Crinacle X Moondrop Dusk

General Information

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Model: DUSK
Cavity Material: 3D-Printed Medical Resin
Driver: 2 Dynamic Drivers + 2 Balanced Armature +2 Planar Magnetic Drivers, 3-Way
Earphone Jack: 0.78-2pin
Cable Plug: 3.5mm Single-ended plug / USB-C
Frequency Response: 10Hz-24kHz
Effective Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz (IEC60318-4,3dB)
Impedance: 14.5Ω±15% (@1kHz)
Sensitivity: 119dB/Vrms (@1kHz)
THD: ≤0.5% (@1kHz, 94dB)

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Latest reviews

MakeItWain

Previously known as SemperMalum
Flawed yet Perfect; a Dusk treatise
Pros: Great detail across the entire spectrum of the frequency response
Bass is a great combination of punchy, impactful, warm without making it feel unbalanced
Mids are smooth with vocals feeling extremely natural
Technicalities, Soundstage, Separation - everything feels effortless in it's delivery
Analog Mode (w/o USB-C DSP cable but with enough power) is engaging, fun, situationally sharp but overall a great listen
DSP+ (and other tunings) take it to another level with vastly different listening experiences
DSP+ Default tuning is probably one smoothest tuning I've ever heard with absolutely zero deficiencies to me
Cons: Analog Mode needs POWER or it will sound unbalanced (anemic bass impact, almost intolerable elevated treble)
Treble can be a bit sharp at times (Treble sensitive should only use DSP mode)
App not compatible with iPhones seems like a HUGE oversight (And I'm an Android guy)
Moondrop Link 2.0 - finicky at times. When it works, it's fine but when it doesn't, it's frustrating
Stock cable (not the DSP one) is not good. Tips are not great (this is a personal preference thing)
While relatively comfortable, Dusk is still a large/chonky boy so finding the right tips is important
A lot of competition in this arena - much more difficult to justify price considering the best version of it's tuning is locked behind DSP or more power
TL;DR: Dusk is an amazing IEM but with a potentially confounding user experience

Overview/History

Hi all.

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This is a hard IEM to review. I don't even think my TL;DR does it enough justice so I'm going to do another quick summary before I get into it.

The Moondrop x Crinacle DUSK is an amazing IEM. When the DSP cable works and/or you find the right combination of gear/power/connections/tips, it more than competes with it's peers. The biggest issue that I do have with this IEM is the fact that you have to do so much swapping to find what works. This is -not- a beginner friendly IEM. You can't just plug it into a random Dongle DAC and expect brilliance. This is going to require so much playing around with. Is it worth the effort when it's competition is as plug and play friendly as possible? I don't know. But, now that I've figured it out in my situation, I can say that the Dusk is a revelation of an IEM for me.

At the end of the day, YMMV.


The Moondrop x Crinacle DUSK has been a long time coming and was immediately backed up on orders/sold out everywhere. This is more than just a simple retuning like his prior collab with Moondrop (Blessings 2 Dusk) and hence the dropped title of Blessing 3 in this release.

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*Official image*

DUSK is a Tribrid IEM (2 Dynamic Drivers + 2 Balanced Armature +2 Planar Magnetic Drivers) that comes with a traditional 3.5mm cable and the Moondrop Dusk-SP USB-C cable. Downloading the Moondrop Link 2.0 app (if you're an Android person) will give you access to preset tunings that Crinacle had set up previously.

Onto the quick obligatory disclaimer!

Disclaimers: I purchased the Dusk through Head-Fi which was an open box sold directly from ShenzhenAudio's ebay page. This is my own personal unit for all intents and purposes so this is all my own subjective experience and opinions on the Dusk.

Build Quality, Comfort and Accessories
Photo dump time!

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The Dusk is in a clear resin shell with a dark wood veneer that takes a design nod from the Moondrop Dark Saber. My original thought was that I was going to hate how the wood aspect looks but, after some time with it, I actually do enjoy how it looks which is almost a clean presentation.

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The Dusk is a bit of a bigger IEM but I would actually say that it's not nearly as chonky as others that I've tried (Maestro SE, Dunu DaVinci, Truthear Zero Red) and the shape actually fits super comfortably in my ear. YMMV in this. From my understanding, it's not as big as prior releases but it would still be a good idea to be cognizant.

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The Dusk comes with some nice accessories including a stock cable, the DSP (Dusk-SP) cable, some ear tips, an airline adapter, and a case.

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With this size of an IEM, tip rolling was going to be important. The Moondrop Dusk came with some OK ear tips. I've just never been a fan of the Springtips. But, time to tip roll to find the best fit (for me)!

