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Moondrop Starfield IEM Review: Mid-Tier Price, High-Tier Sound

Nanotube technology

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

Coming in at $109, the Moondrop Starfield IEMs are priced in the middle but aim for a high-end sound. Are these the new kings of the mid-range? Read on to find out!

Specifications

  • Current Price: $109.99 (AliExpress, Amazon)
  • Driver: Carbon Nanotube diaphragm- 10mm Dual cavity dynamic driver
  • Detachable cable standard: 24AWG Litz 4N OFC
  • Interface: 0.78 2pin
  • Sensitivity: 122dB/Vrms(@1khz)
  • Impedance: 32Ω±15% (@1khz)
  • Frequency response: 10Hz-36000 Hz (free field. 1/4 inch MIC)
  • Effective frequency response: 20Hz-20000 Hz

Moondrop may not be a company you’ve heard of before, but they’re definitely one to follow now. They first came to my attention earlier this year, as I started to discover posts on forums like Head-Fi talking up earlier models like the KXXS. When it comes to headphones, I love a good value and that definitely seemed to be the case with many of their offerings (they’re catalog certainly goes into the high-end too). 

This year, Moondrop released the Starfield, an affordably priced audiophile grade headphone with a unique and beautiful design. 

Iridiscent Paint

Each earbud is made of a two-piece metal frame that’s formed to the shape of your ear. The iridescent paint job is gorgeous and fades to purple when viewed at an angle. It definitely evokes a field of stars. I’m usually not a fan of writing on my earbuds, but here it really works. The compass (if that’s what it is) on the left earbud, looks slightly abstract in a way I find very cool. It’s also finished with a glossy enamel. You’ll want to take care of them and avoid drops, but by touch alone, I can tell it’s more resilient than standard paint finishes. 

Accessories

Inside the box, you’re given a good amount of accessories. On top of the buds themselves, you’re given six additional pairs of silicone ear tips to help you find your perfect fit. I tend to prefer silicone over foam tips, so this was fine for me, but it would have been nice to see a set of foams included as well. You also have a whopping three pairs of replacement filters and a pair of tweezers to apply them, which is an incredibly thoughtful move. I’ve had to give up on headphones before because the filters fall out and continuing to use them daily would only cause their early demise. 

More core to the daily experience is the detachable cable and carrying case. The cable is lightweight and colored to match the headphones themselves — which highlights one of the drawbacks of having such a unique paint job. Finding a matching cable is going to be more of a chore. Thankfully, the cable here is quite good — definitely an improvement over any cable you’ll find bundled with a pair of headphones at the local department store. It’s made of 24-gauge oxygen-free copper. The braiding isn’t heavy duty, though, and has a tendency to remember curves, so I often have to smooth it out with my fingers after taking it from the case. Speaking of, the case is hardshell, small, and circular, so it can easily be tossed in a bag or purse. 

These headphones are made for music listening before all else. They’re absolutely wonderful for that, by the way, but you’ll notice right away that there is no mic for taking calls or chatting at your computer. I also wish there was a clasp to join the wires behind my head. On the other side of that, the 2-pin detachable cable is a major addition that means you can swap out the cable if it ever gets damaged or you find an upgrade. 

My New Favorite IEMs - Starfield Punches Up and Wins

That said, after finding the right tips for my ears, I was able to get listening right away and didn’t want to stop. These headphones make it easy to get lost in your music. With the proper tip, I found them quite comfortable and they stayed securely in my ear. Moondrop has also tuned these with expert finesse. They’re fun, detailed, and completely non-fatiguing. These headphones made me want to listen to music like no other headphone since the Beyerdynamic X Drop 177X GO and have personally excited me more than any IEM in the better part of two years. 

Detachable Cable

Moondrop used a new dynamic driver they say features unique nanotube technology. Whether or not that's the reason, Moondrop absolutely nailed the sound profile and level of detail for my taste. The EQ follows a basic V curve, with elevated bass and treble. In fact, they pretty closely mirror the Harman Target Response Curve which is intended to be the “ideal” curve for a headphone. Moondrop has made some tweaks in there to bring out vocals and additional detail in the upper register. Even so, nothing is overstated. They’re balanced, except for modest tweaks that heighten the overall listening experience. 

The downside to that is that they’ll easily reveal a bad mix. Listening through Amazon Prime Music, Towers (On My Way) by Young Guns sounded veiled. Meanwhile, Collide by Normandie, having a very similar feel and sound to the guitar and bass accompaniment was clear and completely without that veil. I really enjoyed listening the entire White Flag album. The vocals were right at the front of the mix and the grit and gristle of the guitars was very distinct when it would usually be muddy on a headphone like the Jabra Elite 75ts. Then, piano tracks like Soft Dark Nothing by Lily Kershaw maintained all of the nuance and fine detail in her vocal line and swelling strings later in the track. 

For gaming, you’ll be pleased to know that the postionality is excellent. You’ll have no trouble identifying the direction of gunshots or cars on the road. The stereo separation really elevated the experience, and the slight treble boost will give you the edge in picking out those details that help you locate enemies in competitive matches. Frankly, I think the full sound is much more important than those details, though. The Moondrop Starfield can easily provide the cinematic experience you crave in single player games. Still, I would recommend turning on Windows Sonic to expand the soundstage, though.

Moonfield Starfield

Final Thoughts

The Moondrop Starfields surprised me. There is more here than just their eye-catching design. The quality of sound produced here is far beyond the $109.99 price point. If you’re in the market for a pair of headphones that sound amazing but don’t want to break your budget, these are definitely worth a look.

The product described in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.

9.0Amazing
Pros
  • Beautiful design
  • Outstanding sound quality
  • High quality detachable cable
  • Lots of accessories
  • Very well priced for the quality of the product
Cons
  • Cable has a bit of memory - needs to be straightened after taking it out of the case
  • No microphone or cable clip


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight