Moondrop is a Chinese IEM manufacturer that has been around for a few years but really started picking up steam in 2019 with their Kanas Pro, KXXS and Starfield models. In this review, I’m taking a look at the Moondrop SSR (Super Spaceship Reference) earphone.
The Moondrop SSR has a single Beryllium-coated dynamic driver and comes in a low-profile, metal shell with detachable 2-pin cable. Does the SSR continue to propel Moondrop’s current hype train status? Let’s find out.
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.
Moondrop SSR Review
Great build quality and comfort
Rich, detailed sound
Superb value for money
Included carrying pouch is impractical
Tuning might be too bright for some
Package and Accessories
The Moondrop SSR comes in a white, compact, square box with their popular anime character on the front. On the back of the box is an exploded diagram plus a list of specifications and a frequency response graph. Here’s a list of the box contents:
Moondrop SSR earphone
0.78mm Silver-plated 4N-Litz OFC cable
Fabric carrying pouch
3 pairs of silicone eartips (S, M, L)
Design, Comfort and Isolation
With the profusion of acrylic 3D-printed, pseudo-custom shells on the market of late, it’s really refreshing to see a different kind of shell design. That’s what you get with the SSR’s liquid metal alloy body. It’s not the first ever IEM with this type of shape but it has it’s own unique take on it.
Depending on which angle you look at it from, the SSR shells might look like a pony, love heart or alien technology. Or maybe that’s just me? They’re really quite small too which I think adds to their charm. The finish is glossy and very smooth. I have the original silver variant but the SSR now also comes in white, green and pink.
There’s something about this design that I find really appealing but besides that, the build quality is objectively very solid and high-quality.
When it comes to comfort, the SSR is fantastic. Thanks to the diminutive size, the shells practically disappear in your ears. They’re very slim too, so they have a very low profile in your ears which also makes these great for lying down too.
Further enhancing the enticement level of the little budget SSR is its low-key, steadfast cable. The silver-plated 4N Litz OFC cable feels and handles great and has minimal microphonics. It has a sleek clear insulation sheath that is smooth and helps minimize tangling.
Transparent plastic 2-pin connector housings with colour-coded ring sit at the top, followed by some flexible heat-shrink ear guides. The Y-split is a black rubber disc with the Moondrop logo and the cable terminates in a 3.5mm L-shaped plug. The only noticeable omission is a cable cinch so if you can’t live without one you’ll need to figure something out on your own.
The Moondrop SSR has a fairly neutral sound signature but with a boosted upper midrange and lower treble. Combined with its excellent bass, this results in a very clean, detailed sound but one that may cause some listener fatigue on certain recordings. The SSR is reasonably easy to drive, although I noticed I had to turn up the volume on my sources a bit more than I normally do with most other earphones.
From my first listen, I was immediately drawn to the SSR’s fantastic bass. While it might look lean in the measurements, the sound is not in any way anaemic. Yes, it is quite neutral indeed but neutral does not have to mean boring; just listen to the epic bass on my Kali LP-8 if you don’t believe that.
SSR takes its own approach when it comes to bass presentation. It has a nice natural weight to it with a medium-paced attack and decay. It has impact and some degree of slam but it’s on the lighter side when it comes to quantity. This places it behind the midrange and avoids any bleeding into the mids but it might at times leave you wanting for more. In Eminem’s “Darkness” the bass sounds a little attenuated, bringing the vocals to the forefront but at the same time, leaves me feeling slightly unfulfilled.
Here’s where the SSR really struts its stuff. This little IEM is a midrange powerhouse, aided in no small part by the 3kHz summit that dominates the horizon. This is a tuning that favours the upper midrange so if you’re a fan of vocals, this should really tickle your fancy.
Thankfully, it’s not all shouty here and you’ll still find ample nuance along with plentiful amounts of detail. In Long Distance Calling’s “Curiosity, Pt. 2”, the beefy kick drum is held in check allowing you to fully enjoy the detail of the guitars and synths. Still, midrange notes are a touch on the thin side so I’d recommend a warmer source for the best synergy.
