In this feature, we review the Moondrop Venus which is the company’s debut open-back 100mm planar magnetic driver headphones. It is priced at $599.99.
Disclaimer: This sample was sent to us in exchange for our honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website with no affiliate links or status. We thank Moondrop and Shenzhen Audio for their support.
To read more about Moondrop products we have previously featured on Headfonics, click here.
Note, that this article follows our latest scoring guidelines which you can read here.
We have already covered the entry-level Void a few weeks back from Aldous, now we have something a bit further up the headphone bracket from Moondrop called the Venus.
This time we go planar, instead of dynamic for the driver, and at the time of writing it’s technically their flagship planar headphones, albeit their only planar headphone priced at $599.99.
Planar driver designs will theoretically introduce less distortion than traditional dynamic drivers, hence their popularity with many companies and audiophiles.
You may recall electrostatic headphones having similar qualities, but they aren’t as sensitive as planers and require a dedicated amplifier to drive them properly.
To maximize the strength of the planar driver structure, Venus adopts a membrane of 100mm diameter but is relatively thin at 2 microns thick.
To further enhance efficiency, 1μm of pure silver is deposited on the circuit instead of copper materials. This reduces lost energy as heat from the movement of the membrane preserves more details in the resulting output.
The Moondrop Venus has 18 magnets per side to form an evenly and parallelly magnetic field that is applied to the membrane.
According to Moondrop, they used Autodesk Finite element analysis (FEA) to scientifically optimize the design by examining forces and vibrations based on a computerized method.
Through simulations, they came up with a design that is most unlikely distorting.
In front of the driver on the inner side of the housing, Moondrop implemented a special waveguide to reduce phase interference without hindering the efficiency of the design.
This is a welcoming move to bring about better clarity and accuracy, and similar designs can be seen on some of the higher-end products for example the well-known Fazor wave guides on Audeze headphones.
The name may be slightly confusing here as it doesn’t refer to a physical, secondary diaphragm but a special practice to release the stress on the molded diaphragm, much like the sophisticated process to temper metals for higher strength.
In principle, this will reduce the nonlinear distortion of the diaphragm under loud pressure to less than 0.05%, realized by releasing the stress on the membrane after the molding process.
It is easy to tell that the Venus is fully metallic as there is no plastic part that can be spotted at all.
In fact, the structure is designed this way to mitigate tension and deformation from the vast array of N52 magnets used and it is exceptionally rugged for the price.
The headband looks very industrially designed, much like the touch and feel of the older Mac Studios. Parts are connected by Hex bolts which makes it look wild, but the rest of the design is pretty contemporary and clean.
The build quality is decent and the edges on the machined parts are smooth. My only complaint is that the earcups may fall out if you stressed the parts that clamp on them but this probably won’t be an issue in practice.
Comfort & Isolation
With a metallic structure, the Venus is approaching 600g in weight, slightly on the hefty side. The headband parts in faux leather are self-adjustable so you don’t need to spend time adjusting it every time.
Nearly 50% of the panels’ area is scrapped away to allow air to pass through freely, so you can hear some ambient noise leaking through.
The earpads are quite soft and it is easy to find the sweet spot by aligning the center of the earcup with the ears.
The Venus uses 3.5mm sockets on both sides of the earcups and comes with two cables including a more common 3.5mm option and a 4.4mm Balanced terminated cable.
The balanced cable uses a Litz structure with 392 cores of 6N single-crystal, Silver-plated Copper as base material.
This is handy for those who are using players and amplifiers with 4.4mm TRRS output just like the FiiO K7 we covered earlier this month.
These balanced devices always output nearly doubled the swing from 3.5mm output and can drive up the dynamics on the Venus.
Both cables that come with the Venus are quite soft and feel sturdy. If you are bringing the Venus with you to travel it is easy to unplug the cables and keep them with the headphone main unit in a carrying case to avoid damage.
Packaging & Accessories
The Venus comes in quite a large box with their mascot girl on the sleeve. The product proposition certainly makes the whole experience sweeter.
The printing quality is decent and at the back, you will find an explosion diagram of the driver parts that visually explains the mechanisms inside.
Reaching the inner side of the box you will see a small paper compartment that holds the cable and user manual. This helps to keep the Venus in position so it sits beautifully on the layer below.
The Waifu approach makes the product more appealing but the headphone itself is the real beauty here.
The cable may look cooler with a thicker gauge though there is nothing to complain about considering that few manufacturers offer a free balanced cable with their headphones.
The Venus technically isn’t a very sensitive headphone and with the 4.4mm balanced cable supplied, it can be driven well to sound airy and expansive even on the Shanling M7.
Hooking it up with desktop amplifiers is clearly a better option allowing it to sound airier and more expansive.
I have listened to the Venus with the FiiO K7, FiiO K9 Pro ESS, RME ADI-2 PRO, Shanling M7, and M9 mainly on the balanced cable after burning the headphones in for more than 2 weeks.
In most cases, the Venus is displaying a rather clean and neutral frequency response with a small nudge upwards in the upper mids that enhances the vocal’s presence.
The signature is M-shaped to me in general, slightly leaned to the treble end such that warmer sources that boost the low-end presence may have better synergy.
From official measurements, the Venus covers a very wide bandwidth stretching from 6Hz to 80kHz. In practice, is quite consistent with what I hear to reach very deep in the bass though it is far from being bassy.
Listening to DSD tracks mastered by Stockfisch and bass testing tracks I can hear and feel the rumble reaching down below 50Hz, sounding dense and responsive with fast attack and decay. The bass isn’t very intense, but it does feel well-layered and precise.
I prefer hooking up to a warmer, fuller-sounding source with a more potent amplifying stage to give the mid-bass more body, or else it may sound like a high-pass filter is applied.
When sufficiently powered, the bass sounds decently detailed even at higher volumes, distortion is well controlled and leaves good room for equalizing.
The bass tuning has good balance and cohesion and when listening to rocks and house music I prefer pushing the bass up by a few dBs, the Venus still manages to sound tight and detailed after applying a 6db boost at around 200Hz.
The bass articulates smoothly to the lower mids, rendering all voices clear, as well as allowing different voices to cut through the mix offering good separation with adequate power.
There is a hint of warmth coming from the lower mids that authorize the vocal with better fullness. The overall signature colors the output uplifting and presents all voices in a light-hearted manner.
The strong distortion control on the Venus allows good room for equalizing that could add extra harmonics and airy texture to brush up the saturation in the mid-range.
Without any equalizing applied the Venus works great with J/Kpop, instrumentals, and ACG music with fast synthesized bass.
There is enough resolution for fast riffs on guitars to be heard clearly and to accommodate a bigger ensemble by layering different instruments distinctly as well as capturing plenty of airy details in the upper mids.
Moondrop has done a good job of preserving a lot of air and exciting details without making it harsh. The treble sounds vivid, and energetic with good penetration power.
With acoustic guitars, cymbals, and other string instruments the transients and texture are emphasized, and breathy details or guitar snaps can be clearly heard, which adds a stronger sense of resolution to the output.
Instruments that reach higher in the spectrum are also captured realistically, hi-hats and flutes sound intense and firm but not overly sharp.
As the bass and mid-bass are on the polite side, the treble stands out more, authorizing voices and string instruments to sound more open.
The actual performance is quite dependent on the amplifier connected. Gears that sound smoother and more rounded are preferred in this case to color the vocal sweet and fuller.
The mid-lows are slightly carved out on the Venus to boost the staging performance rendering a hall-sized headroom, where there is plenty of space between the listener and the performer.
The spacious tuning could accommodate bigger ensembles and favors music of stronger dynamics, and it is stretching the vocal image bigger in the x-axis. To be more specific, this feels just right for tracks like the Star Wars theme.
Overall, Venus has good strength in picturing every instrument in the mix with adequate texturing and clearly imaged in its oval-shaped stage.
If it is a small gig, it may feel too stretched out so I prefer boosting the lower end of the frequency spectrum to fill up the space, drawing the bass instruments and vocalist closer for better intimacy.
Click on page 2 below for pairings and our select comparisons.