Vision Ears ELYSIUM - Reviews
Vision Ears Elysium - Money doesn't always get you the best!
Pros: Pleasant mids
Cons: Boring, random harshness, overpriced, light bass, cheap build quality
Vision Ears Elysium - Review

A BIG thank you to head-fi and Vision ears for inviting me to join the gear tour. This is an opportunity to review gear that I wouldn’t have been able to obtain financially or hear at local shops. So it is an honor to hear another high profile IEM. Here is my attempt at a review:

This will be a short and to the point review. To be brutally honest and blunt; I am disappointed with the VE Elysium.

I was disappointed that the tour kit only came with a leather case, the Elysium and a cable. I was hoping to get to experience the awesome packaging. I was also a little annoyed that no tips were included. I am a firm believer that manufacturers pick tips specifically that they believe make the product sound the way they intended when they designed it; sadly without the manufacture tips there is no way of knowing the intended sound signature. Getting back to the leather carry case, it is very well made, smells like leather and feels great in the hand; sadly it doesn’t offer much protection of the Elysium as it is very soft and mushy. But it does say quality when looking and holding it.

The Elysium design and look were also a disappointment. To me they look cheap for a $3,000 IEM. I get the same quality feel of materials from my ADV M5-1D which retails for $400. The Meze Rai Solo $250 absolutely destroys the Elysium on material quality and feels way more premium. To me the Elysium feels like a moderately priced chifi IEM, a major disappointment. Also, the design is terrible and not universal at all. The flat, stone like design makes the Elysium slip out of ears very easily. The short, fat nozzle and bore make it hard for tips to stay in place; I lost many a tip inside my ear canal during my review time. In my opinion, the design and materials of the Elysium just don’t cut it for an IEM of this price point.

Okay so the design, material and fit are lackluster, how is the sound. Surely the sound should impress considering the price point. First lets take a look at the technology and specs of the Vision Ears Elysium, see link below for more information from VE.

https://vision-ears.de/premiumline/elysium

  • Tech: Four driver three-way hybrid system with a BA, dynamic, and 2 electrostatic driver
  • Drivers: 1BA for bass – 1 dynamic for mids – 2 electrostatic for highs
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL at 1 mW
  • Impedance: 16.4 Ohms at 1 kHz

Um yeah, the sound also disappointed me. To me it just screams overpriced.
Here are my quick thoughts on the sound.

Bass: The Elysium is bass light, has decent extension with adequate presence and detail retrieval. I was always searching for a bit more impact and more body, the Elysium just lacked bass authority. Bass can get a little confused on busier tracks but that is not as prominent as thought on first impressions.

Mids: Mids have nice vocal presence and are the highlight of the mix. The tones that they portray are engaging and pleasant for the most part. The upper mids are at times too far forward and can sound somewhat hot. But for the most part the tonality and timbre of the mids are pleasing. Very much so the best part of the sound.

Treble: Elysium has a weird treble for me. The lower treble can be hot and too far forward. Details are presented in a somewhat aggressive way at times. The higher treble lacks air and can sound muffled. There is some harshness that appears randomly but not as prominent as I thought on first impressions.

Soundstage and Imaging: Soundstage is average width but excels in depth and layering. The Elysium does a good job in separating and isolating out instruments and vocals. It is easy to dissect a soundstage with the Elysium.

Overall the Elysium isn’t a bad sounding IEM but I am not impressed because of the price. I don’t see any benefit in getting the Elysium when I can get a ADV M5-1D for $400 or Meze Rai Solo for $250. I just don’t get a sense of value with the Vision Ears Elysium, to me they sound like a mid-level IEM at a high-level pricetag. If the Elysium was priced at $750 I would be more accepting of them.

Gear:

iFi Audio Pro iDSD
Monoprice Monolith THX AAA 788
Pioneer XDP-30r
Sony Walkman NW-A105
Shanling M2x
Shanling Q1

Sources:

Tidal
Deezer
Foobar (local dsd and flac)

Songs:

https://tidal.com/browse/track/128215119 Sinne Eeg “We’ve Just Begun” - multiple layer soundstage

https://tidal.com/browse/track/77568002 Molly Johnson “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” - female vocal tone

https://tidal.com/browse/track/120190149 Leslie Odom Jr. “Under Pressure” - male vocal tone

https://tidal.com/browse/track/230625 Eric Clapton “Change the World” - soundstage layering and placement

https://tidal.com/browse/track/18016422 Yo Yo Ma “Ecstasy of Gold” - acoustic instrument timbre

https://tidal.com/browse/track/103401770 Adam Baldych “Spem in Alium” - acoustic instrument timbre

https://tidal.com/browse/track/31759874 Tingvall Trio “Beat” - piano tonality


https://tidal.com/browse/track/52532480 Pain of Salvation “Stress” - percussion balance

https://tidal.com/browse/track/98069001 Michael Buble “When I Fall in Love” - orchestral dynamics

https://tidal.com/browse/track/41094997 Patricia Barber “Code Cool” - sibilance check
Christian Scott “New New Orleans” - shouty upper mids

https://tidal.com/browse/track/116415078 Tool “Chocolate Chip Trip” - imaging

https://tidal.com/browse/track/1855831 Hans Zimmer “Why So Serious” - sub bass extension

https://tidal.com/browse/track/89386285 Marcus Miller “No Limit” - bass control

https://tidal.com/browse/track/77646106 Dave Holland Quartet “Conference Of The Birds”- bass check

https://tidal.com/browse/track/132139860 Ilhan Eshkeri “47 Ronin”- orchestra and bass dynamics

https://tidal.com/browse/track/79530261 Hans Zimmer “2049” - sub bass extension

https://tidal.com/browse/track/36764745 Queen “Somebody to Love” - dynamics, sharpness and transients

https://tidal.com/browse/track/114330493 Tool “Ticks & Leeches” - dynamics, sharpness and transients

https://tidal.com/browse/track/63345703 Galactic “Doomed” - sub bass extension

https://tidal.com/browse/track/3468730 Bela Fleck & The Flecktones “Flight Of The Cosmic Hippo” - sub bass extension

https://tidal.com/browse/track/118552925 Motley Crue “Dr. Feelgood” harshness and shouty

https://tidal.com/browse/track/55391456 Pink Floyd “Young Lust” - mid bass and soundstage

https://tidal.com/browse/track/72947822 Shawn Mendes “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” - forwardness

https://tidal.com/browse/track/85963727 Alexander Desplat “Ïsle Of Dogs: Toshiro” - dynamics

https://tidal.com/browse/track/107749134 Marina “No More Suckers”- sibilance

https://tidal.com/browse/track/75202408 Tauren Wells “Known” - male vocals and micro dynamics

https://tidal.com/browse/track/86330323 Kacey Musgraves “Wonder Woman” - female vocals

https://tidal.com/browse/track/84340438 Dennis Lloyd “Nevermind (Wankelmut Remix)” - soundstage

Playlists:
https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/3e4a5ae5-cde5-40fa-bbaa-4e432fe79e3e

https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/0ba4d6a8-9d95-4f16-b79e-ef084a091d73

https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/c5bc66bd-a907-4a0e-a976-9f02e75c126f

https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/0e3aa4a1-ba36-44fe-aabb-d8976dc8a908

https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/9e6568e7-8bdd-4ddd-964c-f5453d8761e8

https://www.deezer.com/playlist/744...utm_term=3243482124_1585500966&utm_medium=web

https://www.deezer.com/playlist/744...utm_term=3243482124_1585501023&utm_medium=web

https://www.deezer.com/playlist/744...utm_term=3243482124_1585502653&utm_medium=web
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Pros: - proper, well-done EST implementation
- impressive tri-hybrid design
- solid technical performance and depth
Cons: - bass lacking in true dynamic slam
- midrange is mostly unremarkable
- treble is disjoint from FR
Introduction
Another week, another pair of high-profile, flagship IEMs for me to tear apart – my bad, review. Vision Ears is an IEM company based out of Germany, and as I understand it, they have something of a cult-following in the EU. I received two of their IEMs, the Elysium and VE8, as part of a Head-Fi tour doing rounds in the US where they tend to fly under the radar. I’ve heard good things about their stuff from the circles I hang out in, so you can imagine how excited I was to try these out!

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This is where I plug my disclaimer that compared to some of the other reviews I’ve seen, this one is probably going to end up being more bare-bones. At the end of the day what matters most to me is, well, the sound. There’s a plethora IEMs that are all bark – price, presentation, and hype – and no bite. Read: They sound like garbage. And as I’ll discuss in this review, luckily the Elysium has the bark and the bite. Frankly, it’s refreshing to see a company that clearly knows what they’re doing, although I do question whether it’s worth it.

I received the Elysium as a part of a demo tour organized by Barra of Head-Fi. I am grateful for the opportunity, and as always what follows are my honest thoughts.

The Tangibles
The Elysium arrived in nothing more than its case, so I don’t have any of the accompanying accessories. Perhaps this is for the best anyways, as presentation can color one’s assessment. Some quick comments:
  • I believe there are two cases available when you purchase from Vision Ears. I wouldn’t go for the leather one, it feels cheap and malleable. Grab the solid metal case, the thing’s indestructible – it’d probably stand up to being rolled over by a car. When you have this much money sunk in your IEM, they deserve nothing less than the best protection.
  • The stock cable had no L/R markings on it. I couldn’t tell which was which, plus it looked like someone might’ve accidentally bent one of the jacks slightly.
  • Great build quality on the Elysium itself. The faceplates are mostly clear, and you can see all the little drivers inside! It’s just really cool to see.
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joint
Sound Analysis
Elysium takes a good amount of power to drive because of its EST drivers. All critical listening was done off of an iBasso DX160. Please see here for my testing methodology, test tracks, and more information.

