Moondrop In-Ears Reviews, Impressions and Discussion

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by shotgunshane, Oct 10, 2020.

  1. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Reviews of Moondrop Starfield and Blessing 2

    Moondrop Starfield
    Single Dynamic Drive
    MSRP $109

    The Starfield is what I would call a warm and smooth take on a neutral signature. While it’s more neutral than most stuff out there, it’s not exactly a reference type tuning. Bass is pleasantly boosted over neutral without sounding bassy. It’s got really satisfying punch and rumble. Mids are natural, with slight heft to my ears, and sit well in the pocket drawing your attention in. Treble is just a little under neutral for an ever so slightly laid back and forgiving presentation. Tonality is great; it’s very natural sounding. Staging and resolution on the other hand are just average, yet somehow this is a plus- the Starfield just lets the music wash over me without constantly analyzing everything. Instead I’m thinking, man that song was great, I wonder what’s next on the random rotation.

    Aesthetically the Starfield is a very attractive IEM. The shells appear to be the same as the Kanas Pro but with a blue/purple metallic paint instead of a metal finish. They have a matching blue/purple braided cable. It definitely contributes to the outer space vibe. Accessories are minimal and not really worth going into detail; regardless its a powerful package for a mere $109. You couldn’t touch this quality for under $400 back when I first joined Head-Fi.

    Starfield vs JVC FDX1
    Source: Modius>THX 789
    Starfield with Ortofon tips; JVC with Ortofon tips and green filters

    Bass on Starfield hits harder and rumbles louder. However, the FDX1, while leaner down low, hits cleaner with more precise texturing. This is where the FDX1 really shines; some may find it too lean but it’s tight and detailed, and the more pleasant and full bass of the Starfield is a bit soft and hazy in direct comparison. A more technical dynamic driver bass meets a more fun and full dynamic driver bass.

    The FDX1 just sounds leaner and faster. Rock guitars have more bite, more attack. In comparison the Starfield sounds a little richer, thicker and more laid back in the upper midrange to lower treble transition. While it doesn’t have the same rock guitar bite and attack, it’s still very satisfying, yet always maintains a pleasant demeanor.

    On the Starfield, male vocals carry a little more weight and gravitas, and feels closer to the listener, whereas they are lean and clean on the FDX1. On female vocals, the FDX1 has more energy and transparency but Starfield still has plenty of energy in my estimation, yet seems smoother and more pleasant without sounding too deep and chesty like typically warmer or stage oriented IEMs. The FDX1 can give you chills one moment and the cringes the next. Starfield is just in the pocket, serving you listenable hit after listenable hit. Neither the FDX1 or Starfield are very airy sounding. Never the less, the FDX1 comes across as brighter and less forgiving due to it’s peak in the upper mid/lower treble area.

    When it comes to staging, both are fairly similar in width, height and depth. Their biggest different is in the Starfield sounding closer to the listener and the FDX1 sounding somewhat further away. The FDX1’s driver seems faster- faster transients, with less decay/rebound time, which translates to higher resolution and better imaging, but the difference isn’t night and day; more incremental. While the FDX1 betters the Starfield in technicalities, the Starfield pulls ahead in its ability to pleasantly satisfy and never offend song after song after song.




    Moondrop Blessing 2
    Hybrid: 1 Dynamic and 4 Balanced Armatures
    MSRP $319

    The Blessing 2 has a fairly unique build. It’s a 3D printed acrylic housing that appears to be solid throughout. It’s polished to a very clear and attractive finish. This version has stainless steel faceplates but it appears colored wood is available as well. The overall look belies it’s modest price. The nozzles are pretty thick and smooth, so using after market tips might be an issue keeping them on. Luckily the stock tips are very good and seem to be custom molded for the nozzle. The cable is copper braid that is very soft and pliable with low memory and boutique looks.

    The Blessing 2 is a neutral sounding in-ear; it is a reference type signature. It has a very slight bass boost over diffuse field flat that is centered in deep bass. The result is a natural, yet neutral sounding bass with very good extension. It has impact and rumble when called for but is never over accentuated to my ears. While very nimble and quick sounding, it’s lacking a bit in texture compared to the best dynamic drivers, resulting in a slightly over damped sound.

