Vision Ears Elysium vs EXT : Brother in arms!

Many Elysium owners must like me be wondering what the EXT would bring to the table compared to the original Elysium. For those who haven't got either, choosing could seem simple if you want a universal, just get the EXT it's the original Elysium with a DD and a quad EST. Well as we'll see, the Vision Ears team has luckily made this much more complicated and the OG Elysium still has its own strength and uniqueness. Keeping both IEMs in a collection makes total sense, as OG and EXT provides different portrayal of music and in no way their signature is marginally different. 

So which one should you pick?
Read on!

Pros

  • Elysium
    • Highly coherent and accurate tuning
    • Vibrant and highly engaging midrange with accurate timbre excellent bite and big, lifelike instruments (industry benchmark)
    • Engaging and realistic treble
    • Fast, nimble and realistic bass
    • Stunning build quality and class leading fit (custom)
    • Class leading packaging and unboxing experience
  • EXT
    • Class leading bass performance with tremendous power and speed
    • Class leading treble performance with refinement, speed and nuance
    • Clean, articulate midrange with excellent timbre
    • Holographic stage with superb height and depth
    • Superb build quality and design
    • Excellent stock cable
    • Flawless unboxing experience

Cons

  • Elysium
    • Needs a powerful source to shine (scales big time)
    • Bass lacks sub extension and physicality
  • EXT
    • Needs a powerful source to shine (scales big time)
    • Fit might require some tip rolling for some

Product Page :

Elysium : https://vision-ears.de/premiumline_en/elysium (Price : 2700€)
EXT : https://vision-ears.de/premiumline_en/ext (Price : 2650€)

Fit, Build & Isolation

Elysium custom

The Elysium features a perfect build, given my experience with the VE8 build and fit I didn’t expect any less. I picked the Elysium design that matches the one on the universal as I find it’s really beautiful and anyway I wanted to get a clear shell to enjoy the superb internal craftsmanship as well as the external.

As I have grown used to custom fit IEMs, I asked for a slightly tighter fit than my VE8 and this is the perfect balance or isolation and comfort. My Elysium fit like a glove, I always look forward to slip them in my ears. Isolation is superb as is to be expected, all the more that the shell are filled with silicon.

EXT

There are some advantages to a universal build and one is that you can use different materials, the purple with complex CNC machined faceplates. The EXT also features a special aluminium acoustic mesh “giving the dynamic drivers the air to breathe and unfold their rumbling power” as stated on Vision Ears website. The shell is made of “solid black acrylic in a semi-custom shape”, but “a black transparent area is allowing you to have a discreet peek on the green HALC and the four electrostatic drivers”.

Let’s just say the pics do don’t them justice, those shells are beautiful, but will also attract quite a bit of attention if you’re in public transportation so be mindful. As you can see the EXT shell have a low footprint relatively to their driver count and the fit is obviously shallower than the custom Elysium. The build is as usual with Vision Ears absolutely perfect.

Strangely for me I fit everything – I had some trouble finding the right tips to get a perfect seal (yes given my large canals shallow fit require very big tips) and best performance but once I did the fit was good. Isolation though is not the EXT forte so if you’re listening at lower levels like me you’ll hear some external sound.

Introduction

Vision Ears is a “small and owner driven company in the heart of Cologne/ Germany” as they define themselves but every other audiophile knows that they’re a big name in the hobby. It didn’t take long for Amin and Marcel who founded the company in 2013 to rise to fame with the most demanding audiophiles. From the get go, the focus on craftsmanship certainly paid off and Vision Ears IEMs stand out with among the best craftsmanship money can buy. Their flagship VE8 might be the IEM that placed Vision Ears on the map and also nothing less than my very first custom IEMs as well. For the sake of memory let’s show those beauties :