The Elysium’s sound signature is what I’d consider a mild V-shape. In general, I find coherency to be rather good for a tri-hybrid sans the treble, and the Elysium is one of the more “musical” IEMs I’ve heard that manages to retain its technical chops. But wait, there’s a catch! Vision Ears has swapped a BA for the lows and a DD for the mids; two EST for the highs. Totally groundbreaking stuff, I know. So how does it actually stack up?

Starting from the low end, I should note that I have a preference for dynamic driver bass. So the decision to have a BA handle the Elysium’s low-end is a questionable one to me, and frankly, I’m not really seeing the payoff. It’s fairly snappy, certainly extends well with some weight and texture; however, it’s lacking in true authority. Is it passable, even decent for BA? Sure. Is it what I’d call good? Now that’s where the 64audio U12t enters the picture.

The midrange has been hyped quite a bit, and yeah, I can certainly see why. I find myself glued to it; it’s pushed back a little further and it just draws you in. I hear a warm coloration to the midrange’s timbre which I think gives it that natural, “musical” quality many enjoy. However, it’s not quite as fast with a DD running the show and the coloration lends to a lack of clarity. Coming off the likes of VE8, everything feels a little fuzzy. Mind you, I’m nitpicking, but again there’s clearly trade-offs to be had.

Moving on to treble…treble is interesting, it definitely has a different flavor to it than BA/DD. Strangely enough, I don’t think I noticed this on the Empire Ears Valkyrie which also uses an EST. I wouldn’t say it bothers me on the Elysium, but it feels a little too distinct which is probably only exacerbated by the lift in the frequency response here. There’s good extension and sparkle, perhaps a bit too much splash. Although this is where I take issue with Elysium’s coherency, it’s not setting off any alarm bells, so well done here.

Apparently, there’s source variance with the Elysium’s treble; higher-power sources purportedly tame it somewhat. Ironically enough, this has the exact opposite effect on the Empire Ears Wraith. Anyways, I’m totally open to trying other sources – it can’t hurt, and I’d love to hear the difference. The thing is, I don’t have access to said equipment being a broke college student, and it really begs the question: Is it worth it?

There’s a quotation from Spiderman: Homecoming, where Tony Stark says to Peter Parker, “If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it”. Stark asserts that the high-tech suit is but a medium to enhance what Peter already has; Peter needs to be strong even without the suit. In a similar vein, I don’t believe that an IEM’s ideal performance should be predicated on an expensive, non-portable amp or DAC. For one, it’s just not a very common use scenario, and for another, it eliminates a large demographic of potential buyers. As such, I try to judge IEMs on their merits devoid of said factors, especially when scoring.

Anyways, that’s enough ranting – let’s wrap-up by talking about technicalities. No issues with the overall timbre. Staging is fairly average, but I find that it has fairly decent depth, enough to make the image diffuse somewhat. Layering capability and detail retrieval are certainly above average as well. Speed…I don’t think it’s either fast or slow, it seems to be somewhere in the middle. In general, it’s a good enough performer – I’d put it around the $1000 mark – but it’s also not playing with the big boys.

The Verdict
The Elysium feels like an expensive flex from Vision Ears. They’re showing that not only can they switch it up (literally too), but they can also implement the latest and greatest tech properly. And to this effect, I’d posit that the Elysium appreciates more as a piece of R&D. It’s an instance of which a company is putting everything they have into a product with no expense spared. And really, there’s nothing wrong with that – these types of things are cool to see.

Unfortunately, this comes with concessions in the name of value. I tried spending more time with the Elysium just because I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to frame my thoughts. This thing clocks in at $3200. Let me let that sink in – three, two, zero, zero. Hi-fi was never a value proposition, but this really is pushing it.

A quotation that comes to mind is “Pioneers get slaughtered, and the settlers prosper”. To this end, I get the feeling that while the Elysium is groundbreaking now – at least in its EST implementation – it’ll probably be eclipsed as other companies figure out the technology too. Your money is your money; however, make no mistake that $3200 is a lot to put on the line. I would only consider the Elysium worthy of purchase if the tonality sounds like your endgame, if supporting so-called pioneer companies is something important to you, and if you actually have the money. For all the fancy stuff going on with the Elysium, there are more technical, more “musical” IEMs for less. There’s better ways to go broke in this hobby.
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Get lost in music!
Pros: tribrid design with BA/DD/dual-EST, beautiful shells, natural revealing tonality, captivating mids/vocals, soundstage approaches holographic level, premium packaging and accessories.
Cons: price, the sound (bass and treble) is impacted by eartips selection, treble might be a bit too vivid for some.


The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion. The review was originally posted on my review blog, and now I would like to share it with my readers on Head-fi.

Manufacturer website: Vision Ears. Available for sale directly or from authorized retailers.


Intro.

Introduced over a year ago as part of their Premium Line, Vision Ears Elysium (Ely) is not exactly the new kid on the block. But due to its popularity and overwhelming feedback from audiophiles who tried the universal demo of their original custom model, recently, Ely got re-introduced as universal version. I never had a chance to test any other VE model, though heard great things about their popular VE8 and ultimate Erlkonig. And, I can’t really say that VE flew under my radar, but I was still hesitant about custom versions due to my not-so-ciem-friendly earcanal shape of left ear.

After a number of questions from my readers about Ely and being curious about their design choice of BA/DD for bass/mids, I finally contacted Amin, one of the co-founders of Vision Ears (you have to read their Handcrafted in Cologne story how VE started). It took a while before I got my ear impressions done which worked out to my advantage since then I was made aware about upcoming universal version and finally had a choice. It was a bit of a torture waiting for the final product packaging to be ready before Ely could be shipped, but the wait was definitely worth it! Now, after spending a few months with Ely, I’m ready to share about my experience!

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Unboxing and Accessories.

I didn’t understand at first why Amin asked me if I want to receive Ely by itself or wait for the final packaging. But after reading other impressions describing unboxing of VE products as an experience you don’t want to miss, I decided to be patient.

When the box arrived, it was surprisingly big. We are talking about 14” x 8.5” brown cardboard box, probably 2-3 times bigger than what you would expect for universal pair of IEMs. The cardboard packaging kind of reminded me of boxes you get with laptops. It had their own branded packaging sealing tape around it, a printed label with product info and my name, and a side pocket with a handwritten warranty card and confirmation of 2-year warranty from the date of purchase. One interesting detail, the inner flaps of the box were cutout just enough to have a clearance around magnetic latch of the product box.

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Inside, you get the actual product box with a truly jaw dropping giftbox presentation: from silver ELYSIUM print on each side to a glossy top cover with a weaving pattern (kind of reminding me a bit of Ely’s faceplate artwork) and magnetic latch with VE VISION EARS label holding both sides of the top cover together. But the real Wow-factor is when you open the halves of top cover which brings up the suspended inner tray with “Purity of Sound” printed on the side and the rest of the goodies inside of it. The effect of raising the suspended tray was very clever, making me forget for a second about the actual IEMs.

From the top you can see Ely on display of a sturdy board cutout with a cable wrapped around it. Next to it was another compartment with additional accessories, such as 3 pairs (S/M/L) of SpinFit CP145 eartips, 3 pairs (S/M/L) of EPros horn-shaped tips, microfiber cloth, 6 wax-stop replacement meshes, Thank You card with a detailed info about EST drivers used inside Ely, and a VERY detailed manual booklet.

With a top tray removed, at the bottom you will find VE branded round blue leather carry case with ELYSIUM model name stamped inside, a matching blue leather snap-button cable tie with a stamped VE logo, and a cotton VE branded draw-string cotton bag. The top cover of the leather carry case also had a weaving pattern reminiscent of Ely’s faceplate artwork design.

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As many of my readers aware, I do enjoy talking about unboxing experience of products I review because from my discussions with manufacturers I know how much effort they put into packaging. Plus, it is always helpful to know what accessories are included stock with a product. VE unboxing experience was unlike anything else I have seen to date. Period.

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Cable.

Ely comes with a nice-looking premium silver-plated copper custom cable. The cable has 8 SPC 28awg thick conductors with a clear soft shielding. The main part of the cable has a tight square braid, yet the cable is still soft and flexible. Above the split, you have each side with a looser 4 wire braid going to a 2pin connector with a pre-shaped clear heat-shrink earhook.

The cable comes standard with gold-plated 2.5mm OYAIDE balanced connector plug with a nice diamond cut grip. The y-split is small and round, with a matching silver finish like in a plug, and with VE logo and “Made in Germany” printed on the back. Chin-slider is a tight clear rubbery piece. The housing of 2pin connectors is like two small silver bullets with an indent id ring on the left side and the actual 2pin connector designed specifically for non-recessed socket of Ely.

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The cable connected to Ely shells was very tight out of the box and it took me a little bit of force to separate it, until a few reconnects later it loosened up when I started my cable rolling which I’m going to cover later after the sound analysis section.

It's a nice lightweight non-microphonic cable, and my only wish here would have been for a matching 3.5mm and 4.4mm adapters, perhaps something similar to DDHiFi adapters.

