Empire Ears - Discussion & Impressions (Formerly EarWerkz)
Aug 18, 2020 at 4:48 AM Post #23,656 of 27,339

riverground

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 22, 2015
Posts
690
Likes
1,369
Location
Toronto, ON
Empire Ears Hero & Odin Impressions


I usually start with introducing the brand in the first part of my reviews and impressions, but I feel like Empire Ears don’t need an introduction. They’ve been killing it for the past few years, giving us hit after hit. They have the most expansive line-up of products catering to different types of audiophiles and performers. Today, we’re going to take a listen to their newest releases from their “budget” but flagship level of sound Hero, and their new TOTL flagship, the Odin. (I’ll try to keep this short as I only had a little over 3 hours of listening session for both of the IEMs)


Hero
(Bēowulf)


_CCZ9297.jpg

Let’s start with the Hero. No one really saw this one coming from EE, since everyone was so hyped around the release of the Odin. But approximately a week before the announcement of the Odin, @Jack Vang surprised everyone with an announcement of a new IEM that will be released alongside the Odin dubbed as a “baby” Odin of some sorts. People got really excited knowing this would be a more budget friendly option to the ever skyrocketing prices of high-end IEMs nowadays.

Design & Fit

First, let’s tackle the design of the Hero. The hero comes in with a more monotone black and white swirl faceplate reminiscent of their “Black Tie Swirl” premium faceplate option for their custom IEMs with a black winged EE logo on the right piece, and a black Hero nameplate on the left.
When the first photos of the Hero emerged, people started comparing it to the Noble Audio Khan’s faceplate design. I can see where they were coming from, but in person, it’s completely different. The Khan has more of a matte metallic sheen, while the Hero is a glossy liquid swirl.
The Hero is actually quite a bit smaller or almost the same size as the Valkyrie. A little disclaimer here, but I feel like I am absolutely blessed with my ear structure as almost every universal IEM I’ve tried fit me like a custom (that includes the overly large universal JH Audio Layla ver 1, and the “correct” but still unorthodox shaped Sony IER-Z1R). Having said that, the Hero fits flush on my ears just like with the Valkyries.

HeroFit.jpg

I can also confidently say that Empire Ears is the current master of universal IEM comfort and fit. Based on my previous experience, I used to think FitEar had the most comfortable universals. However, EE really took it up a notch. I must also mention driver flex as it is very apparent, both on the Hero and the Odin. This has been something I’ve noticed with Empire Ears IEMs though, even the DUNU Luna I reviewed a few months back had driver flex. Driver flex typically occurs when the IEM is being inserted into your ear. The sudden flow of air builds pressure and produces a clicking sound. Not that it’s a big deal breaker though, as it doesn’t seem to affect the sound at all.


Sound

The Hero’s overall tuning is quite a bit more in the mid forward side of things, but that’s not to say that the bass and treble are nonexistent. In fact, I was so impressed by its performance that I couldn’t believe it’s priced on the “lower” side of the spectrum. To keep it short, let’s just say that the Empire Ears Team took what they have learned from making the Legend X, Valkyrie, and Wraith (Hold this thought later for the Odin as well) and incorporated that to the Hero. They took that fun and exciting bass response of the Valkyries, the Legend X’s resolving and detailed not in your face “Hey I’m here, listen to me and just me” highs, and finally the Wraith’s highly engaging mids -especially in the vocal side of things.
In terms of soundstage, because they’re more mid forward in tuning, things are a bit more intimate. It still is able to give you a wide stage but it’s not something over the top. Imaging on the Hero is also quite superb. Instrument placement is accurate, but again, because of the more intimate sound, it’s just not expansive enough for bigger recordings.


Conclusion

Overall, the Hero impressed me more than I expected. At this price range, it’ll eat up the Valkyrie’s spotlight and sales. It’s the easiest recommendation I have to give to anyone looking for an upgrade. For those who thought that the Valkyrie had too much of a hollowed out midrange, this is the IEM to get. And hey, they’re cheaper too! So it’s a Win/Win. But for the people that have bought the Valkyries, don’t feel bad about the purchase, as the Valkyries are still up there for their fist bumping and head bobbing sound. The Hero is just in a completely different category in tonality. It’s more for the people that want to have just one IEM that could handle everything they could throw at it without it being in the TOTL flagship pricing territory.




Odin
(The All-Father)


Finally, he’s here! The god of gods has arrived. Odin is finally among us mere mortals. We are now worthy to be in our lord’s presence!

_CCZ9288.jpg

Was that a little too much of an introduction? I think not (lol), Well, here it is guys, what we’ve all been waiting for has finally come to reality. It took Empire Ears years of R&D since Project Odin was mentioned. I have to give the team the utmost respect for not giving up on the project. It must have been quite a hard fought battle to bring forth the almighty Odin. We also have to consider that the team was able to price the Odin just under the previous flagship, the Wraith.
With the long development and the price, does the Odin live up to the hype? Read on to find out!

Design & Fit

The Odin comes with a newly designed faceplate dubbed “Bifröst” (A little shameless comment here, but I correctly guessed that’s what they were gonna call it when I saw the design lol).
The Bifröst is also known as the Rainbow Bridge in Norse mythology, which is honestly fitting for the Odin. On the right earpiece, we have the usual gold Empire Ears winged logo. While on the left earpiece, we have the fitting Valknut symbol a.k.a. Odin’s symbol. The Odin and the Hero are actually the first EE IEMs to adopt a nameplate and a symbol on the faceplate aside from the usual winged logo. A nice touch in my records! Kudos to the design team as the new faceplate on the Odin is just absolutely astonishing to look at! The way it reacts to light is just such eye candy.
As for the fit, I found it a tad bit smaller than the Wraith. This might be good news to those who are thinking of getting a custom version of the IEM, and while the Odin were designed to be universals, Jack mentioned that they were looking into making customs as well. Will they actually do it? That’s something we have to see in the future. As with my comments about fit on the Hero, it’s the same with the Odin. It’s noticeably THICCER (:wink:) than the Hero but still manageable. Again, to my ears, they fit like they were made for me. So in that regard, I truly am blessed, and I can’t say that enough.

OdinFit copy.jpg

Sound

Okay, so they look beautiful, but do they sound as good as they look? Well, ladies and gentlemen, THEY DO!
No surprises here. The team took their time to perfect the sound of the Odin, to the point of actually going with a different cable maker to produce the Odin’s cable called “Stormbreaker”.
Stormbreaker is one of Thor’s weapons and one of its greatest assets is its ability to summon the Bifröst. Empire Ears is truly out here telling the full Norse mythology in one IEM. (I also wanna mention that the cable also features a Valknut symbol as a Y splitter)
Back to choosing the cable, the team went through a pile of different cables from different makers just to see which one would actually pair up well with our lord Odin.

I mean, just look at this madness that Jack shared of their process of finding the best cable!

Polish_20200803_164305303.jpg

The sound coming out from the Odin left me speechless. I’ve never heard such an IEM that covered every aspect that I like about music. The tonality of the Odin is SOLID and I can’t find any faults with its tuning (This is in accordance to my preferences, so what sounds “perfect” for me might not be your flavour of boba). The Odin is created to be a one all be all TOTL flagship meant to take on everything you throw at it and with authority at that. I would describe the Odin as a more “pleasing” and an all rounder version of the Sony IER-Z1R. As much as I hate to say it, the Odin matched the Z1R’s bass response and added a bit more warmth to the mid-bass. But man, that sub-bass rumble is as organic as the Z1R. I believe having the new and larger dual W9+ Dynamic Driver subwoofers each work separately for sub-bass and mid-bass improved the overall bass control of the Odin instead of the two working in unison for the full bass range as with the Legend X (correct me if I’m wrong here). Having heard the Odin would have dual W9 drivers, I was honestly a little sceptical as I was afraid it would just be like the Legend X, but boy was I wrong. I am now a believer of dual DDs for delivering great controlled bass. But hey, you still gotta give some props to Sony for choosing to use a single LARGE 12mm driver for the bass though (A little smaller than their previous Hybrids but still huge in comparison). It’s still the best bass I’ve heard in an IEM and now it’s joined by the Odin at the top of Asgard.

