Vision Ears Erlkonig Review

I've had opportunities to review several products this year from Vision Ears including the VE8, EVE20 and the Elysium. This time, I'll be taking a look at their flagship Erlkonig, which is priced at over $5000 USD and sold in the USA by MusicTeck. I'd like to thank Vision Ears and Bill from for setting up this loaner tour and allowing me a chance to demo this exquisite unit.

The Erlkonig features a rhodium-plated silver metal shell and each shell weighs approximately 20 grams, which is quite a bit more heavy than any other IEM I've tried, including the Campfire Solaris. It is weighty in hand, but actually is quite comfortable to wear and I didn't have the same issues with fit, despite the weight, that I've had with other heavier in-ears like the Solaris, Sony IER-Z1R, MMR IEMs, and Unique Melody ME1. 

Part of the weight of the shell design is the addition of a magnetically attached faceplate. Below this removable faceplate is a tuning dial that can be turned to any of four different tuning variations that Vision Ears has provided as options. While I do like the stealthy look of the tuning switches, I do think there's a likelihood of scratching the fancy metal shells with this type of implementation.

The cable that comes with this unit is a very nicely wound braided cable in black featuring silver wires. The connectors are of the 2-pin variety, and the middle splitter is a gold-colored round piece of metal with the Erlkonig logo on it.

In addition to this, the unit came with a variety of tips including SpinFit premium tips and a very nice steel protective box with a latch lock. I really dig this box and want something like this for carrying gear in the future!

The Erlkonig comes in with a whopping 13 balanced armature drivers per channel with the following configuration: 4 Low + 4 Mid + 4 High + 1 Super Tweeter. The set is rated at 16 ohm impedance and 105 db/SPL sensitivity. I did find these to require quite a bit more power than the other Vision Ears sets I've tried in the past, but still not something that is especially power hungry and should be able to be powered off of most devices without a problem.

Sound Impressions

Like other Vision Ears in-ears that I've listened to in the past, this Erlkonig is a warmer, intimate and more engaging product than what I would consider neutral or reference. There's quite a bit of low-end body to each song I've listened to in my short time with this IEM and the one clear thing that stood out at first is the resolution, separation, and distinct micro-details that seemed to pop out immediately, even after listening to my other top tier IEMs in my arsenal.

The second thing I noticed quickly about the Erlkonig is the smoothness and coherency that makes Vision Ear's VE8 so special is also apparent here. Complex passages, like when I listen to bluegrass music by Nickel Creek, seem to go across effortlessly and gracefully here, and I don't feel like it's smoothed out any details along the way. In fact, like I mentioned already, the resolution is top tier in my opinion. 

That's a tricky balance to achieve, because in some cases, clear, distinct clarity and resolution can come across as being sharp, bright or edgy. On the other hand, being smooth and coherent, can also mean that it's soft and a clear reduction in transients to me. In this case, none of these trade-offs seem to be a major issue here, and that's quite impressive, and something I'd hope for in a product with the price tag it's asking for.

In regards to the tuning, there are four settings which can be set by turning the dial on the inside of the faceplate. The default setting from Vision Ears is Setting 2, which happens to be my favorite of the 4. All four settings share very similar measured frequency response above 1KHz, meaning they are share similar tuning in the upper mid-range and treble region. It's the amount of lower mid-range and bass that really changes with each switch.

The #1 setting on the dial has the most bass response of all of them, and it's significantly more. I find it too overwhelming and really reflects negatively to the overall experience. The gain seems high enough that I feel it lowers the overall resolution and clarity of the sound as a whole, and I find it taints the unit as a whole.

The #2 setting has a bass bump which creates a very warm sound signature and a level of punch and fun to it. While it's probably beyond my normal preferences, I find this balances well with the accentuated upper mid-range of the Erlkonig.

#3 and #4 tuning settings are quite similar with #4 being a touch tamer in the treble region. These two have the least amount of bass and is just above what I would consider a neutral reference sound. I do thing this is a nice sound signature, which adds the most clarity and separation of the bunch, however I do find it almost too boring to use. It lacks some of the real magic I mentioned earlier in this review where you get a sweet blend of lushness and resolution detail. This one is more about the resolution and detail, and less about the lush soundscape, and in this case, I'd almost prefer a different IEM instead.

Like I mentioned earlier, the Erlkonig had no trouble playing through "The Lighthouse's Tale" from Nickel Creek. Each intricate mandolin and guitar pluck was handled effortless. The resonant sounds of the strings came through without fatigue but with plenty of detail. The quick transitions in the song were smooth and didn't feel rushed or wrong. This song just felt beautiful. Hard to describe, but man, it comes across so nicely with the right amount of low end strums of the guitar, with the intertwined fiddle and mandolin instruments in harmony.

Another challenging track is "Contact" by Daft Punk. In this song, I do find that despite the low end being perhaps too strong at times, the Erlkonig didn't run into any issues in the busiest of passages. And despite the fact that I felt this IEM sounded intimate in the majority of the listening time with it, "Contact" sounded uncluttered, and not broken apart in the craziest of sections with instruments sounding far enough away from the center of the soundscape to make everything sound full separated and imaged correctly.

The Erlkonig's tuning plays most well with my collection of rock music, whether that be alternative rock from 90s or classic rock from years past, or modern songs. But it also plays well with other genres too, and I enjoyed listening to it with my collection of piano-jazz music and various folksy and bluegrass songs.


When I first heard of the Erlkonig, the first thing I saw was the price tag. It was a bit absurd. It probably still is. And most IEMs that I've tried at these price-tags are usually nothing more than a show piece. This one is flashy in it's subtle ways, but also has the technical knack to go along with a easy to enjoy tuning. I can be pretty critical of a lot of gear, but this is one that I am not going to say fails in a lot of things, if any at all. If I was going to be nitpicky, I'd say the #1 tuning is bloated and really not worth using in my opinion, but the other 3 tunings are nice in their own ways.

And if I was going to say the other knock on this would be its price tag. I mean, it's over $5000. It's hard to really say I can recommend this to everyone, but I am inclined to say that if you are looking for something that is in this tier of price, this is definitely one to look at. Even so, the VE8 is priced at half the cost, and is a fantastic IEM in its own right, and the premium in this set comes primarily on the phenomenal build quality and material selections. 

Yes, it's a showpiece, and surprisingly, its got the musical resume to go along with it.


  1. great review. in the paragraph talking about mode 3 and 4 "i do thing" might be not the thing you do, i think.


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