Moondrop Moonriver 2 Review






Moondrop Moonriver 2 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 and In-Ear Monitors.

Now, Moondrop is coming with its first DAC/AMP product the Moonriver 2, which is an ultra portable device for the use with Mobile Phones, Tablets and PC’s. The Moondrop Moonriver 2 will be the direct rival to similar product like the Lotoo PAW S1/S2, Shanling UA5, Cayin RU6.

The Moonriver 2 is designed with a fully balanced audio circuit featuring dual CS43198 premium DAC chips. This premium set of Dual DAC chipset should offer ultra-low distortion and a very clear noise-free background performance. Moonriver 2 features dual headphone output ports, which are the 3.5mm Single Ended (SE) and 4.4mm Balanced TRRRS) output. Moreover, the Moonriver 2 adopts also a dual OPAMP architecture on its four-channel balanced architecture to produce more output power for full sized headphone with an impedance of up to 300Ω.




I would like to thank Moondrop for providing me the Moonriver 2 USB DAC/Amplifier Dongle 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 Moonriver 2 is 189.99 US$. More details can be found under the link below;




Package and Accessories:

The Moondrop Moonriver 2 USB DAC/Amplifier dongle came in a small white box that has some shows an illustration of the internal circuit board & product related brandings on the top and some device specific technical specifications at the rear surface.

This box is including the following items;


  • 1 x Moondrop Moonriver 2
  • 1 x Silver-plated USB Type-C to USB Type-C Cable
  • 1 x USB Type-A to USB Type-C Adaptor
  • 1 x Print Material (Warranty Card & User Manual)


The Moonriver 2 has a USB Type-C interface with a replaceable cable. It comes bundled with a decent silver-plated Type-C to Type-C connector cable.

With a compatible Lightning cable, you can also connect it with Apple iOS devices (sold separately).





Design & Build Quality:

The Moondrop Moonriver 2 is a USB DAC/Amplifier Dongle with a pretty unique industrial design that has a terraced/layered surface, which reminds me to pyramids or on a terrain in Minecraft. The device is pretty small with dimensions of only 56.8mm*19.4mm*12.5mm and also quite lightweight with 17.1grams.

The housing is made from aluminum material that has been crafted using a high-precision CNC machining process to archive a unique looking industrial design.

The aluminum housing has a dark grey anodized surface that is in coherence with its modern industrial design concept. On the top of the device is the laser engraved Moonriver 2 branding (Moondrop Presents Moonriver 2) and a small LED status indicator light.

The LED indicator gives you information about the decoding format (DSD, PCM, etc.) and gain status (low/high) of the Moonriver 2. The left surface features two multifunctional mechanical buttons that are dedicated for volume and gain controls.

On one end of the device is the USB Type-C digital interface port, which offers a pretty tight and secure connection.

On the other end of the Moonriver 2 are the 3.5mm Single Ended (TRS) and 4.4mm Balanced (TRRRS) analog outputs with a gold plated interior surface and a small fixing screw.

At the rear side of the Moonriver 2 USB DAC/Amplifier dongle is a second fixing screw and an illustration of the internal circuit board design, which gives completes the modern industrial design concept of the device.

The overall build quality of the Moondrop Moonriver 2 is top notch and doesn’t show any imperfections like burr’s or gaps.






Hardware & Software:

The Moondrop Moonriver 2 offers a miniaturized USB DAC/AMP design with Hi-RES Capabilities, which shows some impressive hardware specs that are listed below.


DAC (Digital to Analog Converter):

Moondrop Moonriver 2 is a portable High-resolution lossless audio decoder and headphone amplifier in a compact form factor, which adopts a flagship-grade Dual DAC chipset featuring two CS43198 DAC chips arranged in a four-channel balanced architecture. The Moonriver 2 supports high-resolution 32-Bit/384kHz PCM and native DSD256 decoding. The flagship CS43198 DAC chips help the Moonriver 2 to achieve low distortion and high SNR ratings.

Please note that Windows PC’s do need an exclusive USB Driver installed in order to decode DSD files, which can be downloaded from Moondrop official website.


Amplification & Noise Floor:

The Moondrop Moonriver 2 features both single-ended as well as balanced headphone output ports. It houses a 3.5mm single-ended port and another 4.4mm balanced output port. Moondrop adopts dual OPAMPs for producing a powerful output thrust.

The 4.4mm balanced (Pentaconn) analog output provides enough power headphones with an impedance of up to 300Ω. The Moondrop Moonriver 2 was able to drive planar headphones like the HiFiMAN Sundara.

What immediately impressed me about the Moonriver 2 are its very dark background and the pretty silent noise floor. The Moonriver 2 shows pretty silent conditions with some sensitive IEM’s like Campfire Audio ARA and Andromeda 2020.




Technical Specifications:

  • DAC Chip                   : Dual CS43198
  • Headphone Ports       : 3.5mm Single-ended and 4.4mm Balanced
  • Frequency Response : 6Hz-85kHz (±1dB).
  • Background Noise     : 1.5uV (AES17 20kHz) 4.4mm / 1.2uV(AES17 20kHz 3.5mm
  • THD+N (3.5mm)       : 2Vrms (0.0008%@32Ω).
  • THD+N (4.4mm)       : 4Vrms (0.00013%@300Ω).
  • SNR (3.5mm)            : 123dB (A-weighted)
  • SNR (4.4mm)            : 131dB (A-weighted)
  • Line-Out (3.5mm)      : 2Vrms (High gain), 1.4Vrms (Low-gain)
  • Line-Out (4.4mm)      : 4Vrms (High gain), 2.8Vrms (Low gain)
  • Dimensions                : 56.8×19.4×12.5mm




Some Key Features: 

