Birds Sing, Kings Rhap: A Summit-Fi Shootout between the Rhapsodio Supreme Mk2, Vision Ears Erlkönig, Rhapsodio Infinity Mk2, & Oriolus Traillii JP
Apr 3, 2021 at 2:30 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 26

tawmizzzz

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Hey guys,

As teased, wanted to finally share my Summit-Fi shootout. It’s lengthy, but not too long once you factor in that its essentially 4 mini-reviews followed by a comparison and then recommendations section.

*Feel free to jump around to any sections that interest you more than others, or towards the end if you only care about direct comparisons. I even have a 90 word TL;DR (too long-didn’t read) for those who are ultra-lazy*


Birds Sing, Kings Rhap: A Summit-Fi Shootout between the Rhapsodio Supreme Mk2, Vision Ears Erlkönig, Rhapsodio Infinity Mk2, & Oriolus Traillii JP


Why these IEMs?:


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If you told me a year ago that I would even consider an IEM over $3k, I would have scoffed and high-fived my bank account for not expediting its suicide. If you told my girlfriend that I even hovered over the “buy button” of said-IEM, well…I would no longer be her partner.

But it took only 12 months of pursuing that endless high of demoing, purchasing and trading various TOTLs until my bank account found itself back in that unfathomable territory-damn you Rhapsodio Infinity Mk2 and Oriolus Traillii JP. Because two Summit-Fi IEMs are not enough (this is a joke), I was fortunate enough to have some very generous friends lend me the Vision Ears Erlkönig (@SLC1966 ) and Rhapsodio Supreme Mk2 (@hshock76 ) to pit these four ultra-pricey IEMs against one another.

Look, I get it. The prices alone will likely make this shootout somewhat controversial-but rather than indulge in what intrinsic value a dollar amount holds to one’s musical enjoyment, I rather discuss how these crazy bastards compare to one another. I also want to reiterate that we are living in an amazing age for high-end portable audio. There are excellent options across all price points. Therefore, this shootout is in no way trying to justify any pricing, nor indicate that anything in a lower price bracket belongs in the trash. Simply, what I hear, I share.

So now that the pitchforks are hopefully lowered, I do want to say in my own honest opinion, these four IEMs are generally on a summit-tier of their own in terms of sound-quality compared to the more mainstream TOTLs I have listened to. This list includes: Odin, Elysium, U18s, Noir, FiR M5, Rhapsodio Sagga, Legend X, etc. It does not mean that they will be better for everyone, but these four personally elevate me to a euphoric state where I forget that I have two little monitors in my ears. Instead, I am transported into a blissful state with even more immersion, detail and delicate balance of musicality vs. technicality. All four tend to provide a rich, emotional mid-range with world-class technicalities, which I have not been able to find on the same level in the past.


Accessibility:

Fortunately, the Rhapsodios (Infinity, Supreme, and even the Bomber/Sagga) have an excellent satisfaction policy via Hifi-Portable in the event that they do not hit your sweet spot (https://www.hifi-portable.com/en/22-rhapsodio-satisfaction-guarantee-program). The Traillii should also still be available to demo via Musicteck, although I would anticipate a long waitlist. Unfortunately-Erlkönig is discontinued and about as easy to find as is any of us finding a real “endgame”. (Erlky’s successor, we are waiting for you!). And then of course, the last option is to just say, “F*** all of these, I refuse to listen to any of them. Snake oil!” And I feel you, I really do.


Shootout Layout:

To help breakdown the layout of this lengthy shootout, I will:
  • Dedicate a mini-review for each IEM separately. The reviews will go over the IEM’s overall tonalities, technicalities, strengths, and weaknesses. I will also briefly discuss some other pair-ups that I have tried and why I felt they fell short.
  • Briefly compare each IEM against each other on 4 separate sections consisting of:
    • Bass:
    • Mids:
    • Treble:
    • Technicalities (soundstage width + depth + height, layering, imaging):
  • End the shootout with a brief description of which IEM is best suited for whom, for those crazy enough to make the leap of faith.

Disclaimers (because its 2021 and I refuse to give the keyboard warriors any ammo):

1. Rhapsodios are extremely source dependent. My impressions may differ quite dramatically from those who use different DAC/AMP and cable setups. I guess having different ears and brains probably factors in also :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I honestly think the Rhaps are the best IEMs to test a DAP’s general tonality. For example, they become more bright, cold, and analytical with huge, layered staging from the iBasso 220 MAX. From the HiBy R8, they tend to be more neutral with a slight upper-mids and upper-treble focus, focusing on overall texture. From the iBasso DX300, they become more bass and lower mids-focused with excellent layering capabilities. The same principles can be applied to cables that are paired with them.

This could be a pro or con, depending on one’s gear collection. Some individuals love trying the various flagship cables and DAPs that they own in order to find the perfect “recipe” for their auditory sauce. Meanwhile, the same cannot be said or recommended for someone with only 1 DAP who wants something that is easy to pair it with, especially at these high investment price points.

2. I am not a reviewer. I am not associated or affiliated with any of these brands. I am simply a dude who likes music and overanalyzing things.

Now that I have covered my ass (I think), let’s carry on :).


