Kumitate Lab’s NEXT 5! – A Comprehensive Overview of the Corona, Meteo and Sirius

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Kumitate Lab Meteo

Technical Specifications

  • Driver count: Four balanced-armature drivers
  • Impedance: N/A
  • Sensitivity: N/A
  • Key feature(s) (if any): N/A
  • Available form factor(s): Custom acrylic IEM
  • Price: 90,000 円
  • Website: www.kumitatelab.com

Sound Impressions

The Meteo has an addictively dynamic response; lively, engaging and – most crucially – smooth. It’s highly reminiscent of Lime Ears’ Aether and Model X. Both create contrast through a light v-shape, but maintain present, airy and vibrant upper-midranges. The Meteo outputs a stunningly vast stage, conjuring clear images within a sphere-like setting. Its spatial achievements are unprecedented in its price range, including clearly-defined diagonals (10 and 2′ o clock, which often sound smeared in lesser in-ears), strong holography and high resolution along the x-axis. Furthermore, despite its significantly accentuated bass, the Meteo showcases outstanding control. It outputs minimal warmth and focuses all energy on impact. As a result, the monitor maintains a clean stage with gobs of air and headroom to spare.

The Meteo’s slams are hybrid-esque, fuelling its presentation with a satisfyingly visceral sub-bass. There’s a clear scoop between the mid- and upper-bass – so it’s more felt than heard – but it’s no detriment to impact whatsoever. Although it lacks the authentic thump of a dynamic driver, the nimbleness it maintains ensures the bass is never overwhelming – neither overtly forceful nor sluggish in decay, yet fun and musical at all times. Tone is not its strongest suit, as it sacrifices accuracy for dynamic energy. But, it still plays well with jazz, where upright basses benefit from rumble and authority. Bass notes are also neither particularly full nor dense, as thumps more closely resemble waves surrounding the perimeter of the soundscape; almost out of head as they rush into the rhythm. But to its advantage, it keeps centre stage vacant for the midrange to fill – playing its role as fun machine with little compromise in cleanliness and finesse.

The Meteo resumes its vibrancy through its brazenly energetic midrange. There’s a clear emphasis on the upper-mids, but there’s enough lower- and centre- content for vocals to sound sufficiently dense and seamlessly coherent. Linearity with the bass is wonderfully preserved, as they move like a solid, singular unit. It won’t necessarily win points for organicity or emotional resonance, but – like the Aether and Model X – it plays its instruments like a well-made action movie: fun, light and fast, yet smooth, charismatic and endlessly entertaining. Following a rise around 2-3kHz for added sweetness and presence (esp. with strings and female vocals), the Meteo employs a 7kHz peak for openness, air and crisp articulation. Cymbals and snare drums pop and crackle to satisfying effect, yet remain smooth. It’s very forgiving and neutral in tone, with great coherence to keep its zingy, airy cleanliness in check. It’s not necessarily the most rounded, but it’s as exhilarating as it is easy to listen to – a wonderful blend of smooth delivery and effortless detail.

A key player in the Meteo’s sense of excitement is its bright, articulate treble. In addition to the 7kHz peak, a 12kHz rise gives it energy and body, whilst avoiding areas of sibilance. But because the top-end is placed slightly further back in the mix, the Meteo maintains excellent refinement and prevents any brittleness. Again drawing comparisons to Lime Ears’ IEMs, the two peaks feel seamlessly integrated into the treble for an extremely cohesive presentation. Though, the Meteo certainly has the crisper edge and more clear-cut separation. The stage itself has a slightly bright ambience – so it isn’t completely transparent – but it images and organises with great precision. Each element remains in its allocated space, with some of the best left-right separation I’ve heard for the price. So despite the Meteo’s constant dynamism, it never feels claustrophobic. Instead, it excels in air, definition and discipline – open, crisp and deliciously smooth.

General Recommendations

The Meteo’s loud, large-and-in-charge presentation makes it addictively fun to listen to – constantly lively and unwaveringly smooth. But, its achievements in stage expansion, tonal balance and spatial precision make it a technically-strong piece as well. These are categories which take most advantage of the Meteo’s energetic signature:

A bombastic, impactful and fun signature with sufficient density and realism: The Meteo’s w-shaped response makes it most ideal for energetic genres of music like EDM, pop, acid jazz, rap and rock. These categories of music utilise the Meteo’s impactful bass and crisp treble to summon gobs of energy, rhythm and musicality. But, the Meteo’s midrange is well- structured, such that its versatility extends to calmer genres as well. This is what makes it a true all-rounder.

Tonal adaptability and zero sibilance: The Meteo’s avoidance of problematic areas – such as the lower-mids (which can get too full and congested) and treble (prone to stridence in select areas) – make it versatile in track quality as well. It’ll sound smooth, exciting and tonally balanced no matter what you throw at it. So, it’s definitely worth considering – if your tastes are more eclectic – as a budget alternative to similarly-versatile in-ears like the Lime Ears Aether and Model X.

Outstanding balance between dynamic energy, headroom and imaging precision: Creating an in-ear that sounds spacious and energetic at the same time is an extremely difficult task. Emphasising the former usually creates a sound that’s laid-back and sometimes alienating/unengaging, while the latter usually leads to an overtly crowded stage. Fortunately, the Meteo balances both with little compromise to tone, musicality or imaging precision, due to its well-extended treble and expertly-controlled bass. If you want a three-dimensional stereo image packed with energy, the Meteo is it.

Despite my love for the Meteo and its deft balancing act, there are elements that it simply wasn’t built to entertain. If you’re in the market for a CIEM with the following characteristics, the Meteo shouldn’t be at the top of your list:

A calm, laid-back response: The Meteo has a decidedly dynamic signature. So, if you’re looking for a richer, fuller and more relaxed IEM to lounge with, the Corona is something you should consider above the Sirius or Meteo.

Full, intimate and holographic vocals: One of the Meteo’s key elements is its holographic, three-dimensional stage. However, that depth unfortunately doesn’t extend to its vocal presentation. The Meteo’s dynamism inherently needs a neutral lower-midrange, so its instruments are more articulative and hard-edged than they are harmonically rich. The Meteo’s vocals are smooth and bodied; they simply don’t have the intimacy required for that you-are-the-mic sensation.

Warm, vintage and analog bass tones: The Meteo prioritises bass impact over tone – once again – to complement its dynamic signature. As a result, it’s a bass more felt than heard. If you’re someone who relishes in warmer low-end textures reminiscent of analog tube gear, the Meteo won’t provide the euphony you’re after. Its control, impact and authority are all high, but in its efforts to provide a clean stage, it does compromise in that aspect of the low-end.

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About Author

Church-boy by day and audio-obsessee by night, Daniel Lesmana’s world revolves around the rhythms and melodies we lovingly call: Music. When he’s not behind a console mixing live for a congregation of thousands, engineering records in a studio environment, or making noise behind a drum set, you’ll find him on his laptop analysing audio gear with fervor and glee. Now a specialist in custom IEMs, cables and full-sized headphones, he’s looking to bring his unique sensibilities - as both an enthusiast and a professional - into the reviewer’s space; a place where no man has gone before.

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