1. Build Quality & Comfort
From what I understand, building CIEMs with a switch incorporated in the faceplate isn’t the easiest from a technical point of view and I know of several companies that would rather not go there. Lime Ears however has no problems doing that. The recessed sockets and the faceplate closing are really well done but there do are a couple of “bubbles” in the acryl and you can see some traces of glue on the inside. As a result the Aether isn’t the best made monitor in my collection but it’s fairly good.
When comparing left to right you will find the Aether to have non-symmetrical insides. To me that’s less important because it only shows with see-through shells but some people find that really important. What is more important to me is that there is a good fit. Goof it means good comfort and Lime Ears delivers, I have no issue whatsoever with wearing them for hours. With some monitors I manage to break the seal when putting on weird faces but this simply is impossible with the Aether. I just hope no one saw me trying at the office.
I usually don’t have any requests when it comes to personalization but when I saw these fancy looking brushed aluminum face plates on Lime’s Facebook page, and I was sold right away. I also suggested putting both our logos on the faceplate and I very much like how the monitors turned out. (see pics) .
Like with most companies you can personalize your monitors but it will as usual cost you extra. Simple artwork, laser engraving, wooden/carbon/steam faceplates: it’s all possible. Just email Lime Ears and work something out together.
I have several really good looking monitors in my collection like the full steam by Cosmic Ears and the wooden design by Rhines just to name two, but I also really like these brushed aluminum plates. The typical grey in combination with the green Lime Ears’ logo just gives me this summer-ish feeling. Call me crazy.
All of Lime Ears’ monitors come with a grey/white-ish detachable 3.5mm gold-plated jack cable. The cable is a pretty basic quad cable with a bendable piece of metal to put around your ears. While there’s nothing special about the cable at all it actually sounds pretty good.
I always like trying different cables to find the one with the best synergy for a specific IEM. I only used the stock cable for a very short time as I soon found Linum’s balanced cable to be perfect for the Aether. I have a feeling the balanced SuperBaX might be even better but unfortunately my prototype can only be used with flush sockets.
When using the Linum balanced cable the balance, stereo image and texture improves to an unbelievably high level, but more on that in the “Sound” and “Source” parts. The Linum cables aren’t that expensive compared to other aftermarket cables and if you plan on getting the Aether, I would certainly recommend giving the balanced Linum a try. That being said, the stock cable – as reported – sounds really good already and you will enjoy the Aether for sure.
4. Price & Accessories
Most of the 5-driver CIEMs don’t come cheap and the Aether isn’t any different. It is priced at €1150 (more or less $1250) and that puts it almost at the same level as the Stage5 and the VE5 CIEMs (Rhines Stage 5 – 1379€, Vision Ears VE5 – 1399€). And that’s for the basic version, customization costs extra. The Cosmic Ears CE5 monitor still is cheapest, starting at €580. That’s still impressive.
My Aether came in a black personalized 1015 Pelican case holding a drying cap, the stock cable and a cleaning tool which I have lost in the train in the meantime. For the price they could maybe add a cleaning cloth and spray just like Rhines and VE do, but maybe paying customers get exactly that, I couldn’t tell.
If you look at other CIEM companies you will see most of the 5-driver monitors cost over €1000, so there’s nothing wrong with Lime Ears’ price setting. At the same time the other companies have a bigger (note I didn’t say better) reputation and I’m afraid a certain number of potential clients might be scared away by that. Sound wise however these are really worth their price and you won’t hear me complaining about the price/quality ration at all. (see below)
5. Customer Service
Dealing with Lime Ears always goes by email. They do have a contact form on the site but there at the moment is no automated way to process your order. Earlier this month Emil told me they are working on a new website with a simple shop. That would make ordering a whole lot more convenient than by exchanging e-mails. It should be up around the publication of this review. If you go to Lime Ears’ website right now, you won’t find any reference to the Aether model, I guess they’re keeping that for the new version as well. The only reference to the Aether in fact is on their Facebook page .
Dealing/emailing with Emil/Lime Ears has always been a pleasure and his excitement about his products really showed and pleased me. I always love hearing motivated people talk about their products and based on his excitement I have a feeling the new website and order form will be quite the improvement. I’m pretty sure Lime Ears’ customer service won’t disappoint you.
Sound starts on Page 3, right after the click as usual