IEM Driver-Setups:

Rhapsodio Supreme Mk2:

Mono in-house made 12mm Magnetostatic driver

Vision Ears Erlkönig:
  • 13 balanced-armature drivers
  • 4 different tuning options customizable by a built-in tuning/switch technology.
Oriolus Traillii:
  • 3-way driver design
  • 4 latest-gen Sonion electrostatic drivers
  • 8 balanced armatures
Rhapsodio Infinity Mk2:
  • 6 balanced-armature drivers
  • Exclusive dual Copper Coil technology (C.T.T.)
  • OCC home-made internal wire
Sources & Pair-Ups Used:
*These pair-ups were the most optimal for the best sound-quality tailored to my preferences*

-For the Supreme Mk2, I used the iBasso DX300 in high gain, digital 2 filter, paired with the PW Lucifer 4.4mm cable. I used CP155 eartips.

-For the Infinity Mk2, I used the HiBy R8 in Turbo Mode, mid-gain, with the premium Rhapsodio copper 2 wire cable. I again used CP155 eartips.

-For the Erlkönig, I used the HiBy R8 Turbo Mode, high-gain, with the premium Limited Edition stock cable and CP155 ear tips. (I like CP155 eartips if you cannot tell).

-And for the Oriolus Traillii, I also used the HiBy R8 Turbo Mode, high-gain, with the PW1960 4 wire stock cable, but with CP145 eartips.


Genres Tested + Style Explanation:
I listened to a variety of genres, such as: Alternative, rock, EDM, metal, electronica, reggaeton, classical, soundtrack, rap, jazz, and indie.

While I love the shootouts that compare each IEM on specific tracks, I felt it was not best suited for my style. I would feel biased in the songs I would choose, and even then-which IEM I prefer for a specific song really depends on the mood I am in. For example, for a specific song, I can find myself asking questions like, “Do I want to grab my Infinity to hear sparkle and airy vocals, or do I want to grab Traillii to focus on the imaging and deep bass slam?” My answer would be inconsistent and too mood-dependent. Therefore, my impressions and “conclusions” are ultimately summaries after dozens of hours of listening across each genre with each IEM.


Whew, still with me? Now that the foundation is set, grab a beer, kombucha, and/or caffeine pills, and enjoy!
 
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Apr 3, 2021 at 2:30 PM Post #2 of 26

tawmizzzz

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Supreme Mk2: King of Subtle Mastery


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I had skepticism coming into this one-I heard that the stock cable does not pair well (which I find inexplicable at this price point), but fortunately my demo came with an excellent cable synergy-the PW Lucifer in 4.4mm. Furthermore, due to the unique graphene magnetostatic driver handmade by Sammy (the owner and creator behind Rhapsodio products), it requires tons of DAP power. Fortunately, the DX300 was more than sufficient, but I imagine the scalability of this IEM leaves it tons of variability for sounding even better, or much worse.

General Sound:

Supreme is an extremely organic, mid-centric, and cohesive musical presentation that never feels like it breaks a sweat. I have minimal experience with mono (1) driver-IEMs to date, but it only took me about 15 minutes to realize that nothing was particularly special, until you realized that in itself is what makes Supreme so special.

Let me explain. I never really understood what coherency meant, but after falling into Supreme’s musical trance of how masterfully it keeps your attention on its’ organic presentation, I have arrived at my own definition. To me:

Coherency is the effortless portrayal of all of the frequencies as a cohesive whole. This cohesiveness makes it difficult to get distracted and lose track of what is most important for most musicphiles-enjoying and getting lost in the music.”

I never notice oddly placed instruments. The stage never becomes too wide or deep such that it detracts from the convincing space that it has conjured for me. There are no harsh, or unwarranted notes that distract me from my trance. This subtle mastery is what makes Supreme the smoothest IEM I have ever listened to-and my favorite for mids and vocals to date.

Supreme has excellent imaging and depth. It gently requests your attention rather than demanding it. In Radiohead’s “The National Anthem”, the synth notes effortlessly radiate on the peripherals as the electric guitar takes center stage. The vocals float in ethereally, and echo through the tightly maneuvered stage.

To me, this level of coherency confirms that as an IEM gets too technical, it becomes a difficult balance to maintain musicality. Surgical precision or micro-detail often pulls your attention away from all the moving parts at once. There is also the phenomenon of different driver textures clashing against one another, such as a DD for the lows and BAs for the mids. The surgical precision is an issue I had for my preferences with Odin, with the mid notes coming across as rather thin despite being able to easily pinpoint the notes and layers on its stage. Supreme, on the other hand, fuses the best fragments of musicality and technicality into a seamless, immersive experience.

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Bass: Supreme’s magnetostatic driver achieves a unique balance of combining balanced armature speed with some variation of a dynamic driver’s viscerality. It seems to focus more on the mid-bass, which personally falls out of my preference for a sub-bass dominant bass presentation. The sub-bass extension is good on Supreme, but it is not the deepest. This is far from a basshead IEM, with the bass being mostly neutral in the mix with no elevation.

Mids: The best mids in the game. Yes-I said it. Supreme is clearly a mid-centric IEM with the bass and treble as the supporting cast. The midrange comes across as incredibly balanced, portraying notes smoother than a fine-aged Cabernet Sauvignon wine. The organic vocals and instruments serenade you with a personal, front-row show. Lower mid-range texture is excellent, and instrument texture is superb. Both male and female vocals sound equally as good. I have not heard Lana Del Rey’s somber voice sound as good as I have from Supreme.

