Disclaimer: I would like to formally thank Cloris from Shenzhen Audio for graciously providing us with the Moondrop Lan for review. I am not affiliated with Shenzhen Audio, and the views shared below reflect my honest thoughts surrounding the product.
- Unrivalled premium experience for $39.99
- Fantastic finishing and robust build-quality
- Aesthetically attractive design and class-leading comfort
- Compelling “Harman-inspired” tuning with a modest V-shaped signature
- Above-average staging depth
- Good treble detailing and tonally impressive bass-to-sub-bass extension
- Twisted/braided cable exhibits a tendency to retain unwanted bends and memory
- Lack of chin-slider for refined adjustment
- Flat macro dynamics lack excitement
- Middling imaging proficiency and note definition in complex passages
- Slightly aberrant tonality in the treble region (albeit rarely)
Moondrop is the leading flagbearer for what aural exceptionalism looks like in the shape-shifting marketplace that is “chi-fi”.
Founded in 2015 as Chengdu Shuiyueyu Technology Co., Ltd, the Moondrop brand is their most popular division to date, specialising in novel innovations in the portable-audio space with a manga-inspired coat of paint. Instead of turning the wheel to pump out another opulently priced flagship product, Moondrop’s primary target audience is far broader, focusing on delivering extraordinary sonic performance in a humbly-priced package.
Their first cult IEM release, the KXXS, gave parsimonious listeners a glimpse into what a masterful tuning can eke out for $100. At this precise moment, Moondrop was the fledgling seed that germinated what was once considered a pet industry into the prodigious chi-fi arena endeared to us.
Today, the intra-brand competition is crescendoing out of control, with Chi-fi brands “racing to the bottom” in a desperate bid to outdo one another. With price tags and turnaround times getting lower, impassioned audiophiles expect far more for far less. Moondrop’s release of the competitively-priced CHU perfectly illustrates this phenomenon of increasing expectations and a decreasing willingness to pay.
The Moondrop Lan is their latest entrant product into the sub-$50 market, touting an anodised stainless steel chassis with detachable 2-pin connectors and a newly-designed single beryllium-coated dynamic driver. Bearing obvious aesthetic similarities to the Chu, the Lan implicitly promises improved sonic performance and durability for the extra upfront cost. Today, we are assessing the Lan’s value proposition vis-a-vis the increasingly congested marketplace.
The Moondrop Lan is available for purchase on Shenzhen Audio’s official website for $39.99.
The Moondrop Lan, like hundreds of its ancestors before it, touts a single dynamic driver on each channel. Each 10mm dynamic driver is fabricated from a beryllium-coated composite material for enhanced rigidity and stiffness. The thoughtful implementation of an N52 magnetic array (purportedly) results in a tighter-and-tauter sonic response with lower accompanying distortion.
The Moondrop Lan’s packaging is proof that you don’t need to fork out massive wads of cash for a premiere unboxing experience. Moondrop spared no expense providing customers with an exterior that stirs child-like excitement. And don’t forget the all-too-familiar waifu.
Underneath the top lid of the grandiose box, you’ll be greeted by the Lan’s gorgeous anodised stainless-steel shells comfortably inlaid into a pre-cut cardboard mould alongside a leatherette-style carrying pouch at the bottom. The included 2-pin twisted/braided cable with a right-angled 3.5mm termination can be found conveniently stowed away in the provided case, and three pairs of silicon ear tips (S, M, L) are hidden beneath the top lip of the box.
For $39.99, the Moondrop Lan package is comprehensive as it is high-quality. Honestly, it beggars belief that a $39.99 product could deliver such an exemplary unboxing experience, an experience typically reserved for IEMs multiples in price.
Design, Comfort and Durability:
Drawing inspiration from the CHU’s design DNA, the Lan shares a similar silhouette and physical profile, boasting organic contours and curves instead of angular ridges or bold lines. The 2-pin recipient ends on each shell are flat rather than flushed, leaving the elongated plastic bodies of each 2-pin connector (male end) exposed. The silver colourway of the Lan deviates from Moondrop’s more vibrantly themed releases such as the Stellaris, opting for a modest look and feel.
According to Moondrop, Lan’s manufacturing on the assembly line utilises a “MIM power metallurgy deposition process” for a satin-like finish on each stainless-steel shell. In practice, each shell boasts a pebble-like coating that’s cold to the touch, with zero noteworthy blemishes, hairline marks or perceptible imperfections. The seam holding the two-part chassis together sits tightly in place, where unwanted separation appears impossible. Precise finishing like this one is unheard of for $39.99: an impressive benchmark for future review comparisons.
Because each shell comprises machined stainless steel instead of aluminium, the Lan’s frame is noticeably weightier albeit more resistant to external elements. Comfort here is sacrificed for excellent durability and longevity. Upon further testing, this sentiment rang true. The Lan’s weight did detract from my prolonged listening sessions, with the unwelcome heft adding undesirable stress on the canals of each ear.
On the brighter side, the Lan’s fitment was a non-issue, with its adequately-sized nozzles sitting snugly without fear of displacement. Isolation from extraneous ambient noise is surprisingly good in spite of the presence of 2 pinhole-sized vents on each channel, insulating music playback from surrounding noise fairly well.
The included cables have an intriguing salt-and-pepper appearance, with a monochromatic mix of transparent and black cable sheathing for a contrasting look. Finished with a Moondrop-themed round stainless steel splitter and right-angled 3.5mm unbalanced jack, every aspect of the Lan’s utilitarian exterior remains coherent and cohesive. Sadly, the cable tends to focus on style more than substance, with an observable lack of an adjustable chin-slider and the cable’s enervating tendency to bend and crease with little force.
Onto the next page for details on sound…