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.
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.
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 QualityThe 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.
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.
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 IsolationThe 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.
LowsThe 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.
MidrangeI 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.
HighsThe 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 ImagingIntimate 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.
ConclusionThe 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.