Oriolus Traillii JP
The latest flagship model from Oriolus
3-way 8BA 4EST (2 lows / 6 mids / 4 highs)
Includes PW x HYLA Arthur RT-1 flagship cable (worth $2270)
Retailed for $6000
Available in both UIEM/CIEM
Bird of Infinite Wisdom-Multiple Genre Satisfaction
Pros: Huge soundstage in all directions
Clear and concise tuning
Technicalities and layering
Transcendent Vocals both Male and Female
Natural and emotional DNA
Exceptional BA Bass
Treble Sparkle and Air
Dynamics, Timbre and Tonality
Cons: BA Bass
Lower treble scoop
Universal fit only
Packaging (not a con for me)
Oriolus Traillii (JP) - Hybrid (8BA/4EST)
To me, it’s remarkable how a fairly new iem can already have a legendary status without having the adjective “legend” in its name!? The price alone polarized an entire section of the audiophile world. Then once purchased, the packaging caused another tizzy-ing whirlwind of assault on our visual minds, not to mention the audio threads with the incessant distaste for the package as a whole. Forget about the aural delights, consumers have to justify there purchase and for some reason, cost and opulent packaging somehow go hand in hand to the psyche. Or maybe it’s just that those that can afford such an iem have become spoiled and do not consider the world of waste around us? Are we too lost in the music? Whatever it may be, I am not sure, but I do think the talk of price and packaging has only highlighted a truly wonderful tuning and product. All of that aside, The Traillii is nothing short of a great audio product, if not one of the best of all time. A subjective argument but again I think we should give credit where credit is due. Oriolus took the iem world by storm. A literal storm. I like how this shook things up and started a lot of great threads, conversations, and over all enthusiasm for this hobby. Whether it was; praise, hate or ambivalence. This polarizing iem has indeed pushed other brands to buckle down and we are now seeing some remarkable tech and creativity coming from competitors. These are all positives from a seemingly controversial product. I welcome this competition and controversy. I also welcome the conversation and debates. For me, this keeps me enthused and passionate within this hobby.
Now where do I start? I have been so full of anxiety knowing its time to review the Traillii. The best way for me is to tell you the story of how it all began....
I have to admit, that I knew about Traillii and the Empire Ears Odin at around the same time frame. I was fairly new to the hobby, coming from many years in the cassette and turntable 2-channel world. My first iem was the Blessing 2, quickly upgrading to the Thieaudio Monarch and then to a Sony Z1R, to a Mest, to a Anole VX. I evolved quickly buying blindly, as that was the only option at the time. I was scaling to understand my preferences. I am still learning, to be honest! After some time with the Z1R, Mest, Monarch and VX, I decided I wanted something at the summit to further understand my preference as well as wanting to hear “the best.” Now I understand “the best” does not exist. I remember scouring over reviews of Odin, Noble Sultan and Traillii. I honestly just skipped the Traillii altogether due to it not having a DD, as this is what bored me so much with VX (or so I thought). So I put my focus on the Odin and sold most of my stable to fund the Almighty God and at that time, the most expensive audio purchase I had ever made. I loved the Odin as soon as I put them in my ears. Full of energy and details, it wasn’t boring and delivered the most potent bass I have ever heard. To this day, I still miss the Odin bass. The more I listened and started to understand my preferences, the Odin’s upper mid energy was fatiguing my listening sessions and was becoming increasingly frustrating. So, I decided to look further into head-fi and came across a few threads discussing the Traillii and those threads are what really convinced me that I needed to hear it. So I decided to sell my almighty Odin to help fund the Traillii. I did also acquire the Mest MkII during my transition from Odin to Traillii and I really connected with the Mest II. Ultimately I sold it, as Odin by far outclassed it with the exception of soundstage width.
During this time of buying and selling to try out new sound signatures, I started to see where my preferences where at. If you are familiar with the iem’s I listed above you will understand my preference more. I am split down the middle. I love detail and treble that has air and sparkle but I also love analogue texture, natural mid’s and a large soundstage with potent bass(more quality than quantity). Traillii hits this mark with extreme precision.
