Today we’re checking out the Moondrop Super Spaceship Pulse (SSP), a companion product to the Super Spaceship Reference (SSR) which was my top earphone of 2020.
Looking at the SSP you’d be forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu. Along with the shell, the packaging and accessories are carried over from the SSR, though with a new coat of paint and lovely new mascot. The tuning is quite similar too, though with a bumped low end that increases the SSP’s widespread appeal in the way the SSR sadly failed to achieve.
Given the SSP shares all of the SSR highlights, I think they are equally good but for different reasons. The SSP is not simply the same earphone in a snazzy new shirt. Let’s take a closer look.
What I Hear The SSR didn’t stray far from the successful signature of it’s predecessor, the Spaceship, nor does the SSP vary drastically from the SSR. Still, what slight alterations that were made result in SSP listeners having a unique experience. It should be enough to please most of those who found the SSR lacking bass, or overly aggressive in the upper mids, though I can absolutely see some wanting even more variance.
The treble presentation on the SPP is virtually identical to the SSR. As such, the SPP is extremely smooth with a very clean, well-controlled presentation. These drivers are free of grit or anything that could be deemed lacking refinement. The lower treble bias gives the presentation plenty of detail without coming across as harsh. There is just enough emphasis in the brilliance region, thanks to a very mild 7k bump, to provide some shimmer and sparkle on cymbals and chimes. The upper end roll off keeps the SSP from being fatiguing without sacrificing the airiness between notes, as also heard in the SSR. Congested tracks haven’t really ever been a problem with the SSR or SSP to my ears, even on something as messy as the improvisational closing moments of King Crimson’s “Starless and Bible Black”
The midrange has been a sticking point for the Spaceship series thanks to a prominent upper mid push. While for some this has resulted in the SSR coming across as ‘shouty’, I never really felt the same way. Vocals felt prominent and clearly took centre stage, but they didn’t come across as fatiguing. That is unless the volume was pushed to levels that questioned how much the listener respected their long-term ability to hear. The SSP has a very similar midrange presentation to the SSR. That said, the additional bass present in the SSP goes a long way towards countering the upper mids by adding warmth and note thickness. This does lower overall clarity compared to the SSR, but it improves the already satisfying timbre quality by removing any dryness. A bit of clarity is a worthy trade off in my opinion. The rest of the presentation is again, pretty much the same. Vocals are forward with decent intimacy. Sibilance is managed well and isn’t a problem most of the time. Aesop Rock’s newest album, ‘Spirit World Field Guide’, is mastered with a very hot upper mid-range. While certainly more listenable through the SPP than most other iems and headphones, EQing the mids down a few dB is still helpful.
Bass is where the SSP comes into its own and gets its character. The fairly modest ~5dB boost gives the SSP’s good sub-bass extension plenty of presence letting it it rumble on bass heavy tracks in a way the SSR doesn’t. The extra midbass gives the SPP a thicker, more meaty feel which helps with impact. The extra warmth added to the SSP’s presentation softens things up somewhat. Notes attack with authority and decay fairly quickly which helps with the punchy nature of the SSP’s low end. That said, the SSR feels a little sharper and more controlled, but not by much. I really like what Moondrop did here. While the adjustments to the low end were not drastic, they were enough to shift the perception of the signature’s overall balance.
When it comes to sound stage the SPP is unsurprisingly very similar to the SSR. The biggest difference can be found in width which I find more impressive on the SSP. Since the vocals have less presence thanks to a low end which shifts your focus, they feel less forward and as a result the default staging comes across less intimate. Staging depth is still excellent which combined with the improved width lets the SSP envelop you even more in orchestral and live recordings. Imaging is very good with clean channel-to-channel transitions and nuanced fine movements. Still, the SSR sounds just a hint more accurate when used for gaming. Instrument separation remains quite effective with track layering being about on par too.
Overall I feel the SPP and SSR are equally as good. The SSP’s slightly warmer, more bassy sound will better please those coming from more traditional v-shaped signatures, while introducing them to technical capabilities that are mostly on par with the SSR and second to few.
