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Custom in-ear monitor with four balanced armature drivers.

LXear Pluto

Rating:
4.25/5,
  • Using four balanced armature drivers, this monitor delivers fast, accurate lows, natural mids and a smooth, extended hi frequency response.
    The dual bore design offers perfect separation between frequencies and perfect phase alignment.

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Recent Reviews

  1. Johnny Mac
    LX Ear Pluto Realview.
    Written by Johnny Mac
    Published Aug 29, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Solid build quality, full-sounding low end and articulate midrange
    Cons - Treble might be too soft for some
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    The distinct aroma of Oriental cooking, the finesse and elegance of Parisian cuisine and the vigorous and festive scent of Caribbean barbecue all has one thing common, each represents a cultural and unique process of translating their traditions into the way they treat their food. Such regional and localized processes brought about a sense of individuality which eventually showcased one’s affinity towards having something different from what the other has. The same goes in the audiophile industry where in a time where mass and automated production is king, customization and personalization is starting to become more and more, a premium.

    This customization and personalization approach in the audiophile industry is prevalent in the In-Ear monitor segment where CIEMs are considered an end all be all solution by most in their earphone journey. An embodiment of this very approach is LX Ear, makers of CIEM units based off Bucharest, Romania. Founded by a passionate sound engineer way back 2016 ensures anyone that the LX Ear group knows the ins and outs of your in-ear monitor wants and needs. I have previously reviewed their uber comfortable semi-CIEM, the LX Ear Jupiter which is one of the most comfortable earphones I have used thanks to the flexible and bio-compatible material used on it for its overall body.
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    What we have now though is their take on the full hard resin CIEM approach, their flagship LX Ear Pluto. The LX Ear Pluto offers to provide a “fast, accurate lows, natural mids and a smooth, extended hi frequency response” sound according to their official product description which we would put the test. The LX Ear Pluto was sent in by LX Ear for an honest review. The LX Ear Pluto currently retails for € 999 and you can check it out from the official LX Ear website and on the LX Ear Facebook and Instagram pages.

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    The LX Ear Pluto is spec’d out with quad BA driver (2 x low, 1 x mid + 1 x hi dual combo) by Knowles, 100 Shore A hardness, 20Hz to 20kHz Frequency Response, 111dB SPL @ 1kHz @ 1mW Sensitivity, 28 Ohm @ 1 kHz Impedance and a Total Harmonic Distortion @ 113.5 dB max. SPL of 10%.

    Packaging and Build Quality
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    The LX Ear Pluto sports the usual black vertically oriented hard case which is similar to what you’d get from 64 Audio and Fearless Audio setups. Inside this very case is a black rubber cutout which conforms to the CIEM unit and the accessory set coming in the form of a gold-plated 6.3mm adapter, cleaning tool and cloth. A product manual and warranty booklet along with a desiccant is also present. The case works great for its purpose but would love to see the LX Ear branding on it and an option to add your name on it as others have done or maybe something different, for a more personalized appeal.
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    Having used 3D printing for crafting the Pluto’s overall shell and faceplate allowed for pinpoint accuracy in relation to the ear impression that was sent to LX Ear which they also details different important points to take into account when taking your ear impressions from an audiologist. There were no cosmetics flaws observed and it was great that LX Ear sent in the full clear shell and faceplate along with the LX Ear logo on the right faceplate and Audio Realviews logo on the left faceplate. The full clear shell and faceplate allowed for peek into how LX Ear did the internal wiring and the quad BA driver orientation and configuration which was secured in a single round of what appeared to be a translucent plastic band, the Pluto features dual sound bores to allow for separation between frequencies and phase alignment. The LX Ear Pluto can either come with a recessed or flushed 2-pin female socket. While my review unit came in the full clear shell and faceplate design, LX Ear has tons of options for its shell and faceplate. Premium faceplate materials such as noble wood, carbon and brushed aluminum. Feel free to check out the official LX Ear site and contact them 1st hand for your personal inquiries.
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    The stock cable that came with the Pluto is a gold-plated 2-pin connectors on a 50-inch silver plated tinsel cable that can be in a clear TPU sheath or in black to match most aesthetic configurations on the Pluto’s shell and faceplate, a Linum Premium BAX cable with a T2 connector is also available for an upgrade price of € 200. My review unit came with the clear cable which has great strain relief on all places necessary, from the Y-split to the gold-plated 3.5mm L-plug. A subtle chin slider is also present on the stock cable which is necessary for a CIEM unit, the over the ear memory guide is also contoured well and has a discreet red dot that serves as a the left to right marker as well as a signal marker. I wouldn’t have the urge to change the stock cable as it did great in terms of comfort and having almost no microphonic noise when used either stationary or mobile.

