Hey folks! I’d like to introduce you all to a Romanian CIEM manufacturer called LXear. Founded in 2016 by Andrei Grigore, a live sound engineer, the company have taken their local scene by storm with a very simple goal: Provide a superior listening experience to enthusiasts and professionals alike by way of superb sound and cutting-edge, 3D-printing technology. The latter especially is LXear’s bread-and-butter, but we’ll get into that later. They sent over the single-BA Jupiter and the four-BA Pluto for review, and, as you’ll see below, I’m loving what I’m hearing out of both. LXear Jupiter The Jupiter is an extremely unique single-driver monitor. Firstly, the form factor is unlike any custom I’ve ever experienced. Rather than a full shell, it simply occupies the deeper canal portion. The body is manufactured through 3D-printing technology precise down to a single micron. In addition, 3D-printed handles are attached to the pieces for easy insertion and removal. Isolation I find is comparable to that of a full-shelled custom monitor. LX-ear claims isolation is actually superior to that of standard in-ears at 35dB, but I can’t confirm personally. The only downside to this design is that the cables are permanently attached, but it’s a well-thought out piece otherwise. One fascinating facet of the Jupiter is that both the body and the lacquer layer are made of a soft, anti-bacterial and bio-compatible material that warms up and softens in the ear. I’ve found this to be absolutely true. The in-ears are hard and very much resemble acrylic when at room temperature. But, after a minute or so in the ear, they do become soft and slightly flexible, which results in vanishing comfort. Finally, 3D-printing was also used to develop a special acoustic design for the single balanced-armature driver to achieve LX-ear’s desired sound. Sonically, the Jupiter is a warm, smooth and engagingly musical monitor. The treble is definitely more withdrawn compared to the rest of the frequency response, which gives the Jupiter a very soft, inoffensive edge. But, at the same time, it doesn’t have any of the roll-off or dullness that one might expect with this sort of signature. Transient performance to me is impressive, as instruments leap out of the black background and strike with energy. The fact that you can pump the Jupiter quite loud without even nearing sibilance, fatigue or distortion only furthers this. So, although the Jupiter isn’t the sharpest-sounding monitor in the world, it never lacks attack either. And, it has a strong, stable and roomy soundscape to boot. Tonally, the Jupiter is very well-balanced. It works well with a massive variety of genres, and that punchy-yet-smooth timbre is a complement to any instrument. The midrange has a bigness to it that comes from a raised upper-midrange. Dirty Loops’ Hit Me showcase this quality fairly well, as the synths and vocals at the very start of the track form punchy, vibrant walls of sound. The low-end is also warm and present despite the form factor of the earpiece. It’s not the most textured or guttural bass response in the world, but it does fill out the foundation very nicely and adds a lot of musical, cohesive warmth to the mix as a whole without creating a veil. Speaking of this warmth, the Jupiter also draws musicality from how its images somewhat blend into each other. Going back as far as my very first THL review on the Lime Ears Aether, it’s similar to the cross-feed effect I described there where instruments mingle with each other. It adds to this sense of cohesiveness that’s really appealing, especially with bands like Snarky Puppy. Obviously, this compromises layering a teeny bit. The Jupiter’s definitely most ideal for set-it-and-forget-it listening, rather than any sort of critical analysis. But, if what you’re looking for is an everyday (or even back-up) pair that you can just put on, forget about, and not have to worry about what song’s coming next out of concern that it won’t mesh well with the earphone’s signature, the Jupiter ticks all those boxes to me. LXear Pluto The Pluto is a more traditional, full-shell CIEM with four balanced-armatures per side; LX-ear’s current flagship. The unit I received has a carbon-fibre faceplate and grey shells, and the craftsmanship here is impeccable. I would’ve easily mistaken it for a hand-poured shell simply because of how clean and polished it looks. The monitors feel incredibly smooth in the ear with exceptionally even pressure, and a flawless balance between comfort and isolation. In addition, the Pluto is finished with the same soft, thermally-adaptable lacquer that the Jupiter is made out of. So, within 60 seconds or so, the Jupiter warms up to body temperature and seamlessly blends with the ear for vanishing comfort. Sound-wise, the Pluto is one of the most addictively musical in-ears I’ve heard in recent memory. Although it won’t necessarily win any technical awards any time soon, the Pluto presents a charming throwback to the warm, smooth and inviting sounds of - again - Lime Ears’ original Aether, and perhaps Noble Audio’s classic K10 as well. It has strong similarities to the Jupiter as well, but the Pluto does have stronger resolution and top-end presence. There’s tons of charisma and groove to the Pluto that encourages head-bobbing, toe-tapping and shoulder-rocking to no end. When we delve deeper into the Pluto, that lovability comes from its tonal balance. There’s a seamlessness to its frequency response and a beauty to its tone that makes it work with all genres of music, as long as you’re the Pluto’s target audience. The Pluto has a bold, present and radiant low-end that imparts a light warmth throughout its soundscape. Never is it overbearing or in-your-face, but it does loosen its reins a teensy bit to bind all the elements in the stage to a cohesive wall-of-sound. Now, make no mistake, separation and layering are still strong on the Pluto. Strong treble extension make it so. But, that wetness will not be ideal if your intentions are analysis and critical listening. That’s not what the Pluto is, nor what it’s trying to be. This light bloom also means the low-end isn’t the tightest in the world. So, as long as the lows you’re looking for are mid-bass-focused, fun and full-bodied - rather than ultra-tight, ultra-clear or ultra-sub-y - the Pluto will deliver. The Pluto’s midrange is neutrally-placed on the stage. Rather than being saturated or shouty, it takes a step back for a more laid-back, airy and open profile. There’s a slight upper-mid bias for a more vibrant presentation, but low-mid content is healthy too for a seamless transition between the lows and mids, and for instruments to have sufficient body as well. Because of the neutral positioning, there’s lots of air present between instruments, only lightly permeated by the warmth of the bass. And, there’s lots of space between them and the listener as well. This gives a stronger perception of depth and maximises headroom. Thankfully, the midrange possesses capable resolution as well, so that space does not make them sound overtly distant, detached or wish-washy. Instruments have a strong presence to them even if they’re not in-your-face. And again, that warm, airy tone makes them gorgeous to listen to. The top-end nicely completes the Pluto’s signature for me. Again, it’s very coherent and seamlessly merged with the rest of the frequency ranges, and it balances the warmth of the bass nicely. Sometimes, there’s a tendency to overcompensate for bass warmth with an ultra-sharp, crisp treble. Although there’s some nice clarity there, it can ultimately make the in-ear sound disjointed. Thankfully, the Pluto resists such temptations, and tempers its top-end to subtly complement everything else. There’s a smooth, feathered touch to it, so hi-hats and cymbals never sound metallic. But, there’s no roll-of either, so those instruments possess decent energy and cut as well. Finally, extension is admirable. So although it won’t be the most crisp or analytical IEM you’ll ever hear, stereo separation, stage stability and dynamic range all impress.