Empire Ears - Discussion & Impressions (Formerly EarWerkz)
Feb 18, 2018 at 11:55 PM Post #11,026 of 34,576

tim0chan

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Adel seems to hop on different companies and leech, they leave companies quick (or get booted off)

From 64 audio to Empire Ears and now inears.... It's only downhill after inears.

Because .. I just don't think it sounds good and because of that... Sales...
Have you ever tried the 64 lineup b4?
 
Feb 19, 2018 at 12:08 AM Post #11,027 of 34,576

Deezel177

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K, thx for continuing to voice your opinion ever so subtly

Have you ever tried the 64 lineup b4?

Can we please move on from @NaiveSound's ADEL comments, please? The man has voiced his opinions and any further attempts to refute them will just cause a stir. I'd much rather discuss the new line-ups.

By the way, if anyone has any questions regarding the new products - sound, especially - I'll be happy to answer them to the best of my abilities. Cheers! :)
 
Feb 19, 2018 at 12:24 AM Post #11,028 of 34,576

tim0chan

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Can we please move on from @NaiveSound's ADEL comments, please? The man has voiced his opinions and any further attempts to refute them will just cause a stir. I'd much rather discuss the new line-ups.

By the way, if anyone has any questions regarding the new products - sound, especially - I'll be happy to answer them to the best of my abilities. Cheers! :)
More in depth comparison between the nemesis and the vantage and the legend?
I can't seem to find the diff between the nemesis and the other 2
 
Feb 19, 2018 at 12:48 AM Post #11,029 of 34,576

SeeSax

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EE-5.png

Can I just say that @Jack Vang hair is on point here? Like really, on point.

:):):)

Okay carry on with the impressions.

-Collin-
 
Feb 19, 2018 at 12:51 AM Post #11,030 of 34,576

Deezel177

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More in depth comparison between the nemesis and the vantage and the legend?
I can't seem to find the diff between the nemesis and the other 2

As I outlined in the review, the Vantage and the Nemesis are different IEMs because of overall timbre. The latter is warmer and richer, while the latter prioritises clarity and articulation over all. Both the Vantage and the Nemesis have accentuated low-ends - as you might expect - but the Nemesis has the more physical, well-separated and clean bass - probably due to the extra synX cross-over paths. As a result, the Nemesis has better clarity down low, while the Vantage is slower, warmer and more atmospheric. Now, that's not to the Vantage's discredit; the bass was tuned that way to suit the IEM's overall warmer tone without over-accentuating the lower-midrange. Both IEMs have a neutral midrange presentation, but the Vantage endows notes with more body due to its warmer upper-bass. The Vantage and the Nemesis emphasise different peaks for clarity; the upper-midrange and and the lower-treble, respectively. As a result, the Vantage has grittier and airier feel to its treble notes, while the Nemesis is sharper, tizzy-er and less forgiving up-top. The Nemesis's superior treble extension allows it to have a cleaner and more stable stage, while the Vantage uses its overtones to further enrich its warm, pillowy notes.

The Nemesis and the Legend X share quite a bit in common. The low-end is where they are most alike, as I mentioned in the article. Both IEMs impact with exceptional power, sporting a great balance between sub-bass texture and mid-bass wetness. Both thump with authority - allocating them strictly in the middle of the stage to avoid bleed - and exhibit fantastic delineation from the midrange. Whereas the Vantage draws warmth from the upper-bass for its tone, both the Nemesis and the Legend X choose to isolate for cleanliness and clarity. The Legend X has a more even-handed midrange than the Nemesis, where vocals - overtones and harmonics especially - are more subdued for clarity's sake. Like the Vantage, the Legend X is has more upper-midrange air, while the Nemesis is more aggressive in its lower-treble. The Nemesis keeps up excellently in terms of treble extension, but where the Legend X truly takes the cake is in treble linearity. Unlike the peaky-er Zeus, the Legend X maintains excellently smooth transitions from the lower-treble, all the way to its light upper-treble lift. As a result, whereas the Legend X maintains a similar volume from a cymbal crash's fundamental all the way to the decaying harmonics - i.e. the tail - the Nemesis emphasises the tizzy crash followed by a swift decay. The Legend X also has the wider soundstage and greater headroom, which allows for these tuning choices to exist without compromise.

Please let me know if you need any further clarification. Hope this helps! :D



Can I just say that @Jack Vang hair is on point here? Like really, on point.

:):):)

Okay carry on with the impressions.

-Collin-

I have a picture specifically titled Jack Vang On Point. I think you'll see why. :p

EE-17.png
 
Feb 19, 2018 at 1:33 AM Post #11,032 of 34,576

Deezel177

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Any comparison of the Phantom to the SE5U? Since both is around the same price point and not to mention similar number of drivers.

I believe @flinkenick compared the two a bit on his Ranking the Stars thread. There should be a little blurb about the two if you look up the post where he announces the Phantom and the LX. I'm sure he can elaborate further on the differences once he returns from CanJam.
 
Feb 19, 2018 at 2:08 AM Post #11,033 of 34,576

Wyville

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Hard as hell to listen to wisdom after reading Daniel’s Euphoria alluring writeup... my heart says get Bravado, Phantom and Legend X, wallet says gtfo you pleb, reality chimes in a yeah you’ll only get one maybe lol. Brain reminds me not to be enthralled by words, stick to your own hearing, you decide your own holy grail. So yeah, wisdom whispers get Bravado, wait for summer to hear the whole lineup to decide.
I know... I know... I had already decided to get the Phantom a while back, but reading up on some of the other models it is very difficult not to think...
:imp: "But what if I add just one of the other, less expensive models? EVR?" :imp:
:imp: "Or just give myself some BASS with the Vantage?" :imp:
It is never quiet on that one shoulder. :D
 
Feb 19, 2018 at 2:30 AM Post #11,034 of 34,576

azabu

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Empire Ears’ EP & X Launch Event @ Euphoria Audio: A New Era

New year, new gear… or so the saying goes. Just like any other consumer-driven industry, the audio scene is bolstered by an ever-shifting landscape, whether it be refinements of current standards, tributes to old classics or conceptions of entirely new breeds. Empire Ears – an in-ear manufacturer based in Atlanta, Georgia – has the courage to try all three. Drawing inspiration from both their past and present releases, the venerable company is unveiling two new line-ups for Q1 of 2018: The EP line for professional use, and the X line consisting entirely of hybrid IEMs. I was recently invited to their Singaporean launch event at Euphoria Audio – co-hosted by Effect Audio’s Zou Suyang and Eric Chong – where I got to talk to Empire Ears’ Vice President, Jack Vang, and audition all seven models he brought to the show.



What’s New Under the Hood?

Jack kicked the night off by talking about the core principles and unifying themes that led his team throughout long years of R&D, as well as the myriad of technological advancements present in all of the new releases. Reflecting on the massive success of their 14-driver flagship – the Zeus – and how much attention it received compared to the rest of the line-up, Empire Ears decided to develop a whole new stable of products where driver count and product hierarchy no longer mattered. Despite significant variances in sound signature, both EP and X line-ups deliver consistent technical performance; no matter the model. Qualities such as bass extension, background blackness, stage cleanliness and midrange resolution remained uncompromised all the way through; creating two of the most upstanding product lines I’ve personally ever heard.

And, that can be attributed to their shared technological DNA. Empire Ears developed several innovative features for use in both EP and X line-ups, including:
  • A.R.C. (Anti-Resonance Compound) technology: A damping material developed in-house at Empire Ears. Applied to each and every one of the IEM’s components (including the drivers, cross-over networks and shells), the material aims to reduce physical vibrations and noise – alleviating acoustic distortion.
  • synX cross-over system: An innovative approach towards cross-over implementation, dedicating a cross-over path to each and every driver for improved frequency control and reduced distortion. This technology may also apply additional cross-over points in order to control phase; essentially deciding when each driver fires so a coherent waveform is produced at the ear.
  • Effect Audio wiring: In collaboration with the Singaporean cable manufacturer, dynamic drivers within each X IEM will use Effect Audio’s Litz internal wiring – yielding optimum conductivity and sound quality. All seven IEMs will also come stock with Effect Audio’s award-winning, copper Litz Ares II cable, in both balanced and unbalanced connector configurations.
By addressing noise and incoherency from both acoustical and electrical fronts, Empire Ears has established a foundation for present and future IEMs to be built upon – optimising a signal’s environment, so signatures of any kind can essentially become free reign.



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The Empire Professional Line-Up

The Empire Professional – or EP – line-up was conceived with the audio professional in mind. Whether it’s in the studio or on stage, the following three IEMs were purpose-built to serve as reference monitors within their respective divisions. These IEMs were designed with inputs from several Grammy-Award-winning producers, while the flagship Phantom was specifically co-designed by none other than THL’s very own Nic Flinkenflögel (AKA Flinkenick).

Please note that all of the following prices are in Singaporean dollars.



Empire Vocal Reference (S$888)


As the name suggests, the EVR is an IEM with an especial focus towards midrange presentation – namely, vocal clarity and intimacy. Those of you who’ve read my Vision Ears round-up would recall these exact terms used to describe the VE5, and the comparison is well-deserved. The EVR and the VE5 share several similarities, including a wide-span and wall-like midrange, paired with a generous upper-treble lift for sparkle and air. The EVR – as a result – has a noticeable tinge of brightness imbued into its instruments, but a fuller lower-midrange compensates for this to a sufficient degree.

While the VE5 doubles down on midrange transparency – compromising with a leaner, articulation-heavy presentation in the process – the EVR gives vocal weight its due. A linear lower-treble maintains smoothness and tonal coherency, while the upper-treble lift cleans and aerates the entire stage. Despite the brighter tone, bass timbre is impressive. Following a trend that will slowly become more and more apparent as the article progresses, the EVR displays excellent low-end extension and definition. It exhibits great delineation and minimal bloom with slight hints of richness. creating a pleasing bass response that adds a necessary element of fun into the IEM’s sonic palate.

Empire Studio Reference (S$1188)


The ESR is the closest of the three to the classic definition of neutral. Serving up equal quantities of bass, midrange and treble, it is a spiritual successor to monitors like the Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor and Empire Ears’ very own Spartan-IV – showcasing minimal colour and excellent malleability. Bolstered by a clean stage and excellent imaging, the ESR is surgical in its ability to probe any recording you throw at it. However, its greatest achievement is how it accomplishes this whilst sacrificing neither smoothness nor tone.

By relying on qualities like stage organisation, bidirectional extension, and background blackness, the ESR achieves great transparency with neither unsightly peaks in its top-end nor tinniness in its midrange. Instead, a slight bump in the upper bass endows vocals and instruments alike with sufficient warmth, and a slight lower-treble peak is all it requires for articulation. Confidently balancing speed, clarity and detail with smoothness, ease and finesse, the ESR is a worthy competitor in the reference IEM market – deftly manifesting the sweet spot between analysis and euphony.

Phantom (S$2699)

The Phantom is the flagship of the Empire Professional line. And yet, uncharacteristically, it was purpose-built for a singular aim. While the rest of the TOTL market strive for infinite detail, eye-watering clarity and limitless stages, the Phantom lets a single group of like-minded elements take precedent over them all: Naturalness, realism and organicity.

The Phantom tackles the sensibilites of a flagship piece without resorting to ubiquitous tropes; no upper-treble peak for clarity, no superfluous mid-bass bump, no lower-midrange attenuation, etc. The Phantom emphasises lesser-known elements, such as linearity, textural resolution, natural decay and timbral richness, to present music in the most life-like – and thus, uncoloured – way possible; a sincere representation of the recording. But, experiencing the Phantom doesn’t come without its own set of sonic quandaries : “What does uncoloured – or ultimately, natural – music sound like?” and “Do I want to hear my music this way?”



Timbre and body define the Phantom’s overall presentation. Sporting a marvellously linear neutral-natural tone, the Phantom mesmerises with well-defined and full-bodied notes spread throughout its pitch-black stage. Listeners who’d enjoy thin, crisp and transient-heavy strikes should look elsewhere; the Phantom relishes in thick, gossamer overtones to manifest its buttery-smooth resolution. This isn’t a clarity-led presentation, as has become the norm over the past decade; this is a sound that’s all about colour, tone and texture. Notes aren’t as clean as they are fibrous, and instruments don’t float on air as much as air itself bends around them.

A pronounced bass response forms the foundation of the Phantom’s bodied notes. Bold, syrupy and thick, its low-end emanates a beautifully natural tone. And yet, outstanding extension endows it with marvelous sub-bass activity; displaying low-end clarity and transparency with ease. The midrange follows suit with gorgeous dynamic range. Drawing warmth from both the bass and the lower-midrange, the Phantom’s vocal presentation is a living, breathing organism. Exhibiting outstanding power, exceptional definition and palpable depth, the Phantom’s midrange is skillful sleight-of-hand; manifesting itself as a whole, well-developed and singular soundscape, while all it really is is an extremely intelligent sum of its parts.

Treble is a similarly well-cooked endeavour. Extension and linearity both impress, crafting a treble that’s rounded, articulate and – most of all – smooth. While those who enjoy a sparkly, lively and razzle dazzle top-end might find the Phantom too smooth, there’s a unique pleasure that comes from relishing in a gentle, delicate and textured treble response; akin to a fuzzy silky sweater rather than a gruff leather jacket. Though alarms could be raised against the upper-treble’s lack of peaks, outstanding extension produces details galore – regardless of its warmth – and enriches the midrange with beautiful texture. The Phantom’s top-end is its philosophy in a nutshell; elegant, easy and unassuming, yet marvellously complex and technically sublime underneath.

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The X Line-Up

The X line-up represents Empire Ears’s maiden voyage into the realm of hybrid IEMs. Implementing their very own proprietary 9mm dynamic driver – dubbed the Weapon IX – these monitors are defined by exceptionally unique bass responses; masterfully balancing raw power, epic scale and sumptuous warmth with effortless control, immense focus and marvellous finesse. As a result, all four monitors share a strong sense of musicality, albeit in varying degrees. And yet, despite discrepancies in overall signature, these IEMs consistently display excellent technical performance across the board; from the ultra-promising entry-level unit, all the way to the mighty flagship.

Please note that all of the following prices are in Singaporean dollars.



Bravado (S$788)

The Bravado is the X-line-up’s entry-level model, and – as I teased in the introductory paragraph – one of my absolute favourites from the entire show; regardless of price. Sporting excellent tonal balance from top to bottom, the Bravado shines in its ability to produce gobs of dynamic energy with exceptional headroom and exquisite smoothness. Reminiscent of IEMs like the Lime Ears Aether or the Vision Ears VE8, the Bravado pairs solid, punchy notes with brilliant volumes of air. As a result, the Bravado exudes openness and ease without resorting to an excessive treble peak; maintaining organicity and warmth in its timbre. Bodied notes offset the Bravado’s articulative energy – balancing naturalness and transparency with ease.

A forwardly-placed vocal range contributes to the Bravado’s allure, benefitting from an upper-mid peak for clarity in articulation. A slight lift in the extreme upper-treble is responsible for the Bravado’s openness and air, but a linear treble response – as well as tastefulness in the lift – maintains excellent smoothness; endowing the Bravado with an energetic-yet-forgiving sense of sparkle. Bass frequencies are extremely well-controlled and linearly extended. Although the Bravado isn’t as chestily impactful as its older brothers, it still boasts a low-end that’s punchy, visceral and beautifullytextured. The Bravado is an exceptional IEM, price tag notwithstanding. But, when you take its value into consideration, it truly is a revolutionary piece – bringing a dense, engaging and soulful sound into the mid-tier market. Bravo.

