Moondrop Chu Review
INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER:
I have used the Moondrop Chu with the following sources:
- Qudelix 5K
- E1DA 9038D
- Xumee USB C to 3.5mm Headphone Adapter
I have tested the Moondrop Chu with local lossless audio files and Spotify Premium. Visit my last.fm page to get an idea of what I listen to:
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:
The Moondrop Chu comes in a square black box that features Moondrop’s infamous waifu on the front face. Technical specifications for the Chu are provided on the rear of the slipcover in English and Chinese. A frequency response measurement is also pictured.
In addition to the IEMs, the package includes a black felt carry pouch with a snap closure. The Moondrop logo is printed on the pouch in white. The Chu also includes three pairs (S, M, L) of Moondrop’s Spring eartips. As has been pointed out by many observers, the Spring eartips by themselves retail for more than half the Chu’s list price. In terms of documentation, a manual, a contact card, and a quality control chit are included with the Chu. Of these, only the manual includes English text in addition to Chinese.
BUILD QUALITY AND DESIGN:
The Chu features all-metal construction. Contrary to what other reviewers have stated, the Chu does not have the same finish as the Aria. The Chu’s finish is smooth with a shiny luster, whereas the Aria’s finish was slightly textured and matte. The faceplates are oval-shaped and feature a copper fanned-leaf illustration that radiates forward along the X-axis. “L” and “R” indicators are also printed in copper adjacent to the cable entry sites. The nozzles have a lip to secure eartips, which is relatively novel for Moondrop IEMs and is greatly appreciated. The nozzles have saucer plate-style mesh coverings. There are two pinprick circular vents on the interior face of the IEM body.
The fixed cables are forward-swept and have hard rubber strain relief at the base. The cable is unbraided and uses a soft rubber sheath. The Y-split hardware is a hard rubber disk embossed with Moondrop logos on both sides. The L-shaped 3.5mm jack hardware is hard black rubber with substantial strain relief. There is no chin-adjustment choker and the cable is moderately tangle-prone. The cable does not have preformed earguides but the Chu comes with two optional soft plastic earguide attachments.
COMFORT, FIT, AND ISOLATION:
The Moondrop Chu is intended to be worn cable-up. The nozzles have a shallow insertion depth. Given the relatively small size of the earpieces, the Chu is very comfortable to wear for extended periods, but secureness of fit and isolation are slightly below average. The Chu has minor driver flex.
Measurements of the Moondrop Chu can be found on my expanding squig.link database:
The Moondrop Chu is tuned to the same Virtual Diffusion Sound Field target as many of Moondrop’s other IEMs. This is a Harman-ish sound that emphasizes sub-bass over mid-bass, features a robust pinna gain region centered around 3 kHz, and slopes downward from the pinna gain region through the upper treble.
The Chu’s sub-bass shelf is mild in its amplitude, just a hair north of neutral to my ears. Sub-bass extension is average. Bass articulation and resolution are very good. The bass is decently textured but is lacking in impact. While the level of restraint on display here is admirable, the Chu would have benefitted from a bit more bass quantity. The bass does not bleed into the lower mids.
The Chu’s midrange is on the cooler side and puts vocals front and center. Male and female vocals are roughly even with each other. Male vocals have body, warmth, and grit while still being very intelligible. Female vocals are vibrant without sounding oversaturated or breathy. Each budget single dynamic driver IEM Moondrop releases seems to strike a slightly better balance between vocals and midrange instrumentation. Where vocals once tended to disappear beneath male vocals on the now-venerable Starfield, the Chu’s midrange balances the two more successfully. There is a tasteful amount of presence that does not stray into sibilance. Timbre is very natural sounding.
The Chu’s treble is the most uneven element of its frequency response. It is front-loaded with lower treble energy. While not harsh, the lower-treble emphasis is followed by a noticeable drop-off in the mid-treble which deprives cymbal hits of sparkle. On the other hand, the Chu has a surprising amount of upper treble air for a product at this price point. While treble transient delivery is slightly smeared, the overall level of detail retrieval is excellent for $20. Instrument separation and imaging are also quite competent, and the soundstage is comparable to the Chu’s more expensive elder siblings.
The Moondrop Chu is harder to drive than many comparably priced IEMs and requires a quality source device. I did not notice any hiss during my listening on any of my source devices.
The Moondrop Chu is the best IEM $20 can buy. Every other IEM at this price point comes with at least one major tuning shortfall. The Chu does not.
The Moondrop Chu can be purchased here: