A Bad Start
Well, this has been an adventure…. I am sure you can tell that we are a little late to this party! Lear’s current flagship the LCM-BD4.2 (CIEM version although there is a universal version) started to receive reviews as far back as May 2014 and here we are half way through 2016 finally bringing out a review of it and there is good reason for that….
We initially decided that Josh would be handling this review and he received them in January 2015, so well over a year ago. Now if you follow most of our reviews it won’t be news to you that Josh has tiny ears and the 4 balanced armatures and 2 6mm dynamic drivers (name makes sense now) in the Lear really do take up space. On arrival the CIEMs were quiet hilarious for a lot of reasons. They were the biggest, deepest and ugliest customs Inearspace had ever received. They were really shallow in Josh’s ears and hung out causing Josh buckets of discomfort when worn. On top of that he was never impressed by the sound he got in his small listening session, maybe due to the bore reductions they had made for his unit or perhaps because they just did not fit his small ears properly.
I said ugly as well and while if you have seen uploads of Lear’s designs and been impressed, this was not one of them. It was a complete abomination, colours were gross and they had squashed our Inearspace logo onto the faceplate in the most horrendous way. While I personally had good experiences with Lear in the past, Josh’s first experience was as bad as they could possibly go. With disappointment at what he had received he stored them away and it was only when I saw Lear announce there new “semi-hard” custom shells that I decided we needed to give the 4.2 another chance. With my ears being more accommodating than Josh’s and a new option that had yet to be reviewed on the flagship, it seemed appropriate to get them reshelled to my ears and start again on a clean state.
The LCM-BD4.2 starts at 7999 Hong Kong Dollars if you want a standard acrylic shell and is raised by 498HKD if you want to get the semi-hard shell like my pair. Using Google to translate into Sterling, that is £799 and £847 respectively, its quite a simple currency conversion actually! Other additional costs can be for recessed 2 pin sockets at 180HKD, MMCX connector for 280 a new wireless cable at 499 and artwork can range from between 398 and 1000 depending on what you fancy.
It is also worth noting that the price has fallen for some reason, no idea why but it’s only a good thing!
A New Material
Coming straight from the glorious packaging of the £30 TFZ Series 1, that simple iPhone esqe box of Lear fame just seems a bit simple. On opening the mirrored storage tub instantly lets itself be known with its bright glare and it really is quite cool, even if it attracts finger prints. Beyond that you get a tuning & cleaning tool and a manual. At £800 it really is pretty standard packaging and nothing more than Lears much cheaper models.
Being a ‘built on demand’ product, the design really is down to you. We however like to see how creative a company is and let them have at it. I have already mentioned the horror that was the aesthetics of Josh’s BD but fortunately mine is better. While I never look at it as a whole and think what a beautiful monitor (mainly because the dull smokey shell that has a dirty look), focusing solely on the faceplate it is quite an impressive effort. I have the HK$688 metallic artwork and it is unlike any of the standard artwork I have had on multiple occasions. They have put our logos E (ear) on a shiny navy background but it is actually elevated upon it. It is like they have carved our logo out of metal and stuck it on, it really does look dope. While they do have a huge multitude of options for both faceplates and shells, they still never quite nail the looks of something like an Heir or Noble. There is also no denying some small little imperfections, such as in the shell quality and between the faceplate and housing.
The housing build is heavily down to whether or not you choose the standard acrylic or pay the little extra for the unique semi-hard shell. The new shell material, which can be placed just in certain locations like the canal or in my case, the entire earphone feels like its dead in-between a silicone and acrylic shell. It is malleable and bends under pressure but doesn’t feel like it will break in any way. My only small worry is that the shell is still hollow and went putting in, my finger does push the housing into the drivers!
Lear claim benefits include:
•Better fitting & sealing, hence more comfortable
I certainly am more confident in using it than a silicone shell which can sometimes feel scarily weak but it is more polite on the ear compared to a classic hard acrylic shell. On a shore hardness scale classic acrylic would be D75-80, semi-hard would be D30 and the semi-soft material Lear use to make custom tips for universals (much closer to silicone) is A50.
Almost as special is the feature of Lear’s special metal bores for the armatures, 1 for mids and another for highs. Then you have the standard plastic bass tubes, another two of them meaning 4 in total, they are longer for the obvious reason of phase! Newly introduced to this model is the use of a third metal bore, that has the two smaller bass bores inside. Inception!
It actually looks like 3 bores, but if you look closely in you can see one has two smaller inside!
Without doubt they fit into your ears quickly, miles better that silicone and even smoother than acrylic. That being said these are still absurdly big. Not much shallower than Josh’s were even with my much bigger ears. This of course does make them feel bulky even with the new found positives of the softer shell. That being said I think this new shell is cool and well worth giving a go, although it is a bit more a pain to clean the sticker coated shell. I also find the overall size of this flagship piece just too much, are they trying to get to much inside a CIEM?!
The cable included is the now classic Lear C2, a great stock cable and one I have written about many times before, I even gave it an individual review on my old site!
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