Moondrop has been made famous for it’s mid-range IEMs, which tend to deliver fantastic sound for the price point. But this was my first experience with an over-ear model, so I was curious how well the Company could perform with planar magnetic technology. What kind of sound characteristics can you expect from the Venus? And does its performance compete with similarly priced planar headphones from more established companies?
In the Box
- Moondrop Venus open-back headphones
- 3.5mm unbalanced cable
- 4.4mm balanced braided cable
- Quarter-inch adapter
Look and Feel
Although the Venus is not particularly heavy, the ear cups are large. The fit is comfortable with soft contoured leather ear pads. I also appreciate the self-adjusting suspension headband because it saves you from fiddling around with sizes. Looking at myself in the mirror wearing these retro-futuristic silver cans, I felt like some kind of space explorer or toddler trying to pull off an astronaut Halloween costume. Depending on your tastes, this could be a good or bad thing. Personally, I dig the Star-Trekkie design.
The Venus sports a 100 mm planar magnetic driver with a sub-nanometer diaphragm, about the “thickness of only 2 microns”. So, yeah. It’s thin. There’s also some description about how it vibrates to bring out finer details. And how the pure silver circuitry “results in less heat loss.” My brain is too fried to go on. But to summarize, clearly the company has worked really hard. And I feel sorry for the website copywriter. But at the end of the day, this headphone has been designed to approximate the sound of an electrostatic headphone. And I actually think that Moondrop has succeeded in this respect.
Although the impedance on the Venus is only 18 Ohms, like many planars, these cans require a bit of driving power to get the volume you may need. I first used the included unbalanced cable, and hooked it up to my Dragonfly Cobalt. The volume was sufficient, but there wasn’t much headroom. So, a small amp would be ideal. The Venus also comes with a 4.4mm cable, which gives you more volume than the unbalanced connection.
Although you may not get the feeling of immensity, the soundstage is probably one of the most colorful you’ll find at this price point. It shows so much nuanced placement across all axis that it almost feels like you’re floating in some kind of rainbow bubble. Pair these headphones with a dose of LSD and you might never return. And even though you’ll feel good distance in depth as well as in the stereo field, instruments from afar maintain the same richness in tone as those closer to the ear. So, there’s no sense of “fade”. And this is a quality that can usually only be achieved with a planar magnetic design.
The low-end should just quench one’s thirst for bass when listening to pop and funk tracks. At the same time, the bass never overpowers the mix and is well contained. Sub-bass frequencies stop short of delivering a rumble in your chest. The level of detail one the Venus is especially notable, giving string instruments in this range ample texture and resolve. And the tonality on acoustic instruments feels entirely natural, lending that planar magnetic richness to double basses without over-coloring the tone or creating any artificial resonance.
You’ll hear a pretty even balance in this range. The low mids come out in full force and the upper mids avoiding taking too much stage presence the mix. The result is an all-encompassing and unbiased presentation of the music. So, you can expect a steady, controlled feel rather than a super dynamic and active personality. While the low-mids do bring a little warmth to the profile and there is a slight sumptuous quality to the tone, you can’t call the sound lush or dense. In fact, vocals have an airy quality to them in the higher mids, offering plenty of breath and buoyancy to the sound. The separation is also top notch, keeping guitars strums, for instance, well defined. At the same time, the Venus handles acoustic instruments tenderly, never sounding too thin or analytical. On the contrary, the delivery feels fluid and melodious throughout.
You won’t miss out on any sparkle or treble extension. At the same time, I didn’t experience any uncomfortable peaks, even when listening to the highest frequency trumpet or violin notes. And again, vocals are a pleasure to experience, delivering a weightless and thoroughly transparent performance. The sound is also entirely cohesive in range, making top-line progressions flow effortlessly and with delicious smoothness.
|6 Hz – 80 kHz
I’m sold. The tuning is comprehensive and highly palatable, the transparency is first-rate, and the overall delivery of sound is rich, cohesive and emotive. The airy highs are a pleasure to listen to as well. And at the end of the day, the Venus could probably compete with models from brands like HifiMan at the same or higher price point.
You can buy the Moondrop Venus at Audio 46.