So moving on to the mids, while the Hero took its mids from the more mid-forward tonality of the Wraith, the Odin incorporates the excellent midrange tonality of the Legend X with even more detail and resolution. Using 5 BA drivers solely for the midrange really gives the Odin much more resolving prowess. Throw any instrument that falls in that midrange frequency to the Odin and it’ll throw it back to you with heft and shock like Thor throwing Mjölnir your way. (Just not as deadly, of course lol)
Vocals take advantage of this as well! This is also where I say that the Odin is more of an all rounder version of the Z1R, The Z1R suffers a bit in the lower midrange as male vocals lose quite a bit of body, and while it excels with female vocals by giving them a more airy rendering, this type of tonality also makes them sound a few rows farther away in the stage. On the other hand, the Odin adapts more to the recording placement of the vocals. If the vocals were intended to be more intimate, the Odin follows. Likewise, if the vocals were a bit more further back, the Odin makes it as such. This was very impressive. Since I listen to a lot of K-Pop where there are multiple members in a group, there are a lot of times the members would be ad-libbing and harmonizing with each other, and the Odin faithfully places each of their voices with pinpoint accuracy. (All the tracks I’ve listened to throughout my listening session are placed at the end of the post)

Now we’re finally reaching the end of my impressions of the Odin, it’s gotten quite a lot longer than I expected. But then again, I’ve spent most of my time listening to the Odin so it’s not really that surprising. Even though I knew that Empire Ears were developing the Odin with the purpose of showcasing their electrostat tech for the highs, I still had a bit of skepticism about their performance. So I threw in the idea of them using a DD driver for the treble a la IER-Z1R since I absolutely love the treble energy of the Sonys. But Empire Ears chose to stick with their guns and give the Odin 4 electrostatic drivers similar to the Wraith. But this time, they’re only using a single EIVEC transformer to unite and power the quad electrostats within the Odin, making the Odin much less of a source dependent IEM unlike the Wraith that needed more power with its dual EIVEC transformers. In return, the Odin gives a pleasant and more present treble tuning. Even with the most treble intensive songs I threw at it, it never became peaky or shouty. It just delivered brilliant detail and shimmer. I feel like this was how the Wraith should have sounded but because of its power hungry nature in the treble section, the highs became muted. Now, I’m all in with the EST for treble crowd. Going back again to my comment about the Odin being an all-rounder version of the Z1R, it’s in the treble as well. The Z1R’s treble could be a little too energetic at times and this makes it more of an attention grabber type of IEM and can be tiring for some.

Conclusion

All hail Odin! All hail Odin! All hail Odin! Oh I soooo want the Odin… As you may have noticed if it wasn’t obvious already, I have mentioned the Sony IER-Z1R a LOT in this impression. I highly regard the Z1R as the best IEM I have heard for my preferences, and having the Odin come at me makes me really want them, even with my overly obvious bias of the Z1R and being a self-branded Sony fanboy as I am. That says something about the Odin. I am not simply impressed but I am truly enamored by the Odin. I honestly wish I could afford the Odin right now. But being just a warehouse worker at the moment, Asgard is too far away for me to reach.
(But hey, my birthday is coming up in September...So guys, I’m open to gifts! Just kidding! Or am I? #sponsorthisbrokeaudiophile #iamdesperate)

Would I recommend the Odin? Even at its price, yes absolutely! It’s a work of MARVEL (see what I did there?:smile:)
As long as you can afford it, go for it! Make me completely jealous and cry in the corner.
To the people that liked the Z1R but was put off by the slightly recessed lower mids, energetic treble, and the painful fit, look no more than the Odin as it pretty much corrects all of those aspects. And again if you guys actually do buy it, just remember that I am in the corner crying and wishes for one too, so please feel pity and gift me one… (*sobs in sorrow*)

A huge thanks to Charles of Headfoneshop for letting me have more than 3 hours of listening time with the Hero and Odin! If any of you are from the Greater Toronto Area or are visiting, make sure to stop by the shop and let Charles feel appreciated! He’s been there at the start of my journey and without him, I probably wouldn’t be broke...I kid. Charles, I love you man!

And to Empire Ears, you guys are just miracle workers! The Odin is without a doubt a god-tier IEM worthy of its name!

Note to self: Never try an IEM you’ve been excited before (*cough Noble Audio Sultan *cough) right after the Odin.
_CCZ9291.jpg




Sources

_CCZ9310.jpg

Onkyo DP-X1 and Sony WM1A (WM1A/Z++ mod)


Tracks

Evening Calm, Somewhere, Fireworks by Yorushika

TRANSlated by Survive Said The Prophet

Grand Escape by RADWIMPS feat. Toko Miura

Heartache by ONE OK ROCK

Lucky Mother by JYOCHO

Sobakasu by JUDY AND MARY

Zero Gravity (Disco Fries Remix) by Nulbarich

Curiosity by LOONA

Harmonia from the Anthem of the Heart OST

Alaska by Maggie Rogers

Hakujitsu by King Gnu

SELFISH by Moonbyul (MAMAMOO) feat. Seulgi (Red Velvet)

AYAYAYA by IZ*ONE

Hiraite Sanze by Akiko Shikata

Seattle Alone by BOL4

POP/STARS by KDA

Wherever You Are, Wherever You May Be from the Violet Evergarden OST

Dance Tonight by Pyotr (Vo. J R Price)

Rise Above by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk] feat. Yosh

Watashi by iri

Chronicle by onoken feat. Chata(茶太)​
 
Last edited:
Aug 18, 2020 at 4:50 AM Post #23,657 of 27,339

riverground

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 22, 2015
Posts
690
Likes
1,369
Location
Toronto, ON
Drop the hammer. I need some reading material before bed
Took a bit longer as my formatting wasn't copied when I pasted my post from Google Docs onto here. I hope you find it an entertaining read.
 
Aug 18, 2020 at 4:58 AM Post #23,658 of 27,339

mvvRAZ

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
May 10, 2019
Posts
4,131
Likes
6,492
Location
IEM desert (EU)
Empire Ears Hero & Odin Impressions


I usually start with introducing the brand in the first part of my reviews and impressions, but I feel like Empire Ears don’t need an introduction. They’ve been killing it for the past few years, giving us hit after hit. They have the most expansive line-up of products catering to different types of audiophiles and performers. Today, we’re going to take a listen to their newest releases from their “budget” but flagship level of sound Hero, and their new TOTL flagship, the Odin. (I’ll try to keep this short as I only had a little over 3 hours of listening session for both of the IEMs)


Hero
(Bēowulf)


_CCZ9297.jpg

Let’s start with the Hero. No one really saw this one coming from EE, since everyone was so hyped around the release of the Odin. But approximately a week before the announcement of the Odin, @Jack Vang surprised everyone with an announcement of a new IEM that will be released alongside the Odin dubbed as a “baby” Odin of some sorts. People got really excited knowing this would be a more budget friendly option to the ever skyrocketing prices of high-end IEMs nowadays.

Design & Fit

First, let’s tackle the design of the Hero. The hero comes in with a more monotone black and white swirl faceplate reminiscent of their “Black Tie Swirl” premium faceplate option for their custom IEMs with a black winged EE logo on the right piece, and a black Hero nameplate on the left.
When the first photos of the Hero emerged, people started comparing it to the Noble Audio Khan’s faceplate design. I can see where they were coming from, but in person, it’s completely different. The Khan has more of a matte metallic sheen, while the Hero is a glossy liquid swirl.
The Hero is actually quite a bit smaller or almost the same size as the Valkyrie. A little disclaimer here, but I feel like I am absolutely blessed with my ear structure as almost every universal IEM I’ve tried fit me like a custom (that includes the overly large universal JH Audio Layla ver 1, and the “correct” but still unorthodox shaped Sony IER-Z1R). Having said that, the Hero fits flush on my ears just like with the Valkyries.

HeroFit.jpg
I can also confidently say that Empire Ears is the current master of universal IEM comfort and fit. Based on my previous experience, I used to think FitEar had the most comfortable universals. However, EE really took it up a notch. I must also mention driver flex as it is very apparent, both on the Hero and the Odin. This has been something I’ve noticed with Empire Ears IEMs though, even the DUNU Luna I reviewed a few months back had driver flex. Driver flex typically occurs when the IEM is being inserted into your ear. The sudden flow of air builds pressure and produces a clicking sound. Not that it’s a big deal breaker though, as it doesn’t seem to affect the sound at all.


Sound

The Hero’s overall tuning is quite a bit more in the mid forward side of things, but that’s not to say that the bass and treble are nonexistent. In fact, I was so impressed by its performance that I couldn’t believe it’s priced on the “lower” side of the spectrum. To keep it short, let’s just say that the Empire Ears Team took what they have learned from making the Legend X, Valkyrie, and Wraith (Hold this thought later for the Odin as well) and incorporated that to the Hero. They took that fun and exciting bass response of the Valkyries, the Legend X’s resolving and detailed not in your face “Hey I’m here, listen to me and just me” highs, and finally the Wraith’s highly engaging mids -especially in the vocal side of things.
In terms of soundstage, because they’re more mid forward in tuning, things are a bit more intimate. It still is able to give you a wide stage but it’s not something over the top. Imaging on the Hero is also quite superb. Instrument placement is accurate, but again, because of the more intimate sound, it’s just not expansive enough for bigger recordings.


Conclusion

Overall, the Hero impressed me more than I expected. At this price range, it’ll eat up the Valkyrie’s spotlight and sales. It’s the easiest recommendation I have to give to anyone looking for an upgrade. For those who thought that the Valkyrie had too much of a hollowed out midrange, this is the IEM to get. And hey, they’re cheaper too! So it’s a Win/Win. But for the people that have bought the Valkyries, don’t feel bad about the purchase, as the Valkyries are still up there for their fist bumping and head bobbing sound. The Hero is just in a completely different category in tonality. It’s more for the people that want to have just one IEM that could handle everything they could throw at it without it being in the TOTL flagship pricing territory.




