Thursday, January 22, 2009

[Review] LEAR Le01

Sorry to all for the delay on this review, I am quite busy for the last few weeks.

Here is a review of another Made-in-China IEM, the LEAR Le01. I was first contacted by a fellow member on another forum (GodLuvSxS @ Lowyat.net – I’ll take the chance here to thank him) asking if I would be interested in reviewing this IEM. If you haven't heard of an IEM company called LEAR before, don't worry - I didn't too until a week ago. In short, LEAR is a new startup and Le01 is their very first IEM attempt. They are so new, they didn't even have a website yet. As far as the end users' concern, LEAR are still trying to improve the Le01 even as it has already been released into the market, so don't worry if you received a slightly different Le01 than mine (i.e. I read on another HK forum, the next batch of Le01 will have Y-cord instead J-cord because of users' feedback, so more improvement might be implemented)

Here is the listed spec:
Driver units: 10.7mm Dynamic
Rated impedance: 20 ohm
Sensitivity: 112dB
Frequency: 10Hz to 26kHz
Distortion: <=1%94dB (20u pa) Channel balance : <=2% (at 500Hz) Rated input power: 10mW Maximum output power: 40mW Plug size: 3.5mm mini-plug Cord length: 1.3m O.F.C Eartips: 3 pairs single flange silicone tips (Large, mid, small) 1 shirt clip
Packaging, Accessories, and Build Quality
You can see from the picture above that the packaging of Le01 is actually quite nice. It has a very classy look to it. Inside, you will find the earpieces and the rest of the eartips sit in a piece of green dense foam. Underneath the foam, you will find the cable, a shirt clip and a user manual in English in a piece of soft sponge. I was a bit disappointed to see no case or pouch of any kind. I think even a cheap soft pouch can really enhance the overall package. The good thing is, they did include the shirt clip - as the cable they used are quite microphonics. The earpieces are made out of plastic. To improve the look, LEAR coats the outer facing part (white) of the earpieces with a clear coating. It is quite slick to touch and added a bit of scratch-proof to the 'LEAR' and 'L/R' marking. On the downside, it also makes the earpiece slightly harder to hold on to (which means not as easy to remove when you are wearing them). The earpiece design is basically a look-alike with many others Chinese made IEM though it is slightly slimmer, no much to really comment about. The included single flange eartips are thicker and spongier than you typical single flange. They tend to fit harder but mud up the bass a bit. In comparison, I find the bi-flange sounding most neutral and spacious soundstage wise. Unfortunately, the bi-flange doesn’t really isolate that well.

The overall build quality is quite good as LEAR is paying a bit of attention to the finer detail and finishing, however, I do see places that can use some improvement.


Sound Quality
Fresh out of the box, Le01’s bass is a bit overwhelming while treble is a bit lacking. It will take at least a good 3 days of burn-in to calm down the bass and bring out the detail. I’ll recommend for a full 100 hrs of burn-in before any serious auditioning. After burn-in, the overall fun sounding signature will still persist but more balanced and controlled than before. Bass hits quite strong but there are more mid bass than deep bass. Mid is quite full which in term makes the overall sound signature warm. Treble starts rolling off early but there is still enough detail and sparkle left. On the good side, it doesn’t have any sign of harshness at all. It does, however, makes it sounds a bit dark (just a bit). Soundstage wise, the warm and slightly dark presentation do limit the sense of space. In all, it is a fun and warm sounding IEM with good bass and a lay back signature. It kind of resembles UM2 sonic characters with slightly lesser detail and bigger bass. For those who don’t mind EQ, a bit of treble boost goes a long way.

Conclusion
Le01 is a pair of pretty easy going IEM. For its price (roughly US$40~$50), I think it performs quite well sonically. Personally, I’ll like to see a longer Y-cord on it instead of the J-cord. A pouch or case of some kind is welcomed too. If isolation isn’t top of the list of consideration, I think Le01 is a really good choice for casual listener, especially if you are a basshead.

For a quick sum up, you can read this.

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Important: All postings are my own personal opinion only and should not be treated as absolute truth. I do get things wrong just like everyone else. Always do your own research!

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