Letshouer S12 ortho iem Impressions and Discussion

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by rhythmdevils, Feb 28, 2022.

  1. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Letshouer S12 ortho iem

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    These are ortho iems with a different form factor and slightly lower price than the Timeless. And a different tuning.

    This will be a brief introduction to their sound to be followed up by better impressions by all of you on the loaner tour :)

    Build
    Solid aluminum shell, feels very good. Feels more sturdy than the Timeless if anything. Normal iem shape too, so it will fit more people better . Stock cable is much better than the Timeless, its a pretty nice braided OCC silver plated copper cable.

    Looks
    I don't give a shit, but I like the simple, logo-less industrial design

    Sound

    They are just as resolving as the Timeless, but I can see how people would say they are more resolving. They have sharper transients, but I don't think they are actually more resolving of information.

    They are also tuned higher, with less bass and more treble for a much brighter, airer sound. I find them too bright for me unfortunately, but I think with tight sealing tips some will like this presentation. It woks well for acoustic, jazzz and classical. They seem kind of like the HD800 of iems to me. They are in fact quite resolving. When there are no cymbals to be splashy in classical or instrumental music, I really like them, they sound spacious and airy for an iem. I could actually see people listening to classical music on these and really enjoying it due to the extra presence in the air region and spacious soundstage.

    Bass is tighter than the Timeless with more texture and definition but there is also less bass than I would like, and less quantity than the Timeless by quite a bit.

    This is kind of a typical thing that happens with orthos when you damp them harder. The S12 is damped harder than the Timelsss, and this can even be seen on the housing, which has only one hole vent while the Timeless has 4 of the same sized vents. These vents let out air pressure that the diaphragm creates when it moves back and forth in the sealed enclosure. When there are less vents, air pressure cannot escape the sealed chamber as fast, and this damps the driver harder, giving it less excursion, and faster movement. And also less bass quantity and more treble (bass requires excursion), but tighter bass as it is moving faster. It's a balancing act to find the right damping where the diaphragm is moving fast enough to give you it's full resolution but also have good tone and FR. I would call the S12 over damped. But again, some will like this tuning as a lot of orthos are under damped.

    They sound fine out of my iPod touch, but they do scale with better amping, though the signature doesn't change much, you're not going to fix the upward tilting FR with a certain amp.

    The good thing about the tuning is that they are linear until the treble, I don't hear peaks other than in the treble, I mostly just hear an upward tilting FR. Vocals aren't recessed.

    The other downside is a slightly stealy timbre in the lower treble that can be heard in vocals sometimes or cymbals or anything in that FR range. Instruments that shouldn't sound metallic take on a metallic sheen. I'm guessing there is some resonance causing this.

    But these are cheap ass iems, and more resolving than most anything else out there at any price with a tuning that I think a lot of people will like. Maybe og Andromeda lovers?

    I'm curious if a pure copper cable would warm them up a bit but I don't think it would do enough.

    So they are not perfect for me, but I think a lot of people will like them and they're priced very well. If you find the Timeless too warm or bassy or dull and want a leaner, brighter, zippier sound, the S12 would be a great bet.

    It's nice seeing different sounding ortho iems emerge, I hope this trend continues. And at this price bracket!

    Tips:
    They were way too bright for me with my regular Penon tips, but with Azla Crystal tops which fit really well on these and seal really well with these, it was a bit better.
     
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  2. LETSHUOER

    LETSHUOER MOT: LETSHUOER

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    Thanks @rhythmdevils for the review. While I haven't heard the Timeless myself, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the S12 before sending it to you guys. Looking forward to more impressions. Cheers.

    - Joseph @ LETSHUOER
     
  3. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    thank you for sending it to us Joseph! I think many people will really like these.
     
  4. joeexp

    joeexp Don't ship this man FD-X1 ever

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    AZLA SednaEarfit XELASTEC tips are an improvement. Still a tad too bright on certain recordings. These can go on ones nerves. (My Timeless had to go back for repairs)
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2022
  5. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Listening to them now, they are incredibly fast sounding iems. Really snappy and transparent sounding. Lots of good things going for these. Bass is very high quality and no upper midrange peak.

    There's still that treble peak, but it will be a good thing for some.
     
  6. JayC

    JayC Resident Crash Test Dummy

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    I've got one on the way, I assumed a little micropore tape could help with the treble peak. Will report here when I've been able to try it out
     
  7. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I tried the micropore mod today.

    [​IMG]

    I covered about 60% of the front of the nozzle with 1 layer, and the rest open. It doesn't eliminate the treble peak completely but it subdues it to a reasonable level so it's just a slight emphasis.

    I would say resolution is unchanged, but senes of air and speed is decreased because moar treble always makes headphones sound detailed and airy.

    It also does some unexpected things. It brings up vocals in a way that is absolutely gorgeous. I didn't describe them as recessed before, but they were on the recessed side of neutral territory. Now they are perfectly neutral with gorgeous tone. And still no upper mid peak. Bass is also brought up substantially, slightly above neutral I would say. Sub bass is elevated above neutral but it is a bit loose esspecially on tracks that have tons of sub bass. But most recordings don't actually have any.

