Introduction to the Erzetich Charybdis Review
The company Erzetich might ring some bells for many of you, but it’s definitely not the most popular brand in the market right now. Even though they’ve been manufacturing audio products for years now, they never truly got significantly important or popular, regardless of the quality of their work. However, this can definitely change in the near future, especially because of the product we’re reviewing today, as this is something that should and will make some fuzz in the high-end headphones market.
A quick introduction to the brand itself – Erzetich Audio has been founded in 2012 in Slovenia by Blaž Erzetich. Their first product was the Bacillus, which is being sold to this day. Erzetich doesn’t only manufacture headphones though, they also have their own state-of-the-art amplifiers, which I have initially tested the Erzetich Charybdis with, however, I don’t have those here with me. Both the Scylla and Deimos sounded incredible when I tested them, so…maybe one day.
Before we go that route though, let me explain how this review came to be. When visiting the High-End Munich exhibition in 2023, we had A LOT of exhibitors to visit. You know, classic shenanigans, meeting people we know, meeting new people, trying new and exciting stuff, and so on. Blaž Erzetich, the founder and owner of Erzetich of course was one of the exhibitors and decided that we’re definitely gonna go visit him, talk, and most importantly, listen to his products.
I’m going to be completely honest, apart from Blaž himself (all the best Blaž!), the thing that was a true attention-grabber was the Charybdis. Ever since I saw those headphones for the first time, I was like: damn, this looks…weirdly satisfying. Huge, silver, symmetrical, over-the-top – It was a love at first sight for me.
It’s not all looks and design though, so I immediately proceeded to the listening test, and damn…this was one of the best-sounding headphones at the show in my opinion. Everything was just right, while also being fun, exotic, interesting, and different. After trying it about 3 times I told Blaž that we HAVE to review this. You see, we review a lot of stuff, but we truly get excited when a product is different, more niche, interesting, fresh, and this all fits the description of the Charybdis perfectly.
A few months have passed, and the Erzetich Charybdis review is here, and it was really fun to do. There’s a certain feeling about this product, that gives you a wild appreciation. Maybe it’s just me though, but when you’re reviewing so many products throughout the year, you no longer get hyper-excited over everything. And trust me, I got excited for this one…I still am actually.
This review took almost 5 months to be completed, which is a new record for Ear Fidelity. However, this is not a product that you’ll just test and be ready to give an opinion about. It needed a lot of listening sessions, comparisons, trying different pairings, etc. So here we are, 5 months later, and I’m finally ready to give you all my opinion and thoughts.
Let’s start this review with our usual fashion, with the packaging. Reviewed Erzetich Charybdis comes in a huge aluminum case, which has been quite popular among high-end headphones for many years now. However, instead of going for a small-ish, smooth case like Meze or Audeze for example, Erzetich gives you a case that is more reminiscent to pro-audio and music instruments casing.
I really like this approach as it gives the Erzetich Charibdis a further character (not that it lacks any of that in the first place). The headphone itself is huge and massive, so both the case and box are just the same as what’s inside. Apart from the design and feeling is the aspect of protecting your 3000 Euro headphones while in transit, which will be handled perfectly by this behemoth of a case.
Inside, you’ll find a cable (more on that later), a secondary pair of velour earpads (the ones that come installed on the Charybdis are pleather), and a XLR to 6.3mm adapter. Nothing crazy, but nothing less than you should be expecting with a product of this category. Second pair of earpads is always a great thing to have, and thanks to that you can choose between two different sound characteristics, depending on your choice of earpads material. I definitely prefer the pleather ones, but more on this in the sound description.
Since there aren’t many units of this headphone here in Poland, I actually used the case a few times, as some folks asked me whether they could try it. Transporting tested Erzetich Charybdis in its aluminium case was as stress-free as it comes. I was just able to put it in my car and not worry about it even a bit. Also, I felt I’m getting +respect points every time someone saw me handling that case. You know, it looks business, people were probably wondering whether I’m carrying a custom-made gun inside. However, this one doesn’t shoot bullets, only wild satisfaction.
Jokes aside, I’m really pleased with the whole unboxing experience. Quality over quantity of add-ons is my type of approach, and you’re getting everything you’ll need. It’s not that you need a portable case, as the Erzetich Charybdis is definitely not a portable pair of headphones, no matter how much you’d like them to be that.
