Moondrop Stellaris Review
Moondrop Stellaris Planar 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, In-Ear Monitors and now USB DAC/Amplifier dongles.
The Stellaris is Moondrop’s first IEM that features a Planar Driver technology. The Stellaris is equipped with a 14.5mm diameter Planar Magnetic Driver that was designed and developed in collaboration with Tuoyin Electronics Co., which is a pioneer in China when it comes to miniaturized planar divers. The Stellaris comes with a metal shell that has an iridescent finish same like the Starfield.
I would like to thank Moondrop and Shenzhen Audio for providing the Stellaris Planar IEM for review purposes. I am not affiliated with Moondrop or Shenzhen Audio beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered opinions about the product.
Price & Availability:
The Moondrop Stellaris has a quite reasonable price tag that is available for 109.99 US$, more information’s can be found under the link below;
Package & Accessories:
The Moondrop Stellaris came inside a relative big box that was wrapped with a white cardboard that sports the Moondrop Stellaris branding and some Anime motives on the front, while the rear surface shows some technical details and a disassembled illustration of the Stellaris.
The box of the Moondrop Stellaris contains the following items/accessories;
- 1x pair of Moodrop Stellaris Planar IEM
- 1x detachable cable with 0.78mm diameter 2-Pin connector and 3.5mm headphone jack
- 3x pairs of T41 MIS-Tips (S, M, L)
- 3x pairs of U.C. Silicon Ear Tips (S, M, L)
- 1x Leather Case with Magnetic Lid1x Print Materials
Design & Build Quality:
The Moondrop Stellaris is a beautiful looking In-Ear Monitor that adopts a similar iridescent surface finish like the one we have seen on the Starfield, which reflects different color colors under varying angles and light conditions.
Inside the monitor shell that is made from metal is a 14.5mm dia. Planar Magnetic Driver that is equipped with a 1UM sub-nanometer diaphragm and 2UM Etching Circuit that was designed & developed in collaboration with Tuoyin Electronics Co., which is a pioneer in China when it comes to miniaturized planar divers. The Planar Diver is equipped with a fully symmetrical magnetic circuit composed of 7+7 N52H magnetic. The magnets are precisely arrayed during the mold assembly.
The Stellaris comes with a wonderful looking faceplate design, which shows golden hand-painted motives like Stars, the Sun, a Comet and the Moon that is emblematic of the Starry theme of the Stellaris.
Each faceplate features one pressure relief in form of a small opening that are located near the corners.
The front cavity sports a relative long sound nozzle and a second opening for the Planar Magnetic Driver. The sound nozzles are equipped with tuning foams in black color that also serve as filters to avoid the insertion of small particles like dust or earwax in to the monitors shell.
On the top of the monitor shell is the recessed 0.78mm diameter 2-Pin female connector that offers a tight and secure fit to the male connectors.
The rear surface of the monitors sports the Stellaris brand logo and L (left) / R (right) indicators in gold color.
The build quality of the monitors is decent, which meets my expectations from a product in this price category.
The Moondrop Stellaris comes with a stylish looking detachable with 2-Pin connectors and a 3.5mm headphone plug, which I think (no information available) is made from Silver-Plated OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) material.
The cable has a transparent outer insulation, while the internal strands do have an insulation that perfectly matches with does of the monitor, which is a mix of colors in gold and blue.
The 0.78mm diameter 2-Pin connectors to have a transparent plastic housing with R (Right) & L (Left) markings and a red color indicator ring for the right channel. Near the connectors are PVC heat-shrink ear guides that are useful for a comfortable over the ear wearing experience.
The cable sports a plastic (rubber) Y splitter in blue color that has some product related brandings (Moondrop) on its surface.
The 3.5mm Single Ended headphone jack has an L profiled housing made from plastic in blue color.
Fit, Comfort & Isolation:
The Moondrop Stellaris is an In-Ear Monitor with a relative large housing compared to other IEM that are equipped with a Planar Magnetic Driver configuration. Although the monitor’s housing protrudes outwards due to its long sound nozzle design, it fits fairly well in to my ears with an average ear-concha. The passive noise isolation of the Stellaris is on a sufficient level for the use in relative noisy environments such like a bus, metro or a train.