Treble: This IEM is not for treble-heads, although this can be partially remedied with a brighter DAP (as it sounded brighter from my R8, albeit losing the magical mids for me). The lower treble is more laid back, with nice upper treble extension that allows for modest air and sparkle. It really just compliments the mids of the IEM, similar to the signature of the Erlky.

Now, this does not mean that Supreme does not have its flaws. Despite the coherent musicality, it does lack some dynamics compared to DDs, and even some BAs. It is more of a laid-back, smooth presentation rather than punchy. Speaking of punchy, Supreme will not be suitable for bass, or even possibly treble heads. Again-it is a mid-centric IEM that focuses on emotion and naturalness. The gift (and curse) of its source sensitivity is that you can switch up DAPs and cables to change the sound. But with my limited gear, anything outside of Lucifer + DX300 detracted from the best mids I have ever heard.


Source/Pairings:

-
HiBy R8: This pairing added a bit more treble, but not exactly smoothness. It created less of an overall balance which detracted from the musical midrange presentation versus Lucifer. There is a slight boost to low-level texture detail, however.

-1960 4w cable: This cable made Supreme brighter, but in an unpleasant, less balanced way. It did offer a punchier bass.

Conclusion: Supreme is the floor-general star player of any team-sport. It does not pop up on the highlight reel with any flashy plays, but it orchestras all the members to play together into a cohesive unit to maximize chemistry. It is the glue to the team, and knows what it does best without every overstepping its' boundaries. No one will ever disrespect this player because he’s the earned the respect of true fans of the sport, not the Box-Score fans.


Vision Ears Erlkönig: King of Musicality
(impressions are based on setting 3. Setting 2 had a bit too much mid-bass for me)

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Ah, the majestic Elf King. While the poem, “Erlkönig” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is not exactly the happiest of stories, fortunately this masterpiece tends to put a smile on my face.

Firstly, the overall tonality to me is a rich forward, mid-centric, thick-noted, relatively balanced sound. The bass will depend on the setting it is set on, but for the sake of Setting 3, it is well-balanced into the mix. Regardless of the setting, Erlkönig is a bit-laid back on the treble, and while I wouldn’t call it overly warm, it does have some lushness going on that makes it super easy to fall into the musicality.

The soundstage width is not the largest, but has impressive depth and more importantly, height. The height is what gives it a nice holographic way for the flying notes from the upper treble to sparkle around and compliment the mids. Take “Petite” by NTO/My Progressive House for example-Erlkönig does an excellent job with the bass slam in the center of the staging while the various hovering notes fly from left to right, and upwards. It genuinely sounds like I have excitable treble pings floating around my forehead. It is impressive how Vision Ears managed to maintain excellent weight to those notes while maintaining solid air and not feeling congested. Despite an impressive overall stage, Erlkönig does has more of an intimate staging relative to something like Infinity or Traillii-as if you are in the front-row enjoying the high energy show.

Where Erlkönig falls short for me, however-is its inconsistent timbre. For most of the time, the texture and weight of the notes are impressive for balanced armatures. I feel that Erlky excels most in the lower midrange texture, along with male vocals. But unfortunately, too many times I find an odd sounding cymbal hit or a mid-bass slam that comes across as rather plasticky. Despite Erlkönig’s high energy bass, it focuses on mid-bass over sub-bass, which to me is a flaw because the plasticky-BA timbre issues tend to plague the overall accuracy and naturalness of the bass regions. Sure, there is heavy impact, but there are times where it does not convince me of an authentic bass slam. I preferred setting 3 because it toned down the BA mid-bass and allowed for more overall space for those thick, euphoric notes to shine. Sub-bass extension is solid but not the best aspect IMO.

Now, let me clarify that these timbre issues would be barely noticeable if I had never listened to the Rhapodios or Traillii. I am by no means a musical expert, nor engineer, but the realism discrepancies are evident after A/B’ing Erlkönig versus the other three contenders. To be fair, if I had listened to this IEM 6 months ago, it would have set a new precedent for me. But all-in-all, for a 13 balanced-armature model, the texture is still impressive and undeniably top-tier for its class.

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Source/Pairings:
-iBasso DX300: A mid-centric DAP for a mid-centric IEM was a bit of overkill. It made the Erlkönig a bit too warm for my tastes, hindering the already laid-back treble.

Conclusion: Erlkönig is the athlete who defies all physiological logic by having an incredible, strong physique while maintaining inexplicable speed for its size. Erlky is the whole package-beautiful, strong, charismatic-and while it won’t be for those who prefer a more relatable and natural persona, there is no denying that someone like Erlky is a generational talent.
 
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Apr 3, 2021 at 2:32 PM Post #3 of 26

tawmizzzz

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Oriolus Traillii: Queen of Elusiveness

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I know this “IEM” [cmon, it’s gotta be a headphone right?] has been under some rather intense heat lately due to its pricing and “hype-train”-but as I’ve noted in several posts, I feel the fluttering excitement is more of a testament to the incredible product that Oriolus has created rather than the crazy birdkeepers.

