Lime Ears Aether
From their design to the tuning, Aether and Vega have very little in common. Well, a little bit maybe. Aether’s bass is tuned to balance its tone, while a clever combination with an attenuated lower treble results in a very natural signature. Vega’s bass also determines its signature, but in a different way: its quantity results in its full-bodied and powerful sound.
When it comes to stage dimensions, there isn’t much difference between them in overall space. Vega’s stage is a bit taller, while Aether is a bit flatter and wider. It’s also a bit airier, although the differences isn’t large. But both have sufficient depth in their presentation, as well as good layering ability. Accordingly, they perform similarly when it comes to separation.
As can be expected, Vega’s bass easily dwarfs that of Aether. There’s no comparison when it comes to sub-bass quantity; Vega easily overpowers Aether. And it’s not just about power, Vega’s bass also reaches lower, and provides more of that bodily feel. In addition, it’s decay is more natural. Aether’s mid-bass tone however is slightly more natural, where Vega’s is darker due to its enhanced sub-bass. Both share a similar definition of the mid-bass.
Both iems have a similar vocal presentation in terms of forwardness and density. It’s a relatively neutral stage positioning, that isn’t overly forward. In both cases the bass creates a richer vocal presentation, with the Aether’s being warmer and more natural in tone. Vega’s in turn is less warm, and especially its upper midrange is a bit brighter. Accordingly, Vega’s vocals are a bit clearer, while Aether’s sound more natural. Due to its enhanced bass, Vega impresses with its more forward instrument placement, and larger note size.
Aether’s attenuated treble is softer, warmer and more accurate in tone. Vega’s is a bit brighter and less smooth by comparison, although it bests Aether in its definition – treble notes are just a bit more articulated and with greater definition. In addition, Vega’s treble has the better extension, as well as greater midrange resolution.
Rhapsodio Galaxy ($1350)
Two dynamic drivers face off, with only their single driver design in common. Vega sounds full-bodied and thicker overall, driven by its enhanced bass. The Galaxy is cleaner, but also colder and leaner by comparison. Its midrange is highly detailed, but isn’t as thoroughly engaging as Vega. In accordance with its leaner bass, the Galaxy betters Vega in transparency, although their resolution is similar.
Vega’s stage is taller and deeper. Galaxy might have slightly more width, but the stage is mostly airier. Vega betters Galaxy in its layering ability. Due to the Galaxy’s upper midrange peak, it puts greater emphasis on the articulation of its notes, while Vega is smoother in its note release. The net effect is that the two have a very different style of presentation, relying on different means of separation. Galaxy sounds cleaner and more articulated, but can easily become fatuiging. Vega in turn more traditionally relies on both its width and depth.
Vega again powers through with more bass quantity, especially in its sub-bass region. Galaxy’s bass is only slightly larger than neutral, but can still be considered very engaging. Due to is relatively more compact size it’s quicker and a bit more articulate. In addition, its definition is greater. Taken together, Galaxy’s bass is a bit more technically proficient, especially since Vega drifts into basshead territory.
Compared to Vega’s neutral vocal placement, Galaxy’s are more laidback, while they also miss some body. Vega’s vocals are more focused, and more realistic in tone. Galaxy’s vocals aren’t as dense, and tend to favor female vocals more strongly due to its upper midrange emphasis. In addition, Vega’s instrument notes are larger in size, with a more neutral tone. By comparison, Galaxy’s instruments are leaner and brighter in tone.
This pattern continues in the treble, where the Galaxy’s is brighter in tone. Its treble notes are more precisely articulated, but it’s also less smooth. Vega’s treble is closer to neutral in overall quantity. While it isn’t necessarily as bright, it isn’t completely smooth either due to its lower treble peak. But as mentioned, this won’t count for the majority of listeners. Finally, both share similar extension.
Vega does everything rather different, and there’s no going around the uniqueness it has to offer. With its significantly enhanced sub-bass and lifted treble, ‘neutral’ isn’t the first term that comes to mind – ‘unorthodox’ might be more apt. But this isn’t an iem that strives to be neutral in any way in the first place, nor should it – there are more than enough attempts at that.
Regardless of its specific tuning, Vega is technically proficient. Despite its enhanced bass, its separation is good, as is its resolution. One might say it lacks a certain subtlety due to its big bass and treble tuning. There are different ways entering a room; the most conventional being just opening the door. Vega just kicks the door down. It’s an iem with character, and if it could speak I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t care what I think of it – that’s the kind it has. This might not be an ‘audiophile’ tuning, it doesn’t mean its anything less.
Campfire Audio Vega
-Polarising bass tuning
-Treble sensitivity might play a role