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Vision Ears ELYSIUM

Rating:
5/5,
  • The new custom flagship by Vision Ears, the Elysium IMG-8481.JPG

Recent Reviews

  1. third_eye
    THE Hybrid Flagship of 2019?
    Written by third_eye
    Published Oct 11, 2019 at 10:54 AM
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Musicality, Full Body, Extended and Airy Highs, Outstanding ergonomics and comfort
    Cons - High price
    Introduction
    We’re now in a golden age of in-ear-monitor (IEM) design as new driver design technologies continue to enter the market. This, in turn, is resulting in a plethora of new products (and companies) entering this growing segment of the headphone audio industry. Among the recent innovations has been the release of off-the-shelf electrostatic in-ear drivers which has enabled IEM manufacturers to develop hybrid IEM products that use a combination of electrostatic, dynamic, and balanced armature drivers in their IEM’s, most commonly, electrostatic drivers for highs, and dynamic and balanced armature drivers for mids and lows.

    Earlier this year at CanJam Singapore 2019, I got the chance to hear several of these new hybrid IEM offerings including the AAW Canary, FIR M5, Jomo Trinity, Noble Khan, and Vision Ear’s new Elysium. And although they all have some differences in tuning and design philosophy, it seems clear that another technological step forward for the hobby has been taken.

    Vision Ears, an artisan company based in Cologne, Germany, has already made a big splash in the headphone audio industry over the past few years with the VE Series and more recently in 2018 with the ERLKönig, one of last years flagship IEM releases. The ERLKönig pushed boundaries with its silver shell, 13 drivers, and a four-way adjustable tuning switch on each earpiece. For 2019, Vision Ears launched their new €2900 flagship earphone, Elysium, at CanJam Singapore. Right before the show ended, I was able to finally get an audition, with Marcel, from Vision Ears, then taking my ear impressions. Fast forward a few months, and the custom Elysium arrived.


    [​IMG]

    Packaging, Build Quality, and Ergonomics
    It’s great to see companies paying attention to the fine details, and the packaging and overall unboxing experience with the Vision Ears Elysium is highly impressive. A large and beautifully designed outer box with a magnetic latch opens up to reveal an interior shelf which then elevates to reveal the Elysium in its carrying case one one side as well as accessories and paperwork on the other. The personalized nameplate is a nice touch and a reminder that this is a bespoke, luxury product. Very well done.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The package includes a ¼” inch adapter, cleaning brush, and Vision Ears branded cleaning fluid to help keep the surface areas of the Elysium looking their best. A beautiful two-tone leather puck case is included, with the top portion having a blue ripple effect. The case is flexible, with just the right amount of resistance in opening and closing, and is one of the best IEM cases I’ve ever used.

    [​IMG]

    Aesthetically, the Elysium is a lovely piece, with the faceplate having swooping blue and green stripes over a transparent shell with the underside fully revealing the green-colored HALC (High Precision Acoustics Leveling Chamber) chamber, which is a proprietary design to Vision Ears, designed to tune the dynamic driver.

    The Elysium is a four driver hybrid design, using a dual electrostatic tweeter for the highs, a single dynamic driver with HALC for mids, and a single balanced armature driver for the lows. This design eschews the more traditional hybrid setup of using dynamic drivers for lows and balanced armature drivers for mids. The supplied cable is a well built 8 wire SPC (silver plated copper) design. The cable is ergonomic, does not tangle, and comes with a nice VE embossed splitter.

    Finally, the fit and finish of the Elysium is sublime. I had heard that Marcel was extremely gifted in the art of taking ear impressions and can only concur. The Elysium is the most comfortable and best fitting CIEM in my collection.

    [​IMG]

    Sound Impressions
    The Elysium is being used with the Astell&Kern SP1000 copper, Chord Hugo 2, and the Benchmark HPA4 desktop headphone amplifier, which allows it to scale to even greater heights. Some of the hybrid IEMs that I’ve previously heard have had their challenges with the integration of the electrostatic drivers, as these typically require a higher level of power. Not so with the Elysium.

    The Elysium has a mid-centric sound signature with fantastic headroom and an open and airy soundstage. It’s a smooth, musical presentation but does not sound dark or overly warm. I would describe the sound signature as natural, with enough treble sparkle without being fatiguing, and a rich bass texture that provides an excellent level of harmonic balance. The highs are open, airy, and detailed in a non-fatiguing way. The timbre of vocals and instruments is just outstanding, among the finest I’ve heard in any IEM.

    All of this results in an earphone that can be listened to for hours without fatigue and where musical enjoyment takes center stage. The Elysium has the ability to remove some of the sharp edges of less than perfect recordings but at the same time can truly shine with the best ones.

    [​IMG]


    Sounds Impression Comparisons with other IEM/CIEM’s
    Here is a brief comparison of the sonic differences between the Elysium and a few other IEM’s on hand.

