Review - Reecho SG01 (Sub 50€)

Review - Moondrop Nekocake (sub 50€)

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Also available on YouTube in Spanish: Acho Reviews YouTube 

The Moondrop Nekocake have been sent to me by Shenzen Audio in exchange for the publication of this review. They have not requested anything specific but my usual warning stands, I will do my best to be as honest and impartial as possible but it is always good to consider that these earphones have not cost me anything.

You can find the Nekocake on Shenzen Audio here: https://shenzhenaudio.com/products/moondrop-nekocake-tws-true-wireless-earphone-optimized-13mm-dynamic-driver-bluetooth-5-0-touch-operation-5-tunings-push-button-reset  (this is a non-affiliate link)

Intro…

As some may already know, I am a fan of Moondrop. My experience with them has been that they offer quality that is at least as good as the price range they sit in, sometimes competing with others that are quite a bit higher in price.

This was one of the main things that made me happily accept to review the Nekocake when Shenzen offered to send them out, although I don’t usually review many bluetooth products, mainly because I am not a huge user of bluetooth.

I do have a few TWS IEMs, although they are getting a little long in the tooth (in Chinese product release time at least), but my main bluetooth set up of choice (when I want to be cable free) are the Moondrop Aria connected to the Shanling MW200. The Moondrop Nekocake come in quite a bit cheaper than that, costing less than 40€ (around 100€ cheaper than the MW200+Aria option) and placing them easily inside the sub 50€ bracket that I focus on.

The IEMs themselves use a 13mm dynamic driver, with a titanium coated dome and a  Daikaku ultra-thin CCAW voice coil imported from Japan, which they say is to “ensure the lowest possible suspension system mass, so that the earphones can offer a more rapid transient response and further enhance detailed performance”. This sounds pretty impressive on paper, especially for 40€, but let’s see what it’s like in the real world.


Presentation…

Continuing with the anime theme that Moondrop have on the majority of their products, the box is a white box with a sketch of an anime girl on the cover. On the back they show the specs along with a graph of the FR, but we’ll get to sound in just a moment.

Inside the box we find the IEMs along and the charging case on the top level, with a manual, 3 sets of spare silicone tips and a charging cable underneath.

There is nothing really exciting about the presentation or contents but for 40€, I would much rather see that not much has been spent on packing and accessories.

Build and aesthetics…

The aesthetics of the IEMs are very reminiscent of the Apple options. Although not identical, they do have that kind of vibe to them and I could see someone who has never heard of Moondrop mistaking these for some kind of Apple imitation. On the part that extends down there is the logo of the cat (which I guess I should have mentioned that Nekocake means “Cat Cake”, not sure who came up with that name but it is at least a break from the usual Pro, X and Neo that we keeps seeing everywhere) along with Moondrop, both in brown.

The charging case is also a very simple white case with the cat logo on the front and Nekocake across the top cover. It is actually quite a nice and compact case, not the smallest I have ever seen but compact enough to easily be carried in a pocket.

The comfort of the IEMs is not bad, not the most comfortable but they don’t irritate me over periods of 2 or 3 hours, and they are nice and light.

The build quality seems to be pretty decent, it is obviously still completely plastic but in general it does seem to have been well put together and I see no obvious flaws.


Functionality…

The functionality of the Nekocake is simple, much the same as 90% of the TWS offerings available. You take them out of the case, they connect to your phone and you are ready to go. The only thing that is slightly different is that you enter pairing mode by holding the button on the case while the IEMs are in it (with the cover open). Other than that, you get play/pause by tapping either side once, you get next/last track by tapping the right or left side (respectively) and you get the assistant by triple tapping. You can also activate ANC by tapping and holding either side for a couple of seconds, with a VTuber voice that tells you it has been activated or deactivated. You can also answer calls, hang up and refuse calls by using the same system.

The functionality of these single/double/triple taps can be reassigned in the Moondrop Link app, letting you choose which you would like each combination of taps to do, although there are no extra functions you can assign. To be honest, I have no issue with the way the functions are assigned as they are, however, I do miss not being able to raise and lower volume from the IEMs themselves, something that I would like all bluetooth IEMs and headphones to have, as getting my phone out of my pocket to change volume is something I would rather avoid when going wireless.

In the app you can also change the EQ of the IEMs and it gives you a choice of 5 different settings, I will mention more about these in just a second.

I can’t say that I have had any issues with connectivity, although I haven’t really tested the distance (10m according to the spec) and the battery life has been enough for my daily use, which is 4 hours for the IEMs and 12h with the case (according to the manufacturer). As I usually place them back in the case when I don’t have them in my ears, they have never run out of battery on me and the case has lasted over 2 days easily (no warning light for the battery), although I automatically recharged it at the end of the second day.

I made a few calls and the other end said that while I didn’t sound perfectly clear, they could easily understand me, so I can’t complain about using them for calls either.

The last thing to mention is codecs. While the Nekocake uses bluetooth 5.0, which seems to be good to not experience any glitches in connection or lag, they only support SBC or AAC codecs. Now, I would much prefer to have the option of a higher quality codec, such as LDAC, but I haven’t found it to be that important, my opinions on sound will probably clear this up.


EQ Presets…

As I just mentioned, the Moondrop Link app (which is the same app for the Moondrop Sparks) allows the choice of 5 EQ presets: Balanced (the default option), Moondrop Classic, X’ Dynamic, Nobass and Wennebostel.

Balanced is, as I just said, the default option and, in my opinion, is the only one that I found to be usable for me. I will talk more about this preset in the sound section, as it is the one I have been using and have based my opinions on. 

