Moondrop Aria Review – Reimagined
Strong balance and linearity, Outstanding midrange timbre, Impressive metal build, Wide soundstage, Well-detailed
Bass could still be tighter, Average noise isolation
Moondrop’s latest earphone appends complaints with their former design whilst retaining benchmark level tonal refinement at a substantial price cut.
Like many, my first introduction to Moondrop was the Starfield, an earphone that combined their Harman-based VDSF target tuning with a CNT dynamic driver at an affordable price. While I found the earphone to impress in both its build quality and the refinement of its tonality, I did find myself wanting when it came to technical performance. The Aria is the latest offering in Moondrop’s single-DD arsenal, promising to build upon the same foundation of the Starfield. It implements a smart all-black colour scheme and revised driver and surrounding acoustics in order to realise this. Furthermore, the Aria comes at a substantial discount. Of note, some sources refer to this model as the Aria 2 as Moondrop have previously released a single-DD Aria. For the sake of consistency, I will refer to this model simply as the Aria during this review.
You can read more about the Aria and treat yourself to a set on HiFiGO and Apos Audio.
I would like to thank Nappoler from HiFiGO very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Aria for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
- Page 1: Intro, Unboxing, Design
- Page 2: Sound Breakdown
- Page 3: Comparisons & Verdict
- Driver: LCP 10mm Dynamic Driver
- Socket: 0.78mm 2-pin
- Sensitivity: 122dB
- Frequency Response: 5Hz – 36kHz
Behind the Design –
Revised Driver and Acoustics
The Aria takes the brass inner cavity and CCAW voice coil of the Starfield and adds stronger N52 Neodymium magnets in addition to a revised LCP (liquid crystal polymer) diaphragm. A newly designed phase waveguide aids treble response and minimises distortion. Moondrop achieve their desired frequency response via implementation of a composite sound cavity, multiple acoustic dampers and numerous tuning ports.
HRTF Frequency Response
The Aria’s frequency response is compliant with Head-related transfer function and room response function. This enables the earphone to provide accurate imaging and localisation. Moondrop’s target curve is a derivative of the diffuse-field neutral and Harman curves – more specifically, compared to Harman-target earphones, Moondrop have toned down the upper-midrange and slightly bumped up the lower-treble. As with the Starfield, I find this to create a very pleasant tonality with a natural-timbre that is increasingly common but not nearly a given in this price range.
Leveraging their huge success, the cheaper Aria provides a far more prestigious unboxing experience than the pricier starfield before it. An outer sleeve slides off to reveal a magnetic rubberised hard box with foil print. Inside are the earphones within a foam inlet with the zipper carrying case identical to that included with the Starfield just below. The case contains a 2-pin fabric-sheathed braided cable in addition to a whopping 6 pairs of silicone ear tips. What we do miss relative to the Starfield are the tweezers and replacement mesh nozzle covers. Overall, while the accessory set is almost identical to the Starfield, the experience has been elevated by a large degree.
The Aria is almost identical to the Starfield with a very similar two-piece metal chassis and identical inner half retaining the same in-ear feel between the two. As before, the housings have a nice heft and density alongside impressive tolerances and finish with a palpable seem but rounded edges and corners. The Aria actually appears to have stepped up tolerances slightly from the Starfield, and employs a new flat faceplate design in addition to introducing a more tactile matte finish. In addition, where the Starfield’s painted finish garnered complaints of chipping, the new matte complexion is promised to be harder wearing. Overall, the Aria looks smart with its subtle gold accents and the metal construction rewards with excellent in-hand feel.
The cable has also been revised relative to the Starfield though retains the same 0.78mm 2-pin interface with wide aftermarket support. As opposed to the Litz braided cable that came before, the Aria has a fabric sheathed cable that is only braided below the y-split. It feels a little light and flimsy above the y-split compared to the prior design but is soft and flexible with minimal microphonic noise transmission. The y-split is low-profile and the right-angle plug is both case-friendly and well-relieved. While the cable has some memory, and I do personally prefer the more supple Litz wire, it isn’t too prone to tangling, has a great aesthetic and is easy to live with day to day.
Fit & Isolation –
Given that the portion of the housing that contacts the ear is identical, the fit experience very much mirrors that of the Starfield and models that came before such as the KXXS. This is not a bad thing, for these earphones are all shapely and comfortable to wear. The nozzles are tapered with a nice angle that positions the housing neutrally in the ear to minimise hotspots. The housings are thin so the fit is reasonably low-profile. They’re not ideal to sleep on but are certainly sleek and unassuming in addition to being relatively resistant to wind noise when worn outdoors. There is no driver flex due to their more open-feel with minimal wearing pressure and a shallower fit depth. This is also likely due to the obvious venting which means isolation is below average and not ideal for listening in noisy areas. They do suffice for general commute but I would investigate fully-sealed options for frequent travellers.
Hi, did you burn in the Starfield before reviewing them? I couldn’t find the mention of a 100 hour burn-in for that review
At the time I didn’t have a set disclaimer/time for burn-in, but all DD earphones have received at least 40hrs burn-in prior to review for the past few years. Given that the Starfield has gotten some ear-time since that review, I wouldn’t say this would have contributed to the changes heard between the Aria and Starfield in my review.
I have some questions…
1. Do you think the vocals on Aria are muffed compared to Starfield? Or is the mid-range as a whole is more behind?
2. Lastly, do you think Aria has better micro-details than Starfield? Would you recommend Aria or Starfield to anyone who mainly listens to female vocals (soprano mainly)?
We were having a very long discussion about Aria on Head-Fi.
Apparently some users report that the vocals on Aria are muffed (in others terms the mid-range as a whole is recessed) compared to Starfield.
Some even agree that the video below accurately represents their signature:
If you listen you will notice that the vocal on Aria looks muffed. But these opinions (and this video), are totally the opposite of most reviews (including yours).
Honestly, I’m wondering if Moondrop had questionable quality control at Aria.
PS: +1 subscribe.
I’ve replied to you on Head-Fi as I could share images of measurements! Hope this helps you out 🙂
I stumbled upon this blog while browsing for comparison between the Aria and FH3, currently looking for my very first pair of IEMs (I listen to mostly jazz/pop for some reference).
I noticed that FH3 is about double the price of Aria so it’s somewhat an unusual comparison, but do you prefer one strongly over the other? I’ve narrowed down my sub-200USD list to FH3 and the Aria (B2 dusk is way outside my budget), would like to hear your thoughts on it (or something else you’d suggest in this price range)!
P.S. I like the FH3 shots on the chainrings in the other blog post 🙂
Glad you’ve been enjoying my reviews and photos!
Regarding the FH3 vs the Aria, the FH3 is slightly bassier, with more sub-bass in particular. It has noticeably better driver control and speed down low. The midrange is a bit smoother on the FH3 and a bit brighter on the Aria, but both sound natural to me. Treble quantity sounds fairly similar between the two, the Aria has a bit more brightness and linearity, the FH3 has better detail retrieval but isn’t quite as natural in terms of timbre. The FH3 has a slightly larger stage, but I find its imaging quite a bit sharper, it sounds more organised on complex tracks.
Overall, I’m a fan of both, the FH3 I would be more content with day to day personally given its jump in technical performance.
Thanks for the quick reply – I think now I know which one to go for. Really appreciate the help, I’m glad I found this blog!