The Moondrop Sparks is the first foray into TWS earphones for the company. It features a 6mm Beryllium-coated dynamic driver, Bluetooth 5.2, aptX support, NFC pairing and more.
Moondrop is a Chinese earphone manufacturer that you’ve probably heard of if you follow the portable audio scene. They’ve has great success with their popular models, such as the Blessing2, KXXS, Starfield and most recently, the Aria. Now they’ve jumped on the TWS train with practically everyone else, so let’s see the result.
Shenzhen Audio website: https://shenzhenaudio.com/
Disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
- Excellent, varied selection of eartip sizes and types included
- Clarity, detail retrieval
- Solid battery life
- Flawless Bluetooth connectivity
- No listed IPX water-resistant rating
- No onboard volume controls
- No Hiby Blue app support for iOS
- Maximum volume may not be enough for some people
- Driver Unit: 6mm dynamic driver
- Frequency Response: 20-20000Hz
- Diaphragm: Beryllium-coated dome+PU suspension ring
- Bluetooth Version: 5.2
- Audio Transmission Formats: aptX/AAC/SBC
- Battery Capacity: Headphone 50mAh, Charging case: 700mAh
- Playback Time: 8 hours (earphones) + 48 hours with charging case
Packaging & Accessories
The Moondrop Sparks comes in a small white square box with a black cardboard sleeve. On the front of the sleeve is a Moondrop waifu girl and on the back is a list of specifications (in minuscule print) plus a frequency response graph.
Here’s what you get inside the box:
- Moondrop Sparks TWS earphones
- Charging case
- USB Type-C charging cable
- 1 pair of foam eartips
- 9 pairs of silicone eartips (in 3 styles)
Design & Functionality
The earpieces have a pseudo-custom shape and smoky translucent shells. On the right faceplate is an image of the sun and there’s a moon on the left earpiece. I’d say the earpieces are about the same size as your average IEM so they fit in your ears pretty well and don’t protrude out too much.
Thankfully, the nozzles have a standard diameter so they’re compatible with most eartips. I found the nozzles to be quite long so I had to do a bit of searching until I found the right tips for deep-insertion wearing.
The Sparks have full touch controls like most TWS but sadly, this is another model that does not allow any onboard volume adjustment. As for the playback controls, everything is fairly standard, such as a double-tap to play pause or triple tap on either side for the next or previous track etc.
Like most touch-controlled TWS, I found the buttons to work reasonably well but I still prefer physical, tactile buttons. One thing I appreciate about the Sparks is that single taps have no function which largely eliminates accidental presses: I can comfortably readjust the earpieces without fear of unintentionally pausing the music or skipping tracks etc.
In terms of comfort, I find the Sparks to be middling. Due to having very long nozzles, the earpieces are suited for deep-insertion wearing, meaning the eartips reach deep into your ear canals. Thankfully, Moondrop has included a fantastic selection of varied eartips that makes getting a good fit so much easier.
The charging case is made from the same translucent material as the shells. It’s about average in size for a modern TWS so it can fit in a pocket quite comfortably. There’s a Type-C USB port on the back for charging and there are 3 LED indicators at the front that show the case’s battery level. I like the fact that you can see said LEDs from both the front of the case and under the lid when you open it up.
The case feels nice and sturdy but what’s even better for me and my large ear canals is that the case can easily accommodate extra-large eartips. Furthermore, the earpieces snap magnetically into place and the lid has a solid magnetic seal too, making it great for portability.
Bluetooth and Battery Life
With its Bluetooth 5.2 support, the Sparks pairs with my phone quickly and consistently. During my testing, I haven’t experienced any signal loss or dropouts whether my phone is in my pocket or sitting on a table somewhere.
The Sparks earphones will last 8 hours on a single charge and there’s an additional 48 hours packed into the charging case. It’s not quite class-leading battery life but still pretty darn good. Furthermore, the earpieces get back to full charge in around 30 minutes while the case itself takes approximately 1 hour to reach full charge.
If you need to make or answer a phone call, Sparks has got you covered. The microphone quality is actually pretty good for a TWS earphone and picks up my voice clearly. Even in a crowded and noisy space, the Sparks did a good job of cutting out external noise while still picking up my voice clearly.
