Moondrop Nekocake Review: Cool Cat

  • Great price to performance ratio
  • Fairly balanced stock tuning
  • Cute voice prompt
  • ANC is decent for the price
  • Sound signature and touch controls are customizable through the Moondrop Link app

  • Relatively short battery life
  • No waterproofing
  • Stuck with AAC or SBC
  • Limited options with eartips
  • Rare occasions of a popping sound and short term disconnection on both sides

Moondrop is a company from China that produces in-ear monitors. They were made famous by their signature all-metal build and their balanced in-house sound signature closely resembling the Harman target curve. Their first attempt in the true wireless domain is the Sparks which was released earlier this year, and shortly after, they released the Nekocake. The Nekocake currently retails for 43 USD, and was provided to me for free by HiFiGO in exchange for this review.

Driver unit: 13 mm dynamic, titanium dome composite diaphragm
Impedance: 32 ohms
Bluetooth version: 5.0
Charging time: up to 1 hour
Charging time (case): up to 1.5 hours
Battery capacity (earphones): 37mAh
Battery capacity(charging case): 380mAh
Battery life: up to 4 hours on a single charge, up to 12 hours with charging case

Poco X3, Poco M3, Redmi Note 7 Pro

Test tracks:
Africano - Earth Wind and Fire
Dark Necessities - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gurenge - Lisa
The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
Monsters - All Time Low
Ours - Taylor Swift
Stay - Mayday Parade
Snuff - Slipknot
Yesterday Once More - Carpenters
So Slow - Freestyle
Aurora Sunrise - Franco
Attention - Pentatonix
Blue Bird - Ikimono-gakari
You're Still The One - Shania Twain
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is(Will Understand) - Irma Thomas
Salamin - Slapshock
AOV - Slipknot
Hey Jude - The Beatles
The Way You Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson
...and a lot more.

Unboxing and Accessories:
The Nekocake comes in a dark, glittery box with a white sleeve. Upon opening, you will see the charging case and the earphones resting on a thin piece of plastic sheet. Underneath are the accessories which include additional 3 pairs of eartips, with the fourth one inserted already on the earphones, a warranty card, a USB C charging cable, and a thick instruction manual.
The charging case is made entirely of plastic, with the classic flip top lid design. At the front, there is a single LED to indicate the remaining battery of the case and charging status. At the underside there is the female USB C port for charging, and at the back there is a single multifunction button to enter pairing mode, to manually check the battery status of the case, and to do a factory reset of the earphones. One thing worth mentioning about the case is that the space inside is very limited, and only allows a handful of different eartips to be used. Eartips like the Spinfit CP100 will not fit inside.
The earphones are made entirely of plastic as well. It has a stem design that looks a lot like the Apple Airpods Pro. Near the end of the stem there is a small hole for the 
microphone. At the top portion, there is a large oval vent, must be for the microphone used for the active noise cancelling. Near the nozzle, there is another vent. The nozzles are oval in shape, and has a metal mesh filter, and a lip to hold the eartips in place.
With the Moondrop Link app, the Nekocake has 4 additional sound configurations, and the ability to change the behavior of touch controls. For the sound impressions, I will be using the stock, Balanced tuning, then compare it to the other configurations later.
Now let's get to the sound.

The lows have a very slight emphasis. Subbass has a slightly above average depth, along with a good amount of rumble. Midbass is also elevated that sometimes it can get slightly bloated or sound a little boomy. That being said, instances of bass bleed is at the minimal.

Overall, this was not the type of tuning I expected from the Nekocake since this is a Moondrop's product. It's far from being bad looking back at Moondrop's previous products, I expected the lows to be lesser in quantity.

The mids are presented in a laid back manner with a bit of a warm tonality. Vocals are slightly recessed, thicker than average and reproduced in linear fashion; male and female vocals share the same weight, position and have good articulation. String instruments and percussions also have that hint of warmth in them.

Overall, the mids can get a bit too relaxed sometimes in a way that the voices and instruments feel like lacking in energy. The use of Wennebostel or Moondrop Classic configuration is recommended if you want more appealing mids.

The highs, just like the mids, are tuned in a relaxed manner and doesn't have much presence. The reach in the treble is below average, with its decay being just the right amount. Cymbals can sometimes sound grainy and hollow, and can get lost in the mix quite easily.

Overall, this is the weakest area of the Nekocake's sound. From what I observed with a number of TWS IEMs, this characteristic of the highs is prevalent in those with only the AAC codec. IEMs with aptX or LDAC have much better treble response.

Soundstage and Imaging:
The Nekocake has a soundstage that is on the narrow side. The height has a slightly bigger expansion than the width. Imaging is good but its quite obvious that it could have been a lot better if the treble was more present. Instrument separation and their layering is just average, and their is a moderate level of congestion that becomes increasingly noticeable as the tracks get busier.

Moondrop Classic configuration
Before anything else, this configuration throws all the volume out the window. Volume is like halved in this configuration. Lows are relaxed and actually sound more balanced now. The mids became more transparent, forward and natural sounding. Highs became more forward as well, improving the presence, reach, and prolonging the decay. Soundstage opened up, expanding both the height and the width. Imaging and instrument separation were improved as well.

X Dynamic configuration
This configuration makes the Nekocake a V-shaped sounding TWS. Lows are elevated. Subbass and midbass had bigger and stronger impact, but of course, the lows now obviously bleeds into the mids. The thickness of the mids was increased considerably, reducing its transparency. The highs are now more solid. The decay and reach stayed the same but became louder and more forward. The size of the stage was reduced due to the lows. Imaging became slightly blurry and there were frequent hints of congestion.

Nobass configuration
Does exactly what it says. No difference from the Balanced configuration aside from the lows being greatly reduced in quantity.

Wennebostel configuration
Wennebostel is the name of a municipality in Germany where Sennheiser's headquarters is located. So this is Moondrop's attempt at imitating Sennheiser's in-house sound. This configuration actually sounds a lot like the X Dynamic one, but with a more natural tonality. Mids are just more forward with better clarity.

The Nekocake is an affordable pair of true wireless IEMs that packs a lot of features and performs surprisingly good considering the competition in its given price point. To date, this is the most affordable pair that supports sound and functionality customizations through an app. Of course, there are still some rough edges that need to be smoothened out, and some minor issues that need to be addressed, but looking at it right now, the Nekocake is one of the better options in the budget range of the TWS market.

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