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