Earlier this year I got myself a set of custom Elysium (I didn’t write that review but here is an opportunity to do a combo piece) and when I did, Amin hinted that an “extended” Elysium would be release in a few months. I ordered the Elysium nonetheless and I am happy I did, as when the EXT was released I learned there wouldn’t be a custom version. As we’ll see, the EXT features a quad EST driver that is located so close to the bore exit that it would have been challenging to build this as a custom at least for most ear canals (probably not mine though :P). Anyway, I told myself the EXT wasn’t for me, after all every flagship I have purchased these past 3 years with the exception of Dunu Luna was custom fit. Once you’ve gone there, it’s hard to go back…

Still, wondering how a dynamic would change the overall Elysium signature, with a quad EST setup on top while retaining those mesmerizing Elysium mids kept me awake some nights… Trusted people posting impressions on headfi didn’t help either, I must say and I just finally ordered a pair!

But back to the matter at hand, I like to begin with the original intent and check out if it holds true… from the Vision Ears website each IEM tuning goal and intent is precisely written.

The Elysium mission statement was to “take you on a journey to an unparalleled level of enjoyment. Wide open and airy highs combined with stunningly natural mids will finally make you hear the music how it was meant to be: pure, brilliant and alive. We decided to use a dynamic driver that was precisely tuned for our requirements, giving a smooth and rich presence to the middle frequencies.

The Elysium Extended or EXT mission statement is to keep the Elysium vibrant DNA with “More lows that make you feel the rumble. More mids that vividly embrace you. And more highs to bring an airy and elated experience. An easy lightness surrounds this creation, airy, silk-like notes gather around your head, musical areas you never recognized will unfold before your closed eyes, a truly electrifying experience”.

Are those brothers true to their tuning goal?
What’s my take on how they respectively sound?

Let’s check this out!

Sound

Both brother share a common name, Elysium – also called Elysian Fields – in Greek mythology, originally the paradise to which heroes on whom the gods conferred immortality were sent. Bold statement but great to strive for!

Let’s start with the original Elysium : when I first listened to the Elysium, it was not a fresh release so I had read and heard quite a bit about it and also had the universal demo handy in november 2019 along with the Erlkönig (which I reviewed) but decided not to review the Elysium as at the time it was made only custom. Anyway, first impressions match the tuning intent stated by Vision Ears, the Ely (as we have all come to name the Elysium) are a vibrant set of IEMs if there ever was one : “pure, brilliant and alive” they sure are especially when properly powered. The Elysium might spec at 16ohm and 105dB but they are hard to drive to their full abilities, which means they will scale greatly with more power. When properly powered the Elysium is one of the most exciting IEM I ever owned with one the most engaging midrange ever : certainly a milestone IEM in the industry and an instant classic.

Now you see the challenge of a sequel to the Elysium and Vision Ears took its time to release the EXT, 2 years to be exact. And they listened to the feedback, the original choice of building an IEM with a BA for bass and DD for mids was totally atypical and people were a bit quizzical until they heard the Elysium. Still, some felt that adding a DD down low would definitely make for a compelling proposition and VE sure took on the challenge successfully as we’ll see. Then, it was only natural that the dual EST drivers get a quad setup upgrade now that the manufacturers have matured and this setup is a standard among flagships these days.

But enough rambling will you say : how does the EXT sound? Well, bigger and bolder! Yes the EXT are more grounded with the stronger bass foundation : bass is felt as well as heard and the feeling of power that the Elysium was lacking is obvious. The EXT are a toe tapping IEM with its fast, powerful and tight bass. The stage clearly has more height and depth as well. On to the midrange, if you focus the bass out or listen to bass light tracks then it’s clear the EXT is still an Elysium with its rich, vibrant midrange. Last but not least, the top end clearly benefits from the quad EST setup and VE managed to build an even more refined IEM although the overall picture is not that clear cut as we’ll see when deep diving. The bigger brother still has some chops (and then some).

