CTM CE320 In-ear Headphones Review
Clear Tune Monitors manufactures universal and custom fit in-ears aimed at professional and audiophile users with the highest level of precision. The entry-level model CTM CE320 is the first in-ear from the Orlando, Florida-based headphone manufacturer, which has been successful on the domestic market for years and also equips artists such as Pearl Jam and Timbaland, in addition to sound engineers.
- Fatigue free sound
- Great bass
- Comfortable fit
- Nothing at this price
Accordingly, we were excited about the sound performance and practicality of the CTM CE320. Many thanks at this point to Hyperactive Audiotechnik GmbH, who was kind enough to provide us with a test device.
Scope of delivery and first impression
The CTM CE320 is delivered in a gray cardboard box with hooks, on the front of which an all-over print of the test person is decorated, which apart from that seems rather inconspicuous at first and, judging by the hanging device, seems to be “off the peg.” When unboxing, however, it immediately becomes clear that with the model tested here and its scope of delivery, the user is by no means dealing with an off-the-shelf product. Rather the manufacturer, in contrast to many competitors, has reduced the packaging design to the essentials and the focus without much distraction on the quality of its product. For example, the in-ear headphones have a detachable audio cable, three pairs of silicone inner ear pads, and three additional pairsComply Foam ear tips in different sizes. On top: a zipper case with an inner net and a gold-plated 3.5 to 6.3-millimeter jack adapter. Listeners and accessories make an extremely valuable impression – and you want more.
Design of the CTM CE320 – headphones with a “perspective.”
The design of the ergonomically shaped CTM CE320 is anything but off the shelf but has its charm. The spouts of the two earpieces are made of brushed aluminum and have filigree ear grids. The receiver housings are made up of two anthracite-colored halves made of semi-transparent plastic. These are provided with side markings on the inside and a manufacturer’s logo on the outside and by no means appear cheap but – on the contrary – stable and valuable. In addition, the user is given a view of the technology installed inside the receiver – and it is also impressive.
Because the CTM CE320 is designed as a triple driver headphone that is equipped with the same technology and the same components as the company’s top-of-the-range models AS-7 and Da Vinci X: Here, too, perform in every earpiece three balanced armature drivers (BA drivers) in the 3-way system perform their services – one is responsible for the low, one for the medium and one for the high-frequency range. And finally, the detachable, braided 2-pin audio cable with rubberized ear guides and also transparent, stable plastic reinforcements on the connections on the receiver side conveys nothing other than high quality.
The CE320 in practice
The CTM CE320 not only looks good but also has a pleasant feel. In practice, the plastic surface has only proven to be a little susceptible to fingerprints. However, that falls under the category of “complaining at a very high level,” Otherwise, there is not much to complain about with the in-ear tested here.
Each test person quickly found the right variant for themselves from the six pairs of supplied earmolds in sizes S, M, and L. Thanks to its ergonomic design, the test subject could then be easily inserted into the ear and easily brought into position and locked with a slight twist in and the reinforced cable routing around the ear. Even with the silicone pads, the test candidate achieved decent shielding against ambient noise. In addition, the memory foam cushions from Comply even shield the user a little more efficiently from the surrounding background noise – not only on stage but also extremely practical when traveling in public transport.
In addition, the CTM CE320 was able to convince in our practical test with an extraordinarily high level of wearing comfort for wired in-ear headphones, not least thanks to the choice of material, and it impressed comparable models with metal housings such as the Campfire Audio IO (29 grams) in terms of weight the end. With its weight of just 10 grams, the CTM CE320 is more in the league of feather-light true wireless headphones such as the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 (4.6 grams per receiver). And it turned out to be so easy, even with listening sessions lasting several hours, that after a short time, it was all too easy to forget that you were even wearing headphones.
The detachable audio cable of the CTM CE320 testifies to the high quality of the plug connections as it is firmly attached to the connections on the receiver side. In the practical test, however, this turned out to be a curse and a blessing at the same time, as removing the cable turned out to be quite difficult: We needed a little more patience and sensitivity than we would from comparable in-ears such as the ikko Obsidian OH10 or top models such as were used to the Meze Rai Penta or the reference model ULTRASONE Saphire. Nevertheless, with a length of 1.2 meters and a practical adjustment mechanism, and almost no cable noise, the cable also performed very well in practice.
This is what the CTM listener sounds like with a triple BA driver.
And in terms of sound, the entry-level model from CTM also has the “perspective.” We were able to convince ourselves of this in our listening test after an appropriate burn-in phase of roundabout 72 hours in interaction with various mobile source devices such as the digital audio players FiiO M11, HiBy R3 Pro, Astell & Kern A & norma SR25 as well as our reference DAPs iBasso DX220 and Questyle QPM. So we fed the CTM CE320 through each of these players with the music of various styles to get a differentiated impression of the sound performance of the triple driver in-ear.
With the help of three balanced armature drivers on each side, which work in a 3-way system, the in-ear tested here produced an extremely clear, finely resolved sound with a love of detail. He also presented an extremely balanced, warm-neutral sound image across the entire frequency spectrum, with a powerfully gripping and at the same time cleanly contoured bass, a clear mid-range presence, and extensive, crystal-clear highs. No area stood out conspicuously, but all levels merged seamlessly. Strong!
Harold Faltermeyer’s 80s hit “Axel F” from the movie “Beverly Hills Cop” was a lot of fun thanks to the exceptionally strong bass performance of the CTM listener. Even bass-heavy current pop music such as Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” came across as exceptionally earthy with the test candidate. The electric bass in the song “A Million Ways” by OK Go went through the neck with the test subject. Electronic bass like in Trentemøller’s “Evil Dub,” performed by the CTM CE320, almost took our shoes off in their breadth and depth. And even demanding audiophile source material such as Wolfgang Schmid’s “Personal Power” with its groovy slap bass interludes or the double bass solo in Ray Brown’s “Put Your Little Foot Right Out” as well as the double bass traces of various jazz pieces were meticulously accurate, crisp and pointed again.
Its center representation was in no way inferior to any of this. For example, the Hooters classic “Karla with a K” had seldom sounded more rounded and coherent to our ears than with the CTM CE320. When playing other titles such as Mumford & Sons’ “Little Lion Man,” the test subject also left plenty of room for details that some other headphones like to “muddle up” – or swallow completely.
And the test candidate also knew what to do with the high pitches: Neither the highest sung passages in the Norah Jones song “Don’t Know Why” nor the voices of Whitney Houston, Leona Lewis & Co. made the CTM CE320 tremble with awe. On the contrary: The test candidate reproduced these just as calmly and precisely as the saxophone solos in Foreigner’s “Urgent” or “The Working Hour” by Tears for Fears. Even the representation of Marianne Mellnäs’ voice in the piece “O Helga Natt” from the compilation “Cantate Domino” made the powerful in-ear headphones seem effortless even in the highest tonal registers. There was no trace of sharpness.
In the classical and orchestral area, in particular, the CTM CE320 also had a rousing dynamic and also presented a surprisingly transparent, three-dimensional stage display – especially for an in-ear model. For example, in Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade, Symphonic Suite, op. 35 – IV. Allegro molto”, all instruments can be precisely positioned in space and clearly distinguished from one another. The CE320 also reproduced reverberations very well beyond orchestral music, for example, in Van Halen’s rock number “House of Pain” or “Pressure Point” by the Zutons. And rapid impulse sequences such as “Isis” by Shakti and John McLaughlin did not particularly challenge the Florida in-ear – a strong performance!
Overall, the CTM CE320 shone with an astonishingly strong, i.e., crystal-clear and in every respect highly precise sound – and felt at home in almost every musical genre, which the listener can use on stage as an in-ear monitor Predestined for the studio or in audiophile fields.
The 3-way in-ear monitor CTM CE320 functions as an entry-level model, and at the same time, the first headphones from the successful US brand Clear Tune Monitor are available in Germany. However, measured by the price called up and compared to some much higher-priced competitors, the transparent in-ear delivered an extremely strong sound performance with almost outstanding clarity and precision in the test, making it a good choice for sound creators and musicians for music lovers who value high fidelity. Furthermore, the lightweight and the accessories’ high wearing comfort fit the picture and successfully round off a surprisingly strong overall package.