This is what the Balanced EQ looks like on paper:


Moondrop Classic is strange as it seems to cut the volume level in half, I mean, it actually drops the output by about 8dB in comparison to the Balanced option. I have no idea why this is a preset or who came up with the idea but here is the graph of it vs Balanced:


X’ Dynamic is a bass boost but not in a good way, at least in my opinion. I know that I am someone who is not a bass head and that I don’t favour overly present bass (except on occasions) but this preset just seems to make everything muddy and, well, wrong. It boosts everything all the way through the mids also. This is the graph of the ‘X Dynamic vs Balanced:


Nobass is just that, no bass. This is certainly not a tuning that I would choose but, to me at least, it is much better than the X’ Dynamic option. This is what it looks like on paper, vs the Balanced option, although the impression when listening is of even less bass:


Finally we have Wennebostel, a very strange name for an EQ preset. Wennebostel is a place in Germany and from what I have read, this preset brings “Sennheiser like” characteristics. Now, I haven’t had much experience with Sennheiser TWS IEMs, except for some brief tests, but this doesn’t remind me of any Sennheiser I have heard, at least that I can remember. Maybe I am remembering wrong and it is reminiscent of a Senn product but I certainly wouldn’t have guessed it if I hadn't read it, it reminds me more of the X’Dynamic preset than anything else.

Here is the Wennebostel graph vs the Balanced:


Sound…

So, finally, on to the sound section. As I said, I chose the Balanced profile and all of my opinions are based on using this preset.

Starting off with the subbass, I would say that it is on a par with the rest of the frequencies. There is a roll off that happens due to the fact that there is no boost and our hearing rolls off naturally as we get to the lowest end of the spectrum. There is some rumble present when listening to "Chameleon" but by no means is it to a level that I would consider “bassy” in comparison to so many other sets. This is not really an issue for me with the majority of music I listen to but it is something to consider if you like deep rumbling subbass.

Moving into the mid bass frequencies, as you can see on the graph, there is a bit of a dip going on. This dip works fairly well to stop any muddy transitions between the bass and mids but can also remove some of the lower body of acoustic instruments. To be fair, it is not as bad as it looks on paper, I still find acoustic guitars and basses to have a nice body to them but they are missing a little bit of warmth down there.

The lower mids are clean due to the dip in the upper mid bass that I mentioned and are actually fairly well balanced up until the higher mids where there is again a bit of a dip. This does avoid the vocals becoming harsh in their upper mid range but may make some voices feel a little further back than usual. For example, Leonard Cohen has a voice that is usually placed quite a bit forwards in comparison to the instruments (using “Happens to the Heart'' as an example) yet on the Nekocake it is much more balanced. It is as though Moondrop has used these two dips (upper bass and upper mids) to stay safe and it seems to work ok. It is not my favourite FR in this regard but it is definitely not offensive.

The higher ranges are rather smooth, once again avoiding any harshness or even sibilance. My usual “Code Cool” test did not present any more sibilance than it should. However, in this same track, the treble itself does sound a little wrong.

I know that wrong isn’t really a good way of explaining anything, but it sort of sounds like there is a slight delay between the hit and the roll off of the higher notes, giving a sort of strange misaligned effect. Again, this is not exactly a very comprehensive way of explaining it but I am struggling to describe it.

The higher end of the treble does roll off, lacking a little bit of extension and air, but that is something that I find on 99% of single DD IEMs that I try.

The soundstage is actually rather decent, better than I would have expected, with a placement of images that is actually fairly well done. No, this does not make you close your eyes and focus on images with millimetric accuracy but I find it to be better than many of the wired alternatives at similar prices. 

As far as detail, these are not the most detailed of IEMs. There is a bit of a smoothness to the overall sound, meaning that small details do get lost in the overall picture of things, but that doesn’t really take away from the enjoyment of the Nekocake for what they are, which I guess brings me to the…


Conclusion…

I feel that the Moondrop Nekocake are a set of TWS IEMs that don’t pretend to be something that they are not. They are a simple, economical, set that just delivers sound in a smooth and simple way.

I found myself using them with Spotify most of the time and enjoying them. I did not spend my time focusing on the music and looking for details (except when actually consciously doing so for this review), I just got on with my life with the freedom that TWS brings. That is, in my opinion, what these IEMs set out to do, they give you a way of listening to some background music while you go about your day to day.

They follow a tuning that is fairly balanced and safe, at least in “Balanced” mode, which some may think is a bit boring but I, personally, found it quite pleasant and non offensive, again, meaning that my attention wasn’t really brought to the music, it was kept on whatever other tasks I was doing at the time.

The ANC is not the greatest but it does tame constant rumbles (such as the AC) reducing them by quite a bit, although voices and other non-constant sounds are still easily audible. 

I don’t have a huge amount of experience with TWS IEMs, so I really don’t know what these are up against in the price bracket they sit in, but I certainly don’t think they are bad value for 40€ if what you want is the commodity of TWS and not ultra defined high resolution audio. Yes, I could pick plenty of things that I would prefer to improve on them but they are things that are not really important (to me) when I am doing something that brings me to choose TWS.

I think that the vast majority of people who just want some wireless buds to go with their phone for when they are out and about would be more than happy with the Nekocake, unless they are someone who wants a lot of bass, but then they could just turn on the X’ Dynamic mode and have more bass than they wished for ;) In fact, I think if moondrop could release a few more (i.e: better) EQ presets for these, they would be a great buy for the price.