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1000+ Head-Fier
The Once and Future King
Pros: Good packaging
Good stock cable
Great Mids
Good Lows
Good Highs
Good Instrument Separation
Gorgeous faceplate
Used Price
Cons: New Price
A black body is boring for this price range
Poor Soundstage/Imaging
Odin Front.JPG

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Up for review today is the King of Asgard – the Empire Ears Odin. This (slightly dated) TOTL IEM is stuffed with a ton of tech and drivers. It has 11 drivers with 3 different types, 2 Next Generation W9+ Subwoofers for Sub-Bass, Bass; 5 Proprietary Balanced Armature Drivers - 2 Low-Mid, 2 Mid, 1 Mid-High; and 4 Premium Electrostatic Drivers - 2 High, and 2 Super-High. There’s also a ton of other tech you can read about on their website if you want. @jlawso13 generously let me borrow these to review before shipping them along to his buyer.

Odin Box.JPG

Accessories/Earpads/Eartips (8/10):

The packaging is pretty nice – basically identical to what you get from FiR’s Frontier series. You get the IEMs in all their glory, the Stormbreaker cable, 5 Final E ear tips, a metal carrying case, and a cleaning cloth. All of this comes in a box inside a sleeve with a drawer in the bottom like a jewelry box – very similar to what Unique Melody does with theirs, basically identical in fact, but without a leather case like FiR and UM have. Oh, and a cleaning tool – woot. At least the sleeve was much easier to get off the box than on the Rn6 - which is an actual Chinese Finger Trap in sleeve form. Also, no empty space-filling boxes here like FiR has, they used FOAM to fill the empty spaces – not cardboard – a much nicer look. So, it’s not mind-blowing, but it’s nice and a step above FiR that’s basically on par with UM. Still, there’s nothing here that really compares with what Noble, FAudio, and VE are doing with their packaging. 8/10 points. As always, I'm using my Spinfit W1 tips since they're the best I've found (You can buy them here if you want a set:

Cable (7/10):

Full disclosure here: mine did not come with the Stormbreaker cable, so I had to use the Eletech…whatever this is – a 4-wire Fortitude (?) cable, which is basically the nicest spare cable I had laying around – The rest of my cables were MMCX because I’ve been on a Campfire Audio kick. Feel free to complain in the comments below to the empty black hole that is the internet. Sorry, I don’t have like $4k worth of cables sitting around to test out stuff with – most reviewers get those for free (I have not). Anyway, the Stormbreaker is a pretty nice cable and is basically a PWAudio 1960s 2-wire cable. These have a great reputation for sound, so no worries there even though I can’t listen to it. Unfortunately, they also have a reputation for cable rub microphonics and tangly-ness and cable-kink. You can even look at the Founder’s Edition official photo on their website and see what I’m talking about on the Stormbreaker. That said, it comes with an awesome Norse Valknut in a silvery metal. Love it. So, overall, a 7/10 for the paracord cable noise and the cable kink-tangle.

Build Quality/Comfort (9/10):

Driver pop is a real thing, though it doesn’t seem to happen as much on modern IEMs as it does on IEMs a year or two old. It definitely happened on the Jewel, the Thunder, and obviously the Odin. It’s annoying, but not the end of the world. It does bring up questions about the overall long-term durability of the drivers though. The shells themselves have a gorgeous Bifrost coloration – easily one of the coolest designs you’ll find on an IEM. The Empire Ears logo and the Valknut logo show up on the faceplates as well – it’s a very cool-looking package. The rest of the IEM is a letdown aesthetically though with just a plain black – and there’s a lot of it. Still, the IEM feels quite durable and there are really no concerns there, though I do prefer my IEM nozzles to be a metal insert instead of formed acrylic, but that’s a nitpick.

Comfort is good – these are definitely not Ronin-sized behemoths. I’d put their size at medium-large to large – they’re not even super thick and won’t stick out of your ears much. They’re pretty comfortable as well. I didn’t really have any issues with the Odin comfort-wise, though they’re not Rn6 or Trifecta in either the weight or size department. They do have a nice, smooth fit. 9/10 here for the driver pop.
Odin Front 2.JPG


Check out the below to get an idea of how these measure. I have the Trifecta here with me to compare to these but check out how close the Ronin is also until 2k Hz – interesting stuff. Obviously, there’s far less sub-bass on the Ronin and the Odin – these are more of a reference tuning than the Trifecta. Both also have more pronounced mids than the Tri. The highs for all three look like the heart rate of a Republican Senator getting caught with a trans prostitute (I like to paint a visual image for you dear reader), so you’ll have to read each individual review to figure out exactly how all of those dips and peaks impacts the sound coming out of these.

Odin Trifecta Ronin.png

Normally, I’d run these off of my HiBy RS8, but I just traded the RS8 for a Cayin N8ii, which hasn’t arrived yet, so these are hooked up to my PC through a Truthear SHIO balanced connection, using Tidal with software MQA since the Shio doesn’t have it. Yeah, it’s not ideal, again, complain about it below – I promise I won’t respond. The volume is around 10-12 on here and the SHIO does a great job for something its size and price.