Pairing & Drivability:
The Moondrop Stellaris comes with an impedance of 36ohm and has a sensitivity of approx 117dB@1kHz, which looks like specs of an easy to drive IEM. However, the Stellaris needs a source with good amplification capabilities to show its true potential. Portable sources such like DAC/Amplifiers Dongles (Quloos MC01), USB DAC/Amplifiers (iFi Audio xDSD Gryphon) or DAP’s (FiiO M11 Plus) at high gain and medium volume levels are the perfect matching for the Stellaris.
- Driver Type : 14.5mm dia. Planar Magnetic Driver
- Frequency Response : 10Hz – 50kHz
- Sensitivity : 117db/Vrms (@1kHz)
- Impedance : 36Ω±15% (@1kHz)
- Plug Size : 3.5mm Single Ended
- Core length : 1.2m
Sources used for this review:
- IEM’s : Moondrop Stellaris, TinHiFi P1 Plus
- DAP/DAC’s : FiiO M11 Plus, iFi Audio Gryphon, Quloos MC01
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)
- Sonya Yoncheva – (Giuseppe Verdi) II Trovatore, ActI (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- George Michael – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- 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. 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)
- Daft Punk – Doin’ it Right (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (Spotify)
- Lorde – Royals (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
- Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Gogo Penguin – Murmuration (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
- Max Richter – On the Nature of Daylight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (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)
- Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Metallica – Master of Puppets (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
- Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)
The Stellaris shows a quite different tuning compared to previous Moondrop IEM’s that have mainly followed the companies VDFS target response, which has roots to the Harman frequency response. The difference is especially audible around the upper midrange (2-3 kHz) and treble (12 – 15 kHz) regions where it shows some high level of peaks. The general presentation of the Stellaris is extreme transparent, lively, airy, while it is also a highly capable IEM in terms of technical performance. However, the peaks in the highs and high-mids do make it quite often prone to sibilance and over sharpness. The bass of the Stellaris is pretty fast, controlled and offers a good level of extension. The midrange is lively, airy and transparent, while it sounds somewhat thin and sharp especially while listen to female voices. The treble range is highly detailed and extends very well, while it is quite prone to sibilance and over sharpness when you listen to poor recorded songs or to genres like metal or jazz.
Please note that the Moondrop Stellaris Review has been written after a burn-in period of 120 hours. I highly recommend you to switch to something like the Final Type-E (or similar) a silicone ear tip, which was able to add some volume to the midrange and that particularly tamed some of the peaks in the higher frequency area.
The Moondrop Stellaris is equipped with Planar Magnetic driver, which are in general known for their fast bass response. The 14.5mm diameter driver unit of the Stellaris is not an exception that shows a pretty quick, controlled and well extended bass response with good level of decay and resolution. The subbass region was able to produce a decent level of depth and rumble when called upon while listen to songs like Daft Punk’s “Doin’ it Right”, Massive Attack’s “Angle” or to Lorde’s “Royals” that did sound in general pretty exciting.
The midbass region on the other hand is another highlight of the Stellaris that was shown with an excellent level of speed and authority, thanks to the in general well tuned lower frequency response. Bass notes in songs like Charly Antolini’s “Duwadjuwandadu” or Gogo Penguin’s “Raven” are reproduced in a pretty fast and controlled manner without to show any remarkable muddiness or mixings. The sense of clarity and resolution is excellent, especially for a product at this price range.
Moondrop Stellaris has a midrange presentation that stands out with its grade of transparency, airiness and resolution, while it shows also some remarkable weaknesses in terms of over-sharpness and timbre that can only partially solved with some ear tips rolling (Final Type-E) or more effectively with some heavy EQ adjustments.
The lower midrange has moderate body and depth that shines with its level of clarity and detail retrieval when I do listen to male vocals such like Sting, Elton John or David Bowie, while I would wish a tad more fullness for Barry White or Isaacs Hayes. Instruments on the other hand such like acoustic guitars, violas or snare drums are shown with a sufficient sense of fullness.
The upper midrange is another story that is produced in a pretty detailed and energetic manner. However, this area sounds also a bit thin, overly sharp and relative prone to sibilance, especially when I did listen to strong female voices such like Edith Piaf, Adel and Sertap Erener or to instruments such like a violin, flute or mandolin, which do otherwise extend pretty well.