Design, Build and Comfort
Now, let’s get into one of the most interesting aspects of the reviewed Erzetich Charybdis, the overall build and design. First of all, as I already stated, the Charybdis is absolutely huge and massive, coming at a whooping 740g, it’s one of the heaviest headphones on the current market, if not THE heaviest.
However, not all heavy headphones are made equal, as the Charybdis is actually wildly comfortable having their weight in mind. All thanks to their suspension-strap design and incredibly plush earpads. Because of that, the Erzetich Charybdis is definitely not a pair of headphones that will “disappear” on your head, but they will not cause any problems with ergonomics, even with long listening sessions. I personally have to take quick breaks every 3 hours or so, but only because of their weight, which just takes time to get used to. Apart from that, there are no hot-spots, and the overall comfort is high.
I would actually compare the Erzetich Charybdis to one of those huge leather armchair that everyones grandpa used to have in the past. It’s not a high-end ergonomic chair, but it just feels like you’re sitting in a cloud, being gently but securely hugged. It’s not 100% perfect, but it’s very satisfying to sit In, just like the Charybdis. I’ve had people trying the Charybdis and everyone said the same – much more comfortable than expected.
Another important aspect is the weight distribution. Most of the weight sits on the sides, where those huge drivers are. Because of that, there’s not a lot of weight on top, which usually makes hot-spots on top of your head. Because of the weight being distributed that way, I don’t recommend fast head movements when you’re wearing the Charybdis, as it tends to slide around your head a bit.
What’s the most important – don’t be scared of the weight, reviewed Erzetich Charybdis is a very comfortable pair of headphones. Its weight is quite close to the original HEDDphone, but the comfort level is just 3 levels higher, it’s not even a competition. Surely, you’ll always know you have them on your head, but that’s about it.
Now on the design. The Erzetich Charybdis looks like no other headphone in the market, and I madly respect that. It looks bold, modern and industrial, but everything serves a purpose here. The headband is made of carbon fiber, which reduces weight and improves structural integrity. Let’s be honest here, the trend is quite simple currently – it’s not a high-end pair of headphones if it doesn’t use carbon…with a few exceptions obviously. Take this with a grain of salt.
Overall, this is a fantastic looking headphone that just screams “look at me, I’m expensive”, something I like about high-end products. Yes, it’s not stealthy, it’s not super-polished like the Audeze LCD5 or the Meze Elite, but at the same time…it has that character, it looks crazy in a good way. Original, to say the least.
A huge and welcome change are the connectors. Previous revisions of the Erzetich Charybdis used to have 4-pin XLR plugs hanging on short wires coming out of both earcups. Blaž explained that he couldn’t fit the connectors in earcups themselves, but in my honest opinion, because of that, the previous revision of the Charybdis looked a bit weird. Luckily, since then Blaž found a way to fit the connectors into the earcups and now you’ve got your standard 4-pin XLR sockets installed in the headphones themselves.
As for the choice of 4-pin XLR, I have absolutely no complaints here. I’ve always liked those connectors, definitely more than 3.5mm jack sockets, which tend to be slimmer, but less robust and secure. The 4-pin XLR has that thing about it, that when you plug the cable in, it ain’t going nowhere, even if you’ll accidentally pull it, and this is the best connector in my opinion.
As for the actual build quality, the Erzetich Charybdis is rigid and well-finished, but it has some characteristics of a small-batch, hand-made product. While the top of the carbon-fiber headband is finished perfectly, the bottom side has been left unfinished. This is probably intentional, to highlight the purity of the material itself, but it might raise a few eyebrows. Not an issue at all, but it’s definitely worth noting. Actually, I like this raw carbon feeling, shows you’re getting a real deal.
Other than that, there are absolutely no imperfections or questionable craftsmanship, as thetested Erzetich Charybdis is simply built like a tank. Of course, it’s not on the same level as the Meze Elite when it comes to craftsmanship and insane finish, but at the same time, it definitely feels like a 3000 Euro pair of headphones. Combine this with their incredible design and crazy looks, and you’ll be looking at the most unique and interesting pairs of headphones on the market.
