flinkenick's 17 Flagship IEM Shootout Thread (and general high-end portable audio discussion)
post-15698480
Post #22,936 of 23,587

Rockwell75

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Messages
2,045
Reaction score
2,770
Location
BC, Canada
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Location
BC, Canada
Posts
2,045
Likes
2,770
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.

1. Packaging
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! :D)

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

4. Sound

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 :D

IMG_1873.jpg
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.
 
post-15698485
Post #22,937 of 23,587

doctorjuggles

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 9, 2004
Messages
1,019
Reaction score
303
Location
London, UK
Joined
Feb 9, 2004
Location
London, UK
Posts
1,019
Likes
303
Agree with most of your take on this @mvvRAZ - I preferred setting 2, but overall the Erl is an astounding technical performer, while the Thummim is just bonkers fun (while also being no technical slouch either)
 
     Share This Post       
  • Like
Reactions: mvvRAZ
post-15698634
Post #22,938 of 23,587

toaster

Previously known as toaster22
Joined
Jan 13, 2004
Messages
2,008
Reaction score
888
Location
nyc
Joined
Jan 13, 2004
Location
nyc
Posts
2,008
Likes
888
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.
Your stash ain’t too bad, @Rockwell75 .

Also remember: it’s not just about the money, it’s about the crazy.
 
post-15698782
Post #22,939 of 23,587

goodvibes

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 28, 2009
Messages
8,427
Reaction score
780
Joined
Dec 28, 2009
Posts
8,427
Likes
780
I honestly don’t have a problem with expensive gear. After living in London for three years I have seen some of the most ridiculous stuff money can buy and it does absolutely nothing for me, but if it makes someone else happy then good for them. Even the oBravo Ra doesn’t bother me. Still think it is good fun to joke about it though... :grin:
I have a bit of an issue once earphones exceed $2k. You can do whatever you need for that. My issue for once you pay more than that, is that you're you're still buying a flavor. I would think any value above that would be for extreme accuracy and coherence for those tweaky enough to notice the adverse effects of tone controls etc and are looking for max purity. IEMs, especially, are intyended as portable devices so you are also source limited if used that way. At some point, buy a Naim Atom with it's own server plus something like Quad S2s and have a real HI Fi with a proper perspective and plenty of detail for $4k.

At some point your'e just crawling down the Rabbit hole due to the limitations of formats.
 
Last edited:
post-15698888
Post #22,940 of 23,587

Rockwell75

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Messages
2,045
Reaction score
2,770
Location
BC, Canada
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Location
BC, Canada
Posts
2,045
Likes
2,770
Your stash ain’t too bad, @Rockwell75 .

Also remember: it’s not just about the money, it’s about the crazy.
I'm actually totally content with my "stash", at least as far as sound goes...but often it's not about needs so much as wants spurred on by that ever-present curiosity and desire to try something new that drives this and other luxury hobbies. That dopamine rush that attends trying out new gear is tangible.
 
     Share This Post       
  • Like
Reactions: cr3ativ3
post-15698914
Post #22,941 of 23,587

mvvRAZ

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
May 10, 2019
Messages
2,671
Reaction score
3,132
Location
Gotham City (EU)
Joined
May 10, 2019
Location
Gotham City (EU)
Posts
2,671
Likes
3,132
I have a bit of an issue once earphones exceed $2k. You can do whatever you need for that. My issue for once you pay more than that, is that you're you're still buying a flavor. I would think any value above that would be for extreme accuracy and coherence for those tweaky enough to notice the adverse effects of tone controls etc and are looking for max purity. IEMs, especially, are intyended as portable devices so you are also source limited if used that way. At some point, buy a Naim Atom with it's own server plus something like Quad S2s and have a real HI Fi with a proper perspective and plenty of detail for $4k.

At some point your'e just crawling down the Rabbit hole due to the limitations of formats.
One doesn't preclude the other though, and I move around way too much to justify any kind of expensive or high end home setup. Not only that, I don't live by myself and it's not optimal to blast something in their ears 10-14 hours a day
 
     Share This Post       
  • Like
Reactions: Deezel177
post-15699010
Post #22,942 of 23,587

Wyville

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 11, 2016
Messages
3,915
Reaction score
9,962
Location
NL
Joined
Dec 11, 2016
Location
NL
Posts
3,915
Likes
9,962
Website
twister6.com
I have a bit of an issue once earphones exceed $2k. You can do whatever you need for that. My issue for once you pay more than that, is that you're you're still buying a flavor. I would think any value above that would be for extreme accuracy and coherence for those tweaky enough to notice the adverse effects of tone controls etc and are looking for max purity. IEMs, especially, are intyended as portable devices so you are also source limited if used that way. At some point, buy a Naim Atom with it's own server plus something like Quad S2s and have a real HI Fi with a proper perspective and plenty of detail for $4k.

