Empire Ears Hermes VI


1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: Breathtaking imaging and transparency, non-fatiguing, best customer service imaginable
Cons: Price could be a bit steep for most, EXTREMELY sensitive, demands top tier audio files.
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 I must absolutely first and foremost thank Jack Vang and his team at Empire Ears for contacting me personally and asking if I’d like to be a reviewer for a new line of products they have for the launch of their new company. I’m absolutely humbled and honored at this opportunity and can’t thank you enough.
    When Jack contacted me with his proposal and after the terms were all laid out he then proceeded to just completely and utterly baffle me with his customer service and true passion for getting what it was that I wanted in sound. He first asked what I wanted in audio, which is a mostly neutral/reference sound with slightly forward mids and a warm but absolutely not bassy presentation. He then recommended with complete confidence the Hermes VI model.
"Hermes VII
“Much like the god of boundaries and transitions Hermes is swift, athletic, and articulate. It instantly demands your attention with soaring, crystal clear highs and deep, fully textured lows. Hermes commands six drivers via a complex 3-way crossover network to ensure perfect pace, rhythm, and timing."  -Jack Vang
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The Opening Experience
    As those who read my reviews know I’m huge on the handshake that takes place before I even listen to a product. How are these packaged? Is pride obviously apparent, or are these just another product they sell? And in the case of these I had to add the dealers strive for customer satisfaction.
    The Hermes VI arrived in a beautiful, simplistic and extremely high end box. Inside lies the ridiculously rugged carrying case that has my trade name of “Army-Firedawg” custom engraved into the metal faceplate. This  truly deserving of such a premium price tag, but spoiler Jack and the Empire Ears team does this for ALL their products! That says mountain about the respect Empire Ears shows their customers.
    But now onto the main attraction, my heart was honestly racing when I opened the box. Inside were my personal, luxuriously placed, custom engraved Empire Ears Hermes VI equipped with their premium BTG Starlight cable. In addition to the case I was also provided 2 silk carrying pouches and a premium cleaning cloth. I my friends, have never been so impressed by the experience of a product. I wasn’t just delivered a firm handshake, I was given a full blown hug.
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    So how is the build quality on these hand made in Georgia, United States c.i.e.m.s? Absolutely top notch. I have zero concerns about these and the longevity of their lifespan. The monitors are very firmly constructed and solid, with no discernable fusion areas.
The stock cable is amazingly strong as is the BTG Starlight cable. It’s built with a braided pattern that I’ve learned greatly diminishes vibration received if it catches on something and also almost eliminates feedback. They also detach at the monitor, thus if it were to fray and unfortunately break on something you’re not out over a grand and about 2 weeks of waiting.
The only issue I’ve found is that the 3.5mm jack, on the stock cable, is very bulky. I use an OtterBox Defender series case and this connection will not twist as all in this case. This in turn eliminates the ability for me to lay the phone on its back in fear of harming the connection. Also I have to place the phone in my pocket with the screen facing me as well as not being completely in my pocket for the same reasons. Though this isn’t a huge issue at all, it does get rather irritating, but for those who don’t use a case or use a smaller one you’ll likely not have this issue. The BTG cable actually extends further out, though it is even bulkier than the stock cable, the extension allows it to easily clear my case.
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    How is the comfort of a Custom In Ear Monitor? Well, perfect. It’s my exact ear impression so I don’t see how it’s possible to fit any better than it does. The Hermes are super light so there’s zero stress on the ear even during long listening durations.
    The isolation is absolutely top notch. I can’t hear a darned thing when I’ve these inserted correctly let alone if I’ve music playing.
    The cord, as mentioned earlier, has very low feedback. This is very important for when I move and it brushes my clothes I don’t hear a buncha rustling. It also is very lightweight and sits very comfortably behind my ears and locks into place with a plastic tube.
    I initially had 2 downsides to these but they both turned out to be a miss on the audiologist part (local one in Charlotte not by the Empire Ears crew) by making my horn too long on the left side and when I turned the monitors became dislodged. Empire Ears happily fixed these issues, without me having to get remolded. So those complaints no longer exist.
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    Arguably the most important aspect of an audio equipment io how do they sound? Well, out freaking standing is the “professional” terminology that comes to mind. When I have these in my ears I am AT the audio performance that I choose. The most immediate thing that comes to mind when listening to the Hermes is transparency. I’m absolutely blown away by the amazing accuracy and lifefulness that exist in these. While listening to “If I Could Sing Your Blues” by Sarah K I heard reverberation from the surrounding that I’ve never before experienced, so much so that Dr. Chesky honestly did make me feel like part of a very private performance.
    The soundstage on these is, complicated; or at least for me to put words on it. What I mean is the Depth and Space individually are pretty decent, nothing outrageous but still vast enough. The thing that really set the Hermes apart and what gives me chills is the layers and the separation within the layers that I’m presented with. While listening to “Beethoven’s 5 Secrets” by The Piano Guys live I easily discerned the different sections of instruments used and as well could almost discern each individual one which bring me to the next point that really shined with these.
    The detail retrieval. Above and beyond anything I’ve ever heard before, including other elite class products. I thought I heard every note to the songs I use to demo but oh no with the Hermes I heard a few more small notes that I never knew before (the traditional cliche I know) and each time gave me a smile.
