Shozy & Neo CP: Take The Blue Pill
Today we’re checking out a collaborative effort from Shozy, this time with Neo Audio; the Shozy x Neo CP.
The CP is a triple-armature earphone with custom drivers for the treble and mid-range and a Knowles’ 22955 low range driver handling the bass. It has hand built acrylic housings with MMCX equipped removable copper braided cables and a sub-200 USD price point. I’m not entirely sure who Neo Audio is, possibly a loudspeaker manufacturer, but Shozy is pretty well known within the industry and has years of well-received DAP, earphones, and ear buds in their back catalog. They know how to make a quality product and the CP is just one of numerous examples of this.
Lets take a closer look and see why.
Thanks to Lillian with Linsoul Tech for arranging a complimentary, financially incentive free sample of the Shozy & Neo CP for the purposes of review. The thoughts and opinions here are my own based on over a month of use and do not represent Linsoul, Shozy, Neo Audio, or any other entity.
The Shozy & Neo CP retailed for 165 USD at the time of writing: https://www.linsoul.com/product-page/Shozy-Neo-CP-Earphones
The CP was paired with a number of sources. The Shanling M1 was a nice match with the stock filters while the warmer M0 was a better match with the brighter, alternate filter set. The more neutral HiFi E.T. MA8 was fine with both options. The Shozy & Neo CP is easy to drive and can be powered just fine from a phone or more budget friendly source. It is somewhat unforgiving in regards to file quality. While listening to Youtube and Soundcloud isn’t a terrible experience, I’d definitely recommend sticking with something of a bit better quality at minimum.
I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. In 2018 I learned that I no longer have a preferred signature and can understand and appreciate vastly different earphones. The HiFiMAN RE800, Brainwavz B400, and Massdrop x MeeAudio Planamic are examples of earphones with wildly varied signatures that are enjoyable for different reasons. I generally listen at very low volumes, so keep this in mind when perusing my thoughts on how an earphone sounds.
- Driver: 3 Balanced Armatures (22955 Knowles Low Frequency, Custom Mid and High)
- Impedance: 30 ohms
- Sensitivity: 107 dB SPL/mW
- Frequency Response: 20-20,000Hz
- Passive Noice Isolation: 25dB
Packaging and Accessories:
I’m guessing Shozy opted to save on packaging with the CP, and funnel it towards the earphones instead. The box is not entirely unlike what KZ used to use back in the day, but a bit larger and with a snazzy silver/grey coloring. On the top is a C/P logo in gold foil. The left and right sized contain the angular Shozy logo, while the bottom outlines a few features and a product statement that does a pretty good job of explaining the CP:
“Presented by SHOZY x NEO Audio, CP in-ear monitor offers premium hand craftsmanship with meticulous sound tuning. Fusing Knowles balanced armatures and a specially designed high-extension tweeter unit, you will experience detailed, natural sound with precise imaging and enjoyable sound stage.”
Pulling the front flap and lifting the lid reveals a Shozy branded, clam-shell carrying case that takes up the entirety of the box. Inside are the earphones and accessories. In all you get:
- Shozy x Neo CP earphones
- 4-core copper braided cable with MMCX connectors
- Single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
- Bi-flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
- Foam tips (s/m)
- Alternate nozzle filters
- Shozy branded clam-shell carrying case
Overall this is a really nice accessory kit with high quality tips of various sizes and styles. One issue with the tips is that they are smaller than equivalent sizes from other brands. I typically wear medium tips, though the included medium here were too small to get a decent seal. Of the silicone tips, only the large bi-flange fit me properly. The medium foams were also a good fit and didn’t do much to change the sound. All testing was done with the stock bi-flange tips.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
The CP features hand-built acrylic housing and my god are they beautiful. In regards to shape they follow the old-school jellybean, low profile design of something like the Shure SE846. The clear acrylic allow you to see the drivers, wiring, and crossover inside, as well as tunnels from the nozzle to the drivers. On the main faceplate, seemingly floating just over the low range driver is the Shozy brand name in gold in their distinct font. Some blue tint is also added to the face which breaks up the otherwise perfectly clear shell. Flipping it over you find Neo and a product number stamped, again in gold, into the acrylic. Overall the fit and finish is the best I’ve seen for an acrylic housing with zero faults that I could find anywhere. The MMCX port up to[ and steel nozzles are integrated perfectly which special mention going to the smooth filter threading that does not loosen up over time.