Infinity was the first IEM that I felt destroyed the mental barriers I had about how a specific driver was supposed to sound. The copper coil technology implemented for the balanced armatures gave it some unbelievable realism for low-level texture on instruments and vocals.

Traillii, in other ways, has continued to break those barriers for me. Firstly, the electrostats are incredibly detailed, controlled and well-extended. I cannot say that for many other electrostatic implementations, although the nod from me goes to other well-done electro hybrids such as the Odin & Thummim. But, the more impressive parts are what the BAs do for the mids and bass. The realism of instruments through the lower to upper mid-range are organic, soulful, and airy. I never get the impression that I am listening to BAs for the midrange. Although, it is important to note that the mids are relatively laid-back (not recessed, just excellently extended in the vast depth of its staging)-so it likely will not suit those who prefer Erlky-levels of forward mids.

Furthermore, the BAs used for the bass are by far the best I have heard for that driver type. I have discussed this with several bird owners, and it is mind boggling that those BAs are able to create such a convincing bass impact. It genuinely feels visceral. And yes, while it likely will not provide a genuine, authentic dynamic driver experience of the true air rippling effect, it instead comes across as more controlled and detailed, a tradeoff I more than welcome.

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Although Traillii does an astounding job of balancing its excellent bass, mids, and treble, the bird’s greatest strengths lie in its technicalities-resolution, soundstage, imaging, separation, and layering. In other words, Traillii is just a technical genius. A tiny bird that looks nothing like how it performs. (That is probably why I customized mine to be carbon-fiber black. Subtle, but special). It is elusive in what should be capable from an IEM and from those drivers.

Traillii has close to surgical precision that allows you to pinpoint where each performer is on a large stage. Most impressively, Traillii plays notes with meaty weight, avoiding the common phenomena of thin notes for imaging precision, something I feel Odin struggles with (I swear, I DO like Odin overall!). It obviously helps that the Traillii has the largest stage width and depth I have heard from an IEM, with still top-tier height. This vast stage allows these thicker, precise notes to effortlessly accompany a spot on the stage without ever feeling congested.

Traillii’s resolution and detail-retrieval is also easy to take for granted, until you go back to another Summit-Fi IEM to compare and realize that all of a sudden that IEM sounds muddy in comparison. This happened to me when I went back to Infinity-I thought with the upper-mid boost that Infinity’s detail retrieval was top tier, but all of a sudden it felt colored and semi-muddy in comparison. When listening to Traillii, you have a crystal-clear view into the song’s true potential-microdetail, separation, layering, balance, and timbre. Simply put, if I want to hear new details in my favorite tracks, I will easily pick up the Traillii over any other IEM.

Other Sources/Pairups:

-DX300: This was actually an impressive pairing. DX300 brought the mids forward and added a hint of more warmth. It also adds some nice texture to the already impressive bass. It does suffer a bit from splashy lower treble, and trails R8 slightly in overall staging and technicality capabilities.

Conclusion: Traillii is the young musical prodigy that defies all odds. She learned to sing at age 4, play drums at age 6, play the trumpet at 7, and continue on by redefining what musical composition looks like for several genres. Her blend of musical gifts and articulate, technical mind puts her at the top of her craft as an inspiration for all. There are no barriers holding her back-but that in itself makes her elusive.



Rhapsodio Infinity Mk2: Princess of Emotional Intelligence

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Copper coils wrapped around balanced-armatures? So little is known about Sammy’s exclusive technology, but I will just pretend the coils are infusing cocaine into those BAs because they sound nothing like BA texture through the mids and treble. The texture is crazy vivid, in a fun, engaging way.

When considering Infinity, some good questions to ask yourself include: do you enjoy being able to hear a guitarist’s fingers slide down his electric guitar as he shreds for the guitar solo? Do you like to hear how the pick vibrates against each plucked string? How about how gently a pianist presses down on a key? Most likely, you also enjoy hearing the vocalist’s saliva swishing around his or her mouth? (kidding). But in all seriousness, this low-level detail along with its airy, grand staging and imaging are what makes Infinity an energetic and emotional IEM. Take “Slow Cheetah” by the Red Hot Chilil Peppers-the acoustic guitar sensually takes stage on the upper left 10 o’clock, while the singer occupies the top right corner with excellent texture. Once the buildup leads into the chorus, you can just feel every string plucked with excellent accuracy. Mi guitar es tu guitar.

Bass: While Infinity will not suit true bassheads, it does have a detailed, well-extended sub-bass that compliments its more laid-back mid-bass impact. The sub-bass over mid-bass focus works well for the signature because it avoids putting focus on its BA timbre for the mid-bass (which is still better than most BAs). This allows for a complimentary, fun listen where the sub-bass adds an “electrifying” effect to compliment those textured mids and treble-similar to how Elysium does for its signature.

Mids: Mids are semi-forward, and definitely more on the engaging and intense side. When I say intense, it means there is a lot of texture and emotion in vocals and instruments, so it is not a particularly laid-back listen. From the R8 pair up, this is all achieved in a smooth manner, never coming across as harsh or sharp. There is also an upper mid-range boost where female vocals seem to occupy a large portion of the stage with ethereal, lofty positioning on the height axis. This is complimented by excellent holographic treble flying notes and the sub-bass referenced earlier.

