Moonbuds Kingslayer Review – Replace the King!

The Company

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“Personal made earbuds made by Moon. Each model offers unique and remarkable sound that will suit your taste.”. This are the description that will welcome you as you visit the moonbuds Facebook page. Moonbuds has been a fast growing DIY buds creator last 2018, his work catches the eye (aesthetically pleasing) and will surely please your ears (at least for every moonbuds that I’ve tried).

The Moonbuds Kingslayer

The Kingslayer is the first budget earbuds of Moonbuds to follow the tuning of Bunting and Nightingale which are their TOTL earbuds. Unlike the Crescent, it is tuned to be more neutral and to be as versatile as possible with various genres. Unlike the first unit, Moon included a premium leather case that can actually fit 3 moon buds inside, a cable strap with “MOON” written on it and the Kingslayer itself. It has identical braiding with the Bunting, they also have the same number of cores but unlike the Bunting which is 4 core SPC, the Kingslayer is a SPC and copper hybrid. I don’t know what kind or cable Moonbuds is using but even after a year the Bunting never showed oxidation which is very commendable. The Kingslayer comes with MX500 shell which is a bit larger and bulkier than the PK yuin shell, the splitter and slider both improved as well, it looks more elegant and lighter. The 3.5 mm jack has an imprinted Moonbuds logo with a crown, it represents the name of the product which is Kingslayer, Moonbuds Phoenix have this kind of printing too. The jack is smaller than the Crescent and has a strain relief cover to improve durability.

Specification:

  • Driver: 15.38 MM (Made in JAPAN)
  • Shell: MX500
  • Impedance: 32Ω
  • Frequency Response: 19 Hz to 21 kHz
  • Sound pressure level: 98.5db 0.18v 1 kHz
  • Cable: 4 Core SPC and Copper Hybrid

Sound

I love IEMs and earbuds with midcentric to flat sound signature as I really love listening to vocals rather than instruments. My genre ranges from heavy rock, alternative rock, pop rock, acoustic, pop, jazz and folk. Majority of my test tracks are in 16 bit – 44 khz and 24 bit – 48 khz FLAC file and here is the list of my commom test tracks.

  1. Reese Lansangan – For the Fickle (background, female vocals and upper mids)
  2. Foo Fighters – Bridge Burning (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
  3. LANY – Thick And Thin (Mid Bass, Mids)
  4. Ed Sheeran – Dive (Mid bass, Lower Mids)
  5. Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why (Upper Mids and Instruments)
  6. Paramore – Hard Times (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
  7. Radiohead – Life in a Glasshouse (Imaging Layering, Bass, Instruments, Lower mids, Treble)
  8. Passenger – Coins in a Fountain (Mid bass, Layering, Imaging, Instruments, Lower mids, Treble)
  9. Tori Kelly – Hollow (Background, Upper mids)
  10. Ariana Grande – Raindrops (Background, Upper mids)

Bass

Sub bass depth is just adequate, it isn’t bass head level and that’s perfect for me who doesn’t want too much sub bass and mid bass. Quality and texture is definitely good as well as the attack and decay speed, and it is placed neutrally. Mid bass is very accurate, rounded and thumpy, bass notes doesn’t prolong too much making it a versatile pair when handling rock and EDM tracks. The bass has enough weight but still bass heads might find it lacking, bass control is note worthy too because I never heard it bleeding to the lower midrange.

Midrange

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Damn vocals, upper midrange is the center of the show. Lower midrange isn’t as thin as the upper midrange, there’s a good sense of warmth here giving enough body for male vocals and guitar strums. Listening to Radwimps, Kingslayer’s lower midrange is one of the best balanced of warmth and transparency, there’s no dryness here and that’s commendable. “Language” of Tori Kelly sounded super sweet and relaxing, it is a bit forward specially compared to lower midrange but it’s not too much. There’s a very little sibilance but it actually varies with sources and tracks, with Shanling M3s + Periodic Audio Ni there’s zero sibilance but with Huawei Mate 10 + Periodic Audio Ni there’s a bit.

Treble

This one is airier than the bunting but it packs less sparkle and extension. Playing “Rose-Colored Boy” cymbals are rendered very well with right amount of sparkle and air, compared to the Bunting this one is kinda smoother but still resolving. The extension is just moderate, it doesn’t sound rolled off at all. Attack and decay speed are commendable, fast enough to not have any congestion even with complex tracks. Details are there but unlike bunting, it will not slap you with tons of it just enough to enjoy your tracks.

Sound Stage and Resolution

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The staging is above average, very good width, height and depth it expands well with various tracks that I’ve tested. Testing it with Chlara’s rendition of “The Nights” which sounded very intimate, the Kingslayer did a great job giving sufficient space and headroom to the recording. Layering and imaging is superb, I like how accurate this set, it’s better than the Penon BS1 and Blur 150 Ohms (first gen), playing “Asphyxia” by Co Shu Nie, I can properly locate instruments on the projected stage. Resolution is fine as well, it’s not the most detailed pair that I’ve tried but it’s not far behind the likes of Moonbuds Nightingale V1 and Rose Mojito.

Sound Signature and Synergy

The sound signature of the Kingslayer is close to being Neutral with slight bump on the upper midrange. Pairing it with neutral or analytical source would be great especially if you’re musical taste matches mine. Using warm source would be fine too adding some body and weight on the lower end would make the Kingslayer a more versatile pair especially for pop, rap and EDM genres which is very famous today.

Shanling M3s (High Gain, 50 Steps Volume)

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Nice pairing, the M3s added some flavour on the upper bass to lower mids which the Kingslayer slightly lacks (especially on the point of view of bass heads). Upper midrange sounds slightly warm but still quite forward and intimate. Treble is kinda smooth, good amount of air and extension, and there’s just right amount of sparkle. The sound stage is above average, it expands very well and has good layering and imaging. Lastly resolution is not overwhelming, it’s there but it’s not as detailed and technical as the bunting.

Shanling M3s + Periodic Audio Ni

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The Ni improved control of Kinslayer with bass and treble in particular, bass became tighter and more detailed. Midrange almost sound the same with upper midrange becoming slightly thinner and sweeter. Treble became less airy and more defined, it has more sparkle. Stage became slightly wider but less airy, imaging and layering remained the same. Resolution only noticeably upscaled on the treble part.

Shanling M3s + iFi iCAN SE

There’s an added heft on the bass, sub bass became deeper too but it doesn’t pushed forward. Lower midrange slightly gained more body as well but retaining transparency and details. Upper midrange sounded as sweet as ever, still a bit forward but this time more details are retrieved compared to the previous sources. Treble almost sound the same with the M3s high gain, maybe because the Ni is kinda bright, it is airy and has moderate sparkle. Sound stage became more spacious, same goes to layering and imaging though it is subtle. Resolution improved especially on the lows and midrange.

iPad 2 and Huawei Mate 10

On mate 10, they still sounds good, the volume is loud enough at 60-70 steps but details are definitely softer and less evident on this pairing. There’s added sparkle on the treble but extension and control decreased. There’s less depth and texture on the sub bass while the midrange sounds less resolving and a bit veiled.

As expected, the iPad 2 was able to drive the Kingslayer with flying colors. It almost have the same tonality with M3s except that this pairing sounds less full. There’s almost no added heft on the bass, midrange sounds clean and treble sounds brighter compared to M3s. Soundstage seems to be identical with the M3s too but I’d say that the M3s is more accurate in terms of layering and imaging. Resolution is almost at the same level with the M3s.

Comparison

Penon BS1

The Penon BS1 sounds warmer and fuller compared to the Kingslayer, it has less transparency especially on the midrange as well. Sub bass is deeper and more forward on the BS1 while there’s more texture on the Kingslayer, for the mid bass the BS1 sounds a bit more forward with fuller sound, while the Kingslayer sounds faster, tighter and more resolving. Midrange sounds more transparent with the Kingslayer but it has less body and smoothness, upper midrange has more sweetness and transparency on the Kingslayer. Treble seems to have the same presentation with the BS1 being tad bit brighter, it is a bit airer ad well while the level of resolution is on par. Sound stage is equally spacious but Kingslayer sounds more accurate in terms of layering and imaging. Resolution goes to the Kingslayer becsuse the BS1 has smoother sub bass and mid bass despite having that heft.

Moonbuds Bunting

Bunting is my favorite buds to date, it easily beats Blur 150 Ohms (Ver. 1) in terms of tonality, details and transparency though the Blur 150 sounds smoother and thicker. Bunting has less sub bass depth but has better texture and control, same goes to mid bass, the Kingslayer has more weight while they have same speed the bunting has a bit more details. Midrange sounds almost identical, lower midrange of Kingslayer is a bit warmer but the upper midrange goes to Kingslayer because it’s a bit more forward making it more intimate. Treble goes to the Bunting, it is more refined, has better sparkle without compromising speed and airiness. The bunting has better treble extension as well. Sound stage sounds a bit more spacious on the kingslayer but the Bunting sounds more accurate, it has better imaging and layering lastly, resolution goes to bunting it has better detail retrieval and has more extension on the treble.

Conclusion

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Kingslayer – a no brainer earbuds for 5000 Php (100 USD). It doesn’t have any drastic weak points while it has lots of good points. The sub bass depth is definitely sufficient, despite not having bass head level of sub bass quantity, it has very good amount of details. Mid bass has good amount of weight while maintaining above average details, speed and control. Lower mids sounds less engaging compared to the upper midrange but still, it sounds very clean and has natural tonality. Upper midrange is a show stopper, after burn in it sounds intimate, sweet and transparent without sounding sibilant or shrill. Treble lacks sparkle especially coming from Bunting, but it has good amount of air, more than decent extension and quick enough decay speed. Sound stage sounds accurate and spacious, and lastly it is a very resolving pair for the price. I never knew that Moon will release something that’s almost on the same level of bunting under 5000 Php, a King slayer indeed.

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