Moondrop Kanas Pro Review
Moondrop’s collection of headphones have similar traits. They have a specific target curve they came up that lies somewhere between the Harman Target Curve and the Diffuse Field Targets, but with an upper end energy above 10KHz. This seems like it’s an approach they’ve used on every IEM across their small collection from $40 to $670.
The Kanas Pro model sits in the middle of their IEM lineup at $179; just above the regular more bassy Kanas, and less than half the price of the Blessing. As a note, this is the first Moondrop headphone of any type that I have listened to, and after this review, this won’t be the last.
The Moondrop Kanas Pro was purchased at full price via Penon Audio, a Hong Kong based online retailer who have great customer service and expedited shipping. This item is also available through Linsoul and LSR-Direct on Amazon, who have supplied me with review samples in the past. They did not send me this one however, but did ask that I compare it to other IEMs that have been provided, which is detailed at the end of this review.
The Kanas Pro contains a 10mm dynamic driver within it’s attractive mirror-polished zinc-magnesium housing. Each side is reflects everything around it, but can be a fingerprint magnet. The model name is inscribed lightly in the finish.
The IEM features 2-pin connectors and includes a well-designed copper braided cable that looks as luxurious as the shells. To round out the package, Moondrop added a fabric carrying pouch and a set of tips in 4 sizes.
Given the type of pouch and very small silicone tip selection, I was pretty disappointed in the accessories, especially compared to other IEMs in this price range which come with premium cases and a variety of different tip choices.
The Kanas Pro was played mostly using my Pioneer XDP-300R and Hidizs AP80 digital audio players. On occasion, they were also powered by the Cavalli Liquid Spark and the Monolith THX-AAA balanced dac/amp. The music selection was scattered throughout different genres, decades, and styles. My typical playlists includes Fleetwood Mac, Alwways, Massive Attack, Chris Stapleton, Vince Guaraldi, Radiohead, Real Estate, Cocteau Twins, Norah Jones, and much more.
In general, I found the Kanas Pro to sound just right tonally, and a completely safe sounding headphone. It’s extremely well balanced between bass, mids and treble, and reminds me a lot of two Campfire products: the Comet and the Orion, as well as the Audio-Technica LS200iS – all three of which, I recently reviewed. These three have tonally balanced sound signatures and all three really focused heavily on the mids. They also have generally similar sound stage to the Orion, though not as wide, but also not as intimate and forward sounding as the Comet. They lie somewhere in-between the two, but closer to the Orion.
The Kanas Pro has just a slightly elevated bass section that is well controlled and tight. The added boost from Diffuse Field neutral, follows the Harman Target quite well, and provides just enough warmth to provide a slightly fuller sound than the Orion, for example. It has a low end that is similar to the LS200iS to me, and extends well, and is lean enough that it does not ever sound muddy and out of control. Some may find it a tad lean.
I originally did with my initial tip selections. After floating around a couple dozen tip choices, I settled on three tips in particular that sealed well and provided the low end the quantity it needed for this IEM to excel – Newbee Foam tips, SpinFit CP145s, and Final Audio Type E tips. I’ll go over some tip choices issues in a little bit.
The midrange has a very smooth nature to it. For me personally, it has a wonderful coherency that is very engaging yet laid back all at once. Where it may falter is that it is so clean and smooth that it can come across as missing a little detail and character.
When we move up to the treble region, there’s a boost in the upper treble which gives the IEM a little bit of air. For me personally, this does not affect anything with the sound signature at all. I find that it provides the needed air and energy that counters the smoothness of the mids and makes the Iave a little bit of fun, when it generally is a smooth and toned-down sound otherwise.
I’ve read on a few forums that there are folks who find the bass a little light (me included early on) and the treble too sharp. As with many IEMs, tips are crucial to sound signature, as they not only provide adequate seal to the outside world, prevent leaks, but also their inherent material properties help reflect or dampen sound out of the driver.
Tips & Mods
I measured several different tips recently and posted the results online. To summarize, it seems foam tips, and specifically NewBee branded ones, provided the more even treble response. All silicone and hybrid tips I tested had a significant valley between 6KHz and 10KHz, while the foams reduced that dip in half. This is followed big a big spike above 10KHz on silicones, which again, is cut in half by the foam tips. In practice, I don’t hear these spikes and valleys in music, or if they are, it’s very subtle. I still tend to like using the foams for comfort though, however the Final E Tips are easier to put on and equally comfortable for my ears.
Following my general review of the Kanas Pro, I tried to do some modding. This was really the result of an accident, as I was trying to make custom tips using Radians ear molding compound, and covered the vent hole and actually ended up pushing some of it in to the vent. To correct this, I removed the grill on the nozzle, which is held in-place as a sticker, and is easily removed and replaced, and then let the mold debris roll out.