    Tonality and Isolation
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    The LX Ear Pluto promised a somewhat balanced sound signature and it showcased just what LX Ear said it to be, that is when you’re in the state of just using it fresh. The Pluto eventually sounded dark with a lingering presence on the low-end and tamed highs. Isolation and seal was great as to be expected from a CIEM unit, in case of seal and fit issue, LX Ears offers a 30 day refit warranty. I used the xDuoo X10Tii connected via coaxial to the xDuoo XD-05 and the Sony CAS-1 desktop system off the MSI GF62-8RE laptop via Foobar2000 v1.4 outputting various FLAC files which would be mentioned along the realview.

    Lows
    The LX Ear Pluto’s low-end capability was tested using Lady Gaga’s Brown Eyes in 16/44 FLAC and it started with a thick sub bass delivery that has a touch of rumble, it dissipates slow and creates a rough textured sub bass. Mid bass performance wasn’t that thumpy and weighty but has some tightness and control to it that avoids it to cloud and mask other tones. The Pluto has a loosely packed bass overall, it doesn’t lack power yet it also doesn’t deliver the cleanest bass drops that you’d fine, I found it lovely when paired with tracks that highlights a controlled chaos on its emotions which was why I enjoyed rocking Lady Gaga for now.

    Midrange
    I have showcased in my opening salvo for the LX Ear Pluto how regionalized and localized processes sometimes breeds unique and captivating results and for the Pluto’s midrange test I happened to be listening to Philippine’s very own Leah Salonga, heard that surreal Aladdin “A Whole New World” track? She’s the feminine half of that, PH meets RO for now. I used Leah Salonga’s A Song for You – I Can’t Make You Love Me from the 2017 Blurred Lines album in 16/44 FLAC to assess the Pluto’s midrange performance. The lower midrange resolution of the Pluto was rendered in full and allowed for an engaging and inviting transition towards succeeding frequencies. The vocals on the Pluto was rendered full, articulate and rich with a touch of an almost fluffy feel. There are no boosts to be found on the upper midrange but it sounds breathy and far from being muffled despite having that already warm signature from the prominent low-end emphasis. You could keep the Pluto for long and have it lullaby you to laziness.

    Highs
    The LX Ear Pluto’s highs follows the ensemble laid down by its low-end and midrange performance by showcasing a smooth and clean presentation and execution. Maroon 5’s notoriously famous Harder to Breathe in 16/44 FLAC was used to test the Pluto’s high frequency performance. The treble has a subtle snap to it but still sounds mellow and soft for a treble head like me. There is a noticeable softness and lack of extension which in turn avoided a piercing and harsh experience, perhaps a tad risk of extension won’t harm though. Instrumental tones has less aggressive attack presence. Audiophiles who are sensitive to higher frequency will find the Pluto’s respect for their preference a good quality to have.

    Soundstage and Imaging
    Intimate and focus on depth is what LX Ear Pluto chose to prioritize in its soundstage department. There is a sense of being placed in a vacuum devoid of any nuisance. While it has average imaging capabilities, it is still able to provide a good sense of instrument and vocal positioning. Left to right and right to left panning is still observable as well. Detail retrieval and precision especially in width oriented tracks wouldn’t feel too appealing and that’s just in the aspect of width, if you’re taking into account the immersive feel and the overall warm signature of the Pluto, you’d be just like that, alone and undisturbed to the extent that you’re kicked out of being considered a planet.