Vantage (S$1788)

Coming off of the Bravado, the Vantage is a vastly different IEM. Although it maintains a similar sense of immediacy and energy, the Vantage takes a slower approach to things – tackling the classic fun signature with a warm, pillowy, audiophile twist. The Bravado’s upper-mid peak continues here, collaborating with an admirably extended treble to create a clean and well-organised stage. This is especially important given the extra Weapon IX driver installed within the Vantage. This addition is responsible for the Vantage’s warmth, endowing its upper-bass with a voluminous and atmospheric bloom. Although none of this bleeds into the lower-midrange – maintaining the Bravado’s excellent clarity – it enriches vocals and instruments alike with a palpable heft and an organic timbre.

This weight is why the Vantage gets away with a mildly v-shaped signature. The IEM’s midrange takes on a more neutral stance, while a decadent low-end and a smooth, rounded treble occupy centre-stage. But, despite what may seem like a transient-heavy presentation, the Vantage relishes in overtones to create an easygoing and breezy stage. The upper-bass bloom benefits the low-end and the midrange, endowing both with an effortlessly natural tone, while treble notes cut through without any tinniness or artificiality. The lower-midrange has a light dip, but it allows cleanliness to counterbalance the IEM’s richer undertones. The Vantage is an IEM defined by its melodious charm. It’s the smoothest of the line, doubling down on a rich bass response to balance against its smooth, well-rounded articulation – creating a warm, audiophile-inclined signature that just so happens to have a thick, juicy low-end up its sleeve.



Nemesis (S$2388)

The Nemesis is a product that harkens back to the Empire Ears house sound, embodying the clarity-led sound signatures of their Olympus line-up. Evoking the Bravado’s thrilling energy and tonal balance, the Nemesis takes advantage of a jaw-rocking bass and a crisp, crystalline treble to create an exciting and – most of all – clear presentation. However, one shouldn’t mistake the Nemesis for a v-shaped monitor either. Excellent balance and linearity throughout the midrange endows vocals and instruments alike with palpable body. Although vocal placement still leans towards the neutral side, midrange definition is never compromised – using note weight and body to invoke genuine textural resolution. A lower-treble peak and a further extended treble also improves upon the Bravado’s soundscape, reducing overall stage warmth for boosts in stability. This added articulation does make the Nemesis less forgiving, easygoing and natural than the Bravado, but the former’s marvellous headroom compensates for this admirably.

The Nemesis also elevates the synX cross-over into an 8-way configuration (compared to the Vantage's 5) with two Weapon IX drivers - numbers not far off those of the flagship Legend X. As a result, the two share somewhat similar bass responses; particularly in physicality, texture, focus and tone. A slight sub-bass emphasis encourages a visceral grit throughout the low-end, while a wetter mid-bass complements this solidity with a dynamic, bombastic thump. The two drivers – in unison – combine to produce unprecedented waves of pure energy; turning feeble low-end frequencies into physical, concrete punches to the chest; a truly unique experience. And even so, none of these slams ever bleed into the midrange. The Nemesis and the Legend X portray the Weapon IX drivers at their best, with unprecedented delineation, exceptional discipline and a pure, concentrated central focus. Well-defined upper-bass melodies spread throughout the stage, while sub-and-mid-bass jabs never tread beyond the middle; headroom, space and cleanliness galore.

Legend X (S$3499)

The Legend X is the pinnacle of Empire Ears’ recent technological and acoustical efforts. Putting together two Weapon IX dynamic and five proprietary balanced-armature drivers through a 10-way synX cross-over, the Legend X epitomises no-holds-barred. And, in performance, it certainly deserves its flagship status. Truly, the Legend X is as much a product of innovation, as it is a product of cultivation. Integrating an outrageously visceral bass response, a transparent Zeus-R-esque midrange and an impressively extended treble, the Legend X is a culmination of ideals in every sense of the phrase. Although its purposeful tuning isn’t the most organic or versatile kind – that’s more the Phantom’s forte – the Legend X’s outstanding technical performance gifts it more versatility than its driver configuration suggests. This is no ordinary basshead flagship IEM; this is a masterclass in doing basshead right.

Integration and balance are the Legend X’s most exceptional attributes. Instead of resorting to volume or frequency redistribution to optimise tonal balance, the Legend X takes advantage of its wide stage, organisation and low-end control; creating an exceptionally disciplined soundscape where every instrument gets its due. But, nevertheless, this flagship’s bass is an absolute joy to behold. Manifesting itself in the form of powerful, centrally-focused slams, the Legend X’s low-end showcases both a commanding presence and amazing delineation at the same time. Present in all other X-series IEMs as well, Jack explained to me that concerted efforts went into eliminating all sense of reverb or fuzz from the low-end. And, as evidenced here, those efforts clearly proved their value. Decay and tone both contribute to this as well. Speed is some of the fastest I’ve heard from a dynamic driver – let alone two – and the darker bass tone creates a wonderful contrast against the clear and airy vocal range just above. This is truly a marvellous, speaker-like bass that’ll prove challenging to beat in the years to come.



The midrange and treble evoke Empire Ears’ very own Zeus-R, but the X comes with twists of its own. Vocal presentation is very much neutral – favouring the bass in forwardness – with a warmth that emanates from a well-balanced lower midrange. Excellent linearity from the upper-midrange onwards produces great balance between transparency and smoothness. Rectifying the Zeus’s slightly uneven treble, the Legend X displays significant improvements in headroom, decay and coherency. Cymbals sound crystal clear without offence, evenly expressed from the fundamental transient all the way to the last harmonic. Although it must be emphasised that the bass still takes precedence in the overall presentation when it does kick, both the Legend X’s midrange and treble are absolutely nothing to scoff at. Showcasing best-in-class transparency, clarity and smoothness, the Legend X pushes the boundaries of the basshead epithet; an outrageously fun and sophisticated monitor from top to bottom.

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Select Comparisons



Empire Ears Zeus-XR vs. Empire Ears Phantom

Despite commonalities present in the midrange (particularly that of the Zeus-XIV), the Phantom and the Zeus are more different than they are alike.

A significantly accentuated bass response and an infinitely more linear treble furthers the former from the latter’s more neutral tone. While the Zeus excels in displaying crystalline transparency and sparkly resolution, the Phantom has the more natural response; defining notes with body, colour and tone – rather than articulation or clarity. The latter’s warmer and more guttural bass response immediately rectifies one of the Zeus’s most glaring weaknesses. Compromising neither tone, nor transparency nor clarity, the Phantom presents a more extended, even-handed, physical and technically-capable low-end that the Zeus struggles to attain.

The midrange is where the two are most similar. Emphasising boldness, strength and solidity in vocals and instruments alike, both flagships display an affinity towards the intimacy and soulfulness of the human voice. The Zeus has a tendency the sound throatier, however, due to its heavier lower-midrange. And, a peak in the lower-treble brings articulation (particularly in hotter recordings) to dangerous – i.e. near sibilant – heights. The Phantom, in this regard, is considerably smoother and more linear. A less brittle top-end endows vocals with a more organic timbre, favouring emotional warmth rather than ultimate clarity.

The treble then, conversely, is where the two TOTLs diverge. Due to peaks in both the lower-and-upper-treble, the Zeus’s top-end embodies a more neutral character as well as a hardness in texture. The Phantom, here, is less theatric; emphasising richness and tone above all. Superior linearity also gives the Phantom a blacker background than the Zeus; necessary for its warmer timbre. Though, stellar extension allows the Phantom to compete with the Zeus in terms of resolution, and where they stand on transparency will ultimately depend on whether you prefer a more clarity-led signature or a textured one.

Empire Ears Zeus-XR vs. Empire Ears Legend X

The Legend X bears a closer resemblance to the Zeus-R than it does the XIV. Reprising the 14-driver flagship’s brilliant clarity and crispness, the Legend X presents a similarly clean stage; extending outwards in terms of width, especially. But, with two Weapon IX dynamic drivers in its arsenal, the two flagships can’t possibly sound identical.

And, speaking to this, let’s start at the bass. Or – as the Legend X puts it – the BASS! The new flagship has a low-end the Zeus simply cannot touch. Apart from vast differences in sheer magnitude, the Legend X embodies a different genre of bass when compared to the Zeus-R. The former serves low-end in mild portions, prioritising the cleanliness of its stage as well as its perceived transparency. The Legend X – on the other hand – adds a physical, visceral and powerful low-end into the mix, balancing transparency all along the way. Marvellous control allows for this compromise to exist as optimally as possible, allowing the Legend X a wetter, meatier and clearer bass without sacrificing overall clarity in the process.

The midrange is a much closer contest between the two TOTLs. Both the Zeus-R and the Legend X don a balanced midrange – linear from the lower registers towards the upper regions. Instruments on the Legend X sound wider and more spacious, because of a welcome boost in headroom. The Zeus-R has a more aggressive bite to its instruments – due to a sharper lower-treble – and tone is more neutral as a result. Cleanliness and transparency are on par between the two, but the Legend X has the blacker background – again – contributed by its linear top-end. Vocal placement on both IEMs lean towards average, with the Legend X’s bass and the Zeus-R’s treble taking precedence. All in all, the midrange is where both flagships share the most DNA; neutral in mind and clear at heart.

The treble is where the Legend X flaunts its maturity. Building upon the Zeus-R’s crystalline top-end, the hybrid flagship smoothens out its predecessor’s peaks – maintaining clarity, transparency and tone, whilst providing a smoother, more pleasurable listening experience along the way. The Zeus-R has the more prominent response, whilst the Legend X lets it take the back seat in favour of the bass. Though, that does not mean the latter is darker or warmer than the former. Through improved extension and air, the Legend X realises clarity and sparkle just as well, but it does so with a greater sense of finesse. Exhibiting great progress in smoothness, coherency and even-handedness, the Legend X’s top-end is a clear technical improvement, even if the bass still steals the spotlight.

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Closing Thoughts

With both the EP and X line-ups, Empire Ears have struck gold. All seven IEMs provide an excellent variety of signatures and maintain consistent technical performance. Whether the Bravado or the ESR, elements like extension, definition and background blackness remain within reach of their bigger brothers – proving that entry-level compromise is a thing of the past. The Professional series inducts a new trilogy of IEMs into the reference hall-of-fame; handsomely catering to three distinct use-cases, whilst retaining enough musicality for all to enjoy. The X line is Empire Ears flexing their muscles; flaunting their very own 9mm dynamic drivers in four sumptuous flavours – exhibiting explosive bass and excellent technical performance in great harmony. Whether you’re a sound engineer or an audiophile looking for a bit of fun, there’s tons to love about all of Empire Ears’ new releases. As for me, this is a really exciting time to be both.



Superb review and I'll read over it at least one more time. It looks like the Phantom, Bravado and EVR are high on my list.

I love how EE is so customer centric by including the Ares II with different plug sizing.
 
Last edited:
Feb 19, 2018 at 3:53 AM Post #11,035 of 34,576

ezekiel77

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I know... I know... I had already decided to get the Phantom a while back, but reading up on some of the other models it is very difficult not to think...
:imp: "But what if I add just one of the other, less expensive models? EVR?" :imp:
:imp: "Or just give myself some BASS with the Vantage?" :imp:
It is never quiet on that one shoulder. :D
It's a trap Wyville. You think it's over once you taste endgame, but the truth is, there is no endgame. :ksc75smile:
 
Feb 19, 2018 at 4:01 AM Post #11,036 of 34,576

Wyville

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It's a trap Wyville. You think it's over once you taste endgame, but the truth is, there is no endgame. :ksc75smile:
Yeah, I think I have learned that lesson by now. Endgame is always just out of reach...
biscuit-time.gif
 
Feb 19, 2018 at 4:18 AM Post #11,038 of 34,576

Deezel177

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Hey guys, I just recently spoke with a user who asked me to compare the ESR and the Spartan. He recommended I post those comparisons here, and I couldn't agree more. The following are my thoughts on the ESR in comparison to the non-ADEL Spartan-IV:

The ESR, to me, is a brilliant representation of neutral-natural. If you look at headphones like the MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Open or IEMs like the Andromeda, they have an open, smooth and non-fatiguing approach to a lively and energetic signature.

