Moondrop Starfield Review - The Hidden Star
Updated: Jan 29
The unit reviewed is my own personal unit that I bought locally. All of the written below will purely come from my own experience with Starfield and you are welcome to agree or disagree with it.
This review is originally posted on Head-fi.org.
Moondrop has become one of the widely known audio brands from China at the rise of the Chi-fi trend these last few years with their Harmanish-tuning IEMs such as the Kanas Pro, Kxxs and Blessing. Thought that was the case, I personally never had a chance to try any of them yet, so Starfield is pretty much my first encounter with Moondrop.
However, unlike its predecessors, Starfield doesn't feature the Diamond-like Coating (DLC) Diapghram inside their beautifully painted housing. Instead, Starfield is equipped with the Super-sequential Carbon Nanotube (CNT) Diaphgram, the same transducer that was adopted on the much-hyped Blon-03, Tanchjim Oxygen, Tin Hifi T4 and last but not least, the retired Semkarch CNT-1. With that said, according to Moondrop, Starfield will produce more loose, delicate yet soft and stretched sound in contrast to the Kxxs's sharp, wide, accurate sound and super clear analysis.
Retailed at $109.9
Driver: Carbon Nanotube diaphragm- 10mm Dual cavity dynamic driver
Detachable cable standard: 24AWG Litz 4N OFC
Interface: 0.78 2pin
Impedance: 32Ω±15% (@1khz)
Frequency response: 10Hz-36000 Hz (free field. 1/4 inch MIC)
Effective frequency response: 20Hz-20000 Hz (IEC60318-4)
My gear in this review:
- Source: Shanling M6
- Eartips: SednaEarfit Short
- Cable: ISN Audio S8 SPC with 2.5mm
Starfield is a single dynamic driver IEM that adopts a 10mm Carbon Nano Tube driver with dual cavity. Their tuning is based on Moondrop's house sound signature, the VDSF, which is their own variation of diffuse field target. On Starfield, however, the VDSF is leaning closer to the Harman target with the tendency of bass boost with slightly less upper mid.
The low frequency of Starfield can be considered pretty neutral. They are not a lot, but also not too less for someone who's coming from mostly V-shaped IEMs in the past. The speed and decay are not too slow nor too fast, but because of the quantity, they end up becoming slightly bloaty and bleeds into the mid a bit.
However, even with their neutral-ish nature, they are still able to deliver satisfying punch and rumble with good amount of body, when I'm listening to the bass-heavy track with them. They also have decent texture and definition, plus good timbre, making them one of the most natural-sounding bass IEM I've ever tried so far (at the time of writing).
Another thing that amazes me the most here is how good Starfield presenting the vocals. Because even though it has a hint of mid-bass bleed, the vocal still stays quite forward and sounds clear and transparent to my ear. They also don't sounds overly thin and have a good amount of body to it, which makes them very good with male vocals and electric bass.
The tonality and timbre here are also surprisingly close to accurate for me, despite the warmth they have. They didn't have many colorations or whatsoever like other IEMs in the same price range that I had encountered, so most instruments or even vocals will sound as close as what they should be here.
The treble on Starfield is quite safe and smooth, so they will never going to sound harsh, piercing or even sibilant. This might be a good thing for some people who are treble sensitive or those who are looking for tuning with the relaxed treble. But for those who aren't, they'll wish Starfield to have more treble and extension.
It's still capable to produce enough details and clarity to satisfy your ear. Cymbals/high hats also still have some crispness and air on it. But just that, it'll sound kinda splashy sometimes, and when there are a lot of instruments playing, they tend to get congested and muddy, making them less enjoyable for orchestral pieces.
Soundstage & Imaging
To me, their soundstage is within the average to slightly above average, while the imaging is also pretty solid for the price. They have a good balance between both height and width with decent expansion to make them sound open and spacious. Though, the depth is slightly lacking, causing them to be a bit flat/less 3D.
Resolution & Separation
For the price, the resolution on Starfield is solid. They are not the most analytical due to the lacks of some treble, but you'll still get all the details from the songs you are playing. Separation, as I had mentioned before, also decent for the class even though on some busy tracks, the instruments tends to get mixed up a little sometimes.
Starfield falls under the relatively easy to drive IEM as I can drive them with my low powered sources without a problem.
TFZ No. 3
Being in the same price range, TFZ No. 3 is also a single DD IEM that adopts the DLC driver with transparent housing made of resin. It may look a bit plasticky but it's quite thick and solid.
In terms of tuning, TFZ no. 3 is clearly a V-shaped sounding IEM with a lot of boost on both bass and treble with recessed mids, unlike Starfield that is tuned to Harman-ish sound signature.
From the lows, you'll know right away that No. 3 is an ultimate bass head IEM. Unlike Starfield that has semi-tight bass, the bass on No. 3 can extend as low and deep as you want with a much more powerful impact and fuller body. They also have slightly longer decay but similar in attack speed with Starfield, making them sound far more bloaty.
The vocal on No. 3 also noticeably sounds thinner and recessed, which are typical for a V-shaped IEM.
For treble, No.3 has more boost in that area than Starfield, but they sound harsher and peaky, which will cause fatigue to those who are treble sensitive. They are also pretty detailed as Starfield, but because of the huge amount of boost on the lower frequency, it ends up kind of overshadowed.
The soundstage on No.3 also much more intimate and closed sounding than Starfield, so instruments will sound more congested and full in your head.
Are they worth it for $110? Definitely. They don't just look beautiful outside, but they do sound beautiful too. I didn't regret that I had to wait for almost a month to get my hand on them. Moondrop is really setting the bar high for its competitors with Starfield.
For someone that just experience the Moondrop for the first time through Starfield, I can't praise them enough for the quality that they provide here. Although, I know very well that Starfield isn't the most perfect IEM in the price range due to the lack of treble, for example. With their non-offensive tuning, timbre, solid technicalities, and overall packaging for a sub $100 IEM, they are definitely going to be in my favorite IEM and recommended list.