Moondrop Aria > Starfield: No Theme Reviews Weighs In On Moondrop's Budget IEM Sibling Rivalry

Note: This article is based upon the video "To The Point: Moondrop Aria” made by No Theme Reviews on his YouTube channel and is printed here in partnership with No Theme Reviews. The review was originally posted on July 5th, 2021. Edits have been made for clarity and length.

Over on his YouTube channel, No Theme Reviews compared the Moondrop Aria to the Starfield and concluded that there's no reason to choose the more expensive Starfield over the Aria. Watch the full review below or scroll on for a lightly edited transcript.

Intro

Apos Audio sent me the Moondrop Aria to review. This is an $80 IEM and the newest offering from Moondrop. The Aria has excellent build quality and accessories, especially for its price point. Just like its predecessor, the Starfield, the Aria is built of metal. 

Aria vs Starfied

The overall design of the IEM is noticeably different from the Starfied; however, the Aria is about the same weight as the Starfield. The Aria has a different shape, which results in a better fit in the ear canal. 

The Stafield, at least for me, has a loose fit. The Aria’s design allows it to sit securely within my ears. 

The Aria’s black and gold paint is a stark contrast to the Starfield’s more flamboyant, shiny blue with script. Nothing about the Aria’s build and design gives me any concerns. The Aria has some of the best accessories of any IEM I have seen for $150 and below. 

The Aria’s cable is covered in a pliable material. This cable is soft and transmits lite microphonics. The Starfield’s cable, by contrast, is covered in plastic and pales in comparison. 

The Aria also comes with a sturdy compact carrying case and several silicone eartips. 

Sound Tuning

Moondrop says that the Aria is tuned to the Harmon Curve. If you’re not familiar with the Harmon Curve, here is a brief description. The Harmon Curve is the average of several tested tunings. 

The ones which a study group preferred the most were examined, and the Harman Curve was essentially the compromise among the top-rated sonic tunings that the majority of people preferred. In these tests, some people believe the Harmon Curve is the new neutral, but I would disagree. 

It is merely a different tuning profile. You can use it as your own standard if you wish, but unless the recording artist is using the Harmon Curve to mix and master, your Harmon-tuned headphones and IEMs are not neutral. But that’s also the case for every other headphone and IEM, regardless. 

Moondrop says that the Aria will have punchy bass, recessed mids, and sparkling treble. In my tests, I found this to be fairly accurate. The Aria has a slightly above neutral sub-bass and an emphasized mid-bass. There is noticeable melding between sub-bass and mid-bass, resulting in average clarity in that region. 

The mids are recessed, but vocals will appear without difficulty. Voices sound about one to two steps behind the drums. All instruments always sound true to timbre. 

Aria vs Starfield vs iBasso it00 vs Final Audio B2

The Aria’s treble is elevated in the lower or mid-treble region but has a noticeable roll-off in the upper treble. This means that some treble instruments will sound a bit brighers but there should be little to no fatigue overall. The Aria has average soundstage and detailed retrieval. 

It has average clarity. I compared the Aria to the Starfield, Ebasso it00, and the Final Audio B2. The Aria and Starfield sound remarkably alike. There are some differences, however. The Aria seems to have slightly greater sub-bass and sharper mid-bass impact. 

The Aria has slightly less sibilant vocals and smoother vocal grain. The placement of vocals appears to be the same. The Aria’s treble is clearer and it presents slightly greater instrument separation. The Aria presents about the same detail as the Starfield, but the Aria is a little bit clearer overall. Both IEMs have similar soundstage. 

The it00 has great sub-bass emphasis than the Aria. Mid-bass slam is harder on the it00, and the bass region is overall a little clearer on the it00. The it00 has smoother rendition of mids. The Aria has slightly greater emphasis in sibilance and vocal grain. 

The it00 has more intimate vocals and smoother treble but only marginally. The Aria has wider soundstage and greater instrument separation than the it00. Both IEMs seem to exhibit similar detail. 

Finally, the B2 has less sub-bass and frankly a roll-off in that region. Mid-bass impact is harder on the Aria; however, the B2 has a bit more clarity in the bass region. The B2 has smoother presentation of mids. It smooths out vocal grain and has slightly less emphasis in sibilance than the Aria. The Aria has more recessed mids. 

The B2’s mids are a bit forward in the mix. Treble is smoother and rolled off on the B2. The Aria has slightly wider soundstage and clarity, but both IEMs seem to exhibit similar detail. 

Conclusion

Overall, the Moondrop Aria is an IEM that may sound pleasing to many people if you enjoy a warmer sound signature with emphasized bass in the mids and a hint of additional energy in the treble. However, if you disliked the Starfield then you will not be pleased with the Aria. Both IEMs sound very similar, and you might struggle to hear a noticeable difference. 

If this is the type of sound signature that you’re interested in, then I think the Aria is a good bargain. It offers little to no reason for people to buy the more expensive Starfield.