Odin
(The All-Father)


Finally, he’s here! The god of gods has arrived. Odin is finally among us mere mortals. We are now worthy to be in our lord’s presence!

_CCZ9288.jpg

Was that a little too much of an introduction? I think not (lol), Well, here it is guys, what we’ve all been waiting for has finally come to reality. It took Empire Ears years of R&D since Project Odin was mentioned. I have to give the team the utmost respect for not giving up on the project. It must have been quite a hard fought battle to bring forth the almighty Odin. We also have to consider that the team was able to price the Odin just under the previous flagship, the Wraith.
With the long development and the price, does the Odin live up to the hype? Read on to find out!

Design & Fit

The Odin comes with a newly designed faceplate dubbed “Bifröst” (A little shameless comment here, but I correctly guessed that’s what they were gonna call it when I saw the design lol).
The Bifröst is also known as the Rainbow Bridge in Norse mythology, which is honestly fitting for the Odin. On the right earpiece, we have the usual gold Empire Ears winged logo. While on the left earpiece, we have the fitting Valknut symbol a.k.a. Odin’s symbol. The Odin and the Hero are actually the first EE IEMs to adopt a nameplate and a symbol on the faceplate aside from the usual winged logo. A nice touch in my records! Kudos to the design team as the new faceplate on the Odin is just absolutely astonishing to look at! The way it reacts to light is just such eye candy.
As for the fit, I found it a tad bit smaller than the Wraith. This might be good news to those who are thinking of getting a custom version of the IEM, and while the Odin were designed to be universals, Jack mentioned that they were looking into making customs as well. Will they actually do it? That’s something we have to see in the future. As with my comments about fit on the Hero, it’s the same with the Odin. It’s noticeably THICCER (:wink:) than the Hero but still manageable. Again, to my ears, they fit like they were made for me. So in that regard, I truly am blessed, and I can’t say that enough.

OdinFit copy.jpg

Sound

Okay, so they look beautiful, but do they sound as good as they look? Well, ladies and gentlemen, THEY DO!
No surprises here. The team took their time to perfect the sound of the Odin, to the point of actually going with a different cable maker to produce the Odin’s cable called “Stormbreaker”.
Stormbreaker is one of Thor’s weapons and one of its greatest assets is its ability to summon the Bifröst. Empire Ears is truly out here telling the full Norse mythology in one IEM. (I also wanna mention that the cable also features a Valknut symbol as a Y splitter)
Back to choosing the cable, the team went through a pile of different cables from different makers just to see which one would actually pair up well with our lord Odin.

I mean, just look at this madness that Jack shared of their process of finding the best cable!

Polish_20200803_164305303.jpg

The sound coming out from the Odin left me speechless. I’ve never heard such an IEM that covered every aspect that I like about music. The tonality of the Odin is SOLID and I can’t find any faults with its tuning (This is in accordance to my preferences, so what sounds “perfect” for me might not be your flavour of boba). The Odin is created to be a one all be all TOTL flagship meant to take on everything you throw at it and with authority at that. I would describe the Odin as a more “pleasing” and an all rounder version of the Sony IER-Z1R. As much as I hate to say it, the Odin matched the Z1R’s bass response and added a bit more warmth to the mid-bass. But man, that sub-bass rumble is as organic as the Z1R. I believe having the new and larger dual W9+ Dynamic Driver subwoofers each work separately for sub-bass and mid-bass improved the overall bass control of the Odin instead of the two working in unison for the full bass range as with the Legend X (correct me if I’m wrong here). Having heard the Odin would have dual W9 drivers, I was honestly a little sceptical as I was afraid it would just be like the Legend X, but boy was I wrong. I am now a believer of dual DDs for delivering great controlled bass. But hey, you still gotta give some props to Sony for choosing to use a single LARGE 12mm driver for the bass though (A little smaller than their previous Hybrids but still huge in comparison). It’s still the best bass I’ve heard in an IEM and now it’s joined by the Odin at the top of Asgard.

So moving on to the mids, while the Hero took its mids from the more mid-forward tonality of the Wraith, the Odin incorporates the excellent midrange tonality of the Legend X with even more detail and resolution. Using 5 BA drivers solely for the midrange really gives the Odin much more resolving prowess. Throw any instrument that falls in that midrange frequency to the Odin and it’ll throw it back to you with heft and shock like Thor throwing Mjölnir your way. (Just not as deadly, of course lol)
Vocals take advantage of this as well! This is also where I say that the Odin is more of an all rounder version of the Z1R, The Z1R suffers a bit in the lower midrange as male vocals lose quite a bit of body, and while it excels with female vocals by giving them a more airy rendering, this type of tonality also makes them sound a few rows farther away in the stage. On the other hand, the Odin adapts more to the recording placement of the vocals. If the vocals were intended to be more intimate, the Odin follows. Likewise, if the vocals were a bit more further back, the Odin makes it as such. This was very impressive. Since I listen to a lot of K-Pop where there are multiple members in a group, there are a lot of times the members would be ad-libbing and harmonizing with each other, and the Odin faithfully places each of their voices with pinpoint accuracy. (All the tracks I’ve listened to throughout my listening session are placed at the end of the post)

Now we’re finally reaching the end of my impressions of the Odin, it’s gotten quite a lot longer than I expected. But then again, I’ve spent most of my time listening to the Odin so it’s not really that surprising. Even though I knew that Empire Ears were developing the Odin with the purpose of showcasing their electrostat tech for the highs, I still had a bit of skepticism about their performance. So I threw in the idea of them using a DD driver for the treble a la IER-Z1R since I absolutely love the treble energy of the Sonys. But Empire Ears chose to stick with their guns and give the Odin 4 electrostatic drivers similar to the Wraith. But this time, they’re only using a single EIVEC transformer to unite and power the quad electrostats within the Odin, making the Odin much less of a source dependent IEM unlike the Wraith that needed more power with its dual EIVEC transformers. In return, the Odin gives a pleasant and more present treble tuning. Even with the most treble intensive songs I threw at it, it never became peaky or shouty. It just delivered brilliant detail and shimmer. I feel like this was how the Wraith should have sounded but because of its power hungry nature in the treble section, the highs became muted. Now, I’m all in with the EST for treble crowd. Going back again to my comment about the Odin being an all-rounder version of the Z1R, it’s in the treble as well. The Z1R’s treble could be a little too energetic at times and this makes it more of an attention grabber type of IEM and can be tiring for some.

Conclusion

All hail Odin! All hail Odin! All hail Odin! Oh I soooo want the Odin… As you may have noticed if it wasn’t obvious already, I have mentioned the Sony IER-Z1R a LOT in this impression. I highly regard the Z1R as the best IEM I have heard for my preferences, and having the Odin come at me makes me really want them, even with my overly obvious bias of the Z1R and being a self-branded Sony fanboy as I am. That says something about the Odin. I am not simply impressed but I am truly enamored by the Odin. I honestly wish I could afford the Odin right now. But being just a warehouse worker at the moment, Asgard is too far away for me to reach.
(But hey, my birthday is coming up in September...So guys, I’m open to gifts! Just kidding! Or am I? #sponsorthisbrokeaudiophile #iamdesperate)

Would I recommend the Odin? Even at its price, yes absolutely! It’s a work of MARVEL (see what I did there?:smile:)
As long as you can afford it, go for it! Make me completely jealous and cry in the corner.
To the people that liked the Z1R but was put off by the slightly recessed lower mids, energetic treble, and the painful fit, look no more than the Odin as it pretty much corrects all of those aspects. And again if you guys actually do buy it, just remember that I am in the corner crying and wishes for one too, so please feel pity and gift me one… (*sobs in sorrow*)

A huge thanks to Charles of Headfoneshop for letting me have more than 3 hours of listening time with the Hero and Odin! If any of you are from the Greater Toronto Area or are visiting, make sure to stop by the shop and let Charles feel appreciated! He’s been there at the start of my journey and without him, I probably wouldn’t be broke...I kid. Charles, I love you man!

And to Empire Ears, you guys are just miracle workers! The Odin is without a doubt a god-tier IEM worthy of its name!