Bass

Elysium

It was a puzzle to some, why choose a BA for bass when you have a DD in the Elysium? Well as far as BA bass goes, VE has some experience is the least one can say. The VE8 was a good example of great BA bass, with excellent pace rhythm and timing, the Elysium is clearly reminiscent of the VE8 bass. It’s a fast, nimble and well textured bass with good impact and very natural decay. Just like the VE8 my main gripe is a lack of physicality although the sub bass extension and the slam factor are very good a tad bit more presence would have made the bass more engaging.

EXT

VE has done some fantastic work on the EXT DD, it’s clearly done right and up there with the best DD implementation I have heard to date. The EXT bass has tremendous power, it’s a commanding bass that will rejoice everyone’s inner bass head with its physicality and power but also everyone’s audiophile aspirations as well. Properly powered the EXT has impeccable control and surprising speed : this was the big surprise to me as it sounds faster to me than the original BA bass of the Elysium. This provides for a fabulous sense of rhythm and sometimes makes up for a whack whack whack speedy Bruce Lee like punches. Wow. You like faster genres that requires speed, get the EXT! The EXT has snappy bass attack and shorter decay than the Elysium bass note simply start and stop on a whim when called for especially when properly powered.

Ely vs EXT

Nils Petter Molvaer “Khmer”

I like this track mixing jazz and electronica, the low pitch acoustic drums of Rune Arnesen combined with Nils synthetic drum’n’bass sub bass samples is a good test. It’s a deep rhythmic almost hypnotic track.

The EXT ability clearly shows here with superb extension down low and a physical sensation on each burst of subs that can clearly be felt, I found myself entranced and actually almost surprised when the next track started. The contrast between the low rhythmic tones and the stroke and the dulcimer chords shined with the EXT.

Comparatively the Elysium lacked physicality on that track, but still reached low with excellent extension and inducing the same hypnotic like state. Interestingly the track had quite a different vibe with more emphasis and energy on the midrange, we’ll expand on this later on but the Elysium had quite a bit more bite there. The Trumpets that kind of felt more subdued on the EXT while the dulcimer was more highlighted.

My pick : Purely from a bass performance standpoint, the EXT is the clear winner on bass presence and physicality but for that specific track, I preferred the portrayal of the Elysium as a whole.

Marian Hill “Differently”

This track is a co-production with hip hop artist Boi-1da. This song features heavy electric bass, claps, and catchy synths, a blend of sounds that I find interesting to test several aspects of bass.

The physicality from the EXT is obvious from the very first notes, the quick synth bass notes start and stop quickly and the EXT effortlessly draws you into the track, the occasional drum and clap are clear and you can hear details of everything going on at once in a very articulate manner. Vocals are a bit farther away in the mix but clear nonetheless.

The Elysium is no slouch but can’t compete, bass has less impact and presence but also feels slower with a more rounded presentation with softer attack and longer decay. The occasional drum and claps are more blended into the mix making it a less articulate experience, I had to focus to hear them. Vocals on the flipside are closer in the mix and Samantha Gongol vocals are more engaging and take more space. Last but not least, the Elysium has more lower treble presence which I found more engaging. The EXT was on the other hand more resolving with better extension up top.

My pick : This time around definitely picking the EXT, for this track is more engaging bass wise than the Elysium and the overall experience is more articulate and effortless. Yet, the Elysium offers and interesting alternate take on the track with its own strength on vocal emphasis and higher percussive sounds.

Lucy Dixon “Stormy Weather”

Lucy Dixon is one of my favorite artists, the backstory is interesting she started in musicals, was a member of the band Stomp for over a decade and it shows in her rhythmic jazz songs that make you want to dance. Stormy weather is in my bass test tracks as it’s a well recorded track that provides a lot of details in percussions with fast hits of the drums and also many percussive elements.

The realism of the percussion from the EXT is really breathtaking on this track, the speed and control is obvious and combined with rich textures and very accurate tone I was really struck with a feeling of being right there with the drummer. The contrast in this track is fantastic with the hi hats and the snappy and punchy EXT really does wonder there.

