Moondrop Chu - Chu! Chu!

The Moondrop Chu just shifted the budget audio market around with its release and a $20 price point. TWENTY DOLLARS gets you an audiophile-like neutral/balanced sound, with all-metal housing, a case, a decent cable (with optional mic), and a set of Moondrop Spring tips that cost nearly as much if you buy it separately. This is trickle-down manufacturing at work.

A few months back, I reviewed several low-cost budget IEMs and the CCA CRA really stood out at only $14 and I still hold that one very high, even after listening to the Chu, but they are two different sound signatures, and can compliment each other well, making $34 invested into two solid in-ear audio products something I never imagined would be as decently good as it is today.

This review unit was sent over from the fine folks at HifiGo. You can find this stellar deal on their website at this link:

I'm going to skip over the basics, but I will just say that the shells are very small and comfortable to wear. The one gripe I have with them is that the cable is a little strange looking. It's an over-ear IEM but it doesn't have detachable cables nor does the "connection" point have a solid joint that starts the process of curving around your ear. It just allows the wire to awkwardly bend backwards. Moondrop does include ear hooks with the set, but I found those even more frustrating to use and decided to just deal with the dangling wire instead.

But alas, that's not a major issue. It's just a small annoyance during initial placement.

The sound. 

It's pretty solid. A quick look at the frequency response and it overlaid on top of my Antdroid V3 preference target will show that it would score very high as it comes close to matching it, with a neutral with bass boost signature. And in some ways, it sounds as I expected and hope, and in other ways, the graph is misleading or at least, the small subtleties make an overall big difference.

A fair warning, I am going to be a tad critical here, and as usual, I will discuss how I feel it sounds as a whole. But then take back into account its cost at the end. What you are going to hear/read next is based on just general observations, regardless of sound. Just remind yourself that I actually think this is a great IEM for $20. It's top of class at this price, along side the bassier, and more fun CCA CRA.

So the nitpicks

The Chu's bass is weaker than it looks on paper. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how something that measures so closely to my Hidition Viento custom sounds quite a bit leaner. (And this is an IEM that many already consider lean) The bass lacks slam and impact, however it'll come in short bursts in bass heavy tracks. I felt the sub-bass more so than the mid-bass. With that, the bass notes are one-noted, and aren't especially resolving, but more so than I actually expected given the price. It's not bad.

The mid-range again is neutral and as expected, with a slightly leaner sound overall. The upper mids and treble are a little on the bright side of neutral, perhaps more bright than I was expecting. This probably explains why the overall signature is a little lean and a little bright. Vocals in this range can come across a tad nasally, although not enough to be harsh or sibilant. There's nothing painfully wrong here, but I will just continue to repeat that it's a small bit brighter than neutral and leave it at that. 

In general, I felt the soundstage was average and imaging to be decent for its price point. Comparing it to the BLON BL-03 was night and day. The BL-03 already sounds a bit dated with these new budget IEMs and the Chu contrasts it well with a bigger soundstage, much better imaging, and resolution improvements across the board for also being a single dynamic driver.

The more interesting comparison is versus Chu's more expensive and older sibling, the Aria. I still think the Aria is the best value in the Moondrop lineup, even despite my praise here of the Chu and a price point that's 4X less than the $80 Aria. For the additional $60, however, you get a more mature and balanced sound, with better resolution, a warmer and bigger bass response and more meaty midrange and a smoother treble response. It just sounds more balanced and natural. In addition, the Aria has removable cable option, and a better case, and for me, a more comfortable fit, albeit heavier.

So while the Aria is an overall better product, it's hard to deny that the Chu is still a stellar value at $20. This is still a good product, and it beats out the other low cost Moondrop offerings I've tried in the past like the Starship and SSR, and easily beats out the majority of KZ and TRN IEMs at this price point as well. 

The CRA is its biggest nemesis here, but like I said earlier, they complement each other well. For bass heavy tracks or songs where you want more meat and potatoes, the CRA is going to work well for you. For songs where you want more precision and forward, crisp, and airy vocals and instruments, the Chu is a good alternative option. 

It's great to see how quickly the IEM market has improved over the past 5 years on the upper end of the market, the mid-tier, and now the budget end. This is a cool time to be in the in-ear audio world. 

This review unit was sent over from the fine folks at HifiGo. You can find this stellar deal on their website at this link: