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Moonbuds Cresent

Rating:
3.75/5,
  1. Soham Sengupta
    The EDC Earbuds for Audiophiles
    Written by Soham Sengupta
    Published Apr 25, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Nice build quality, overall great sound, nice and tight bass, wide-ish soundstage
    Cons - Mids are a bit recessed, loses coherency in busy tracks
    Introduction

    If you haven’t heard of Moonbuds, its okay. Let me tell you about the company’s origin before moving on to the main review. Moonbuds is named after Moon Harvester’s bud (Moon Harvester is the founder). Before he founded Moonbuds, it was his hobby and passion to create earbuds and testing them with the audiophile community. Then he changed his passion of earbuds making into a profession and started Moonbuds on April 2018. Moonbuds initially started selling their earbuds in the Philippines and then expanded its trade to India, USA, UK, Singapore, China, etc. Now, their earbuds are one of the most sought-after earbuds in the audiophile market.

    The Moonbuds Crescent is the entry level earbuds from the brand at $100.

    I’ve had the Moonbuds Crescent for about 3 weeks now and have listened to them for a total time of at least 50 hours and have burned them continuously for 30 hours. I’ve used them mostly daily during this time period to listen to all genres of songs (rock, EDM, pop, movie soundtracks, Western classics, etc.).

    Don’t want to read the full review? Here’s the TL: DR :

    If you want a great musical earbud for a reasonable money, then the Moonbuds Crescent is for you.

    But wait! Before you dive into the review, I have a quick disclaimer for you: I have bought these earbuds with my own money and I have not been incentivised or pressurized by Moonbuds or any other person to write this review for them. All the words used in this review are my own and this review is written in the most unbiased way that I could have done.

    Now, on to the main review.

    Unboxing the Moonbuds Crescent

    For a $100 pair of earbuds, they include quite a few accessories inside the case that it comes in. Also, you can personalise the case to your liking as Moonbuds offer free laser engraving on the case which is a nice personal touch in my opinion.

    moon_box.jpg

    The case of the Moonbuds Crescent

    Upon opening the case, you will be greeted by the earbuds themselves and a plethora of ear tips to choose from for the best fit.

    moon_content.jpg

    The packaging of the Moonbuds Crescent

    So, to summarize, when you receive the Crescent you’ll get:
    • The earbuds themselves.
    • Hard Carrying case
    • 12 pairs of ear tips
    • Faux leather cable wrapper
    moon_access.jpg

    All the accessories that comes with the Moonbuds Crescent
    So as far as accessories goes, the Moonbuds Crescent comes with a ton of it.

    Build Quality

    For a $100 pair of earbuds, they have a good build quality to them. Although they are completely made of plastic with the exception of the y-splitter which is made of wood (which I feel is actually a really nice touch in my opinion), they have used really nice plastic for the shells of the earbuds and it feels really sturdy in the hand.

    moon_1.jpg

    The Moonbuds Crescent themselves
    Also, the cable used in the Crescent is a 4-core OCC copper cable which feels really nice in the hand and is also tangle-free. So, you won’t have any problems with having to untangle your earbuds once you take them out of your pocket, although I would recommend you guys to take care of this earbuds as they are by no means cheap.

    moon_cable.jpg

    The cable used in the Moonbuds Crescent
    So, I feel that at this price, this is as premium a build quality that you will get on a pair of earbuds.

    Ergonomics and Fit

    Now this a place where your mileage may vary a lot. You see, the Crescents use the MX500 shells which are quite large for smaller ears. In my ears, it just fits. Its neither too tight, nor too loose. So, I would recommend you guys to try earbuds which use this shell before buying these earbuds as MX500 is the preferred shell style for most earbuds. Even the VE Monk+ use a MX500 shell. So, try before you buy.

    In case the MX500 shell is too large for your ears, then I would recommend Yuin shell earbuds as they are smaller than MX500 and should fit any kind of ear.

    As far as ergonomics go, it is quite comfortable and light. I have worn them continuously for 4 hours without feeling the need to remove them from my ears. So, if you have large ears like mine, you should not have any problems with comfort.

    moon_fit.jpg

    The fit of the earbuds in my ear is just right
    Noise Isolation

    Now coming to noise isolation, these earbuds are not that good because frankly, they are not meant for that. Earbuds generally let noise in to give it a feel of open-back headphones. Although if you turn the volume high enough (at a level which is neither very loud for you or too quiet), you should be able to block out most of the noise (but only the noises at lower frequencies. High frequency noise will still be heard). But its sound is best perceived at a quiet environment as with all other earbuds. There is not much else to say in this department, so let’s move on to the part which you guys have actually come here to read – its sound quality.

