The Soloist gets an encore


Today, fresh from the well stocked shelves of Shenzhen Audio, I have a variation on a theme. With kind thanks to Shenzhen, who have provided me with this iem so as I can tell the World all about them, for good or for bad. I don’t read any reviews of products before I receive them. All I do is a little research on the earphones when I receive them. That’s normally done through either the manufacturers pages or the company that has supplied them to me. In this case, Shenzhen Audio have pretty much everything a person could need, short of putting them in and pressing play.

About the Aria

Including all the technical aspects for those interested- tested at 90/140 volume on AK380


Moondrop are the makers of the Aria. They impressed me deeply with the Blessing 2. This is the review of the Blessing 2.

The 2 is a hybrid IEM, and is a mid tier product. The Aria sits well below that price point. Aria – it’s a good name for an earphone. Aria is a word that is synonymous with Opera. It describes a solo voice in full cry, often only a part of a larger work. The Aria will thrill the audience with the DEVA’s stunning.virtuosity and make them marvel at the genius of the composer’s writing.

Simply, Aria’s meaning is one voice, one melody. Naturally, the Moondrop Aria is a single driver IEM. The 2020 Aria model has come a long way since it’s earlier incarnation. The plain round steel shell design has given way to something that stirs the emotions with rather more flair. Cosmetics are only skin deep of course. Moondrop have also reengineered the sound. They have added a TCP coating to the driver diaphragm to lend it a little extra something. The Aria currently retails at £57.53 or $79.99.

This puts it in a par with the £43.15 8 driver CCA CA16

and is £14 less than the NF Audio NA2, which is a single driver earphone.

Single Driver Tech


It just won’t go away. For every attempt there is to create ever more combinations of DD/BA combo’s there are plenty of single driver models to choose from. The Beryllium Believe from KBEAR,reviewed on these pages

the Final A8000, NF Audio NA2 reviewed here

and 2+, reviewed here

Sennheiser IE800, HiFiMan RE2000 silver, reviewed here

are amongst the many I have had much experience with. The single driver seems to bring a balance in the sound. This gives them indivuality.

Accessories/build/fit


The Aria has had a deserved makeover. The shells have a distinctive gold flourish, an ergonomic olive shape. The detachable cable is a double twisted braid affair and looks like it’s meant for the Aria rather than the usual generic type. There is but one type of tip. The silicon blacks are not doing the IEMs their full justice. I changed the tips to some Spinfits, the sound quality is elevated from the standard tips provided. There are many aftermarket tips available as well as the 100s you may already own. Some time spent on experimentation here will reap rewards.

The pleather carry pouch is a fairly cheap and cheerful design. A touch of gold leaf has slightly raised the Aria’s little home. It’s something, but the more discerning among us might feel there could have been a touch more panache here.

The packaging was luxurious; it does give the feeling that you are receiving something special. I think Moondrop know how important first impressions are. The aesthetic appeal of the Aria continues this feel good factor. I suspect a big grin will be evidenced by anyone that takes the plunge and goes for these.

A chin strap helps get a decent fit, the memory wire helps a little, perhaps not as much as some cables that have more flexibility to them.

The shell on my left ear pulls out very slightly. I have the same problems with several other iems.

The NF Audio NA2 fits beautifully because the shell is a tiny bit smaller and thinner. The CCA CA16 pushes out more; it’s 8 drivers are squashed into as small a shell as they could, but it’s a thicker one than the single driver Aria. The sound doesn’t change when sat and listening in comfort to the Aria’s; when on the move the odd micro adjustment is called for. I would consider more suitable iems for your workouts, and undoubtedly the NA2 has the edge here. Once in use, the cable has a habit of getting tangled up. A velcro strap would have been a nice addition, but it’s not here, so if you can make do, then a bit of wire will keep them under control.


Sound Quality


Equipment used :


Source : Astell & Kern AK380 Meteoric Titan Digital Audio Player Low Gain
Music: Beatles Blue Album (1967-1970) Japanese CD release
IEM comparisons : CCA CA16 8 Driver BA
NF Audio NA2 single driver DD
The Aria outperforms the more expensive NA2 and the multi driver CCA. The CCAs have too much impact. It is too excitable. It keeps on shouting “look at me look at me!”. The lows are too pronounced, the highs are too much shriek. The NA2 are a little more balanced, but are still too emphasised in the low frequency range and lack the detail and refinement that the Aria can achieve. The Aria is not bass shy, these IEMs can appeal to the rock and pop fan and do not need La Traviata to show you what they’re capable of.

Does anyone listen to CD’s anymore? If you do, I’d recommend the Japanese version of The Blue Album. It’s clean compared to the other versions I’ve heard. If you’re into streaming you’ll just have to put up with what you get.

The Aria was the only one of the three earphones where I could pick out the individual voices harmonising, the trumpets and piccolo’s being right in your face without needing to reach for the volume knob. The space between the instruments, on a four track stereo recording which was made over fifty years ago, is an incredible achievement. The Aria’s showcase that character. I always thought of The Beatles as having a rough and ready bassy sound to them, but today was different. I accept that not everyone will have a digital audio player of this pedigree, and a copy of this particular CD. I am here to get the best I can from the stuff I review, and the Aria’s thanked me for it.


Conclusion


Packaging? Yep. Moondrop have won me over with the unboxing experience. They know how to treat a customer. Looks? Yes, very nice, very nice. Accessories? Tips can be improved, cable looks nice but a bit stiff, carry case is cheap and cheerful but don’t forget the gold writing. Fit? Almost there, probably for most ears these will be a good fit, bit I think not so much when out to the gym or on a run. Sound? Yes, if I could tune an $80 IEM I’d want to do it as good as this. That SPC coating on the driver diaphragm might well be adding an extra linearity to your tunes. Value? Yes, undoubtedly this is a front runner in the sub $100 market.

The lure of multiple drivers and truly wireless etc. It’s intoxicating. The Audio market is so confusing. Why can’t it just be that more drivers per £$€ means better? Why can’t a more expensive single driver better, by definition, than a cheaper one? If that was the case there’d be no point in me😁 Let’s not forget my other friends in the World of Portable Audio. We can try and take you through this bewildering array of talent, and help you find your kindred spirit. Whatever you decide, let your ears be the guide. May your music give you pleasure and may your life be enhanced by it. Until the next time….