At some point your'e just crawling down the Rabbit hole due to the limitations of formats.
Sure, fair point. Although of course to some extent the high prices are about breaking through the limitations of the format (aside from being luxury items like any other). For instance, I found that the Thummim offer a unique presentation that goes beyond anything I have heard so far. Whether or not it is worth the premium price is much more a personal decision because it depends on the satisfaction a person gets from them, whether they are committed to portable and how deep their pockets are. Moreover, not everyone will want speakers. I am committed to something that provides me with a personal listening environment. That has always been IEMs because of various practical limitations (living space, etc) and I might in the near future move to headphones, but it will never be speakers. Even the headphones I am not entirely sure about because I might not cope well with the bulk and weight of those. As such I expect that IEMs will stay my main focus and I therefore like seeing manufacturers push the format beyond its perceived limits (love the LCD-i4 for just that reason). That does not mean I am cheering on the way the prices are increasing, but I don't have a problem with it either. It is a bit like with speakers. You might be content with Quad S2s, but you can also scale up well beyond those into price ranges where most people spend such amounts on their house and at the end of the day those will still be speakers. Very big speakers, but speakers nonetheless. If you get my meaning. For IEMs (generally speaking) it is really a question of what the increase in price delivers over less expensive models and I can't really comment on that because I haven't heard much beyond $2k.
 
Last edited:
post-15699032
Post #22,943 of 23,587

goodvibes

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 28, 2009
Messages
8,427
Reaction score
780
Joined
Dec 28, 2009
Posts
8,427
Likes
780
One doesn't preclude the other though, and I move around way too much to justify any kind of expensive or high end home setup. Not only that, I don't live by myself and it's not optimal to blast something in their ears 10-14 hours a day
Never said it did. More about absolute limits.Comments like mine are always a personnel point of view. $2k was perhaps a little low but there are limits to what can be achieved with an IEM or headphones in general unless listening to binaural source material and I've always found cross channel manipulation just makes it worse. If I were only able to listen that way, I'd have something in the mid hundreds for out and about like my Spartans and a set of Shure electrostatics, Zues, etc or open back headphones like ps500/2000 and call it a day. Maybe find some old low voltage Lambda's.Still think it's the most natural Stax I've heard and I've had a few+.
 
     Share This Post       
post-15699034
Post #22,944 of 23,587

Rockwell75

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Messages
2,045
Reaction score
2,770
Location
BC, Canada
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Location
BC, Canada
Posts
2,045
Likes
2,770
Sure, fair point. Although of course to some extent the high prices are about breaking through the limitations of the format (aside from being luxury items like any other). For instance, I found that the Thummim offer a unique presentation that goes beyond anything I have heard so far. Whether or not it is worth the premium price is much more a personal decision because it depends on the satisfaction a person gets from them, whether they are committed to portable and how deep their pockets are. Moreover, not everyone will want speakers. I am committed to something that provides me with a personal listening environment. That has always been IEMs because of various practical limitations (living space, etc) and I might in the near future move to headphones, but it will never be speakers. Even the headphones I am not entirely sure about because I might not cope well with the bulk and weight of those. As such I expect that IEMs will stay my main focus and I therefore like seeing manufacturers push the format beyond its perceived limits (love the LCD-i4 for just that reason). That does not mean I am cheering on the way the prices are increasing, but I don't have a problem with it either. It is a bit like with speakers. You might be content with Quad S2s, but you can also scale up well beyond those into price ranges where most people spend such amounts on their house and at the end of the day those will still be speakers. Very big speakers, but speakers nonetheless. If you get my meaning. For IEMs (generally speaking) it is really a question of what the increase in price delivers over less expensive models and I can't really comment on that because I haven't heard much beyond $2k.
That's basically where I'm at...speakers will never be an option for me due to living circumstances, headphones are tempting but it's hard to justify the $$ commitment considering the loss of portability and that presently my IEMs don't leave me feeling like I'm missing anything.
 
     Share This Post       
post-15699038
Post #22,945 of 23,587

mvvRAZ

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
May 10, 2019
Messages
2,671
Reaction score
3,132
Location
Gotham City (EU)
Joined
May 10, 2019
Location
Gotham City (EU)
Posts
2,671
Likes
3,132
That's basically where I'm at...speakers will never be an option for me due to living circumstances, headphones are tempting but it's hard to justify the $$ commitment considering the loss of portability and that presently my IEMs don't leave me feeling like I'm missing anything.
I also flat out like the sound of IEMs better than that of headphones tbh - no full sized HP I’ve tried has even come close
 
