Moondrop Aria: next level up?
Hell there, and welcome back to The Neighborhood. I wasn’t going to do this review right away, but these are too good to wait. So, without delay, let’s get inToit!
So, build wise, these look a lot like the Aria Snow Edition except the nozzle is gold, it has a different design of the faceplate, and there’s a gold insert with some venting similar to the Starfield 2. The nozzle also screws off and on so one can swap the filter, but additional filters weren’t provided in the box for acoustic adjustment.
A 2-pin, silver-plated, copper cable with adjustable 3.5mm and 4.4mm terminations is provided that looks eerily similar to the Free DSP cable other than its termination. I wish they would have included a 2.5mm termination as well, as I would prefer to use with the Hidizs AP80 PRO-X that I have been digging as of late, but it doesn’t really need balanced power, so I can deal with just the single-ended termination. A round, can-style, brown leather wrapped carrying case is provided with a zippered top. It’s a bit large for my liking, but is pretty nice otherwise. New Moondrop ear tips come with the Aria 2. The shape reminds me of Final Type E ear tips, but the material is even softer to the touch. I really like these in terms of both their sound, and their comfort. And general comfort is good, and like all other Arias and other IEMs with the shell shape from Moondrop in the past.
Inside is a TiN ceramic-coated spherical dome composite diaphragm. This is a new driver from Moondrop, and I think it’s a winner. They promise ultra-low distortion, top-end extension and detail, and, overall, a smooth treble response.
But let’s jump into the sound! I haven’t listened to these for long, so my opinion of them may change in the upcoming days (and if it does, I’ll do an update video), but first impressions are that these are easily, hands down, the best IEM under $100 dollars right now! And certainly, it’s the best Aria yet!
They are tonally balanced and cohesive sounding with excellent stage and separation of instruments. The stage is large, and it images fabulously within it. Layering is not only accurate, but also impressive. Decay and transients are top tier for an IEM in this price range, which by the way is under $90 dollars… And nothing sounds overly accentuated or recessed to my ears, other than the midrange is definitely a focal point, and some people may find the Araia 2 to be a tad bit bass lite. With that said, I think the level of bass is on point, and there seems to be more sub-bass and low bass compared to the Aria Snow Edition. Dynamics and impact aren’t massive, but they’re certainly more than appropriate enough to deliver the necessary information to one’s ears in order to grove with the music.
As I’ve already said the mids are certainly a focus, but it’s also not an over focus, and I think a lot of audiophiles still prefer a mid-focused sound. And, if that’s you, you’ll certainly enjoy these. Vocals are superbly clear and articulate, and seem to float suspended in space on the track, but people that want a strong forward vocal presence may be a bit let down here. Nevertheless, I’m not sure I could ask for more from the mid-range performance of this set? And, it’s never harsh, aggressive, sibilant, or gritty.
Early graphs have shown a dip in the treble from eight-and-a-half to about 12kHz, but honestly the treble sounds smooth and never lacking to me from what I’ve auditioned thus far. It’s not the airiest set in existence, but I struggle to think of a set that is airier it’s price-range. Cumulatively, I’d described the top-end as polished, illuminating, detailed, and descriptive, without any glare or gleam.
In summation, the Aria 2 now sets the bar from IEMs under $100 dollars. It seems to never become confused (even on busier tracks), and likely will be my de facto recommendation going forward for IEMs in the price-range, at least for now. Before these, things like the Dunu Titan S and even the Aria Snow Edition have been persisting as solid recommendations under the $100 dollar price tag, but the updated Aria 2 outclasses even those offerings. Its accurate timbre, note and instrument distinctiveness, and coherent sound are differentiating qualities that separate it from others, and that make it standout. It may not be as sophisticated of a sound as higher-priced offerings from Moondrop like the Kato or Variations, but it definitely performs just as strong at its price. Overall, I’m extremely impressed, and ultimately think you will be too!
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