So these are the Moondrop Chu’s I have been hearing so much about. Since I last reviewed a Moondrop product, the acclaimed brand has released their most cost-effective IEM yet with the twenty-dollar Chu. Most audiophile types don’t bat an eye at anything in this price range, but the Chu has caught a lot of people’s attention since its launch. There has been some hype surrounding the Chu, which I haven’t seen a lot of for such a low-priced set of earphones. Are the Moondrop Chu’s worth it?
What You Get
- Moondrop Chu IEMs
- 3.5mm termination w/non-removable cable
- Small Case
- 3 pairs of tips
- 2 Ear hooks
Look and Feel
The Chu is simplistic without losing its Moondrop feel. Its outer casing has the same feel as the Aria, but with a smaller shell. You won’t see a lot of twenty-dollar earphones use this specific metal material for their housing, and it also gives the Chu a weightier feel. During my time with the Chu, I wore the earpieces with the cable both around my ear like a traditional IEM, and straight down. I think the Chu feels comfortable either way, but using the ear hooks was my preferred wearing style.
Inside the Chu is a 10mm dynamic driver, with a titanium-coated diaphragm and an ultra-black CCAW sound coil. It also uses an N52 neodymium magnetic circuit and a Patented anti-blocking acoustic filter.
- Frequency range: 10Hz-35kHz
- Sensitivity: 120dB/Vrms @1KHz)
- Impedance: 28Ω +/- 15% (@1khz)
I’m not betting on a soundstage that will blow me away for a pair of twenty-dollar IEMs, but what is stopping a company like Moondrop from doing so? After some significant time with the Chu, I think the soundstage and spatial imaging perform with an entirely respectable quality that still separates itself from any other pair of earphones for its price. It is a wholly linear and traditional stereo sound field, but the Chu poses a wide area for the elements to play in. Separation is surprisingly articulate throughout its output, giving each section of musical positioning a clear identity in the mix.
They rarely appear in a great scale though, which makes some instruments and vocals sound a little too thin. It is as if there is no central foundation to the soundstage that glues everything together, resulting in true mono elements appearing hollow and lacking impact. These gripes would be much more considerable when dealing with a much pricier IEM or even a headphone, but when regarding the Chu these criticisms can be more minor than anything, as the positive soundstage abilities of the Chu outweigh anything else from its price. Everything falls into the right place, and that’s as much as you can expect for a twenty-dollar IEM.
I wasn’t expecting much power of drive from these lows, but I was more surprised by its quickness and control. There isn’t much to the content of the bass frequencies, but they have a strong layer of sub-bass that can lift the lows more substantially than you would expect. Bass instruments have a clear and persistent form, which gives the sound signature a bit more snap than your average pair of earphones at this price.
Tonally, the midrange seems to favor the upper mids, making this a crisper timbre that accentuates many different instruments and vocal performances throughout the response. This leaves the low-mids feeling a bit weak, but their presence is never fully eliminated from the frequency range completely. The clarity in the upper mids best showcases the Chu’s separation performance, making the soundstage feel more spacious than it may seem. Higher resolution in these frequency bands can express this sensation more effectively, and the Chu finds a way to provide that successfully.
In the treble region, the Chu offers what I think is its greatest attribute. High-frequency information is wholly resolving and operates with sweet details that come off with an airy texture. The treble feels the most colorful and complete out of all the regions of frequency within the Chu’s sound signature. Never too bright, or piercing, the Chu’s highs are able to add a coating of sparkle to the timbre, culminating in a flavorful tone.
While the first aspect you’re going to think about regarding the Chu is its generous price point, there’s more it has to offer here in terms of sound. Its midrange and treble abilities are satisfyingly detailed, while the bass shows tightness and permission in all the right places. Although the soundstage is wide, it is also a bit thin and surface level with its imaging. Even with its flaws, it is hard to complain when you’re getting such a great sound for just twenty dollars. So if you’re looking for something simple, wired, and with a mic, then the Chu is a no-brainer.
The Moondrop Chu is available at Audio46.
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