Tip Rolling
My collection of tips has been slowly growing.

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Spinfit W1: Midbass takes the biggest hit in this case. Otherwise, sounds very open and clear. No tonal hit on mids/highs at all but keeps the sound signature well.
Final Type E - Clear/Red: Probably my 1A tips - Bass is clear and detailed, transparent - great combo. Highs can still be a bit sharp at times but went away with more time and running on balanced/more power.
TangZu SanChai - Balanced: Slightly stronger bass than the Type E Clear Red, very good combination. Highs were tamed a bit here. Slightly more detailed highs but definitely sounded more intimate.
Dunu S&S: 1B tips - my other favorite combination. Slightly less sharp than the Final Type E, maybe slightly weaker mid-bass compared to Final Type E but a bit more open sounding. It's more of a preference thing in the case of using the S&S vs the Type E.
Kiwi Ears Flex: Favorite bass tips! Treble tamed but soundstage is definitely noticeably more intimate. Vocals still sound great.

(I have not found a good fit/basis for Penon tips so I did not use them in this review)

Issue with Tip Rolling: There is no lip or anything on the nozzle for the Dusk. It's just straight, smooth bore that sticks out which means that, on more than one occasion, I had a moment of "Oh my god, the tip is stuck in my ear WTFBBQ?" - Dunu S&S and Spinfit W1 both, on several occasions, decided they were going to stay in my ear. Thankfully, it's not that hard to take them out but that is 100% something to be cognizant about.

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Tip Rolling w/ DSP cable: Final Type E Clear/Red win here for me. By far. It's the best balance and more natural presentation of the DSP sound.

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The amount of playing around made my head spin.

Cable
There are two cables that were included with the Dusk.

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The Stock cable is not that great. The Dusk-SP cable, though, is quality. Comparable to my other standalone cables (NiceHCK Blue Luna, Xinhs Purple & Gold, etc.) in quality but extremely soft.

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*NiceHCK Luna for reference*

Sound
So, how does the Dusk sound? A'ight. Thanks for reading.

Both versions of the Dusk (whether via Analog or DSP) have different presentations but otherwise follow Crinacle/Moondrop's chosen tuning of being leaning warm but predominantly neutral with some subbass boost.

Dusk Analog - Smooth (like 85% of the way), airy, detailed, engaging
Dusk DSP - Smooth (like 100% smooth), fuller, warm, musical, fun

It's not so much a tale of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Rather, I would argue it's two different really good experiences. As a gamer, it would be like playing as Spider-Man vs Miles Morales - both are fun in their own way, it's really just what you're in the mood for once you've gotten accustomed to what they can do.

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That being said, the Dusk really do -love- power if you're going the Analog route. When I was using it with the Abigail Dongle, the 3.5mm on the Fosi DS2, and the Fiio K11's 1/4" outputs, the bass did not feel nearly as impactful and the treble felt a bit spicier.

In switching to the balanced output on the Fosi DS2, the K11 and using the JDS Element 3, the bass really felt more tactile and the treble felt tamed. For desktop listening, I really would lean on trying to run it via balanced or with a higher power output and I think you'll really enjoy the Dusk more this way.

Gear Tested On: Primarily streamed music via either dedicated Streamer, Laptop or Phone
Phone chain: Pixel 8 Pro -> Abigail Pro
Phone chain: Pixel 8 Pro -> Fosi DS2 (tested 3.5mm and balanced)
Streamed Music Chain Workstation: Laptop -> Fiio K11 (tested 1/4" and balanced)
Streamed Music Chain Workstation 2: Laptop -> JDS Element 3 Mk2 Boosted
Streamed Music chain: WiiM Mini -> JDS Labs Atom DAC+ -> JDS Labs OL Switcher -> Geshelli Labs Archel 3 Pro
And of course...

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Lows/Bass: I think the bass boost on here keeps it lively and warm but it may not really provide the same exact oomph you'd be expecting if you were hoping for a warmer set vs the competition (Hype 4, DaVinci).

Most of the bass is on the subbass region with enough midbass slam that comes through when the music calls for it. It's very tastefully done.

That being said, where the Dusk shines on the bass end is how detailed, technical and correct it sounds. Regardless of the genre you're listening to, the Dusk will give you the correct bass response when you're listening to EDM or you're listening to rock and it won't ever feel lacking.

But wait, there's more!

[DSP version (Default)]: With the DSP, there's an immediate tonal shift. Where the Dusk Analog bass is detailed with tasteful slam, the Dusk on DSP Default tuning is fuller, deeper and funner. The boost is both on the subbass and midbass. It's not boomy nor does anything ever bleed into the mids but the bass is brought into the next level.

