Starting today, guest authors will post their impressions and reviews of products here on the blog. I would like to let our customers have their say even more in the future. So everyone who would like to share a review or impressions of a product is welcome to do so!
It starts with Joshua Chan , audiophile friend and customer of Audio Essence. Thank you Josh for your review!
I was lucky enough to be able to test a demo of the Empire Ears Legend EVO (EVO) from Audio Essence / @TomKorn. I was able to listen to them for about 10+ hours (thanks TOM x1000 !!). The device I received had been burned in for 50 hours. I realize that I have not yet reached the 100-hour threshold, so my impressions may change at a later point in time.
I'm quite a newbie to the world of IEMs and I didn't really start this hobby until 2021. Nevertheless, I would like to share some of my first experiences with the EVO.
Disclaimer: These are exclusively my thoughts and opinions, which may not coincide with the experiences of others. When it comes to music, I like to listen to a wide range of genres, from EDM, Hip Hop, RnB, Pop / Rock, Kpop to Classical. My test artists include Illenium [Fallen Embers Album], Avicii [Wake Me Up], Arty [Avalanche], Dem Franchize Boyz [Ridin Rims], Eminem [You Don't Know], Linkin Park [One More Light REMIX ft Steve Aoki ], Fallout Boy [My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark] and Hans Zimmer [Batman Dark Knight and Inception (!)].
I used the Cayin N6ii Ti with R01 board . I used the standard Final E ear tips and Genesis cable as a start however I did perform some ear tip and cable rolling later on. To play music, I used the USB Audio Player pro app with bit perfect mode and Tidal.
Comparison of the IEMs
The Legend EVO is the most remarkable bass-head IEM as of the time of writing. It has provided me with the best bass experience from any IEM without compromising too much on the overall sound quality. Empire Ears really hit the nail on the head with this IEM, whilst still being able to accentuated other sound frequencies such as the mids and treble.
There is also an incredible sound stage and high level of detail retrieval. The bass is the star of the show. Bass quality, texture and quantity are incredible. These IEMs were made to bring out the best bass, and it sure has.
Mids and treble are, for me personally, slightly recessed but in the correct place in order to emphasise the bass. Overall sound quality involves a series of trade offs and Empire Ears has definitely found the right balance.
Based on the stock materials (ear tips, cables, etc) I would rate the EVO as follows (10=best):
- Bass: 10/10
- Middle: 9/10
- Heights: 9/10
- Imaging: 9/10
- Sound stage: 9/10
Overall sound signature
The overall sound signature of the EVO is that it is a bass emphasised IEM. Bass is clearly more forward than all other frequencies and it anything but neutral. It is definitely a really "fun and engaging" IEM and one that immerses you within your music. There is a GIGANTIC amount of bass.
I initially heard the EVO straight out of the box and then again 50 hours later when I obtained the Demo unit. Upon first hearing the EVO, I was not a big fan of the placement of the mids and treble as I felt it was a bit recessed. After the burn in, mids and treble definitely improved.
Out of curiousity, I attached the Odin's Stormbreaker cable onto the EVO. In my view, and based on my own sound preferences, this was the best sound experience I had with the EVO and in recent memory with any IEM outside of ODIN. Mids and treble were now slightly more forward whilst maintaining the bass presence of the EVO. It was pure MAGIC.
Bass ... is ... KING.
The bass within the EVO is supported by two W9+ dynamic drives (DD) and one Weapon X (WX) driver. The combination of all of these items results in remarkable bass response I have not heard before in an IEM. Overall, I would say that there is a fantastic bass texture, quantity and quality. When the bass is needed, it turns up with full force and when it isn't required, it takes a step in the background but not so much that it overpowers the rest of the sound.
Bass texture and depth is ever present when called upon. Whilst listening to "Hans Zimmer - Why so Serious (Batman, Dark Knight Album)", you really feel all the different levels, textures and depths of bass. All bass drivers press and pull when needed on deep bass notes and provide extra flavour to the instruments - you really feel guitars being strung.
The introduction of the Weapon X has taken the bass of this IEM to a new level and you really get a thumping effect. Whilst listening to "Linkin Park / Steve Aoki - One More Light Remix", the sub-bass goes super deep to depths previously unknown. I obtained a similar experience when listening to "Arty - Avalanche". Within "Illenium - Crazy Times", this song includes a fantastic bass drop in the last bridge of the song. With the EVO, the bass drop here is wonderful as it dives deep and manages to keep the background electric guitar in place.
