Empire Ears - Discussion & Impressions (Formerly EarWerkz)
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ScottFree

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Not to open the proverbial "can of worms" on this topic again but does the Zeus-R benefit from extensive burn-in? Thoughts?

AFAIK BA drivers aren't susceptible to burn in.


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Tony1110

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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 

I tried the Cowon P1 a week or so ago and wasn't impressed at all. No better sounding than my Shanling M5. Couple of days later I saw the Plenue M on eBay and placed a speculative bid at a crazy low price and won. Listened for a couple of hours and again wasn't impressed. Then I remembered that everyone raves about the JetEffect so I played around with some of the preconfigured settings. Totally different DAP. Pretty amazing actually.
 
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Tony1110

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Andromeda? You mean the green gem from Campfire? I heard a lot of great things from that though never got a chance to try it since the only time I get to try the Campfire was the Lyra, which reminded me of a smoother Dita Answer to be honest. And it's a really great IEM for a dynamic driver.

The Savage 9 eh, I am curious how that sound but never got a chance with it lol.

Athena's bass isn't exactly basshead level, but I believe it could be EQ'd to preference if you desire since it's a very versatile IEM, of course, comparing to Apollo and Zeus its bass control is just a slightly bit less than those two. I personally find it powerful enough for all my music.

If you wanna know, I find myself headbanging almost involuntarily when listening it with my X1+Q1 combo while jamming away on Slipknot's music (and yes, some people in Starbucks thought I am on high while listening to the Athena but I regret NOTHING! :dt880smile: ). It really is a heck of a fun-soundng IEM, and that's from the universal demo. I imagine with a perfect custom fit it'll take the good things to sky high level.

Athena with a perfect custom fit is a thing of beauty :)
 
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Rin1990

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Athena with a perfect custom fit is a thing of beauty :)
 
One can only imagine. 
 
While Zeus is something of a true king-of-them-all IEM with all its glory, Athena remained my most favorited IEM in the Empire. Her sound is simply spell-bounding. 
 
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ejong7

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Not to open the proverbial "can of worms" on this topic again but does the Zeus-R benefit from extensive burn-in? Thoughts?

I wanted to see if that made a difference so I had notes from pre-burn in and post 300 hours. At least on my point, there was a slight change, subtle, I may even attribute it to being more and more comfortable with the fit. It does sound a little smoother though.
 
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twister6

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Not to open the proverbial "can of worms" on this topic again but does the Zeus-R benefit from extensive burn-in? Thoughts?

I wanted to see if that made a difference so I had notes from pre-burn in and post 300 hours. At least on my point, there was a slight change, subtle, I may even attribute it to being more and more comfortable with the fit. It does sound a little smoother though.
 
Absolutely, you can attribute this to brain burn in and adjustment to the fit, but there is also burn in of solder joints and miscellaneous crossover components.  True, BA drivers are not as susceptible to burn in like dynamic drivers, but if you examine the whole electric path of the signal from 2pin connector to the driver - you have wires soldered to a connector socket, to crossover components (and those component by itself), and to drivers.  Everything has some subtle settle in effect, nothing drastic.  I personally try to avoid the brain burn in by doing a short listening out of the box, and then setting it aside to burn in for 4-5 days standalone.  Makes for an interesting a/b comparison, though you have to rely on your memory (and notes) since you are not doing it exactly side by side, makes it harder to catch subtle differences.  Btw, just like yourself, I found sound to become a touch smoother after the burn in

 
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ejong7

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Absolutely, you can attribute this to brain burn in and adjustment to the fit, but there is also burn in of solder joints and miscellaneous crossover components.  True, BA drivers are not as susceptible to burn in like dynamic drivers, but if you examine the whole electric path of the signal from 2pin connector to the driver - you have wires soldered to a connector socket, to crossover components (and those component by itself), and to drivers.  Everything has some subtle settle in effect, nothing drastic.  I personally try to avoid the brain burn in by doing a short listening out of the box, and then setting it aside to burn in for 4-5 days standalone.  Makes for an interesting a/b comparison, though you have to rely on your memory (and notes) since you are not doing it exactly side by side, makes it harder to catch subtle differences.  Btw, just like yourself, I found sound to become a touch smoother after the burn in

To be honest with you, I haven't done too much critical listening after the burn in period because of my work with CanJam London and everything post it. But I can totally agree that BA drivers do have a slight burn in process, as evident with my other IEMs based on BA drivers. However, as this is my first ever pair of customs, the comfort level is just superb compared to universals, so it might have helped me enjoy the pair even more than the universal. I too always listen to it at the start briefly just to catch a hang of it, burn it in, then relisten. I'll try to determine the changes, but I will definitely not try to explain what exactly changed it lol cause some of it is just beyond me.
 
Oh yes. I still believe the Zeus-R is my favourite IEM till date, regardless of price. How it sounds so detailed yet smooth at the same time is just amazing. I begin to suspect that Jack has hypnotic tones playing out of the thing when we are listening to our music so that he can hypnotize us into loving them so much. Jokes.
 
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moedawg140

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Not to make this into a crazy debate:

Burn in is real. Just as twister6 explained, there are parts of the IEM (or headphone) that will change as electricity/power is applied to them. There are internal parts in BA drivers that move, this is a fact, so there has to be varying degrees of burn in, even if one can not actually hear a difference.

Not one manufacturer has told me explicitly that burn in is not real when I brought it up with them.

On topic about the Empire Ears lineup, it's great that there are so many choices that can float most any person's boat. The Zeus-Remastered is a thoroughly engaging sound signature, but so is the Cerebus, and any other model one chooses to be their next universal or custom in-ear.
 
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Rin1990

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Not to make this into a crazy debate:

Burn in is real. Just as @twister6 explained, there are parts of the IEM (or headphone) that will change as electricity/power is applied to them. There are internal parts in BA drivers that move, this is a fact, so there has to be varying degrees of burn in, even if one can not actually hear a difference.

Not one manufacturer has told me explicitly that burn in is not real when I brought it up with them.

On topic about the Empire Ears lineup, it's great that there are so many choices that can float most any person's boat. The Zeus-Remastered is a thoroughly engaging sound signature, but so is the Cerebus, and any other model one chooses to be their next universal or custom in-ear.
All of  this.
 
I am one of those that strongly believed in burn-in, and any IEM, dynamic, hybrid or BA, will have their sound change ever so subtly over time as they're plugged in with the player.
 
And while Zeus is the pinnacle of its own line up in all aspects, some would find preference over other models other than the flagship. Like me with the Athena. :D
 
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moedawg140

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All of  this.

I am one of those that strongly believed in burn-in, and any IEM, dynamic, hybrid or BA, will have their sound change ever so subtly over time as they're plugged in with the player.

And while Zeus is the pinnacle of its own line up in all aspects, some would find preference over other models other than the flagship. Like me with the Athena. :D

:beerchug:
 
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moedawg140

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Wow, the burn-in faith is strong in this group.....

Healthy dose of science is needed when discussing "burn-in" . Some people hear it, others don't. To my knowledge no one yet has shown evidence from an electrical physics perspective to suppose "burn in" is a viable thing.

Anyway, after a few chest pounding posts on burning I figure the other perspective could be chest pounded for a second :)
 
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Mimouille

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Not to make this into a crazy debate:

Burn in is real. Just as twister6 explained, there are parts of the IEM (or headphone) that will change as electricity/power is applied to them. There are internal parts in BA drivers that move, this is a fact, so there has to be varying degrees of burn in, even if one can not actually hear a difference.

Not one manufacturer has told me explicitly that burn in is not real when I brought it up with them.

On topic about the Empire Ears lineup, it's great that there are so many choices that can float most any person's boat. The Zeus-Remastered is a thoroughly engaging sound signature, but so is the Cerebus, and any other model one chooses to be their next universal or custom in-ear.
One very reputable manufacturer has explicitly told me it doesn't exist.
 
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