General Information

Annihilator 2023 Technical Specifications:​

- 7 Drivers Tribrid Configuration (1 x Foster Dynamic Driver, 2 x Electrostatic Tweeter, 4 x Balanced Armature Drivers)
- 4 Way Crossover
- Frequency response 20hz - 45khz
- Sensitivity 94db @100mV @1kHz
- Impedence 22ohms @ 1khz
- DiVe Pass System for Dynamic Driver (Deep Controlled Bass with zero Dynamic Back vent Phase Cancellation)
- 3D AccuPost System (Proprietary Acoustic Chamber made to reproduce Accurate Sound Stage and positioning)
- Advanced Chamber Design
- Revolutionary Pentaconn Ear Plug Connector (Developed by NDICS Japan)
- High Quality Internal Wiring from JAPAN
- Liquid Links MARTINI bundled cable (Silver Palladium + Copper Gold)

Latest reviews

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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100+ Head-Fier
True Top of the Line
Pros: Midbass Texturing
Thick and Precise Mids
Treble Presentation
Detail and Clarity
Cons: Harder to drive than most IEMs
Weird connnectors that are not commonly used
Cable is very heavy
Shell is quite large
Sub bass could use more slam

I recently got my hands on the Elysian Annihilator 2023. I want to thank my friend for letting me test them, measure them and compare them tomy personal pair of Annihilator 2021s. Elysian needs no introduction. The Annihilator quickly jumped to the top of many reviewers charts for the best treble response in an IEM. It is incisive, natural and never piercing. Many reviewers have praised the Annihilator for impressive detail retrieval, treble response and clarity. Its biggest downside is bass, but I think this is mostly nitpicking a top 3 IEM in the entire world.

Notes: All reviewing is done using Questyle M15 dongle, Apple Music Lossless or Local FLAC files. Driving this IEM can be pretty tough. My Q5k and apple dongle weren’t really doing it justice. I threw it on my tube amp, but it really was not a good pairing. The M15 was the best so that is how I reviewed the unit.

Anni 2021 vs Anni 2023


Both of these IEMs are absolutely stellar. They are both easy 5 out of 5 IEMs. I like to think I am fairly picky, but this is an easy decision for me. There are differences to both, but one is not necessarily an upgrade to the other. The biggest difference between them is the bass response. The bass on 2023 is more midbass focused leaning to meatier mids and a nice weight behind drums, bass guitar, cello, trombone and other lower frequency instruments. For the most part, the rest of the FR remains unchanged.

On a technical point, the 2023 feels like it might be a hair more resolving and the treble might be a tough more reigned in on some of the best treble in the world. The difference may be .1%, but worth noting.

The build on 2023 definitely feels like an upgrade. The nozzle is a beautiful gold nozzle with a nice filter on the end. 2021 is more of the classic pseudo custom fit with a nozzle more like the Blessing 2. The lack of filter could be worrying to some, but it doesn’t really affect me. Shell size and comfort are identical to my ears, but the more refined look of the 2023 really stands out.


Bass: I have mentioned this already, but the Annihilator 2023 is focused in the midbass regions to help give meat to the mids and bring forward a very natural timbre to the low end. Bass guitars, cellos, trombones, snares and toms all sound lucious and full. Songs like Spoon By Dave Matthews Band, Cumberland Blues by the Grateful Dead and The Chicken by Brian Brohmberg all absolutely shine. The textures are perfectly executed. This is what mid bass is and what it should sound like. I can feel the finger picking of Stefan Lessard and the plcuking of Phil Lesh so clearly it’s hard not to groove along. Bass players like Brian Brohmberg, Marcus MIller and Jaco Pastorius are heavily featured in my music and this is the best I have heard them sound since my Verite Closed. I never thought of myself as a timbre head, but I think this does it for me.

Sub bass is a bit of an issue though. Songs like How you Like That by BLACKPiNK or Neon Medusa by the Midnight don’t exactly slam, but are passable. If you like techno or heavy EDM, I don’t think this is a great fit for you. The bass is rumbly, but not exactly slammy. (The bass on the 2021 is even lighter). If you want to truly slam and rumble, the answer is still IE900 to my ears. I will give this a 7/10 only because the sub bass is a bit loose and not as slammy as other options I have tested despite the amazing midbass response leading to insane texturing.

