Moondrop Aria Review


The Aria is Moondrop's latest in-ear monitor (IEM) and also one of its most compelling ones. It's priced at just $79 USD and may dethrone their more expensive product lines. I guess in the world of IEMs nowadays, releases come out so often and so quickly, each one needs to one-up the next in both price and performance I feel like the Aria is one of those shakers. 

First off, the Aria was provided to be by the HifiGo Store for this review. This product can be purchased directly from their HifiGo store at http://www.HifiGo.com or directly here: https://hifigo.com/products/moondrop-aria-2

The Aria has a similar but not quite the same look to the Starfield before it. It has a medium-sized housing made of aluminum, and finished with a matte black coating with gold lines across the face. The driver choice for this unit is a 10mm liquid crystal polymer (LCP) dynamic driver and there is a single vent on the inner shell.

The included cable is a fabric cloth-sheathed cable that is a tad stiff and easily tangled unfortunately. It has a nice feel to it, but I found it very unusable as it would knot up quickly. The Aria also comes with a series of tips and extra filters.


Sound Impressions


For those who have already listened to many of Moondrop's IEMs, you'll quickly feel right at home with these as the Aria is tuned to their standard house tuning that is quite similar to what you'd find in the Kanas Pro, KXXS, Starfield, S8 and others. This VDSF (Virtual Diffuse Sound Field) tuning they came up is similar to the Harman IEM Preference target, however having a warmer low-end and tamer upper-midrange. It's a very pleasing sound overall, and the Aria may actually have something extra that was missing in Moondrop's other sub-$200 IEMs.



First off, I have not listened to the Starfield before, so I won't be able to do direct comparisons, though I hear this model is quite similar to it. I have owned both the Kanas Pro and KXXS however, and the Aria is very close to how I remember these two sounding with one key difference: upper treble extension!

Yes, one of the main drawbacks of my beloved Kanas Pro was that it felt very roll-off in the treble range. It was a very laid-back tuning, that was wonderful to listen to for hours, but did not necessarily sound complete or airy. The Aria, from a tonal balance perspective, has this. In fact, its treble extension is perhaps borderline a little too elevated. I can see some people perhaps finding it a little too bright up top, but I think its quite manageable even on my most cymbal-attack gauntlet of music.

The bass on this unit actually can be at times a lot more than I expect, especially once I found a good fit and seal with SpinFit CP145 tips. I was listening to "Begins Againers" by Scott Mulvahill and the amount of bass slam was surprising. I don't know if I remember the Kanas Pro or KXXS hitting as hard. This particular song is a rather simple one, with male vocals and an acoustic stand-up bass guitar and hand slaps, so the bass strums really stand out. 


I then pulled up all the graphs of the Moondrop series, and I do show just slightly more sub-bass levels on the Aria, though I'm not so sure that is completely accurate due to coupler changes, or if it does in fact show what I hear. That said, all of these are tuned with more bass than what I'd consider a neutral reference, though I don't find the level of bass to be over done or muddy. In fact, it's quite enjoyable and provides a good mix of fun and warmth, without sounding too forced.

On the same track as above, "Begin Againers", it was pretty evident that the Moondrop Aria's technical capabilities are limited, especially when it comes to texture, layering and just pushing out more definition in the resonating harmonics of each bass guitar strum. When I put on the Unique Melody MEST, it was a night and day difference in these abilities to resolve and show fine micro-details. The Aria's bass guitar sounds were just smeared and more one-noted, despite both showing similar bass quantity.

It's not a totally fair comparison since the MEST is upwards of 15X the price of the Aria. When I compared the Aria to something more along its price category, like the Thieaudio Legacy 3, it's bass quality was improved. The Legacy 3 isn't the best at resolving capabilities down low, so it's a trade-off for cramming more drivers into budget unit.

The staging of the Aria is surprisingly pretty wide. It's not nearly as deep and wide as the MEST, but its on par with the Hidition Viento in width, though does fail in depth, which I think the Viento does well. Going back to the previous thought though, the Viento's bass quality is just a tad better than the Aria. Its bass is driven by balanced armature drivers and not a dynamic driver, and so it doesn't have that natural resonance that I love about DDs, but I still find it better than Aria's. But again, this is a $1000 IEM and comparing it to something that is $79 is a bit blasphemy.


Final Remarks


The Aria is something of a weird product in my opinion. It redefines Moondrop's product lineup because it perhaps outclasses it's IEM collection up to $300 (Blessing 2 beats it handedly), yet cost only $79. Moondrop took the winning recipe of the Kanas Pro and made the KXXS, and then cheapened it with the Starfield, and then essentially took that and made it even less expensive. Trickle down manufacturing at its finest here?

I really enjoyed the Aria, and can easily recommend this one at its price point. I find it's tuning to be very easy to pick up and put on music of any type. It has a great balance with a nice level of bass, extended treble and a mid-range that isn't too soft, but not overly warm either. It's not the most technical IEM out there, but its really pleasing and solid. 


Check out the Aria on the IEM Graph Tool: http://iems.audiodiscourse.com/?share=Antdroid%20Target,Aria

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