Custom Build Choices (Personalization):
To me a custom in ear monitor is a very personal thing and designing a new monitor is one of the toughest chores that comes with a new CIEM. Very helpful during that process is a good designer tool. Empire’s tool is quite good at showing you what your new toys can look like. In four steps, you can easily create what you like.
Empire gives you a load of choices for standard colours to pick from. There are translucent and opaque shells in different colours to pick your poison from. You can also get glitter in your CIEMs if you fancy that. When you go over to designing your faceplate it doesn’t get easier, as there not only are standard colours but also Premium, Signature and Limited materials, these come at an up-charge and will affect the price in the end. Yet these sure make your CIEMs more special.
Under Premium designs you will find options like wood, carbon fibre or luxurious swirl designs for your faceplate. In Signature, you are able to pick from a big number of different printed faceplates. These can have monochrome design, a faceplate inspired by the painting “Starry Night”, skulls, modern art or a blue PCB. All these options are very unique and definitely won’t make it easier for one to come up with something for your CIEMs.
If you want your new Empire Ears custom to be even more unique than just shaped to your own set of ears, you can throw in a limited-edition faceplate in Blue Burl wood. This limited edition is available at the time of writing but might not be when you read this review.
Now we get to logo placement. You can either get the Empire Ears full wing logo or the simple facing EE logo in silver or gold on the faceplate. Alternatively, you can also get Swarovski crystals or your own logo printed on top of your CIEMs. You can place your logo at the desired position, rotate and scale it as you wish.
But wait, there’s more!
Not only can you customize your set of monitors, but you can also select the termination of your supplied Effect Audio Ares II premium cable. You can select between 3.5 mm stereo, 2.5 mm balanced and 4.4 mm Pentaconn balanced plugs. As a final step, you can also have customized engraving on your protective case.
Show me another manufacturer that offers you this kind of flexibility. I am amazed with what Empire offers their customers.
It was really tough for me to design my Phantom, but I am very happy with the result. It sports a titanium opaque shell and Blue Burl face plates. On each side I have gone for a silver EE logo.
Empire goes the extra mile on development and on customization. It doesn’t come as a surprise that even their packaging is oozing of a premium feel.
You will receive a sturdy, black cardboard box that has a prominently placed and exalted silver full-wing logo on top. Flip it open to be greeted by a lot of content for a CIEM. There are branded pouches and IEM bags as well as a branded cleaning cloth.
In the box you will also of course find an Aegis protection case that is customized to your order. This exact case beholds your new monitors in them, safely stored in a padded interior with separate rooms for each earpiece. Everything has its place in the cut-out padding. The left and right earpiece, the cable and even the cleaning tool. It’s this exact eye for detail that makes other solutions look amateurish. This case has become my personal favourite and I use it all the time. Even for monitors not made by Empire.
Empire Ears ships all of their monitors with Effect Audio’s Ares II cable. This cable is regarded as one of the best bang for buck solutions if you’re looking for an upgrade cable to lift your monitors to new heights. It is a 26 AWG UPOCC Litz Copper cable, braided out of four wires. It is nicely portable and comes with a preformed ear hook.
Empire Ears has been in the game of custom monitors for a while now, and that gives them enough experience to craft excellent monitors. The build quality of my Phantom is almost flawless, apart from a small smudge in the titanium coloring, there is nothing to complain about.
The shells are perfectly made, without any sharp corners near the face plate closing, nor the 2-pin sockets. The Phantom fits me like a glove and that’s what matters. It is as comfortable to wear as it can be. When I take them out of my ears I don’t feel any pressure relieve, and that speaks for an excellent work right there.
Empire uses a semi-recessed 2-pin socket, this gives you the added security for your cables while also making it easier for the cable-afficionados to experiment with different wires. The Phantom uses a horn-bore design, where the sound-tubes end a few millimeters before the nozzle finishes. A lot of manufacturers use this design for treble tuning, as it then becomes more agile.
This also makes it a lot easier to clean the Phantom from debris and earwax. I recommend you to use the included tool to clean your precious monitors on a daily basis. Every once in a while I also put my monitors in a hearing aid cleaning box, which kills all bacteria, to keep my CIEMs at top level.
On to page three for Sound.