Mids: I might break my arm jerking off the Annihilator, but Lee did something amazing here. I love the mids on this IEM. They feel heavy and powerful without ever leaving me wanting more. The textures are natural, the instrumentations are separated well and the vocal timbre is just perfect to my ears. Violins, guitar strumming, male vocals, banjos, trumpets you name it, are all quick with perfect decay. This section is short because there are no issues here. The mids here are perfect. Bar none, this is the best I have heard. My A12t comes close, but fails in the upper mids. IE900 comes close, but requires a ton of EQ to get there. Meteor has so much going for it, but in terms of detail retrieval from busy sections, it doesn’t keep up with something like Annihilator. This is 10/10 mids. I will give it no fault at all.

Treble: The scale has been broken because this is where every IEM fails. Tuning treble is very difficult because affordable measuring equipment does not accurately measure treble. The flaws within the commonly used 711c couplers compared to the new 5128, and its other variants, have shown that treble has been tuned basically by ear since inception. Only a very select few have done it right. The Helios is the most linear of an IEM I have owned. It is incisive, but never fatiguing. It has shine and sparkle, but the Annihilator would be the next step.

I would not call myself a treble enjoyer on a typical day. Flutes, harmonicas, rides and cymbals are usually things I avoid. I love bluegrass so Banjo twang and higher register guitar is something I do appreciate (Please check out Billy Strings for the best bluegrass since The Stanley Brothers). I would call the Annihilator the most aggressive treble I have ever heard, but there’s something magical about it. It’s forward, it’s in your face, but it never hits sibilant. It shines like the sun, but never gets those sibilant spikes that I got on IEMs like Mest Mkii, A12t / U12t and a ton of other TOTLs. The clarity, decay and speed of the treble makes all the cymbal hits crystal clear helping to add air to the presentation. The treble’s aggressive tendencies play into the hands of extra clarity and detail. Opening up the higher frequencies allows it to project out of head images. This is 10/10 treble and I would give it more if I could. Pure magic here.

Imaging: I have never really had the out of body experience that some people claim to have with Andromeda or other IEMs known for staging. IEM staging is mostly a meme. If it can project any sort of stage width or height it’s in the top percentile of IEMs. Annihilator presents the 2nd largest stage I have heard. A12t is still the largest, but lacks the clarity and detail that comes with the Annihilator. The stage width and depth is on par with the Mest Mkii but lacks the beautiful tuning of the Annihilator. The strength of the imaging and technical prowess of the Annihilator 2023 is in the detail retrieval. You can hear studio easter eggs, like birds cawing on Sturgill Simpson’s “Call to Arms.” On an industrial post rock track called Reitschule by Do Make Say Think, the sounds of people muttering, outside noises and tip top cymbals add more busyness to a track that I have heard thousands of times. I hear new things every day I listen to the Annihilator and I can’t wait to continue exploring even though I am a lowly Annihilator 2021 owner.

TLDR: This is probably the best IEM in the world. There are other options that are less flavored, but equally technically skilled, such as the Subtonic Storm, but for my listening, the Annihilator hits all my boxes. It has amazing mid bass to mid texturing and timbre. The treble adds so much air and clarity that it’s pretty scary to think this is in my head. I can find no flaw in this IEM and is worth every cent and more. I hope one day to try the Subtonic Storm for more than a small demo session as it will be a true battle of the gods.
Great Review.

IMO Odin, U12t are great IEMs but don't get labelled as the best IEMs. If you have any comparisons with the Jewel, XE6, Trailli etc. then I think will help someone better decide.
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@nihalsharma Sorry I just saw this. From my personal perspective, I would take the U12t, Odin, Helios, Mest Mkii over the XE6, Jewel and Trailli. The latter 3 just don't compare to Anni in any shape or form, in my opinion.
I've ordered them after tried at London CanJam, they're absolutely stunning!



Love the review! I’ve got the 2023 version and almost every one of my other iem’s are collecting dust lol. The full natural air of the whole range is just insane.

Happy listening!