Aria Snow Edition – the excellent VFM DD to beat!
PROS: Excellent VFM, very well balanced signature, natural reference tonality and timbre, clean lower mids, forward upper-midrange for strong instrument definition, balanced and natural treble response, good clean soundstage and detail retrieval for the price.
CONS: None at this price.
Moondrop is one of the most popular brands to emerge out of China in recent years. They’re based out of Chengdu, Sichuan and quickly became fan favourites with products like Kanas, Kanas Pro, KXXS, Starfield, Aria, Kato, Blessing2, A8, S8, etc. Most of their entry level products are made out of metals but their upper range are majorly resin based IEMs with semi-custom shells like Blessing2, S8 and Solis. They even make earbuds named ShiroYuki, Namesless, VX, Liebesleid, Chaconne, etc and have recently released a TWS IEM called Sparks too. They like to dabble with popular target curves and have received critical acclaim and appreciation for their tuning based on their in-house target curve called Virtual Diffusion Sound Field (VDSF) that they try hitting with most of their IEMs.
- Newly updated 10mm dual-cavity dynamic driver with new DLC(Diamond-Like Carbon) diaphragm
- Impedance: 32Ω ± 15%
- Sensitivity: 119dB
- Frequency Response Range: 15Hz-50kHz
- Effective Frequency response range: 20Hz-20kHz
- Cable – 6N Silver-plated OFC cable
Included in the box.
Aria Snow Edition (SE), like most Moondrop IEMs, comes in nice Anime design packaging with accessories which are simple and all you really need. Below is a list of all that is included in the package –
- Moondrop Aria
- Eartips – SML Silicone and SML Spring tips
- Small carry case
- Manuals/warranty cards
Aria SE shells are manufactured using the same precision metal mold casting and CNC milling technology as the original Aria. The Snow Edition however makes use of a brand-new surface coating that emphasises its metal texture with a complex and aesthetically pleasing snowflake pattern. Expect similar build quality but with better coating compared to the original Aria.
Fit and Comfort.
Aria SE’s shells fit exactly like the Aria. So, nothing different here. It is snug and very comfortable for me personally.
Aria Snow Edition (SE) doesn’t just look different from the original Aria but is tuned differently too. As per Moondrop, “Post the release of the original Aria, many discriminating users noted that the popular tuning of the Aria had deviated somewhat from the classic MOONDROP tuning they had come to love. The Aria Snow Edition is our emphatic response to this valuable feedback. The Aria Snow replaces the original LCP diaphragm of the Aria with the same first-generation diamond-like carbon (DLC) composite diaphragm used in the Kanas Pro Edition while retaining the Aria’ s tried-and-tested driver and cavity structure“.
You can read my review of the original Aria here.
Sound – Aria SE primarily differs from the original Aria in the bass, upper-mid and treble region. It has around 3.5db less sub-bass, 1.5dB less mid-bass, very slightly more presence in the 2.5k-9kHz region and slightly lower upper-treble peak of 14kHz by around 1-2dB. This actually results in what I perceive as a more accurate, reference-neutral tuning. Aria SE overall has around 4.5dB of bass shelf, very neutral lower-midrange, around 8.5-9db of forward upper-midrange pinna gain and a very balanced treble region that presents instruments and vocals with excellent tonality and timbre. The slight extra forwardness in the 2.5k-9kHz enables stronger vocal and instrument definition and SE presents music with a slightly more life-like character than the original Aria.
Graphs are measured using an IEC60318-4 (IEC711) setup. You can compare all the graphs on my IEM Graph Database here – Animagus Squiglink.
Technical Performance – This change in tuning doesn’t just affect tonality but also improves technical performance. Because of lower sub-bass, in fact the overall bass shelf, left to right separation is significantly improved and I perceive a cleaner sense of space overall. The soundstage is much cleaner and spacious as a result. Aria SE’s better upper-midrange to treble balance also improves detail retrieval and makes for slightly taller boundaries and a cleaner sense of depth. The more present 2.5k-9kHz region in SE improves perception of detail retrieval and better, more precise imaging compared to the original. The only thing SE looses out in my opinion is the extra sub-bass rumble and slam compared to the original Aria but I personally much prefer the tuning of the Snow Edition myself. Bass lovers will probably prefer the original Aria in this regard.
At $80, I think Aria Snow Edition is a no brainer, an excellent overall package! It’s very well tuned, well built, comes with a nice cable and tiny case plus the Aria SE package also includes SML Moondrop Spring tips, which weren’t included with the original Aria. Frankly, Aria SE is hard to fault and I highly recommended it for the price!
Gear used for testing and review.
- DAPs – iBasso 240 & DX170
- Phone – Oneplus 7 Pro
- Laptop – Apple MacBook Pro 15″
Artists I like and listen to.
- Rock – Foo Fighters, Linkin Park, Switchfoot, Imagine Dragons, Daughtry, Green Day, MuteMath, X Ambassadors, Dave Matthews Band, Vertical Horizon, Our Lady Peace, Lifehouse, Fall Out Boy, Breaking Benjamin, Muse, ACDC, Audioslave, Rage Against the Machine, Biffy Clyro, I Am Giant, Normandie, Paramore, Slash & Guns N Roses, 3 Doors Down.
- Pop Rock – John Mayer, Coldplay, Paul McCartney, James Bay, Hunter Hayes, Niall Horan, Keith Urban, The Bros Landreth, Bryan Adams.
- Progressive Rock/Metal – Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson, Karnivool, Tool, Dead Letter Circus, Periphery, Lamb of God.
- Pop/Soft Rock – Ed Sheeran, Adele, Taylor Swift, OneRepublic, The Script, Gavin James, Magic Man, Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Charlie Puth, Dua Lipa, The Weeknd, Oasis, Panic! At the Disco, TwentyOne Pilots.
- EDM – Chainsmokers, Zedd.