I vividly remember the day Traillii came in the mail. I was as giddy as a little boy going down the toy aisle or getting my first bicycle. The anticipation was dizzying. What I remember most is the feeling I got when I first put them in my ears. Which is quite funny now looking back, at that time I owned an older DAP that has an almost religious following called the CALYX M DAP. It’s a class A amp driving this little DAP and it sounds extremely textured, full and weighted. No streaming capabilities, so the first album I pulled from its built in hard drive was The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and I distinctly remember feeling like I had a hi-fidelity Blessing 2 in my ears (super coherent hybrid). My heart sunk! “How did I just spend so much money on this?” I asked myself and “how did I let go of my most favorite iem for this?”I kept listening and decided to change the song, trying Miles Davis Kind of Blue and yes the technicalities and layering were great but nothing better than the Odin...I was breaking out in nervous sweats...when my brain(burn) finally started noticing the huge soundstage...LIGHTBULB MOMENT! “AHA” I SHOUTED! My brain was so used to Odins aural assault that the Traillii seemed ultra tame even “normal”. The next track I selected solidified my decision and all of my anxiety lifted away. I played Aretha Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman and I wept. I could hear this woman’s plea to her man. I could not only hear her emotion but I could feel it. It overwhelmed me to tears, quite literally. I then understood the power of The Traillii, the venerable BIRD!
It’s that time...for an analogy. Come sit around now, I have a tale to tell.
Traillii reminds me of my grandpa. A very quiet and humble man with a notorious and hateful past that he overcame to become an almost mythical character to me. When he did speak, it was with Authority, Wisdom and Love. He could be polarizing but he had true grit and wisdom that rang true in the way he carried himself and the beliefs he held firm. Traillii to me, is full of wisdom in the way its tuner is wise and the way he tuned the bird to soar and radiate with emotion not lacking in clarity, detail and dynamics. A firm, unabashed and deliberate tuning that rings out with some of the best technicalities and biggest sound stage in the hobby. TRUE GRIT! And the best way to be polarized.
The Traillii has also been widely criticized for its “plain” faceplate. I am one of the few that is actually fond of the design, as I enjoy more minimal design elements. However, it is built extremely well with a medical grade resin from Germany. I have no complaints with the quality. I also love the stock cable, which is a very expensive PW Audio cable specifically made for the Bird. I am not sure how much it differs from the 1960’s 4-wire, but it practically looks identical. Another criticism across the board has been about the stock cable and its micro-phonics. I do not get much of that personally as I am very much a stationary listener. However, if you are on the move, you may have a similar complaint. Tip selection can also be somewhat frustrating. I am using the large stock tips which give the best balance to Traillii sound signature. However at first these do create some suction effect, but after several hours of use, this stopped. I am chalking this up to the silicone needing to warm and loosen up a bit. These are of course minor nitpicks and to me, tip rolling is a huge part of the fun with getting a new iem. YMMV as always...The fit is extremely comfortable and does not require a deep insertion. They are light and compact for the tech inside these shells. I can listen for many hours without pressure or fatigue.
The overall sound signature of the Traillii to me is very W shaped. A slight emphasis in all frequencies that come together in a harmonious, balanced and highly detailed manner. In general what stands out first and foremost is the surreal soundstage. I can feel the music all around me, outside of my head. This is highly unusual with iem’s as this is a psychological effect due to the way they are made, being stuffed into our ears. In my review of Isabellae, I wrote that it made music palpable like I could reach out and touch it. Traillii is like this but to the ultimate degree. Each and every instrument/vocal/sound has a sense of space, air and natural reverb in the decay to easily pin point where each player is at on the stage. It is so natural to Traillii that one does not have to close the eyes to imagine it, because once the bird starts to sing her song, the visual unfolds naturally. Layers of detail and air create an organic soundscape that revels in its ability to dig micro and macro detail while sounding natural and warm. Traillii is so refined and easy on the ears that I am often left wondering where is that special magical element to make me jump out of my seat or a single moment of “WOW!” Traillii does not need a special magic trick or a single moment of “WOW!”. The Traillii tuning as a whole is the WOW! Traillii Is The Magic!
