- Audiophile-level earbuds or IEMs generally come with stiff price tags, often close to Rs 5,000 ($65).
- The Moondrop Chu come with close to audiophile sound quality at a price of less than Rs 2,000 ($25), making them perhaps the most affordable audiophile-level earbuds out there.
- What’s more, these wired earbuds come with no design compromises and actually have a metal build. That makes them a no-brainer for anyone wanting clear sound with minimum flavoring. Bassheads might not like them, though.
One of the problems with trying to get great audio (of the slightly flat, clear audiophile variety) is having to deal with the “the more you pay, the better they play” equation. This is particularly the case with in-ear earbuds or in-ear monitors (IEMs). While it is possible to get a reasonably neutral and clear-sounding pair of over-ear headphones for around Rs 3,000 (the AKG K92, for instance), getting IEMs at that price point is quite a challenge. Most of the buds in the market tend to opt for a slightly more bass-heavy and mainstream sound.
The Moondrop Chu are a very different kettle of audio fish. They bring some very premium feels to the budget audiophile IEM section at their price of Rs 1,999/ USD 25 (sometimes even lower), both in terms of design and audio.
Moondrop Chu: they look nice
We are used to a slightly low-key (sometimes shabby) design when it comes to budget IEMs but the Moondrop Chu look surprisingly premium. The buds are slightly convex and have a smooth finish with the images of some leaves on them (we have heard more than one person wonder if it was ‘weed’), and the cable connecting them has a red and blue color pattern, giving these buds a very distinct appearance. They are made of metal, which is rare at this price point, which gives them a reassuringly solid and slightly heavy feel.
There are three sets of detachable eartips – we found the preinstalled ‘medium’ ones were snug and comfortable fits for us. For those who want a slightly more stable fit around their ears, there is a pair of “wings” that can be attached to the tips to help them fit better over the ear. We did not use them, but we know many folks who do. The earbuds themselves are comfortable to wear once you have sorted out the usual IEM tangle of “get the wire over your ear properly,” which is a trademark of many wired IEMS with long-ish cables. Fortunately, the buds come with clear R and L markings!
A very pleasant surprise is the presence of a cloth case in the package – something we wish other brands would learn to include with IEMs. Some will be disappointed to see that the cable is not detachable from the buds themselves, but it is sturdily built and comes with a well-designed cylindrical volume control unit, and at this price point, we have no complaints.
Moondrop Chu: they sound awesome!
They may look distinct, but the real forte of the Moondrop Chu is their sound. And for their price point, they sound excellent, courtesy of what the brand terms “composite cavity 10mm dynamic driver unit.” We got just the right amount of bass, good mids, and surprisingly good treble from them. In simple terms, these are terrific if you are into editing audio or love listening to classical music, jazz, country, and classic rock. Sharp sounds like the clash of cymbals, and some guitar strings come through with amazing clarity and without getting in the way of vocals. You will also love using these to watch shows and videos with classical or minimalistic musical arrangements – violins, stringed instruments, and flutes come out quite well, with a lot of detail. Volume levels are impressive, and you do not need a DAC to get the most out of them – they work perfectly with most smartphones.
What needs to be remembered is that the Moondrop Chu are designed to deliver clear and accurate sound. These do not come with any extra stress on bass or mids, so if you are looking for booming beats or stirring vocals to boost your runs and workouts, these are definitely not meant for you. While you can hear different instruments clearly, the soundstage – the feeling of being able to sense the direction from which each sound is coming as if you are in a hall – is relatively restricted (not surprising at this price). We would therefore not recommend them for action-heavy gaming or videos.
Moondrop Chu Review: Is there anyone else at this price?
At their price of Rs 1,899 / USD 22 (you get a variant with a microphone for Rs 1,999), the Moondrop Chu are easily the best option for anyone seeking an audiophile experience on a budget. We would put them pretty much in a class of their own, as most of the options at this price point are bass-heavy or designed for sport/fitness. They look good too. Get them if you want clarity and detail. Or if you just want to find out what the fuss about audiophile sound is, without spending a bomb.
- Very good sound
- Innovative design
- Case in the package
- Super price
- Cable is not detachable
- No booming bass
|Design & appearance||
|Accessories in box||
The Moondrop Chu come with close to audiophile sound quality at a price of less than Rs 2,000 ($25), making them perhaps the most affordable audiophile-level earbuds out there. Here's our review.