Compared To A Peer (volumes matched with Dayton iMM-6)
Kinera BD005 Pro (49.00 USD): The BD005 Pro offers better bass extension with more sub-bass emphasis. This results in a more visceral feel with similar texture. Unfortunately, with less mid-bass the Kinera has a cooler sound overall, along with a leaner mid-range. Detail and clarity is similar with the SSP sounding more pleasant to my ear thanks to a more natural timbre. The BD005’s cooler presentation also has a metallic edge to it and can sound too sharp at times. Sibilance is also handled with less grace and as a result the BD005 Pro can be more fatiguing. While treble emphasis is on par, notes out of the SPP sound tighter and better controlled with improved clarity and detail. The Kinera doesn’t have an edge when it comes to speed and decay either, surprising given it’s a hybrid utilizing a balanced armature for the upper ranges. Lastly, the SSP sounds wider and deeper with a more well-rounded staging presence. The SSP provides more nuanced imaging, with the BD005 Pro’s instrument separation and track layering falling just short of the Moondrop.
While the BD005 is a great sounding earphone with looks to match, the SSP is the superior offering to my ears. Its presentation is notably more refined, natural, and realistic while at the very least matching the Kinera, if not besting it, in most technical aspects.
TinHifi T2 Plus (59.99 USD): The T2 Plus is one of the better options in it’s price range. Compared to the SSP it offers a negligible amount of additional bass extension with a bit more texture. Despite a very similar mid-bass emphasis, the SSP sounds quite a bit warmer, thicker, and weightier resulting in additional punch and slam on low notes. Leading into the mids the T2 Plus is much more linear and better balanced with the bass and treble. Vocals are just as detailed as on the SSP, but with a crispness that makes the T2 Plus sound even more clear. It is more alike the SSR in the mids, despite lacking the large 4k rise. Treble on the T2 Plus comes across more emphasized and prominent in the mix with similar levels of clarity and detail to the SSP. Unfortunately for the T2 Plus, the treble sounds a little rough and less well-controlled and I find it to be more fatiguing. Having a thinner presentation contributes to this, though the extra energy it brings will be welcome to some listeners. When it comes to sound stage I was surprised to find the SSR quite a bit more spacious in all directions. The T2 Plus was a huge step up from the T4 when it came to imaging. This shows when comparing to the SSP which falls slightly behind the T2 Plus in terms of raw accuracy. That said, given the larger stage of the SSP, channel-to-channel movement feels more natural, even if it’s not quite as easy to pick out the location of a sound. The T2 Plus matches the SSP’s outstanding instrument separation and layering.
Overall? I prefer the SSP but I also really, really like the T2 Plus. They’re comparable and more complimentary than competition in my opinion. The SSP is the better value in my eyes since technical capability is similar. Plus, the SSP’s 2-pin setup is more reliable. TinHiFi’s decision to go with MMCX is something that has faulted them in the past and is a red flag for some buyers.
In The Ear The SSP uses the same liquid metal alloy housings as the SSR, although in a sexy new blue colour. Forged from two pieces and held together with a single hex screw, it looks and feels very study though the seam between the two parts is quite visible. Spacing is uniform and tight all the way around though. The cables plug in tightly and with a recessed design should be well-protected from accidental bends. The metal nozzle grills with integrated tuning damper have a new design with fewer holes for sound to pass through. I suspect they contribute to the mildly boosted low end. As on the SSR they have been neatly installed. The same goes for the inner filters and vents found just under the L/R markings which have been forged into the body instead of printed or painted on. I have no issues with the way the SSP has been constructed, and also enjoy the design which pulls clear inspiration from the FLC 8S in terms of the general shape. The placement of the various vents/filters/screws also mirror the filter locations on the 8S, further strengthening the similarities. That said, the SSP is clearly not just a ripoff given it is significantly smaller, does not feature an in-depth filter system, and is overall much more blocky around the edges. Unexpectedly, the new colouring provides some additional texture that helps tips stay on better than they did on the SSR.