Mids: Vocals and instruments that play in the mid-range/upper mid-range are great. Both male and female vocals sound lush with absolutely zero difficencies to my ears if only slightly airier on the female vocals.

The timbre of the vocals and mid-range is extremely natural sounding. Whether it's rock music, acoustic, orchestra, etc. - everything pops well for the right reasons when listening on the Dusk.

Most of Crinacle's tunings tend to really focus on the presentation of the mid-range and this is absolutely no different but with another level of smoothness and correctness that you'd expect from the more advanced drivers set up.

[DSP version (Default)]: On DSP, the Dusk feels a tad bit warmer. What do I mean by that? Everything remains very natural, smooth, detailed but with male vocals getting a slight bit fuller. What's nice is that even with the enhanced bass, there is still no bleed into the mids/upper mids (as it relates to female vocals). I think the DSP tuning makes it sound a bit more cohesive overall with the rest of the frequencies but the Analog version is no slouch for the mid-range.

Treble: This is where the Dusk would probably take the biggest hit.

The treble can be VERY spicy. I wouldn't say it's sibilant at all but there is a lot of energy here which can sound very sharp on certain songs especially dependant on your listening volume. It's harder to want to crank the Dusk on Analog because the treble can be so elevated and in your face for certain tracks.

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This kind of smooths over the more power you provide to the Dusk and tip rolling. There are some tips that do help smooth out the treble a bit and the Dusk really takes the characteristics of your tips well.

When I was listening to the Dusk on the single-ended output on my Fosi DS2/Abigail Pro/K11, everything sounded way too airy, grainy and emphasized. Switching to balanced (or the Element 3 where there's power for days), everything remained extremely detailed and elevated but felt more natural. There are still certain times where some songs have a small hint of graininess to them but it's much less distracting with more power.

If you are treble sensitive, though, Analog is definitely not going to work for you regardless.

[DSP version (Default)]: On DSP, the treble is tamed relatively signicantly. People that are treble sensitive will likely feel that it's still borderline but it's less in your face than the Analog tuning. I think the elevation of the bass and the warmness of the mid-range, though, helps it sound extremely put together so you're less likely to feel the treble in this case.

DSP Profile Tunings
In talking about the Dusk, it's impossible not to have to go over some of the provided tunings that you can switch to via the Moondrop Link 2.0 app.

On my Pixel 8 Pro, it worked OK - 8/10 times - though I did have one instance where I had to restart the app for it to register that the Dusk was plugged in.

DSP Default: I think at this point, the best word I can use for the DSP Default tuning would be -smooth-. This is a warm, smooth, fun, engaging, detailed hug to your ears. I think with the treble being tamed pretty well under this tuning, and the bass being extra present, you can listen to this tuning via moderate volume or higher volume listening. This is by far my favorite tuning with the DSP cable with absolutely 0 negative things to say about it.

DSP V-Shaped: V-Shaped is a fun tuning; bass feels more impactful and boosted in this case. Treble is also boosted a small bit. Mids feel recessed, thinner (not like terrible but definitely not as full as the default tuning). The tuning follows exactly the name of it. I would argue that the boost to the bass/treble makes this excellent for higher volume listening to compensate for the recessed mids and to break through that 'mud' sound you almost hear when you're at lower volumes.

DSP Bass+: Ahhh, bass. My sweet friend. Bass+ is -fun-. One thing that the Bass+ mode does (which is similar to like the QKZ x HBB Hades) is requires you to really increase the volume of your listening to get the full range of frequency (or you'll feel like it's muddy). Even more so than the V-Shaped tuning. What you get is a tuning profile similar to the Fatfreq line up with enhanced subbass bass rumble, mid-bass head shaking with great vocals and treble. Because the bass boost is on a steady shelf before the mid-range, it doesn't feel like it bleeds into the other frequencies. This is a basshead dream sound that is as close to a Fatfreq Maestro Mini as you can get.

DSP Harman: Harman tuning - was not the biggest fan of this. You get elevated upper mids/treble (though it's very smooth and doesn't feel as grainy as the Analog can get) at the cost of reduced mid-bass so there's less impact. I think this is a great to determine what you may like for tuning. Not the biggest fan. It's not boring or anything and feels OK for casual listening but it feels like there's just something lacking overall.