The braided copper cable is another excellent example of what Chinese manufacturers have been including with their products lately, putting lots of the competition to shame. It’s not stiff and noisy like the Whizzer Kylin’s cable and even retains flexibility out in cold weather, nor simple and basic like HiFiMAN’s fixed cable on the RE800 Silver. The well-relieved straight plug is wrapped in chrome and carbon fibre with the smallest Shozy logo I’ve even seen lazer etched into the lower silver band. The off-color, metal y-split is free of relief, but this style of cable doesn’t really need it since there is no soldering inside. The quad strands simply split into two groups of two as they exit the top of the split, heading up to each ear piece. As you head up to the plugs you find a useful bead-like chin cinch and some well-formed and flexible pre-formed ear guides. They effectively hold the cable in place around your ear, even during fairly heavy activity like running and jumping. The MMCX plugs are also metal with color coded plastic bands at the base to denote channel; red for right, clear for left. Overall, it’s a pretty killer cable. It’s well-built, it looks expensive, it behaves well in terms of tangling and stiffness, and it’s comfortable around the ear.
When it comes to comfort, the CP is outstanding. The rounded shells are free of any angles that could cause hot spots around your ear. The use of acrylic means that are also exceptionally light so even during activity they remain securely in place. Something I was surprised at is that despite being completely sealed shells (not ruling out that i’ve missed a vent, but I checked pretty thoroughly), I don’t feel any pressure build-up as experienced with other sealed earphones. These are simply a joy to wear.
Isolation on the CP is pretty good with a 25dB passive isolation rating. I have no way for formally testing that, but using it in noisy coffee-shops, walking around a busy city, in a car during a long drive, etc. I can tell you that the isolation is outstanding. These are well-suited to daily driver duty for those that use their iems in especially noisy places, regardless of whether you prefer to use silicone or foam ear tips.
Filters: The CP is shipped with two filter options. I haven’t been able to find any official explanation of what they do. Shozy’s site doesn’t acknowledge they exist, retailers simply mention them, and the usual measurement freaks haven’t covered this product. So, the following is based on my time swapping between the two. Using ears is horribly unreliable, I know. Sorry about that.
At first I thought the inner mesh was different with the stock filter set having a slight checker-box like pattern and the alternates having simple lines, but it was just the lighting. Both filters look identical so sure to keep them separate. Some color coding would have been welcome.
Sound wise they are quite different. The pre-installed set is warmer with additional mid-bass quantity and impact, as well as lesser upper treble energy. It also has a denser, more confined presentation. The alternate set knocks the mid-bass down a notch, but doesn’t seem to hurt extension, while adding more treble energy and additional detail in the mids. In summary, the stock filters provide a smooth, mellow listening experience, whereas the alternate filters mix in some additional treble for a very slightly more aggressive sound. I prefer the alternate set most of the time since it better lines up with my personal sound preferences, though I can’t deny the extra mid-bass helps with CP out quite a bit with my preferred music genre; Liquid D’n’B. That said, the below impressions were conducted with the stock filters since I still quite enjoy the CP with them, and also suspect they will be favored by most listeners.
The Shozy & Neo CP comes out swingin’ with a shockingly confident, refined, and neutral signature with just a touch of added warmth. Pretty nice for a product resting just north of 150 USD.
Treble is silky smooth and not at all fatiguing, but doesn’t skimp on detail or speed. Whomever produced this custom armature dialed it in perfectly. On Aesop Rock’s “Molecules”, the cymbals in the background sound outstanding with just the right decay and sizzle. It’s not the most airy presentation I’ve heard from an all-BA earphone, but space between notes is clear and distinct and they’re not so light as to lack body.
The mid-range is warm and prominent, clearly well-suited to vocal performances. On Daft Punk’s “Touch”, Paul Williams performance is full of emotion and intimacy with a genuine feel few of the CP’s competitors can reproduce with such adequacy. Female vocals are especially delightful. On Big Gram’s “Born to Shine” and “Run for Your Life”, Sarah Barthell’s seductive, breathy crooning has a trace-like quality to it that sucks you in and doesn’t let go until the tracks are done. The CP’s timbre is spot on too with Supertramp’s trademark saxophone, string, and guitars sounding amazing during Rudy, especially in the final half of the track where the tempo increases.
