Moondrop PARA Review: Call the PARAmedics, Moondrop Lives!

I have an interesting love-hate relationship with Moondrop products. I love their early IEMs and I’ve always enjoyed their DAC/amp dongles. The last year of their IEM releases have been rough for me since I found them all very unrefined. I never got a chance to hear the original set of Moondrop fullsize headphones but I did get the recent Joker headphone in…. Which I thought was an absolute joke and waste of materials. What I’m trying to say is that I had some low expectations coming into the PARA. I can confirm that all my expectations were thrown out the window and I find the PARA quite interesting. The PARA is a planar magnetic open back headphone using a 100mm FDT Diaphragm and N52 magnet array. The PARA comes in at $299.00.

Quick shoutout to my friends at Shenzhenaudio for sending a unit out to check out and 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 14 Pro Max with headphone adapter, Hiby R6 PRO II, Letshuoer Cadenza 12, MEST MKIII and Everolo Z8/SMSL SP400 stack

Looks and fit

The PARA’s design will be subjective for sure but I find it mostly ok. I think it looks much uglier in photos vs in the hand but then again it doesn’t feel as cheap in the hand as it looks. The hinges for swiveling and pivoting are all super stiff and I added the tiniest amount of oil(tiny drop) on each hinge. I let it sit a few moments and wiped away any oil and it moved smoothly after a few movements of the hinges. This allowed the PARA to conform to my noggin way better. I think Moondrop could have added something to help the hinges move freely but I rather add the right amount of lube to the moving parts myself instead of risking them drenching the hinges in oil or grease. The headband has an old school “HIFIMAN” vibe though this feels much more comfortable from memory vs their older designs. I’ve not had any hotspotting with this specific set on stock pads. The Para is a heavier full-size headphone though and the alternate pads they include do cause the PARA to slide around on my head and that seemed to cause some unwanted hotspotting. The adjustment notches on the head-band are way too spread out for my personal preference. I’m of course in between two notches and there’s no good solution to get the best fit on my head. I would like to see more adjustment notches in smaller increments on Moondrops next full-size headphone. Overall not a bad fitment. Just some little adjustments needed for a future revision.

I did want to mention the system for the pads and the design of the headphone interior as well. So for the pads, they use a metal plate to attach the pads. It's a simple pull over design for the pad and actually really easy to swap pads with minimal effort. The plate then magnetically attaches to the planar magnet array to hold and seal the pads in place. I like this design. The inside of the cup is actually mostly transparent plastic holding the magnets in place. The diaphragm looks to be evenly flat with no noticeable defects I can see. The magnets are ugly and seem to either be raw or coated. They look like they’re rusty but it’s definitely not the case. I don’t see any problems with this design but I wonder how long the plastic will hold up in a very long term usage scenario years from now. 

Isolation and sound leakage

Well, it’s very much an open back headphone and it does let quite a bit of sound in. Some open backs block out a decent amount of outside noise. The sound leakage is pretty bad as one would expect with open backs. Seems comparable to my HD650S.

Packaging and accessories

We get an appropriately sized box for the PARA that makes good use of the interior space. I will note I’m actually a fan of the waifu box art this time. Though I just like all the flowers/plants with the more “spring” colors. Once inside the box, we get a little box with the extra pads, cable and the normal warranty cards and waifu card. The headphones are under that in a fancy looking loose cloth material to help with presentation. It doesn’t come with a carrying case which is a slight bummer. I don’t ever travel with open back headphones but I like the cases for storing them and keeping unwanted dust out of the drivers. I’ll let it slide given the price. I would have preferred to see a balanced cable instead of a 3.5mm and the 6.35mm quarter inch adapter. A simple XLR balanced cable or 4.4mm Pentaconn cable would have been really nice. It looks like normal stereo 3.5mm connectors so it should be easier to find a balanced cable if needed.


These final impressions were done off the Eversolo DAC-Z8 connected to the SMSL SP400. These impressions are what the PARA sounded like to my ears. This was also using the stock flat leather/suede pads. Things like ear pad selection and DAC/amp selection will produce different results and impressions vs what my ears hear on my specific gear.

I also really want to make a point that I’m an “IEM Person” and I’ve only reviewed a decent chunk of full-size headphones. While I have owned and listened to full sized headphones ranging from $80-$5000, I haven’t had any new full-sized headphones in my audio inventory for like 8 months at this point. I do keep the Sennheiser HD560S around as a reference for new full-size reviews. So take my subjective sound impressions of the PARA as you will. While I do plan to try and review more full-sized headphones down the road, I just won’t have a lot to compare the PARA to.

