Current testing methodology is v1.2
April 8, 2022
4.45 x 4.37 x 1.65 in
Getting into in-ear-monitors or IEMs was daunting, especially when I was starting out with a limited sub $50 budget. You’d have to do something exceptional to stand out from the crowd.
So it was surprising to see Moondrop’s CHU consistently hailed as budget king in such a
cutthroat price bracket.
Moondrop CHU HiFi IEM
The Moondrop CHU simply redefined its entire price bracket upon release.
It uses dynamic drivers with years of Moondrop experience behind the tuning to produce a refined sound.
I love the tuning and combined with the neutral bright sound signature, it replicates most frequency ranges with perfect clarity. However, this can be tiring for some.
The build is solid metal and comes with various accessories, including $13 worth of Moondrop patented spring tips. This makes for insane value with an already cheap IEM.
I would not recommend it to people who value rumble in their bass or those who have experience using expensive IEMs.
- Material: Zinc alloy
- Driver: 10mm high-performance dynamic driver
- Frequency Response: 10Hz-35kHz with a 20Hz-20kHz effective response
- Source Connector: Right-angled 3.5mm TRRS jack
- Impedance: 18Ω
- Acoustic filter: Patented anti-blocking (anti-imbalanced) acoustic filter
- Cable: Non-removable, over the ear, rubber-coated (47 inches/1.2m)
- Sensitivity: 120dB/Vrms (@1KHz)
What’s in the Box?
- CHU earphone
- Moondrop spring ear tips (3 pairs for 3 sizes)
- Cover card featuring the mascot
- Small leather pouch
- Rubber ear hooks
- Warranty card
- Customer support card
- User Manual
Stuff I like
- Produces all frequencies in its range with excellent clarity
- Solid metal build that does not feel cheap at all
- Neutral bright tuning feels crisp
- Good imaging and separation of different sounds
- Amazing value for the price
Stuff I like less
- Weak bass, so it’s not for bass-heads
- No detachable cables and the wire slips over the ears
- Soundstage could be wider
- Minor technical complaints
Moondrop has always been one of the leading manufacturers in the sub $100 category with the Moondrop Quarks and Aria dominating their respective ranges.
The CHU is a $20 ultra-budget IEM released to replace the Moondrop Spaceship. With their experience in using dynamic drivers with their previous products, Moondrop has created a price-to-performance beast.
Moondrop has equipped the CHU with a 10mm composite diaphragm dynamic driver unit.
There was a real emphasis on designing physical architecture similar to the Aria to use these drivers the best.
The CHU has been tuned to Moondrop’s famous VDSF target response curve. This, coupled with dynamic drivers known for producing crisp clarity while maintaining a wide soundstage, provides an amazing experience.
The clarity is something you’d expect from something way out of this budget range, and I’ve tested out various genres with very little disappointment.
So without further ado, let’s start breaking down the overall experience you can expect from the Moondrop CHU.
Upon opening the box, I was greeted with quite a generous sight for the $20 I spent. My favorite standouts would have to be the leather pouch and the 3 sets of spring ear tips.
The leather pouch isn’t very practical, but it’s a nice little memento and a place to store the ear tips and rubber hooks. What caught my attention was the set of spring ear tips that Moondrop normally sells for $13.
The build of the Moondrop CHU is solid and it feels weighty due to the metallic body, which was quite unexpected. The wires are coated in rubber and felt a bit springy at the start.
Comfort & Fit
As I mentioned, the Moondrop CHU comes with 3 spring ear tips in sizes small, medium, and large. I’m guessing they want to emphasize this as the IEM does not have a tip attached to it out of the box.
With a bit of force, they slide right on. I have to say, being able to pick your own tip size was a blessing. They provide a snug fit that is neither too loose nor too intrusive. The material adjusts to your ear and doesn’t feel sticky either.
They felt like they were made for smaller ears which works fine for me but may require using the larger tips for others.
A minor complaint would be that I felt the wire kept trying to slide off my ears at whatever chance it got. The rubber ear hooks mitigate this problem but dealing with them is its own hassle.
The Moonlight CHU is a single dynamic driver entry-level IEM with a composite cavity 10mm dynamic driver unit. The pair packs a powerful performance with a good level of clarity and detail with its titanium-plated diaphragm coil.
