Moondrop KATO is the latest iem from some decades old Chinese audio brand which is known since Spaceship, Starfield, Kato Pro, KXXS, Aria2021, Blessing2, Variations and so forth. Having the house tuning of strong low end and punch with clear forward mids and shiny treble, now we will be reading K.A.T.O. below. Thanks to Moondrop and Shenzenaudio for the unit. We are objective as always.
FUN and large soundscene
Sharp from time to time
Easy to drive
Can be tiring due to forward mid basses
Lack of technicalities are making it genre specific
Need of balanced connection to be all arounder
Clarity is disappointing
Bright and bassy at the same time but intelligent enough not to bleed in extensively. Its drivers are capable of reflecting tiniest details when needed. And the soundstage is adorable and large. Depth is suspicious, but why look for it in an iem that screams FUN? Almost as much as I felt with the Letshouer D12 and Tin Hifi T2+ in previous years. The overall listening experience is giving you perfect times in electronic genres with its badass low end and musicality at the same time.
The dx300’s 45/100 M gain is normal to high volume. And you can get bare minimum layering and separation in crowded genres but BUT the excitement when the drummer goes crazy is hard to tell 🙂 Same goes for math rock too. Sir mr. nice in the intro but, again, wearing its cape and flying up in the sky with so so technicalities. The very same goes for post hardcore too. When the attack begins, Slipknot’s drummer goes insane and slaps you with his bass kicks. You get a B- level of vocal clarity too.
But aside from all those energy and fun, sad things must be told too. The same B-level clarity is not the same for layering. You can hear the beginning and end of the electronic board’s bass hits, or organic bass hits, depending on your preference, but it’s not the same when every other instrument enters the mix. It’s easy to lose the laser-cut clarity on any single instrument (this will be tested with balanced cable). The vocal band is very intimate and placed close to you. Some might not want to be that close with the singer.
Balanced listening is very beneficial for KATO as that mode helps its clarity, instrument separation in crowded moments, punch and layering to some extent. However, the noteworthy bass rumble is nearly gone now. Fun factor took a hit. Balanced cable gathered up its mess and made is like a lab-like clean and tidy. But what I personally loved was its ragged teenager looks – which made it unique. That hard hitting bass cannon which was fine in specific genres and outright bad in some others turned into a semi mature guy with some serious manners.. However, its granddad, named KXXS’s genes is making this man unfit for smooth jazz scene despite using balanced cable. Those forward mid basses gotta go. Also, some treble is required for 3D imaging and extensions.
If comparing a dog and a cat is pointless, comparing Moondrop Kato against some technical players is the same attempt. However, since there aren’t many bass savvy iems out there in its price tag,
vs Moondrop KXXS
Yes, KXXS’ basses are powerful, but at least three basses from the younger generation are cornered, hard, and heavy. It’s similar to vocal projection. The staging is wider, airier and the timbre is a little brighter. 3d imaging is better. Cable-wise KATO is the direct winner.
vs TRI i3 Pro
Even though outdated as of now, and it needs a balanced connection to get the veil off, TRI i3 pro is superior as of now if you don’t mind the lack in mid trebles. KATO is brighter, but the i3 pro is combining technicalities with fun. I know it’s not fair to compare the two, but they were about the same price right now.
vs BQEYZ Autumn
Autumn is immediately winning in resolution. But the clarity isn’t at the same level with Moondrop KATO. While the TRI i3 Pro is clearly the best in terms of technical specifications, this is clearly a close second. However, inner structures and RD amounts are unlikely to be the same. And KATO is clearly loud and clearest of this deathmatch.
Moondrop KATO Review
Despite Moondrop’s house sound being a remnant and obvious after KXXS of ancient history, we have a HUGE leap here. I suppose every fun-loving person should have one in their minds. However, owners of the KXXS or Aria should already have it because it is a significant upgrade over them, albeit with some technical aspects lost after the KXXS and Aria2021.