  • Dual DAC Chipset, Cirrus Logic 2x CS43198
  • 4 Channel fully balanced architecture
  • Line Out function for both 3.5mm & 4.4mm Balanced outputs
  • Output Power (4Vrms @300Ω )
  • 5mm SE + 4.4mm Balanced Outputs
  • Replaceable Type-C Cable Interface.
  • CNC machined Aluminum alloy chassis




Albums & tracks used for this review:

  • Adele – My Little Love (Spotify)
  • Randy Crawford – On Day I Will Fly Away (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
  • Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • B.B. King – Riding With The King (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Really Slow Motion – Deadwood (Deezer HiFi)
  • Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (Spotify)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
  • Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Photek – The Hiden Camera (Spotify)
  • Muse – Hysteria (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Rush – YYZ (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Rush – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)s
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
  • Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)






Sources used for this review: 

  • DAC/Amplifier          : Moondrop Moonriver 2, Lotoo PAW S1
  • IEM’s                          : Moondrop Variatons, FiiO FD7, Campifer Audio ARA
  • Headphones             : iBasso SR2, HiFiMAN Sundara







The Sound:

The Moondrop Moonriver 2 is a USB DAC/Amplifier dongle that offers a pretty neutral, transparent and detailed sound presentation, which adds only minimal coloration to your IEM or headphones, when hooked to both the 3.5mm Single Ended (TRS) and 4.4mm Balanced (TRRRS) analog outputs.

This review has been written after a burn-in period of 60 Hours. I have used the stock USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable paired with the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ and iBasso DX240. My sound impressions below are mainly based on my pairings with the Moondrop Variations, FiiO FD7 and Campfire Audio In-Ear Monitors.


Bass / Midrange / Treble / Soundstage:

The Moonriver 2 is a very clean, neutral and detailed sounding DAC/AMP dongle, which shows a fast and controlled bass response from the subbass up to the midbass area.

The subbass region sounds pretty deep and well extended when I do pair it with the Moondrop Variation, which shows a good synergy. The subbass rumble, authority and decay is decent when I do listen to songs such like Lorde’s “Royals”, Massive Attack’s “Angle” or Bro Safari, UFO! “Drama”. The midbass region is pretty tight, impactful and clean when I do listen to kick & snare drums, while the resolution is top notch especially when I pair it with the Campfire Audio ARA and Moondrop Variations.

The midrange area is the register where the Moonriver 2 truly shines with its natural and balanced presentation and warmish tonality. The midrange is reproduced with a good level of clarity and airiness. The transparency, timbre and micro detail retrieval is surprisingly good for such a small device when I listen to it with IEM’s like the FiiO FD7 and Moondrop Variations.

The Moonriver 2 offers an above average lower midrange response, which creates a good level of body and depth when I listen to vocals or for example strings like guitars and cellos. The upper midrange other hand is nicely pronounced, transparent and controlled, when I do listen to female voices or to violins, clarinets and pianos.

The treble range of the Moonriver 2 is close to neutral, mildly bright and nicely detailed from the lower to the upper treble register. The transitions are in general pretty controlled in moments when instruments do play with high distortion. The Moonriver 2 is able to create decent sense of treble intensity, sharpness and extension when I do listen to Chopin’s Nocturne No.20 or GoGo Penguin’s complex passages.

The treble range is offers a decent sense of airiness and sparkle that was pretty audible when I have listen to the Moondrop Variations and FiiO FD7. Instruments like Hi-Hats do sound distinct and have a good level of extension, while crash and ride cymbals are pretty fast and very clear.

The Mondrop Moonriver 2 has a fairly natural and expansive soundstage presentation, which shows an above average depth and wideness. It is not extremely huge but sounds offers in general a pretty spacious and airy atmosphere, when I do listen to vocals and instruments.




Moondrop Moonriver 2 versus Lotoo PAW S1:

The Lotoo PAW S1 shows a relative warmer and fuller sounding DAC/AMP compared to the Moondrop Moonriver 2, which has a more neutral tonality.

Both the subbass and the midbass regions of the PAW S1 do sound more highlighted, bold and energetic than those of the Moonriver 2. However, the Moonriver 2 is superior in terms of layering, authority and resolution in this area.

The midrange of the PAW S1 has a slightly warmer tonality and shows in general a fuller character. The Moonriver 2 on the other hand offers a more neutral, natural and transparent presentation with higher level of resolution. The lower midrange is the area where the PAW S1 hast the edge, which shows more body and depth. The upper midrange on he other hand is the area where the Moonriver 2 really shines with its lively, highly detailed, bright yet controlled presentation.

The treble range of the Moonriver is superior in terms of separation, resolution and extension when I do listen to female voices and strings or percussions. The PAW S1 on the other side sounds smother but has not the bite that the Moonriver 2 offers.

The performance of both USB DAC/Amplifiers is pretty close in terms of soundstage wideness, while the Moondrop Moonriver 2 has the edge when it comes to the depth and airiness of the stage.




Portable USB DAC/Amplifiers in form of dongles are very popular these days, which explains why so many companies are joining this trend with their latest products. Moondrop Moonriver 2 is undoubtedly one of the successful devices that will take your attention with its extraordinary design, general sound performance and well done hardware implementations.



Pros & Cons:

  • + Natural & Balanced Presentation
  • + Overall Resolution & Technical Capabilities
  • + Both 4.4mm Balanced & 3.5mm SE outputs
  • + Good Hardware Specs
  • + Stylish Industrial Design
  • + Competitive Price


  • – Dual DAC design drains more battery compared to Single DAC devices
  • – Hardware buttons do feel a bit loose
  • – No Lightning Cable included (needs to be purchased separately)


Thank you for the Read!





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