Moondrop, one of the biggest giants in the ChiFi community is a big audio device manufacturer especially in the line of IEM, cables and TWS. They are well known for their unique in house sound which is smooth and it has been proclaimed in various products like the Starfield, Sparks and KXXS. To continue the legacy of the KXXS the brand decided to launch the Kato as its successor and in this review let’s check out how this Kato fare against the competitors.
This unit has been provided to me as a part of a review circle organised by the team HiFiGo. The whole views are based on my observations with this product and based on my pairing with it hence it might differ from person to person.
Driver: 10mm-ULT dynamic driver
Diaphragm: the 3rd generation DLC composite diaphragm
Socket: 0.78-2 Pin sunken design
Housing: MIM stainless steel
Nozzle: stainless steel *2, brass *2
Cable plug: 3.5mm stereo single-ended plug
Frequency response range: 10Hz-45kHz (IEC61094, Free Field)
Effective frequency response range: 20Hz-20kHz (IEC 60318-4, -3dB)
Impedance: 32Ω±15% (@1KHz)
Sensitivity: 123dB/Nrms (@1KHz)
Distortion: < 0.15% (@1khz, AES17 20khz, A-weight)
DESIGN AND FIT:
The design of the Kato is more in a simplistic state as that of the KXXS. The whole construction is made out of metal but they have done it in a glossy finish hence a lot of fingerprints and scratches. The faceplate design is pretty simple where it retains that same angular and cut design of the KXXS which looks unique and futuristic.
The nozzle now has that removable tuning filter system which is screwable hence you can swap them and enjoy the sound as per your preference. The cable is now much improved over the predecessor where now they have included the K line cable which is now sold separately.
The cable has excellent feel in the hands where the weight it possesses is huge and has that nice thick texture thus the durability is guaranteed for sure. The cable comes in the 2 pin connector hence no MMCX which is safe to hear. The splitter and the terminations are made out metal thus they look premium overall in terms of looks and feel.
The cable also comes in different terminations and the stock 3.5mm does the job and is accepted universally to play via smartphones. The carry case that they have provided is pretty nice which is faux leather made with nice magnetic closure and velvet lining is given alongside the interiors to protect the earphones from getting scratched up.
The provided ear tips are very good, especially the Spring series tips which are very soft, comfy and fits excellent in your ears providing some nice seal and isolation.
The sound profile of the Kato is a balanced sound profile with more emphasis on the tonal and timbre accuracy which is beautifully done in the Kato. The bass is a mid bass focussed with nice and smooth treble which is inoffensive. Lets see about the sound in detail in the dissecting review
The bass in the Kato is more mid bass focussed with nice punch and decay. The sub bass is there but it’s subtle enough and only shows the face when the track calls for it.
SUB BASS: The sub bass could have been better where the reach and rumble is quite subtle but the control is nicely done. The bass never appears bleeding or bloomy instead they are tuned with precision and control. Even though the sub bass feels pretty lighter the separation it provides is truly unbelievable! The low end instruments are neatly layered out without any sort of clustering.
MID BASS: The mid bass is the focus here where the bass has more punch and gives a good amount of body to the midrange section. The attack however doesn’t feel that dynamic instead they appear smoother. The fullness appears good without any sort of extra added bloom thus making the whole bass section sound more cleaner.
- FLIGHT – HANS ZIMMER
This track is the absolute example for the separation in bass region where the kick drums and minute instruments in the background are clearly brought out without any sort of compression but the compromise done here is the sub bass reach, rumble. They feel too subtle and that could have been better. The separation however feels top notch with accurate timbre of the instruments.
The mid range is the star show in the Kato. The tonality especially is just sublime and beautiful in the Kato. The tonality and timbre of the instruments appears pretty realistic and natural with no sorts of any artificial flavour added to it. It’s so pleasing, addictive and non fatiguing in the long run.
The vocals are presented nice and forward with nice placement of the instruments in the background. The vocals have that nice body carried along from the mid bass while not being too bloomy and fuzzy. The clarity in the mid range is above average thus they are not affected that much by the presence of the mid bass. The notes sound nice and fuller where the piano notes and guitar strings sound realistic with an adequate amount of fullness.
The staging being not that wide, the layering is average at best and the separation is good too without being mind blowing. The Kato was able to handle faster tracks too without any sort of issues. The upper midrange has less energy hence it might suit the listeners who are sensitive to energetic sound but for my taste they sounded kind of dull and I expect a bit more energy in the upper mid range.
Overall the mid range is melodious, natural and realistic tonality, thicker notes and less energetic sound.
- Just Another Girl – The Killers
- When You Say Nothing At All – Susan Wong
The treble in the Kato is more on a polite side where the extension is good but when it comes to the detail retrieval they are not the king tier. The electric guitar strings and the cymbals are smoothened out in order to provide that non fatiguing longer listening sessions. The clarity and open sound however is still appreciated in the Kato.
The cymbal crashes are very good in terms of speed and decay with nice realistic timbre with no sort of harshness where the decay is sweetly timed out. The electric guitar strings pluck has that nice and natural strike with good attack.
The air is nicely presented in the top end while it’s not that expressive or not too restricted out. The brilliance and shimmer in the top end feels pretty good but definitely not the best. Treble heads out there and seeking for some treble energy the Kato is definitely not yours since this has more smoothed out treble with relaxing profile. The brightness is on an adequate side but still a bit more could have given that energy in the treble section which the Kato lacks.
Overall the treble is polite, relaxing, non- fatiguing but still has that nice clarity, openness and airy sound. The overall energy feels pretty restricted and that’s the con out there in the treble section.
- Every Little Thing – Eric Clapton
- Out For Blood – Sum 41
STAGING: The staging of the Kato is well rounded with adequate width and height. They are not the widest stage or have the deepest presence but it has that nice well rounded effect where nothing feels constricted or compressed out. The presentation feels nice and wide with a grand enough presentation overall.
IMAGING AND LAYERING: The imaging is nice and precise with good spatial positioning and the instruments can be pinpointed out without any sort of difficulties. Even while replaying the busy tracks they were able to cope up with the fast pace of the music hence they don’t cause any fuzziness in the imaging. The layering is also done nicely but still they are not the best in terms of it.
Detail retrieval and tracks separation are good for the price but nothing mind blowing. They do the part well without any issues but do not create anything extraordinary for the price it quotes. The detail retrieval being modest while the track separation being good.
PROS AND CONS:
- Warm and Smooth Tuning
- Midrange focussed profile
- Natural and Lush Tonality
- Clarity and Separation
- Less Treble Energy
- Less Upper Mid Emphasis
- Less Sub Bass Reach
- Detail Retrieval
Kato, the latest and the successor to the infamous KXXS from the house of Moondrop is a well rounded package with one of the breezy sound profile. The Moondrop has its unique sound profile where it’s more on a mature side with polite energy and thus the Kato depicts the same. The Kato doesn’t have that bright, energetic and bassier profile rather its more matured, polite, calmer and breezy profile yet also delivering some engaging experience.
The design is as per the Moondrop standards and follows the same design language of the KXXS. It has that same robotic precise cut faceplate with shiny mirror finish which attracts hell lot of fingerprints and scratches. Now the nozzle has the removable filters to switch the tuning based on the moods and now the stock cable is much more improved and it’s well worth the money called the K Line cable.
The sound is more mature with mid bass emphasis over sub bass, natural tonality with lively, engaging vocals, smoother and calmer treble and providing a breezy sound overall. The technicalities are average at best and nothing in the range of extraordinary where the staging, imaging and layering are good at best. The detail retrieval could have been better for this price.
The cons that i can point out here are the less sub bass presence and the less treble, upper mid energy thus making the whole experience a non exciting one. If your taste is made of a calmer, breezy and matured sound with less energetic experience then the Kato might be your choice of earphone since no earphones that i have tried had this BREEZY SOUND giving a nice soothing experience overall!
This Review is Written By KATHIRAVAN.C
I’m Kathiravan from Tamilnadu. A budding audiophile here with high love towards music and audio equipment. My first experience of enjoying the hifi audio came when I started to use budget chi-fi gears and now it came all along the way of reviewing the gears with high end stuffs. I love reviewing audio products.