The ESR puts a little twist on things with a beautifully warm upper-bass. It's not accentuated per se, but compared to the Spartan's drier and more even approach to the low-end, the ESR has more body, emotion and boldness down low. Fortunately, none of this introduces any kind of bloat into the midrange, and what it introduces in the bigger picture is a chesty foundation to the stage; rather than keeping it strictly clean and sterile. The midrange of the ESR is open and airy, benefitting from an upper-mid bump for extra articulation. Compared to the Spartan, vocals are less top-heavy. This is because the ESR's uses that upper-bass foundation to give meat to its vocals; bolstering midrange resolution. The Spartan sounds thinner in comparison, even though both have a pleasing timbre. The ESR - I feel - is technically stronger in the treble, due to increased linearity and extension. The Spartan is almost Zeus-like in its lower-treble and upper-treble peaks, creating notes that are clean and clear, but are almost hard and brittle in nature. The ESR maintains that clarity through sheer extension, but smoother note release allows it more forgiveness with poorer recordings.

In terms of overall resolution, I find the ESR superior to the Spartan due to several factors I mentioned above. Bass layering and precision benefits from superior low-end extension and the ESR's more stable stage makes it easier to keep up with where the bass is in the recording. An increase in note weight and note body - again, stemming from the upper bass - improves midrange resolution; endowing instruments with more physicality and palpability. The ESR's more linear treble is also instrumental in forming its blacker background. As a result, midrange notes contrast more clearly against the background, which - again - improves resolution as well as micro-dynamics without having to resort to a brighter signature. The Spartan is on par with the ESR in terms of macro-dynamics, though, due to the latter's more aggressive treble. The ESR's treble decays at a greater rate in comparison, keeping the background black and the overall timbre beautifully neutral-natural. The Spartan's overall tone is just slightly more neutral, due to a tinge of dryness in its note presentation. One is not brighter than the other per se; their notes just take on different textures. For reference, the ESR in the treble is probably more like the Andromeda in smoothness and openness, but - again - the latter has a dryness - due to an attenuated upper-bass - that the former does not.
 
Feb 19, 2018 at 6:02 AM Post #11,039 of 34,576

Kerouac

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Any comparison of the Phantom to the SE5U? Since both is around the same price point and not to mention similar number of drivers.
Here you go (part of this introduction / review): ''But the Phantom’s natural competitor is the 5-Way; that other IEM with a rare blend of timbre and performance. As with Zeus, the Phantom shares a few similarities; in the case of the 5-Way, its three-dimensional stage, and similar vocal reconstruction in terms of body and forwardness. However, they are equally defined by key differences, starting with their bass. In my opinion, the 5-Way has the best BA bass from an audiophile perspective, combining deep extension with a resolved mid-bass, natural in tone. The Phantom can’t quite match the naturalness of its bass, opting for a cleaner bass, with similar extension. The difference returns throughout the presentation. The 5-Way’s warmer tonality results in its exceedingly natural and organic signature, with warmer upper mids and a smoother treble. The Phantom trades some of its warmth for clearer, more melodious upper mids, as well as slightly greater instrument body. Its treble is a bit crisper, where the 5-Way’s is warmer, and a bit smoother. Taken together, the 5-Way has the warmer, more romantic tuning. The Phantom in turn offers greater transparency as well as a more versatile sound, while sharing a similar beauty in its timbre.''

Btw, I've heard both and decided (based on my own preferences) to get the Phantom. But I also think that you can't go wrong with either of them :ksc75smile:

It's a trap Wyville. You think it's over once you taste endgame, but the truth is, there is no endgame. :ksc75smile:
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HELL YEAH!!!
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...and they even invented some special music for it :grin:
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Feb 19, 2018 at 6:16 AM Post #11,040 of 34,576

proedros

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@Kerouac , huge LOL at the 'Trap Music' axaxaxxaaxaxaxaxaa

did you order the custom Phantom or are you showing some (futile) restraint yet ?
 

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