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Empire Ears - Discussion & Impressions (Formerly EarWerkz)

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  1. esm87
    and I was about tonorder 28 of them bitches!
  2. Jack Vang
    LOL!!!! We're working hard on it! None of us web developers (obviously) but we try to do the best that we can.
    Empire Ears Stay updated on Empire Ears at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/EmpireEars https://twitter.com/EmpireEars https://www.instagram.com/empireears/ http://www.empireears.com/
  3. esm87
    lol all good man, really hoping to get to canjam london to meet you guys and test the little beasts you've created. Do you have a uk retailer I can travel to, to demo them if I can't get there? The zeus R is so damn tempting lol
  4. Jack Vang
    Nothing to see here...
    Empire Ears Stay updated on Empire Ears at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/EmpireEars https://twitter.com/EmpireEars https://www.instagram.com/empireears/ http://www.empireears.com/
    glassmonkey, Cagin and eldss like this.
  5. Jobbing
    ^^THIS is the best teaser I've ever seen on HF. [​IMG]
    Hope you and Stephen had a very good talk after that session and we'll all be seeing the final result of it soon. Just the thought of a collaboration makes me want to hug you on CanJam [​IMG]
    [keeps fingers crossed]
  6. Jobbing
    Let's have it over with, looking forward to seeing a picture of you and @PhilW as well :wink:
  7. davidcotton
    Just kidding :p
  8. Jack Vang
    Haha! BTW! I got your molds yesterday! We'll be going at it! Folks I apologize once again but it won't be up until next week. The builder is just acting way too finicky and we're upping security as well.
    Empire Ears Stay updated on Empire Ears at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/EmpireEars https://twitter.com/EmpireEars https://www.instagram.com/empireears/ http://www.empireears.com/
    davidcotton likes this.
  9. ReptilynSamurai
    Now that I'm really enjoying my Spartans, I'm finding myself less satisfied with the sound output by my galaxy note 4 (you can really hear all the distortion in low volumes, lots of hiss and noise). I'm looking into investing in a decent DAP. Anyone have recommendations that pair well with empire ears / Spartan?

    I'm looking into the Pioneer XDP-100R and Onkyo DP-X1 possibly, though I'd prefer to pay less than $700. I like that they run Android, and can take dual microsd cards, and have the dac and amp separated from the processor.
  10. Spamateur
    I'm an evangelist for the Cowon Plenue series. I've owned the Plenue 1, D and now the S. They all pair quite well with the Empire Ears series, have a very low noise floor with minimal-to-zero hiss, and have a dynamic, punchy and warm sound to them. I'm personally a big fan of Burr-Brown DACs in the 1 and the S and could never quite get into the brighter, more strident Sabre sound. The Plenue 1 is going for $700 on Amazon, with it's little brother the Plenue D going for a bit over $200. 
    Unfortunately, none of them have dual microSD card slots, but the Plenue 1 (and S for that matter) has 128GB of onboard in addition to a single microSD card slot. With the new 256GB cards out and 200GB dropping in price, that's a decent amount of storage.

    Btw, from personal experience I'd avoid the Fiio X7. I owned it all of one day before I returned it due to the the EMI noise when the wifi was on, and the fact that it didn't improve on anything else besides soundstage width compared to the Cowon DAPs. I also didn't love the sound signature out of it, but again that's mostly my distaste for Sabre products speaking.
  11. ReptilynSamurai

    Thanks for the tip. I currently have a Cowon D2...loved the small size and long battery life, but with the Spartans that old thing hisses like crazy, and it can't handle very large SD cards.

    I was considering the Fiio x7 as well, thanks for the warning.

