Clear Tune Monitors is a boutique IEM brand from Orlando, Florida. We review two of their Vintage Series multi-balanced armature driver universal in ear monitor products here.

We would like to thank Soundwave Hong Kong for loaning these units to us for review. This review is Accessible Audio’s independent opinion.

I had seen Clear Tune Monitors (CTM) products on Instagram for a long time but never had a chance to try them out until the Hong Kong High End Audio Visual Expo 2017. I went straight for the Vintage Series when I saw them at the Soundwave booth. I find that I am usually not too fond of pure balanced armature designs, but after having a pleasant experience with the Vintage Series, I loaned the VS-3 and VS-4 for review!




3.Design & Ergonomics

4.Detailed Sound Review – VS-4

5.Detailed Sound Review – VS-3





Input Sensitivity: 119dB-SPL @ 1mW
Freq Response: 20 Hz to 16.5 kHz
Speaker: Quad Balanced Armature
Impedance : 18 ohm @ 1 kHz
Noise Isolation: -26dB
Input Connector: 1/8 (3.5mm)


Input Sensitivity: 124dB-SPL @ 1mW
Freq Response: 20 Hz to 16 kHz
Speaker: Triple Balanced Armature
Impedance : 20 ohm @ 1 kHz
Noise Isolation: -26dB
Input Connector: 1/8 (3.5mm)

Packaging & Accessories

Everything from the packaging to the design of these IEMs is inspired by the aesthetics of vintage design from the 50’s such as chrome cars, jukeboxes, and even amplifiers. I love the little embossed “VS” logo detail on the foam packaging, everything is neatly packed into their respective recesses which includes the IEMs themselves, a 1/4″ plug, earwax cleaner, 6 pairs of tips (silicon and foam tips).

I was originally a little disappointed as I had thought there was no carrying case until I thought to look on the underside, and hidden there is a nice, functional carrying case. The case also has foam inside that you can neatly place your IEMs and other accessories into, and also a little pouch net that holds some dual flange tips. Overall a generous range of accessories from Clear Tune Monitors, although I think the packaging box could have been a little smaller.

Design & Ergonomics

Apart from Audio-Technica or Shure designs, the CTM Vintage Series might just be one of the most ergonomically comfortable IEMs I’ve tried. Made with lightweight plastic and a delightful faceplate with obviously vintage car inspired chrome details, all of the Vintage Series earphones come in a sort of rounded “D” shaped form. The inside face features a small bump that rests neatly against the ear’s concha, and combined with its small size, makes for a very comfortable fit. The sound nozzle is finished in chrome, with a fine chrome mesh covering it. While the chrome touches and details are pretty, the lightweight and plasticky body of the shell does feel a little cheap at times. It doesn’t evoke the ‘premium’ feeling that other IEMs made of metal and other weighty exotic materials has, but the comfort it offers is unparalleled. There will always be a balance between exotic materials and comfort for portable audio.

They also come with a standard detachable 2-pin triple braided black cable with a small straight plug, black cable cinch, and memory wire for securing over your ears.

Being a fully balanced armature driver design means that there is no need for a driver vent like in dynamic driver or hybrid designs, and so the sound isolation is great with the Vintage Series IEMs.

Detailed Sound Review – VS-4

If you’re a fan of dark sounding sound signatures, the Clear Tune Monitors Vintage Series VS-4 might just be the IEM for you. Armed with 4 balanced armature drivers (2 Low, 1 Mid, 1 High) in a 3-way crossover design, it has a surprisingly natural and smooth sounding tone not too common in balanced armature designs.

The VS-4’s smooth presentation without any of the harshness that’s present in typical BA designs was what caught my attention. There is an overall vintage sounding warmth and fuzziness to the VS-4 throughout the entire frequency that evokes feelings of dynamic drivers somewhat, but presented with the detailed refinement of balanced armatures. Bass and lower frequency instrumental notes, supported by a generous amount of lower mids, feel meaty and full bodied, with a slight dark, dryness to the tone. There’s substantial bass quantity, and also good extension even down to subbass notes, although there is definitely a roll off. Decay is actually rather short – don’t expect massive, pounding bass and drawn-out rumbling from the VS-4 that can bring a heavy enough pounding bass to satisfy trance heads. Even though I generally prefer dynamic drivers, I have still found the VS-4 to be enjoyable in hitting that fine balance between thick, boomy bass and bringing finer textural details to the forefront without sounding artificial, which is where its strength lies.

