LEAR LCM-Turbo has good technicalities, especially for this price. One thing I noticed when I first put them on my ears was the great soundstage performance. It’s very wide for an entry-level CIEM, and the depth is also satisfying. Width is the most striking thing though. I’m not unfamiliar with the staging performances of dynamic drivers, but still I’m impressed with this.
As a result, it sounds spacious and wide. At the same time as the positioning is good & realistic like I remarked on page two, the imaging capability is high on this monitor. Sure it doesn’t have great transparency or resolution which is expected from its price range, but they’re still very good and you have a beautiful, smooth and organic character merged with very wide stage and great positioning.
The background is not perfectly black as you can understand from my comments about transparency, and again don’t expect a razor sharp separation. That would be very unfair if you compare it to the high end stuff. The sound overall is on the darker side and it’s somewhat thick sounding especially on mid frequencies, but I like this presentation in IEMs, not sure everyone would agree. On its own terms, it sounds full bodied and sometimes romantic & very very smooth.
The tonality is very natural so as the timbre, but it could be a little more brighter on mids. It overall has very good balance but dynamics are not on a high level, but if you can live with it for the price, then I repeat it’s may be the best choice for starters.
SOURCES & CABLES
Source wise of course something bright and open should be the best bet here. The ZX2 and the HiBy R6 are not very good with it, although being very good DAPs on their own. But if you can find a silver 2.5mm cable like I have, then you can use your R6 DAP with the Turbo using the 2.5mm BAL output. Since the BAL connection sounds very different on R6, I can say it’s a much better result with better dynamics, more balanced sound with better resolution. Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend this match with the 3.5 Standard SE output because it gives too much bass and too dark sound.
I mostly used my Sony WM1A for this review and it’s a very very good match. The Shanling M3s is also very good, sounding smooth but detailed and the bass response is a little toned down with it. I think the M3s sounds like the WM1A in terms of character so it wasn’t a surprise.
I tried my ALO Audio Tinsel MMCX cable with the LEAR LCM-Turbo and the monitor opened up nicely with better dynamics and it became a little more bright. It became my go to cable over the stock one and I didn’t look back after that. Therefore I recommend silver cables for this IEM.
I don’t have a custom monitor to compare around this price level at this time, but I will share very short comparisons with some other IEMs here.
vs. iBasso IT03: The IT03 is somehow close to LEAR Turbo in terms of character, but the Turbo has a better sound stage and sub bass presence. While tonality is slightly better on LEAR, the IT03 has better resolution. Stereo imaging is around the same while the IT03 has a better transparency. It has better dynamics by a small margin but then again LEAR puts up a great staging performance. Close call.
vs. Earsonics ES3: Technically the ES3 is the better IEM, especially in terms of detail, resolution and trebles. Where LEAR puts up a big difference is the sound stage again. It’s also more coherent and organic then Earsonics, but the ES3 has better resolution and in terms of highs it’s an easy win for it. Bass goes to LEAR again with its great punch.
vs. Oriolus Forsteni: Around the same story with the ES3. Forsteni has better resolution, dynamics and transparency, but LEAR has much better bass response together with much wider and spacious sound stage. It’s also more musical and natural but technicalities go to the Forsteni except the sound stage.
vs. Campfire Polaris: Polaris has a very good bass body and punch as well but LEAR’s bass have more resolution and layering. And LEAR can go very deep in the sub area. Polaris also has that disconnection between bass and the rest of the spectrum, but LEAR doesn’t have that problem. Polaris is a little more detailed and it sound airy and open, but the tonality is off compared to LEAR, so LEAR has the more natural sound overall.
vs. Heir Audio HISO: HISO’s bass is not good enough to compare with LEAR, mids have around the same performance but HISO has as great treble response. But again it sounds narrower then LEAR, and LEAR has a more realistic positioning overall. Resolution levels are very close, but HISO has better balance compared to LEAR because LEAR has very strong bass.
vs. Earsonics ES2: A dark Earsonics IEM, the ES2 sounds thick and smooth like LEAR. LEAR has the better stage once more, and these two are around the same resolution level and they have similar dynamics. The Turbo puts up a difference with its great soundstage so this one goes to LEAR.
Acoustune HS1551 CU: The Acoustune is a great single dynamic driver IEM which shares some similarities with the Turbo; such as warm, dark and organic character. The difference is that the Acoustune is more balanced and it doesn’t have that much bass power compared to LEAR. Both have great bass but the HS1551 CU’s bass is a little more of high quality. Mids have better resolution with the Acoustune also, but I find the tonality of the LEAR more natural and truer. Sound stage is around the same but I like the treble positioning of the LEAR, even though it doesn’t have the treble resolution like the Acoustune.
And here, we, GO: Custom IEM Recommendations!
I know I know, there are many CIEMs in our list already. But after hearing its performance for this little price, I had to ask Lieven to put this one to the recommended list. I repeat, this is the cheapest Custom IEM as far as I know and for a base price of 220$, you get a very good customer service, great natural sound with excellent bass response with perfect sound stage for the money. I’m not sure you can ask more in today’s market at this level.
Tatco has made a perfect job nailing this one. If you don’t like darker and thicker sounding IEMs than this is not your cup of tea; but if you like smooth, organic, natural and easy to listen to IEMs with a strong bass, then this is your budget CIEM without a doubt. I’m looking forward to work together with LEAR for future reviews and especially the exciting BAMDAS 5 model, which will amazingly have 5 dynamic drivers in it.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you guys next week with another Custom IEM review.