Moondrop Chu Review: Choo Choo Motherf-

  • Excellent price to performance ratio
  • Excellent set of accessories
  • Very good tonal balance

  • Fixed cable

Moondrop is a company from China that produces in-ear monitors, as well as some cables and earbuds. They were made famous by their signature all-metal build and their balanced in-house sound signature closely resembling the Harman target curve, or VDSF (Virtual Diffuse Sound Field) as Moondrop likes to call it. The Chu is their latest in-ear monitor, and included with it is Moondrop's own premium Spring eartips. The Chu currently retails for 20 USD, which makes it the second cheapest in-ear monitor released by Moondrop (right next to the Quarks which was just 12 USD). The Chu was provided to me for free by HiFiGO in exchange for this review.

Driver unit: 10 mm double cavity dynamic, titanium coated diaphragm
Impedance: 28 ohms
Sensitivity: 120 dB
Frequency response range: 10 Hz - 35 kHz

Poco X3, Redmi Note 10 Pro paired with Cayin RU6, Xduoo Link2 Bal, FiiO KA3, Tempotec Sonata E35 and Zishan U1

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 Chu comes in a compact square box, which opens at the front through the clear plastic flap. Upon opening, there is the earphone inserted in a thick piece of foam. On the left side, there is a smaller rectangular box that contains a pair of removable silicone earhooks, since the cable is fixed and does not have any earhooks or earguides. There is also three pairs of the Spring eartips in small, medium and large sizes. Underneath, there is a pouch made of felt material, the instruction manual, quality control passed certificate, and an invitation card for Moondrop's QQ group chat. Outside the box, there is also an included wooden bookmark engraved with Moondrop and Chu logos and that same anime girl printed at the front of the box.
The shells are made of injection moulded zinc alloy. The faceplate is decorated with streaks of gold. The part that holds the cable is plastic, and beside it are left and right side indicators. At the back part of the shell, there are two vents, with the other one being slightly larger than the other. The nozzles are equipped with a recessed metal filter and a lip to lock the eartips firmly in place.
The cable is a very basic single core. The material used was not specified but it looks like this is a hybrid of copper and silver plated copper based on the color of the wires seen through the translucent insulation. Flexibility is acceptable but there is some slight stickiness to it. Very minor microphonics can be heard. Unfortunately, Moondrop did not include a chin slider here. The splitter is a circular piece of plastic with Moondrop's logo, and the L-type 3.5 mm gold plated plug is made of hard rubber.
Now let's get to the sound.

The lows are presented in a neutral, linear manner. Subbass features excellent depth, while the decay is delightfully quick and tight. Midbass is reproduced with the same characteristics; having just sufficient impact that doesn't impede the adjacent frequencies at all.

Overall, the Chu provides a smooth bass response that remains constantly clean across all tracks. The rumbles are not all that powerful but the depth can really be felt when the track calls for it.

The mids sound open, airy, and with excellent clarity. Upper and lower mids are neutrally placed. Vocals have an above average level of articulation. There is a tiny boost in the upper mids that is noticeable on some tracks that enjoyably enhances female vocals and the definition of the instruments.

Overall, just like the lows, there is a nice linearity in the mids. Female vocals are slightly favored, but male vocals sound great either way. The transparency and coherence in this section is outstanding at this price.

The highs are very natural sounding and has very good resolution. The reach in the treble is slightly above average, yet the decay is at a moderate length. Lead guitars and cymbals sound lively, and subtleties in every track have great presence.

Overall, the highs have a little bit of added sizzle to them, with the instruments sounding crisp and engaging. Relative to the price, the amount of details in this section is very impressive.

Soundstage and Imaging:
When it comes to the soundstage, the Chu is just average. There is much more expansion in the width than the height. Having said that, the clarity and precision of the imaging is superb. Instrument separation is also very good, as well as their layering with the vocals. Tiny hints of congestion is present in busy tracks.

Moondrop Chu (1 DD, 20 USD) vs. Fiio JD3 (1 DD, 20 USD)
The Chu has a slightly better depth in the subbass, but the lows in the JD3 are heavier and more powerful. Midbass is a lot thicker and has bigger presence in the JD3, while the Chu has the cleaner presentation. The mids are a bit more forward in the Chu, while having way better clarity and resolution at the same time. Vocals, especially male ones, are chunkier in the JD3. Instruments sound more spacious and airy in the Chu. The treble is more prominent and more natural sounding in the Chu; able to reach better heights and more extended in its decay. The difference is not that big, but the Chu has the wider and taller stage. Imaging is way more accurate and clearer, and instruments are separated and layered better in the Chu.

It's really nice to see the budget segment improving so much over the years, with neutral, balanced, and analytical sounding gears slowly becoming more and more affordable. Moondrop did cut corners to achieve this affordability for the Chu by making the cable unremovable, and it seems like the paint on the shells will eventually chip like some of their in-ear monitors, but they countered those by having their premium Spring eartips as a freebie. At its current efficacy, and price, the Moondrop Chu is extremely hard to beat.

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