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LETSHUOER S12 Review – New Frontier

Pros –

Great bass definition and dynamics, Solid overall tonal balance, Excellent resolving power that exceeds the asking price, Comfortable design especially for a planar

Cons –

Bright leaning sound only partially solvable with different tips, Requires amplification

Verdict –

The S12 offers class-leading resolving power with a tuning that isn’t perfect but can easily be considered proficient with the right ear tip pairings.

Introduction –

LETSHUOER (Shuoer) is a Chinese audio manufacturer who’ve been at it for over half a decade. As I recall, the Tape was the product that brought a lot of attention; an “electrostatic” earphone at a price point lower than the unit cost of Sonion’s true electrostatic drivers themselves. In reality, this was not a true electrostatic earphone and impressions were polarizing. However, the release of the higher end EJ models rekindled a passionate cult following for the brand. It then seems sensible that the company is now using this experience to produce better, cheaper products. Welcome the S12, a true planar magnetic IEM at an accessible price point. Not only does it promise a balanced tuning but also excellent resolution as this driver type has come to be renowned for. Planar magnetic drivers have not always enjoyed success due to the complications of miniaturization. However, we are now seeing huge jumps in maturity for this technology and the S12 represents a champion of this notion.

The S12 retails for $169 USD but is available for $152 USD at Linsoul at the time of writing. You can read all about it and treat yourself to a unit there or on LETSHUOER’s website.

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank the friendly folk from LETSHUOR for reaching out and organising this review of the S12. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

Contents –

Specifications –

  • Driver: 14.8mm Planar Magnetic
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 30 kHz
  • Impedance: 16 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 102 dB
  • IP Rating: IPX3

Behind the Design –

Planar Magnetic Driver

Though not unprecedented, planar in-ears remain very uncommon and mostly far from inexpensive like this. Shuoer dubs this a first generation custom design and is proud of its large 14.8mm diaphragm. This gives the driver substantially more surface area than your typical dynamic driver or balanced armature. In addition, planar drivers offer a flat impedance curve in addition to more uniform EMF distribution leading reduced modal breakup and distortion. The lightweight diaphragm material makes planar drivers responsive and resolving which has made them hugely popular in the world of headphones.

Metal Shells & Premium Cable

The driver isn’t the only thing going for the S12 as it features an ergonomic all-metal shell made with 5-axis CNC. The housings offer a dual vent design that serves to both optimize the sound of the driver and reduce wearing pressure for listener comfort. The cable has 128 strands of silver-plated copper offering a balance between conductivity and ergonomics.

Unboxing –

The S12 comes in a small carboard box with a graphic sleeve. Removing the sleeve and the upper lid reveals the earphones within a foam inlet. Below is a hard case containing 3 pairs of memory foam ear tips. The remaining accessories are stored below in the included zipper carrying case. It has a faux leather texture and a watertight zipper which should provide great protection during transport. Also included is the cable and 3 pairs of silicone ear tips in 2 styles, one hard bore, one soft bore. The soft bore tips offer a smoother sound and a slightly more comfortable fit but do feel slightly flimsy, I preferred the sound of the firmer black bore tips. Should you find the S12 to be too bright, the foam tips would be a suitable solution. 

Design –

One of the most appealing aspects of the S12 is its svelte, compact design. While undoubtedly industrial in nature and unassuming, it is a streamlined shape of strong ergonomics design. Moreover, it represents a huge departure from past planar in-ears such as Audeze isine models. The 7Hz Timeless is another in-ear that comes to mind, yet the S12 is undoubtedly the more appealing and well-fitting chassis. It’s not all good, however. Despite boasting an all-metal construction, the level of finish does leave to be desired. The edges on the chamfers aren’t rounded and they are rather simplistic in terms of styling. While they won’t fool you for a high-end design, the level of finish is appropriate for the price point and there are no glaring faults that affect wearing comfort.

The cable also impresses and attaches via common 0.78mm 2-pin connectors that opens up huge aftermarket support. You wouldn’t feel pressed to change out the stock cable, however, as it showcases a pleasing 4-wire braid with silver-plated copper conductors. It’s of good thickness, avoiding weighing down the shells whilst upholding a robust feel. The transparent jacket is slightly tacky but pleasing to the eye. The cable also has minimal memory and a supple feel that makes it easy to live with day to day. Pre-moulded ear guides offer a stable and comfortable fit. The S12 is available in both 3.5mm and 4.4mm balanced which is a nice option at this price point. The quality cable completes a well-rounded experience that is free of both obvious flourishes and detriments.

Fit & Isolation –

Simply by virtue of their compact styling, the S12 achieves a very comfortable, low-profile fit that is stunningly normal for an exotic driver type. Usually, planar magnetic earphones are large, hulking devices but the S12 is smaller than most single-DD designs and, therefore, would be a good choice if you have smaller ears. They are well-rounded and the triangular profile didn’t cause any hotspot formation for my ears either. In turn, I was able to wear them for hours at a time without issue. This is aided by a relative lack of wearing pressure. While this depends on the ear tips used as the various packaged options do affect fit depth, I felt the S12 was on par with most dynamic driver designs in this regard.

Also, something that you don’t see commonly is an IPX3 water resistance rating. This should make them a good choice for active use. The low-profile fit aids this use case, reducing wind noise. You can sleep on these too in a pinch with the right tips due to the slimness of the shells. A hint of driver flex was apparent on the right earphone when pushing the earphones into the ear, though this didn’t affect reliable operation during my testing. Isolation is just about average and suitable for daily use. They certainly don’t block noise like a fully sealed design but aren’t obviously open either. Those requiring strong noise isolation will still want to investigate a fully-sealed monitor.

Next Page: Sound Breakdown

2 thoughts on “LETSHUOER S12 Review – New Frontier Leave a comment

    • Hey,

      You can never really equate in ear to over ear, they just image differently due to the form factors. That said, you can definitely hear planar characteristics in the S12 and the drivers are more common in over ear. I haven’t found an especially bassy planar over ear, something like the DCA Aeon headphones would be most similar to my ear. For something a bit more balanced with a vibrant top end, the Hifiman has a similar kind of forward midrange and treble.



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