The CP’s bass clearly plays a supporting roll to my ears, coming in and offering up some punch and slam only when needed. Otherwise, it stays out of the way making the CP feel quite bass light much of the time. Sub-bass extension is decent but overall fairly limited as experienced on Kavinski’s “Solli”. Run The Jewel’s “Call The Ticketron” is one track that really plays well to the CP’s presentation showing it can hit with some authority, though texture is a little soft. In general, the CP has a presentation that isn’t as visceral as you’ll find on the majority of earphones with a dynamic driver handling the low end. If you’re looking for an all-BA earphone with killer bass, check out KZ’s AS10, BA10, and to a lesser extent the Brainwavz B400.
The Shozy & Neo CP provides a fairly intimate experience with it’s imaging, layering, and separation qualities taking up the slack. BT’s surreal “The Antikythera Mechanism” from This Binary Universe does a good job of showing off what the CP can do and is one heck of an experience. The intimate presentation does hurt at times though, taking away from the grandiose performance of Lynard Skynard’s “Free Bird” and making it a more personal affair.
Select Comparisons (volumes matched with Dayton Audio iMM-6):
Brainwavz B400 (199.50 USD): The quad-armature B400 and triple-armature CP are more alike than not, sharing a neutral-warm signature. The CP offers slightly better treble extension and emphasis, mostly with the alternate filters installed, while the B400’s bass shows greater texture, depth, and weight. Both have a full sounding, forward mid-range with above average clarity and timbre quality. Sound stage isn’t particularly massive with either earphone, while both offer above average imaging, layering, and separation. CP’s staging shows a touch more depth to the B400’s extra width, while I found the B400’s imaging more accurate and nuanced, especially when using them for gaming and film. The B400’s extra clarity also gives it the edge in terms of instrument separation and layering, keeping it near the tippy top of my headphone heap in regards to technicals. In terms of build, the Shozy & Neo CP is a ways ahead with the B400’s 3D printed shells, at least on my sample, coming across much less refined and professional. Comfort is equally near perfect with the CP isolating slightly better. If you only care about comfort and sonic performance the B400 can’t be beat, though the CP comes closer than I was expacting. If you want the full package (build, looks, sound, comfort), the CP is the one to choose.
Tenhz P4 Pro (120 USD): The quad-armature P4 Pro and triple-armature CP certainly share some qualities, especially if you equip the CP with it’s alternate filters. First off, the both feature Knowles 22955 low range drivers for the low end and as you might predict, perform very similarly. With the stock filters in place, the CP is slightly bassier with more mid-bass emphasis. With the alternate filters in place, the CP’s bass sounds virtually indistinguishable. Heading into the mids, the CP is a bit thicker and warmer regardless of the filters, though the effect is less pronounced with the alternate filters. The P4 Pro sounds a little more detailed to my ears, but at the expense of the harshness and mild sibilance not present in the CP. Treble in the P4 Pro is more emphasized with similar extension and a touch greater clarity, though it comes across somewhat artificial when heard back-to-back with the CP. Shozy did a better job with the tuning of their custom mid and treble drivers, though I would expect that given the price difference. Sound stage goes to the P4 Pro which sounds larger and more open, but lacks the same sense of depth. Imaging seems ever so slightly more precise on the P4 Pro and while it sounds larger, layering and separation qualities are quite as nuanced. The CP is clearly the better sounding product to my ears, though the P4 Pro doesn’t fall too far off. If you can’t afford the extra dollars for the CP, the P4 Pro is a great direction to take.
2018 was the year I really got to experience a wide variety of armature based earphones. Sure, I had dabbled in them here and there, but in 2018 my eyes were opened to the types of experiences they could provide. I was hoping to get this review out before the end of the year, but alas it was not to be. Even so, the CP is easily one of the best products I experienced in 2018 and is a the perfect product to kick off the new year with.
Since tuning preferences vary from listener to listener, the CP’s neutral-warm sound won’t be for everyone. However, those who do like that style of tune will be rewarded with an experience that is detailed and natural. And if you want a bit more treble energy but are opposed to EQing for whatever reason, you’ve got the option via the alternate filter set included. The acrylic housings are probably the nicest I’ve come across in terms of visual appeal and construction quality, neatly matched with a premium cable that just adds additional value to the experience. If there is anything I’m not sold on, it’s the tip selection. While impressive in quality and variety, I fear the sizing will simply be too small for many.
Overall, I can’t recommend these enough. This is one seriously good looking and sounding earphone.
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)