Empire Ears - Discussion & Impressions (Formerly EarWerkz)
Oct 17, 2023 at 12:16 AM Post #39,331 of 40,509
"...with standard editions following soon after."

You do realize you have quite a few pre-order customers that preferred to order the Standard Edition, even though the Launch Edition was available. It seems again Standard Edition pre-orders are being put on the back burner, with your statement that they'll follow "soon after"... again giving us an open-ended delivery date. We've already had these Standard Edition pre-orders in for 2 months. The least you could do is treat ALL pre-orders already in with the same urgency

I am fully cognizant of the outstanding pre-orders. While we're eager to speed things up, our dedication to delivering higher quality requires us to adopt a measured, staggered release approach. This strategy is about ensuring consistency. Once we've solidified this process, we'll accelerate our production and roll out larger batches including the Standard Editions.
 
Oct 17, 2023 at 12:24 AM Post #39,332 of 40,509
I've been a bit off the grid—apologies for that. Following my previous exchange, and the deep introspection that ensued, I wanted to personally reach out to provide a thorough update on RAVEN.

1. The Assembly Challenge:

Observation: The heart of our concern lies in units breaking during cable rolling. We devoted significant attention to this, and upon careful examination of 8 returned broken units, 2 were impacted by external physical damage. But the remaining 6 raised our eyebrows - they displayed improper assembly. Diving deeper, we found that the 2-pin socket and the HRC (resin layer under the metal faceplate) hadn't been prepped and installed with the precision you'd expect from us. This assembly lapse, in conjunction with an overly tenacious socket, created a situation that compromised our product.​

Resolution: Our course of action is multi-pronged but singular in its aim – quality:

Transparent Checks: We have decided to switch to a transparent resin for the HRC. This will allow us, at a glance, to confirm if both the 2-pin socket and the HRC has been positioned and installed correctly. It's a clear step (pun intended) towards proactive quality assurance.​
Rigorous Re-evaluation: Every unit we've produced so far will be dissected for a thorough examination to ensure alignment with our stringent specifications.​
Loosening the Socket: As highlighted in our previous correspondence, our socket's pull force stands at an approximate 10lbs with a factory tolerance of 0.75. We've now pioneered a dedicated tool designed to expand the gaps marginally to 0.78, thereby simplifying and refining the cable swapping procedure. It's crucial to note that we did explore alternative sockets. However, our lead engineer emphasized that any change would potentially compromise both the sound quality and design integrity. The current socket choice is not merely about robustness; its compact nature is a significant factor allowing us to maintain RAVEN's dimensions, especially given its already substantial size.​
Remedial Action for Sealed Units: The essence of our design is such that a correctly installed HRC results in a completely sealed and more structurally sound unit. The flip side? This sealed nature necessitates the destruction of the shell to access and assess the insides. While this might sound extreme, it is the only way to know if the unit has been installed properly and in light of recent PR we aren’t taking risks. As of now, our commitment to quality has meant the destruction of more RAVEN units than those identified as faulty. It's a testament to our 'quality over quantity' ethos.​

2. Handling and Physical Damage:


Observation: Among the returned units, two clearly displayed signs of external damage. Notably, one customer graciously admitted the mishandling. In the spirit of customer service and goodwill, we are committed to replacing these units despite the apparent cause.​
Resolution:
Introduction of a Disclaimer: While our IEMs are crafted with meticulous care to deliver an unparalleled auditory experience, their structural integrity — like all resin constructs — has its limits. We realize the absence of clear handling guidelines might have been an oversight on our part. Consequently, starting with the RAVEN, all resin IEMs by Empire Ears will come with a clear disclaimer: the warranty does not extend to cover damages resulting from drops, physical trauma, or undue force. These instruments of sound are precisely that – delicate instruments. They are not designed for rugged use, and care must be taken to ensure their longevity. We recommend storing them away from abrasive materials, sharp objects, and ensuring they're adequately protected when not in use. This step, we believe, will guide our customers in cherishing and maintaining their IEMs in the pristine condition they deserve.​

3. Finish and Polishing Concerns:

Observation: A subset of the launch editions of RAVEN presented large, notable polishing marks beneath the gold layer. These imperfections, though not in line with our commitment to quality, have shed light on a significant process challenge.​
Insight: Our ambition to integrate raised logos and mirror finishes was met with the understanding of their complexity. Such designs are rare not without reason: they demand labor-intensive efforts and are susceptible to high rates of failure. While I was actively involved in overseeing the CNC process, it was only after I left that we realized several units had been compromised during transportation to the coating facility. A last-minute decision by the polishers was made to rectify these imperfections with an expedited repolishing before the coating was applied. Regrettably, this swift move didn't produce the expected results.​

Resolution:

Engagement with a New Vendor: To address this, we have collaborated with a new vendor who possesses the expertise to curtail these minor imperfections. The preliminary samples we've received from them have been encouragingly superior. It's crucial to note that our metal plate, beyond its aesthetic appeal, serves a critical function as a resonance point for the W10 bone conductor. Consequently, while we aim for a high-quality finish, its primary purpose is sound optimization and not just mere ornamentation. In our pursuit of excellence, our updated polishing methodology minimizes imperfections. However, when subjected to intense LED light and viewed from a very specific angle, some delicate traces from the polishing process might become perceptible. It's crucial for our customers to recognize that these are not flaws, but very minuscule traces inherent in the rigorous polishing process. Exchanges will not be facilitated based on these minuscule marks unless they're conspicuously evident under normal viewing conditions. While we are passionate about achieving a pristine aesthetic, our primary dedication remains steadfast: delivering unrivaled sound quality.​


4. Further Insights:


Shell Thickness: Feedback regarding our shell thickness has not gone unnoticed. Upon finalizing post-processing, our shells measure at approximately 1mm, which is consistent with several industry leaders and .3mm thicker than our previous specification. Our dedication to R&D saw us exploring various shell thicknesses, even engaging with customers in Tokyo and NYC by presenting them as two distinct RAVEN prototypes—though the primary distinction was merely thickness. On revisiting this facet, our exhaustive tests revealed that a thicker shell not only enlarges the housing but also constricts the soundstage and introduces a darker tonal quality. In our commitment to preserve the signature RAVEN sound, we've decided to maintain our current shell thickness and DREVE resin material.​
A Note to Current RAVEN Owners: It's worth noting that fewer than 5% of our delivered units were identified as defective. Many customers have expressed contentment with their units. However, we understand that public discussions can foster concerns. For those delighted with their RAVENs, we encourage worry-free usage. Any potential assembly-related issues, now more readily identifiable, will be fully covered under our 2-year manufacturer’s warranty from the purchase date. If you haven't encountered any concerns with your unit, we'd advise against returning them, as you received a unit that aligns with our standards.
Delivery Expectations: We're on track to commence shipping by early November, aiming to have all launch editions dispatched by the end of November, though our target extends to early December. Prioritization will be given to pre-paid dealers and customers with defective units, with standard editions following soon after.​

The delay has been as challenging for us as it has been for you. While apologies can't undo the oversights, our promise to you is that we've delved deep into every concern, retaining the envisioned auditory experience while bolstering quality. Your trust and patience mean everything to us. As always, feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any further questions.

If the HRC is not installed correctly, does it create only a structural integrity issue, or does it also have impact on sound?

I mean, I have no problems with Raven and thanks for a great product. And it is sounding great. If it’s latter, how do I know of it’s sounding as intended though?
 
Oct 17, 2023 at 12:27 AM Post #39,333 of 40,509
I am fully cognizant of the outstanding pre-orders. While we're eager to speed things up, our dedication to delivering higher quality requires us to adopt a measured, staggered release approach. This strategy is about ensuring consistency. Once we've solidified this process, we'll accelerate our production and roll out larger batches including the Standard Editions.
Sorry, but I fail to see the difference. Glue on a black face plate rather than a gold one.
 
Oct 17, 2023 at 12:30 AM Post #39,334 of 40,509
If the HRC is not installed correctly, does it create only a structural integrity issue, or does it also have impact on sound?

I mean, I have no problems with Raven and thanks for a great product. And it is sounding great. If it’s latter, how do I know of it’s sounding as intended though?
I know I'm not Jack but It’s structural only.
 
Oct 17, 2023 at 12:31 AM Post #39,335 of 40,509
Thank you for coming back, Jack 👍🏼 I think you’re doing the right thing. It really sucks that mine broke but the few days I listened to them were amazing. You guys really did something special with the sound. 🎶👌

Thank you for your kind words and understanding. The anticipation and excitement from our global community is something I deeply cherish, and it's this very passion that compels me to scrutinize any product that doesn't meet our standards. With almost a decade in this industry, our guiding principle at Empire Ears has always been outstanding customer service, crafting unique sound experiences, and fostering open conversations with our clientele. Your feedback, whether it's praise or constructive criticism, has been pivotal in our growth and evolution.