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Design.

Since I’m reviewing universal version of Ely, I didn’t have to go through VE on-line Configurator tool for CIEM models where you can customize the shell color, logo, etc. With universal Ely you get instant gratification of their signature design with a clear transparent shell and a special unique faceplate with a weaving blue line pattern. Ely’s acrylic shell with its lacquer layer finish doesn’t look like a typical generic universal design, and instead looks more like custom model.

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The shape of the shell is flat and fits comfortably in the concha area of the ear. Depending on eartips selection which going to control the insertion depth among other things, you can get the shell to sit nearly flush in your concha area. While I never tested Ely demo before, a number of people mentioned that universal Ely shell is nearly identical to their demo of custom model. And that makes sense because the ergonomics of the demo design was intended to give you the sound and the experience of the custom version. And just like with a demo, universal design has a thicker nozzle to use with eartips. Plus, at the tip of the nozzle you will find a replaceable ear-wax mesh screen with extra spares included with accessories.

The clear shell gives you inside look of the driver arrangement where you will find a 3-way tri-hybrid system with 4 drivers on each side: BA (lows), DD (mids), and dual EST (highs). The dual EST driver with a common separate voltage transformer is most likely by Sonion, but in my opinion the most interesting part of the design was the switch between BA and DD. Hybrid models typically have Dynamic driver bass and Balanced Armature mids/highs. Here, VE decided to use BA drivers for lows and DD for mids.

The selection and the tuning of BA bass driver felt almost like listening to a dynamic driver with a speed of BA driver. The natural tonality of dynamic driver mids was shaped with a help of VE’s exclusively designed HALC (high-precision acoustic leveling chamber) which you can see surrounding the DD inside the clear shell. And for course, the vivid presentation of highs was courtesy of dual EST drivers.

I will dive into more intimate sound description details in the next section of the review.

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The fit.

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Sound Analysis.

I analyzed Ely sound performance paired up with LPGT while playing a variety of test tracks, such as Agnes Obel “The curse”, Sandro Cavazza “So much better” (Avicii remix), C-Bool “Never go away”, Ed Sheeran “Shape of you”, Alan Walker “Darkside”, Galantis “Hunter”, Iggy Azalea “Black widow”, Indila “Boite en argent”, Dua Lipa “Love again”, Counting Crows “Big yellow taxi”, David Elias “Vision of her”, and Michael Jackson “Dirty Diana”. I had about 150hrs of burn in before I started with a critical sound analysis.

I find Ely to have a natural revealing tonality with a balanced w-shaped signature and impressive timbre accuracy when it comes to both natural and synthesized instruments as well as male/female vocals. I have used "natural revealing" in sound description before, but my experience with Elysium gave it a whole new meaning. Typically, I would consider tonality to be natural when it is more organic, smoother, not too thin or too thick. But it also means that smoother tonality will have to compromise retrieval of details and the level of clarity. Revealing, on the other hand, often refers to bright, micro-detailed colder sound which shifts its focus toward a more analytical performance.

Natural revealing is a combination of both where manufacturer tries to find a perfect balance between two extremes. In my opinion and based on how I'm hearing it, VE hit the jackpot with Ely tuning. Using three distinct building blocks of BA bass, DD mids, and dual EST treble, they managed to establish a perfect Yin and Yang balance of both, natural and revealing tunings.

Due to a nature of universal design, bass quantity will seriously dependent on the selection of eartips size and type which also happens to be quite subjective due to individual ear anatomy. My large earcanals got lucky with the included stock SpinFit CP145 large tips that enable me to hear a deep textured sub-bass rumble, and we are talking about not just sub-bass quality by also quantity. Mid-bass is fast and its decay is shorter and well controlled, typical of BA driver performance, but the level of sub-bass rumble was a pleasant surprise, definitely not what I would expect from BA driver since its sub-bass performance reminded me of DD. The bass is not too elevated, though I do hear it to be boosted, nicely extended, and well controlled.

And speaking of DD, that's where mids come into play. It was a very bold decision to switch BA and DD in the driver config of Ely, and it paid off. Mids here is what gives Ely's tuning its natural tonality. And it is not just the quality of mids tuning, but also its presentation, without being pushed too forward or too back. Lower mids are a little above neutral, giving just enough body for instruments and vocals to sound full and natural. Upper mids are clear, detailed, layered, but without too much "air" between the layers. It has just enough for a perfect layering and separation of the sounds.

Treble is vivid, vibrant, detailed, with a well-controlled level of clarity and definition which despite its more revealing nature still keeps it natural and airy. That was another interesting phenomenon where you almost expect treble to be bright and harsh, but instead it is very detailed and vivid and still well controlled. Again, have to pay close attention to eartips selection where I found eartips with wider bore opening or softer cap to make treble sound harsher and even sibilant to my ears.

Despite tri-hybrid design with BA/DD/dual-EST drivers, overall tuning is surprisingly coherent, with all drivers working in a nearly perfect unison.

Soundstage is wide and deep, approaching holographic level. But I also found an interesting phenomenon with imagining and positioning of instruments and vocals. Imaging has a good placement of instruments and vocals with a very accurate and convincing positioning allowing to pin-point every element in the song. The imaging is nearly 3D, putting you as a listener right in the middle, surrounded by the sounds. But, in a number of tracks I found vocals to be closer to me, giving them a little more intimacy. It wasn't like that in every track, but some had vocals placed closer to me while the rest of instruments where spreading further out. Part of it was also related to eartips selection.

Of course, isolation will be eartips depended as well, but in general Ely felt like a custom CIEM in my ears with a very secure fit and excellent sound isolation.

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Eartips selection.

As I already mentioned, eartips selection plays a very important role in Ely's sound-shaping.

SpinFit - fast elevated bass, transparent natural mids, vivid controlled treble.

EPros Horn-shaped - while these included eartips might work with some other IEMs, here it was clearly a wrong choice since the diameter of inner core was too small and required some effort to stretch these over the nozzle, and even with Large size pair, the soft rubber cap killed the seal and attenuated the bass. Personally, I would not recommend these with Ely.

AZLA Sedna - fast elevated bass, transparent natural mids, vivid controlled treble.

JVC Spiral Dots - fast neutral bass, more transparent mids, extra vivid bright treble.

Final Type-E - neutral lean bass, more transparent brighter mids, very vivid treble.

Symbio F - more elevated balanced bass, transparent natural mids, clear natural treble.

I was going back and forth between AZLA Sedna, SpinFit CP145, and Symbio F. I love isolation and grip of Sedna, but after a while my ears got a little sore since I preferred to use larger eartips and the nozzle of Ely is also quite thick. CP145 spent more time in my ears since its olive-shaped tip wedged more comfortably into ear canal, but treble was a little brighter. With Symbio F (foam) tips I had to step down to Medium due to larger size of Ely's nozzle, but it also gave me the most natural and less aggressive treble response, while still keeping natural organic mids and deep sub-bass rumble. Symbio F losses a little bit of air in sound, but having more natural less harsh treble was a big plus. But I still continue to switch between these three.

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Comparison.

The comparison was done using Ely with a stock 2.5mm SPC cable with DDHiFi 4.4mm adapter and LPGT source, volume matched in every comparison.

Ely vs 64 Audio U18t - Ely soundstage is wider, creating a more holographic spacing, while both have the same soundstage depth. When it comes to bass, Ely has more sub-bass rumble, while U18t mid-bass is just a little bit faster and with noticeably less sub-bass. Mids is where I hear the biggest difference, with Ely being more organic and natural, while U18t mids/vocals being leaner, brighter, and a little colder/dryer. Despite a comparison of EST vs Tia/BA driver, treble is actually quite similar, vivid, crisp, and airy. But because of a bigger contrast between uppers mids and treble, Ely's treble sounds a little brighter and a bit more aggressive in comparison to U18t where brighter upper mids are more in line relative to its crisp lower treble. (U18t used w/EA Leo II cable).

Ely vs 64 Audio Fourte - very similar soundstage expansion between these two IEMs. With bass, both have a similar sub-bass rumble, even a similar level of sub-bass quantity, but mid-bass has more impact and more punch in Fourte. Mids are different between these two, with Ely being more organic, more natural, and with closer presentation, while Fourte mids/vocals being a little more distant and not as natural, more colored in tonality. (Fourte used w/PlusSound PPH8 cable).

Ely vs FirAudio M5 - Soundstage expansion between these two IEMs is very similar. The biggest difference here is in bass. M5 bass has a noticeably bigger slam with more elevated sub-bass and more mid-bass impact. Mids have a similar tonality, with Ely being just a little more organic, more natural. But the presentation of mids is a little different with M5 pushing them further out of our head, while Ely bringing them closer. Despite each one using similar Sonion EST drivers (M5 single, Ely dual), treble tuning is a little different with Ely being more vivid and a little more elevated, while M5 being crisp but less elevated and with a little less sparkle. Maybe dual driver config has something to do with it. (M5 used w/Scorpion 8-core SPC cable).

Ely vs Empire Ears Wraith - Ely soundstage width is more expanded between these two. In comparison of bass, they trade with each other, Ely has a deeper sub-bass while Wraith has a punchier mid-bass. Mids are a little different here as well, with Ely being more organic, more natural, and with closer presentation, while Wraith mids/vocals being more distant with a brighter and not as natural tonality. Also, Ely's treble has a more vivid definition while Wraith treble is a little smoother in comparison. Wraith sound improves with a powerful amp source, but my comparison here was done using LPGT (Wraith used w/EA Cleopatra cable).

