Editorrating 3.8 We test and review headphones based on an independent 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more. Moondrop Chu are fascinating earbuds. They have great durability, quality accessories, good unboxing experience, and excellent tuning. It’s hard to comprehend they only cost $20. Quite regularly, some Chi-Fi earbuds surprise the world with their incredible price-to-performance ratio—VE Monks, Monoprice Earphones, KZ ZST, to name a few. However, Moondrop Chu are a completely different breed of cheap earbuds. Mostly because of how well they’re made and how thoughtfully they’re tuned. More on that later. The Chu earbuds make an easy recommendation for audiophile beginners and a deserving spot as the best earbuds under $20 so far. Want to know why? Read on and see why you might want to consider getting a pair. Great, natural sound quality High build quality for the price Comfortable fit Included spring ear tips & ear hooks Good passive noise isolation Excellent value Slightly thin sounding vocals Splashy treble Fixed cable Editorrating 3.8 By HeadphonesAddict Userratings 4.2 User Ratings: 6 Category Sound Comfort & Fit Durability Features Noise Isolation Value Our rating 4.0 4.0 3.5 2.0 4.0 5.0 User rating 4.5 4.5 4.3 3.7 3.3 4.8 RATE THIS MODEL User Rating _._ No Rating 1.0 Bad 1.5 Meh 2.0 Acceptable 2.5 Average 3.0 Good 3.5 Almost great 4.0 Great 4.5 Almost Perfect 5.0 Fantastic User Rating _._ No Rating 1.0 Bad 1.5 Meh 2.0 Acceptable 2.5 Average 3.0 Good 3.5 Almost great 4.0 Great 4.5 Almost Perfect 5.0 Fantastic User Rating _._ No Rating 1.0 Bad 1.5 Meh 2.0 Acceptable 2.5 Average 3.0 Good 3.5 Almost great 4.0 Great 4.5 Almost Perfect 5.0 Fantastic User Rating _._ No Rating 1.0 Bad 1.5 Meh 2.0 Acceptable 2.5 Average 3.0 Good 3.5 Almost great 4.0 Great 4.5 Almost Perfect 5.0 Fantastic User Rating _._ No Rating 1.0 Bad 1.5 Meh 2.0 Acceptable 2.5 Average 3.0 Good 3.5 Almost great 4.0 Great 4.5 Almost Perfect 5.0 Fantastic User Rating _._ No Rating 1.0 Bad 1.5 Meh 2.0 Acceptable 2.5 Average 3.0 Good 3.5 Almost great 4.0 Great 4.5 Almost Perfect 5.0 Fantastic Moondrop CHU High Performance Dynamic Driver IEMs in-Ear Earphone (Without mic) Moondrop CHU High Performance Dynamic Driver IEMs in-Ear Earphone (Without mic) $16.99 $19.99 in stock 4 new from $16.99 1 used from $17.99 as of November 30, 2023 4:06 pm Buy now Amazon.com Moondrop CHU High Performance Composite Diaphragm Dynamic Driver in-Ear Earphone Moondrop CHU High Performance Composite Diaphragm Dynamic Driver in-Ear Earphone $19.99 in stock Buy now eBay CONTENTS (show more) Sound 4.0 Great Moondrop Chu are incredibly well-balanced throughout the bass and midrange, with only a tad tinny vocals and some splashiness in the treble. Check the Moondrop Chu Sound Comparison Moondrop Chu Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict Learn how to understand sound comparisons. Usually, cheap earbuds provide poor, inconsistent tuning. In contrast, Moondrop Chu have an almost perfect bass and midrange. But let’s go step by step through the 3 main frequency spectrums. Moondrop Chu Frequency Response That small elevation between 5kHz and 9kHz is enough to make the vocals appear thin, but overall, the earbuds are beautifully balanced. Bass: Natural and tight Instead of being flat and dull, the lower frequencies are ever so slightly boosted. That adds a sprinkle of warmness to the sound, instantaneously making it more pleasant to listen to. Bass extends nicely into the sub-bass territory, but don’t expect rumble, like from the best bass earbuds. The technical performance is tight, accurate, and reasonably agile for more fast-packed music genres. Drums sound full-bodied and natural. There’s also no distortion, even on more bass-heavy tracks like “Elements of Life” by Tiesto. The cable is attached at an angle, so you have to wear the Chu’s with the wire behind your ears. However, while the bass quality is there, people complain about the bass quantity. As mentioned, Moondrop Chu’s bass response is only slightly above the neutral. That’s more than enough bass power for home listening with no loud background noises. On the other hand, you might miss some extra oomph when wearing the Chu outdoors or during a commute. Midrange: Balanced and natural, for the most part Much like the bass, the Chu’s midrange continues with the balanced-tuning theme. Instruments sound full and natural, just the way they should. However, that lovely balanced sound signature is interrupted by a small hump between 5kHz and 