Empire Ears Legend X

Comparison.

Here is how Legend X compares to some other IEMs.

Legend X vs Trio – While Trio has a wide soundstage, LX extends the width a little further; with staging depth, Trio extends further from the front stage while LX is a little closer and more intimate. While both are hybrids with a dynamic bass driver, LX sub-bass and mid-bass slam harder, at least 3dB more in quantity. Both have a well-controlled bass without spilling into mids which is impressive, especially in case of LX where low end has a stronger driving power. Lower mids are neutral in both IEMs, actually a little south of neutral in LX, which helps with separation of bass from upper mids and treble, and then LX upper mids continue with a natural detailed tonality where in contrast Trio upper mids are more forward, thinner, and brighter, as well as more revealing in comparison. The same difference carries over into the treble where Trio is brighter, with more crunch and airiness while LX has the same treble extension, but it sounds calmer, more controlled, less fatigue, and still well defined and with a nice level of sparkle. The biggest difference between these two is in the bass slam, especially sub-bass rumble where LX has an upper hand, and treble definition where Trio’s TIA driver gives it energy, while LX sounds more natural and less crunchy in comparison.

Legend X vs UERR – I know it is totally crazy to compare 7-way hybrid with 3BA IEM, but I keep coming back to this comparison because of both having a natural tonality of mids/treble. Starting with a soundstage expansion, LX has more width while both have a similar depth. Also, no surprises here, LX is heavily dominating in sub-bass and mid-bass quantity, going deeper and slamming harder. With lower mids, LX is a little south of neutral, while UERR is north of it, giving a little thicker body to the sound. But starting from upper mids and through the treble extension – there is a lot of similarities in tonality due to their musical nature. I do have to give LX more credit where the retrieval of details is on a higher level while UERR is smoother, but with an exception of the bass, these have more in common when it comes to upper mids and treble.

Legend X vs Fourte – Finally, we have a soundstage expansion match, with both having nearly the same width and depth. Sub-bass extension and mid-bass slam is noticeably bigger in LX, while Fourte has a more neutral sub-bass and slimmer and faster mid-bass. Both have a similarly tuned lower mids, south of neutral, and from there going up the difference is again quite noticeable where Fourte upper mids and treble are a lot brighter, more revealing, more micro detailed, while LX is smoother and more natural in tonality, with a lot less crunch and airiness. LX and Fourte have a very different tuning, but I know many will be curious if there are any similarities, which I didn’t find.

Legend X vs U12t – Here is another interesting comparison, including similarities. Starting with soundstage, LX is still wider, but U12t has more staging depth. With bass, the sub-bass rumble and mid-bass punch quantities are very similar, but the quality differs between a faster and tighter U12t bass vs more analog quality LX with a dual DD which is thicker, slower and more natural in comparison. With lower mids, U12t is a little thicker which gives the sound more body, while LX lower mids are leaner in comparison. Upper mids have a lot of similarities in tonality, though U12t is a little smoother and more forward in presentation, while LX upper mids are a little more revealing when it comes to detail retrieval, and have a more layered sound. Treble has a lot of similarities in tonality and presentation, with U12t having just a bit of an edge in a crunch and airiness.

Legend X vs W900 – Another great hybrid for comparison. Without surprises, LX delivers a wider soundstage, while W900 has a little more out of your head depth. Sub-bass rumble quantity and mid-bass slam are close, but LX bass feels tighter and better controlled. The control of the bass is especially noticeable when it comes to lower mids where W900 is thicker due to some spillage, while LX is south of neutral, being leaner. Upper mids and treble have a very similar tonality and presentation, but a different level of layering and separation where W900 sounds a little more congested while LX is more resolving. The biggest difference here is in the lower mids where W900 is thicker and more congested.

Legend X vs VEGA – The soundstage is wider in LX while VEGA has more out of your head depth. With bass, finally we have a pair of IEMs with even more sub-bass rumble and stronger mid-bass punch where VEGA has an upper hand in this comparison. Both have a below neutral leaner lower mids to accentuate the bass. Upper mids do vary with LX being more natural, more detailed, less fatigue. 6k peak is more dominant in VEGA which in some pair ups can make the sound harsh, LX is definitely more natural in comparison. Treble is also brighter and crisper in VEGA, versus being smoother and more natural in LX. While VEGA was considered before as one of my top recommendations for basshead audiophiles, I think now LX can challenge that status.

