with a Dayton iMM-6 microphone using a vinyl tubing coupler and a calibrated USB sound interface. The measurements are presented with 1/12th smoothing and without compensation.


With a sensitivity of 108dB and an impedance of 32ohms, I do not feel the C10 benefits noticeably from dedicated amplification. The C10 does not hiss.


CCA-C10 (1DD+4BA) [$28] vs Yinyoo V2 (dual diaphragm biodynamic driver) [$49]

The V2 is an overall warmer IEM. The C10 has much better sub-bass extension and a smaller midbass hump. The C10 has quicker bass decay. The V2 has more textured bass. The V2’s bass bleeds into the lower midrange more than the C10’s does. The V2 has a warmer lower midrange. The C10 has a more more prominent upper midrange, especially between 1–4k. The treble on these two IEMs is very similar, but the C10 is airier. The C10’s soundstage is larger. The C10 has better detail retrieval and quicker treble decay. Instrument separation is more or less a dead heat. Imaging is also even between the two. The sensitivity of the two earphones is similar. Neither benefit from dedicated amplification. The C10 is more comfortable. The V2 is less comfortable but has a more secure fit.

CCA-C10 (1DD/4BA) [$28] vs Yersen FEN-2000 (1 DD+1BA) [$24]

The FEN-2000 is more V-shaped than the C10. The tonality of the C10 is more realistic. The FEN-2000 has similar sub-bass extension and a larger midbass hump. The C10 has quicker bass decay. The two IEMs have similar lower midranges. The FEN-2000 has a more aggressive upper midrange. Despite this, the C10 has better detail retrieval. The C10 has a more natural-sounding midrange. The FEN-2000’s treble is more energetic, with greater sparkle, but is rather grainy, especially at higher volumes. The C10 has quicker treble decay. The FEN-2000 is more detailed and airier but is harsher. The C10 has a larger soundstage and better instrument separation. The C10 has better imaging. The FEN-2000 is harder to drive and may need a more powerful source if attaining adequate listening volume is an issue with a smartphone. Like the similarly-shaped V2, the FEN-2000 is less comfortable but has a more secure fit.


Despite a mediocre cable and accessory selection, the CCA-C10 represents a killer value for an entry-level hybrid, with good build quality, a balanced sound signature, and great detail retrieval.