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A close up shows the Moondrop Chu II showing the headphone jack.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys
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Moondrop Chu II review

Some sequels are better than the original.
By

Published onDecember 6, 2023

SoundGuys recommended badge
7.2
Moondrop Chu II
The bottom line
A satisfactory upgrade over the Moondrop Chu, the Moondrop Chu II now fit better and ship with a removable cable. They're reasonably comfortable and sound good. Plus, they're cheap!
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Moondrop Chu II

A satisfactory upgrade over the Moondrop Chu, the Moondrop Chu II now fit better and ship with a removable cable. They're reasonably comfortable and sound good. Plus, they're cheap!
Product release date

07/06/2023

Price

$18.99

Dimensions

Cable length: 1.27m

Weight

8g (per bud)

Waterproof
What we like
Price
Frequency response
Fit
What we don't like
A little heavy
Average isolation
7.2
SoundGuys Rating
7.8
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Isolation / Attenuation
5.8
7.0
7.0
Durability / Build Quality
6.2
9.0
9.0
Value
9.5
9.9
10.0
Design
8.5
7.9
8.0
Connectivity
6.5
8.5
9.0
Portability
8.0
9.3
9.0
Feature
5.6
3.0
3.0
Comfort
7.2
7.8
8.0

Hot on the heels of the success of the budget-friendly Moondrop Chu, we’re checking out the follow-up Moondrop Chu II. Let’s see if the sophomore in-ear monitors (IEMs) surpass our expectations or if you should stick to the debut.

Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

About this Moondrop Chu II review: We tested the Moondrop Chu II over a week. SoundGuys purchased the unit for this review.

Virtually anybody who needs a set of wired earbuds ought to consider the Moondrop Chu II for their value-to-performance ratio. Folks who want to try out IEMs can give these a shot as a low-cost entry for music or gaming if you don’t need a mic. These make a nice and inexpensive gift that outperforms the price tag.

What’s it like to use Moondrop Chu II?

The Moondrop Chu II hangs with out of focus books in the background.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys
The cable retains the basic shape of your ear for a decent fit.

Let’s get it out of the way: the Moondrop Chu II typically costs less than $20. Keep that in mind as we go through the details. These are wired earbuds with a removable cable designed to bend over the top of your ears. The translucent cable ends with a right-angle 3.5mm headphone jack. Unlike much more expensive IEMs like Sennheiser IE 600 (for instance), the cable material here is nothing too exotic, but it works.

These are not the lightest at 8g per earbud; for comparison, typical wireless earbuds weigh between 4g and 6g. While the over-ear cabling helps alleviate some of that weight, most of the mass still focuses on the nozzle and ear tip in your ear. They’re metal earbuds, after all, made of a zinc alloy with a brass machined nozzle. After a couple of hours of wear, my ears experience discomfort where the anti-helix meets the concha. They certainly feel okay for over an hour.

In the Moondrop Chu II package, you get three sets of ear tips. The sizes measure 11mm, 12mm, and 13mm. My ears fit the 12mm best. The Chu II come with a faux leather case that’s pretty flimsy and flat. Unlike the hardier hardshell and zip cases we’ve all seen with some wired buds and upscale IEMs, this case has the advantage of actually being super portable, albeit not especially protective. Again, the Chu II goes for under $20.

If you have any metal allergies, we don’t know which other metals are present in the alloy. Therefore, we can’t confirm whether these are safe for you, as is true for any metal earbuds where manufacturers give limited information.

How do the Moondrop Chu II connect?

A macro photo shows the 2-pin connector for the Moondrop Chu II.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys
A 2-pin connector helps extend the lifespan of the earbuds.

The Moondrop Chu II buds keep it simple with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack to connect. You won’t need a headphone amp with the Chu II thanks to the low impedance of 18Ω (at 1kHz) and high sensitivity rating of 119dB/Vrms (at 1kHz). When plugged into an iPhone with a dongle, there’s plenty of volume on tap.

The cable is removable, which is an improvement over the original Moondrop Chu, and for the sake of extending the lifespan of the buds, that seems like a worthwhile upgrade. Terminating at the earbuds in a 0.78mm 2-pin connection, it is not as robust as a micro-miniature coaxial (MMCX) connection, however, it does the job just fine. I experienced no issues removing the bud and reconnecting it to the cable.

How well do the Moondrop Chu II block out noise?