Treble: Infinity might have some of the best sparkle in the game. Take “Marble Machine”-Wintergatan which renders incredibly vivid and sweet treble pings in the center of the stage, bouncing around with energy. Meanwhile, there is some revving texture in the background further enriching the overall texture. (Fun fact: look up this song on YouTube. The whole song is played by an actual machine that uses marbles to produce the sounds. Insanity). And this same insanity is the best way I can describe Infinity’s fun treble. The upper treble has tons of space and air between instruments. It might not be the most accurate due to some coloration, but with its vast soundstage width, depth and height, you get a huge 3D field of treble sparkle and pings that can float or fly across the stage.

Soundstage: Too many times listening to Infinity, I had to look back to see if my name was being called or if an alarm was going off. At times, I wondered if a wind chime was going off outside my window, only to realize it was just a subtle detail in the vast soundstage depth of the song. It is trippy, and it is fun. Infinity’s stage is unique because in addition to its ridiculous width, it also has crazy height. This helps create a true holographic stage that is only rivaled by the Traillii and maybe Thummim. Although Traillii is more precise with a touch more depth, the slightly thicker notes of Infinity give off more of a convincing “out-of-head” experience for certain tracks. It is almost becomes meditative to try and follow the holographic notes.

Overall, Infinity was the first “new tier” IEM that I fell in love with. It is an organic, textured, and holographic listen relative to the more mainstream TOTLs. It only takes the Supreme and Traillii to notice some of its coloration, mainly the upper midrange and vocals, which can be ideal for those who prefer that type of signature. But please note, this IEM can sound like hot garbage from certain pairings (ahem, iBasso 220 MAX), so you will need to experiment.

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Source/Pairups:

-PW 1960 4w: Although the cable provided more of a punchier mid-bass and slight technicality boost, it seemed to detract from the rich mids by making it a bit drier and pushed back. It “zaps” away the electrifying mids.

Conclusion: Infinity might be a bit of a wildcard influencer due to her upper energy and intensity, but she knows how to engage with her audience. She knows that life is short, and focuses on the small details that will resonate with her audience, rather than the mundane facts. She is more about quality than quantity. She knows what her audience want to hear, and will make that evident through her emotional intelligence.
 
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Apr 3, 2021 at 2:33 PM Post #4 of 26

tawmizzzz

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With Prestige, Comes Pride: Finally, Comparing the Summits.

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Bass:

The bass victor here is surprisingly the Traillii. Do not ask me how the two BAs provide such convincing bass impact, but it has an excellent blend of speed and decay with good sub-bass extension. Infinity has the most detailed/extended sub-bass, but least impactful mid-bass (which IMO is ideal for its signature because the mid-bass is not its strength). Erlky is a mixed-bag of goods; it has excellent slam and energy in the bass regions, especially on settings 1 & 2, but too many times I felt the mid-bass come across as slightly plasticky which hurt it for my preferences. Supreme has nice bass, but it is not particularly emphasized or impactful-more of a natural support for the mids. The magnetostatic bass does offer somewhat a unique experience for those seeking one.

Outside of maybe the Traillii, which is easily the best BA bass implementation (and one of my favorites ever), I would not say any of these are best suited for the bassheads. Erlky can be another option to consider if you do not mind some BA timbre. There-you can thank your wallets for me!

1. Traillii
2. Supreme
3. Erlkönig/Infinity (depends on preferences)


Mids:

If it was not evident from the write ups, Supreme confidently wins here. It does come at the price of its treble and bass, but who needs those when your soul (‘sole’…pun intended) purpose of listening is for a truly organic and emotional listen. Mids are forward, detailed, textured, rich, and smooth. Instruments portray impeccable realism and timbre.

Fortunately, all four of these IEMs have incredible midranges while offering their own unique strengths. Erlky is the most forward, engaging and warm midrange, with excellent lower mids and vocals. Infinity is more an upper-mid focused IEM with textured, layered vocals that come across as airy and ethereal, albeit slightly exaggerated. Infinity would have the most noticeable texture for instruments in the midrange, particularly stringed instruments. Traillii has the most laid-back mids, which is NOT to be confused with recessed. It mainly highlights the incredible depth of its soundstage where there is world-class clarity and extension, without the vocals and instruments playing right at your face. There is a natural, organic presentation there, with great weight, although not at Erlky/Supreme levels.

1. Supreme
2. Erlkönig
3. Infinity
4. Traillii


Treble:

This one might have to go to either Infinity or Traillii. These two are my favorite trebles to date, with possibly Thummim sprinkled in there due to its large stage and sparkle. If I am in the mood for incredible sparkle from the upper-treble regions, I would likely go for Infinity. It has weightier notes, although not as natural or organic, and comes across as more fun versus Traillii. Traillii on the other hand would be my first pick if I am looking pure natural clarity and extension in the treble. Its electrostats can offer a bit of bite on the lower treble, which can be remedied with the right eartips.

Supreme and Erlky are similar in terms of treble as well in my pair-ups. They are both laid-back on the lower treble, but I feel Erlky has more upper treble and a bit more sparkle, especially on setting 3. Where Supreme wins is the more organic sound of cymbals and other higher-pitched instruments.

