CJV is a Chinese earphone manufacturer that I had not known of prior to doing this review. In today’s review, I’m looking at the company’s entry-level IEM the CVJ CSA. The CSA is a hybrid dual-driver earphone with 1 dynamic driver and 1 balanced armature driver. It retails for just $20 and looks pretty promising. I bet you’re just as curious about how it performs as I was. Let’s take a closer look.
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.
CVJ CSA Review
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Fun, easygoing tonality
- Detachable 2-pin cable
- Value for money
- Bass is a little woolly
Package and Accessories
I got a real surprise when I opened up the CSA box. Unlike most IEMs at this price point, the CVJ CSA comes in a rugged, wooden box that gives a great first impression. Here’s what you get in the box.
- CVJ CSA earphones
- Detachable 2-pin cable
- Velcro cable tie
- 3 pairs of silicone eartips
- Fabric carrying pouch
- User guide/warranty card
Build Quality and Design
The CSA has a transparent shell that gives you a view of the drivers inside. The faceplates, (which come in either white or black) have a carbon fibre pattern with the CVJ logo in the middle. Made entirely of acrylic, the shells are fairly small and lightweight. There is a good ridge on the nozzle to hold your eartips in place and metal mesh to keep out any earwax. Overall, the build quality feels good for an ultra-budget earphone.
Comfort and Noise Isolation
I found the CSA to be a really comfortable earphone. They fit in my ears perfectly and I can practically forget that I’m wearing them. The shells have a low profile so they don’t protrude out from the ears and they’re also suitable for laying down. Noise isolation is pretty solid so long as you have the right eartips and a good fit/seal.
The included cable is fairly generic but of good quality. It’s a 4-strand twisted type with glossy black insulation. The 3.5mm plug and Y-split are both black aluminium. At the top are angled plastic 2-pin connector housings and flexible pre-formed ear guides. The cable handles quite well but is a bit prone to tangling because of the curved ear guides and lack of a chin slider.
The CVJ CSA has a warm, friendly tone that will appeal to a wide audience. It has a musical presentation that’s conducive to head-nodding and toe-tapping. CSA’s rich tones are emotive and fun but they still have a good level of clarity.
If you like a bit of extra bass thump then the CSA has got you covered. These earphones can deliver mid-bass with gusto and sub-bass that makes you sit up and take notice. This is a bass tuning that aims for fun over precision in a deliciously bold fashion.
Listening to If These Trees Could Talk’s “The First Fire” on the CSA the kick drum is rounded and slightly thick. It hits with enough impact to leave you shook if you’re not prepared for it. The good part is that it doesn’t dominate the track but it sure makes its presence felt.
The CSA has a very full-bodied midrange. There is significant warmth carried over from the exuberant bass and as a result, there is also some colouration in the mids. So while the mids don’t have excess articulation, they are rich and emotive.
This is a forward midrange, so despite the bass and treble being boosted, the mids don’t sound recessed. Notes in this band are quite thick, so it’s not the most resolving midrange but one that focuses on musicality rather than speed and instrument separation.
In Snoh Aalegra’s “I Want You Around”, the vocals are silky and rich, sonorous and rounded. The midrange floats on top of the bass in a wave of warm, inviting air and never feels muddy, despite its fullness.
Treble is slightly lifted but it’s counterbalanced by the warm low end and won’t make your ears bleed. It provides a nice amount of detail and allows for a fairly open soundstage. The CSA has a sweet, slightly warm treble that has good extension.
Strategic dips at 7kHz and 10kHz deftly avoid any sibilance while maintaining a natural timbre. It’s not the most precise or accurate treble but one that brings clarity to the midrange and depth to the soundstage.
The soundstage is larger than you might expect for an earphone with such a full-bodied sound. With its treble extension and resulting airiness, the CSA’s stage feels uncluttered. Furthermore, this budget IEM is even capable of some layering and pinpoint imaging. It has a good sense of depth, moderate width and adequate instrument separation.
KZ ZS4 ($18)
The KZ Zs4 (review here) is a dual-driver hybrid (1DD+1BA) with a shell that is shaped very much like a custom IEM. It has a lighter, more neutral tonality compared to the CSA which makes it sound less dense and more spacious.
The mid-bass is less in quantity and faster with more slam than the CSA. The CSA, on the other hand, has more bass impact with thicker, heavier notes. ZS4’s lower midrange is thinner and has less body leading to slightly better instrument separation but a more recessed midrange. This thinner midrange is cooler and more neutral compared to the CSA’s warm, rich presentation.
In the treble region, the ZS4 is drier and less forward, while the CSA’s treble is lifted and more saturated. As far as soundstage goes, the ZS4 has slightly larger dimensions but less note density. In addition, the stage position is pushed back and vocals are less intimate. Both IEMs offer great value and perform far better than you’d expect for their respective prices.
BLON BL03 ($39)
The BLON BL03 (review here) is a single dynamic driver earphone. It became a champion of budget audiophiles in 2019 and is still a very popular choice for many today. The BL03 has a faster bass with less mid-bass quantity and greater definition.
BL03’s midrange is more neutral and leaner than the CVJ. It’s not as warm as the CSA and is a bit more resolving with slightly better instrument separation. Compared to the BL03, the CSA brings vocals forward, producing a more intimate and fuller sound.
Both IEMs have a similar treble response but the CSA’s treble is vaguely more forward to compensate for its extra low-end warmth. In terms of soundstage, the BL03 is a bit wider and sounds are more spread out due to its leaner midrange notes.
Despite their differences, I can’t help feeling the CVJ CSA is like a little brother to the BLON. Both find their strength in their inviting tonality and dynamic presentation. To my ears, the BL03 still has the better sound but after buying extra eartips and cable (which many find necessary for this IEM) it ends up costing considerably more.
I must admit that I derive a peccant pleasure from the CVJ CSA. I’ve been enjoying this little budget earphone much more than I expected to. Its easygoing, warm presentation reminds me a lot of the BLON BL03 even though they differ considerably.
Based on the enjoyment the CVJ CSA has given me during testing, I heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a budget beater IEM. If you’re strapped for cash do not despair: you can still enjoy great audio thanks to earphones like the CSA. Needless to say, this little guy is headed straight to my Best IEMs List.
Check price on AliExpress.
- Sensitivty: 101dB±3
- Impendence: 22Ω
- Frequency response: 7-40KHz
- Cable Length: 1.25m±5
- Plug Type: 3.5mm silver plated plug
- Connector: 2PIN 0.75MM
- Color: Carbon black/Carbon white
- Driver: 1DD+1BA