Moondrop Blessing 2 Review - A New Value Benchmark for IEMs?
I first got a chance to try the Moondrop Blessing 2 at CanJam NYC this year. I was minding my own business when a community member approached me and took me to the Moondrop booth saying “you have to try this”. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was immediately impressed when I heard it. I asked the gentleman how much it cost, and was utterly shocked when he said it was only $320 USD. Since then, the Blessing 2 has been on my radar, and apparently it’s also generated quite a bit of buzz for other IEM enthusiasts as well. The question that’s been in my mind as I’ve approached this review is, does the Blessing 2 live up to the hype? Is it as good as I thought it was at the show? Because remember, brief impressions at a show floor are not the same as getting to spend the better part of two weeks with something in your home environment.
- Driver type: 1 Dynamic Driver & 4 Balanced Armatures
- Treble unit: Knowles SWFK
- Midrange; Softears D-MID-A
- Bass: 10mm paper cone diaphragm coil
- Impedance: 22 Ω @ 1kHz (± 15%)
- Sensitivity: 117dB / Vrms @ 1kHz
- Connector: 0.78-2Pin
- THD: <1% @ 1KHz
- iBasso Dx220
- Astell & Kern SR15
- Astell & Kern SR25
- Audioquest Dragonfly Cobalt
- iFi Hip DAC
- iFi Pro iDSD
Build, Design & Comfort
For build, the Moondrop Blessing 2 feels solid without any jagged edges. I’m told this uses a 3D printed resin for the main housing, which is also completely transparent. This means you can actually see the various different drivers inside (1DD and 4BA drivers). The faceplate can be customized, but this one has a sleek metallic finish that nails the kind of aesthetic that I enjoy: sleek yet understated. I have seen some with more flashy faceplates though as well.
The Blessing 2 is also on the large size. This isn’t a problem for me, and I find them to be quite comfortable due to each earpiece’s main housing being smooth and rounded (unlike the old Campfire Andromeda housing). But some listeners have reported that the Blessing 2 is too large, and importantly that the nozzle is too large for their ears. Again I don’t have any issues with the fit for this, but the nozzle is definitely on the larger side as well. This means it doesn’t work with any of the more commonly found tips out there. But Moondrop do also provide a number of tips, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get a good fit - as long as you don’t have a small ear canal.
The Blessing 2 is a hybrid IEM, meaning in addition to using a number of balanced armature drivers (4), it also uses a dynamic driver to handle bass frequencies. Dynamic drivers are typical ‘moving coil’ transducers that have the voice coil behind the diaphragm, creating its pistonic motion. Balanced Armature drivers on the other hand create the pistonic motion by balancing a floating structure between two magnets with a connecting rod or pin affixed to the end of the diaphragm. Hybrid driver IEMs have been a trend lately because while multi-BA driver IEMs do well for resolution and detail retrieval, they’re often a bit lacking when it comes to bass punch and impact.
For detail retrieval, the Blessing 2 is about on par with other high end multi-BA IEMs for most of its frequency response. It’s not on the level of crazy high end tubeless BA designs like the 64 Audio U12T, but it competes with IEMs that are still considerably above the Blessing 2’s $320 price point as well. In fact, I find the midrange detail competes with many IEMs over $1000. The reason why I don’t give it full marks for detail is because the limitation shows up ever so slightly in the treble compared to the higher priced competition.
For bass detail, it’s acceptable for a dynamic driver, and what you might lose in terms of detail here when compared to BA alternatives, you gain in punch and slam. It’s a trade off I’m happily willing to make.
Due to the emergence of planar magnetic IEMs, multi-BA and hybrid IEMs now have some stiff competition for the sense of immediacy of the leading edge, tightness and control. And, even if the tonality hasn’t quite been figured out yet for planars, the performance limits still need to be re-evaluated as a result of their success in this area. The Blessing 2 performs reasonably well when it comes to these qualities - not any better or worse than other similarly priced multi-BA IEMs, but still noticeably behind planar magnetic IEMs.
This is where the Blessing 2 shines in my opinion. Bass dynamics are excellent as a result of the dynamic driver handling lower frequencies. You get an extra sense of punch and slam that typical BA drivers simply aren’t able to produce. This also imparts an extra sense of bass energy as well, and so while the bass sits lower than the typical Harman shelf, it doesn’t come across as bass light either. And as I mentioned before, this kind of bass response may trade a tiny bit of ‘cleanliness’ down low for the excursive punch quality that some describe as macrodynamics, and I think it’s worth it.
The Blessing 2 has a slightly larger than average soundstage, but this should be seen as an achievement at its price point. Given that it’s difficult for IEMs to have much for soundstage in general - you can only do so much with the space you have - the fact that the Blessing 2 is able to compete with IEMs at much higher price tags is impressive. So while it’s not the most open and spacious sounding out there, it’s still better than I’d expect for this price..
