The CCZ Plume: great sound, tragic fit
Hey everyone, welcome back to The Neighborhood! Today we’re taking a look at new IEM from a new company, the CCZ Plume. This thing is a bit of a surprise, and a bit of a tragedy. Let’s get InToit!
So CCZ is a new company that comes with a bit of a pedigree, as it appears that its founders have a number of years of engineering experience with IEMs with other companies. And this experience shows… at least in terms of the sound. But regarding the build, I’m not sure what in the holy hell they were thinking!?
First of all, I have no issues with the driver choice here. They use 4 custom BA’s and a dynamic, which seemed to be matched, matched well. My main issue here with the build is mostly in the shell design. To start with, it’s a plastic shell with a shiny gold finish. It looks like Mardi Gras bead plastic, and seems like it probably has a similar amount of heft to it. These would not be IEMs that I would want to accidently step on, as I’d fear that they would crack. Additionally, the shape of these things is just uncomfortable enough to ruin them for me. The worst part is this wing that is most likely meant to add security to the fit, but it sticks out too far, and at a weird angle, and just digs into my ear in a painful manner. I don’t notice the pain right away, but they begin to hurt with extended use or any kind of movement in my ear.
The nozzle, also has a slightly odd angle to it, and, while it wasn’t as bothersome as the wing itself, it did exacerbate the wing issue for me further- pressing both the wing and nozzle slightly oddly in my ear. I always felt these things in my ear, and they never disappeared from my perception in a way that would allow me to immerse myself in the presentation of the music by itself. But fit is a very subjective thing, and if I had super large ears, these might fit me without a problem. Initially, my right ear fit substantially better than the left, but now both sides irritate me. I’d consider myself to have relatively average size ears, and most IEMs fit me reasonably well (meaning I rarely have fit issues), but these just don’t! And this is truly a shame and a tragedy, as I truly do like the sound of these things; which we’ll get to in a second. But, for now, let’s talk about other components of the package provided with the Plume.
The cable these come with is twisted cloth covered, brown, balanced 2.5 mm cable with an angled, black, plastic TFZ-style, 2-pin, box connector. The 2.5mm plug is nice enough, and I like the fact that they also included 2.5mm to 3.5mm and 4.4mm adapters in the box with a nice leather case, but the plastic connectors which connect to the IEMs themselves could have been nicer in my book. Also the chin sinch here is simply a black plastic bead rather than a more robust or aesthetically pleasing material, such as metal or wood. But the cable does play well with extended use, and I like the thoughtfulness of the included accessories here. They even included a cleaning brush, a variety of different sized tips, and a cleaning cloth.
But let’s move onto the sound, as it is truly exceptional for its $200 dollar price. The sound here is every bit as resolving, detailed, and precise as the Moondrop Blessing 2; an earphone which others have been raving about as a bargain at $330 dollars. Yet, the Plume comes in much cheaper, at, or near, only $200! So here, with the Plume, at least from a sound perspective, you’re definitely getting what you pay for, and this appeals to me. My guess is that it might appeal to you. But unlike the Blessing 2, which I found to be starkly cold, and somewhat unnatural sounding, in the end, the CCZ Plume sounds extremely inviting. Prominently, the Plume is slightly warm, appropriately transparent, and extremely coherent- resulting in a superbly natural presentation to my ears overall. So, Its timbre is slightly warm, but without becoming fuzzy or overly lush as in the case of some other IEMs with this tonality.
The soundstage isn’t the widest, but it has great height to its presentation, and the depth of the sound field is most excellent. There is also good dimension the sound, and imaging is impressive. Furthermore, with its soundstage additionally in mind, I will also note that the Plume truly excels at both instrument distinctiveness and separation of sonics, as layering comes across as both accurate to the recording and natural to the ear. Sonics never come across as either too far forward nor too recessed. Vocals are well-centered, very slightly forward, but never seem overly exaggerated. I hesitate to call its presentation “relaxed,” but some may experience them this way. If it weren’t for the fit, I could listen to these for hours. It is with the utmost compliment that I will tell you that these remind me of the relaxed, but detailed sounds of the Meze Empyrean in a number of ways.
Treble is mostly well extended, and has a mild airy feel to it, but the air from this region of the frequency response is never excessively embellished, or bright; and sonics refrain from ever being intense or sharp. Treble heads who prefer additional presence or intensity may find the Plume to be lacking here, but I found the sounds from this portion of the frequency response spectrum to be represented “well-enough,” and subtly rolled, yet satisfying to my ears. In terms of its midrange performance, it is detailed and present, but as a theme with the Plume, sounds ride the line perfectly between sufficient presence and a relaxed styling.
The bass is softly dynamic, and has just enough push and punch. For comparison’s sake, I found the low-end of the Plume to be sufficient, while I found the dynamics of the Blessing 2 to be lacking. With the Plume, the low-end is fully presented, and adds a soft warmth to the overall mix. It does; however, lack a certain amount of detail in comparison to the rest of the delivery of this in-ear-monitor. More specifically, detailing is there, it’s just more delicate and understated, and one will have to listen for it to appreciate it, instead of the bottom-end being thrown in your face, or anything like that. In other words, the bass is more “well-blended,” its bleed is limited, and it never causes any issues with incoherence, Instead, the low-end always seems to simply fit-in well with the rest mix. Here, the bass does not sound like a subwoofer in one’s ears. It sounds like a well-crossed-overed tower speaker in a premium two-channel set-up. The bass is tuned well, but this is not a bass-head set.
So, in the end, I love the relaxed, detailed, slightly warm sound of this IEM, but it doesn’t fit in my ears well, and, to me, this truly is a tragedy. In terms of its “ergonomic design,” I’m not really sure what CCZ was really thinking? The Plume is a large chunky IEM, and both the wing on its shell and its nozzle are simply are just too aggressive in my view. Having said that, fit is a subjective thing, and you may like the fit of this set, especially if you have a large-enough, inner ear to accommodate them. So, if one can make the fit work here, then CCZ Plume is hard not to recommend! It has a fabulous accessary package, a great tonality, and a sophisticated, detailed presentation that makes it hard to beat at, around, or below its price of $200 dollars. And with that, I’m out for now!
*Thanks to KeepHiFi for sending in the CCZ Plume for Review!
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