Reviews by Smirk 24

Smirk 24

500+ Head-Fier
Elysian Annihilator 2023 Review: Treble Titan
Pros: - Exceptional resolution
- World-class treble
- Great dynamics
- Fun, engaging listen
Cons: - Prohibitive cost
- Lack of bass texturing (for price)
- Average imaging (for price)
- Long wait time



When the original Annihilator was released back in 2021, it was relegated to obscurity, that is, before word of mouth spread about how good it actually was, and how exceedingly difficult it was to get ears on a pair.

In the years that followed, the Annihilator has seen a meteoric rise to an almost unicorn-like status that it still enjoys in the present day.

The subject of today's review is the Annihilator 2023, the latest iteration, which features improvements including updates to its crossover circuit and internal wiring.

According to Lee, the internal wiring now uses different materials for each of the low, middle, and high frequencies contributing to an overall smoother presentation.

The Elysian Annihilator used for this review is a personal unit. All of my IEM reviews are reviews of personal units unless otherwise specified.



The unboxing experience of the Annihilator 2023 is extravagant.

The cubic box is enveloped in an arresting gold with "ANNIHI-LATOR" emblazoned across the face of the box in bold, all caps.

Printed on the bottom right it reads: "Handcrafted by Lee, Founder of Elysian Acoustics Labs", and there's one last inscription on the back, this time a bold proclamation: "The Only One That Matters".

Lee's flair for the dramatic is on full display with the Annihilator's packaging, and it's effective.

Sans the box cover, the unboxing experience is identical to the Diva's, only with more flair, more charisma.


Inside the box is the following:
  • A pair of Annihilators
  • S/M/L SpinFit W1 ear tips
  • Suede carry case
  • Liquid Links Martini cable with a 4.4mm Pentaconn termination
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Card of authenticity


The Annihilator shells and nozzles are on the larger side so those with smaller ear canals may experience difficulty finding a comfortable fit.

Despite its larger size, the Annihilator shells are lightweight and have an ergonomic design which should help with the fit.

The stock SpinFit W1 tips have a grippy texture that helps them stay in place and create a secure seal. I'm able to wear the Annihilator for hours without discomfort, but this may not be the case for some listeners.

Fit is similar to: Elysian Diva 2023, Monarch MK2/MK3, and Blessing 2: Dusk.


I used the following sources during my review process:
  • MASS-Kobo 475 amp
  • Chord Mojo 2
  • MacBook Pro

The Annihilator is a little harder to drive than most IEMs. Despite this, I had no issues driving it on any of my sources.

I tested the Annihilator using lossless files from Qobuz, SpinFit W1 tips, and the stock Liquid Links Martini cable.

Sound Impressions​



Measurements were taken on my personal IEC-711 clone coupler.

The frequency response of the Annihilator is an aggressive U-shape with a very pronounced mid and sub-bass that results in punchy lows.

The Annihilator's bass is quick and has a buzzy subwoofer-like effect with somewhat soft transient edges.

The bass is diffuse-sounding and has a large area of effect. Bass notes sound big and reverberate throughout the entire stage before quickly dissipating.

Although it’s engaging, the bass could use more finesse. It sounds as if it's on full tilt all the time and it lacks the resolution and definition found in top-tier bass responses.

The Annihilator's ability to texture bass isn't bad by any stretch but I found it lackluster for a $3000 IEM.

The bass has a decent weight, but it falls short of the sheer bass density and transient hardness of the IER-Z1R's bass. This isn't a knock since most IEMs fail to compete with the bass of the legendary Sony, but the Annihilator isn't most IEMs.

Overall, the Annihilator's bass goes for a quick, big punch and plays a complementary role to its midrange and treble. It's engaging, but it may be too much mid-bass for some listeners.



The Annihilator's midrange has a neutral-bright tonality with great clarity that comfortably bests the midrange resolution of the U12t, although the U12t does a slightly better job bringing out microdetails to the foreground.