If the HRC is not installed correctly, does it create only a structural integrity issue, or does it also have impact on sound?

I mean, I have no problems with Raven and thanks for a great product. And it is sounding great. If it’s latter, how do I know of it’s sounding as intended though?

The HRC, when not sealed correctly, primarily affects the structural integrity and doesn't impact the sound quality. For sound assurance, each unit undergoes multiple frequency response checks during its creation. However, it's worth noting that unforeseen issues can arise during transit or due to electronic inconsistencies. It would only be a matter of concern if you detect sound imbalances or any anomalies unrelated to your music, such as rattling.
 
Oct 17, 2023 at 12:32 AM Post #39,336 of 40,509
Thank you for coming back, Jack 👍🏼 I think you’re doing the right thing. It really sucks that mine broke but the few days I listened to them were amazing. You guys really did something special with the sound. 🎶👌

@Jack Vang,

This was a solid response and meets my expectations from a company selling a product of this caliber. Unfortunately, I sent mine back to headphone.com to wait and see what the final results were going to be. So for anyone who doesn't want to wait, I would grab the one I just returned today. I cable rolled it at least 20x with no issues, and they really are like having subwoofers on your ears.
 
Oct 17, 2023 at 5:32 AM Post #39,337 of 40,509
I've been a bit off the grid—apologies for that. Following my previous exchange, and the deep introspection that ensued, I wanted to personally reach out to provide a thorough update on RAVEN.

1. The Assembly Challenge:

Observation: The heart of our concern lies in units breaking during cable rolling. We devoted significant attention to this, and upon careful examination of 8 returned broken units, 2 were impacted by external physical damage. But the remaining 6 raised our eyebrows - they displayed improper assembly. Diving deeper, we found that the 2-pin socket and the HRC (resin layer under the metal faceplate) hadn't been prepped and installed with the precision you'd expect from us. This assembly lapse, in conjunction with an overly tenacious socket, created a situation that compromised our product.​

Resolution: Our course of action is multi-pronged but singular in its aim – quality:

Transparent Checks: We have decided to switch to a transparent resin for the HRC. This will allow us, at a glance, to confirm if both the 2-pin socket and the HRC has been positioned and installed correctly. It's a clear step (pun intended) towards proactive quality assurance.​
Rigorous Re-evaluation: Every unit we've produced so far will be dissected for a thorough examination to ensure alignment with our stringent specifications.​
Loosening the Socket: As highlighted in our previous correspondence, our socket's pull force stands at an approximate 10lbs with a factory tolerance of 0.75. We've now pioneered a dedicated tool designed to expand the gaps marginally to 0.78, thereby simplifying and refining the cable swapping procedure. It's crucial to note that we did explore alternative sockets. However, our lead engineer emphasized that any change would potentially compromise both the sound quality and design integrity. The current socket choice is not merely about robustness; its compact nature is a significant factor allowing us to maintain RAVEN's dimensions, especially given its already substantial size.​
Remedial Action for Sealed Units: The essence of our design is such that a correctly installed HRC results in a completely sealed and more structurally sound unit. The flip side? This sealed nature necessitates the destruction of the shell to access and assess the insides. While this might sound extreme, it is the only way to know if the unit has been installed properly and in light of recent PR we aren’t taking risks. As of now, our commitment to quality has meant the destruction of more RAVEN units than those identified as faulty. It's a testament to our 'quality over quantity' ethos.​

2. Handling and Physical Damage:


Observation: Among the returned units, two clearly displayed signs of external damage. Notably, one customer graciously admitted the mishandling. In the spirit of customer service and goodwill, we are committed to replacing these units despite the apparent cause.​
Resolution:
Introduction of a Disclaimer: While our IEMs are crafted with meticulous care to deliver an unparalleled auditory experience, their structural integrity — like all resin constructs — has its limits. We realize the absence of clear handling guidelines might have been an oversight on our part. Consequently, starting with the RAVEN, all resin IEMs by Empire Ears will come with a clear disclaimer: the warranty does not extend to cover damages resulting from drops, physical trauma, or undue force. These instruments of sound are precisely that – delicate instruments. They are not designed for rugged use, and care must be taken to ensure their longevity. We recommend storing them away from abrasive materials, sharp objects, and ensuring they're adequately protected when not in use. This step, we believe, will guide our customers in cherishing and maintaining their IEMs in the pristine condition they deserve.​

