disclaimer: I was approached by a representative of CVJ regarding reviewing the CSN and Cs8 models. I had previously reviewed the CSA and found it a promising first effort from this relatively new player in the in-ear market. The CVJ CSN and Cs8 were provided for sake of this review via their Amazon store. I have received no compensation for this review beyond the sample itself, nor have I received any direction or instruction on whqt to include. If you have an interest in CVJ visit their facebook page or to purchase the CS8 visit their Amazon Store.
Unboxing / Packaging:
All of the CVJ products I have tested have come in the same style box which is unique in that it is made out of pressed wood rather than cardboard and a good bit stiffer than the average budget packaging. These are book-fold style boxes in matte black with CVJ in silver on the front and specs on reverse in Chinese and English. The packaging is more subdued than some and gives little hint to what is inside from the top. Flipping it helps, but this certainly is more of a storage container than a marketing tool. Inside, the top level is a foam tray containing the earpieces and tips beneath which a compartment holds the cable, carrying case, and other accessories. In the case of the cs8, the kit consists of the earpieces, 3 sets of silicone tips (SML), the cable, cable tie, and cloth carrying bag. Remembering that this is a sub-$30 offering, the kit is fairly complete.
Construction of the Cs8 is 3 pieces with a resin inner shell and metal faceplate and nozzle. The inner shell overlaps the faceplate so the face sits in rather than on the inner shell as is more commonly seen. Another departure from the average is the shape which has the typical inverted teardrop but with a very narrow base that makes the portion immediately outside the ear canal smaller than most. This may make fit easier for those with small ears as my daughter prefers these to others like the CSN due to their shape. There is no external vent on the Cs8 with a single inner vent centered over the dynamic driver above the nozzles. Nozzles are brass which seems odd having recently reviewed the higher cost CSN which has black composite nozzles. The Cs8 nozzles have a lip for tip retention and a very mild forward rake. Isolation is about average as these don’t obstruct a lot of the ear and materials are mostly polymer.
The CS8 is a hybride using a 10mm dual magnet dynamic driver for lows, a single 50060 balanced armature for mids and a pair of 30095 armatures for highs. The combination of 10mm dynamic with 30095 armature is pretty time tested at this point but the addition of the 50060 between them separates the Cs8 from a lot of the entry level hybrids currently available. Nominal impedance is listed at 22Ω with a sensitivity of 105 dB/mW making the Cs8 an easy in-ear to drive off phones,tablets, and low powered sources. I found it scales some qualitatively but does not require extra power provided by higher end DAPs or amps.
There is a mild sub-bass emphasis centered around 80Hz which makes me suspect CVJ has reused the same dynamic and tuning in both the CSN and CS8. This is a good thing as it is a very competent driver with good speed, very little bleed, and good tone. Mid-bass gradually drops as we move toward the mids but its hard to call it a V or even a recess as the drop is so mild and so gradual you really have to be looking for it to find it. Slam and rumble are good but again not as visceral as some. This is the trade off for better than average bass textures and detail. I’ll make that trade any day but some that prefer a big bass boost may not.
Transition from mid-bass to lower-mids is clean without any obstruction from bleed or obvious transition between drivers. Male vocals have good texture but are slightly behind higher voices and lack a bit of weight in some passages. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it thin, but the lack of weight does keep vocals from sounding as full as they should in some cases. Guitar growl is acceptably good with enough speed to feel jagged where it needs to. Strings have good texture and detail but again need a little less energy in some places to sound wholly realistic. Upper-mids are pushed mildly forward and bring female vocals to the front in the process. Female vocals have good weight and show none of the thinning present in the lower register.
Lower treble stays on the same plateau with the upper-mids and gives the Cs8 a bright signature with lots of treble detail but also some fatigue sneaking in due to that same emphasis. The Cs8 can be sibilant if fed material that leans that way to begin with. Those with a treble sensitivity may want to audition the Cs8 before purchase for this reason. Above about 4kHz the treble steps back and does keep the Cs8 from getting KZ style bright while a push at 10kHz puts back a little air at the top-end. The Cs8 shares a similar tuning with the CsN with a step back in detail in the treble.
Soundstage / Imaging:
The soundstage is wider than deep with dimensions of a school auditorium or similar. Height is also somewhat limited but does give enough space to be able to put one instrument above another but both seem to be more in front than above when compared to a more holographic presentation. Seating the orchestra is fairly straight forward with no odd gaps or overlaps. Imaging is good with movements easily followed and positions fairly tightly defined in all but the center front which seems a little less precise. There is some mild compression that becomes evident with extremely complex bass passages but even then it doesn’t get particularly muddied and is again better than expected at the price point.
Thoughts / Conclusion: <NM>
With a neutral mid-focused profile, the CS8 acquits itself well at the price. However it faces fierce competition from other hybrids at a similar price such as KZ ZSX, CCA C10 Pro and the new KBEAR Lark, amongst others, most of which offer perhaps a more dynamic listen. The C10 Pro is V-shaped with a bright forward sound and a fast deep bass and the ZSX is mildly V-shaped with deep bass and an expansive staging and the Lark is well balanced, dynamic and powerful.
The CS8 continues the CVJ “house sound” and represents good value if you are looking for a measured presentation and a neutral, well-balanced to bright profile. However, it will not appeal to bassheads and it does benefit from a warmer source.
CVJ must be praised for sticking to their guns and supplying a valid alternative to the swathe of V-shaped IEMs on the market.
- Bass - 7/107/10
- Mids - 7/107/10
- Treble - 6.5/106.5/10
- Soundstage - 6.5/106.5/10
- Imaging - 7/107/10
Pros: unique shape offers fit for smaller ears, near neutral/slightly bright signature, good details
Cons: limited kit, can be a bit too bright at times, cable is average (tends to tangle)