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Cozoy Hera C103 Review – Old-school Cool

Pros –

Sturdy and comfortable design, Rich analogue tone, Deep, articulate bass, Wide soundstage

Cons – 

Fixed cable, Limited treble extension, Occasional midrange muffle

Verdict –

Cozoy flaunts their expertise with traditional acoustics to provide a gorgeous tonality and extract maximum quality from their chosen driver.


Introduction –

I find myself conflicted when introducing Cozoy, a name that has surely achieved wide renown yet a company that hasn’t released a new product for quite some time. I suppose this speaks for their confidence in the timeless design of their products. The Hera exemplifies this as a model that was introduced a few years ago but remains their pioneer IEM. It lacks any flash features, a down to Earth single dynamic driver earphone tuned with good old fashion acoustics. The wideband driver employs a composite dual-layer diaphragm while the metal housings undergo a painstaking milling process to reduce resonances and ensure stringent quality control. The Hera carries a $160 USD price tag which seems modest in the present day. You can read more about the Hera here and purchase one for yourself from Penonaudio or Cozoy directly.

 

Disclaimer – 

I would like to thank Cozoy very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the Hera for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

 

Design –

The Hera will appeal to listeners wanting a more traditional cable-down fit. Yet, none will mistake this earphone for a generic consumer model, their metal shells were CNC machined by the same company as the venerable AKG K3003. Furthermore, rigid quality control ensures parity between channels and units. Red honeycomb accents tease the audio prowess offered by Cozoy’s unconventional, conventional IEM.

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Such a simple design permits excellent ergonomics. The housings are compact and bullet-shaped, promoting a deep fit and avoiding contact and hotspot formation on the outer ear. The cables happily loop over the ear, heightening fit stability and mitigating cable noise when required. The seal is strong and noise isolation is easily above average for a dynamic driver earphone but still a far cry from sealed BA competitors making them suitable for public transport and commute if not air travel. No driver flex was apparent on my unit.

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The cable is also a curiosity, non-removable but with a Kevlar jacket and silver/copper alloy conductors that promise sustained performance and longevity. The jacket is rubbery and springy but resists tangles well nonetheless. Microphonic noise is acceptable given the interwoven Kevlar fibres and can be further reduced by wearing the earphones inverted. The interconnects are slim with aluminium housings and the 3.5mm straight plug showcases pleasing strain relief alongside sculpting for easy manipulation.

 

Sound –

Tonality –

The Hera is a U-shaped earphone sporting a warm bass, laid-back vocals, especially female, and a crisp lower-treble. That said, it’s quite linear in its tuning, lacking lack peaks or troughs which rewards with an accurate timbre and natural tone. Analogue is an apt descriptor; this earphone is warm, smooth and full-bodied yet with ample separation to avoid congestion and a bump in detail presence to retain engagement. As such, it’s a great choice for easy listening without sacrificing details or too much clarity.

 

Bass –

Sub-bass extends nicely. It has mild emphasis and excellent depth but, aligning with its analogue presentation, lacks head-pounding intensity at the very bottom which will be a pro or con depending on listener preferences. The mid-bass is cleaner but still has a slight emphasis, creating a light warmth and smoother bass texture. The upper-bass sees mild attenuation to maintain a cleaner midrange.

Driver quality is very commendable for the price, decay is natural and control is high. The Hera showcases a very high level of definition here and a lack of bloat or smear despite mild warmth. Bass texture is on the smooth side as aforementioned, so though bass details don’t jump out, the low end is certainly tight and resolving, well-metered in both warmth and quantity.

 

Mids –

To imbue separation, the lower-midrange has a small dip before a small hump through the centre midrange and subsequent fall off in the upper-midrange. Such a tuning ensures that bass doesn’t congest the midrange and vocals aren’t overshadowed. Still, vocals do consistently occupy a laid-back stage position, especially with regards to female vocals due to that upper-midrange dip. In terms of timbre and tone, Cozoy has created a very pleasant and euphonic presentation.

