After 3 days of excessive listening sessions and comparing I’d like to share my thoughts on this extremely expensive uiems.
I am and I will surely stay a noob in describing sounds like all the great reviewers. But one thing for sure…..i insanely love music.
So I will better go on describing things like I can without getting too deep into the matter
Vision Ears Erlkönig
I liked it most with Ares II 8 wire (instead of several silver cables incl. the stock cable) and spiral dots. The Ares II8w/Erlkönig pairing sounded pleasantly warmer.
The different tunings (rotary switches beneath the – interchangeable - faceplates) :
1) Powerful bass
2) Moderate bass
3) Super highs
4) Forward mids
All signatures sound great, each in its own way.
But for me tuning 1 was too bassy in the long run and not balanced enough to be adequate for classics. Good for electronic of all kinds, Rock and EDM though.
Tuning 2 wasn’t my cup of tea at all. The slightly reduced bass sounded weirdly artificial and the sonic image for my taste wasn’t really coherent.
Tuning 3 sounds nice and was my second favorite. Everything sounded more natural. Especially when it comes to instrumental music with female or male vocals. But I still missed the natural timbre musicality what I found in….
… Tuning 4 ! Here my poor ears first time sent a signal back to my brain producing some sweet spots now and then Yep, very nice tuning imo. For all genres.
Later I found out : Of course I liked tuning 4 most…..in direct comparison for me it sounded most like the Phantom’s tuning ! (not quite as musical though but it was very close)
What I liked :
- The silver housing looks awesome and classy
- The interchangeable (magnetic) faceplates are a great idea
- Awesome separation, transparency and clarity (especially tuning 4 with nicely forwarded mids) with the bass amount of your choice . Except of tuning 3 imo bass sounds beautiful and very well controlled.
- The 4 different tunings are a great idea when you are willing to use them all. Probably I’d leave the switch 90% of my sessions on 4.
What I didn’t like :
- 4200 €/4900$ are simply too much for 1 tuning you are deciding for at the end of the day….and probably you won’t change this tuning for the longest period of time these iems are in use.
- The weight ! Due to the fact the housing and the faceplates are made completely of pure silver they are too heavy for my liking.
- No custom version !
- Great separation and clarity combined with an incredibly controlled and powerful bass at an expense of musicality, natural timbre and warmth. Definitely a matter of taste though.
- The nozzle size of 5mm is for most of my tips simply too big.
Short…really short comparison :
Erlkönig vs. Legend X : The first day I was wowed in direct comparison and the Erlkönig had an upper hand but now after excessive listening sessions I prefer the LX for following reasons :
- Erlkönig’s resolution and the separation may be a little bit better, but the LX sounds more coherent…en bloc The LX sounds a tad warmer (even with the Thor Silver II 8braid) and “rounder” what I like more. While the bass quantity is nearly the same (if Erlkönig is set on level 1) I still prefer the bad boy DD-punch of the LX. Erlkönigs mids have a tad more clarity and sound a little bit more “open”, more transparent. I didn’t hear a significant difference in the treble but the Erlkönig has a bit more crispness.
- With classics the LX simply is more fun as the dynamic bass everything makes big and fat….but still controlled I love this. With the Erlkönig classical sounded technically better but kind of heartless. I missed the fun factor. Music is fun so I need this factor more instead of technical perfection and separation. Again a matter of taste.
- The weight. I love the feather weighted LX. Because they are light weighted I can wear them for hours. The Erlkönig is pain in the ass after 2 or 3 hours. Man….that hurt !
Erlkönig vs. Phantom : This is much easier for me to describe. As I said I liked Erlkönig’s level 4 most because it sounded more complete….more coherent. When I put the Phantom on I noticed it sounded quite like level 4 of the Erlkönig with nearly identical transparency but even more coherent and more musical (!)….my priorities. Moreover Phantom is a tad warmer (even paired with Leonidas). The bass on level 4 surprised me! Nicely balanced. I really liked it a little bit more than Phantom’s bass (and I love Phantom’s bass)! I have to admit on level 4 the Erlkönig comes very close to my personal taste. But at the end I still prefer the Phantom.
The reasons :
Maybe there are some little advantages on Erlkönig’s side….then again on Phantom’s. At the end Phantom’s musicality, timbre and naturalness won the game for me. Yes, Erlkönig’s bass sounds a little better (imo) and the crispness and clarity makes electronic music sound quite engaging and interesting. But as I said…..it is a wow against smile battle. And I prefer the smile Phantoms make me smile. That easy !
My mini ranking after excessive listening sessions :
- Phantom (still) – 9,5/10
- LX – 9/10
- Erlkönig – 8/10 (If price is a point I give 5/10)
My final conclusion : I tried to find out more about the sweet spot. At the end it’s all about the sweet spot we are chasing all the time, isn’t it ? I had sweet spots with a lot of iems and every sweet spot is the same and the end of the day. It’s like an emotion. Sweet spot is sweet spot . It lasts a few seconds to maybe a few minutes (1…2…3?)…..but it’s short by nature. Just a few moments. Then my brain adjusts and gets used to what my ears are hearing. Bye bye sweet spot. Hopefully I see you again ! So why the hell would I pay 4,2K€ for another sweet spot ?! Even if there would be noticeable advantages my brain gets used to all the little differences within a few moments. A little better controlled bass….a tad more clarity and crispness…..maybe a little bit wider sound stage and transparency ……but all those points are DEFINITELY NOT worth to pay 4,2K€. Hell…..can’t believe that I considered going down this road. But this was a great lesson….as always.