    When these are correctly inserted into my ears I’m given such musical bliss and accuracy I’ve never before experienced and it’s something I do often enjoy, but those who read or watch my other reviews know my main preference is a nice, warm and relaxing overall sound. Hermes VI is all about accuracy with an ever so small touch of warmth (which will be discussed next) and like the Greek god represented, makes absolutely no exceptions or excuses.
A potential issue with these I’ve found and feel others should be aware of as well is that these DO NOT play well, or at all rather, with anything but the highest quality of files and perhaps even a decent source. Hermes puts a giant and inexcusable spotlight on every single imperfection my non FLAC or WAV file had; in some cases so much so that I had to change the track. As for the source (LG G3 w/ Adata 64gb class 10Micro SD card then later to my new LG V10 w/ ESS Sabre amp. & dac. equipped w/ 200gb Sandisk class 10), even with my WAV files which were ripped “for accuracy” from a CD using Exact Audio Copy, I made out a slightly noticeable hiss which I’ve found is due to the Hermes VI defiantly extreme super sensitivity. A fix to this is a very simple buffer jack I purchased from Ultimate Ears for $10. “Hermes is swift, athletic and articulate.” A statement that couldn’t be more accurate.
Let me dissect Hermes a little so you can get an idea of where I’m coming from.
    The energy, the attention to finite and often overlooked detail of an audio piece. Does Hermes present me the energy that lies in the musical recording or does is simply play it? Hermes does wonderfully well and reproduces everything that was recorded, and goodness does it extend the highs to reaches what can be almost piercing. While listening to “Diva Dance” by (I think) Evgenia Laguna, Hermes didn’t so much as flinch when the super high pitches came. There was never any fatigue, tiredness or static even at her highest peak, instead sung her with energy, charisma and sparkle without diluting her God gifted voice.
Treble w/ BTG starlight cable
    The treble extended further and got much brighter. Going back to the “Diva Dance” example, she now physically hurt when she was at her peak.
    The vocals, the soul of an audio piece. The first thing I listen for when I demo. & review. Will I be sang to as if I’m THE most important person alive, or will I be talked to like a bystander not worthy of one's time? In the case of the Hermes I felt like I was the only person on Earth and singing to me will repopulate it. OK that  may’ve been slightly exaggerated but the soul of the Hermes is stunning, accurate and known. They’re beautifully clean and reproduce the artist's voice better than I’ve ever heard before. While listening to “S.O.B.” by Nathaniel Rateliff everything sounded so alive in the already upbeat song. The finger snaps sounded as real as my Nanny snapping her fingers at me to stop eating her (made from absolute scratch with a 40+ yr old cast iron skillet) cornbread before I fill myself up.
Was the above example needed, no, but it got the point across about the realism I’m trying to convey these present, but I’ll end on the only ascension I can notice on these is which is a very slight raise in the lower mid & upper bass range to add a nice warm body to the voices. Which if you remember, is how I prefer my music.
Mids w/ BTG starlight cable
    The mids take a very notable increase in forwardness while still not losing its neutrality. I did notice that things sounded even more lifelike and real as well, but that could be due to the new bias.
    The heartbeat, the rhythm and pace, the adrenaline of an audio piece. Will I feel ready for battle or will I feel like I’m getting eaten by some dark force? Perhaps I will feel empty and longing instead of content and satisfied? In the case of Hermes I was content and satisfied. Hermes did not add nor take away any bass hit than I believe originally exists. While listening to “The Pride” by Five Finger Death Punch the whole song is very energy filled and impactful. On my go to headphones, Bowers & Wilkins P7, I receive the hard hit of bass to the perfect level for me. Make no mistake I am NOT a basshead but I do enjoy a nice touch of added warmth to my music which these only give just slightly in the upper bass & lower mid range.
Bass w/ BTG STARLIGHT cable
    When I equip the STARLIGHT cable the hit of the bass gets respectably harder and attains even more control than what’s already present.
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    To sum up the Hermes VI, I have never been so impressed with a product I have reviewed. These truly lived up to my expectations and quite honestly chewed them up and set perhaps new unobtainable ones for others to follow suite. The Empire Ears team truly goes above and beyond to ensure their customer recieved exactly what they’ve always dreamed of.
    Whenever I’m listening to the Empire Ears Hermes VI I feel as if I’m truly present at a first rate performance, I lose track of time as I’m being charioted away by this Greek god and honestly I’d have it no other way. I will absolutely and wholeheartedly recommend the Hermes VI to anyone and happily put my backing seal on them.
Till next time my friends, make sure to check out my unboxing & review videos as well!
@Mython haha just a little bit, not too much though ;p
@nmatheis I haven't heard any of the others in the lineup but Jack hit what I love in audio with a full flung sledge hammer.Though interesting we have the same sound interests. Ever hear the B&W P7?
Better than the se846?
For me personally, absolutely. In reference to sonic accuracy, the Shure SE846 w/ neutral filter is more accurate in terms of audio repreduction. The slight lower mids/upper bass hump on the Hermes gives it the very warm, enjoyable sound that I personally prefer.