Moondrop Illumination (and SSP): Unboxing

Table of Contents

The SSP review unit I received did not come with the full retail packaging.

Introduction

Ah yes, Moondrop is back at it again. With their higher-end models mostly consisting of IEMs with BAs in them (for instance the 8BA S8/A8, the hybrid 4+1 Blessing 2 or the 4+2 Solis), this time they’ve set their sights on the “high-end single dynamic driver” with the $800 Illumination, placing itself as the “pseudo-flagship” of the Moondrop lineup right under the $1,100 Solis.

Alongside the Illumination’s release is also the Super Spaceship Pulse, abbrievated as simply SSP and is the sister model to the Super Spaceship Reference (SSR). A brief recap: I wasn’t the biggest fan of the SSR given its extremely upper-mid-centric tuning, but apparently the SSP promises a different flavour of the SSR for people like me, at exactly the same price ($40). More on the differences between the two below.

Are we seeing Moondrop’s turning point, possibly moving completely towards the single DD setup for future models? Only time will tell, but for now let’s see if their current efforts have any merit.

Product pages
Moondrop Illumination
Moondrop SSP (Preview)

MSRP
Illumination: $800
SSP: $40

Driver configuration: single DD (for both)

The Illumination and SSP were kindly provided by ShenZhenAudio.

Non-audio opinions

(For Moondrop Illumination)

My unboxing posts are pretty much the only times I’ll ever talk about build quality, accessories and the like. I’m not really the person to ask about these things as I don’t really care about them that much.

Accessories

  • Hard zip case
  • Tips
  • Extra replacement filters
    • Filter installation tweezer
  • Airplane adapter
  • Cable (uses a 4-pin connector to the jack side)
    • 4-pin to 3.5mm SE module
    • 4-pin to 2.5mm balanced module
    • 4-pin to 4.4mm balanced module

Cable: 2-wire cable in twist-braid configuration. Feels pretty supple, good skinfeel, but also rather cheap for an IEM at this price.

Connection: slightly recessed 2-pin. Not your typical recessed 2-pin connection, but probably slightly more secure than flush.

Build: full metal build with no outward weak points as far as I can see. 

Fit: moderately deep fit is achievable. Comfortable for my ears and relatively secure.

Isolation: slightly below average. Not completely leaky but I wouldn’t use this on public transport.

Initial impressions

Moondrop Illumination

  • Pretty much neutral with an ever-so-slightly warm tilt. Very, very capable tuning as expected of Moondrop, but also kind of… milquetoast? Reminds me of the Solis in some regards.
    • Upper mids are on the forward side, but shoutiness more-or-less exclusive to higher-pitch instrumentations.
  • Natural timbre, but kind of lacking in definition (relative to top-tier IEMs). Notes are a little soft and don’t quite resolve as much as I’d want. Makes for a nice laid-back listen for that reason, though.
  • Average staging, nothing much I can say.

Moondrop SSP

  • As most people expected, the SSP is a bassier, slightly less upper-mid-forward SSR.
  • As most people also expected, the SSP is a little easier on my ears given the wideband bass boost taking the edge off the upper mids.
    • The SSP is still shouty to me, though.
  • Next to the Illumination, the SSP actually sounds a little hollow and unnatural. It’s not that the SSP sounds thin per se, but the overall tonal balance is off in comparison to other sets that I’d consider as tonal benchmarks.
  • As a “different flavour” proposition, the SSP works well as a foil to the SSR. It’s different enough that owning both may be justifiable, but it’s not so different that calling it an SSR-sister would be strange.

Measurements

Moondrop Illumination
Moondrop SSP
SSP versus SSR

All data has been uploaded to the Graph Comparison Tool.

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2 thoughts on “Moondrop Illumination (and SSP): Unboxing”

  1. how different does the SSP sound compared to the original Spaceship? Comparing the graph, it seems like the only difference is a slight sub bass uplift on the SSP..

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