Moondrop Jiu: no amp, no dac? no problem!
HI everyone and welcome back to The Neighborhood. Today, for the first time, the channel is taking a look at an IEm withy DSP, terminating in a type-c connection. Is this the wave of the future? Let’s… get inToit!
So, this is the Jiu by Moondrop, and it may look eerily familiar. Essentially this looks a Moondrop Chu, with an in-line microphone that terminates in a type-C connection. Which means you can plug it right into your phone, and there’s no need for an additional DAC or amplifier to get it up and running. Speaking of getting it up and running, I used it both on a computer and on my phone. Off my computer this thing operated rather seamlessly. I was able to use discord, engage in video calls, and listen to music using my player of choice, Roon. Unfortunately, I didn’t have nearly as much luck with my android phone. Although music and video playback was without issue, using discord and even taking phone calls bugged this thing out. My voice and the voices of others came across digitized, so the DSP in the DAC of this thing isn’t always user friendly. This was a bit of a letdown, as the in-line microphone and small $25 dollar price tag of the Jiu suggest that it could be used as an everyday carry, in multiple use case scenarios, but the execution in android at the moment falls flat. Perhaps Moondrop can release a firmware update for the Jiu to fix this in the future?
I’m also going to knock the Jiu a bit, because it uses the same tangle-prone cable as the Chu and comes with only Moondrop Spring ear tips. I did not have as much of a sound problem with the Spring ear tips on the Jiu as I did with the Chu, but I much prefer Moondrops original black silicone ear tips to the Spring ear tips from both fit and sound perspectives. My preferred tips for the Jiu were Softears UC Eartips, but at a price of $18 dollars, that’s probably a big ask for this set. Tri Clarion Tips were also nice at half the price.
So, let’s go ahead and get inTo the sound. Does this just sound like the Chu with a different termination. No, it doesn’t! This is definitely an optimized version of the Chu. Although they seem to utilize the same driver, housing, and wire, the DSP technology appears to be doing some work! Overall, the Jiu is a lot smoother sounding, without any of the peakiness or mild harshness or shoutiness that the Chu exhibited. The bass of the Jiu is also tighter and more integrative. The Chu sounded really good for $20 dollars at the time, and the Jiu sounds even better for a mild price increase.
If I had one criticism of the sound, it would be that there’s a tinge of roundedness to the presentation of the notes that results in a smoothing affect to the sound overall. With that said, it is a pleasant sound, and I’m not sure if most people will notice or care about this in the end. This effect is slight, and, for $26 dollars, I shouldn’t complain too much, as these excel way beyond their price point.
The Jiu has a certain musical quality to it. The bass keeps up with most in-ear-monitors under $80 dollars or so. Its pretty even sounding, with more of a sub-bass emphasis than Chu had- which had more of a mid-bass push. The mid-range is sufficiently present, with a slight elevation in the presence area compared to its other Moondrop counterparts. The treble lacks early brilliance, but rebounds after 12K or so. I would have liked to have heard more representation from 8-10K.
Nevertheless, imaging is excellent and technical capabilities are great for this low price. I took particular note of its ability to distinguish between various instruments in the soundscape and separate out individual notes. Its soundstage width and height are just above average, but there is surprisingly good depth to the image. The timbre here is mildly dark, alluring, and somewhat warm, but, even so, each note cuts through well to the ear.
Compared the Moondrop Lan, the shell of the Jiu is also a fair bit shorter than the LAN, but a bit deeper in its profile. The Lan also comes with a detachable cable, but no built in DSP DAC, and boasts a standard 3.5mm connection instead. One would need an additional external device like the Atom 3 to get the Lan driven similarly well. Sonically, the Lan is drier, crisper, and weightier in its expression; with additional air, brightness, and a certain guttural quality to its output, while the Jiu is beyond entrancing- smoother and more liquid sounding with extra bass emphasis under 100 hertz. While I personally think the Lan is the superior experience, as it is more detailed and resolves slightly better, many people; after a more normative sound, may prefer the Jiu.
All the same, the Jiu is certainly an upgrade to the Chu. Those that are after more of a “no-fuss,” “plug-and-play” situation will surely be drawn to the Jiu. Someone who complains about having to use and external dongle DAC with their smart phone may find the Jiu more appealing than a traditional in-ear-monitor and all the “extras” that go with it these days; although I found its inability to be used for communication purposes off a cell phone a bit perplexing and frustrating to say the least. Not to mention, one is limited by digital volume with the Jiu. Still, the Jiu is easy to use otherwise, and has a safe and pleasant sound overall that works well with various genres of music. For $26 dollars, its sure to impress the budding audiophile, and make an excellent gift for those that may want a taste of this hobby.
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