The Hera possesses a natural timbre if not perfect accuracy on behalf of its reduced upper-midrange extension and warm tone. Occasional muffle creeps into male vocals on older recordings. However, the Hera generally full-bodied on the majority of tracks. Definition isn’t its strongest quality as a result, though vocals are nicely layered and never does a hint of over-articulation or sibilance creep into its presentation. There are some earphones hitting close to neutral at this price, yet the Hera guns for a uniquely tailored experience, providing a well-executed rich and warm signature.

 

Highs –

Lower-treble most immediately stands out for its modest level of emphasis around the 6KHz range before a drop off through the middle-treble. This is the only semblance of brightness that creeps into its presentation as the background is very dark and clean. There isn’t a lot of air and no sparkle is apparent. This creates strong contrast that draws the listener’s attention to the Hera’s crisp foreground detail presentation.

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Details are well represented here, crisp and with nice attack yet also not overly thin as the middle-treble has been attenuated. Extension is definitely below average, even for an earphone within this price range, making its focus tone and signature over technical ability. There is still ample extension through the middle-treble which, combined with attenuation, creates a sense of distance and dimension that greatly elevates soundstage expansion and imaging above low-end IEMs.

 

Soundstage –

Despite its limited treble extension, the Hera crafts an outstanding, well-rounded presentation with width that extends beyond the head and solid coronal projection. Imaging is quite good. Due to the lower-treble tuning, directional cues are sharp and instruments are portrayed in their proper position rather than being condensed to the sides. Vocals are perfectly centred which helps draw attention despite their diminished volume. Separation is likely the Hera’s poorest quality, it’s adequate but due to its warm, full voicing, elements sound more enmeshed and there isn’t much air to isolate each detail.

 

Driveability –

The Hera has a 103dB sensitivity and 32ohm impedance making it reasonably efficient. Utilising a single dynamic driver, the Hera’s signature is source agnostic, meaning not affected by output impedance. It is, therefore, a great choice for smartphone listeners and those who don’t own a dedicated source. Still, it does scale very nicely, especially with regards to soundstage width and bass control. Even cheaper sources like the Shanling M0 providing noticeably more definition and space than my Google Pixel dongle, while my desktop rig yielded improvements in bass depth and.

 

Comparisons –

Oriolus Finschi ($180): The Finschi is slightly more expensive but offers a hybrid driver setup delivering a more V-shaped sound. Bass extends terrifically on the both, the Hera has a cleaner tuning alongside higher control and quicker decay, delivering more definition and detail. The Finschi has more thump and rumble without sounding too flabby. The midrange tones vary with the Finschi being clearer, the Hera being warmer and more linear. The Finschi is more laid-back but its tone isn’t as warm as its lower-midrange is more recessed.

Both are full-bodied and on the smoother side, employing upper-midrange dips, the Hera to a greater degree. Within the treble, we observe similar lower-treble peaks roughly on par with their bass emphasis, the Finschi is slightly more aggressive. The Finschi has a touch more detail retrieval but also sounds a touch thinner in so doing where the Hera is more natural in timbre. Both roll off through the middle-treble and have dark, clean backgrounds. The Finschi has a touch more sparkle and extension yet the Hera has a wider soundstage.

 

Verdict – 

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As a reviewer, it’s all too easy to reach stratospheric price ranges and never come down. So it takes a certain levity to realistically evaluate these earphones for their intended consumer. With such context, come in, sit down and get Cozoy! This is a fine example that the current fascination with neutral tuning and perfect curves might just alienate listeners with different preferences. As above, treble extension and its fixed cables most obviously limit appeal. However, the Hera’s controlled bass and luscious midrange will surely find fans. There are certainly newer and more innovative offerings within this price range, yet Cozoy flaunts their expertise with traditional acoustics to provide a gorgeous tonality and extract maximum quality from their chosen driver. If a smooth, warm and rich sound is to your liking, the Hera provides just that at an obtainable price tag.

The Cozoy Hera is available from Cozoy and Penonaudio (International) for $160 USD, please see Cozoy’s official site or my affiliate link for the most updated pricing, availability and configurations.

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