For only using 2BA for the Bass tuning, Traillii sure does have a lot impact and natural sub-bass decay for being BA. Along with a healthy dose of Mid Bass thump, this iem is extraordinarily balanced in the bass frequency. While no BA will ever be able to reproduce the rumble and impact of a DD, these BA’s hold their own. The Bass while boosted, presents itself in a linear fashion, never overtaking the mid range nor decaying so rapidly to create a thin body across the frequency range. What I love most about this bass is that it was tuned correctly. What I mean is that it has nuance and layers. The lack of visceral attack allows for space around the note, letting you see into it, so to speak. Bass is not and should not be one note(Thieaudio Monarch), if the decay is accurate, one can hear the scaling of notes within the sub to mid bass. This creates a sound so natural that you will “feel it”! But, in a different way than we associate “feeling bass” with. This is not a feeling of guttural vibration but a feeling of pure titillation within your soul of how nuanced and natural it sounds. It becomes more than a head rattling experience and more of a euphoric and transcendent one. Listening to the upright bass is one of the most compelling and exuberant experiences with Traillii. I can hear every note scale up and down on the fret board with clear harmonics and a slight reverb that is as intoxicating as it is sobering. Traillii bass is veracious.
Nevertheless Traillii is no one trick pony. It not only does natural bass exceptionally well, but it manages to take on synthetic bass without a chip on its shoulder. The faster decay of a BA definetly holds up to this style of music with its dynamics and quick transients. It won’t plow you over with fortissimo but it will give you loads of quality thump, timbre and nuance. The bass works in conjunction with the rest of the tuning for multiple genre satisfaction. In EDM I feel the bass works because of the Sub bass boost, but also because the mid bass decays quicker supporting the Sub bass giving it room to bloom and decay naturally while not bleeding into the mid’s. For reference, this is the opposite of how the Isabellae was tuned. The mid bass of Traillii gradually dips around 100hz-200hz into a linear mid frequency that creates a great space for every kick drum hit to strike through with clear and concise ease. This gradual dip is what gives detail to the macro and micro elements of the bass. Giving it a wonderful image and precisely placing these sounds on the stage as intended. I will say the right tips are needed for a tight seal, otherwise the bass will come off anemic sounding. Tip roll and find what is correct for you. As stated above, the large stock tips are my personal favorite and what I used for this review.
The mid frequency may very well be the trickiest part of the FR to speak to for me.
It is as if they just exist. Organically and emphatically resound within the sound signature. The emphasis here is super subtle and has been placed in the lower mid’s to give the instruments a full and weighted sound. Locking them in place on the stage. This is not a negative thing due to how natural the sounds decay with texture and reverb, the rise to the upper mid’s strays from the almost neutral lower mid’s to create some heft in both male and female vocals. The Upper mid are detailed without harshness or fatigue but they do roll off around 3k and rise again at 4k. I feel this is what is giving the male vocals their heft without derailing the female vocals. This tuning like all of the Oriolus I have heard is a very direct decision from the tuner to make vocal’s stand out while simultaneously harmonizing with the rest of the frequency response. This gives the vocals a bit of a distanced effect, they are not recessed by any means but the scoop out of the lower treble from 4k-7k spreads out the signature creating a cavernous vocal effect that is as captivating as it is head scratching. The downside of this is some upper harmonics are blunted, most noticeably with piano. But what I feel this also doing, is setting up the treble to shine with sparkle and air.
Besides vocals, the 4BA running the show of this frequency replay with soul. I do not hear any typical BA timbre, toy or plastic like texture to the bite of instruments. Everything sounds full and engaging much like on my 2-channel turntable and tube pre amp. Dynamics with tom toms and snares are fast, authentic and felt. Never blunted. Drums sound full and real. Guitars have crunch and authority. There is a smoothness to the mid’s that do smooth over some of the micro detail. The midrange here is not as wide open as on the Isabellae. The mid range of Traillii is more dynamic and layered, concentrating on macro detail rather than micro. Giving a sense of grandeur to the whole picture rather than purely focusing the tuning on the mid’s. This is a smart decision on Oriolus, as this lends Traillii to be more of an all rounder for all types of genres. As previously mentioned, the Traillii replays music much like at a live show. The music washes over you and one feels immersed in the sounds. In the audience you would be hard pressed to hear the players moving or taking breaths between words, etc while the music is going. Listening to Traillii’s mid range makes me feel like I am at the venue sitting front row without distraction, consuming every moment of bliss.
