Moe Audio MOE-SS01 Review

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Reviewed December 2013

Details: Dual dynamic driver earphone from China-based Moe Audio, closely related to the JVC HA-FXT90
MSRP: $65 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $64 from mp4nation.net$64 from lendmeurears.com / $65 from ebay.com
Specs: Driver: Dual Dynamic | Imp: 12Ω | Sens: 107 dB | Freq: 8-25k Hz | Cable: 3.9′ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: stock single-flanges; MEElec “balanced” bi-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (2.5/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes), shirt clip, and soft carrying pouch
Build Quality (4/5) – The SS01 uses plastic shells that clearly show the driver chambers and incorporate an “S” into the design. The earphones utilize a narrow flat cable that actually feels rather sturdy and is more user-friendly than most other flat cables, which tend to be either too thick and heavy, or too rubbery
Isolation (3/5) – Not bad despite the shallow-fitting shells
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Very low when worn cable-down; nonexistent with over-the-ear wear
Comfort (4/5) – The drivers of the SS01 are arranged vertically, like those of the JVC FXT90, resulting in similarly-shaped housings. The earphones are lightweight, and despite their larger footprint in the ear are no less comfortable than most conventional straight-barrel IEMs, thanks in part to the angled nozzles. Over-the-ear wear is possible for those with larger ears but may require longer eartips than those provided. For me the SS01 is much more comfortable when worn cord-down

Sound (8/10) – The MOE-SS01 utilizes a driver setup similar to the pricier JVC HA-FXT90s – twin 5.8mm drivers made of different carbon composites. The sound bears some similarities to the JVCs but on the whole the discrepancies do add up to a rather different audio experience. I would summarize the sound of the SS01 as very clear, with a cool tonal character and slightly v-shaped response.

The bass of the SS01 is very impressive, perhaps second only to the earphone’s clarity in this regard. It is enhanced, but not overbearing, and has good punch and extension with virtually no bloat. The JVC FXT90, which the SS01 is closely related to, has more of a mid-bass hump and sounds warmer and fuller overall. The SS01 is a little on the thin side, especially with the way it presents male vocals, but otherwise the mids are quite good – mostly level and extremely clear.

The upper midrange and lower treble of the SS01 are quite prominent, lending guitars great presence and “crunch”. The treble is nice and energetic overall. It reminds me of the Audio-Technica ATH-CKM500 – not really peaky, but with an “edgy” character that occasionally bothers me (with a lot of heavy metal recordings, for example). At times, the SS01 can exaggerate sibilance a bit as well, but not nearly to the same extent as the average VSonic set. The FXT90, from memory, had a bit more treble sparkle but less of an edge to it.

The presentation has good width and decent imaging for something in this price range. It’s not quite as spacious and out-of-the-head as, say, a VSonic GR07, but it fares very well against similarly-priced sets. The SS01 is very efficient, too, reaching listening volume more easily than the GR07 and most other dynamic-driver sets.

Select Comparisons

VSonic VSD1S ($49)

One of my favorite sets in its price range, the VSD1S is a slightly v-shaped earphone that makes a pretty good match for the MOE-SS01 in overall performance. The VSD1S boasts a little more bass impact compared to the MOE and sounds warmer overall. The SS01 is leaner and cooler in tone but still has excellent bass presence. The earphones have similarly excellent clarity. Like most VSonics, however, the VSD1S tends to amplify sibilance. The SS01, on the other hand, is far less prone to exaggerating sibilance but sounds a little harsher in general. The SS01 also appears a touch more congested while the VSD1S is more airy and open-sounding.

SteelSeries Flux In-Ear ($50)

The Flux is another of my favorite budget-friendly in-ears and again tends to be a touch v-shaped, making it a good competitor for the SS01. The Flux has similar bass impact but boasts a touch more sub-bass weight in comparison, making the SS01 sound a little more “hollow”, or lacking footing, in the bass region. The mids of the Flux, on the other hand, are more recessed and sound veiled as a result. The SS01 is significantly clearer, but also tends to sound thinner. The added treble of the brighter SS01 also makes it harsher overall whereas the Flux by and large remains smooth, if a little grainy and unexciting.

Philips Fidelio S1 ($90)

The Philips Fidelio S1 is one of several reasonably well-balanced earphones in the sub-$100 price bracket. Like the SS01, the Fidelio S1 boasts enhanced bass and prominent, crisp upper mids and treble. As with the SteelSeries Flux, the Philips earphones boast a touch more sub-bass weight compared to the MOE, sounding more solid when it comes to bass punch. Tonally, the Philips earphones are warmer, with mids that appear a bit fuller and smoother. The MOE-SS01 is brighter and harsher and sounds a little less natural overall in terms of tone and timbre but easily keeps up in clarity and detail, which is impressive. The presentations tend to be similar, with pretty good width and average depth.

HiFiMan RE-400 ($99)

The RE-400 and MOE-SS01 are two very different takes on near-neutral sound. Despite having less bass presence, the RE-400 is warmer, sounding more mid-centric overall. Its treble is smoother and more refined. The SS01, on the other hand, tends to be more v-shaped in signature—it is bassier but also brighter compared to the RE-400. The added treble can make it sound harsh next to the HiFiMan set, but also allows it to appear clearer at times. The smoother RE-400 tends to sound more natural through the treble region but lacks the striking clarity of the MOE.

Value (9/10) – The MOE-SS01 is a dual dynamic earphone with a slightly cool tonal tilt and great clarity. There is a bit of treble harshness but for the price the performance leaves almost nothing to complain about – the SS01 can compete with the best sets in its price tier and beyond. Sound quality aside, the SS01 also boasts a nice construction with an excellent, low-noise cable and is surprisingly comfortable thanks to its light weight. Call me crazy but I don’t mind the look of it, either – at the very least I won’t mistake this earphone for anything else in my collection. For fans of clear, punchy earphones, the SS01 is nothing short of an excellent buy.

