Pros: Price performance ratio. Good technicalities for the price
Cons: None that i can think of at this price point.
I believe Moondrop is a company that needs no introduction as they’re well known for their anime style marketing and also harman-ish tuning.They have released several well known IEM that punches way above their price point in terms of performance. Which model you ask? I will leave that for you to find out.
- I am not using the stock eartips, instead I am using KZ’s starline eartips as I couldn't get the stock eartip to fit snugly.
- This review is based on my own opinion and i bought this unit off my own fund and not sponsored by Moondrop or any company.
By looking at the specifications below, you might think that this little IEM is fairly easy to drive? Unfortunately, this IEM requires a lot of power in order to sound good. We will talk more on this in the later part of this in this review.
Impedance: 16 ohms @ 1kHz
Sensitivity: 112dB/Vrms @ 1kHz
Frequency Response: 20-40,000Hz
Driver: Beryllium-coated diaphragm with PU suspension ring
Cable: 0.78mm Silver-plated 4N-Litz OFC
Packaging and Accessories
Nothing much to shout out here. The usual anime style character can be found on the box of the IEM itself. “Waifu” they call it. What you will get inside the box is the IEM itself, a fairly high quality Silver-plated 4N-Litz OFC cable, a small carrying pouch which is a bit small in my opinion, and also the standard S,M,L sized silicone tips. I have omitted to using the stock eartips as they do not fit me well. Thus I have opted for the KZ starline tips as mentioned above.
Build and Comfort
The build of the IEM itself is plastic, however it doesn’t look cheap at all. It is also very well built. The size of the IEM itself made you forget that you’re actually wearing one because it is so lightweight that you barely feel anything in your ears! I’ve had it on for several hours straight and I do not feel any discomfort from it. Thumbs up to Moondrop for designing this!
The 2 pin port on the IEM itself is very snug in my opinion. The stock cable that came attached with it was very tight to remove. I actually had to exhibit a little extra force in order to remove the cable, which is good, so that the cable doesn’t come out from the plug as it ages due to wear and tear from plugging in and out.
Tidal(MQA/HiFi) -> UD130 DAC/AMP -> Moondrop SSP
Cayin N3 Pro -> Moondrop SSP
Cayin N3 Pro -> Moondrop SSP with pure silver 4.4 balanced cable
I do not have SSR to compare with so I am not sure what SSR”s bass is like. What I can say about the low end of this SSP is the quality and quantity done right. The overall presentation of the frequency range is fairly balanced based on what I heard from my setup. Load up The Weeknd’s Starboy and you can definitely feel the rumble on the opening of the song. It’s fun to listen to and sounds about right. It doesn’t get boomy nor bloated. It is punchy for sure but this will definitely not be categorized as a basshead’s IEM.
Now the interesting part of SSP, this is where a cable swap will make some difference and open up the sound. On the stock cable, the mids in my opinion is slightly boxed-in. It is okay, not that bad, acceptable, smooth and quite detailed. I have a pure silver cable in 4.4 Bal termination lying around, I’ve decided to cable roll it and boy, it definitely put a smile on my face, everything sounded so open and I got so much more fun out of it. Now that it is on pure silver cable, the boxy feel on the mids totally diminished. Everything is just smooth. The Cruel Angel’s Thesis by Yoko Takahashi, the vocals sounded fairly intimate, and the instruments can be heard clearly in this track as there are a lot of electric guitar strums going from left to right channel and also percussions playing at the same time. All of those can be identified clearly.
The treble presentation is good. Not sibilant at all and there is a slight emphasis on the brilliance segment to give cymbals and chimes enough sparkle to make the music sound alive such as RATM’s Killing In The Name. This is a fairly busy track in my opinion and all the cymbals are heard clearly on top of the drum roll and also the electric guitar. Impressive separation and layering.
I find the width of the soundstage is good. You are enveloped in live recording as well as orchestral tracks. Toto’s Africa(Live), a good demonstration on the capability of rendering a wide soundstage from SSP. Swapping it to the pure silver cable that i had made an even bigger difference on the soundstage, the width is further enhanced but the depth of it remains more or less similar. Overall, it has a very clean channel to channel transition to exhibit a good sense of spatial imaging.
Playing it straight out from a smartphone is not a good idea as this IEM does require a fair amount of power in order for it to sound good. You can get listenable level from your smartphone but you will lose its dynamic, the bass and treble and mids will be off as it is not getting enough power. Amplification is required.
Moondrop has consistently been releasing top value, top performing products in a massive and competitive market. Moondrop SSP is definitely one of them. Will I recommend them? A big YES. At this price point, 39.9 USD, it’s fair to say you will definitely get the best bang of your buck. For people who are new in this audio hobby and already own an entry level USB Dongle DAC AMP, grab this without any second thoughts!, it is a very good choice.
Thanks for Reading and I hope my insights will help you make some decisions in purchasing this IEM.
*I am by no means a pro reviewer, what I wrote is solely based on what I heard and my own interpretation of it. Audio is fairly subjective, thus what I heard that sounded good to me might not be the same to you.
Pros: Balanced cohesive tonality, dense warm timbre, genius design-construction for the budget segment, small comfy
Cons: Doesn't sound clean-clear enough, lack of air, lack of bass and treble extension, average technicalities for the price...
--MOONDROP SSP NO GIMMICK MINI-REVIEW--
-Organically balanced tonality
-Natural timbre, impressive beautifully full vocal
-Refreshing slight V to Mid centric tuning
-Very impressive design and construction, small and comfy (perfect sleeper)
-Slightly Hazy hollow mellow sound
-Lack of clarity
-Bass bleed, lack of bass articulation, separation and punch definition
-Sound is kinda stock in your head due to lack of deepness to the soundstage
-Bass and highs are not very textured and a bit shouty
-Need good amping to shine
-Average technicalities for the price (no attack snap, no natural decay, no space clean space between instruments, barely any micro-details)
-Fast busy track make the sound messy and saturated
-Poor bass extension, poor treble extension
I try to love the Moondrop SSP because they are candies to my eyes and I'm sincerely enamored by the unique design of its sumptuous housing...unfortunately the sound doesn't fully meet this type of careful refinement. Firstly I always feel they're an hollow blanket on the sound, making it very hard to perceive clearly a separation between instruments...as if it was too homogenous in layering and lacking edge to definition. To improve a bit the clarity I even pull off ALL filters...(2 pairs) and indeed it gives a hint more grip to the upper treble and openness to soundstage...just a hint.
The soundstage is intimate, imaging lack clarity to precisely spot instrument placement (good luck with that!), their no air to the sound apart from some unbalanced highs....
lotta music track sound plain wrong with the SSP and this is the bass-treble fault, not the mids which are near perfect.
Yep, both in timbre and tonality.
Female vocal sound marvelous, full, lush and smooth with dense body, saxophone too is extremely addictive and musical, wide and dense with well define layer that takes front seat. I can't rave enough about the vocal so this is GOOD! It even might be among the best vocal presentation under-50$.
But everything can be ruined by bass and treble, so if sub-bass is an important part of track enjoyment it will sound underwhelming, sub being dry and boxy compared to mid-bass that have good slam and weight but lack of well-rounded definition. If the track is supposed to be revealing in micro-details and texture, again, the SSP will sound underwhelming.
You better go with slow music like Soul, R&B, Pop, Singer-songwriter, Folk...and avoids any fast rock, jazz, classical symphony and complex electronic or IDM.
VS BLON BL03:
The soundstage of BL03 is notably wider-taller-deeper.
Tonality is more W shape and lively, brighter and more textured.
Bass it harder-deeper and have more natural resonance-rumble.
Mids are a bit more recessed and thin, dryer and notably less musical to my ears.
Attack from bass to treble is more snappy, well define and control.
Higher level of details, better macro and micro-resolution, more airy and extended treble.
Less natural timbre,a bit grainy compared to bit too organic with SSP.
Technicalities goes to BL03 while the tonal balance are on par but more thick and relaxed with SSP.
The incredibly addictive vocal performance save the SSP from being a dull uninspired IEM, but it isn't enough to highly recommend them. If the vocal is as good with the more neutral SSR, this might be a better more versatile choice...but the highs will perhaps feel even more shouty so here its a question of which poisin you wanna choose. If your all about female vocalist, the intermittent goosebumps SSP will offer you might worth your money, but be sure to know if your music style can pair well with its very limited technical strength.
RECOMMENDED IF YOUR ALL ABOUT VOCAL
The box of the SSP certainly gets some attention. Like many of the MoonDrop products, the outer box presents a eye-catching art design of Asian animation girls. Maybe a way to catch more customers or there is an Anime fan within the company; either way, it does work as some friends got very interested just because of the nice box cover. The square box itself is compact and doesn’t look cheap. Inside there are the SSP earphones with the cable attached and a small box with 3 pairs of silicone ear tips and a tiny bag. Nothing fancy and hard to ask for more considering the budget price.