DSP Diffuse Tilted: Wow, this feels tinny. It starts off with good subbass but you can definitely tell that it's scooped out and it sounds very thin on the mid-range while keeping the same Harman treble. It almost feels like everything's on a flat line of presentation. I am not a fan of this but it was fun to listen/experience this experimental type of tuning. Possibly the most detailed of all the tuning, though, so if that's what you're into, you may like this.

So, my ranking for this would really be:

1) DSP Default
2) DSP Bass+ (I think it's as different a tuning to warrant more use vs V-Shaped)
3) DSP V-Shaped
4) DSP Harman
5) DSP Diffuse Tilted

Other Etc. (Soundstage, Imaging, Separation):
Dusk handled my library very well as a whole. Rather than list songs that I think it excelled, I'm going to skip that and just say that this can really handle everything depending on what you're listening for.

More critical listening? Go with Analog. More casual/fun listening? Go with DSP Default (if you can use it). Looking for Bassy/EDM type of mode? Go with DSP Bass+ or V-Shaped.

Soundstage is very wide - I think it's way more open and airy on the Analog sound but the DSP Default does not skimp on this. It is more horizontal in depth vs vertical but very open overall.

Imaging, Separation and Layering is very well done on this. You can really pick a part a lot of different instruments and it rivals the same detail/layering that I've experienced with the Moondrop S8 (though maybe not the same instrument separation level which was next level on that all BA set).

Comparisons:
For comparison's sake, I think there's only one that I can make right now in my line up. This is really one of my first forays into the higher than $100+ end.

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Dunu DaVinci: The DaVinci is a warmer, bassier version of the Dusk Analog with definitely more tamed treble.

It still has fantastic mids/vocals but there is definitely more inherent bass in the DaVinci. Mid-range is equal to me. The other primary difference comes from the treble which is tuned lower than the Dusk and the extra bass really helps smooth it out.

Compared to Dusk DSP Default, though, I think my preference for general all-round listening would have to be the Dusk DSP. While not as bassy/warm as the DaVinci, I think it sounds like a better overall full package with giving me the satisfying bass, full vocals, and treble details that I want for relaxed listening.

In addition, the Dunu DaVinci is a CHONKY boy. I struggle to find the best fit with them and had to go through several tips before I could find a good balance. Even then, I can't listen for that long simply due to the size in my ear.

That being said, if I was going to choose for sound alone, based on my preference, I would say that my preference is the Dusk DSP Default > Dunu DaVinci > Dusk Analog.

Other Things to be aware of:
So, some of the main things to be aware of on the Dusk: the Moondrop Link 2.0 app.

Apple users beware. Moondrop Link 2.0 does not work for iOS devices at this time. As of 06/18/24, it still does not. This may be fixed in the future but time will tell. I believe this means that you will get only the Default tuning and you will like it.

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The app can also be finicky - there were a few times where I had to reset the app to get it to detect the Dusk. But, when it's working, it's really easy to adjust the tuning/EQ on the fly which works really well. YMMV.

For the premium price of the Dusk, some of the tuning being locked to a different mobile OS is kind of crazy to me. But, when it works, it does work. I've read horror stories about the app via coworkeer and forums so I'm going to count my blessings that the Link app 2.0 with the DSP cable has been as fuss free as it has been in comparison to how bad the experience could be.

In addition, the price of the Dusk is $369. There were prior reports of QC concerns/channel imbalance but I didn't notice any real imbalance on my set. But for such a premium price, everything should just -work- especially considering how much competition is out there that is 'hype'd up against the Dusk. I can't say that the Dusk isn't worth it but there are a lot of idiosyncracies to it and I think being fully aware of everything is important for you before you pull that trigger.

Conclusion:
The coverage for the Dusk was polarizing to say the least. After nearly a full year of anticipation, the Dusk released and was immediately sold out for months. I believe that stock/inventory is finally reaching the general public for the people that have wanted this latest Crinacle collab.

The Dusk is an interesting IEM in that it provides either a fully detailed, airy, and warm neutral-ish tuning (with some caveats) in it's analog form or an exceptionally smooth, fun, and engaging sound via the DSP tuning. If you can get around some of the mobile app issues or the power/tip rolling requirements, the Dusk is a complete package of an IEM and feels well worth the investment.

In some circumstances, Dusk is a sonically perfect all-rounder for me. At the same time, it may not be for you. The app worked fine for me 8/10 times. It absolutely may not for you.

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It may not be worth the effort to a lot of people and it can be hard to justify the price tag when there's so much more easy 'plug and play' competition in this price range. Whether the experience is worth it would be for other consumers to decide.

But, I don't think I can say that I regret my decision to 'Duy Busk' at the end of the day.

Thanks for reading!
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