Ely vs Noble K10UA - Ely soundstage width is a little more expanded. When it comes to bass, K10UA has a little more impact with both sub-bass and mid-bass being relative lifted in comparison to Ely. Mids of K10UA are more revealing, dryer, and more distant in comparison to smoother and more natural mids/vocals of Ely. With treble, both have a vivid crisp treble, but K10UA treble is brighter and splashier in comparison to Ely. (K10UA used w/stock SPC cable).

ve-elysium-24.jpg

Pair up.

Ely has 16.4 ohm impedance and a bit lower 105dB sensitivity, but I still found it to be very efficient and easy to drive from any portable source I tried it with, though I did have to push volume about 10 clicks louder.

Lotoo LPGT - natural revealing tonality with deeper sub-bass rumble, faster mid-bass, natural organic layered mids, crisp natural treble (baseline).

Cayin N6ii w/E02 - still a natural revealing tonality, but upper mids and treble were a little bit brighter, especially treble and vocals were a little bit thinner.

A&K SP2000 SS - similar to LPGT, with a natural revealing tonality, punchy bass, natural organic layered mids and vocals, and while treble sounds natural it has a little more sparkle and air.

Sony WM1Z - very similar tonality and sound presentation as LPGT, but here the bass goes deeper with a little more rumble and mid-bass is a touch more elevated.

HiFiMan R2R2000 Red - this pair up threw me off-guard because Ely sounded very different here. The sound was very smooth and warm and not as revealing as in any other pair up. It was not a bad pair up, but it was just too dark for my taste.

iBasso DX220 MAX - very similar tonality and sound presentation as LPGT, but with a wider soundstage and a slightly more textured analog tonality of mids.

L&P P6 - in this pair up the signature became a little more mid-forward, with less sub-bass rumble and more forward presentation of mids/vocals. Also, treble was a little crisper.

In general, with an exception of two R2R DAPs (P6 and R2R2k), the pair up with all DAPs was relatively consistent with just a small variation where I actually like LPGT, WM1Z, and MAX the best. Surprisingly, R2R2k Red tonality was completely off, and P6 (R-2R DAC) signature changed a bit as well.

ve-elysium-28.jpg

Cable rolling.

I’m aware that some people don’t believe in cables and have very strong opinions about it. It's not my intention to trigger the argument, and instead I would like to share what I hear during my testing. What makes sense to me, a metal wire is a material with physical properties of resistivity, conductivity, purity, and unique geometry, all of which put together act as a filter between your source and headphones. Variations of these physical properties can affect the conductivity of analog signal, resulting in a sound change, from a subtle to a more noticeable level. If the talk about cables upsets you, please skip this section.

Effect Audio Leo II octa - adds a little more bass punch and a little more body in mids, and a touch smoother treble.

Dita OLSO - mids and treble are a lot of smoother, great organic transformation, but some resolution is lost.

Satin Audio Athena - nearly identical to Leo II octa, with a little more bass, and a touch smoother treble.

PlusSound PPH8 - tighter sound with faster bass, more transparent mids, and natural sparkly treble.

Effect Audio Code 51 - adds more sub-bass rumble and makes bass faster, more transparent and more forward mids, natural sparkly treble. Reminds me of PPH8 transformation, but mids are more forward and more focused.

ve-elysium-26.jpg

Conclusion.

For those who might think that a title of this review “Get lost in music” sounds too cliché, it actually does describe my experience of listening to Elysium from the time I got it out of the box. From the dictionary, Elysium means a happy and blessed afterlife, literally saying that it can give you a feeling of “dying and going to heaven”. I really did get lost in music every time I sat down to analyze Ely’s sound, realizing an hour later that I didn’t take any notes and instead was skipping through my favorite songs or switching between different DAPs to hear the pair up or just eartips/cable rolling. After all, why worry about afterlife Elysian Fields, when you can enjoy the sound now and be able to share it with friends since this is a universal pair of IEMs.

I have been testing and reviewing a lot of high-end IEMs, and sometimes feel jaded listening to another flagship earphone. With Ely it was a different and quite refreshing experience. I don’t know if Vision Ears reinvented the wheel by switching BA driver for the bass and Dynamic driver for the mids, and dual EST treble drivers are no longer a rarity. But Ely’s tuning was done so well! A natural tonality that hits the sweet spot with realistic timbre of instruments and vocals (thanks to DD mids) and vivid details without adding too much harshness (thanks to dual-EST) and a bassline foundation with textured analog rumble (surprisingly good for BA lows). I guess the quality of German Engineering doesn’t just apply to cars, but also to a fine-tuned sound!
toaster
toaster
The tuning prowess of VE is incredible; the engagement and emotionality generated by their iems is quite unique.Thx for the writeup, granite...err, twister.
DAS OHR
DAS OHR
I am from Germany. And I am proud of many german products. However, the sound tuning of the Elysiums I believe was done by a great Italian. Oliver Marino. To me this man is simply a genious. I tested the Elys. But because of the virus I cannot afford them at the moment. Maybe next year. I was so impressed by the Elys, that I EQed my Laylas to the FR of the Elys. And now? The Laylas never sounded better. Try it yourself. Use Comply Foams TX 500. Use a powerful DAP or desktop amp. EQ your Laylas to the frequency response curve of the Elys. The sound tuning of Mr. Marino is priceless. Would love to have a listen one day to the Erlkönig.
KevP
KevP
I bought these from VE, sent them back because they didn't sound right. They sent them back and told me rather dismissively I was wrong. Sold them. The fit is amazing, but that's where it ends for me. Awful, grainy, shouty upper mids and lower treble, made them unlistenable for me. I was using Cayin N6ii/E02, which, if anything would have tamed the VEs a little.

I've since bought QDC Anole VX and AAW Canary (the latter also with electrostat drivers). These are both dramatically better than the Elysium. Even the Shozy/AAW Pola39, at less than half the price, outperforms the Elysium with ease.
Pros: Fabulous sound.
Gorgeous look.
Presentation.
Clarity.
Detail retrieval.
Cons: Harder to drive than others.
Expensive.
For some too bright a sig.
Garish looks to some.
Not mine.
Vision Ears Elysium ($3140usd): What comes after a triple? A homerun!

VE Elysium website:
https://vision-ears.de/erlkoenig_en



Initiale:

The title of course refers to the number of different drivers within. The conclusion? Well when one hits it out of the park. I switched spots with @Ike since he had obligations and requested to move up. I was in no hurry. But once he started posting such gushy wordology regarding the liquidity of the Elysium, waxing lyrical replete with platitudes and such, I became angry. That was MY spot he took, and I simmered, stewed & smoldered…OK actually, I did not and enjoyed reading his diatribe as it inched closer to my time. He lamented that the critter(s) were leaving his fair state of Kentucky and making the brief safe trip to Missouri at the end of his time, but to be honest…his loss is my gain!

I am thoroughly happy that Ike enjoyed his time with an astounding pair of IEM’s known the world for being amongst the very best, and will do my best to pay homage to others who came fore with reviews awash with voluminous verbiage paying tribute to the maker known as VE.

I thank @Barra for another wonderful tour without which I would not have had the opportunity to hear the pair. For that I am grateful as ever and will thoroughly enjoy my week (I’m on day 3).



Specs:

ELYSIUM:
PRICE: 2900,- €, ($3499usd)
https://vision-ears.de/erlkoenig_en

  • Tech: Four driver three-way hybrid system with a BA, dynamic, and 2 electrostatic driver
  • Drivers: 1BA for bass – 1 dynamic for mids – 2 electrostatic for highs
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL at 1 mW
  • Impedance: 16.4 Ohms at 1 kHz

Gear Used/Compared:

Empire Ears Legend X ($2299)
Vision Ears VE8 ($2544)
Clear Tunes Monitor Da Vinci X ($2499)

Cayin N6 mk2
MBP/iFi iDSD Pro

Songlist:

Joey Alexander-Warna album and others
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado
twenty one pilots album, Trench
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Big Head Todd & The Monsters-Beautiful World
Mark Knopfler-Down The Road Wherever




Unboxing:


Since both IEM’s came only wrapped in their respective carrying case, I felt a tinge of that smoldering anger again, since I had read about the really cool unboxing affair, which is had by owners. I will admit while reading that in reviews, I envisioned the coolest cupholder I have ever seen, but unfortunately was not reliable. The early 2000’s Mercedes has the “blooming flower” cupholder, which would rise and “open its petals” upon the push of a button. I had a 2003 C-class loaner (often unfortunately) while my 2003 Saab 9-5 Aero wagon was being worked on, and the look on mine and my brother-in-law’s face was pure mechanical ecstasy. He was a mechanic at heart, and a damn good one (RIP), and we proceeded to take turns pushing the button over and over, haha. Anyway, from what I hear the unboxing comes with a “rising platform,” which would give the owner a similar whimsical fancy I would imagine.


So, alas, my “joyous unboxing” was limited to opening the small USPS Priority box and pulling both cases out. It was still neat to see that both made it just fine. Much has been written about the excellently cool case of the Elysium, likening it to a blue of oceanic variety, lined with the finest “Corinthian leather” or whatever. I do like the case, but if I’m going to spend 3-grand on an IEM, I would expect a better case. One, which I would not have to worry about being crushed were I foolish enough to venture on commuter lines with, much like the VE8 or Legend X. TOTL means case, as well. Again, I like the case, but it is flimsy and to me not what one should expect at this price.



