Following the success of Quarks DSP and Droplet, Moondrop is here with a special DSP single dynamic driver IEM, the Moondrop JIU. The JIU looks like a Moondrop CHU with a Type-C termination. Moondrop has actually taken the cavity structure and driver configuration of the Chu and further optimized its performance using DSP (Digital Signal Processing) technology for the JIU.
The Quarks DSP and Droplet have shown immersive potential in the industry, the optimizations done via DSP are promising quality upgrades and improved sound while being easy on the pocket. The Moondrop JIU benefits from a built-in DSP profile. Moondrop has optimized the sound performance with built-in SOC that helps create a balanced listening experience with a natural soundstage. The JIU is actually built on the Moondrop CHU with enhanced sound characteristics using DSP optimizations.
Moondrop has featured a 10mm high-performance dynamic driver unit on the JIU. It adopts PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) technology to create a titanium-coated nano-crystalline diaphragm. It has an improved rigidity band and excellent damping characteristics. This benefits the pair in achieving improved treble response and details.
Moondrop has tuned the set using their famous VDSF target response curve. VDSF is a parametric target and is usually preferred by many audiophiles for its clear and crisp sound presentation. In order to match the desired target curve, Moondrop has designed a special cavity structure using FEA simulation and 3D printing technology. The shells are made up of high-quality zinc alloy material.
Moondrop JIU features a versatile USB Type-C termination. Nowadays 3.5mm audio jack is missing from most smartphones and this is where the Type-C termination comes in handy. You can use the JIU straight with your smartphones, laptops, and computers. It even has a built-in microphone for easy communication.
The JIU was tuned to the Virtual Diffuse Sound Field (VDSF) target. For the uninitiated, the VDSF is a frequency response modeled on the Harman target. It’s fairly neutral with an upper midrange and lower treble focus. This is topped off with a neutral bass and rolled off upper treble and is the classic Moondrop house sound.
JIU’s presentation is clear, detailed, and neutral/bright. It has levels of resolution and detail retrieval that aren’t common in ultra-budget IEMs.
Bumped up slightly above neutral, the JIU’s bass is reserved in quantity. However, the quality of the bass is outstanding for a budget IEM. Bass notes have a great definition with clean leading edges and controlled decay.
There’s an emphasis on the sub-bass which feels confident but restrained – bassheads need not apply here. The lower bass is nicely weighted but mid and upper bass notes lack power. There’s an upside, of course, and it is the airiness of the bass which comes from the driver’s speed and is further enhanced by the treble tuning.
It’s a non-destructive bass that doesn’t infringe on the midrange, aiding in JIU’s overall resolution. However, there is a slight lack of body and rhythm which is a common characteristic of this type of bass tuning.
Much like the bass, the midrange continues with the balanced-tuning theme. The instruments sound full and natural, just the way they should. The midrange exudes clarity and detail. It’s a neutral midrange but one with enough body and robustness to sound mainly natural. It could use a touch of added warmth but instead aims for more transparency and articulation.
The JIU’s midrange is characterized by its lifted upper-mid bands, resulting in a brighter more energetic tone. There’s abundant presence and vibrance in female vocals but male vocals sometimes lack richness. That said, JIU has an energetic and clean vocal presentation.
The instruments sound clean and have a fairly accurate timbre. However, some instruments in the upper registers eg. pianos and brass instruments sound forward and bright.
Higher frequencies are an area where even expensive headphones struggle to maintain clarity and smoothness at the same time. JIU’s lower treble is key to its overall presentation and tonality. Hi-hats sparkle and percussion instruments have stark definition and contrast. Treble notes are slightly rounded and sweet with a good amount of trailing air.
The mid-treble dips to maintain timbre then lifts again in the upper range. This too, adds to the JIU’s airiness and the well-extended highs facilitate ample detail retrieval. It’s a fairly precise treble with a good resolution that is both exciting and tolerable.
The soundstage is fairly intimate on the JIU due to a forward stage position. This puts you up close to vocals but there’s sufficient space around the center image to avoid feeling confined. Imaging is quite strong and JIU gives good positional cues, making it easy to place instruments in the virtual space. Clarity and detail retrieval are both very good and overall this IEM has a strong technical performance for something in this price range.
Is JIU better than CHU? For me, the answer is yes. Because it has a Type-C (USB) connector instead of the 3.5mm. What that means is that you don’t need to worry if your phone (or tablet & PC) doesn’t have a headphone output, or you don’t need any dongle DAC to have good sound on the go. The built-in DSP guarantees the same sound on every gear with a USB port.