    The midrange is, again, neutral sounding; it’s clear, transparent and biases neither lower or upper mid. Thin recordings will sound thin; thick recordings will sound thick. Treble is mostly balanced with the rest of the spectrum, with the exception of a slight peak between 8 and 9k. While adding sparkle and a hint of brightness, it can sound a little sharp with some music. Key words here are slight and little; it’s mostly in control but can be annoying at times.

    Compared to its cheaper sibling, the Starfield sounds warmer and bassier. Starfield has more overt low bass texture but it sounds slower and softer compared to the more controlled Blessing 2. Male and female vocals on the Starfield have a hair more heft and the Blessing 2 has a hair more energy in upper mid and a bit more transparency overall. Blessing 2 is crisper up top, less forgiving but more resolving. If there is natural sibilance in the recording, it’s going to be more noticeable on the Blessing 2. Both are similar enough in staging with the Blessing 2 diffusing out from the eyes and ears a bit bigger overall. Where the Blessing 2 pull away and begins to earn it’s more expensive price tag is in layering, separation and imaging. It’s placement is much more precise. There’s more space between the instruments. Micro details are easily more evident. Whereas the Starfield is more blended and organic sounding.

    Blessing 2 vs JVC FDX1
    Source: Modius>THX 789
    Blessing 2 with stock tips; JVC with Ortofon tips and green filters

    FDX1 bass is slightly elevated over the Blessing 2. I has a bit more punch and rumble, as well as more noticeable and tangible texture. Even though the level is a little more elevated on the FDX1, Blessing 2 bass feels a bit denser. Perhaps this is damping effect I mentioned earlier.

    Male and female vocals are eerily similar; with male vocals the FDX1 sounding a little richer and Blessing 2 having a bit more transparent energy in the upper midrange for female vocals, as the FDX1 pushes its peak a little higher into the transition to treble. Perhaps the FDX1 sounds a hair nasally in direct comparison. Both have great rock guitar bite and crunch but the Blessing 2 definitely sounds a little more tonally correct here.

    Once we move beyond guitars into cymbals and high hats, the FDX1 has a bit better brassy timbre and more natural decay. However it’s peak that pushes into the mid to treble transition can create a masking effect over top end detail, obscuring it just a bit, as well as creating some occasional harshness. Conversely, while the Blessing 2 8-9k peak sharpness negatively affects timbre in direct comparison, however it is also noticeably more resolving in the treble region.

    While neither are going to be known for satisfying soundstage junkies, the Blessing 2 does sound a little more spacious over the FDX1, particularly in width. Much like with the difference between the Blessing 2 and Starfield, those difference are also noticeable here, in that the Blessing 2 is more precise in its imaging and layering and has more space around individual instruments, compared to the more blended FDX1. Overall the Blessing 2 is just a more resolving in-ear, except in bass texturing where the FDX1 has the slight edge.

    While I was disappointed by the older Kansas Pro, possibly due to the overzealous hype it was receiving at the time, Moondrop has hit it out the park with both the Starfield and Blessing 2. Value, in my estimation, is through the roof for both models. In an era where it seems in-ear pricing continues to escalate, Moondrop is if offering fantastic sonics at fair and affordable prices. Both the Starfield and Blessing 2 are going on the recommended list.
     
  2. Claud

    Claud Living the ORFAS dream

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    Thanks for the reviews, shotgunshane. I have both of these IEMs and my experience has been pretty much the same as yours. B2 is a serious listen and Starfield is fun.
     
  3. CEE TEE

    CEE TEE Free Agent

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    ^^I have to concur...I had both of these IEMs before they went to Shotgunshane. Nice write-up of the experience. At these prices, there is no way someone shouldn't have an IEM they love and enjoy.
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    How is the DD lows to BA highs integration with the Blessing 2?
     
  5. CEE TEE

    CEE TEE Free Agent

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    For me, the Blessing2 with my favorite Spiral Dot tips was not good from DD to BA...but when I tried the stock tips it got a lot better. I prefer the ease, warmth, and price of the Starfield. I would recommend Starfield to friends & family. But there is more space and speed/detail with Blessing2. Mind you, I found the Blessing2 quality to be more tip dependent. When the tips were not complementary, I thought they could sound thin and incoherent with a super-narrow peak up high in the range.

    Considering build, fit/finish, price, and SQ...they are both pretty impressive IEMs. Part of the experience for me was checking out the physical kit. They are not TOTL killers, but they are a sign of how far IEMs have come and what you can now get for the money new.
     
  6. limesoft

    limesoft Facebook Friend

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    I find the FDX1 bit too upper mid forward and at times metallic sounding resulting in a bit of tiring listen (even with the warmest filters) - perhaps there's something a bit odd with added reflections... I see similar measurements in this area between the JVC and Starfields, but I guess the Starfields have bit more of a natural/chilled tone? If this is the case then they might be right up my street... Any issues with high treble dips and peaks? I'm seeing a dip-peak there on Crinnacle measurements but it's quite high up
     
  7. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Seems very good to me. I don’t feel like I’m losing integration when moving from higher end hybrids like Solaris. Timing wise the bass doesn’t lag or struggle to keep up.

    Starfield pinna gain is in a different place than the FDX1. In my experience, placing the gain peak between 2 and 3k sounds the most accurate and I only get problems when it’s too elevated. Starfield doesn’t cross that line for my ears.

    FDX1’s pinna gain peak is around 4k, which can be problematic at times. For my ears, I can detect harshness when there is a peak between 4 and 5k, so the FDX1 is straddling that line. Check out this comparison graph from La Cenric/Crinacle’s site. Red is Starfield, Blue is FDX1. It makes sense based on what I’m hearing when comparing the two.

    1145B937-F1F6-46E6-9173-AA99D832A04A.jpeg
     
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  8. CEE TEE

    CEE TEE Free Agent

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    Yes, the Starfield is more relaxed than the FDX1. Where the FDX1 is a bit more "exciting" to me with the bump above moved up a little, the Starfield seems very non-fatiguing and might be what you are looking for @limesoft .
     
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  9. limesoft

    limesoft Facebook Friend

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    How about that dip at 12k and peak around 15k - it seems quite extreme, is it annoying?.. This is where the FDX1 seems to be a lot smoother. I can be sensitive in top treble - for example i sometimes find even my Sony IERM7 sparkles a bit too much up there (dip followed by 10-12khz peak) depending on the track, even if it otherwise has a very smooth tone across the rest of the spectrum.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
  10. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    I can hear the upper treble peak when using test tones. It’s definitely there around 14k. However I don’t hear it in music. If you have a particular song that bothered you with upper treble I can test it with the Starfield and see if I can detect it with that song playing.
     
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  11. BrokeSkoolBoi

    BrokeSkoolBoi Acquaintance

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    Great write up. I've heard both iems and agree with everything for what it's worth.

    I re sold the blessing 2 and kept my FDX1, I don't think I like BA's that much. I agree with CEE TEE as well, stock tips are the way to go for the B2 and also the Starfield. Otherwise, weird things happen to the sound, but YMMV.

    Starfield sounds incredibly satisfying for the price, males vocals sounded particularly great.
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Many dips or peaks past 8kHz with IEM measurements may be false, exaggerated, and differ depending up individual humans. The IEM coupler scientists are still working on this and Jude has shown some results from the latest and greatest (unfortunately, Jude is shit at providing a lot of data which is necessary to get feel - Jude does measurements more for e-peening than data gathering).

    That being said, even if the measurements are there, our pitch resolution is rather poor in the last octave, and FR dips are difficult to hear in music.
     
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  13. OutofTime

    OutofTime Rando

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    Thanks for the write-up and comparisons. I bought the KXXS a year ago and it's been my go-to IEM since then. In fact, I haven't bought anything or checked reviews of anything since then because I liked it so much.

    Everything about the KXXS is very enjoyable to me. Fit, stock accessories, tuning, etc. I'm really considering getting the Blessing 2 but I've already ordered the FDX - should have it later this week to compare.
     

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