Review: Lime Ears Aether – The Special One

6. Sound

I’m not going to beat around the bush, I really love Aether’s sound. Luckily I do not, but if I had to live with just one set of monitors the Aether could certainly make it to the short list. The Aether is a monitor I personally can live very happily with for listening to music at the office, at home or on the go. That doesn’t mean it is the best 5-driver on the market or that it is the right monitor for you because I really like it. So I will describe the Aether’s sound in an objective way just as I have done with all the other CIEMs I have reviewed.

According the Emil Aether sounds like this: ”Massive, yet extremely textured lows, clear, yet balanced midrange smoothly transitioning into airy highs. Vastly upgraded detailing and spatial separation due to unique acoustical tuning”. And he is right.

The first time I put these in to my ears it didn’t take long to realize the Aether really was something special. The left-right balance is really good and the three-dimensional positioning is impressive. What struck me as well was the layering from bass to treble, the high detail level and the depth of the sound. Is this really only a 5 driver? It shows again the driver count isn’t everything; it’s how you tune the monitor, that’s what counts.

Aether’s sound stage is fairly wide and there is a good amount of space between the instruments, you don’t get the feeling of an “inside your head” sound, as often is the case. Aether is detailed, musical and well it basically ticks all my boxes. Music is dynamic and flows on a black background. It is always clear sounding and it kind of reminds me of the Luxury & Precision L5P DAP I’m in the process of reviewing, and that’s a good thing. It’s on the warmer side of neutral but it isn’t a warm sounding monitor either. It just has that bit of warmth and smoothness  so you can’t call it a (flat and) neutral sounding monitor.

Aether is a do-it-all monitor. If you don’t like too much (low) bass, you can just flick the switch on both of your faceplates down and you will get fast, well defined bass with a good punch and just enough body. It’s the more neutral kind of bass and you won’t have to worry about it having too much body or too much impact. Bass will still be in line with the full bodied mids and the treble but you’ll get the more reference type sound with good detail, depth and all that in a musical way. Flick on the switch (up position) and the sub gets activated: extra body and depth without losing detail. I love it, bass goes really deep and it never loses control and the layering is impressive. You really get that feeling of how a dynamic driver does bass moving air. It’s addictive, I love it. I don’t get the feeling bass bleeds in to the mids at all.

I am really happy the switch is there, sometimes you just want and need more bass for whatever the reason is. At the same time if you’re using a bass heavy source, bass can get a bit much even for me. A good example is the Fiio gear that often has a Bass Boost (BB) switch. When Aether’s sub and Fiio’s BB is activated, bass (depending on your preference of course) can become a bit too much. I personally turn off the BB when I am using the Q1 and E10K but on most of my other amps and DAPs I tend to keep it on at all time. That’s exactly the beauty of this switch implementation, you can do whatever you like and you basically get two monitors for the price of one.

The switch has no effect on the mids and treble region but you might get the impression the treble is crispier when the sub is turned on.  Aether’s mids are very seducing. They have a lot of detail and the depth and layering is simply awesome. Each time I put the Aether in my ears I am still impressed with the texture it delivers, these are one of the very best mids I have heard. A musical, correct and airy presentation, Aether has it all. If you like full bodied mids with a lot of detail, depth and excellent layering, the Aether is a CIEM you really have to consider.

The treble is just as airy, detailed and layered as the mids are. Treble at all time sounds lively but never harsh. With the sub turned on you get a very nice contrast between the lows and highs and the overall sound signature is very dynamic and engaging. Maybe it’s not the most extended or most detailed treble I have heard before but it has a lively and energetic presentation. You won’t hear me complain.

Next up: Driveability, Sources, Comparisons and Conclusion. All after the click

Review: Lime Ears Aether – The Special One
4.7 (94.62%) 26 votes

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

21 Comments

  • Reply October 29, 2015

    Raphaël G.

    Great review, Lieven. As I understood on facebook… happy Birthday.
    Did you plan to review the 64 Audio A10/12 ?
    Thanks !

    • Reply October 30, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      Not right now but I’ll see what I can do. And Thank you!

      • Reply February 10, 2016

        Coll. IEm

        I wish in 2016 you review Spiral Ear SE5 Ultimate.
        one of the most overrated Ciem I ever heard ,many positive review but sound fall short to compete with very good ciem .

    • Reply December 19, 2015

      Tay Victor

      I currently have the U12 and has just demoed the Aether. I must say, these 2 IEM complement each other well. The U12 have slightly richer mids and the soundstage is slightly wider. The separation on the U12 is also slightly more. However the Aether have a much neutral and reference sound with similar characteristics and is also more dynamic than the U12. I must say I’m really impressed with the Aether and will consider getting it as one of my CIEM.

      • Reply February 9, 2016

        Coll. IEm

        thanks,what’s your fav. ciem and dap ?

        • Reply February 9, 2016

          Victor Tay

          Currently, I’m using my U12 with my Onkyo DP-X1 using DHC Symbiotide SE full SPC 2.5mm balanced cable. My Shozy Alien Gold Edition is arriving soon. I will see how my U12 pairs with it. Anyway i have yet to get the Aether as I’m out of budget to get any TOTL ciem currently.

          • Reply February 9, 2016

            Coll. IEm

            I have many ciem ,but my fav. right now are roxanne and Heir 10 pair with hm901. I have K10 before but sold it after I get heir 10 .
            I don’t I need dac/amp with this hm901 dap it sound extremely musical .
            Have you heard any ciem or iem that impress you ?

  • Reply November 3, 2015

    Joshua Chew

    Aether vs the K10s! hehe.

    • Reply November 3, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      I don’t have the K10 but I do know someone who thinks it’s better than his K10

      • Reply November 3, 2015

        Joshua Chew

        I know, that is what I have been hearing from others too. I have the K10 and was wondering how they sound against it; and if i should buy one.

      • Reply November 3, 2015

        simplicyk

        I know that some people have sold their K10s and bought Aether!

  • Reply November 25, 2015

    yuntingz

    Really interesting review. Would you say that the Aether’s
    vocal presentation is fairly intimate or is it more distant? Also, is the
    Aether’s sound more on the smooth side or dynamic/lively? Thanks.

    • Reply November 25, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      Vocals are more intimate and not distant at all. It’s right in between smooth and dynamic. This is one of the monitors in my collection that I enjoy most, I absolutely recommend it

      • Reply November 25, 2015

        yuntingz

        Thanks, are there any other earphones it has a similar sound to as a reference?

  • Reply December 29, 2015

    Coll. IEm

    One of the best review I read in headfonia .
    I want to see review of :
    1- Hier 10A and 2- SE5way please.

  • Reply May 3, 2016

    Brian L. Clark

    Have you heard the Rhapsodio Solar’s and able to compare the two?

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