Pros: Fantastic clarity, great bass quality; low cable noise
Cons: Large footprint may not be comfortable for those with small ears


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

12 Comments

  1. DKoop on

    My ATH m40’s died on me a couple months ago and the next day I found my old MOE’s in a jacket. I have been using these ever since and I have to say they are the best earbuds I have ever owned. I compare them with my Grado 225e all the time and it is pretty close. I have some sound magics IEM’s I picked up not too long ago but they sit on the shelf.

    I will never loose these again. i just wish I could get a back up pair.

  2. sam pawar on

    hi ljokerl, plz help me select between MOE SSO1, XIAOMI HYBRID AND Piston 3 i want good SQ and wide soundstage and clarity wit slightly bass heavy IEM

  3. sam pawar on

    i wana buy today, which will be best moe ss01 or xiaomi iron (hybrid) or piston 3, i want good sound quality and good soundstage, awaiting ur help..
    thanks

  4. tz0531 on

    Hi Joker, I ended up getting the MOE SS01, and I wanted to thank you for this review, especially for the comparison with the Philips Fidelio S1; it was super helpful in finalizing my choice. The MOE SS01 were exactly what I expected them to be sound-wise based on the graphs at Innerfidelity, and were exactly what I was looking for. They can get a little bright with wide bore tips, but narrow bore tips balance out the sound perfectly for my taste. My quest for an alternative to the Philips Fidelio S1 is over! (for now, anyways)

    P.S. The TTPOD T1-E is quite similar to the MOE SS01, with a sound signature that is a little more relaxed in the lower treble. They’re a fantastic value at the $30 I bought them on Amazon for, and I really think you should do a review on them if you ever get the chance.

    • ljokerl on

      Cheers, glad you’re enjoying them!

      Funny, I actually bought a TTPOD for someone else based on recommendations, sight unseen (or whatever the equivalent is for hearing). Worked out well. I’ll have to try them for myself at one point.

  5. tz0531 on

    Hi Joker, I need some help deciding on my next set of IEMs. My sound preference is balanced with a bass boost, with a focus on subbass while still remaining impactful. I own the Philips Fidelio S1, and while I like the sound signature, I need something more efficient that doesn’t leak sound, provides better isolation, and isn’t as picky about fit. I also used to own what I suspect was a counterfeit pair of Yamaha EPH-100 that sounded very good and matched your description of its sound except for an overly metallic treble that bothered me. My favored genre is modern alternative rock, and I know that I prefer a treble peak from 3-5 kHz with a dip at around 8 kHz for crunch on electric guitars and vocal presence without metallic sibilance. Looking at measurements at Innerfidelity, the only 2 IEMs that match all those requirements and are in my budget range of below $200 are the RHA MA750 and MOE SS01. I was considering the Ostry KC06 for a bit, but it is too relaxed in the treble at 5 kHz and has too much subbass rolloff based on the graphs. The VSonic GR07 Bass Edition doesn’t seem to have enough bass and I am afraid it might be sibilant for me. I am having a hard time deciding at this point and was wondering if there are potentially better options available in my budget range, and if not, could you compare the RHA MA750 and MOE SS01. Which has more bass slam, which has clearer and more present male vocals, which is smoother in the highs, which one has better clarity, separation, soundstage, etc.

    Sorry in advance about the rambling post.

    • ljokerl on

      I would go MA750. They do measure similarly but there is a pretty big tonal difference stemming from the relatively greater emphasis on bass in the case of the MA750 and upper midrange/treble in the case of the SS01, so the latter ends up sounding cooler/brighter by a good amount. There’s a little more bloat and less clarity with the MA750 but at least it sounds bass-boosted and has good slam (as close as you’re going to get to the EPH-100, I think). There is a bit of “tizz” to the treble of the MA750, but it’s not too bad, and the SS01 has some as well.

      I find the RHA unit’s soundstage to be nice as well, in a more laid-back sort of way. It also has slightly better isolation and is pretty easy-going with fit, assuming the over-ear form factor works for you.

      • tz0531 on

        After looking through graphs on Innerfidelity again, I noticed that the Dunu DN-1000 is pretty close to what I was looking for, except for a big treble spike at around 9 kHz. I found a good deal on a like-new, open box condition pair of them for only $140, so I jumped on it hoping that I can tame the treble spike with appropriate spacers and eartips. I’m waiting anxiously for them to arrive.

        • ljokerl on

          I’d be curious to how that goes. In my experience the treble on them can be tamed to a degree, but not to the level of an MA750.

          • tz0531 on

            I got the Dunu DN-1000 today, and surprisingly, the treble was not very bothersome with the right tips. The bass is just about right, with plenty of subbass and slam, perhaps maybe even a bit too much. However, the midrange is too recessed for my taste; specifically, there aren’t enough upper mids / lower treble (~2 kHz -5 kHz), such that electric guitar and vocal presence is not quite at the level it should be. Presentation-wise, I’m not really all that impressed with the soundstage or instrument separation considering the price I paid, and I prefer a more “in-your-face” presentation. At this point, I think I’ll try to return the Dunu DN-1000 and just get the MOE SS01, since the frequency response is pretty much exactly what I’m looking for and dual dynamics are treating me well so far (My TTPOD T1-E is surprisingly comfortable!)

          • ljokerl on

            I wish the mids on the SS01 were a little thicker but otherwise it seems to fit your needs better than the DN-1000. Its lower bass quantity helps with the separation, too.

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