In this review, I’m testing the Moondrop Quarks IEM. The Quarks is a single dynamic driver earphone with a unique aesthetic and a tiny footprint. It retails for $12.99.
Every atom in your body is the same quark in different places at the same moment in time.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Shenzhen Audio for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Detail and overall resolution
Sub-bass lack authority
Lacks bass impact
Fairly hard to drive
Driver: 6mm dynamic driver
Frequency Response: 4Hz-43kHz(IEC61094, Free Field)
Effective frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz(IEC60318-4, -3dB)
Sensitivity: 116dB/Nrms (@1khz)
Impedance: 16Ω+ 15% @1khz)
Packaging & Accessories
The Quarks come in a small black box that is mostly bare except for the frequency response graph and list of specifications on the back. Inside the box, we find the Quarks earphones, a fabric storage pouch, 3x pairs of silicone eartips and some documentation.
As far as design goes, the Moondrop Quarks certainly stands out in the budget realm. The shells are tiny and are constructed from transparent plastic. You can clearly see the wiring and driver enclosure within. On the rear face of the housing, there’s a colour-coded three-ring pattern: black for the left side and red for the right.
The nozzle is made from the same transparent plastic as the shell but it has a good lip to hold eartips in place and a metal grille to protect the interior from ear wax. As far as build quality goes, this IEM feels solid and should have good longevity.
The Quarks has a fixed cable so it can’t be detached or swapped out. It has a silvery colour and feels smooth to the touch. When it comes to handling, the cable has some memory and kinks but feels quite durable. There is some significant microphonics though, so I’d strongly recommend that you wear the cable over-ear to reduce some of the noise.
As you might expect for such a small IEM, the Quarks is very comfortable. The shells are extremely lightweight and the only part that comes in contact with your ears are the eartips. Because the shells are so small, they’re great for lying down and you could easily sleep with them in your ears.
The Moondrop Quarks has a neutral, balanced sound signature. It doesn’t put an emphasis on any frequency band in particular but has an even tonal balance. In fact, it has a similar tuning to the Moondrop SSR. The Quarks is detailed and has good resolution – maybe class-leading at its price point. However, it’s fairly demanding to drive and benefits from a more powerful source such as a dongle DAC or portable amplifier.
The Quarks has a pretty light bass in terms of quantity. The bass extension is reasonably good but there’s little in the way of sub-bass rumble and overall it lacks authority. The mid-bass is neutral in quantity but it’s punchy enough, however, some listeners might wish for more impact. The upside of this bass tuning is that it’s clean and tight. There’s no bass bleeding into the mids and the speed and definition of the bass are impressive for a budget model.
The midrange of the Quarks is pretty exceptional for a sub $15 IEM. It’s clear, neutral in note size and forwardness and sounds natural. Vocals are upfront and rise to the front of the mix. Vocals sound articulate and have enough warmth to sound full. Midrange clarity is good but not overdone, resulting in a natural tone. The upper midrange lift at 3kHz adds definition, vocal presence and detail without harshness. However, some people may find the upper mids fatiguing on certain recordings.
A classic Moondrop treble is what I hear in the Quarks’ high frequencies. The main emphasis is on the lower treble, which provides clarity and definition. Detail retrieval is good and even micro-details are present. Treble notes sound crisp and have a bit of airiness to them. The upper treble rolls off steadily but the extension is still in place. There’s no noticeable sibilance or harshness coming from the treble.
The soundstage is average in size. It’s slightly deeper than it is wide and the stage position is somewhat forward. What’s surprising is the quality of the Quarks’ soundstage and imaging. Although the stage has modest dimensions, the instrument separation is quite good but can be dominated by the upper midrange.
The Moondrop Quarks is an IEM that attempts to bring a more audiophile-tuned sound to the ultra-budget segment. And I think they’ve done a great job with it. It sounds a lot like the Moondrop SSR but understandably doesn’t quite match the technical performance of its more expensive counterpart. But if you’re looking for a neutral, uncoloured IEM, I doubt you’ll find anything better than the Quarks at this price point.