Because these in-ears offer stunningly good bass and at the same time offer very good detail and clarity at a very, very attractive price for what is offered.. I also love the "Dragonhide" faceplates. Absolutely excellent value for money!
Valkyrie MKII in 30 seconds
- Captivating, detailed, fun sound with massive bass and sub-bass
- Silky smooth highs
- Very good details and stage
- Nice (subjectively) and well-made IEM and very good cable
- Excellent value for money
- 3 driver, Tribrid IEM design:
- Universal in-ear monitor
- 1 next generation subwoofer W9+ - sub-bass/bass
- 1 Proprietary Balanced Armature Driver - Middle
- 1 Premium Electrostatic Driver - High, Ultra High
- 4-way synX crossover network
- EIVEC - Empire Intelligent Electrostatic Control Technology
- A.R.C. Anti-Resonance Connection Technology
- Impedance: 3.0 ohms @ 1kHz
- Frequency response: 5 Hz - 100kHz
- Sensitivity: 100dB @ 1kHz, 1mW
- Handcrafted Alpha Hybrid-IV (AH4) 26AWG UPOCC copper stranded, silver stranded 4 core cable
test devices- Burson Audio Conductor 3X Reference (main test source)
- Cayin N8 DAP
- Cayin N6 II DAP with E02 and R01 modules
Music selection/test playlistVoices, mids, acoustic guitars, etc.
- Tenacious D - Tenacious D - Wonderboy
- Marily Manson - The Pale Emperor - Day3
- Chris Jones - Moonstruck
- Sara K. - Hell or High Water - I Can't Stand The Rain, Stars
- Ana Tijoux - 1977 - Partir de Cero
- Tenacious D - Tenacious D - Kielbasa
- NIN - The Downward Spiral - Hurt
- Johnny Cash - The Essential - Ring of Fire
- Stephen Coleman - Westworld Season 2 Soundtrack - C.R.E.A.M.
Soundstage, Treble, Upper Mid
- Alice in Chains - MTV Unplugged - Rooster
- Korn - MTV Unplugged - Freak on a Leash
- Anneke van Giersbergen - Symphonized - Feel Alive
- Howard Shore - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Blunt the Knives
Dynamics, Bass, Subbass
- The Diary - The Gentle Storm - Endless Sea |Gentle Version|
- Wardruna - Runaljod: Ragnarok - Tyr
- Hans Zimmer - Man of Steel OST - Look to the Stars
- Hans Zimmer - Pearl Harbor EAST - Tennessee
- Ice Cube - Raw Footage - Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It
- Andreas Vollenweider - Vox - Enchanted Rocks
Packaging & accessories
The packaging for all Empire Ears (EE) products is more or less the same, which makes sense to me as it shows consistency across the product range. You get a beautifully designed white cardboard box with the Empire Ears logo and the name or logo of the product in question. Neither too big nor too small, it exudes class and style. It consists of an outer "slider" sleeve and a sturdier inner carton.
Once you open the magnetic flap of the box, you'll find an inside compartment with a quick start guide and a thank you card from EE congratulating you on your purchase. Below that are the IEMs and cable, ready to unpack and enjoy the music.
An elegant drawer underneath reveals an aluminum platter with a variety of Final Audio silicone tips to choose from.The great thing is that Empire Ears not only offers the standard sizes S, M and L, but also XS, S, M, L and XL, simply giving you a wider range of tips to fit your ears
Because my ear canals are slightly different in size, it's easier for me to find a good fit.
Last but not least, you get the fantastic Pandora case from EE, a black aluminum capsule for safely transporting your valuable in-ears. Built like the proverbial tank, it is engraved with the Empire logo and your product's name.
Workmanship quality & fitIEMs
The processing quality of the VALKYRIE MKII is simply excellent. They look flawless with no visible seams between the front panel and in-ear. The VALKYRIE MKII look stunning with their so-called "Dragonhide" faceplate, which I think is more or less the same as the first generation.
Fit and Comfort is good, at least to my ears, and the included silicone ear tips ensure a good seal. People with small ears (mine are average) should test first as these IEMs are quite large.
EE lays their copper/silver hybrid cable Alpha Hybrid-IV (AH4). You have a choice of 3.5mm single-ended or 2.5mm balanced. I always go for symmetrical, but that's my personal preference. It's a beautiful, classy and well-made cable and I particularly like the slim connectors and the beautiful copper Y-split.