Speaking of the build quality isn’t complete without the included cable. It is a high-quality, copper, balanced cable, but it’s a little bit stiff. While this cable sounds very good, I’d personally recommend getting an upgrade for improved comfort, since the included cable is not the most flexible, and the Charybdis definitely deserves the best cable possible. It’s not bad by any means, you can totally use it and don’t worry about upgrading, but I’d personally want something more ergonomic.
Lastly, no animal products have been used when building the Charybdis, which Erzetich proudly displays on its website, which is always a great thing to see, kudos. Using real leather is a rarity in the current market, and I’m happy about it.
The Erzetich Charybdis is by far the most comfortable 700-ish gram headphones I’ve used, and then some. Paired with its incredible design and great build-quality, you’re surely getting a product worth its price when it comes to those categories. Additionally, this will definitely be a conversation starter should you hang them in a visible place at your home.
The Erzetich Charybdis uses planar-magnetic drivers, like the vast majority of the current high-end headphones on the market. This technology has been dominating the headphones market for years now and it’s not going anywhere. There are also dynamic drivers, AMT, ribbon, and electrostatics, but the planar drivers are by far the most popular among audiophile-grade headphones.
What’s interesting is that in the past, Erzetich headphones used real wood for their earcups, but with the Charybdis, they went with CNC-milled aluminum which is much denser and acoustically stable.
When it comes to the technical details, the Charybdis has an impedance rated at 43 ohms, but Erzetich doesn’t tell what the sensitivity is. However, after trying the Charybdis with a lot of different amps, I must admit that these are definitely not easy to drive, requiring you to use a powerful amp, preferably a balanced one.
While the EarMen CH-Amp is a balanced amp, I tried it unbalanced first and came to a conclusion that it doesn’t really run the Charybdis well. It was a completely different story via its balanced output, but it still wasn’t the last word from the mighty Charybdis.
It was up until I tried them with my Feliks Audio Envy and HiFiMAN Prelude, and then everything changed. The Charybdis really likes power, loads of it, and then it starts to sing. Because of that, I don’t recommend using the Charybdis with any portable equipment, not that it is a good portable headphone in any way to begin with. Just don’t do it. Make sure you’ve got a beefy amplifier that is going to run the Charybdis effortlessly, and then you’ll be in for a treat. What kind of? Let’s dive right into it.
Sound of the reviewed Erzetich Charybdis
Moving onto the sound description is where the real fun begins. You see, we rarely see smaller manufacturers keeping up with the big-boy competition, basically Meze Audio is the only one that comes to my mind that entered the market and took it by storm. Calling Meze Audio a “smaller” manufacturer nowadays would have been incredibly insulting, but it is that way because they earned their spot at the big-boy table.
Here comes Erzetich with their almighty Charybdis – a headphone that can easily rival every high-end headphone on the market when it comes to the sound quality. Most exotic products often offer a great, unique tonality with the technical side being slightly overlooked. However, this is definitely not the case with the Charybdis, as it is an extremely well rounded and technical sounding headphone.
It’s nowhere close to being analytical though, as this is something that distinguishes good gear from exceptional. The Charybdis is easily one of the most exciting and fun sounding headphones in my vast collection, while also being one of the most technically capable at the same time. If this doesn’t sound like a description of a fantastic pair of headphones to you, then let me elaborate.
As I stated in some of my previous reviews, audio gear is usually good in technicalities, well-tuned or colorful, fun sounding. When we will pair some of those features together into a single product, this is when we’re entering a truly high-end level equipment. However, this isn’t easy to do, hence not so many products achieved the level that lets us call them a TOTL headphone.
You can easily get a technically capable pair of headphones under $1000, also, same story with a headphone that is fun to listen to or extremely well-tuned. But to have all of those traits, you simply have to spend more, and it still won’t guarantee that you’ll get all three.
So, why did I need this long intro? I simply wanted to highlight the level of admiration I have towards the Charybdis, as it clearly sounds like a headphone coming from the most renowned high-end headphones manufacturer in the world. To keep this review easy to read though, let’s get to our usual scheme.