Note to self: Never try an IEM you’ve been excited before (*cough Noble Audio Sultan *cough) right after the Odin.
_CCZ9291.jpg




Sources

_CCZ9310.jpg
Onkyo DP-X1 and Sony WM1A (WM1A/Z++ mod)


Tracks

Evening Calm, Somewhere, Fireworks by Yorushika

TRANSlated by Survive Said The Prophet

Grand Escape by RADWIMPS feat. Toko Miura

Heartache by ONE OK ROCK

Lucky Mother by JYOCHO

Sobakasu by JUDY AND MARY

Zero Gravity (Disco Fries Remix) by Nulbarich

Curiosity by LOONA

Harmonia from the Anthem of the Heart OST

Alaska by Maggie Rogers

Hakujitsu by King Gnu

SELFISH by Moonbyul (MAMAMOO) feat. Seulgi (Red Velvet)

AYAYAYA by IZ*ONE

Hiraite Sanze by Akiko Shikata

Seattle Alone by BOL4

POP/STARS by KDA

Wherever You Are, Wherever You May Be from the Violet Evergarden OST

Dance Tonight by Pyotr (Vo. J R Price)

Rise Above by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk] feat. Yosh

Watashi by iri

Chronicle by onoken feat. Chata(茶太)​
Dope review dude, you should post it as an "official" review on the Odin's item page
 
Aug 18, 2020 at 5:04 AM Post #23,660 of 27,339

riverground

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Dope review dude, you should post it as an "official" review on the Odin's item page
Do you think it's good enough to go on there? Lol I still feel like it needs to be a bit more detailed. I could probably put it as my initial impressions and post another one when I get a chance to actually bring one home for a review. I feel like doing a video review as well.
 
Aug 18, 2020 at 5:06 AM Post #23,661 of 27,339

riverground

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Nice review man. Gonna plan to hit up Headfoneshop asap.
Thanks man! Let me know when you go lol
though I'm only available on the weekends because I work weeknights :sob:
 
Aug 18, 2020 at 5:27 AM Post #23,662 of 27,339

tommir

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Empire Ears Hero & Odin Impressions


I usually start with introducing the brand in the first part of my reviews and impressions, but I feel like Empire Ears don’t need an introduction. They’ve been killing it for the past few years, giving us hit after hit. They have the most expansive line-up of products catering to different types of audiophiles and performers. Today, we’re going to take a listen to their newest releases from their “budget” but flagship level of sound Hero, and their new TOTL flagship, the Odin. (I’ll try to keep this short as I only had a little over 3 hours of listening session for both of the IEMs)


Hero
(Bēowulf)


_CCZ9297.jpg

Let’s start with the Hero. No one really saw this one coming from EE, since everyone was so hyped around the release of the Odin. But approximately a week before the announcement of the Odin, @Jack Vang surprised everyone with an announcement of a new IEM that will be released alongside the Odin dubbed as a “baby” Odin of some sorts. People got really excited knowing this would be a more budget friendly option to the ever skyrocketing prices of high-end IEMs nowadays.

Design & Fit

First, let’s tackle the design of the Hero. The hero comes in with a more monotone black and white swirl faceplate reminiscent of their “Black Tie Swirl” premium faceplate option for their custom IEMs with a black winged EE logo on the right piece, and a black Hero nameplate on the left.
When the first photos of the Hero emerged, people started comparing it to the Noble Audio Khan’s faceplate design. I can see where they were coming from, but in person, it’s completely different. The Khan has more of a matte metallic sheen, while the Hero is a glossy liquid swirl.
The Hero is actually quite a bit smaller or almost the same size as the Valkyrie. A little disclaimer here, but I feel like I am absolutely blessed with my ear structure as almost every universal IEM I’ve tried fit me like a custom (that includes the overly large universal JH Audio Layla ver 1, and the “correct” but still unorthodox shaped Sony IER-Z1R). Having said that, the Hero fits flush on my ears just like with the Valkyries.

HeroFit.jpg
I can also confidently say that Empire Ears is the current master of universal IEM comfort and fit. Based on my previous experience, I used to think FitEar had the most comfortable universals. However, EE really took it up a notch. I must also mention driver flex as it is very apparent, both on the Hero and the Odin. This has been something I’ve noticed with Empire Ears IEMs though, even the DUNU Luna I reviewed a few months back had driver flex. Driver flex typically occurs when the IEM is being inserted into your ear. The sudden flow of air builds pressure and produces a clicking sound. Not that it’s a big deal breaker though, as it doesn’t seem to affect the sound at all.


Sound

The Hero’s overall tuning is quite a bit more in the mid forward side of things, but that’s not to say that the bass and treble are nonexistent. In fact, I was so impressed by its performance that I couldn’t believe it’s priced on the “lower” side of the spectrum. To keep it short, let’s just say that the Empire Ears Team took what they have learned from making the Legend X, Valkyrie, and Wraith (Hold this thought later for the Odin as well) and incorporated that to the Hero. They took that fun and exciting bass response of the Valkyries, the Legend X’s resolving and detailed not in your face “Hey I’m here, listen to me and just me” highs, and finally the Wraith’s highly engaging mids -especially in the vocal side of things.
In terms of soundstage, because they’re more mid forward in tuning, things are a bit more intimate. It still is able to give you a wide stage but it’s not something over the top. Imaging on the Hero is also quite superb. Instrument placement is accurate, but again, because of the more intimate sound, it’s just not expansive enough for bigger recordings.


Conclusion

Overall, the Hero impressed me more than I expected. At this price range, it’ll eat up the Valkyrie’s spotlight and sales. It’s the easiest recommendation I have to give to anyone looking for an upgrade. For those who thought that the Valkyrie had too much of a hollowed out midrange, this is the IEM to get. And hey, they’re cheaper too! So it’s a Win/Win. But for the people that have bought the Valkyries, don’t feel bad about the purchase, as the Valkyries are still up there for their fist bumping and head bobbing sound. The Hero is just in a completely different category in tonality. It’s more for the people that want to have just one IEM that could handle everything they could throw at it without it being in the TOTL flagship pricing territory.




Odin
(The All-Father)


Finally, he’s here! The god of gods has arrived. Odin is finally among us mere mortals. We are now worthy to be in our lord’s presence!

_CCZ9288.jpg

Was that a little too much of an introduction? I think not (lol), Well, here it is guys, what we’ve all been waiting for has finally come to reality. It took Empire Ears years of R&D since Project Odin was mentioned. I have to give the team the utmost respect for not giving up on the project. It must have been quite a hard fought battle to bring forth the almighty Odin. We also have to consider that the team was able to price the Odin just under the previous flagship, the Wraith.
With the long development and the price, does the Odin live up to the hype? Read on to find out!

Design & Fit

The Odin comes with a newly designed faceplate dubbed “Bifröst” (A little shameless comment here, but I correctly guessed that’s what they were gonna call it when I saw the design lol).
The Bifröst is also known as the Rainbow Bridge in Norse mythology, which is honestly fitting for the Odin. On the right earpiece, we have the usual gold Empire Ears winged logo. While on the left earpiece, we have the fitting Valknut symbol a.k.a. Odin’s symbol. The Odin and the Hero are actually the first EE IEMs to adopt a nameplate and a symbol on the faceplate aside from the usual winged logo. A nice touch in my records! Kudos to the design team as the new faceplate on the Odin is just absolutely astonishing to look at! The way it reacts to light is just such eye candy.
As for the fit, I found it a tad bit smaller than the Wraith. This might be good news to those who are thinking of getting a custom version of the IEM, and while the Odin were designed to be universals, Jack mentioned that they were looking into making customs as well. Will they actually do it? That’s something we have to see in the future. As with my comments about fit on the Hero, it’s the same with the Odin. It’s noticeably THICCER (:wink:) than the Hero but still manageable. Again, to my ears, they fit like they were made for me. So in that regard, I truly am blessed, and I can’t say that enough.

OdinFit copy.jpg

Sound

Okay, so they look beautiful, but do they sound as good as they look? Well, ladies and gentlemen, THEY DO!
No surprises here. The team took their time to perfect the sound of the Odin, to the point of actually going with a different cable maker to produce the Odin’s cable called “Stormbreaker”.
Stormbreaker is one of Thor’s weapons and one of its greatest assets is its ability to summon the Bifröst. Empire Ears is truly out here telling the full Norse mythology in one IEM. (I also wanna mention that the cable also features a Valknut symbol as a Y splitter)
Back to choosing the cable, the team went through a pile of different cables from different makers just to see which one would actually pair up well with our lord Odin.

I mean, just look at this madness that Jack shared of their process of finding the best cable!

Polish_20200803_164305303.jpg

The sound coming out from the Odin left me speechless. I’ve never heard such an IEM that covered every aspect that I like about music. The tonality of the Odin is SOLID and I can’t find any faults with its tuning (This is in accordance to my preferences, so what sounds “perfect” for me might not be your flavour of boba). The Odin is created to be a one all be all TOTL flagship meant to take on everything you throw at it and with authority at that. I would describe the Odin as a more “pleasing” and an all rounder version of the Sony IER-Z1R. As much as I hate to say it, the Odin matched the Z1R’s bass response and added a bit more warmth to the mid-bass. But man, that sub-bass rumble is as organic as the Z1R. I believe having the new and larger dual W9+ Dynamic Driver subwoofers each work separately for sub-bass and mid-bass improved the overall bass control of the Odin instead of the two working in unison for the full bass range as with the Legend X (correct me if I’m wrong here). Having heard the Odin would have dual W9 drivers, I was honestly a little sceptical as I was afraid it would just be like the Legend X, but boy was I wrong. I am now a believer of dual DDs for delivering great controlled bass. But hey, you still gotta give some props to Sony for choosing to use a single LARGE 12mm driver for the bass though (A little smaller than their previous Hybrids but still huge in comparison). It’s still the best bass I’ve heard in an IEM and now it’s joined by the Odin at the top of Asgard.

