disclaimer: Not needed – purchased outright for testing purposes.
Unboxing / Packaging:
The C10 Pro does not come in a slip cover box like most CCA/KZ models, instead it is a lift top with just the CCA logo on front and details on the side of the box. Details of the model are on a sticker added to the box so my guess is future models will arrive in this same style packaging rather than printing a distinct box for each model. (Not atypical of cost saving measures for sure.) Unfortunately, those same cost cutting measures extend to the kit and while the original C10 came with a shirt clip, the new Pro comes only with the earpieces, cable, and 4 sets of tips (1 large, 2 medium, and 1 small). No foams, case, shirt clip are included. We do have to remember this is a budget model, but increasingly products in that same range are including at least a carry case that is lacking here.
The CCA C10 Pro is a very close cousin to the KZ Zsn Pro series with the smoked portion of the shell being nearly identical (a side by side with Zsn Pro X shows minor differences with C10 pro very slightly larger). The new Faceplate is striking with its gloss black color and gold stripes. The design reverts back to the original Zsn Style with three screws mounting the faceplate rather than the single screw style of the Zsn Pro. While tempting to compare it to its predecessor, for the benefit of those without that background, I’ll go through the motions again. Shape is the now common semi-custom with the nozzles exiting the lower front with little or no rake for fairly deep insertion. Nozzles do a have lip for tip retention that was lacking on previous generations. Size is somewhere in the middle of the pack while thickness is a bit less than most which does help make the Pro an easy fit for all but the smallest ears.
The C10 Pro uses the same 10mm dual magnet dynamic driver as the original C10 for the bass, dual 50060 balanced armatures for mids, and a pair of 30095 armatures for the high end. In that respect, it looks very much like the original C10, but it isn’t tuned exactly the same as nominal impedance has dropped to 24Ω (previously 32Ω) and sensitivity is increased slightly to 109 dB/mW from the 108dB/mW of the original C10. This makes the Pro slightly easier to drive than the original model and while I found it scaled well qualitatively, it is not lacking when driven from a phone or tablet.
The provided cable is the silver plated copper model in clear casing. CCA lists this as 100 core and claims improved transparency. At the south end we have a 90º 3.5mm jack in translucent housing with a 4 strand braid exiting to the north. The splitter is the typical Y shaped version seen on most CCA/KZ cables. (For the record, it is still way too low on the cable). No chin slider is provided, and twisted pairs exit the top of the splitter and run to pre-formed hooks with clear plastic housings and .75mm hooded bi-pin connectors at the north end. While the cable works well, it is tangle prone and the lack of any cable maintenance (velcro, case, something) makes it very likely the user will need to either provide their own cable management of spend time untangling the cable before each use.
Sub-bass has good weight and rumble before dropping back slightly as the Pro moves into the mid-bass. Roll-off is hard to pinpoint but is somewhere in the upper 20Hz or lower 30Hz range which is quite good. Bass textures are improved over earlier models but still not quite realistic. The same holds true for the mid-bass, while not quite as emphasized, it is still a touch lacking in texture. I do find the Pro a bit less boomy in the mid bass than the earlier C10 and in that regard it is a better listen. Bass texture is somewhat improved over the earlier model as well which is a welcome improvement as electric bass has better growl and more edge than its predecessor if not quite perfect yet.
The Pro retains its V-shape with the lower mids continuing the downward trend and the bottom of the V being the true mids. The Pro does push the upper-mids forward along with the lower treble to complete the V. Good news is more detail is present than the previous generation and while the mids still sit behind the emphasized areas they are more present in the mix and better presented. There is still some interference with the lower-mids due to mid-bass bloom, but it is less so than previous versions and gives a bit of warmth to the sound. Male vocals have good weight, but are a step behind their upper counterparts. Electric guitar timbre is good and the Pro has enough edge to make distortion and growl more realistic than its predecessor. Strings still have a bit less than natural tone and are not a strength for the Pro. The upper-mid push stops short of shouty, but can introduce fatigue if listening to a lot of higher voices as it does cut through the mix and becomes a singular focus at times.
So the C10 Pro is made by KZ and uses the 30095 for highs. At this point, we should all know what to expect I think, and the C10 Pro is very much a member of that family. While it is a bit more controlled than some, it still shares the lower-treble emphasis and gives the Pro a very bright sound. At times, that can become harsh, there is just no way to avoid it without a lot of EQ. The Pro has good detail throughout the treble but the trade off is that timbre is not great. I would call the sound analytical to slightly cold with a slight lack of weight to notes making things sound less than natural. Snares can be believable one time and over aggressive the next as they are right on that border line. Cymbals on the other hand cross that line and are metallic as a result. There is plenty of air here and some sparkle so feeling closed in isn’t a problem.
Soundstage / Imaging:
Soundstage of the original C10 was average and here again, we don’t see a big change. Stage depth is alright, but width is a bit narrow which makes seating the orchestra a bit claustrophobic with lots of overlaps. Instrument separation saves Pro here as it keeps it from getting overly messy, but full orchestral pieces are definitely not a strength here. Layering is good, but imaging is odd as stage dimensions and overlap make things more regional than pinpoint and movement at the center of the stage can become hard to track. The low end in particular is still subject to some compression as tracks get complex as well
Thoughts / Conclusion:
I liked the original C10 as a value pick at the time it was released and I kind of expected the C10 Pro to follow in its footsteps but something interesting happened in the intervening time. The market caught up with KZ/CCA, and now they have a lot more competitors in the fight. I found myself asking, “would I buy a marginally improved, better looking C10 today?” That is the decision you are being asked to make with the C10 Pro. Some of the weaknesses have been addressed, others are still there and the treble forward tuning still dominates the landscape. While I do think they made some effort to differentiate the Pro from the original (unlike its cousin the Zsn Pro X), I’m not sure its enough to make those that already have a C10 or C12 want to run out and buy this new one, and for those that don’t have one of those, the Pro still doesn’t have a clear cut path to your wallet as so many other options now exist and some have better features (Blon Bl03 for those looking for timbre, TRN Ba5 for those looking for detail, and even the CCA C12 that is now only a dollar or two more). I like the looks of the Pro and the improvements made from the previous generation, but am not sure they went far enough to earn a spot on your shelf.
- Bass - 7/107/10
- Mids - 7/107/10
- Treble - 7/107/10
- Soundstage - 6.5/106.5/10
- Imaging - 6/106/10
Pros: improvements in low-end, more detail, cosmetic improvements
Cons: harsh at times, KZ Treble, lack of kit