‘Clear Tune Monitors CT-6E Elite’ Review: Strange yet fun, meet the Lady Gaga of IEMs

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‘Clear Tune Monitors CT-6E Elite’ Review: A sophomore flagship effort from the Orlando-based outfit

Fri May. 22, 2015

By jelt2359

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Clear Tune Monitors CT-6E Elite

Comparisons

CustomArt Harmony 8 Pro ($1050)

The CustomArt flagship comes in brighter than the CT-6E, which is not exactly a warm IEM to begin with. The two are most similar in terms of their overall PRaT. Fast-paced music is a delight on both these IEMs, with the H8P being a little better although it’s close. Interestingly, they focus on different areas- the H8P is faster, but the CT-6E has better rhythm. Go figure. Apart from PRaT, other clear similarities include the size and airiness of the soundstage; bass speed and tightness; and a similar lack of fullness in the notes played back by both IEMs. Both also rate poorly on mids timbre, and well on low-end timbre.

On the other hand, the midrange on the H8P excels precisely where the CT-6E suffers- it is beautifully even throughout. Spatially, the presentation is a lot more consistently diffused on the H8P pair; and the H8P is also much better at projecting a clear center image. It is however much poorer at imaging depth. In terms of extension, both IEMs have their strengths flipped. The CT-6E is much better at low-end extension, whereas the H8P is clearly superior in high-end extension.

 

Noble Audio Kaiser 10 ($1599)

The Noble K10 actually has a low-end response quite similar to the CT-6E, with bass that’s just a bit slower overall and with a bit less extension but more authority. The treble is also rather comparable, although I found the CT-6E to be slightly better in almost all the treble components that I rate, save for high-end extension.

There are major differences between the two IEMs, however, starting with the midrange. The K10 has a gorgeous midrange, and bests the CT-6E in every single facet of the mids. The K10’s mids has much better timbre and detail; and come across as significantly airier than those of the CT-6E. In fact, the improvement in mids going from the CT-6E to the K10 is rather drastic. On the other hand, the tables are flipped when it comes to the spatial presentation. This isn’t a major strength on the K10, and the CT-6E outperforms it handily. Stage size and airiness; as well as imaging ability, are all clearly better on the CT-6E. But the biggest gulf between the two lies in the sonic balance. The K10 has a flawless balance, with every frequency working very well in perfect harmony. Switching between the K10 and CT-6E is a stunning juxtaposition, and really highlights the unevenness of the latter.

 

Spiral Ear SE5 Ultimate ($1800)

The SE5 Ultimate and CT-6E both possess large and airy soundstages; and present good PRaT. But that’s mostly where the similarities end. The former comes across as a matured, musical IEM; whereas the latter is the fun one you wouldn’t bring home to meet your parents.

The SE5 Ultimate has a mesmerizing airiness in its mids that the CT-6E falls far short of. On the other hand there’s probably no need to mention at this point that the SE5 Ultimate has better midrange evenness (although what do you know, I just did it anyway). While the CT-6E’s treble is pretty good in itself, the SE5 Ultimate comfortably bests the CT-6E, pulling ahead in almost all treble dimensions except for sparkle (more on that later). The imaging on the SE5 Ultimate is also drastically better than the CT-6E in all respects, save for image depth, for which both IEMs acquit themselves extremely well. Finally the SE5 Ultimate presents a fantastic balance, and possesses captivating musical resonance and fullness of note that contribute to its sense of maturity and musicality. The CT-6E simply cannot come close in these regards.

One area that the SE5 Ultimate clearly can’t match the CT-6E, however, is in treble sparkle. High-frequency notes sound subdued on the SE5 Ultimate in comparison to the energetic presentation on the CT-6E. In the low-end, the bass is also clearly tighter on the CT-6E. Sparkling treble and tighter bass: probably not a surprise that the CT-6E sounds more fun, no?

 

Clear Tune Monitors CT-6E Elite

 

Summary

Clear Tune Monitor’s latest effort at a flagship IEM has beautiful treble with elite sparkle and smoothness, and comes through as a fun IEM overall with great PRaT. The bass is pretty good, too- fast, detailed, tight and with nice timbre. But be prepared to have a love-it-or-hate-it relationship with the spatial presentation, and consider yourself warned about that unevenness in the midrange.

Pros: Sparkling and smooth treble; large and airy soundstage with very good depth imaging

Cons: Notes a bit transient; inconsistent spatial qualities; has a midrange that will probably render you speechless

Overall Score: 76.0 (Very Good)

 

In case you missed it, check out the IEMs reviewed in other installments of “Fit for a Bat!”

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About Author

When jelt2359's Shure earphones stopped working ten years ago he was forced, kicking and screaming, to replace them. He ended up with more than 20 new IEMs. Oops! jelt2359 flies to a different city almost every week for work, and is always looking for the perfect audio setup to bring along.

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