Empire Ears Wraith

Comparison.

The comparison was done using Wraith with a stock balanced Cleo cable, Final E-Type eartips, and LPGT source, volume matched in every comparison.

Wraith vs 64 Audio N8 – both have a similar wide soundstage expansion but a slightly different soundstage depth where N8 mids/vocals are a little further out of your head while Wraith brings you closer to the center of the stage with mids/vocals being not as far out.  The signature here differs as well since N8 has noticeably more bass impact and treble sparkle which gives N8 a balanced performance with a slight tilt toward the enhanced bass.  Wraith sound sig is leaning more toward mid-forward with a relatively neutral bass and more subdued treble.  Mids/vocals rendition is actually very similar, natural and detailed, though Wraith has fuller lower mids, giving vocals more body.

Wraith vs 64 Audio Noir Fourte – both have a very similar soundstage expansion width, but Noir soundstage depth extends further out of your head, while Wraith brings you closer to the stage.  Bass extension and quality, from sub-bass to mid-bass have a lot of similarities, down to the speed and analog texture, but Noir scales up in quantity, lifting its bass up to create more impact and rumble.  Both have a fuller body mids, though Noir lower mids are thicker and upper mids are brighter, while Wraith is the opposite with bigger dip in lower mids and smoother and more intimate upper mids.  Noir treble has more sparkle and airiness.

Wraith vs Fir Audio M5 – here I find both soundstage width and depth to be nearly identical.  The difference in sound sig is also quite noticeable, with M5 being more balanced while Wraith is leaning more toward being mid-forward. Wraith bass is more neutral in comparison to M5 which has elevated low end with more sub-bass rumble and harder punching mid-bass.  Wraith mids are smoother, more organic, and with fuller body, while M5 has leaner lower mids and more transparent (less colored) and brighter upper mids.  Also, M5 has more sparkle and airiness in treble.

Wraith vs Oriolus Mellianus – here I also find both soundstage width and depth to be very similar.  The difference in sound sig here is around Mell being more neutral-balanced, while Wraith being more neutral mid-forward.  Mell has a bit stronger mid-bass punch, while sub-bass rumble is very similar.  Mids have a lot of similarities as well, except Wraith is smoother and a little warmer while Mell is more transparent, a little brighter, and more resolving.  With treble, Wraith is smoother and more controlled while Mell has more crunch and sparkle, but not by a whole lot.

Despite the obvious difference of Wraith having smoother and not as resolving mids with less sparkle in treble, once you apply the EQ per my suggestion in sound analysis section, the sound transforms and can even outperform some of the IEMs above.  But you do need to apply the EQ if you want to add more upper frequency energy to Wraith sound.

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Pair up.

Wraith has low impedance (4 ohms) and high sensitivity (117dBm), thus I paid closer attention to pair up with various sources, with extra focus on hissing if one is present.

Lotoo Paw Gold Touch LPGT – wide soundstage, neutral bass, natural fuller body mids/vocals, smooth treble response.  Due to a slight treble roll off, the sound is smooth and less resolving.  No hissing.

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Sony WM1Z – above average soundstage, neutral bass, natural fuller body mids/vocals, smooth treble response.  Due to a slight treble roll off, the sound is smooth, natural, and less resolving.  Very mild level of waterfall hissing.

iBasso DX220 w/amp8 – wide soundstage, bass has more impact with a deeper rumble, natural fuller body mids/vocals, smooth treble response.  Due to a slight treble roll off, the sound is smooth, natural, and less resolving.  Noticeable hissing at low volume or when idling/paused.

A&K SP1000 – wide soundstage, bass has a little more punch (in mid-bass), natural fuller body mids/vocals, smooth treble response.  Due to a slight treble roll off, the sound is smooth, natural, and less resolving.  Very mild level of waterfall hissing.

Cayin N6ii – above average soundstage, bass has a little more punch (mid-bass), natural fuller body mids/vocals, smooth treble response.  Due to a slight treble roll off, the sound is smooth, natural, and less resolving.  Noticeable hissing at low volume or when idling/paused.

XI Audio Broadway S amp (w/LPGT as source) – very wide soundstage, bass has more impact with a deeper rumble, natural detailed mids with a slightly more forward presentation, crisper airier treble.  Noticeable hissing at low volume or when idling/paused.

HiFiMAN R2R2000 – very wide soundstage, neutral punchy bass, natural detailed mids/vocals, crisper airier treble.  Had to put into Super Low Gain mode to eliminate hissing.  This was by far the best pair up!

Dethonray DTR1 – the sound performance is very close to R2R2k, but unfortunately, the hissing in this pair up was overwhelming, even with iEMatch.

Based on the results of this pair up test, it looks like Wraith ESTATs could benefit from a more powerful output, especially higher voltage/current.  But since majority of my “regular” DAPs yield similar results with smoother treble response, I decided to use LPGT for sound analysis.

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Conclusion.

For those who are familiar with my reviews, you probably noticed that I’m not a big fan of using EQ.  One of the reasons because I have access to and switch between many different DAPs where it becomes a hassle to maintain presets for different IEMs.  But I do make occasional exceptions, and ironically, Empire Ears Legend X and Wraith are one of them.  Of course, it’s a matter of personal sound preference and pair up synergy with a source, but in both cases, with Legend X (reducing the bass around 60Hz) and Wraith (boosting 7kHz and 12kHz peaks), I was able to fine tune the sound to hit my personal sweet spot, and that’s my cup of tea!

But regardless of that, Wraith has a very unique tuning with a natural detailed tonality that has more focus on organic mids while extending the reach of 2 low BAs to perform like dynamic drivers and utilizing quad ESTATs to maintain a natural smooth definition in upper mids and treble.  Also, you have to keep in mind that Wraith comes with a high-end Effect Audio cable which adds to the cost of IEMs and gets reflected in its price.  With both of their releases, Legend X and Wraith, Empire Ears demonstrated that audiophile IEMs are not just about high resolution and crisp details, but also catering to those with inner basshead craving and the taste for smooth organic details.

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