DISCLAIMER: Lime Ears provided me with the Anima in return for my honest opinion. I am not personally affiliated with the company in any way, nor do I receive any monetary rewards for a positive evaluation. I’d like to thank Lime Ears for their kindness and support. The review is as follows.
If you know me, you’ll know I have a soft spot for Lime Ears. Their flagship Aether, back in 2015, was not only my first ever high-end audio purchase, it was also the subject of my debut THL review in 2017. Beyond just the free-spirited, fun-loving tone founder Emil Stolecki has instilled in his company, my admiration for the Polish in-ear brand comes back to their core tuning philosophy: A more nostalgic, old-school approach strongly-influenced by Emil’s love for far-field loudspeakers, as well as his background in acoustic engineering. Today, a full decade and several TOTLs since his brand’s conception, Emil claims he’s finally achieved his denouement. Chock-full of the techniques he’s accrued over the years, and filled with the most garish of driver configs, Lime Ears present their latest TOTL: The open, smooth and unapologetically musical Anima.
Lime Ears Anima
- Driver count: 1x dynamic driver, 8x balanced-armature drivers, 4x electrostatic drivers
- Impedance: 16Ω @ 500Hz
- Sensitivity: 112dB @ 1kHz
- Key feature(s) (if any): BADD™ Hybrid Low-End Technology, Organic Horn Nozzle™
- Available form factor(s): Universal acrylic IEMs
- Price: €3,400
- Website: www.limeears.com
Packaging and Accessories
Unfortunately, Lime Ears weren’t able to ship the Anima’s packaging in time for the review, which is a bit of a shame. But, they have sent us pictures of the set-up. So, though we can’t judge aspects like material quality or build, we can at least let you know what the in-ear comes with, and whether or not they’re up to par with this monitor’s high, high asking price.
On the outermost layer of the Anima’s black, rectangular box is a sleeve with its name embossed in holographic print. It’s a clean, stylish flourish that contrasts nicely against the backdrop. And, it’s duplicated on the back to highlight the IEM’s many features as well. Sliding this sleeve off, you’ll see the Lime Ears logo in silver. Then, lifting that lid off will reveal the in-ears, along with a Welcome card, which has an aptly-flowery message on the back from Emil Stolecki, himself. So far, it’s fairly-standard fare for a flagship offering. I’m not sure about the splatter print lining the side, and the Welcome card probably could’ve fit the color scheme of the box better; black, perhaps. Still, everything is, again, well-presented so far.
Lifting off the upper foam piece, you’ll find the rest of the Anima’s accessories embedded in foam as well. First is a puck-style leather case, and it’s a hair different to the myriad we’ve seen in the past. It has a softer, oilier feel, rather than the drier, more matte touch most other cases have. Personally, it reminds me more of nice, genuine leather, but your mileage may vary. The interior is cushioned as usual. And, it’s unfortunately got my less-preferred, friction-held lid; no zippers or buttons to keep that lid secured. But, the market doesn’t seem to have an issue with it. So, again, your mileage will vary.
The rest of the tertiary accessories include two pouches; one with a Lime Ears logo and one with a Viking Weave Cables logo, who were responsible for the cable’s hardware. Then, you get two sets of tips from Final and SpinFit. And, lastly, my favorite of the accessories are 2.5mm and 3.5mm adapters from DD-HiFi. I think it’s a stellar show of consideration and forethought from Lime Ears, and it’s one of those above-and-beyond steps that you should expect from a TOTL product.
The final accessory left to discuss is this Anima’s bedazzled, graphene-coated, SPC cable. As a flagship IEM should, the Anima has its own custom cable, made in collaboration between Khanyayo Cables and Viking Weave Cables. The result’s a shimmering, silvery wire that contrasts this IEM nicely. And, it’s one that’s fairly comfy too; not feather-light, but not too heavy. Binding the whole design is the cable’s stunning Y-split, which have gorgeous engravings filled with the same Bello Opal as the in-ear’s faceplates. Personally, I think a matte finish on the metal would’ve let the jewels shine a bit more. But, that’s down to taste. For connectivity, Lime Ears have thankfully chosen 4.4mm, which – like it or not – is the new industry standard. Then, it’s the usual 2-pin on the IEM end. It’s also worth noting that there aren’t any clear markings for left and right. The right channel’s denoted by an engraved line on the 2-pin barrel, so do remember this if you decide to cable-roll.
Aesthetics, Build and Wearing Comfort
It’d probably be an understatement to say that the Anima has a striking, striking aesthetic. Clearly inspired by precious gemstones, the Anima boasts lab-grown Bello Opal faceplates, which have a two-tone, blue-green lustre to them. How they shift and simmer in light is gorgeous. And, that is then complemented by this IEM’s black, 3D-printed shells, which have been inlaid with fragments of what looks like a similarly-hued Mica. The two make a stunning, uniform pair, finally finished with CNC-cut metal logos and faceplate bevels. Again, it’s an outstanding look that befits a statement monitor.
Build-wise, I don’t have any complaints. From top to bottom, my units seem perfectly-fabricated. There aren’t any sharp, unpolished edges or glue splotches, and all its separate elements look seamlessly-integrated. The only change one could ask from Lime Ears, perhaps, would be chassis material. This isn’t a full-metal build like 64 Audio or FiR’s flagships, nor is it a blend of glass and metal like Vision Ears or DITA’s. So, it joins Empire Ears’ ODIN and Oriolus’s Trailli as one of the few to still possess an all-resin (or mostly resin) build, but whether or not that’s an issue will likely vary from person to person.
