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IMR Audio Elan – Lion At The Door

IMR Audio Elan – Lion At The Door

IMR Audio Elan is the current IEM flagship priced at 600 GBP or about 800 USD, made by IMR Audio, with a 10mm CNT ADLC Driver + Bone Conduction motors, and a highly customizable design. Given the price point, it needs to be compared to other flagships like Moondrop Illumination (800 USD), Campfire Ara (1300 USD), Unique Melody MEST MK2 (1500 USD), and Campfire Vega 2020 (900 USD). 



IMR Audio is one of the best companies to get a high-end IEM from, knowing that they worked many hours to bring you the ultimate performance possible. All IMR Audio products are made in small runs / limited batches, so if you’re looking for a high-end IEM, you should grab one for as long as they’re available. IMR Audio provides direct care to each customer, and the limited batch release of their IEMs means that more attention is given to each pair, and they are ready to stand behind their products, helping customers when they encounter any problems with the products. Elan is their high-end IEM with a 10mm bespoke CNt ADLC Driver + Bone Conduction Motors, featuring their typical highly configurable design. 

We also have three cables, all made of Oxygen Free Copper, for both Single Ended (3.5mm) and Balanced (2.5mm + 4.4mm) sources. Elan is hand assembled and is noted to require about 200 to 300 hours of burn-in to reach optimal working condition, time which I allowed for it, although we’ll explore below whether it changed the sound a lot or not. 

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with IMR Audio, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I’d like to thank IMR Audio for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in IMR Audio Elan Earphones find their next music companion. 


Product Link

Official Link: https://imracoustics.com/

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3Ig03Sj

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3vaM3pe

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3HfOida



First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:

The package of IMR Audio Elan is part of the IMR PRO series, and comes with a metallic card and one cable extra compared to the IMR Audio Ozar I just reviewed on Audiophile-Heaven.

The total content of the package is excellent, and given the price of Elan of 800 USD, it still feels like one of the best packages out there. We have: 

  • The IEMs 
  • Single Ended 3.5mm Cable 
  • Balanced 4.4mm Cable
  • Balanced 2.5mm Cable 
  • Manuals 
  • Carrying Case 
  • The big carrying case everything comes in
  • 6.3mm adapter for desktop sources
  • Huge Selection of tips 
  • 8 Acoustic Nozzles
  • 6 Acoustic Dampening Filters


Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

The outer design of Elan is very similar to that of Ozar, and the only physical difference between them being the screws, which are red in color for Elan and gray in color for Elan. If you take them apart, you can actually see the huge 10mm bespoke CNT ADLC Driver, although there are good amounts of protection so no dust or debris will reach the driver. 

As is the case with all IMR IEMs I reviewed to date, Elan is highly configurable, and there’s a huge selection of dampening filters as well as nozzles, with the nozzles changing mainly the amount of treble and bass, so the tonal balance, while the dampening filter tips will filter the entire sound, adding a dampening factor and smoothing the sound, or being more transparent and allowing more of the original sound of the driver to shine through. Although you may think that this is a novelty feature at first, I actually had a ton of fun experimenting with Elan, and I managed to settle on the Black Lower Nozzle and Blue upper filter, which provides the absolute maximum amount of bass and treble, basically allowing the driver to unleash its maximum potential. 

The driving factor is really good with Elan, and they have a very reasonable impedance of 35 OHMs and a fair sensitivity of 99 dB. This means that they won’t be prone to hissing with most sources, but they will need a bit of power to reach their true potential. I’ve been using Elan mainly with high-end sources such as Astell & Kern SE180, Astell & Kern SP2000T, iBasso DX240, iBasso DX300, Lotoo PAW6000, and Dethonray DTR1+. All of those sources are capable of driving IMR Elan really well, and I noticed no background hissing or noise with any of those sources. 