Lows (16/20):

I’m starting off with the Mid-bass/Sub-bass test I’m using David Guetta’s “I’m Good (Blue).” There’s some decent impact here, nothing offensive or rattly like you can get on the Trifecta, but nothing particularly interesting either. The detail and quality are good, and the sub-bass is still decently strong, but it’s nothing mind-blowing. You probably figured that from the FRG above. Still, there’s more bass and sub-bass than I was expecting and it’s good quality – enough to ear the Odin a 6/10. Not bad for a non-basshead IEM.

Up next is Demon Hunter’s “I Am A Stone,” which I use to test whether the bass is too strong and overwhelms the mids as that is just as important as how strong/good the bass is. I mean, obviously, we’re not going to see the bass overwhelm the mids here. Yet, it can still be heard, so there’s that balance piece I want to see from this song. No, we’re not at the Rn6 level of perfection on bass here, and it’s quite the opposite of the Trifecta, despite getting the same score. It's a 10/10 on this song for a total of 16 for lows.

Mids (19/20):

Weaving The Fate’s “The Fall” is my test song for clean/dirty guitars and vocals with background instruments to see how clearly the vocals can be heard. The clean guitars in the intro are quite nice, good detail if a little thin and distant. The dirty guitars have good separation and don’t blur together. You can still hear the cymbals and drums quite clearly as well. The Odin doesn’t have the warmth and body that the Trifecta or Ronin have here, but it’s still a really clean, detailed presentation with good instrument separation and no sharpness from the vocals. 5/6 points

Staind’s “Something to Remind You” has clean electric guitars and wonderful vocals – this song tests vocal quality and background noise. Again, very clean and detailed guitar – though it still feels a tad thin and metallic. The vocals sound great, full-bodied and without unwanted reverb in the lower registers. The Odin is missing some of the detail of fingers moving across strings that I look for here, but that could be due to the cable or DAC/amp. There’s a tad bit of tinniness as well, but overall, this is a good presentation. 5/7 points here.

To test classical instruments in the mids, I’m using The Piano Guys' “Code Name Vivaldi.” Wow, the bass-cello hits harder than I was expecting. That’s a really good presentation here and the pianos still come in clearly with the mid-cello. Nice. I’m very impressed here – none of the tinniness the electric guitars had, just full, warm goodness from the classical instruments – tons of emotion here. This is definitely where the Odin shine – though there is a bit of sharpness in the higher registers, but in an attempt to avoid double-tapping later, I’ll leave it off for now. 7/7 points.

Highs (15/20):

To test sibilance on headphones I use Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes.” The intro trumpets sound flat and tinny. The song itself doesn’t sound as good as I’d like, or as I’m used to from the Trifecta, etc. That said, there’s no real sibilance to speak of at all. Impressive. I guess the dip at 5k must have helped here. 6/6 points.

Dream Theater’s “The Alien,” is the highs test song I use to see if the cymbals/high-hats/snare drum can be clearly heard and distinguished from the rest of the music (also good for instrument separation.) Wow, the highs can be heard quite clearly here. It’s not quite Rn6 or Trifecta levels, but it’s extremely close. The volume level of the cymbals is pretty close to those two, but there’s a little less detail and the sound is a little thinner. Still, it’s good enough for 6/7 points.

Michelle McLaughlin’s “Across The Burren” is another of my favorite highs/sharpness test songs as it can easily sound painful on some headphones. Yeah, there’s a bit of sharpness here. And by a bit, I mean It’s quite bad. And by quite bad I mean jumping a car off a cliff bad. Here’s where the Odin falls flat for me, which is sad because it does really well with classical instruments. 2/7 points.

Soundstage/Instrument Separation/Imaging (5/10):

I use MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” to test soundstage, instrument separation, and imaging. The Instrument Separation is very good (3/3), but the soundstage is just OK compared to a lot of the other Flagship IEMs I’ve heard recently (1/3). Imaging is decent, but nothing to write home about (1/3). Overall, the Trifecta, Rn6, Mentor, and Ronin all destroy the older Odin here.


3 years makes a heck of a difference for IEMs. The fact that the Odin is still mentioned in the same conversation as the Trifecta, Mentor, and Rn6 is an achievement on its own. The new Raven from EE will likely throw EE back into competition with the new kids on the block. Still, at the moment, the Odin can’t compete with the newest IEMs in almost any category. That said, I’m using sub-par gear to power it, so keep that in mind as well, and also, the Odin at its used prices is half as much as the newer IEMs – making it something of a bargain in the flagship battles. Just don’t pay full price for it – if you want better tuning, the Ronin does the same thing, but better. The Trifecta will have better bass with a nice analog sound, and the Mentor will win in the soundstage category, while also sounding better in the bass and mids. Lastly, the Rn6 is still the most balanced IEM I’ve heard and it beats the Odin in every category for the same price new – no contest. As a quick gear side note, the Trifecta sounds great on the SHIO, so maybe it’s not the gear.