It’s also impressive at layering the various different images that come across. I was critical of the entry level Starfield's somewhat ‘flat’ presentation, and this is where the Blessing 2 really shows its strength by contrast. In fact, this was the first thing I noticed at CanJam NYC when I heard the Blessing 2 for the first time. It has such good representation of depth and an even distribution across the stage that I have to give it close to top marks in this area.
Being a hybrid IEM, the Blessing 2 does still make use of 4 balanced armature drivers, and unfortunately this means you do get some of the dreaded ‘BA timbre’. For those unaware, this is a kind of metallic smearing or haze that can come across for multi-BA driver IEMs. Thankfully it’s not as noticeable as on other IEMs like the Drop X Zeus XIV - which incidentally also uses Knowles BA drivers. In that case, I found that the BA timbre would even obscure some of the detail retrieval the Zeus XIV had.
Recognizing that not all BA drivers are created equally, this doesn’t necessarily mean it will have a similar effect on the Blessing 2, and I don’t find it to be as noticeable.. But it is still there to some degree for treble frequencies, and I think this is just the tradeoff that’s required to get the performance to be as good as it is.
Thankfully, because of the dynamic driver handling bass frequencies, there are no timbre issues for anything that tokens bass frequencies.
Frequency Response & Tonality
I would have expected the Moondrop Blessing 2 to follow the Harman over-ear target, just like many of Moondrop's other IEMs do, but to my surprise I found that it doesn’t quite. This means that the Blessing 2 doesn’t have the same bass shelf that we might expect from a Harman tuning (this target assumes a bass elevation is normal). Instead, the Blessing 2 has a very mild bass bump, that’s merely enhanced or made more noticeable as a result of the dynamic driver for the bass. This makes the bass response fun and engaging without sounding too elevated or bloated. There’s also zero bleed into the midrange either, with a very clean transition. Ultimately this means that the bass has excellent definition and distinction - so for any instruments or tones that make use of lower frequencies below 120hz, you get a very well articulated sound.
While the bass is excellent, and one of my favorite aspects of the Blessing 2, the midrange is probably my favorite. Not only do I hear the detail in the midrange as being far more competitive than its price point might suggest (it can compete with way more expensive IEMs for midrange detail), it’s tonality is also basically perfect. I find that many IEMs around this price take a safer route for mids by adding a bit of a recession, and the Blessing 2 doesn’t have that dip.
While the upper mids between 2-4khz are slightly forward, it still works perfectly due to the lack of a recession before that. This causes vocals in general to sound full and engaging. I’ve heard numerous IEMs that don’t quite get this right, causing female vocals in particular to miss the lower fundamental frequencies throughout the midrange, but with the Blessing 2 it’s all there. There’s a kind of presence to the way vocals come across that I just don’t get from most other IEMs - even ones that cost a lot more.
For treble, there’s a mild stumble around 6khz, but it’s so mild that it doesn’t show up on most recordings. By stumble, I mean I hear a slight peak that emphasizes the ‘SH’ sounds, and also causes an ever so slight percussion compression to certain recordings (specifically for anything with tambourines). Now I’m really nit-picking here because it’s not something I imagine most listeners will notice, and when I spoke with others who have heard the Blessing 2 they also couldn’t hear the issue.
I think this is also where the significant gain factor variance of the ear canal and drum resonance comes into play. The physical shape to the ear canal amplifies certain frequencies, and in short, we all have different shapes to our ears (ear canal for IEMs), and this is at least partly responsible for differences in impressions. I’ve always assumed that this gain factor was more responsible for mid and upper midrange frequencies rather than treble frequencies, but it’s still a plausible explanation for why I hear the slight emphasis at 6khz and others don’t. The other consideration is how the tips interact with the ear canal, and because the Blessing 2 uses a large nozzle, this may also influence how the ear-canal gain factor is applied.
Nonetheless, I don’t hear any significant issues with over-emphasis of the rest of the sibilant range between 7-9khz. There’s a slight roll off around 10khz, but it comes back for the air and splash qualities giving a good sense of treble extension and resolution.
The Blessing 2 has to be given near top marks for frequency response and tonality. While not perfect, it’s one of the closest to perfect I’ve ever heard, at any price. And, the fact that it’s able to do this at a much more modest price means that to me the Blessing 2 is the new benchmark for frequency response at $320.
In my mind, the Moondrop Blessing 2 lives up to much of the hype surrounding it. This is an IEM that I think should be given strong consideration for anyone looking for something under $1000. It doesn’t dethrone the true flagships out there like the 64 Audio U12T, but in my mind it gives most other high-end IEMs a strong run for the money - because at only $320, in my opinion Moondrop have changed the game when it comes to IEM tuning. Others may have better technical performance in one area or another, but I can’t think of anything at this price that I’d rather have as an all around everyday IEM for my tonality preferences. So it’s my pleasure to thoroughly recommend the Moondrop Blessing 2.
Weighted Conclusion: 8.5/10
Check out the video review here:
Review written by Andrew Park (@Resolve)
Review unit provided on loan by Antdroid
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