Cat Ear is a new Chinese HiFi (Chifi) brand and is a subsidiary of Shunshi (Shenzhen) Technology Co., Ltd. Although the company was founded in 2007, the Cat Ear brand was registered in 2019. In this review, I’m taking a look at their first retail earphone, the Cat Ear Mia. The Mia has a single 8mm dynamic driver and a unique tuning system that utilizes small rubber rings. Let’s check it out.
Disclaimer:This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Cat Ear Mia
Warm, organic sound
Engaging bass performance
Smooth yet resolving
Cable noise unless worn over-ear
Tuning rings extremely difficult and frustrating to insert/remove
Package and Accessories
The Mia comes in a glossy black and red box. On the front is an illustration of a cat plus an image of the earphones. On the back, there’s a frequency response graph plus specifications and features lists. Here’s what you get in the box:
Cat Ear Mia earphones
Detachable SPC OFC cable
6 pairs of silicone eartips
Faux leather carrying case
Spare tuning rings
Design, Comfort & Noise Isolation
The shells are made from CNC aluminium and have a matte black finish. Something we don’t see often in entry-level IEMs lately is the old bullet-style chassis and it’s a refreshing change to see them here. The body is actually made of two parts, the outer black casing which surrounds a shiny red cylinder.
On the underside is the MMCX socket, an L and R marking for the left and right sides respectively plus a small vent. The nozzle is rather small but has the usual lip and protective metal mesh. Small and lightweight but very robust, the Mia has excellent build quality.
In terms of comfort, I’m sure you can tell these are great since the only part that really touches your ears is the eartips. In addition, this type of shell allows you to wear the cable either down or over-ear. Noise isolation is actually quite good but will depend on the quality of the seal you get with your chosen eartips.
The included cable is 4-core silver-plated OFC with rubberized insulation. One interesting feature of this cable is that it and all of its components have been cryogenically treated at -196℃ which supposedly helps to remove impurities and strengthens the materials.
The MMCX connector housings, chin slider, Y-split and plug are all made from matching matte black aluminium. When it comes to handling, the cable is easy to manage and drapes well but it can be noisy when moving around. This can, however, be mitigated by wearing the cable over-ear.
The Cat Ear Mia has a warm, inviting tonality with surprising resolution and a beefy low end. This is definitely what I would call a musical presentation and among all the recent neutral-bright tuned ChiFi earphones it’s a nice change of pace.
The Mia is easy to drive and can be powered sufficiently straight from a smartphone but a higher quality source will yield better results. I found any changes made by removing or installing the tuning rings to be negligible which was reflected in my measurements. Furthermore, due to the tiny size of the rings, I found that both taking the rings off and putting them back on is an incredibly frustrating experience that would test the patience of a saint.
Playing a big role in Mia’s sound is the meaty bass. It is bountiful in quantity and could be considered basshead level. There’s slightly more emphasis on the sub-bass but the mid-bass can shake things up too. The sub-bass has got some serious firepower. In Twista’s “Legit Ballers” the 808 bass notes can be heard clearly and physically felt but the midrange and vocals are not lost beneath it.
Decay speed is a bit slow but the bass is controlled and doesn’t sound too flabby despite the longer decay and a somewhat blunted attack. Audiophiles will likely shrink in horror from a bass like this but the average person on the street would likely get a kick (pun intended) from it.
The midrange has a warm and slightly dark tonality. It’s a tad smoothed over but has surprisingly good resolution and instrument separation. Male vocals are a little subdued but female vocals are more vibrant and nuanced.
Clarity is mediocre but the mids are silky and emotive. This is a midrange that doesn’t abound with micro-details but it’s one that invites you to sing along to the music. The upper midrange has better clarity and a more natural note size than the lower bands.
The treble is warm, non-fatiguing and overall has good timbre. I feel that a bit more presence around the 10kHz mark could help improve vocal clarity and midrange definition but I find the treble itself to be quite pleasant.
It’s not the most detailed treble but it goes for comfort over precision. The treble extension is actually good and so is able to retain some airiness but always stays on the safe side of the line. As such, this is an earphone that might be ideal for treble-sensitive people but at the same time, doesn’t sound too dark or dull.
Apart from the overall resolution, the soundstage is the other really surprising thing about Mia. Regardless of whether the infuriating rubber rings are in place or not, Mia has a nice, large soundstage and above-average imaging.
For a debut product, the Cat Ear Mia shows some real promise. The build quality is superb and the overall bundle is satisfying. It will be too bass-heavy for most snobbish audiophiles but for the average person on the street, it offers a fun, non-fatiguing and engaging experience with a phat, slamming bass.
Having said that, if they’re going to implement some type of tuning system, it would be nice to have one that doesn’t require a microscope, tweezers and anger management therapy. However, Mia does enough things right to make me want to see what Cat Ear does next.