Moondrop ALICE TWS IEM Review
Moondrop ALICE TWS IEM Review
Moondrop is a popular Chinese Portable Audio brand that was once a small studio by several hobbyist engineers, which has been emerged in 2015 with focus on products like Earbuds, TWS and Wired In-Ear Monitors, Cables and USB DAC/Amplifier dongles. The Moondrop ALICE is the flagship TWS IEM of the company that features a so called U.L.T Super-Linear Dynamic Driver that utilizes a 3rd Generation DLC Composite Diaphragm with a diameter of 10mm. This driver is similar to the one found inside the popular KATO IEM.
The Alice comes with a tuning based on the VDSF Target response, and features Moondrop’s latest VDFS+ (Virtual Diffuse Sound Field Technology) Soundstage Algorithm. More interesting features are Qualcomm’s Latest QC5151 Bluetooth chip, Optimized DSP (Digital Sound Processor) Functions, 10 DSP Profiles and a Parametric EQ that can be fine adjusted via the Moondrop Link application.
I would like to thank Moondrop for providing me the ALICE In-Ear Monitor for review purposes. I am not affiliated with Moondrop beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered opinions about the product.
Price & Availability:
The actual price of the Moondrop ALICE is 189.99 US$. More information’s can be found under the link below;
Package & Accessories:
The box of the Moondrop ALICE offers a nice unboxing experience, which is quite hefty with approx 0.55kgs of total weight. The TWS IEM came inside a fancy looking white box that has a glossy sliver ALICE branding on the top, which was wrapped white a cardboard sleeve that has an Anime character and some brandings o the front and some product related specifications and technical details at the bottom.
Inside the box are the following items/accessories;
- 1 x pair of Moondrop ALICE TWS IEM
- 1 x Charging Case3 x pairs of Moondrop Special Spring Silicone Ear Tips
- 3 x pairs of Transparent Slicone Ear Tips1 x Storage Case with Magnetic Lid
- 1 x Print Material (Warranty Card, Product Instruction)
Moondrop ALICE has a pretty rich set of accessories, which includes 6 pairs of ear tips. 3 pairs are Moondrop’s Self-Designed Spring Silicone Tips with a unique diffusion structure, while the other 3 pairs are pretty soft transparent Silicone Ear Tips.
The charging case can be used with a pretty stylish protective case, which is a nice addition.
Design & Build Quality:
The ALICE is a really fancy looking TWS IEM with a pretty clean and minimalistic design, which has nicely soft, qualitative decent plastic housing in white color. The shape of the ALICE reminds me to those of the Sony WF-1000XM3, but one that offers a much better comfort and visual experience.
Each monitor features Moondrop’s latest U.L.T Super-Linear Dynamic Driver, which utilizes a 3rd Generation DLC Composite Diaphragm with a diameter of 10mm that is similar to the one found inside the popular KATO IEM.
The DLC Composite Diaphragm Dynamic Driver is integrated in to an Acoustic Cavity Structure that is similar to those of wired IEM’s, unlike traditional TWS earphones that do give more space for the battery and other electronic components.
The faceplate has a touch sensitive surface in order to make actions like play/pause, next/previous track selection, etc. without to put out your phone from your pocket, which works indeed pretty good.
The faceplate has a pretty plain design with two snowflakes on each earpiece that is in a harmony with the snow-white plastic of the ALICE. One of the two snowflake pattern on each faceplate features a hidden LED status indicator.
The inner surface of the monitor sports the sound nozzle and two charging connectors.
The sound nozzle is equipped with a metal filter on the top in order to prevent the insertion of dust or ear-wax, which could damage the internals over time.
Here is also a vent hole near the nozzle dedicated for the 10mm Diameter Dynamic Driver, while a second opening is on the rear side of the monitor.
The ALICE is equipped with two microphones, one of is on the front while the second one is on the front surface of the monitor.
Battery Life & Charging Case:
The built-in battery of the Moondrop ALICE provides a continuous playback for up to 8 hours, while the charging case increases the number to up to 40 hours, which means up to 5x times of a fully charge. Another nice addition is the wireless charging support of the case, which means even a mobile phone or tablet with bi-directional wireless charging option can be used in case when the batter runs out juice. The charging case of the ALICE shares the same plastic material in white color like the monitors, which has a good built quality from the hinges up to the charging connectors.
On the top of the case is the Moondrop brand logo.
Inside the case are LED dots that give short information about the remaining power of the battery and the detail about the charging process.
When you open the case you will see the seats for the monitors and the male connectors. These seats have a magnetic surface to ensure the right connection for the charging process and to avoid that the earphones drop out.
On the front of the case are the magnetic lead and the ALICE branding.
At the rear side is the USB Type-C charging port, while I couldn’t find any USB Type-C charging cable.
The overall build quality of both the monitors and the charging case it excellent!
Comfort / Isolation / Hissing:
The Moondrop ALICE offers a better fit compared to the almost painful Sony WF1000XM3 that I have had tried during an audiophile event, despite of the similar monitor alignment. It ismore lightweight (approx 7.5grams) and more importantly, it has a much better nozzle design, which helps in terms of a higher compatibility with various third-party ear tips.