The Upper mid peaks and valleys at 3k and more specifically at 4k that creates a scoop below neutral linearity through 7k which then sharply rises up to 8k. This is what we now know as the lower treble scoop. This does cause a few minor issues in harmonic/sub-harmonic overtones, especially to the piano. But what it also creates and does with control and definition, is the sharp rise that creates a zing for the treble to ride on up to 8k, letting the treble soar with air and sparkle before coming down to more grounded idealizations. The balance is uncanny, and one of the best I have heard. The 4 EST drivers sound ethereal and somewhat wet in comparisons to BA tweeters. I for one really enjoy the Trailli treble the most out the entire FR. EST drivers in iem’s have not received the best reception from the audiophile world. They take power to sound their best. Traillii is the exception here. Traillii sounds good on any and every source, although the better the source the more the Traillii scales. Too much juice though and those EST drivers can be piercing.
The tonality of the treble is another great tuning decision as it’s so clear, natural and extended, without any harshness or sibilance. Bells, harp and cymbal crashes ring through with clarity, sizzle and tintinnabulation. A medium to quick decay helps keep things clean and transparent, along with the macro-detailed mid range and correct yet forthright bass really emphasize a massive soundstage and center image. The treble literally sounds as if it’s dancing in adoration to the rest of the FR. This is the mental image I get because the Treble never comes off as congested or abrasive. It is radiating with twinkle and a controlled restraint that only makes me want more. I love the air the entire response imparts around instruments and vocals, separating them from one another while harmoniously coming together in a beautiful forte. The treble gently rolls off at 10k for more of a vintage tone, hence the “natural” and “organic” vocabulary. This vintage tone is subtle because another small peak happens at 12k that imparts the cleanliness of this “hi-fi” sound. I find the Traillii to toe the line between hi-fi, audiophile and analogue sound.
Empire Ears Legend X
The LX is much more warm across the FR. The huge bass shelf promotes this. I’ve been switching between the PW Audio1960’s 4-wire and the Eletech Iliad. The Iliad tightens up the bass and makes LX sound closer to Traillii but still far far away. LX is a bit of a chameleon and can almost transform into entirely different sound signatures with a simple cable swap or source change and even a tip roll. At its core LX is an L shape iem. Bass boosted with great technical detail retrieval. The bass is intoxicating, full and weighted. I feel the Sub and mid bass are meshed together utterly well. For this massive bass I’m surprised the rest of the FR is not destroyed in its wake.(sometimes it is) The mid’s can come off recessed, especially some female vocals, sometimes sounding far off and uninspired. Due to the weight of the bass, male vocals come off chesty and husky, just the way I like. The bass to me definitely creates this tube like essence that draws me into each track I play. The LX is a fun monitor but it also takes itself seriously. Meaning, it has technical chops and slightly airy treble but mostly smooth. The mid frequency instruments are focused and up front, having bite, texture and plenty of attack. The only element in the mid’s to come off soft/blunted is female vocals. Soundstage width with 60’s 4-wire is almost wider than stock with depth and height the same. The biggest caveat is the vocals and upper treble air and sparkle. Traillii reigns supreme here. This is not to say that LX is bad here, just not as extended. I find the LX to balance out with TOTL cables, however no cable has been able to notch up the dynamics of the LX, where I feel the LX lacks the most! It is a fairly two dimensional monitor.
Traillii is the better overall monitor, better technicalities, layering, treble and mids. It cannot compete with LX bass. LX is comparable in the soundstage, however imaging is much more natural and nuanced with the Traillii.
edit: LX and Traillii are very different presentations entirely. LX is most definitely a bass driven iem, but with the correct source and cable it scales to a more balanced sound with a larger soundstage. The LX in its stock form would not be near the level of Traillii in my humble opinion. But with the right cable it does in fact scale. No Traillii by a long shot.
I know this sounds crazy to compare a single DD iem to a 12 driver (8BA / 4EST) hybrid iem. To my surprise the Eden most definitely holds its own compared to Traillii. The Eden is a neutral monitor with beautifully detailed and clear mids, a linear, nuanced and potent bass with a slightly airy treble. Eden is a much more intimate affair, lacking the enormous soundstage of Traillii. Traillii also excels in dynamics moving air faster than Eden. The Eden decaying with more ease and expelling micro elements across the mid range with eloquence and grandeur. This is where the Traillii smoothes over things, with a tilt toward macro detail in mid’s. Traillii treble is also more smooth and vintage sounding. Where, as the Eden treble is detailed, sparkling, allowing sonic clarity from the upper mid’s to soar without harshness or sharpness. Technically the two monitors are very similar and both have a natural warmth to them while not coming across warm or cold. They are both very balanced and tuned to enjoy the music rather than study it. The Eden is tonally accurate across the FR. This is my go to monitor for neutral uncolored sound that also sounds emotional and musical. Not an easy task, but I feel both the Eden and the Traillii pull this off and while not on the same level, they share a refinement that most only wish to achieve.