Open Vent (Red) vs Stock (Blue)
In doing this, I ended up measuring what happens if you remove the grill completely, which increased the treble pretty significantly (and not super pleasantly). I then found out that there is also another sticker-applied grill covering the vent that is closest to the nozzle and determined that this hole, if fully exposed, controls the bass quantity. Having the hole exposed completely wipes away all bass and most of your lower mids. Don’t do that.
So, this started my journey into modifying things – and mostly because in the process, I lost one of the grill stickers, and still cannot locate it today. I ended up vacuuming my room and who knows if it even exists anymore.
I tried to replace the grill with other materials – mainly craft felt material and varying amounts of cut up ear bud foams. I ended up sticking with a small amount of the ear bud foam that I cut a square out and rolled up and inserted into each nozzle. This actually tames the treble peak slightly, while also keeping the upper-mids and lower treble similarly, if not identically, to the stock grill.
See the measurements below for the mods I performed.
The following are brief comparisons between the Moondrop Kanas Pro and several competing IEMs that are new to market or popular in the headphone industry. The BGVP DM6 and DMG, Tenhz T5, and Tin Hifi T3 were provided for review by Linsoul, while the Campfire Orion was loaned for review by Headphones.com. The Campfire Comet was previously purchased by myself directly from Campfire and later sold, however I also received it on loan more recently by Headphones.com for review.
I found the DM6 to have heavier bass and peakier treble – essentially more V-shaped than the Kanas Pro. I also found the DM6 a bit shouty compared to the KP. It does have an edgier sound to it, which can be fun and exciting, but in general, my personal preferences go towards the Kanas Pro. The BGVP DM6 will get a full review in the near future.
The Tenhz T5 will also be receiving a full review treatment in the near future. This IEM has a darker tone to it than both the DM6 and the Kanas Pro. It’s actually quite relaxing to listen to but I found that occasionally that the mids and treble sound a bit compressed and low-fi. This could be due to the laid-back tuning or it could just be poor detail retrieval. It also has a smaller soundstage than the Kanas Pro, but does come with a wonderful set of accessories (tips, case, cable, etc).
In my previous review of the Orion, I gave them a very favorable review, however I did find them perhaps costing a little pricey given the competition. At the time of their release, I believe they would have been a great value, but there’s a lot more competitive, and cheaper, IEMs out there now that it’s harder to recommend the Orion. The Kanas Pro and the Orion, to me, have very similar traits and sound signatures, however the Kanas Pro does extend better on both ends of the spectrum with a slightly more warmer bass region that is generally more favorable to many. The Orion’s total package of accessories (and there’s a lot them) and customer service can’t be beat though.
Like the Orion above, the Comet has accessories included that make other competition seem quite lacking. The build quality of the Comet and Kanas Pro are quite similar, with their shiny bodies, however the Comet has intricacies in their stainless-steel housing that is unrivaled at $199. In terms of sound signature, the Comet is a more mid-centric, thicker, and mid-forward sound and lacks the extension on both ends of the spectrum that the Kanas Pro has. Both are good all-arounder choices however at this price point, however in terms of pure sound quality alone, I find the Kanas Pro a better value.
Tin Hifi T3
The Tin Hifi T3 is another recent release and has a similar neutral sound signature. The T3 has a flatter bass response and a bigger treble peak in the sibilance region that the Kanas Pro does not. The KP, instead, drops off in this same region, and peaks up in the upper treble above 10KHz. Besides that, both excel in the mids for their respective price classes. The T3 is $100 less than the Kanas Pro and is well worth it’s value, as is the Kanas Pro at it’s price tag.
The DMG is a small step below in price than the Kanas Pro and really is a different sound in general. The DMG has a traditional V-Shape sound signature that I find tasteful for certain genres due to how surprisingly coherent the mids and mids-to-treble transition is. This is quite a contentious IEM however, as some find it quite bassy and treble harsh, and others (like me) find it only slightly bassy and only slightly harsh. It is definitely song and recording dependent (and perhaps source too). The Kanas Pro, on the other hand, is a smoother and more neutral/balanced listen. Both feature simple metal shells that seem quite well made and durable.
In general, I found the Moondrop Kanas Pro to be an extremely welcoming IEM at its price range. I think it has a very engaging and enjoyable sound signature that can appeal to many users and genres. It’s not for the bassheads out there, but for someone who wants a neutral-warm sound signature that you can listen for hours on end without fatigue, but still have enough detail to catch little things here and there, this is a great IEM to check out.
The build is exceptional and attractive, and the only major flaws with the overall presentation is the lack of accessories, which is typically more plentiful at this price point, when looking at its competition. However, these small things may not be that big of a deal – I, for one, hardly ever use the tips that come with any product and perhaps only use the included carrying cases half the time anyway. The cable that the Kanas Pro comes with is quite nice and that’s a standout in the package.
So again, this is a recommended pick for me without hesitation, as it’s quickly becoming my go-to IEM over my much more expensive ones I own, including my Custom Unique Melody ME1 IEM.