QKZ x HBB vs. Moondrop Chu Comparison Review
The good ol’ Moondrop Chu. Likely the reigning champion of earbuds/IEMs that you can get for $20 or less. I have them in my ears now even before trying the QKZ x HBB, and I can’t help but wonder how any other bud in this range can possibly dethrone it. Will the QKZ x HBB rise to the occasion? Or will the Chu keep its crown? Let’s show some supermarket buds how it’s done by diving into what these evidently well-crafted little cheapies sound like.
What’s In The Box?
-Moondrop Chu Earbuds
-Soft carrying case
-Detachable support arms
-Certificate of Authenticity
-Mic included on non-detachable cable
QKZ x HBB
-QKZ x HBB in-ear monitors
-Detachable cable (2 pin XLR to 3.5mm)
-6 pairs silicone tips
-Mic option available
Look and Feel
The Chu might have a better looking box, but the QKZ x HBB is, in my opinion, the obvious winner in the fashion contest. I’ve never been a fan of the Chu’s looks, with a tacky gold weed leaf decorating the back of the plain black buds. The unit from QKZ, on the other hand, conceals it’s cheap plastic housing with plenty of flash, featuring serious-looking company logos in shiny bronze coloring that sit on top of the gemstone and metallic details on the back of the IEM. The ear-side of the housing is transparent and leaves visible the gold-colored drivers and nozzles. Going by looks alone, they look like $200 IEMs.
The QKZ x HBB also wins when it comes down to fit. The Chu has a bit of an edge to it with its minimally rounded perimeters that are prone to lightly touching up against the back of my ear’s concha. Thought the QKZ x HBB is chunkier and sticks out of my ears a little more, the ear-side of the housing has some comfortable shaping and rounding that leads to a smoother fit.
Design and Technical Specifications
-Driver: 10mm Dyanmic
-Impedance: 28 ohms
-Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
QKZ x HBB
-Driver: 10mm Dynamic
-Impedance: 22 ohms
-Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
-Sensitivity: 115 dB
This review a little harder than I thought it would be as the QKZ x HBB is, to my surprise, keeping a competitive pace with the Moondrop Chu. While my gut says that the Chu has a slightly wider stage and the QKZ x HBB slightly more realistic imaging, the differences here are so negligible that I’m willing to admit that I could just be over-listening and subconsciously imposing these differences. At the end of the day, I’m simply impressed with both of them – not only are their respective stages great for $20, but they’re genuinely decent stages even without taking price into consideration.
The Chu puts most of its stock in the subs and lower bass before rolling off into the mids, while the QKZ x HBB extends a little deeper into its mid bass before a roll off. This led to a louder and more physical low end on the QKZ, but a more accurate bass response on the Chu. The QKZ became muddier than the Chu on tracks with fast and deep bass parts, sacrificing character and detail for amplitude and energy. The Chu was able to keep up with fast moving low ends, without sacrificing the impact felt somewhere around the 40 – 60 Hz range, but had a flatter quality that lost out on some of extra warmth found in the QKZ x HBB lows. Again, this is a close call, but I’m a little more partial to the QKZ x HBB’s low end. It’s hard to talk about the low end without talking about how the high frequency balances in these two units influenced kick drum transients, so I’ll be coming back around to talk more about that.
Not at all uncommon for affordable earphones, the overall balance of these two is heavily defined by their mid scoops. To my ears, the QKZ x HBB pulled off this middle frequency attenuation with much more realism and fullness. While I’m fairly critical of both mids balances, there was a a little something extra in the QKZ x HBB’s low mids that gave more weight and warmth to acoustic guitars, pianos, synths and snare drum transients. The Moondrop Chu left some acoustic guitar parts sounding more like washboards, pushing their high transients forward without much of a mids profile to back them up. Unfortunately, I found vocals sounding fairly thin on both buds, though with a slightly more pronounced fundamental on the QKZ unit. I’m raising an eyebrow at both, but ultimately giving this round to the QKZ x HBB.
The Chu seems like it bumps up the high frequencies louder than the QKZ x HBB, though over a more narrow band. Kick drum transients were particularly loud and clicky on the Chu, which created a punchy synergy with its subs-focused low end. The unit from QKZ had some of this quality as well, though notably less pronounced. What the QKZ did have over the Chu’s highs, though, could be heard in hi-hats; the Chu could get sandy, but the QKZ reached just a little further into its highs prior to its treble roll off, snatching up more 10kHz frequencies that gave hi-hats and and claps a sharper impact. Though I’d give at least one round to the Chu, didn’t you? Yeah, me too, but the QKZ x HBB comes out just a half pace ahead in the high’s, which contributed to a more realistic overall balance.
Well, I really wasn’t expecting to say this, as the Moondrop Chu seriously impressed me for its price-to-quality ratio when I first reviewed it, but I think the QKZ x HBB has stolen the $20 throne. Though not flawless, how often is it that you can honestly say that a $20 bud has a truly clear, warm and natural balance? It genuinely competes with near $100 IEMs, with the iKKO Opal OH2 coming to mind (well, I should bring it down a notch: the OH2 is certainly better, even if comparable). Props to QKZ for making the $20 earphone market this much more competitive, all to the benefit of more casual listeners.
Check the availability of the Moondrop Chu and QKZ x HBB at Audio46.