So moving on to the mids, while the Hero took its mids from the more mid-forward tonality of the Wraith, the Odin incorporates the excellent midrange tonality of the Legend X with even more detail and resolution. Using 5 BA drivers solely for the midrange really gives the Odin much more resolving prowess. Throw any instrument that falls in that midrange frequency to the Odin and it’ll throw it back to you with heft and shock like Thor throwing Mjölnir your way. (Just not as deadly, of course lol)
Vocals take advantage of this as well! This is also where I say that the Odin is more of an all rounder version of the Z1R, The Z1R suffers a bit in the lower midrange as male vocals lose quite a bit of body, and while it excels with female vocals by giving them a more airy rendering, this type of tonality also makes them sound a few rows farther away in the stage. On the other hand, the Odin adapts more to the recording placement of the vocals. If the vocals were intended to be more intimate, the Odin follows. Likewise, if the vocals were a bit more further back, the Odin makes it as such. This was very impressive. Since I listen to a lot of K-Pop where there are multiple members in a group, there are a lot of times the members would be ad-libbing and harmonizing with each other, and the Odin faithfully places each of their voices with pinpoint accuracy. (All the tracks I’ve listened to throughout my listening session are placed at the end of the post)

Now we’re finally reaching the end of my impressions of the Odin, it’s gotten quite a lot longer than I expected. But then again, I’ve spent most of my time listening to the Odin so it’s not really that surprising. Even though I knew that Empire Ears were developing the Odin with the purpose of showcasing their electrostat tech for the highs, I still had a bit of skepticism about their performance. So I threw in the idea of them using a DD driver for the treble a la IER-Z1R since I absolutely love the treble energy of the Sonys. But Empire Ears chose to stick with their guns and give the Odin 4 electrostatic drivers similar to the Wraith. But this time, they’re only using a single EIVEC transformer to unite and power the quad electrostats within the Odin, making the Odin much less of a source dependent IEM unlike the Wraith that needed more power with its dual EIVEC transformers. In return, the Odin gives a pleasant and more present treble tuning. Even with the most treble intensive songs I threw at it, it never became peaky or shouty. It just delivered brilliant detail and shimmer. I feel like this was how the Wraith should have sounded but because of its power hungry nature in the treble section, the highs became muted. Now, I’m all in with the EST for treble crowd. Going back again to my comment about the Odin being an all-rounder version of the Z1R, it’s in the treble as well. The Z1R’s treble could be a little too energetic at times and this makes it more of an attention grabber type of IEM and can be tiring for some.

Conclusion

All hail Odin! All hail Odin! All hail Odin! Oh I soooo want the Odin… As you may have noticed if it wasn’t obvious already, I have mentioned the Sony IER-Z1R a LOT in this impression. I highly regard the Z1R as the best IEM I have heard for my preferences, and having the Odin come at me makes me really want them, even with my overly obvious bias of the Z1R and being a self-branded Sony fanboy as I am. That says something about the Odin. I am not simply impressed but I am truly enamored by the Odin. I honestly wish I could afford the Odin right now. But being just a warehouse worker at the moment, Asgard is too far away for me to reach.
(But hey, my birthday is coming up in September...So guys, I’m open to gifts! Just kidding! Or am I? #sponsorthisbrokeaudiophile #iamdesperate)

Would I recommend the Odin? Even at its price, yes absolutely! It’s a work of MARVEL (see what I did there?:smile:)
As long as you can afford it, go for it! Make me completely jealous and cry in the corner.
To the people that liked the Z1R but was put off by the slightly recessed lower mids, energetic treble, and the painful fit, look no more than the Odin as it pretty much corrects all of those aspects. And again if you guys actually do buy it, just remember that I am in the corner crying and wishes for one too, so please feel pity and gift me one… (*sobs in sorrow*)

A huge thanks to Charles of Headfoneshop for letting me have more than 3 hours of listening time with the Hero and Odin! If any of you are from the Greater Toronto Area or are visiting, make sure to stop by the shop and let Charles feel appreciated! He’s been there at the start of my journey and without him, I probably wouldn’t be broke...I kid. Charles, I love you man!

And to Empire Ears, you guys are just miracle workers! The Odin is without a doubt a god-tier IEM worthy of its name!

Note to self: Never try an IEM you’ve been excited before (*cough Noble Audio Sultan *cough) right after the Odin.
_CCZ9291.jpg




Sources

_CCZ9310.jpg
Onkyo DP-X1 and Sony WM1A (WM1A/Z++ mod)


Tracks

Evening Calm, Somewhere, Fireworks by Yorushika

TRANSlated by Survive Said The Prophet

Grand Escape by RADWIMPS feat. Toko Miura

Heartache by ONE OK ROCK

Lucky Mother by JYOCHO

Sobakasu by JUDY AND MARY

Zero Gravity (Disco Fries Remix) by Nulbarich

Curiosity by LOONA

Harmonia from the Anthem of the Heart OST

Alaska by Maggie Rogers

Hakujitsu by King Gnu

SELFISH by Moonbyul (MAMAMOO) feat. Seulgi (Red Velvet)

AYAYAYA by IZ*ONE

Hiraite Sanze by Akiko Shikata

Seattle Alone by BOL4

POP/STARS by KDA

Wherever You Are, Wherever You May Be from the Violet Evergarden OST

Dance Tonight by Pyotr (Vo. J R Price)

Rise Above by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk] feat. Yosh

Watashi by iri

Chronicle by onoken feat. Chata(茶太)​

Great review! Finally someone wrote more about Hero.
 
Aug 18, 2020 at 5:39 AM Post #23,663 of 27,339

Damz87

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 28, 2019
Posts
1,784
Likes
5,245
Location
Australia
Empire Ears Hero & Odin Impressions


I usually start with introducing the brand in the first part of my reviews and impressions, but I feel like Empire Ears don’t need an introduction. They’ve been killing it for the past few years, giving us hit after hit. They have the most expansive line-up of products catering to different types of audiophiles and performers. Today, we’re going to take a listen to their newest releases from their “budget” but flagship level of sound Hero, and their new TOTL flagship, the Odin. (I’ll try to keep this short as I only had a little over 3 hours of listening session for both of the IEMs)


Hero
(Bēowulf)


_CCZ9297.jpg

Let’s start with the Hero. No one really saw this one coming from EE, since everyone was so hyped around the release of the Odin. But approximately a week before the announcement of the Odin, @Jack Vang surprised everyone with an announcement of a new IEM that will be released alongside the Odin dubbed as a “baby” Odin of some sorts. People got really excited knowing this would be a more budget friendly option to the ever skyrocketing prices of high-end IEMs nowadays.

Design & Fit

First, let’s tackle the design of the Hero. The hero comes in with a more monotone black and white swirl faceplate reminiscent of their “Black Tie Swirl” premium faceplate option for their custom IEMs with a black winged EE logo on the right piece, and a black Hero nameplate on the left.
When the first photos of the Hero emerged, people started comparing it to the Noble Audio Khan’s faceplate design. I can see where they were coming from, but in person, it’s completely different. The Khan has more of a matte metallic sheen, while the Hero is a glossy liquid swirl.
The Hero is actually quite a bit smaller or almost the same size as the Valkyrie. A little disclaimer here, but I feel like I am absolutely blessed with my ear structure as almost every universal IEM I’ve tried fit me like a custom (that includes the overly large universal JH Audio Layla ver 1, and the “correct” but still unorthodox shaped Sony IER-Z1R). Having said that, the Hero fits flush on my ears just like with the Valkyries.

HeroFit.jpg
I can also confidently say that Empire Ears is the current master of universal IEM comfort and fit. Based on my previous experience, I used to think FitEar had the most comfortable universals. However, EE really took it up a notch. I must also mention driver flex as it is very apparent, both on the Hero and the Odin. This has been something I’ve noticed with Empire Ears IEMs though, even the DUNU Luna I reviewed a few months back had driver flex. Driver flex typically occurs when the IEM is being inserted into your ear. The sudden flow of air builds pressure and produces a clicking sound. Not that it’s a big deal breaker though, as it doesn’t seem to affect the sound at all.


Sound

The Hero’s overall tuning is quite a bit more in the mid forward side of things, but that’s not to say that the bass and treble are nonexistent. In fact, I was so impressed by its performance that I couldn’t believe it’s priced on the “lower” side of the spectrum. To keep it short, let’s just say that the Empire Ears Team took what they have learned from making the Legend X, Valkyrie, and Wraith (Hold this thought later for the Odin as well) and incorporated that to the Hero. They took that fun and exciting bass response of the Valkyries, the Legend X’s resolving and detailed not in your face “Hey I’m here, listen to me and just me” highs, and finally the Wraith’s highly engaging mids -especially in the vocal side of things.
In terms of soundstage, because they’re more mid forward in tuning, things are a bit more intimate. It still is able to give you a wide stage but it’s not something over the top. Imaging on the Hero is also quite superb. Instrument placement is accurate, but again, because of the more intimate sound, it’s just not expansive enough for bigger recordings.


