The Effect of Elysian state!
PROS: lightweight shells with a comfortable fit, beautiful faceplate design with stabilized wood material, textured deep bass, clear, detailed, transparent sound tuning, quality cable.
CONS: PEI connectors.
The product was loaned to me for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
It’s not uncommon to see a collaboration between IEM and cable manufacturers where one chooses a specific cable to be packaged with their IEMs or uses a specific cable to tune their IEMs and then include it with a product. But it is less common to see a true collaboration where both share resources and work together on the design and the tuning. The latter one is an example of the latest collab between Effect Audio, a well-known premium cable manufacturer, and Elysian Acoustics Labs, makers of highly regarded Annihilator IEMs.
Named after the Greek Goddess of Earth, GAEA, I wasn’t surprised since Effect Audio likes to use Greek mythology names. Though I couldn’t help but notice that last two letters happened to be EA, applicable to both Effect Audio and Elysian Acoustics which I think wasn’t a coincidence. These IEMs made their debut at a recent CanJam SoCal, displayed by MusicTeck at their table. Hearing a lot of positive feedback from the show, I asked Andrew (MT) if I can borrow it, and now ready to share what I found after spending a few weeks with Effect Audio x Elysian Acoustics Labs GAEA.
Unboxing and Accessories.
Nothing much to talk about the unboxing experience since I only received a demo without the actual packaging. These IEMs do come with a quality EA cable, and I also noticed SpinFit CP series eartips which I confirmed to be included with accessories. If/when I find out more, I will update this section.
Of course, it makes sense for GAEA to arrive with EA cable, and to have the internal wiring by EA as well. The cable is a hybrid which uses premium UC-OPP Copper litz and premium UP-OCC Silver Plated Copper litz wires. You have a total of 4 conductors, each with a thicker 24 AWG gauge wires and EA Ultra Flexi insulation. But the most important spec here is ConX modular connector with PEI included by default, giving you a chance to expand it with other connectors. This way you can use GAEA cable with other IEMs by switching to 2pin, mmcx, or IPX.
Please, keep in mind, I didn’t receive the final cable since it wasn’t ready in time for CanJam SoCal. The cable I received had a clear insulation and old EA headphone plug and y-split design with a carbon fiber insert. The final cable will have wires with black and blue jackets, and the plug and y-split housing with have a black hardware and color insert to match the shells. Below are the pictures of the final cable that will come with GAEA, perfectly matching the IEM design.
GAEA IEMs have a beautifully crafted compact size shells with a very comfortable fit. They have a blueish/purpleish marble-like faceplate featuring stabilized wood (a mix of wood and resin). EA logo is on the right side and Elysian Labs logo is on the left, with glossy piano-finish shells underneath. The unit I received had logos in gold, while pictures on MusicTeck site show it in black (the final shell design). Nozzle length is average with a lip to keep eartips secure from sliding off, and also 3 open bores at the tip. Considering only one DD driver, while the rest are BAs, I was a bit surprised to find 2 plated vents, one by the connector and another one on the side of the shell aligned with a nozzle. According to EA/Elysian, dual venting is part of the “…second generation of the DiVe Pass technology which eliminates reverberation of the back chamber and provides optimal pressure relief in the front chamber thus reducing driver-flex issues from diaphragm compression.” And indeed, there was no driver flex.
The connector itself is not your traditional 2pin or mmcx, but rather an improved mmcx derivative called Pentaconn Ear Interchangeable (PEI) connector, marked red on the right shell. Lee used PEI in his Annihilator and other IEMs. It is more robust and more durable then mmcx. Various IEM manufacturers have been trying to explore connectors outside of mmcx and 2pin, and I’m noticing more Linum IPX (T2) connectors being introduced lately. Using PEI does limit the cable rolling unless you find an adapter. But the good news, Effect Audio includes PEI as part of their ConX modular packaging thus you can use any of their other cables that have ConX.
As I already mentioned, this is a hybrid design, featuring single DD from Foster and quad BA drivers from Sonion. According to GAEA product page, the internal 4-way crossover system is partitioned into 2BA high, BA mid-high, BA low-mid, and DD low drivers. But considering 3 bores at the tip of the nozzle, I assume the drivers are grouped three ways with a more basic partitioning of DD lows, 2 BA mids, and 2 BA highs. As far as the spec goes, impedance is 10 ohms and sensitivity is 102dB.