CCA CRA+ Review

Table of Contents

  1. Prologue
  2. Non-sound aspects
  3. Sound aspects
  4. Veredict


To put it plain and simple, if you never heard about the original CCA CRA, either you didn’t pay attention, just joined the hobby or you’re under a rock without any mobile data service.

CCA CRA made a tidal wave once it reached some people’s ears and let me explain to you why: it costs 15 dollars, has good technicalities for its price point and the tuning is, well, for the lack of better words, acceptable. Sub-bass focused, flat mids, okayish upper mids, bad treble tuning but with extension and some air.

It wasn’t long until modders did what they did best: dampened that bore to try to figure out the best way to dampen that lower treble area. To some people, the 8k zone would still be a problem or even the HUGE sub-bass shelf so, by the end of the day, either you EQ’d it or was a hit or miss.

Of course that once 15 dollars are thrown into perspective, the above points are more than fine, they are acceptable, ending up in a turning head pair of monitors that most people would agree on, even if it didn’t fit the bill, no matter the library. I was one of those.

CCA CRA didn’t quite fit my preferences and library, but for the price it is a beast. Once I EQ’d it and paired it with Qudelix 5k (PEQ inside the APP) it just… Blew my mind. At that time and with the help of EQ, it was the best beater I’ve had to date, even replacing Tripowin Mele for my library. You can find me talking about it everywhere across this thread.

Now, some months later, the sun shined and the “metal” turned into gold: CCA CRA+ is announced, promising a better tuning, a better driver and looking all gold shiny shiny.

As it’s usual, it had a con right at the moment of its announcement: it would cost double the original price of CRA.

Will this price raise be justified? Let’s find out.

Non-sound aspects

For those already familiar with CCA CRA, you know what to expect. CRA+ uses the exact same shell, but just recolored. As to me personally, the fit and isolation is great, and one of the the reasons it’s one of my favorite ultra budget beaters for comuting (when I’m not doing it with kilobucks because I’m stupid).

The quality of the shell is horrible. There’s no way around that. Sure, it’s well finished and tries to avoid the cheap looking, but it’s still plastic and I can bet you can smash it with your own hands if you wanted that much. I have yet to encounter someone who had a problem with the shell yet, so there’s that.

Just like the shell, the rest of the packaging is exactly the same as well, just with different wording. Stock cable is usable, but feels horrible and, if you care for it, doesn’t look great either. Of course, if you are on an ultra tight budget, just use it and forget about it.

Tips actually work for me – funny fact: they are good for measuring with my 711, – but they aren’t anything special. Again, if you are money tight, just try to seal and judge their confort and, if they pass the test, just use them. As for me, I will be using BGVP W01 for this take.

I think that’s it for the non-sounding aspects of CRA+, as not much else can be expected at this price range, so it’s time to delve into the sounding part of this take. I was originally gonna name this write-up “1 step up, 4 steps down”, and I think you will understand why.

Sound aspects

If we go from highs to lows, we will find the step up: CRA+ treble is, without a doubt, multiple times better done than its predecessor. The thing that most people complained about – including me, – was the nasty peak around 5k hz and a couple more energy than needed around 8k hz as well.
This is the major change that made CCA+ stock more palatable for some genres in the upper regions: upper mids have more elevation, and therefore more compensation, over lower treble; lower treble got reduced to have less energy, making it not just less fatiguing (this is my nemesis peak) but also less metallic, resulting in a better timbre that we will talk below; extension got a boost that, although wasn’t needed, no one will complain about. Truly a step up.
Nothing comes as perfect in this price range, and I still have to nitpick about the 5k peak, as I feel -2dbs or so would be welcome in CRA+, but I feel that’s more personal than will be to the masses.

The mid range got better presence due to the overall FR change, but that also comes with a cost: note weight is much higher and warmer, making it sound less clean, despite its better presence. Still, for the price, a passable aspect, as they are similar in these regard.

Bass is where the step downs really start. To put it mildly, it’s a step down from the original CRA. Sub-bass focus has shifted into a mid-bass focus, with late correction, adding a bit too much warmth and bleed. This reflects in the whole spectrum, including the sense of separation and dynamics that I will talk about in a bit.
I am not a fan of the original’s elevation, but I like its shape, so when I EQ’d it I basically just added a low shelf removing some of that db. What made that bass special was the dynamics and texture, while being clean. This feels a big step down on CRA+ for my preferences, and it feels more congested and less airy overall – CRA is still more effortless.

Once we go into technicalities, CRA+ only rules on one thing: the timbre. Timbre in the original was not the best thing on earth, especially in the upper frequencies, having a touch of metallic flavor to it.

Other than that, it’s a bloodbath. The second major step down would be the soundstage in every axis, helping once again to the lack of spacious sound. CRA+ stage is below average and feels trapped inside your head, without any depth or height.

The final nail in the coffin, and maybe the biggest, would be CRA+ lack of dynamics. There’s no way around it and it’s very noticeable. Every note feels the same and once you get into busy tracks, especially jazz, it’s very evident.


If you paid attention, you will realize I only mentioned 3 of the step downs so far and that there is indeed one missing: the price. CRA was praised all over because of its value to performance, which is insane, turning itself into a powerhouse for 15 bucks. The younger brother costs double that and it’s a step down in technicalities.

While some would still like to EQ CRA+ its bass shelf, there’s no doubt in my brain that for that, the original would be better given its technicalities, especially regarding dynamics and stage presentation, while costing half.

I still think there’s an argument to be made about CRA+ frequency response over all the CRA and KZ lineups. If you like warm and can’t stand the original CRA lower treble, CRA+ is KZ’s best tuned IEM to date.

So, would I buy it? As for me personally, I’d pick Tripowin Mele if this was the profile I was looking for, despite it costing 20 dollars more, as it also comes with better packaging and build quality. If no modding/EQ is a must, I would still just grab Moondrop Chu over them all, despite its non-detachable cable.

Value rating: 3.5/5. Personal rating: C.

Thanks for reading!

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