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A photo of the Moondrop Golden Ages sitting in their case, with the door open.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys

Moondrop Golden Ages review

If you're looking to save a buck, these earbuds don't sacrifice much.
By

Published onMay 21, 2024

7.3
Golden Ages
The bottom line
The Moondrop Golden Ages are a competent set of earbuds that won't break the bank, and have a lot to offer. However, they're held back by anemic battery life.

Golden Ages

The Moondrop Golden Ages are a competent set of earbuds that won't break the bank, and have a lot to offer. However, they're held back by anemic battery life.
Product release date
2023
Price
$79.99
Dimensions
Case: 31 x 66 x 48mm
Earbuds: 33 x 21 x 18mm
Ear tip diameter: 6mm
Weight
4.8g per earbud
57.6g case
Model Number
Waterproof
What we like
Sound quality
Price
ANC
Comfort
What we don't like
No IP rating
Battery life
Cheap plastic casing
7.3
SoundGuys Rating
9.8
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Isolation / Attenuation
6.1
10.0
10.0
Active Noise Cancelling
7.5
10.0
10.0
Durability / Build Quality
5.5
10.0
10.0
Value
9.5
8.0
8.0
Design
5.5
10.0
10.0
Connectivity
8.0
10.0
10.0
Portability
8.0
10.0
10.0
Battery Life
4.6
10.0
10.0
Feature
6.0
10.0
10.0
Comfort
8.5
10.0
10.0
MDAQS rating
Learn more
Timbre
4.9
Distortion
4.1
Immersiveness
3.5
Overall
4.8

Over the last several years, a small but devoted fandom has arisen around inexpensive, performant in-ear monitors (IEMs). One of the companies serving this niche has branched out into wireless earbuds, and despite some early missteps: have had a couple hits on their hands. Today, we’re taking a proverbial test drive with the Moondrop Golden Ages: a set of sub-$80 earbuds with active noise canceling (ANC) and a curious branding. But are they any good? Let’s find out.

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

About this Moondrop Golden Ages review: We tested the Moondrop Golden Ages over 4 days. The earbuds' firmware version 1.1.0, and the Moondrop Link app ran version 2.0. SoundGuys purchased the unit for this review.

The Moondrop Golden Ages are for bargain-hunters looking for ANC earbuds that have a higher chance of fitting than other models on the market. These earbuds are not for anyone looking for a workout companion.

What’s it like to use the Moondrop Golden Ages?

The Moondrop Golden Ages is pretty basic and straightforward, but it does get something right that bothers me on a lot of other earbuds: the fit. We often give earbuds the business a little bit for using a cylindrical or too-long nozzle, but the Moondrop Golden Ages uses a short, ovoid nozzle. The benefit here is that it tends to fit ears of more sizes and shapes much better, which has a significant upside to sound quality, isolation, and ANC.

A close-up photo of the Nozzle of the Moondrop Golden Ages.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The short, ovoid nozzle will fit ears of more sizes and shapes than a traditional long cylinder.

I found that the shorter, more human-friendly nozzles fit me extremely well, where other earbuds typically don’t. Because of this, I had no difficulty listening for hours at a time, with only the battery life stopping me from going a whole workday with them in my ears — but more on that later.

The driver of the Moondrop Golden Ages was a bit of a surprise to me, as less expensive earbuds tend not to come with a planar magnetic driver hidden within the casing. But the Mondrop Golden Years does: a 13mm planar magnetic driver sits in each earbud, which can have some advantages for sound quality. It’s a bold choice for earbuds, but a welcome one.

A photo of the packaging contents of the Moondrop Golden Ages.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The packaging contents of affordable earbuds are often pretty scant, but Moondrop takes care of the basics.

Perhaps due to its price point, there is no ingress protection rating awarded to the Moondrop Golden Ages, so we caution anyone buying these against getting them wet — or taking them into a desert. That’s not to say that the earbuds will immediately die on a humid day; it just hasn’t been tested yet. Chances are pretty decent that they’ll be fine with normal use.

Inside the packaging are a USB-A to USB-C cable, a charging case, three sizes (small, medium, large) of silicone ear tips, and your earbuds. Though that’s a little on the sparse side, for inexpensive earbuds, you can’t really expect much more in terms of extras. Moondrop is laser-focused on one thing, and that’s providing bang for buck. In the case of its true wireless earbuds, that means the company is attempting to get the fundamentals right above all else.