The Elysium does an excellent job but just lacks the punch and power that the EXT gives to the drums, in favor of a more fluid and smooth portrayal that has its appeal as well but it’s a less spectacular sense of engagement. Vocals on the flipside are again more engaging and forward, as well as a touch sweeter with a welcome wetness. There is less snap to the hi hats with a softer attack but a bit more energy so this one is really a different presentation. The vibe of the track is less spectacular but more nuanced.

My pick : This time it’s really a tie, yes the EXT wins the bass match but the overall tracks is just as enjoyable with the Elysium and honestly I think it’s the more natural presentation.

Darkside “Paper Trails”

I really love this slow and dark mood in the track from Nicolas Jaar that kicks off with a slow-stepping beat, rhythmic hand claps, and features reverb-soaked guitar plucks from Dave Harrington.

The EXT handles the low beats with superb presence and the reverbs sound perfectly controlled, the mood is set and it’s simply as good as I have heard this track, period. Nicolas Jaar altered vocals sounds deep and hypnotic and the dark mood of the track is superbly conveyed. The hand claps are snappy and contrast beautifully with the overall low pitch of the track.

The Elysium portrayal is less contrasted, the bass is a tad less present although the rhythm is properly conveyed I didn’t feel the same level of engagement as the EXT. The overall mood is less gloomy and vocals don’t carry the same gravitas and nuances. Hand claps are seamlessly integrated in the flow of the track and provide less of a contrast as well but electric guitar have more emphasis.

My pick : Another one for the EXT, the mood of this track is clearly better set, the vocals are more engaging with more gravitas. The Elysium is more fluid in a way, less contrasted but for this track the EXT just works better.

Bass verdict :  The EXT is the clear winner in absolute terms for sheer bass power, speed and physicality. The Elysium features a less impressive bass but, there is a but as we've seen depending on the track I feel Elysium has a more seamless integration of the bass in the signature so it's not that clear cut in the final appreciation of the tracks. Let's now see who wins the battle of the mids!

Mids

Elysium

When VE announced the Elysium and I saw a dynamic driver for the midrange I was quite excited as I always felt good DD were just superior in timbre for instruments and vocals alike especially when acoustic treatment is well implemented and the backstory of how HALC was tested and designed shows VE has put tremendous R&D effort to make sure that the Elysium dynamic provides the best experience possible.

The Elysium midrange has become one of the benchmarks of the industry : it’s a vibrant midrange with highly accurate timbre and plenty of bite. I must say I am more of a full bodied and smooth mids kind of guy (“romantic” if you will) so it’s a more neutral midrange than I am inclined to yet the Elysium midrange is one of my favorites. I am sure influenced by the fact I listen to so much Jazz and the Ely is just brilliant there. There is a balanced presentation and instruments feel big, lifelike and exciting. There is power to double bass and guitar pluck of the chord and saxophones and brass just sound so engaging. Instruments in general are so nuanced and energetic as the same time. It’s something to behold.

EXT

One of the biggest question mark for me was : would changing the recipe with a DD bass driver and a quad EST up top break the magic of the Elysium? I trust Oliver at VE to handle this as I have yet to experience anything but superb coherence on tuning. Yet, when you find that magic mix, it can also break it’s a bit like cooking when you change a little something that makes all the difference to your plate. Let me cut the suspense short, VE did keep the magic but with a different recipe and it was wise anyway since the overall balance of the EXT is a bit different from the Elysium.

How does that translate? Well for starter, the EXT has less lower mids presence to my ears… maybe it’s apple to oranges since I am comparing a custom Ely to a universal EXT (doomed to be dependent on tips… sigh) but still it’s how I hear it. It also makes sense since the EXT has significantly more bass presence to lighten the lower mids presence a bit to avoid the EXT sounding too warm and possibly congested. The resulting effect is that you don’t perceive too much the lesser lower mids presence because upper bass infuses some warmth on the mids anyway. Then, the EXT also has a tad less upper mids bite to its mids as we’ll see in my usual Whiplash test and that’s probably to prevent getting a brighter hue and shadow the different treble presentation on the EXT. This doesn’t mean the EXT has no bite, it does, just not the kind that will cross the threshold for some which I think the Elysium is bound to do. It’s a safer upper mids.

