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Review - Moondrop SSR (Sub 50€)

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Also available on YouTube in Spanish: Acho Reviews YouTube 



Intro…

I have had the Moondrop SSR sitting at the side of me now for a while but haven’t really had a chance to try them out until this last week or so. 

I actually avoided purchasing the SSR for a long time due to the graphs that I saw when they were first released. After a few people whose opinions I trust said they were decent, I finally decided to give them a whirl.

As you may know, if you follow the channel or blog, the Moondrop Starfield is my favourite IEM under 100€ and I am still wanting to pick up the Blessing 2, so the SSR is a lower priced option from a company that I am generally fond of.


Presentation…

The Moondrop SSR is presented in a white cardboard box with a lift off lid and a anime drawing of a singer on the front. According to the box, SSR stands for Super Spaceship Reference, which to me seems a weird name for some earphones but who am I to judge.

On the back of the box there is a photo of the components of the IEMs, along with a graph that sort of matches the graphs that made me hesitant to purchase them when they were released.

Upon opening the box, we find the IEMs sitting in a velvet covered foam cutout with the cable attached. At the bottom there is a small black cardboard (or thick paper) that contains a small drawstring bag and a few extra sizes of silicone tips.

Underneath these there is the typical warranty card and user manual. So, really there isn’t anything exciting in the box except for the IEMs themselves (well, there is a bag that could be handy, but it’s not exciting).


Build, aesthetics and comfort…

The SSR are tiny. They are slightly larger than the RE-400 or RE-600S that I recently reviewed by Hifiman but not by much. They are small enough to sit flush inside your ears, allowing you to lay on your side if you wish, however, they are not as comfortable as the Hifiman offerings I just mentioned and this is largely the fault of the connector and built in ear hooks.

Now, the cable is not that bad, as far as specs are concerned, although it is rather cheap looking and feeling. It is completely covered in transparent rubber (or silicone) from end to end, with connectors on each end that seem to be covered in the same material. The connectors protrude from the IEMs and while I complained about the Hifiman offerings not having replaceable cables, in the case of the SSR, the protruding connectors increase the size of the IEM by a fair amount and mean that you are limited to wearing them in a specific orientation. This does decrease slightly the comfort side of things but they are still quite comfortable, at least for my personal anatomy.

The shape of the IEMs is different to the majority of offerings that are popular in the budget category at the moment, they sort of resemble something that would be released by Campfire audio than the usual brands found in this price category.

In my case the IEMs are white with a gold coloured screw, and while I like the colour scheme, upon closer inspection the paint does not scream high quality. The paint seems to be a rather thick coat and looks like it could have been applied with a brush. The screw appears to hold the backplate on to the shell but I am not convinced that it is not actually glued together with the screw serving more for aesthetics than actually holding the unit together, but I have not tried to remove it so I don’t know.

My general impression is that the overall build and aesthetics are mediocre, they are not terrible but they certainly don’t scream high quality.


Sound…

Of course, in the sub 50€ bracket, my main focus is on sound and whether they are an IEM that offers performance above what we usually expect in this category. 

As I said at the beginning, I refrained from purchasing the SSR for a long time due to the graphs I saw and only proceeded to do so when I was told by multiple people that they sound better than they look. On a graph they certainly looked like an IEM that would be bright and lack bass but after reviewing the two RE models lately, I found that I don’t actually mind that sound signature (with certain music) and I think that the graph of the SSR looks very similar to the way I heard the Hifiman offerings.

This is one of the graphs I am referring to:


The IEMs use a beryllium-coated dynamic driver with a PU suspension ring and an N52 High Density Magnetic Circuit. Now, I am not going to explain what that means as I honestly don’t have enough knowledge about it, let’s just say that it’s supposed to be good and it actually is.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not about to rave about how these are amazing IEMs that cost 40€ and rival those at 1000€, but what they do well, they do very well. It’s just a shame that they don’t do more things well.

In the bass department there isn’t a huge amount of sub-bass but there is certainly enough to appreciate the low rumble on tracks like “No Mercy” by Gustavo Santaolalla. It isn’t an IEM that is going to rumble your jaw but at least it is not missing those low notes.

