Disclaimer: The Empire Ears Legend X was provided for a discounted price for this review. Empire Ears is not affiliated with Headfonia and not a site advertiser. Many thanks for the generosity and opportunity to review them.
About Empire Ears:
Empire Ears is an American IEM and custom IEM company, seated in Norcross, Georgia. They are no new face to the audiophile world. The main people behind Empire are Jack Vang, vice president and co-founder, and his father Dean Vang, the main man behind tuning and development of their products. Before the Empire brand was launched, Jack Vang was owner of a very successful company called EarWerkz. In late 2015 Jack joined forces with his father and merged with Dean’s company, who was working on hearing aids and OEM in ears, to form Empire Ears. This step took their business to the next level.
There are currently three different lines available from Empire Ears: The X Line, the EP (Empire Pro) Line and the Legacy Line. The Legacy Line consists of their most popular models from their previous line-up. Empire launched their EP and X Line in February with a total of seven new models. Each line has its own flagship – Legend X, Phantom and Zeus. They are forming Empire’s triumvirate.
All their products are hand-made in their facilities. Returning customers don’t have to send in new impressions each time, as Empire stores them for future events.
Empire Ears is working with a lot of award winning and successful artists such as Flo Rida and Future or producers and engineers like Michael Graves and Jeremiah Atkins. Who both were very much involved in the tuning of Empire’s latest lineup.
Empire Ears is one of the companies that looks further than just their tuning. They also worked meticulously on finding the best materials to optimize their drivers. Therefore, they have introduced a special coating and a highly advanced new crossover network. More on that a little later.
Empire Ears is one of the most-regarded companies in our scene. That, I think, is mostly due to their highly-acclaimed products, as well as the impressive dedication their team puts in. There is hardly any other person other than Jack Vang that shows so much commitment to what he does. He’s the ever-smiling face and driving force of Empire Ears that many customers put so highly. He travels the world for shows, he talks to customers and he handles marketing and sales. On not just one occasion he has responded to my messages at unholy hours, that shows how far this man goes to satisfy his customers.
They have reached critical acclamation with their flagship monitor of their previous Olympus line, the Zeus (soon to be reviewed on Headfonia). The Zeus is still known as one of the best monitors money can buy. Its legendary status has made Empire keep producing it as the top of their Legacy line-up. This line-up consists of only two monitors though, both of which have been available in their former Olympus line, the Spartan IV and the Zeus (in three different variants).
About Legend X:
The Legend X comes with quite some heritage, as it is the offspring of EarWerkz’s former top of the line offering – the Legend R, which Lieven reviewed back in the day. I suggest you read up on his review.
The Legend X is Empire’s top offering of their X-line products and uses a great number of their proprietary technologies. It is a seven-driver setup using dual dynamic Weapon IX drivers for lows. These are far off from typical dynamic drivers though. The Weapon IX’s use a front and back-firing design, which can be found in two-channel hifi quite often. With a diameter of nine millimeters they push a lot of air for a powerful sound. Additionally to the Weapon IX sub-woofers, there are five proprietary balanced armature drivers for mids and highs. These drivers are manufactured by Knowles and Sonion, the two big companies when you need BA drivers. Empire’s drivers use specialized reeds, low-mass diaphragms and Ferrofluid between the magnets and armatures.
The Legend X uses two balanced armatures for mids, one for upper mids, a single BA for treble and another one for upper treble. Together with the dual Weapon IX dynamic drivers for lows, that makes seven drivers in total per side.
There not only are proprietary drivers packed in these monitors, but also a few “Empire-only” ingredients.
One of the things that make the Legend X truly outstanding is their synX crossover design, which assigns multiple audio bands to their drivers with synchronized time and frequency domains. That way they created what Empire calls an “ultra-wide, multi-channel highway”, with this highway their engineers were able to adjust specific frequencies even more precise than before. On top of that, the drivers benefit from phase incoherence cancellation. The Legend X uses a ten-way design for their seven drivers. This way they were able to fine-tune their drivers even further for a coherent and harmonic sound. Each driver and crossover network is wired with isolated seven-strand UPOCC Litz wires to eliminate acoustic feedback. To further improve signal transfer, Empire soldered everything with ultra-pure silver and gold Mundorf Supreme solder.
On top of the advanced crossover network they are further optimizing their drivers by coating them with their anti-resonance compound (A.R.C.). This coating enables the drivers to be more resistant against resonances and helps suppressing distortions. A.R.C. not only is applied to their drivers, but also on the in- and outside of their shells, the crossovers and tubes. By killing unwanted resonances Empire was also able to reach a deeper bass-response, more clarity and higher efficiency.
I’m a techy at heart, and looking at what’s under the hood of the Legend X makes me smile. I admire people and companies that go out of their way to create something new in order to deliver the best.
What is not accessible on Empire’s website are the numbers for Impedance, Sensitivity or Frequency Response. What I have noticed though, is that I have to crank up the volume on my SP1000 a bit higher than on most of my other monitors. As most hybrids tend to need more power, I was expecting to fire in more juice than normal.
The Legend X comes in a custom and universal flavour and currently sells for 2299$. The build time for a custom fit is roughly five weeks. A rush order option is available for 300$ which boosts build time to ten business-days.
The review continues on Page 2!