Vision Ears Elysium: What comes after a triple? A homerun!

Pros: Fabulous sound.
Gorgeous look.
Presentation.
Clarity.
Detail retrieval. Cons: Harder to drive than others.
Expensive.
For some too bright a sig.
Garish looks to some.
Not mine. Vision Ears Elysium ($3140usd): What comes after a triple? A homerun!

VE Elysium website:
https://vision-ears.de/erlkoenig_en

Initiale:

The title of course refers to the number of different drivers within. The conclusion? Well when one hits it out of the park. I switched spots with @Ike since he had obligations and requested to move up. I was in no hurry. But once he started posting such gushy wordology regarding the liquidity of the Elysium, waxing lyrical replete with platitudes and such, I became angry. That was MY spot he took, and I simmered, stewed & smoldered…OK actually, I did not and enjoyed reading his diatribe as it inched closer to my time. He lamented that the critter(s) were leaving his fair state of Kentucky and making the brief safe trip to Missouri at the end of his time, but to be honest…his loss is my gain!

I am thoroughly happy that Ike enjoyed his time with an astounding pair of IEM’s known the world for being amongst the very best, and will do my best to pay homage to others who came fore with reviews awash with voluminous verbiage paying tribute to the maker known as VE.

I thank @Barra for another wonderful tour without which I would not have had the opportunity to hear the pair. For that I am grateful as ever and will thoroughly enjoy my week (I’m on day 3).



Specs:

ELYSIUM:
PRICE: 2900,- €, ($3499usd)
https://vision-ears.de/erlkoenig_en

  • Tech: Four driver three-way hybrid system with a BA, dynamic, and 2 electrostatic driver
  • Drivers: 1BA for bass – 1 dynamic for mids – 2 electrostatic for highs
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL at 1 mW
  • Impedance: 16.4 Ohms at 1 kHz

Gear Used/Compared:

Empire Ears Legend X ($2299)
Vision Ears VE8 ($2544)
Clear Tunes Monitor Da Vinci X ($2499)

Cayin N6 mk2
MBP/iFi iDSD Pro

Songlist:

Joey Alexander-Warna album and others
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado
twenty one pilots album, Trench
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Big Head Todd & The Monsters-Beautiful World
Mark Knopfler-Down The Road Wherever




Unboxing:


Since both IEM’s came only wrapped in their respective carrying case, I felt a tinge of that smoldering anger again, since I had read about the really cool unboxing affair, which is had by owners. I will admit while reading that in reviews, I envisioned the coolest cupholder I have ever seen, but unfortunately was not reliable. The early 2000’s Mercedes has the “blooming flower” cupholder, which would rise and “open its petals” upon the push of a button. I had a 2003 C-class loaner (often unfortunately) while my 2003 Saab 9-5 Aero wagon was being worked on, and the look on mine and my brother-in-law’s face was pure mechanical ecstasy. He was a mechanic at heart, and a damn good one (RIP), and we proceeded to take turns pushing the button over and over, haha. Anyway, from what I hear the unboxing comes with a “rising platform,” which would give the owner a similar whimsical fancy I would imagine.


So, alas, my “joyous unboxing” was limited to opening the small USPS Priority box and pulling both cases out. It was still neat to see that both made it just fine. Much has been written about the excellently cool case of the Elysium, likening it to a blue of oceanic variety, lined with the finest “Corinthian leather” or whatever. I do like the case, but if I’m going to spend 3-grand on an IEM, I would expect a better case. One, which I would not have to worry about being crushed were I foolish enough to venture on commuter lines with, much like the VE8 or Legend X. TOTL means case, as well. Again, I like the case, but it is flimsy and to me not what one should expect at this price.

Fit-n-finish:


As one would expect, the finish is exquisite. Most definitely TOTL stuff, and darn near flawless. I can feel the edges where the face plate attaches to the shell, but I do believe it is meant to aid in grasping the whole critter. It used to be that I did not like seeing the innards of an IEM, for the construction was usually drab, with wires and miscellany showing a jumble. Nowadays though, showing one’s guts can be pure art just like the VE8 or Elysium. I for one really like the look of the insides here what with the variety of color, shapes and logo-laden accoutrements. Add the aquarium-colored streaks on the backside, which all can see, and you have a pretty much stunning critter in which to look. Like a stunning Swiss mountain sunlit day, the innards are worth the look.

The Elysium comes with a premium white 8-wire spc 28AWG cable with a 2.5mm OYAIDE balanced connector standard. The 2-pin connectors have no typical red/not red markings, but the left side does have a circle on the connector, so one can easily (hopefully) remember. The Elysium only comes with a 2.5mm balanced termination but the kit also came with two excellent DD Audio adapters as well. So, using the Elysium in balanced mode in the N6ii was easy with the included 4.4bal jack. Note: this is only in the tour kit, this is not part of the Elysium purchase.


Using the included silicon tips, isolation was much better than I expected, providing a very good seal, without it being “vacuum-like” in the seal. Pairing the two, isolation was wonderful and the sound darn near extraordinary. Everything so far thus exuded TOTL, and quality. This is among the very best overall presentations including fit and finish of any unit that has graced my ears. Wonderful indeed.

Sound:

Typically, a review of this sort goes into the separates of sound, isolating all tenets so that the user can discern whether each sub-unit fits their bill. Whether the parts match one’s taste and then meld together for the finale. Here with the Elysium I do believe it is important to take a backward approach. Look at the overall, then discern the separates (or not at all because after the description one may not need it).

Taken as a whole, the Eylsium is stunning. Amongst the very best I have heard, period. From memory, the tia Forte might have emitted a bit better detail, but also a bit more antiseptic in sound. Mind you at the time, I thought the Forte was the very best “sound” I had ever heard, and still ranks among the very best. I did like the U18 Tzar more for that sound fit my tastes better. And here I would rank the Elysium as a melding of the two 64Audio signatures. That luscious, sumptuous virtuosity of emotion, wrapped in the detail retrieval one would expect from a something having that precision Germanic influence. Think the bullet-proof solidity of a Mercedes wrapped around the street cred of an M-class BMW and you would not be far from the truth. Mind you both marques exude their own character, but a melding of the pairs determines an excellent character of each, defining what makes both great. A most definite whole is greater than the parts anacronym.

Some pick the Elysium apart for having mids that are simply melodious and clear, laden with the clarity of a Swiss-mountain summer day, but short on treble sparkle and bass reach. They would not be completely remised, but to me here is the greatest strength of the Elysium: the marrying of the parts to bring those “shortcomings” into strength of fit. On Warna from Joey Alexander, the opening drum take folds effortlessly into his initial piano solo, followed by the staccato of precision key stroke impeccably. I am new to Joey Alexander, but thoroughly devour all he has for they are precise, unimpeachable and emotive. I do find his fast-paced sound a bit tedious and immature in the Jazz vein, but that is the beauty of a world-class 16-year-old Jazz pianist. With sheer precision that cannot be taught, but bred, he drives Jazz into the modern South American swivel-hipped style effortlessly. Here the Elysium lays bare any fallacy that might be had within. And there is none. I can hear his fingers grind on each key. I can hear his bassist move fingers across string and actually hit the bass itself. This is extraordinary.

The young man is phenomenal even if he needs to “mature” into the slower paced Jazz piano setting. But to me that is where he melds his own style into the reverence of past. And the Elysium allows that style to exude perfectly in tandem with the music. Many “TOTL” IEM’s would barge their way in with their own style tacking target over the music, overriding the author. Not the Elysium. The perfection of sound, which emits from his playing matches the character of the Elysium quite well. Not overly warm such and the Legend X, but not analytically neutral like the Forte leans either. A modern mix of an excellent sound character, which gives the music the chance to show what the artist intends. I do thoroughly enjoy that character and applaud Vision Ears for making a stunning statement in the TOTL lane of the highway.

Not the widest of sound stage, but just about what one would expect with the character emitted. Thoroughly inviting and encompassing, the stage fits the personality of the Elysium perfectly. I will admit that on artist such as Tedeschi Trucks the sound stage does feel a bit pinched in the middle. Midnight In Harlem is such a wonderful song just to listen to, but using it to judge layering and instrumentation can show a devices true limitations. And here the Elysium does feel a bit tight. But, if that is the only shortcoming, then I for one can listen and “live with that.” The sound is superb. On par with the best I have had and heard. It is an extraordinary critter of top-class quality as one would expect (and hope) from the price.

If I had to break the individuals down, I would do so in a short paragraph as such below. The overall to me is much more valuable than the parts, but if you must…Bass is a bit shy to me. I prefer a weightier bass with better feel and punch. That said, the quality of this bass is as good as one can have. Tight, “punchy” with excellent quickness, and a nice tautness to it that I much appreciate. I do miss the decay of my Legend X though. Mids simply put are amongst the very best I have heard. Weighted perfectly (to me), with enough emotion to emit that sensuous nature when needed without being syrupy. Succinct, with excellent control and vocal representation show through like few I have heard. And I appreciate hearing the separation of the vocal into a distinctness, which allows vocals to come forth with impunity. Good stuff indeed. The treble comes across clear and crisp, but without being crispy, crystalline or thin. There is no feigning of hand here. Where some such as my CTM Da Vinci X present excellent treble, but with a degree of brittleness, none is had in the Elysium. It’s those darn parts working together again for the whole…

Comparison:


Vision Ears Elysium ($3140) vs Empire Ears Legend X ($2299):

After another excellent Barra tour of TOTL IEM’s, I took the plunge and purchased the Legend X. Not wanting to fuss with a CIEM, I “settled” for the universal and do not regret it in the least. That sumptuous, sensuous double W9 bass took me in cuddled in those boosom’s and caressed my soul. I do not regret it in the least. Matching my want, or need for a warm, rich bassy sound; the LX fits my listen perfectly. Even after hearing the Wraith and Phantom, I still held the LX in its highest regard. That bass is the best I have heard, even if some call it bloomy and bleeding into the mids. I do not care what others think, I love this sound. Listening the Tedeschi Trucks in this comparison as well as Joey Alexander reaffirms my choice. As good and pure, and wonderful as the Elysium is, I come home to those boosom’s. They hold me tight and tell me everything will be all right. And they would be correct.

But if I must, the Elysium has more clarity of sound. The mids come across as more controlled and distinct. There is no denying that the Elysium mids are exemplary. One in which all TOTL makers should shoot for, should their signature preference lean that way. In this regard, I am a bit jealous that the LX does not emit that distinctness. But in the overall sound, I still prefer the LX. The Elysium is astonishing, and emits almost perfection, but the LX has my soul.


Vision Ears Elysium ($3140) vs Vision Ears VE8 ($2544):

I will admit that upon first listen, I liked the VE8 more than the Elysium. And I would not be battered and feathered for that opinion, as many consider it one of the best TOTL IEM’s out there and responsible for raising other companies’ game. I would agree that it should be considered there and worth the challenge.

The first difference would be that the VE8 is easier to drive. It also has a brighter sound (to me), but not analytical. Just brighter across the spectrum. Using Tedeschi Trucks again, the volume difference on my N6ii is about 5-7 to attain the same volume. And no, I did not test it with my sound meter, just seat of the pants. I also feel that as good as the VE8 is, the mids take a more frontal approach to the mids than I like. I do really like the sound, but those mids would prevent me from raising the volume too much. Bass is extraordinary, but a bit untamed when compared. Deeper reach by a smidge, but with a bit of bloom; this keeps the “quality” of bass behind the Elysium. So, based upon that, who would like the VE8? Those who appreciate a forward-based sound, with crisp vocals and treble, which exudes more sparkle than the Elysium. This is definitely a more in-your-face sound. I really do like the VE8 and would consider it for my personal TOTL had I not have the Legend X in the stable. But when compared to the Elysium, the overall package just fits better with the Elysium.

I will add that on Midnight In Harlem, the sound is of a sublime quality that I truly appreciate. The stick of drum hitting is perfection, and precise. Susan’s voice is heavenly and appreciated. Wonderful stuff. Just not enough when compared to the Elysium.


Vision Ears Elysium ($3140) vs Clear Tunes Monitor Da Vinci X ($2499):

The Da Vinci X was pretty much a buy after a tour. I still do not regret it as I consider it my baseline “neutral” with a bit of bassy-note to it. Shoving all those drivers in it (all 10), the shell is quite small and fits very well. It is all metal and can be cold until warmed up, but the sound it quite good. The biggest difference between the two would be how the mids are presented. With the Elysium the mids are sumptuous and distinct. The piece that holds the signature together. On the Da Vinci, the mids are more brittle and forward. A bit piercing, they are not as delicious as the Elysium. But they are crisper and more detailed. Where the Elysium melds, the Da Vinci separates into distinctness. The Elysium marries all together, giving sound in the mids its own space, but works effortlessly together. The Da Vinci separates and isolates, allowing the distinct mid tone to show off individually. Not bad mind you and an excellent judge in which to judge individual sound character of music, and thus in comparison. But not as harmonious as the Elysium. I thoroughly enjoy the Da Vinci and use it much less than I would like, but it provides me with an excellent complement to the Legend X, and I do believe it really is an unsung hero of the TOTL talk. Just wonderful tonality on the individual level where the Elysium harmoniously pulls all together.

Sources:

I could write this in one sentence: The Elysium sounds wonderful with any source I used. Period. Using the adapter for the N6ii, the pairing is magical. One in which the term “end game” would be pictured in the dictionary. But of course, end game is thrown around like money to a professional soccer player during the transfer window…too often. Using the warmer A01 module, the Cayin warms a touch that distinctness of the Elysium sound. But I do not mind as it really shines with the music. Harmonious would be an excellent descriptor.

Moving to the iFi Pro iDSD/MBP/XDuoo x10t ii iterations, that warm, rich sound moves a bit further what with the tube sound emanating. The XDuoo is an extraordinarily clean honest sound in its own right. And when paired with the iFi, make for a magical sound. One in which I listen often. Combine that with the Elysium and you have a fantastic trio. One in which you could happily spend your hours while working and forget about the world. Productivity in that vein would increase markedly as the sound extraordinaire would emanate from your ears. You would thus win company productivity awards and promotions abound. Soon you would become company CEO as a result of the trio, and corporate would then purchase the trio for all employees, while you lead the company to the very top of the Forbes list, become famous, buy a Ferrari, and a house in Monaco and happily work from your ocean view. That would be an extraordinary tale were it true, but the sound to back that story up is legit, honest and true, so there’s that.

Finale:

My time is up, and I am glad. Why? Because the next lucky person will get to listen, while I remember. I will remember pecking out these words as music streams through my cranial and be glad. Glad that I had the opportunity to listen to an excellent pair such as the VE8 and Elysium. I had heard one iteration of a Vision Ears and it was good. These are truly excellent and deserving of top spot TOTL status. They cost a decent percentage of a good college education’s year. But that is the nature of this TOTL hunted beast. One in which we strive for the best. One in which some will get there, while others such as myself will only give a brief listen. And this makes me glad that I was given that brief window with which to compare to my other wares. There truly is not a winner here, but only differing purveyors of company visions. And that makes me glad.

I thank Barra and VE for the loan of the wonderful pair. They are wonderful examples of a company’s forward thinking, while still relying on the past. They are good, truly good and should you have the opportunity; do not pass it up for that listen. You will be glad as well.

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