Fit-n-finish:


As one would expect, the finish is exquisite. Most definitely TOTL stuff, and darn near flawless. I can feel the edges where the face plate attaches to the shell, but I do believe it is meant to aid in grasping the whole critter. It used to be that I did not like seeing the innards of an IEM, for the construction was usually drab, with wires and miscellany showing a jumble. Nowadays though, showing one’s guts can be pure art just like the VE8 or Elysium. I for one really like the look of the insides here what with the variety of color, shapes and logo-laden accoutrements. Add the aquarium-colored streaks on the backside, which all can see, and you have a pretty much stunning critter in which to look. Like a stunning Swiss mountain sunlit day, the innards are worth the look.



The Elysium comes with a premium white 8-wire spc 28AWG cable with a 2.5mm OYAIDE balanced connector standard. The 2-pin connectors have no typical red/not red markings, but the left side does have a circle on the connector, so one can easily (hopefully) remember. The Elysium only comes with a 2.5mm balanced termination but the kit also came with two excellent DD Audio adapters as well. So, using the Elysium in balanced mode in the N6ii was easy with the included 4.4bal jack. Note: this is only in the tour kit, this is not part of the Elysium purchase.


Using the included silicon tips, isolation was much better than I expected, providing a very good seal, without it being “vacuum-like” in the seal. Pairing the two, isolation was wonderful and the sound darn near extraordinary. Everything so far thus exuded TOTL, and quality. This is among the very best overall presentations including fit and finish of any unit that has graced my ears. Wonderful indeed.



Sound:

Typically, a review of this sort goes into the separates of sound, isolating all tenets so that the user can discern whether each sub-unit fits their bill. Whether the parts match one’s taste and then meld together for the finale. Here with the Elysium I do believe it is important to take a backward approach. Look at the overall, then discern the separates (or not at all because after the description one may not need it).

Taken as a whole, the Eylsium is stunning. Amongst the very best I have heard, period. From memory, the tia Forte might have emitted a bit better detail, but also a bit more antiseptic in sound. Mind you at the time, I thought the Forte was the very best “sound” I had ever heard, and still ranks among the very best. I did like the U18 Tzar more for that sound fit my tastes better. And here I would rank the Elysium as a melding of the two 64Audio signatures. That luscious, sumptuous virtuosity of emotion, wrapped in the detail retrieval one would expect from a something having that precision Germanic influence. Think the bullet-proof solidity of a Mercedes wrapped around the street cred of an M-class BMW and you would not be far from the truth. Mind you both marques exude their own character, but a melding of the pairs determines an excellent character of each, defining what makes both great. A most definite whole is greater than the parts anacronym.




Some pick the Elysium apart for having mids that are simply melodious and clear, laden with the clarity of a Swiss-mountain summer day, but short on treble sparkle and bass reach. They would not be completely remised, but to me here is the greatest strength of the Elysium: the marrying of the parts to bring those “shortcomings” into strength of fit. On Warna from Joey Alexander, the opening drum take folds effortlessly into his initial piano solo, followed by the staccato of precision key stroke impeccably. I am new to Joey Alexander, but thoroughly devour all he has for they are precise, unimpeachable and emotive. I do find his fast-paced sound a bit tedious and immature in the Jazz vein, but that is the beauty of a world-class 16-year-old Jazz pianist. With sheer precision that cannot be taught, but bred, he drives Jazz into the modern South American swivel-hipped style effortlessly. Here the Elysium lays bare any fallacy that might be had within. And there is none. I can hear his fingers grind on each key. I can hear his bassist move fingers across string and actually hit the bass itself. This is extraordinary.

The young man is phenomenal even if he needs to “mature” into the slower paced Jazz piano setting. But to me that is where he melds his own style into the reverence of past. And the Elysium allows that style to exude perfectly in tandem with the music. Many “TOTL” IEM’s would barge their way in with their own style tacking target over the music, overriding the author. Not the Elysium. The perfection of sound, which emits from his playing matches the character of the Elysium quite well. Not overly warm such and the Legend X, but not analytically neutral like the Forte leans either. A modern mix of an excellent sound character, which gives the music the chance to show what the artist intends. I do thoroughly enjoy that character and applaud Vision Ears for making a stunning statement in the TOTL lane of the highway.



Not the widest of sound stage, but just about what one would expect with the character emitted. Thoroughly inviting and encompassing, the stage fits the personality of the Elysium perfectly. I will admit that on artist such as Tedeschi Trucks the sound stage does feel a bit pinched in the middle. Midnight In Harlem is such a wonderful song just to listen to, but using it to judge layering and instrumentation can show a devices true limitations. And here the Elysium does feel a bit tight. But, if that is the only shortcoming, then I for one can listen and “live with that.” The sound is superb. On par with the best I have had and heard. It is an extraordinary critter of top-class quality as one would expect (and hope) from the price.

If I had to break the individuals down, I would do so in a short paragraph as such below. The overall to me is much more valuable than the parts, but if you must…Bass is a bit shy to me. I prefer a weightier bass with better feel and punch. That said, the quality of this bass is as good as one can have. Tight, “punchy” with excellent quickness, and a nice tautness to it that I much appreciate. I do miss the decay of my Legend X though. Mids simply put are amongst the very best I have heard. Weighted perfectly (to me), with enough emotion to emit that sensuous nature when needed without being syrupy. Succinct, with excellent control and vocal representation show through like few I have heard. And I appreciate hearing the separation of the vocal into a distinctness, which allows vocals to come forth with impunity. Good stuff indeed. The treble comes across clear and crisp, but without being crispy, crystalline or thin. There is no feigning of hand here. Where some such as my CTM Da Vinci X present excellent treble, but with a degree of brittleness, none is had in the Elysium. It’s those darn parts working together again for the whole…



Comparison:


Vision Ears Elysium ($3140) vs Empire Ears Legend X ($2299):

After another excellent Barra tour of TOTL IEM’s, I took the plunge and purchased the Legend X. Not wanting to fuss with a CIEM, I “settled” for the universal and do not regret it in the least. That sumptuous, sensuous double W9 bass took me in cuddled in those boosom’s and caressed my soul. I do not regret it in the least. Matching my want, or need for a warm, rich bassy sound; the LX fits my listen perfectly. Even after hearing the Wraith and Phantom, I still held the LX in its highest regard. That bass is the best I have heard, even if some call it bloomy and bleeding into the mids. I do not care what others think, I love this sound. Listening the Tedeschi Trucks in this comparison as well as Joey Alexander reaffirms my choice. As good and pure, and wonderful as the Elysium is, I come home to those boosom’s. They hold me tight and tell me everything will be all right. And they would be correct.

But if I must, the Elysium has more clarity of sound. The mids come across as more controlled and distinct. There is no denying that the Elysium mids are exemplary. One in which all TOTL makers should shoot for, should their signature preference lean that way. In this regard, I am a bit jealous that the LX does not emit that distinctness. But in the overall sound, I still prefer the LX. The Elysium is astonishing, and emits almost perfection, but the LX has my soul.


Vision Ears Elysium ($3140) vs Vision Ears VE8 ($2544):

I will admit that upon first listen, I liked the VE8 more than the Elysium. And I would not be battered and feathered for that opinion, as many consider it one of the best TOTL IEM’s out there and responsible for raising other companies’ game. I would agree that it should be considered there and worth the challenge.

The first difference would be that the VE8 is easier to drive. It also has a brighter sound (to me), but not analytical. Just brighter across the spectrum. Using Tedeschi Trucks again, the volume difference on my N6ii is about 5-7 to attain the same volume. And no, I did not test it with my sound meter, just seat of the pants. I also feel that as good as the VE8 is, the mids take a more frontal approach to the mids than I like. I do really like the sound, but those mids would prevent me from raising the volume too much. Bass is extraordinary, but a bit untamed when compared. Deeper reach by a smidge, but with a bit of bloom; this keeps the “quality” of bass behind the Elysium. So, based upon that, who would like the VE8? Those who appreciate a forward-based sound, with crisp vocals and treble, which exudes more sparkle than the Elysium. This is definitely a more in-your-face sound. I really do like the VE8 and would consider it for my personal TOTL had I not have the Legend X in the stable. But when compared to the Elysium, the overall package just fits better with the Elysium.

I will add that on Midnight In Harlem, the sound is of a sublime quality that I truly appreciate. The stick of drum hitting is perfection, and precise. Susan’s voice is heavenly and appreciated. Wonderful stuff. Just not enough when compared to the Elysium.


Vision Ears Elysium ($3140) vs Clear Tunes Monitor Da Vinci X ($2499):

The Da Vinci X was pretty much a buy after a tour. I still do not regret it as I consider it my baseline “neutral” with a bit of bassy-note to it. Shoving all those drivers in it (all 10), the shell is quite small and fits very well. It is all metal and can be cold until warmed up, but the sound it quite good. The biggest difference between the two would be how the mids are presented. With the Elysium the mids are sumptuous and distinct. The piece that holds the signature together. On the Da Vinci, the mids are more brittle and forward. A bit piercing, they are not as delicious as the Elysium. But they are crisper and more detailed. Where the Elysium melds, the Da Vinci separates into distinctness. The Elysium marries all together, giving sound in the mids its own space, but works effortlessly together. The Da Vinci separates and isolates, allowing the distinct mid tone to show off individually. Not bad mind you and an excellent judge in which to judge individual sound character of music, and thus in comparison. But not as harmonious as the Elysium. I thoroughly enjoy the Da Vinci and use it much less than I would like, but it provides me with an excellent complement to the Legend X, and I do believe it really is an unsung hero of the TOTL talk. Just wonderful tonality on the individual level where the Elysium harmoniously pulls all together.



