Written by Chrono
Review unit provided by headphones.com
Moondrop is an audio company that, at this point, probably needs no introduction. After all, it seems as though regardless of what price range you look at, you’ll find one of their IEMs as a top contender. In this review, then, I’ll be sharing my experience with the single dynamic-driver Starfield; which at its retail price of $109.99 makes for a very enticing entry point to the IEM market.
So, does it sound as good as it looks?
Sources and Music Used in Listening Tests
All the listening for this review was done on the Astell & Kern SR25. For the listening tests I used music from a wide variety of genres including Rock, Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Hip-Hop, and latin. I played tracks from my own FLAC library as well as from Tidal Streaming Service (Master Quality).
Packaging and Accessories
Despite the Starfield being a fairly affordable IEM, it’s clear to see that the Moondrop cut no corners when designing the packaging for these earphones. The Starfiled comes packaged in a slender box, with a sleeve that depicts a starry night accompanied by the silhouette of what appears to be a manga-style character–very fitting for a Moondrop product. Getting past the sleeve, the inner box is decorated in blue with silver sparkles to match the Starfield’s aesthetic design. It may not seem like much, but it’s honestly great to see this level of attention to detail for an IEM at this price-point, as it makes for an user experience that you’d only expect from more premium products.
As for what’s inside the box, you of course get the Starfield IEMs, a 3.5mm to 0.78mm two-pin connector cable in blue (to match the Starfield’s finish), a black carrying case with gold “Moondrop Co.” text, six differently sized sets of silicone eartips, and some replacement dust filters for the drivers.
Build and Comfort
Undoubtedly, the Starfield stands head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to their build quality. The Starfield’s chassis seems to me as though it’s composed entirely out of aluminum, which makes them feel sturdy and inspires confidence that they won’t have structural problems any time soon. Then there is, of course, the Starfield’s metallic, blue-purple finish, which with its silver sparkle pattern creates a striking appearance with depth. Again, this makes the Starfield feel significantly more premium than what its price tag may suggest, and I’d love to see more companies showing this level of care for the presentation of their products.
For comfort, the Starfield has a very nice mold that fits very nicely and is properly contoured for the shape of the ear. Now, unfortunately, like the Blessing 2, the Starfield is on the larger side for IEMs, which may cause some fit issues for users with smaller ears. Additionally, because of the all-aluminum chassis, the Starfield is also fairly heavy. They’re not really fatiguing to wear, but after having been recently testing the IE 100 Pro, I definitely miss the smaller form factor and lighter weight of those IEMs when compared to the Starfield. So to sum it up, the Starfield feels remarkably premium, but it seems to come at the cost of some comfort.
Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the Moondrop Blessing 2, which at $319.99 serves as my IEM benchmark for frequency response and technical performance. Naturally, this means that I was really looking forward to trying out the Starfield and seeing just how close it got to the Blessing 2 at a third of the price. Additionally, I was interested in checking out how they would compare to the IE 100 Pro from Sennheiser, which I personally really enjoy and is in a similar price bracket.
For its overall sound signature, I’d describe the Starfield as being pretty similar to the Blessing 2, though with a noticeable lean towards the warmer side. The bass response on the Starfield has a full and present sound to it, whilst the midrange is rich and balanced. The treble, then, is where I think that Starfield can be a little… interesting… but we’ll get to that briefly.
The bass response on the Starfield is very nicely contoured, with an accurate depiction of low tones. The Starfiled has a very satisfying, harman-like bass shelf that really rounds out the bottom end by giving the subbass region good presence, whilst also bringing forth some of that deep, low frequency rumble. Compared to the Blessing 2’s bass shelf, I felt as though the Starfield packed a little more weight and warmth in the low end. This was something I really appreciated as it kept the bass very engaging, but also clean, as this elevation only started off at around 100-120hz. In fact, of the IEMs I’ve tried, this one might have my favorite bass response.
Despite enjoying the evenness that the Blessing 2 offered compared to some of the more mid bass centric Sennheiser IEMs I’ve listened to, I always felt as though it could actually use a bit more energy in the low end; and the Starfield offered just that.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much for me to comment on in regards to the Starfield’s midrange–they’re simply great.
Instrument and vocal fundamentals in the midrange are well represented on the Starfield, with an even and organic tonality that makes for some lush and rich midtones. Likewise, the presence region between 2-5K is neither forward, nor laid back, it properly highlights the overtones in that region; although every now and then it sounded to me as though 3K may have had the slightest emphasis on it.
Ok, so whilst I love the bass and midrange on the Starfield, the treble range is where it starts to lose its charm for me.
The highs here are very warm, and for my tastes and preferences they’re a touch too dark; enough to where I feel as though the harmonics that lie in this region just don’t come through enough to contrast the rest of the mix. This, for me, made the Starfield sound somewhat stuffy, or nasally, as it just didn’t seem to have that top-end glisten and brilliance.
Additionally, the treble region here seemed to have some unevenness to it. At around 5.5K in the lower treble, there was a subtle bump there could make the midrange to treble transition a little harsh whilst also introducing noticeable glare. Then, it also sounded to me as though there was a slight peak somewhere between 8-10K, which in combination with the lower treble bump, resulted in the occasional sibilance.
Personally, I don’t mind the treble being on the warmer side, and I know that some listeners will enjoy the more relaxed and laid-back highs. However, those narrow elevations that treble has, I found, could make listening experience (and to be fair it varied on instrumentation) just a little bit fatiguing, even more so than on brighter headphones, like the Blessing 2, or the IE 100 Pro.
For its retrieval capabilities, the Starfield, I think, delivers performance that is suitable for its price bracket. Of course, it lags behind the higher-end Blessing 2, but its internal resolution matches that of the IE 100 Pro. One comment I will make, is that I think that the darker treble region, and the lack of upper treble extension doesn’t really help the Starfield in sounding particularly resolving. That being said, though, for the bass and mid regions the Starfield feels well-defined and structured; adequately texturing the tones in those frequency ranges.
Soundstage, Imaging, and Layering
The presentation for the Starfield, I found, was pretty similar to that of the Blessing 2; very intimate and not particularly the most spacious one. Nonetheless, I think that its soundstage and image depth performance lines-up pretty closely with that of most IEMs; so whilst it doesn’t exceed my expectations, I wouldn’t say it performs poorly.
Again though, like on the Blessing 2, I’ll note that its imaging is not the most spectacular, as at least for me it felt as though everything was shifted slightly forward; so left/right sound more like front-left/front-right.
When it comes to creating a sense of punch and slam, I think that the Starfield performs better than most, even when compared to other dynamic-driver IEMs. The lows have a pretty satisfying kick to them, and they feel even more impactful than on the Blessing 2; likely due to the more generous bass shelf. Combined with the weighty snap and strike that it has in the top-end, the Starfield definitely makes for an energetic and engaging listening experience.
With its amazing build quality, its affordable-yet-premium user experience, its solid technical performance, and it’s good tonality, I feel as though the Moondrop Starfield brings a lot to the table for $109.99 and it should be a set to keep an eye on if you’re looking for an entry-level IEM.
Between the Starfield, and the similarly-priced IE 100 Pro ($99), I would personally gravitate more towards the latter as I appreciate its higher degree of comfort and the more present, but even, treble region. Still, the Moondrop Starfield is an excellent choice for listeners who prefer a warmer sound signature to those looking for a well-rounded IEM alike.
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