The PARA goes for a mostly neutral tuning when used with the installed stock pads. The bass is well controlled and while it lacks any boost to the low end, it still provides accurate and “good enough” hints of slam/impact when a track calls for it. They went for a safe neutral bass tuning which means there should be some potential for those who EQ to possibly squeeze some extra performance out of the lows. The mid-bass sounds in line with the sub-bass so it doesn’t sound lean which is nice. For my personal tastes, the bass overall needs a boost. The mids are a little more relaxed but they have some speed so instruments sound accurate and detailed. Vocals are pretty good. They do have a hint of artificial sound at the end of tones from voices. It’s not super noticeable but it’s there. I would say vocals sound more natural than overly sharp. The upper mids are super boosted when you look at the graph for these but I was surprised that the upper-mids seem to be well controlled and rarely lean over into the sibilant territory for me with the stock flat pads. It’s more sibilant with the alternate pads they include but I’ll get into that in a bit. The treble is fast enough with a short decay so it sounds detailed and sharp. It does sound like it trails off a little in the upper frequencies but I think it’s good enough. I wouldn’t call these extremely resolving sounding headphones but given the price, it’s very good. I would have preferred a neutral-warm tuning with a slightly more pronounced bass boost but I think this will be a safer bet and allow those who like to EQ or make use of physical bass boost switches on their source gear.

Alternate Pads
The alternate pads have a slightly stronger bass response and mids are a little more spacious sounding as well. Vocals are noticeably more artificial sounding and more sibilant as well. The upper mids have a strong peak with these pads. I found myself more uncomfortable with more noticeable sibilance that kinda detached me from most tracks. The treble is mostly the same and it sounds sharp enough with not much of a boost but it’s also overshadowed by the upper mids. Not my favorite pad pairing and I don’t plan to use these pads again with the PARA. I think a full leather pad might make a better pairing instead of this perforated leather set.


The stock flat pads provide a more intimate stage with width being decently wide for an open back and a little less depth overall. I found imaging was pretty good here and I could still pick out specific details in busy tracks. The side to side sweeps were pretty good so tracks with neat effects will shine here.

The Alt pads have a more open sounding stage with pretty good width and more depth vs the stock flat pads. The imaging was ok here and I found it easy to pick things out in tracks with the stock pads. The side to side sweeps felt a little off track near the middle so not bad but not great. I still prefer the stock flat pads.


The PARA isn’t super hard to drive and I was able to get the volume up loud enough on all the normal dongles and desktop gear I had. I do think it benefits a little from more powerful gear but I was happy with the results on Moondrop’s own $50 Dawn Pro dongle. I didn’t hear any floor noise or oddities from any of the source gear I used so I would say this is a good enough planar design.

Stock cable

The stock cable is a basic nylon cable with a light braid. It’s pretty basic but I think it gets the job done just fine. I would personally swap it out for a balanced cable but I just simply like running everything balanced when possible.

Headphone Comparisons

Sennheiser HD560S

I don’t like the HD560S cause it’s kind of boring sounding but I do find it a good reference point for or palate cleanser for when I do use full-size headphones for reviews. Both the HD560S and PARA have a similar tuning but I would lean towards the PARA if given a choice. The 560S sounds a little warmer in the bass but the PARA provides a faster and stronger bass hit. The mids on both sound relaxed but I do think the 560S has a better vocal presentation over the PARA. A little more natural vs the slightly more artificial sounding vocals of the PARA. The upper mids are strong on both but I prefer the faster upper mids on the PARA. The treble isn’t the strongest for either but once again, I like the fast and slightly sharper sound of the PARA. There is a slower overall feel to the sound out of the HD560S compared to the PARA.

Amping Combinations

Hiby R6 PRO II

The slightly warmer R6 P2 does help with the overall sound but on a full-size headphone like the PARA, it’s not much of a noticeable difference. I did however feel I got the best performance and sound quality out of this portable solution since I ran it in Class A mode and it provided enough power to sound good enough. Staging was close to a desktop setup but still sounded a little more closed in on both pads. I would say this was a good pairing if you really want to take this on the go.

Moondrop Dawn Pro

This little Dawn Pro was able to power the PARA just fine volume wise. There’s always trade offs on portable gear with full-size headphones and the common thing I run into is sub-bass and mid-bass issues with not having enough power overall to run full-size headphones properly. This is the exact issue I ran into with the pairing. Bass for the most part is fine but it does lack impact in slam. Which isn’t strong when used on better gear. There is an overall lean sound to the bass which is a bummer. The mids still sound about the same across all source devices. Vocals don’t show as much artificial sound which is nice and the treble lacks a little detail retrieval. This actually is pretty good performance given the fact this is a $50 dongle but I would still power the PARA with something a little stronger.

Eversolo DAC-Z8/SMSL SP400

This desktop combo is what I use to review all my current audio gear with. I do think I got the best performance out of this stack. I would say it’s just pulling slightly better details and staging was noticeably wider and deeper compared to the portable gear I tested with. I also got good results on cheaper stacks such as the SMSL D6S and Topping L70 stack for almost half the price. 

Overall thoughts

So! The Moondrop PARA… Is actually pretty good! I was surprised how non-offensive the tuning was. The comfort is pretty good if not a little heavy and at least for my head shape, I've been consistently listening to these. Which is rare as I mostly listen to IEMs, even at home. Does it dethrone my favorite IEMs in the same price bracket? Absolutely not and I still find IEMs just sound better to me for the most part. This was a good attempt from Moondrop and I think it will do pretty well in the community. Overall, I recommend the new Moondrop Para! While I don’t personally EQ stuff, I’m curious to see how the community does with the PARA once people get good EQ profiles out there. Good job to Moondrop and I’m very interested to see if they can pull off some more wins in the full-size market now that they’ve had their feet in the water for a bit. Thanks for reading!!