As I’ve gone deeper into this audiophile hobby, I’ve found that my hometown of Hong Kong also has developed some small indie companies who have started making earphones. Apart from LEAR, Tralucent, and HUM, I recently discovered Lutex Audio. I contacted Lutex Audio and paid them a visit to find out more about their current offerings – the Lutex Audio B1, a single dynamic driver design and the R1, which is a single balanced armature design. Luckily for me, Edward from Lutex Audio was also willing and very eager to tell me about their company and even let me try two of their upcoming IEM designs which included hybrid and multi-balanced armature driver offerings.
Lutex Audio started making audio product designs not too long ago, as I believe they actually started off with a focus on providing LED and other lighting solutions. Unlike the first three companies, Lutex Audio is focused more on providing more affordable products to the market, going against the current trend of ever-increasing prices.
Highly polished acrylic shells with attention to detail were my first impressions of their products when I saw them on their website, and seeing them and holding them in person only further confirmed that there was definitely a lot of care given to making their products. Each pair comes neatly packaged in a cardboard box with a felt holder for the two earpieces and inside is the MMCX connector cable, 4 pairs of tips (3 silicon ones that resemble SpinFits and one Foam tip), and a great looking carbon weave textured carrying case with their logo.
One of the things that was a pleasant surprise was how snugly and easily the form factor fit into my ears. They mentioned that their smaller and smooth contoured design was so that even people with smaller ears would be able to comfortably use them, and they really succeeded on that. Sound canal length is decently long and provides for a comfortable and inoffensive fit. The cable also felt like it was made of a very soft and supple plastic sleeving, and was not microphonic, so another plus for their attention to detail. They also come with a memory wire which is quite lengthy so there should be plenty of room to adjust around your ears, but if you’re really not a fan you can always get a replacement MMCX cable.
“Black Stone 1” – Single 7mm dynamic driver ($490 HKD)
I ran my usual array of demoing music through the B1 – a mix of progressive metal, rock, some light female vocals and trance. With its 7mm driver, it offers quite a refined sound – it’s definitely not for the basshead, but I would highly recommend this for someone with a taste for a more balanced sound signature.
I felt that the B1 had a slightly laidback and slightly warm sound to it – the bass leans towards giving a solid but tight and clean presentation with a focus on the mid-bass impact and less on a boomy sub-bass. Going up towards the mids, sounds are gently rolled off around up until the high-mids, giving vocals a more recessed presentation unlike other IEMs which place them squarely in the centre of the head. A fairly wide sense of soundstage is also created with the high-mid range of sounds appearing to come just wide of my ears. Snare impact and the swish of cymbals appear just wide of the head as well, coming through clearly and providing the listener with clarity in high frequency details – it’s not extremely extended highs by any means, but it’s gentle and never sibilant. Separation is decent, and most evident between the high-mids and highs, but sometimes in passages with more instrumentation it does stumble a little, with a hint of graininess to the sound typical of dynamic drivers.
Overall, I would say the B1 is a detail oriented single dynamic driver offering – it has the warmth and coherence of a single dynamic setup and gives a solid and clean bass performance with easygoing presentation of high details.
“Reference 1” – Single balanced armature driver ($930 HKD)
The R1 consists of just one small full range balanced armature driver and it sounded like a typical 1BA configuration – basically no bass impact (balanced armatures are not the best at reproducing bass) with very forward mids and highs. In my opinion I felt that the B1 had more of a ‘reference’ sound than the R1 – I expected the bass response to be better but even as I strained, it was hard to find anything past clear notes of bass guitars. Personally, I’m not a fan of sound signatures with such recessed bass so I may be biased against the R1. The mids and highs are very intimate sounding in the R1, and also without sibilance in the extreme highs. This definitely has more focus on the mid-high range details. It sounded decent with vocal tracks like Norah Jones, so if you’re a fan of more light music with emphasis on vocals the R1 would not be a bad choice. I haven’t tried that many single BA setups – only the Sony XBA-1, XBA-100, and Campfire Audio Orion, but it seems that those have a more delicate touch in the mids and highs and also achieve more bass impact.
The X2 and R7
I got a chance to try out two upcoming products, the X2 and R7, which are a 1DD1BA hybrid and 7BA driver configuration respectively. No photos of them until later since they haven’t been announced by Lutex yet. Also no pricing yet – however we’ll update this post with more news as they make announcements in the near future.
I’m a sucker for hybrid designs, and from my experience trying out all sorts of IEMs I personally find that hybrids sound great because they combine a natural sounding low end with more clean and crisp high frequency definition, so I was excited to try the X2 – and I was greatly impressed by its sound.
It was definitely a step up from the B1 and R1, and combined both their strengths into one great sounding package. Separation and layering of instruments was clear and effortless in mid to highs, while the bass sounded even more impactful and full but at the same time still retaining that tight and clean sound that I heard in the B1. Compared to another 1DD1BA like the Xiaomi Hybrids, the X2 is heads and shoulders above in terms of clarity and separation, but in contrast, it also has a less boomier bass. Fans of V-shaped sound signatures may probably lean towards the Xiaomi Hybrids, but I highly recommend the X2 to anyone who prefers an IEM with a more neutral, slightlty bright sound with excellent presentation of details. I felt that throughout the entire frequency range, there was no harshness or distortion to be found and that the X2 had everything under control. Definitely the highlight of my demoing session.
The R7, another one of their unreleased products which I think is still in development, has 7 drivers and due to having much more drivers, the size is definitely bigger, but it has that organic universal-but-custom-looking form that’s popular these days so it was still very comfortable to wear. I was also very impressed by this but since it would be unfair to give a detailed review of something that’s still being developed, I will just give some quick notes. Bass was very well defined, impactful with just a tad of warmth to the sub-bass, with warm full mids that do vocal tracks justice and a really a great lively sound that isn’t harsh, but just bright enough to bring out the shimmer and sparkle of highs very nicely.
That about rounds up my great experience with Lutex Audio’s products. They seem to have something good going on and are very passionate and genuine about what they do and I’m definitely looking forward to more of their future releases. They’re only officially distributing in Hong Kong, but it looks like on their website that you can order online, so definitely take a look and keep an eye out for more products from them (especially the X2!)