Whilst listening to "Dem Franchize Boyz - Ridin Rims" and "Eminem - You Don't Know" which are classic hip hop tracks, the bass drop at the start of these songs is incredibly dense with a great level of punch and THUMP.
Despite all of the bass presence, it does not overwhelm other sound frequencies too much nor result in a muddy sound. Overall, the bass within EVO is truly amazing. Interestingly, the presence of the Weapon X really creates a fuller sound experience and immerses you in certain tracks.
Mids and Treble
To my surprise, mids are very well detailed given the amount of bass presence. Instruments and vocals are well placed and sit naturally in the overall sound signature. I am fine with this tuning however I can understand that there are some who prefer mids and treble to be more forward or sparkly. For example, this is really evident if you listen to the ODIN first and then switch immediately to the EVO.
In my view, the tuning is so impressive that you really hear the detail of all instruments and vocals where they do not get too "lost" in the bass. Illenium combines a lot of different instruments in his EDM tracks similar to Avicii in "Wake me Up". In Avicii's "Wake me Up", you can really hear and feel the guitar being strung whilst the bass thumps along in the background.
Vocals are pleasant and they well placed within each song I listened to. In more technical tracks, for example Hans Zimmer, instrumentals sounded fantastic and due to the fantastic imaging and sound stage, you obtain a really immersive listening experience.
In relation to Rock/pop music, I played "Fall Out Boy - My Songs Know What you Did in the Dark" and found that EVO executed this song quite well. Electric guitars and voices sounded fantastic and well placed. The extra bass in the background provided the song with more body and energy. If I was being really picky with this one, the bass for some could be too much in this track especially when comparing it to how it sounds with the ODIN.
In relation to treble, I felt that it was a bit more relaxed compared to the mids and bass however given this is a bass head IEM, it was where it needs to be. It is important to note that some may find the mids and treble to be too relaxed or slightly recessed. In my view, they are placed where they need to be and therefore suit the overall sound signature of the EVO. I did not experience any sibilance with the EVO.
Sound Stage & Imaging
The EVOs sound stage and Imaging is excellent. The sound stage is definitely wide and provides enough space in terms of width and height to really appreciate what is going on within a track. Imaging is also impressive and the EVO excels in providing the listener with a detailed experience. The EVO is definitely a technical IEM.
EVO vs. ODIN:
In my view, these two IEMs are impressive in their own right and have their similarities and differences. They compliment each other quite well and will co-exist perfectly in any one's IEM collection. The biggest difference between the two is that ODIN has a much more forward mids and treble sound signature with less bass quantity compared to the EVO.
Bass quality is for my ears, very similar, however with the Weapon X in the EVO, you clearly get more sub bass and quantity. Within the sound staging and imaging however, the ODIN and EVO are more alike than many might think. The EVOs sound stage is almost up there with the Odin irrespective of the bass presence.
The ODIN still takes the cake when it comes to sound stage, imaging and technicalities - but only just. With stock ear tips, cables, etc, I prefer less bass dependent music with the Odin such as classical music although this depends on your preferences. For example, with the Odin, all the details in classical music are revealed with enough bass emphasis.
However, some may prefer to listen to classical music or movie sound tracks with more bass presence and immersion and therefore the EVO works better. For more bass dependent genres such as EDM and Hip Hop, the ODIN is a fantastic IEM however the EVO provides that extra "Thump" to these kind of tracks. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference.
EVO vs. Valkyrie MK II:
No one has mentioned this comparison yet and I thought it would be interesting to bring it to the forefront. The Valkyrie MK II is a V shaped IEM but in my view it is not a classic V Shaped IEM where sub bass is drowning everything out but rather it is a technically REFINED V SHAPED IEM where mids and treble are given a chance to shine too.
The Valkyrie MK II is one of my favourite IEMs for bassy music due to its energy and positioning of mids and treble in the overall sound signature. In my view, the EVO takes a page from the Valkyrie MK II and upgrades everything it does exponentially (x1000) - bass quantity and quality, sound staging and imaging are taken to the next level.
Combing this with my comments comparing the ODIN, the EVO takes part of the ODIN's DNA sound staging and imaging qualities and you end up with a fantastic bass head IEM. This is not the say the Valkyrie MK II is a bad IEM, it is a fantastic one actually, it is more to highlight that there are some similarities between this and the EVO which one may not yet be aware of.
