PROS: Musical, vibrant and addictive sound signature, instrument definition, precise imaging and separation, clarity, detail retrieval, wide-open-airy-spacious soundstage with a nice black background, good build quality, attractive shell designs, good design language, good selection of branded stock ear tips, rich and goodie filled package.
CONS: Lime Ears should’ve included a better stock cable. Nitpicking – Slight sub-bass roll-off around 35Hz with a minor slope (1-2dB), though I personally like the overall stock bass tuning. You’ll get best sound results with good tip rolling, which is easy to do as the nozzle fits a multitude of ear tips.
I would like to thank Lime Ears for sending me the Aether R to test and review. I am not affiliated with the company or any of its sellers and write this review with an unbiased opinion regardless of how the review turns out.
I majorly listen to rock, acoustic, pop, metal, and sometimes popular EDM songs doing the rounds on the charts.
About Lime Ears.
Lime Ears was started by Emil Stolecki who is himself a musician/bass player. If you haven’t noticed, Lime is basically Emil spelt backwards. They are based out of Warsaw, Poland and have a very simple but intriguing line up of 4 models, Λ (lambda), Ψ (psi), Model X and flagship Aether R. Lime Ears cater to both pro-musicians and audiophiles, and make CIEMs as well as universal models with very attractive and intriguing designs. Some of Poland’s breakthrough metal bands like Katatonia and Decapitated endorse Lime Ears and can be seen sporting their IEMs in their concerts.
- Six balanced armature driver construction
- Four-way passive hybrid crossover
- Switchable subwoofer double driver
- Utilizing VariBore and TrueSub technology
Varibore – Acoustical design utilizing sound bores of different diameter for each frequency band. Use of 2mm bore for high frequencies in combination with internal acoustical damping results in open sound and smooth highs.
TrueSub – Unlike in the standard electrical filtering (done with electrical crossover), the lowest frequencies in Aether are filtered by custom-designed filter, 3D printed in XHD resolution. Use of precise acoustic filtering results in powerful yet extremely clear, textured and dynamic subwoofer frequencies.
Emil’s Philosophy for Aether R tuning via quick chat.
Emil told me that he had been listening to several constructions of Far-Field and Near-Filed monitors placed in spacious and well acoustically treated rooms. He said, “At my friend’s studio and at home, my favourite constructions were speakers that can act as near-field but are slightly bigger so that they can move some air, which could act a bit like mid-far field’. He said that they particularly wanted to create how he heard some of his favourite monitors, particularly the APS Aeon 2, in a well-treated room and wanted the listener to experience everything the artist and engineer had created in the recording, with a touch of top audiophile quality that would please users who avoid too technical sound but still look for real fidelity in their recordings.
Bass Switch – The switch gives you a bit of control over the bass quantity. It isn’t massive bass head levels of bass boost. It is a rather simple 4-5 dB boost in the lower spectrum, 500Hz and below. Without the bass boost, I feel the lower end is a bit lacking. So, I generally always have the bass switch ON.
Lime Ears wanted to integrate the bass switch for a couple of reasons,
- As a compensation switch as per the Fletcher-Munson curve theory. Basically at lower volumes, human ears don’t hear the bass quantity as nicely and for that you can flip the bass switch up which will give it a slight boost for it to be better audible.
- To manipulate the level according to the quality of bass in the recording. If the bass is well recorded, it can increase its strength. On the other hand, if the material is not mixed properly and lows become boomy and get out of control, they can be trimmed down.
- To compensate for external noise levels. For example, if you are using your monitors in a noisy environment: airplane, subway, etc., where the low-end noise masks the lows, you might want to use the switch to make up for that.
Included in the box.
Alright, let me tell you right off the bat that Aether R’s package is the biggest and most goodie filled package I’ve gotten from a brand EVER! I’m not kidding! I was a bit startled to see the size of the box. Actually, Lime Ears pack everything in a ‘Lime Ears’ branded shoe box. They fill it with goodies like Lime Ears branded Polish chocolates (yum!), multiple stickers, Lime Ears Lookbook, Lime Ears info manual and then the actual Aether R box. All this is nicely cushioned in thermocol puffs for safety. The Aether R box isn’t small either as it packs quite a lot of things inside too. Oh man, I’m now spoilt and would be extra nitpicky if future boxes from brands don’t come like this. Lol! Jokes aside, Lime Ears, take a bow! You sure know how to package your products and fill it with goodies to make people extra happy. 😀
Here is all that came in the Main Shoe Box.
- Aether R box
- Big and small stickers
- Info Manual
- Traditional Polish Cream Fudge chocolates in a nice cloth lace pouch
Aether R’s box contents –
- Aether R
- Big circular metal case
- Cable in a cloth lace pouch
- Ear tips – 3 Symbio W | 4 Spinfits | 2 Comply Foam
- Cleaning tool
- Warranty card
I have to give it to Lime Ears for including branded ear tips like Spinfits, Symbio W and Comply T400 foam ear tips stock in the package. Very cool!
CIEM Ordering process.
- Use their online CIEM designer tool.
- Go all out customizing it where imagination and budget are the limit. Customization costs are extra. Plain shells are included in the basic cost of €1200.
- Place an order.
- Mail your physical ear impressions to Lime Ears lab address.
- There is an option for a rush order too for around €180.
Shells – Lime Ears gave me the option to customize my universal shells and I went with the ‘Nebula Galaxy’ design. They came out really well! I also dig the Lime Ears and Aether R logo in metallic silver. They have a very 3D-ish depth to them on top of the blue galaxy colours. Lime Ears certainly have a very good eye for design. The shells are made up of resin and look & feel very well built. The faceplate is integrated very well with the bottom shell without disrupting the natural flow of the galaxy colours. The nozzles are made out of metal and have a brushed smokey nickel look. The nozzles have 3 bores, one big and two small. The bass switch feels rugged and sturdy too. All contours are very smooth and look very ergonomically designed.
Case – You can either use the big metal round case or the lace pouch to carry your Aether R. The big metal case is very well built with a nice black slate texture, though is a little heavy to carry around. Nevertheless it is built like a tank and can fit in all your ear tips, IEM with cable as well as a couple of other things that you want to throw in. It’s that spacious! Lace cloth pouch on the other hand is made up of nice old cotton style cloth which is very vintage-y in looks. Though I don’t know if you’d be comfortable carrying a €1200 IEM in a cloth pouch.
Cable – The cable is a typical 4 core Plastics One cable and is the only let down in an otherwise premium and highly attractive package. It has a memory hook and 2-pin connectors, just like what you see musicians wearing on stage. There is not much to talk about here. I wish Lime Ears had included a nice UP-OCC Litz cable in the package. That would’ve been the cherry on the already great icing on the cake.
Fit, Comfort and Noise Isolation
Aether R universal shells have nice semi-custom contours. Fit depends on your choice of ear tips. I like to get a nice custom like deep fit and a lot of ear tips helped me achieve that but I liked Comply foam tips the most out of the stock ones, for comfort as well as the sound signature. Aether R with them is very comfortable and it almost feels like a CIEM. I had no problems wearing them for hours. Noise Isolation in case of universal shells depends on the ear tips you choose but in my case, it was excellent with Final-E and foam ear tips, especially NewBee foams that I like quite a lot. I can hardly hear a thing going on outside with them on.