     Share This Post       
  • Like
Reactions: Damz87 and Sifo
post-15699041
Post #22,946 of 23,587

goodvibes

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 28, 2009
Messages
8,427
Reaction score
780
Joined
Dec 28, 2009
Posts
8,427
Likes
780
Sure, fair point. Although of course to some extent the high prices are about breaking through the limitations of the format (aside from being luxury items like any other). For instance, I found that the Thummim offer a unique presentation that goes beyond anything I have heard so far. Whether or not it is worth the premium price is much more a personal decision because it depends on the satisfaction a person gets from them, whether they are committed to portable and how deep their pockets are. Moreover, not everyone will want speakers. I am committed to something that provides me with a personal listening environment. That has always been IEMs because of various practical limitations (living space, etc) and I might in the near future move to headphones, but it will never be speakers. Even the headphones I am not entirely sure about because I might not cope well with the bulk and weight of those. As such I expect that IEMs will stay my main focus and I therefore like seeing manufacturers push the format beyond its perceived limits (love the LCD-i4 for just that reason). That does not mean I am cheering on the way the prices are increasing, but I don't have a problem with it either. It is a bit like with speakers. You might be content with Quad S2s, but you can also scale up well beyond those into price ranges where most people spend such amounts on their house and at the end of the day those will still be speakers. Very big speakers, but speakers nonetheless. If you get my meaning. For IEMs (generally speaking) it is really a question of what the increase in price delivers over less expensive models and I can't really comment on that because I haven't heard much beyond $2k.
It's my position that there are certain boundaries you can't break through with in ears, or headphones really, but that doesn't mean they can't get better with $. I just think there's a limit somewhere (lets change this to) under $3k and then you're picking your poison which everyone has every right to do. Just liking it more because you do counts. :ksc75smile:
I'll always have a good set of IEMs. Haven't been without since I bought a new pair of super.fi 3s.
 
Last edited:
     Share This Post       
  • Like
Reactions: Wyville
post-15699117
Post #22,947 of 23,587

gnahra

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Messages
555
Reaction score
524
Location
Florida
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Location
Florida
Posts
555
Likes
524
I also flat out like the sound of IEMs better than that of headphones tbh - no full sized HP I’ve tried has even come close
I agree with you @mvvRAZ. I started my audio journey with full-sized speakers, moved to headphones, and have finally settled in on IEMs. I def prefer sound from IEMs over headphones (at least those that I've tried).
 
     Share This Post       
  • Like
Reactions: SLC1966 and mvvRAZ
post-15699145
Post #22,948 of 23,587

Wyville

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 11, 2016
Messages
3,915
Reaction score
9,962
Location
NL
Joined
Dec 11, 2016
Location
NL
Posts
3,915
Likes
9,962
Website
twister6.com
It's my position that there are certain boundaries you can't break through with in ears, or headphones really, but that doesn't mean they can't get better with $. I just think there's a limit somewhere (lets change this to) under $3k and then you're picking your poison which everyone has every right to do. Just liking it more because you do counts. :ksc75smile:
I'll always have a good set of IEMs. Haven't been without since I bought a new pair of super.fi 3s.
Oh, good sound, even great sound does not have to be expensive. I love my Phantom and Fealty because they never leave me wanting, and feel fortunate to have a number of crazy good review samples including the (relatively speaking) cheap FIBAE Black.
 
post-15699161
Post #22,949 of 23,587

Rockwell75

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Messages
2,045
Reaction score
2,770
Location
BC, Canada
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Location
BC, Canada
Posts
2,045
Likes
2,770
I also flat out like the sound of IEMs better than that of headphones tbh - no full sized HP I’ve tried has even come close
In some respects it comes down to preference. IEMs can't touch headphones in terms of staging and sense of space/seperation, headphones can't touch IEMs in terms of things like raw detail and resolution (and portability, convenience etc.). Personally I'm biased more towards the former and the Verite I demoed last summer is still the most enjoyable portable audio listening experience I've had....but IEMs still win the day for me due to their comfort, convenience etc.
 
Last edited:
post-15699169
Post #22,950 of 23,587

EagleWings

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Aug 11, 2015
Messages
3,191
Reaction score
4,232
Location
India
Joined
Aug 11, 2015
Location
India
Posts
3,191
Likes
4,232
Head-Fi is not a great place for desktop gear advice. I have seen many folks try headphones, get disappointed and move back to IEMs. It’s due to reasons like:
A) A lot of sub-par sounding HP/gear getting a lot of hype
B) Making purchase decisions based on measurements and chasing the 0.0000000000001% distortion
C) Not giving enough importance to system synergy and personal subjective preference
D) Not realizing the importance of a good DAC in the system and only cycling the amp and headphone

I’ve been a victim of A and have committed B, C and D myself. But it was a fun journey.
 
Last edited:

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 10, Guests: 12)

Top