Pair up.

Here is how Legend X pairs up with various sources, all from balanced HO (I was using my own Ares II 2.5mm terminated cable), except M2S and LPG which are single ended. In every pair up I found No Hissing, regardless of output impedance of the source.

Cowon Plenue 2 – very wide soundstage; powerful bass slam with a deep sub-bass rumble; natural, detailed, resolving mids; well defined crisp treble with a natural brightness and airy extension.

Shanling M2S (5ohm output impedance) – wide soundstage; very powerful bass slam with a deep sub-bass rumble; smooth, detailed mids with a good resolution; well defined crisp treble, a little less airiness. Overall tonality is smoother and warmer.

Lotoo PAW Gold – very wide soundstage: powerful bass slam with even deeper sub-bass rumble and overall bass being tighter and faster; natural, detailed, very resolving mids with great transparency; well defined crisp treble with a little more crunch, more brightness, and more airiness.

Cayin N5ii – very wide soundstage; powerful bass slam with even deeper sub-bass rumble and overall bass being tighter and faster; natural, detailed, resolving mids; well defined crisp treble with plenty of crunch and airiness.

A&K AK120ii – very wide soundstage; overwhelming bass slam with a very deep rumble; natural, detailed, resolving, transparent mids; well defined crisp treble with a natural brightness and airy extension.

Hiby R6 (10ohm output impedance) – very wide soundstage; powerful bass slam with even deeper sub-bass rumble; very natural, detailed, resolving mids with great transparency; well defined crisp treble with plenty of crunch and airiness.

FiiO X7ii – very wide soundstage; powerful bass slam with a deep sub-bass rumble, overall bass is tighter and faster; natural, detailed, smooth mids with a good resolution; well defined crisp treble with a natural brightness and airy extension.

TheBit Opus#2 – very wide soundstage; powerful mid-bass slam with a deep sub-bass rumble, overall bass is tighter and faster; natural, detailed, smooth mids with a good resolution, but overall mids presentation is pushed a little back; well defined crisp treble, a little smoother, and still airy.

iBasso DX200 w/amp4 – very wide soundstage; powerful balanced bass with well controlled mid-bass slam and deep textured sub-bass rumble; very natural detailed mids with high resolution and transparency; well defined crisp treble with a natural brightness and non-fatigue airy extension. By far my favorite pair up.

Sony WM1Z – very wide soundstage; powerful mid-bass slam with a deep textured sub-bass rumble; very natural detailed resolving mids with a great level of transparency; well defined crisp treble with a natural brightness and non-fatigue airy extension. My 2nd favorite pair up.

Samsung Note 4 – wide soundstage; powerful mid-bass slam with a deep sub-bass rumble; natural, detailed, resolving mids with a decent transparency; well defined crisp treble with a natural brightness and a good airy extension.

Based on how I hear it, I found DX200 w/amp4 to have the best pair up, while WM1Z was 2nd best, just with a little more bass slam. Other pair ups were good too. Pair up with R6 and Plenue 2 was the most flexible due to their DSP effect which help to adjust the tonality.

Conclusion.

I’m already anticipating a question if Legend X and Phantom (another all BA new release from Empire Ears) will be the new EE flagships. I didn’t hear the Phantom yet, will do that at the upcoming CanJam NYC, but based on my understanding this is an all new product line, outside of their Olympic series where Zeus remains the reigning king. The sound signature of Legend X opens a door to audiophiles and audio enthusiasts with a guilty pleasure of extra bass without sacrificing the resolution, the transparency, and the detail retrieval of the mids or the sparkle and the airiness of the treble.

What I’m trying to say, Legend X has a well-controlled bass, with an overall tuning that will appeal not just to bassheads but other listeners. In many IEMs, boosting or cutting the bass, can ruin the spectral balance. With Legend X, I enjoyed the extra presence of the bass while listening to jazz, classical, instrumental, and vocal tracks where it gave more body to the sound, making it more natural, yet still resolving. Switching to EDM or any current Top40 Pop/Urban where the bass drum kicks in, you get a powerful low-end slam. And in some cases, I did have to apply a 3dB cut around 60Hz to attenuate the bass down, to bring the mids more forward. But that EQ cut didn’t affect the tonality of the mids, just their presentation. That’s what I think will make Legend X appealing to different listener, its unique tuning, its control of the sound, and its “legendary” bass.

