Moondrop Moonriver 2: TI Review

Moondrop Moonriver 2: TI review featured

In this article, I’m reviewing the Moondrop Moonriver 2: TI dongle DAC. The Moonriver 2: TI is an upgraded version of the original Moonriver 2 and features dual CS43198 DAC chips, 3.5mm and 4.4mm headphone outputs and some impressive output power. The price is $189.

Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Shenzhen Audio for an honest review. All observations and opinions here are based on my experience with the product.

Moondrop Moonriver 2: TI Review
Verdict
An incremental but worthwhile upgrade of the original Moonriver 2.
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Pros
Volume buttons and hardware-level volume control
Class-leading dynamics and black background
Transparent and detailed sound
Premium chassis
Cons
Included USB cable is a bit stiff
Bright LED can be distracting
4.5
Our Score
What’s in the Box

MoonRiver2 Micro DAC+AMP * 1
Type-C to Type-C adapter cable*1
Type-A to Type-C adapter*1

Design & Features

Internally, the Moonriver 2: TI remains largely unchanged from its predecessor, the original Moonriver 2. However, Moondrop has implemented clever efficiency tweaks, giving the appearance of even more impressive specifications on paper.

While these improved numbers are visually appealing, they translate to inaudible differences for the average listener – unless, of course, you possess superhuman hearing abilities. The Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) has been marginally reduced to an astonishingly low 0.00013% from the previous 0.00014%. The dynamic range remains a commendable 131dB. Despite the modest alterations, these figures are undeniably fantastic, positioning this dongle DAC among the best in its category.

Yet, it’s the external design where the Moonriver 2: TI truly sets itself apart from its predecessor. Encased in an exquisite titanium alloy chassis, the device boasts a captivating rippling wing pattern etched into its front panel. On the underside, a transparent glass window provides a tantalizing view of the internal PCB, accompanied by a multi-coloured LED.

3.5mm and 4.4mm outputs

Continuing the tradition of the original model, the Moonriver 2: TI incorporates physical volume buttons. However, the inclusion of a hardware-level volume control elevates the experience further. This means that all volume adjustments occur within the device itself, bypassing the need to modify settings on your phone or computer.

The product features both a 3.5mm single-ended output and a 4.4mm balanced output. In terms of power output, the Moonriver 2: TI delivers 140mW through the 3.5mm output, while an even more striking 280mW is channelled through the balanced output.

Moonriver 2: TI with Shanling M5s

Sound

Gear used for testing includes the Sennheiser HD650, FiR Audio 5×5 and Moondrop Blessing 3.

The Moonriver 2: TI effortlessly tackles even the most power-hungry headphones, making power output concerns a distant worry. With a solid ability to drive my 300Ω HD650 headphones, it offers a surplus of headroom.

As a fervent admirer of Cirrus Logic DAC chips, my preference is solidified by the Moonriver 2: TI. Its presentation is airy, meticulously detailed, and profoundly resolving. The soundstage performance stands out, creating an expansive and immersive audio landscape. Instrument and vocal positioning within this sonic expanse are pinpoint precise.

The Moonriver 2: TI’s bass reproduction boasts full-bodied textures, a trait influenced by your headphones or IEMs. Transparent in its delivery, it faithfully preserves the original sound without adding colouration. Supported by empirical evidence, this DAC presents sound on an abyss-black canvas, showcasing a remarkable dynamic range.

Moonriver 2: TI with DAP

This DAC’s commendable noise floor heightens detail retrieval, ensuring that every subtle nuance and micro-detail is perceptible. This difference becomes pronounced, especially if you’re accustomed to the cacophonous headphone output of a laptop. The 2: TI’s plug-and-play nature translates to immediate and tangible improvements.

An auditory journey with Igorrr’s ‘Nervous Waltz’ unveils a spacious and ethereal string section. The ensuing drum sequence explodes with vitality, while the Moonriver 2: TI revels in the ensuing rhythmic frenzy. The subsequent entry of electric guitars exudes raw grit and captivating bite. Amidst the chaos, the modest device adeptly maintains cohesion, a testament to its stellar dynamics and control.

Underside of Moondrop dongle DAC with DAP

Verdict

In conclusion, the Moondrop Moonriver 2: TI is outstanding within its category. It performs remarkably well for a dongle device and sits comfortably among the best dongles under $200. On top of having exceptional audio quality, the premium titanium alloy body and hardware-level volume control make it even more appealing.

If you already have the original Moonriver 2 there’s no need to get this but if you’re looking for a dongle DAC in this price range, put it on your short list.


Specifications

Weight: 30g
Size: 57mm x 19.6mm x 13.4mm
Headphone Plug: 3.5mm SE, 4.4mm BAL
Frequency Range:7Hz-85kHz (±1dB)
Background Noise:
4.4mm: 1.5μV (AES17 20kHz)
3.5mm: 1.2μV (AES17 20kHz)
SNR:
4.4mm: 131dB(A-wt)
3.5mm: 123dB(A-wt)
Dynamic Range: 4.4mm: 131dB (A-wt)
Line Out:
3.5mm: 2Vrms
4.4mm: 4Vrms
Maximum Output Power: 4.4mm: 32Ω 280mW, 300Ω 53mW
THD+N: 4.4mm: 0.00014% ( AES17 20kHz, 300Ω )

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