With one driver for the lows, and one for the lower lids, these two frequencies feature prominently in the VS-4, while the upper mid frequencies take a step back – a sound signature that I’m personally not used to (I prefer slightly boosted upper mids), but does not take effort to warm up to. There’s an emphasis on the darker, lower frequency details of instruments with the VS-4 as it can deftly bring out rich bass guitar tones and textures. Male vocals sound very rich and full bodied, with a slightly subdued yet comforting warmth and a cleanness to the presentation thanks to the balanced armature driver. However, with a dip in the latter section of the mid frequencies, female vocals definitely suffer and sound quite recessed and even muffled at times. Even though the high frequencies are very much present, with a very pleasant smoothness to them, the VS-4 is not a master of reproducing breathiness and airiness of vocals, or bringing out bright shimmery details for sure. On the other hand, this would be highly suitable for anyone who is very sensitive to high frequencies and can’t stand cymbals and snare drums being too snappy and bright.

It’s biggest strength is giving a richly detailed, intimate bass and lower mid frequencies with a vintage touch. However, despite the low and mid heavy tuning being enjoyable at times, I’ve found that there are moments when I feel the VS-4 sounds congested and that the mids are too bloated especially in tracks with lots of lower frequency activity.

Imaging is decent, but there’s not too much of a wide soundstage feeling. The VS-4 could not recreate the wide stadium feeling with John Mayer’s Where the Light Is live album at all, but all the instruments and John Mayer’s vocals were rendered with rich detail, and even significantly reduced the amount of sibilance.

After a few weeks with the VS-4, I feel it is more suitable for quieter genres such as indie, brit-rock, and pop, as opposed to extremely heavy genres like death metal, or music with a large emphasis on bass impact. It has a decent amount of bass, but the VS-4 may not be able to quench the lust for bass that fans of heavier genres may be accustomed to. Songs with lots of distorted guitars or layered low frequency sounds also feel slightly congested, hence the VS-4 is more suitable to quieter or cleaner sounding tracks with emphasis on vocals which it can render superbly with warmth and intimacy.

Detailed Sound Review – VS-3

The VS-3 is a 3 driver, 3-way design, with one low, one mid and one high driver to attend to each frequency range. Just like the VS-4, there’s a “vintage” sounding tone to the whole thing – I’m wondering if this was a deliberate decision because while I feel that the warmth and “fuzziness” resolves well in the VS-4, it feels more accidental with the VS-3.

The VS-3 has a slight emphasis on lower bass frequencies, with a rolled off and quick decaying subbass. Upper bass and lower mids are more recessed than the VS-4, but overall there is a shallow V-shaped sound signature to the VS-3. While the VS-4 treaded a fine line between being too bloated or just the right amount of quantity and detail in the lower frequencies, with the VS-3 it seems the mids are a little occluded by the bass, and the heavy dip in the upper mids range doesn’t help this feeling either.

I enjoy the slightly less lower-mids heavy tuning, but unfortunately it does not sound resolved enough, especially with female vocals which sound like I am somehow hearing more of the overtones than their actual voices.

The high frequencies peak at 10kHz just like the VS-4 (probably using the same driver), and are just enough emphasis to not be totally recessed, but tend to stay in the background.


CTM VS-4 Frequency Response

The FR graph here pretty accurately visualizes the sound signature that the VS-4 has – the bass rolloff around 100Hz is pretty obvious, a rather flat midrange with a boost around 1-2kHz and an obvious dip in the upper midrange. The slight boost in the midrange is both its strength and its flaw for me, as it doesn’t really work well with the genres of music I listen to.

CTM VS-3 Frequency Response


The Vintage Series are solid IEMs in the current market with their own distinct dark low and mid end focused tuning with an analytical touch. The sound signature of the Vintage Series is unique for sure – it is clear and yet at the same time has a warmth and slight fuzziness that makes me wonder if Clear Tune Monitors deliberately tried to make it sound more “vintage”. If you’re looking for something different, yet still has an “audiophile” clarity, I would definitely recommend the VS-4 which is quite well resolved and balanced. The little brother, VS-3 on the other hand is slightly disappointing as the single mid driver doesn’t seem to be able to do as good a job as the VS-4 in resolving the mids. However, they are on the pricey side of things, and face a huge amount of competition from budget offerings as well as high end products in the same price range, such as Shure 846, Ultimate Ears, Fidue, and Dunu, so I would recommend you to demo this product before purchasing as the sound signature is rather unique.



  • Dark sounding, with nice analytical character that brings out fine details in bass and mids.
  • Smooth presentation
  • Meaty lower frequencies with quickly decaying sub-bass presence
  • Works great with male vocals
  • Very comfortable ergonomics
  • Smoothed uppermids and highs allow for long, non-fatiguing listening sessions


  • Lower mids a little too bloated for my taste
  • Upper mids on the recessed side of things, vocals seem to lack a little bit of shimmer and get overshadowed sometimes
  • Pricey; tight competition in a market with increasingly affordable options



  • Overall quite a neutral tuning with decently extended but very quickly decaying bass
  • Slightly analytical character
  • Non-fatiguing


  • Slightly grainy sounding
  • Not a great soundstage or sense of separation
  • Mids not resolved well
  • Pricey; tight competition in a market with increasingly affordable options