 

36 thoughts on “Empire Ears Legend X

    1. it hasn’t been officially released, but I have been told the expected price to be around $2,300. I just updated my review with this info (in the intro), but if I find out something different, I will correct that number.

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  1. Thanks for this detailed review. Comparisons are always great to help calibrate a new headphone’s sound. Seems like the real differentiation between the LX and Vega is how you like your treble. And can you say a bit more on what you mean when you describe the LX as “more natural” in the upper-mids and treble?

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    1. I meant more natural as smoother, more organic musical tonality, especially when it comes to vocals. Just beware, that bass hits hard, but it’s easy to control it 😉

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  2. Thanks for the thorough review. Was pretty much flying blind before this! I listen tio 92% electronic chill/melodic progressive and 8% contemporary Christian. I’m having a difficult time seeing why I would pay double for this instead of getting the Vega. Or wait to see about the AKG N5005 at $1K. Thoughts?

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    1. well, LX and Vega are in the same “basshead” IEM category. The big difference, Vega is relying on a tuning of a single driver where it’s hard to shape its sound, while 7 drivers of LX are more refined, better controlled, and easy to adjust with an EQ if you want to reduce the bass. Perhaps, Phantom will be your cup of tea?

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    1. LX soundstage expansion is a lot wider, but a noticeable margin. Also, bass slams harder with a deeper sub-bass and more impact in mid-bass. Mids/treble do have some similarity, though LX is more natural while Pro50v2 has more sparkle, a little brighter. The big difference here is soundstage and bass.

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      1. Thanks for the reply. I currently own UM PRO50 V2, and I can relate it to what you explained.

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  3. thanks for the thorough, in-depth review. A tip from the local dealer, for those who found the bass too intense, dita truth spc cable, makes the treble smooth and more extended while attenuating / controlling the bass. Twister, if you still have that cable, you might want to give it a go!

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      1. DMA audio of Hong Kong.

        let me know how you get on, it’s a little silly in terms of pricing but i am enjoying the frack outta my bravado with the truth spc as i am typing this.

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    1. Of course the first thing that going to standout is the bass where LX slams harder and also has better control with separation from mids. The rest, mids/treble, LX sounds more natural, more organic, and less colored (better transperancy). Also, while S-em9 soundstage is wide, LX pushes a little wider/deeper.

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    1. V3 mids will be more transparent, more revealing, while LX is a little smoother and more organic/natural. Treble has similarities, though V3 has a better extension and a little more clarity. Of course, the LX bass will be the focus of that tuning, while V3 is a lot more balanced in comparison.

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    1. will be awhile before I get to the actual a/b comparison, but going by memory – LX is more L-shaped in comparison to V-shaped sound sig of Xelento, bass slams harder in LX, more quantity. Mids have a lot of similary, being more natural, revealing, detailed, with Xelento mids pushed a little more bac, while LX is more balanced, more forward. Treble in Xelento has more sparkle while LX is smoother, more natural.

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  4. Hi twister6 i really like to read your review
    Can i ask i wanna buy legend X to pair with my wm1z, i just worry is it over bass or the sound becomes coloured

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      1. well, U18 has a different sig from LX, but it pairs up great with wm1z, though personally I prefer SP1000 SS (with the latest fw) with U18 because SPK smooths out the treble, making it sound more natural, but Wm1Z adds more sparkle.

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      1. Thank you for reply, i was considering to sell my katana + samurai 3 to buy a legend X. I Don’t have any chance to hear legend X 😦

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    1. Mario, the problem is that I still have a prototype universal shell, and I believe Empire guys updated it already. So, the fit in my ear with prototype I have will not be useful to you. Sorry.

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  5. Hello…you mentioned the Horus “lifted up the bass” … I’m not familiar with that term, but I’m assuming it meant less of that wonderful, thumping bass, since we’re talking about a silver cable. I’m considering the Horus for my Legend X, so I wanted to make absolute sure of what to expect. Thank You for the excellent review!

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