No graph of Eden available on the web…
The Traillii, the legend, the myth, the bird, the list will go on. This elusive and polarizing monitor may go down in history but whichever way the story of Traillii goes, I will be happy to have been a part. I have enjoyed every moment. The Traillii not only gave me musical bliss but also propelled me into wanting to learn more about this hobby. Being fairly new to this hobby, I often come across the term “end-game.” I think many thought Traillii as this and for some I am sure it has been that. After all “end game” is a relative term. If anything, owning Traillii has made me want to seek out more iem’s to understand more about frequency range, sound signatures, tunings, etc. I love listening to music for the sheer pleasure of it but I am also one that loves learning about how things work and what makes me like this or that. I enjoy the tech, engineering and philosophy that goes into this hobby as a whole. Traillii has only solidified my desires and made me crave more. I do not think I would be reviewing and as deep into this hobby if not for Odin and Traillii. The Traillii is still the single best iem I have ever heard. Is it “end game” for me? That is a resounding “No” as I will never have an “end game.” My brain is much too curious and insatiable. I also believe that with the new technology rapidly among us, the iem’s of the future will only get better.
Sources Used for Review: Cayin N6ii w R01 Module using UApp bit perfect
Roon upsampled to Dsd256 to Denafrips Pontus II with a Iris DDC to a Schiit Lyr 3 hybrid tube amp with Vintage Tung Sol Black Plates Tube.
Traillii reviewed in complete stock form.
Music used: Ola Kvernberg-Arpy/Devil Worm/Get Down
Damien Rice-I don’t want to change you
Gabriel Marvin-Say Somethin’/Feels
Lady Blackbird-Fix it
Ray Lamontagne-Gossip in the grain
Arooj Aftab-Saans Lo/Suroor
Maridalen-S/T album in full
Terry Callier-Cotton Eyed joe
Chick Corea Akoustic Band-Japanese Waltz
Sufjan Stevens/Angelo De Augustine-Reach Out
Pete La Roca-Turkish Women at the Bath
Billie Eilish-Happier than ever
Nala Sinephro-Space 2
Big Head Todd & the Monsters-Boom Boom
Pros: Sound - balanced, detailed accurate and musical
Very high quality cable
Very comfortable fit
Guilt at the price
Worried the wife will find out the price..
I'll come back to the subtitle of the review at the end...
How does one write a credible sounding review when faced with inevitable superlatives and claims that it's hands down the best iem I've ever heard.. and mean that in a completely unqualified way.
So.. I'll probably keep this brief as most will probably roll their eyes at the price, wonder how can the constituent elements possibly add up to such an eye watering price.. Well I was a bit skeptical too coming from what I had previously though a near perfect iem in the Vision Ears Elysium... There are days when I think, this is crazy, I should sell this, get something around $1k and be done with it.. and then I listen again and the justification comes back and I figure I'll just "rent" this a bit longer until the "inevitable" sale..
(photo credit @Rockwell75 - I use the M8 as well and after all it is my Traillii in the photo )
As you can see, a big part of this iem for me is the price, so how did this come about.. Well audiophilia is a bit of an illness at times who's main symptom is justification. Through a combination of a discount and a desire to mitigate a restocking fee on another item, I figured I would try out "the best" and then if it wasn't better enough than the Elysium, I would sell it and count the restocking fee into the loss I would take on the resale.. Bullet proof logic, no? Well, that's all great if it worked out that way but the Traillii is just so good that I figured I would just hold onto it for a wee bit longer and then any loss in the resale could be considered a "rental fee"... well... even in my paroxysms of guilt I still manage to figure out a way to push aside the thoughts of the price, for the time being at least..
The Traillii is simply the best iem I have ever heard.. period... I think all other iems have had some qualification.. The best midrange timbre..., the best bass..., excellent balance..., etc etc.. but there was always a "but"... attached. The Traillii though has amazing timbre and realism, excellent bass that has the texture of a BA bass but the power and thump of a DD.. The detail retrieval is stunningly good and even that mouse farting at the back corner of the stage blushes as he realizes he doesn't get away with it. Imaging is precise and the air around instruments gives a convincing 3d quality that borders on synaesthesia, where the music crosses into the visual realm.. I can't quite see the colour of the suit the violinist is wearing but I suspect it's black based on the quietness of the background.