The Moondrop Stellaris has quite energy loaded, in other words somewhat peaky treble tuning that sounds otherwise pretty detailed and highly extended. The lower treble region is less pronounced and detailed compared to the upper midrange and upper treble area. The lower treble region is shown with a strong sense of presence along with a good grade of separation and extension, while it is particularly prone to over brightness when I do listen to soprano voices such like Sertap Erener and Sonya Yoncheva or to instruments such electro guitars or pianos.
The upper treble region (brilliance) is more highlighted compared to the lower treble area (presence) that is quite audible while listen to instruments such like snare drums or cymbals. There is an audible peak around the 8 kHz region while listen to hi-hats that is less fatiguing compared to the second and more audible peak between the 12 – 15 kHz, which creates a decent sense of airiness, while it makes the Stellaris quite accentuated for hiss and over brightness.
Soundstage & Imaging:
The Moondrop Stellaris has a pretty holographic soundstage presentation that offers a good sense of separation between the right and the left channels, which makes it to an In-Ear Monitor with a decent performance in terms of imaging for its price range. The Stellaris shows an above average performance in terms of wideness and airiness, while it offers a fairly natural sense of depth.
Moondrop Stellaris versus TRI I3 Pro:
The TRI I3 Pro has a warmer tonality and shows a fuller overall presentation, compared to the Moondrop Stellaris that is brighter and cleaner.
Both the subbass and the midbass regions of the TRI I3 Pro are more highlighted than those of the Moondrop Stellaris, which shows a closer to linear tuning. The subbass of the Stellaris shows less depth and rumble, while it is superior in terms of authority, clarity and speed. The midbass region of the TRI I3 Pro is fuller and more impactful compared to the Moondrop Stellaris. However, Stellaris is the clear winner when it comes to the clarity, resolution and control that was quite audible while listen to fast and complex bass passages in Gogo Penguin’s “Murmuration”.
The TRI I3 Pro has a slightly warmer midrange tonality and more forward oriented tuning that is audible while listen to both male and female voices. The Moondrop Stellaris has a brighter tonality and thinner overall presentation, which offers a better sense of transparency and detail retrieval. The lower midrange of the I3 Pro shows a better level of body and depth, while the Stellaris has the slightly advantage when it comes to the clarity and resolution of this area. The upper midrange of the Moondrop Stellaris sounds more energetic, detailed but somewhat aggressive and thin than those of the TRI I3 Pro that shows a smoother and more relaxed character.
The treble range of the Moondrop Stellaris has more presence and brilliance and shows a more energy loaded tuning with higher grade of clarity and definition. The TRI I3 Pro has an audible roll-off in the lower treble area that is less detailed and extended than those of the Moondrop Stellaris. The upper treble region of the Stellaris more highlighted and detailed that was pretty audible while listen to percussions like snare drums and cymbals. However, this makes the Stellaris somewhat sharp and fatiguing, especially after longer listening periods.
Both In-Ear Monitors do offers a fairly precise placement and separation of instruments and vocals, while the Stellaris has an advantage due to its more spacious and airy soundstage atmosphere that offer a better sense of depth and wideness.
The Moondrop Stellaris is subjectively a really impressive looking In-Ear Monitor that impressed my with its beautiful faceplate design, which shows hand-painted golden motives like Stars, the Sun, a Comet and the Moon that is quite emblematic for the Starry theme of the Stellaris. It is also a strong planar IEM when it comes to its technical abilities and bass performance. However, it is an In-Ear Monitor with a huge potential that was partially wasted with some wrong frequency adjustments in the upper midrange and treble area that needs tips rolling and some heavy EQ adjustments in order to show the true potential.
Pros & Cons:
- + Overall Technical Performance
- + Bass Response (speed, authority, resolution)
- + Holographic Soundstage Presentation with Good Sense of Imaging
- + Very Esthetic Looking Faceplate Design
- + Nice Accessory Package
- – Somewhat Unnatural Upper Midrange and Treble Timbre
- – Prone to Sibilance and Sharpness
- – A bit power hungry compared to other Planar IEM’s
- – Needs Tips Rolling & some EQ Adjustments
Thank you for the Read!