CCZ Coffee Bean: follow up and comparison with the KBEAR KS1...
Hi everyone!. Welcome back to The Neighborhood again. We’ve got the CCZ Coffee Bean in for review today. This is a budget offering by CCZ, you know the company that made the Plume! I loved the Plume for its sound, but not its fit. But what about the Bean? Let’s get InToit, and see if CCZ is a player, or just a flash in the pan?
In regard the build of the Bean, I’m not sure why they decided to name it this, other than perhaps its color scheme? The Bean comes in two colors, black and brown. The brown does remind me of coffee, but the black… not really. Anyways, I chose the black variant with the microphone for my testing.
The shell itself is transparent and smoked, with a black, vented faceplate, and a black rubberized wing for stability. And if you saw my review of the Plume, you know when I ordered this thing, the wing made me nervous. And again, its not great… its better than the wing in the Plume by a mile, but it does wear on me after a few hours of use. The rubber material they used for the wing also isn’t the softest, so that doesn’t help matters. Nevertheless, it doesn’t dig into my ears like the Plume does.
Also like the Plume, the angle of the nozzle is just a bit off. Again, the bean’s nozzle has a much better angle than the Plume’s but I still know its in my ear when I wear it. Having said that the Bean is light-weight, much smaller than the Plume, and the comfort here is drastically improved.
The cable these come with is unremarkable and seems similar to a CCA cable. It is your standard black cheap black, braided and wound affair with an inline microphone, a right-angled 3.5mm, single-ended termination, and two, 2-pin, box-style connectors. The hooks were a bit aggressive, but this isn’t anything that couldn’t be fixed with a hairdryer and a paper towel roll.
The tips in the box are black, silicone and have a rib at the opening. They’re comfortable enough, and sound good with this IEM. So good in fact, that I felt no need to experiment with additional tips for this review, but there might be some adjustment out there that you find makes these even better. If so, leave it in the comments to let others know.
With regard to its driver, this is a single dynamic, and there are rumors that this is the same driver as the KBEAR KS1. On my discord, I’ve seen pictures of the two drivers side-by-side, and they do look remarkably similar.
And now might be as good of a time as any to plug the discord. The invite to the discord is in the description, so consider joining if you want to keep up more with the channel. I’m in there often, and what is next on deck is always mentioned in the discord first. I also edit my videos there, and I get on voice chat when I can to talk to The Neighborhood and other reviewers. Its an open invite, so feel free to join in at any time.
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Getting back to the Bean, the drivers of the KS1 and it don’t only look alike, they also sound very similar as well. I never did a follow up video or review on the KS1, and that’s mostly because what I said in that video was accurate and still stands. So, this review will likely be to most follow up on the KS1 the channel gets, as there is really is limited to reason to amend anything from that initial review. The only thing, I would say additionally about the KS1 is that its impact does calm down a bit with extended use, an additional cable is required to get the most out of its sound, and unfortunately, its build was not the best for some units. My unit never really had any issues, but I did hear reports of cracked shells, and loose nozzles, so it seems there was a bit of a lottery when it came to the KS1 and its build. But in any case, like the bean, the KS1 was a cheap unit; coming in at or around $15 dollars in most cases, so for that budget, you can always get another if things go south. Either that or pick up the CCZ Coffee Bean instead, as the sound is similar, and the build, at least on the surface, seems to be more robust.
So, let’s start things off by talking about the main differences between the sound of the KS1 and the Bean, and also consider important additional aspects about the sonics of the Bean on its own along the way. To start with both are excellent IEMs for your money, and amongst the best under $20 bucks. Both IEMs also do well with vocals, and isolate them well. With regard to overall clarity, again its good for the price, and very close to the KS1, but I’d probably give the edge to the KS1, in the end, but again this is a very slight difference. In general, I’d say that, overall, the KS1 is slightly tighter in its presentation compared to the Bean, but, then again, it is also more intensive in its delivery, as the Coffee Bean is ironically, despite its name, more relaxed. For example, the Bean has a greater sub-bass presence, but also is generally more diffuse and has less bass impact overall, especially in the mid-bass region. So, dynamics, are livelier with the KS1, than they are with the Bean. But, that is not to say that the Bean is not a dynamic IEM, it still is, just less so than in the case of the KS1, which might even come across as a bit “too dynamic” to some.
In fact, all sonics, bass, mids, and treble, are, psychoacoustically, just a bit more forward sounding on the KS1. So, I’d say, that the Bean is generally the more relaxed monitor of the two- with the compromise that it is also slightly less sharp in its detailing. So, if you felt the KS1 was just a bit too intensive for you, then the Bean might be the better choice, as it nearly keeps up otherwise. Having said that the soundstage, seems somewhat larger in the KS1, as like the Plume, the soundstage of the Bean is mostly average, and takes place, generally, between your ears- at least with regard to its width. Still, separation, imaging, and placement of both IEMs are on point, again, similar between the two, and impressive for the price point, however; the Bean seems to have a slight edge on the KS1 in terms of tracking images across its soundscape. Yet, with regard their airy qualities, the KS1 has the slight edge there. Although, I wouldn’t say that either IEM is particularly airy, nor lacking in it either. So, the two IEMs largely trade blows with one another in my view, and which one, a person prefers will likely end up coming down to individual choice. Having said, that I think most people may lean towards the CCZ for its slightly more relaxed character overall.
So, since I loved the KS1, and this IEM is ultimately extremely similar, I’m am going to have to say that I also like the sound of the Bean. Both IEMs, offer a mild V-Shape presentation to their listener, which, by and large appears, appears forward sounding in most areas of the frequency response to the human ear. But keep in mind, that in terms of general forwardness, the Bean is still somewhat forward sounding, just generally less so in comparison my beloved KS1.
In the end, if the Plume and the Coffee Bean are any indication, CCZ seems to be a group that knows what they’re doing and not just a flash-in-the-pan company which got lucky with their first IEM. Having said that, like with the Plume, they need to abandon the stabilization wings, and correct the angle of their nozzles to improve their success with the mass market. I hope that CCZ makes such improvements soon, and hopefully I will get to hear more of their IEMs in the near future. Thanks again to KeepHiFi for providing the Coffee Bean for the channel, but as always, I have not been paid nor influence to say anything in particular in this review. And with that, I’m out for now.
*Thanks to KeepHiFi for sending in the CCZ Coffee Bean for Review!
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