Moondrop Blessing 2 – a response to the Harmon target curve
Pros: Lots of options value for money even sound signature case attention to detail
Cons: no chin strap
Just how curvy is good? My first venture with Moondrop. During the course of this review I’ll discuss the new way forward in tuning hybrid in ear monitors. Stay tuned for further thrills and excitement.
With thanks to my suppliers Shenzhen Audio, (link to their website),the latest Moondrop offering, the Blessing 2, is now available to all and sundry. Shenzhen has sent me the Blessing 2 in return for an honest and unbiased written article to be submitted here within a fairly reasonable time frame. To their credit they have not expected to change even so much as one word and trust that I will do my best to give an objective and entertaining article as it is within my power to do.
Although by the time of getting this far you will already know that I am a fan there are far more things that I want to tell you about the blessing 2 than can be ascertained by a few ratings scores.
I’ll try and make my review as exhaustive as possible and cover as many areas as I can but as always I’m more than happy for your comments and we can explore this earphone in as much detail as you need.
Below you will find a list of technical details presented in as untechnical a manner as I can write. You will find my opinion on accessories, build quality, cosmetic appeal and practical benefits. The sound signature is a big factor in this IEM, I will give you a brief on that. The relative sound quality is a must of course and this earphone will be compared to several others all of which are in a higher price bracket. I state this now because in my experience in this field I have not come across a hybrid that retails at this price that is comparable.
About the Moondrop Blessing 2
I have to give you an idea as to whether this will work with the equipment you’ve got or whether you have to invest in bigger and better to run them at their best. The rated resistance of the blessing to his 22 ohms, which means there is very little resistance. The rated sensitivity of the earphones are 122 dB, which happens to be very high. The good news about this combination is that you should get good results even through a smartphone or, if you have invested in a digital audio player, if it has a high gain function or if you are used to having it turned up quite high, please make sure that you have it set to a much lower volume and the lowest gain setting if you want to get the best results from these.
The number of drivers per side are five. The bass is dealt with by a dynamic driver which is considered to be the most effective for low end performance. Four other drivers, two mids, which are a custom make and two highs, made by Knowles are all balanced armature drivers. The official explanation for the custom driver that runs the mid frequency response is that this has been needed to ensure the VDSF Target curve, more of which later.
The Moondrop Blessing 2 as usual these days has a detachable cable. It is the two pin variety as opposed to the newer QDC or the older MMCX. There are advantages and disadvantages to all three types of cables the two pin appears to have become the standard for most of earphones. This means a ready availability of custom cable if that is your passion or even Bluetooth cable is available from several different manufacturers. To thin pins fit into the drivers and a great deal of care needs to be taken to not bend the pins when you were doing this and also that a solid fit is attained. This is just my opinion but once I have put the cable in, I don’t tend to dress and undress it each time I wish to use it therefore I keep the number of changes to the cable at a minimum which lessens the chances of me causing damage to the cable, not that this cable supplied is in any way weaker than any other two pin cable on the market. I just want to lessen the odds of making a mistake.
The jack is a right angle jack, which keeps the cable nicely tucked out of the way when in the pocket.
Other materials used; for the faceplate, Moondrop has used a brushed stainless steel which they claim that you can sharpen your nails with and medical grade acrylic has been used as the housing for the drivers.
To make this even better value for money, at least on the Shenzhen site, one can get the faceplate the left side driver laser etched with a series of options of drawings available. You could even submit your own offering, and see if they can produce it for you, to make a really unique version. Taking a look through the various options and colours available, seems yet another good selling point, especially at this price.
A large presentation box with an anime styled Moondrop girl on the dust cover. The inner box slides out to reveal a chinese logo. Within said box there is a large leather zip carry case, not too large to fit into a pocket, but large enough that you don’t have to ram the cable and drivers into it.
There is only 1 style of tips supplied, in a white plastic pouch. They are silicons and are in the small, medium and large sizes.
A pair of tweezers, an accessory I’ve not come across before, and several sets of dust covers for the nozzles of the drivers come in another bag. The tweezers enable a very small piece of film to be put over what is clearly going to be a very small surface and stops there being any chance of contact with your thumb or finger.
A Velcro strap to tie the cable and drivers together has been left in the box for you to put where you wish and has lots of length.
A warranty card and booklet is also enclosed, as is the airport adapter, for when we can finally get on board and start going on foreign holidays again.
It’s difficult to find compromises anywhere in the design of these. The cable looks flawless. The double braided copper coated affair is well terminated with clear connectors, and has a very strong round black y split strengthener. My only criticism would be the lack of chinstrap to get that even more precise fit especially when out walking, or dare I say it, running or exercising.
