The Moondrop S.S.P.: somewhat of a personal disappointment...
Updated: Dec 21, 2020
Hey everyone! Welcome back to the Neighborhood. Today we’re taking a look at the S.S.P. So, I really like the S.S.R. for the price, and these are supposed to be their bassier, fuller sounding cousins. So does the S.S.P. make the grade, and live up to expectations?
Let’s get InToit!
So, the look and build of SSP is oh so similar to the the S.S.R. So I’m not really going to cover that here, so if you’re interested just go look at that review. There are some minor differences, like plastic tip of the 2-pin connectors are see-through rather than frosted, and the plastic used in the cable cabling is even slinkier than the second generation of the S.S.R. For some reason, the 3.5mm, right-angled termination is still of the frosted variety though. So, while it isn’t a fancy-looking braided cable like something that might come with a TinHiFi product, it is a nice-looking, and functioning straight cable, even if it might be too slinky in comparison to the second-generation S.S.R. cable, which would still be my preference- but all three iterations of the cables are still very close to one another. Other than the cable, the S.S.P. comes in a matte blue rather than a glossier finish like S.S.R.
So, let’s get to the sound, but since I’ve already covered the S.S.R in more depth, I will try to keep things here short and sweet. Well at least for me… Like the build, there is a lot to love here, just like the S.S.R., but unlike the S.S.R., the S.S.P seems like it was created more with a consumer tuning in mind. With regard to timbre, the S.S.P. is decently darker in its tone and more ambient in its general presentation compared to the S.S.R. And, it is important to note that the SSP does come across as mildly veiled to my ears. Relatedly, for some reason, the treble in the S.S.P. also seems to fall off more markedly early in the S.S.P, than it does in the S.S.R., at least acoustically, even though the two earphones graph relatively similar in this region.
Mids, on the other hand, were much of the same, as the notably, the large 3K, pinna-gain peak was retained from the S.S.R. But, even so, the 3K peak of the S.S.P. was still somehow more tolerable to my ears in comparison to its predecessor. For example, on the song “Think of Me” by the Veronicas vocals came across as somewhat shouty on both the S.S.R. and S.S.P., but was most relaxed on the S.S.P. in comparison. But, in its own vaccum, vocals were still mildly forward on S.S.P.
So other than the darker tone, the notable takeaway here is that, with the S.S.P. its mids and the treble is are markedly the same as the S.S.R., but mildly more pleasing.
The S.S.P is also warmer, in part because of its bass. Even if, alternatively, it is less pleasing because of it, rather than more pleasing, as in the case of its mids. The bass is where things with this headphone start to really get muddy- pun intended… The bass itself is murky, wooly, and somehow, at the same time, rather one note sounding. This is a marked departure for the S.S.R. which had great bass definition and detail, despite being perceived by some as somewhat limited in its bass quantity on particular tracks. “Pulse” is a good description of the bass on the S.S.P., as it generally lacks dynamics; however, there is a small portion of the frequency response where things become more punchy and produce a “pulse-like effect.” Outside of this region, the bass is ill-defined, and it warms over the entirety of the sonics of this earphone, as there is notable sub-bass bleed -which is pretty diffuse. To know what I’m speaking of, just listen to the bass lines on “Going Bad” by Meek Mill and Drake, and “Change your Mind by Tori Kelly to observe the S.S.P.’s low-end seepage.
With that said, I was surprised to learn that RHA dual density tips had positive effects on the S.S.P. Generally, I find that dual density tips not only smooth out a mid-range, but also increase an earphone’s bass response, as it did in the S.S.R. In the S.S.P.; however, RHA tips seemed to tighten the low-end presentation, and addition to smoothing out its 3K peak.
Nevertheless, perhaps because of the intrusive, diffuse bass, I felt that separation, imaging, transients and layering still suffered somewhat in comparison to the S.S.R., but the S.S.P. is still notably sufficient in these characteristics in comparison to most other $40 dollar earphones in this price range. Markedly, and perhaps because of its ambient character, the S.S.P. did excel with decay both in general, and in comparison, to the S.S.R.
In my S.S.R. review, I claimed that the frequency response and some of its other characteristics reminded me of that of the HD600, and while I still believe that, the S.S.P. has put things somewhat more in perspective, as I now think that Moondrop has produced two earphones with tunings similar to that of Sennheiser’s HD 600-line, but, in each case, their tunings are more extreme in their leanings to the dark and the light side than that of the Sennheisers. What I am trying to say, is that, while the S.S.R. reminds me of a slightly more aggressive HD600, the S.S.P, reminds me of an even muddier HD650.
With that said, I wouldn’t say that the S.S.P. is a bad earphone either, and my brain does adjust to its poorly defined bass after a few tracks, as I am ultimately still able to enjoy them somewhat. Furthermore, I do like what Moondrop was going for here with the S.S.P. in some regards, I just think it is somewhat poorly executed in the end, and final product could be have come out better.
The S.S.P. just feels markedly less special to me in comparison the S.S.R., which was somewhat of a disappointment to me personally. With that said, I would totally understand someone choosing the S.S.P. over the S.S.R. for a more relaxed listen as an everyday, portable carry, if that was more of what they are looking for.
*Thanks to Shenzhen Audio for sending in the S.S.R. to the channel for review: https://shenzhenaudio.com/products/moondrop-ssp-super-spaceship-pulse-beryllium-plated-dome-diaphragm-dynamic-driver-in-ear-earphone
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