Elysian Acoustic Labs Pilgrim & Pilgrim Noir (x Effect Audio)

This thread is to discuss these two new models which have launched almost simultaneously.

The Elysian Acoustic Labs Pilgrim is the model launched by Elysian themselves, while the Pilgrim Noir is a joint venture between Effect Audio and Elysian.

So, all things Pilgrim are welcome in this thread :slight_smile:

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And I will start off with my opinions on the Pilgrim Noir…


TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - Effect Audio x Elysian Pilgrim Noir

The Effect Audio x Elysian Acoustic Labs Pilgrim Noir have been sent to me to try out and to share my impressions. I have not received any requests and I will do my very best to be as unbiased as humanly possible.

You can find the official Elysian Acoustic Labs website here: https://elysianacousticlabs.com/

However, the Pilgrim Noir can be found on the Effect Audio website here: Earphones

As always, the above links are non-affiliate.

To avoid being repetitive in my reviews, you can find all the info about how I create the reviews, equipment used, how I receive the products and how to interpret my reviews by visiting: About my reviews


Intro…

I have never had the chance to get to hear anything from Elysian in the past, although I have heard plenty about Elysian. Most of what I have heard is that the audio quality is great but the time frame for production not so much. However, it does seem, at least from what I have read, that this has improved dramatically recently.

In this case, Elysian has partnered with Effect Audio to present the Pilgrim Noir, an “upgraded” version of the Pilgrim which has also been released by Elysian, at the same time, as its own model.

Well, from not having heard any Elysian product, I have gone to being lucky enough to receive both the Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Noir, two of their more budget focused sets, and I was eager to finally get to hear what they are capable of, even at a reduced price point.

As I had to choose one to start with, I decided on the Noir, so you will not find me comparing it to the regular version in this review. Just to put things into perspective, the Noir is priced at just over 700€, while the regular version comes in at around half that price.


Build and aesthetics…

You will have noticed that I have skipped the packaging and contents, that is because I didn’t receive any. In fact, the Noir arrived in a simple plastic bag, with a very thin layer of foam around it, inside a plastic FedEx bag.

So, if you want unboxing experiences, you will need to wait for my regular Pilgrim review, as all I got in this case was the IEMs and the cable, not even any sets of tips or even a brown cardboard box :blush:

Anyhow, the IEMs… I know I said that I wasn’t going to compare the two models, and I am not, but as far as build and aesthetics, the only difference is in the colour. I haven’t really paid much attention to the regular version yet but at a glance, the regular version is silver, while the Noir version is… well… noir.

The external shell is made of aluminium, with 3D printed internal cavities that contain 4 drivers in a hybrid configuration. A 9.2mm LSR dynamic driver takes care of the low end, 2x Sonion balanced armatures take care of the mid range and a Knowles balanced armature takes care of the highs.

The IEMs are on the larger side and that, coupled with slightly shorter nozzles, does mean that I had to opt for a large size in tips. Speaking of tips, I used the Spinfit tips that are included with the regular version for this review.

The included cable is the Eros S:NOIR cable by Effect Audio, which is a very nice cable. I am not the biggest fan of the heat shrink used for the ear hooks but they are more comfortable than they look and the cable in general gives off a premium feel.

In fact, the combination of IEMs and cable give off a premium feel, feeling well built and with aesthetics that are simple but not at all offensive.


Sound…

All tracks mentioned are clickable links that allow you to open the reference track in the streaming service of your choice (YouTube, Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, etc.)

Ok, so the important part, how does the Noir sound?

Well, to cut a long story short, the overall signature is quite relaxed yet it does not come across as missing detail or clarity.

As usual, before getting into my thoughts with my specific test track list, here is the graph of the Noir in comparison to my usual preference target for reference:


As can be seen in the graph, the frequency response deviates quite a bit from what I would consider my preference, however, as I have said many times in the past, my preference target is not a rule as to what I will or I won’t like, it is just a general reference guide.