There are no discernible microphonics displayed by the cable. The around the ear design, weight of the cables compared to the drivers and quality of the shielding means you should not be able to hear any vibration being fed from the cable into the drivers should the cable slap against the clothes you are wearing. The lack of chin strap mean that there is more cable movement than there could be.
The design that I received is the see-through type at the bottom and I really like being able to look into the workings and see how neat everything is; from the drivers, right through to the three nozzles that connect the driver shell to the faceplate. The fit into my ears is pretty much as good as you can get without buying a custom. The shells stay in place without there being any need to micro adjust their position to keep your music in the sweet spot. Isolation is above average, music doe not need to be turned up to deafening levels, the shells very slightly protrude away from my ears, so a little wind noise can be heard in gusty weather, but listening to classical music on the move is still achievable.
Sound signature/sound quality, with comparisons
Moondrop has developed their own form of the Harman Target Response Curve. The Moondrop name for this is the VDSF. For those techies out there, and those of us who hate abbreviations, this is short for virtual diffuse sound field. Any clearer? VDSF is a curved line that Moondrop has forced the Blessing 2 to conform to. It is what their engineers believe that most listeners will find to be the most pleasant sound signature. There is a lift in the bass and a slight dip in some areas of the mids and highs, so in that respect it is a somewhat more complex tuning discipline than Harman Labs have developed. I think that Moondrop has got something here. I found the signature to have a good bass impact without there being visceral slam, and a smooth mid to high frequency sound which didn’t pull the vocals into a blurred background and didn’t sound obviously rolled off in the percussion and echoey parts of the mix.
Vs. Obravo Erib 2
This has been around for a number of years. It is still on sale and retails at £539 for the aluminium version, shown here. That is over double the retail of the Blessing 2. It has lower sensitivity at 102 dB but higher resistance, at 16 ohms. In practice this meant the Erib’s needed higher volume. The Erib is a hybrid model, courtesy of a 2 driver per side dynamic bass driver and planar magnetic tweeter.
Using the AK380 Meteoric Titan DAP, no slouch as I’m sure all who’ve heard of this will agree, the Erib 2a couldn’t compete with the Blessing 2. The Erib sounded dull and over emphasised in the bass and lower mids. It was like comparing a runaway horse with a donkey that refused to move…
Vs. AKG K3003i
Another older model, but still available around the World, the K3003 was 1 of the first hybrids. It has 3 drivers per side, 1 dynamic (guess where for?) and 2 balanced armatures. It has a lower resistance of 8 ohms and a higher sensitivity of 125 dB. It needed the same volume as the Blessing 2, probably due to the fact the fit was a down the ear fit and the shells fill a quarter of the space that the Moondrop take up.
The K3003i was a more interesting battle. The AKG still sounds good, even up against the newer crowd. The bass was a little tighter sounding in the K3003. It sounded more realistic than the Moondrop. The mids and highs were slightly clearer, yet slightly thinner than the Blessing 2. 99% of the time this did not go out of control on the AKG. But just sometimes, there was a little too much high frequency energy. This was not evident on the same tracks using the Moondrop. Overall, I felt the K3003i had the better sound quality but not by a huge margin. These are on the AKG website for $1299, $1000 more expensive than the Moondrop Blessing 2.
Vs. Meze Rai Penta
The Rai Penta is the flagship IEM in the Meze range. It is a 5 driver hybrid, 1 dynamic and 4 balanced armature. It has a lower resistance of 20 Ohms and a lower sensitivity of 100 dB. It needs less volume than the Blessing 2, which surprised me, as the fit of both feels identical. The cables are different, of course. The Rai Penta has a retail of $1099. It therefore shouldn’t be in the same league as the Blessing 2. The Blessing 2 does not have the clarity, or punch of the Penta. The Penta’s forward nature, or more accentuated mid response, can clearly be seen against the Blessing 2’s smoothing qualities. In the same way as the K3003i, the Penta can, very rarely, overdo it when the Blessing 2 doesn’t wish to take it that close to the edge. Meze, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You have not been embarrassed by a much cheaper rival.
There has been a new standard set in the mid price IEM market with the Moondrop Blessing 2. I have yet to hear anything that can best it for the money. Pretty much all of the boxes are ticked; detachable cable, around the ear, near custom fit, customisable faceplate, case, good looks, sensible tuning with the drivers to deliver it. The lack of chin strap and the wind noise feel too minor and picky to take even half a star away, and I don’t do that very often. This is the epitome of value for money and should appeal to the ears of most of you out there.