Head-to-Head: Moondrop Starfield vs. Simgot EN700 Pro
During the ‘before times’ of 2017, the Simgot EN700 Pro crossed my plate. Simgot was getting a ton of outstanding feedback for their products and the design of the EN700 Pro was so very eye catching. At the time I had been drooling over various orthodynamic headphones and the EN700 Pro strongly evoked them with it’s slatted face plates and ovular shell design. Plus, it featured a single dynamic driver setup which was not as common as one might expect. After all, at that time the hybrid boom was in full effect. The EN700 Pro showed us one driver was all you really needed and at 149 USD, a price that has held steady over the years, it wasn’t ridiculously expensive either.
The Starfield from Moondrop does much the same for us today. Its steel shells have been adorned with a gorgeous interstellar themed paint job. Inside is a single dynamic setup with carbon nanotube coated diaphragms that hit well above their weight class, and at an affordable price of 109 USD. It is easily one of my favorite products of the last couple years and makes a strong case for saving some money, especially during the challenging times our world is currently facing.
When Sagnik over on The Contraptionist Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/thecontraptionist/) asked for a comparison between the Starfield and EN700 Pro I pulled them out for a listen and was prepared to write a quick blurb on how they stacked up. However, once I started getting into it, I realized a short comparo would not be enough. The Starfield is one of the most impressive earphones on the market today, something that could have been said about the EN700 Pro in it’s heyday. Despite it’s age, Simgot’s challenger to the Starfield holds up remarkably well and remains a worthy buy after all these years.
Let’s take a closer look at these two titans of the upper budget-fi audio realm.
Sound (Volumes matched with Dayton Audio iMM-6 / Starfield tested with JVC wide bore tips / EN700 Pro tested with medium stock Eartip 1 aka. mid-high frequency)
Both earphones are fairly relaxed in the treble regions. The EN700 Pro provides a more well-rounded experience to my ears, even if it is a bit more raw and less refined. Starting with upper treble, the Starfield has a small peak which gives it more sparkle than the EN700 Pro, as heard on Supertramp’s “Hide in Your Shell”. It thins out the presentation, making it sound almost too lightweight in comparison to the EN700 Pro. Lower treble on the EN700 Pro is more prominent which may bother some, but I appreciate the extra clarity and information it affords, especially down into the midrange. It brings to mind the lower treble tuning of the old school JVC HA-FXT90 which I still adore. In terms of note quality, the Starfield gets the nod. Notes are tighter and cleaner and have a more refined edge versus the EN700 Pro’s almost grainy (but not splashy) presentation. The reason I feel the EN700 Pro is more well-rounded is because of the extra detail it provides and weight its notes carry. It retains a similar level of airness and black space without the need for an upper treble rise. A couple dB less in the lower treble region wouldn’t hurt though.
Both earphones have a quality midrange but there is one that stands out more to my ears, and it belongs to the Starfield. Upper mids on the EN700 Pro are more aggressive giving vocals more presence at the expense of mild sibilance which creeps its way in, such as on Aesop Rock’s “Blood Sandwich”. The Starfield also sounds more natural and realistic with a lightly warmer and more organic presentation to guitars, trumpets, female vocals, etc but in the process gives up clarity and detail to the Simgot. Comparatively the EN700 Pro has a somewhat edgy, almost brittle kick to notes, quite noticeable on various metal tracks, like Warlock’s “Triumph & Agony”. It sounds awesome with some genres but for others comes across a tad aggressive. That’s not to say the EN700 Pro doesn’t have the range to show a soft side, it’s just that the Starfield does it better. Flip the coin and the Starfield can be edgy and agro, it just doesn’t do it as well as the EN700 Pro. It really comes down to what you value in a midrange.
EN700 Pro retains more subbass emphasis and as a result has a more well-rounded low end compared to the Starfield. Notes hit harder and are more textured, with the entire presentation in general feeling more visceral and engaging. This is apparent over various tracks from a variety of genres, like K/DA’s synthetic “Pop/Stars”, Massive Attack’s “Angel” with its deep opening bassline, and the thumpy bass guitar underlining Porcupine Tree’s “Slave Called Shiver”. The Starfield’s drivers don’t have to work as hard as a result and are slightly quicker. They handle the complicated bass common to heavy metal tracks with greater ease, such as on Havok’s “No Amnesty”, though the EN700 Pro is no slouch either. The Starfield is lighter on it’s feet compared to the EN700 Pro and it’s more brutal and forceful low end presentation.
The EN700 Pro has a slightly smaller stage which has a default listening position that puts you right at the entrance to the ear canal while the Starfield feels like you’re hearing from just outside. Sound effects and instruments move from channel-to-channel with similar levels of accuracy and precision, but stretch further into the distance through the Starfield giving it a more expansive presentation. It did a better job than the EN700 Pro of immersing me within the controlled chaos that is the soundscape of BT’s “Angels on My Broken Windowsill”. That said, I find the EN700 Pro to better separate instruments when a tracks get particularly congested or complex, and to do a better job of layering those instruments. This is notable on BT’s “The Antikythera Mechanism” when the 110 piece orchestra kicks in.
