Added Moe Audio MOE-SS01 - a dual dynamic driver IEM closely related to the pricier JVC HA-FXT90.
(2C60) Moe Audio MOE-SS01
Reviewed December 2013
Details: Dual dynamic driver earphone from China-based Moe Audio, closely related to the JVC HA-FXT90
MSRP: $65 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $64 from lendmeurears.com
Specs: Driver: Dual Dynamic | Imp: 12Ω | Sens: 107 dB | Freq: 8-25k Hz | Cable: 3.9' I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: stock single-flanges; MEElec “balanced” bi-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (2.5/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes), shirt clip, and soft carrying pouch
Build Quality (4/5) – The SS01 uses plastic shells that clearly show the driver chambers and incorporate an “S” into the design. The earphones utilize a narrow flat cable that actually feels rather sturdy and is more user-friendly than most other flat cables, which tend to be either too thick and heavy, or too rubbery
Isolation (3/5) – Not bad despite the shallow-fitting shells
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Very low when worn cable-down; nonexistent with over-the-ear wear
Comfort (4/5) – The drivers of the SS01 are arranged vertically, like those of the JVC FXT90, resulting in similarly-shaped housings. The earphones are lightweight, and despite their larger footprint in the ear are no less comfortable than most conventional straight-barrel IEMs, thanks in part to the angled nozzles. Over-the-ear wear is possible for those with larger ears but may require longer eartips than those provided. For me the SS01 is much more comfortable when worn cord-down
Sound (8/10) – The MOE-SS01 utilizes a driver setup similar to the pricier JVC HA-FXT90s - twin 5.8mm drivers made of different carbon composites. The sound bears some similarities to the JVCs but on the whole the discrepancies do add up to a rather different audio experience. I would summarize the sound of the SS01 as very clear, with a cool tonal character and slightly v-shaped response.
The bass of the SS01 is very impressive, perhaps second only to the earphone’s clarity in this regard. It is enhanced, but not overbearing, and has good punch and extension with virtually no bloat. The JVC FXT90, which the SS01 is closely related to, has more of a mid-bass hump and sounds warmer and fuller overall. The SS01 is a little on the thin side, especially with the way it presents male vocals, but otherwise the mids are quite good - mostly level and extremely clear.
The upper midrange and lower treble of the SS01 are quite prominent, lending guitars great presence and “crunch”. The treble is nice and energetic overall. It reminds me of the Audio-Technica ATH-CKM500 - not really peaky, but with an “edgy” character that occasionally bothers me (with a lot of heavy metal recordings, for example). At times, the SS01 can exaggerate sibilance a bit as well, but not nearly to the same extent as the average VSonic set. The FXT90, from memory, had a bit more treble sparkle but less of an edge to it.
The presentation has good width and decent imaging for something in this price range. It’s not quite as spacious and out-of-the-head as, say, a VSonic GR07, but it fares very well against similarly-priced sets. The SS01 is very efficient, too, reaching listening volume more easily than the GR07 and most other dynamic-driver sets.
VSonic VSD1S ($49)
One of my favorite sets in its price range, the VSD1S is a slightly v-shaped earphone that makes a pretty good match for the MOE-SS01 in overall performance. The VSD1S boasts a little more bass impact compared to the MOE and sounds warmer overall. The SS01 is leaner and cooler in tone but still has excellent bass presence. The earphones have similarly excellent clarity. Like most VSonics, however, the VSD1S tends to amplify sibilance. The SS01, on the other hand, is far less prone to exaggerating sibilance but sounds a little harsher in general. The SS01 also appears a touch more congested while the VSD1S is more airy and open-sounding.
SteelSeries Flux In-Ear ($50)
The Flux is another of my favorite budget-friendly in-ears and again tends to be a touch v-shaped, making it a good competitor for the SS01. The Flux has similar bass impact but boasts a touch more sub-bass weight in comparison, making the SS01 sound a little more “hollow”, or lacking footing, in the bass region. The mids of the Flux, on the other hand, are more recessed and sound veiled as a result. The SS01 is significantly clearer, but also tends to sound thinner. The added treble of the brighter SS01 also makes it harsher overall whereas the Flux by and large remains smooth, if a little grainy and unexciting.
Philips Fidelio S1 ($95)
The Philips Fidelio S1 is one of several reasonably well-balanced earphones in the sub-$100 price bracket. Like the SS01, the Fidelio S1 boasts enhanced bass and prominent, crisp upper mids and treble. As with the SteelSeries Flux, the Philips earphones boast a touch more sub-bass weight compared to the MOE, sounding more solid when it comes to bass punch. Tonally, the Philips earphones are warmer, with mids that appear a bit fuller and smoother. The MOE-SS01 is brighter and harsher and sounds a little less natural overall in terms of tone and timbre but easily keeps up in clarity and detail, which is impressive. The presentations tend to be similar, with pretty good width and average depth.
HiFiMan RE-400 ($99)
The RE-400 and MOE-SS01 are two very different takes on near-neutral sound. Despite having less bass presence, the RE-400 is warmer, sounding more mid-centric overall. Its treble is smoother and more refined. The SS01, on the other hand, tends to be more v-shaped in signature—it is bassier but also brighter compared to the RE-400. The added treble can make it sound harsh next to the HiFiMan set, but also allows it to appear clearer at times. The smoother RE-400 tends to sound more natural through the treble region but lacks the striking clarity of the MOE.
Value (9/10) – The MOE-SS01 is a dual dynamic earphone with a slightly cool tonal tilt and great clarity. There is a bit of treble harshness but for the price the performance leaves almost nothing to complain about – the SS01 can compete with the best sets in its price tier and beyond. Sound quality aside, the SS01 also boasts a nice construction with an excellent, low-noise cable and is surprisingly comfortable thanks to its light weight. Call me crazy but I don't mind the look of it, either – at the very least I won't mistake this earphone for anything else in my collection. For fans of clear, punchy earphones, the SS01 is nothing short of an excellent buy.
Pros: Fantastic clarity, great bass quality; low cable noise
Cons: Large footprint may not be comfortable for those with small ears
The ranking table has been updated here.