There is not an album that does not come across as new and fresh, offering new insights and emotions to what were once considered familiar songs.
I've had analytical gear in the past and this is not the same. It's not that the details are laid bare in a forensic sense but that they are so clear that you cannot help but "see" that the drummer is using a different cymbal for that strike, or that the bassist's lines are so profoundly integral to the track but an amazing "song" in and of itself. I can't help but drift to my thoughts of Joni Mitchell as I write these lines as I've been listening to her for about 35-40 years and I have never heard these albums as perfectly crafted genius like I do with the Traillii. She was always surrounded by an all-star cast of musicians and the Traillii lets you hear them all, both individually and as a group. And that’s where the true difference is with the Traillii. Just as you would find your focus shifting at a live concert, the fact that the whole band is visible makes sure you never lose track of the whole even while listening to each musician weave his lines through the piece. The Traillii does this keeping the sense of the whole while being enraptured by this line or that harmony or the choice of cymbal at this moment or the particular timbre of that instrument..
The synaesthesia comment I feel I should maybe add more too as it really is a phenomenon with these iems unlike any I've heard. synaesthesia
the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.
So, what do I mean..? When I listen with the Traillii, say to Rolf Lislevand playing the lute, I can hear the timbre difference of each string. When I listen to Joni Mitchell I can hear the individual tuning of each string on the 12 string.. Different cymbals have never sounded to precisely different. Add to that the expansive staging, the pin point imaging and me sitting in a quiet room with my eyes closed, I go into a "minds" eye scenario so precise and so "real that I am bordering into the realm of dream imagery and even memory. Perhaps "synaesthesia" is a bit of a misnomer but the imagined scene is so real that I figure I could open my eyes and be exactly in the space I am hearing. There really is a sense of hearing with my eyes as well as my ears.. It's quite uncanny.
On that front, this is not an iem that I can really do much else with but listen as they are so thoroughly captivating. I've tried even to peruse Headfi while listening but they have a way of drawing my attention to the music utterly.
This can be mitigated by gain settings somewhat as the low or high has a tendency to make them more polite sounding but on turbo, they come alive, slightly more forward but retaining their beautiful separation and staging, just more...
Is it all roses? When I first heard the Traillii and having made the mistake of looking at a graph first, I saw that dip in the upper mids/lower treble and then figured I heard it. The Vision Ears Elysium had a bit more bite there and in some tracks that translates for the better.. For instance, listening to an early 90's anthem "Fade into You" by Mazzy Star is a real trip into a nostalgia best described by someone as "for a time that never was".. It reminds me of the feeling of hope and love and desire, living in East Vancouver, surrounded by many "Mazzy Star types".. looking ahead at my life but also suffering the sense of not knowing how.. Anyway, on the Elysium, there is a bit more sense of youth in her voice that I attribute to having more energy in that frequency region. On the Traillii, her voice seems more mature, as if she were singing the song 10 years later with that same nostalgia, not the raw feeling of when it was current and when the feelings were current.. I know that this is very very specific but it does highlight a feature of the Traillii that could translate into one's music choices. Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" has some similar effects at times as if I'm used to hearing the emotion in a different way. On KD Lang's "Hymns of the 49th Parallel", I felt sometimes that her voice was a little more "hollow" sounding than the Elysium but that seems to have faded as in later times, just before I finally sold the Elysium, the Elysium started to sound a bit sharp where the "smoothness" of the Traillii's delivery started to sound more "right".
I saw BBGAR's review on Youtube and mostly skipped it but got to the end where he mentioned (I paraphrase perhaps wrongly) that this iem seems tailored for people who listen to small ensemble live music or some such. That happens to be my main listening music and in that style of music for me the Traillii is absolutely peerless. But truthfully, maybe minus those instances mentioned, there hasn't been an album that hasn't been a true joy to listen to with the Traillii. Even those songs I mentioned could be down to "burn in" or "brain burn in" or some such phenomenon that may or may not exist. For instance, that sense of hollowness in the vocals seems to be no longer anything that I notice.
