Lear Kaleido

Review: Lear Kaleido - Triple Hybrid (Universal fit)




Overview

The LUF-Kaleido (or Kaleido, in short) is one of the newer models from Lear, well known Hong Kong based audio company. A company that has been in the portable audio market for years offering a nice variety of products, from in-ear sets (both universal and custom fit), cables and amplifiers. The Kaleido uses the rather popular triple hybrid setup of one dynamic and two balanced armature drivers, with a less standard design which is also customizable in color and faceplate options. A nice looking earphone that doesn’t compromise much with the sound bringing a warm, rich and smooth presentation which is fun to listen.

WebsiteLear (English)



Kaleido product page: Universal & Custom

Specifications
  • Drivers: 7mm Dynamic & Dual Balanced Armature
  • Frequency range: 10 Hz ~ 20 kHz
  • Impedance: 10Ω @ 1000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 109 dB @ 1mW


Price: Universal fit, HKD 1700 ~ U$D 216; Custom fit, HKD 2000 ~ U$D 255.



The Kaleido IEM is not the first Lear product I listened to, but yes the first to get a full review. I got it as a replacement for other of the Lear items, and while it took some time, it definitely was worth the wait. The earphone arrives in the usual Lear packaging which consists of a simple black color cardboard box with minimal writing that is not trying to impress at all and is more than fine in my opinion. The earpieces arrived securely arranged inside a foam pad with no cables attached. The eartips selection is minimal, with only 3 pairs of standard silicone tips (medium size already attached) and 2 foam tips. Should be noted that the medium tips are different than the small and large for whatever reason. There is also the Lear round case which is of very good quality and holds inside the own Lear latest C2 MKIII cable, which is a sliver plated copper cable. (The additional 2.5mm balanced cable is an extra)
By the way, it’s pretty obvious, but anyway ‘LUF’ stands for ‘Lear Universal Fit’ (and yes, the Custom option is LCM).



Design and build quality

The Kaleido is probably the best built of all the Lear earphones I’ve tried (haven’t tried the upper models yet). The earpieces are designed like custom in-ear models, made of thick acrylic material, and in this case, with a translucent blue color that allows to see the inner drivers’ setup. The shape is not standard at all with a custom-like design. The faceplates here are the standard ones used for the Kaleido, but of course can be changed to any other design as well as the color theme. The nozzle has a good angle with this custom-like universal shape with a two bore design for each of the drivers, though it is a bit short and lacks the grip to hold some aftermarket eartips.






Despite the specific form factor, the Kaleido fits as any other universal IEM. The unusual shape was not a challenge at all, though the fit can be tighter than more rounded IEMs, and so the seal can be too strong with some tips. Isolation level is good, at least above average for daily use, while comfortable enough and with no driver flex issues. Getting the correct seal was critical with the Kaleido in order to achieve the best sound results; the included silicone tips were fine, but I opted for wide bi-flanges, wider single tips or even Spinfit.



As for the cable, the included one is the last Lear C2 MKIII in a standard MMCX setup which with most cables I tried had a very secure connection. From a company that also makes upgrade cables the included cable is of good quality and can be bought sold separately. The wire is of silver plated copper and consists of four strands softly twisted. It carries almost no noise when moving around and is very comfortable to wear and while not really needed, the memory wire works fine.




Sound Quality

With the most common hybrid setup of single dynamic & dual balanced armature, the Kaleido takes an interesting but not so unusual sound tuning, yet with good technical characteristics, mixing detail, resolution and a very solid fun factor. A strong and warmly tuned dynamic unit for lows along with smooth, sweet and engaging mids and highs from the BA counterpart. Not the popular lively V-shaped presentation, and does sound more laid-back and forgiving than other IEMs on its same price range I’ve recently tried.

The dynamic driver may not be too large with just a 7mm diameter, which can be found as tweeter on some dual dynamic sets instead as a woofer, however, the low end is nothing small at all. In fact, the bass is weighty, very solid and too present. Quantity wise it is more than plenty, rather boosted at the mid-bass region with a present lift at the upper bass blending with the low midrange. Provided a tight seal with the correct eartips, the bass wouldn’t struggle much to classify as heavy-bass, and some bassheads might find a nice option with the Kaleido. It doesn’t stop in just the amount; the quality is very good too. It has good separation, dynamics and layering, but still with a thunderous level of rumble that may get too powerful if asked for. Sub-bass is almost as present, but takes a bit of second place in forwardness; it has good reach at the lowest notes, but not too much depth overall. Speed is not too high, and the Kaleido doesn’t have an aggressive attack, but yes a smooth decay. With the provided eartips or with Spinfit options, the bass can get more congested, though using wider bi-flange helps to achieve better layering and tighter low-end with wider range and depth.

Following the strong bass response, the midrange does sit behind in the whole presentation. However, thanks to that the midrange is rather warm and full, and not a thin or distant as with more classic v-shaped triple hybrid IEMs. The strengths of the balanced armature is easy to notice, having the speed, articulation and good level of resolution. Lower instruments are a bit over darkened by the bass lift and can sound too thick with warmer sources, and with a similar effect on the male voices too. Upper instruments, on the other hand, have a cleaner texture and likely, female singers are presented with a sweeter texture. The midrange as a whole does not stand out too much, but it is smooth, engaging and carries a nice sense of musicality.
For reference, the Kaleido has slightly more forward mids than the Brainwavz B200, and is more resolving and detailed too. The Vsonic GR07 Bass is more mid forward though more linear and leaner with a brighter tonality towards the upper mids. The LZ A4 shows a similar presentation (depending on the filters used, of course), and even if the A4 can be set up for a more upfront midrange, the Kaleido has more natural tonality.

Highs keep a similar good balanced with the midrange with just half a step more forward as to give a more lively sound effect, yet remains smooth and laid-back. Extension is decent and there’s enough amount of sparkle, though the more relaxed nature and slightly darker tonality limits the sense of air. The positive characteristic is that the Kaleido has almost no hint of sibilance or harshness, just a hidden sense of grain being more low-treble focused than anything.

Stage is not particularly large or wide despite being a triple hybrid IEM, even so the presentation does not sound closed or congested. The level of detail is good in the BA type, accurate but not far from the analytical type; yet not best in class, probably due the more dominant low end that hides some of the treble, but the details are still presented in a natural way.



Source matching is not an issue with the Kaleido, though I’d pick a less warm/dark source to reach a better balance out of it. Surprisingly, there were no real changes taking the 2.5mm balanced output of the Aune M1s. However, the different cables did had some effects on the Kaleido for either a brighter or smoother tonality, but the best pick is still the included Lear C2 cable.

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