Jun 24, 2020 at 9:51 AM
- Jan 5, 2019
- Reaction score
- BC, Canada
Sometimes when I read this thread I feel like I'm watching an old episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous-- very enticing but unattainable. One day maybe my fortunes will conspire so I can demo one or both of these.Let's talk Summit-Fi! In this discussion we've left concepts such as sanity and value-for-money behind, and are looking at some rather ****ing awesome money-no-object items - the best that the portable audio industry has managed to come up with
Disclaimer: I have paid almost full retail for both items, and I've acquired both the Thummim and the Erl at a rather comparable price tag. Neither company has provided any sort of incentive for a favourable review.
Since this is going to be a proper A/B comparison post between the Thummim by MMR and Erlkoenig by Vision Ears I'm actually going to go point by point outlining my experience with each and which I feel has the upper hand in that particular aspect. I do have to state that they're both insanely good products, and I can't clearly recommend one or the other one-sidedly, but I will also state my overall preference at the end of this post.
This is one of the points where the Erl truly is unmatched, as it arrives in a huge wooden box, with plenty of accessories, stickers and whatnot. The Thummim offers a much more understated experience, with a very nice leather case, but not quite the level of the Erl
2. Stock cable
I've read that the LE Erl has a rather nice cable that it arrives with (my info is that it's produced by Hansound though that's not official). I purchased the original Erl however, since I liked the matte silver shells much better than the black ones, and I was able to get some discount on a mint open box unit (previously owned by @aaf evo, thanks for returning them buddy! )
Anyhow, I find that the Plato that is included with the Thummim is a much nicer cable with a more mid-centric tonality, whereas the regular Erl cable had a rather bright touch that I didn't enjoy especially. The build quality of the Plato is also significantly nicer Imo - a point for the Thummim.
3. Build quality and fit
I can't really say that one is better built than the other. The sockets are definitely better on the Thumimm, while the Erl has a more pleasant fit, though the weight does cause some discomfort on both IEMs. The pure silver shell is also premium AF, and I love it. I suppose you can say the Erl wins marginally here, and that both IEMs are miles ahead of the rest of the market, or at least as far as my experience goes
Disclaimer: I really did not like settings 1 and 2, and setting 3 touches on a treble sensitivity of mine, so all listening is being done on 4 and it looks like it will stay so. Setting 1 and 2 are pretty bass-heavy, but at the expense of technical performance Imo, so hard pass from me.
This is probably the toughest point to evaluate because of just how different the two signatures and presentations are. The Erl has a much lighter touch, with a flatter presentation across the spectrum.
Bass: The Thummim presents the lows as a typical well tuned DD would. Slow decay, massive subbass, excellent weight and texture. The Erl presents the lows as much more of a BA, with really good speed, control and a subbass/bass ratio closer to 1. In this specific point I think I prefer the Erl, as I'm not a huge basshead, and instead prefer flatter lows
Midrange: Probably the toughest one to compare. The Thummim does sport better texture here, as well as more weight and just general thickness. They're both absolutely excellent in that respect, and only really matched by the VE Elysium. Three titans, each one with a slightly different presentation throughout the midrange. I'd say the Elysium and Thummim sound quite a lot like how a DD would present the mids, while the Erl has one of the best BA-sounding midranges. I'd say the mids of the Erl might make for a slightly better all-rounder, though I'd still pick those of the Thummim over it personally
Treble: In my ever-so-humble opinion, the Thummim wins by a fair margin here. Better extension, more sparkle, better detail and control. The Erl does a great job with the treble, but is still somewhat short compared to MMR's flagship.
Soundstage: The staging on the Thummim is much bigger than that of anything else I've heard, Erl included. The Erl is somewhat better organised and you can tell exactly where everything is, while the Thummim wins with sheer size and awesomeness. This point definitely goes to the Thummim once again Imo
Detail retrieval: They're both wonderfully detailed, but the Erl is quite unmatched in this respect. Easy point to the Erl.
Instrumental separation: Marginally better on the Thummim imo, though very comparable. Can't really say which I like better, they're both insane in that respect
Overall presentation: This is where they differ most imo. The Thummim is all about how good your music could sound. It is a wonderfully exaggerated, over-the-top sounding IEM, which provides an experience that's quite simply incomparable to anything else on the market. The Erl takes a different approach - it takes a rather standard tonality and a rather standard soundstage and takes it to an absolute extreme in how well it performs it.
Personal preference: Thankfully I can afford to own both, but if I had to only pick one to keep, I'd still stick with the Thummim. While the Erl is an exceptional IEM, it is like a directly upgraded A18S, while the Thummim offers a level of performance and engagement I've simply been unable to find elsewhere. That is NOT to say that I recommend the Thummim over the Erl - it is simply which of the two I'd choose if I had to choose. As you can see, I chose both