Odin Front 3.JPG


I 100% understand why the Odin was a TOTL flagship 3 years ago when it came out. Until the Traillii arrived on the scene, the Odin makes a very compelling argument for good sound. Nowadays, it fails to impress compared to the newer line of IEMs – BUT, it still sounds really good for an $1,800 IEM. So, if you want near-flagship sound quality in a neutral expression, grab a used Odin – it’s tough to beat it at that price range. For $3,300 though, you can do better. Friends won’t let friends pay full price for the Odin in 2023. Get Odin's Raven instead.

Headphone Scoring (v3):
Accessories / Earpads / Eartips (10 pts):
Cable (10 pts):
Build Quality/ Design / Comfort (10 pts):
Lows (20 pts):
Mids (20 pts):
Highs (20 pts):
Soundstage / Instrument Separation / Imaging (10 pts):
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Empire Ears Odin Review: Laying Claim to the Throne
Pros: - excellent resolution
- the most "balanced" Empire Ears IEM
- great, controlled bass response
Cons: - lack of dynamic contrast
- possibly too much upper-midrange presence
- slight treble roll-off

This review was originally published here on, but I am re-posting it for readers on Head-Fi.


The cost of flagship IEMs has steadily skyrocketed over the last several years, so much so that seeing a $2000, $3000, heck, even $4000 IEM released doesn’t surprise. So when Odin, Empire Ear’s latest flagship IEM, was released to the tune of a staggering $3400, I think people were more concerned with how and where to buy one than with the price itself. Indeed, Empire Ears has struggled to keep up with demand, and many retailers are currently sold out and awaiting new stock. But hype is hype, money is money, and I’m of the opinion that no flagship IEM has a right to cost as much the Odin does. Does Odin have what it takes to merit its hefty cost of entry, to shift my jaded paradigm? Let’s take a look.

This unit was loaned by for review and will be returned at the end of the review period. As always, what follows are my honest thoughts and opinions to the best of my ability.

Source and Driveability

All critical listening was done off of both an iBasso DX160 and A&K SP1000M using stock, Final-E tips and lossless FLAC files. The Stormbreaker cable was used with the A&K SP1000M and I swapped to a standard, 4.4mm 0.78mm cable with the DX160. The Odin is a surprisingly easy IEM to drive, not unlike some of the Campfire Audio stuff. Luckily, I had no issues with background hissing despite the high sensitivity.

Empire Ears Odin unboxing, accessories |

The Tangibles

Empire Ears knows how to do their presentation, that’s for sure. Included are the following accessories:
  • In Ear Monitor
  • Empire Pandora Case
  • Empire Cleaning Cloth
  • Empire Cleaning Tool
  • Final Audio Type E Tips - SS, S, M, L, LL
The Odin also ships with Stormbreaker, a cable specially designed in collaboration with boutique cable maker PW Audio. While I love to see Empire Ears including accessories like this, the value proposition is seriously questionable. And not even from a sound quality standpoint (which I won’t delve in to), but also from a material quality standpoint. The plastic heat shrink that surrounds the cable’s jack has been cut jaggedly, the chin slider doesn’t lock into the flashy Y-splitter (a missed opportunity in this reviewer’s opinion), the Y-splitter itself has evidence of machining lines on it, and the plastic tubing surrounding the ear guides are of different lengths. While I understand that these flaws might be within manufacturer tolerances (and you know, the good old “it’s made by hand ergo there will be flaws!” argument), it attracts my ire nonetheless. And as if to add insult to injury, it only comes terminated in either a 2.5/3.5mm jack and the adapters sell for $50 each. All this for a cable that retails stand-alone for a staggering $1300! Yeah, I’m not really seeing it chief. Devoid of the cable’s questionable value, I do commend the material of the cable itself. It’s supple, non-microphone, and doesn’t tangle easily.

Moving on to Empire Ear’s end of things, I’ve always been a fan of Empire Ear’s Pandora case. It’s clunky, sure, but I’d expect nothing less than the best protection for my $3000+ IEMs. The silicon interior makes for easy cleaning and bump protection, the threading on the case is fairly good, and it’s just built like an absolute tank.

Odin itself is quite the looker. You can tell that they’re putting a lot of effort into the details. The Bifröst faceplate as they call it, is designed to represent the mythical rainbow bridge between Midgard (earth) and Asgard (the realm of the gods). And no, it’s not just holographic rainbow foil. I’ll let the marketing doing the talking:

“The Bifröst features nine individual polymer layers in three proprietary lamination steps and each lamination is unique in its ability to filter and reflect specific wavelengths of light. This results in a faceplate that will produce breathtaking color transitions as the viewing angle changes -- literally shifting before your very eye.The Bifröst is masterfully handcrafted in the USA by an award winning chemist that currently holds two patents in polymer science for high solids coating chemistry.”