I haven't listened to the Subtonic Storm or other contenders for the single-most resolving set period, but the Annihilator's clarity is top-tier and shouldn't leave anyone needing even more resolution.

The Annihilator's voicing is believable but ever-so-slightly raw and digital. There's a very subtle center skew in the vocal presentation that prevents it from being entirely accurate. I didn’t find this an issue though as it’s clear the Annihilator was never intended to be a reference-type IEM.

The female and male vocals are positioned forward. Female vocals can get aggressive and toe the line, but I can't say in earnest that I found them shouty on any track.

The forwardness of the midrange provides a nice balance between the aggressive mid-bass and elevated treble giving the Annihilator a slight W-shape. Considering how aggressive each section is, it's remarkable how well they interplay to provide a cohesive and engaging end result.

The Annihilator boasts a high clarity, exceptionally resolving midrange with a neutral-bright timbre.


If there’s one word that sums up the Annihilator’s treble, it’s "effortless." It's incredibly fast, and even the tiniest treble details flit in and out of existence without a single one going unaccounted for. The Annihilator’s treble is wonderfully extended and elevated, yet it never becomes sharp or piercing.

Without hyperbole, the Annihilator possesses the most capable treble I've ever heard. Even during the most intensive, treble-heavy passages, the Annihilator performs as effortlessly as a world-class sprinter training at half-speed. It never seems to be under duress at any point.

It's not all praise for the Annihilator's treble though. Despite its abilities, the treble notes exhibit weightlessness and are lacking in sustain. It's almost too fast if there's such a thing.

Listening to the Annihilator's treble is undoubtedly an experience, even if it doesn't always sound natural. Even so, I think most listeners would accept this small cost in exchange for the world's best treble.

Detail and Imaging​

The Annihilator's midrange and treble have superb clarity and resolution. The midrange is forward and very revealing while the treble presents all its minute details with ease. The bass is the only area where I think the Annihilator could use better definition and resolution.

The Annihilator's soundstage is quite wide but has average height and depth. Imaging is pretty accurate but it's not a standout quality at $3000.

The Annihilator is easily out-imaged by the U12t and the new Symphonium Crimson which are significantly less expensive at $2000 and $1500, respectively.


The Annihilator has a neutral-bright tonality that sounds very clean and coalesces nicely with the Annihilator's exceptional resolution.

Despite its brightness, unlike other bright IEMs, the Annihilator avoids glare and sounding harsh or clinical.


The Annihilator has excellent dynamics that contribute to its aggressive and exciting sound. It rides large dynamic swings quickly and with ease.

The Annihilator has all the components — a big bass, boosted treble, and huge dynamics — that makes it one of the most exciting IEMs on the market.

When all these elements converge at the same time on a track, it's fireworks.


Here are a few shortcomings of the Annihilator:
  • Prohibitive cost.
  • Bass definition and bass texturing could be better for its price.
  • Lack of treble note weight and sustain.
  • Average imaging for its price.


For all its celebrity, the Annihilator is hardly a perfect IEM. Despite its flaws, it has undeniable star power due to its peerless treble and allocation of strengths in high-impact areas.

The Annihilator is big, bold, and loud. Sprinkle top-tier resolution and great tuning into the mix and you have a very compelling package.

In my opinion, no other IEM combines top-tier technicalities and a high engagement factor as effectively as the Annihilator.

Its combination of technique and fun is what makes the Annihilator intangibly great. Nothing sounds quite like it.



Annihilator vs. U12t​


It's virtually a rite of passage for every TOTL contender to be pitted against the U12t. Let's see how the Annihilator stacks up.

The Annihilator's graph is an aggressive U, while the U12t's tuning is a bass-boosted neutral with an upper-mids scoop and an upper-treble peak.

The Annihilator has a neutral-bright tonality. The U12t's tonality is neutral-warm.