    AAW Canary (Universals)
    The AAW Canary is another great hybrid IEM that was introduced at CanJam Singapore 2019. The Canary has a different driver configuration than the Elysium and uses two (2) dynamic drivers for lows, four (4) balanced armature drivers for mids and highs, and two (2) electrostatic super tweeters. The Canary has a slight V shaped sound signature with an even more extended and airier top end than the Elysium. Where the Elysium shines over the Canary is in the mids, and especially vocals. The Elysium sounds a little more natural and balanced to my ears although the Canary is no slouch and is another fantastic hybrid IEM with a different tuning and design philosophy that could be preferable to some listeners.

    qdc Anole VX (Universals)
    The Anole VX from Chinese manufacturer, qdc, has been one of the most talked about flagship IEM’s recently and is one of my personal references. It’s a 12 driver balanced armature design with a neutral sound signature that is just slightly warm, enabling a highly natural and engaging performance while retaining great musicality. The VX has a slightly shallower soundstage than the Elysium yet still is extremely layered and three-dimensional. The Elysium is the more relaxed and musical listen of the two, with the VS sounding more incisive with a flatter and more neutral frequency response.

    64 Audio Tio Fourte (Universals)
    The 64 Audio Tia Fourte has been one of the top flagship IEM’s over the past few years and was one of the first IEM’s that pushed boundaries in the market with their Tia driver technology. The Tia Fourte has a very wide soundstage, wider than the Elysium but less soundstage depth. Both IEMs have great dynamic range with the Elysium sounding fuller and more balanced than the Tia Fourte. The mids and vocals shine on the Elysium and sound more recessed on the Tia Fourte.

    Conclusion
    The Vision Ears Elysium is a fantastic hybrid driver technology earphone and one of the best headphone audio products released in 2019. The guys at Vision Ears have really found the sweet spot in their tuning of Elysium and the overall package of sound quality, ergonomics, and pride of ownership is outstanding.

    It has an ideal blend of musicality and transparency, with a natural tonality and smoothness to the sound signature that just hits the sweet spot. It is also incredibly comfortable, enabling long and fatigue free listening sessions.

    The Elysium is a must add to your shortlist if you are looking for a flagship custom IEM. Highly and enthusiastically recommended!


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      Frankie D, raypin and mvvRAZ like this.
    1. Frankie D
      Third Eye, how does the bass of the Elysium compare to the bass of the Anole VX in your opinion? Please let us know all of your thoughts in this area. Tks.
      Frankie D, Oct 16, 2019 at 7:36 AM
  2. mvvRAZ
    The very best at what it does
    Written by mvvRAZ
    Published Sep 15, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Amazing unboxing experience and purchase process
    Best midrange I've heard
    Clean and clear highs
    Detail retrieval off the charts
    Cons - Bass quantity won't be enough for many
    High price
    Disclaimer: this review is for the item I have by far the most positive bias towards because it fits my preferences so well that remaining objective is challenging.

    Anyhow, Vision Ears is a company based in Cologne in Germany, and I've been looking at them for a while, but their current line-up didn't suit me all that well, with the notable exception of the Erlkonig on bass setting 1.

    The purchase process was rock solid, I pestered the poor people at VE with photos of half their shell colours because I am a huge design freak and not once did they show how fed up they were with me. I also asked for a quicker-than-normal production/delivery of about 10 days less than normal (because of a trip I had upcoming) and they were able to do it, which really put the cherry on top of the ice-cream. I sent them two sets of ear impressions so they can pick whichever they liked better, they were approved, and that was that!

    A few long weeks later the Elysium arrived, and I was a bit anxious because I've had a pretty terrible CIEM experience in the past and I was worried about the fit, any potential design mistakes etc etc. I am very happy to report, all my worries were put to bed, because the little jewels fit like a glove, and boy are they gorgeous.

    IMG-8478.JPG

    To note here, the unboxing experience is amazing, you open the box and a platform kind of ascends towards you and you're there like wooooooah - huge nerdgasm moment. The accessories included are a round leather case, a cleaning brush, a micro-fiber cloth and some alcohol solution for cleaning the customs. I must say it is first time I've received a liquid like that and boy am I loving using it. I will certainly be ordering more of them to clean the rest of my IEMs, big big fan.

    Design-wise, I picked the standard Elysium faceplate, with Olive on one side, and Crystal Blue on the other. I like blue and green combinations, and the transformer inside the Elysium is green as is, so it all came together pretty well - I am absolutely loving the end result!

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    Now, onto the sound - this is very much a mid/high-centric IEM, and there is no other way to really put it. The bass is there, the bass is good, but if you're a basshead looking for thunderous slams this ain't for you.