Conclusion

Overall, the Hero impressed me more than I expected. At this price range, it’ll eat up the Valkyrie’s spotlight and sales. It’s the easiest recommendation I have to give to anyone looking for an upgrade. For those who thought that the Valkyrie had too much of a hollowed out midrange, this is the IEM to get. And hey, they’re cheaper too! So it’s a Win/Win. But for the people that have bought the Valkyries, don’t feel bad about the purchase, as the Valkyries are still up there for their fist bumping and head bobbing sound. The Hero is just in a completely different category in tonality. It’s more for the people that want to have just one IEM that could handle everything they could throw at it without it being in the TOTL flagship pricing territory.




Odin
(The All-Father)


Finally, he’s here! The god of gods has arrived. Odin is finally among us mere mortals. We are now worthy to be in our lord’s presence!

_CCZ9288.jpg

Was that a little too much of an introduction? I think not (lol), Well, here it is guys, what we’ve all been waiting for has finally come to reality. It took Empire Ears years of R&D since Project Odin was mentioned. I have to give the team the utmost respect for not giving up on the project. It must have been quite a hard fought battle to bring forth the almighty Odin. We also have to consider that the team was able to price the Odin just under the previous flagship, the Wraith.
With the long development and the price, does the Odin live up to the hype? Read on to find out!

Design & Fit

The Odin comes with a newly designed faceplate dubbed “Bifröst” (A little shameless comment here, but I correctly guessed that’s what they were gonna call it when I saw the design lol).
The Bifröst is also known as the Rainbow Bridge in Norse mythology, which is honestly fitting for the Odin. On the right earpiece, we have the usual gold Empire Ears winged logo. While on the left earpiece, we have the fitting Valknut symbol a.k.a. Odin’s symbol. The Odin and the Hero are actually the first EE IEMs to adopt a nameplate and a symbol on the faceplate aside from the usual winged logo. A nice touch in my records! Kudos to the design team as the new faceplate on the Odin is just absolutely astonishing to look at! The way it reacts to light is just such eye candy.
As for the fit, I found it a tad bit smaller than the Wraith. This might be good news to those who are thinking of getting a custom version of the IEM, and while the Odin were designed to be universals, Jack mentioned that they were looking into making customs as well. Will they actually do it? That’s something we have to see in the future. As with my comments about fit on the Hero, it’s the same with the Odin. It’s noticeably THICCER (:wink:) than the Hero but still manageable. Again, to my ears, they fit like they were made for me. So in that regard, I truly am blessed, and I can’t say that enough.

OdinFit copy.jpg

Sound

Okay, so they look beautiful, but do they sound as good as they look? Well, ladies and gentlemen, THEY DO!
No surprises here. The team took their time to perfect the sound of the Odin, to the point of actually going with a different cable maker to produce the Odin’s cable called “Stormbreaker”.
Stormbreaker is one of Thor’s weapons and one of its greatest assets is its ability to summon the Bifröst. Empire Ears is truly out here telling the full Norse mythology in one IEM. (I also wanna mention that the cable also features a Valknut symbol as a Y splitter)
Back to choosing the cable, the team went through a pile of different cables from different makers just to see which one would actually pair up well with our lord Odin.

I mean, just look at this madness that Jack shared of their process of finding the best cable!

Polish_20200803_164305303.jpg

The sound coming out from the Odin left me speechless. I’ve never heard such an IEM that covered every aspect that I like about music. The tonality of the Odin is SOLID and I can’t find any faults with its tuning (This is in accordance to my preferences, so what sounds “perfect” for me might not be your flavour of boba). The Odin is created to be a one all be all TOTL flagship meant to take on everything you throw at it and with authority at that. I would describe the Odin as a more “pleasing” and an all rounder version of the Sony IER-Z1R. As much as I hate to say it, the Odin matched the Z1R’s bass response and added a bit more warmth to the mid-bass. But man, that sub-bass rumble is as organic as the Z1R. I believe having the new and larger dual W9+ Dynamic Driver subwoofers each work separately for sub-bass and mid-bass improved the overall bass control of the Odin instead of the two working in unison for the full bass range as with the Legend X (correct me if I’m wrong here). Having heard the Odin would have dual W9 drivers, I was honestly a little sceptical as I was afraid it would just be like the Legend X, but boy was I wrong. I am now a believer of dual DDs for delivering great controlled bass. But hey, you still gotta give some props to Sony for choosing to use a single LARGE 12mm driver for the bass though (A little smaller than their previous Hybrids but still huge in comparison). It’s still the best bass I’ve heard in an IEM and now it’s joined by the Odin at the top of Asgard.

So moving on to the mids, while the Hero took its mids from the more mid-forward tonality of the Wraith, the Odin incorporates the excellent midrange tonality of the Legend X with even more detail and resolution. Using 5 BA drivers solely for the midrange really gives the Odin much more resolving prowess. Throw any instrument that falls in that midrange frequency to the Odin and it’ll throw it back to you with heft and shock like Thor throwing Mjölnir your way. (Just not as deadly, of course lol)
Vocals take advantage of this as well! This is also where I say that the Odin is more of an all rounder version of the Z1R, The Z1R suffers a bit in the lower midrange as male vocals lose quite a bit of body, and while it excels with female vocals by giving them a more airy rendering, this type of tonality also makes them sound a few rows farther away in the stage. On the other hand, the Odin adapts more to the recording placement of the vocals. If the vocals were intended to be more intimate, the Odin follows. Likewise, if the vocals were a bit more further back, the Odin makes it as such. This was very impressive. Since I listen to a lot of K-Pop where there are multiple members in a group, there are a lot of times the members would be ad-libbing and harmonizing with each other, and the Odin faithfully places each of their voices with pinpoint accuracy. (All the tracks I’ve listened to throughout my listening session are placed at the end of the post)

Now we’re finally reaching the end of my impressions of the Odin, it’s gotten quite a lot longer than I expected. But then again, I’ve spent most of my time listening to the Odin so it’s not really that surprising. Even though I knew that Empire Ears were developing the Odin with the purpose of showcasing their electrostat tech for the highs, I still had a bit of skepticism about their performance. So I threw in the idea of them using a DD driver for the treble a la IER-Z1R since I absolutely love the treble energy of the Sonys. But Empire Ears chose to stick with their guns and give the Odin 4 electrostatic drivers similar to the Wraith. But this time, they’re only using a single EIVEC transformer to unite and power the quad electrostats within the Odin, making the Odin much less of a source dependent IEM unlike the Wraith that needed more power with its dual EIVEC transformers. In return, the Odin gives a pleasant and more present treble tuning. Even with the most treble intensive songs I threw at it, it never became peaky or shouty. It just delivered brilliant detail and shimmer. I feel like this was how the Wraith should have sounded but because of its power hungry nature in the treble section, the highs became muted. Now, I’m all in with the EST for treble crowd. Going back again to my comment about the Odin being an all-rounder version of the Z1R, it’s in the treble as well. The Z1R’s treble could be a little too energetic at times and this makes it more of an attention grabber type of IEM and can be tiring for some.

Conclusion

All hail Odin! All hail Odin! All hail Odin! Oh I soooo want the Odin… As you may have noticed if it wasn’t obvious already, I have mentioned the Sony IER-Z1R a LOT in this impression. I highly regard the Z1R as the best IEM I have heard for my preferences, and having the Odin come at me makes me really want them, even with my overly obvious bias of the Z1R and being a self-branded Sony fanboy as I am. That says something about the Odin. I am not simply impressed but I am truly enamored by the Odin. I honestly wish I could afford the Odin right now. But being just a warehouse worker at the moment, Asgard is too far away for me to reach.
(But hey, my birthday is coming up in September...So guys, I’m open to gifts! Just kidding! Or am I? #sponsorthisbrokeaudiophile #iamdesperate)

Would I recommend the Odin? Even at its price, yes absolutely! It’s a work of MARVEL (see what I did there?:smile:)
As long as you can afford it, go for it! Make me completely jealous and cry in the corner.
To the people that liked the Z1R but was put off by the slightly recessed lower mids, energetic treble, and the painful fit, look no more than the Odin as it pretty much corrects all of those aspects. And again if you guys actually do buy it, just remember that I am in the corner crying and wishes for one too, so please feel pity and gift me one… (*sobs in sorrow*)

A huge thanks to Charles of Headfoneshop for letting me have more than 3 hours of listening time with the Hero and Odin! If any of you are from the Greater Toronto Area or are visiting, make sure to stop by the shop and let Charles feel appreciated! He’s been there at the start of my journey and without him, I probably wouldn’t be broke...I kid. Charles, I love you man!

And to Empire Ears, you guys are just miracle workers! The Odin is without a doubt a god-tier IEM worthy of its name!