10kHz. While it isn’t huge (and far away from those 8kHz peaks that many generic earbuds have), it makes vocals a bit thin sounding. Female vocals are particularly affected by this. I found it noticeable while listening to “Hold My Hand” by Lady Gaga, whereas Adele sounded fine. All Moondrop earbuds have a unique art design paint job. Furthermore, there’s some occasional sibilance in the upper mids but nothing that would pierce your eardrums. Of course, I’m nitpicking here. You’ll only notice these sound characteristics if you have other more balanced earbuds to compare to. Treble: Not great, but it does the job done Higher frequencies are an area where even expensive headphones struggle to maintain clarity and smoothness at the same time. It’s by no surprise that Moondrop Chu sound a bit splashy and lacking in texture. Thankfully, the Chu’s treble response isn’t boosted, so it remains relatively smooth for most of the time. So, you can easily kick back and enjoy some jazz. Right and left indications on the earbuds and the look at the fixed cable. The soundstage is decent, so the sounds aren’t coming from the inside of your head. On the other hand, the imaging and instrument separation is great. Earbuds don’t lose their focus even on more busy songs. As a whole, Moondrop Chu are a fantastic pair of earbuds at an absurdly low asking price. They sound great as it is. But if you have time to play with EQ, you could make them sound like earbuds 5-times their price (at least). Comfort & Fit 4.0 Great Despite having zinc alloy housing with a noticeable heft, Moondrop Chu fit comfortably and with decent security. You can improve the latter with additional ear hooks. Since Moondrop Chu sport metal housing, they’re noticeably heavier than their plastic competitors. However, thanks to the over-the-ear-wearing style, the weight distributes itself throughout the entire earlobe. As a result, you barely feel the earbuds in your ears. The included spring ear tips don’t create pressure inside your ear canals. Since they’re sticky, they keep the buds in reasonably well. Unless you want to use them for intense workouts. The included stock spring tips cost $13 on their own. Due to their weight, earbuds quickly fly out of my ears when performing my head-shaking test. Of course, I had to shake my head really hard. Learn how to keep earbuds from falling out. Another issue was that when running, the wire sometimes jumped over the ear, making the earbuds unstable. You can fix that by attaching the included silicone ear hooks. The latter are soft and don’t cause any discomfort, unlike some stiffer hooks that I’ve come across (like in Treblab X3 Pro). Durability 3.5 Almost Great Moondrop Chu are made exceptionally well. Zinc alloy construction and a good quality (non-detachable) cable with reliable strain relief at the 3.5mm jack. However, the carrying pouch is a joke. For dirt-cheap earbuds under $20, Moondrop didn’t skimp on quality materials. Albeit zinc alloy is heavier than aluminum, it’s also more durable. If earbuds fall on the ground, it shouldn’t leave any noticeable dent on the housing. One thing that might happen over time is the paint chipping off, but that’s something I can’t confirm just yet. Furthermore, ear tips are made of quality medical-grade silicone and shouldn’t tear easily. Metal grill protecting the Moondrop Chu’s internals. The cable feels great too. Sure, it’s a bit sticky and tangles easily, but it’s soft and doesn’t produce cable noise. Unlike the horrible stiff wires that usually come with cheap earbuds. Storage might be the only gripe. The included pouch is there just for the sake of being there. It offers minimal room and little protection. I would suggest investing in a small hard case for wired earbuds. Funnily, Moondrop advises against them in the included manual and yet include an insufficiently sized pouch. Another minor problem is the non-detachable cable. While it’s good quality, you have to replace the entire earbuds if it breaks. For example, the KZ ZST have a replaceable cable. Also, if you plan to use the Chu for working out, they lack an IP rating. But that’s to be expected from wired earbuds. Features 2.0 Adequate Apart from the included detachable ear hooks, there’re no other features to talk about on Moondrop Chu. Moondrop Chu come in 2 variants: regular and with an inline remote. I bought the one without a remote. The only extra feature is attachable silicone ear hooks that help stabilize the wire and prevent it from jumping around your earlobes. Soft