I always believe that; a headphone/IEM should have an opposite presentation to your source to extract the best balance from your system. In this case, you can match the Pneuma with neutral, flat, or reference-like sources. SP2000 is a heavenly match for the Pneuma, as I told Emil himself. I hope he can try his creation with the A&K flagship in some time. What else is great? Well, surely the excellent pieces like Hugo2, DTR1, WM1A and Hip Dac are all good companions.
Yet, one thing nice about the Pneuma is that it performs well with any gear. You can even listen to it from a smartphone. It doesn’t have a razor-sharp and unforgiving nature. This results in an IEM that is not picky or spoilt. For drivability, Lime Ears didn’t share any figures for impedance. But I can say that it’s easy to drive but not too sensitive. This further improves the versatility of the IEM. You won’t have much hiss and noise, whilst still being able to drive it with ease.
ProMission X is an incredible performer and a TOTL IEM with excellent dynamics, separation, definition, and resolution. Pneuma is a hybrid versus the full BA setup of the PMX. It has more sub-bass especially when the switch is up. The PMX is overall a studio-like IEM with great dynamism and definition with a closer stage.
The Pneuma performs a bit softer and more effortless with a bigger and deeper soundstage. Both have a certain amount of warmth but the Pneuma is warmer and more musical overall. Other than these, they’re very close and it’s not easy to pick one. However, the Pneuma clearly has a better soundstage magnitude and a bigger space between instruments.
The Khan is the polar opposite of the Pneuma. It has a thinner sound with a smaller note size. It’s crisper and its treble has much more bite than the Pneuma. The bass quantity of the Khan is less as well. Treble in Khan has more energy and I think it performs a bit better in that regard.
However, the Pneuma has the tonality advantage, a bigger stage, a more controlled and musical approach with a bigger note size. To me, it has better coherency as well. They’re similar in terms of resolution and transparency though. Pneuma is much more versatile as a side note, so do consider that when choosing from these two flagship pieces.
What more can I say about Lime Ears Pneuma? Although being late to the hybrid market, they took their time and release one of the best hybrid IEMs you can find. Sure, it doesn’t come cheap but so the others. In return, you have great musicality, an incredible tonal balance, a huge sound-stage, tremendous imaging, and great definition in all frequencies.
It also comes with a quality cable in a nice packaging together with an absolutely stunning design. Build quality is also fantastic. It also fits well with great isolation for a universal (thanks to not having any bass ports). I’ve been using this IEM day after day and I realized; I’m listening to more music than I used to. Pneuma has already become a very special unit for me and I’m sure it will be many people’s favorite as well.
With all that being said, Pneuma is definitely award material. So yes, it now has become one of our selections on the Best Universal IEMs list! I congratulate Lime Ears for their authentic approach to the sound. If they keep this up, I think they’ll become one of the most trusted IEM manufacturers in the market.