Sources:

I could write this in one sentence: The Elysium sounds wonderful with any source I used. Period. Using the adapter for the N6ii, the pairing is magical. One in which the term “end game” would be pictured in the dictionary. But of course, end game is thrown around like money to a professional soccer player during the transfer window…too often. Using the warmer A01 module, the Cayin warms a touch that distinctness of the Elysium sound. But I do not mind as it really shines with the music. Harmonious would be an excellent descriptor.

Moving to the iFi Pro iDSD/MBP/XDuoo x10t ii iterations, that warm, rich sound moves a bit further what with the tube sound emanating. The XDuoo is an extraordinarily clean honest sound in its own right. And when paired with the iFi, make for a magical sound. One in which I listen often. Combine that with the Elysium and you have a fantastic trio. One in which you could happily spend your hours while working and forget about the world. Productivity in that vein would increase markedly as the sound extraordinaire would emanate from your ears. You would thus win company productivity awards and promotions abound. Soon you would become company CEO as a result of the trio, and corporate would then purchase the trio for all employees, while you lead the company to the very top of the Forbes list, become famous, buy a Ferrari, and a house in Monaco and happily work from your ocean view. That would be an extraordinary tale were it true, but the sound to back that story up is legit, honest and true, so there’s that.


Finale:

My time is up, and I am glad. Why? Because the next lucky person will get to listen, while I remember. I will remember pecking out these words as music streams through my cranial and be glad. Glad that I had the opportunity to listen to an excellent pair such as the VE8 and Elysium. I had heard one iteration of a Vision Ears and it was good. These are truly excellent and deserving of top spot TOTL status. They cost a decent percentage of a good college education’s year. But that is the nature of this TOTL hunted beast. One in which we strive for the best. One in which some will get there, while others such as myself will only give a brief listen. And this makes me glad that I was given that brief window with which to compare to my other wares. There truly is not a winner here, but only differing purveyors of company visions. And that makes me glad.

I thank Barra and VE for the loan of the wonderful pair. They are wonderful examples of a company’s forward thinking, while still relying on the past. They are good, truly good and should you have the opportunity; do not pass it up for that listen. You will be glad as well.

audiomonkey777
audiomonkey777
Great review. Thank you.
ngoshawk
ngoshawk
Thank you, I appreciate it.
John Massaria
John Massaria
Rents to damm high
Pros: The best signature that I have heard, ever. Best mids ever! Exotic level SQ when driven right.
Cons: Pricing may be too much for many
The ELYSIUM is my kind of signature – Full-sized sound, great at everything important, and excels at mids with a natural, intimate performance. As a tribrid design – BA, dynamic, EST mix – it is among the new generation that is quickly taking over the performance audiophile market reaching new levels of performance. However, the new engine that has kicked up performance in detail retrieval and layering – the EST driver – has also been the Achilles heel among the new EST offerings, acting as the attention dominator. Not so with the ELYSIUM. Vision Ears has created something radically different with the ELYSIUM tuning in their ability to integrate the EST seamlessly into the frequency spectrum rather than letting the EST dominate the show.

Learning about Vision Ears
To learn more about the history of Vision Ears, you can visit their website at https://vision-ears.de/. As you can tell from their website address, they are a German company. The reason this is important is that while they have a wide fanbase in Europe, they do not have very good representation here in the US where I am writing this review. For years, I have heard about the VE8 from those in Europe that have been enjoying their custom model or those that have been demoing them at their local dealer. We are not so lucky in the US and have no way to hear what the Europeans are sooooooo excited about. We have just had to take everyone’s word for it. However, technologies have progressed, favorites that top the CIEM SQ lists have been replaced, but that darn VE8 stays near the vary top as long is it is part of the mix. I have attended a large number of CANJAM events always looking to hear this elusive VE8, but over the years I have had no luck. But the continual phrase continues to pique my interest always being described in a way that defines my perfect signature. Of key interest is audiophile detail retrieval, fun and musical, and extraordinary bass response.

So, I knew I had to own one or at least demo the VE8, so like I have done so many times before – I contacted the company to offer to host a US tour. The trigger for me was learning that they had a new model being unveiled – the ELYSIUM. I figured, nice – two birds with one stone. The tour can showcase the new tech/model while also allowing us in the US to finally hear the VE8……finally! With a little luck, I found they were interested, initiated the tour, received the demo kit, and POW…I am now a Vision Ears believer. The VE8 was better than I could imagine, but as a surprise, the ELYSIUM was even better.

The Vision Ears House Sound
Obviously, I am a novice here only hearing two models with the Vision Ears product line containing many other models with different signatures - so I am only basing this on the VE8 and ELYSIUM. However, their flagship, the ERLKoNIG is described as a VE8 on steroids so my description probably holds true for it as well which would make my description true for all Vision Ears top tier models. Here is how I describe the VE house sound:
  • VE House Sound:
    • Full-sized: This is a front row or on-stage sound with an intimate tactile feel. Not congested or small, just full-sized instruments and voices – and this holds true at low volumes as well. Full-sized regardless of volume.
    • Volume Optimized: I tend to be sensitive to louder volumes quickly finding them offensive, sibilant, or painful. The full-sized sound described above allows me to hear the proper sizing even at lower volumes so I can keep to my lower volumes without missing out. The VE8 is more sensitive than the ELYSIUM to the volume dial with fewer clicks to play with, but still, singing next to me sound even at lower volumes. Turning up the volume dial, I get more detail and slam, not noise. This is my quality tuning test and they pass with flying colors.
    • Perfected Bass: The VE8 has perfect bass…it is just that the ELYSIUM has “perfecter” bass. This is the weakness of many CIEMs requiring a lot of volume to get a bass to sound like….. bass. Yet, many of the other top tier company’s bass tunings I have heard – even those with slam – miss the sizing, flavor, timbre of the instruments where the full-sized VE bass sound brings textures and emotion to the bass that I am not getting elsewhere. BTW, VE uses BA drivers for bass in both the VE8 and ELYSIUM. But it sounds like a very clean dynamic driver with both nice decay and attack. There is just something better about the VE bass than I am hearing elsewhere – it is just more effortless and larger while being detailed and integrated into the overall sound. My home speaker system is based around (pun intended) my Maggie’s and my dual subwoofers. This offers mids to die for and deep, deep, clean audiophile bass, with no mid-bass bloat. This is what I am getting from the VE house sound.
    • Musical: There is nothing boring about the VE house sound. It is very musical and foot tapping. The VE8 is a little more on the energetic exciting side than the ELYSIUM which is more mid-focused and emotional, but both are very musical in their own way.

From what I have heard in these two CIEMs, I have confidence that VE understands the sound that I am looking for and I will be watching them very closely going forward. Expect more US tours - if they allow me - as new products are released, and perhaps an ERLKoNIG tour as I wish to help share this brand in the US as it is really that good and I don’t what my Head-Fier friends to miss out.

Order Process
The order process was smooth, and the designer offered a lot of options. This was one of the easier CIEM orders that I have placed so far.

Impressions: Knowing that I was going to order an ELYSIUM, I had preemptively scheduled an audiologist visit and had some impressions created (VE likes closed mouth impressions past the second bend per their provided audiologist instructions) and shipped them out to VE. Per their request, I took some pictures first to confirm that they were good impressions before shipping which is a nice service that can save some time and aggravation rather than shipping bad ones internationally.

Designer: I cheated and opted for the house designed ELYSIUM, so I didn’t have to design my own. But that didn’t stop me from trying (and failing) to out design them on the VE designer (Designer: https://vision-ears.de/configurator#model=elysium). Give it a go and see if you can do better than my designs I came up with below.

Designer.png

As you can see from the screenshot above, the designer is state-of-the-art as you would come to expect from a top CIEM house like VE with lots of shell and faceplate options including support for your own custom artwork. However, for me there was just no beating this unique VE ELYSIUM specific design.

ELYSIUM.png

While I cannot speak to the standard wait time as my process was accelerated, my customs were produced within a week, and the delivery was overnighted – I can say that even selecting the accelerated production options at other companies, this was by far the fastest build and delivery that I have ever experienced and the build was flawless.

Unboxing
As you can see from the unboxing video below, the VE ELYSIUM packaging is exceptional. This was the best unboxing experience I have had and as you can see from my YouTube channel, I have done a lot of high-end CIEM unboxings before.


Contents
The contents were the normal affair, but the presentation was spectacular making it a box worth saving. The case was something new for me – round leather – which I appreciate a lot. This case is large enough to fit the CIEMs easily, even with custom cables such as my PW Audio 1950 cables or other larger options. The top is friction fit rather than screw top eliminating the pinch problems that can occur making them much easier on your cable investments. I would like to have this case for all my CIEMs. Another new accessory for me was a cleaning fluid to keep your ELYSIUM shiny and clean.

