Moondrop Kato vs Moondrop Variations vs Thieaudio Oracle

Tldr: So yeah basically, which one should I get? Would love to hear your logic in choosing as well. Other recommendations are always welcomed too. I emphasize female vocals and high resolution/clairty as well as instrument separation. This would be my first IEMs, max budget would be around 550, though it’s kinda flexible. Preferred genre, J-Pop/rock, 80s rock and synth wave/pop.

So, I’m still new to the audiophile world, I usually listen to 80s bands like queen, GnR, ABBA, Nena, Simple minds, cranberries with a few 70s, 90s, 2000s mixed in there like heart, and paramore. Although currently I am listening to a bunch of J-pop though really mostly anime ops with emphasis on female vocals. I currently own the schiit magni modi, a pair of DT990s, HD6xxs, and Soundcore Liberty pro 3 and I want to expand to the world of IEMs since I can’t enjoy my HD6xxs as much because of work. I managed to narrow my choices down to the Moondrop Kato, Moondrop Variations, and Thieaudio oracles. In terms of sound signature, I think I prefer the HD6xxs since its more natural, but honestly as heretical as it sounds, the soundcore pro 3s are really growing on me and I think I prefer them over the HD6xxs? I don’t know if this is because I listen to my soundcores more because I am mostly at work or if the soundcores just feels more fun or their HearID eq just works for me. Or maybe its just the convenience honestly…

With that being said, I want to come here and ask the experts here which IEMs should I get? I think I am gonna mostly listen to J-pop since it’s something new for me and I prefer female vocalists. I think I want to focus on vocals and sound resolution more. I don’t mind trying out new sound signatures, especially the Harman Curve I have been hearing a lot about, although if someone could explain to me that could be great. Always want to learn more and expand this new hobby of mine. Pricing wise, honestly I don’t mind spending the 500 dollars if the sound quality is much better or even generally better than the 200 dollar ones. Other recommendations for me, it’s always welcomed and I would love to hear your thoughts. I think the most I am willing to spend is around the 500 550 dollars mark, although again if something else is much better for 600 I wouldn’t mind considering it. Also do I need to buy anything to maximize the audio quality for my phone? I own a Galaxy s10+ and I heard that it downsamples all songs to 16/48.

P.S: I attached my custom hearID EQ if it can help. Again I am really new to this hobby, I honestly am still trying to understand the lingo and tech that goes behind these audiophile gears. That and English is like my 3rd language so I am sorry if I make some grammatical errors and patience is always appreciated. Thank you in advanced!

You really are asking three questions:

  1. is it a good idea to spend several hundred dollars on your first IEM? (Variations is $520 and Oracle is $550). BTW you didn’t mention Xenns Mangird UP, at $700, or the Shuoer ej07m at $600.

  2. if the answer to 1) is Yes, then which one given the only thing you’ve mentioned is that your headphones are Senn 6xx, and that you listen to a wide variety of musical genres?

  3. If the answer to 1) is no, what would anyone recommend as a more modestly priced starting point?

Q1): this is really tricky.
First, you don’t know what types/size of IEMs will fit your ears properly (that is, form a good seal in your ear canal, not easily fall out, and not cause discomfort after only a few minutes,) because you’re new to them. For example, Variations is much smaller and easier to fit than Oracle or Xenns UP.

Second, you don’t know what bass feels like in IEMs vs. headphones vs. room speakers. They are not the same. Are you satisfied with the bass in the Senn 6xx? Without knowing that, how can anyone rec an IEM from among your list?

Q2) You mentioned Senn 6xx. Have you tried other headphones, and if so, what did you like and not like about them… how about HiFiMan 400e? What do you prefer about the Senn 6xx vs. the DT990? How can anyone rec an IEM without knowing more about what you like in sound signature? You mentioned “female vocals and high resolution/clairty as well as instrument separation”. Those objectives and the Senn 6xx are not 1:1 matches.

Q3) Given your budget, as mentioned on another thread and also above, a great starting point for IEMs are: 1) Tripowin Olina, and 2) Shuoer S12, for a total of $250. The Tripowin can be either neutral-bright, or neutral with slight bass boost, depending on whether you double filter the nozzle. The S12 is a planar, and so imaging is incredible, as is detail, but bass sounds different from the bass of the Olina, or other IEMs which have a dynamic driver to produce the bass.

So… my response would be to start with Olina and S12, appreciate those for a few months, then come back here and tell us what you like/don’t like about each. Then you’d learn if people would rec. the Oracle, Xenns UP, Monarch II, Shuoer EJ07M, Variations, etc. as the next step up. No step is “up” if what you are looking for in bass, vocal presence, or treble is not a good match with the expensive IEM that someone recommends to you.


This is great advice and I agree.

I will just sidetrack my 2cents now to give food for thought:

Your EQ profile is completly warm and had a lot of mid bass boost. That’s literally the opposite of Variations and Kato.

Regarding bass, you are looking at, at least, xenns up/kinda lava/Clairvoyance.

If I didn’t understand your profile, please ignore this :joy:


I agree with what has been said so far, but I do not mind buying more expensive IEMs, as the first IEMs. If it is well thought out and you know what you like as a sound, pull the trigger . From what you say about sound preferences - Lava or Clairvoyance! :cowboy_hat_face:

1 Like

Agreed! Start off with cheaper IEMs to test fit and tuning preference first before you spend on a pair of $500 IEMs you end up not liking :joy:

My recommendation:

Flat-neutral: Tin hifi T2
Warm/bass: Melee
Neutral-bright: Olina

All 3 would put you under $200 while giving you lots of room to experiment with fit and find your tuning preference :sunglasses: And as nymz said your tuning seems to lean towards EJ07M KL/XENNS UP/CLAIR.

That’s a wallop of mid bass.

If you want a decent mid bassy sound signature, you might want consider the Dunu Falcon Pro which isn’t an IEM I would rec to the general public given that it has a bit too much mid bass, but it’s an decent pick for mid bass lovers.

KATO and Variations don’t have a ton of mid bass but both are very well tuned, not many people are gonna hate either set.

I’d go with the Oracle as the objectively better IEM out of the three, Variations has thin lower mids which might not suit some people. IMHO, the Oracle has no tuning flaws and is the best all-rounder by a hair.

DunninLA’s advice is quite solid, I would go with his advice.

1 Like