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Pros: Nice warm sound. Great looks. Customizable options via smartphone app.
Cons: A little heavy. Requires app to customize settings.
When the MoonRiver 2 came out, I was impressed at the performance out of Moondrop’s first dongle. While it had a very bright sound signature, It still performed well and it was a unique shape and lightweight. Now that some time has passed, Moondrop has decided to release an updated and alternate dongle called the MoonRiver 2 Ti. It uses a new Titanium shell and has a plastic(maybe glass) window on the bottom to show off the internal board design. This new unit also has customizable features via their own Moondrop Link app. The MoonRiver 2 Ti(Ti going forward) uses the Cirus Logic CS43198 that the normal MoonRiver 2 uses and comes in at $189.99.
Quick shoutout to Shenzhenaudio as always for setting me up with a review unit. While I always appreciate stuff being sent in to test and review, It never affects the rating of my review.
The MoonRiver 2 Ti can be picked up from Shenzhenaudio at their website below.
Gear usedMoondrop Moonriver 2, Audirect Beam 4, Moondrop B3, Letshuoer DZ4 and UM MEST MKIII.
Looks and FeelThe new Ti version is a little heavier as it’s using a new thicker Titanium shell. It also has the plastic window at the bottom that almost feels like glass. Nice and smooth feel overall. The titanium however on mine was scratched a little right out of the box and I would imagine this will get all beat up looking should you use it a lot. Moondrop decided to go for a somewhat brushed finish so it should only show deeper scratches. The unit does get a little warm if running at full upscaling speed or DSD but it's very minimal compared to something like a DAP doing the same thing. Overall a good looking and high quality feeling dongle.
Accessories and unboxingThe MR2 Ti comes in a standard Moondrop waifu box but this time with a unique designed outer sleeve and of course the waifu mascot on the front of the box. Different art style this time around but once we get the box opened up, we have the dongle sitting on top. Underneath the foam, we have the cable, USB-A to USB-C adapter and the manual/warrant cards. I would have liked to see a smaller box used but it's fine. The accessories are good enough but I would have liked to see a lightning cable or adapter included for the IOS users.
Sound(overall)These final impressions were via the stock USB cable into my Macbook Pro. This will be what the MoonRiver 2 Ti sounded like with all the headphones I used. Things like headphone pairings will produce different results and impressions vs what my ears hear on my specific gear.
The MoonRiver 2 Ti goes for a neutral-warm sound signature. This is a departure from the cold and bright signature the original MR2 had but I really like this different sound direction. The Bass is warmer but it does well with impact/slam though it’s not an extreme amount. The mids are also a little on the smooth and warm side. Instruments sound accurate and lack dullness but it still comes in relaxed. The Vocals are on the warm side again but they have a more natural if not slightly compressed presentation. The upper mids and treble are detailed but they do sound a little more relaxed and the decay sounds a little slower. This makes for an overall relaxed and warm sound signature that I think works really well. Especially if the goal is to sit back and just enjoy music. I think the Ti version still pulls in really good details, it’s just less intense and I can listen longer without feeling like I need to stop and take a break. Much easier to get lost in the music.
Filters and fun featuresI can almost never tell the difference between filters. Same thing here. I couldn’t tell the difference but one thing I enjoy is that the Moondrop Link app actually gives you a quick and sweet explanation of what each filter should do to the sound.
Imaging/SoundstageThe soundstage and imaging tend to be headphone specific(at least to me) but DAC/amps can add a little extra on occasion. I would say the staging is about average compared to other dongles in this price range and the imaging is accurate as I would expect from a modern dongle.
Stock USB CableThe stock cable the Ti comes with is actually an updated USB-C to USB-C cable and it is much sturdier than the one that came with my original MR2. The cable is thicker and they attempted to fix some of the EMI noise issues that last cable had by shielding the internals more which you can visibly see. The connector housings are thicker and they feel like they won't wobble or break with normal use.
Personal grips with the MR2 Ti?The new Ti version has the same ultra bright LED that the original MR2 had but it’s located at the bottom now. Which will blind you and everyone around when it’s turned on. Luckily, it can be turned off via their Link app on either Android or IOS. The device allows you to change the DAC filters but it no longer lets you change gain like the original MR2 did. Without using the app, it is set to high gain and the LED is set to be on. Which is fine. I prefer the option to set it via the app and then not have to worry about anything else. The issue with the original MR2 was that you couldn’t turn off the LED(at the time I did the review) and that it always started at high gain so you always had to change it and it was finicky to do. This is much improved with a might higher range of volume even at high gain.