In the remaining bass frequencies, it handles them very well. There isn’t an excessive amount of bass but the bass that is present is detailed and held together very well. There is plenty of speed in the low notes and kick drums are very realistic. I am a fan of dynamic drivers especially in the low notes and these don’t dissapoint. While not an IEM for a bass head, they are fast and resolve complicated bass lines and drums very well in this range. I would say that they are a little warmer than neutral in the bass frequencies and certainly warmer than I expected.

Moving into the mids, in the lower mids there is enough presence to assist the lows in providing that warmer sound. It is not overly warm and avoids feeling loose at all times, giving a great tone to bass lines that are played on the typical electric P-Bass. I spent some time listening to some older AC-DC, Police and even some Ramones, all with enjoyable bass lines that are nicely presented on the SSR (yes, I know I’m a bass guitar freak!).

There is a slight dip in the center of the mids that isn’t overly recessed, helping emphasize that slight warmness of the lows without making you feel that the mids are missing at all. Voices are clearly defined in all their ranges and don’t leave you with the impression that they are hiding behind instruments, even their lower notes are clearly defined. The song “Make Noise” by Busta Rhymes and Lenny Kravitz is recorded in a way that the voice of Busta Rhymes is always overshadowed by bass and the guitar of Kravitz, and while the SSR does not fix this, they are one of the IEMs that does the best job of making his voice intelligible.

At the high end of the mids there is a clear rise, starting around 1k and peaking at 3k before starting to roll off through the highs. This obviously gives voices a very good presence but can result in IEMs being shouty. In the case of the SSR, some songs can have a little too much presence but again it is not as bad as it should be by looking at the graph. The song “Down To The River To Pray” by Alison Kraus is a track that can sometimes become shouty when the presence is overly done, but in the case of the SSR, it doesn’t become shouty and maintains a nice separation between the various voices. “Hallelujah” by Pentatonix can seem a little thin when only one voice is singing but pulls itself back together once the harmonics kick in.

In the case of classical instruments, they are again well defined and while I am no classical music expert, “Adagio for Strings, Op. 11a” performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra was pleasurable and didn’t become too bright or harsh, although there were parts of the piece where I feel it was missing a little bit of warmth on the strings.

In the treble, there is a roll off that continues down from the 3k mark, although there are a few little steps along the way. In general it does avoid sibilance but I found that a few of the “S” by Lana Del Rey in “Hope is a Dangerous Thing” were overly present. Now, this is a song that can become irritating pretty quickly on sibilant earphones and this was not the case with the SSR, it was just a couple of “S” at the intro that were a little too present.

The roll off in the treble does sometimes leave me wanting a little more “air”, as was the case also with “Adagio for Strings” and other songs that I feel needed a little more space to breath in the highest registries.

As far as soundstage, it is another IEM that I don’t find to be very wide. It is probably around average or slightly better but is a long way from the ZAX that I reviewed recently. The placement of images is decent and the transition between left and right are smooth and consistent, tested with “Letter” as always, but they are nothing to write home about.

The speed and detail of these IEMs are though, I didn’t find them to lose control at any point, no matter what I threw at them, and the details always seemed to be there even if they didn’t make a point of focusing on them. The timbre is pretty realistic on acoustic guitars and similar instruments, although I did find it a little off with violins and cello’s etc.


Conclusion…

I am sort of lukewarm about these IEMs. I am impressed by some of the things they do but they don’t seem to be able to excite me in anything they do.

The overall sound signature is quite pleasant and is not what I expected but it is not something I would choose most of the time. The details are good but are again not exciting it seems that some details stand out and others you have to look for. The details are there but don’t jump out at you.

The speed and definition of bass is probably my favourite part, although it could maybe have been increased by a couple of dB to be more to my liking. The mids and highs are very pleasant but once more are far from exciting.

While listening to these IEMs, I would get the feeling with one song that they were great and then feel a little let down on the next song.

At the end of the day, I don’t really have any complaints about these earphones, nothing is terrible, but they are something that I wouldn’t miss if I didn’t have them in my collection.

SenyorC