Moshi is more of a design-focused company than one known for its earphones, but since we were sufficiently impressed with the performance of the Moshi Vortex Pro, we decided to give its less-expensive sibling a listen. The good-looking Moshi Dulcia ($64.95 direct) offers a healthy dose of bass response without going over the top, while keeping the focus on high-mid-range clarity. Like its older sibling, it suffers from some very minor—nearly negligible—distortion at top volumes, and some may find it overly bright or sibilant. But, with the included inline remote and microphone for mobile devices, it’s a solid deal for the price.
The Dulcia’s earpieces are thin, narrow, and lightweight, with the plastic beneath its translucent eartips marked red (right) or white (left). The inline one-button remote control and microphone compartment is situated along the cable leading up to the right earpiece. Overall, its design is simple and refined, with the Moshi logo on each earpiece and the flat, linguini-like black cable the only real flourishes that might grab your attention. The earphones are also available in pink/silver and white/silver color combos.
Included with the Dulcia: a snap-shut, felt-lined carrying case, a shirt clip, and three pairs of eartips—small, medium, and large.
On deep bass tracks at top volumes, like the Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the Moshi Dulcia does distort ever so slightly. I almost didn’t detect it at first, primarily because it wasn’t the sub-bass frequencies—the usual suspects—that were distorting, but the lows and low-mids, instead. Typically, the deep bass kick drum thump on that track is the sound that will distort, and while no distortion occurred until it entered the mix at around 15 seconds, it was the other, less bass-heavy drum hit the track starts out with that began distorting. Evidently, the presence of both drum hits was too much for the earphone’s drivers.
Either way, this is hardly a deal-breaker—most tracks won’t cause this issue, even at top listening levels, and problematic tracks are unlikely to distort wildly. The Dulcia’s $65 price tag buys it a little more leniency in this department, as well.
Despite the minor distortion, the earphones sound pretty solid on tracks with deep bass at more moderate listening levels—the sub-bass drum hits in “Silent Shout” are delivered with power and definition, while the high-mids and highs provide enough clarity to ensure things don’t get muddy.
On “Drover,” Bill Callahan’s voice is delivered with a pleasingly crisp treble edge that helps separate it from the mix. This track can sometimes sound muddy on earphones that boost the bass too much and don’t also sculpt the high-mids a bit. On the Dulcia, the low-end is strong without being overwhelming, so the insistent beating of the drums gets your attention, but never overtakes the vocals. Sometimes Callahan’s vocals sound a little too boosted in high-mids, and the end result is an overly sibilant sound signature. This varies from mix to mix, but it does mean that the high-mids are significantly tweaked on the Dulcia, as this is rarely an issue with this particular recording.
On classical tracks, like John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances,” this boost of the high-mids and treble allows the higher register strings and percussion to stand out. The lower register strings don’t seem to be nearly as boosted, in comparison, and thus the mix shifts toward the brighter end of the spectrum. Still, the big drum hits at the end of the piece are delivered with a nice resonance—just enough low-end to be noticed without stealing the spotlight.
Obviously, if you’re looking for audiophile-level performance, you’re going to need to spend a bit more money. In this price range, however, the Dulcia is a solid option that provides rich bass that isn’t wildly boosted, though its sculpted highs maybe a turn-off some. The Editors’ Choice AKG K 350 is another good choice in this range—both pairs have very minor distortion issues with deep bass at top volumes, but the AKG pair is a bit less sibilant. The $120 Shure SE215 is a step-up in price from both options, but offers better overall audio performance and balance, as well as the added value of a detachable cable. If you’re looking to spend even less money, the $50 RHA MA450i delivers an impressive amount of bass for the price, and it doesn’t distort, but it’s not nearly as balanced as the K 350 or the Dulcia. It’s easy to recommend the Moshi Dulcia if you’re looking for an inexpensive, but quality, upgrade to their mobile device’s earbuds—particularly if you favor high-mid definition with crisp vocals over throbbing bass.
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Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc