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INPUT SENSITIVITY: 112 dB @ 1mW FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 40 Hz - 20 kHz IMPEDANCE: 20 Ohms @ 1...

Empire Ears Spartan IV

Rating:
4.5/5,
  • INPUT SENSITIVITY: 112 dB @ 1mW
    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 40 Hz - 20 kHz
    IMPEDANCE: 20 Ohms @ 1 kHz
    DRIVER SET UP: low, 2 mid, high
    INTERNAL SPEAKER CONFIGURATION: 4 balance armature driver, 3 crossover network 4-way, 3 sound bore
    Available in Universal and Custom fit
    http://empireears.com/model-overview/?ap=731

Recent Reviews

  1. Wolves
    Empire Ears Spartan IEM Review
    Written by Wolves
    Published Dec 1, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Detail retrieval, wide soundstage, balanced tuning
    Cons - Acrylic housing, stock cable
    Empire Ears Custom Universal Spartan IV Adel with G1 module



    Background:

    -Schitt stack (modi 2 uber and magni 2 uber), HD600, Campfire Audio Jupiter (one step down from Andromeda), Monoprice Audioquest Dragonfly DAC copy

    -Drummer, music recording/mixing/mastering, guitarist, also have a high end home theater system (Polk LSIM flagships, SVS sub, Lexicon preamp, Proceed AMP2, miniDSP)



    Setup:

    Iphone 6 >Apple USB adaptor > Monoprice Audioquest Dragonfly DAC > 50” Empire Ears Silver Cable > Comply Isolation tips



    Most of my comparison will be to the Campfire Audio Jupiter, as they are similarly priced ($799 to $929).



    Sound (most important first):

    Upon first listen, I could tell the Spartan is a very different IEM than the Jupiter (the only other high end IEM I’ve heard). This is somewhat lucky, because after an hour, I read Pinky Power’s Spartan review and his comparison to the Jupiter:

    http://theheadphonelist.com/a-lean-mean-fighting-machine-a-review-of-the-empire-ears-spartan/



    My review will fail in comparison to that one, but figured I’d add another person’s input for anyone interested. I’ll try to write this without influence from his review, but I 100% agree with his assessment.



    I wish I could compare to other Empire Ears IEMs, but check out this review for an overview:

    https://cymbacavum.com/2015/11/02/the-empire-strikes-back-empire-ears-line-up-overview/





    Soundstage/imaging/detail (the star of the show):

    Like most of us, soundstage was the first thing to jump out. It’s noticeably wider than the Jupiter, and appeared more 3D (in the sense there was more encompassing feeling to music). Doesn’t get as wide as the HD600 or most any other over ear headphone, but this is the closest I’ve heard to it on an IEM.



    Most impressive to me was the imaging, with each instrument precisely placed within the left to right axis. Likewise, there is a lushness to the far left and right of the image that creates a “complete” stage, where you know nothing is missing and it encompasses you.



    I recently saw GoGo Penguin live, and the Spartan surprised me that it was able to bring me back to the live stage so realistically (). I don’t think I’ve ever felt like that before, a truly amazing experience to achieve from an IEM. I think the micro-details contribute most to this. For example, standup bass plugs are so distinct and present that it’s almost tangibly in front of you. The jazzy snare snaps, rim shots, and brush swells are nowhere near as noticeable and clear as the Jupiter. It’s these things that make the Spartan in a league of it’s own. Similarly, I hear details in some songs that I’ve never heard before on the Jupiter (or even my home theater setup), like the precision of the shaker in Blank Banshee Bathsalts (). Acoustic guitars were also very detailed in pick strokes, such as in Milk Carton Kids Heaven () and especially in Andy McKee Heather’s Song (). One thing that is evident due to the details in the Spartan, low quality or poorly recorded music becomes more apparently bad.



    Low, Mid, Highs:

    Like many others, I’d agree this is a neutral IEM. I’d have to say there’s something hard to describe going on though in the mids, which I believe are related to the detail description above. I’ll leave it to you to experience, but I might need more time to full understand it. Maybe it’s evident in the bite and crunch of a rock guitar like Invent Animate White Wolf ().