EVO vs. Legend X:
I have experience listening to the Legend X OG and in my view, the Legend EVO is a definite upgrade of the Legend X. The bass of the EVO is just technically better in terms of quantity and quality. Within the Legend X OG, I felt the sub-bass was a bit too ever present and in places where it did not need to be. The EVO fixes this and controls the sub bass. Sound stage is also wider and imaging capabilities are definitely better in my view.
Ear Tip and Cable Rolling
I tested the EVO with the stock Final E Tips, CP 155 and JVC Spiral Dots. I used M to L sizes. In my view, the EVO requires a tight fit around the nozzle in order to facilitate the appropriate use of the Weapon X bone conduction system.
Without a tight fit around the nozzle, the effect from the Weapon X is mitigated and therefore reduced. With this in mind, the CP 155 has a looser fit around the EVO nozzle and therefore does not bring out the best bass from the EVO. The JVC spiral dots perform a bit better however it still did not bring the bass to the same quantity of the Final E Tips. As such, the Final E tips produced the best bass response and therefore sound from the EVO.
I have tested many cables with the Legend EVO. In particular, I listened to the EVO with the stock Genesis cable, the ODIN Stormbreaker and the Satin Audio Chimera II X8 . Overall, the best cable for me was the STORMBREAKER.
With the Stormbreaker, mids and treble was pushed slightly more forward which resulted in one of the best listening experiences I have had with an IEM. To my ears and sound preferences, there was a perfect balance between the mids, treble and GIGANTIC amounts of bass. It was a pleasure and the Stormbreaker kept its place for a while on the EVO.
Of course, the level of detail and staging does not rise to the level of the ODIN, but this is not what the EVO was made for anyway as they are different in this regard. What I appreciated most was that the treble and mids came forward enough for my sound preferences.
The Genesis cable provided the EVO with arguably its most unique sound signature and this was definitely a good pairing.
In relation to the Satin Audio Chimera II X8, this is a copper and silver cable which had an interesting effect with EVO. Mids and treble came very slightly forward and bass quantity and quality was still ever present however sound stage and imaging was reduced when compared to the Genesis cable and Stormbreaker.
In terms of cable quality, the Genesis cable is really nice to use however some may find it a little bit stiff. It does not bother me nor cause any issues with cable noise however I have had experiences with other cables (e.g. from PlusSound, Satin Audio, PWA Stormbreaker) which are softer to handle and use.
The Legend EVO is a BIG IEM. It is the largest IEM I know of from Empire Ear's lineup. The shell itself is larger than the Odin, Valkyrie MK II and Legend X OG however the nozzel length is slightly longer. For my ears, the EVO fit fine and I was able to use them for 3 hours without pain. This may be due to the Final E tips which help provide a better fit on the EVO compared to deeply inserted ear tips (e.g CP 155). If you have have fit issues with ODIN, you may have issues with EVO in my view. It is best to try them out yourself.
Straight out of the box, the Legend EVO did not sound as I expected it to be. The bass was a bit bloated and mids and treble were recessed. As time passed and I listened to the IEMs after the 50 hours mark, it sounded to me like it was a new IEM. Mids and treble came forward and into place and the overall sound signature was improved. It is important that you really give these IEMs their burn in time before trying to fully appreciate what it is trying to achieve.
- 2 W9 + subwoofers
- 5 precision balanced armature drivers
- Weapon X bone conduction transducer Ultra Driver
- 9-way synX crossover
- Two-line architecture
- ARC resonance mitigation technology
- Impedance: 4.5 Ohm @ 1kHz
- Frequency response: 5Hz-35kHz
- Sensitivity: 103dB @ 1kHz, 1mW
- Empire X PWAudio "GENESIS" Ultra Pure OCC copper cable, 4.4 Pentaconn plug
The Empire Ears team have developed one of the most impressive IEMs to date. Although the EVO is tailored for bass heads, it is definitely an IEM to be admired by all audiophiles. If you love BASS BASS BASS BASS, you will love the Legend EVO.
Welldone - @Jack Vang !! To close, I hope you enjoyed my first review of the Legend EVO and I hope to provide further reviews over other Empire Ears IEMs such as the ODIN in the near future.
By Joshua Chan