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Impressions: ddHiFi CZ300 + CZ180

ddHiFi is no stranger to the portable audio accessories market, and fresh for 2024, the company has released a set of two new carry cases to complement its already-extensive product portfolio. 

The two cases – CZ300 and CZ180 – couldn’t be more different. In fact, the only similarities they share are the dual custom YKK zippers, and the ddHiFi branding. I’ll be spending significantly more time telling you about the CZ300 because as of today, it’s displaced all my other storage cases as the most robust and compact carry case for all my gear. 

CZ300: the complete portable storage solution

Based on previous dd case designs, my expectations weren’t especially high when I first read about the new CZ series. That’s not to say I don’t like dd cases – quite the opposite. But for someone like me who, as a reviewer, needs to store and move quite a large selection of gear, I always found dd’s cases slightly too compact for my needs.

Not so the CZ300. The minute I opened the box and unwrapped the new canvas-covered case, I knew this was going to be very different to what dd’s made before. For starters, this is a large case, and specifically large where it counts: height. Too many cases, both hard and soft-covered, are made too short to fit thicker gear (or gear stacks). This is a shortcoming (pun intended) the CZ300, measuring in at 320 × 220 × 100mm, easily overcomes. 

But despite its relative size, the CZ300 still feels very compact, and looks it too with its understated earth tone colourway. The outer case is made of a waterproof canvas material that feels very resilient but also quite smooth to the touch. Unlike previous dd cases that featured large strips of leather for décor, the CZ300 uses minimal leather, mostly for the seams surrounding the dual YKK zipper glides around the top of the case. 

Overall construction is very sturdy, and even though it’s not a hardshell case, it still feels like it’s going to be very protective of the innards. It also weights a solid 800g, and significantly more when fully loaded (as you’ll soon see), but despite the heft, it maintains its shape very well, and can be set to stand on its wider or narrower sides without issue. A convenient carry handle makes it simple to move around when you’re ready to go.  

Opening the case reveals a very clever three-part design comprising a mesh pocket section in the lid, a fabric zippered divider that doubles as a soft but solid surface for resting gear, and a large, spacious inner section with a unique divider system.

Starting with the lid section, there are four elasticated mesh pockets that easily store small accessories like audio dongles, tip cases, IEM pouches, cables, and other miscellaneous bits and pieces. Just be mindful not to overload the mesh pockets as thicker items will potentially take away from the storage volume available in the main section. 

In-between the lid storage and main sections, the woven fabric divider is a clever touch. Not only does it protect both storage sections, it also keeps dirt and dust out of the main storage area when the case is open, and as mentioned earlier, can be used a soft surface on which to rest your gear while working. Because it’s soft, it also allows for slightly thicker items in both storage areas to press against it – rather than against other gear – with no risk of damage.

Lastly, the main section is where the wow factor comes in. The first thing I noticed when opening up the case was the foam-filled grooves sewn securely to the internal sides of the case. These, it turns out, are used to support a set of flat, covered dividers that slot in to the grooves, allowing you to partition the main section into smaller areas. 

You get a long divider (with its own foam-filled grooves) that slots in and partitions the main area lengthways, and a set of eight smaller dividers that slot in-between the long divider and the peripheral grooves to create smaller partitions. Using the provided dividers, I was able to create a generous space with two main partitions, and a further ten smaller partitions: eight for IEMs with third-party cables attached, one for my collection of three full-size DAPs, and a small section for filling up with silica gel pouches to keep everything dry.  

I have to say, this is the most impressive partition system I’ve seen on any case to date. In my experience, most storage cases use Velcro to affix dividers, and even when the dividers themselves fit neatly into the case, the Velcro feels flimsy and wears down over time. Worse still, some cases use soft dividers, which might be more flexible but end up looking awful, especially when they’re buttressed with two-way Velcro strips.  

Still, the CZ300 divider system isn’t perfect. Because the short dividers are only supplied in one length, they can only be used when the long divider splits the internal cavity into two equal parts (otherwise they’re too short or too long). Moreover, since you only get eight short dividers, there’s a limited number of storage spaces you can make before running out of dividers. Also, the tolerance of some of the dividers is a bit off, so they don’t slot in particularly tightly and can come loose too easily as a result.

All that said, the configuration I came up with using the supplied dividers is basically ideal for my personal testbench system. As you can see below, every item is stored neatly, with plenty of room (and importantly, plenty of height), and that goes even for the large flagship DAPs, which I stacked sideways for easy access.

Overall, this is the best case I’ve personally found for storing and easily transporting a large selection of gear. You can even squeeze an iPad Pro in between the lid and the fabric divider, which makes for a complete portable audio and source carry solution. Considering the asking price for the CZ300 is south of $60, that’s insane value for one of the best all-round, high-capacity, high-quality storage cases on the market today.  

CZ180: an ultra-compact retro carry

If you’re only looking to carry a small amount of gear with you, or want to protect larger gear (like TOTL DAPs) in individual cases, that’s where the new CZ180 comes in. There’s some familial resemblance to the CZ300, especially the dual YKK zippers with their burnt-sienna pull tags on the outside, but other than that, they’re made for very different purposes and buyers.

The exterior of the 200 x 120 x 60mm case is made of a smooth composite two-tone leather, olive green on the lid and light tan on the base. Opening the case reveals a main interior covered by a non-zippered hinged fabric partition, used more for protection than actual function. There’s no storage space in the lid either.

The main compartment is lined in a soft, fuzzy fabric, receptive to the various lengths of soft Velcro dividers provided inside. You can use these dividers to partition the compartment in several ways, so if you get creative it’s perfectly suitable for carrying three sets of IEMs, a couple of cables, and a dongle or two. You can also use it to carry a mid-sized DAP and a larger IEM/cable combo, or, without the partitions, to carry one full-size flagship DAP (or portable DAC or amp). 

Aside from my general dislike for soft Velcro dividers, there’s nothing functionally wrong with the CZ180, and considering its relatively affordable sub-$30 price point, it’s perfectly conceivable that many buyers will opt for buying more than one to store different items. Like the CZ300, the CZ180 is very well made, with high-quality zippers that won’t get jammed or scratch your gear, but given the size and space available, its utility is fairly limited. 

Closing thoughts

If you’re in the market for an all-in-one carry solution that doesn’t force you to use fixed partitions, and that doesn’t resort to flimsy Velcro dividers like too many cases do nowadays, pay close attention to the new ddHiFi CZ300. 

It’s a really, really good – scratch that, really excellent – case, and I don’t hesitate for a second recommending it to all but the most precious of portable audio users, for whom nothing but pure leather and unicorn hair stitching will do. 

If you just want a simple, partition-able carry case for a large DAP or a few loose items, the CZ180 is an easy choice, but there are many other equally-compelling options, not least from dd, for that sort of carry. There’s nothing I’ve personally seen that comes close to the compact cleverness of the CZ300, certainly nothing that doesn’t cost several multiples of $60 with very little if any additional benefit. 

Both the CZ300 and CZ180 are available to buy direct from ddHiFi’s AliExpress store, and likely from other online vendors like Amazon too. 



Picture of Guy Lerner

Guy Lerner

An avid photographer and writer 'in real life', Guy's passion for music and technology created the perfect storm for his love of portable audio. When he's not playing with the latest and greatest head-fi gear, he prefers to spend time away from the hobby with his two (almost) grown kids and wife in the breathtaking city of Cape Town, and traveling around his native South Africa.


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