attachable ear hooks provide better stability without causing discomfort. Noise Isolation 4.0 Great Silicone ear tips provide great passive noise isolation without creating too much pressure inside your ear canal. Most earbuds with in-ear fit provide good-to-great passive noise isolation. And Moondrop Chu are no different, thanks to medical-grade silicone ear tips. Tips are rather sticky and don’t slide out of your ears that easily. They create a good seal without producing any annoying pressure. That seal is essential for ensuring excellent passive noise isolation. Most of the ambient sounds will get muted, so they won’t bother you that much when listening to music. You’ll still hear some of the low-end hums from bus engines during a commute. However, you’ll need to grab one of the best noise isolating headphones or budget noise cancelling headphones to resolve that. Conclusion 5.0 Perfect Moondrop Chu are the best all-around earbuds under $20 so far. There are no other earbuds out there that offer such sound quality and reliable design. Moondrop Chu are a no-brainer for a user who wants to experience sound in a more natural way. The biggest head-scratcher is how on earth Moondrop profits from the Chu. The included ear tips alone cost $13 when bought separately, not to mention other premium build materials and a pretty good unboxing experience. On top of that, you get free international shipping when ordering the earbuds. Again, how do they make a profit? Who should buy Moondrop Chu earbuds? If you’re a casual user interested in more accurate sound, the Moondrop Chu are a perfect starting point for your audiophile journey. They’re worth trying. You won’t regret it. In contrast, if you already have a balanced pair of earbuds above $100, you won’t be as impressed with their performance. Moondrop CHU High Performance Dynamic Driver IEMs in-Ear Earphone (Without mic) Moondrop CHU High Performance Dynamic Driver IEMs in-Ear Earphone (Without mic) $16.99 $19.99 in stock 4 new from $16.99 1 used from $17.99 as of November 30, 2023 4:06 pm Buy now Amazon.com Moondrop CHU High Performance Composite Diaphragm Dynamic Driver in-Ear Earphone Moondrop CHU High Performance Composite Diaphragm Dynamic Driver in-Ear Earphone $19.99 in stock Buy now eBay How do Moondrop Chu compare to the competition? They’re made of higher quality materials. There are some cheap aluminum earbuds in this price range, but zinc is more durable. Cable quality is higher as well. It feels better in hand and doesn’t suffer from memory wire as much. Earbuds have exceptionally balanced sound with a great bass response and accurate midrange. Most other earbuds opt for a V-shaped sound. The unboxing experience feels more premium than the competition. You can’t remove the cable, unlike some competitors. Moondrop Chu Alternatives KZ ZST For the longest time, one of the most recommended earbuds under $20. They pack a V-shaped sound signature with occasional sibilance. The build is entirely plastic, with bulky yet ergonomic housing that sits comfortably in your ears. The over-the-ear wire is detachable, which extends the lifetime of the ZSTs. KZ ZST review Skullcandy Dime True Wireless A true wireless alternative that sounds surprisingly great for the price. Chu or Dime, either way, you’ll enjoy the sound a lot. They lack wires, meaning complete freedom of movement. On the other hand, they aren’t as comfortable nor as stable. While they’re made of cheap plastic, an IPX4 rating protects them from dripping sweat and rain. Skullcandy Dime True Wireless review What’s in the Box? Moondrop Chu wired earbuds Three pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L) Silicone ear hooks Carrying pouch User manual Specifications Type: In-ear Connection: Wired – 3.5mm Back design: Closed-back Drivers: 10mm dynamic Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz Impedance: 28 Ohm Weight: 0.95 oz (27 g with cable) or 0.56 oz (16 g – buds only) Mic & Controls: Optional (inline, physical button) Water resistance: None Battery life: / Charging time: / Active noise cancelling: No Bluetooth codecs: / Wireless range: / Microphone: Optional (built-in) Peter SusicFrom a childhood fascination with sound, Peter’s passion has evolved into a relentless pursuit of the finest headphones. He’s an audio expert with over 5 years of experience in testing both audiophile and consumer-grade headphones. Quote: “After many years, I can confidently tell which headphones are good and which are terrible.” Find his honest opinion in his reviews.