The ALICE doesn’t feature Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). The main feature is the ENC (Environment Noise Cancellation) option that is provided by the Qualcomm QCC5151 Bluetooth SoC in combination with the Dual microphone setup. The result is a fairly efficient noise cancellation that is slightly better than the regular Passive Noise Cancellation method with ear tips.
What I didn’t like that much about the ALICE was the audible background hissing. This is more audible at lower volume levels, which reminds me to my old Walkman days. I hope that this can be fixed with a future FW update.
Pairing, Signal Strength & Call Quality:
The Moondrop ALICE is a pretty easy to pair TWS earphone that goes automatically in to pairing mode when you put out the earpieces from the chase. You don’t need to re-pair the earphone after the first process, which means that your phone, pc or tablet will automatically recognized and connect.
The stable operating distance of the Moondrop ALICE is approx 12 – 15 meters in barrier-free open environments thanks to the use of the latest Qualcomm QCC5151 Bluetooth SoC. The QCC5151 supports also the latest 5.2 BT Version and the AptX Adaptive High-Res Transmission Protocol.
Another feature of the QCC5151 is the integrated ENC Technology of the SoC that processes the environmental noises that are cached with the “Beamforming” Dual microphone setup of the ALICE in order to archive better/cleaner voice transmissions during phone calls, which was pretty good.
Moondrop Link APP:
The ALICE is integrated with the new Moondrop Link application, which supports an open parametric equalizer and actually 10 ready to use DSP profiles. The offers also a Parametric Equalizer option that I couldn’t access at the moment with my sample unit. Another useful feature of the APP is the ability to update the TWS earphone to the latest FW (Firmware) just Over the Air (OTA).
- Bluetooth SoC : Qualcomm QCC5151
- Bluetooth Version : 5.2
- Bluetooth Protocols : A2DP/AVRCP/HFP/HSP
- Bluetooth Codec’s : AAC, SBC, AptX Adaptive
- Driver Type : 10mm Diameter U.L.T Super Linear Dynamic driver
- Diaphragm Type : 3rd Generation DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) Composite
- Impedance : 32Ω±15% (@1KHz)
- Working Distance : up to 15 meters (in barrier-free open environments)
- Battery Life : up to 8 Hours (Earphones) + 40 Hours (Charging Case)
- Weight : approx 7.5grams for a single earpiece, approx 63gr with the case
Equipment’s used for this review:
- TWS Earphones : Moondrop ALICE, NUARL N6 Pro
- Source : Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (AptX Adaptive), iPad Air2 (AAC)
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- Adele – My Little Love
- Randy Crawford – On Day I Will Fly Away
- Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer
- Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album
- Dionne Warwick – Walk On By
- Sarah McLachlan – Angel
- Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien
- Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
- Dave Gahan – Kingdom
- Sting – Englishman in New York
- Barry White – Just The Way You Are
- Isaac Hayes – Walk On
- Elton John – Rocket Man
- Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight
- Sting – Englishman in New York
- Casey Abrams – Robot Lovers
- Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live)
- Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor
- Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Seasons”
- Otto Liebert & Luna Negra – The River
- Gogo Penguin – Raven
- Lunatic Soul – The Passage
- Metallica – Sad but True
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets
- Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone
- Slayer – Angel of Death
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain
- Lorde – Royal Massive Attack – Angel
- Toutant – Rebirth
- Really Slow Motion – Deadwood
- Daft Punk (feat. Panda Bear) – Doin’ it Right
- Massive Attack – Angel
- Bear McCreary – Valkyries (Gof of War)
- Muse – The Handler
- Twerl – Lishu
- U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday
- Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles
If you enjoy the classical Moondrop sound profile and timbre, the ALICE will satisfy you with is 10mm Diameter U.L.T Super Linear Dynamic driver, which is the same that we have found inside the popular wired KATO In-Ear Monitor. The ALICE follows Moondrop’s VDSF target response, which means a linear bass response, slightly saturated upper midrange tuning and a slightly smoothed out treble character with efficient level of airiness and sparkle.
Please note that I have written this review after a listening period of 30 hours. My sound impressions below are based on my impressions with the Default DSP adjustment. I have paired the device with sources like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (with AptX Codec) and iPad Air2 (with AAC Codec) and have used the stock Moondrop Special Spring Silicone Ear Tips that are included to the package.
The ALICE offers Ten Different DSP (Digital Sound Processor) Profiles that you can access with the Moondrop Link Application, which have been created by Mr. Luo, a senior tuning engineer at Moondrop. The list of DSP profiles are below;
What I have to mention again is the audible background hissing, which is a bit annoying at lower volume levels. I hope that this will be fixed with a future FW update.
The default DSP tuning of the Moondrop ALICE shows a pretty linear bass response with an adequate sense of subbass depth and rumble. The subbass region is on an moderate level, while it sounds nicely controlled and offers a good level decay, especially for a TWS IEM, while listen to songs like Daft Punk’s “Doin’ it Right”, Massive Attack’s “Angle” or Really Slow Motion’s “Deadwood”.
The midbass region of the Moondrop ALICE with its default DSP profile sounds pretty balanced and natural, but is bit bass-light for my personal taste, which could be easily solved with a tad more intensity. It is tight and quite controlled, while the impact, extension and fullness are on an efficient level. Instruments like bass guitars, kick drums are violas are reproduced in a pretty transparent and natural manner, without to sound veiled or muddy.
I do think that bass heads may won’t be quite satisfied with the default DSP profile, but the good part of the ALICE is the amazing DSP response of the highly capable Dynamic Driver. For example, some bass passages of Bear McCreary’s amazing “God of War” soundtrack “Valkyries” is reproduced with a very good body, impact and rumble, If I do switch to DSP profiles like “Vienna” or “Muich”, which also doesn’t affect the overall clarity and authority that is very satisfying for a TWS IEM.
The midrange of the Moondrop ALICE shows a tad warmer than neutral tonality and a pretty natural instrument and vocal timbre. The general midrange presentation can be described as quite transparent and spacious thank to the right amount of airiness produced in the upper midrange register.
The lower midrange of the ALICE is less pronounced compared to the upper midrange register. It is produced with a moderate sense of depth and fullness, while the grade of clarity and resolution is decent while listen to male voices such like Eric Clapton and Dave Gahan or to instruments such like strings and drums.
The upper midrange is one of the main highlights of the Moondrop ALICE, which sound pretty vibrant and detailed especially for a TWS In-Ear Monitor. The sense of clarity and resolution is excellent, while it still sound quite controlled while listen to instruments such like pianos, violins and side flutes. Female voices are reproduced in a pretty lively/vivid and emotional manner without have remarkable issues such like sibilance or harshness.
The treble range of the Moondrop ALICE stands out with its non edgy tuning that sounds pretty smooth but also quite crisp and airy. Here are no issues like sharpness or over brightness, while the level of extension is fairly efficient. TWS In-Ear monitor.
The lower treble region is more highlighted and detailed compared to the upper treble region. The level of clarity that is produced in this area is pretty good and helps a lot for the definition of instruments and vocals. The quantity and intensity decreases towards the upper treble region in a relative smooth and controlled manner.
This upper treble region has a mildly peak around the 8 kHz region that adds some sense of sparkle that is needed for the presentation for instruments such like strings or pianos. The sense of airiness and resolution of this area is on a sufficient level, especially for a TWS IEM, while the extension is a bit short.
Soundstage & Imaging:
The Moondrop ALICE offers a pretty good soundstage atmosphere for a TWS product and the separation and placement of instruments and vocals is decent. The soundstage shows a good sense of wideness and airiness, while the depth is on a moderate level
Moondrop ALICE versus NUARL N6 Pro:
The NUARL N6 Pro has a warmer and slightly more energetic presentation that is closer to a V shaped sound signature compared Moondrop ALICE. Both the subbass and midbass area of the N6 Pro have slightly more depth and intensity, compared to the default DSP profile of the ALICE. However, the ALICE shows in general a better level of resolution, speed and authority in the lower frequency register.
The midrange of the NUARL N6 Pro has a tad warmer tonality and fuller presentation than those of the Moondrop ALICE with its default DSP profile. The ALICE on the other hand shows a slightly more natural instrument and vocal timbre and the overall presentation sounds more balanced. What the ALICE does also better is the higher level of transparency, airiness and detail technical performance that is reproduced both in the lower and upper midrange.
The NUARL N6 Pro shows a brighter treble tuning that gives it a more dynamic and somewhat energetic treble response. The Moondrop ALICE sounds smoother and less edgy, which makes it more ideal for longer listening periods. The ALICE shows also in general a more balanced and natural treble character with better level of authority, while listen to percussions and soprano voices.
Both products do offer a decent performance for TWS In-Ear Monitors when it comes do the separation and placement of instruments and vocals. The Moondrop ALICE has the edge when it comes to the airiness and wideness of the stage, while the NUARL N6 Pro shows a slightly better level of depth.
The Moondrop ALICE is with no doubt one of the best TWS IEM’s when it comes to the overall sound performance, thanks to its highly capable U.L.T Super-Linear Dynamic Driver, which is the same unit that has been used inside the KATO. The possibility to easily switch between different DSP profiles and even make some fine adjustments with a Parametric EQ integrated in to the Moondrop Link APP do make the ALICE to a highly versatile In-Ear Monitor for a wide variety of genres. The built quality is pretty good while the fit depends on the use of the right ear tips, which is much better compared to those of the Sony WF1000XM3 that has a relative similar monitor design. My only complaint could come to the slightly hiss in the background that I hope can be fixed with a future FW update.
Pros & Cons:
- + Well implemented U.L.T Super-Linear Dynamic Driver
- + Good Overall Sound Performance
- + Various DSP profiles & Parametric EQ for Fine Adjustments
- + Smooth & Natural Treble Character
- + Stable BT Connection
- + Lots of Accessories (Storage Case, Ear Tips, etc.)
- – Background Hiss (may fixed with a future FW update)
- – Fit depends on the use of the right ear tips
- – Slightly Roll-Off in the upper treble region
Thank you for the Read!