Starting today, guest authors will post their impressions and product reviews here on the blog. I would like to let our customers have their say even more in the future. So anyone who would like to share a review or impressions of a product here is welcome to do so!
It starts with Joshua Chan, fellow audiophile and customer of Audio Essence. Thank you Josh for your review!
I was fortunate enough to test a demo of the Empire Ears Legend EVO (EVO) by Audio Essence / @TomKorn. I was able to listen to them for about 10+ hours (Thanks TOM x1000!!). The device I received was already 50 hours burned in. I realize I haven't hit the 100 hour mark yet, so my impressions may change at a later date.
I'm fairly new to the world of IEMs and only got into this hobby in 2021. Still, I want to share some of my first experiences with the EVO.
Disclaimer: These are my thoughts and opinions only, which may not reflect the experiences of others. As far as music goes, I enjoy listening 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. For starters I used the standard Final E earbuds and Genesis cable, but later I rolled the earbuds and cable a bit. For music playback I used the app USB Audio Player pro with Bit Perfect Mode and Tidal.
Comparison of the IEMs
The Legend EVO is the most notable IEM for bass fans at the time of writing. It gave me the best bass experience of any IEM without compromising too much on the overall sound quality. Empire Ears really hit the nail on the head with this IEM because they somehow managed to develop an IEM that has such a deep bass response and still is able to reproduce other sound frequencies like the mids and accentuate highs. There's also an incredible soundstage and high level of detail reproduction.
The bass is the star of the show. The quality, texture and quantity of bass is incredible. These IEMs were designed to bring out the best bass and they succeeded. The mids and highs are a bit reduced for me personally, but in the right place to emphasize the bass. Overall sound quality is a series of compromises, and Empire Ears has definitely struck the right balance.
Based on the materials that come with it (earbuds, cables, etc.), I would rate the EVO as follows (10=best):
- Bass: 10/10
- Middle: 9/10
- Heights: 9/10
- Imaging: 9/10
- Soundstage: 9/10
General sound signature
The general sound signature of the EVO is that it is a bass-heavy IEM. The bass is clearly more present than all other frequencies and it is anything but neutral. It's definitely an IEM that's fun and immersive in the music. There is a HUGE amount of bass.
I first listened to the EVO right out of the box and then again 50 hours later when I received the demo unit. When I first heard the EVO Once heard I wasn't a big fan of the placement of the mids and highs as I felt they were a bit set back. After importing, the mids and highs have improved significantly.
Out of curiosity, I connected Odin's Stormbreaker cable to the EVO. In my opinion and based on my own sound preferences, this was the best sound experience I've had with the EVO and in recent memory with an IEM other than ODIN. The mids and highs were now a bit more present, while the bass presence of the EVO was retained. That was pure MAGIC.
The bass in the EVO is supported by two W9+ Dynamic Drives (DD) and a Weapon X (WX) driver. The combination of all these elements results in a remarkable bass response that I have never heard in an IEM. Overall I would say there is fantastic bass structure, quantity and quality. When the bass is needed it cranks up full steam and when it's not needed it fades into the background, but not so much that it drowns out the rest of the sound.
The bass structure and depth is always present when it is needed. When listening to "Hans Zimmer - Why so Serious (Batman, Dark Knight Album)" you can clearly feel the different levels, textures and depths of the bass. All bass drivers push and pull, if necessary, with deep bass notes and give the instruments additional spice - you can literally feel how the guitars are being stringed.
The introduction of the Weapon X has taken this IEM's bass to a new level, and you get a really boomy effect. When listening to "Linkin Park / Steve Aoki - One More Light Remix" the sub-bass goes to unprecedented depths. I had a similar experience listening to "Arty - Avalanche". There is a fantastic bass drop in on "Illenium - Crazy Times". the last bridge of the song. With the EVO, the bass drop is wonderful here as it digs deep and manages to keep the background electric guitar in place.