The silver-plated cable is the same one included with the SSR, and is a personal favourite of mine. It is soft and pliable though the preformed ear guides, while flexible and comfortable, do lead to easy tangles if you aren’t careful when putting them away. The clear sheath also works in this cables favour allowing you to see the silver-plated strands within. It is quite visually striking when you take a close look. That said, the SSR’s cable has started to oxidize and turn green. The hardware Moondrop selected is also a plus, as least in most areas. The 90 degree angled jack is compact and well-relieved, as are the tiny 0.78mm 2-pin plugs carried over from the Starfield (though here they are clear, not blue). While the plugs are labelled with L and R lettering to denote channel, it is extremely difficult to see so Moondrop added a red rubber ring to the right size to help out. That’s a thoughtful touch. The y-split is my only area of concern since it is quite sizable and lacks strain relief. A chin cinch would have also been a welcome addition, but one is absent here. It would have been nice if Moondrop upgraded these aspects for both the SSR and SSP, but as-is what you get is functional and just fine.
Since the shell hasn’t changed, the SSP is a nice product to have jammed in your ear. The small size and light weight combined with rounded edges and a reasonably long nozzle means it is quite stable during heavy movement. I can also comfortably lay my head on a pillow with them in since they sit so flush with the outer ear. Isolation is pretty sub-par though, at least without music playing. Since there are vents all over the place, plenty of sound leaks through. I can pause my music to chat with my wife while leaving them in, for example. Not too many earphones out there I can do that with. Now, bring music back into the equation and oddly, isolation feels pretty good. Little volume compensation seems to be needed to block outside noise, especially if you opt to squeeze on some foam tips.
In The Box The SSP arrives in familiar, squat, square box. Where the SSR went with a white colour scheme that matched the innocent design of the mascot on the front, the SSP goes a different route. The dark blue mirrors the edgier looking character as she lifts sunglasses off her eyes while casually blowing a large bubble out of the gum she’s chewing. Just as on the SSR’s package, flip around to the back and you find more traditional and helpful details; an exploded image of the SSP showing off it’s component parts, an accurate frequency response graph (not the marketing-guided fakery we usually see), and a spec list in English and Mandarin.
Lift the lid off and the experience is identical to the SSR. The earphones with cable attached are resting comfortably in a foam insert. Alongside the foam insert is a smaller cardboard box embossed with the Moondrop logo in silver foil, inside which you find the included extras. In all you get:
- SSP earphones
- 0.78mm Silver-plated 4N-Litz OFC cable
- Single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
- Fabric carrying pouch
While the included accessories are limited in quantity, the quality is high. The tips are the same ones included with the original Spaceship and the Starfield, using the same soft, grippy silicone. They provide a great seal and are very comfortable. The SSR’s fabric carrying pouch was thick and dense and felt like it could stand up to a ton of abuse. Unfortunately it was too small to be of any use, even with a product as tiny as the SSR. The material used for the SSP’s pouch isn’t quite as durable feeling, but the pouch itself is larger and actually useful, so that’s a win.
Final Thoughts Moondrop has consistently released high quality, high performance, high value products which have vaulted them to the top of today’s extremely competitive market. The SSP is yet another one of those products.
What is has borrowed from the SSR it reuses effectively, such as the impressively small, comfortable shells. At first glance the sound quality seems much the same too. However, thanks to an enhanced bass region which adds warmth and draws attention away from the upper mids, the result is something that is nearly as technically impressive as the SSR. The SSP’s adjusted tune has more widespread appeal for those coming from v-shaped products that are the norm in this price range and below.
The SSP is simply outstanding and sits proudly alongside the SSR as one of my favorite earphones ever, regardless of price. It is that good.
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer Big thanks to Moondrop for sending over a sample of the SSP for review. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinions based on a couple weeks of use. They do not represent Moondrop or any other entity. At the time of writing the SSP was retailing for 39.99 USD on Moondrop’s official AliExpress store: https://moondrop.aliexpress.com/store/4980017 / www.aliexpress.com/item/1005001730597585.html
- Impedance: 16 ohms @ 1kHz
- Sensitivity: 112dB/Vrms @ 1kHz
- Frequency Response: 20-40,000Hz
- Driver: Beryllium-coated diaphragm with PU suspension ring
- Cable: 0.78mm Silver-plated 4N-Litz OFC
- THD: ≤1%
Gear Used For Testing LG Q70, Earstudio HUD100, Earmen Sparrow, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501
Some Test Tunes
Supertramp – Crime of the Century
Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy
Steely Dan – The Royal Scam
Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends