Real Talk with the Moondrop Starfield: with contributions from the Kanas Pro and KXXS
Updated: Dec 21, 2020
Welcome back to the Neighborhood!
Today it is an honor and a privilege to be taking a look at the Moondrop Starfield. These were sent in by a supporter of the channel from The Neighborhood. Join The Neighborhood here, and follow the the channel on Instagram, Twitter, and Patreon. I will place a link to all Neighborhood access locations below.
So, let’s start things out with the build. The Starfield is beautiful! Let’s talk about this iridescent blue paintjob! I know people have said that the paint chips with use, but it is more shiny, sparkly, and reflective in person than it appears in any photo I’ve seen. The fit is also extra ordinarily good, and its extremely lightweight. It feels weightless in my ear compared to the Kanas Pro and the KXXS, which were notably heavier in my experience. Fit is also more flush with the pinna of my ear due to the stem of the Starfield being shorter than that of the Kanas Pro. I can wear these for hours without any fatigue from either listening or wear. When it comes to the Starfield, I’d say its weight and general listenability are its strong suites. But more on that when we cover the sound.
The provided tips also aid in the comfort, and while they were not initially noteworthy with regard to comfort or sound, I would say that these are the best tips for both sonics and comfort for this set in the end. I went through all my favorite tips, and while I could see certain people preferring JVC spiral dots or Final Audio Type E tips, I kept going back to the sound profile that the stock tips provided. I tried the stock tips of the Starfield on the Kanas Pro as well, and while not as premium looking or feeling as the Kanas Pro tips, the Starfield tips sounded better on that set too. So, I think when it comes to the tips, Moondrop got it right there- at least from a sound perspective, as the silicon material used is comfortable, even if it is not the most luxurious.
The cable… my first impression of the stock cable, in person, was that it was lower quality than I thought it would be. Having said that, I do love the color and the aesthetics of it. It is light weight, has a slightly tacky feel to it, which is pleasing, and it behaves mostly well and lays flat with minor adjustments. The right-angled 3.5 mm connector is also appropriately sized, and it is the perfect combination of tangle-free-utility, flexibility, and weightlessness, but like other Moondrop products there is no chin slider, which may offend some. The wire coming from the Y-split is also thinner than the rest of the wire, and the ear-hooks themselves are almost too lightweight, and look cheap- making me worry about the cable’s long-term viability and sustainability with use. In comparison to the cable that comes with the Kanas Pro, it is apparent that the Starfield cable is more cheaply constructed, but also less stiff.
And, while I would completely understand why someone would buy the Starfield only for its look, construction, and package; most people will be interested in what these sound like.
Generally speaking, the Starfield is a warm, relaxed, but delivers a somewhat airy and amplified sound signature. These earphones sound most like a recording or performer is being amplified on a live PA system, rather than producing sounds that are natural to the instruments in an unamplified live performance per say. With Tripowin foam tips, the Kanas Pro sounds significantly more natural than the Starfield does.
The Starfield also suffers from clarity and resolution shortcomings in comparison to the KXXS and the Kanas Pro. Overall resolution is good, but not amazing. In the case of the Starfield, there is less sophistication and treble sparkle here than in the treble of the KXXS. There is also some treble smear, grain, and glare, that is noticeable in the Starfield, which is not present in the Kanas Pro nor the KXXS.
Vocals stood out most on the KXXS, but vocal presentation was more similar between the Starfield and the Kanas Pro, with the Kanas Pro demonstrating greater vocal clarity between the two sets. On both the Kanas and the Starfield vocals are well mixed-in, but never concealed or covered-up by other sonics.
The bass in the Starfield is smoother than the KXXS and better mixed, with less of a mid-bass hump and bleed in comparison. But, overall, the bass is more toned-down, relaxed and less textured in the Starfield than in the Kanans Pro. Macro-dynamics are also somewhat limited in the Starfield in comparison to its siter-products. Micro dynamics and details were sufficient, but transients were somewhat lacking and dull. I’ve heard a lot of reports of the detail on the Starfield being “super good.” And while details are good, they are not astounding, and there are more detailed sets in the price-range. This may be a bit harsh, but the analogy stands up in comparison; the Starfield sounds a bit like elevator music in comparison, but this also lessens ear-fatigue, and improves listenability in comparison as well.
The KXXS seems to suffer most from some mid-bass bleed into the mid-range, but I would not consider this issue overly offensive. In general, the Starfield and the Kanas Pro are more evenly distributed to my ear, than the KXXS, and the KXXS has better treble sparkle.
Like it’s Monndrop-counterparts, general mid-range performance in the Starfield is good, and neither recessed nor overtly pushed forward. Upper midrange is more forward than lower mid-range presence, but like I’ve already said, the Starfield is a mostly relaxed IEM, and this holds holistically true in the mid-range as well. So, the mid-range is unobtrusive, but not the star of the show.
Soundstage on the Starfield is slightly better than the KXXS, but can sound just as closed-in at times depending on the song. The Kanas Pro wins quite easily for soundstage width and depth amongst the three. Separation and imaging are better than average on the Starfield, but not incredible. Imaging is more impressive than separation; however. With Final Audio Type E tips, a Tin HiFi T4 has similar overall performance, clarity and tonality with more sub-bass, less mid-bass, and better separation and imaging than the Starfield; but the Starfield is more relaxed, and therefore, more of an easy-listen, in the end.
The Starfield is a great set if you don’t want a fuss or to make any adjustments. The cable is good, the tips are good, it comes with a nice, compact, carrying case… and it just works out of the box and sounds great! The main purposes of the Starfield over the other two Moondrop IEMs for me would be as an EDC (everyday carry), as, despite being less resolute, they are non-offensive and non-fatiguing (with regard to both ergonomic fit and sound signature), relaxing, and lighter weight- provided the paint doesn’t chip and the cable holds up over time. The Simgot EN700 Pro or Tin HiFi T4 would be similar IEMs to consider from this perspective.
But, let me be clear, the Starfields are the anemic, little brother of the KXXS and the Kanas Pro. And it is ludicrous that the audiophile community is portraying these as “better” or “barely an upgrade” to the KXXS, as this couldn’t be farther from the truth to my ears. People that say the Starfield are “just as good” as the KXXS and the Kanas Pro either genuinely can’t hear the difference, or are straight-up lying to you in order to promote the product or generate buzz for their brand. In either case, it makes me question the legitimacy and trustworthiness of that source of information; and you should too.
So real talk… Between the three Moondrop earphones my preference is for the Kanas Pro, not because it is only my preference, but also because it is objectively the best sounding earphone of the three. While I can understand how someone might prefer the KXXS or the Starfield for other reasons, such as their looks, build, fit, weight, price, availability, or because they are a leisurely listen; the Kanas Pro is overall the most natural, smoothest, and most technical earphone between the three IEMs that Moondrop has produced in this family that I have heard thus far. It is unfortunate that Moondrop has decided the discontinue the Kanas Pro, and it is my hope that one day, they bring it back. Although I also look forward to hearing the KXXX and the Illumination in the future.
If someone is entertaining the Starfield for sonics alone, for now, I’d look into purchasing a used Kanas Pro for a similar price instead. You will get more bang for your buck from this purchase, but this may be easier said than done, as they are becoming more and more scarcely found in good condition. Otherwise, the Moondrop Starfield, will be a wearable, relaxing, easy-listening, non-offensive compromise that will appeal to, and please the masses, but lacks certain technicalities to completely enthrall this reviewer.
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