Before that, I have to state that these sound impressions were done using the pleather earpads. The velour spare pads that you get in the box are nice, but the extension of the bass suffers significantly, and I really like my bass. The good thing is that you can change the tuning and the overall feeling by quickly swapping the earpads, especially since you’re getting both versions included in the box. Choosing between the two will come down to your preferences, and my preference definitely says pleather.
Let’s start with the bass, which is quite linear actually, expect for the bottom of sub bass which is a touch withdrawn. Worry not, the Charybdis does have subbass, but it’s the midbass that’s incredibly impressive here. While being linear and highly technical, it also has a great sense of scale and the dynamics are one of the best I’ve heard in a planar headphone. The Charybdis packs a punch (something that I cannot say about many planars), which makes it highly enjoyable and entertaining. At the same time, the level of detail, the resolution and tightness of the bass are all magnificent. The Charybdis is a very fast-sounding headphone and it makes the bass sound crisp and very natural, without being too firm or lacking in punch.
Because of that, the Charybdis handles all music genres with ease, whether it’s a dynamic sounding electronic music or a subtle vibration of an acoustic concert. It does it all with no compromises whatsoever. My go-to album for testing the bass performance is the legendary “Random Access Memories” by Daft Punk, and the Charybdis handles this album brilliantly. I’m getting a very controlled, snappy and dynamic bass response, but it also has that natural thickness to it.
Most planar-magnetic headphones have exceptional texture in the bass department, but they lack punch and dynamics, which is my biggest complain of this driver technology. The Charybdis is different, which gives it a special place among the current high-end market. It has the technicalities of a planar, but the punch more reminiscent of a top dynamic-driver headphone. Unique and simply correct at the same time. This is very interesting. At the same time, the overall speed of the sound, which is easily audible in the bass region is mind-boggling. This comes close to the fastest-sounding headphones on the market, like the HiFiMAN HE6SE, the HE1000SE, the Audeze LCD5 etc.
It’s not often that we’re getting a planar headphone that can do bass properly. A headphone that doesn’t lack energy, kick and sheer force. Tested Erzetich Charybdis has all of that, and it is one of the best planars when it comes to the bass performance. Technical, insightful, yet fun and energetic. You’ll be bobbing your head vigorously, let me tell you that.
What’s even more interesting is the midrange though. The Charybdis has that slight warmth and thickness to the midrange, but at the same time, it is absurdly spacious and clean sounding. The level of resolution here is simply outstanding, once again creating a sound that is both unique and simply natural sounding. For all the fans of detail retrieval – the Charybdis has tons of details, both macro and micro. It doesn’t sound tiring, because of the fantastic tuning, but it will give you all the details there are in the recording. Actually, the Charybdis, apart from being quite linear, sounds thick and rich all the time. It’s never thin or over-analytical sounding.
What really impressed me was how this headphone handles metal music. I’ve never been a fan of planar magnetic headphones for metal music, it just never feels completely right. Most lack that punch, thickness and weight of the sound, focusing mainly on the texture rather than pure attack. The Charybdis however handles metal like a champ, giving you an incredibly enjoyable sound. I’ve tried a lot of metal bands, including Sylosis, In Flames, All That Remains, and every single one gave me loads of fun while listening to them via the Charybdis. To be completely honest, this is in my opinion the best planar for metal music I’ve tried.
It’s not just metal though, reviewed Erzetich Charybdis handles all genres well. Chris Jones and his gentle acoustic tracks also sound very enjoyable. The richness and body of the midrange gives you that natural timbre of his voice, while also increase the resonance of the acoustic guitar, further improving on the superbly natural sound. What’s most impressive is that it does all of that while also giving you a great detail retrieval and resolution, like a microscope for your favorite music. This is hugely impressive.
The midrange is fast, snappy and highly-textured, but at the same time it’s smooth, rich and thick. I know it sounds paradoxical, but it’s the truth. This gives the Charybdis one of the most unique-sounding midrange in the headphones world currently. It is the best of both worlds, combining great technical capabilities with a rich, very enjoyable tuning that makes your music sound real.
The treble is very open, detailed, yet rich and thick sounding. Drum cymbals have a way of coming through a mix with ease, while never being overpowering or aggressive sounding. On the other hand, you won’t be missing even the tiniest details, as there’s plenty of those here. Because of the great resolution, the sibilance is nonexistent, no matter how hard I’ve tried, and I’m quite sensitive to it.
A song called “Keith Don’t Go” by Nils Lofgren is the GOAT when it comes to treble testing for me personally, as it gives you a raw, incredibly forward acoustic guitar’s strings basically in your face. The Charybdis handles this song fantastically, never becoming tiring, while sounding very, very open and fast. The treble also affects the soundstage, but more on that in a second.
While I wouldn’t call the treble as the most impressive part of the Erzetich Charybdis, it’s still very, very good. Technical, yet pleasant and safe sounding. You won’t have a feeling that you’re missing on anything, but at the same time, you won’t have a feeling that you’re tired of the amount of information and the forwardness of high frequencies. I actually have a feeling that the treble is hugely dependant on the diaphragms thickness, the thinner the better. Recently, I received the Audeze LCD5 with the thinnest diaphragm in a planar headphone, and this is simply the GOAT of treble (more of this In its dedicated review). Erzetich doesn’t state the thickness of their diaphragms, but it’s obviously thicket than that.
But let’s not panic here, maybe the treble response here is not as good as in the LCD5, but the bass response for example is a completely different story. Every technical aspect of the driver has its pros and cons. It is important to understand the dependencies, and choose the way you want to go with. What’s most important is that the treble here is very detailed, yet smooth and non-sibilant. That’s what’s important, and it continues on the way this headphone sounds in general.
Now we’re getting into soundstage, and this is the selling point of the reviewed ErzetichCharybdis. I’m gonna be blunt here and state it right away – The Charybdis is the best staging over-ear headphone I’ve ever heard, even beating the legendary HD800 by Sennheiser. Not only the size of it, but the amount of air between the instruments, the imaging, the separation. You know how many high-end headphones I have at my hands reach, and not a single one can beat the Charybdis when it comes to the soundstage.
So, let me tell you this. I’ve tried one of my favorite tracks for testing the soundstage, which is “Dusk”, by Edison’s Children. By the way, it’s a great band, co-founded by Pete Trewavas, a bass player for Marillion. This song is incredible with its ambiance, atmospheric and spacious theme, and it’s quite demanding for soundstage, especially the width. There are sounds starting near your face, that are then going further and further away from you, and if a headphone has a great depth, these sounds can get insanely far away from you.
I’ve never heard this song sound that good on a pair of headphones before, and the Charybdis works purely magical with it. Obviously, this song is just an example, it’s not that the Charybdis works great with just this song. To be honest, all music sounds insanely spacious and huge on the Charybdis, the “Dusk” was just a great example of what it can do.
Subjectively, the size of the soundstage might come down to preference, but as a reviewer, I have to give credit when it’s due. Especially since the soundstage is not just huge, it’s just also incredibly accurate and lifelike sounding. I can tell you now that in the upcoming Battle Of The Flagships update, the Charybdis will score 10/10 in the soundstage category, it just cannot be any other way.
So, we have a headphone that has a very dynamic, hard-hitting and energetic bass response, a midrange that is both highly technical and rich sounding, just like the treble, and arguably the best soundstage in the headphones market right now – all this coming not from HiFiMAN, Audeze, Focal, but Erzetich, a smaller company. This is wildly impressive, and I want to congratulate Blaž for this achievement. While this release could have gone under the radar for some people, it should be out there with the most popular high-end headphones in all reviews, rankings and discussions.
What’s most important is that the Charybdis is simply pleasant to listen to. It is an experience, a galaxy of colors crafted specifically to make the music sound as good as it gets. The Charybdis has everything to be called a Summit-Fi headphone.
For now, this section of the review will remain empty. The Erzetich Charybdis will be included in the upcoming Battle Of The Flagships update, so I cannot give you any spoilers. However, after that, I will update this review as well with direct comparisons to some TOTL headphones, like the HiFiMAN Susvara, Audeze LCD5, Meze Elite, etc.
What I can say however is that the Charybdis sits at the same table as all of the other high-end headphones, as its sound quality is basically on the same level, even better in some categories. The battle update will be really interesting!
Let’s start the pairings section with an absolute behemoth of a headphone amp, the Feliks Envy. Honestly, these two companies have some similarities, as both are still quite niche, focusing on high-quality, handmade products, made in Europe.