The first thing that jumps out is that the Annihilator is immediately higher-res. It is noticeably more clear in its voicing and across the frequency spectrum.

Both contenders have punchy bass, but bass texturing going to the U12t, even if it's lacking in bass realism due to its unnaturally short bass decay.

Vocals are somewhat recessed on the U12t but are smoother and more refined than the Annihilator's. The Annihilator's vocals are notably more resolving and clear.

The Annihilator's boosted treble is extremely quick and sounds pleasant despite its brightness. The U12t's treble has a more natural note weight and decay than the Annihilator's but has an upper peak that can become bothersome.

The Annihilator's presentation of music can be seen as aggressive, engaging, and opinionated, whereas the U12t's aims to create a more faithful reproduction of a recording.

Annihilator vs. Diva 2023​


Next up we have a battle between Elysian siblings.

The younger sibling Diva has a bass-boosted neutral tuning with an upper-treble roll-off versus the Annihilator's aforementioned U shape.

The Diva has a sweet, pigmented, and at times, euphoric tonality, whereas the Annihilator's is neutral-bright.

The Diva's bass has a notable sub-bass tilt which is in stark contrast to the Annihilator's more mid-bass-focused tuning.

The bass quality is decent on both sets, but are lacking somewhat in transients, density, and texturing for their respective price ranges.

The Diva's strength is its vocal presentation which is lush, pigmented, and smooth, if ultimately lacking in microdetails and resolution. The Annihilator's vocals are slightly raw in comparison but are significantly more resolving and clear.

The Diva has a fairly linear treble with a safe tuning, though it does roll off significantly in the upper treble. Although the Diva's treble doesn't do anything wrong, it's outclassed by the superior speed, extension, and resolution of the Annihilator's treble.

The Diva and Annihilator have many differences, but they share an Elysian "house" engagement factor. No one will mistake them for reference sets, but they're undeniably moving.

Annihilator vs. Monarch MKIII​


The successor to the immensely popular Monarch MK2, the Monarch MK3 is one of the newest kilobuck entries into an increasingly competitive market.

The Monarch MK3 sports a U-shaped tuning like the Annihilator and possesses great technicalities and treble extension.

Despite suffering from some mid-bass transient bloat, the Monarch has better bass texturing than the Annihilator.

The Annihilator has a slight edge in vocal clarity, but the Monarch's isn't far behind and presents a more refined vocal experience overall. Vocals on both sets present forward, with the Monarch possessing a pigmentation like the Diva's.

Although the Monarch has a well-extended treble, it suffers from some treble tizziness and an unnatural sense of treble detail. Microdetails can sound a bit forced which is in stark contrast to the effortlessness of the Annihilator's treble.

Soundstage size is competitive between the two sets, but the Monarch has a slight edge in imaging precision.

For a third of the Annihilator's price, the Monarch MK3 is a compelling product that represents great value in a rising IEM market.

Annihilator vs. Symphonium Crimson​


One of the newest entries into the $1600 bracket, Symphonium's sophomore offering improves upon its already well-received Helios.

Crimson is its name, and like the Annihilator, it possesses a U-shaped tuning.

You'll notice that the Annihilator's bass graphs more elevated, but in practice, the Crimson's bass has a more satisfying and pronounced slam.

The Crimson has a superb bass by virtue of its well-defined transients, substantial heft, and great texturing. It also demonstrates more nuance than the Annihilator's, filling a room or showing restraint as a recording requires.

The Annihilator's vocals present more forward than the Crimson's and offer superior clarity and resolution. Crimson's vocals are decent and sound more integrated into the mix.

Crimson's treble is well-extended but can get a little spicy because of its upper-treble elevation. I hear occasional tizziness, though this may depend on the sources and ear tips used.

The Annihilator's treble is also elevated, but it manages to sound pleasant at all times and avoids the glare and shimmer present in the Crimson's.

If the Annihilator's star quality is its treble, the Crimson's is its expansive soundstage and impeccable imaging.

