Review : Moondrop KXXS
Updated: Jul 3, 2020
Today we review an earphone from the popular Chifi brand that has been making a scene in the audiophile market for a while now, Moondrop!
Disclaimer : This was a personal purchased at retail price from Moondrop's Aliexpress store.
I have heard about Moondrop from the Head-fi community but I always never had the chance to try one of their earphones as there aren't any shops here that carry them. Fortunately for me, I had a friend who had the Moondrop Crescent and I was pleasantly surprised by them. After reading reviews about the KXXS, I decided to take a leap of faith and get one for myself. Do note that I have been using this pair of earphones for at least 3 months or so and thus, the earphones have some scratches on it and the box doesn't look as new.
Sound : V-shaped
Driver : Dynamic
Socket : 2-pin (0.78mm)
Price : 190 USD
Where to buy : Aliexpress
- Sounds smooth, pleasant to listen to for long hours
- Wide soundstage
- Deep bass
- Nice sparkle in the treble
- Could do better in the mids; Needs more bite to it
- Faster paced songs sounds very cluttered
- Could use a better cable for optimal performance
- Fingerprint magnet and scratch prone
Genres suitable :
- Most genres except fast-paced songs and music with many instruments in it
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
Upon receiving the box, you'd be greeted by an anime girl using a pair of KXXS. Given by how the earphones fit in her ear, I can see that her ears must be huge. Once you remove the outer layer of the box, inside lies a slick black box that neatly houses the following items :
- 1 x blue semi-hard case
- 1 x earphone pouch
- 1 pair of KXXS
- 1 pack of tweezers with 3 pairs of replaceable filters
- 1 pack of eartips
- 1 0.78mm, silver-plated 2-pin cable with 3.5mm jack (standard headphone jack)
For a 190 USD earphone, I was pleasantly surprised by the packaging and the unboxing experience has been a really pleasant one. Being greeted with so many accessories, you can see that Moondrop has really thought about their users. The tweezers, replaceable filters and the airplane adapter, though we may not use them often, was a really nice touch to it.
The included case feels like leather and is secured shut by magnets. It really makes the product as a whole feel that much more premium than what it's worth. I think it's nice that they also included a small pouch in case you decide that it's more convenient for you to use the pouch instead due to insufficient space in your bag.
The earphone itself has a shiny, sleek chrome finishing that really gives it that minimalist look and feel. Though the earphones are weighty and feels premium, some may mind the weight of it on their ears. For me, I do not mind the weight at all as I always pair them with my PW Audio Xerxes cable which have a substantial weight to them. The silver-plated cables stick to the theme of the earphones and are lightweight, with a rigid gold-plated 3.5mm termination.
I have only used these cables for 5 minutes when I first got them and the weight feels rather imbalanced as the earphones are heavy and the cables are light. It feels like the cables are just a support for when the earphones fall out of your ears
However, though this earphone feels premium with all that shining silver finishing, it is a fingerprint magnet and is VERY prone to minor scratches. Even the tiniest of scratches can be seen on it and it bothers me a lot as I like to keep my items in perfect condition for as long as I can.
The KXXS has a recessed 0.78mm 2-pin port that is detachable and I love detachable cables because that means more cables to play around with hehe.
COMFORT AND ISOLATION
Though the earphone has rounded edges around it, it is the size that's the issue. As the earphones itself are huge, the top of it tends to be pushing against my ears which after long hours of usage, tends to feel a bit sore. I have found that tilting the KXXS backwards slightly has helped with this issue, but it's not a permanent solution as moving about will readjust itself eventually and you'd get the same problem.
The earphone also has a wide bore with slightly longer canals, which for small-medium ears like mine, makes it hard for the earphone to be flushed against the ears. Hence, I would not recommend these for people who sleep with their earphones.
As for isolation, I think it fits just alright but you would need to find a good pair of eartips to go well due to the wide nozzle. Mine are fitted with the Acoustune AET-07 tips, which fit me nicely. However, I do feel that the earphones tend to be sticking slightly further out of the ear canal than most earphones due to the wide nozzle being unable to have a deeper insertion.
This earphone has a very pleasant v-shaped sound (more emphasis in the highs and lows), while the mids are rather chill in the background. This earphone is suited for most genres be it vocals, jazz, pop, rock, anything you can throw at it, it can handle them gracefully.
For this testing, I would be using the earphones with the stock cables and my Cayin N6ii (T01 module) as player. My sources would include both lossless files and Spotify but I would only state the general characteristics of the earphone that I can perceive.
