7. Driveability & Sources
Aether is fairly easy to drive and on the go I almost never used a portable amplifier, it works just fine plugged in directly to the AK120II and the L&P L5Pro. At home I have mostly been using it with the AK240 connected to the ALO Audio CDM or to the CypherLabs Duet.
If you know these devices you will know they both can be used in a Single Ended or a full balanced configuration and that’s exactly why the AK240 is a great source to use it with. Connect Aether in single ended mode and you will get everything I have described in the previous chapter, connect Aether fully balanced and you can add 20% of improvement to everything. Aether in SE mode is already very good but in balanced mode it reaches a whole new level, especially with the Duet amplifier. (AK240 -> ALO SXC24 -> PlusSound Micro 2.5mm to Kobiconn -> CL Duet -> Linum Balanced -> Aether)
In balanced mode the layering gets even better with more texture and depth. I have to say I always kept the sub activated as the bass body in balanced mode decreases a little. For some recordings I prefer the single ended setup but in general the balanced output really elevates the Aether to an even higher level. This is most audible with the Duet output and I prefer it slightly over the CDM’s.
Like I mentioned earlier, the only thing you might have to look out for is a double bass boost, even though I am sure will want exactly that. In my opinion it’s not needed and I prefer quality over quantity but do keep it in mind if your DAP or amplifier has a bass boost switch.
The Rhines Stage 5 has a focus on bass and the mids are more recessed and can sound kind of muffled with a bad source or less qualitative files. Aether’s soundstage is wider and has better layering and especially the mids are more clearly and in the front.
Vision Ears’ VE5 is incredibly good for vocal music, it takes a bit of time to get used to the sound but once you do you will find its clarity addictive. Focus in the VE5 is on the (high) mids and the treble where the Aether is more focused on bass and mids. These are very complementary monitors.
Cosmic Ears’ CE5P is a good all-rounder just like the Aether, but bass and mids have bigger body in Lime Ears’ monitor. The CE5 is the more neutral tuned CIEM and sounds tighter and faster. Aethers’ sound stage, depth and texturing are better on the other hand. It’s the most musical as well as it has more engaging body and then there’s the bass switch.
The difference with the 4-drivers in my collection, the CE CE4P and the Eaertechmusic Quad, is quite big. Aether’s sound stage, depth, detail, layering, etc. are all at a higher level. Aether sounds much more airy and detailed. If I hadn’t known how many drivers were inside Aether I would have guessed 6. My 64 Ears V6S of course is more v-shaped and it sounds thinner. Sound stage in the V6S is quite good but Aether has the bigger body and better layering from bass to treble and especially the mids. The Cosmic Ears CE6E is one of my favorite all-round CIEMs as I love its bass and how well it performs in total with every source. The CE6E is kind of in between the Aether with the bass switch turned off and on but Aether’s layering is better.
Let me know if there’s a specific monitor in my collection you’d like me to compare the Aether to and I’ll do my best to make that happen.
Aether is nice, Aether seduces, Aether rocks, Aether does it all. It’s pretty obvious I really like it and it has quickly become one of my favorite all-rounder monitors together with the CE6E, the Harmony 8Pro and the Earwerkz Legend R just to name a few.
Aether is the kind of monitor that makes all types of music sound good, it’s engaging, has great imaging and sounds musical. The bass switch basically gives you two different sounding sets and that’s a great added feature. The overall sound signature is on the warmer side of neutral with a slight focus on bass and key characteristics are detail, depth and layering. For a 5 driver, it is sublime.
Like with all customs, I do advise listening to the universal demo versions first as your preferences might be completely different. Aether’s prices start around €1150, that isn’t cheap but the quality is there, I certainly am hooked.