As you might expect, the build quality is also excellent. There’s zero gaps between where the faceplate, cable connector points, and shell of the IEM meet. I do find the faceplate a bit flashy for my tastes, but...if you’re spending this much on an IEM, that’s probably exactly what you’re looking for. The Odin is also very lightweight, although I do find it to be on the larger side of things which should be a fair consideration if you have smaller ears. Driver flex, a sort of harmless crinkling, is also present when you insert them in your ears.

Empire Ears Odin Review |

Sound Analysis

Frequency response taken off of an IEC-711 coupler. Measurement is raw, and there is a resonance peak at 8kHz.


Empire Ears has eschewed the flavorful tunings of their past IEMs and in its place is something much closer to, well, simply neutral. It’s refreshing to see this; ironically, normally the opposite would hold true. As I’ll be delving into, though, the benefits are myriad.


Bass is tastefully boosted while forgoing the monstrous 1kHz shelf that characterizes Empire Ear’s other hybrid IEMs. And as a result, Odin’s transient attack has seen a massive improvement with a lot of the bloat and transient smearing present on those IEMs cleaned up. Bass texturing and transient density are also present in more-than-adequate quantities.

Really, there’s not much to nitpick. But if I had a critique, and this is more personal preference than anything, it’s that I kind of liked the bloat and try-hard quality the W9+ subwoofer exhibited when excessively boosted. If there was one thing I couldn’t knock, it’s that it had character. By virtue of Odin’s tuning, though, it’s sort of just there, if not well-done and of high quality. I do find it to be lacking something in the sheer air that I could tell was being pushed on the Empire Ears Hero and Valkyrie. Decay also seems to have taken a hit, but that’s more personal preference than anything. I might be asking for too much; after all, you can’t always have your cake and eat it, and it stands that this is a massive improvement over some of their past offerings on the basis of quality.

Midrange-wise, wow, I’d be hard-pressed to name another IEM that bests Odin for detail retrieval and resolution here. Vocal inflections, and really anything in the upper-midrange, pop a good deal. The lower-midrange is less forward (not necessarily a bad thing for my tastes) whilst maintaining good macro-detail and a natural note-weight to my ears. While the upper-mids are stirring the hornet’s nest for reasons I’ll outline below, subjective preference aside, the Odin’s midrange is terrific from a technical perspective. BA timbre does seem to be present, but it’s mostly limited to a lack of transient density than anything.

The treble is an interesting part of Odin's tuning. In my experience, electret driver implementations tend to be hit-or-miss with emphasis on the latter. And not to go off on a tangent, but few things irk me more than the oft-used word “smooth” as an excuse for IEMs with (in my opinion) very poorly done electret driver implementations. Said implementations often come at the expense of technical capability and an excessively dark tonality. But Odin’s treble isn’t bad at all. Make no mistake: It does roll-off in the utmost highest frequencies, but this is the type of smooth roll-off that I can live with and that, at the very least, doesn’t necessarily detract. I’d certainly prefer more pseudo-air, but I’d wager this slight roll-off is beneficial from a coherency aspect.

Empire Ears Odin Review |

Technical Performance

To no one’s surprise - or at least no one who’s heard an Empire Ears IEM - the Odin has the ever-elusive intangibles in spades. One of the most interesting things to me is Odin’s transients; their overall sonic character. With some IEMs, like qdc’s Anole VX and the Fearless Audio S8 Pro, I get the impression that the IEM is under duress, almost force-hammering detail out of tracks. By contrast, the Odin presents everything without undue strain or lack-there-of. This is where that more subdued electret treble comes into play, and in tandem with its terrific resolving capability, there’s an undeniable stately, dignified quality to the Odin’s presentation that befits its namesake. While this same quality neuters Odin’s dynamic range, something I’ll delve into later, transparent, as much as I dislike using this word, is really the first word that comes to mind.

In a similar vein, what actually caught my attention most on first listen were Odin’s positional cues; the extent to which one is able to pinpoint where individual sounds and instruments are coming from on the stage. And indeed, the Odin is quite possibly the front runner for this subset of imaging. This is aided by Odin’s excellent staging capabilities; I hear abundant width and depth that border on breaking the headstage. For an all-around sense of staging distribution that envelops the listener, the Odin firmly seats itself in best-in-class territory.

In terms of more traditional metrics like resolving capability, specifically sheer resolution, I’d put Odin up there with the likes of the Anole VX, an IEM many would regard as the most resolving in the game. Notes in the midrange are delivered incredibly crisp, and layering - the sense of space between instruments throughout the stage - is superb. I’m inclined to say you lose some edge in the treble, but by all accounts I’ll take it over hyper-boosted, fatiguing treble any day.

Unforgiving Explication

Oh, no! He’s going to criticize Odin. But Odin’s a $3400 IEM, it must be terrible then. Or - Dang, this guy’s full of *bleep*. I don’t hear any of the faults he’s hearing. Before the pitchforks come out, let me just say that the Odin’s a fantastic IEM. But yes, I’m going to critique it because at least this way you know what could be a dealbreaker for you. I’d wager that’s preferable to praising everything. That being said, a lot really comes down to tonal preference at the flagship level. And while the Odin certainly isn’t lacking in “wow” factor, unfortunately, it fails to hit my tonal preferences as closely as I’d like:
  • You’ll note from the frequency response graph that the upper-midrange of the Odin is quite forward. Although it doesn’t exhibit the transient edginess I’ve come to note on IEMs like Empire Ear’s own Hero, it’s fatiguing for my tastes - too bright, too thin, helped in no part by the BA timbre. For the record, this is a trait that neither “settles” for me over extended listening nor with more burn-in (my Odin is a demo unit, so it’s been played plenty); I find it consistently presents itself. Perhaps because I constantly swap between IEMs while reviewing, tonal differences tend to pop more than they would otherwise.
  • Outside of sheer resolving capability - the aforementioned “wow” factor - I do find the Odin to be lacking on some fronts intangibly. For example, despite the snappy dynamic transitions, contrast itself seems lacking. The Odin fails to appropriately sweep the quietest sections of tracks, and has a strong upward skew to its macrodynamics that does no favors for the upper-midrange hotness. To an extent this is also what gives it that “stately” quality I noted earlier; however, I’d be hard-pressed to ignore the subsequent trade-off.
  • Another good instance is imaging. And well, I hate to say it, but Odin’s imaging is not holographic. “Holographic” is a word I see misused quite often (at least relative to how I would define the term); it’s indicative of an IEM’s ability to shape the “walls'' of the stage around the listener. This is generally characterized, for me, by copious amounts of “air” surrounding instruments; I believe this quality is largely a product of pseudo treble air, but distinct from the sense of space that results from a dark background. To this effect, despite rendering positional cues to a very high degree and ample image diffusal, the Odin lacks the solidity to said image that I would attribute to the few, truly holographic IEMs.
Empire Ears Odin Review |


I’ll be honest, I kind of just skip these sections when I read reviews about IEMs. Something about not being able to relate, and quite frankly, just not finding them particularly informative for my purposes. This isn’t to say they’re at all bad, though, and I can see the appeal. So what the heck? I’ll take a stab at it. These are a few of the tracks I used, and I’ll mostly just be covering what I’m looking for specifically rather than delving into outright wishy-washiness.

Taeyeon’s “Fine”: This is one of my favorite songs to test center image positional cues. There’s a series of vocal overdubs as she enters the chorus, but here’s the kicker: They all come from slightly different points - depth, height, and width - on the center stage. I find the Odin images the overdubs slightly higher positionally than normal, albeit with excellent distinction between each one and a surprising amount of depth.

Sawano Hiroyuki’s “e of s (Remastered)”: Sawano’s stuff often plays with staging, so they make for fitting test tracks in my opinion. Here, I’m looking for stage depth and treble forward-ness, as there’s a series of stick-on-stick hits in the opening that should be positioned towards the back of the stage. This is also the track I use most often to force-check macrodynamic ability. There are several abrupt, quiet-to-loud transitions throughout the track that the Odin fails to scale correctly.

Dreamcatcher’s “Silent Night” & Sabai’s “Million Days”: These are the two tracks I generally use to get a quick feel for an IEM’s bass. Silent Night has a very deep drop at around 0:10 that I can use to assess bass texturing and extension; in general, the electronic hits in this track have texturing that’s very obvious to me. The Odin performs admirably here. On the other hand, Sabai’s “Million Days” does not have said texturing. It has more sub-bass oriented drops that I use to assess bass decay and bass quantity. I find the Odin’s decay to be a little quicker than I’d like here if not still very natural.

Eric Church’s “Hell on the Heart” & Taeyeon’s “Feel So Fine”: Test tracks for male and female vocalist sibilance. Lots of “s” consonants and occasional lisping in “Hell on the Heart,” but Odin has no trouble here. No issues with sibilance on“Feel So Fine” either; however, Taeyeon’s voice is too bright, thin for my tastes - it’s fatiguing. Same story on Tiffany’s “I Just Wanna Dance” except there’s a lot of treble action; the Odin’s lack thereof brings the upper-midrange to the forefront clashing poorly within the context of this track.

Select Comparisons

Campfire Andromeda 2020 - $1099

Here’s a fun one. I recently saw some discussion about how the Odin outclasses the Andromeda 2020 in every respect, and well, I have to agree to disagree.

The Andromeda 2020 is one of the IEMs I mentioned earlier that I would consider truly holographic. If this is your jam, then yes, it handily beats out the Odin here.
  • Coherency. While the Odin is indeed very smooth, no matter what the synX technology marketing says, I can tell there’s a crossover at play between the subwoofer and the midrange BAs thanks to their respective note textures and the bass slam. Conversely, the Andromeda 2020 is seamless, no doubt thanks to CA’s crossoverless design and use of solely BAs.
  • Treble extension. The Campfire stuff has some of the most well-extended treble I’ve heard, and it’s not a contest between the Andromeda 2020 and Odin here.
I guess my point is that the Andromeda 2020 is at the cusp of which diminishing returns start kicking in hard. Especially between two already great IEMs, I can’t help but feel that whether or not something is “better” largely comes down to tonal preference. So if you’re happy with what you have, then I see no reason to upgrade. Outside of these remarks, the Odin does have an advantage in the general technical works. Bass slam is much more defined, positional cues are sharper, and sheer resolution is a good couple steps ahead. You can expect the Odin to have a brighter, more detail-oriented signature while the Andromeda 2020 is more laidback, warm, while not straying far from neutral either.

64 Audio U12t - $1999

It’s no secret that the U12t is one of my favorite IEMs. Indeed, between the two, I find the U12t to be the more intangibly pleasing IEM. The transient smoothing and terrific macrodynamic ability of the U12t contrast rather sharply with Odin’s borderline fatiguing midrange transients and poor, upward-compressed dynamics. It doesn’t help that I also prefer the U12t’s more laidback tonality. There’s a dip in the U12t’s upper-midrange which begets an unprecedented sense of depth, and the treble is airier, more articulate, executed with a very unique type of stick impact. As good as Odin’s tuning is, I’m inclined to say the U12t squeaks by with more of that magic, “X-factor” while maintaining superb technical chops.

That being said, for those who enjoy a details-in-your-face oriented, brighter IEM, the Odin is an apt alternative. It has an edge in sheer resolution, and I prefer its dynamic driver bass to the U12t’s (admittedly very good) BA bass. I’d also probably give Odin the edge in stage size and evenness of image distribution. I don’t think you can go wrong with either, and again, it’ll likely come down to tonal preference.

64 Audio tia Trio - $2299

You know, if you took Odin’s pricey cable out of the picture, the Odin would actually be at around the same price as the tia Trio, so I think this is a fitting comparison.

Let’s talk about tonality. Trio’s bass slams harder and there’s a certain density to its transients that simply drips richness relative to the lack of character that Odin’s bass has. The lower-midrange is scooped out more than the Odin’s with a dip at 1kHz before rising in the upper-midrange, but not as aggressively as the Odin does. I’ll admit it sounded a bit hollow while A/B-ing. The Trio’s treble also has something of a lower-treble suckout, but extends with more fizzle. Between the two, the Trio leans more fun than reference-y.

Intangibly, the tia Trio is another one of the few IEMs that I’d consider to have holographic imaging, and indeed, it was the reference I turned to while assessing the Odin. Both also have something of an upwards skew to their macrodynamics with overall dynamism favoring the Trio. Outside of this, I do find the Odin to have a good edge in resolving capability, and where Odin really takes the cake is in coherency. The Trio is noticeably more “disjoint” than other hybrids whether by virtue of its tuning or its intangibles. It somehow all clicks together nicely for the Trio, but I’d say Odin is the more well-rounded of the two IEMs.

Vision Ears Elysium - $3000

It’s been awhile since I’ve heard the Elysium, but I’ve never been too keen on it. The decision to have a DD token the midrange and a BA the low-end is a perplexing one, and really, I never saw the payoff. Elysium’s bass is more mid-bass (punch) oriented, and yet it fails to match Odin’s dynamic slam much less texturing or transient richness. And then we get to the midrange where quite frankly, the Odin makes the Elysium sound straight-up blunted. Sorry - just calling it as I hear it. Treble is the one instance in which I can see the Elysium having an advantage over Odin. The Elysium’s treble has more presence, extends further, and lends the Elysium to a more V-shaped tonality. Some might find the Elysium the more “musical” of the two; nonetheless, I’m of the opinion that the Odin is the better tuned and more technical IEM.

Jomo Trinity Brass - $2800

The Trinity Brass is another fitting comparison, as it’s a tribrid as well. Tonality-wise, the Trinity Brass has an enormous 1kHz bass shelf not dissimilar to some of Empire Ear’s other IEMs. While of decent quality, the low-end delves into bloat. The midrange is thick if not somewhat unremarkable, and treble is classic EST - that is to say, it rolls off. This results in an extremely warm IEM that doesn’t offend; overall I’d consider it to be competently tuned. However, as a result of its tonality, the Trinity Brass takes a hit in technical performance, and for me, the Odin comes out the clear winner. Go for the Trinity if you want something warm, bassy, and easy on the ears, and go for the Odin if you prioritize note clarity, technicalities, and want the “better” IEM on paper.

Empire Ears Wraith - $3500

This is the flagship IEM of Empire Ear’s EP (Empire Professional) line-up. It was not met with positive reception when it was released for good reason. And well, let’s put it this way: If you have upwards of $3000 to spend on an IEM, buy the Odin. Heck, buy the Elysium. Anything but this. “Wraith” is an apt descriptor for this IEM’s sonic qualities.

But it wouldn’t be fair to leave you hanging, so I’ll indulge. Wraith’s bass is characteristically BA: It’s one-note, decays far too quickly, and sounds like it rolls off. The midrange sounds like someone is in the room adjacent to you and is speaking through the wall. And the treble...what treble? The Wraith literally rolls off after 5kHz if you don’t have it hooked up to a dedicated amp to power the electret drivers. And we haven’t even talked about technical capability which, quite frankly, is reminiscent of IEMs a tenth the Wraith’s price. Per usual, I feel the need to disclaim that there’s something for everyone, but juxtapose the Wraith with the Odin and you have as close a ringer for “objectively” better as it gets.

Empire Ears Odin Review |

The Verdict

If you’re someone who’s skipped to the end of this review (hey, I do the same thing, I don’t blame you!), then I recommend briefly skimming the section just above this one about the Empire Ear’s Wraith. It’ll help frame where I’m coming from.

In many respects, at least for me, the Odin represented an opportunity for Empire Ears to redeem themselves; needless to say they’ve done that and then some. The Odin is unmistakably a top-tier IEM. And this is not a term I sling around lightly. In my eyes, a top-tier IEM is not necessarily a reflection of price, but rather an IEM that stands at the audio summit on the merit of its sound quality alone - a daunting criteria the Odin meets. Empire Ears has walked to the plate, taken the shortcomings of the Wraith (which were myriad to say the least) to heart, and knocked it out of the park with Odin.

But is the Odin worth $3400? That’s the real question, and boy is it a tough one. Ultimately, I’m of the opinion that pride of ownership and the joy of listening are factors that you simply can’t put a price on. You’re probably not a rational buyer if you’re buying flagship IEMs anyways. And as much as part of me hates to admit it because neither does the Odin hit my tonal preferences, nor will I ever buy one, the Odin’s one of the most well-rounded IEMs on the market today. Recommended - for both those with deeper pockets and for those with thinner wallets who think this could be their endgame alike - and a job very well done to Empire Ears.
What an excellent review!!!!!


Headphoneus Supremus
Empire Strikes Back Pt 2.: Odin
This is an odd one: It's basically a merger of 2 sets of impressions on the Odin. The first being a demo at Headfoneshop in Toronto August 2020: This was later followed up a revised/add on in December 2020 after I actually acquired the Odin myself. The result is a merger impression of sorts. Decemeber revision can be found here:
A link to the initial impressions can also be found there. The Odin as of yet is the only iem I would give a 5 star rating due to it's proximity to my ideal signature.

Watching the CFA and 64 Audio releases being hyped and then the subsequent quashing of both as Odin impressions filtered out was akin to watching the actual Empire dropping punishment on the Rebels at the beginning of ESB of the Original Trinity. Awe, shock and sense of disbelief.But you say, that's all the hype from others who have the Odin.KuroKitsu what do you personally think of the Odin? An hour of writing time and ample amounts of KPop should be sufficient!

On the monitors themselves: The lack of a significant lip on the nozzle really does make tip swapping difficult, but after some more tip swapping I found the Azla Sednas were a oerfect match. Whereas the Radius Deepmounts had this feeling that they would push themselves out outer time, the Sednas just sit there. No pressure spots, but due to the shape and the relatively light weight of having 11 drivers, fit was spot on. Spending time with them and seeing the Bifrost catch sunlight at different angles really brings an appreciation for the work put into those, breathtaking to put it at the least (Like analysing the practicalities of whether overthrowing the Empire would make sense compared to the Old Republic). The shorter insertion depth with a chinikier nozzle works really well with the fit, if you had issues with the older shell designs it would definitely be worth a try.

Testing thoughts and so on:
Inversely to the Hero, I came prepared to be let down in some way by the Odin. I expected the house sound at a highly refined level: not as bad as the Wraith was to me, but nothing that would make the best use of the setup being chosen. Annnnnnnd I proceeded to have that completely blown out of the water. I ran through my test playlist twice to make sure I wasn't biased because rainbows were coming out of my ears. After the first run, I did a quick recheck to make sure I was actually listening to Odin. I simply found it impossible to believe that the Odin was made by Empire. Not with that balanced signature, Empire makes Merican-Fi not balanced u12t like signatures! Listening is low gain at 55 on the 1A, but this time with Sednas for tips and a 4.4 terminated 1960s 2 wire in place of the Stormbreaker. While the aesthetics of the Stormbreaker go well with the Valknut theme, overall not coming in 4.4 termination and the point y-split lead to a 1960s from Musicteck on Black Friday. Functionally there's no difference in the sound (Think Death Star vs Starkiller), just that I don't need a pigtail and I just prefer the PW hardware.

Got a bit overly excited with the Star Wars references, so fewer of that (A New Hope per se). On to impressions!