Ergonomically, Elan is one of the more comfortable, best built IEMs I have seen to date. Everything matches perfectly together, and they have a really ergonomic shape, smooth inner part, and a beautiful technical design on the outside. There are ventilation ports on both the outer face plate, and on the inner surface of Elan, helping remove any driver flex that could possibly appear with their large dynamic driver. They feature removable cables, based on the popular 2-Pin connector. Elan and Ozar have been my favorite pairings for reviewing the Plussound Copper+ Cable, and they are compatible with all universal 2-Pin cables. 

The best sonic performance for my ears is with the default silicone tips, but for improved comfort you can always use comply and off-brand foam tips. The default cable is not microphonic prone and does not conduct microphonic noise, but it is slightly springy. Wearing the Elan is a really fun and comfortable experience and although they are on the slightly heavy side, the construction and ergonomics help distribute the weight so that you almost never feel that you’re wearing them. The bores are on the average size, Elan having no trouble getting an excellent seal with my ears.

If you plan on using Elan on stage, for performing and singing, then you’re in good luck because they isolate quite well from the outside noise, to the point where with medium volumes to music I am unable to hear my keyboard’s noise in the background. They also leak extremely little, and I actually wanted to share an Incubus song with my gf, she placed her head next to mine and still couldn’t hear the song, even though it was playing at medium volume. 


Sound Quality

For today’s review I have mainly used high-end sources and portable music players, including iBasso DX240, Astell & Kern SE180, Lotoo PAW6000, and Dethonray DTR1+, all of them being able to drive Elan really well. I have also used aftermarket cables, including Plussound Copper+, to assess the sonic qualities of the default cables, and whether they could hold back Elan. All in all, after you purchase Elan, you are set for fun, and you don’t need to think too much about upgrading the cables, although the drivers are revealing enough to show when you’re using a better cable. Elan also scales a lot with the source, the difference between using a midrange source like FiiO M11 PRO and using Astell & Kern SE180 being large, and SE180 providing a much cleaner, deeper, controlled source, compared to using M11 PRO

I have allowed 300 hours of burn-in time for Elan, but I have to admit, the actual sonic performance did change quite a bit in the first 10 hours, after which it has been pretty much the same. Given the fact that the first 10 hours could account for mental adaptation to a new signature, I will just recommend respencing the producer’s guideline, if you’re looking for the best experience. I found that Elan sounds really good at all volumes, but shines more at higher volumes, where the quality of the drivers, including low distortions, excellent detailing and stereo separation shines through the most. The overall sound of Elan is hard in nature, with hard impact, and it has a natural texture with a natural speed for its sound. 

The signature of IMR Audio Elan can be described as deep, impactful, lush, warm, and very detailed. Elan has that detail similar to Unique Melody MEST MK2, but a much stronger and deeper bass, literally being that basshead IEM with tons of detail and clarity that you always wanted, especially when going from being a basshead to appreciating detail. In fact, Elan has a really nice stage with good depth and width, but also an excellent stereo separation, and great overall layering. They surprise the most with the sub-bass impact that’s huge yet controlled, and which makes my Adam Audio T10S Subwoofer sound like a camel having an indigestion. You can surely call Elan V-Shaped, as they have a strong treble, with good bite and presence, and a really clean, deep and full bass. Using other filters will change this V-Shaped presentation I am describing, but the sound always has a rather strong bass, and good treble extension on Elan. 

The bass of Elan, like the bass of most IMR Audio IEMs, is a central point to their sound, and a key element in their design. Mr. Bob always tunes those to have a strong bottom end with at least one of the drivers, and as I love bass I almost always go for the most bass + most treble filters, which basically should allow the sound of the driver to shine through the most, allowing me to judge the raw performance of the driver the best. Elan has incredibly good bass, it is huge, thick, it can chugg and it can punch, but it is kept well under control and never goes out of line, although when it is called for it has good vein and outstanding depth. As someone pointed out recently on Social Media, you generally can’t expect IEMs to have good bass reach as low as 20 Hz and present impact well, but IMR Audio is one of the few companies that defies this, and their IMR Audio Elan reaches 20 Hz for sure, and can actually give me mini vibrations in my jaw, and I can not only hear but actually hear the bass. The Bone Conduction motors play an instrumental role for this, and all IEMs implementing Bone Conduction elements I tested so far provide a really unique way of hearing the bass in your entire head, providing a really filling sound to it, like you get when listening to speakers, in a well treated room. 

