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With the rising popularity of the tribrid, looks like even Moondrop cannot resist its allure.
Enter “Variations”, Moondrop’s first foray into the tribrid space. Though it’s to be noted that this isn’t the first time that Moondrop has used the Sonion ESTs in one of their IEMs; that honour goes to the somewhat obscure Solis which, while officially their $1,100 flagship, clearly not their most popular model.
The Variations sits right in the middle of the $320 Blessing 2 and the $700 S8 and so occupies a somewhat awkward $500 price bracket, more recently revitalised by hot new entries like the ThieAudio Oracle and Kiwi Ears Orchestra. Like its competitors that price point also makes the Variations one of the cheapest (EST) tribrids in the market today.
But enough exposition, you’re all here to get one burning question answered. How good is the Variations actually?
Driver configuration: 2EST + 2BA + 1DD tribrid
This Variations was kindly provided by ShenZhenAudio.
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.
- Hard case
- Interchangeable 3.5mm SE connector
- Interchangeable 2.5mm balanced connector
- Interchangeable 4.4mm balanced connector
Cable: 2-wire configuration in a twist braid. Good flexibility and skinfeel, nothing much to complain about.
Connection: basically-flush 2-pin. Again, not the most secure style and I’d wish it was recessed.
Build: smoky-translucent resin body with metal faceplate. Largely the same (or at least similar) to the Blessing 2’s build.
Fit: pseudo-custom. If you’re had the Blessing 2, this is similar.
Isolation: above average; fine for outdoor use.
- At $520, the Variations competes against some relatively fresh faces in the “$500 tribrid” bracket, namely the ThieAudio Excalibur, ThieAudio Oracle, and the DUNU EST 112.
- The Variations is easily the sub-bassiest model within Moondrop’s lineup, and perhaps their closest match to Harman 2019 as well.
- Slightly cleaner bassline hits overall compared to the Blessing 2 as well, which is a nice surprise.
- Slight shout; but overall actually a little less intense than the Blessing 2 and the S8.
- EST implementation is pretty good though the usual caveats still remain, i.e. somewhat blunted and “wispy” presentation, especially next to something like Moondrop’s own S8.
- Overall, seems to compete closer to that of the Clairvoyance with a slight edge over the Oracle in resolution.