Moondrop Variations Review

I’ve been on a Moondrop binge as of late and while I’ve not had a chance to release any reviews of the units I tried, I still wrote the reviews and plan to release more Moondrop related reviews in the future. The Variations are Moondrop’s most recent tribrid release. This set is using a single DD, 2 BA and 2 EST drivers. This also a standard 2 pin IEM with a wonderful cable that uses swappable plugs.

Looks and fit

The Moondrop Variations come in a soft finished resin shell with a metal faceplate. The faceplate has a nice pattern with a simple Variations logo on it. The shell has a slight “frosted” transparency which looks really good to my eyes. The nozzles are flat and thicker. I would prefer a lip at the end of nozzles but I didn’t have any issues with tips coming loose.


Isolation is pretty good even with the small vent hole on the faceplate. I could still pick up some noise from my surroundings but for the most part, I was blocked off from outside noise. Sound does leak a little from the vent hole but in a normal environment such as a room or outside it’s not noticeable. In a super quiet room it would be easier to pick up what someone was listening to.

Packaging and accessories

Inside the box we get a nice selection of accessories. The top part of the box has the carrying case(with cable and swapple plugs) and foam/silicone tips. The bottom section has a packet of info, pictures of a “anime waifu”, the IEMs themselves and the replacement filters should they fall apart over time. I like the presentation here and I think there is a nice chunk of accessories included with the Variations.


These final impressions were done off a mix of the iFi GO blu and the SMSL SU-9 connected to the SMSL SP400. These are what the Variations sounded like to my ears. This was also using the CP145 eartips from spinfit. Things like ear tip selection and DAC/amp selection will produce different results and impressions vs what my ears hear on my specific gear.

I always look forward to a good bass presence when it comes to hybrids/tribrids. The star of the show here is indeed the low end frequencies. The bass comes in strong with impact on sub bass hits but still sounds really well controlled. I didn’t notice any real bleed into the mids and the Variations are able to reach down low when it comes to the detail retrieval of the bass. I don’t often get hung up on bass as I prefer a little thump without bleed but this is one of those moments I got excited from IEM DD bass. The mids are decent. Vocals come through more on the warm side with a little less detail. The treble starts to pick up what the mids are lacking which gives the impression of better detail retrieval. I find the treble a little hot with both the stock tips and the spinfits at times. This is a V shaped tuning for sure which is fine as the mids aren’t a disaster. The Variations do detail retrieval fairly well but it always feels like a battle over what I want to focus on more listening to music. Picking between the Variations lows and highs can be hard at times for me. Regardless, I would definitely say this is more of fun tuning but also a good “all rounder” IEM for those seeking a fun tuning.


Soundstage is fairly good with this set. I get a noticeably wider stage with a decent depth. Things are definitely in my face soundwise but It’s definitely a good balance in terms of depth/width. The width is pretty good for an IEM and it was the biggest thing I noticed when listening. Imaging is decent here. The bass impact can cause a little haziness to the sound so it kinda depends on what you’re listening to. With not bass heavy music, the imaging is good for an IEM. With EDM I had to focus a little harder when I wasn’t jamming out to the thumpy bass.

Stock cable

I usually cable roll if I think the stock cable is bad or isn’t balanced. Lately a lot of new IEMs have their own in house cables with swappable connectors included. This is the same case for the Variations. I liked the stock cable and I was happy with the swappable connectors Moondrop is using. It’s not as nice as DUNU’s own Q-plus connectors but it does the job and the cable the Variations uses can be bought for a good price. The braid is a simple two strand braid but it holds well and doesn’t feel cheap. Moondrop is also nice enough to include a 2.5mm and 4.4mm Pentaconn connector with the Variations. I like to run 4.4mm personally so I’m happy it’s not something I have to buy separately. You can always play around with rolling different cable materials to try and adjust the sound but I think the stock cable is totally fine.