When it comes down to it, the Starfield has a more spacious, balanced and refined presentation with a cleaner midrange and smoother overall sound. The EN700 Pro is more raw which brings with it detail and texture and a heavier hitting bassline with more energy. It’s a bit better of an all-rounder, but the Starfield is easier on the ears and that midrange is golden.
Build and Design These two earphones are constructed very differently, but both to a high standard. The EN700 Pro is crafted from painted aluminum. While they come in a variety of colour options, my example happens to be blue and red with the colour advising which channel is which; red for right, blue for left. Not only is this colour scheme functional, but also quite stylish. The paint job is flawlessly applied and shows no wear even after almost three years of fairly routine use. The gold grills that bring to mind planar magnetic headphones are also a nice touch and add even more visual flair, though the grill on the right earpiece isn’t set 100% correctly and is the only knock against their construction that I can levy.
The heavier, steel bodied Starfield is painted metallic blue. Taking care of visual flair are the model name and a stylized compass adorning the right and left face plates respectively. Without those designs it would still be an attractive earphone, though it wouldn’t stand out to the same extent. One concern some users have noted is that the paint chips easily. My pair has yet to show any signs of wear, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. While the component parts that make up the Starfield don’t fit together as seamlessly as they do on the EN700 Pro, there are fewer of them and less opportunities for there to be issues, as can be seen in the placement of the face plate grill on the Simgot.
Both do an excellent job with their respective 2-pin ports though Simgot has gone a step further to fully integrate it into the design. The previous EN700 models had fixed cables, something Simgot did a impressive job of mimicking with the Pro. If you didn’t already know the cables could be detached, you might never know because the design flows so well. Can’t say the same for the Starfield whose plug design is very common and isn’t worked at all into the overall aesthetic.
Excellent cables come affixed to both earphones but the more expensive EN700 Pro’s is a step above, and not just from the design perspective noted previously. The Pro’s braids are much tighter and have a more dense and tough sheath. It gives up something in flexibility and lightness to the Starfield’s unburdened design, but not enough to be a hindrance. Strain relief on both is really only present at the jack which is unfortunate, but in the case of the EN700 Pro it is less of a concern thanks to the extra toughness of the cable. Another plus of Simgot’s cable is the chin cinch, something Moondrop’s offering is missing.
Overall I’d say the Starfield is slightly better constructed because it is made from fewer parts, and of my two samples is the one with better fit of those component parts. The EN700 Pro’s cable gets the nod though since it is more durable, has a chin cinch, and is better integrated into the aesthetics of the earphone.
Comfort and Isolation Despite their vastly different approaches to design, both Moondrop and Simgot did an outstanding job making their respective earphones excel in the comfort department.
Both earphones are fairly low profile in their design with the Moondrop’s slightly more traditional shape giving it an advantage in terms of getting a flush fit. That’s a good thing because it weighs more, something that doesn’t end up being an issue at all (imo) because the weight is well dispersed around the outer ear. The Simgot’s vertical egg-like shape isn’t quite as ergonomic yet I found it just as easy to wear for long periods, and no less stable during aggressive movement. The heavier cable, and stiffer ear guides, while never causing discomfort, always make themselves known while the Starfield’s lighter, more flexible cable tends to blend in and disappear more effectively. The EN700 Pro never quite feels as natural to wear as the Starfield, so I’ll give Moondrop the edge in the comfort department.
Moondrop does a better job of passively blocking out higher pitched sounds which gives it a very mild edge in overall isolation. Neither is particularly impressive though and require volume increases to compensate in particularly noisy areas. Regardless of the earphone you choose, if isolation is extra important to you make sure you have some foam tips handy.
Both are comfortable and offer merely satisfactory isolation, but the Starfield fits a tad more naturally and blocks out a couple dB more noise, so it’s the one I’d like to wear more often.
Overall Once the initial hype is gone products are quickly forgotten. This is especially apparent in the realm of Chinese hi-fi where companies opt to release new products regularly compared to Japanese, Western, and European brands who tend to maintain support for a model for many years before moving on.
It’s a little sad because products that are good enough to stand the test of time end up being overlooked in favour of something new and shiny. The EN700 Pro still offers a compelling experience and is completely relevant in today’s competitive landscape. This has never been more apparent than when comparing to the Starfield. They are both fantastic products.
In terms of which is better? I’m going to take the easy way out and say that’s up to you and what you value as a customer. My EN700 Pro had held up remarkably well over the last few years, to the point it still looks new. Just look at the pictures. I don’t think we’ll be able to say the same for the Starfield given there are already numerous posts around the web complaining about paint chips. In terms of sound, the Starfield offers a smoother, more balanced and more refined experience with a better midrange and sound stage. The EN700 Pro is more lively with a deeper, more impactful bass presence, along with greater detail output and improved clarity. I love them both, but when I’m ready to listen to something the decision to pick one up over the other is based on my mood and which qualities I prefer at the time, not on which one is objectively better. If forced to pick only one, I’d happily flip a coin to decide. They’re both that enjoyable.
Thanks for reading!
If you want to read the original reviews, here are the links:
Moondrop Starfield: https://thecontraptionist.blog/2020/02/23/moondrop-starfield-a-new-benchmark/
Simgot EN700 Pro: https://thecontraptionist.blog/2017/11/01/simgot-en700-pro-quality/