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Vision Ears ELYSIUM

Rating:
5/5,
  1. Barra
    ELYSIUM – The Full-Grown Abyss and 009 Lovechild
    Written by Barra
    Published Nov 24, 2019
    5.0/5,
    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.
  2. MrLocoLuciano
    Elysium, the soul of a hero !
    Written by MrLocoLuciano
    Published Nov 9, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Airy sound
    Vibrant dynamic
    Clear restitution
    Chiseled balance
    Great technicality and musicality
    Cons - perhaps too analytical for some
    could be a little harsh
    [​IMG]

    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).

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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
    1. 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.
      pithyginger63, Nov 27, 2019
  3. third_eye
    THE Hybrid Flagship of 2019?
    Written by third_eye
    Published Oct 11, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Musicality, Full Body, Extended and Airy Highs, Outstanding ergonomics and comfort
    Cons - High price
    Introduction
    We’re now in a golden age of in-ear-monitor (IEM) design as new driver design technologies continue to enter the market. This, in turn, is resulting in a plethora of new products (and companies) entering this growing segment of the headphone audio industry. Among the recent innovations has been the release of off-the-shelf electrostatic in-ear drivers which has enabled IEM manufacturers to develop hybrid IEM products that use a combination of electrostatic, dynamic, and balanced armature drivers in their IEM’s, most commonly, electrostatic drivers for highs, and dynamic and balanced armature drivers for mids and lows.

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

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


    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

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

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

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

    [​IMG]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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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.

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    1. View previous replies...
    2. Erfan Elahi
      @mvvRAZ that helps enough, thanks again :)
      Erfan Elahi, Oct 24, 2019
      mvvRAZ likes this.
    3. Spie1904
      @Erfan Elahi Did you end up trying it? I also listen to lots of metal and I'm interested in either VE8 or Elysium.
      @MvvrRAZ How is classical or orchestral music on this? Example: The album of Hans Zimmer 'The world of Hans Zimmer'.
      Spie1904, Dec 5, 2019 at 8:39 AM
    4. 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.
      mvvRAZ, Dec 6, 2019 at 7:25 AM
      Erfan Elahi and Spie1904 like this.