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WARNING: lots of Zeus-R impressions ahead:
Earlier today I was informed by Jack that the Zeus will now be referred to as the Zeus-R.
Awwww yeeeeah... brings back great memories of the old EarWerkz days and the Legend-R and Legend Omega.
In fact, I got my freshly upgraded Zeus-R back from Jack today. Big thanks to him and Dean for getting this back to me so damn quickly. I was stuck using a pair of Apple EarPods at work the last few days and... it wasn't pleasant. Besides being an awesomely goofy city, living in Atlanta has fringe benefits, and being in same metro area as Empire Ears is a big one.
Tonight I've been listening to the Zeus-R fed by the balanced connection of a Cowon Plenue S using a balanced Effect Audio Eros 4-wire cable (both highly recommended). Everything I wrote earlier this week about my brief demo with the universal version holds very true with the custom version: less bloom/haze, improved clarity. However, after a few hours of quality time with my custom today, there are some other changes I will try my best to describe here:
Treble response seems to be more linear and a bit less peaky. There was an odd bit of sibilance that I would get on certain tracks, and that's a lot less evident on the Zeus-R when listening to the same tracks that would give me problems with the OG Zeus.
Mids are slightly less intimate than the OG Zeus, and the sound signature is slightly less mid-focused. Don't worry: the Zeus-R still has that emotional midrange we all love that keeps our toes tapping and our heads bobbing, but as an IEM it's much more "reference" and balanced in overall sound signature. In fact, the mids being pushed slightly back has had a couple effects that I'm really getting a good feel for now:
1) It's slightly drier than the OG Zeus due to the improved clarity. It's still on the lush side of neutral but it's not as humid as both the OG and past Empire/EarWerkz flagships were. Again, it's more "reference" but not in a boring or flat way. It still has that thick note presentation that I've always loved about Jack and Dean's creations that lends to realistic and natural instrument timbre, just leaned out a tad in all the right areas.
2) Whoa... soundstage and spatial cues. One thing I've learned about CIEMs versus universal IEMs is that you consistently get a better feel for soundstage and instrument placement from a custom. When I heard the universal Z-R on Friday, I heard the improved clarity, but didn't get a good feeling for whether the soundstage had improved. With my custom Z-R, the soundstage differences between the 1st and 2nd gen Zeus are downright impressive. There's a level of detail in the spatial cues that wasn't present before. There are subtle reverb effects from the recording space that are quite evident now. It's a delight to listen to tracks that were recorded in one take as you get a really incredible feeling for the "room." Listening to Led Zeppelin's "The Ocean" and "The Rain Song" with the Z-R are enveloping experiences, like you're standing in the middle of the band in the recording studio. Layering, depth and instrument placement are as outstanding as they were on the OG Zeus, but coupled with a greatly improved sense of space.
Also, the added clarity seems to be the result of improved transient response. The entire sound just feels "tighter" and has less slop. From OG Zeus to Zeus-R, it reminds me a bit of the qualitative differences of going from an Audeze LCD-2 to an LCD-3. In other words, the overall sound and presentation are from the same nuclear family, but there so much more clarity and resolution added to the silky smooth, grain-free presentation. Without the bloom or haze that the 1st gen Zeus had, there's an impressive level of detail retrieval while maintaining the typical Empire Ears effortlessness to the sound. It really does feel like a veil has been lifted from the original Zeus to get to the Zeus-R.
If it's not obvious by now, I'm really enjoying the Zeus-R. I get the feeling tonight is going to be one of those nights where I go to bed far too late because I'll lose track of time thanks to these wonderful IEMs.
Spamateur, thank you for this comprehensive update on Zeus-R. I also note your choice of the Effect Audio Eros, which I happened to have ordered.
No problem! Since I have the first production Zeus-R CIEM in the wild, I felt like it was my duty to get everyone hyped about how big of an upgrade it is. I don't really feel as if I'm overstating the case either... it really is a big difference and one very much for the better.
And yes, the Effect Audio Eros is incredible! I actually wasn't sure what to expect, but it was recommended by @raypin over in the Zeus Impressions Thread. For the price, I think it'd be hard to find a better cable in terms of construction quality, flexibility and sonics.
Awesome summary! My Zeus are on their way back to Empire... the wait's gonna be difficult now...
I have a question, does wearing the EE t-shirt make a difference in SQ when testing? I want to plan ahead just in case something like that happens.
having a bit of glitter on you makes the treble sparkle. I like to wear mine cuz of that. I don't have to eq that much anymore
I shall wait with you since I want to get mine upgraded too. Do you know what's the cost and procedure?
I'd probably ask Jack for all the latest and greatest on what you gotta do to get your upgrade
PM'd Jack, thanks
If it does I wonder if I can experience the same effect with the EarWerkz t-shirt that I got from their Kickstarter campaign.
Can't wait to send my Zeus to Music Sanctuary.
The waiting game begins:
Hello everybody. For anyone interested, this is an article I have been working on for quite a while - an attempt to describe what the difference is between mid-fi and flagship iems. It's a multicomparison review featuring the A83, Primacy and DN-2000j vs the S-EM9, Zeus and Galaxy. I hope it is enjoyable.
Certified triple O.G. status right here! Pressed the logos myself! Good memories haha!
It'll be worth the wait my friend!