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LEAR LUF-4C In-Ear Headphone Review

By Smit Patel


  • Product Name: LUF-4C In-Ear Headphone Review
  • Manufacturer: Lear
  • Review Date: March 12, 2015 07:30
  • MSRP: $565.00
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Frequency response: 20Hz~20kHz
  • Impedance: 28ohm @1000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 120dB @1mW
  • Driver: 4 Balanced armature (1 low, 2 mid,1high)
  • Crossover: Passive 3 way 


In the cosmopolitan district of Kowloon in Hong Kong resides LEAR, an audio company that has pulled out all the stops to create a line of highly advanced in-ear monitors (IEMs) and custom IEMs. Most notably of which is a creation of LEAR’s that boasts the title of being the first 5-driver custom monitor made and researched entirely in Hong Kong: the LEAR LCM-5. This is not the only accolade, however, that the LCM-5 has in its inventory but it has also impressed many audiophiles across the board with its engaging yet very transparent sound quality. Following more research and seeking to appeal to a broader market, LEAR went on to release the LEAR LUF-4 series, a 3-variant collection of 4-driver based IEMs. The variants include the 4B, 4F and 4C with the 4B offering boosted bass, the 4F presenting a linear frequency spectrum and the 4C delivering boosted treble. It must be noted however that whilst the presentation of the frequency spectrum is slightly different in each of the variants, they still all share the same LEAR sound.

In this review I shall be covering the LEAR LUF-4C variant which, much like its brothers, incorporates a 4 balanced-armature driver configuration with 3-way crossover technology. Priced at $565, the LUF-4C combines outstanding expertise in audio reproduction and oozes aesthetic charm. The company is headed by Tatco Ma who places strong emphasis on consumer feedback and continual improvements. These ideals have enabled LEAR to grow organically in line with the market and consequently win over many fans slear1.JPGince the company’s introduction.

The Look

With such a plethora of colour, faceplate and engraving options, LEAR have even made the process of buying universal IEMs a near-custom experience. This shows that the company really strives to have the consumer in mind and deliver a product that adjusts for all kinds of artistic preferences. In all honesty, I had a preconception that LEAR would produce a bland product devoid of any personality or charisma but they have really shocked me on this front. The IEMs I have for testing are elegant with a deep blue transparent shell and golden-marbled faceplate which exudes an air of subtle class whilst staying away from being too ostentatious. In the same fashion, the strong triple-braided white cable is a brilliant choice by LEAR designers to justifiably boost the IEMs into high-end retail.

The Fit

Owing to the slightly large housings which LEAR have adopted, the shells do protrude a bit from the outer ear when the IEMS are worn. This is a minor issue of concern, however, as the LEARs never feel weighty nor uncomfortable. The over-ear form factor which the LUF-4C employs consolidates the position of the monitors inside the ear to achieve a very secure fit. I also have to add that the memory cable is probably the best I have ever encountered which is another reason why fit is optimal and so comfortable.

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The Box & Accessories

The LEAR LUF-4C arrived in an understated, minimalistic and practical box. Unlike other companies who like to throw ­as much as they can into their packaging, LEAR have embraced graceful simplicity which works wonders for their branding and overall vision. Accompanying the IEMs, LEAR have included an array of accessories which although not as extensive as DUNU’s collection, still suit just about any need for the modern audiophile. Included are 2 sets of double-flanged tips, 2 sets of foam tips, 2 set of green-cored silicone tips, a set of triple-flanged tips, a cleaning tool, a cloth and a sturdy OtterBox.

The Sound

From initial listening, the LEAR LUF 4C conveys a wintery cool sound signature with crystal clear highs and tight lows. The sound styling can best be described as a frost-covered meadowland perturbed by rays from the distant sun. That is to say that the sound is not overly cold as you may expect in balanced-armature sets but the LUF-4C does manage to work a degree of warmth into tracks.

Although the LUF 4C has the least apparent perceived bass out of the 3 variants, I never found it anaemic or lacking. Instead, the bass is very appreciable with soft yet decent sub-bass extension. Whilst bass is not as impactful as the EarSonics Velvet nor as extended as the DUNU DN-2000, it is easy to take for granted just how relaxing and well incorporated the bass ties in with the rest of sound spectrum. For this reason, the bass extends nicely into the low-mid section without dominating it. Those seeking ear-shaking levels of bass or extensive impact would best be served elsewhere.

The clarity in the mids, and the rest of the frequency spectrum for that matter, is excellent. The LUF-4C proficiently extracts micro details from tracks and leans towards an analytical sound signature. It is important to note that the LUF-4C is quite heavily dependent on tips and so it is crucial to get the right ones for your sound preferences. I found that with thelear11.JPG green-cored silicone tips the sound became much brighter and upfront. However, with the double- and triple-flanged tips, the mids became more tamed, less harsh and more suited to my tastes. Regardless of the tips, the mids are slightly laidback in the mix compared to the bass and treble which results in a slightly v-shaped sounding IEM. This makes it differ a bit in the presentation styles of the Rock-it Sounds R50 and Etymotic Research ER•4PT which both offer similar levels of clarity as the LUF-4C but in a flatter frequency portrayal. In contrast to the R50s though, the mids of the 4C are quite a bit fuller and hence more airy in delivery.

As expected from the boosted treble in the 4C variant, the treble extension is nothing short of spectacular. Again, it matches the endless extension of the Rock-it Sounds R50 and is definitely a standout feature of these IEMs. At higher volumes, the treble can become overwhelming but this can be attenuated with the right tips (double and triple-flanged) and reducing volume levels. I would describe the treble as effortless, airy and detailed which is what I feel LEAR were aiming for with the tuning of this model.

Soundstage & Imaging

The LUF-4C captivates listeners with a 3D soundstage and excellent imaging. LEAR have really excelled in instrument separation in that I am able to pinpoint the location of instruments within the overall staging. The width of the soundstage however could be worked upon as the sound in this respect is more intimate compared to the likes of the DUNU DN-2000.


The LEAR LUF-4C is a solid product which performs well within its price range. Comfort levels, customisability and craftsmanship are second to none and work to enhance the added value that this IEM provides. With clear crystal highs, detailed mids and tight lows the 4C diverts away from the mainstream sound and tends more towards the niche analytical sound character. Particularly excelling is the 4C’s honesty and its revelation of micro-details makes it a good choice for studio monitoring. This does not mean the LUF-4C is clinical in nature however, as it still manages to add that bit of extra warmth into tracks to aid in the overall musicality. Overall then, the LUF-4C is a worthy competitor and LEAR should be proud to have released such a versatile pair of IEMs.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.