Possessing a soundstage like the IER-Z1R's and imaging chops like the U12t's, the Annihilator, and most other IEMs, are outclassed by the Crimson in these areas.

The Annihilator and Crimson are two IEMs that trade heavy blows. The "better" IEM will depend heavily on the listener's preferences.



Priced at an eye-watering $3000 and plagued by lengthy production times, the Annihilator 2023 is an IEM that has a lot of promise to fulfill.

So, is it worth its astronomical price tag and agonizing wait?

I'll put it this way. If you strip the Annihilator of the shimmering robe of hype and cult-like status, what remains is a highly technical, very engaging monitor equipped with the world's finest treble.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a single IEM at or below $3000 that outright surpasses the Annihilator 2023.
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Smirk 24

500+ Head-Fier
7th Acoustics Supernova: Silky Smooth
Pros: - Near-immaculate tonality
- Solid dynamics
- Excellent tuning
Cons: - Mediocre detail resolution
- 2-month lead time


Based out of West Java, Indonesia, 7th Acoustics is a boutique IEM brand helmed by Stephen Syn that’s been gaining popularity over the past half-year despite its limited production capabilities and long wait times.

Its flagship IEM, the Supernova, has garnered acclaim from well-known reviewers Precogvision and Super* Review, particularly for its remarkable tonality.

By flagship standards, the Supernova is relatively affordable coming in at $750 – but can the Supernova compete with others in its price bracket and with current kilobuck stars?



The unboxing experience of the Supernova is enjoyable. It’s not as extravagant an experience as the Diva’s but it’s altogether decent.

There’s a wireframe image of the Supernova on the box cover and a frequency response graph with specs printed on the back.

Underneath the box cover you’ll find a handsome chestnut-colored box with a silver 7th Acoustics logo emblazoned at the center of the box.



Flipping open the magnetic lid you’ll find a card of authenticity and the Supernovas neatly nestled inside foam cutouts. There’s a musky, perfumed scent emanating from the foam that I think was intentionally applied.

Each Supernova has unique abalone faceplates that you’ll be able to choose during the ordering process.


Here’s what comes inside the box:
  • The Supernovas
  • Metal puck case (threaded)
  • 2-pin 0.78mm cable
  • S/M/L Final E and BGVP silicone tips
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Card of authenticity
The Supernova’s stock cable is a high-quality braided copper cable with a 4.4mm termination. It has a nice thickness, is of medium weight, and feels very durable. It’s not memory prone and is one of the nicer stock cables that I’ve encountered.


The Supernova’s shells are medium-sized and protrude slightly beyond the ears when inserted. The semi-custom shells have ergonomics similar to the Variations while being even smaller and lighter in weight.

The nozzles are short and have a reasonably small diameter. Suffice it to say, the fit shouldn’t pose a challenge for most people.

I should mention that the Supernovas don’t come with nozzle covers. This isn’t a negative since there are many IEMs that don’t, but if you’d like to protect your new Supernovas from earwax and other debris, you’ll have to use a stick-on mesh filter or some other method.

The Supernovas come with a good variety of ear tips, but I elected for SpinFit W1 tips for their grippiness and slightly tighter bore to eke out treble details.


I used the following sources during my review process:
  • Chord Mojo 2
  • Chord Mojo
  • HiBy FC6
  • Cayin RU7
  • Apple Dongle
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
I tested the Supernova using lossless files and I had no issues driving it on any of my sources.

Sound Impressions​



Measurements were taken on my personal IEC-711 clone coupler.
This is the frequency response of the Supernova which can be succinctly summed up as bass-boosted neutral – but not all bass-boosted neutral sound signatures are created equal.

IEMs like the Variations and Diva have more of a sub-bass focus while the Supernova has a more pronounced mid-bass.

Here are their graphs with the Supernova in green:



The Supernova’s bass has good body, texture, speed, and transients giving it good punchiness and tactility.

