Current testing methodology is v1.2
December 28, 2022
5.12 x 4.92 x 3.35 in
The Moondrop Quarks DSP is an updated version of the Quarks, which I recently reviewed. For less than $15, the Quarks are a solid option for those who prefer a neutral sound.
Digital Signal Processors (DSP) is a technology that’s used to improve sound quality. Through this tech, real-world signals are manipulated and processed using digital techniques and algorithms. It’s commonly found in smartphones, smart speakers, studio audio gear, and car audio systems.
The Moondrop Quarks were released in 2021 and the DSP version was released more than a year later. Let’s see how it performs and if the DSP technology made significant improvements to the sound.
Moondrop Quarks DSP
Same signature but better overall sound
The Quarks DSP is Moondrop’s tiny experiment on utilizing digital processing technologies and implementing them into a classic IEM. As a result, we get a much-refined version of the Quarks.
Some people, particularly purists and elitists, hate DSP technology but innovations like this are always welcome for me.
The Quarks DSP maintains its iconic neutral sound signature, which follows the well-regarded Harman curve. With the utilization of the DSP, the Moondrop Quarks DSP showed improvements in its sound.
- Driver: 6mm Polymer Diapraghm Dynamic Driver with CCAW voice coil and neodymium magnets
- Cable: USB type-C / non-detachable cable
- Frequency: 4-43,000Hz
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Sensitivity: 113±3db
What’s in the Box?
- MoonDrop Quarks DSP earphones
- 3 pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
- Drawstring pouch
- Instruction manual
Stuff I like
- Neutral sound signature
- Clean and detailed presentation
- Articulate instruments
Stuff I like less
- Average treble extension
- Lacks midbass presence
Comparable products to consider
The Tanchjim Zero is a neutral-sounding pair of IEMs, which makes it versatile – perfect for those looking for balance in their listening experience.
The Moondrop Quarks DSP comes in the same kind of simple and classy packaging as the non-DSP version. It’s also presented similarly.
The design and included accessories are also the same. Upon opening the box, you get the earphones plus the silicone ear tips, a velcro strap, and a carrying pouch to store the earphones in.
Overall, there’s nothing remarkable about the design or packaging since it’s practically the same.
The build quality of the Moondrop Quarks DSP is decent. Despite having a resin shell, it doesn’t look cheap, unlike other budget IEMs, and it feels like it’s sturdy and of high quality.
The cable, although it’s non-detachable, felt nice and decent for the Quarks DSP’s price. However, its non-detachable nature makes it harder to replace without doing some modifications to the shell.
Fit and Comfort
The fit of the Moondrop Quarks DSP is pretty good and has no differences from its non-DSP version. It’s still a light bullet-style IEM that you can barely feel when worn because of its resin shell. Overall, it’s comfortable and easy to carry.
The stock ear tips are similar to those that came with the non-DSP Quarks, providing a decent fit and seal for the ears. While they’re not of the highest quality, I found them okay as they get the job done.
In addition, the cable material on the Quarks DSP is also the same and I didn’t experience any microphonics with its cable.
Regarding sound quality, there’s a noticeable improvement in how the Moondrop Quarks DSP performs compared to the non-DSP version.
Overall, the Quarks DSP has a cleaner and smoother presentation.
The sound signature remains unchanged. It has an almost Harman curve when it comes to its sound signature, with a neutral tonality and natural timbre. It’s as if Moondrop said, “If it’s not broken, why fix it, right?”
The Moondrop Quarks DSP’s bass is much more toned down than a more bassy pair of IEMs. Since this IEM follows the Harman curve, the bass isn’t boosted but still has a good sub-bass extension, as there’s a noticeable rumble on the low end.
The mid-bass is present but it’s also not that prominent in the mix due to its neutral sound signature. One advantage of this is that there’s no midbass bleed, resulting in a cleaner presentation.
The mids of the Moondrop Quarks DSP are well-balanced and well-controlled. Since the bass and the trebles aren’t boosted due to the neutral sound signature, the mids are where the vocals and most instruments appear a lot more forward in the mix.
Both male and female vocals have an accurate presentation. The same goes for the instruments as they’re presented with good detail and clarity.
The mids on the Quarks DSP showed improvements over the non-DSP version as the presentation became a lot cleaner and more transparent.
The treble of the Moondrop Quarks is well-controlled as well, and since it’s not boosted, issues such as harsh frequencies or treble peaks didn’t appear on any of the tracks I’ve listened to. However, the treble appeared relatively thin in the mix and showed average treble extension but it was still decent nonetheless.
The highs on the Quarks DSP also have a decent amount of sparkle and texture to their presentation, but nothing too crazy that stood out for me.
I’ve tested the Moondrop Quarks DSP on different genres of music to get a proper understanding of how they sound. Here are my findings.
- Metal / Rock – The Moondrop Quarks DSP worked well, even on hard-hitting genres such as metal and rock. Although the guitars weren’t as face-melting in presentation, they were neatly presented with articulate details and neutral tonality. The guitars and drums were tight, although the lack of mid-bass was evident because these instruments sounded thinner than usual. Meanwhile, vocals were relatively forward in the mix. Tracks used: I Don’t Love You (My Chemical Romance), All The Small Things (Blink 182), Ignorance (Paramore), Cold (Korn), Cliffs of Dover (Eric Johnson)
- Pop – The Moondrop Quarks DSP presented a well-balanced mix for this genre, as every element of the mix was clear and cleanly presented. The bass frequencies can be heard but weren’t substantial in the mix. The vocals featured decent technicalities, such as decent layering and sound separation. Tracks used: Snooze (SZA), As It Was (Harry Styles), Yours (Maye)
- Hip-hop – Even with a neutral sound signature, this IEM still had a good sub-bass extension and a reasonably decent mid-bass presentation. The sub-bass extension produced a noticeable rumble, but they weren’t as prominent in the mix. The mid-bass wasn’t that impactful but it presented a quick and tight response. The instruments and the vocals had good detail and tonality, plus decent clarity. Tracks used: LOVE. (Kendrick Lamar, Zacari), sdp interlude (Travis Scott), I Wonder (Kanye West), Superhero (Metro Boomin & Future)\
- R&B / Soul – The presentation on the vocals was very forward in the mix. The Quarks DSP had a natural sound and neutral tonality that contributed to the articulate and detailed presentation of the vocals and instruments. The bass lacked presence due to its natural sound signature but it was still there. Tracks used: LA FAMA (Rosalia, The Weeknd), Blessed (Daniel Ceasar), Moonlight (Kali Uchis), Traingazing (Sam Wills ft. Honey Mooncie), Always (Daniel Ceasar)
Overall, the Moondrop Quarks DSP showed some significant improvements over the non-DSP version. The use of DSP technology revealed some characteristics that the non-DSP version failed to do, and the presentation was cleaner and tighter.
For its price, this IEM is a safe and decent option for those who want to dabble in the world of the Harman curve.
I wouldn’t say that the Moondrop Quarks DSP is a competitive IEM but it’s more of a tremendous budget-level option. It doesn’t have any special features that make it stand out from other IEM offerings in the same price range but it’s still a great set.
A man of many interests, Querho is passionate about discovering new things that stimulate the mind. When he is not writing about the things he is passionate about, Querho can be found making music at his home studio.
This post was last updated on 2023-12-03 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.