Today we review the $520 USD Moondrop Variations In-Ear Monitors.
Disclaimer: ShenzhenAudio sent us the Variations IEM for this review, free of charge. I only covered customs taxes and fees. All thoughts and experiences with the product are naturally my own. You can find more about them here. Let’s get to it.
Moondrop is a company that specializes in the research & development of Hi-Fi earphones. They have been in the industry since 2014 but the Moondrop brand was established in 2015. In the first years, the Moondrop team focused only on earbud design and later added IEMs to their product line-up. By using new technologies in their products and launching successful products, they managed to become a great company that designs & produces products for every price range of the market in a short time.
You can find our Moondrop reviews here.
The Variations is the latest tribrid offer of the Moondrop company. It is also their first and only tribrid as of January 2022. Around a month ago, we reviewed Moondrop’s KATO earphones and we were quite impressed. Let’s see if the Variations can give us the same impression! Moondrop’s R&D team closely followed the criticisms received by other brands and, since they have developed many EST+DD and EST+BA-combining products before, used their expertise in this area to prevent Variations from receiving such criticisms. The Variations combines Sonion’s high-performance dual electrostatic drivers with a 10mm LCP liquid crystal diaphragm dynamic driver and Softears-D-Mid-B customized midrange balanced armature drivers.
Variations’ dedicated page can be found here. I am including the highlights of the IEM below. Let’s take a closer look at it, without further ado.
Driver Configuration: 1DD+2BA+2EST
Socket: 0.78-2Pin Sunken Design
Housing: Stainless Steel Faceplate + Resin Body
Cable: 6NOCC Single Crystal Copper – 4.4mm + 2.5mm + 3.5mm
Frequency response range: 9-40kHz (IEC61094,Free Field)
Effective frequency response range: 20-20kHz (IEC60318-4,-3dB)
Impedance: 15.2Ω @1kHz土15%
Sensitivity: 118dB/Vrms @1kHz
THD: < 1% @1kHz
Packaging & Accessories
The Variations comes inside of a well-designed square cardboard box. The box has an outer cover that features the Moondrop’s anime girl on its front side. On the rear, we see the Variations’ measurements and specifications listed. The top side has Moondrop’s logo and nothing else. Upon removing the outer cover, we are welcomed by a stylish, 2-piece cardboard box. Upon opening it, the beautiful blue faux-leather carrying case welcomes us along with the rest of the packaging that is under the Moondrop’s warranty and introduction brochures. The unboxing experience feels premium. The content is rich and of high quality. The Variations come with 3 pairs of foam tips and 3 pairs of silicone tips.
Additionally, there are replacement filters with adhesive, included in the package. Moondrop also provides you with a plastic tool to help you precisely place those filters on the nozzle. Furthermore, the IEM comes with a single-crystal OCC copper cable in litz configuration. The cable features 0.78 mm 2-pin connectors and an interchangeable plug system. There are 3 options included in the package. The single-ended 3.5mm, balanced 2.5mm, and balanced 4.4mm. It is especially nice to have options. Kudos to Moondrop for the premium cable & accessories.
Apart from cable and adapters, you get a gorgeous hard faux leather case that can be used to carry your IEMs without any damage during transportation. The inner side of the carrying case is finished with soft material to prevent your earphones from being scratched.
It is obvious that Moondrop put a lot of thought into the package and thought about our needs as audiophiles. Overall I am quite satisfied with the unboxing experience and material quality. Great job!
Design, Build & Fit
If you’ve used a Moondrop product in the past, you know that they care about material quality. The Kato had a gorgeous stainless steel housing and the material quality of both the IEMs and the accessories were impressive. The Variations IEMs do feature the same level of quality with their stainless steel faceplate and frosted transparent resin shell. The IEMs feel very premium in hand and up-close. If you look at the shell closely, you could see the silhouettes of the drivers through the shell. I have been inspecting IEMs for around 10 years and I haven’t seen the frosted matte shell design before so I really liked the idea and Moondrop’s unique outlook.
The stainless steel faceplates look quite nice as well, they have some kind of 3d cube pattern and they look quite stylish in the ear. Furthermore, what I appreciated the most about the unit is its shape. It is a medium-sized earphone with a custom-like shell shape. It sits comfortably inside my ear like a custom in-ear monitor and it feels great against my skin. I have never felt irritation during my time with the Variations. The comfort, the fit was amazing and the filled-in shell provided a good level of passive isolation.
One thing that may be improved here is the nozzle. The nozzle is a little too wide, I had trouble finding aftermarket tips for it. I couldn’t do proper tip rolling but nothing fit the wide nozzle, not even the JVC’s SpiralDots.
That’s the only negative I could find about the form/factor of the Variations.
To top it all, I’d like to say that I looked hard for any imperfections, sandblasting/polishing human errors and such, however, couldn’t find any. Thanks to the meticulous craftsmanship of Moondrop’s engineers, the IEMs are perfect, build-wise.
The review continues on Page Two, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.
Page 1: Intro, Moondrop, Variations, Packaging & Accessories, Design, Fit & Build Quality
Page 2: Sound Quality, Low, Mid, High, Technical Performance, Comparison, Last Words