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Lark Studios X Early Prototype Review: The Foundation of Something Great

Lark Studios is a very new, basically unknown, brand. They hail from China and are positioning themselves to compete with the best and most established names in the luxury IEM industry. After all, their first product, the Lark Studios X, will be a behemoth 10-BA IEM. Ballsy, huh?

Bear in mind, that what I’m reviewing today is far from the final product. I’ve been told by the guys working there that overhauls to both the tuning and the shell are underway. As such, I will not be using my usual review format. Instead I’ll be using a somewhat compacted version.

Direct your question and comments to US@Lark-Studios.com and visit their website here.

Sonic Overview

The LSX is quite the sensitive IEM: my MegaMini, SuperMini, and AP100 all produced some hiss (as did my Burson Play, but its not really meant for driving IEMs). Only my Zorloo ZuperDAC-S produced no hiss with the LSX.

The prototype I’ve been sent is a “detail-first” sort of IEM, forgoing any sort of rumble or bassy impact to capture as many transients as it can. The LSX is definitely going with a “hear-not-feel” approach to the lower register that, at least from a detail perspective, certainly paid off. The mid-bass has a passable level of presence, and the sub-bass conveys detail too, they just don’t have the weight you’d get from a dynamic driver, even with multiple BA’s being dedicated to the low-end. There’s definitely more mid-bass than sub-bass though.

I’ve been sitting here discovering flaws in the making of some of my favorite songs for a while now and it never gets old; whether its the clipping/muting of a string during a guitar solo or a miss-timed drum beat, its all there in glorious detail. Vocals are way above average in terms of intelligibility, though the LSX does favor male vocals. A spike in the 1–2KHz seems to be responsible for this added clarity.

Placement and layering is top notch, and the sound stage is impressive. Not too close, but not so large that it feels disconnected and unnatural. Cohesion, both in sound stage and frequency response, is as good as you can expect from any TOTL IEM.

This detail comes at the cost of warmth. I can hardly call the LSX thin, but it’s certainly clinical. The treble and upper mids are the focus of the 10-BA crossover. Tonality is great though, and I’ve not yet heard any sibilance at all, or any sharpness for that matter; quite the feat from a treble-forward, 10-driver IEM. Adding back some of that lost warmth will be the key to creating an IEM that maintains both impressive clarity and a natural timbre.

Construction Quality

The prototype I’m working with didn’t ship with the cable that’s going to be included in the final product so I won’t be including it here.

The LSX is made of a high-quality, hypo-allergenic resin. Its shell is quite large due to it carrying 10 individual drivers, but it is still comfortable, at least for me any my ears, to wear.

My prototype unit uses 2-pin connectors. They lay flush with the shell and are pretty clean. They’re decent, but don’t hold my cable tightly enough. I’ve spoken to Lark Studios and they informed me that they are away of the issue, and that it was actually fixed in the very next prototype they built. So that’s cool.

There is no evidence of a flaw in construction anywhere on the LSX, which is doubly impressive for a prototype who’s appearance was an after-thought. The face-plate is blended perfectly with the shell, and the transparent blue nature of the shell reveals no air bubbles or internal flaking. It appears that skilled hands dwell in Lark Studios.

The Lark Studios X prototype I’ve had the privilege of testing has been a pleasure to listen to. Devoid of any real flaws, I can definitely see it becoming a phenomenal product and a serious competitor in the TOTL environment. I’ve grown a bit fond of it, as I took it to CanJam SoCal and A/B’d it against 10 or 15 other IEMs from every big name, so I’ll be sad to see it go when I return in to Lark Studios. But all good things must come to an end! If Lark Studios can correctly implement some small QOL changes and minor changes in tuning, I think we’ll have a winner on our hands!

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Resonance Reviews is a publication dedicated to bringing fair and rich reviews to the table while skipping the fluff that reviews usually have. We are dedicated to providing you the best in audio hardware reviews. Want to get in contact? Email us: aaron@resonancereviews.com

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