Vision Ears Erlkonig is the pinnacle of Audiophile indulgence! Whether the name references the King of the Elves or King of the Fairies, it is most certainly Royalty in the family of the IEM.
Vision Ears Erlkonig, the King has entered!
I want to introduce Phil from the UK, Audio Concierge. Phil is the only individual that was able to obtain an Erlkonig for me. I am quite impressed with his lineup of goods, check him out. I am happy to add Phil and Audio Concierge to my list of vendors and friends, Andrew at Bloom Audio and Andrew at Musicteck.
This IEM comes in at a whopping 4200 Euros, including VAT, or with the current exchange $3820, no VAT included in the USA.
What can you expect for this huge audiophile-grade investment? One can start by looking at the packaging, and it is most certainly Top-Tier. Luxurious and classy, without a doubt. The DUNU Luna had one of the best overall packaging to date, and from an inclusion standpoint, is still the King. The difference between the DUNU and the Vision Ears packaging is that VE exudes a level of bougie rarely seen in the audiophile hobby. I refuse to continue to repeat, “but at this price point,” so keep that in mind as you read.
Once you break the seal on the black exterior Vision Ears box and lift the flap, you are proudly greeted by an indulgent wooden box, with a silver-toned knob that turns to lock the lid. The box displays Erlkonig on the cover. Upon removing the wooden display case, you will see a card letting you know it is a natural wood product and how to care for the box, no excessive humidity, etc. It is a display box for home and most certainly not to be carried around, more of a display case, to showcase your investment.
Opening the display top, and the King is revealed in a sectioned, wooden tray with the words Vision ears tattooed on the bottom and the Erlkonig logo on the top lip. The divided tray has three sections; the King in the middle and to either side are empty slots or placeholders for additional face-plates that can be purchased and are swappable.
On the underside of the lid, you will find a card that states when your IEM was released or built. I didn’t ask for any additional face-plates, and the only ask was for a 2.5mm terminated cable. Under the build card is another slot that contains your Warranty card and Instruction manual, referencing care, and use.
After you remove the tray which grandstands your IEM and face-plates or slots that could house additional face-plates, a cardboard box that states “Eartips,” a screwdriver, leather cable strap, and a leather portable carry case. Inside the ear-tips box, you will find an Erlkonig sticker, a microfiber cleaning cloth, and various ear-tips. I have settled on the included Spinfit tips as my go-to. I do have a criticism of the packaging. The ear-tips box is cardboard, and it should be a quality plastic, metal, or leather, to round out the luxury. Cardboard is cheap and tacky when the rest of this package is so upscale. Another thing that would have been nice to include the additional face-plates available. Again, think about the price of admission.
The included cable was a collaboration with Effect Audio, a specialty cable company. Vision Ears asked Effect Audio to assist them in finding the perfect match in terms of sound and appearance, and the result is a bespoke cable made of pure OCC silver wires. No ear wires, but the ear-wrap is sheathed to go around the ear.
Build quality of the Erlkonig itself is impeccable and exquisite. It is indulgent. The shell is made from silver, and the additional face-plates are available, for example, from Rose Gold, among other offerings. Vision Ears thanks their Japanese partnership for their marvelous craftsmanship, and I do agree they did a phenomenal job.
The shell is large and heavy. It has a substantial feeling in hand, but I have zero issues with the weight once it is in my ear. They do not disappear in the ear, but that would indeed be an engineering feat to make 13 drivers have a flat profile. They stick out, but not as bad as I thought they might.
About the Erlkonig and its specs;
- Balanced Armature
- Driver Count 13 Balanced Armature
- 4 Low + 4 Mid + 4 High + 1 Super Tweeter
- Audio Range 15Hz~45kHz
- Impedance 16Ω
- Sensitivity 105dB
- 5-way crossover
This is not following my standard review layout, but this is not a review. It is more of an introduction.
I do want to propose this question, does the spec sheet warrant the huge price? There is no groundbreaking technology inside, not Estat drivers, no Planar, no newly developed hybrid configuration, nothing that hasn’t already been accomplished. I do feel that it is an indulgent purchase for the individual that wants the best. Generally, I don’t go so in-depth with an unboxing, but the Erlkonig is not only about a spec sheet, it is about an experience. In delivering the total experience, Vision Ears has succeeded.
So far I have less than 24 hours of ownership, so I am not going to comment on the sound, but briefly. These are BA’s, so I don’t think there will be any changes in the sound signature with seasoning, but I hate quick in-depth impressions.
I want to say that the King has four variable sound settings, thus the included screwdriver. The rotary switch is located behind the replaceable face-plate. The tweaking range is from 1-4.
The switch presents a problem for me and my OCD. I know I have had switches and filters in the past and ultimately couldn’t deal with the tuning possibilities, it made me a tweaking neurotic.
1 = max bass, max mids and max highs
2 = reduced bass (-5 dB), max mids and max highs
3 = min bass ( -8 dB), max mids and max highs
4 = min bas (-8 dB), max mids and reduced highs (-3 dB)
The default was set at 1, and I had a WOW moment, hearing some of the best BA bass I have ever heard. It was super engaging. Bass-heavy and warm and lovely. ENTER OCD. I have decided I am going to settle on setting 2, dabbling with setting 3, and ultimately taking a Xanax to relax. See how this process goes inside my mind?
I have already logged more than 12 hours. In other words, they rarely left my ears yesterday and this morning. The amount of listening time should act as a testament to the sound quality of the Erlkonig. It is impeccable, safely tuned yet tuned with such thoughtfulness and precision. Audio Rabbit Hole and End Game are like oil and water.
The sound is detailed, transparent, precise and engaging, it is not dry. The safe part of the tuning is the very relaxed treble, yet the signature doesn’t lack for air around the notes. It is an all-day, multi-hour listen IEM. It has all that the audiophile could ask for in its sound quality. The stage is wide and distinct and also shares an equidistant depth. The mids are some the best I have heard, bar none. Bass is some of the best BA bass there is.
These are my subjective thoughts. I make no apologies for my lack of criticism of the signature of the Erlkonig. I will provide an update at a later date regarding the tunings, switch settings, and effect on the signature. This IEM will require time to find the niggles with this tuning. One word to describe the sound would be voluminous!
More to come….