Note to self: Never try an IEM you’ve been excited before (*cough Noble Audio Sultan *cough) right after the Odin.
_CCZ9291.jpg




Sources

_CCZ9310.jpg
Onkyo DP-X1 and Sony WM1A (WM1A/Z++ mod)


Tracks

Evening Calm, Somewhere, Fireworks by Yorushika

TRANSlated by Survive Said The Prophet

Grand Escape by RADWIMPS feat. Toko Miura

Heartache by ONE OK ROCK

Lucky Mother by JYOCHO

Sobakasu by JUDY AND MARY

Zero Gravity (Disco Fries Remix) by Nulbarich

Curiosity by LOONA

Harmonia from the Anthem of the Heart OST

Alaska by Maggie Rogers

Hakujitsu by King Gnu

SELFISH by Moonbyul (MAMAMOO) feat. Seulgi (Red Velvet)

AYAYAYA by IZ*ONE

Hiraite Sanze by Akiko Shikata

Seattle Alone by BOL4

POP/STARS by KDA

Wherever You Are, Wherever You May Be from the Violet Evergarden OST

Dance Tonight by Pyotr (Vo. J R Price)

Rise Above by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk] feat. Yosh

Watashi by iri

Chronicle by onoken feat. Chata(茶太)​
Excellent review man! I hope we’ll get to read more of your reviews in the future :)
 
Aug 18, 2020 at 6:38 AM Post #23,665 of 27,339

Tristy

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Empire Ears Hero & Odin Impressions


I usually start with introducing the brand in the first part of my reviews and impressions, but I feel like Empire Ears don’t need an introduction. They’ve been killing it for the past few years, giving us hit after hit. They have the most expansive line-up of products catering to different types of audiophiles and performers. Today, we’re going to take a listen to their newest releases from their “budget” but flagship level of sound Hero, and their new TOTL flagship, the Odin. (I’ll try to keep this short as I only had a little over 3 hours of listening session for both of the IEMs)


Hero
(Bēowulf)


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Let’s start with the Hero. No one really saw this one coming from EE, since everyone was so hyped around the release of the Odin. But approximately a week before the announcement of the Odin, @Jack Vang surprised everyone with an announcement of a new IEM that will be released alongside the Odin dubbed as a “baby” Odin of some sorts. People got really excited knowing this would be a more budget friendly option to the ever skyrocketing prices of high-end IEMs nowadays.

Design & Fit

First, let’s tackle the design of the Hero. The hero comes in with a more monotone black and white swirl faceplate reminiscent of their “Black Tie Swirl” premium faceplate option for their custom IEMs with a black winged EE logo on the right piece, and a black Hero nameplate on the left.
When the first photos of the Hero emerged, people started comparing it to the Noble Audio Khan’s faceplate design. I can see where they were coming from, but in person, it’s completely different. The Khan has more of a matte metallic sheen, while the Hero is a glossy liquid swirl.
The Hero is actually quite a bit smaller or almost the same size as the Valkyrie. A little disclaimer here, but I feel like I am absolutely blessed with my ear structure as almost every universal IEM I’ve tried fit me like a custom (that includes the overly large universal JH Audio Layla ver 1, and the “correct” but still unorthodox shaped Sony IER-Z1R). Having said that, the Hero fits flush on my ears just like with the Valkyries.

HeroFit.jpg
I can also confidently say that Empire Ears is the current master of universal IEM comfort and fit. Based on my previous experience, I used to think FitEar had the most comfortable universals. However, EE really took it up a notch. I must also mention driver flex as it is very apparent, both on the Hero and the Odin. This has been something I’ve noticed with Empire Ears IEMs though, even the DUNU Luna I reviewed a few months back had driver flex. Driver flex typically occurs when the IEM is being inserted into your ear. The sudden flow of air builds pressure and produces a clicking sound. Not that it’s a big deal breaker though, as it doesn’t seem to affect the sound at all.


Sound

The Hero’s overall tuning is quite a bit more in the mid forward side of things, but that’s not to say that the bass and treble are nonexistent. In fact, I was so impressed by its performance that I couldn’t believe it’s priced on the “lower” side of the spectrum. To keep it short, let’s just say that the Empire Ears Team took what they have learned from making the Legend X, Valkyrie, and Wraith (Hold this thought later for the Odin as well) and incorporated that to the Hero. They took that fun and exciting bass response of the Valkyries, the Legend X’s resolving and detailed not in your face “Hey I’m here, listen to me and just me” highs, and finally the Wraith’s highly engaging mids -especially in the vocal side of things.
In terms of soundstage, because they’re more mid forward in tuning, things are a bit more intimate. It still is able to give you a wide stage but it’s not something over the top. Imaging on the Hero is also quite superb. Instrument placement is accurate, but again, because of the more intimate sound, it’s just not expansive enough for bigger recordings.


Conclusion

Overall, the Hero impressed me more than I expected. At this price range, it’ll eat up the Valkyrie’s spotlight and sales. It’s the easiest recommendation I have to give to anyone looking for an upgrade. For those who thought that the Valkyrie had too much of a hollowed out midrange, this is the IEM to get. And hey, they’re cheaper too! So it’s a Win/Win. But for the people that have bought the Valkyries, don’t feel bad about the purchase, as the Valkyries are still up there for their fist bumping and head bobbing sound. The Hero is just in a completely different category in tonality. It’s more for the people that want to have just one IEM that could handle everything they could throw at it without it being in the TOTL flagship pricing territory.




Odin
(The All-Father)


Finally, he’s here! The god of gods has arrived. Odin is finally among us mere mortals. We are now worthy to be in our lord’s presence!

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Was that a little too much of an introduction? I think not (lol), Well, here it is guys, what we’ve all been waiting for has finally come to reality. It took Empire Ears years of R&D since Project Odin was mentioned. I have to give the team the utmost respect for not giving up on the project. It must have been quite a hard fought battle to bring forth the almighty Odin. We also have to consider that the team was able to price the Odin just under the previous flagship, the Wraith.
With the long development and the price, does the Odin live up to the hype? Read on to find out!

Design & Fit

The Odin comes with a newly designed faceplate dubbed “Bifröst” (A little shameless comment here, but I correctly guessed that’s what they were gonna call it when I saw the design lol).
The Bifröst is also known as the Rainbow Bridge in Norse mythology, which is honestly fitting for the Odin. On the right earpiece, we have the usual gold Empire Ears winged logo. While on the left earpiece, we have the fitting Valknut symbol a.k.a. Odin’s symbol. The Odin and the Hero are actually the first EE IEMs to adopt a nameplate and a symbol on the faceplate aside from the usual winged logo. A nice touch in my records! Kudos to the design team as the new faceplate on the Odin is just absolutely astonishing to look at! The way it reacts to light is just such eye candy.
As for the fit, I found it a tad bit smaller than the Wraith. This might be good news to those who are thinking of getting a custom version of the IEM, and while the Odin were designed to be universals, Jack mentioned that they were looking into making customs as well. Will they actually do it? That’s something we have to see in the future. As with my comments about fit on the Hero, it’s the same with the Odin. It’s noticeably THICCER (:wink:) than the Hero but still manageable. Again, to my ears, they fit like they were made for me. So in that regard, I truly am blessed, and I can’t say that enough.

OdinFit copy.jpg

Sound

Okay, so they look beautiful, but do they sound as good as they look? Well, ladies and gentlemen, THEY DO!
No surprises here. The team took their time to perfect the sound of the Odin, to the point of actually going with a different cable maker to produce the Odin’s cable called “Stormbreaker”.
Stormbreaker is one of Thor’s weapons and one of its greatest assets is its ability to summon the Bifröst. Empire Ears is truly out here telling the full Norse mythology in one IEM. (I also wanna mention that the cable also features a Valknut symbol as a Y splitter)
Back to choosing the cable, the team went through a pile of different cables from different makers just to see which one would actually pair up well with our lord Odin.

I mean, just look at this madness that Jack shared of their process of finding the best cable!

Polish_20200803_164305303.jpg

The sound coming out from the Odin left me speechless. I’ve never heard such an IEM that covered every aspect that I like about music. The tonality of the Odin is SOLID and I can’t find any faults with its tuning (This is in accordance to my preferences, so what sounds “perfect” for me might not be your flavour of boba). The Odin is created to be a one all be all TOTL flagship meant to take on everything you throw at it and with authority at that. I would describe the Odin as a more “pleasing” and an all rounder version of the Sony IER-Z1R. As much as I hate to say it, the Odin matched the Z1R’s bass response and added a bit more warmth to the mid-bass. But man, that sub-bass rumble is as organic as the Z1R. I believe having the new and larger dual W9+ Dynamic Driver subwoofers each work separately for sub-bass and mid-bass improved the overall bass control of the Odin instead of the two working in unison for the full bass range as with the Legend X (correct me if I’m wrong here). Having heard the Odin would have dual W9 drivers, I was honestly a little sceptical as I was afraid it would just be like the Legend X, but boy was I wrong. I am now a believer of dual DDs for delivering great controlled bass. But hey, you still gotta give some props to Sony for choosing to use a single LARGE 12mm driver for the bass though (A little smaller than their previous Hybrids but still huge in comparison). It’s still the best bass I’ve heard in an IEM and now it’s joined by the Odin at the top of Asgard.