    Vocals are a high point for many people, but I typically enjoy instrumental music more. Vocals are slightly laid back in the stage in my opinion (which I prefer), but others might consider them forward. One thing I’m sure, vocals benefit from the detail of the Spartan, as evident in Keaton Henson’s sad (seemingly crying and cracking) vocals that requires a delicate presentation to capture it’s essence ().



    Bass is present in the lowest registers, but delicate in that it doesn’t color the mids/highs. There’s a punch that’s quick and accurate, but not quite a full as the Jupiter in my opinion (some may like, others dislike). That said, there’s a firm control in the Spartan that I might characterize as more accurate and precise. Like others, I feel the Spartans have bass quality over quantity. I wish more TOTL IEMs were able to provide more quantity in the sub-bass region. I understand I might not get the home theater ‘feel’, but I do long for it. Prime example is EDM like EPROM, where it’s a completely different experience between the two ().



    High extension is fantastic on the Jupiter (I imagine due to Campfire’s housing/tuning), and it seems like the Spartan might roll off in comparison (but only at the highest frequencies). Overall, I can’t say the Spartan is necessarily “lacking” highs, but it utilizes the highs in such a way that is more balanced for the tuning.



    Other sound comments:

    I plugged in the Spartan at the same volume as the Jupiter and noticed a bit more hiss. I’m sure other DAC/DAPs pair better/worse. On top of that, I had to turn the volume up on the Spartan to attain the same relative listening volume. I’m sure the Adel has something to do with that.



    Build:

    My Spartan’s were discounted/clearance for Black Friday and appear to be customized with an amazing pearl white and wing logo (I missed buying the Zeus R Adel for $1200 by about 1-2 hours when I was deciding… bummer). Truly beautiful, especially with the red Adel accent. For some reason the site said 3 bore design, but mine came with 4 bores like all other Spartan. Maybe just a typo during the Black Friday craziness?



    I’m definitely a fan of the Campfire Audio aluminum housing, indestructible (just don’t drop them). So aside from the beautiful customization in color etc., the acrylic on the Spartan seems prone to cracking/breaking. Guess I’ll be a bit more careful, or maybe I’m just a nervous person (I did see another post about a crack in an Empire Ear IEM). See more in fit section below.



    Fit:

    These fit deeper in my ears than the Jupiter. Overall I’d say the Spartan is more comfortable, but both could be worn for a long time comfortably. One thing I worry about is pushing the Spartan in my ears, it’s easier to do so over the Adel module rather than the sides. Not sure if that impacts wear/tear, but for now I’ll be inserting via. pushing the sides.



    The stock cable was quite disappointing, but maybe I was spoiled by the Campfire Audio cable’s TOFL quality. The memory plastic at the ear was not very long (i.e. the plastic did not extend to the top of my ear, so the bare cable was resting on my ear. Also, the Jupiter cable is able to swivel 360 degrees, so putting them in is easy. The 2 prong design of the Spartan cable does not have this flexibility, extruding from the socket in such as way that it’s difficult to set properly sometimes. I could imagine that if the IEM was too far into the ear you wouldn’t be able to get a good fit because the cable would be pressed against the ear. Mircophonics from movement was acceptable, but were concerning when adjusting the actual IEM in the ear. Maybe I’m crazy, but I hear plastic crunch when inserting them. I guess my point is that you need to ‘baby’ these.



    My experience with Comply tips on the Jupiter made me immediately put them on Spartan. The ones from Empire Ears did not have the wax guard, which I prefer when dealing with expensive gear, so I used an extra one from the Jupiter pack I bought from Comply. Some reviewers state the Adel does not isolate sound as well as other IEMs due to their design, but I didn’t notice this as much (maybe because I don’t use on the go).



    Packaging:

    I’d rather pay for a better IEM than a fancy carrier case, or bag, or box etc. There is a general consensus that Campfire Audio leather case is high quality, and while I agree wholeheartedly, I don’t use these on the go. My Spartan came with a nice note that due to overseas issues, the fancy Aegis case would come at a later date and a round clam case is provided for free. The letter appears genuinely sorry, and I’m a forgiving person…

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  2. tim0chan
    THIS IS SPARTA
    Written by tim0chan
    Published Feb 1, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - soundstage, neutrality, airiness in the treble, musicality
    Cons - isolation, very slightly loose fit (due to my weight loss)
    Disclaimer: i purchased this unit at full price from a reseller in singapore and am in no way affiliated with empire ears or asius technologies
    Intro: I first got wind of the spartan after 64 split from asius. I was looking for an iem that has the adel tech and has great value for money then stumbled upon the empire line up.
    The design of the website is very intuitive to use and the designer is very good and the iem turned out like how it looked like in the designer. I managed to find a place to audition in singapore called music sanctuary. the first time I heard it, i was amazed at the neutrality and size of the soundstage. When I was told it held only 4 drivers, I was quite surprised. However, i was also told that the custom would be 10 to 20% better than the universal. Despite having one of the fastest build times in the industry, my iems were delayed. (only because asius couldnt get the parts to empire in time)
    hence i only got these near to the end of 2016.
    Review method
    Ratings for physical aspects (packaging, build quality, isolation etc) are out of 5.
    ratings for sound will be gauged on both quantity and quality. Quantity will be out of 10 with 1 being nearly non-existent , 5 being dead neutral (think etymotic er4) and 10 being way, way too much. Quality is out of 5 with 1 being utter poop and 5 being at a flagship's level.
    At the end of the review, the overall rating will be averaged by percentage to form the final rating.
    On to the review.
    Accessories:
    1x empire aegis case (repurposed s300 case)
    1x large soft pouch
    1x small soft pouch
    1x cleaning pouch
    1x stock cable( silver plated copper)
    Build Quality: 5/5
    Perfect fit. Pure and simple. Fits better than my Aaw w500, with deeper canals. The shells are free of bubbles but the sound tubes are on the small sides where the cleaning tool does not fit unless I twist it halfway. The deign of my iem came out exactly how I wanted it to come out.
    Isolation: 5/5
    Full isolation of an acrylic custom iem with 01 modules
    isolation of 20db with apex m20 module ( yes they fit)
    isolation of 18db with adel s1 modules
    isolation of 15db with apex m15 modules
    isolation of 10db with adel g1 and b1modules
    Sound:
    Bass: quantity 6/10
    quality 4/5
    In my mind, i can only compare the spartan's bass to his legs, strong and powerful , but only moving as he is told to. When ordered to kick, he kicks, when ordered to tread lightly, he treads lightly. Quantity wise, the spartan has a hair more bass than the er4's dead neutral, helping to inject just the slightest amount of warmth added to keep the presentation engaging. th bass is linear, and i hear a slightly more emphasised subbass. Quality wise, this is the best bass I have heard in its price range, edging out competitors like the andromeda, rosie and more. It has a faster decay and hence details are more well defined, it is also well textured and very detailed, being able to differentiate instruments easily, even in complex passages. However, texture and resolution were still not on par with other flagships such as its older brother, the apollo or the almighty zeus.
    Mids: quantity 7/10
    quality 4/5
    Mids are quite neutral, only slightly forward of the bass and treble. However, as this is a product for musicians, especially vocalists, vocals are foward, always being able to be heard over the instruments. As for qualities, The spartan does not favour male or female vocals, presenting both accurately with plenty of emotion. the mids are uncoloured and have a natural timbre to them, just like listening to a band in person.
    Treble:
    Like the spartan's sword, razor sharp, ready to slice open a song for your listening pleasure. quantity wise, it is absolutely neutral with absolutely no sibilance. Quality wise, the treble has a natural timbre, fast decay and resolves very well, presenting microdetails very well and sepparation is top notch too. It is also very nonfatiguing, allowing for listening for hours on end However, it cannot retrieve every detail or show off every nuance in the song unlike totl monitors.
    Soundstage:
    Wider than deep. The spartan is an out of head experience with music presented like it was being played in a medium size stage. overall instrument separation is superb with no smearing.
    Source pairing: 9/10(easy to pair)