The impedance is a nicely manageable – 18 Ohms which can be easily run from your phone or laptop.
The cable is 47 inches (1.2m), is coated in rubber, and has a firm feel to it. It’s non-removable and ends on a right-angle 3.5mm connector jack.
The sound quality section will be divided into 3 parts where we cover the Bass, Mids, and Treble performance for the Moonlight CHU. I’ll be discussing these while disregarding the budget to give my honest impression.
This is perhaps the weakest part of the CHU’s kit as they have been tuned for a neutral bright sound curve. This results in a bass that’s present but lackluster.
The mid-bass sounds nice and confident and will come through wherever needed. Meanwhile, the sub-bass is not something Moondrop is known for.
Drums will still feel good, and basslines will be produced with good imaging and clarity. There just won’t be much of an emphasis on them. This led to a bit of disappointment from my side listening to tracks like Tyler the Creator’s “Earfquake”.
I still enjoy hearing basslines more clearly than I’d do on muddier IEMs, but the CHU still leaves me desiring more in this department.
The midrange is neutral and doesn’t stand out all too much, mainly for the lower mids.
There’s an emphasis on the upper mids compared to the lower mids, which aren’t produced very well. This is also due to the relatively bright sound signature of the CHU.
What this does is help the vocals shine through on most tracks, as they won’t be drowned out by instrumentation. You’ll be able to hear vocalists cut through even in tracks with a lot of distortion, such as Slowdive’s “Alison”.
The same goes for most modern hip-hop music where you get that really effective separation of the vocalist and the beat.
The treble response is what helps make these IEMs amazing but also what results in a minor problem for them. Let me explain.
The treble is directly responsible for producing that detail and information overload in your music-listening experience.
The treble has been tuned to almost perfection. It has all the right qualities to help produce sound with great resolution. They’ve done a lot to enhance my Indie Rock and Dream Pop experience.
However, there are some frequencies where the treble may seem a bit “hot” or jumpy. This can result in some slightly irritating peaks for a select few high frequencies and can result in quicker fatigue.
General Sound Comments
Now that I have completed my overall breakdown of the various sound ranges, let me bring back an essential piece of information to the forefront.
The Moondrop CHU costs $20. Or basically just $7 if you count the $13 spring tips.
My criticisms above have mainly been on some minor technical aspects that I’d personally overlook because of how good the overall sound quality is for the price.
I’ll tell you now that this will be my first recommendation to anyone looking to get into Hi-Fi audio on a budget.
If you’re listening to acoustic music or love an emphasis on your vocals, in particular, then the Moondrop CHU will really bring your music to life.
The soundstage and imaging performance, in particular, left me quite surprised. It’s a simple forward 45-degree angle with nothing spectacular, but it produces this stage with excellent consistency.
While it’s not particularly deep, there’s an excellent separation of instruments that lets the CHU utilize the soundstage and imaging to its fullest as well. Various sounds are all positioned well, and it’s easy to make them out.
I enjoy clearly picking out instruments even on the most crowded tracks, and it helps me sync with whatever instrument I feel like focusing on.
No V-shape or forcefully boosted frequencies make it particularly jarring. I can keep them on for extended periods unless it’s for music with many high frequencies.
Moondrop has impressed me with their entry-level product, and I can only be excited about what their more expensive IEMs offer.
Moondrop products have always maintained a high standard for build quality and tuning, and they’ve somehow managed to replicate this within $20 without seemingly making any compromises.
Again I’ll reiterate that these IEMs aren’t for bass-heads or those who like listening to sharper or higher-frequency music.
Overall, the Moondrop CHU is a well-built IEM with solid accessories and a neutral bright sound signature that will bring $100 worth of clarity to most of the music you listen to.
Even if you’re not on a tight budget, I’d still recommend these just to raise the bar on what’s possible at this price.
The bar has been raised, and you don’t need to settle for subpar audio quality. I might even be compelled to label the purchase a no-brainer.
An audio lover currently enrolled in university and writing about my hobbies in my free time.
You're guaranteed to find me testing out a new piece of audio equipment while going about my everyday life.
This post was last updated on 2023-09-25 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.