    Sound Quality

    Now, on to the most subjective part of the review: sound quality. Also, I won't be posting any graphs in this review (or any review for that matter), as I don't believe in graphs as much as I believe in my ears!

    moon_jack.jpg

    This time, I’ll be listening to the earbuds via 2 modes:

    1. PC -> Fiio Q1 (Mark-1) -> Crescent

    2. Asus Zenfone 5Z -> Fiio Q1 (Mk.1) -> Crescent

    I will also list the soundtracks that I’ve used for each section of my sound test. (Note: All my tracks are either 44 kHz / 24-bits – 192 kHz / 24-bit FLAC or DSD64/DSD128.)

    Now, let me give you a small tip.

    If you plan on purchasing these earbuds or any other high-end earbuds for that matter, I suggest you get a good DAC/AMP to go with it. It will go a long way to make your listening experience much more enjoyable.

    Bass

    Generally, the bass in earbuds are not that great because they tend to sit outside the ear canal unlike IEMs (In-ear monitors) which pushes into the ear canal and is thus able to deliver much better noise isolation and bass response without attenuation of the low frequency. However, that is not the case with the Moonbuds Crescent. The sub-bass rolls off at a much lower frequency than most other earbuds (at 35-40 Hz, whereas most of the other earbuds’ bass rolls off at 60-70 Hz) giving a much better bass response than most earbuds.

    The bass in these earbuds is better than most other earbuds at this price!

    The sub-bass is not that great due to the roll-off but it is still tight and punchy. The mid-bass is the frequency where it really shines. Its hits you hard and fast and in your face and the best part is that doesn’t bleed into the low-mid frequencies. But I sometimes felt that the bass lacked a bit of resolution. But otherwise, its perfectly fine for its price.

    So overall, for a pair of earbuds at this price, I would say that the bass response is just great.

    Tracks Used:

    • Axel Thesleff - “Reincarnation”
    • Martin Garrix - “Animals”
    • Alessia Cara - “Here”
    • Zara Larsson - So Good (album)
    • Jordan Comolli - “Alone”
    • Marshmello – “Alone”

    Mids

    These earbuds have V-shaped sound signature. This means that the earbuds have been tuned to have a boosted bass and treble frequency to make it sound more musical and appealing to the public and due to this, the mids sound slightly recessed on these earbuds.

    The mids sound a bit recessed on these earbuds but not too much as to ruin the whole experience.

    But that doesn’t mean that the mids are not detailed. They are plenty detailed and vocals sound natural on them. People might think that the earbuds being V-shaped is suitable for only EDM and pop soundtracks. That is not true at all in this case. Male and female vocals although sounding slightly distant than the instruments have a nice energy in them and due to the earbuds having a V-shaped sound signature, the vocals don’t sound fatiguing to listen to at high volumes.

    So, for a pair of V-shaped earbuds the mids sound just fine and it actually exceeded my expectations.

    Tracks used:

    • Adele - 25 (album)
    • Charlie Puth - Nine Track Mind (album)
    • Ed Sheeran - X / Divide (album)
    • Amber Rubarth - Sessions from the 17th Ward (album)
    • John Newman - “Love Me Again”
    • Elvis Presley - “Can't Help Falling in Love with You”
    • Sigrid – “Everybody Knows”
    moon_2.jpg

    Treble


    Now onto treble. Let’s start with those cymbals and hi-hats. They actually have a nice energy to them and sound detailed but they sometimes sound a bit splashy (although it is only on a few tracks that I have noticed it). But its rendition of guitar is really very good. You can even hear minute details like the guitarist sliding down on the strings in the album “Friday Night In San Francisco”.

    The guitar rendition is detailed and sounds natural and its extension is also good. Piano rendition is also good and is quite detailed but sometimes might sound a bit congested in parts where there are too many notes in the same part. But in tracks where there are bells (like in Axel Thesleff’s “Reincarnation”), they tend sound boomy and there is an inherent loss of coherency and detail at that part. But otherwise, its treble is great and I don’t think that you will find much problem with it.

