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 CSN 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 CsN, the kit consists of the earpieces, 3 sets of silicone tips (SML), the cable, cable tie, and cloth carrying bag. While this was an acceptable kit for the sub-$30 Cs8, it does seem a little lacking for a $50-75 in-ear (ali express $50, amazon closer to $75) and the inclusion of foams, additional tips, and a better carry option would be appreciated. Having said that, remembering this is a 12 driver in-ear at the $50 mark, I’d much rather they spent money on the technology in the earpiece than the bag so this is certainly not a deal-breaker.
The shell on the CSN is a 3 piece design with the faceplate and inner shell of a powder coated aluminum/magnesium alloy and the nozzles of a synthetic polymer. Shape is the typical inverse teardrop at about mid-size with a recessed bi-pin connector. Fit between the components is well done with no gaps, glue, widening of seams etc. CVJ lists the alloy as being specifically chosen for its low resonance. Internally the shells have a CNC machined acoustic chamber tuned to the drivers used. Two vents exist for the dynamic with one on the center of the faceplate and the other immediately behind the nozzle on the inner face. The nozzles exit the lower front of the shell, are fairly short, have a lip for tip retention, and a steep forward rake but are comfortable in ear. I found these to sit mostly in the ear with good comfort for extended wear. Isolation is average with the venting limiting it somewhat.
The CSN is a 6 driver per side hybrid featuring a 10mm dual magnet dynamic driver for lows acustom tuned pairs of 50060 balanced armatures for mids and three custom tuned 30095 balanced armatures for highs CVJ also lists a wave guide inside the shell as part of the tuning of the CSN. Nominal impedance of the CSN is listed at 22Ω with a sensitivity of 108 dB/mW. This puts the CSN in the easy to drive category and I did find it worked well with smartphones and tablets and while it does scale some qualitatively with improved sources, it simply does not need the power many provide. There is some hiss with particularly high potency sources so lower powered or an ie-match on high potency sources is recommended.
The cable provided is fairly typical of budget offerings of late and listed as single crystal copper but number of cores etc is not listed in the marketing material. Starting at the south end, the jack is gold plated 3.5mm in a straight housing (although some marketing materials list an L shaped jack). Housings are flat black metal in a beveled barrel style for both the jack and the splitter. The jack has a modest strain relief at the exit with a matching one at the entrance of the splitter as well. There is no chin-slider on my sample even though I got the no-mic option. The cable itself is a double twist pattern with a black casement from the jack to the splitter with a very tight twist. Above the splitter the cable becomes a 2 strand twist with a slower rate of twist. The north ends terminate with fairly tight pre-formed hooks and .75mm bi-pins. Be warned, you can use a .78mm bi-pin cable, but once you do you cannot go back to .75mm so be careful which size you choose if you decide to get an aftermarket cable as the .78mm is more popular at the moment. CVJ also provides a velcro cable tie for storage but using it and the storage bag does create the issue of the velcro wanting to attach itself to the bag.
Lower mids transition cleanly from the mid-bass with very little bleed and no notable obstruction. The use of armatures here gives the lower mids more texture than many and male vocals are well voiced if slightly behind the upper voices. Strings are well rendered and have good tonality with enough energy to sound closer to realistic than most at this price. Guitar growl has crisp edges but again lacks just a touch of weight. There is a climb as we reach the true mids that brings extra energy and gives the CSN a bright signature as the emphasis here is pushed a bit farther forward than the lows. Detail remains good throughout the mids but upper voices have a bit of extra energy that moves them forward but can also result in some harshness at moments. The CSN can be sibilant when the recording introduces it but stopped short of introducing it.
Lower treble drops back after the push of the upper-mids but remains above the mid trough and about even with the low end emphasis. There is another brief climb around the 4kHz range that adds energy to the treble. True treble drops back considerably and keeps the signature from getting fatiguing. There is a peak at about 10kHz to help with top end air and roll-off is fairly quick above that with what I hear as about a limit of 13kHz at the top. Detail level in the treble is good which when combined with the emphasis helps strings sound more natural and gives snare rattle a good sharpness. Cymbals do lack just a touch of energy needed to sound completely natural with highhat sounding a bit clicky at times. There is limited air with the early roll-off but the tuning doesn’t feel closed in or congested.
Soundstage / Imaging:
Soundstage is slightly wider than deep but has good size in both dimensions and even manages some sense of height in the mix as well. Seating the orchestra is fairly straight forward with good instrument separation for the most part. There is some minor overlap in the lower mids possibly due to crossover area between the dynamic and armatures but it doesn’t seem obstructive as instruments are distinguishable, just positions not as cleanly delineated. Imaging is good with movements easily tracked around the stage and positions being fairly tightly defined in space. There is some compression in the lows as passages get overly complex but it is still better than most at this price level.
Thoughts / Conclusion:
There have been a lot of multi-driver hybrids introduced to the budget market over the last year with an emphasis on how many drivers per ear they can cram into their most recent efforts. When I first saw the specs on the CSN, I admit to thinking “Oh good, another 6 driver that would likely sound better as a 2 or 3” but thankfully instead of just seeing how many drivers they could fit in a shell, CVJ has spent some effort in tuning and creating a coherent signature using those drivers. Transitions between the drivers are nearly seamless with no obvious missteps and no huge gaps or spikes as is so often seen. It does doesn’t wow the user and won’t make some happy as it has less bass impact that some of its competitors and less treble than others but it has a nice balance that a lot of those same competitors lack. The closest competitor to the CSN signature wise is probably something like the TinHifi T4 which puts it in pretty good company. If you audition the CSN, make sure you give it ample listening time. It won’t jump out at you, but the longer you listen the more it reveals itself to be a very capable in-ear with a nearer neutral tuning than most of the budget offerings.
- Bass - 7/107/10
- Mids - 7.5/107.5/10
- Treble - 6.5/106.5/10
- Soundstage - 7/107/10
- Imaging - 7/107/10