The mid-bass crosses ever-so-slightly into the lower-mids, adding an underglow of warmth to male vocals. There’s no bass bloat however, and the two regions coalesce seamlessly.

The mid-bass can compete for attention with the upper-mids depending on a track’s bass levels and vocals. This may be due to a pronounced mid-bass coupled with a relaxed ear gain, resulting in less contrast between the two regions.

For my preferences, I wish the mid-bass was about 1-2dB lower but I acknowledge that the Supernova’s bass tuning will appeal to many of you.



The Supernova’s standout quality is its midrange, particularly its exceptional tonality. The Supernova’s tonality has an intangible enjoyability that appears to resonate with many listeners.

Vocals are realistic, well-bodied, and smooth with a slight warmth. Male vocals are a touch forward while female vocals are a touch back because of the Supernova’s slightly relaxed upper-mids.

Despite its enjoyability, the Supernova’s midrange isn’t without flaws. I mentioned the mids are smooth, but they notably lack detail resolution and incisiveness. The Supernova resolves at a Blessing 2: Dusk, or at best, a Variations level.

Priced at $330 and $520, the Dusk and Variations fall one to two price brackets below the Supernova.

Despite its average resolution, the Supernova has the best timbre of the three and has intangibles that the Dusk and Variations don’t possess.


The Supernova has a linear-sounding treble without any egregious peaks or dips. It’s excellently tuned. Like its midrange, the Supernova’s treble timbre is on the warmer side.

The treble has plenty of sparkle and never gets too sharp or uncomfortable, even in tracks with what could be glaring treble in less competently tuned IEMs.

Detail and Imaging​

As I mentioned before, the Supernova isn’t the most resolving set. It’s resolving enough to not detract from music enjoyment, but you’ll be missing out on some microdetails here and there.

The Supernova’s soundstage is spacious in width and height but shallower in depth. The Supernova has somewhat weak center imaging but has surprisingly accurate left and right imaging.

Interestingly, the Supernova seems to exhibit greater detail resolution on its left and right sides than compared to its center, which can contribute to the perception of better lateral imaging.


There are some people in the community that have hailed the Supernova the “timbre king”. I wouldn’t go quite that far but there’s some truth to that claim.

The Supernova has a remarkably comfortable and pleasant tonality. I’m going to draw some comparisons to another IEM whose tonality I enjoy – the Elysian Diva 2023.

The Diva’s tonality can be described as hyperpigmented, lush, and euphoric, while the Supernova’s can be described as rich, honeyed, and soothing.


The Supernova has noteworthy dynamics, especially for its price point. The Supernova surpasses IEMs at and below its price range, like the Variations and S8, and approaches the dynamics of kilobucks like the Symphonium Helios.


There’s really only one glaring issue with the Supernova – its mediocre detail resolution. It’s a missed opportunity for the Supernova to not just trade blows with, but to truly compete with the best kilobuck offerings like the Helios, Helios SE, and the U4s.


Intangibly, the Supernova stands out for its near-immaculate tonality and great technicalities (minus detail resolution) for its price point.

As it stands, the Supernova falls just short of contending with the best offerings in the kilobuck space, but this is an unfair expectation to begin with.

If the question was instead “Is the Supernova the best IEM at $750?” I would answer, “Yes, I think it is.”

On a side note, I was informed by a 7th Acoustics rep that the Supernova’s price may increase by $50 to $100 in the near future, pushing its price up between $800 and $900.

The Supernova is still class-leading around $800, but for $900 you may be better off stretching for something like the Helios or U4s.


Moondrop S8​


The Supernova’s main competitor is an IEM that’s almost 4 years old – the Moondrop S8.

There have been many new $700 entries since the S8’s inception but newer isn’t always better. The S8, at least to me, has remained the $700 benchmark due to its class-leading detail resolution and Harman-inspired tuning.

Like others in its class, the Supernova fails to match the S8 for detail resolution. However, the Supernova has a less fatiguing midrange and treble and possesses significantly better bass texture, density, and slam. Essentially, the Supernova is better tuned.