    The bass to lower treble ish area of this iem is now really great sounding. Good tone iike the Timeless but faster sounding and I think more resolving now that I don't[ have the distraction of the treble peak.

    Given that the micropore decreases the treble and adds bass, I think there's a lot of room to tune these to individual preferences, though I don't think they could be made neutral with micropore over the nozzle alone. But you could cover the nozzle less and get natural, tighter bass and a bit more treble and air, etc.

    I just bought 3 pairs and I'm going to try drilling extra vent holes into the enclosure to see if I can get them sounding balanced. :). Hopefully I don't hit the drivers.
     
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  8. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    @rhythmdevils you could also have a go at (reversibly) modifying your Timelesses. Taping 1 or 2 of the 3 rear vent holes might increase damping and change bass/treble balance to push them closer towards the good characteristics of the S12 while not impacting the rest too much. I was curious about this but even though the risk of damage is small, I didn't want to try it on the borrowed pair I heard.
     
  9. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I actually tried taping over 1 or more of the vent holes on the Timeless the day I got them because they sounded bassy out of the iPod touch, and it made the treble peak in a bad way. Damping a driver always gives you more treble, less bass.

    Out of a good amp though, the Timeless are not bassy. Still not the lsat word in bass control, but I wouidl'nt call them bassy (stock)
     
  10. Brause

    Brause Friend

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    My opinion of the S12.

    Disclaimer
    The S12 showed up unsolicited/unexpected at my doorstep - thanks to Joseph from LETSHUOER, obviously aiming for a review on my/our blog, which is a consortium of 6 authors including Biodegraded (has been completed). Coincidentally, the 7Hz Timeless loaner was with me at the same time - thanks to Rockwell - so that I could compare both planar magnetics. The S12 went to Rockwell for a spin thereafter and is presently on its way to Biodegraded.

    I used a plethora of sources.

    Since rhythmdevils already gave a sensible and exhaustive review of the S12, I will focus accordingly to minimize repetition.


    Comfort
    The S12 are very comfortable for me owing to their relatively small form factor. A good trend in the LETSHUOER lineup.


    Sound
    Some people may find the S12 bright. They are definitely brighter than the Timeless, but this, strangely, does not bother me.

    Where the S12 really excel is resolution, which is absolutely fabulous. Joseph could not find much of a difference in this respect between the S12 and the original $850 LETSHUOER EJ07, and I don't find much of a difference compared to the new $600 EJ07M either. In terms of resolution, the S12 run circles around Moondrop KATO and my beloved Final E5000.

    Looking back at the JVC HA-FDX1, their three filters affected mainly the upper midrange but not the bass on the graphs...but in real life, what we heard was a change in bass response as the human ear records the whole frequency spectrum in context.

    This is similar between the S12 and Timeless, the graphs of which track each other up to around 2 kHz, when the S12 take over in brightness...up to 10 kHz. So the low end quantities are identical but I perceive the S12's bass as tighter and better focused, lacking the Timeless' pillowy midbass quality.

    [​IMG]

    This makes for a better transition from bass to lower midrange in the S12, and for generally more clarity in the vocals department...and therefore for an overall better cohesion.

    Female vocals remain articulate and lean in the S12 but appear more intimate and forward. Vocals are generally crisper and livelier in the S12 owing to their upper midrange energy. The Timeless play vocals softer in my perception.

    And yes, I also concur with rhythmdevils that the treble, while well resolving, is somewhat metallic...it has a tad too much speed.

    Staging is average in width, it is nice and tall, and much deeper than the Timeless'. To me the Timeless' midbass covers up some of the depth. I like the S12's pizazz and prefer it over the Timeless' softer transients.

    When compared to a photo, the Timeless is more blurred and the S12 is sharper…but some may find the S12 overpixelated.

    Pick your poison!
     
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    Last edited: Mar 2, 2022
  11. JayC

    JayC Resident Crash Test Dummy

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    what tips are you guys using on these? I just got them and I started with the semi-opaque white/black tips for now
     
  12. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I'm using Azla Cyrstal tips which fit great on the nozzle and keep them in my ears better than any tips ever have.

    These iems sound so good with the micropore tape mod covering about 70% of the nozzle as pictured above (it's best if you seal the tape against the nozzle). Its amazing how it kind of fixes everything wrong with the stock iems. Bass comes up to neutral and is punchy and layered and extended, vocals are absolutely gorgeous, treble is neutral. They're also very snappy and resolving.

    And a copper cable helps I think. You could really make an incredible desktop rig around these and they're only $150. They would beat a lot of full size headphones.

    I can't wait to get a 4 pin XLR balanced occ copper cable so I can run them balanced out of my liquid gold X.

    There's one more Chi-fi iem that really competes with them (also with micropore tape for some reason) and I have yet to figure out which is better, but they're both really impressing me right now.

    Full review and comparisons to come when I'm able to.