A photo of the Moondrop Golden Ages sitting in their case, with the door open.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The Moondrop Golden Ages have a fairly basic charging case.

The charging case of the Moondrop Golden Ages is about as basic as it gets, though there are some idiosyncrasies worth mentioning. For example, the charging port is on the bottom of the case, which means that you’ll have to lay the case down on its back or front while juicing up instead of in the back like most other true wireless earbuds. It’s less of an issue for a charging case that has a door to hold in the earbuds, but this seems to be a pattern for Moondrop. There’s also a plastic redundant shell to the case, which can be removed if you really want to. However, it is a useful thing to keep around if you’re the kind of person to accidentally fumble your case often, as a sacrificial layer of plastic will keep the underlying case fresh after bumps and scratches.

How do you control the Moondrop Golden Ages?

Controls for the Moondrop Golden Ages are simplistic, and mainly accomplished through a series of taps or long presses. Below is a summary:

Moondrop Golden Ages controls:

Left earbudRight earbud
Single tap
Left earbud
Play / pause
Right earbud
Play / pause
Double tap
Left earbud
Previous track
Right earbud
Next track
Triple tap
Left earbud
Start / close voice assistant
Right earbud
Start / close voice assistant
3 second press
Left earbud
Enable / disable ANC
Right earbud
Enable / disable ANC
Quadruple tap
Left earbud
Enable game mode
Right earbud
Enable game mode

As the touchplates are capacitive, you won’t need to apply much force in order to get your commands through. This is good, as the short nozzle of the earbuds mean it’s easier to dislodge with enough force. You can customize these somewhat with the app, but the volume controls are conspicuously absent. For that, you’ll have to use your phone or computer’s system controls.

One thing I found to be a slight frustration was the bespoke voice for the notifications. Where most voice prompts would tell you exactly what’s going on when you input a command, for whatever reason the Moondrop Golden Ages went with a cutesy voice actor’s clips of saying “shhh,” “huh?” and “hey!” for ANC, ANC off, and transparency mode respectively. Some might prefer that, and in fact Moondrop lists it as a selling point of the earbuds. If that appeals to you: go nuts, but to someone who prefers explicit feedback it could get frustrating.

Should you use the Moondrop Link 2.0 app for the Moondrop Golden Ages?

Unless you have an iPhone, you won’t be able to install the Moondrop Link 2.0 app from Google’s Play Store. Instead, you’ll have to sideload the app and give it permission to view all files, which is not okay if you value privacy. Though there’s no reason to believe anything nefarious is going on, granting an unsigned app this kind of latitude isn’t the wisest idea.

If you are able to install the app from the App Store, you can use it to swap EQ presets, update the firmware, set the ANC mode, and customize the controls for your earbuds. That’s pretty much it. The app itself is as basic as it gets, so don’t go hoping for advanced software features like spatial audio or anything.

It took a hair under 3 minutes to upgrade the firmware from stock to 1.1.0, which is fairly typical — if a bit annoying.

How do the Moondrop Golden Ages connect?

A photo of the Moondrop Golden Ages' pairing button.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The Pairing button can be a little difficult to press with a finger when the plastic is on the case.

The Moondrop Golden Ages connects to source devices over Bluetooth 5.3, via SBC, AAC, LDAC, and LC3. By supporting LE audio, these earbuds set themselves up well for better battery life, though purists will likely stick with LDAC. For a sub-$100 pair of earbuds, the Moondrop Golden Ages has an impressive array of Bluetooth codec options. Unfortunately, it does not support Multipoint.

Just like most other Bluetooth earbuds, the pairing process for the Moondrop Golden Ages is about as straightforward as it gets.

  1. On your source device, enable Bluetooth and scan for new devices.
  2. Tap the PAIR button on the back of the Moondrop Golden Ages’s charging case.
  3. Select the Moondrop Golden Ages from the list of available devices.

After that process, the earbuds will automatically connect to that device when you remove your earbuds from the case.

How long does the Moondrop Golden Ages’ battery last?

In our labs, the Moondrop Golden Ages was able to play back audio with ANC enabled for only 3 hours and 37 minutes during our standardized battery test. Any way you slice it, this is a poor result, but likely a consequence of using the same battery cell size as the Moondrop Space Travel, and having more power-hungry internals. This battery life is enough for a train ride or bus ride into work, but if you want to listen to your tunes for longer than 3 hours at a time: you’re going to have to take breaks to charge your earbuds. You may have better luck with LC3 as your codec, but there’s no guarantee that your phone will be compatible.

This is one of those double-whammy situations where the low battery life contributes to shorter product longevity as well. With an increased need to charge your earbuds — and charge them all the way for best results — the increased frequency of full charging cycles could burn through their operating life much quicker than other wireless earbuds.

You might also find that the bottom-oriented charge port is a bit of a pain, though it’s not as big of a deal given the door on the top prevents the earbuds from falling out through normal use. Though putting a charging port where it interferes with typical use of the product is something few companies dare to foolishly do, in this case it really doesn’t matter.

There is no listed fast charging for the Moondrop Golden Ages, but as the earbuds are 37mAh and the charging case has a battery capacity of 380mAh, it shouldn’t take very long to get a usable charge.

How well do the Moondrop Golden Ages cancel noise?

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Though the Moondrop Golden Ages is not the best active noise canceling (ANC) earbuds out there, they’re adept enough at preventing unwanted noise from reaching your eardrum. By reducing outside noise by around 75%, the Moondrop Golden Ages can quiet commutes fairly well, though it’s not really at the same level as you’d expect from a set of top-flight ANC headphones. That’s really okay, though, as to get that kind of performance, you’d typically need to shell out a bit more money.

If you turn off the ANC, you can expect a high degree of isolation in the mids and highs, averaging about a 61% loudness reduction. That’s pretty decent, and should make life easier if you want to extend your battery life. Of course, this is dependent on you getting a good fit, so be sure to test out the other ear tip sizes to ensure best results.

Moondrop’s transparency mode is acceptable, though it only covers the range of sounds where voices live. Consequently it can sound a bit weird if you were hoping to hear things above 8kHz or below 100Hz. It’s a super minor quibble, but if you’re mainly hoping to hear other people without taking your earbuds out: this should be good enough.

How do the Moondrop Golden Ages sound?

Moondrop is no stranger to making inexpensive earbuds that sound very good, and the Moondrop Golden Ages are no exception.

Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Scores (MDAQS)

The chart below shows how the sound of the Moondrop Golden Ages was assessed by the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Score (MDAQS) algorithm from HEAD acoustics.

This chart shows the MDAQS results for the Moondrop Golden Ages in Default mode. The Timbre score is 4.9, The Distortion score is 4.1, the Immersiveness score is 3.5, and the Overall Score is 4.8).
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
A high timbre score buoys the overall sentiment towards the Moondrop Golden Ages’s sound.

On the back of a very high Timbre score, the Moondrop Golden Ages does very well overall when gut-checked by a virtual panel of listeners. Distortion, too, is rated as unobjectionable, even if it’s not the highest score we’ve ever recorded. Though the immersiveness score is middle-of-the-road, it doesn’t seem to have affected the overall score much. In short: these are very competent earbuds.

Timbre (MOS-T) represents how faithfully the headphones reproduce the frequency spectrum and temporal resolution (timing information).

Distortion (MOS-D) represents non-linearities and added noise: higher scores mean cleaner reproduction.

Immersiveness (MOS-I) represents perceived source width and positioning: how well virtual sound sources are defined in three-dimensional space.

See here for an explanation of MDAQS, how it works, and how it was developed.

Reviewer’s notes

I enjoyed my time with the Moondrop Golden Ages, but the sound definitely isn’t something that I usually gravitate toward. Much like other Moondrop earbuds like the Space Travel, the Moondrop Golden Ages has a notable underemphasis in the highs that dampens some room effects and some of the smaller sounds in music, like string and drum attack. It’s not a bad thing, really; it’s just something you may notice.

A photo of the Moondrop Golden Ages in use by a beareded, bespectacled man.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The Moondrop Golden Ages use a lollipop design.

For example, this is most noticeable in songs that don’t have a ton going on, like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Lookin’ out my back door.” The muted strums at the beginning sound even duller due to this choice in emphasis. Though you can still hear the lower parts of the sounds, the attack seems to be missing altogether. Similarly, the guitar melody from Iron Maiden’s “The Writing on the Wall” also loses some of its instrument attack on guitars, but unless you’re looking for it: you won’t notice until someone points it out to you.