The Supernova has a slight upper hand in imaging and dynamics but falls far behind in detail resolution, a highly sought-after quality that the Supernova lacks and the S8 has in spades.

If you’re looking for the best overall IEM at $750, look no further than the Supernova. It has a great timbre, tuning and reasonable technicalities.

For near endgame-level detail at $700, the S8 is the only IEM that fits the bill. The S8 is also well-tuned and has a leaner and sweet tonality.

Moondrop Variations​


Let’s pit the Supernova against the $500 benchmark that is the Moondrop Variations.

The Variations has a cleaner, neutral tonality and a mostly fatigue-free midrange and treble tuning.

The Variations and Supernova are both equally well-tuned so choosing one will come down to personal preferences.

Compared to the Supernova, the Variations has more forward female vocals, more recessed male vocals, and less mid-bass quantity.

The Supernova and Variations have similar detail resolution chops with the Variations edging slightly ahead. The Supernova has a wider soundstage and more precise imaging, especially to the left and right.

If you want a cleaner, neutral tonality with great tuning and sub-bass, the Variations is a great option for $250 less than the Supernova.

For those who want to experience the Supernova’s unique tonality with more mid-bass and excellent tuning, the Supernova should be your pick.

Symphonium Helios​


Moving up the ranks, the Symphonium Helios is a benchmark coming in at the $1100 mark.

The Helios is, first and foremost, a technical monitor. It has a neutral tonality and is more technical than the Supernova across the board.

But there are reasons to prefer the Supernova. The Supernova is priced $350 lower and possesses a better timbre with less mid-bass and lower-mids leanness.

Like the Variations, the Helios has a recessed mid-bass and lower-mids, and its timbre, especially in the mid-range, can sound overly clinical and strident. The Helios also provides an uncomfortable fit for many people.

These considerations aside, the Helios has world-class treble and great technicalities. Its incisiveness and treble are particularly suited for orchestral pieces and instrumentals.

Between the two, the Supernova is more well-rounded and is easier to listen to due to its timbre and tuning. The Helios then, is for someone that’s looking for neutrality and technicalities first.

I would be remiss without mentioning the existence of the Symphonium Helios SE, a collaboration between Symphonium and London-based Elise Audio.

It had a limited run of 50 units and addresses the Helios’ mid-bass and fit issues. I’ll release a review comparing the original and the SE in the near future.

Elysian Diva 2023​


The final comparison is between the Elysian Diva and the Supernova which both do one thing very well – tonality.

The Diva’s tonality is hyperpigmented, lush, and euphoric, while the Supernova’s can be described as rich, honeyed, and soothing. Different approaches, equally excellent.

The two take different approaches to tuning as well. The Diva has greater sub-bass quantity but its bass lacks transient edges. The Supernova has more mid-bass, better transients, and slightly better bass texture as well.

The Diva’s female vocals are more forward, further emphasized by its lower treble dip, whereas the Supernova is nearly flat from its upper mids to its lower treble.

From a technicalities standpoint, the Diva is more resolving and has far better dynamics. Imaging precision, however, goes to the Supernova by a small margin.

Considering the Diva comes in at $1600 which is more than double the Supernova’s price, the Supernova holds its own pretty well.



The 7th Acoustics Supernova is a remarkable entry to the $750 space that upends current frontrunners with its exceptional tuning and timbre.

The Supernova comes agonizingly close to being the unanimous pick and competing with kilobuck stars had it not been for its Achilles’ heel: lackluster detail resolution.

Still, the Supernova is a marvel at $750 that garners near-universal praise for its timbre from veteran reviewers and from yours truly.

If you have the patience to endure a 2-month lead time, the Supernova is a great all-rounder choice – just make sure you get your order in before the price jumps.
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Smirk 24
Smirk 24
Update: the price has jumped to $800 :sob: