A First Look: New Flagships from Lime Ears, Empire Ears, Vision Ears and HUM

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Vision Ears ELYSIUM

Vision Ears have entered the Tri-brid Thunderdome with the ELYSIUM. The €2900 behemoth is the company’s new custom flagship, sporting a four-driver configuration with a single balanced-armature for the low-end, electrostatic drivers for the highs and a dynamic driver for the midrange equipped with their proprietary HALC (High Precision Acoustic Levelling Chamber) acoustic enclosure. Having now received the full-fledged custom version after my meet cute with it at CanJam Singapore 2019, it’s safe to say that the ELYSIUM will be a flagship to contend with this year, regardless of its price tag.

Technical Specifications

  • Driver count: One balanced-armature driver, one dynamic driver and two electrostatic drivers
  • Impedance: 16.4Ω @ 1kHz
  • Sensitivity: 105dB @ 1mW
  • Key feature(s) (if any): HALC (High Precision Acoustic Levelling Chamber)
  • Available form factor(s): Custom acrylic IEMs
  • Price: €2900
  • Website: www.vision-ears.de

Sound Impressions

The ELYSIUM is a stunning all-rounder with successes in its pristine imaging, joyous energy and effortless transparency. It’s not dissimilar from the Aether R in how excellently it balances body and definition; never compromising one for the other. Though, unlike the R and the Wraith, the ELYSIUM isn’t shy when it comes to treble, pumping heaps of clarity and air into the soundscape. But, the reason it’s allowed to have this confidence, is because of the headroom it possesses. Transients are free-sounding and sparkly, but the ELYSIUM is always refined, silky smooth and realistic-sounding. Add to that meaty lows, resonant mids, and three-dimensional imaging, and you have a detail monster with musicality to spare.

Despite what a one-balanced-armature config may imply, the ELYSIUM’s low-end is impressively meaty and substantial. Bass hits have weight to them, as well as size. Kick drums aren’t reduced to tiny jabs in the middle of the image. Rather, they form sizeable foundations for those transients to lean on, as well as a meaty rhythmic drive to push the energy of the track forward. Now, it doesn’t have the physicality of a dynamic driver, but that isn’t what this presentation requires. The armature’s clean quickness is exactly what this clarity-focused sig needs, and the body it does manage to give at the same time is the cherry on top. Big-sounding, gutsy and warm, the lows might just be the ELYSIUM’s biggest surprise.

Upon listening to both JH Audio’s Lola and the ELYSIUM, I’ve realised that I may have a liking for dynamically-driven mids. There’s a resonant, analog quality to them that resembles listening to PA systems in a theatre. The reflections bouncing off of the walls add to the instruments and make them sound bigger; slightly looser in a musical way. It’s not one-to-one, but this quality is what those in-ears evoke; what makes them both wet and clear-sounding at the same time. There’s a radiant glow to the ELYSIUM’s mids that perfectly complements the upper-mid-tilted response, allowing electric guitars their vibrance, and brass sections their honk. The result is richly-detailed with three-dimensionality, energy and realism.

Although those HALC-fuelled mids are arguably the ELYSIUM’s star player, those e-stats are its MVPs. The ELYSIUM’s top-end is rife with headroom. The only IEM I’ve heard with this much dynamic range is perhaps 64 Audio’s tia Fourté. There seems to be no limit as to how busy a track can build. They can reproduce every nuance without breaking a sweat. Also, the ELYSIUM’s top-end is coherent and linear. At all times, the ELYSIUM is addictively liquid, silky and organically clean up top. Tactility is yet another achievement. Cymbal and hi-hat work – no matter how delicate – always sound physical and realistic. The ELYSIUM’s treble is one of the most striking I’ve heard; capping off one engaging, exciting, nuanced IEM.

Initial Comparisons

Empire Ears Wraith

The Wraith possesses a similarly neutral tonal balance, but the ELYSIUM’s sparklier middle-treble does give its transients a slightly brighter edge. Its midrange is more genre-agnostic, while the Wraith’s is more track-dependant. It can sound dry, or warm, or wet depending on the material. The Wraith’s upper-mids are also more neutral and studio-esque, while the ELYSIUM’s more vibrant response is more geared towards musical engagement. Spatially, the ELYSIUM has the edge in air and openness from its top-end. The Wraith is a bit denser and meatier, but just as vast and resolving. The Wraith has the warmer, fuller bass, while the ELYSIUM’s is tighter, neutral in tone and more geared towards highlighting clarity.

Jomo Audio Trinity Brass

The Trinity is closer to the ELYSIUM than the Wraith, because they share similarly sparkly top-ends. Though, the Trinity’s low-treble is drier in timbre, while the ELYSIUM’s is silkier, more open and more organic. The key difference between the two is the Trinity’s dynamically-driven bass. It’s far thicker, fuller and more substantial than the ELYSIUM’s quick – albeit still meaty – jabs. You’ll get a lot more low-end presence with the Trinity, while the ELYSIUM offers a tighter, cleaner and more disciplined response. Ultimately, it’s up to preference. The ELYSIUM’s midrange is wetter with larger notes, while the Trinity’s is more compact and neutrally-positioned; more air surrounds each instrument. Again, preference is key.

Page 1: Lime Ears Aether R
Page 2: Empire Ears Wraith
Page 3: Vision Ears ELYSIUM
Page 4: HUM Dolores

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About Author

Church-boy by day and audio-obsessee by night, Daniel Lesmana’s world revolves around the rhythms and melodies we lovingly call: Music. When he’s not behind a console mixing live for a congregation of thousands, engineering records in a studio environment, or making noise behind a drum set, you’ll find him on his laptop analysing audio gear with fervor and glee. Now a specialist in custom IEMs, cables and full-sized headphones, he’s looking to bring his unique sensibilities - as both an enthusiast and a professional - into the reviewer’s space; a place where no man has gone before.

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