    Xiaomi redmi note 4:
    A poor source begets a poor performance from the spartan. It sounds compressed, and lacking dynamics.
    lg v20:
    Much better than teh redmi note with its built in dac. the dacis slightly brighter, putting the treble slightly more forward making it sound slightly lean.
    dragonfly black
    little hiss. neutral source to complement a neutral iem it brings out the details and the soundstage better.
    oppo ha2:
    my favourite source so far as it is clean, neutral and most importantly, has the bass boost function which turns it into the most versatile source.
    Extras:
    module comparisons
    b1 vs s1
    s1 shrinks the soundstage slightly and bumps the bass and recesses the mids slightly and rolls off treble slightly making the sound signature more dark.
    b1 vs g1
    g1makes the spartan sound more like the closed version, with a slightly smaller , making the spartan sound thicker and increases resolution slightly
    b1 vs apex m20
    similar to S1 with less treble rolloff and wider soundstage than b1 .
    b1 vs m15
    M15 is just a better b1 with better resolution and wider soundstage
    MAM
    Can be adjusted to different settings. I like it with the module almost closed, giving the best balance of bass, soundstage and resolution. Strictly speaking, all mosules except the g1 module can be replicated by the MAM.
    Cable matching

    Conclusion:
    Best iem at this price point that protects your hearing at the same time.
    Great packaging, great fit, great sound, whats not to like?
      IneffableMusic and FlySweep like this.
    1. Lobbster
      Thanks for your informative review, sounds on point with my experience. Did you try out any other EE models that were less treble forward?

      I bought the Universal Spartan IV w ADEL MAM and received them 3 weeks ago. I find that its critical to get a good seal, I can see how the custom would help the bass and midrange. But overall they're very enjoyable.
      Lobbster, Feb 1, 2017
  3. mrazik
    Crystal clear pleasure
    Written by mrazik
    Published Dec 12, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Sound, comfort, first class manufacturing quality and sound again
    Cons - Did not found any, which need to be mentioned
    IMG_4970.jpg
     
     
               My journey into Empire Ears Universe began with Cerberus III, which I found very pleasant to listen. After few months with Cerberuses I start to be curious how other models from EE line sound. There is plenty of impressions about top of line – Zeus XIV and rest of models is somehow a bit hidden in shadow of father of gods.
                Spartans IV are third model in line (counted from bottom) and have four balanced drivers in three way configuration. One driver for low, one for high and two for mid. Frequency response is from 16Hz to 20kHz.
                As many know Empire Ears allow their customers choose their own design. So I choose combination of blue on left side and red for right side. Spartan IV share housing with Supra II and Cerberus III and shells are small with perfect ergonomics. Shells fit in to ear concha with out any problem and hold there comfortably. Isolation is not best in class and it depend on chosen tips, but with Comply is very good. In package you can find:
    1. In-Ear Monitor
    2. Empire Aegis case
    3. Empire dust bag
    4. Empire IEM pouch
    5. Empire cleaning cloth
    6. Cleaning tool
    7. Quick Start User Guide
     
    Besides of that, you will get package of Comply and SpinFit tips in S, M, L size. One can hardly expect more.
    IMG_5169.jpg
     
                My highest expectation was of course regarding to sound and I must submit, that reality is fare ahead. Sound of Spartans is open and airy same as firm and detailed. From first few moments I put Spartans in to my ears was clear, that these little things are special.  Bass is strong and can kick, when it should, but is not going to be dominate. Mids are clear, vivid and transparent. For me are best part trebles. They make sound open and airy, with plenty of details, but never sibilant or exhausting. It is like first intake of breath early morning on mountains, when fresh and frosty air will fill your chest and you physically feel beauty of live. Anyway, coherency between all bands is extraordinary and one can hardly find anything wrong. Sound stage is decent on just four drivers and instrument separation and localization on scene is exemplary.
                Spartans are amazing for stringed instruments and genres like folk, jazz, classic rock. They will pleased you on classical music too, but of course they have limits with reproduction of huge orchestra, when sound will be not that bulky as from earphones with higher driver count. Despite of this very minor thing, I found Spartans versatile and easy to listen for most of music I have.
                I found generally Empire Ears earphones sensitive and they can suffer of hiss with some sources. There is no hiss and very good synergy with Ak 70, specially on balanced end. There is very minor hiss with iPhone 6s, but there is plenty of hiss with iBasso DX80. With all mentioned sources Spartans work very well and sound is precise, but entertaining.
                My only criticism will be regarding to shape of shell neck, which totally miss some block against tips movements. Deliver Comply and Spinfits fit well and there is no issue, but I like over both of these Spiral Dots and they sometimes drop down or they are loose in my ear, when I pull earphones out. It will be nice, if EE will consider change in design and end on neck will get some ring to avoid tips movement.
    IMG_5183.jpg IMG_5184.jpg
     
    IMG_5182.jpg

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