Disclaimer: I was sent the Lime Ears Aether free of charge for this review. This is the first time we work together with Lime Ears
Lime Ears Poland
Earlier this year, in February if my memory serves me well, Emil from Lime Ears got in touch with me to check if I was interested in reviewing a new upcoming Custom IEM. Lime Ears is a smaller company located in Poland and up to now they are mostly known for their 3 driver, the LE3SW. Don’t mistake Lime Ears for CustomArt, that’s a completely different CIEM company.
Lime Ears maybe isn’t as known as their colleagues and the reason for that is that Lime Ears focused especially on musicians and sound engineers in Poland during the first 2 to 3 years. They in fact started making CIEMs around the same time. By word of mouth they quickly gained a good reputation and once Lime Ears felt their “pro” mission was complete, they started focusing on us, the so called audiophiles.
Aether is a five driver monitor with a four-way crossover and a three variable-diameter bore design. Its name comes from the fifth element (quintessence) that fills the entire universe and enables transfer of energy and information across them. “Aether as model completes our offer as being the first multi-driver flagship and at this moment presents quintessence of Lime Ears sound without technical limitations that previous models encountered”.
The logo of Aether (the triangle – see pics) was derived from early Slavic alphabet and it simply pictures the letters “AE”. It took Lime Ears nearly two years to develop their new Top Of The Line monitor, even if it is based on their LE3SW. Emil explains (Italic = quote from Emil):
“Thought behind LE3SW was to make the most natural sounding in-ear monitor possible, in its vibe similar to contemporary hi-fi or studio equipment made even back in ’70s and ’80s. Balanced, full, pleasant, musical and very faithful in a monitor kind of way. But with three drivers I encountered technical limits that made it impossible for them to sound similar to two-way near-field monitors. What I finally wanted to experience were big, three-way far-field monitors placed in a big, well treated room with a pinch of audiophile-sounding fun that would please listeners avoiding too technical sound but still looking for real fidelity in their recordings”
“So I needed to set a separate subwoofer driver and since I’m fan of acoustical rather than electrical tuning I wanted it to be acoustically low-passed. Prototyping the low-pass filter took several months and after many attempts I managed to make use of XHD (Extreme High Definition) 3D printing technology to get it right. Another thing the new model needed was a wider soundstage and better source separation, like you were sitting really in front of pretty big audio system. I needed some more sparkle in the mids and increased coherence among the drivers, so a faster dual low-mid driver was implemented as well and the crossover that couples it with high-mid driver was redesigned”.
“The highs were made a little bit more airy to maintain balance with powerful lows. But they still incorporate something that seems to be the part of Lime Ears sound philosophy: in my opinion BA drivers are likely to superimpose their own characteristics on highs, making them bright but sometimes pretty harsh and unpleasant. Aether incorporates relatively high-output tweeter that has been damped relatively strongly. The outcome is high-frequency region with reduced resonances that would cause “ringing” responsible for harsh sound. The highs were aimed to be crispy clear but soft and elegant (like these produced by silk-dome tweeters in opposition to harsher titanium or ribbon tweeters)”.
Something else we have seen before is the switch on the faceplate (see VE6 Xcontrol). In the Aether this switch activates the sub bass in its lowest regions below 80-90 Hz. There are several reasons for implementing a bass switch like this:
– Depending on listening level to make use of the Fletcher-Munson law (for lower listening levels the bass can be boosted to make it better audible),
– Depending on the level and quality of bass in the recording (if the bass is great it can be made very powerful, on the other hand if the material is not to well mixed and lows are becoming boomy and out of control, they might be trimmed down)
– Depending on external noise levels (If you’re listening in a noisy environment like an airplane, subway or similar where low-end noise masks the lows, you might want to switch them up).
Just like I do with all my other custom monitor reviews, I will be going over the next topics:
Build quality & Comfort
Price & Accessories
Driveability & Sources
Part 1 starts right after the click HERE or below, on Page 2