So moving on to the mids, while the Hero took its mids from the more mid-forward tonality of the Wraith, the Odin incorporates the excellent midrange tonality of the Legend X with even more detail and resolution. Using 5 BA drivers solely for the midrange really gives the Odin much more resolving prowess. Throw any instrument that falls in that midrange frequency to the Odin and it’ll throw it back to you with heft and shock like Thor throwing Mjölnir your way. (Just not as deadly, of course lol)
Vocals take advantage of this as well! This is also where I say that the Odin is more of an all rounder version of the Z1R, The Z1R suffers a bit in the lower midrange as male vocals lose quite a bit of body, and while it excels with female vocals by giving them a more airy rendering, this type of tonality also makes them sound a few rows farther away in the stage. On the other hand, the Odin adapts more to the recording placement of the vocals. If the vocals were intended to be more intimate, the Odin follows. Likewise, if the vocals were a bit more further back, the Odin makes it as such. This was very impressive. Since I listen to a lot of K-Pop where there are multiple members in a group, there are a lot of times the members would be ad-libbing and harmonizing with each other, and the Odin faithfully places each of their voices with pinpoint accuracy. (All the tracks I’ve listened to throughout my listening session are placed at the end of the post)

Now we’re finally reaching the end of my impressions of the Odin, it’s gotten quite a lot longer than I expected. But then again, I’ve spent most of my time listening to the Odin so it’s not really that surprising. Even though I knew that Empire Ears were developing the Odin with the purpose of showcasing their electrostat tech for the highs, I still had a bit of skepticism about their performance. So I threw in the idea of them using a DD driver for the treble a la IER-Z1R since I absolutely love the treble energy of the Sonys. But Empire Ears chose to stick with their guns and give the Odin 4 electrostatic drivers similar to the Wraith. But this time, they’re only using a single EIVEC transformer to unite and power the quad electrostats within the Odin, making the Odin much less of a source dependent IEM unlike the Wraith that needed more power with its dual EIVEC transformers. In return, the Odin gives a pleasant and more present treble tuning. Even with the most treble intensive songs I threw at it, it never became peaky or shouty. It just delivered brilliant detail and shimmer. I feel like this was how the Wraith should have sounded but because of its power hungry nature in the treble section, the highs became muted. Now, I’m all in with the EST for treble crowd. Going back again to my comment about the Odin being an all-rounder version of the Z1R, it’s in the treble as well. The Z1R’s treble could be a little too energetic at times and this makes it more of an attention grabber type of IEM and can be tiring for some.

Conclusion

All hail Odin! All hail Odin! All hail Odin! Oh I soooo want the Odin… As you may have noticed if it wasn’t obvious already, I have mentioned the Sony IER-Z1R a LOT in this impression. I highly regard the Z1R as the best IEM I have heard for my preferences, and having the Odin come at me makes me really want them, even with my overly obvious bias of the Z1R and being a self-branded Sony fanboy as I am. That says something about the Odin. I am not simply impressed but I am truly enamored by the Odin. I honestly wish I could afford the Odin right now. But being just a warehouse worker at the moment, Asgard is too far away for me to reach.
(But hey, my birthday is coming up in September...So guys, I’m open to gifts! Just kidding! Or am I? #sponsorthisbrokeaudiophile #iamdesperate)

Would I recommend the Odin? Even at its price, yes absolutely! It’s a work of MARVEL (see what I did there?:smile:)
As long as you can afford it, go for it! Make me completely jealous and cry in the corner.
To the people that liked the Z1R but was put off by the slightly recessed lower mids, energetic treble, and the painful fit, look no more than the Odin as it pretty much corrects all of those aspects. And again if you guys actually do buy it, just remember that I am in the corner crying and wishes for one too, so please feel pity and gift me one… (*sobs in sorrow*)

A huge thanks to Charles of Headfoneshop for letting me have more than 3 hours of listening time with the Hero and Odin! If any of you are from the Greater Toronto Area or are visiting, make sure to stop by the shop and let Charles feel appreciated! He’s been there at the start of my journey and without him, I probably wouldn’t be broke...I kid. Charles, I love you man!

And to Empire Ears, you guys are just miracle workers! The Odin is without a doubt a god-tier IEM worthy of its name!

Note to self: Never try an IEM you’ve been excited before (*cough Noble Audio Sultan *cough) right after the Odin.
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Sources

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Onkyo DP-X1 and Sony WM1A (WM1A/Z++ mod)


Tracks

Evening Calm, Somewhere, Fireworks by Yorushika

TRANSlated by Survive Said The Prophet

Grand Escape by RADWIMPS feat. Toko Miura

Heartache by ONE OK ROCK

Lucky Mother by JYOCHO

Sobakasu by JUDY AND MARY

Zero Gravity (Disco Fries Remix) by Nulbarich

Curiosity by LOONA

Harmonia from the Anthem of the Heart OST

Alaska by Maggie Rogers

Hakujitsu by King Gnu

SELFISH by Moonbyul (MAMAMOO) feat. Seulgi (Red Velvet)

AYAYAYA by IZ*ONE

Hiraite Sanze by Akiko Shikata

Seattle Alone by BOL4

POP/STARS by KDA

Wherever You Are, Wherever You May Be from the Violet Evergarden OST

Dance Tonight by Pyotr (Vo. J R Price)

Rise Above by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk] feat. Yosh

Watashi by iri

Chronicle by onoken feat. Chata(茶太)​

How would you say that Hero compares to the Z1R?
 
Aug 18, 2020 at 6:48 AM Post #23,666 of 27,339

Tristy

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I can’t help but feel that the saying “jack of all trades, master of none” applies to Odin given the widespread praise given to it FR so far. Can someone who has had experience with it state which genres it really excels at?
 
Aug 18, 2020 at 7:03 AM Post #23,667 of 27,339

doctorjuggles

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Yeah I have thummim myself as well. You are spot on about the space thummim created, and compared to that EK does sound “boring” being more linear. It really depends on the genre and personal preference at the end of the day.

What’s more interesting to me is owning both adds more than 2x my happiness lol :wink: They definitely compliment each other well.
Agreed - they complement each other so well - it's crazy to have two such high-end IEMs at once, but I haven't even once thought of getting rid of either because they're so different.
 
Aug 18, 2020 at 7:33 AM Post #23,668 of 27,339

Deezel177

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I can’t help but feel that the saying “jack of all trades, master of none” applies to Odin given the widespread praise given to it FR so far. Can someone who has had experience with it state which genres it really excels at?

Sometimes, rather than a specific genre, an IEM's mastery could be tied to an aspect that applies to a wide variety of genres. From what I've read about the Odin so far, it fortes seem to be emotional engagement, focus and spatial resolution, which could make it work effectively in a number of musical scenarios.
 
Aug 18, 2020 at 7:38 AM Post #23,669 of 27,339

Tristy

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Sometimes, rather than a specific genre, an IEM's mastery could be tied to an aspect that applies to a wide variety of genres. From what I've read about the Odin so far, it fortes seem to be emotional engagement, focus and spatial resolution, which could make it work effectively in a number of musical scenarios.
This is a good response, thanks. Emotional engagement is definitely an attribute that appeals to many and myself.
 
Aug 18, 2020 at 9:01 AM Post #23,670 of 27,339

ctsooner22

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Sometimes, rather than a specific genre, an IEM's mastery could be tied to an aspect that applies to a wide variety of genres. From what I've read about the Odin so far, it fortes seem to be emotional engagement, focus and spatial resolution, which could make it work effectively in a number of musical scenarios.

this is what does it for me. I stop listening critically the second I get my thoughts on paper. It's just my favorite to just listen to. Any genre and those who know me, know that I can listen to Orchestral for 30 minutes and then switch to Joe Bonamassa and then to 80's rock then to jazz and then to a vocal. The Odin is just amazing.

We all listen differently. What I think folks who have interest should think about is 'how many of us are saying the SAME thing about the Odin (or others)'. We are all talking about the leading and trailing edges of notes. That's the emotion. The noise floor is sick low if you use the right electronics and that's where the micro and macro detail lives....that's more emotion. If you are looking at a few products to figure out which one to buy, just remember that if something is THIS close between them all, then it's not a huge deal. You won't even know or remember unless you are listening back and forth for the rest of the year, lol. What are the more important parts that you are sensitive to? Staging? Imaging? Leading and trailing edges? Correct midrange that isn't too forward or too recessed? Noise floor, hissing and the audiophile list goes on and on.

Comfort is also going to be KEY. If anything is harsh on top, I just can't listen to it. That's me. The Odin is hitting on the key issues. I like how Dean makes his compromises in his designs.
 

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