    Anyone else tried micropore tape on their S12?
     
  13. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    have S12 sitting unopened for the moment. guess I need this magik micropore tape to apply over some hole?
    hm.
     
  14. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Yes definitely try it! It's just micropore medical tape. Very cheap online. I could even send you some if you like. I've got a big box of rolls.

    You just cover the front of the nozzle, pushing it down on the front of the nozzle so it sticks to the front of the nozzle. Covering about 60-70% of the nozzle. I have so far covered the side of the nozzle opposite the hole in the housing. It must be damping the driver or something because some of the affects are a bit head scratching.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    I got my S12 last week but didn’t spend much time listening to them yet.
    First impressions were good, but the tonality deviates from my new reference: the 7hz.
    I shall try the tape mod.

    I’m not sure I’ll be keeping these, however, as they fits pretty poorly in my ears, with the stock cable. Shame they didn’t use MMCX, which makes it easy to just rotate the cable so the pre-formed angle matches the contour of my ears better.
     
  16. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    If you try the tape mod you might change your mind ;)
     
  17. JayC

    JayC Resident Crash Test Dummy

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    Changed my mind for sure! I'm keeping this one as my main :)

    I agree on the stock cable though; the loop around ym ear fits a bit strangely. I have to tuck them behind my glasses and then theyre ok, but when I'm not wearing glasses they end up hanging away from the contour of my head and it feels like its loose, which is a bit annoying.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2022
  18. Brause

    Brause Friend

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    Stock translucent ones work well for me.
     
  19. LETSHUOER

    LETSHUOER MOT: LETSHUOER

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    Just wondering - who has the S12 now? Can't wait to hear more impressions for the set :D
     
  20. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    This is long overdue, so everything before the summary is verbatim from my listening notes without any expansion or cleanup. It's mostly a comparison with the 7Hertz Timeless - the 'other new planar' - which I'd heard shortly before. Thanks to Joseph @LETSHUOER for the opportunity to hear these and @Brause for shepherding this pair around.

    Chain: EarMen Sparrow balanced (note couldn’t try this with the Timeless cos cable), Nano BL SE & ‘S-bal’.

    Fit & comfort: oddly I have more trouble with these than with the Timeless. Finally got tips to fit (CP-145 in med) but that led to the cables poking out at odd angles away from my ears (R more than L). I couldn’t live with the stock cables & connectors – would likely have to swap for angled connectors and a lighter cable, and remove any ear guide. NiceHCK OCC Litz (with straight connectors & guides) worked ok with Spiral Dot tips, but those tips gave boomier bass than the Spinfits.

    Tonal balance: I perceive more upper mids than Timeless, despite the similar measurements through there. Definite 2-3.5 kHz peak in my ears on sine sweeps. Overall brighter tone. Bass is less, but better executed (faster, more textured) than Timeless. Better integration between bass & lower mids. Better with a warm source. Bass might bleed into lower mids a bit much.

    Timbre: speedy attacks, decays not too fast or slow, not as smooth as Timeless, also not as soft (heavier note weight) Thinner tone density through the mids than Timeless (but voices, piano less appealing). Do I hear some distortion in the middle mids? Despite being brighter, the sub-bass weight is really there. Perception of some disconnect between sub-bass/bass & mids in this respect. Treble a bit splashy/scratchy. Sibilants are highlighted. Definitely a different delivery, contrast to the softness of the Timeless (harder, faster).

    Technicalities: Macrodynamics, yep, particularly in the bass (slam). Resolution pretty good, perhaps better than Timeless (microdynamics, micro-pitch-sifts maybe picked up better but not with the clarity of the Timeless. Imaging & separation don’t seem as good to me – relative lack of clarity fuzzing over some instrument edges? Stage width not much different? Stage depth maybe more because of the brighter balance?

    Most notes above with Sparrow bal. Nano BL SE a bit softer delivery, less scratchy in the treble, overall a bit more warm tilted making up for the brighter earphones. But maybe too bassy (but bass better controlled in S-bal).

    Synergy: Warm but not bass heavy sources best.

    Conclusions: Think I prefer Timeless. The bass on these is better textured, but overall: for my preferences, a bit bright, a bit thin.

    Summary and a few more thoughts...

    Maybe I'm more sensitive to the ~3k area than I'd thought - the S12s really hit me there, confirmed by sine sweeps, despite measuring only a little higher than the Timeless (see @Brause 's measurements above of the same 2 sets and @Crinacle 's measurements in his database; my own measurements, with Spiral Dots on both pairs, are almost identical through there). Others have mentioned treble as being the main tonal distinction, and sure, I did hear more of that on the S12 too; but it didn't bother me anything like the upper mids did. I didn't try micropore tape, but that usually affects the highs a lot more than the mids.

    So, for my tastes: these do bass (in particular) and macrodynamics better than the Timeless; but everything else not quite so good and tonal balance significantly worse. Therefore I'm another in team Timeless, and have bought a clean used pair at a nice price (thanks again @skem ).
     
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