Remember how I said the subbass on the Hero was sublime? Yeah, I need a word beyond that and the dictionary is lacking.The subbass extension is deeper than the Sarlaac pit goes (Poor Boba Fett). I found it equal to the u12t and Z1R in that regards. But that's just the subbass. Onto the midbass! In comparion to the Hero, the midbass of Odin is what I would consider nice and polite. The slam and impact exist and satisfy that itch for most people but without the bleed and bloat I heard on the Odin. As a whole the bass is nice and polite and satisfies the itch without the excess. For me this builds on what I mentioned in the Hero review: The dual W9 signature of the LX and generally anywhere on the X line is a conscious effort to achieve rather than the W9 lacking finesse. In fact this tuning of the dual W9+ shows me that Empire can and will do well controlled bass. LX bass? Nah I want more of that Odin bass please!

I waxed poetic of the control of the dual W9+ like Palpatine loves galactic domination. That hasn't changed, if anything this setup has cemented itself as my favourite DD bass out there. No bleed into the mids AT ALL (Like getting a limb slice off by a lightsaber). But when it does come, it comes in spades. Subbass deeper than the Sarlaac Pit on Tatoonie, mid bass slam and impact iike a poor Imperial cog being force slammed by Vader. Where the LX was fun like Palpatine's obsession with giant super weapons, the Odin is more like a lightsaber: it's there when you need it, it excells at it, and it's never in the way. Prefectly Balanced, which you have figured the Force would be better at given the current state of Disney Canon. End of the day, Odin shows that LX DNA as oppose to Hero,

This has always been Empire's strong suit and the Odin is no exception. The mids are clear and sit slightly ahead in the mix, but at no time overtaking the other frequencies. While no wallflower, they respect the prefectly balanced adage that is the keystone of this signature. It also has ample room to breath (Like a hangar for the Millennium Falcon to land in) without being too big at times. These are very visible improvements carried over from feedback on the Zeus : overly forward and shouty at times as well as being overly spacious. It's good to see Empire taking feedback to heart when you see them tweaking with signatures like this. The Zeus's DNA here has been visible from the Phantom to the Wraith, I hope to see that progression into the future as well.

Additionally there has been feedback that the upper mids are too much and settle in after burn in. To my ears, Odin is like another iem that has the same kind of tuning in that area: the QDC DMagic, Empire does Odin's in a much more refined way and as less abruptly. Whereas the DMagic causes it to come close to sibilance territory, Odin avoids that but brings the same kind of upper mids sound. As someone who prefers a boosted upper midrange, I know how hard it is to get that area sounding right. QDC came close, Odin nailed it. This however would come down to the genre(s) of music that you listen to and personal preference. If like @mmvRAZ upper mids are an iffy area for you, do not buy before you demo!

After the astounding performance of the bass and mids, the quad estats would be what made or broke the Odin. Would it be like the Wraith? The anwser is a yes....but actually no. Similar to the Wraith, the treble is buttery smooth. and my first impression was: 'Eh there are 4 estats in here? It doesn't sound like it.....". My expectation was a wow tuning this time around given how Wraith performed in the market, but they opted to stick to their guns and improve on the weakest part of what many people heard on the Wraith. It's worth noting that I demo'd the Wraith in low gain and the advice was that I needed time for the signature to grow on me and perhaps more power for the estats (Also tuning on a Hugo 2 is an odd choice), so it could just have been some issues in the setup I used where the Wraith's treble was boring and felt non existent at times. Again Empire took this to hear, and using the more efficient second gen Sonion estats managed to pull it off. It took a bit of time, but the smoothness of the treble grew on me, power definitely was no longer an issue with driving those estats. Being a huge shill of the Tia high tech done by 64, that has always been my benchmark for how treble should be done. But Odin has matched that and if anything exceeded it.

The Odin was quite a surprise: living up to the years long hype on it's technical and musical chops. Showing a progression of taking customer feedback and improving upon older models. It continues to surprise and wow me and it's hard pressed to find another iem in the market that can live up to this. Weirdly, I felt the marketing of Hero was more suited to describe the Odin itself. Regardless, they took the best parts of the LX and Zeus, refined it and coaxed a spectrum wide coherency out of 3 types of drivers totalling for 11. I heard no coherency issues at all, Odin sounded like just one seamless driver rather than 3 different kinds of tech being mashed together. The result is an extremely nice and polite iem that delivers when you ask for it, but otherwise shows no inkling of that capability on the surface (Like the Alfred Pennyworth of IEMs). For me personally the signature of the Odin is very close to my preference, and pretty much tied for first on my personal ranking. I would still put u12t first sheerly on the price tag of Odin, but if price is no objective or you want to go all in to an "endgame" of sorts, Odin all the way.



100+ Head-Fier
My Granny is going to LOVE these! They match both her giant mother of pearl earrings, AND her humungous gold Chanel necklace! I can't wait until the version for men comes out!