Tip rolling

I didn’t really care for the stock tips and went with the CP145 as they gave me the best sound(for my tastes) and long term comfort. The included stock silicone tips are a medium size bore so it's about the same sound as the CP145 I ended up using but I just didn't get the right fit for my ears with the stock tips. I didn’t try the foam tips but I usually only resort to foam tips if an IEM is too sibilant. A wide bore tip might help with low end bass if it feels like too much to the listener. Since I had a good hit off the bat with the CP145, I honestly didn’t attempt to tip roll like I normally do.

Nozzle filters

I thought it was interesting that Moondrop includes extra tuning filters and a little set of tweezers to replace the nozzle filter should it go bad. I haven’t had the need to replace my unit's filters so I simply opted not to mess with them. If I have issues replacing them down the line I’ll update this review.

IEM comparisons


This is the direct competitor to the Variations IMO. Price is around the same(Variations is $30 more) and they both are tribrids. The Variations gets you one extra BA for the $30 but it also has a drastically different tuning than the EST 112. The EST 112 is a heavy mid-focused IEM. It sounds better to my ears for vocals but has decent bass and just average treble when compared to the Variations. The Variations has a better Low end impact as well as a reverberation that gives the bass a wider sound. The mids are more tamed and the highs have a brighter sound that helps offset the bass. I find the EST 112 a more genre specific IEM and the Variations a fun bassy all rounder. Both offer ok detail retrieval but both feel like polar opposites in tuning. I do like both and the EST 112 is what I use at night when settling down and when I’m at work. I use the Variations whenever I want to have a good time with some well done bass.

THIEAUDIO Clairvoyance

The clairvoyance is my favorite set of IEMs under 1k so I'm always looking for something that can compete with them. The Clairs have a better balanced sound over the Variations. The bass still has some good impact on the Clair but it’s super controlled and allows more details to come in overall. The mids have more detail and the treble just has better detail retrieval overall. I love using the Clairs for 90 percent of my listening on my desktop setup or my portable setup. I think the Clair goes for a more detailed focus and while it's a good benchmark for me personally, I still like the fun tuning of the Variations. I would however pick the Clair over the Variations any day. I do find the Variations more comfortable than the Clairs for my ears.

Amping Combinations

iFi GO blu

The GO blu was able to power the Variations just fine. I used it balanced the entire time and there was no noticeable hiss from the pairing. The Variations aren’t a sensitive IEM so this won’t be an issue. The Variations still retained their overall tuning that I got from my desktop setup. The only thing I noticed was that they sounded a little less detailed in the low end and had less sparkle up top when used with the GO blu. The xBASS was way too much bass and everything was bloated and the xSPACE gave the Variations just a little too much treble brightness. Things had a metallic sound at times and I wasn’t a fan of either hardware EQ options. This was still a good pairing overall IMO.

Aune BU2

The BU2 was the more interesting portable pairing I used with the Variations. It got me closest to the desktop setup I used for the final sound impressions. The bass had a hint of the “echo” that I got from the desktop setup which gave the Variations a wider sense of soundstage. The treble was a little sharper and made for a better sounding tuning. I found this pairing better than the GO blu in terms of overall sound quality. Since the Variations come with a 2.5mm and 3.5mm plug, you can use Aune’s 2.5mm jack on the BU2. This was my favorite pairing for portable use.


This is the main desktop setup I use to review all my gear since I got the “stack” a while back. All my sound impressions were based off this stack. The biggest difference between this and the portable units is the soundstage width, the bass detail/reverberation, treble sparkle and just a tighter tuning. I don’t think a desktop stack is needed for the Variations, but it seems to scale just a bit more off something more powerful.

Overall thoughts

I really like the Moondrop Variations and these get an easy recommendation from me. This is what I would consider a “fun” “all rounder” IEM and It’s a set you can use daily and have a blast with. Those who want a more balanced sound will probably lean towards something else. I’m mixed on Moondrops IEMs and while I unfortunately have some of their IEMs I absolutely hated, this is one of their best to my ears. Thanks for reading!


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