1. Infinity/Traillii
2. Supreme/Erlky


Technicalities:

These are all world-class technical IEMs. At first listen, Supreme seems to be nothing special for the price, but once the nuances start to reveal themselves, you realize how excellent it is, especially when you go back to other IEMs. Traillii on the other hand is more noticeable with its strong microdetail and unreal soundstage. The depth just extends deep on the axis. With such a whopping stage, it does the best job of layering and being precise with its instrument and vocal imaging. Infinity’s best technicality comes in how vivid it presents frequency texture, outside of perhaps mid-bass. It is also extremely large in soundstage width, with fun holography and nice soundstage height. Erlkönig is most impressive in how it portrays thick notes in the forward midrange without ever feeling overcrowded. It has impressive overall texture for BAs, with strong imaging and overall resolution.

1. Trailllii
2. Infinity
3. Erlkonig/Supreme
 
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Apr 3, 2021 at 2:34 PM Post #5 of 26

tawmizzzz

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For the Reckless:

Q: So Tom, I am also ****ed in the head, and interested in one of these-which one should I consider?

A: Well my friend-if this resorts in evictions, divorce, and/or questionable ways of funding the money, please note that I have nothing to do with your decision and will not bail you out.

That being said, I am taking a page out of THL/Deezel's book and going to paint a picture of the ideal owner for each IEM.


Rhapsodio Supreme Mk2:

Yes: You’ll want to consider the Supreme if you want a single driver with variability in its synergy. You ideally have a variety of flagship cables and DAPs to try and get the most out of this unique driver since Rhapsodio specifically notes that it requires a lot of power. You prefer a mid-centric IEM that is laid-back and smooth. You value effortless transients with rich, thick notes in a pleasant soundstage. You likely listen to slower-paced, emotional and vocal/mid-centric genres.

No: You’ll want to avoid Supreme if you have not demo’d it and do not have a variety of cables/DAPs-it can indeed sound off without the right power and synergy. If you are a basshead and/or treblehead, you may want to look elsewhere due to Supreme being more of a chill-and-vibe IEM.


Vision Ears Erlkönig:

Yes: You will want the Erlkönig if you value the whole package from unboxing to features. Erlkönig offers 4 tuning settings for those who like variability in their sound. You likely prefer your mids forward, with lush and rich engagement. You like flying notes and occasional sparkle, but are okay with a laid-back treble response. You do not mind a slightly overly warm timbre, nor care about the occasional BA texture. You want to flex with the various faceplates. Lastly, you know HOW to even obtain one.

No: You will likely want to look elsewhere if you are expecting authentic Dynamic-Driver like bass, or super treble. You may find some fault in the consistency of timbre of instruments, depending on your reference points and genres. You want surgical precision in your music, without thick and forward mids.


Rhapsodio Infinity Mk2:

Yes: Similar to Supreme, you likely have either demo’d it against your audio chain gear, or have some wiggle room for experimentation to ensure the right synergy. You are a sucker for soundstage width, and enjoy a holographic presentation. You really love to hear low-level detail and realism of guitars, piano keys, and other instruments. You do not care for elevated bass, and prefer a cleaner sub-bass that compliments the mids and treble. You love your sparkly treble, upper midrange, and overall airy presentation. You want an intense, but musical listen.

No: You will want to pass on the Infinity if you want a DD-like bass response. If you are looking for a warm IEM, you will likely want to look elsewhere, although perhaps with the right chain, it is doable. If you are sensitive to tons of treble frequencies, you will want to ensure your synergy is ideal before committing. You dislike upper-mid boosts, and prefer linear mids. You do not care for a vast soundstage, and prefer a more intimate, laid-back listen.

Oriolus Traillii:

Yes: If you are looking for the largest stage imaginable from your IEM, with an excellent W-shaped balanced tonality, then Traillii is an excellent bet. The choice is further simplified for those who don’t want to cable-roll and want top-tier out-of-box sound. Traillii is easy to drive, and its tonality will not dramatically change depending on your source (unlike the Rhaps).

You are looking for an IEM with high-level technicalities that still oozes musicality. You want top tier BA-bass performance that slams convincingly for genres such as EDM. You cannot commit to a genre so you need an excellent all-rounder, as Traillii is versatile across pretty much any genre.

No: You are a non-believer in paying a premium to have a high-end cable bundled into the package. (Side note: It would be excellent to have the option to buy it for cheaper without the 1960 4w cable, but I have cable-rolled quite a bit and do feel this cable does the IEM awesome justice for optimizing its signature. Other types of silver/gold cables tend to add extra bite into the lower treble which can cause the electrostats to get fatiguing). That being said, if you are sensitive to lower treble, Traillii may be slightly fatiguing, but this was easily remedied with different tips for me.

Otherwise, you won’t want the Traillii if you are looking for an aggressive, mid-forward presentation. Traillii is more laid-back in the mids, with incredible extension in the bass and treble region. If you don’t care for technicalities such as staging, layering, and soundstage, then you can very well find other excellent balanced tonalities for cheaper.

