Rank #16: Lime Ears Aether

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Lime Ears has been around for a few years, but only recently established their name with their 5-driver flagship Aether. By acoustically dampening the treble, Aether was tuned with a soft treble response, resulting in an especially natural tonality and balanced sound.

Lime Ears Aether
-Drivers:                    5 BA drivers; 1 super low, 2 low, 1 mid, 1 high
-Design:                     Hybrid electro-acoustical 4-way crossover, 3 sound bores
-Impedance:             ‘moderate’
-Sensitivity:               ‘moderate’
-Fit:                             Custom

-MRSP:                       €1150

Cable

The industry standard Plastics One 3-wire OFC cable has a warm tonality, which primarily results from its rolled off upper treble, and lightly enhanced upper-bass. The midrange is linear, resulting in an overall neutral note size. While the mid-bass is warm and natural in tone, it’s not particularly controlled. Accordingly, the loose bass results in a warmer stage structure. This affects the airiness of the stage as well as its transparency; especially since its top end does not extend very far. However, while the cable doesn’t perform very well when it comes to resolution and transparency, its warmer tone results in a fairly smooth and natural signature.

Similar to the 8.2, the pairing isn’t necessarily good or bad. It provides a smooth touch, although it isn’t particularly resolving or transparent.

Sound impressions

Impressions are based on Aether’s bass switch on ‘low’.

Presentation
Don’t let Aether’s rank fool you – Aether sounds wonderful. Its tone is simply beautiful, and its signature seems centered around the very concept of naturalness. It sounds soft and pleasing, focused on musicality rather than being revealing. Which isn’t to say it is technically lacking, quite the contrary. But it’s the smooth and forgiving type, due to its treble tuning. Emil tuned Aether by enhancing its upper midrange, while attenuating the treble: a proven recipe for tone, that we’ll come across more often during the course of the shootout. But its naturalness is not only present in its smooth tonality, but in the flow of the music; the well-timed decay, and preservation of lower harmonics.

Besides its treble tuning, an enhanced mid- and upper-bass helps to create its natural tone. Midrange notes aren’t overly dense, but the bass adds a bit of added body, making them slightly thicker and richer, yet very smooth. Vocals are slightly laidback, but warm, natural and welcoming – Aether feels like coming home. It isn’t necessarily the most transparent or resolving midrange; but it is without a doubt beautiful, and very easy to listen to.

Aether has a nice classic stage; its soundstage width is about average, with well-proportioned height and depth. The stage positioning is fairly neutral, being neither forward nor distant. While the overall space isn’t larger than average, its separation is quite good due to its airy stage and especially layering ability: Aether successfully layers instruments before and behind the centrally positioned vocal. In addition, its imaging is precise, providing a foundation for the solidity of the image.

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About Author

Nic is currently in pursuit of a PhD degree in social neuropsychology, while trying not to get too distracted by this hobby. In pursuit of theoretical knowledge by day, and audiophile excellence at night. Luckily for him, both activities are not mutually exclusive which helps to lighten the workload. Always on the go, Nic's enthusiasm for hi-fi is focused on all chains of the portable system: iems, cables and daps.

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