3. Finish and Polishing Concerns:

Observation: A subset of the launch editions of RAVEN presented large, notable polishing marks beneath the gold layer. These imperfections, though not in line with our commitment to quality, have shed light on a significant process challenge.​
Insight: Our ambition to integrate raised logos and mirror finishes was met with the understanding of their complexity. Such designs are rare not without reason: they demand labor-intensive efforts and are susceptible to high rates of failure. While I was actively involved in overseeing the CNC process, it was only after I left that we realized several units had been compromised during transportation to the coating facility. A last-minute decision by the polishers was made to rectify these imperfections with an expedited repolishing before the coating was applied. Regrettably, this swift move didn't produce the expected results.​

Resolution:

Engagement with a New Vendor: To address this, we have collaborated with a new vendor who possesses the expertise to curtail these minor imperfections. The preliminary samples we've received from them have been encouragingly superior. It's crucial to note that our metal plate, beyond its aesthetic appeal, serves a critical function as a resonance point for the W10 bone conductor. Consequently, while we aim for a high-quality finish, its primary purpose is sound optimization and not just mere ornamentation. In our pursuit of excellence, our updated polishing methodology minimizes imperfections. However, when subjected to intense LED light and viewed from a very specific angle, some delicate traces from the polishing process might become perceptible. It's crucial for our customers to recognize that these are not flaws, but very minuscule traces inherent in the rigorous polishing process. Exchanges will not be facilitated based on these minuscule marks unless they're conspicuously evident under normal viewing conditions. While we are passionate about achieving a pristine aesthetic, our primary dedication remains steadfast: delivering unrivaled sound quality.​


4. Further Insights:


Shell Thickness: Feedback regarding our shell thickness has not gone unnoticed. Upon finalizing post-processing, our shells measure at approximately 1mm, which is consistent with several industry leaders and .3mm thicker than our previous specification. Our dedication to R&D saw us exploring various shell thicknesses, even engaging with customers in Tokyo and NYC by presenting them as two distinct RAVEN prototypes—though the primary distinction was merely thickness. On revisiting this facet, our exhaustive tests revealed that a thicker shell not only enlarges the housing but also constricts the soundstage and introduces a darker tonal quality. In our commitment to preserve the signature RAVEN sound, we've decided to maintain our current shell thickness and DREVE resin material.​
A Note to Current RAVEN Owners: It's worth noting that fewer than 5% of our delivered units were identified as defective. Many customers have expressed contentment with their units. However, we understand that public discussions can foster concerns. For those delighted with their RAVENs, we encourage worry-free usage. Any potential assembly-related issues, now more readily identifiable, will be fully covered under our 2-year manufacturer’s warranty from the purchase date. If you haven't encountered any concerns with your unit, we'd advise against returning them, as you received a unit that aligns with our standards.
Delivery Expectations: We're on track to commence shipping by early November, aiming to have all launch editions dispatched by the end of November, though our target extends to early December. Prioritization will be given to pre-paid dealers and customers with defective units, with standard editions following soon after.​

The delay has been as challenging for us as it has been for you. While apologies can't undo the oversights, our promise to you is that we've delved deep into every concern, retaining the envisioned auditory experience while bolstering quality. Your trust and patience mean everything to us. As always, feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any further questions.
The news we’ve all been waiting for.
I’m a big fan of the EE sound. Of all the IEMs I have, Odyssey is my favourite.
Thanks for the update.

Will pre-order the Raven Standard (for a second time and I like black) once I get home from work.
 
Oct 17, 2023 at 6:41 AM Post #39,338 of 40,509
Hello, I own a pair of Empire ears Odyssey. Unfortunately the one on the right has been quieter and scratchy for a few days now. could she check the headphones? I rule out contamination because I clean the tubes with the appropriate tools. If you live in Germany, it is possible to have the headphones checked in Germany.
 
Oct 17, 2023 at 7:27 AM Post #39,339 of 40,509
I am fully cognizant of the outstanding pre-orders. While we're eager to speed things up, our dedication to delivering higher quality requires us to adopt a measured, staggered release approach. This strategy is about ensuring consistency. Once we've solidified this process, we'll accelerate our production and roll out larger batches including the Standard Editions.

@Jack Vang in general, that was an excellent update, but as someone in the standard edition fully paid category of customers, I have to say this response is disappointing.

Do you have 500 launch editions pre-paid at dealers worldwide?

If not, please consider getting counts from them of pre-paid units by order date and producing a mix of standard and launch units to be distributed and fulfilled by order date.

Alternatively I think a low marginal cost upgrade like a nicer cable would be a way to show appreciation for customers who parted with $3.6K back in Aug-Sept if you can’t handle the logistics of that.

Absent the above, I think your response is appropriate. You just have one angle you should think about a bit more in your solution.

My two cents anyway…
 
Oct 17, 2023 at 7:29 AM Post #39,340 of 40,509
I am fully cognizant of the outstanding pre-orders. While we're eager to speed things up, our dedication to delivering higher quality requires us to adopt a measured, staggered release approach. This strategy is about ensuring consistency. Once we've solidified this process, we'll accelerate our production and roll out larger batches including the Standard Editions.
I appreciate your quality assurance process. I've hammered away with your iems and never had any drivers go bad.
 
Oct 17, 2023 at 8:32 AM Post #39,341 of 40,509
@Jack Vang in general, that was an excellent update, but as someone in the standard edition fully paid category of customers, I have to say this response is disappointing.

Do you have 500 launch editions pre-paid at dealers worldwide?

If not, please consider getting counts from them of pre-paid units by order date and producing a mix of standard and launch units to be distributed and fulfilled by order date.

Alternatively I think a low marginal cost upgrade like a nicer cable would be a way to show appreciation for customers who parted with $3.6K back in Aug-Sept if you can’t handle the logistics of that.

Absent the above, I think your response is appropriate. You just have one angle you should think about a bit more in your solution.

My two cents anyway…
The cable that comes with it was used to tune Raven. Any change or “upgrade” as one could see it, could result in a different sound. This would then require all the units to be retuned, taking even longer. Dead serious.
 
Oct 17, 2023 at 8:39 AM Post #39,342 of 40,509
@Jack Vang in general, that was an excellent update, but as someone in the standard edition fully paid category of customers, I have to say this response is disappointing.

Do you have 500 launch editions pre-paid at dealers worldwide?

If not, please consider getting counts from them of pre-paid units by order date and producing a mix of standard and launch units to be distributed and fulfilled by order date.

Alternatively I think a low marginal cost upgrade like a nicer cable would be a way to show appreciation for customers who parted with $3.6K back in Aug-Sept if you can’t handle the logistics of that.

Absent the above, I think your response is appropriate. You just have one angle you should think about a bit more in your solution.

My two cents anyway…
Not that it is my business, but you do have the opportunity to cancel your pre-order, I would assume. I am just saying if I was concerned about my outlay and didn't want to wait or want the retailer to hold funds I would cancel and re-visit again when things clear. Many retailers don't charge your card until they ship your product. They show a pending transaction, maybe you could have a discussion with your retailer.
 
Oct 17, 2023 at 8:58 AM Post #39,343 of 40,509
I am fully cognizant of the outstanding pre-orders. While we're eager to speed things up, our dedication to delivering higher quality requires us to adopt a measured, staggered release approach. This strategy is about ensuring consistency. Once we've solidified this process, we'll accelerate our production and roll out larger batches including the Standard Editions.
I'm not asking you to speed up the process. I'm saying make the Launch and Standard editions side by side in equal numbers to start with. You have customers that ordered the Standard Edition before some of those that ordered the Launch Edition simply because they preferred the black faceplate. We've paid $4k to our retailer months ago, just like the Launch Edition customers have. At least recognize those customers are also valuable early supporters by giving equal weight to delivering their pre-orders in a timely fashion. We just prefer black rather than gold faceplates. Otherwise it's starting to feel like I won't see my pre-order delivered until 2024.
 
Oct 17, 2023 at 9:35 AM Post #39,344 of 40,509
The cable that comes with it was used to tune Raven. Any change or “upgrade” as one could see it, could result in a different sound. This would then require all the units to be retuned, taking even longer. Dead serious.

Not that it is my business, but you do have the opportunity to cancel your pre-order, I would assume. I am just saying if I was concerned about my outlay and didn't want to wait or want the retailer to hold funds I would cancel and re-visit again when things clear. Many retailers don't charge your card until they ship your product. They show a pending transaction, maybe you could have a discussion with your retailer.
Chill your F5 buttons, gents :)
 

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