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.

16 thoughts on “Empire Ears Wraith

    1. 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.

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      1. 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.

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  1. Hello
    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
    Thanks
    Tom

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    1. 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.

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      1. 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

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      2. 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.

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      3. 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?

        THANKS
        Tom

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      4. 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.

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  2. 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.

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