On the hip-hop classics "Dem Franchize Boyz - Ridin Rims" and "Eminem - You Don't Know" the bass drop at the beginning of these songs is incredibly dense, with a great deal of punch and THUMP, For all the bass presence, it doesn't overpower the other sound frequencies very and doesn't result in a muddy sound either. Overall, the bass in the EVO is really amazing. Interestingly, the presence of the Weapon X makes for an even fuller sound experience and immerses you in certain tracks.
Mid and Heights
To my surprise, given the heavy bass presence, the mids are very well detailed. Instruments and voices are well placed and blend naturally into the overall sound. I'm very happy with this tuning, but I can understand that some people would prefer the mids and highs to be a little more forward or have them be a little livelier. This becomes very clear, for example, when you first hear the ODIN and then immediately switch to the EVO. In my opinion, the tuning is so impressive that you really hear the details of all the instruments and voices without being too "drowned" in the bass.
Illenium combines many 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 while the bass thumps in the background. The vocals are pleasant and well placed in every song I've listened to. For more technical titles, e.g. B.Hans Zimmer, the instruments sounded fantastic and thanks to the fantastic imaging and soundstage you get a truly immersive listening experience
For rock/pop music, I played "Fall Out Boy - My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark" and found that EVO performed this song very well. Electric guitars and voices sounded fantastic and well placed. The extra bass in the background gave the song more body and energy. If I were being really picky here, the bass might be too much for some, especially when compared to the ODIN.
Regarding the treble, I felt that it compared to the mids and bass were a bit more relaxed, but being a bass head IEM it was where it should be. It's important to note that some might find the mids and highs too relaxed or slightly understated. In my opinion they are placed where they need to be and therefore fit the EVO's overall sonic signature. I didn't notice any sibilance with the EVO.
Soundstage and imaging
The soundstage and imaging of the EVOs are excellent. The soundstage is definitely wide, offering enough space in terms of width and height to really understand what's going on in a piece. The imaging is also impressive and the EVO offers the listener a detailed experience. The EVO is definitely a technical IEM.
EVO vs ODIN:
In my opinion, these two IEMs are impressive in their own way and have their similarities and differences. They complement each other very well and will co-exist perfectly in anyone's IEM collection.
The biggest difference between the two is that the ODIN has a much more prominent sound characteristic in the mids and highs and less bass compared to the EVO. The bass quality is very similar to my ears, but with the Weapon X in the EVO you get significantly more sub-bass and quantity.
In terms of sound reproduction and imaging, however, the ODIN and EVO are more similar than many think. The EVO's soundstage is almost on par with the Odin, regardless of bass presence. The ODIN still has the edge when it comes to soundstage, imaging and technical characteristics - but only just.
With standard earbuds, cables, etc., I prefer less bass-heavy music with the Odin, such as B. classical music, but that depends on your preferences. With the Odin, for example, all the details in classical music are reproduced with enough bass emphasis. However, there are also people who prefer classical music or film soundtracks with more bass presence and depth, and therefore the EVO is better suited.
For more bass-heavy genres like EDM and Hip Hop, the ODIN is a fantastic IEM, but the EVO gives those tracks that extra thump. 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 up front. The Valkyrie MK II is a V-shaped IEM, but in my opinion it is not a classic V-shaped IEM where the sub-bass drowns out everything, but rather a technically refined V-shaped IEM where the mids and highs also have a chance have to shine. The Valkyrie MK II is one of my favorite iEMs for bass-heavy music due to its energy and positioning of the mids and highs throughout the sound signature. In my opinion, the EVO takes a slice from the Valkyrie MK II and improves everything it does exponentially (x1000) - bass quantity and quality, sound staging and imaging are taken to the next level.Combining this with my comments comparing the ODIN, the EVO inherits some of the ODIN's DNA in terms of sound staging and imaging qualities and you get a fantastic bass head IEM That's not to say the Valkyrie MK II is a bad IEM is, it's actually a fantastic IEM, it's more about the fact that there are some similarities between this and the EVO that you might not be aware of.