The SSP is a very compact earphone yet solidly built for its price. The shells are made of a fairly thick aluminum that despite their small form factor do feel weightier than much larger plastic shells. As can be seen, they consist of two pieces tightly attached (either glued or by that large gold painted screw). They have a unique heart-like shape, or more precisely broken-heart, which could have made a perfect gift on 2/14 day. Personally, I think it also looks nice with its metallic matte dark blue painted shells. Holding just a 6mm dynamic driver inside, the earpieces are quite small, and while not made into a most ergonomic shape, they are very easy to fit that even those with small ears should find them comfortable enough. The SSP are meant to be worn in over-ear and the fit is pretty straightforward with a 90º angled nozzle. The nozzle has a standard width, so many ear tips should fit easily, and rather recommended over the generic included stock tips. Isolation is very average; the small shells do not cover much of the outer ear area.
Like all the Moondrop earphones, the cable has a common 2-pin (0.78) type; a much wiser take over the cheap MMCX connectors found around this price range. The connection is fairly strong, too. The cable is of silver-plated copper wire, relatively soft and has just a bit of cable noise; hard to complain for the low price and yet more favorable than the cheaply made cables. There is a thin red ring attached to the right cable side to easily differentiate it.
As for what sound quality goes, I have to say that the SSP impressed me more right out of the box for what a budget $40 earphone could perform. However, the ‘magic’ didn’t last for too long, as after a proper and critical listening time certain limitations became more obvious. Even so, the SSP holds a pretty good value rating, and actually does sound good enough for its very specific tuning.
The overall signature of the SSP differs from the mainstream sharp v-shaped or warm to bass-heavy response found on many budget earphones. And that’s a good thing. But also deviates from the more neutral or balanced sound of own MoonDrop higher models. Instead, the SSP has a more flavored kind of sound with a slightly lifted bass and a much more enhanced, very forward upper-midrange (and lower-treble) focus.
The bass elevation is mainly in the mid-bass area, giving sufficient punch as to avoid sounding flat and adds a soft sense of warmth to the overall presentation. Far from sounding excessive or heavy and yet enjoyable. Sub-bass is rather subdued, limited in extension and lacks authority and rumble; hard to complain for its low price, though you can still find a more convincing performance on other in-ear options. Control and speed are decent, yet layering and depth are lacking. Upper-bass is very moderate and leads to a very clean transition to the lower-mids.
Midrange is anything but balanced. The SSP puts a clear differentiation between lower and upper midrange. Low-mids are recessed and distant, thin in body, lean and unengaging; instruments here lack texture and authority and male vocals sound unnatural (well, maybe if listening to Asian music, e.g. J-Pop/Rock or anison, where male singers are usually more high-pitched closer to female’s then the SSP could be suitable). In high contrast, upper-mids to lower-treble are very elevated. It gets to the point of being ‘shouty’, and occasionally can be too much. This is the main focused area of the SSP’s sound. The good part is that there are no peaks here, so as forward as it may sound it is surprisingly not sibilant, harsh or sharp; if anything, it can be a bit aggressive, but not tiring over long listening periods. Female vocals are always very forward and fairly well textured with some touch of sweetness. Electric guitars are crunchy and energetic, though acoustic guitars are not so natural.
Reaching the upper treble region, the SSP is rather laid-back, limited and rolled-off. On the technical side, the level of detail is good for the price. Soundstage is narrow with little right to left expansion, more intimate and 2D-sounding. Air is missing and there is a lack of instruments’ separation and improper imaging. I think it is more due to the very specific tuning than the Beryllium dynamic driver used on the SSP.
Hidizs MS1 (Rainbow) / H1
The MS1 has a mild v-shaped signature, sounding more even from lows to highs. It has a bit more mid-bass impact and less roll-off sub-bass. Treble is also more balanced, unlike the lower-treble focus of the SSP, but the MS1 is not as smooth and controlled. The midrange is much more linear and neutral, where low and upper mids are more equally presented. The MS1 has more air too, while the SPP is clearly more suited for female vocals.
The IT00 is pretty much the opposite of the SSP in sound signature. It sounds dark and smooth and laid-back, with much more emphasis on the bass and low-midrange range. The whole bass has still better quality than the SSP, more extension, finer layering, depth and more impressive impact. Lower midrange is thick and elevated next to the calmer, shadowed upper midrange that sounds muffled and less engaging. Despite the laid-back treble it extends less than the SSP reach. Soundstage is greater on the IT00.