All in all I love what VE chose to do with the EXT midrange as it both maintains the overall coherence and balance but also makes it a very strong complimentary IEM to the Elysium which is still very much relevant and will address different preferences.

Let’s now roll on to the midrange shootout between EXT and its big brother OG!

Joe Lovano “I’m all for you”

This is one of my most favorite Jazz track of all times and one that moved me so much with the Elysium… It’s one of the most soulful piece I have ever heard period, with the rich nuance and tones of Joe’s tenor saxophone but Hank Jones on piano, George Mraz on bass and Paul Motian on drums are just as breathtaking. Pardon my overly emotional tone here but it’s what music is about to me, when time is suspended and magic happens where all earthly matters disappear.

Back to earth if I can manage it… the Elysium is just purely magical out of FiiO M17 in desktop mode but any excellent desktop setup will do justice to the Ely and this track. Yes, you need headroom on this perfectly mastered track and sorry a regular DAP won’t cut it for the almost religious experience you can get. This is where engineering meets art to make the gear disappear and let the music shine. Hats off to the VE team as it is exactly why we are in this hobby.

Now on to the EXT : I was dubious the magic would remain but well let me say it, it’s there and then some. The EXT bigger soundstage especially height and depth and more precise imaging make this an even more immersive experience. Just wow. How do I keep writing after this? I am speechless! I have to hand it over to the EXT, the quad EST is providing an extra level of refinement that reaches even higher elite levels

My pick : I think you got it, Elysium is magical on that track but so is the EXT with extra height and depth and refinement it goes even further. EXT wins that one.

Hank Levy “Whiplash”

“Whiplash” is the title of a composition in odd meters in 7/4 written by Baltimore jazz artist and educator Hank Levy. Levy was a saxophonist and composer known for his love of unusual time signatures. Incidentally this is my go to track to test upper mids harshness, it’s absolutely ruthless and will discriminate IEMs quickly. It’s highly energetic and aptly named and in a way a total opposite to the previous Joe Lovano track.

The EXT goes through that test OK for me but I am willing to bet some people will wince as the EXT features good bite and portrays this track uncompromisingly and in a ridiculously effortless way given how busy, fast and complex this tracks is.

The Elysium again has more forward mids and both lower treble and upper mids have more energy which requires a higher threshold in those regions although I have to nuance this the sharper attack and faster decay of the EXT versus the softer attack and longer decay of the Elysium treble makes this a close call in the end.

My pick : It’s a close call to me both IEMs pass the test but it depends on your sensitivities (on such extreme tracks) you might find yourself wincing. The EXT takes the win on this one for its ability to better handle the complexity in a more articulate way and also faster pace ability.

Blue Mitchell “Na Ta Ka”

Bantu Village.jpg

Another jazz track but this one is more funky and from “Bantu Village”. It’s an album by trumpeter Blue Mitchell which features arrangements by Monk Higgins released on the Blue Note label in 1969. It has a very rhythmic quality with a fast paced arrangement and I like the groove on that track.

The EXT bass really brings excellent rhythm to that track with its powerful bass presence and the bass line is really portrayed with weight and authority that this track requires. There is superb bite on the trumpet and the track complexity is perfectly articulate on the EXT which again sounds so effortless. This is not an easy track as it both require a deep strong bass line and the right energy in the midrange, as well as excellent instrument separation to keep things organized. The EXT is not even breaking a sweat there.

The Elysium doesn’t feature the same authority in the bass but the bass line is well portrayed and overall this is a more fluid take on the track. Effortless as well and somewhat smoother although there is more energy in the upper mids it’s delivered in a more rounded way with softer attack and longer decay. It’s not as articulate as the EXT but I find it more mid centric and musical for my preferences.

My pick : It’s really not easy both EXT and Elysium are doing great, EXT is more immersive and articulate, Elysium is more fluid and the midrange shines more to my ears. I have a slight preference for the Ely but it will really come down to preferences at this stage.

Mids Verdict :  It's really a tough one but the original Elysium still takes the cake for me with its fuller and more forward midrange and its smoother attack and bit longer decay. It's also a bit more exciting with its upper mids bite. It really will be down to personal preferences though and the EXT midrange can be just as magical with a less intimate but more immersive experience (with its taller and deeper stage) which provides just as much engagement just a different kind. The image is more precise and the mids are more articulate. It also shows that dissecting the frequency range is really a simplification, how the mids integrate into the whole signature is of the essence as well and it clearly shows there.

Treble

Elysium

Back when the Elysium was launched, 2EST setups were the norm and we only saw the quad EST arrive. Most of the EST in tribrid offering were looking to find their footing, and I always found the transients and extension superb but the lower section often disappointed lacking weight especially on piano notes. The Elysium is one of the few good dual EST tuning in my opinion that doesn’t lack either energy or weight to make it both engaging and realistic sounding (most felt ethereal for lack of a better word). It’s not the ethereal brand of sound that relies on pure transient speed to wow you as some earlier EST powered IEM tended to sound. Provided you feed it good power, the Elysium lower treble is energetic and carries good weight which is so critical to realistic and enjoyable piano notes. The upper section is well extended with the typical blazing fast transients, it’s a clean and fast treble providing excellent air.

EXT

The EXT ups the ante so to speak with a modern quad EST setup, which sits right near the exit bore probably for maximum yield. It’s very apparent upon first listen that the EXT is seriously impressive and in fact just as much as its highly praised bass. The original Elysium just can’t match it and the EXT is significantly more refined and nuanced as well as more extended. The EXT is among the big boys and in fact I think the best quad EST treble implementation I have heard to date. This makes the EXT more revealing as well for better or for worst.

Let’s now roll on to the treble shootout between EXT and it’s big brother OG!

Laurie Anderson “Born, Never Asked” 

This is a complex track is somewhat of an experimental music kind of track with complex nuances that reflects on the ability to keep up with the treble produced by Laurie keening violin (an instrument of her own design, featuring magnetic tape on the bow rather than the more usual horsehair and a magnetic tape head in the bridge), the marimba strikes and hand claps rhythmic baseline. 

The EXT impresses by its overall clarity, treble speed and control, the hand claps sound snappy and the marimba strike pop and fade beautifully…. all of this contrasting with a pitch black background. There is an eerie atmosphere setting in with the EXT. The Violin sounds on the flipside a bit distant and in the background.

The Elysium from the get go puts more emphasis and sweetness to Laura’s voice, marimba strikes have more energy and the violin has quite a bit more emphasis it’s like you’re more in the track than the EXT. I find the Elysium more engaging and smooth with its softer attack and more natural decay.

My pick : I have to go with the Elysium on that particular track, it’s a special kind of track but still I found the Elysium and EXT to paint a very different picture. Again more a personal prefence on my part, the EXT does provide a special atmosphere to that track.

Jack Johnson “Staple it together”

One of my favorite artists and albums, this track is probably the funkiest and grooviest track he wrote, which was an improvisation when Johnson and the band were just messing around at sound checks. It’s a speedy track where there is a lot going on with Adam Topol drums and percussions with superb hi hats, triangle and higher pitched percussions.

The EXT does a fantastic job on that track, the chimes on the intro sound magnificent…. then the bass line starts, so powerful and contrasting so well with the hi hats and guitar and overall I heard details there that I had never heard before and I know the song by heart. Jack’s vocals are perfectly clear and integrated into the mix. The EXT doesn’t even break a sweat with the song fast tempo and just sounds absolutely effortless.