In order to house all of the Anima’s components, Lime Ears have obviously had to make the Anima fairly large. It’s not exactly a monitor you’d call low-profile. So, ergonomically, it’ll be one of those that depend on individual anatomy. My ears are fairly roomy, and the Anima’s fit just fine. I’ve had issues with in-ears like the A&K x JH Audio universals being too heavy, as well as the ODIN and DITA Dream XLS fitting comfortably, but lacking grip in certain areas. I don’t have those issues with the Anima. They aren’t too heavy for my ears, and they have bumps in the right places for my ears to securely grip. But, my ears aren’t everyone’s. I can see the Anima being a tad too big for some to achieve a good seal, for example. So, if possible, see if you could ask Lime Ears for a demo or test fit, because a solid seal truly is key here.
Speaking of a seal, the Anima’s also aren’t the most isolating monitors in the world. They aren’t open-backed or semi-open by any means. They just let in a couple dB or so more than your average, fully-sealed IEM, so keep that in mind if full isolation is key for you. Otherwise, as long as your ears can accommodate, the Anima is an easy IEM to carry daily.
Most likely as a result of the Anima’s acoustically-dependent design, it’s an in-ear whose sound depends on tip selection more than a lot of universals I’ve heard in the past. The most malleable quality, especially, is high-treble presence, which plays a notable role in its overall tone and its imaging. Without spoiling the Sound section too much, the Anima’s got this hi-fi clarity to its sound, along with an immensely airy quality, and you’re able to tone both up or down by tip-rolling. Below are some of the most common tips used on the market and by the community, along with their effects on the IEM’s sound:
JVC Spiral Dot++
This variation of JVC’s Spiral Dots give the Anima a calmer sound. It tones down the vibrance of its upper-midrange and positions it just level with or a smidgeon behind its low-end. It also gives the monitor a hair more depth, as a result of the centre image being pulled back a tad. And, up high, it softens its low-treble cut a bit, whilst maintaining most of the air in its upper-treble. So, I’d recommend the Spiral Dot for a calmer, more natural version of the Anima’s usually-giddy sound.
SpinFit tips will give the Anima a more W-shaped sound. You’ll get a drier, more impact-driven low-end; more sub-bass than mid-bass. Then, it’s a denser, more solid, more centre-mid-biased midrange. And, you’ll get a high-end with a hair more bite to it. The smaller bore limits the amount of upper-treble crispness and air that comes through, so it’s still a tad more analog. But, compared to the more natural Spiral Dot++, you’ll get a bouncier, punchier, more coloured tonality. It’s also worth noting the deep insert required with SpinFits will tend to compress the image a hair too, so keep that in mind.
Final Audio e-type
The e-type tips elevate the lows more than any other on the list. Then, it’ll also focus the top-end mostly on low-treble bite, whilst compressing the upper-mids ever-so-slightly. Taken together, you’ll get a more V-shaped sound, though a reverse-J may be more apt. For me, this is a viable option if you want a warmer, fuller-bodied, more intimate sound. Though, this will come at the cost of a tighter stage with less contrast against its backdrop. So, it’ll depend on your tonal and spatial wants.
AZLA SednaEarfit (standard)
The SednaEarfit tips are where I find the Anima to be at its technical best. It’s got the blackest background here, and its imaging is at its most precise as well. The former, especially, results in a much clearer, more audible low-end tone. The treble is also airiest and most open here, which is probably the reason behind those technical changes. The in-ear isn’t much brighter, if at all, though, so it’s treble extension you’re hearing here. For me, the SednaEarfit is probably the ideal tip for this IEM. Unless you want the calm of the Dots or the raw bounce of the SpinFits, these AZLAs are the way to go.
BADD Hybrid Low-End Technology
As the name implies, the Anima’s low-end is comprised of both dynamic and balanced-armature woofers. The former is a 7mm titanium-lined diaphragm handling the sub-bass, while the latter consists of a balanced-armature pair, which render the mid-bass. Then, combining them both are two-sixths of the Anima’s six-way, phase-corrected crossover. We’ll see how the mix fares when we get to Sound, but the goal is clear: Achieve the best of both driver types without compromise.
Ultrahigh Tweeter Technology
In a mirroring of sorts to the low-end, the Anima’s treble is hybridised as well. Similar to in-ears like Vision Ears’ ELYSIUM and FiR Audio’s M5, the Anima’s e-stats actually start much later into the treble; past 10-12kHz. The mid-treble and low-treble are handled by two of the Anima’s six BAs, which, again, gives you a mix of timbres that aim to eek the best of both types. Emil’s also gone for four e-stats to get the presence he needs, so we’ll see how that all plays out in Sound as well.
Organic Horn Nozzle
Finally, all those low, mid and high frequencies are shot through the Anima’s acoustical innovation, which Lime Ears have dubbed the Organic Horn Nozzle. Flexing his acoustic engineering background, Emil has elevated the traditional, conical, horn nozzle to another level by extending the geometry all the way through the chamber, and giving each frequency range its own, fine-tuned “cone”. It’s why the ends of the Anima’s sound tubes sport such a unique shape, and it serves as a last touch of tuning before those sound waves hit the eardrum. The nozzle’s made out of pure silver for acoustical reasons as well, and a cool by-product of this is you’ll begin to see the nozzle oxidize. Whether that’s good or bad will come down to taste, but it will give your monitor an undeniably unique character, along with that technology’s undeniably unique sonics.