The true wireless craze is taking off, and more notable manufacturers are getting into the game. The Orlando based Clear Tunes Monitors have made some top quality IEMs such as the DaVinci. Like your Sennheisers, or much more recently Grado, audiophile brands have been trying their hands at cable-free earbuds. Whether or not the detail-oriented audiophile sound has translated to the true wireless medium is up for debate, but let’s see how CTM fairs with their latest Explore P2 model.
What You Get
Small and simple is the idea of presenting a true wireless earphone, and the packaging reflects that. The Explore comes in a compact, rectangular box that contains a few notable accessories. The first is the charging case, which contains the earbuds already inside. It’ll be surrounded by a foam panel that also houses a selection of ear tips, 5 variations to choose from. I’ve seen most other true wireless systems only contain a single extra pair so I’m happy CTM is somewhat focusing on their importance. The only other major items you’ll find are the USB-C charging cable and user guide.
Look and Feel
I was quite happy when I first saw the small, pill-shaped build of the Explore P2’s charging case. It’s my personal ideal shape for these devices, as they’re much easier to place in your pocket with other items like your wallet, phone, or car keys. It naturally becomes a key item to leave your house with. The earbuds themselves also sport a miniature look, with a tiny housing, and only a slight extension that makes up the ear tip lip. The front plate of the earbud in a rubber pad with CTMs insignia. This contains a physical button that you’ll need to press to access the Explore P2’s functions. If you’d rather have a touch-sensitive surface like other true wireless systems you won’t find it on the Explore P2.
The fit is quite seamless, as the earpiece just sits there unobtrusively. It’s one of those earbuds where you can easily forget you even have anything in your ears at all. Everything about wearing the Explore P2 just feels natural.
Design and Functionality
CTM gives this true wireless system a pair of dynamic 6mm drivers. CTM doesn’t really outline many other specifications, but if you’re just interested in how the earbuds work then that can be expanded upon in more detail. The earbuds will automatically turn on and go into pairing mode when removing them from the charging case. After that, the main actions are achieved by pressing on the rubber faceplate of the Explore P2.
Each bud is multifunctional, so any action you perform on the left earbud can also be done on the right. Answering and hanging up a phone call is as easy as pressing down once on either side and muting the music you might be listening to will take two presses. You can also switch your audio output between your phone and earbuds by pressing once while on a call. While you’re not on a call, the rest of the playback functions are pretty standard. Press once for play/pause control, twice to skip on right or left earphone, and voice assistant under standby status. All of these actions are immediately responsive, and playback controls have a natural fade in and out, which adds a more pleasant interaction.
The Explore P2 supports Bluetooth 5.0 for higher bandwidth and a range of around 50 feet. CTM doesn’t offer any information about what CODECs they’re using which is odd considering how you’d think they’d supply that information for their audiophile audience.
CTM advertises the P2 as having a days worth of charge. The earbuds themselves offer 6 hours of life, but the charging case comes with 4 extra charges. This is indicated by four LED lights located on the front of the case. When all four are lit up, the case is at 100%, then three for 75%, two for 50%, and one for 25%. While the P2 will definitely be able to get you through a commute, this is pretty much the average battery life you’ll find on most true wireless systems.
What I’ve noticed about the P2 the more I listen to it, is that it’s a very picky earbud. From my experience, it’s not an earbud that’ll work well with every genre. It’s also an earphone that needs some surprising amount of break-in. At first, the imaging appears quite big, especially when listening to some pretty explosive punk, or hard rock tracks. Hip-hop and electronic selections also prove to have some impact but lack the same clarity due to some very bleedy lows. Spatial imaging is somewhat accurate, but the stage feels somewhat boxy at times. Although, the linear stereo width is still enjoyable with some more operatic tracks with more instrumentations. Percussion sections of tracks still have some perceivable spread, but most elements fight for a boomy, middle spot. While not the worst soundstage I’ve heard in a true wireless there’s definitely room for improvement here.
Big booming bass is given to the P2, and it gets a major spotlight. For some, it could be a detriment to the overall sound signature, as some resonances have a chance to bleed into some of the mids. However, those looking for a cheap wireless earbud with good bass will be very satisfied here. It punches quickly and can be quite aggressive on some tracks. Others that don’t feature a heavy reliance on bass might not bode well on the P2, as clarity becomes an issue on some tracks.
While low mids definitely become the focus of the mid-range. Some bands do stand out as being quite detailed. The lower male vocal registers will sound more commanding, but even the mid, and upper-mids feature some solid clarity and resolution. They cut through better than some other mid focused instruments can, which sometimes get muddied by the bleeding lows.
There’s some surprising clarity up in the highs that adds a complete, rounded edge to the P2. The top-end has some extension but mostly sticks to clean textures with some accuracy. Cymbals on drum kits receive some ample gain compared to the mids and do a good job sticking out amongst the more aggressive lows.
The Explore P2 is a strange true wireless. While CTM is known for its detail-oriented IEMs, the P2 aims for a more consumer sound, while still containing small instances of the prestige you’re expecting. The size and fit are very ergonomic, and the competent battery life is sure to get you through a long trip. For $79.99 this earbud is an affordable enigma of an earbud and is interesting to at least demo to see if they’re right for you.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Size, fit, functionality, somewhat detailed
Cons: Bleedy lows
The CTM Explore P2 is available on special order at Audio 46.
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