LimeEars’ Emil is a wizard of treble
So twice five miles of fertile ground with walls and towers were girdled round; and there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; and here were forests ancient as the hills, enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
When I see things like a switch built into an IEM, I can’t help getting worried. Is it a gimmick? Is the bass boost simply for the ‘Dr Dre’ Beats crowd, with all the mindless subtlety of a 50-cent shot of vodka?
Thankfully, nothing about the LimeEars Aether feels or sounds cheap. The switch is blink-and-you’ll-miss it sublime, with an approach that clearly retains the Chef’s interpretation in everything you eat. “More salt or less salt, either way you must have salt”. If I were Emil, founder and chief honcho at LimeEars, I’d be perfectly proud of both settings on this IEM, and in fact I find myself using it way more than expected. Switching between settings from song to song to fit the genre. Pop, or bass heavy? On comes the bass switch. Instrumental, ambient? Off comes the setting. Bottom-line, this is a beautifully, tastefully implemented change of flavour, that sets the gold standard for how all such switches should be done.
But while the first thing you’ll notice about the LimeEars Aether is the switch, that’s probably not the key decision factor. In the end, turning on the switch generally turns the bass on to a level I’m more used to. The bass gets heavier, punchier, more umami-flavoured. Quantity-aside, though, the bass on this IEM is reasonably good. Not only is it detailed, it actually has good subbass extension and slam. I also found it authoritative and tight enough- not ‘oh wow’, but at least ‘that’s okay’.
The mids are also competent, although it fails to strike a major impression amidst other IEM powerhouses like the VE5. It resonates well and has good detail, and generally holds its own. These are a clear and resonant type of mids that toe the line well between analytical and emotional. I particularly liked how they would spread out across the entire stage and linger wistfully with every note. On the other hand, these mids suffer a little bit from a lack of forwardness, so if you like your mids so close you can feel the singer’s saliva on your face… this is not it. These mids are also lighter on their feet, more consommé than cream soup- so make sure that that type of sound floats your boat before picking these up for a listen. Personally, I think this tuning also explains the need for a switch. If you want maximum-Emil, so to speak, put it to bass-lite mode and hear it in all its glory. On the other hand if you prefer something more mainstream, then turn on the bass-tap and start to flesh out the sound a wee bit more.