There is a good extension in the highs, giving it that sweet airy sparkle without it being too sibilant. Treble heads would find this pleasant enough, and treble sensitive people should not need to worry about it. Cymbals from Michael Buble's "Call Me Irresponsible" sound very spacious and has a very 3D feeling to it. You might have to put a bit of effort into catching every bit in detail but the details in the highs are definitely there. It has a very soft decay to it when listening to jazz or slower paced tracks which give it a very nice and homely feel.
Moving on to faster paced songs with crashing cymbals, it loses that soft decay and gets cut off very quickly. Though this is so, I don't feel that it lacks highs when listening to metal or rock tracks as it still has that crash when it is needed. I think this is due to it using a single dynamic driver so it has to work faster, making it unable to provide that nice fade out of the highs. The amount of highs is still the same, just that it comes and goes very quickly. Still good for headbanging to rock songs like One Punch Man's OP1 and Frederic's Sukiraism :D
In essence, nice quantity of highs that can definitely satisfy everyone with a slow decay to it but when switching over to fast paced tracks, it trades that slow decay for speed and attack.
Personally, I love it when earphones sound closer to real life and this does not disappoint in that aspect. Vocals on these are warm and smooth, listening to Yoga Lin's "说谎" feels as if he's singing right in front of you. You can trust that I am not telling lies when I say that it feels really realistic, no matter whichever genre you go to. As long as there's vocals, you will be greeted with a mini "live" performance by them, that's how real it is to me and I am really impressed.
However, what I think can be done better here is the attack and quantity of mids. Mids lose that edge in attack when switching over to Frederic's "Kanashii Ureshii", guitars lack that bite to it that is very important to when listening to rock/funk/metal tracks. Without that, it just feels alright, but nothing fantastic about it.
You can hear that it leaves a lot to be desired for in the mids department when listening to Vulfpeck's "Disco Ulysses (Instrumental)". As this is an instrumental track, it is heavily dependent on the instruments like the guitar and drums gives life and feeling to the song. You lose the chucking sound of the guitar and the extra oomph of the snare drums which is crucial to the overall funk feeling of the song.
Hence, though vocals are fantastic on these, I wish that there could be more bite and attack in the mid-range. If you just want smooth vocals and mids (like just as long as it's audible), this is definitely good enough. Don't get me wrong, the mids are VERY smooth but it may be too smooth that it loses that bite to it.
Whew. Bass quantity of these are just spot on. I think it has just that right amount of bass that is good enough for most people, maybe except bass heads. Bass here is rather tight but goes deep enough when you need it to, though I wished that it could go deeper to provide that rumbling bass that I crave so much for. Listening to slow mandopop tracks like those from Yoga Lin and Li Ronghao on these earphones really gives it the feelings that the artists intended. Khalil Fong's "四人游" has nice enough bass to it that really brings out the emotion of the song. It is tight and has a nice rumble to it but it seemed like it could go deeper. Michael Jackson's "Love Never Felt So Good" has a nice vibe to it and the kick drum has a really nice kick to it, paired with the simple yet melodious bass line makes you want to groove to the song.
I have found that Dean Fujioka's "Shelly" is really good for testing bass tracks and though the bass is sufficient, it leaves much more to be desired for. Kick drum has the same quantity as that in "Love Never Felt So Good", but the electric low end beat does not have enough low end extension to give it that chill, relaxed feel that it intends to.
When you start listening to faster songs on these however, it has the same problem as the treble. It loses that nice warm feeling to it in exchange for speed, kick drums have a good kick but not enough, bass guitar feels like "background music" when there are too many instruments and you can't pick out the details. Listening to KANA-BOON's "Silhouette", vocals stand out the most, followed by guitars, cymbals and then bass in the background, trying to stand out but not enough.
I think that overall the bass is really nice, just that it needs to go deeper, get that little bit more extension and more quantity for it to stand out to make the music sound more full-bodied.
I feel that some of the issues stated above can be resolved by simply using a better cable. Many reviewers online have also tested out swapping the cables and found better results with it and from my experience, I have to agree with them.
Simply switching over to an 8 core silver-plated cable that I bought off Aliexpress improved the treble, mids and bass and layering substantially. (Purchased it here)
Treble is now airier and has more sparkle to it and has a slightly longer decay rate to it which gives it a more spacious feeling to it. Mid range has improved and you can now better hear each note of the guitar strum, guitar chucking now has more attack to it as with the snare drums. Bass has better extension, going slightly deeper than using the original cable. Hence, I would highly recommend getting a change of cable, preferably one with a higher core count than the given cable of 4 cores.
I really like this pair of earphones, everything sounds really smooth and it is really enjoyable to listen to. This earphone does everything good enough : good enough treble, bass and laid back mids. However, if you want to go into the nitty-gritty details of the music, this earphone is not the one. For the casual listener who wants to "up their earphone" game or for you audiophiles that want something chill, you should definitely pick up a pair!