Elysian Acoustics Roundup

At the very start of my holidays back home I met up with Lee, the one-man show of his own custom IEM company based in Malaysia: Elysian Acoustic Labs. While not popular in his own country, he has managed to carve out his own niche and fanbase within Japan instead.

We spent a few hours chatting and discussing in Zeppelin & Co while I went back and forth over his entire lineup. Unfortunately, we had found that that the Cora and Hades in his possession were a little faulty, so I won’t be talking about those. Yet.

Eros

The cheapest of the lineup, the Eros is Elysian’s two driver model. It is completely and utterly average. It has that extremely generic signature that Lee and I affectionately call the “dual driver sound”. It is has a warm, almost-but-not-quite V-shaped signature. Note definition is smoothed over and doesn’t seem demonstrate decent enough technical ability even within its price range.

The Eros is a basic model and, while not bad, doesn’t really present a value that is enticing. I personally hold something like the NocturnaL Gorham to a higher regard in the realm of the “dual driver sound” types of IEM.

Artemis

My personal winner of the lineup. The Artemis also has a warm signature, more in vein with the likes of the Phantom, UE18+ Gen 2 and VE8. Unfortunately it isn’t the most technical either; across the board it is adequate but it is clear that it barely scrapes over the bare minimum per the expectations set in its price range. Detail retrieval is lacking, note definition isn’t very strong, imaging is a little congested and attack is slightly blunted. The Artemis definitely isn’t for detailheads or anyone looking for pinpoint precision.

However, what the Artemis does right is that it sounds… right. It strikes a tonal balance that, while undoubtedly coloured, doesn’t stray too far into “odd” territory with any instruments. Of course it does have its share of strengths and weaknesses; due to the warm tilt and extended decay the Artemis benefits the most with male vocals, bowed strings and brass instruments while not being that great with plucked strings, percussions and female vocals. However, even at its weakest the Artemis still isn’t bad, just not as good. It’s a rare trait to be a specialist and yet not fall completely over when faced with the other spectrum. Gets my recommendation for this characteristic as well as being a relatively cheap custom.

Minerva

Where the Artemis is the winner, the Minerva is what I find to be the oddball of the Elysian family. The signature of the quad-driver is a something like a downslope but also not. Dark-ish but also not. It’s muffled, stuffy yet sharp in some unidentifiable area. It kind of reminds me of the Westone sound in that regard, but doesn’t have the same non-fatiguing effect due to the odd peak.

On that note, it’s vaguely reminiscent of another Malaysian flagship: the Sound Linear Fitz 10-Flat. Not a compliment.

Terminator

According to Lee, the design philosophy of his (now obsolete) flagship is to get it sounding as close to a planar as possible. Not just any planar of course, but the venerable HE1000. To me though, the Terminator sounds closer to that of classic Audeze. As usual, the Terminator exhibits quite a bit of warmth, demonstrates a high level of technical ability and has pretty good imaging, certainly above average. The signature is more-or-less a warm V, having a small but significant mid-upper treble spike that throws in a little extra definition and sparkle into the mix. The bass is my favourite part of the Terminator being, while BA, edges very close to DD-like texture and manages to reach down fairly deeply. Overall, it is what I’d classify as a good IEM.

However, my issue with the Terminator is the elephant in the room: its price. At 2.5k USD it competes at the “money no object” price tier of things, which demands exceptional performance in almost if not all metrics. In terms of sheer technicalities such as positioning ability, detail retrieval and the subjective “naturalness” of tone and timbre, the Terminator achieves the passing mark at 1k USD but I feel does not warrant the extravagant pricing attached to it. It is a good IEM, but it’ll have to be amazing for me to recommend it.

Ending notes

While I may not have liked most of his products, Lee did show a drive to improve and had taken my criticisms and suggestions to heart. To date, he has a few more models products in the pipeline which includes a Hades V2, an improved Cora (I hated the unit he brought) and most interestingly a hybrid in the same vein as the Jomo Trinity. I’ll report on them whenever he’s ready to send them over for evaluation once again, and I’m looking forward to them all.

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