EVO vs. Legend X:
I have experience with the Legend X OG and in my opinion the Legend EVO is a clear upgrade from the Legend X. The EVO's bass is just technically better in terms of quantity and quality. With the Legend X OG, I felt that the sub-bass was a little too present and in places where it didn't need to be. The EVO fixes this and controls the sub-bass. The soundstage is also wider and the imaging possibilities are definitely better in my opinion.
Experimenting with different earbud cables
I tested the EVO with the stock Final E Tips, CP 155 and JVC Spiral Dots. I used sizes M to L. In my opinion, the EVO needs a tight fit around the socket to allow proper use of the Weapon X bone conduction system.
Without a tight fit around the socket, the effect of the Weapon X is weakened and thus reduced. With that in mind, the CP 155 has a looser fit around the EVO muzzle and therefore doesn't get the best bass out of the EVO. While the JVC spiral nozzles are slightly better, they still don't deliver the same amount of bass as the Final E Tips. Thus, the Final E Tips got the best bass reproduction and thus the best sound out of the EVO.
I tested many cables with the Legend EVO. Specifically, I listened to the EVO using 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, the mids and highs were given a little more prominence, resulting in one of the best listening experiences I've had with an IEM. To my ears and sound preferences, there was a perfect balance of mids, highs and HUGE amounts of bass. It was a pleasure, and the Stormbreaker kept its place on the EVO for a while.
Of course, the level of detail and scale doesn't reach the level of the ODIN, but the EVO isn't made for that anyway, as they're different in that regard. What I appreciated most was that the highs and mids came forward enough for my tonal preferences. The Genesis cable gave the EVO arguably its most unique sonic signature, and it was definitely a good pairing.
The Satin Audio Chimera II X8 is a copper and silver cable that had an interesting effect on the EVO. The mids and highs came forward very slightly and the amount and quality of bass was still present, but the soundstage and imaging were reduced compared to the Genesis cable and Stormbreaker.
As for the quality of the cable, so the Genesis cable is really comfortable to use, although some might find it a bit stiff. It doesn't bother me or cause cable noise issues, but I've had experiences with other cables (e.g. from PlusSound, Satin Audio, PWA Stormbreaker) that are smoother to handle and use.
The Legend EVO is a BIG IEM. It is the largest IEM that I know from the Empire Ear product range. The shell itself is larger than that of the Odin, Valkyrie MK II and Legend X OG, but the stem length is slightly longer.For my ears the EVO fit well and I was able to wear them for 3 hours with no pain. This may be due to the Final E-Tips which provide a better fit on the EVO compared to deep set ear tips (e.g. CP 155). If you have ODIN fit issues, I think you will have EVO issues as well. It's best to try them yourself.
Right out of the box, the Legend EVO didn't sound like what I expected. The bass was a bit bloated and the mids and highs were reduced. As time passed and I listened to the IEMs past the 50 hour mark, it sounded like a new IEM to me. The mids and highs came forward and into place, and the overall sound signature was improved. It is important that you give these IEMs some break-in time before trying to fully appreciate what they are trying to accomplish.
- 2 W9 + subwoofer
- 5 Precision Balanced Armature Drivers
- Weapon X Bone Conductor Ultra Driver
- 9-way synX crossover
- Two-line architecture
- ARC resonance mitigation technology
- Impedance: 4.5 ohms @ 1kHz
- Frequency response: 5Hz-35kHz
- Sensitivity: 103dB @ 1kHz, 1mW
- Empire X PWAudio "GENESIS" Ultra Pure OCC copper cable, 4.4 Pentaconn connector
The Empire Ears team has developed one of the most impressive IEMs yet. Although the EVO is tailored for bassists, it is definitely an IEM to be admired by all audiophiles. If you love BASS BASS BASS BASS you will love the Legend EVO.
Well done - @Jack Vang !! In closing, I hope you enjoyed my first review of the Legend EVO and I hope to post more reviews about other Empire Ears IEMs like the ODIN in the near future.
By Joshua Chan