Review: Lime Ears Model X – The Onion

Package

The list of accessories for Lime’s Model X is rather short, but absolutely to the point. When ordering a custom in ear monitor from Emil you will get a shock and waterproof Peli 1015 case, which is personalized to you. It features the serial number and the model’s logo on top alongside your name. In the case, you will find the monitors, attached to which is the industry standard Plastics One 3-wire OFC cable with a 3.5mm stereo plug. Other than that, you will get a drying cap and a cleaning tool.

Supplied accessories are as you can see kept to basics, but in my opinion you won’t need anything else, though a cleaning cloth for example would have been nice.

I personally am not the biggest fan of the Plastics One cable. I don’t like the memory wire and the cheap feel of it. I know complaining about such things might be a bit of douchery, but for me it is also about aesthetics. This cable does not do the Model X justice.

Build quality

Model X is one of the smaller CIEMs in my inventory, only Katana comes close in size. The units itself are in almost perfect build quality and there are only minor issues with it, those are only very small blemishes though. Face plate and body close perfectly together, with no signs of glue or sharp corners. The face plate is, in contrary to every other monitor I have, completely flat, whereas all the other CIEMs in my possession show a rounded type.

On the lower end of the face plate you will find the bass switch, according to my knowledge implementing a switch is fairly hard, though in the recent past we have seen many manufacturers utilizing them. There is little residue of glue left where the switch was put in, but I imagine cleaning it is a very tough job, especially when trying not to harm the switch itself.

The 2-pin sockets are to my satisfaction flushed. Personally, I prefer flushed sockets, because it enables cable-rolling with any available after-market cable. Another slight issue I have with my set is, that the 2-pin socket of my right ear-piece is implemented uneven and also has some signs of glue on it.

Other than those two very minor belmishes my set is in excellent condition.

Fit is tighter than most of my CIEMs, but I like it when it is. Whatever I try, I can not lose the seal, and that’s a great thing. Even the funniest of faces won’t break it. Just like with any custom comfort is top notch and once you get used to the tight fit, you will not notice the monitors in your ears anymore. That’s why I prefer custom build over universal at any times. I can wear them for hours without my canals getting hot.

Sound

As said, I knew close to nothing when I got my Model X. All I knew was that it will not be a new flagship (that one’s reserved for Lieven) and that it has a bass switch. So I really didn’t know what to expect. When I first had my new Lime Ears in the hands I was surprised by its size, but I was even more surprised when I had my first listen only a few moments later.

What struck me the most was the incredible resolution and layering the X has to offer. It is almost en par with some of the flagships I have here. The sound stage goes deep and wide, while at the same time it is not the biggest of stages around. Imaging is very good with great left-right balance. The amount of details is impressive, especially with the near pin-point positioning X sports. X’s speed is very good and I never found it to become out of control of things. The overall sound is open, engaging and transparent, with many out-of-your-head experiences.

Depending on the position of the switch X becomes more forgiving, with the bass boost turned on, the warmer signature’s nature will cover up mistakes and bad recordings easier. With the switch down it still is forgiving, but by a good margin less.

Bass with the switch set down (off) is fast, tight, energetic and well textured while maintaining in the background. It does not bleed into the midrange or overshadow it with its body. With the bass switch turned on low ends gain more body and presence, giving the entire presentation more boom and a warmer tone overall. X also throws a meaner punch when the bass switch is turned upwards. Personally I would have preferred a mix of both, while I like the gained body and fun factor, I would have been satisfied with a little less boost in dB. That being said, I kept the switch up almost all the time.

Mids are very natural and organic, with slightly laid back presentation. There is great resolution and layering to them. Mids are presented with lots of air between the instruments to separate them easier. Strings and vocals show beautiful harmony and emotion, where keys have perfect weight and body. These lush musical mids are some of the best I have yet heard. Mids have great body, that’s shown very well in tracks with notes that float around in the room, moving from right to left, from back to front. Vocals, both male and female, sport great emotions. You can really emphasize on the pain, euphory and power some singers want to bring across with their songs. This midrange quickly becomes seductive.

With the bass boost turned on, lower midrange gains more body, going a step away from the neutral tuning to a more elevated bass to lower mids.

Treble is neither cold nor warm, it is neutral and crisp. Like mids, treble is also airy and very detailed with awesome layering and tons of energy without any signs of sibiliance. Especially the amount of details and resolution again is outstanding. X’s treble extension is good, but not the biggest out there. Though the switch does not affect the upper end of the frequency, you will get the impression that treble becomes crispier and more pronounced. Resulting in a clearer V-shaped signature.

I find the switch to really add value to the monitor, because depending on the mood, genre or situaiton I’m in, I can add a good portion of body and slam to the sound, all with a simple flick of a switch. This makes it also an easy do-it-all monitor, it doesn’t fear any genre or artist. Everything I’ve listened to with Lime’s X was pure pleasure and an absolute delight.

Just an example: A song every monitor of mine has to go through is Apparat’s Good Bye, a very powerful song. If the monitor can get it right, it’s moving and gives me goosebumps. Did X succeed? Hell yeah it did. Excellent layering, punchy and powerful bass. Keys and vocals with lots of emotion and crispy clean highs. Some of my TOTL customs don’t get this track right because they’re too focused on detail-retrieval so they lose track of the emotions within this piece. X doesn’t. X captures the track with all its feelings and fears and gives it back with greatest care and puts a huge grin on my face, simply amazing.

The review continues on page 3

Review: Lime Ears Model X – The Onion
4.6 (92.94%) 17 votes

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A daytime code monkey with a passion for audio and his kids, Linus tends to look at gear with a technical approach, trying to understand why certain things sound the way they do. When there is no music around, Linus goes the extra mile and annoys the hell out of his colleagues with low level beatboxing.

    2 Comments

    • Reply December 7, 2017

      Albert

      In the switch down position (or whatever the more neutral position was) how close to neutral is the model x?

      • Reply December 7, 2017

        Linus

        In switch down position Model X is more neutral, but still has a slightly lifted lower end.

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