Beyond that, the Moondrop Golden Ages sound pretty damn good, and should be able to handle any of your tunes well. The earbuds especially do well with pop music, such as Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle,” and Miike Snow’s “Genghis Khan.” Sometimes earbuds struggle with making the cymbals too loud or the bass a little too overpowering, but the Moondrop Golden Ages don’t seem to suffer from either of these setbacks.

Objective Measurements

Loading chart ...

The Moondrop Golden Ages is a bit surprising in that in-ears typically emphasize bass quite a bit, but the Moondrop Golden Ages undershoot even our bass-light target by about 3dB. However, as the underemphasis is pretty even, it can be defeated by turning the volume up a bit. What can’t be defeated this way is the underemphasis in the 5-10kHz region, as that underemphasis is much more extreme.

If you do turn up your tunes, the 3kHz ear gain bump and the spike at 11.5kHz will sound a bit loud compared to the rest of your music, but we don’t see this being a problem. For one thing, the latter spike is pretty narrow, so it’s unlikely that you’ll notice much outside of the infrequent high-pitched sound standing out a little bit.

Can you use the Moondrop Golden Ages for phone calls?

Like most headsets nowadays, the Moondrop Golden Ages is built to handle just about any function needed for use with a smartphone. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that the earbuds have microphones. Below are samples collected from our controlled environment but not transmitted over a network; what you hear is the best these earbuds will sound.

Moondrop Golden Ages microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

23 votes

Moondrop Golden Ages microphone demo (Office conditions):

Moondrop Golden Ages microphone demo (Street conditions):

Moondrop Golden Ages microphone demo (Windy conditions):

Moondrop Golden Ages microphone demo (Reverberant space):

The Moondrop Golden Ages does seem to have some issues with clipping and noise rejection. That said, most calls are going to sound quite compressed anyway, so it may be hard to tell that anything’s amiss over traditional cell networks.

Should you buy the Moondrop Golden Ages?

If you’re looking for a set of inexpensive noise canceling earbuds, the Moondrop Golden Ages makes a strong case for your dollar. Though they aren’t the best at any one thing, they have a lot to offer for under $80 — especially decent sound quality.

A photo of the Moondrop Golden Ages in a person's hand.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The Moondrop Golden Ages may not be small, but they’re comfortable.

Of course, these are wireless earbuds, and there’s a number of pros and cons with this product type. So if you’re okay with going wired (most often with an Apple or Google dongle), you might have better luck with a pair of IEMs. But at this price point the alternatives mostly come with pretty big tradeoffs.

Moondrop Golden AgesMoondrop Golden Ages
Moondrop Golden Ages
Quality sound • Sensitive touch • High comfort
MSRP: $79.99
If you're looking to save a buck, these earbuds don't sacrifice much.
The Moondrop Golden Ages are a competent set of earbuds that won't break the bank, and have a lot to offer. However, they're held back by anemic battery life.

What should you get instead of the Moondrop Golden Ages?

If you’re not okay with the lack of an ingress protection rating or you want better ANC than the Moondrop Golden Ages can provide, strongly consider spending the extra 20 bucks and get the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC ($74.5 at Amazon). Not only does it offer far greater noise canceling, but it offers similarly well-regarded sound quality and more bass. It doesn’t hurt that the Anker earbuds can also handle a workout with an IPX4 rating.

A photo of the Moondrop Space Travel atop a carbon fiber weave.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The Moondrop Space Travel is one of the best bang-for-buck earbuds on the market.

On the other hand, if you want something less expensive and similarly-performant, you could always step down to the Moondrop Space Travel ($24.99 at Amazon). Sure, it’s not the most polished set of earbuds in the universe, but they sound quite good and only cost $25. That would allow you to save up for something better down the road, or you could use that extra coin to buy some music. Either way, who doesn’t like saving money?

I strongly encourage you to poke around our list of best cheap earbuds, as you might find some gems in there that you maybe weren’t considering before. True wireless earbuds are the most popular audio product on the market today, and there are tons of models on the market to choose from.

Frequently asked questions

No.

Yes. See above for samples.

No.

Yes.

Yes.

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