Gear used for testing includes:
- iPhone (AAC)
- Sony NW ZX-300 (aptX)
Moondrop’s first TWS earphone is designed with a VDSF or Virtual Diffuse Sound Field tuning that is said to produce a natural and spacious sound. And they must have done something right because that’s just what I’m hearing. With Sparks’ punchy bass and significant pinna gain, the result is a sound that exudes clarity but still has enough character and musicality to be engaging.
In fact, the Moondrop Sparks tuning sounds more akin to a wired earphone rather than what you’d expect from a TWS. The sound has a high-fidelity cleanliness that is normally found in audiophile-class earphones.
Although the Sparks’ bass is pretty tight and fast, it has good extension and is able to reach deep. There’s a little extra sub-bass emphasis, so the Sparks delivers some nice visceral rumble. The mid-bass is just a hair less than the sub-bass and has a reasonably fast attack. As a result, bass notes have a clean leading edge and a slower decay gives them some natural weight.
Listening to the Neil Cowley Trio’s “Slims”, the bass sits behind the piano and violin but each note is still easily discerned. During the quieter sections of the song, the bass comes forward with a reassuring fullness that provides a foundation for the other instruments along with an element of fun.
The overall tonality of the Sparks is defined by a raised upper midrange that adds abundant clarity and presence. Despite the rather alarming peak on the frequency response graph above, the Sparks doesn’t sound shouty, however, higher-pitched female vocals may be fatiguing if you’re sensitive to that area.
It is a forward and expressive midrange that sounds very clean and has above-average detail retrieval. This is a result of a slightly leaner note size in the lower mids in conjunction with that pinna gain peak. The upper piano notes in Ludovico Einaudi’s “Indaco” often sound shrill with upper-mids-focused IEMs but don’t cause me any discomfort on the Sparks.
The Spark’s lower treble deftly dips around 7-8kHz and by doing this, avoids sibilance and harshness. It then rises again at 10kHz injecting some sparkle and energy. The resulting air opens up the soundstage and enhances micro-detail retrieval.
While it’s not the most forward treble, it has good extension and compliments the upper midrange without making the overall tonality glaring. It’s a balancing act that introduces liveliness without compromising the tonal balance of the IEM.
The soundstage dimensions are fairly large, especially for a TWS earphone. While the stage isn’t particularly wide, it can give a good perception of depth and layering. The tidy bass and plentiful clarity ensure the instrument separation remains strong, even during complex passages. The slightly brighter tone adds to the sense of spaciousness. It’s that spaciousness and instrument separation that ultimately lead to the Sparks having better imaging than most sub $100 TWS sets.
Sabbat E12 Ultra ($79)
The Sabbat E12 Ultra is another single dynamic driver TWS earphone. It has a smaller charging case than the Sparks, making it easier to slip into a pocket. Furthermore, the E12 Ultra supports wireless charging which is a very handy feature.
There are a couple of other major differences concerning the physical build of these two TWS phones. Firstly, the Sabbat has physical, tactile buttons (my preferred type) compared to the Moondrop’s touch controls. Secondly, the E12 Ultra has non-standard narrow nozzles that make tip-rolling more of a chore – the Sparks has a standard nozzle width and thus is compatible with most generic eartips.
When it comes to audio quality, the E12 Ultra is outclassed by the Moondrop. It’s darker, less detailed and sounds somewhat muddy compared to the Sparks. However, it would be the safer option for anyone who is sensitive to an upper-midrange focused sound.
The E12 Ultra has a thicker albeit not as well defined bass, more midrange body and very relaxed treble response. Sparks, on the other hand, is bright and vibrant with more treble energy. I still think the Sabbat is a good TWS but for those looking for a high-fidelity TWS, the Sparks is the obvious choice.
Considering this is the brand’s first TWS earphone, the Moondrop Sparks makes a bold statement. It combines good build quality, solid battery life and excellent audio quality.
It doesn’t have any extra features like active noise-cancelling or wireless charging but its high-fidelity sound sets it apart from the competition.