A lot of people probably never heard of MOE before, but as it turns out you might be familiar with their sound already. It's because they were original manufacturer of dynamic drivers for a number of headphones from JVC, Sony, Audio-Technica, and others - http://www.52erji.com/category/product2. Finally, they spread their wings and took off with a new product, MOE SS01, which I just received from www.penonaudio.com and would like to share with you about. As I continue my journey to discover more high quality budget in-ear headphones from lesser known Asian brands, sometime I get overwhelmed with all the available choices, especially when you start reading about it on Head-Fi. That's why I do appreciate guidance with recommendations from penonaudio, and it also gives me a piece of mind that I'm getting genuine product since there are so many fake ones out there. So, let's take a closer look at what I found.
When you look at the box MOE SS01 arrived in, you notice right away these are not your traditional looking in-ear headphones. A clever display on the front of the box demonstrates an arrangement of dual-cylinder design surrounded by "S" letter. Along with a detailed specification in English and a list of accessories, that was a very nice compact presentation of the product. But the big surprise is when you take it out of the box and take a closer look at the actual design. Am I looking at headphones or a piece from my kids LEGO set? Will these even fit in my ears? That was the initial thought that went through my mind, and without hesitation the first thing I did was to put it in my ears for a quick test. These fit like a glove!!! The clever ergonomics with angled nozzle of the perfect length and rounded corners made it very comfortable to insert these dual-cylinder shells in my ears. These have 2 separate chambers, one for low frequency driver and the other one for mids/treble driver. A design detail of red plastic "S" snaked around/between these cylinders adds to a very unique visual effect. Not too often I rave about the cool looks of the headphones since I always put a value of sound quality as the most important factor. In this case - the design and the sound both share a spotlight. Coming out from the lower cylinder, these feature a narrow flat flexible cable with a decent build quality. I typically comment about lack of strain relief, but for some reason in this design it just works and feels secure enough. A separate flat cable from each earpiece goes down through a chin slider to y-splitter cylinder marked with "SS" and continues flat all the way down to a straight gold plated 3.5mm connector. The wire selection of the cable is OFC with a typical 1.2m length.
Among included accessories you get 3 pairs (S/M/L) of soft silicone wide bore (opening) eartips, a shirt clip, and a velor draw string storage pouch. For my personal taste I didn't find these eartips useful since I needed a better seal, so I ended up with original AT small bore tips. Keep in mind, the sound quality of these headphones is VERY eartip dependent where without a good seal you are not going to get much bass. I also have to mention that nozzle had a cloth filter, very similar looking to RE400 stick-on filters (need to confirm if it's the same in size, just looks relatively close). Each earpiece has a stamped L/R letter on the plastic red S piece which is not easy to see. But the unique shape with an angled nozzle and a slight front facing tab makes it very easy to distinguish which one is Left and Right without even looking at these. Also, I found that symmetrical placement of the nozzle between two cylinders actually allows use of these headphones with wire up behind your ears where chin-slider comes very handy to secure the fitment. As a matter of fact, I found wire down and wire up fitment to yield the same level of sound quality and almost an identical seal.
Now let's get down to a sound test. Straight out of the box at first the sound was a little too bright for my taste and bass was missing until I played around with different eartips settling on AT narrow opening one. I figured to give it a few hours of burn in with a pink noise loop to have a better assessment of the sound signature. It didn't take too long to realize these are bright mid-centric headphones with a rather surprising layered bass. I have tested analytical and mid-centric headphones before, and usually they either have hardly any bass or low bass quantity with a main focus on quality. Here, due to a physical separation of low frequency driver and mid/treble driver, MOE was able to create a very unique sound signature where you can literally hear two layers of the sound coexisting together in a perfect harmony. Bass comes with a punch of a fast attack, courtesy of a mid-bass hump, and a warm sub-bass layer right behind it, all very well controlled without bleeding into mids. On the other hand, mids are bright, detailed, and upfront, and treble is crisp and extended. This sound signature does give vocals a bit of a cold feeling, and at first sounded a little bit harsh. But after a few more hours of playing, I noticed an improvement where the peaking started to settle down. The sound is still bright, but a lot more smoother, full, and ear-friendly. I was especially pleased with how natural all the tones sound, either if it's vocals or acoustic instruments. The soundstage is definitely wider than average, great stereo separation. Thanks to a flat cable and it's attachment to the shell, I didn't experience any microphonics. Furthermore, because of high sensitivity and low impedance, these headphones are VERY efficient where you actually need to keep the volume a few click down from your usual setting. It paired up well with my Note 2 as well as FiiO X5.
Overall, I REALLY enjoyed these twin driver headphones and currently can't get enough of it. With some headphones I have to think hard if they offer anything unique or just an overlap with a similar slightly enhanced sound characteristic. With MOE-SS01 this was an easy decision because they offer a very unique mid-centric bright sound with a bass which is great in quality and quantity without being overpowering (not a basshead level). With this kind of bass and treble details you typically have to pay a price of recessed mids, but in the case of SS01 - you also get mids in your face!!! These are definitely worth checking out because they sound great, they look unique, and have a great value being currently on sale from penonaudio for $59.
Here are the pictures.