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Since these earbuds eschew any battery-powered features, you don’t get active noise cancelation (ANC). These are isolation-only buds with average performance. The nature of isolation tackles high-pitched environmental noises best — like clattering dishes. For instance, the sound of my keystrokes on my keyboard gets somewhat dampened by the Moondrop Chu II.

You can do your best to improve the noise blocking by honing your fit with one of the three ear tips. If you’re serious about isolation, you’ll need to invest in something with better-isolating properties, like memory foam ear tips.

How do the Moondrop Chu II sound?

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There was a time when inexpensive audio products invariably equaled subpar sound quality, but fortunately, things have changed, and the Moondrop Chu II sound good. The frequency response through the bass and midrange mirrors our headphone preference curve rather well, with only minor differences. Upper mid frequencies deviate a little more, with some extra output in the 3kHz ear gain region. There’s limited extension into the highest frequencies, though this is pretty good for a single driver. Overall, you can hear all parts of your music well.

Lows, mids, highs

The Moondrop Chu II rests on a blue table with the open carry case in the background and a black iPod in the blurred foreground.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys
If you have your own FLAC library or a device with a headphone jack, these buds are a very portable listening solution.

Listening to the moody, folk-meets-indie track New As The Moon by Levoneh, the introduction of falling raindrops and bird calls sound true to life, and the synthesizer pads play with a good amount of volume. The stereo spread is average on the Moondrop Chu II, not especially wide or narrow either. While the low end of the track plays with reasonable volume with the Chu II, it’s not exactly full of oomph but pleasant. Ross Kirshenbaum’s prominently mixed and multi-layered vocals sound great here.

All of the instruments and textures sound good, and the clean electric guitar is easy to make out. As a credit to the mixing, cymbals, and harmonics come through relatively well, considering the IEMs’ relative under-emphasis above 5500Hz.

Should you buy the Moondrop Chu II?

A close up shows the Moondrop Chu II with ear tips on a blue table.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys
You get three basic ear tip sizes.

If you’ve wanted to dip your toes into IEMs or pick up inexpensive wired earbuds, the Chu II are a good option. They’re very cheap, which makes them easier to afford obviously, but also easier to forgive any minor complaints. Anybody who tries to tell you that you need to spend a significant chunk of change to get good sound is simply incorrect, and here’s the proof.

Those who already own the Moondrop Chu probably don’t need to rush to replace the earbuds with the newest iteration. Basically, the Chu II are a low risk gamble, and scarcely a gamble at that. Give them a try.

Moondrop CHU IIMoondrop CHU II
SG recommended
Moondrop CHU II
Balanced sound • Improved bass • Clear highs & mids
MSRP: $18.99

What should you get instead of the Moondrop Chu II?

The Moondrop Chu dangles from a purple and green vine.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys
The Moondrop Chu have a strong family resemblance to the Chu II.

Frankly, the Moondrop Chu II is most likely your best bet in the $20 and under price point. But let’s consider the original Moondrop Chu the most obvious, slightly less refined alternative. If, for some reason, you don’t get on with the ear-loop cable wrap and the bendable cable of the Chu II, the original utilizes removable sleeves instead. Also the sound has more treble emphasis in the highest registers than the Chu II. You can get these buds with a microphone and remote if that’s essential for $21 at Amazon. The only thing better about the original Moondrop Chu is the texture of the ear tips that come with the buds.

Everything else is more expensive. You can stick to Moondrop and get the Moondrop Aria SE for $79 at Amazon, or the nearly identical standard Aria ($79 at Amazon). These come with a removable cable and a pleasant frequency response that leans closer to a legacy studio-style sound.

If you want better isolation than the Chu II, good sound, and a robust design, the Shure SE215 remain a stalwart choice for $99 at Amazon. They fit well, stay in your ears, and replacement parts are easy to track down.

Frequently asked questions

If your gaming experience is a solo endeavor and you don’t need a mic, you can certainly use the Moondrop Chu II for gaming.

There is a version of the Moondrop Chu II with a microphone, but our test unit does not have one.

This depends on the impedance and sensitivity of the IEMs in question. Most are very sensitive with low impedances, so they can be driven from any source. You can calculate it, though a good rule of thumb is to just listen to your IEMs. You don’t need a dedicated amp if they sound good and the volume is sufficiently loud.

A digital-to-analog converter (DAC) is only necessary in the instances where you want to connect your analog IEMs either to devices that do not have an analog output or your device’s headphone jack introduces noise or digital artifacts to your signal. You don’t strictly need an external DAC to use IEMs, but it can solve some problems if you encounter them.