Moondrop has tuned the LAN to follow rather than buck the “harman response curve” trend, following a modest-to-mild V-shaped signature with a marginal scoop in the midrange. Toeing the line between a ruler-flat sound signature and an excitable contrast between the lower-and-upper sonic regions, the LAN attempts to strike a healthy balance between the former and latter, where realism and macrodynamic presentation share the same level of priority.
Actual real-world performance suggests that Moondrop has succeeded with flying colours. There’s an observable emphasis on the mid-to-upper treble, with a fresh injection of natural up top sparkle and air, followed by a moderate touch of mid-bass presence and a proportionally stronger sub-bass rumble. At best, the juxtaposition between them is minute albeit identifiable: a tuning that reflects Moondrop’s practised restraint.
Despite the slight valley in the mid-frequency band, the Lan’s tone and timbre in the midrange are naturalistic and organic. Even harmonic-focused voicings are situated at the forefront of the mix, where lyric perceptibility is excellent for a sub-$50 IEM. By achieving the best of both tuning worlds, the Lan is quintessentially Moondrop, where analytical and fun-loving audiophiles can both find something to love in the Lan.
Unfortunately, the Lan’s biggest flaw is limited by its price. The technical limitations of its beryllium-composited diaphragms begin to display weaknesses in terms of raw resolution and clarity amongst trailing instruments and voicings, where illustrating a clear-and-accurate picture is middling at best.
Amidst the morass of overwhelming crescendoes, intricate mixes on the Lan highlights its inability to accurately separate multiple layers of instruments and vocal melodies from each other. I would wager that this is attributed to the fact that Lan’s dynamic driver is not resolving enough in terms of PRAT for an extensively detailed image. The Lan’s average transient detail retrieval results in cues slightly converging into one another, with mushy imaging capacities.
The Lan’s bass response is characterised by a modest sub-bass rumble, with a fairly uncoloured mid-bass “thump”, less so slam or punch. To put it brusquely, the Lan’s lower registers straddle the borders of neutrality, with a tiny emphasis on bass bloom, solidifying the pluck of each string and the strike of each drum.
The Lan’s bass response is purposefully inoffensive for a safe-and-comfortable listening experience across a diverse breadth of music genres. However, a jack of all trades is a master of none. The Lan’s spartan bass response lacks meat to its bones. It doesn’t have the mid-bass aplomb or dexterity of IEMs with faster PRAT. By opting for an indecisive merger between subtle warmth and delicate neutrality, the Lan indexes well for the former and latter qualities, but it doesn’t particularly excel in either.
You win some, and you lose some.
The Lan’s midrange, again, is within striking distance of neutrality, albeit with a small valley in the lower mids for added “elbow room” for the upper-mids-to-treble to extend freely without a mid-bass veil. Accordingly, male and female voicings exhibit strong realism with a slightly porous quality: an excellent balance that budget-minded brands seemingly fall short of.
PRAT is decently fast and organic, striking a successful balance between the idle transients of a dynamic driver and the incisive decay of a balanced armature.
The downside of this presentation is the artificial grain and metallic timbre emerging on tracks with raspy voicings and brassier instruments, slowly erring into the treble regions (more on that later). Make no mistake, the Lan is not a wholly revealing IEM that takes harshness to the upper limits — it simply teethers that tightrope, swinging to the side of discomfort from time to time.
Safe seems to be the recurrent buzzword throughout this review. Across all listening sessions, there is an observable climb in the upper treble: a smooth ascension from the upper midrange. Like the rest of the frequency band, everything falls into place, where it should be. If seen as a whole, the Lan makes complete sense.
However, presence in the treble region is relatively muted, lacking radiant sparkle or energy. Because it doesn’t extend far enough, there is a perceived loss of resolution and finesse. It’s not the lack of detail undermining the Lan’s technical performance in the treble region but the aversion to pushing the Lan beyond the well-defined confines of Moondrop’s comfort zone.
The Moondrop Lan’s soundstage exhibits average width between both L-R channels, never pushing the boundaries relative to my ears. But what it lacks in x-axis distance, it makes up for in its imaging. For a sub-$50 IEM, the Lan does a fair job carving out a decently clear image of a perceived stage comprised of instrument and vocal lines.
The controlled scoop in the lower midrange (as discussed earlier) highlights the perceived depth between audible cues, providing adequate breathing room for them to shine. Together, the faint boost in the upper mids injects some needed vibrancy, accentuating the tonal idiosyncracies of each instrument and voicing for more precise positioning.
But, Lan’s ability to separate and isolate these cues from one another is somewhat limited, where each element begins to converge into one another. It is hard to criticise the Lan relative to its low price, but the LAN’s technical capabilities are its Achilles heel.
Onto the next page for the rest of the review…