    I'll definitely have to look more at the plenue. How is the music player interface, though? One disappointment I had with Cowon is you couldn't save multiple playlists. The D2 also didn't have gapless. The nice thing about Android players is I can download any media app to use, plus with Wi-Fi it'll snag album art and the like (and can also play over Bluetooth, which I may use at home)
  12. windstreak20
    How's the synergy of Zeus R with the Plenue S? A little more detailed pls.. Thank you
  13. boblauer
    Do you need Android OS for streaming services and apps or just prefer that? If no streaming check the OPUS1 by the Bit. Balanced, dual dacs, Android etc.  but no bluetooth or wifi I believe. I keep my DAPS for portable use so I don't have a higher end rig so no personal input.
  14. Spamateur

    The three Plenues I've owned have all been dead silent or very close to it with the S being the noisiest, but any hiss is still barely audible.

    The UI is smooth, slick and very full-featured despite being simple to use. It's based on Linux so it's fast and stable. No problems with multiple playlists or gapless playback that I've experienced. The UI is basically the same between the higher-end models with the D being a slightly scaled down version. Someone in the Plenue S thread requested I make a video of the interface a few months ago, so you can see the UI (on an earlier firmware version at least) below. It is almost exactly the same as the P1 without the touch button at the bottom of the screen (which I never use anyway).

    Cowon is also great about regularly releasing firmware updates that introduce new features and fix bugs and improve performance incrementally. The Plenue 1 just had a new firmware released a couple days ago, and that's 2 years after the introduction of the device!

    Jobbing likes this.
  15. Spamateur
    Synergy is fantastic. I haven't tried any other DAPs recently besides the X7, but I have yet to find a DAP that has impressed me as much as the Plenue series in terms of noise floor and SQ. The Plenues all have a warm, psuedo-analog sound.
    Great bottom end with lots of punch and definition. I find the Empire Ears lineup (and the old Earwerkz models) are very unique in that the bass is very true to the source material. Songs with a prominent bassline will have tons of thump and kick and get your toes tapping, but an acoustic track light on bass won't sound unnaturally accentuated in the low-end. The Zeus-R are particularly chameleon-like in that sense, and the Plenue S does a great job matching the natural qualities of the recording.
    Mids with the S and the Z-R are lush and emotive. The S does a great job of accentuating everything great about the intimate mids of the IEM, so the timbre with acoustic instruments sounds very lifelike and natural. Despite being a warmer DAP, the S doesn't make everything overly warm, it just sounds true to the instruments and recording.
    The treble on the S is a bit laid back compared to the mids and the bass, but that's how I prefer it. It offers more treble sparkle than the P1, which is a bit darker than the S. I don't like brighter DAPs as they sound unnatural to me. IMO, the perception of detail you get with a Sabre-based or Astell&Kern DAP is much too in-your-face, creating a false sense how much detail you're actually getting. The S has a much more natural sound signature with zero treble glare or stridency, and you can listen for hours with the Zeus-R. I find the Z-R has a tiny bit of sibilance that's noticeable only on poorly recorded tracks, I.E. with a lot of music recorded in the 90s like Smashing Pumpkins or Hole, and I can't imagine wanting to accentuate that with a brighter DAP.
    The Plenue S has a smaller soundstage compared to other DAPs I've heard, but it more than makes up for it with stellar separation, instrument placement and layering. Using the balanced output kicks this up a notch versus the single-ended jack, too. With the Zeus' well-known capability for layering and imaging, listening to a well-recorded track with lots of stereo imaging is engrossing. Pink Floyd and Daft Punk have never sounded more engrossing and enveloping out of a set of headphones.
    TL;DR: the S pairs beautifully with the entire Empire Ears lineup, and now that Cowon has lowered the price here in the States, I think it actually offers a decent price/performance ratio when compared to how insanely overpriced much of the DAP market is. Feature-wise, it offers almost everything the A&K players do except wifi/bluetooth connectivity (which I'd never use) with a better amplification stage. It also measures with the best of the best. IMO there's really not much downside except for the fact that it's still quite expensive.
    As for the Zeus-R, it remains the best IEM I've ever heard, and I think the S is a TOTL DAP fit for the king.
    Btw, in case you're wondering, I compared the X7 to the P1 and S here which will give you an idea of my thoughts surrounding the S: http://www.head-fi.org/t/709051/cowon-plenue-p1/2085#post_12461443 
    Jack Vang likes this.
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