The Da Vinci X was announced by Clear Tune Monitors a little while ago, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting them to grace my desk. Now that I’ve gotten my time with them, there’s a lot to unpack about these monster 10 driver ear monitors. CTM offers custom and universal fit IEMs, the Da Vinci X being from their universal line. CTM is looking to throw their name in the pile of IEM innovators making waves in the industry. The Da Vinci X is priced at $2,400 which may be pretty steep for some, but let’s see if the Da Vinci X is worth the price.
What You Get
CTM packs the Da Vinci X with a ton of accessories and customization options. For an IEM box, there’s a lot in here worth a note. Interestingly the first thing that appears to you when unfolding the cover is a brief biography about the actual Da Vinci himself, in case you were wondering who he was I guess. However useful that may be, the backside of the cover does tell you a lot about what the earphone tech is like on the inside. Sliding out the inner packaging, you’ll see the Da Vinci X itself attached to its 3.5mm standard 50 cables. CTM also includes an extra 2.5mm premium 4-wire balanced hybrid cable. Neatly packed in their own box are the rest of the Da Vinci’s accessories. The first additions that stuck out to me were the two sets of filters, which I wasn’t aware were apart of this model. You get two attachable sound filters labeled 150 Ohm, and 300 Ohm, with an airplane adapter underneath. Finally, there are the ear tips. CTM includes 3 pairs of standard foam tips, as well as 3 pars of rubber tips, and an extra set of double flange silicone.
The box also contains a hard case, but it feels like cheap plastic and isn’t very portable. However, there is a secret compartment in it that contains both a cleaning tool and a quarter-inch adapter.
Look and Feel
The DaVinci takes on a bean-like shape, with its outer shell featuring x-crossed silver stripes and three screws giving this IEM a real industrial aesthetic. The build quality feels well designed and durable due to the tough aluminum body. The nozzle is a perfect size, and with the right ear tips, the DaVinci boasts a pretty clean ft. The buds rest well and are sustained neatly within the ear. The housing never becomes a bother, as it feels like it always fits correctly in the shape of your ear. I found this fit to be truly flawless, and hope other manufacturers take note. If you’re worried about isolation then fear not, because the DaVinci X filters out a hefty amount of air from your ears, making the earphones pretty self-isolating.
The inner mechanisms of the DaVinci set it apart amongst a lot of IEMs that surpass the $2,000 price range. You can’t say it doesn’t offer some innovative tech, so let’s see how this earphone actually works. The main selling point of the DaVinci is its 10 balanced armatures, which implements a 5-way crossover, 2 for lows, 2 for mids, and one for highs. This doesn’t include the assortment of filters you can use to customize your sound. You apply them by unscrewing the top grill of the nozzle and screwing in the different sets. These pieces are very tiny and easy to lose, so keep them safe if you’re going to use them a lot. I’ve tried each pair, and at first, I failed to notice any substantial difference in signal. Then the more I listened, switching out filters multiple times, I started to feel a just noticeable difference in high-end response when applying the red filters. The blue ones actually accentuated how dark this headphone can get and attenuates some significant top-end to certain tracks.
I have my reservations about the soundstage, and while there are a few flaws, the sense of depth is superb. There’s a real roomy feeling when listening to these buds as the signature takes on a darker timbre with most tracks, and instrumentations feel rightly stacked on each other. The downside of this is that some bands get favored over others, and those bands get left sitting behind the mix of some tracks. This becomes more apparent when considering the stage never expands in width very far. The stereo image is kept tight, and you never get the feeling like the sound is free. This may work for heavier tracks, including my favored emo and punk tracks, such as RVIVR’s “The Tide” which appears more forward, and in-your-face with its wall of noise and bluegrass-inspired melodies. It’s noticeably lacking, especially for this price point.
Bass frequencies prove to be thick and punchy while keeping them controlled so that they don’t leak into other parts of the spectrum. The response is simple and dynamic enough to give the right genres the extra slap. I wouldn’t consider it a bass head earphone, but if that’s what you’re looking for, then the DaVinci X will satisfy that need. Kick drums in mega-drive synthwave tracks sound like they’re pounding right on your head, and the subtle sub-bass lifts the lows for a more impactful, growling texture.
The mids boast the ideal separation for this IEM. It’s missing some low-mid push, but the rest of the bands present a forward edge that encapsulates a clear and griping response. Electric guitars roar into your ears, and while there’s a lacking explosive tonality in some tracks, others benefit from the massive drive these IEMs lend signal to. Vocal ranges are clear, especially in male vocals, and the right raspy, whiny voice will leave an accent on the DaVinci X.
At first, I didn’t know where to stand on the highs, as I struggled to notice some of the brighter details. However, the more I listened, the more those details started to become apparent to me. They might not have the greatest reach or the airiest textures, but the highs in the DaVinci still do a good job flavoring some sound elements with some sizzle. The highs never go above and beyond, but they keep things balanced, and neutral.
The DaVinci X is an interesting IEM, and CTM has really packed a lot into their flagship universal fit. While the DaVinci boasts some nice sound qualities, is it really enough for that price? Considering the quality of other IEMs in this price range, the DaVinci may seem like they’re missing something, but once they start breaking in I think they have a lot to offer.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Bass detail, Driver tech, fit
Cons: Soundstage, price
CTM DaVinci X is available at Audio 46
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