The midrange of Elan is not colored, hidden or veiled by the bass, but it inherits that punchy, dynamic and contrasty presentation that the bass has, along with some extra substance to music. The bass is so quick yet so large and satisfying that all instruments, including guitars have a natural timbre, tonality and texture to them. You can hear and feel the fingers of every guitarist sliding on each string, strumming and chugging the guitar in a symphony of colorful elements. As you might have guessed, I am enjoying Elan a lot with rock and metal, and this is because the upper midrange is also enhanced, and their V-Shaped sound is pleasing with all the more edgy instruments. In fact, speaking of the upper midrange, there’s a general uplift in the whole upper midrange area, but the peak itself is blunted, so Elan never gets too hot headed or metallic sounding, instead having a peppy and contrasty sound in the upper midrange, with no actual peakiness or listening fatigue. 

The lower treble of Elan is actually smoothed out and dampened quite a bit, even with the brightest filters, so it is the kind of IEM that’s never too hot or fatiguing, but the mid treble and upper treble are both elevated, so the driver doesn’t roll off, rather providing a clean and fun presentation. The overall sound of Elan ends up being extremely coherent (just 2 drivers, and they play well in sync, as both provide a good amount of bass at about the same speed and decay), also extremely dynamic. You can push the volume of Elan quite a lot without hearing any distortion at all, and you can hear all those micro details playing in the background with Elan, the same way you hear with high-end flagship, but this time with tons of bottom end and body. Elan tends to have that upper midrange / lower treble peak dampened heavily, so the sound will lack the peak the vast majority of IEMs provide, making Elan both engaging, dynamic and detailed but also fairly easy to listen to, the bass and lows being the most impactful part of its sound. 



I recommend always clicking on the name of the IEM I am comparing, so that you can read a bit more about their signature, and so that my comparisons make a bit more sense. 

IMR Audio Elan vs Campfire Ara (800 USD vs 1300 USD) – The first comparison will be between two very different IEMs, with Ara having a much more focused sound, with a more linear / neutral signature, less bass emphasis, but still a fairly good bottom end extension. The comfort is comparable between them, and Ara is a bit more comfortable, but Elan comes with three cables, while Campfire Audio cables are single ended only, and if you’re rocking a high end music player, you will need to upgrade the cable to use the Balanced output and take advantage of the full might of your source. The overall sonic presentation is much leaner, more neutral and linear on Ara, which is made for technicals and those who want a really clean presentation. Ara can go as low as 20 Hz, but Elan actually sounds like it reached those 20 Hz and has considerably more bottom end, the sound is much fuller, deeper, there’s more rumble and rattle of your brains with low bass notes. Elan also has more nuance to bass, despite the lower price point. At the midrnage level, Elan is slightly more recessed, presenting music with more emphasis on bass and upper midrange, whereas Ara is more natural and linear in the entire midrange. Elan provides a more drastic upper midrange to midrange ratio. Ara is considerably colder, Elan considerably warmer. The treble extension makes Ara brighter and can be fatiguing after long listening hours, whereas Elan tends to never get fatiguing, but can be configured to be quite similar to Ara if you get a low bass nozzle and a transparent dampener. 

