Elysian Annihilator 2023 Gold Review

Elysian is not a household brand name and was very unknown outside the people who lived in southeast Asia or were extremely into the in-ear audio hobby world until this past year. That's when Elysian started distributing their products worldwide and it became more accessible, though they still have sometimes trouble keeping stock available at their distributors.

That's because, for the most part, Elysian is a one-man show, headed by their founder Lee. For many years, I never got a chance to listen to his products, but I've only heard rave reviews and impressions from people who have. But that has changed in the past month. 

First off, I was on a business trip in Europe last month and had the opportunity to meet a fellow enthusiast (shoutout to CharlyBrown from Headfi!) to try out each other's gears. He let me try the 2023 version of the flagship Elysian product, the Annihilator. It was awesome. I really enjoyed what I heard in the short time listening to it. Crisp and clean highs, good solid bass presence, and neutral mid-range. It was right up my alley. 

When I returned back to the States, I still had it on my mind. And by opportune chance, I got a message from another hobbyist (shoutout to FreeRyder05!) and he was willing to let me borrow his Annihilator set for a few weeks! And here I am now, writing down my impressions of my time with Annihilator 2023, the latest flagship from Elysian Acoustics.

The 2023 Annihilator includes the very nice and thick Liquid Links Martini cables with the Penntaconn connectors that are very rare in the industry. The cable itself has a very nice braid, large and  well-built connectors and splitter, and surprisingly is quite maneuverable and does not tangle. For being on the thick side, I very much enjoy using this cable despite normally hating this type of cable size.

Elysian went with 3 different face options for this version of the Annihilator. The one that was lent to me is the normal gold-plated version. There is also a stainless steel option and a special brushed titanium option for an additional $200. The default gold or steel option is $3000 USD.

The shell design is on the larger side, as it needs to house the large Foster dynamic driver, and 4 balanced armature and a pair of electrostatic tweeter drivers. Despite the large size, I found the Annihilator very comfortable as they fit my ears very well. I enjoyed wearing them for hours on end, as they were both comfortable and sounded fantastic....

Sound Impressions

The Elysian Annihilator 2023 sounds great. It has a embellished low end and a slightly embellished treble range but never sounds either bloated nor harsh. It's a great sounding IEM that borders balanced and V-Shaped, and something I quite enjoyed.

While the Subtonic Storm has become my new reference IEM standard, the Annihilator may be my more "fun" standard, with it's bolder sound; one that has punchy and impactful bass quantity and crisp highs that are accentuated with a "wow" factor.

The Annihilator's bass range is raised quite a bit more than my neutral standard, but its still very tasteful. The Foster dynamic driver is not the most resolving here, but it's plenty good enough. If there was any downside to any minute part of the tuning and technical performance, I'd say that the resolving factor in the low end is only above average. That said, it's still quite good and layered with good depth, as well as impact, slam and punch.

In comparison, the Storm is more resolving, incisive, and dynamic, but doesn't always have the same amount of low-end body that I found the Annihilator has. For music that has a lot of bass, some may prefer the additional quantity that the Annihilator provides, while those who want a less colored sound, may like the Storm more. I can go either way, and that does depend on what I am listening to.

The mid-range of the Elysian product is fairly neutral, with a slight bit of thickness due to the bigger bass response. It's probably the least of the focal points of the IEM just due to how it's tuned, but I don't find the mid-range lacking nor done wrong. It sound really good to be honest. And it's also very coherent.

The treble is one of the strongest points. It's clear, clean, and crisp. Three C's, kind of like what you look for in diamond shopping. I guess you can throw Clarity and Color in there, as it's got great clarity and not a lot of color. I can't really describe Carat and Cut though. I guess, it does not cut your ears, even if its accentuated with the crisp and clear treble sound. I never had issues with sibilance, harshness or anything. It's at a great level that provides crystal results.

The technical aspects of the Annihilator is also top notch. It's resolving, and full-bodied, and has good depth and layering. I'd put its soundstage at "average" and it focuses on a presentation that is centered on an intimate performance, but with enough separation and air to not be congested.

Final Impressions

This is a really great IEM. The hype I've read over the past couple years of Elysian's products have been quite high, but I never really got a great opportunity to listen to any of their products. After spending some time with their flagship Annihilator, I just want to try more, and perhaps even buy one for myself too.

At some point down the line, I'll get a chance to review the Elysian Diva along with the Annihilator again. I can't wait to hear how the other popular IEM in Lee's lineup sounds.

View the product ratings on Antdroid's IEM Ranking List and/or Antdroid's Headphone Ranking List