Closing Thoughts:

Some say size matters, others say the number of drivers matter. I say-reference points matter. Most of this lengthy shootout will not mean much if the reader does not have the context of the IEMs being compared to one another. For example, when I say Erlkönig is “intimate” in the soundstage width, that is only compared to these 3 IEMs. Erlky is far from intimate relative to let’s say VE Elysium or VE8. When I say Erlkönig sounds artificial at times, that is only highlighted when compared to the Rhapsodios & Traillii (and Odin, hey…an Odin compliment!). When I say Infinity is colored, that is only noticeable when listening to the Traillii, or an IEM with more linear mids. It is easily one of the most technical IEMs, with a soundstage larger than anything not-named-Traillii or Thummim.

This IMO is what makes comparisons, impressions, and reviews so difficult, but I do hope these Summit-Fi masterpieces do trickle down into more affordable and accessible models down the line because I would love to have others chime in with new synergies and audio epiphanies.




TL;DR: Supreme and Traillii are like a complex, mature wine that will age well. It takes a bit of time to realize how special they are, until you go back to your old favorite wine and realize how it is a bit harsher with a less interesting taste profile.

Infinity and Erlkönig are the more excitable, aggressive listens. They are intense in a musical way, albeit with near opposite signatures. Infinity does an impeccable job with low-level detail texture, and Erlkönig has lush, rich, thick forward mids while retaining excellent overall space.
 
Last edited:
Apr 3, 2021 at 3:23 PM Post #6 of 26

aaf evo

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Damn, great write up and impressions! Thanks for this. Enjoyed the read and am looking forward to seeing more reviews. 🔥
 
Apr 3, 2021 at 3:48 PM Post #8 of 26

hshock76

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Bravo 👏 extremely impressive writing. I’ve had the opportunity to listen to all 4 IEMs and owning 3 of them although the Erlk LE was a brief affair and 110% agree on the impressions written for all 4 in the shootout. I listen to a lot of vocals so Supreme is my personal fav out of the bunch. Can’t see anyone going wrong with any of them though.
 
Apr 3, 2021 at 5:17 PM Post #9 of 26

Andricop

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Oh wow :astonished: really impressive job! Thank you! One of the best shootout I have ever read, a real pleasure to read it.

I had the chance to listen to the Supreme and the Infinity and also fully agree with your impressions.
For my taste my favourite is the Infinity which I own in custom.
Just ordered a PW Orpheus to attempt to capture all the essence of the Infinity :ksc75smile:
 
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Apr 3, 2021 at 5:25 PM Post #10 of 26

tawmizzzz

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Oh wow :astonished: really impressive job! Thank you! One of the best shootout I have ever read, a real pleasure to read it.

I had the chance to listen to the Supreme and the Infinity and also fully agree with your impressions.
For my taste my favourite is the Infinity which I own in to custom.
Just ordered a PW Orpheus to attempt to capture all the essence of the Infinity :ksc75smile:
Thanks for the kind words! Yes, I hope more people get to hear the Rhapsodios. Congrats on the custom Infinity.

Keep us posted how that Orpheus plays with it!
 
Apr 3, 2021 at 5:51 PM Post #11 of 26

Sebastien Chiu

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Really nice writing here! Concise and to the point while still an enjoyable read, well done mate!
 
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Apr 3, 2021 at 6:09 PM Post #12 of 26

tawmizzzz

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Apr 3, 2021 at 6:17 PM Post #13 of 26

Damz87

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Apr 3, 2021 at 8:43 PM Post #14 of 26

toaster

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For the Reckless:

Q: So Tom, I am also ****ed in the head, and interested in one of these-which one should I consider?

A: Well my friend-if this resorts in evictions, divorce, and/or questionable ways of funding the money, please note that I have nothing to do with your decision and will not bail you out.

That being said, I am taking a page out of THL/Deezel's book and going to paint a picture of the ideal owner for each IEM.


Rhapsodio Supreme Mk2:

Yes: You’ll want to consider the Supreme if you want a single driver with variability in its synergy. You ideally have a variety of flagship cables and DAPs to try and get the most out of this unique driver since Rhapsodio specifically notes that it requires a lot of power. You prefer a mid-centric IEM that is laid-back and smooth. You value effortless transients with rich, thick notes in a pleasant soundstage. You likely listen to slower-paced, emotional and vocal/mid-centric genres.

No: You’ll want to avoid Supreme if you have not demo’d it and do not have a variety of cables/DAPs-it can indeed sound off without the right power and synergy. If you are a basshead and/or treblehead, you may want to look elsewhere due to Supreme being more of a chill-and-vibe IEM.


Vision Ears Erlkönig:

Yes: You will want the Erlkönig if you value the whole package from unboxing to features. Erlkönig offers 4 tuning settings for those who like variability in their sound. You likely prefer your mids forward, with lush and rich engagement. You like flying notes and occasional sparkle, but are okay with a laid-back treble response. You do not mind a slightly overly warm timbre, nor care about the occasional BA texture. You want to flex with the various faceplates. Lastly, you know HOW to even obtain one.

No: You will likely want to look elsewhere if you are expecting authentic Dynamic-Driver like bass, or super treble. You may find some fault in the consistency of timbre of instruments, depending on your reference points and genres. You want surgical precision in your music, without thick and forward mids.