    Conclusion
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    The LX Ear Pluto was a surprise addition to my realview queue and one which I was very happy to come in such way. The experience and journey of getting your own ear impression might be a thing that is done on a regular basis and not something valuable to some is an understatement of what the Custom In-Ear monitor game has grown, you could see individuals getting in and off with their CIEMs every now and then. With LX Ear Pluto, you get not only an intimate and warm sounding set of earphones that doesn’t skimp on providing distinct tones and the right timbre but also great build quality and responsive after-sales service, one that makes you google where Romania is and checking the 10 things you could possibly do in case you embark on a trip to that country on the western shores of the Black Sea.
  2. crabdog
    LXear Pluto - Take No Prisoners
    Written by crabdog
    Published Jun 24, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Powerful bass
    Warm and smooth character
    Beautiful 3D-printed shells
    Extensive customization options
    Cons - Some bass bleed
    Moderate detail retrieval
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    Big ups PAR fam. Today we review the LXear Pluto, a 4BA (balanced armature) driver custom in-ear monitor. LXear custom IEMs are 3D-printed using the latest top-of-the-line 3D printing technology.

    LXear is located in Bucharest, Romania and was founded by an experienced musician and audio engineer, with the goal of taking the local in-ear monitor market to a higher level. The company uses premium materials made in the USA and the highest quality drivers in all their monitors.

    Alan Stern

    Official website: https://lx-ear.com/

    This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.

    Package and Accessories

    The Pluto comes in a refreshingly minimalist packaging that eschews the commonplace copious amounts of superfluous cardboard and drama. Instead, it is simply delivered in a handy carrying case which is wrapped in a cardboard sleeve.

    The outer sleeve is white and has an image of some custom in-ear monitors and a section of cable on the front. On the back is a similar image albeit with a different CIEM, plus the company’s website address.

    Removing the outer cover reveals the carrying/storage case. Inside is a foam insert with various cutout sections for the monitors and accessories. Here’s what you’ll find in the box:

    • LXear Pluto in-ear monitors
    • Detachable 2-pin cable with 3.5 mm plug
    • 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter
    • IEM cleaning tool
    • Branded cleaning cloth
    • User guide

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    Build Quality and Design
    LXear custom in-ear monitors are manufactured using state of the art 3D-printing. That was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw my Pluto CIEM. Physically, it reminded me a lot of my Empire Ears Bravado and Custom Art FIBAE Black. The contours of the shells are very smooth and there is a kind of uniform thickness to the shell that handmade customs cannot replicate.

    My unit came with a very interesting, mottled earthy brown and green pattern on the faceplates and translucent, sage-green shells. I was really surprised and pleased with the look and this is why I like to sometimes leave the design up to the manufacturer; because I usually end up with something unique that I would not have conceived otherwise.

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    There are many more design and colour options available that aren’t shown on the website’s customization tool but you can contact LXear via the website and talk about what kind of custom artwork you want for your CIEM, including your own logo if desired. You can also opt for normal or recessed 2-pin connectors.

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    Comfort and Noise Isolation
    As always, the fit of your custom monitors relies on sending a good set of ear impressions. The website has a useful page with detailed instructions on how to get the best fit. It’s wise to print the instructions and share them with your audiologist.

    The Pluto’s 3D-printed shells are very smoothly finished and fit perfectly to the contours of my ears. Although the shells are slightly larger than average I find them to be very comfortable and suitable for long listening sessions. Noise isolation is excellent and only surpassed by my M-Fidelity SA-50 which has solid resin housings rather than hollow shells.

    Sound
    Gear used for testing includes the Sony NW-ZX300 and Soundaware M2Pro as portable sources. On the desktop, I plugged the Pluto into my Arcam irDAC-II. The Pluto is reasonably easy to drive but due to its aggressive low-end, I recommend pairing it with a more neutral or brighter source.

    The LXear Pluto has an L-shaped signature with a large mid-bass hump and a heavy focus on the bass and lower midrange. It has a very warm and rather thick tonality with a relaxed treble. This results in a full-bodied, dark presentation, making this IEM tuned for fun and musicality over precision.

    Bass
    The Pluto is all about the bass and in particular, it’s mid-bass hump. This is the most mid-bass-oriented of all my custom monitors to date, with only the Empire Ears Bravado coming close in terms of mid/upper-bass quantity.

    Sub-bass has a deep, physical rumble which is impressive for BA drivers and great for those big bass drops and certain genres like dub, reggae and electronic. It has a typical balanced armature tidiness and control to it but is forward and bold in its presentation. Pluto’s mid and upper bass dominates the scene with its energetic presence. As a result, it can be boomy and there is some bloat but its medium speed gives it a natural warm air and roundness.

