Today we’re taking a quick look at Empire Ears’ new mid-level monitor – the Empire Ears Hero. It’s a four driver hybrid design retailing for $1,349 USD.
Disclaimer: This post is part of our First Look Sunday series, where we take brief looks at new gear in the queue. To check out previous ones you can do that here.
We all know Empire Ears by now, but for those who haven’t come across that name, let me give you a brief introduction.
Empire Ears is a US based company that manufactures world-class custom and universal In Ear Monitors. What makes them stand out from the very crowded scene to me, is the fact that they look past traditional technologies and designs. Empire Ears uses a lot of proprietary technologies and drivers. One of the most notable would probably be their Weapon IX and IX+ drivers. These are dynamic drivers that feature a front and back firing design, which has been seen in two-channel audio for a long time.
These drivers are touted as sub-woofers. And once you hear them perform, I am sure you will acknowledge that. The W9 and W9+ go seriously low into the sub-bass areas.
Another stand-out feature of Empire Ears is their different take at the market. Let’s take the Legend X for example. It’s a monitor that can best be described as the bass-head’s wet dream IEM. It has earth shattering levels of bass, but manages to still keep a good and open mid-range despite that. Many people really love the Legend X, and in Japan, probably the biggest market for personal audio, it is one of the most sold IEMs year after year.
Hero is a four driver hybrid design that uses three proprietary balanced armatures and a single Weapon IX+ driver. Like all other monitors from Empire Ears it makes use of their entire arsenal of custom technologies. It uses A.R.C. to mitigate resonances of the drivers and their highly advanced synX crossover technology.
Hero has a rated impedance of 17.6 Ohms @ 1kHz and a sensitivity of 105dB/mW. Which makes it a rather normal to drive IEM. Like all other EE hybrids I have come across so far, it does enjoy higher output power.
EE likes to bundle their IEMs with good aftermarket cables. For that part they go through a very meticulous process of trial and error with countless cables. Hero uses an EE branded version of Effect Audio’s Ares II cable. The only difference to the Ares II is the used hardware for 2-pin barrels, y-split and headphone plugs. The cable itself is the Ares II, Effect Audio’s bread and butter.
Let’s take a quick look at how the Hero sounds. If you have browsed EE’s website, you probably have noticed that they describe it as a monitor in between the Legend X and Zeus XIV. As someone who owns both of them I agree with their statement.
While it sure doesn’t have the massive, big and bold bass of the Legend X, it clearly stands somewhere in between the Zeus XIV, and Odin for that matter. It has an energetic, authoritative and punchy low end that goes down for miles. But it couples those lows with detailed, precise and slightly lush mids, which it inherited from Zeus XIV.
The Hero is a master when it comes to reproducing female vocals. Listening to Björk records is pure joy to me. That bass. Those vocals. And all the details. Just wonderful. An area where I see conflict is treble though. It is bright and forward. So forward at times, that it makes cymbals and violins sound hard edged and sharp.
Those are just short impressions, and I am sure you’d have loved to see more here, but I want to you to keep your appetite for the main review of Hero. It’s worth the wait. So keep your eyes on Headfonia and check back in a couple of weeks for the full review treatment.