The unboxing experience surely leaves a strong impression and I say this with all positive connotations. Immediately, the magnetic latched black box imposes with its laser-cut Pneuma fascia that gives a premium look and feel. Within lies a Pelican 1010 case, one of the staples in the industry offering excellent protection and even water resistance albeit at the cost of portability, nestled within snazzy lime packaging. Lime Ears also offer two drawstring fabric pouches that feel hardwearing and provide a more pocketable experience. One contains ear tips, 4 pairs of Spinfit CP160’s in addition to 3 pairs of Symbio W hybrid tips (foam-filled) and a single pair of Comply foam T400 tips. A cleaning tool is also provided. One of the headline features is the cable, where Lime Ear’s have collaborated with PWAudio to include the No.10 in the box with all Pneumas. This is one of my favourite custom cables representing outstanding bang for buck and a great ergonomic experience, a valuable addition.
Even without customisation, the Pneuma is a sight to behold. A deep blue and purple base provides a canvas for orange and red foil for an explosion of lustre and texture that is certainly very Van Gogh. Logos have been repositioned to the rear of the housing to make way for Lime Ear’s “Sacred Geometry” faceplate design that is surely a defining feature of this earphone. The faux-custom shape is identical to that of their past designs such as the Aether R and Model X so it is a familiar ergonomic experience. As with my impression of these models, the housings feel delightfully unibody with no visible seams and a smooth clear coat. Light undulations are a reminder that this is hand painted product that subjectively adds to the appeal, each unit being unique and distinct. The cable surely deserves special mention, a 2-pin variant of PW Audio’s No.10 is a 26AWG custom cable with single crystal OCC conductors.
The cable is relatively light yet feels incredibly robust as we’ve come to expect from Peter Wong. The terminations are high-quality metal components and we observe a custom Lime Ears aluminium y-splitter that gives the cable a gorgeous uniform silver aesthetic as opposed to the stock wood splitter. The jacket is smooth and supple with minimal memory and microphonic noise transmission. In turn, it resists tangles very well and easily coils for storage with zero springiness. It is to be confirmed whether the jacket material hardens similar to the No.5, I would personally advise cleaning the cable every so often to prevent this. The addition of a custom cable from a manufacturer with excellent pedigree like PW Audio is a delightful surprise that surely adds value to the package.
Fit & Isolation –
The Pneuma recreates the strong experience I had with the Aether R here despite its hybrid driver configuration. As with their former flagship, the Pneuma is a well-shaped albeit slightly larger sized earphone. They achieve a relatively low-profile fit and suffer from minimal wind noise when out and about due to their smooth and fully-sealed design, though I wouldn’t sleep on them due to the width. The seal is excellent due to elongated, well-sculpted sound tubes and reasonably sized nozzles. With my preferred Final E-tips, the Pneuma gave me excellent seal and fit stability, I was able to comfortably walk and run without the earphones jostling loose. Similarly, they remained comfortable for hours on end when angled slightly forwards which takes pressure off the back of the ear.
Those with smaller ears may experience some discomfort here but then that would apply to a lot of high-end IEM shells. Another plus is that there’s zero driver flex and excellent passive noise isolation, as good as any BA earphones. This is very hard to come by since the vast majority of hybrid or DD earphones have obvious venting which lowers isolation and makes them susceptible to wind noise. The Pneuma is, therefore, one of the best choices for frequent commuters and travellers due to its superb isolation and versatile bass switch that allows the user to adjust the level of bass in the presence of ambient noise. The custom variant should offer a more agreeable experience for those with uniquely shaped or smaller ears so if you frequently struggle with other uni in-ears, I would advise that route.
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