Ah yes, Moondrop, again we are back with this conversation after my Dusk review a while ago.
Nothing much to say here. For many readers of my blog, Moondrop is quite a familiar name due to their marketing strategies, coping with the fact that their works are usually on the level of solid or above in the market gave them a fast recognition in the competition nowadays.

And here we have their newest work: Moondrop Aria...
Yeah no kidding, Moondrop users can look at the thumbnail and realize already. The Aria is eerie similar to some of the past work, and even I have to agree, Moondrop seems to have potentially undercut themselves again here.  But, now the only question remains... How so?
Hence, the only way to answer this is to make this review to be a comparative article. Let's get to the details

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The Moondrop Aria was kindly provided by HifiGo in exchange for my honest review

Build and Accessories:

Moondrop Aria (2021) packaging
  • 6 pairs of silicone ear tips (2 sets, each set consists of S/M/L size)
  • Unbalanced 3.5mm 2-pin cable
  • Storage case
  • Tweezers
  • 5 pairs of replacement filters
  • Product instruction paper and company information cards
  • The IEM itself

Considering the Aria is a revisit of their previous model: Starfield (and by extension, the KXXS), it's no surprise that the general package hasn't been changed much. Though to cope with the theme that Aria has right now, the cable and the IEM itself follow a "blacky", mysterious style.

The cable is a hot mix between hate and love for me, the texture is nice for sure, but the plastic casing for the L-Shaped jack, Y-Splitter, and the 2-pin casing doesn't sit well with me. Another thing is that the cable is prone to tangling. All of this make it arguably worse than the Shozy Form 1.1's cable which if you have ever read my review, would know that I really like.

Similar to its previous iteration, beside the black matted paint, the Aria doesn't have any change shape-wise except the backplate is now flatter. A smaller change one can notice is the filter of the Aria seem to be slightly different, with the holes arranging in a Hexagon-shaped position.
But, that's all I can say


Aria and the KXXS line-up:

Moondrop Aria (2021) Frequency response - Can be seen from the Frequency Response Index

A lot of my readers can skip this paragraph if they are familiar with Moondrop already, but for people who are new to the brand and doesn't know anything about their "KXXS lineup" signature, let me fill you in: These IEMs essentially follows what I would consider as a "Harman signature", though admittedly have tamer pinna gain along with a warmer lower-mid but other aspects like how the gain is formed to the similar level of raise in the bass shelf (and of course, coming from my auditory experience) do make its signature to be considered like so.
Note that this is far from what I would call a "True Harman" signature and on another note, it can be plausible that one can call the Aria signature as "Mild V-Shaped", though I digress.

What does this mean then?

Pretty much due to the target these IEM are based on and the alternation done in the Frequency Response domain, I can consider their tuning as "safe". It's a signature type that is energetic enough without going overboard. Copping this with their technical performance (which I will address below), this generally is a decent choice in my recommendation list especially for someone who is still clueless about their desired tonal presentation.

So, why that lengthy wording about the "Harman signature" stuff? What is "KXXS line-up"?

Well, knowing Moondrop marketing strategies and tuning tactics this should not come as a surprise anymore, the Moondrop Aria essentially inherits the KXXS and the Starfield tonality, follow closely to the point that the frequency of these three IEM looks almost identical on paper, one can even think this was just a case of unit variance.

Hence, for someone who has been disliking the KXXS and Starfield sound signature, the Aria is unfortunately still a pass, but for someone who wants to know if there is any change (even how small it is or not), read on.

Moondrop Aria (2021) vs Moondrop Starfield (Sample 3) vs Moondrop KXXS - Comparison graph was generated from the Graph Comparison Tool

Now, I know there is still one more person in the family here which I haven't heard myself which is the KXXX (throw the Kanas in also if you consider it as a member of the series) but at least, at the tonality level, the Aria can be mistaken as the KXXS and Starfield respectively. In all fairness, without actually A/Bing three of them together, I won't realize that the Aria being the warmest IEM from the three. "Gladly" though, thanks to its technicality, the Aria price difference from the Starfield do make a bit of sense.

Yes, there are some small notable differences in this chamber this time around: the Aria has a wider soundstage, even among the IEM that I have experienced it gets surprisingly wide in comparisons, but lacking the depth in terms of layering. Instruments do sounds smeared together quite often hence this won't be my pick when it comes to Orchestral or Instrumental. I would even take the Starfield over this due to how more accurate the instruments are placed in the sound field than the Aria. Though, an appreciated factor that can make people pick the Aria over is that the bass response is slightly tighter.

Other than that, nothing out of ordinary. The Aria (and the whole KXXS lineup imho) is one smooth of an IEM texturing-wise. It admittedly has enough to separate them out of the sets in the sub-100$ range, but over that to the 300$ mark, detailing is just bland in comparison.
Though just to be more specific: Aria < Starfield < KXXS in terms of texture and details. Though honestly, all three aren't that far off with each other to justify them being in their own "league" respectively.

Choice comparison:

vs Etymotic Research ER2XR:

Moondrop Aria (2021) vs Etymotic ER2XR (Sample 2) - Comparison graph was generated from the Graph Comparison Tool

Considering how I have referred the Aria to the Starfield in the above section. Some can guess out already if they have read through my Moondrop Starfield vs Etymotic ER2XR comparison in my ER2XR review.

The situation here while goes in a slightly different way, still ended up having identical results in a lot of points, basically:

  • The Aria has better soundstage than the ER2XR (Wider rather than deeper), just like how the Starfield is.
  • The Aria has worse detail retrieval than the ER2XR, just like how the Starfield is.
  • The Aria has slightly worse treble than the ER2XR, just like how the Starfield is.

You get the gist.
Now, if we bring the price department into consideration, the ER2XR is commonly at least 30$ pricier than the Aria. But then again, this piece of Etymotic work also has several occasions where it went as cheap as 50$ since its release already.
If you can wait, wait, else the Aria is still a solid choice, much like how I consider the Starfield as such.

vs Tin Hifi T2+:

Moondrop Aria (2021) vs Tin Hifi T2+ - Comparison graph was generated from the Graph Comparison Tool

I don't mention the Tin Hifi T2+ much these days, but it's still one of the few solid IEM in the sub 100$ bracket nowadays.
Now despite how the graph is suggesting that the Aria can potentially shoutier than the T2+, my auditory experience was a bit different, namely the Tin Hifi offering often come out as more forward and more nasally with some of my usual test vocals like Mitsuki Nakae, Mameko... comparing to the Aria. This also is one of the casse where I think most of this perception was significantly due to how early the raise was rather than just having a bigger SPL.

The Tin Hifi T2+ overall offers a thicker note weight with a warmer tone in relative. This would have been what I consider as a "more pleasing" presentation until the lower treble spike at ~5.5kHz kicks in before rolling off, giving a sharp, dry sensation that might come out as offensive to some ears. Moreover, the T2+ does sound more narrow in terms of positional cues comparing to the Aria, though it has a bit more depth to compensate for this.


I will admit, I have a bit of trouble writing this review in my normal format, mainly due to how similar the Aria to its sibling. A lot of comparisons, reference to be made with the past model if anything, would have similar results with the Aria also.

That's precisely why I would recommend the Aria giving the fact that I have recommended the Starfield before. At least, the justification with the down price this time is that the Aria (imho) is arguably worse than the Starfield due to its imaging performance. Can't think of a way to blame Moondrop though, slapping a response and trying to improve the technicalities has always been their thing.
Not sure about how it will go in the future, but if this goes on, hopefully, the KXXS series will achieve the true chunk of gold it is trying to search for.

Recommendation ratings: Recommended