The tonal accuracy is a very important factor in my book. And the Bravado MKII, while doing pretty good in this regard, is not too great. The note size is a bit small when it comes to instrument timbre. Combine it with the recessed mid-range presentation as I mentioned above, then you have a monitor that is not ideal for listening to instrument-heavy recordings.
The sound stage is good but not huge. Both the width and depth is on good levels, but the depth is definitely very impressive. Overall, it competes very well at this price range. When it comes to imaging, the Bravado MKII performs very well despite its risky and fun-oriented tuning. That huge bass gets in the way and steals the spotlight occasionally, and it makes it a genre-specific IEM. But it still has a black background with good instrument separation.
The Bravado MKII is not cohesive as the ESR MKII, rather understandably. This kind of presentation is certainly not balanced so that trait is only normal. It’s a very impressive IEM because of its sheer dynamism and attack. But that also means it’s not easy to listen to it all day long. Quite the contrary of the ESR MKII. So overall, the Bravado MKII is not very impressive in terms of balance and coherency, but that’s a fair trade-off at the cost of having that wow factor and fun signature. It’s very entertaining and focused so you can have great hours of listening, with specific genres like Metal and EDM.
For synergy, I think something like FiiO M11 Pro or DX160 would do well. I recommend pairing with rather analytical and flat-sounding sources with the Empire Ears Bravado MKII so that you can have a bit more balanced presentation.
This comparison is simple because they sound so different. The bass is definitely more impressive in the Bravado, which is bold, unapologetic, and unmistakable. The RSV has a leaner bass compared to that with a bit more mid-bass quantity. Thanks to that, it’s more all-rounder and flexible. The RSV is not bass-shy in any way, but compared to the Bravado everything can be considered bass-light.
In the mids, the RSV has better texture, better layering, better tonality, and better definition. As I remarked the Bravado is not very strong in mids. When it comes to treble though, the Bravado really shines with excellent clarity and refinement. So once again, it all depends on you and your choices. The RSV to me is overall the better performer simply because of its balance, cohesiveness, and flexibility.
Packaging-wise Empire has a better presentation with better accessories and better cable. These both have a great build quality and you can get incredible custom designs from itsFit Lab.
Fusion is close to being a flat monitor in my opinion but not fully flat. It has more sub-bass response thanks to its excellently tuned dynamic driver with great bass control. However, the mid-bass region is a bit thinner in the Fusion and its lower mid-range isn’t the best. That is similar to the Bravado MKII as well, but the main difference is the huge bass of the Bravado. Compared to the Fusion, there’s much, much more bass quantity and it’s hard to believe that the Fusion also has a dynamic driver inside.
The treble is very good in both, but I think the Bravado copes with fast tracks better without sticking the cymbals, especially with Metal recordings. However, the Fusion has a slightly wider soundstage. So except for the bass difference, they perform on similar levels with a recessed mid-bass tuning. If you need very powerful bass, you need to check the Bravado out. Otherwise, the Fusion is your choice.
The Empire Ears Bravado MKII is spectacular and bold. But as always, this hobby is very subjective when it comes to different sound signatures. Certain people may like it, some may dislike it. I liked the Bravado with Metal and EDM music, as well as with some Pop and RnB songs. If you seek a bass monster and want to feel the bass instead of hearing it, that wonderful W9+ subwoofer works wonders.
However, if you usually listen to Classical, Jazz and Classic Rock, etc., I would recommend the ESR MKII with a reference signature and flat response. But if you’re on the lookout for a fun-oriented IEM and also want good technicalities, this might be one of your best bets right now.