Review: Lime Ears Aether – The Special One

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.

8. Comparisons

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.

9. Conclusion

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.

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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