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Review - Effect Audio X Elysian Acoustic Labs Pilgrim Noir

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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: https://www.effectaudio.com/pilgrim-noir

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 😊

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.


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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