Getting to my usual test track list and detailed listening, let’s start off with the track I always start off with for subbass, “Chameleon” by Trentemoller. There is plenty of low end rumble in the track, yet it is kept clean and defined, not seeming to lose any control of those low notes. It is a bit elevated for my personal preferences and I feel that this could even satisfy the bass heads out there (maybe not the most extreme ones) but it doesn’t seem to be loose or flabby at any point during the track. The upper ranges of this track do take a backseat to the lower ranges, which is to be expected based on the FR and the track in general.

Moving to “No Sanctuary Here”, the overall presentation is of a bassy track with a slight emphasis on that lower end that does cast some shadow on the upper ranges, with the vocals taking a step back. In my personal opinion, I would like just a touch more clarity in this track, just a bit more light on the vocals and the bending of the guitar chords, yet the backing vocals and the low end sound great.

Now, moving into something with less subbass presence and more of a focus on midbass, “Crazy” by Daniela Andrade is my usual pick for judging excessive presence of these frequencies. I have to say that, when I first hit play on this track, the opening bars made me think that it was going to be fatiguing to me in the midbass range, yet, when the vocals kicked in, there was an overall balance to the track that I find very pleasurable. With many sets I find that this track is either overly bloated in the reverb of the lower guitar ranges, or overly hot in the upper ranges on Daniela’s vocals, with the Noir, these seem to balance out nicely.

With “Elephants On Ice Skates”, I once again found that the intro seemed to be a little “off”, coming across as a little dull and lacking some bite to the bass plucks, yet, as with “Crazy”, when the whole track started to play, it became much more balanced and offered a very relaxed yet detailed presentation. All instruments were easily separated but none seemed “too much”.

Moving through a pretty balanced midrange, as we get to the higher mids, this is where we find a little bit of a step back in presence. It is a little bit strange as, when things are isolated, for example the solo part of the vocals in “Human (acoustic)”, they seem to be a little distant and lacking a bit of clarity, yet, when they come back into the mix with the instruments, they don’t get lost. These are certainly not vocal forward in their presentation, in fact, they are lacking presence in vocals if anything, yet they still manage to be clear when the vocals are mixed with the music.

There is no sense of sibilance at all, with Patricia Barber even sitting around a -2 or -3 on my non-scientific scale of -12 to +12 in “Code Cool”, the same with other tracks that are prone to sibilance, they are subdued and do not become harsh at any point.

As far as details, these IEMs are not something that I would say are focused on details, yet they manage to present everything in a coherent manner. There is a nice separation between layers, such as in the vocals of “Strange Fruit”, there is a nice sensation of space in the binaural recording of “La Luna”, and they don’t become blurry with busier tracks like “The Room”.


Conclusion…

The Pilgrim Noir leave me with a strange sensation. When listening to isolated parts of tracks, I would say that they are a little dull and missing some sparkle. Yet, when listening to tracks in their whole, at least the majority of them, they do not come across this way.

Yes, they are a laid back presentation, without really being exciting in any way, yet they are so easy and relaxing to listen to that I really enjoy using them. They manage to keep things clean and clear but also rounded and pushed back at the same time.

If you are looking for something that pushes details and clarity at you, then I don’t think that the Noir are something that will fit, yet, if you are looking for something that allows you to relax and just enjoy the music without feeling that anything is missing, then they are most certainly worth a listen.


As always, this review is available in Spanish, both on my blog (www.achoreviews.com) and on YouTube (www.youtube.com/achoreviews)

All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on achoreviews.squig.link

All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on achoreviews.squig.link/isolation

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Following my review of the Noir, here is my review of the Pilgrim…


TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - Elysian Acoustic Labs Pilgrim

The Elysian Acoustic Labs Pilgrim have been sent to me by HifiGo for me to try them out and to share my opinions in this review. HifiGo have not made any requests and, as always, I will do my very best to be as unbiased as humanly possible in y review.

You can find the Pilgrim via HifiGo here: https://hifigo.com/products/elysian-acoustic-labs-pilgrim

As always, this link is non-affiliate.

To avoid being repetitive in my reviews, you can find all the info about how I create the reviews, equipment used, how I receive the products and how to interpret my reviews by visiting: About my reviews


Intro…

I recently reviewed the Pilgrim Noir, which is a joint venture between Elysian Acoustic Labs and Effect Audio. I actually received both of the models on the same day, from different places, and the only reason that I chose to review the Noir first was because I had to pick one and there seemed to be less info on the Noir out there.

Today I am reviewing what could be considered the “regular” version of the Pilgrim, the one that is simply the Elysian Acoustic Labs Pilgrim, without any additional collaborations. While I did not do any comparisons between the two models in my review of the Noir, because I hadn’t spent time with the Pilgrim yet, I will make some comparisons in this review. To make things easier, I am just going to refer to this model as the Pilgrim and refer to the model I previously reviewed as the Noir, which makes sense and saves me having to type more than necessary!

Straight of the bat, the first comparison is going to be in the price. I did mention in my review of the Noir that the Pilgrim is around half the price. Well, as of today, you can get the Pilgrim from HifiGo for 366€, while the Noir is available on the Effect Audio site for $799, which is approximately 738€. So yes, the Pilgrim is actually less than half the price of the Noir.

However, there are more differences than just the colour, as the drivers used are also different. Where the Noir used 1x LSR DD for the lows, 2x Sonion BA’s for the mids and 1x Knowles BA for the highs, the Pilgrim opts for 3x Sonion BA’s along with the LSR DD, also opting for a 3-way crossover instead of the 4-way on the Noir. Of course, these are just parts and do not make up the whole, which is something we will talk about in the sound section, yet it is worth noting.

As far as other specs that are different, we find that the Noir has a stated impedance of 8.3 Ohms, with a sensitivity of 103dB, whereas the Pilgrim states a 9 Ohm impedance and a sensitivity of 101dB. Honestly, these differences are so minimal that they are not even worth considering. However, we do notice that both have a low impedance, something that is worth considering when choosing a source for these IEMs.

But anyway, enough with the letters and the numbers, let’s take a proper look at the Pilgrim and find out what we are sacrificing by paying less than half of the cost of the Noir.


Presentation…

As the Noir arrived in a plastic bag, the Pilgrim obviously wins in the packaging department :wink: Seriously though, I can’t compare as I have nothing to compare to.

The Pilgrim arrives in a large and simple matte white box with the Elysian logo on the top in silver, a simple silver design also on the top and Pilgrim in silver letters on one side. That is it, simple and elegant.

Removing the lid reveals the IEMs sitting in two cutouts on a raised platform on a recessed tray. Lifting this tray out, a black box is revealed that simply states “Make no compromises”. Inside this box we find the warranty card, a small booklet about the IEMs, a microfiber cloth with the Elysian logo and, I believe, the cable. I say “I believe” because I honestly can’t remember if the cable came in the box or in the storage case which we find below it.

The storage case, which is found at the very bottom of the box is possibly one of the best looking I have received to date. It is in a faux white leather, oval in shape with the Elysian logo in silver on the top, with a hinged lid that reveals a grey lined interior. The case looks great, however, I think the only way it will stay looking great is if we leave it in the box, as the white case will soon not be white anymore if we use it for transporting the IEMs. Inside the storage case we get 3x sized of Spinfit tips and maybe (if it wasn’t in the box) the cable.

I think that the packaging and presentation of the Pilgrim is great. Simple, elegant and well done, my only complaint is about the lack of tip options included. I have to say that the included tips are not my favourite tips with the Pilgrim but, as always, I try to use what is included in the box unless there is a specific reason not to. Therefore, I have used the included Spinfit tips for this review and I also used the same tips for my review of the Noir. I must say that it is very important to make sure a correct seal is obtained.


Build and aesthetics…

I mentioned in the Noir review, one of the only things that I compared, that the only difference between the two models as far as build is the colour. The Noir is black (obviously) and the Pilgrim is a combination of shiny silver and matte silver (aluminium) which works very well to set off the design of the face plate. The centre of the faceplate features the Elysian logo in a raised format, following the 3D effect of the general design, and there are 4 vents on the faceplate, strategically placed in the darker (matte) areas.

Something that I did forget to mention in my review of the Noir is that they both use Pentaconn connectors for the IEMs in place of the more common 2pin or MMCX connectors found on the majority of IEMs. While this will make it more difficult to find replacement cables if you are wanting to, I have to say that I much prefer these connectors. They are much easier to connect and disconnect than MMCX, while still maintaining the swivel possibility, adding to the comfort.

Now, as I have said, both IEMs are identical. This means that I have had the same issues getting a good seal with the Pilgrim as I did with the Noir. This is something that I found easier to solve by using different tips to the ones included, yet, as I said a moment ago, I have used the included Spinfit tips for both reviews. It is possible for me to get a seal with the Spinfits, it just takes a bit of work. When they are seated correctly and I get the seal correct, then I find them comfortable, even if they are not the lightest or smallest of IEMs, but I still prefer to opt for other tips in this case.

The included cable is obviously different from the Effect Audio cable included with the Noir. No, this cable isn’t as nice as the Eros cable, but it is far from terrible. It is quite basic cable, silver in colour with matching matte silver hardware. I am not the biggest fan of the rubberised transparent outer coating but there is no way I could bring myself to say this is a bad or ugly cable. It matches the IEMs very well, it does its job and there is absolutely no sound difference (to my ears or to my measurement rig) if I swap the cable from the Noir to the Pilgrim. Have I seen better cables? Yes of course, but I have also seen much much worse at higher price points.

In general I am a fan of the aesthetics and feel that the build is very good. Personally I prefer the looks of the Pilgrim to the Noir, even though I usually prefer black to silver. But that is obviously a very personal thing and is irrelevant to my review, or the review of anyone else for that matter.

The one issue with the aesthetics is that the shiny silver finish scratched ver easily. I haven’t “babied” these IEMs but I haven’t mistreated them either, I have just used them as I would any other IEM. While the Noir, which has actually had more use (due to me reviewing it first and using it for comparisons during this review), still looks like new, whereas the the Pilgrim does show quite a bit of use in the form of scratches on the shiny part of the faceplate. It’s a shame because I am a fan of the looks of the Pilgrim.


Sound…

All tracks mentioned are clickable links that allow you to open the reference track in the streaming service of your choice (YouTube, Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, etc.)

Ok, the million dollar question, or rather the 372€ question… which sounds best???

Neither.

Both.

Which ice-cream tastes best?

Seriously though, these two IEMs, while they do share a lot of similarities, they are also completely different flavours. There is no best between them. It is a case of which flavour do you prefer.

The Noir is more of a laid back tuning, without becoming overly dark, that doesn’t seem to focus on anything in particular but nothing is really missing.

The Pilgrim is more of a forward tuning, without becoming overly bright, that makes details and separation more apparent than on the Noir, yet doesn’t become overpowering with it.

I could probably just stop there but let’s take a look at the Pilgrim with my test tracks, that is, after the usual look at the graph in comparison to my usual preference curve and the Noir:


We can see from the graph that the Pilgrim is a little closer to my usual preference than the Noir but, as I said in the Noir review and in many other reviews, this preference is by no means a rule as to me liking something more or less, it is just a general reference guide to my usual preferences.

So, starting off with… yes, “Chameleon”, as always! The quality of the Pilgrim matches that of the Noir, that is to say, clean, clear and very well defined. What does change is the quantity and, for my personal tastes, I much prefer the Pilgrim. Both the slightly reduced subbass presence and the slightly more present upper ranges, take the focus away from the lowest ranges and leave me with a flavour that is much more to my personal liking.