So while that wasn’t much of a grip, the next thing is an awkward disconnect between the engineers and PR material. There were some initial issues with the capabilities of the MR2 Ti on release. No fault to the reps but the Ti version does have a different design going on with the firmware hence the differences such as the two buttons being pressed at the same time, no longer changing gain. The manual doesn’t tell you anything about the fact the two volume buttons being held down actually changes the DAC filters. The product material has little quirks like how the Ti version can only go up to PCM 384kHz even though I’m listening at an upscaled 768kHz just like the original MR2. So it seems the engineer team made some adjustments without letting anyone on the PR team know what's current vs what they thought was correct. This is fine as it doesn’t affect anything in an important way but I figured I would mention it.
Single ended and balanced power outputCompared to the original MR2, we have power numbers this time! At least for the 4.4mm jack haha. We get 280mW into a 32ohm load which is more than enough for most IEMs and normal full sized headphones. I’m not sure about the single ended jack but I got more than enough volume out of it even on my Sennheiser HD560S. Good enough to get the job done but most gear in this price range. I prefer the under 400mW for dongles as this normally keeps the heat down and it consumes less power from the source device. I’ve had high power portable DAC/amps burn through my Macbook Pro battery life and it’s an annoying thing at times.
IEM pairing opinions
Moondrop Blessing 3The B3 was somewhat of a disappointment to me especially since it’s quite the bright sounding IEM. This pairing with the MR2 Ti does help it IMO and it falls out of the bright and clinical tuning to a more bright and fuller sound. This won’t fix the brightness of the B3 but it does add a little extra warmth in the mid bass and mids which helps the B3 sound full and less lean vs other neutral and bright source gear. The treble is still bright but it’s a little more contained and has less of a metallic sound. The staging sounded about the same here as my main testing source gear. I like the pairing here and I think it’s a great combo. This won’t “fix” the issues I personally had with the B3 but it makes it a combo I do use more often on the go.
LETSHUOER DZ4The DZ4 is a really nice neutral sounding set of lower cost IEMs. This is also a pairing I like with the MR2 Ti. The bass does sound like it has a little extra warmth and adds to the already decent bass performance. Mids and vocals sound accurate but they still sound a little on the sweet/warm side. The treble is about the same as other source gear and it performed the same to my ears. The staging was average and imaging was spot on. A good pairing but it doesn’t have much of a sound effect from the small changes as some other IEMs I tested.
Unique Melody MEST MKIIIThe MEST MKIII sounds pretty good on most gear but it does scale decently well. I think the MKIII pairs well with the warmer sounding MR2 Ti. The bass is nice and impactful yet warm. The mids and vocals are smooth yet accurate and the treble is sharp enough to sound very detailed. The staging is still pretty wide though it doesn’t produce the same “wow” factor that some higher end source gear. The MR2 Ti is a really good pairing though and it brings out quite a bit of the potential performance the MKIII can produce.
Moondrop Moonriver 2I’ve already touched on it a little but the biggest differences will be the sound signature directions these two take. The original MR2 is bright and goes for as much perceived detail as possible at the cost of being a little cold sounding. The new Ti version goes for a neutral-warm sound that is extremely enjoyable yet pulls in around the same detail retrieval as the original. I was expecting them to both sound the same given the same DAC chip being used but it seems the Ti version was implemented in a different way. Both exhibit the same staging to my ears and both are fantastic at their sound signatures they go for. I do personally prefer the new warmer sounding MR2 Ti however and it stays in my bag with my MacBook Pro in case I want to use it over my DAP.
Audirect Beam 4The Beam 4 does come in $50 more than the MR2 Ti, but I do like the warmer sound signature of the MR2 Ti. The Beam 4 does have the benefit of having a battery that is built in to provide power to help with possible power current issues from the USB port when listening. I’ve personally never had issues with this on modern hardware in the last few years. The MR2 Ti has a warmer bass and mids. Vocals are smooth and sweet on the MR2 Ti and the treble at times with sound a little more relaxed and tame over the Beam 4. The Beam 4 has a more neutral bass and mids performance. The vocals are a little more accurate and sharp sounding. The treble is a little sharper and faster so it can sound a little more detailed than the MR2 Ti. Either option is good though and I prefer the MR2 Ti for the size and the sound signature but the Beam 4 has a more performance focused design.
Overall thoughtsI really like this updated MoonRiver 2 Ti and I appreciate that the original is still offered which makes sense to me. Both have different directions for their sound tunings and both will cater to different audiophiles. I like the new app integration and the fact you can set the features you want on and off and they stay saved on the memory of the MR2 Ti. Overall, a win in my book! The MoonRiver 2 Ti gets my recommendation. While I still find dongles a niche market as I’ve murdered many cables trying to use them with my phone in a pocket. I still use dongles for my laptop when on the go or at work. Great job to the team at Moondrop and I look forward to their future releases! Thanks for reading!!!