CCA PLA13 IEM Review – News

CCA PLA13 IEM Review – News

CCA PLA13 IEM Review - News

The PLA13 CCAs are the company’s first IEMs with planar magnetic drivers. It’s entirely possible that the PLA13s are simply renamed PR1 from CCA’s sister company KZ. At only $65, the PLA13s are one of the cheapest planar IEMs you can get today, which is quite the feat since just a few years ago you would have had to spend hundreds of dollars to the same privilege.

In this review, I’ll examine the audio quality of the PLA13 and assess whether it’s worth jumping to the planar hype train in this price range.


The PLA13s have a somewhat typical CCA/KZ design with large transparent resin earphones. Personally, I like this chunky shape because it makes it easier to grip when inserting or removing the headphones and they don’t stick out much from your ears.

IEM CCA PLA13 Review

The ear cups are also very comfortable; the shape was perfect for my ears and they are also very light. The silicone tips are soft and create an excellent seal. I could wear them for hours if I wanted to.

The headphones have a standard 2-pin connector to connect the cable. The cable is of quite good quality for this price. It’s light, flexible, and reasonably long with an L-shaped connector at the end. The bends for the ear hooks are a bit stiff but not uncomfortable. The cable retains no bends and microphony is minimal. The Y-split is a little too low than I’d like with no way to adjust it, but other than that I can’t fault it.

IEM CCA PLA13 Review

You can get the headphones with or without a microphone. There is a single button on the microphone cable for answering or ending calls and for playing/pausing. If you get the microphone cable, make sure your amp supports the TRRS connector, but that shouldn’t be a problem with most DACs and USB adapters. I tested with a Shanling UA2 and Apple Lightning to 3.5mm adapter and had no issues, although the microphone only works if the adapter also has an ADC or is passive.


Planar magnetic drivers are known for their superior performance. Passing the voice coil through the diaphragm and then suspending it in a magnetic field by having magnets on one or both sides vibrates the entire surface evenly, removing any driver flex that can occur on dynamic drivers. It is also very light, which makes it extremely fast. Indeed, planars are to dynamic drivers what OLEDs are to LCDs. On paper, they’re just better.

However, the basic driver design is one thing and how it is built and tuned is another. It’s possible to have a dynamic speaker that sounds really good and a poor quality planar. And that’s more or less what we see with the CCA PLA13.

IEM CCA PLA13 Review

Whatever technical superiorities the PLA13 pilot may have in theory are buried in the typical CCA/KZ V-shape tuning. The low end is bloated and often boomy and even the speed of a planar can’t compensate for that. The midrange is correct but is often drowned out by the bass. The highs are easily the worst part; it is too high-pitched and sibilant and can make some content absolutely unbearable.

More than the tone, it’s the overall sound that comes across as oddly compressed and muffled. Compared to my 7Hz Zero, an IEM with dynamic drivers that costs half the price, the difference is day and night. The Zero, in addition to being masterfully tuned, also sounds open and airy with distinct instrument separation and vocal clarity. The PLA13, on the other hand, gives the impression of listening to an FM radio broadcast of the same track with boosted bass and treble.

Anyone familiar with CCA and KZ tuning knows what it looks like. It’s unfortunate that brands can’t get over their obsession with this aggressive V-shaped setting, even in the modern IEM landscape. There is a way to make a V-shaped sound but that’s not it. It’s just too harsh and the equivalent of adding too much salt to bring out the flavor.

Powering the PLA13 was no problem despite the planar drivers. You can easily drive them from any phone that still has a 3.5mm port or Apple’s 3.5mm adapters.

IEM CCA PLA13 Review

A quick word on the mic: It’s not very good. It sounds awfully quiet and voices don’t sound much better than most good Bluetooth headphones.


The CCA PLA13 is a great product in theory. $65 for planar EMPs would have been unheard of not too long ago. Unfortunately, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and in practice PLA13s are disappointing. I would highly recommend the aforementioned 7Hz Zero if you like a more balanced setting or the very popular Moondrop Aria if you want to hear what a good V-shaped setting sounds like.


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