Hey all, it’s your favorite Moondrop shill here back with another review! Yeah, I’m also real late to the party on this one. The original Kanas and Kanas Pro IEMs put Moondrop on the map; the KXXS is one of many spinoffs they’ve released since. I’ve put well over a couple hundred hours on my unit, and to this day it remains a personal favorite despite having moved onto more expensive, better IEMs. Let’s talk about what Moondrop got right and why this IEM is probably my best blind buy minus my purchase rational.
Going forward, I’ll refrain from the waifu meme-ry that plagues some of my other Moondrop IEM reviews.
The KXXS retails for $189.99 and can be purchased here. Seriously though, save yourself some money and buy the Moondrop Starfield instead. It’s basically a KXXS with a slick paint job at almost half the price.
You can find my reviewing methodology, test tracks, and more here.
Frankly, newbie me thought it was endgame from a technical standpoint. I’d never heard my music so clearly before. But the KXXS is…really nothing special here. The IEM’s attack transients are of decent speed; however, I find that it struggles to keep up on quicker tracks. To this effect, it too often congests, and there’s a general lack of micro-dynamic detail. Imaging comes across as decidedly average, even bordering on fuzzy at times because of this, and the soundstage is nothing to write home about.
I’d posit that Moondrop’s new SSR is faster, cleaner, and easily gives the KXXS a run for its money from a technical standpoint. The SSR’s technical performance is simply stellar for a single dynamic driver, all at a quarter of the cost. But enough shilling the SSR, let’s talk about the KXXS’s excellent tonality. First, I’m not going to lie, there’s definitely some reservations one should have going into the KXXS:
- The upper midrange will be too pronounced, too thin for some. I suffered dearly my first couple days listening to the KXXS, coming from the dark, muddy mess that was the Massdrop Noble X. Hell, I thought the Noble X was the better IEM at first.
- The bass’ attack isn’t very clean, particularly in the midbass. The punch is somewhat fuzzy, and just in general, the low end lacks some authority.
- Overall, the KXXS is a warm, bright IEM which won’t suit everyone’s tonal preferences.
That said, I’ve mentioned more than once that I’m sensitive to timbre coloration. Pick any of my previous reviews, I take points off for timbre issues left and right. For example, I absolutely roasted the Thieaudio L3 for it’s smothered timbre. And yeah, the KXXS is also fairly colored. The usual weaknesses of an IEM with this much coloration apply; the KXXS’s resolution and detail retrieval are a far cry from many of the multi-BA IEM’s I’ve listened to. Furthermore, it no doubt contributes to the aforementioned congestion. But it’s not a bad type of color – no, no. This is a warm, blanket type of coloration that gives the KXXS an engaging and, dare I say, musical quality not dissimilar to the Sony IER-Z1R.
Honestly? I hate to use that term – it’s too often used as a cop-out for why an IEM sounds good. Still, there’s something really agreeable about the KXXS’ tonality, and it’s like greeting an old friend every time I pop them in for a listen. Like so, I occasionally find myself reaching for them over even my Moondrop Blessing 2.
Moondrop SSR [3/10]: The SSR is a very technical IEM for its price point, easily trading blows with the KXXS. But a prominent peak at 3K hampers the tuning by throwing female vocals to the front. This makes it a niche IEM, although a very good one if that’s your thing. The KXXS will better appeal to most listeners.
Moondrop Blessing [4.5/10]: The KXXS has a livelier, more colored signature. The Blessing is a much better technical IEM, but suffers from its analytical, closed-in presentation. This is only exacerbated by the shoddy bass response, and I’d imagine most would find the KXXS a more enjoyable listen.
Moondrop Blessing 2 [7/10]: Once again, the KXXS is more lively and colored while Blessing 2 runs closer to neutral. KXXS has more bass, but comes off as flabby relative to the Blessing 2’s low end presentation. The Blessing 2 also has a safer tuning and significantly better technicalities. It’s a clear upgrade from the KXXS.
The KXXS has ruined a lot of IEMs for me for better or worse. As much as I harp about its technical performance being underwhelming, that’s relative to more expensive IEMs. It’s fine, even good for the price. The tonality also really, really hits my sweet spot. Will the same hold true for others listeners? Who knows – everyone has their own preferences. But I have no reservation asserting that the KXXS is a very solid IEM for the sub-$200 range. And that’s not even throwing the Moondrop Starfield, a pseudo-KXXS at nearly half the cost, into the mix. The price to performance on the Starfield is absurd; now that should be a no-brainer if you’re in the market for a good, entry-level IEM.
Score: 5/10 (Good)
Understanding my score: This is a personal, subjective assessment of an IEM’s sound quality. I don’t take into account any other factors, and it’s relative to the absolute best sound I’ve heard. Take it with a grain of salt! I’m not going to lie; I have high standards. But I’m not telling anybody how they should hear something – it’s a reflection of what me, myself, and I hear.