I would say I mostly listen to baroque music but actually the Traillii has me exploring a lot more singer songwriter stuff as vocals and acoustic instruments just sound so amazing.
But that said, I find myself listening to almost anything on my 1tb card because as I've said, everything is new and so exciting to listen to.
I don't listen to any metal or edm really so you have to consult others for impressions on that type of music.
Perhaps this isn't truly a review as much as an anecdote of my experience but I'm not "objective" enough to break the sound down into the parts and pronounce actual judgements on them.. I may come back and add impressions as I have them, perhaps adding something more concrete.
But... for now, suffice it to say that if you really want the best sound I've ever heard (ha ha), and you like to get lost in your music then there is no better I've heard than the Traillii. The price of admission is very steep but the more I listen, the more is seems worth it.
Which gets me to the subtitle... "when the hobby eats it's own"..
This is part of why it's worth it.. I feel "done".. The hobby has stopped in me. I can't see any reason to look further that isn't just a lingering resonance of, as Alanis Morisette put it in “Uninvited”, "I... simply wanted an object to crave"... Simply being off the hamster wheel of buying and selling and the inevitable bleeding of money in shipping fees and depreciation, the price will justify itself rather quickly. Add into that the premium cable...
I occasionally look through the classifieds, see what's for sale, but there is no sense of wanting anything better. Maybe it could get better but my sense of satisfaction with the sound is so complete that I don't ask for more and further I feel like I know that everything else would have that "but" attached to it.
Even in the height of my love for the Elysium, I did not get this full a sense of impeccability.
Pros: Balanced and natural sound. Rich mids will intoxicated textures. Expansive sound stage. Clarity and excellent detail retrieval. Very comfortable to wear and with a good seal.
The Oriolus Traillii is the most expensive, and yet the absolute best IEM I have ever tried. I feel comfortable calling it the Summit-fi in the IEM world. If you do not completely agree with me in its sound, at least you will agree with me for its price - it retails for a shocking $6000. In this impression, I will try to use my own experience with the Traillii to explain what makes it stand out among all the TOTL IEMs. Whether it is worth the price tag? I hope my review can help you draw your own conclusion.
This is a loaner unit I requested from @MusicTeck.
Packaging and Accessories
The packaging of the Traillii is among the simplest I have ever seen. You get a Van Nuys protective case, a bag of ear tips, a twin-tube double sleeve (in red) to keep the earpieces separated in travel, and the Traillii itself. I was not impressed by its packaging at all, as I was clearly expecting more for an ultra-high-end IEM. However, after using it for a couple of days, I find that these accessories are exactly all I need. The case is large enough to comfortably put the Traillii inside it (my Eletech leather case is in fact not big enough). The case looks and feels very durable and low-profile - perfect for traveling with such an expensive item. The red double sleeve is also very useful in keeping the Trailli protected on the way.
The Build of the IEM and Cable
Traillii is a gorgeous IEM. It has a darker red faceplate (just like the little bird Traillii) and a transparent shell on the other side that allows you to clearly see all the units inside and the internal wires. The Traillii is also very comfortable to have on. It is slightly bigger than my 64 Audio U18t, but smaller than UM MEST. I also don't need to push the Traillii all the way in to get a good seal - it just comfortably sits in my ears and delivers a nice fit. I use the AZLA SednaEarfitLight as recommended by some other Traillii users, but the stock tips work just fine.
The cable is a collaborative one with PW Audio - a custom-made one from PW 1960 4-wired terminated in 4.4mm. The cable is soft, durable, and aesthetically paring very well with the earpieces. Tuning-wise, Oriouls says the cable is specially tuned to optimize its synergy with the Traillii. I did not bother to do cable swapping as I feel that they two work really work together.
General Sound Analysis
The source I have been using the Traillii with is Cayin N6ii (A02) + C9 in tube mode (class A). The sound signature of this source is relatively warm and smooth. I also have an LP P6 Pro coming in a couple of days and will be able to add a quick section to discuss the pairing afterward. 80% of my listening is done with vocals, with the others being some rock and classical music (orchestra).
Traillii is the most balanced and natural IEM I have listened to. When listening to it, you feel the smooth flow of music delivering to you. The bass is tight and fast. The mid is smooth with great textures. The treble has a nice extension. I rarely hear sharpness in any part of the music, and the details and clarity of the music are always there. The soundstage is the highlight of Traillii as it is expansive and well-organized. It surely gives me the feeling of listening to my headphones. Because of its excellent balance in sound, the Traillii is a very non-fatiguing IEM and I can easily enjoy my music with it for hours and hours.
