flinkenick's 17 Flagship IEM Shootout Thread (and general high-end portable audio discussion)
Aug 11, 2018 at 2:59 PM Post #11,776 of 39,250

Sound~Patriot

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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 ! :D (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.

Cheers!
 
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Aug 11, 2018 at 3:08 PM Post #11,779 of 39,250

SLC1966

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That was an intense 7 pages. I am off to get a Schmock and a Pangkake!
 
Aug 11, 2018 at 3:22 PM Post #11,780 of 39,250

fuhransahis

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careful when one collabs w Evil Empire. they may throw one under the bus after the collab.

moving on... pls don't like. i like to be solo on this..
Sorry but no, I too would no longer like to support EE. So I liked it. Whether you like it or not. :ksc75smile:
 
Aug 11, 2018 at 3:31 PM Post #11,781 of 39,250

474194

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^^ Thanks. There's at least two options now >> SE5U == Phantom for that sig, so having other options is great.

** Good luck everyone on their audio and pokemon quests. I'm out till Summer 2019. Been here since the tail end of the Mojo hype and need to step back. Maybe do some creative finance planning for the SE6. Need to find my ski mask.

Laterz
 
Aug 11, 2018 at 3:43 PM Post #11,783 of 39,250

fuhransahis

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Yes I do believe that unicorn exists, also the reason se6 cost so much is that their ba drivers is made out of star dust, so do you believe in star dust?:ksc75smile:
There certainly was a lot of dust involved in pricing the SE6

tenor (13).gif
 
Aug 11, 2018 at 7:34 PM Post #11,784 of 39,250

normie610

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Aug 11, 2018 at 10:06 PM Post #11,785 of 39,250

chungjun

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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 ! :D (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.

Cheers!


There’s missing comparison with the VE8...... another excessive listening needed :L3000::beyersmile:
 
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Aug 11, 2018 at 11:11 PM Post #11,786 of 39,250

klyzon

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Tbh I’m glad phantom price point is where it is right now.

As for the rising prices, I don’t think it’s gonna stop. Since everything is build to order for ciems, pretty much don’t have to keep stock so not much restrictions like holding too much stock and making a loss etc.

Maybe I’ll get a ve8 eventually just for their build and super nice case but that’s it for me I guess haha
 
Aug 12, 2018 at 3:32 AM Post #11,787 of 39,250

Sound~Patriot

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Aug 12, 2018 at 4:58 AM Post #11,788 of 39,250

davidmolliere

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Maybe I’ll get a ve8 eventually just for their build and super nice case but that’s it for me I guess haha

True the build is superb, and the case is very nice but the VE8 itself is really so much fun to listen to! It's a highly engaging IEM and a stellar all rounder as many have written before. To me it was the IEM that made me really I loved treble much more than I would have thought. It took some time before I found a warm smooth signature with such treble, delightful, delicate, exquisitely detailed yet smooth oh my it was a revelation really! Actually made me even rethink staying in the same neutral warm to warm signature category, and something like the A18 might be in my future collection :p

There’s missing comparison with the VE8...... another excessive listening needed :L3000::beyersmile:

I have posted bit and chunks here and there since I am lucky to own both, I'll try to sit down and take the time to gather all this... actually I have never written reviews yet and meant to do so for the VE8 and Phantom so it might be a good incentive to do so :) Stay tuned!
 
Aug 12, 2018 at 5:01 AM Post #11,789 of 39,250

Wyville

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Sorry but no, I too would no longer like to support EE. So I liked it. Whether you like it or not. :ksc75smile:
I initially missed it because I was really quite upset about it all and did not read the EE thread much anymore to allow things to settle, but Jack recently made a statement that for me personally ends the business. I will say that as a relatively new reviewer the whole situation has made me a little more cautious about getting closer to companies in general, but I don't hold a grudge against EE. I don't know all the details anyway and if Nic and Jack worked it out between them, then that is it done for me. Time to look forward.

Jack's statement:
"Moving on to the Phantom affair with @flinkenick from a while back. What happened was especially difficult for me personally, since I have had what I consider a long and outstanding relationship with Nic. I think all of us - including Nic – truly regret how things went down, especially after such a successful cooperation during the development of the new lineup. We not only appreciated Nic’s good ear, but his honest and straightforward approach with us. It is our position Nic played an essential role in the feedback process of the Phantom, and in determining whether the end product would be suitable for the high-end audio enthusiast market. In the end, we realize that recognition for the Phantom itself was not the issue, but that an employee’s response to a reviewer’s social media post could have been more tactfully placed, regardless of the content. We hope to work with him in the future, and continue to bring you all the best you have come to associate with Empire Ears."
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/emp...rmerly-earwerkz.786335/page-957#post-14323869
 
Aug 12, 2018 at 5:13 AM Post #11,790 of 39,250

Wyville

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This is the first thing come to my mind when I read the story, but I feel reluctant to comment on other brand, so I wait until someone speak my mind. :beerchug:

While we are still waiting for more update, I would like to share a quick update from HK.

https://www.facebook.com/effectaudi...68292027235/10156560498312236/?type=3&theater
Effect Audio will be making an appearance in the upcoming HK High End AV Show, that is 10-12 August, so this is current.

https://www.facebook.com/crystalsou...655039227374/1890354014357462/?type=3&theater
This is coming from Effect Audio's Hong Kong distributor, it's in Chinese, but Google Translation of the chinese content happens to be quite accurate with the exception of missing out the US$ currency information:


So if no one is making any serious mistake, the new IEM from Effect Audio will be priced between US$7,500 to US$8,000. These are very interesting development in the industry, let's wait and see if the market is really "taking off".
Really curious to see what Effect Audio are doing here. I don't have a problem with astronomical prices as such. I mean, I live in London and am all too aware that there is a booming market for the super rich. With the SE6 I just don't understand it because it does not seem to aim at that particular niche and they are priced too high for most enthusiasts.

Still, if these prices are right I expect to see something quite insanely opulent, as it will need to top Vision Ears' Erlkönig, which I think does very well in the whole "insanely opulent" department. Will be fun to see, a bit like car spotting in Mayfair... :D
 

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