IMR Audio Elan vs Unique Melody MEST MK2 (800 USD vs 1500 USD) – I feel like this comparison is the most important I should be making today, because I really love MEST MK2, and am actually already working on reviewing the Unique Melody MEXT, but I feel that with the V-Shaped filters Elan sounds the closest to MEST MK2, yet they are still fairly different. Physically, MEST is larger and slightly less comfortable than Elan, but the default cable of MEST is a bit better, being less springy than that of Elan. The sonic presentation is more bright on MEST MK2, with more accent on the upper treble, but also on the S sound, that can lead to a slight extra fatigue. Elan has more sub-bass and bass body, which makes it more punchy in the lows, where MEST MK2 has a more forward midrange and treble, giving it more brightness, where Elan is smoother. If you’re looking for a brighter sparklier sound, MEST MK2 should be the one for you, while if you’re looking for more bass, more depth, more substance and a fuller sound, with more vein and rumble, then IMR Acoustics Elan should be perfect for you. 

IMR Audio Elan vs Campfire Vega 2020 (800 USD vs 900 USD) – Vega 2020 is the classic vanilla experience for music lovers and enthusiasts, providing a really pleasing, full and natural sound. By comparison, Elan sounds similar, yet different at the same time. Depending on the filter combination, Elan can sound more V-Shaped, have a stronger treble, and slightly more nuance and detail than Vega 2020. By comparison, Vega 2020 can sound a bit more natural, unless you match the filters on Elan for maximum naturalness. Elan always has a bit more bass quantity and depth, but you can actually configure it to be bass light if you want to, so the limit with Elan is just your imagination, while Vega 2020, while superb, always will have the same signature. 

IMR Audio Elan vs Moondrop Illumination (800 USD vs 800 USD) – The only IEM in today’s list that has the same price as Elan, and the sound, concept and design is quite different, although both have in common the 2-Pin connector. The overall sonic presentation of Illumination is peppy, but also a bit hot-headed with a bit more focus on the raw resolution than Elan. In contrast, Elan sounds considerably heavier, thicker, fuller and more satisfying in the bass, especially in the sub bass. The open design of Illumination allows it to pan instruments further away from the listener, while Elan has better instrument separation and definition. TThe treble of Illumination has a very typical upper midrange / lower treble peak, that can make it hot at times, where Elan has a dampening for that peak, allowing it to play louder with less fatigue, but taking away some of the resolution you notice at first in return. The actual resolution and detail, after listening to both for many hours for today’s comparison, is better on Elan, which although has slightly less treble bite, actually captures and renders certain background elements and micro details, especially bass nuance and substance in music, a bit better than Illumination. 


Value and Conclusion

At the end of today’s review, we can safely say that IMR Acoustics Elan punches way above its price range, and the sound they provide is as good as other flagships on the market right now, with a special tuning to it, so I can only stare in curiosity at the tracking updates on as I’m waiting to hear the Black Matter, a model even more exquisite than Elan. 

In fact, the overall performance of Elan is so great that I am going to add it to Audiophile-Heaven’s Hall Of Fame as one of the best IEMs I’ve ever heard, and even though it is a limited run product, more units may always come along, and checking out IMR Audio is always worth it, as they add new awesome products every season, with many new interesting products announced recently. 

Speaking of IMR Audio and the customer experience with them, I have only good things to say. My review on Elan has been delayed a bit, because during the photoshoot I broke the left ear of Elan. I can confirm that IMR Audio has spare components and that they managed to make and fix the Left Earpiece of Elan, so you don’t have to worry about warranty one bit. 

At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a high-end IEM with excellent ergonomics, great build quality, three cables included by default in the package, a configurable sound that’s based on some of the best sounding drivers out there, with both a large Dynamic Driver that’s extremely coherent, strong and bold, and a bone conduction driver backing it, then IMR Audio Elan is a fully recommended purchase, and when you see one in store, don’t be shy, because they are very limited in runs and will run out quickly. 


Product Link

Official Link: https://imracoustics.com/

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3Ig03Sj

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3vaM3pe

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3HfOida


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Full Playlist used for this review

We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature.  I recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music! The playlists are different for Spotify, Tidal and Youtube, and based on the songs I enjoy and are available on each!




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