Pros: Sound Quality, Balanced and Mature tuning, Wide soundstage
Cons: A lack of non-audio features, Fit (and sound) is heavily tip dependent.
Price: SGD $89.99 (with case)
Disclaimer: I received the Moondrop Sparks from ShenZhenAudio at no charge in exchange for an honest review of my experience. Should you find yourself interested in a pair, they are available here. The thoughts and impressions in this review are my own and will be strictly objective.
Moondrop has accomplished a lot since it burst onto the audiophile scene. It has become a well-known name in the world of chi-fi. They have a fleet of well-performing IEMs under their belt, such as the Blessing 2 and Starfield, to name a few. This review seeks to assess the sonic performance of the Moondrop Sparks and if Moondrop has once again managed to work their magic into these.
Chipset: Self-developed, based on Qualcomm QCC chip
Touch Button for Play/Pause/Power/Calls
USB Type-C Charging Port
- Buds: 8 Hours/Charge
- Case: 48 Hours/Charge
Build Quality and Fit
The design of the Sparks is quite eye-catching. In fact, the black colourway is already quite toned down. The purple and pink ones are much flashier. Both the buds and case have a rubberised matte finish. While they feel good to the touch out of the box, I am usually not a fan of this material as it doesn’t hold up well in the long run. That said, Moondrop did include a leatherette hard case so no complaints there.
In terms of fit, they are average. The buds are quite big and yet don’t fit as naturally as I’d hoped. I’ve enjoyed better fits with other Moondrop wired earphones. That said, it is not terrible either. With the right tips, the Sparks seal well and are able to stay in the ears while I was out on walks, which is pretty much all that matters.
Tested using iPhone 12
The bass on the Sparks is quite enjoyable. Like most other TWS I’ve tried, it is boosted a little and supports the overall sound with a satisfying oomph. However, unlike most TWS I’ve tried, the bass is not overdone and tastefully punchy. It is rather well-textured and overall sounds quite mature. I have quite a few EDM and pop tracks in my on-the-go playlist and the bass is fun, punchy and satisfying on them. I don’t find myself having to “settle for less” just because I’m using a pair of TWS earphones.
One thing I noticed is that the selection of tips can affect the bass quantity and quality. The shallower stock tips provide a more balanced and cleaner bass response while the longer stem-ed ones can sound a little more claustrophobic and boomy.
The boosted bass doesn’t bleed into or overshadow the mids, immediately bringing the sound of the Sparks a tier above many other TWS earphones. The mids of the Sparks has a similar tuning as many of their lower-end earphones which I’ve tried and enjoyed; full and mellow lower mids with slightly more forward vocals. Male vocals on tracks by Michael Bublé and Paul Kim were present and not recessed and suppressed as in many other lower end TWS. Higher vocals and instruments were energetic yet smooth, and most importantly, never offensive. The overall timbre was also very pleasant, with instruments and voices appropriately weighted.
The treble region of the Sparks is quite rolled off, though that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise for a TWS earphone. It’s rather inoffensive, with a decent amount to keep tonality and timbre sufficiently accurate. However, don’t expect too much detail retrieval in the treble. On certain tracks, it can get a little grainy. That said, do keep in mind I’m comparing the Sparks to your wired options since I think it’s capable of such comparisons.
The Sparks doesn’t have the same level of detail as you would expect of “hifi” IEMs, but that’s okay. It has a very pleasant tuning and a good amount of separation to back it up. It does a good job at putting out a wide soundstage, with a well-layered presentation that allows for an engaging on-the-go listening experience. Do take note that your choice of tips can have a world of difference so don’t hesitate to swap them around if you find yourself struggling with fit or sound.
VS Moondrop SSP
I would say the Sparks sounds rather similar to the SSP, especially in the bass and vocal presence. They have a similar organic punch in the drums which I enjoyed. However, the Sparks is much more “easily driven”. The SSP sounds a little sluggish if not powered sufficiently, something I didn’t experience with the Sparks.
VS Tipsy TM1
The Tipsy TM1 is also a pair of True Wireless intended for the audiophile audience. It has a similar set of functions, albeit limited. The TM1 is slightly more pricey than the Sparks, at USD 159, with the TM1 being a hand-made IEM. The TM1 has a more U-shape sound signature as compared to the warm-Harman tuning of the Sparks. The TM1 also has the big advantage of a much more comfortable fit, perhaps due to its smooth resin build and round-edged design.
To sum it all up, I thoroughly enjoyed the sound I was getting from the Moondrop Sparks and was above my expectation of a TWS. Moving ahead, my expectations for TWS would definitely be higher and the Sparks would be a reference point and benchmark of sorts. For audio-conscious consumers, I am sure the Sparks certainly wouldn’t disappoint at its price point. However, people in the TWS game who prioritise functions like active noise-cancelling over sound quality may find the pricing of the Sparks a little steep for what it offers.