Disclaimer: The listen on Chu was done on multiple sources, but mainly on Qudelix5k. Tips used were Final E.
I paid full retail price but I’d like to thank Dudo Audio Store on Aliexpress for shipping me these in no time.
Table of Contents
- Pt. 1 – The basics (a glossary)
- Pt. 2 – Overview
- Pt. 3 – The antipasti
- Pt. 4 – The Hype train. Chu chu.
- Pt. 5 – The value.
- Pt. 6 – (Ultra) Budget market.
Pt. 1 – The basics (a glossary)
Hype in this hobby is all about making people talk. Humans will always correlate smoke with fire, and by generating hype, you are generating smoke. People will pay to see if there’s a fire. The more people that buy something, the more smoke comes out. Once everyone gets a taste, and if there’s fire, it will escalate. Sales 101.
Now, this is why reviewers exist. They generate the smoke and if the fire is there, they are gasoline.
Hyping should not be confused with shilling and shilling should not be confused with personal tastes. When a reviewer tells you “X is good for me, but I can see where it won’t fit everyone’s library”, that’s honesty, not shilling.
Shilling is when something is flawed and you omit that, in hopes to boost sales. Trustfull reviewers can’t shill, as they depend on loyalty.
Value and Diminishing Returns
Diminishing returns is a wide broad term used to describe when the effect of increasing a variable still increases the other, but slowing down, to a point that you are boosting something to get mere marginal increases.
In this hobby, diminishing returns is how much more you have to pay to get some upgrade over your current unit. DR are usually found early, on low to mid brackets, to a point a lot of people won’t go past the mid fi region.
Value is exactly what it is. The price. The price you pay for the package you are getting, with everything needed included. Let it be accessories, extra filters you need for a specific tuning or a source powerful enough to push the set.
(Ultra) Budget market
Right before I joined the hobby, chifi brands started pumping good or well done for the price sets out. According to most, a couple years ago it was unthinkable to achieve such good sets for such a price, and I believe them.
Back to 2022, you now have well tuned planars, taking everyone by surprise, at affordable prices. You have offers like Tripowin’s latest releases setting a footprint. You have budget collabs with renowned people to prove good tuning doesn’t need to be paid for.
Pt. 2 – Overview
Anyone in the internet know these by now. They are being labeled as the “buy first, ask questions later”. Now, what does it feature?
Chu is an IEM using a micro DD in a metal shell, with a non detachable cable. Comes inside a small box, along with 3 pairs of Moondrop’s own Spring Tips and a carrying pouch. That’s it for the package.
The shell is actually really nice and fits my ears just right, giving some good isolation with the right tips.
The carrying pouch is cheap and on the non-functional side, but better than nothing at this point.
The spring tips I will not comment much, as tips are as personal as underwear: everyone likes different form factors and materials.
My only complaint will go into the cable. It’s a bit memory prone, feels cheap and has a bigger than needed round Y splitter in the middle of it. There’s no way around it, it’s terrible and you have to live with it.
Pt. 3 – The antipasti
Despite everything, you should know that Chu is not:
- A giant killer, as such, does not exist.
- A one size fits all kinds of tuning, to an extent.
- A bass head iem.
- A treble head iem.
- Very technical.
- A replacement for your favorite budget iem, but this varies from person to person. It makes a great companion to that pair.
- Much different from your single DD moondrop collection.
- Does not come with weeb merch other than the box.
- An expensive IEM and some QC problems are expected down the line.
If something above bothers you, you have been warned and might want to stop reading right now. We are about to enter the void.
Pt. 4 – The Hype train. Chu chu.
If you read part one of this romance, you know what’s coming.
Buy first, ask questions later.
Chu is tastefully tuned. And no, I don’t mean for the price – good tuning is free. It has the best mid-range I’ve heard for under 100 bucks. I mean, the graph kind of speaks for itself.
It’s not the best bass in the locker room, but still has a touch of impact, speed and tightness. It secures just enough warmth and note-weight to not feel overly thin, and it leaves any kind of bleed at the door.
The mid-range is brilliant. Vocals sound great, pianos sound great. It’s just well done, and for sure one, if not the best mid-range under 100 I’ve heard.
Treble is in the sweet spot. Not dipped enough to blast the volume like dark iems or play it for ten hours straight, but just elevated to a point it doesn’t get bright. Extension is definitely there, which is actually surprising given the control over the rest of the treble frequency and the bracket it competes in.
Of course, what Chu masters in tuning, lacks in technicalities. It’s a budget IEM after all. Detail, imaging chops and separations are what is expected. The timbre decay shown is actually surprising, never feeling too metallic or sped up, just enough release to feel natural, without being sluggish.
I will go further and do some hot takes:
- I prefer Chu to Moondrop’s own aria.
- I prefer Chu’s tuning to Kato’s.
- I might prefer Chu’s tuning to Titan S.
- I prefer Chu’s tuning to most of the stuff I have heard up to now, no matter the price.
Again, buy first, ask questions later.
Pt. 5 – The value.
Twenty dollars and you get great tuning, 3 pairs of spring tips and a metal shelled IEM. The tips themselves, if bought separately, cost more than half of that.
There’s no better value than this, in the current market. Sure, non-detachable cable, but let’s think about it for a second: if it had a regular cable connector, everyone and their mother would spend more on a cable than the IEMs costs – I know I would.
Another thing to add value is the easy driveability and how good the stock sound is. Grabbing chu and an apple dongle, for around 30 dollars, will take you places.
Already have a collection? Great, cheapest good beater ever.
Pt. 6 – (Ultra) Budget market.
So, what’s the competition?
At this price, only one IEM comes to mind: CCA CRA.
But those two words come with a price: it’s very likely that you’re gonna want to mod or EQ it from stock. It’s very likely you will end up changing that nasty cable. It’s very likely you will want better tips than comes with stock.
CCA CRA was the ultra budget king – and to a point, it still is, – for a reason. You can see it in the polar opposite of Chu. A very technical IEM for its price, with some poor stock decisions. People like myself EQ CRA to use as a grab and go, giving insane value for a beater and keeping your music singing everywhere. For some genres, I prefer my EQ’d CRA to Chu. But that requires “modding”. In stock form, Chu gets CRA on the floor, unless you are a basshead or V-shape kind of person.
I don’t think Chu and CCA are just rivals. I think they compliment each other. Someone that doesn’t want to spend more but has the two, can cover most libraries with ease.
Good luck beating this.
Value ranking: 5/5. Personal Ranking: 5
If you made it this far, thanks for reading.
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