Case.JPG

Fit
BEST CUSTOM FIT EVER - Did I mention that the custom fit was the best I have ever experienced? I have gotten good seals before in my custom at the expense of being tight and a sore ear after an hour listen. I have gotten comfort before at the expense of lost seal during activity, speaking, drinking/eating. However, VE has produced the perfect fit for me that is easy in, easy out, but with suction on removal, it fits so well. It is not too tight or loose in any way, just comfortable. VE has created the best fit I could imagine.

Build
This is a flawless build as you can see in the photos below – no visible bubbles, no rough edges, cleanly built internals. There are three bores, two large bores for the dynamic and BA drivers and one smaller one for the EST. The boreholes are recessed so that they are less vulnerable to wax collection. The size of the CIEM is on the larger side which I like providing more surface area to touch the inner ear adding to the seal. For me, the smaller builds tend to lose seal when I am active or chewing regardless of the depth. In terms of depth, like the rest of my CIEMs, they go to the second bend.

Bores.JPG

Internals.JPG

I should also point out this is a filled acrylic model, so it has a little heft to it as well as a more solid feel like they will last through drops or harder wear than normal. The filled models are supposed to eliminate the crosstalk between the passive crossover setup which may explain some this wonderous sound.

Sound Impressions
I could tell from the first second that I put the ELYSIUM in my ear and started listening that it was a special CIEM. It didn’t take any time to get used to the signature or time to listen through a number of songs to gather that this was performing at a higher level. Immediately, I could hear that this was a full-sized headphone type of sound with larger sounding actors in the well-defined sound stage. It felt like someone pulled me out of the nosebleed seats and brought me on stage. This is an exotic level CIEM when driven correctly that competes with the likes of the Abyss and the 009 in terms of sound quality. Like the title implies, this is the Abyss and 009 love child.

Bass
So, am I the only person with a custom ELYSIUM that feels that the bass is top tier exotic? Or is everyone else VE fans with other custom models that beat the ELYSIUM bass? I cannot figure out why nobody else is talking about that wonderful ELYSIUM bass? While the midrange is the start of the show, this bass does steal some of the midranges thunder. What is special about this bass is that it has such power in the sub-bass lowering the boom whenever it is called for and has huge rumble that you can feel. It never steps in the way of the midrange, but the highly detailed bass does add realistic textures to complete the wonderous midrange sound. Believe it or not, this is all accomplished by a single BA driver for bass – wow.

Midrange
This is the start of the show! WOW, best mid-range I have ever heard. When you read about the house sound above, it is all that – intimate, full-sized, but it is also euphonic and a little wet, emotional, and sounds great with all genres I have tried it with. This monster loves to scale as well. The better the source, the better it gets. This is juts a CIEM that you have to hear for yourself to be able to appreciate.

Treble
The other new tribrids that I have tried with EST have taken some getting used to before I could judge them. This means I need to listen for a day or two to get used to the new brighter sound quality before I can get past the new treble feel and appreciate the added clarity and definition. Before that, all I can hear is the treble as the elephant in the room. NOT SO WITH THE ELYSIUM. The ELYSIUM treble is very well integrated rather than being a detailed gloss over the top. It take no getting used to while immediately impressing with the added clarity and definition. The ELYSIUM tuning makes the mids the star of the show and offers a 4K 3D sound quality by integrating the superpowered EST and elaborate bass to offer a highly textured, natural-sounding, super resonant focus on the music, not its parts.

Sound Stage
While this is a full-sized headphone sound stage, it is not the focus of the CIEM. Placement is extraordinary and space between plus background blackness plays a role, but it is the natural being there feeling that you focus on – not the technicalities of the width, height, and depth. The most notable item in the sound stage is how full-sized it is providing great imagery for full-sized instruments and signers regardless of volume.

Timbre
As mentioned prior, the natural feel to the whole experience is exceptional which is enhanced by natural timbre. As mentioned in my treble impressions, there is no gloss or glare as it is integrated into the sound sounding very natural. I can hear deeper into the sounds offering that hit and sustain as well as the breath and taps on the instruments. Pianos sound like pianos and drums more impressively sound like drums. I am not used to drums sounding like drums.

Custom vs. Universal
There was a considerable positive change in the ELYSIUM signature going from the universal demo to the custom. However, I am a special case with a severe bend in my inner ear that make universals hard to fit/seal. My initial universal ELYSIUM thoughts was that it was a perfect mids-based/focused monitor that had perfect treble, but bass light. The custom version I felt that the mids were still a focus and perfect, but the bass became more like the universal VE8 - big and bold and full-sized - with a supersized slam and much deeper sub-bass. Makes me wonder how a VE8 custom would sound. So the custom ELYSIUM now has two stars in the show for me, the mids first, but not far behind - the bass which is my ideal bass with lots of textures and strong rumble down low, low, low. Now that leaves the fantastic EST treble as a bystander rather than the star you would expect given that it has an EST. Where VE is unique in their tuning of the EST is how it integrates into the rest of the frequency range for maximum texture and detail without making a spectacle of itself. This is true of both the custom and the universal.

Scaling Source
Another point of interest is how much the ELYSIUM scales. It is wonderful with my iPhone 6, but paired with my desktop Burson Playmate at 2 watts of power boosts the ELYSIUM into an exotic status competing with the 009 and Abyss sounding like their full-grown love child. It is really that good IMO.
  • iPhone 6: Amazon HD Music is a new ap on my iPhone that has improved my sound quality considerably. From the standard Apple Music app, the ELYSIUM sounds great, but better on my better DAPs. The new Amazon app takes this up several notches and gets the iPhone closer to my dedicated DAPs mentioned below. In fact, the music discovery on the iPhone has made it my preferred method to listen the ELYSIUM on the go. Either way, the music sound full-sized from the iPhone, just more filled out with the Amazon app. But the dedicated DAPs are clearly better overall. Just wish that I had access to the Amazon music app with these DAPs.
  • Calyx M: The Calyx M is famous for its sound quality implying that the 9018 is responsible. While the stats don’t speak to this, the amp is likely to be the bigger influencer burning up a giant battery in less than four hours to meet that quality output. The clarity of the ELYSIUM is expressed in this setup offer more detail than the Sony below. However Calyx did it, the sound is wonderful, but the Sony seems to pair better. The biggest reason that I chose the Calyx over the Sony for a session is that I really enjoy that volume slider that allow me to perfect the volume for each song instantly and to play the ELYSIUM louder than normal for short bursts.
  • Sony WM1a: The Sony was almost sold earlier this year as it didn’t pair well with my CIEMs until I got the Legend X. Now the ELYSIUM pairs even better. Sony brings an overall warmer signature to the ELYSIUM that boosts the bass to match the mids – wonderful pairing! The Sony also brings a girth to the note and more resonance and textures. Ninety percent of my listening time with the ELYSIUM comes through the Sony DAP.
  • Hugo 2: The H2 take the experience up a notch with a better DAC and AMP. The pairing is more in line with the Calyx M, but on steroids. The bass comes out more, the detail is at another level, and the sound gets fuller. However, as with the M the H2 brings out the clarity of the ELYSIUM for more of an audiophile sound rather than the more fun Sony. The problem with the H2 is that it is a stack that is not always convenient, so this is not as normal of a pairing as the Burson Playmate takes it up another notch if I have to deal with inconvenience.
  • Burson Playmate: Going desktop, the Burson Playmate is my favorite pairing supersizing the overall SQ significantly and in a fun musical way that crushes the Sony. It should also be mentioned that I am employing the Amazon HD Music application as a source and running it through my Sonarworks True-Fi application tuned to my HD800 headphones that works well with the ELYSIUM signature. Playing through iTunes with True-Fi turned off brings down the sound quality noticeably, so some may consider this a cheat. Regardless, the Playmate drives almost 2 watts into the ELYSIUM 16ohms, the volume stays between 1 to 30 out of 100 steps. This is a lot of volume range for a CIEM with the VE8 toped out a 1 to 2 out of 100 steps. This shows how easily the ELYSIUM consumes power. I could probably turn the volume up to 40 to 50 if I was a teenager, but I like lower volumes so 30 is far enough. The Burson also employs a Sabre DAC, the 9038, but there is no bright signature here, just clarity and a very meaty textured sound. Pairing the ELYSIUM with the Playmate puts it into exotic territory allowing it to outperform all my full-sized headphones as you will see below. Having enjoyed the Abyss an 009 before on $10K plus setups outside the cost of these headphones, getting toward this sound quality with a $400 playmate speaks volumes to this ELYSIUM.
  • H2/Eddie Current ZDs: The best pairing for the ELYSIUM that I have available at home is my H2 DAC feeding my Eddie Current ZDs tube amp. Yes, also coming through the same chain from Amazon HD Music. The ZDs tubes remove the clinical quality of the H2 pairing and add several huge helpings of fun. Again, addictive exotic sound quality that hits way above its price range. While I have not gone there yet, the tube rolling capabilities allow me to dial in the sound, even more, when I have some time.

