The Moondrop Lan has a rated mechanical impedance of 32 ohms, with a sensitivity of 120dB/Vrms. In laymans terms, the Moondrop Lan is not a power-hungry or current-demanding IEM. Any run-of-the-mill DAC/Amp is sufficient for the Lan to achieve comfortable listening volumes.
Moreover, the Lan’s conventionally-safe tuning ensures that its base sound signature doesn’t stray too far off the course when paired with a multitude of sources. Between my trusty Colourfly CDA-M1 and Tanchjim Space dongle DAC/Amps, the Lan experienced little-to-no drastic alterations in terms of sonic performance.
Celeste is a sub-division of the namesake chi-fi brand, Kinera. Founded on the principle of delivering fledgling audio technologies at accessible price points, Celeste espouses inclusion rather than exclusion!
Today, the Moondrop Lan is going shoulder-to-shoulder against the Gumiho, a $49 IEM utilising a “planar-dynamic” hybrid driver, and a custom single balanced armature on each channel. With both IEMs occupying a similar price bracket, I believe this would be an illuminating comparison.
The Celeste Gumiho has a mild V-shaped sonic profile. The upper-treble region is deliberately truncated to mitigate resonant peaks or sibilance that emerge in poorly-mastered recordings, leaving listeners with an inviting sonic presentation without veering too close to “dark” territory. Conversely, raw detail retrieval in the presence region inadvertently suffers from the lack of shimmer and sparkle; an area the Lan pushes further with better results.
Budget IEMs are limited by the technical restrictions of the driver topologies availed to them at the price points they populate. In the last few years, we’ve seen what was once halo technologies exclusive to ivory-tower audiophiles slowly percolate downwards into price points within the realm of reason. Nonetheless, limits are limits. There is always some level of give and take.
For the perceptible, the Gumiho is tailored towards a softer acoustic experience, with a pillowy ambience accentuated by a slightly energised mid-bass punch and a slower PRAT. On the other hand, the Lan’s overall presentation oscillates towards a neutral profile, with a more “forward” upper-midrange without the Gumiho’s intentional recession and more sub-bass bloom sans the mid-bass attack. The Lan’s macrodynamic presentation is more carte blanche, with a more resolving upper-treble and precise attacks in each note attack.
The Gumiho’s analogue theme harkens back to a nostalgic period, reminiscing the generation where the rustic charm of cabin-like acoustics was the standard. The Lan’s sanitised presentation, while praiseworthy for its restrained but detailed performance, can sound lifeless.
The Gumiho V Lan title fight shows us that there are always different strokes for different folks.
The Lan’s is Moondrop’s expression of what can be achieved at a modest price-point — a class-leading and near-perfect rendition of a “flat tuning. But alas, tuning forms one piece of the entire design puzzle. The Lan’s technical performance is fundamentally capped by its price point, and its close-to-flat sound signature has a predilection for sounding dull on some recordings.
While we’ve seen daring liberties in tuning backfire miserably in other products, we’d like to see Moondrop stray off the beaten path and venture into new sonic territories. Regardless, the Lan cements the Moondrop as a serious mainstay competitor unlikely to be dethroned anytime soon.