PROS: smooth natural tonality, coherent tuning of 7 BAs and 4 ESTATs, premium faceplate design (universal), premium EA Cleopatra cable, premium set of accessories.
CONS: price, subdued treble response.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Manufacturer website: Empire Ears. Available for sale directly or retailers like Audio46.
It has been a while since my last Empire Ears review, and I was grateful for the opportunity to test their latest hybrid flagship release. For those who are familiar with EE and met the friendly dynamic father-son duo of Dean and Jack at many CanJam audio shows, you probably aware they try to be creative with IEM names. But for some reason, I misread the Wraith as Wrath, and in my mind prepared myself for a bold aggressive revenge sound! When IEMs arrived and I put these hybrids in my ears, I got drawn into a smooth natural tonality of Wraith, something you wouldn’t expect from 4x ESTAT high drivers.
Instead of following the path of expected revealing tuning, Dean decided to make something different, something more unique. And another thing that makes it unique, tuning of EE IEMs is an evolving process. Empire Ears takes under consideration the feedback from their fans ahead of many IEM releases when they tease their prototypes at different audio shows. It almost feels like a crowd-tuning as IEM prototypes mature from one CanJam to the other. And now, we have the final product ready to see the light of day. After spending the last month listening to their latest flagship, I’m ready to share with you about EE Wraith.
Unboxing and Accessories.
It looks like EE guys put extra effort into their flagship presentation with a premium packaging the Wraith arrived in. Dressed in “all black tuxedo with a silver-wings bowtie”, the exterior cardboard sleeve and the actual box feature Empire name and logo at the top. Under the magnetic flip cover, you will find IEM shells securely in a foam cutout with silver Cleopatra cable snaked around them and a small thick cardboard “Thank You” card. The rest of accessories are underneath in a slide out drawer which you access from the side. This was an unboxing experience typical of opening a jewelry box.
The accessories include a puck-shaped metal round storage case with a threaded top and a rubber lining. The top had laser etched Empire logo and name, along with Wraith model name. While the case is not exactly pocket friendly, it will make one heck of a cool paperweight on your desk. Also, included were a set of premium Final Type-E eartips (SS, S, M, L, LL) in a metal holder setting, also branded with both Empire and Final logos. Furthermore, there was a cleaning tool, a cleaning cloth, and two sets of stickers.
I’m happy to see more manufacturers taking stock cables seriously, offering better quality wires and more appealing design. Here, EE decided to use a premium Effect Audio Cleopatra cable ($700 value) bundled stock with Wraith. It features 4 separate conductors, each with 26 AWG thickness wires and 7-core Pure Silver Litz processed using UP-OCC (ultra-purity Ohno Continuous Cast) technology. Its wire strands are individually enameled, follow Golden Ratio Dispersion, and use a woven Kevlar to maintain the stability of its septuple core design.
EA Cleo cable is terminated with PSquared plug (Palladium and Platinum plating, designed in partnership with Oyaide Electric) and you can choose either 3.5mm SE or 2.5mm BAL, assuming 4.4mm BAL is available by request. The wire conductors itself have EA UltraFlexi Jacket which gives you a clear and transparent view of the wires and keeps the cable supple and microphonics free. The main part of the cable has a looser hand braiding, giving the cable more flexibility, while the cable after the split is just twisted.
The custom EA Y-Split is similar to the one used in Leo II/Octa, except it doesn’t have the leather cover. Instead, there is a polished casted stainless steel. For those who think Y-Split is only for decoration, these were custom designed to help eliminate microphonics and any other mechanical noise. Chin slider is a thin flat stainless-steel piece, the same shape as in EA Horus. Going to 2pin connector, you have a pre-shaped flexible earhook, and 2pin chrome connector housing with EA logo laser etched on outside and L/R marking on the inside.
While EE already uses EA cable in their latest releases, it’s their cheaper pure copper Ares II. Here, it was a bold move to use a higher end premium Silver cable. But I was still curious to cable roll and to try Wraith with EA Leo II 8wire, EA Horus, and PWA 1960 4wire. I know it would have been a more noticeable change in sound if compared to cheap OFC cables or EA Ares II copper cable. But in all of these premium comparisons the variation in sound was subtle, to the point where I went back to Cleo.