    Tracks used:

    • Led Zeppelin - IV (album)
    • Ed Sheeran - X / Divide (album)
    • Amber Rubarth - Sessions from the 17th Ward (album)
    • Pink Floyd - Dark of The Moon (album)
    • John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, and Paco De Lucía - Friday Night In San Francisco (album)
    • Ludovico Einaudi - Islands: Essential Einaudi (album)
    • Axel Thesleff – Reincarnation
    • George Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue
    Soundstage, Positioning and Separation

    (a) Soundstage and Positioning

    Now, there are 2 ways to accurately measure a earbuds’ soundstage and positioning. First, is to use well-recorded binaural tracks (see track list below for more info). The second method (which I personally prefer more) is gaming. I have used two games specifically for this purpose. One is the well-known CS:GO and the other is Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (the latter is a much more immersive experience).


    Now, soundstage. Since they are earbuds, they sound much more open than say an IEM. But its not as open as a pair of proper open-back headphones. Its soundstage a spherical shape and I would say that wide enough to give a feel that you are sitting inside a small auditorium.


    Basically, what an open-back headset does is let the sound get outside of the headphones through the grilles or slits of the headphones. Since the sound now goes outside of the headphones, the experience feels as if the sound is coming from the entire room.


    Now coming to its positioning, I felt that it is on point. To test it out, I opened up CS: GO and I could easily pinpoint the source of the gunshot. In Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, I could feel the voices whispering in my ears. So overall, I am pretty much satisfied with its soundstage and positioning.

    (b) Separation

    The separation on these earbuds are not its strong suit. In quite a few busy tracks, I felt that it lost its coherency and got the instruments all muddled up in the background. Its rendition of orchestral music is, to be honest, not very good and it often loses its detail in those tracks. But in other less busy tracks, this issue is basically non-existent and I feel that you will really enjoy the detail that it can provide in those tracks.

    Tracks used:

    • Amber Rubarth - Sessions from the 17th Ward (album)
    • Yosi Horikawa - Vapor (album)
    • Led Zeppelin - IV (album)
    • John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, and Paco De Lucía - Friday Night In San Francisco (album)
    • Beethoven - Symphony No.5 (album)
    Drivability

    You should be able to easily drive them out of a smartphone but I would recommend you to get a proper Digital Audio Player (DAP) or a DAC/AMP to get the most out of these earbuds. They have an impedance rating of 32Ω and a sensitivity of ~102dB so you shouldn’t face any difficulty while driving them out of your smartphones. Since these already packs a bit of a punch in the bass department, I would suggest you to pair it with a neutral DAC/AMP like the Fiio Q1.

    Tracks used: Random

    Technical Specifications

    • Brand: Moonbuds
    • Model: Crescent
    • Type: Earbuds
    • Driver: Dynamic Driver
    • Impedance: 32 Ω
    • Headphone sensitivity: ~102dB (1 kHz/1 Vrms)
    • Frequency range: 40–20000 Hz
    • Interface: 3.5 mm
    • Cable Length: 1m
    • Weight: 35 g
    • Special Note: Handmade in Vietnam
    Conclusion

    In conclusion, you are getting a hand-made premium pair of earbuds which looks great and sounds great. It comes with a slew of accessories to get you started and to top it all off, you are getting all of that at a reasonable price of $100. Although its not in the budget territory in the world of earbuds, but it is a $100 well spent on a pair of earbuds which does its work really well and then some. Hence, it gets a solid recommendation from me and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a pair of music-oriented earbuds under $100 and doesn’t want something analytical.

    images

    1. moon_tips.jpg
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  2. dheepak10
    Moonbuds Crescent – All about that bass, baby!
    Written by dheepak10
    Published Jul 28, 2018
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Good bass extension
    V-signature done right
    Sparkly highs
    A perfect earbud for IEM enthusiasts who are dabbling on making the shift
    Cons - Heavy cable, microphonics
    Highs lack some presence
    Noticeable bass bleed into mids
    Not the most spacious sounding earbuds
    With the earbud scene catching up in the east, a lot of independent earbud artists have evolved, most of them hand-making their gems.

    Moonbuds are one such buds made by Moon Harvester of Vietnam. The Moonbuds lineup has some interesting earbuds and the Crescent is the base model in the lineup.

    These earbuds can be exclusively purchased from facebook page of Moonbuds.

    https://www.facebook.com/MoonbudsOfficial/

    Build, fit and packaging

    The earbuds come in a zippered pouch with Vietnam artwork on it – loved it! There is a good amount of colourful foams included in the package – donuts and regular. The foams are of good quality, especially the full foams. You also get a nice, Moon-branded, faux leather cable organizer.

