Moondrop Aria SE Review: Magic Lost in the Snow

I really liked the original Aria and it remains my number one pick under $100. I like it so much that I totally forgot to review it and even though I don’t plan to review it since it’s much older now, I still continue to feature it in reviews. With the announcement of a new special edition Aria being released and instead of an Aria 2, I was thinking this would be a simple paint job edition but instead we got a different driver and new tuning flavor for the Aria series. The Snow Aria is using the now older style drives from the Kanas Pro IEM according to their marketing. This 10mm single DD IEM comes in at $79.99.

Quick shoutout to Shenzhenaudio for sending the Aria Snow Edition to review. While I always appreciate the chance to test and review products sent in from manufacturers or dealers, it never affects the rating of my reviews.

Gear Used

IPhone 12 pro with headphone adapter, Lotto PAW S1, Moondrop MR2 and SMSL SU-9 feeding the SP400 amp.

Looks and fit

The Aria SE(shortened) has the same shell design as the regular Aria but in a silver finish with a neat set of snowflakes printed with rings or waves surrounding said snowflake. I do like the design but I will say I prefer the texture and color scheme of the regular Aria. I do have fitment issues here and there with both versions of the Aria. I can usually get away with spinfit tips but I need longer stemmed tips to get the best secure fit.

Isolation and sound leakage

This is a standard vented DD IEM so it does allow some sound in but passive isolation is about average. It does leak a little sound but it’s fine for low volume usage in quiet areas.

Packaging and accessories

Inside the very reflective box, we get the IEMs, white/cream colored carrying case, set of tips(including spring tips) and normal user guide/warranty cards. I like the setup here and this is pretty standard these days for accessories.


These final impressions were done off the SMSL SU-9 connected to the SMSL SP400. These impressions are what the Aria SE 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 really like the regular Aria and the Snow Edition marketing mentions improved details with more clear and transparent sound. The “Snow Edition” name made me think these would be a little brighter since to me, snow/cold would lean more towards a clinical sound. Well this was not the case at all with my unit. The Aria SE sounded very warm and less detailed than its twin. I find the bass fairly warm and ok in terms of impact/slam but I don’t find it sounds very dynamic or strong for a single DD IEM. The mids are clear but they still have a more relaxed presentation to my ears. I think the vocals shine and are done well but the instruments all sound a little veiled to me. The treble is also lacking some detail and feels fairly tame overall. I just didn’t quite hear any sparkle up top but I found the detail retrieval overall to be good for the price. I can’t quite put my finger on it but the Aria SE simply doesn’t sound very special to me. Especially once I get into the differences between it and the regular Aria a little later on.


Staging is average with ok width and depth. This is one of those “its decent for an IEM” sort of soundstage so I don’t have much to say. I will say the imaging was good and I had no issues picking out sounds in most busy tracks.


The Aria is fairly easy to drive but I would say on the upper end of things being a DD IEM. Most dongles/amps will power it just fine. Running balanced, it will run off most power amps just fine without having to set volume super low.

Stock cable

I do like the stock cable here which is a nice silver plated cable. There isn’t any neat weaving going on and it's a single cable throughout but it still looks good and it’s firm enough that it doesn’t tangle or cause microphonics. I think this is a perfectly acceptable cable and I would only recommend swapping it if you want something prettier or want to run balanced.

IEM comparisons

Moondrop Aria

So I kinda mentioned it above in my sound section but the new SE version of the Aria sounded fairly warm to me. I listened to the regular Aria I have and it instantly sounded more magical and unique compared to the Snow Edition. The regular aria has a stronger sounding bass that not only hits better, it sounds more dynamic. The mids are about the same to my ears but for whatever reason I felt the instruments had a little more clarity. This could be due to the overall brighter tuning which to me, is more “transparent” sounding than the Snow Edition. The treble has more sparkle and just comes in much cleaner over the SE. Staging was about the same between the two but I personally like the regular Aria over the new Snow Edition. Those who have heard the regular Aria and found it too bright will probably like this alternate version.

Truthear Zero

The Aria has a warmer overall tuning neutral “safe” tuning. I think the bass hits better on the Zero but the Snow Aria has a more relaxed and thicker bass. The Mids are more balanced on the Snow Aria which lacks a little of the upper mid spike the Zero has. Vocals do come in better on the Snow Aria. The treble is more detailed on the Aria but both lack some upper energy and while the Aria is better in terms of balance, I very much like the Zero over the Snow Edition Aria.

Amping Combinations

Moondrop Dawn

I did swap cables for a basic balanced copper cable so I could make use of the 4.4mm plug on the Dawn. I think the dawn is a little warmer sounding for a dongle so it doesn’t quite pair well with the Aria SE. It does sound pretty good when it comes to bass and extra warmth. The treble however does feel too muted for my preferences. I think the Aria SE is better suited for brighter sounding source gear.

Moondrop Moon River 2

The MR2 was a much better pairing IMO. It doesn’t do much in terms of boosting the bass but it does clean up some the mids a little and the treble is noticeably brighter over Moondrops own Dawn dongle. While it didn’t transform the Aria SE, I think it does make the Aria sound a little more vibrant and I rather liked this pairing with the Aria SE.


Like most IEMs, the Aria SE doesn’t need a desktop amp to power it properly. I did get the best sound out of my desktop stack but I would prefer a brighter source for the Snow Aria and the SMSL stack I use is very good at not adding too much color to the sound. It is a warmer combo and I didn’t quite like it when paired with the Aria SE.

Overall thoughts

I really like the regular Aria and it has a wow factor that this new Snow Edition can’t match. I was rather surprised but while this new Aria isn’t my cup of tea at all, I think it makes a good alternative to those who may not have liked the brighter sound of the original Aria. I would recommend it for those seeking a warmer sound but I would still continue to recommend the regular Aria for first time buyers for under $100. I for the most part like Moondrop so while the Aria Snow Edition wasn’t what I wanted, I still look forward to their upcoming releases. Thanks for reading!!