Sunday, December 4, 2022

Moondrop Chu Wired Earphones Review: Best Audiophile Headset in Budget

The options are so many among budget audiophiles that it is very difficult to choose one. The credit for this goes to the various brands in China based in India that provide Affordable In Ear Monitors (IEMs). Many of these brands come and go. But there is one brand that has been around for a long time and continues to make great, value products. Moondrop is popular for its budget and midrange audiophile in ear monitors. Its latest launch is Moondrop Chu which is very much discussed among audiophiles.

The price of Moondrop Chu in India is Rs 1,999. It comes with inline microphone variant and remote. The wearable looks good and offers 3.5mm wired connectivity, 10mm dynamic drivers, and promises neutral tuning and detailed sound. Is this currently the best affordable audiophile friendly earphone pair? Find out in this review.

moondrop

Moondrop Chu design and specifications

Like other China-based audiophile products, the Moondrop Chu should not be judged by its name. In the under Rs 2000 range, this product is very good looking product, given metal earpieces with metal leaf pattern. The logo is found only at one place on the product, which is given on the plastic Y splitter module of the cable. Marking has been given on the earpiece only for the left and right channels.

The Moondrop Chu has a transparent fixed cable with an in-line remote, a microphone, and a 3.5mm plug for connectivity to the source device. Controls for volume and playback have been given in its three-button remote. If you want, you can also go for the variant without inline remote and microphone, which gets a little cheaper for Rs 1,799.

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It took me a while to get the Moondrop Choo’s right fit. Its silicone eartips provide a good seal and hold. Along with this, there are ear hooks (which are found in the box itself) so that the cable slips in and stays in place. But it takes some time to adjust the cable length and fit it in the right place under the ear hook.

They tend to fit quickly with use, but still it is not as easy as the Final Audio E1000C and KZ Audio ZSN Pro X available at the same price. However, the Moondrop Chu, Final Audio E1000C and KZ Audio look and feel quite solid and premium compared to the ZSN Pro X.

moondrop

The Moondrop Chu has 10mm dynamic drivers and a frequency response range of 10-35,000Hz. It has an impedance rating of 28Ohms and a sensitivity range of 120dB. With its specifications, the wearable is easy to use even with basic source devices such as budget smartphones. These can be easily used with the Shanling UA2 Portable DAC. The sales package also includes three pairs of silicone ear tips, rubber ear hooks and a small carrying case made of fabric.

Moondrop Chu performance

Bluetooth headsets have become more affordable over the years, and their audio quality has also improved. That’s why many people are now preferring devices with wireless connectivity instead of wired headphones or earphones. However, wired connectivity delivers better sound, and the Moondrop Chu’s sound quality seems to be far better than the true wireless earphones currently available.

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For this review, I used Moondrop Chu with Shanling UA2 DAC with OnePlus 9 Pro and Apple Music for high resolution audio tracks. As an alternative source, I used an iPad mini (2019) and used it with a direct 3.5 headphone jack.

In both the cases, I found Moondrop Chu quite loud. I found the iPad to have 60 percent volume, while I didn’t even dare go above 50 percent with the Shanling UA2 DAC. The sound was very rich and the tone was wonderful. The fit was good enough that the sound felt very engaging and full of energy.

The beat in Kraak & Smaak’s Hold Back Love was deep and impressive, thanks to its tight, responsive bass. Details were decent due to the mid tempo pace, including faint instruments and vocals in the background. I have not heard such sound in any entry level audiophile earphones.

I then switched to more melodic music, including The Chillout Airlines Crew’s Psapp’s Cosy In The Rocket. It had a lot of details in the sound. The soundstage was rich and immersive which only a good in-ear monitor can deliver. From the gentle vocals to the playful tune, the track was rich in sound. Although the tight base caught my attention, the mid-range also felt quite refined.

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At times I found the treble to be a bit prickly, especially when listening at a high volume. Meanwhile, the music in tracks like Limp Bizkit’s Take A Look Around also got tiring due to the aggressive bass. Like other IEMs in the audiophile category, the Moondrop Chu goes overboard on fast and high-powered tracks. It performs best in melodic and progressive music.

Moondrop Chu is primarily a musical pair of earphones but its microphone also makes it flexible to use. The performance was quite good when calling indoors and in a quiet room I even recorded a long audio clip with good effect. I was a bit surprised that the inline remote and microphone were turning off when used with the Shanling UA2 DAC, but they worked fine when connected directly to the iPad.

Verdict

There are only a few IEM options that can be called good audiophile earphones under Rs 2000. But none of the others I’ve used so far have not been as enjoyable as the Moondrop Chu. Although they are time consuming and a bit difficult to set up, their performance falls short when they are listened to with good DACs and high-resolution audio tracks.

The sound does have a few quirks but these can be easily overlooked given its price and handsfree convenience. Overall, this is probably the best star IEM I can recommend at the moment, and the best example of good sound quality within a tight budget.

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