    Mids
    The midrange is positioned just behind the bass and has a reasonably thick note structure. Male and female vocals are rounded and smooth but could use some extra clarity and articulation to lift above the bass more clearly. Lower midrange notes are full-bodied and pushed forward, adding body and thickness which adds to the Pluto’s smooth and easygoing character at the cost of some transparency and accuracy.

    The underlying warmth and thickness of the mids add extra body but that mixed with the relaxed treble means that some of the subtle details are muted or lost as a result. However, to compensate for its modest detail retrieval, Pluto’s mids are rich and musical. In Anathema’s “Ariel”, the vocals are emotive and engaging in both the female and male sections throughout the song but could use more texture.

    Treble
    Treble extension is good and the tone of treble notes is natural but it’s laid back and a little distant. It has a light airiness that at times struggles to gain a foothold under the weight of the bass and lower midrange.

    This is definitely an IEM that would be safe for the treble-sensitive but not ideal for those who want maximum precision and detail. The treble is smooth and airy, reaffirming the Pluto’s warm and darker presentation but at times could benefit from a more forward presentation.

    Soundstage
    The Pluto’s stage dimensions are moderate and have more width than depth. With it’s enhanced bass and lower midrange, the Pluto relies on its stage width to create space and separation. Instrument separation and layering are good but things can get congested during busy segments. The stage never really opens up due to the Pluto’s warm nature and accentuated mid-bass which also limits transparency.

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    Comparisons
    Custom Art FIBAE Black

    The Black is another warm IEM but its overall tonality is more balanced. It has leaner notes which are more laid back, giving it an airier and more open stage. Pluto is warmer in comparison, with more forward bass and midrange but its extra note density gives it more physicality and body. While the Black’s stage dimensions feel larger, the Pluto’s denser notes give it more precise imaging.

    CA Black’s bass notes are thinner and it relies on its cavity and resonance for fullness while the Pluto’s bass is enhanced via quantity and forwardness. The Black’s bass is airier and has slightly better control. The Pluto’s thicker bass lends more warmth to the midrange as well as the more obvious bass punch and impact, although the Black’s mid-bass has a sharper slam.

    The Black’s midrange is more laid back and neutral, while the Pluto’s is warmer with rounder notes. Black’s vocals are drier and further back. In addition, the Black’s leaner midrange notes result in more openness and transparency but a less natural tone.

    While both monitors have a relaxed treble presentation, the Black’s treble has more definition and clarity. It’s slightly more forward in the mix, without being any brighter. This gives the midrange more clarity and resolution.

    Empire Ears Bravado

    The Bravado has a similar musical approach that relies less on technicalities in favour of fun. Pluto is more forward and has more inherent warmth with a thicker presentation. The Bravado has a rounder stage with added depth and its thinner notes present a cleaner image. In contrast, Pluto’s stage is more forward and intimate.

    Bravado has a deeper sub-bass reach with less roll off down low. Both IEMs have a similarly prominent mid-bass but the Bravado is able to better separate its bass from the lower midrange, giving it an advantage in layering.

    Bravado’s midrange is less coloured and more laid back. Pluto’s lower midrange notes are thicker and more forward. Both IEMs have a laid back treble but the Bravado’s treble is more forward relative to its midrange, without being any brighter.

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    Conclusion
    The LXear Pluto certainly has a unique presentation for a custom in-ear, at least in the context of my personal experience with them. It is heavily skewed towards the mid-bass and lower midrange, which is not surprising considering it was developed by a sound engineer who spends a lot of time near or on the stage and at live performances.

    For my own preferences, my ears are missing some upper midrange presence and treble emphasis, along with subtle details. Pluto at times feels as though it relies more on brute force than nuances or agility with its exuberant thump and saturated character. At other times though, it surprises with its emotive and more delicate side.

    In terms of build, the Pluto ranks among the best in my collection, thanks to its high-precision 3D-printed shells and the quality of the design and finish is top notch. If you’re after a warm, smooth monitor with a load of kick, forward, full-bodied midrange and polite treble then the Pluto is sure to deliver.

    Specifications
    • Dual bore design
    • Four Balanced Armature ( 2 x low, 1 x mid + 1 x hi dual combo )
    • 113,5 db max. SPL 10% THD
    • 28 Ohm @1kHz (+-15% 10Hz-20kHz)
    • 20Hz-20kHz
    This review was originally posted on my blog.

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