Moondrop is a name that doesn't need introduction in this blog but in short, I can just summarize them with some few simples word: Weeb IEMs, Good tunings.
It's no surprise that I have a lot of favors towards this brand due to their consistent sound quality, though that consistency seem to be an issues in itself due to a lot of their line up feels similar to each other.

That said, whether we are talking about their "Hi-fi" IEM is another story, today, we are going to look at another portion of their work: their TWS models.

Yes, I know we have the Sparks for a while now and the Nekocake is their latest work. While Moondrop is fairly young in this department I do have some hope considering they have basically nailed the IEM market in their own way already. And hey, this might be the first IEM from them that has an ANC mode!

That said, if you know this blog you already know what I usually focus on. For the newcomers though...

Hi, welcome to this blog. I don't know if you are here to look for a budget TWS or not, but this blog is focused on sound quality of an earphone regardless of its function. Just saying to make sure you know what you are going to read next.

Ok, now that the other has clicked out. The rest of you guys, Let's dive in shall we?

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Before going into the post, if you are new, please read this before having any comments regarding my writing or point of view‌.
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Information:

The Moondrop Nekocake was provided by ShenzhenAudio in exchange for my honest review

Build and Accessories:

Moondrop Nekocake packaging
  • 4 pairs of oval silicone eartips
  • Instruction manual
  • Warranty
  • USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable
  • The Nekocake Case and IEM itself

I mean, outside for the eartips nothing much is expected out of the Nekocake accessories anyway. Though my overall comment about this TWS would be: Compact

Which is straightforward honestly, the charging case itself is small and and easy to hold and the cap is quite snappy as well. It's a cute little design with solid durability with just 42$ hence I won't touch on further.

While I know some have complaints about the Sparks shell design, the Nekocake might ease your concern since the shell now follow a oval shape which is similar to the Apple Airpod Pro. So whether you are concerned about the fit of this pair, I would advise you to borrow an Airpod Pro is comfortable for you before considering the Nekocake (Not a 100% guarantee I know, but it helps). As for me, I don't have any problem regarding its fit and its ANC feature is more than adequate for me to use even inside shopping malls like Yodobashi Akihabara during Christmas.

For other miscellaneous features like Microphone, or battery usage though... I will pass on providing detailed information here.
Hey, I have said this from the beginning right? After all, there are more people who has more expertise on providing you better information so you better look for them. The only information is my small small complaint about the Microphone quality but that's all.
The Nekocake connection on the other hand, is decent with my Microsoft Surface Pro 7; even with my Realme C15 I don't detect any signal drop either. Though with my iBasso DX160, it does have some issue but I think this is due to the DAP instead.

Anyway, that's much I can say, if you know me you know my focus is always about sound. Let's get to it.


Sound:

Standalone analysis:

The Nekocake follows a neutral warm signature

Saying that, but it's one of the most "unMoondrop" products in their line up to say the least. As in..., it doesn't follow any popular target curve strictly like its siblings.

Moondrop Nekocake Frequency response - Can be seen from the Frequency Response Index

I hardly use this word when I am reviewing but in the context of describing the Nekocake, this is somewhat justified: The midrange of the Moondrop Nekocake sounds compressed.
It's a bit confusing since I don't know any better word to describe this either. What I perceived with the Nekocake is a sensation that slightly boxy and "thin" (?). And no, I am not talking about the 2000 - 3000Hz recession, there is something odd within the tonal presentation of vocalists like nayuta or Meramipop that I myself find it hard to pin point. Overall, I feel like all of the excitement on some tracks are sucked out for some reason, hence the "bland" description in the title.

It does make more sense upon trying out the preset though but I will mention it later
Moondrop Nekocake vs My preference target - Comparison graph was generated from the Graph Comparison Tool

That said, don't get me wrong, the Moondrop Nekocake midrange overall still sounds decent tonally but just not up to my preference. The warm, slightly "boxy" presentation from my perspective can be a really safe choice for someone who is looking for a balanced option when it comes to vocal; in other words, female and male vocalists have similar performances within this IEM. Sustain string instruments like Violin or Cello preform quite well on this set though it's a bit of bummer when something like Zither or Flute doesn't shine as much as I wanted. (Though I might tribute this partly due to the treble presentation as well)

Given the context of the Nekocake being a 50$ TWS, I am not expecting something exceptional here anyway. The bass response is good though, it's clean and has decent sub-bass slam, though mid-bass decay is just so so. That said, having an IEM with a clean bassline is still something hard to achieve within the budget sphere hence I will still consider this as a tick on my list.
What would make the Nekocake tonal perception wildly different between individuals though it's in the treble range. While I have seen one of my friend complains about the ~5500Hz peak like measurement entails, I don't perceive such thing. Rather, I see the Nekocake has some dry coloration due to the lack of mid-treble and sparkle which partly affect cymbal and hi-hats tonality.

The surprising thing about the Nekocake is in its staging/imaging performance anyway: lots of depth on its stage presentation as well as the height to back it up. Positional cues are a little bit diffuse but remain quite sharp and pinpoint.
I didn't expect the Nekocake to be this good on this front after hearing the Moondrop Spark. It's even more surprising to find one IEM that has good staging in the Budget IEM market much less a budget TWS even.
But that's all on the technical front, I am not sure how should I describe it in detail except that you should expect the average level of almost everything for a 50$ IEM (read: not TWS but IEM). The Nekocake doesn't sound exactly blunt but that its note texturing ability is just barely scratching past the surface. Don't expect anything fancy here.

Equalization preset:

For frequent readers, you know how the drill goes. For newcomers, please note that my impression of the EQ preset won't affect the Nekocake final rating when it comes to sound performance.

Honestly, I am not sure how to write this section so you can just skip it but for the ones who are still curious on how these EQ preset might do any magical stuff? Here we go.

Moondrop Classic preset:

Moondrop Nekocake (Classic EQ) Frequency response - Can be seen from the Frequency Response Index
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Wait, how is this Moondrop Classic? And here I thought they would shove something akin to Diffuse Field or Harman. 

Now it makes more sense why I feel like there is something odd when I heard the Nekocake on it's stock sound, this EQ treat the Moondrop Nekocake not as having a midrange hump, but as having a ~1.1kHz dip. And if you consider the dip as part of the problem?

You boost it up. And walla, the sound presentation feels "fuller".

Comparison between stock tuning and Classic preset - Can be seen from the Frequency Response Index

For this type of recessed upper-midrange tuning, I find it less of a headache if either the midrange hump is reduced, but I can get around with this. The sound presentation still feels recessed yes, but at least the 1.1kHz dip being fixed helps.

I would prefer to have this preset on classic to be frank. Saved myself from the trouble of using my brain.

X'Dynamic preset:

Moondrop Nekocake (X'Dynamic EQ) Frequency response - Can be seen from the Frequency Response Index

Yeah... this preset seem to damp down everything and only allow the bass to shines. Not a common solution but this doesn't help with the fact that everything on the Nekocake feels quite "boring" already. Not sure if I feel any punch out of the Nekocake with this either.

Yeah, this doesn't help. Lo-fi or something like DiverseSystem's "work." series does sound decent on this setup though, but that's just me.

Nobass preset:

Moondrop Nekocake (Nobass EQ) Frequency response - Can be seen from the Frequency Response Index

How to say about this? It does what it has to do... Nobass. Nothing much to say here because it is already quite straightforward. You know how I think about the Nekocake stock tuning already, then the Nobass preset overall just makes everything sounds recessed but also unexciting.

Not like it's screwed tonally but it's probably one of my least favorite alongside...

Wennebostel preset:

Moondrop Nekocake (Wennebostel EQ) Frequency response - Can be seen from the Frequency Response Index
This tuning reproduce the well-known characteristic of a well known S-inital earphone brand in Germany

This was taken from the product page lol

Yeah, you know which brand is it already, for some reason I am enjoying this description more than I should.

Anyway, if you don't know, my bold guess here is "Sennheiser". Which... yeah, I have always been complaining about Sennheiser IEM tuning while liking some of their Headphone products. But it has been known that Sennheiser always try to go for a upper midrange recession in nearly all of their line up. Even their latest flagship Sennheiser IE900 while being one of my favorite overall does have this issues hence my complaint.

But I mean, by the end of the day, that's their house sound whether I disagree with such tuning decision or not. And I will leave it at that

Bottom of the line:

Moondrop, I know you guys are new to this department but... I feel like the Nekocake will be better if more EQ option is provided?

I mean, sure, the stock tuning is not up to my preference, but it's a good template if you have seen the Sony WF-1000XM4 performs. For sure I understand that there might be some hardware limitation behind, but if it is not, I hope Moondrop can provide the user the option to use something even as simple as a fixed band EQ in their app.

Select comparisons:

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The stock sound is used for this comparison, I won't go through the trouble to compare for each and every preset.
Feel free to ask me personally in my Discord if you want to know in details though.

vs Moondrop Sparks:

Moondrop Nekocake vs Moondrop Sparks - Comparison graph was generated from the Graph Comparison Tool

Initially, this review should have been done in a comparison format but my inept writing ability has proven that I should just make two separate reviews as usual. That said, it doesn't make this comparison any less beneficial anyway.

I would prefer the Sparks over the Nekocake for sound quality. Why? This all just boils down to the question that whether I would go for better tonal performance in exchange for Staging and after 3 weeks of using these two pairs interchangeable, Spark is the result.
I mean, the staging on the Spark is average at best, but it slightly has better bass performance and an upper mid response that is closer to what I usually prefer.

Spark is closer to Harman than my own preference though -_-. It can be slightly less exciting, just slightly.

Of course, since I am rating this based on pure sound quality, some people who stumble on this article might beg to differ. And no I am not talking about you who might prefer a less exciting presentation compared to me, I meant the "casual" audience here.  
Looking at the features set of the Nekocake which has ANC and a shell design that is closer to... cough Apple... then yeah, I understand why you would pick it over the Sparks. At that point, I would just tell my relatives that the Nekocake is a decent TWS, just that the bonus is that it is way more balanced than the bloaty bunch on the market.

Except the Lypertek Tevi, that one was nice

vs Moondrop Aria:

Moondrop Nekocake vs Moondrop Aria - Comparison graph was generated from the Graph Comparison Tool

Yes yes, the Moondrop Aria is more exciting, but what's more about it?

Well, believe it or not, I think the Nekocake is better than the Moondrop Aria in terms of imaging. If anything this next iteration of the Kanas Pro lineup (well, before the Kato of course) has a remarkably wide soundstage presentation with an imaging performance that is too diffuse that I basically dropped it and ended up would recommend the Moondrop Starfield instead. But, I do understand the charm of buying something at similar performance but 30$ cheaper.

The Nekocake throwing into the equation makes this a bit more interesting nonetheless. If you give me both the Nekocake and the Aria on the silver plate then I might pick both depending on my mood. But if I got the Nekocake already?

Yep, skip the Aria, I will try to get the Starfield instead.

vs Shozy Form 1.1:

Moondrop Nekocake vs Shozy Form 1.1

Hey comparing to the Nekocake, this is not a bad choice. Something from the Shozy Form 1.1 tonally makes me think this can be a mellower Nekocake.

How would I see this as "mellow" you mean? Well, for once, the Shozy Form 1.1 feels a bit recessed for vocal which is... what I see with the Nekocake also. It arguably is a mid-bass centric IEM, the sloppy bass speed doesn't help it from having some complaint of being bloat either. Oh well, It is as tamed, yet slightly more colored that one more prefer it over the Nekocake. Better treble extension as well despite my problem with the 8kHz peak is still there.

The weakness? Well, the Nekocake has better staging while Shozy Form 1.1 feels like everything is confined in a box. But a trade is a trade ¯_(ツ)_/¯ or I should say it is suitable for being a compliment set to use alongside the Nekocake.


Conclusion:

Yes, if you ask me personally, the Nekocake won't be my top pick for a budget TWS, after all I prefer the Moondrop Sparks over the Nekocake due to its sound performance anyway.

But as a IEM in the market in general, the Nekocake is quite solid. Solid due to its decent tuning and staging performance and for a TWS? It's probably one of the few that can provide you a balanced signature.

Bland as this cat cake might be, it's still a decent cake. Nice work from the Moondrop team.

Recommendation ratings: Recommended


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