Sticking with tracks that I mentioned in my review of the Noir, “No Sanctuary Here” is also a lot less bass focused yet it is not lacking bass at all for my tastes. The bass is full and not anemic in any way, yet it does not stand out above the rest of the spectrum, allowing for a reproduction that I find more balanced. With this track, the vocals took a bit of a step back on the Noir, while that is not the case here. The vocals are more forward but this does not detract from the great performance of the backing vocals and bass in general.

Crazy” is just about perfect on the Pilgrim. There is no sign of excessive reverb in the lower notes of the guitar, with what I would consider a very natural tone to it. There is also no sign of sibilance or harshness in the upper ranges, letting the voice of Daniela Andrade be very clear and present but without any real drawbacks. I can’t say it is the best I have ever heard this track sound but it is definitely up there with some of the best.

With the Noir I mentioned that certain parts of tracks in isolation could come across a little dull and lacking bite, that is not the case here. With “Elephants On Ice Skates”, there is plenty of bite to those bass guitar plucks throughout the intro, with the lower notes of the bass coming in with authority yet not overly done. The same can be said about vocals, such as Dominique Fils’Aime in “Strange Fruit”, where her solo voice is not missing spice yet it is not spicy either, if that makes any sense. While on the subject of “Strange Fruit”, I will also say that the space between the vocal layers is just enough for them to be easily separated yet not too much for them to sound disconnected from one another. They harmonize very nicely.

The same can be said about “Billie Jean” by The Civil Wars, where both the male and female vocals sound clear when solo’d but also sound natural when working together, without either of them really stealing the light from the other.

As far as sibilance, where I noted that the Noir reduced sibilance, I would say that the Pilgrim is pretty neutral in this regard, with “Code Cool” being just on the verge of what I would expect from the track, the same being said for the intro to “Hope Is A Dangerous Thing”. If anything, I would say it is maybe even tamed a little but not to the extent that it is on the Noir.


Conclusion…

While I haven’t done an exact comparison section between the Pilgrim and the Noir, I think I have referred to the Noir enough during this review to be able to grasp the differences between the two. As I said at the beginning of the sound section, I don’t feel that there is a better or a worse between them, they are just different flavours and it comes down to personal preference.

If there is one thing I think is possibly better in performance on the Noir, it is detail retrieval. Now that might sound strange, as the Pilgrim is actually more upfront about showing the detail, yet I think that is exactly what leads me to believe that the detail performance of the Noir is slightly better. The Noir does not push detail, in fact, it is just a smooth laid back sound signature that sort of hides detail. Yet, it doesn’t hide detail. When listening to them side by side, there isn’t anything missing from the Noir at all, it is just that the Pilgrim focuses on in more. If I were to EQ the Pilgrim to the tuning of the Noir (something that I haven’t played around with yet), then I think that the detail may suffer a little and not be a good as on the Noir. But, to be honest, this is just speculation and is irrelevant at this moment.

While I enjoy the laid back nature of the Noir, my personal preference is towards the Pilgrim, where I feel it matches my tastes more, especially for an all round set. There are times when my mood would lead me to pick up the Noir over the Pilgrim, yet, if I could only have one, then that would be the Pilgrim. Which I guess is a good thing, as the Pilgrim is half the price of the Noir, as I said at the beginning.

So why is the Noir double the price of the Pilgrim? Well, apart from the possible difference in detail performance (which may not even exist), there is the tuning, the aesthetics and, of course, the Effect Audio cable. The cable is almost 300€, which, if we take that out of the equation, only leaves a 70€ (approx) difference between the 2. Which, I honestly feel is a reasonable price difference. If the cable is worth the 300€ to you, well only you can decide that.

I guess that my conclusion is that both the Pilgrim and the Noir are very good IEMs that cater to different people with different tastes. There really isn’t a better or worse (in my opinion), just a different flavour that depends on the final user and if they are willing to pay that extra or not.

What is for sure is that, in my opinion, for 366€, the Pilgrim is a very impressive IEM.


As always, this review can be found in Spanish both on my blog (www.achoreviews.com) and on YouTube (www.youtube.com/achoreviews)

All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on achoreviews.squig.link

All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on achoreviews.squig.link/isolation

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