Page 2 – Design, and Sound analysis.
Page 3 – Comparison, Pair up, and Conclusion.
17 thoughts on “Empire Ears Wraith”
What are your favorite IEMs to date? Or top 3 now?
This is very subjective, totally a matter of a personal taste and sound preference, and it changes month to month. If I would name top 3 at the current moment, it would be u18t, solaris, and mellianus.
Thank you for that, what about top 3 DAPs?
that also changes. I do more reviewing than actual listening, so LPGT gets a lot of mileage because it’s more neutral/revealing. For listening, I enjoy N6ii and DX160.
Awesome review, read 80% of it but need your advice. I have the sp1000 and want to buy this iem, but the eq on the sp1000 is rubbish. Dont want to buy the LPGT as it cant do Tidal offline. What would you recommend to buy/do to change the EQ to boost 7kHz and 12kHz peaks?
Tested out the wraith already, and compared to the XIV, missing the air and those peaks you were talking about
You probably not gonna believe me, but I would suggest to try dx160, and before you say “but it’s under $400, cheaper than an upgrade cable”, it has a killer Parametric EQ, read my review about it. Another alternative to LPGT is PAW6000, but tonality is a bit warmer and not exactly as resolving but close. Try paw6k. Also, download Hiby Music app on your phone and see how you like its EQ. Cayin N6ii is a great dap, and you can use any app with it.
Lol yes I dont believe you :P, dx160 better than Astell and kern sp1000? Might believe the EQ is better on that, but the overall sound?
Also in your review, you said “But if you want sharper definition with more micro-details and prefer a treble with more crunch and airiness, Wraith might not be your best choice”. What IEMs was you suggesting to try out, if i wanted sharper definition with airiness etc? Dont mind the budget
didn’t say it’s better, it’s just a good sounding upper mid-fi level DAP with an excellent Parametric EQ if you want to tweak the sound. Plenue L is another good one, on a flagship level, also has a great semi-Parametric EQ. Regarding IEMs, I have been using U18t for over 2 years, and it’s still my favorite go-to IEM. But, that’s a matter of a personal taste, of course.
Hiby Music app is awesome, less revealing but has more air to it. Thanks for the recommendation 🙂 but sadly only have 62 good songs. Main source of music is Tidal
Oh didnt test the u18, tested out the Noir and fourte at Canjam, wasnt as revealing as the wraith, and there seem to be some fuzzy air sound to the Noir.
So out of Plenue L/dx160/N6ii, to pair with wraith, which would you pick? That can use Tidal offline, semi change the eq of those peaks and is bright, has lots of sparkle and airiness and good detail retrieval
Your making me think twice of what iem to buy…. subjective question but you would pick the u18 over the wraith?
everybody has a different sound preference, especially when it comes to these kilobuck IEMs, you gotta try them before making a purchase decision. U18t is more of my cup of tea, and so does Solaris. With DAPs, cross Plenue out since it’s not android dap. You gotta figure out your budget first, then narrow it down to Android based daps, and also those which don’t hiss with sensitive iems like Wraith. N6ii with default amp A01 is great if you can go over $1k. On a budget, DX160 hard to beat (just keep in mind iBasso doesn’t come with Google Play by default, you will have to sideload play store). Maybe N6ii will be better in your case.
Reviewing Code 51 now 😉 Great cable, but pricier than Leo 2 8wire. Both pair up great, but Code 51 gives you a little more clarity and sparkle at the top. Code 51 is like the best of Horus and Leo II 8wire.
This going to confuse a lot of people, reading comments after this review. Please, ping me on head-fi
https://m.facebook.com/Alex twister6 ping me on FB messenger. I will delete all these post replies later.
Do you have a suggestion of aftermarket cable for wraith?
Wraith already comes with a premium EA Cleopatra cable. It’s by far the best match for it, based on other cables I tried it with.
nothing, man. Maybe do a friend request on https://www.facebook.com/alextwister6 so I can see it?