The Feliks Envy is the best headphone amplifier I’ve listened to in my life, and I’m incredibly proud to have it here at my disposal at all time. When I plugged the Charybdis into it, I knew right away that I’m dealing with something truly serious.
While I saw some opinions that the Charybdis is plenty easy to drive, I actually disagree with that statement. Yes, it can sound well with weaker amps, but it is when you plug it into something proper, that it starts to sound absolutely ridiculous.
So, this pairing has everything, as the price should suggest. The DAC that I paired with it was mostly XI Audio K-DAC, which is a R2R based wonder of a DAC. This setup gave me an incredibly natural, musical, pleasant sound that was technically stunning.
The Envy had zero problems driving the Charybdis to their absolute full potential, and it was obvious that this behemoth could drive 5 pairs of Charybdis and still don’t sweat. Yet, the 300b tubes timbre paired with an exceptional tonality of the Charybdis gave me a sound that was easy to listen to for an entire day. Well, this one is important, because once you’ll hear it…you will want to listen to it for a whole day, and then the next one, and the next one.
Yes, this entire setup is wildly expensive, but we’re talking about Summit-Fi headphones that definitely deserve the best you have at your disposal, and this is the best I have. Absolutely fantastic combo, end-game for 99,99999999999% people.
HiFiMAN Serenade + Prelude
Another pairing is the newest gear from HiFiMAN, the Serenade DAC/AMP playing on its own, or plugged into the Prelude amplifier. The reviews of these devices are coming soon, but I can tell you already, that both are exceptionally good!
No matter if you’ll use just the Serenade, or plug it into the Prelude, you’ll be getting a huge, dynamic, rich and full-bodied sound with the Charybdis. The Prelude does squeeze an extra because of its monstrous power output, which further elevates the bass performance of the Charybdis, but to say that the Serenade tames it would be hugely wrong.
The Charybdis likes both solid state and tube amps, it doesn’t matter as long as the amplifier is good. This setup sounds significantly different than the first one though, as the HiFiMAN devices aren’t as musical, lush and colorful sounding as the Envy.
The third setup for the Erzetich Charybdis is the EarMen “stack”, which is made of the Tradutto DAC and CH-Amp amplifier. This is a compact but mighty setup that packs quite a punch and an exceptional tuning just like the Charybdis.
Take note that you HAVE to use the balanced output of the CH-Amp to make the Charybdis sound great in this combo, as the unbalanced output doesn’t have enough juice to really make them shine. Once you’ll do it, you’ll be rewarded with a sound that is very natural, pleasant, dynamic and lively.
The best aspect of the EarMen stack is its highly natural and uncoloured tuning, and you can say the same about the Charybdis, and together it creates a sound that just works perfectly with everything – no matter the genre or the mastering quality, every album sounds great on this setup.
This setup is funny in a way, as the Charybdis is the biggest headphone on the market (probably), and the Tradutto + Champ is definitely one of the smallest combo in its price category, which is ironic when you pair the two. However, it is what it sounds like that matters, and the sound coming out of this setup is nothing short of exceptional.
Erzetich Charybdis – summary
The Erzetich Charybdis is much more than just a new model released by Erzetich. It is a statement of their skill and knowledge, which makes the Charybdis one of the best headphone on the current market. It’s definitely not everyday that a smaller manufacturer is able to release the product to truly rival everyone, but Erzetich has succeeded it.
The Charybdis is quite comfortable, even though it’s big and heavy, it’s well-made, but what’s the most important – its sound quality is among the top headphones on the market. Even more, Erzetich managed to give it a magnificent tuning that is just so easy to enjoy yet it sounds natural and correct.
Reviewing this product was a pleasure and the Charybdis became one of my daily drivers. Everyone shoping for the new high-end headphones should have these on the shortlist.
Big thanks to Blaž Erzetich for providing us with the Charybdis for this review. I wasn’t paid or asked to say anything good or bad about this product, all of the above is just my personal, unbiased opinion.
Founder of Ear Fidelity. I’ve been into audio for many years, working in production, distribution, retail, and marketing throughout my career. Now trying to revolutionize the art of reviewing audio gear, but one thing will never change: Music is the most important.