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.
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.