Updated: Nov 19, 2020
Pros: Very nice bass performance, Vocals really excel, Great Timbre and imaging
Cons: Expected a better stock cable, comfort is not great for me, a little pricey
Driver Setup: Single 10mm Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) Dynamic Driver
Price: $190 (USD)
Disclaimer: this review is done of my own accord and I purchased this set at full price from Taobao at a price of around $220.. Should you find yourself interested in a pair, you can get it online here.
The Moondrop KXXS IEMs are the successors to Moondrop’s highly acclaimed Kanas Pro. The Kanas Pro has been discontinued by Moondrop and the KXXS replaces it as the flagship monitor of the single dynamic driver lineup.
It has the same internals as the Kanas Pro, the same single dynamic DLC driver. This set is one of the first few chi-fi that kicked off the single dynamic driver craze and gained a reputation for its Harman curve tuning.
In this review, let’s check out this set and see whether it lives up to its hype.
Packaging and Accessories (Score: 9/10)
The packaging came protected in a classy understated cardboard box
Moondrop really spared no expense in this aspect and made sure you knew that you were purchasing their flagship of the lineup. This may be the nicest unboxing experience I’ve had with a pair of IEMs in this price range.
The IEMs comes with a silver 4-wire cable which is twisted pretty tight. It’s not my favourite looking cable so I didn’t use it with my set. However, I received an upgrade cable bundled with the IEMs in my order. It is an Oxygen-Free Copper (OFC) 4-wire cable which is quad-braided very nicely, and cable feels very soft, plush and premium.
Among the accessories, it comes with 6 pairs of silicone tips of various sizes which are quite comfortable. They also pair well with the IEMs. I also received a pair of SpinFits packed together although I am unsure if it was a gift from the seller or something that comes with every set. There is also a pair of tweezers and some mesh filters which you can use to replace the one on your earphone if it gets clogged with gunk? Lastly, it comes with a little drawstring pouch and a magnetic hard pouch.
All of this is a little overwhelming and unexpected but I’m not complaining. It is a big step up from the old Kanas Pro which only came with a pouch as the only accessory. However, I must say that I prefer the stock cable that came with the Kanas Pro opposed to the one installed on the KXXS but that’s me nitpicking.
Build quality and Fit (Score: 7.5/10)
The build of the KXXS is a work of art and wearing it outside will probably draw some attention (and perhaps compliments?). The shells are made of an aluminium-zinc alloy and have a smooth mirror finish.
They have significant weight to them and feel hefty in the hand. However, for this reason, I was quite apprehensive about the fit. To my surprise, they fit in my ear better than expected and the weight distribution of these was well-designed such that they wouldn’t just slide right out of my ear. However, they aren’t really very comfortable enough for me to want to bring this on my daily commutes. Hence, these pretty gems remain at my desk most of the time.
The KXXS with the bundled Moondrop branded copper cable
Sound (Score: 8.4/10)
Frequency Response of the KXXS
I tested with the following equipment and the tracks below are a sample of the music I listened more in-depth to. I could power this set with my Shanling M3s without requiring an amp. Just as a quick note, I didn’t really like the sound paired with the Fiio Q1 MkII as the sound was a little too bass-heavy for my tastes.
- Shanling M3s
- Fiio Q1 Mk II
Albums and music listened to
- Panic at the Disco – Death of a Bachelor
- Jackson 5 – ABC
- Of Monsters and Men – Beneath the Skin
- Chicago’s Questions 67 & 68
Bass (Score: 8.5/10)
Yet another set where the bass is very tastefully done. I really enjoyed the controlled yet slightly elevated bass on the KXXS. If I have any complaints, it would be that the bass can be a little slow to decay at times. This makes the sound warmer than I would like for certain tracks. For example, in Death of a Bachelor by Panic! At The Disco, the bass beats linger a little longer than normal. However, this is more of a personal preference rather than a technical limitation of the KXXS. One way to describe the bass would be punchy yet weighty. In the intro of Chicago’s If You Leave Me Now, the upper bass is punchy and well-articulated, bringing a smile to my face just by listening to that first few seconds.
Mids (Score: 8/10)
I quite enjoyed the mids on the KXXS. It has a very natural presentation being overshadowed by the bass. I especially enjoyed listening to the beginning of Chicago’s Questions 67 and 68. The instrumentals have their own space to shine yet are layered so well on top of the bass. Male vocals also do very well. Back to Death of a Bachelor, Brendon Urie’s voice and vocal range are presented so tastefully on this set. Even as he shifts across the two ends of his vocal range, the KXXS presents them so well and energetically. Even as his voice extends into the upper mids, it doesn’t thin out but still retains its full-bodied sound. I’m glad the mids were not compromised or recessed here.
I find that many single dynamic drivers struggle to do the treble well and here is where the technical capabilities of the set play a big part. I would say that the KXXS does reasonably well in this area. It has enough detail in the treble without being piercing. However, I did find that on some tracks like the Jackson 5’s ABC, there is a little unnaturalness in the Hi-Hats and cymbals. Not a big issue as it wasn’t really jarring but just a small observation after listening to many tracks. It does have significant airiness in the treble and it contributes to giving it a seemingly wider soundstage.
The KXXS has a good tonality and timbre as it benefits from an overall coherence in the sound. The only problem I would have with the set is that the weighty bass does get a little fatiguing for me and it’s not a set I would be comfortable with listening to for long periods. However, this does not change the fact that the KXXS’ technical capabilities never fail to surprise me whenever I listen to them and it seems I always forget how good these are.
I will say that I am a fan of this set, and right from the unboxing phase, the KXXS surely has left an impression on me. I really like the tuning of the bass and the mids of the KXXS, especially when listening to male vocal tracks. The timbre and tonality of the sound is very musical and will definitely “wow” you in certain tracks. There are a few things I feel could be done better, such as the stock cable, and the design which is a fingerprint and scratch magnet. However, some people may like this design more than me. I will also take some points off for value since this set is considerably pricey despite its great performance. This is especially so with the release of the Starfield which has been said to sound very similar but at a much lower price point. Credit still goes to Moondrop for yet another successful release and a worthy replacement of the Kanas Pro.
Overall Grade: B+
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