Playmate.JPG

Comparisons
As mentioned, the ELYSIUM is at a level that it competes with my full-sized headphones, so I included them in my comparison alongside my two other best CIEM – the 18 and the X.
  • 64 Audio A18: The 18 is my detail monster and the one I judge all others. That being said, it has a variable signature with an M15 APEX module that is more analytical and an M20 module that makes it more bassy. It is also very tunable with cable rolling with my PW Audio 1950 cable making it drier and more accurate while the 1960 cable makes it very emotional and euphonic. In terms of audiophile performance though, the 18 has been considered top tier since its release and with good reason. Like with the X, the 18 is a very different tuning than the ELYSIUM making it hard to compare and again making a great complement to each other in my collection. Typically configured with the M15 audiophile module and a warmer copper cable for euphonics, the 18 in this configuration offers a warmish audiophile sound quality. Compared to the ELYSIUM, it sounds thinner and dryer yet wider detail retrieval. The 18 dices and slices the sound to hear everything, while the ELYSIUM stitches it all together with perfect integration to sound more natural to be heard as music, not the sum of its parts. So if I want to hear the minute details, the 18 is the go-to while the ELYSIUM is the one to go to for a long night of losing myself into the music. This is not to say that the 18 doesn’t have emotion, it does in gobs. It's just to say that the 18 can be a magnifying glass to draw you into the parts where the ELYSIUM draws you into the performance – there is emotion in both places.
  • Legend X: My X has been my most listed to CIEM until the ELYSIUM arrived. Going back and forth, there are two very wonderful signatures that are very complimentary and different allowing both to sit prominently in my collection. The X takes the warmer side of the road making all music fun and rich. It makes mediocre music sound good. However, the dual subwoofers in the X are the star of the show. While they only show up when called for, my tendency is to listen to music that calls for bass when listening to the X because it is so much fun. The treble and mids and soundstage are wonderful as well reminding me of the EE Zeus when the bass is not called for so there is nothing bad to report for the X. However, the mids in the ELYSIUM are addictive and my focus right now so I have not gone back other than to compare. Back and forth both are mind-blowing, but the ELYSIUM seems to be getting the ear time right now. Another note is that the bass – yes one BA – on the ELYSIUM is a powerhouse driving X level bass quantity and quality to the down lows which alleviates most of my bass itch. It is very much a star on its own and a new way to experience bass so this is driving my listening toward the ELYSIUM as well. On the flip side, where the X makes everything sound great, the ELYSIUM is more accurate in its portrayal so bad music sounds bad. So if you like genres that contain poorly recorded music, the X would be a better driver.
  • LCD2.2: The LCD was my first sizable headphone investment as I love that rich meaty sound. It is rich and fun, but very hard to drive. So there is no content on my DAPs, while the desktop options drive it well. So from a desktop perspective, the LCD has its merits, but the fantastic mids of the ELYSIUM are missed when going back and forth making me want to listen to my ELYSIUMs. Win for the ELYSIUM.
  • HEX: My HEX is my favorite headphone to play through my DAPs around the house. It was top dog until the ELYSIUM arrived in this format. It offers a very nice tuning that is musical, offers great bass without enhancement, and have a very flat tuning to wring out every last ounce of detail. But its soundstage is narrow in comparison with the ELYSIUM. It has that same full-sized presentation, but the ELYSIUM is more engaging and has more emotion. The ELYSIUM is the winner here.
  • HD800: The HD800 is my favorite headphone in my collection. It is optimized through Sonarworks and has bass boosted to hit on all cylinders. It has been compared to the Abyss given all its optimizations to get it there, especially when enhanced through my EC ZDs. However, ELYSIUM sounds better. In comparison, nobody, even the Abyss beats the HD800 soundstage. But the ELYSIUM sounds so much better that it is not part of the equation. The HD800 sounds thin in comparison and weak in the midrange. The ELYSIUM just makes the HD800 sound lifeless in comparison.
Conclusion
There is no doubt that Vision Ears has hit this new model out of the park. It is my top dog right now getting all my ear time and is beating out my full-sized headphones that should have a huge advantage. I would have no trouble recommending the ELYSIUM to anyone that was considering its purchase and have more confidence in this model as an all-rounder than I do with any other CIEM. Vision Ears has open my eyes to the possibilities and I look forward to hearing anything else that they add to their lineup going forward. They are really that good.
Pros: Airy sound
Vibrant dynamic
Clear restitution
Chiseled balance
Great technicality and musicality
Cons: perhaps too analytical for some
could be a little harsh


Introduction

The Elysium is a universal demonstration unit graciously lent by Vision Ears, whom I thank for their confidence. I'm not affiliated with Vision Ears in any kind.

Vision Ears is a German company based in Cologne that has been in the business since 2013 and whose reputation has been built on their old High-End flagships, the VE6 and VE8. Essentially focused on customs, Elysium are no exception to the rule and are only available in this format (except for demos). They belong to the premium range and are the announced flagship of customs. They are available at 2900€ and are the brand's first hybrid model. They are composed of 4 drivers in a rather innovative configuration: 1 balanced armature for the bass, 1 dynamic driver for the midrange and 2 electrostatic drivers for the treble.
The stock cable in 2.5mm jack (symmetrical) is an 8-wire 28AWG cable (unknown material). It is very flexible and allows you to really enjoy the quality of these in-ear monitors.
https://vision-ears.de/erlkoenig_en

Sound

Elysium signature is rather neutral with a small bass boost and 2 peaks well audible at the sweep at 4500 and 8000Hz.
Here are Crinacle measurements (uncompensated) to compare with the InEar PP8BB (with bass boost).



The bass is lively, well defined and with a nice impact. They are very close in quantity to what PP8BB offers but seems faster, and with a slightly shorter sustain. The decay is also quite short and as a result it gives a nice tension. Subs (20 to 60Hz) are present but all in lightness and less quantity than on Fusion or Trinity SS, and faster too. The Bass (60 to 250Hz) are comfortable and bring a pleasant rumble.

Low Mids (250 to 500Hz) is quite close to what PP8BB or S8Pro offers, that is neither too thick nor too thin. It is therefore quite analytical while remaining musical and lively. The Trinity SS are thinner and more analytical here. The Mids (500 to 2000Hz) are discreetly set back from the PP8BB reference positionning. Then they rise from 1000Hz in a linear way to the end of the Upper Mids (2000 to 4000Hz). As a result, it gives a more open, lighter and shinny reproduction than PP8BB or Fusion, but at the same time less piercing and tiring than S8Pro. In comparison, Trinity SS are even more open and bring more harmonics to the midrange. They can also be a little more aggressive on the Upper Mids although this is not a problem in itself because of their relative linearity of 2 to 4KHz.



The trebles provided by the Elysium are for me dynamic, fluid, very extensive, with a lot of detail, and they bring a lot of air to the music. But my brightness tolerance limit is reached because of the 8kHz peak. I personally can't take any more. The highs of the Trinity SS seem more natural to me, they are less extended and highlighted, and more airy. The PP8BB are more linear, shorter and duller.

The stage width is good without being outstanding. PP8BB and Fusion do better at this level. The depth and height are excellent and comparable to what the Trinity SS offers. This finally gives a very good spatialization with a sound scene projected slightly out of the head.

The magic square separation, transparency, definition and resolution is very homogeneous and completely in line with what is expected from a flagship at this price. A special mention can be made of the resolution, which is identical to that of the Trinity SS, and the definition, which I think is even a little better.



Pairing

Despite trying all my tips, I could only obtain a decent fit with double or triple flanges (ideal in my case) with a rather very deep insertion and large internal diameter. It is perhaps finally the closest thing to the custom fit.
Like the ItsFit Fusion and compared to the standard cable, the PW1950 brings a little more on all levels while keeping the initial homogeneity (this is really the characteristic of this cable). The PW1960 2 strands as for him changes too much the fragile balance of the Elysiums especially in the mids.

Final Thoughts

What we retain with Elysium is the airy sound and vibrant dynamic. We have a clear restitution, and whose chiseled balance combines both great technicality and musicality. This is a high-level proposal that is more than interesting for those with a definite inclination for rather analytical signatures.


"Resolution is the ability to individualize a voice or instrument"
"Separation is the ability to feel space between the various sound sources"
"Definition is the ability to perceive as much information as possible"
"Transparency is the ability to transcribe the nuances and subtleties of music"


My topic on Tellement Nomade here : http://www.tellementnomade.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=671123#p671123
pithyginger63
pithyginger63
Elysium has the best bass and lower mids of any iem I've ever heard. Mids and treble are up there too but oh baby I still can't forget the realism of the VE5's upper mids and treble.
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.




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.





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.



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.



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.




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!


F
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.
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.

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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.

Attachments

mvvRAZ
mvvRAZ
Hey @Spie1904 , I don't listen to a whole lot of classical, but violins sound absolutely exceptional on the Elysium. The texture of the midrange, combined with the treble extention are a dream come true

The Elysium also has a noticeably lifted subbass, which should more than cover your classical music necessities.
DAS OHR
DAS OHR
I tested the universal Elysium. With Comply Foam tips, put in very deep with perfect seal. Fit was very good. I used my AK 380 plus amp in high gain and the 2,5 mm TRRS cable. DSD files of all kinds of genres. All I can say is this: the Elysium is by far the best I have heard from a DAP to this day. Extremely high audiophile sound quality. I'm not a basshead. But I love high quality bass! And the bass of the Elysium has just that. Very deep and extremely clean. The mids are an absolute pleasure to listen to. The most natural, audiophile. Extremely good and yet not fatiguing. I don't know how to do it any better. The same applies to the treble. The overall sound signature is neutral but highly musical. I could have listened for hours. I'd buy the Elysium right away. Then as CIEM. It's just right now that I have to hold my money together a little bit because of the virus. Although the VE Elysium is currently a bargain with 2500€ as Universal and 2700€ as CIEM. Highly (!!!) recommended.
John Massaria
John Massaria
Pricey for non custom
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