There’s no too much competition in my collection looking at electrostat hybrid monitors, so next to the Pola and Pola39, I’ll ad the VE8 to the comparison as it’s the co-flagship.
First of all the VE8. It’s is meatier, heavier and doesn’t sound as clear, clean and energetic as the Elysium does. The difference is not minimal and switching from the Elysium to the VE8 takes a bit to adjust, but that’s also why they both can be flagship monitors. If you prefer a more transparent, energetic, extra clean and balanced sound with superb treble, go for the Ely. If you like it thicker and even more musical with warmer sound with a mid-focus, the VE8 is your best bet. Two absolute great monitors, the Elysium being the most balanced and most neutral. The VE8 going deeper with awesome sub bass (yet not as tight) and better top to bottom layering (but more forward vocals). Did you know the VE8 is on our recommended CIEM list as well?
The original Pola from Shozy is also using electrostat tweeters but they only add a single dynamic driver to it. The difference between Pola 1 and Pola 39 is that it was perfectioned and made even easier to drive.
The Pola 1 in a universal version with the SP1000 in single ended mode as source, sounds more neutral and flat. It has less body, energy and doesn’t sound as smooth and rich. I still love it though. Like the Elysium it sounds very clean and precise but it’s more analytic where the Elysium is much more musical engaging. As a matter of fact, the Pola is on out best IEM list as well, but it will be replaced by the Pola39 very soon.
Now with the Pola39, Vision Ears has a serious contender on their hands with a unit that only costs one third of the price. Pola39, here in a custom version, sells for $1.050USD and it’s been impressing a lot of my friends all over the world. When driven in Single Ended mode (how it is delivered with its special cable) the Pola39 has a signature which is pretty close to that of the Elysium. The difference? The Elysium does everything better and then there’s the extra bit of body and pass hump. Of course the Pola39 doesn’t have the balanced driver and only a single dynamic driver is doing bass and mids, but boy it does it wonderfully so. Again, these are very similar, but the Elysium is that bit better, more defined/expressed and more special. And let’s be honest, for the price it should be as well. But the Pola39 at a much lower price, will please a lot of ears. Mark my words.
8. Drivability & Sources
A high end unit deserves a high end source and so we have opted for the following for this topic: The Sony WM1Z, the Cayin N6II, the Luxury & Precision LP6, the Hugo 2 and the KANN CUBE. All in balanced config, as it’s intended by Vision Ears.
Even though the Elysium has the voltage transformer inside, I did have to go higher up in volume compared to most of my “normal” monitors, yet they can be driven perfectly by any of these devices without extra amplification.
With the Sony Walkman WM1Z the Elysium has great body and dynamics. Bass is absolutely addictive, the mids rich and natural and the treble is a bit softer. If you’re into really lively and energetic treble, the Sony probably isn’t the DAP for you here. The combo is extremely music but compared to the SP1000, I’m missing the precision, speed, energy and clarity. You get a much more laid back and musical version of the Elysium, so if that’s your thing, you’ll love it. For me personally it takes away a bit too much of the precision, energy and liveliness and it doesn’t let the ES drivers excel in what they do best. Female vocals though are exceptionally good.
With the Cayin N6II and the T01 module, the Elysium also has great body overall, but here the mids don’t have the very best quality and tonality. The treble though is much more energetic, extended and lively compared to that of the Sony. If you like a more V-shaped signature the T01 module probably is the recommended one for you. With the original A01 module you get a more balanced, linear sound where the mids to my ears sound way better. The clarity is also better overall. Bass is lighter in body and mids, while the mids are more defined/precise. The vocals here are somewhat more forward while the treble is nicely extended and lively. It’s not on the level of the SP1000, but it’s closer to the AK than it is to the Cayin.
With the very powerful and R2R technology carrying LP6, the Elysium performs on an even higher technical level as with the SP1000 and you get the best of everything. The widest sound stage, best separation, spacious notes and sublime layering. The body in bass and mids is like in the SP1000 but the big difference here is the softer treble. It’s highly dynamic and musical, but it isn’t as energetic and lively as with the AK DAP. Nevertheless, an awesome combo!
With the Kann CUBE you get a balanced, powerful sound with just the right amount of body from bass to treble. Bass is tight, fast and has good impact. Mids are rich, clean and precise and treble is energetic and spot on. For me the latest VE creation sounds best with the Astell&Kern units, that’s for sure. I’d still give the edge to the SP1000 though, as the mids there are just the very best.
For SP1000, check out the part about “Sound” above.
The Vision Ears Elysium is a great hybrid monitor and an absolute joy to listen to. No, “great” doesn’t really do it enough justice, it’s more than that. It’s an exceptionally good monitor with all the qualities and the top-level performance to be named a candidate for the Best CIEM of the year award. Competition for this award is tough however and there are a few other really good contenders who are also competing for the award. It’ll be a close call for sure.
For those who like nit-picking, the hybrid Elysium with its limited amount of drivers is not 100% perfect, but it at the same time doesn’t really matter as the overall performance is impressive, the sound quality is very high and enjoyment factor goes through the roof.
In short: the Elysium is yet another great creation by the Marcel, Amin and Oliver, one that for sure win several awards world-wide. The Elysium doesn’t come cheap but you in return get an excellent sounding, musical and very enjoyable monitor, with a great set of accessories. An end-game monitor for sure.
For me it’s very easy to put it on our list of Best CIEMs, our recommended buys.