Empire Ears ESR MKII Review

Fit

The Empire Ears ESR MKII has a very comfortable fit with a smooth shape and nicely angled nozzle. The IEMs sit tight and flush, but comfortable at the same time. When it first arrived in my hands, I listened to the IEM a few hours and a few hours more in the evening, and I never felt any discomfort. The Final Audio tips work nicely for a sturdy fit and they’re also very comfortable, as I also experienced in the past with other IEMs.

If you want a little more comfort you can go for a SpinFit pair, but you’ll lose a bit of that isolation. Speaking of it, isolation is great for a universal IEM and since this model doesn’t have bass ports like the Bravado MKII, there’s no issue with blocking the noise. You can use it in any environment and enjoy your tunes. Just like the build quality, Empire has covered this topic very well.

Sound Quality

Forget about the numbers. Forget about the frequency graphs. Sometimes we need to remember that, music matters. The other debates and conversations can change, deviate, and can go on forever. That is one thing but enjoying the music is another. And the Empire Ears MKII makes you remember that fact. Another thing that comes to my mind when I listen to this IEM is realism. It’s very natural and realistic.

Empire Ears ESR MKII

The presentation of the ESR MKII is linear, reference-like but not without enjoyment and warmth. It might have a reference type of presentation, but it’s also a bit warm and musical, especially in the mid-range. The ESR MKII also has a very smooth signature and it’s one of the most balanced and cohesive IEMs I’ve tested. It does not have the wow factor like the Bravado MKII, and it needs time to shine and show its true qualities. It offers a very smooth and effortless experience overall.

Bass

The low-frequency region is mostly linear whilst having a slight warmth in the mid-bass section. The bass has good texture but doesn’t reach very deep like the dynamic driver IEMs can. Especially when compared to the new Bravado MKII, the bass feels underwhelming. But that’s only the first impression because the Bravado MKII has a hugely impressive bass quantity.

However, the ESR MKII doesn’t miss any of the qualities that we require for a reference type of IEM in the bass. It has a mid-bass oriented presentation but it gives excellent definition and resolution in this range. Especially the instrument presentation here is very impressive as you can hear the lowest notes of instruments very clearly.

So don’t expect a very impressive, rumbling, and heavy-hitting bass region. But do expect a reference bass presentation with great definition and transparency. To me, the ESR MKII has a very realistic bass region and I’m glad that Empire has created this kind of an IEM. This is more like my taste. Sure, impressive bass makes the listeners excited with certain genres and I totally respect that. But people like me who enjoy Classical, Jazz, and Classic Rock would like to have this presentation instead.

Empire Ears ESR MKII

Mids

The mid-range is the most impressive feat of the new ESR MKII. The mids are very smooth, detailed, and transparent. This is all about the instruments and vocals here. The ESR MKII to me has an incredible instrument presentation that is just right and spot-on. Describing this kind of quality is usually quite difficult but what I’m saying is, it’s incredibly natural and realistic with great dynamism as well.

The definition of mids is excellent as well as their resolution. And also, you get a good body in the mid-range which is very well balanced. This full-bodied presentation is not overdone. It manages to stay under the edge. And to me, that’s a great tuning success. The mid-range actually reminded me of the Phantom. That’s another Empire IEM that has great mid-range definition and tonality.

In terms of positioning, the mids are under the spotlight since they’re a bit close to the front of the stage. Hence, the focus is on the mids here. So I don’t think it would be wrong to say that the ESR MKII is a mid-focused IEM. And that’s great simply because it manages to make this IEM very enjoyable. It would be a bit too flat or “dull” without this mid character. So I can say that the mids are a bit more in front than the rest of the spectrum, but that’s not a dominating mid-presentation either. As I said, the ESR MKII is one of the well-balanced monitors you can find in the market.

Treble

Once again, the treble also feels very natural and resolving like the bass and mids. It’s smooth, very detailed but not aggressive or too accentuated either. The treble is on the softer side without any edginess. There’s great detail but it’s not a bright-sounding treble in any way. So you shouldn’t expect a bright treble. There are EST drivers, yes, but the presentation is not bright here.

In fact, the treble actually is a bit laid-back to my ears. Very smooth, detailed but not in the spotlight. There’s not much sparkle and splashiness like some other monitors, so you might find it lacking some excitement. Whatever the record gives you, you hear exactly that.

The review concludes with technical performance and comparsions on page 3.

4.6/5 - (45 votes)

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A keen audiophile and hobby photographer, Berkhan is after absolute perfection. Whether it is a full-frame camera or a custom in-ear, his standpoint persists the same. He tries to keep his photography enthusiasm at the same level as audio. Sometimes photography wins, sometimes his love for music takes over and he puts that camera aside. Simplistic expressions of sound in his reviews are the way to go for him. He enjoys a fine single malt along with his favorite Jazz recordings.

2 Comments

  • Reply February 25, 2021

    Mark Halstead

    Would have loved to see the ESR II compared with the JH13v2.

    • Reply March 3, 2021

      Berkhan

      It would be a great comparison, but unfortunately I don’t have that one.

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