Moondrop Nekocake Review: Moondrop’s Coming to the Masses

Pros: App Support, Good Generic Fit, ANC on a Budget, Vtuber Voicing

Cons: Not the Best Sounding at the price, Limited Codecs Supported, Wind Noise

Driver Setup: 13mm Dynamic Driver

Price: US$43

Intro

Disclaimer: This review set was graciously lent to me by a friend and this review is written on my own accord. Should you find yourself interested in a pair, you can find it online here.

Not long after the release of their first TWS, the Sparks, Moondrop has dropped another TWS, this time at a lower price, seemingly more targeted at the consumer crowd. The Nekocake is a cute little pair of TWS that come supposedly packed with a ton of features. Let’s see if Moondrop has got the hang of this wireless thang.

Accessories

Included in the packaging is a USB Type-C cable for charging, as well as the ear tips and an instruction booklet. Barebones like most TWS in this price range.

Build Quality and Fit

The shape of the case is quite similar to the Moondrop Sparks but lacks the extra rubbery coating. Instead, the finishing is that of a cheap plastic that might pick up nicks and scratches rather easily. Not a deal-breaker as this is quite common at this price range. The overall aesthetic is simple and quite cute.

The style of the buds are similar to Apple’s AirPods pros, but with the stem reminiscent of the original AirPods. Quite a number of other TWS have adopted this style, like the Haylou W1. This results in a rather shallow fit and should be comfortable for most but still more secure than the original AirPods. Unfortunately, this shallow fit doesn’t isolate outside noise well and the cabin noise can get quite annoying when I use these on the train.

Functionality

The connection of the Nekocake was quite stable for me and I didn’t experience and cutting off on any side. A small disclaimer, your experience may vary and I can only speak from my own experience. It supports Bluetooth 5.0 with AAC codec. It’s rather limited in terms of Codecs supported.

You also get to hear Moondrop’s very own Mitsukiyuki speak to you in that kawaii voice. No, she won’t be able to have conversations with you but she can say stuff like “Connected!” or “ANC ON!”. Close enough. I don’t have any comment on this, and I am rather ambivalent towards but if this tickles your fancy, then hey no judgement here.

The Nekocake suffers from a rather significant latency. This is not a unique issue among TWS but this just makes the Nekocake slightly less than ideal for watching movies and gaming on your phone.

Active Noise Cancellation

The most interesting feature that the Nekocake boasts is the active noise cancelling feature. However, I could barely notice the ANC at times (when I’m on the train and the noise is just too loud) but it does help reduce some background chatter. For example, when sitting at my desk, it does help cancel out the droning noises from my workstation.

The ANC also picks up a lot of wind noise when I’m outdoors. It might be better to use them without the ANC when on the go.

App Support

The Nekocake, like the Sparks, work with the Moondrop Link app. It allows for some tuning options, though I found myself sticking to the “Balanced” one. There are some that boost the bass significantly, while the others tend to get a little unnatural or overly recessed.

The best function of the app is that you get to customise the touch functions on the earbuds. I found this extremely useful, especially since there are quite a number of functions that are controlled by the touch sensor it can be hard to keep track of each of them.

Sound

Sources

  • iPhone 12

Bass

The bass was tastefully done here. With this style of buds, it’s crucial to give it a little boost in the bass as there is bound to be noticeable amounts of leaking due to the shallower fit. However, what could certainly be improved is the overall definition and detail. The low end is quite muddy and could use a bit more crispness.

Mids

The upper mids are relatively forward, giving vocals a nice authoritative presence. It has a character reminiscent of Moondrop’s house tuning, making the Nekocake quite versatile tuning-wise for a wide range of genres. That said, the timbre of the mids is a little unnatural and won’t be what you’d get with their wired IEMs like the Starfield or Aria, or even their budget IEM SSP for that matter.

Treble

The treble rolls off quite fast, without much extension, giving the sound a pretty limited staging and texture. There isn’t much going on here and the treble seems to play is safe, taking a back seat, giving the music a more muted and darker feeling.

Overall

The overall tuning of the Nekocake is quite pleasing. A warm lower end with boosted upper mids. However, the upper mids aren’t too shouty and non-fatiguing for long listening. However, detail retrieval isn’t impressive and the sound is overall rather one-dimensional. To put it simply, the Nekocake doesn’t impress sound-wise, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it sounds bad. It’s alright.

Comparison

Haylou W1

I recently bought a pair of these for my personal use as I was looking for a cheap pair to use for my on-the-go usage. The Haylou W1 claimed to have “Premium Sound Quality” and was on sale so I just snagged a pair to try for myself. The W1 has a hybrid 1 Knowles BA + 1 Dynamic driver setup. In terms of build, I would say it’s rather similar to the Nekocake, and the design of the buds are near identical. They both feel quite comfortable in the ear. The build quality of the case of the W1 is a little questionable but excusable at its price ($30).

I quite like the sound signature of the W1, as it has quite a balanced sound and a slightly more energetic upper mids and treble region, something you don’t get every day with budget TWS. The functions of the W1 are very limited and nowhere near that of the Nekocake, so don’t expect any app support. There seem to be some QC issues occasionally (I have heard from friends) with the stability of connection but your experience may vary.

Overall, it’s a bit of a give and take, but I would say the Nekocake seems to be the more complete product for your average consumer, despite losing a bit on the side of sound quality.

Conclusion

The Nekocake is clearly targeted at the consumer crowd, as opposed to the more audio-conscious community. Die-hard audio fanatics may snub this set for its rather bland meh-ish sound, or love it for its cutesy Vtuber theme/aesthetic. I have no problems with the comfort, usability and stability of connection which are my biggest concern in a TWS. It is also impressive that Moondrop managed to squeeze in some degree of ANC at this budget-ish price but its susceptibility to wind noise disturbances really holds the Nekocake back. Overall, I think this is an okay pair of TWS and if you can look past its flaws, you may just love it.

Overall Score: 7.5/10

75%
Build Quality and Fit
85%
Functions
66%
Sound
75%
Value

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