I think it goes very well with the VALKYRIE MKII. Unlike the Alpha IV copper cable, this cable is quite flexible, so comfort and usability are good. The cable noise is also quite low.
The VALKYRIE MKII is a very engaging and emotional in-ear monitor (IEM) and not an analytical one. It delivers a massive bass and very nice details. The VALKYRIE MKII was clearly developed with the aim of having fun and is therefore not for lovers of absolute neutrality.
Acoustic and electric guitars and others Stringed instruments sound beautifully clear and with good, silky smooth detail. I've read about a certain harshness and sibilance from the first Valkyrie. That is absolutely not the case here. As I said, the entire upper frequency range is very smooth, resulting in a non-fatiguing listening experience.
There seems to be a slight treble emphasis that emphasizes certain instruments such as strings and guitars. I found it a pleasure to listen to rock, acoustic rock and metal in particular, but the VALKYRIE MKII seems to do well with other genres as well.
Male and female voices are light, but less powerful than the instruments mentioned in the treble section. This can lead to the band/orchestra pushing themselves to the fore. The good thing is that the voices are never muffled and stay nicely separated. I find the midrange to be rather balanced and unspectacular in a good way.
Empire Ears implementation of their next-gen subwoofer "Weapon-9 +" does its job in the VALKYRIE MKII and boy does it do it at full power. My first thought was, "This is direct competition to EE's excellent Legend X!"
Depending on the source, the VALKYRIE MKII pumps an amazing amount of sub-bass into your ear canals. I noticed this especially with the Cayin N8 and N6II. I even had to turn the volume down once or twice when listening to sub-bass heavy music.With a more neutral source like my Burson Conductor 3XR test unit, this bass impact is significantly mitigated. Don't get me wrong, this is pure fun indeed. Call it "guilty pleasure" if you will, but personally I don't use that term because there's no guilt in enjoying your music, is there?
The soundstage is really good for an IEM. You get a good sense of the space around you and get an idea of what/who is where in a live recording situation. It's not overdone, however, so even more intimate recordings offer just that intimacy you need to enjoy them.
The channel separation is very good, but not overdone. Just the right amount for my taste. There is nothing more to say.
The VALKYRIE MKII is far from being a neutral IEM. The massive bass and amplified highs are designed for pure fun. It's not a section instrument, it's something you want to move, get going, and just enjoy your music.
The VALKYRIE MKII takes full advantage of the source it is connected to. Also, this is one of the few IEMs where different sources have a big impact on the overall sound signature, so be sure to test it out with your existing equipment.
While Cayin DAPs like the N6II or N8 offer the full punch and glory of VALKYRIE's Weapon 9+ subwoofers, more neutral DAPs like those from Astell & Kern tame the bass a little, resulting in a more relaxed sound signature. During testing, the Burson Desktop DAC/Amps delivered very good synergy with lots of detail, well-controlled bass and a nice stage.
Empire Ears Legend X
When I first listened to the VALKYRIE MKIIs I thought: "Hey, they sound like them Legend X (LX) for less money. Did Empire Ears happen to build an in-house competitor that takes advantage of LX customers? Well, yes and no. In fact, this is a good example of how memory can fool you, and the only way to find out for sure is with a quick memory refresher, luckily I had my LX on hand to do this.
There are some similarities within the family moving to the Legend X, but the difference is obvious The LX still delivers the most bass punch even when using the old "Weapon 9" subwoofers because it has two of them per side!
The LX's soundstage is larger and almost three-dimensional. I've already said it: the LX is the most immersive listening experience with an in-ear monitor I've ever had. That can be good and bad, depending on what you like.
Let me put it this way: the LX is pure adrenaline pumping through your veins like you're an extreme sports junkie hitting a stunt Breath jumps out of an airplane. The VALKYRIE MKII also gives you an adrenaline rush, like you're driving downhill at high speed, always knowing you're in control. Does that make sense?
So the point here is not to pit a $1599 IEM against a $600 IEM and the latter wins. It's purely a matter of preference.
(One last point worth noting is that the LX is much smaller than the VALKYRIE MKII, potentially making it a better choice for those with small ears).
The VALKYRIE MKII are really very good IEMs for the asking price, in fact I consider them excellent value for money! 1599,-CHF is by no means cheap, but you get wonderful sound quality across all frequencies with an emphasis on sub-bass performance AND very good detail
You are looking for an IEM that is fun without breaking you have to do without audiophile qualities? Grab it and enjoy "Guilty Pleasure".
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