Rhapsodio Infinity Mk2:

Yes: Similar to Supreme, you likely have either demo’d it against your audio chain gear, or have some wiggle room for experimentation to ensure the right synergy. You are a sucker for soundstage width, and enjoy a holographic presentation. You really love to hear low-level detail and realism of guitars, piano keys, and other instruments. You do not care for elevated bass, and prefer a cleaner sub-bass that compliments the mids and treble. You love your sparkly treble, upper midrange, and overall airy presentation. You want an intense, but musical listen.

No: You will want to pass on the Infinity if you want a DD-like bass response. If you are looking for a warm IEM, you will likely want to look elsewhere, although perhaps with the right chain, it is doable. If you are sensitive to tons of treble frequencies, you will want to ensure your synergy is ideal before committing. You dislike upper-mid boosts, and prefer linear mids. You do not care for a vast soundstage, and prefer a more intimate, laid-back listen.

Oriolus Traillii:

Yes: If you are looking for the largest stage imaginable from your IEM, with an excellent W-shaped balanced tonality, then Traillii is an excellent bet. The choice is further simplified for those who don’t want to cable-roll and want top-tier out-of-box sound. Traillii is easy to drive, and its tonality will not dramatically change depending on your source (unlike the Rhaps).

You are looking for an IEM with high-level technicalities that still oozes musicality. You want top tier BA-bass performance that slams convincingly for genres such as EDM. You cannot commit to a genre so you need an excellent all-rounder, as Traillii is versatile across pretty much any genre.

No: You are a non-believer in paying a premium to have a high-end cable bundled into the package. (Side note: It would be excellent to have the option to buy it for cheaper without the 1960 4w cable, but I have cable-rolled quite a bit and do feel this cable does the IEM awesome justice for optimizing its signature. Other types of silver/gold cables tend to add extra bite into the lower treble which can cause the electrostats to get fatiguing). That being said, if you are sensitive to lower treble, Traillii may be slightly fatiguing, but this was easily remedied with different tips for me.

Otherwise, you won’t want the Traillii if you are looking for an aggressive, mid-forward presentation. Traillii is more laid-back in the mids, with incredible extension in the bass and treble region. If you don’t care for technicalities such as staging, layering, and soundstage, then you can very well find other excellent balanced tonalities for cheaper.

Closing Thoughts:

Some say size matters, others say the number of drivers matter. I say-reference points matter. Most of this lengthy shootout will not mean much if the reader does not have the context of the IEMs being compared to one another. For example, when I say Erlkönig is “intimate” in the soundstage width, that is only compared to these 3 IEMs. Erlky is far from intimate relative to let’s say VE Elysium or VE8. When I say Erlkönig sounds artificial at times, that is only highlighted when compared to the Rhapsodios & Traillii (and Odin, hey…an Odin compliment!). When I say Infinity is colored, that is only noticeable when listening to the Traillii, or an IEM with more linear mids. It is easily one of the most technical IEMs, with a soundstage larger than anything not-named-Traillii or Thummim.

This IMO is what makes comparisons, impressions, and reviews so difficult, but I do hope these Summit-Fi masterpieces do trickle down into more affordable and accessible models down the line because I would love to have others chime in with new synergies and audio epiphanies.




TL;DR: Supreme and Traillii are like a complex, mature wine that will age well. It takes a bit of time to realize how special they are, until you go back to your old favorite wine and realize how it is a bit harsher with a less interesting taste profile.

Infinity and Erlkönig are the more excitable, aggressive listens. They are intense in a musical way, albeit with near opposite signatures. Infinity does an impeccable job with low-level detail texture, and Erlkönig has lush, rich, thick forward mids while retaining excellent overall space.
slow...clap...

my favorite review I’ve read on hf.

I agree with your analyses of all the iems I’ve heard (minus the infinity, which I’ve yet to hear.)

bravo, @tawmizzzz.

🙏
 
Apr 4, 2021 at 4:11 AM Post #15 of 26

michaelc

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Oriolus Traillii:

Yes: If you are looking for the largest stage imaginable from your IEM, with an excellent W-shaped balanced tonality, then Traillii is an excellent bet. The choice is further simplified for those who don’t want to cable-roll and want top-tier out-of-box sound. Traillii is easy to drive, and its tonality will not dramatically change depending on your source (unlike the Rhaps).

You are looking for an IEM with high-level technicalities that still oozes musicality. You want top tier BA-bass performance that slams convincingly for genres such as EDM. You cannot commit to a genre so you need an excellent all-rounder, as Traillii is versatile across pretty much any genre.

No: You are a non-believer in paying a premium to have a high-end cable bundled into the package. (Side note: It would be excellent to have the option to buy it for cheaper without the 1960 4w cable, but I have cable-rolled quite a bit and do feel this cable does the IEM awesome justice for optimizing its signature. Other types of silver/gold cables tend to add extra bite into the lower treble which can cause the electrostats to get fatiguing). That being said, if you are sensitive to lower treble, Traillii may be slightly fatiguing, but this was easily remedied with different tips for me.

Otherwise, you won’t want the Traillii if you are looking for an aggressive, mid-forward presentation. Traillii is more laid-back in the mids, with incredible extension in the bass and treble region. If you don’t care for technicalities such as staging, layering, and soundstage, then you can very well find other excellent balanced tonalities for cheaper.
Awesome review!!
Totally agree on how you describe the bird's sound signature.
 

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