The Elysium again sounds so very different from the EXT… I hear more energy to the chimes in the intro and the bass line is more of a supporting cast than a star here but the hi hats have less energy and presence. Vocal is more forward and I was surprised to hear much more detail in the vocal portrayal. Some wooden percussions that were in the back of the song with the EXT were also quite more present in the mix.

My pick : Overall I found the Elysium was much less articulate with less detail making it harder to articulate the track as a whole. The EXT does such a better job of handling the complexity of that track, but also is more engaging with a better balance in its treble.

Radiohead “No Surprises”

Radiohead - No Surprises (CD1).jpg

A classic, no doubt with the glockenspiel melody from Jonny Greenwood which I find interesting to check out lower treble especially how it decays but other than that it’s also a great track that leaves you in a dreamy state when well portrayed…

The EXT really made me rediscover that track, first of all well I had never heard this track bass properly and it came as somewhat of a surprise (no pun intended). The centerpiece always has been the glockenspiel melody to me as well as Thom Yorke’s vocals. The EXT adds a real immersive quality to the track with Colin Greenwood deep powerful bass line but also a darker mood and looming presence. But back to the treble, the glockenspiel notes are breathtakingly nuanced and you can clearly hear the intensity picking up and subsiding which each minute variation reflected in Jonny Greenwood interpretation. The EXT sheer extension also provides fantastic articulation and everything is resolved with exquisite yet natural detail. Breathtaking…

On to the Elysium, the glockenspiel captivated me right away with more presence than the EXT and a mellower presentation with notes lingering quite a bit more, the bass line is there but doesn’t provide that sense of gloom the EXT conveys. Thom Yorke’s vocals are closer to me with a better portrayal of Thom tessitura there is more nuance and emotion than the EXT. But the Elysium fails to portray all the facets and complexity of this track, the track is more perceived as whole and the EXT is better at picking the richness of all aspect in this track.

My pick : This one goes to the EXT although it’s true for that particular track and the Elysium is a different portrayal that is highly engaging as well.

Treble verdict : There is no going around it, the quad EST setup of the EXT makes this an unfair battle... yes the Elysium performs quite well with its own strength but the EXT just takes everything one notch up in terms of performance. This gives the EXT the edge on extension, resolution and imaging.  

Verdict

I have never yet done a shootout and I must say this is a challenging exercise that took a lot of investment out of me but was so very interesting as well as many Elysium owners must like me be wondering what the EXT would bring to the table compared to it. For those who haven’t got either, choosing could seem simple if you want a universal, just get the EXT it’s the original Elysium with a DD and a quad EST.

Well as we’ve seen, the Vision Ears team has luckily made this much more complicated and the OG Elysium still has its own strength and uniqueness. Keeping both IEMs in a collection makes total sense, as OG and EXT provides different portrayal of music and in no way their signature is marginally different. Last but not least the OG Elysium is available as a custom and honestly it’s a much better experience in terms of isolation and confort although the EXT is pretty good as a universal.

So which one should you pick?

If you’re looking for an IEM with powerful and fast bass, with articulate engaging resolving mids and the best treble money can buy all in a superb build then look no further the EXT certainly punches up there with the best of them! The EXT is one of the few IEMs that can boast being able to satisfy the inner basshead as well as the most demanding audiophile which kind of means VE has squared the circle. Hats off!

If you’re looking for a vibrant midrange with highly accurate timbre and plenty of bite featuring big, lifelike instruments with an engaging bass and treble then the Elysium is simply still a very relevant classic!

Whichever you choose is a safe choice if it fits what you’re looking for, with absolutely flawless build quality and a premium experience from the unboxing to the everyday listen.

Listening notes
I spent approximately 80hours with the EXT and several hundreds with the Elysium, listening on FiiO M17 and Hiby RS6 as well as RS6 + Zen Can balanced with the stock cable. 

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