    20180728_230519.jpg

    The housing is the usual MX500 shell, which fits me perfectly, but those with smaller ears may find it uncomfortable. But Crescent is an earbud that needs to be used with foams, so fit is a bit on the tighter side. The shell material is of good quality and comes etched with Moonbuds logo.

    20180717_172048.jpg

    The cable is the best thing about the Moonbuds Crescent, but it has its fair share of pitfalls too. There are 2 variants of Crescent – one with 4 core cable and the one, which I have, with 8 core cable. In both variants, half the cores are copper and half seem to be SPC (Silver plated copper), with the pure copper core being the thicker one.

    The cable is nicely braided with 8 cores all the way till the Y-splitter, post which point there are 4-cores to each earpiece. Oddly, the Y-splitter is much higher up than I am used to. While this does not pose a problem, it renders the cable slider almost useless.

    20180728_230646.jpg

    The quality of material is top-notch for an entry level earbud – the 3.5mm jack housing is plastic with a carbon fiber texture; the Y-splitter and cable slider are metal and reek of premium-ness. That said, all these metal parts add heft to an already heavy cable. While this does not impact fit, this amplifies the microphonics from the cable. If you are the head-banging type, you will realise that gravity is around and adds more oscillations to the cable than in the case of a lighter cable.

    20180728_230712.jpg

    With quality material used, the Crescent should easily last the distance.

    Foam Matching

    Foams are critical to get the right sound out of any earbuds and choice of foam have a greater impact on the sound signature. Foams help with seal and can be used to customize the warmth and bass on offer.

    The Crescents are intended to be used with foams and by the admission of its maker, he prefers to use the Crescent with donut foams.

    Without foams – The fit is the most comfortable without foams, but the sound is on the thinner side and lacks warmth – mids are not lovable and treble extension all you hear mostly.

    Full foams – The airiness is impacted a lot, sounds claustrophobic. On the plus side, bass quantity is boosted a lot.

    Donut foams – Donut foams fit in a way that a few sound holes on the faceplate are exposed, both sides. While the airiness is lesser compared to without foams, these still offer decent levels of airiness and treble detail, while adding a lot to the warmth and bass quantity. Bass can become overpowering.

    Thin Foams - Perfect for the Crescent - no muffling of the upper mids and highs, while giving a perfect body for the bass.

    I feel the Crescent sound their best with thin (less denser) foams and the rest of the review to follow is compiled with these thin foams.

    20180728_230632.jpg

    So how does it sound?


    Here's the setup for my evaluation - FLACs (16/44.1, 24/48 and 24/96) on my LG G6 with ES9218p DAC SOC or Tidal Hi-Fi played bit perfect through the UAPP player.

    I write this in most of my reviews - the key factor that is to be considered while reading my opinion below is that earbuds may sound different to different individuals based on the shape and size of your ears and how the earbuds fit and how they are positioned and your hearing sensitivity itself.

    So, with all that said, let's get into the actual performance of the Crescent.

    Moon Harvester recommends a burn-in period of 100 hours for these earbuds and these buds have more than that on them.

    With the Crescent, Moon tries to satisfy lovers of most genres of music – the Crescent is quite musical sounding and offers a nice, deep bass along with a cleanl treble. Mids are not to my liking, but get the job done.

    On the first test track, Cockroach King by Haken, the Crescent starts off well – a good amount of energy in the guitar and drums, the cymbals have a nice sparkle and quick decay, shows decent width when the vocals start of – left, right and mid. Then comes the part where a fourth layer of vocals is added behind the listener – no problem; there is enough depth to distinguish the 4th vocal from the mid one. All good so far. What is quite noticeable is the slightly recessed vocals – yes, the Crescent has a slight V-shaped signature and a good one at that.

    Fast-forwarding to the 3:35 mark, vocals, organs, cymbals, drums all come together – the crescent is not a very spacious sounding earbud and separation gets hit. Going past 4-minute mark, the track unleashes a myriad of sounds – the cymbals have a quick decay, but lack the presence, and sound a bit tinny. The bass response on the other hand shows good speed and the drums are enjoyable. Around the 6-minute mark, the track gets busier. While the Crescent shows decent separation, the lack of space between the instruments is highlighted again. The mids is where it sounds slightly congested. Some boost at the upper mids would have helped - the overdriven guitar usually stands out in this act, but not in the Crescent. Bass is still quite satisfying. Past the 7-minute mark, still exhibits a decent amount of coherence. but vocals struggle to stand apart in the crowd. There is noticeable bass bleed into the mids. It one tough track, but the Crescent does well for the most part.

