Vision Ears EXT Review

Vision Ears EXT (Elysium Extended) Review

Vision Ears has produced some great high-end universal and custom IEMs, with multiple different lines under their belt. I am most familiar with the VE series with the VE 7 and 8 being some of my favorites from the manufacturer. Their Elysium model is a UIEM that was quite successful for the brand, and although I unfortunately never got to hear it myself, I got to listen to the EXT recently, which is known as the Elysium extended. For a high-budget earphone for $2,960, does the EXT stand up to Vision Ears’ rigorous standards?

Vision Ears Items

What You Get

  • EXT earphones
  • 2-pin to 2.5mm cable
    • 3.5mm adapter
  • Aluminum case
  • Spinfit CP500 ear tips
  • Azla Crystal ear tips
  • Key chain
  • Warranty card

Vision Ears Single

Look and Feel

Most IEMs for Vision Ears come with a particular design that I have been mixed on in the past. When you see the EXT’s purple faceplate with its slightly open grille x-crossing, it is hard not to be amused. With this striking construction, made from anodization materials, the EXT becomes one of the best-looking IEMs I have seen, with a great stock cable to boot. When it comes to the fit though, I am not entirely sure what to think. The nozzle on the EXT is long, and it juts out in an awkward way.

While the design of the cavity makes sense with the shape of your ear, I don’t think they sit quite as naturally when you wear them. The best these earphones do is give you great support, as I never felt like they were loose, or falling out of my ear. However, the pressure certainly built up for me, and I would consider my ears to be on the larger side. It is not the least comfortable IEM I have worn by any means, but by the time I took the EXT out of my ears I felt like they needed a rest.

Vision Ears with Cable

Design

The EXT has a rare design that implements two dynamic drivers with four electrostatic drivers. There is a 9.2mm and a 6mm driver in the EXT that is used to give more prominence to the bass and midrange frequencies, while also keeping to their 2nd generation HALC tuning philosophy. An additional side tuning chamber is also supplied for more precise tuning.

Vision Ears pair

Soundstage

For an IEM with high budget notoriety, the EXT won’t exactly give you any theatrics in its soundstage and imaging. While its stage is plenty wide, the spatial aspects of the imaging show a lot more linearity than I had initially hoped. I’ve grown used to the more holographic and dimensional qualities of some recent IEMs that going back to a more standard stereo field can be pretty jarring, especially for a flagship product with this much prestige attached to it. In that way, it reminds me of one of the great 64 Audio IEMs, unapologetic in its lack of coloration and dramatic immersion. That is not to say that the EXT lacks depth. In fact, there’s a lot of depth at play here, as the EXT consistently and carefully weaves through its layers with precision and prowess.

It is a spatially accurate and uncompromised response that smoothly articulates all its sound elements from the left and right channels. You don’t get much of a sense of height, or that the musical space beyond the earphone’s shell is open though. The EXT keeps the staging mostly in your head but never feels limited in its abilities while performing within it.

Low End

You may think because of the EXT’s seemingly more measured soundstage and imaging that the bass would also take on a similarly natural response. That wouldn’t be accurate, as these lows have the capability to come alive in a deeply satisfying manner. Bass notes and textures resonate in the tip of your throat and jaw, with the sub-bass showing a considerable presence to present lift and vibration. The very bottom end of the lows accomplishes a lot without even showcasing that much drive, compared to the gripping mid-bass. These sub-bass frequencies can actually be heard as quite subtle when the mid-bass is as lively as it is. Its fullness easily entices you, while also being incredibly quick and tight.

Mids

I was expecting something special for the EXT’s midrange, and it delivered on all fronts. The closest the EXT gets to a grand spectacle lies within these frequency bands. Immediately from pressing play on my first track, the instrumentals and vocals came through with superb energy. The mids have a lush presentation that gives everything that goes into it proper weight and clarity. There’s a snappiness to each performance that gives each instrument a sense of impact in the mix, whether it is from an aggressive staccato from a movie score or the many plucky tones of an acoustic guitar. Vocals emerge from the EXT with a sublime, life-like appearance, and it shows the midrange tuning at its best with a flavourful display.

Highs

With all of the EXT’s extreme high fidelity and irresistible timbral qualities so far it seems any hiccups would be out of character. I think taking in the treble response of these IEMs isn’t going to be a simple task, as there are bound to be differing opinions about its performance here. At times I thought the high frequencies added some great shine and sizzle to the sound signature. Crash cymbals and hi-hats have a sweet crispness to them, and altogether feature the best characteristics of the treble. However, things can get a little out of hand with other elements, particularly sibilance. The EXT doesn’t shy away from sibilances that can be sometimes piercing, and while it brings character to certain elements these tones can show a lot more aggression than smoothness.

Summary

Although I have some issues with some design choices and some of the high-end response, the EXT is mostly a phenomenal sound. At its best, the EXT reveals excellent purity in details throughout its sound signature. It showcases wonderfully rich textures in the bass and mids, and I even enjoyed the crispness in the highs most of the time when it wasn’t brightening up. I don’t think the EXT is going to win every audiophile over, but it has no problem showing why Vision Ears is one of the best around.

ProsĀ  Cons
  • Wide soundstageĀ 
  • Accurate imaging
  • Textured bass
  • Lush mids
  • Striking design
  • Ear tip selection
  • Price
  • Some piercing treble
  • Large nozzles

The Vision Ears EXT is available at Audio46.

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Alex S. is a sound designer and voice-over artist who has worked in film, commercials, and podcasts. He loves horror movies and emo music.