    The lows: what they've managed to do with a single BA is pretty impressive imo. The bass goes quite deep, it is quite punchy when the song calls for it and decently textured. It's a definite quality over quantity tuning. Note, if you've listened to the demo universal, the custom does have more bass due to the improved seal and it's a noticeable improvement. To be perfectly straight with you though, I am far from a basshead, and pretty bass sensitive so any bass that isn't much in quantity will be bass that I approve of.

    The mids: This is where the Elysium really shines. These is by far the most dynamic, detailed and engaging midrange I have ever listened to. Instruments come alive, vocals sound like they are dead in front of you performing for you live. It is just so obscenely good that I keep finding myself missing it every time I listened to any other IEM. The detail retrieval is on a completely different level as well, I'm hearing nuances and details that I haven't done on any other IEM before, including a detail monster like the A18t.

    VE have definitely gone for a more energetic representation however - the background isn't pitch black, instead the instruments and vocals have a certain glow around them that really puts the whole thing together and gives the performance a lot of soul.

    The highs: I'd like to say here that VE have made a great decision to use the electrostatic drivers for the highs instead of BA highs + estat ultrahighs. I really like the sparkle and treble detail and presence of electrostats, and in this case I think the implementation is on point. Extremely coherent, not overly forward, but plenty of extension when it is required and a very nice finishing touch to the DD mids. I'd say clean and clear above all else. At no point is it painful or overly intense, but it is also very very far from a dark IEM.

    Technical performance: The first thing to be mentioned here is the sound quality of the mids. The texture and timbre of the sound reproduction is unlike anything I have heard, on headphones and IEMs alike. I was listening to a Utopia yesterday and it simply could not do what the Elysium does in that specific aspect. The soundstage is decently large, and very well layered - you hear stuff happening all around you. It isn't the widest I've heard though, you're placed centre-stage. Instrumental separation is on point, you can hear each and every instrument as its own thing - once again though, the approach is on the more energetic side and not like that of say, the Erlkonig, which is definitely cleaner.

    Pairings: So far I've listened to it with the AK SR15, the SP1000M and the RME ADI 2 DAC. It is an IEM that definitely scales well with source, and is quite responsive to non-EQ tone controls. On the AK SR15 you can definitely feel something missing, the SP1000M doubles down on the energetic and engaging performance, while the RME provides a somewhat darker soundstage and increases the soundstage width and instrumental separation. I like both versions and they're quite suitable for home/outside use. Definitely use it with 8wire cables though, either from an upgrade or the stock cable, as I tried it with some 4-wires and it felt a bit closed/congested. I haven't yet received my upgrade for the Elysium (the Satin Athena 8 wire), but I'll make sure to comment on that once I have.

    Comparisons:

    Noble Katana: I am putting this here because it is another IEM that I regard very high for its midrange performance. The Elysium is essentially a Katana on steroids - better sound quality, a more engaging representation of the music, bigger soundstage, more separation. Everything is just more and better and the price reflects that. If Noble had decided to go for a Katana 2.0, the Elysium would be a great starting (and ending) point.

    FiR M5: This is the other tribrid that I would give 10/10 for coherency. The M5 has both more intense lows and more intense highs, making for a somewhat more fatiguing listen. If you're after something with more bass, I'd recommend the M5. Otherwise, I feel like the Elysium has the upper hand when it comes to mids and highs. It is also more laid back and I am fine listening to it for hours and hours, while the M5 gets tiring somewhat quickly.

    U/A18t: Both the VE and the 18t have insane detail retrieval. The 18t is a bit more of a V-shape, while the Elysium is more mid-centric. Similar level of technical performance to my ears though.

    Conclusions: Given my personal sound preferences, the Elysium outperforms any and every IEM I have ever heard. It is one of these products that makes you feel like it was designed specifically for you, and it's just an instant match.

    If I try to be somewhat more objective though, I think the VE8 has a warmer and more universally-loved sound signature and will probably remain VE's most sought after model, while the Elysium will fill a more specific niche, and I think will remain the very best at it for a long long while. I'd say Vision Ears have been pretty brave when designing the Elysium and went for something that they believed would be a great addition to their line-up (and it really, really is), as opposed to just another monitor that goes after the highest number of customers possible.

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    1. View previous replies...
    2. mvvRAZ
      @Frankie D I'm afraid I was only working from memory here so it would be quite hard to do a detailed comparison of the two.

      However I will be travelling to Cologne sometime soon for a business trip and I might be able to visit VE then and write it up more properly
      mvvRAZ, Sep 17, 2019
      Frankie D likes this.
    3. Giullian
      Really nice review mate. Tried it once and really liked it, was magic too. But the price...oh this price.
      Giullian, Sep 18, 2019
      mvvRAZ likes this.
    4. mvvRAZ
      @Giullian I know buddy, but well, it's 2k19 flagships.... what can you do haha
      mvvRAZ, Sep 18, 2019

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