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Moondrop Chu IEM Review

Moondrop Chu IEM Review

Today, I’m going to be taking a look at some earbuds that I would endearingly describe as being on the high-end bodega side of the market: the Moondrop Chu. As Moondrop’s most affordable product at a mere $20, we’re stepping back from the Focal and Dan Clark releases and reviews from earlier this month to get a whole lot cheaper. Important to remember: my judgments and opinions in this review are going to be within the context of the Chu’s extra-low price.

 

What’s In The Box?

-Moondrop Chu IEMs with headphone wire attached (3.5mm jack)

-Introduction Booklet

-Rubber support arms

-Warranty

-Soft carrying pouch

-3 pairs of signature Moondrop spring ear tips (S/M/L)

 

Look and Feel

While I like the black and gold color scheme the Chu has going on, I’m a little confused about the weed leaf on the back of the housing. Anime girl on the packaging, weed leaf on the buds, what’s the angle…never mind I’m done thinking about it. It’s a bit kitschy, but hey, you’re spending $20 for these.

 

The Chu doesn’t exactly have the most comfortable fit. The edge of the housing where the back meets the side is at a pretty unrefined angle that wasn’t rounded out at all. That edge sat in my ear’s incisura rather heavily, and needed to be adjusted every half hour or so. It’s cute that the Chu includes some attachable rubber support pieces to hook around the ear to assist with the fit, but I didn’t find them to help much. Though the fit is mildly annoying, it’s not a deal-breaker.

 

Design

Driver: 10mm Double Cavity Dynamic (Titanium Plated Diaphragm)

Housing material: Zinc allow.

Effective Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz

Impedance: 28 ohms

Sensitivity: 120dB/Vrms (@1kHz)

Moondrop Chu IEMs, rubber support

Soundstage and Imaging

Wait…these actually sound…pretty good? Between the zany design choices, dirt cheap pricing and decent enough sound quality, I’m perpetually amused by the Chu. While the sound stage is totally linear and flat, the Chu still handles wide mixes with surprising clarity. It’s not exactly what I’d call an immersive experience, but all parts of mixes get presented fairly evenly, which is honestly quite rare for earbuds in this price range. Of course, there are some lofi qualities that the Chu doesn’t escape: somewhat muddy low mids, moderately tinny highs at times, and pretty hollow center mids (though Moondrop generally seems privy to scooping the mids out of a lot of their buds and IEMs). But if you just need some cheap buds to have on while you work, the Chu’s sound quality isn’t going to be distracting. You can still, well, lose yourself in the music, so to speak.

 

Lows

I took the Chu’s lows to task with a big ol’ acoustic kick drum on the track Lou’s Tune by DARGZ. I almost laughed out loud at how good it sounded: all the boom and whoosh was there without masking every other part of the mix, something so, so many other 20 buck buds couldn’t pull off in their manufacturer’s wildest dreams.

 

When I think of earbuds in this price range, I think of casual listener who needs something just good enough to play their Travis Scott, or Kanye or…you get the point. For bass driven Top 40 material, a warm, heavy low end on an earbud can add to an enhancing, hedonistic enjoyment to a listen. Not only does the Chu have that exact boost, but it balances it in the greater mix with surprising control.

 

Mids

Full disclosure: the mid scoop present in a lot of Moondrop buds and IEMs isn’t really my cup of tea; it’s not something I would deem being of poor quality, it’s just a personal preference. That said, yes, this scoop is quite present on the Chu, and even when I set aside my personal preferences I would still argue the very middle frequencies (around the 500Hz area) end up being the Chu’s weakest point as far as sound quality is concerned. Vocals can sound exceptionally thin at times by inadequately expressing the fundamental, and are the biggest give away of the Chu’s price. This being said, the low mids were fairly present if not completely defined, and didn’t even bleed into the Chu’s heavy bass and subs; serendipity yet again, as plenty of headphones more that 10x the price of the Chu consistently screw that up.

 

Highs

While there wasn’t a whole lot of bright air in reverbs, or shine in tambourines or hi-hats that generally comes from frequencies above 8kHz getting well represented, the Chu mostly makes up for it in its high mids, which pretty much constitute the bulk of the highs you’re going to hear. Though this gives it a limited sound, the high mids are handled with a surprising nuance, avoiding shrillness for the most party even on twangy Cocteau Twins tracks. Clean electric guitars had a pretty smooth shine, and acoustic guitars still had a nice scratchiness to their transients and were perhaps the one thing that I noticed the Chu’s tippy top highs actually clinging to. The only really negative feature of the high mids/highs was that snare drums had a tinny sound on certain tracks.

 

Overall

If you’re someone who is constantly replacing the $7 headphones you picked up from the Deli with another $7 pair, maybe, just maybe, you should consider saving up to make the Chu your grand $20 headphone investment (indulgent, I know). On the other side of the spectrum, I seriously recommend this one as a fun piece for the audiophile headphone collectors out there as it is truly unique in more ways than one. I got a real kick out of the Chu. I challenge anyone to go out and find me a $20 pair that is as through-and-though solid as the Moondrop Chu. I’m not sure you’re going to find it.

 

TL;DR

-Surprisingly clear and well-represented balance for $20. Loud lows and high mids, but vocals can be thin at times. Timbre is well suited for most mainstream music.

-Decent imaging.

-A little uncomfortable when worn for too long

-Truly exceptional price for the quality. King in the lower tier market.

-A spunky lil bud.

 

The Moondrop Chu can be purchased at Audio46.

 

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