SSR’s lower treble is slightly elevated but rolls off steadily to produce a pleasing top end. This is quite a clever treble tuning: there’s sufficient brightness in the upper midrange thus there’s no need to add excess lift in the treble. The result is a non-fatiguing treble that’s free of sibilance and maintains a natural timbre.
It’s this relaxed upper treble that helps maintain some warmth in the high frequencies and gives percussion instruments a natural and not overly sharp attack. It’s not the airiest or most detailed treble but it is easy on the ears, making the elevated upper midrange more tolerable.
The soundstage dimensions are fairly intimate because of the relaxed upper treble. It’s wider than it is deep but thankfully, it’s not too intimate and doesn’t feel confined. Stereo imaging is good and instrument separation is pretty impressive as well.
BLON BL-03 ($25)
The BLON BL-03 (review here) is a budget single dynamic driver IEM. It has a fuller presentation than the SSR and follows a more conventional frequency curve. The BLON’s has more bass presence, particularly mid-bass which has more slam. Where the SSR pushes the bass back in the mix, the BL-03 brings it forward to play a much bigger role.
In the core midrange, both IEMs are fairly neutral although the BL-03 does inherit some extra warmth from it’s bigger bass. In the upper midrange, of course, the BLON tapers off before the 3kHz mark where the SSR takes off. This brings the BL-03’s mids more in line with the bass and treble while the SSR makes the upper mids its focal point.
Because of its extra bass quantity, the BLON is able to have a more forward and extended treble response without becoming a blinding bright washout. In comparison, the SSR has a more rolled-off treble to preserve its tonality and compensate for its boosted upper midrange.
Tin Hifi T2 Plus ($59)
The Tin Hifi T2 Plus (review here) is another single dynamic driver IEM. Instead of exclusively favouring the upper midrange, the T2 Plus is linear from the bottom to the top. This gives it a more forward bass presence plus it is slightly faster and tighter than the SSR bass.
T2 Plus’ midrange is more even from the lower to upper mids, giving it slightly more body and thicker notes. In the treble, the T2 Plus has better extension making it sound airier and more open. Not that the SSR treble sounds dull but the T2 Plus’ treble is more forward and creates a more expansive soundstage.
iBasso IT00 ($69)
The iBasso IT00 (review here) is yet another single dynamic driver entry-level earphone. It currently sits at the #1 position in my sub $100 earphones list but keep in mind it is almost double the price of the SSR.
The IT00 has a more common tuning with a slight V-shaped sound signature. It has greater bass presence, more sub-bass rumble and additional mid-bass slam. Its midrange is more full-bodied and warmer compared to the SSR which, to my ears, makes it sound a bit more natural. However, the SSR’s 3kHz peak makes vocals really pop and gives it more midrange detail.
The IT00 has more treble energy which is offset by its forward bass but is not as even or silky smooth as the SSR’s high-frequencies. IT00 has similar width in the soundstage but has greater depth creating a more rounded space.
The Moondrop SSR is one of the more interesting budget earphones of recent times. It has a refined sound and impressive technical clout that makes it stand out from the crowd. In addition, it has a refreshingly original physical design that not only looks cool but is also robust, very small and very comfortable. This is a superb earphone at a great price so it comes highly recommended. But it won’t be for everyone. However, if you like a leaner presentation with a focus on the upper midrange, you’ll want to check this one out.
Frequency response: 20-40kHz
Sensitivity: 115dB/Vrms @ 1kHz
Housing material: liquid metal alloy housing
Coil: 0.035mm-CCAW (daikoku)
Magnet: N52-high density magnetic circuit
Acoustic filter: patented anti-blocking filter
Cable: silver-plated 4N Litz ofc
Connectors: 2Pin 0.78mm
Diaphragm: beryllium-coated dome+PU suspension ring