    So the finding so far are a good, satisfying and fast bass response; slightly recessed mids with noticeable bass bleed, clean upper mids that could use some boost; the right amount of highs with the right amount of sparkle and speed, but slightly lacking in presence. Not too bad so far.

    Let’s get a bit deeper on vocals first.

    Breathe by Seinabo Sey shows good texture and rendering of vocals, but doesn’t sound commanding like it usually does – there is a lack of warmth in the vocals. Bass bleeding into the mids is again quite visible at around the 1:10 mark. The strings stand apart, but vocals struggle to find their own space between the strings and kick drums. Another track to showcase mids is Cold Little Heart by Michael Kiwanuka, and this time the Crescent does a great job to bring about a nice texture on the vocals, clean for the most part. What is also rendered well is the nostalgic chorus vocals that is presented with a good amount of width. This isn’t a busy track; separation is good; instruments have their own space, even at times when the track gets slightly busy.

    The only difference between the first track and the second is that the latter has a lot going on in the upper mids and highs, where the Crescent excels. Upper bass and lower mids is where the Crescent fares poorly.

    Changes by Faul & Wad Ad shows the range the Crescent can deliver – impressive width, meaty, deep bass note, nice, clean vocals on the chorus and just the right amount of highs. There is a clicking sound at the beginning of the track all the way till the 1-minute mark and it is quite well rendered switching between 1 and 0 quite fast. There is faint sibilance audible on the chorus vocals, it is a part of the track itself, so nothing to worry there. The saxophone stands out well; the bass while satisfying and deep, is scant on texture. The Crescent display good extension at both ends of the spectrum.

    For those who love the deep bass IEMs can deliver and would like to try earbuds, Crescent would be a perfect switch. The bass is fast and can go deep, even on tracks like Royals by Lorde. Don’t expect it to be skull shattering though.

    Switching over to Thought Contagion by Muse, Crescent again delivers a satisfying rendering, vocals and all, as long as you are okay with the lack of that extra space between instruments. Bass has to be the best area where the Crescent does a great job – beefy, yet tight. Serve it Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by Arctic Monkeys, the Crescent give a satisfying experience – lots of texture on the bass guitar, nicely separated highs. Vocals are good for the most part, but bass bleed is visible again. I would have preferred some more airiness, even with the donut foams on.

    On a track like Tum Tak by A.R. Rahman, where there is a faint bass guitar playing a few notes at the beginning of the track, the Crescent still manages to give a nice texture to the notes while giving you a great feel on the bass note. Switch to Madness by Muse, a track which is all about different bass frequencies and texture, Crescent satisfies your “inner” bass-head. As a plus, Matt Belamy’s vocals are rendered well albeit a bit nasal. Layering is just about average – not enough airiness between the various layers to give you that euphoria past the 3-minute mark, which this track is capable of delivering.

    Get Lucky by Daft Punk has is another track that has enough bass texture on offer and the Crescent again shows how great its bass response is – fast decay, good texture. This track’s tempo can be easily impacted by bass speed, not on the Crescent where the bass is meaty, yet excellent in speed. The Crescent also brings about a good amount of micro details on the song. Vocals is just one are which doesn’t shine on the Crescent – but has good presence and clean for the most part.

    The Crescent has a good amount of depth to its sound-stage, not too deep, but enough to give a holographic rendering of the sound-stage and it is evident on a track like The National Anthem by Radiohead, alongside a meaty bass guitar and sparkly hi-hats. The Crescent does reasonably well even during the complex passage at around the 3-minute mark when trumpets and pipes are blaring and again during the second complex passage at the 4:30 mark. Not great when it comes to separation, but how many ever instruments are present, bass has a nice weight and texture to it.

    The biggest acid test for the Crescent was however the humble September Song by Agnes Obel. The track is characterized by fast piano notes across two different octaves. The lower octave demands really fast bass response and the Crescent delivers, but separation of notes take a hit and this is critical for a track like this one.

    Conclusion
    The Crescent is the what you get at the entry point into the world of Moonbuds – a great first attempt. It has a likeable V-signature with excellent bass and decent highs. The mids are mixed bag – you’ll love vocals on a higher octave while you might not get the best from a singer who is singing in a lower octave. Once again, I would like to reiterate the fact that the Moonbuds Crescent are a great entry point for IEM enthusiasts into the world of earbuds.
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