October 3, 2022
Moondrop Choo Wired Earphones Review: Budget Audiophile Excellence

Audiophiles on a budget are spoiled for choice, thanks to the excellent, affordable IEMs from various brands based in China that are available in India. A lot of these ‘chi fi’ brands come and go, but one particular brand has stuck around for a while and continues to produce excellent, value-driven products. Moondrop is popular for its budget and mid-range audiophile IEMs, and its most recent launch is the Moondrop Chu, which has been the subject of some hype in audiophile circles.

1,999 for the variant with in-line microphone and remote in India, the Moondrop Chu is a good looking pair of in-ear monitors with 3.5mm wired connectivity, 10mm dynamic drivers and neutral tuning and the promise of detailed sound. Is this the cheapest audiophile-friendly pair of earphones you can buy right now? Find out in this review.

Moondrop Choo Review Kit Moondrop

Comes with Moondrop Choo ear hook and small fabric carry case

Moondrop Choo Design and Specifications

Like many of China’s niche, audiophile products, Moondrop Chu shouldn’t be judged by its unusual name. The earphones sound rather good for a product priced under Rs. 2,000, metal earpiece with an interesting leaf-like pattern. The only product logo on the headset is on the plastic Y-splitter module on the cable, while the earpiece only has markings to indicate the left and right channels.

The Moondrop Chu has a transparent, fixed cable with an in-line remote and microphone, and a 3.5mm plug for connectivity to the source device. The three-button remote has controls for volume and playback. If you wish, you can opt for the variant without the in-line remote and microphone, which is priced at Rs. 1,799

I found Moondrop Choo’s fit a bit difficult, because of how long it takes for the fit to heal. The silicone ear tips offered a decent seal and grip, and the ear hooks (included in the box) let the cables slip and stay in place for safety, but there’s always some time to adjust the cable length under the ear hooks. Takes effort and time. and fit them in place.

It got a little quicker to do over time, but it certainly isn’t quite as smooth as the similarly priced Ultimate Audio E1000C and KZ Audio ZSN Pro X. The Moondrop Chu, however, feels a lot more solid and premium than the Ultimate Audio and KZ headsets, sounding even better.

The Moondrop Chu has a 10mm dynamic driver, a frequency response range of 10–35,000 Hz, an impedance rating of 28 ohms, and a sensitivity rating of 120 dB. The specifications make it easy to drive even with basic source devices like budget smartphones, and can be operated comfortably Shanling UA2 Portable DAC. The sale package includes three pairs of silicone ear tips, rubber ear hooks, and a small fabric carry case.

Moondrop Choo Review Mic Remote Moondrop

The Moondrop Choo comes in two variants – one with an in-line remote and microphone, and one without

Moondrop Choo Display

With Bluetooth headsets becoming more affordable as well as improving audio quality over the years, many prefer the convenience of wireless connectivity to wired headphones and earphones. However, wired listening has the major advantage of providing better sound quality, and the Moondrop Choo delivers sound that’s better than even the best wireless earphones you can buy right now.

For this review, I had the Moondrop Chu attached to the OnePlus 9 Pro (Review) Shanling UA2 DAC in between, and used Apple Music to stream high-resolution audio tracks. I also used an iPad mini (2019) as an alternative source, connecting the earphones directly to its 3.5mm headphone jack.

In both cases, I found Moondrop Chu to be very loud; I found the 60 percent volume level on the iPad to be moderately adequate, while I didn’t dare go beyond the 50 percent level with the Shanling UA2 DAC running the earphones. With the earphones managing to keep up with the powerful input signal without any audible issues, the sound felt rich and as excellent as it is today. With a good fit, the sound was catchy, revealing and full of energy.

With Hold Back Love by Dutch funk trio Crack & Smack, the beat sounded deep and impressive, thanks to the tight, responsive bass on Moondrop Choo. The track’s mid-tempo tempo allowed for a lot of detail to be heard, including faded instruments in the background, and in particular the vocals that sounded clean, cohesive and beyond what I’ve heard at any other entry-level. Looked realistic. Audiophile earphones.

Switching to more melodic styles, I heard a cover of Psapp’s Cozy in the Rocket by The Chillout Airlines Crew. The sound was detailed, while the soundstage was spacious and rich, offering the kind of precise, immersive sound that only a good pair of IEMs can do. Everything in the track, from the melodious vocals to the playful melody, was rich and full of character on Moondrop Choo. Although the tight bass caught my attention, I found the mid-range to be sophisticated as well.

At times, I found the treble a bit harsh on the Moondrop Chu, especially at high volumes where the earphones were already getting loud. Plus, the aggressive bass also causes listener fatigue in some bass-focused tracks, such as Take a Look Around by Limp Bizkit. Like many IEMs in the audiophile-focused category, Moondrop Choo has a tendency to be overwhelmed by fast, overpowering tracks, and performs best with mellow, progressive music, especially house and soft rock genres.

The Moondrop Choo is at its core a musical pair of earphones, but the microphone gave it a little flexibility with use. Performance on calls was good, and I used the earphones to record a long audio clip once in a quiet room, to good effect. Oddly, using the Shenling UA2 DAC seemed to completely disable the microphone and in-line remote, but these worked fine when the earphones were connected directly to my iPad.

Decision

There are some good options for audiophile-grade IEMs for less than Rs. 2,000, but none I got a chance to use was as fun as Moondrop Choo. Although the process of putting them on is time-consuming and difficult, this is a well-built pair of earphones that more than makes up for its shortcomings with its performance, especially when paired with a good DAC and high-resolution audio tracks. .

There are minor flaws in the sound, but these can be completely forgiven given the Moondrop Chu’s price and its reasonable capabilities as a hands-free headset. Overall, this is probably the best starter IEM I can recommend right now, and is an impressive display of what can be achieved on a tight budget in terms of sound quality.


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