If I want to better explain what "balanced" means for the Traillii, it is that none of the bass, mids, or treble is too forward; nor are they too recessed. And, this is accompanied by an expansive sound stage. From reading this, you may say "Sure! Isn't this what all the (good) IEMs do?" However, this is not the case based on my experience with several TOTL IEMs. For each of the IEM I have experienced, there are always parts of the music that the IEM emphasizes. I tend not to cheat this as deficiencies. Instead, I think these emphases are what give the IEM a characteristic that appeals to a certain group of customers. Just to give a quick example, to me the Sony IER Z1R excels in its expansive sound stage, clarity of the music, and outstanding treble. These characteristics are what keep me engaged when listening to this IEM and drive what I choose to listen to with this IEM. Meanwhile, some of these characteristics come with tradeoffs. Again for the IER-Z1R, some people have found its finds to be a bit recessed, and this is what makes me move away from it eventually.
For the Traillii, I don't find it to put a particular emphasis on any part of the music. However, it is able to deliver different aspects of the music really well and keep me engaged throughout. The soundstage and layering of the music are excellent as I get to enjoy the depth of the music. It is overall a very 3D listening experience with a balanced, natural tuning that I have not experienced in any other IEMs.
I am able to compare the Traillii side-by-side with my two most-used IEMs: 64 Audio U18t and UM Mest. I also had a short demo of the VE Elysium and had some interesting comparison results.
Traillii and U18t (with Eletech Socrates)
Both are quite neutral with respect to the sound. The details and imaging are on the same level. There are two major differences: (1) U18t is a more intimate, or some may say more "engaging" IEM, than the Traillii. The vocals from U18t are noticeably closer to you. This could be very enjoyable when you want to dance to the music, so I like it very much with fast songs. The vocals in Traillii, on the other hand, is further away but without being recessed, so it is more enjoyable for long listening sessions. (2) The soundstage is also better for the Traillii. I can more clearly recognize what is happening in the background, and those information does not distract me away from the vocals I listen to.
Traillii and UM MEST (with Eletech Iliad)
I find both of them to have a similar size in the soundstage. The position of vocals are also similar. The biggest difference between them is the smoothness in sound. N6ii + C9 already helps the MEST to smooth out most of its edges, but the smoothes and rich textures in the sound from Traillii are at the next level, making the vocals truly enjoyable. The details and imaging are also better with the Traiill.
Traillii and VE Elysium
I find the mids and vocals between them to share lots of similarities. The textures and richness in sound are all there and are the best I have ever listened to. However, as has been mentioned by many users, the Ely is a very mid-focused IEM. Threfore, when compared to Traillii, I do not get as much from other parts of the music. The Ely somewhat strikes me as being a not-so-balanced IEM while the Traillii is able to maintain and deliver all the aspects of the music in addition to its intoxicated mids. Overall, if you are a big fan of mid-focused IEMs, you are going to enjoy both of them immensely.
Listening to and writing the review of Traillii reminds me of how a reviewer (Josh) describes the TOTL headphone HiFiMan Susvara. The Susvara is able to achieve at least 90% of the very best in the market for every dimension it is evaluated at. However, if you narrow down to a specific angle, you could find a "winner" that slightly outperforms the Susvara in that specific region, such as HD800s's advantage in the soundstage. What makes Susvara a truly summit-fi headphone is that it is able to pack all of these excellencies into one headphone and delivers it to the user. I find this description applies to the Traillii in the IEM world as well.
Would the Traillii be a good fit for your need? I think it really depends on your "habit" in collecting and using IEMs. For some of the users, we would like to have a collection of IEMs and we can enjoy the diversity from these IEMs with different characteristics. For some others, they primarily use 1 IEM to listen to all kinds of music, and it is for this group of listeners that I think the Traillii could be a good fit, especially if you are into vocals like I am. In my own experience, if I can only own one IEM, then Traillii is the one.
@ToddR P6 is a great DAP with Traillii. Both share a similar tuning trend, P6 can add some sweet tweaks to Traillii. The lower frequency to mids is going to be fuller, and even smoother. The treble is still on the smooth, natural side, not the top transparent combination, but the overall clarity still maintains world-class.