Empire Ears ODIN

The Mashup of Greatest Hits!

PROS: tribrid design with 2DD W9+ woofers, 5BAs, and 4 ESTs, balanced sig with a natural reference tonality, holographic soundstage, exclusive faceplate design, bespoke PWA 1960 cable.

CONS: price, driver flex (DD).

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 directory or from retailers like Musicteck.


Intro.

What does Stormbreaker, Bifrost, and Valknut have in common?  If you are a fan of Marvel movies, you will probably recall The Avengers Endgame and the universe around thunder-God Thor.  If you are a fan of Empire Ears, all these references come together in the design of their latest flagship ODIN, named after the prominent one-eyed God of Norse Mythology.  Ironically, there has been so much anticipation and so little details about ODIN, that some people started to question this release as being a myth.  But now, it is finally here.  The dynamic father-son duo of Dean and Jack did take their time to perfect the design and the tuning, and when I started listening to ODIN it felt like they captured the best ideas of previous EE flagships in one.

While it is not uncommon for EE to be creative with IEM names, here the symbolism behind every Norse Mythology theme reference has a special meaning.  Stormbreaker – the included bespoke PWA 1960 cable as one of the secret weapons of the design.  Bifrost – the exclusive multi-layered faceplate design which looks like the mythological rainbow that connects Asgard (world of Gods) and Midgard (world of Humans).  Valknut – the symbol of 3 interlocking triangles used in the faceplate artwork and y-split which could refer to a tribrid design of three types of DD, BA, and ESTAT drivers.  And all this is combined under a name of the highest of all Norse Gods – ODIN.

Reading about the legends of Norse Mythology is entertaining, and so does watching Marvel movies that smashed a lot of box office records.  But, will Empire Ears ODIN flagship tribrid IEM live up to its legendary mythological name?  Let’s find out in the following review.

ee_odin-13

Unboxing and Accessories.

It looks like ODIN arrived in exactly the same premium packaging as I have found during unboxing of Wraith.  It’s not the most extravagant packaging, but it still creates a pleasant unboxing experience with a premium touch.  Dressed in an elegant white “tuxedo” with a silver-wings bowtie, the exterior cardboard sleeve and the box underneath feature Empire name and logo at the top.  The sleeve also had ODIN name and signatures of both Dean and Jack, but signature will be only featured on a handful of early releases, referred to as “founders edition”.  Under the magnetic flip cover, you will find IEM shells placed securely in a foam cutout with Stormbreaker PWA 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 ODIN 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, branded with both Empire and Final logos.  Furthermore, there was a cleaning tool, a cleaning cloth, and two sets of cool EE stickers.

Cable.

Named after Thor’s secret weapon, his enchanted axe, Stormbreaker cable is a bespoke brand name PWA 1960 2-wire cable with 4-conductor design.  This is actually a well-known popular cable by Peter Wong (Peter Wong Audio), and this particular exclusive Stormbreaker version ($1,299 retail value) was customized specifically for ODIN.

The cable uses 26AWG wires and FEP jacket for a positive signal and 24AWG thicker wires and PVC jacket for a negative signal.  The wires are insulated and combined under a tightly braided black carbon fiber sleeving which has a nice touch and still feels very flexible.  Don’t expect a see-through jacket which exposes every string of the wire.  This cable is not about pretty looks but a performance, using UPOCC Litz Copper premium wires presumably sourced from Cardas.

Since positive and negative signal wires are combined under the same sleeve, you can only see Left and Right wires, thus a name of 2-wire cable, but underneath you have 2 separate conductors on each side.  The cable I received has a plug with 2.5mm TRRS balanced termination with a heatshrink for enhanced grip.  Actually, on the packaging box I saw a checkbox with 2.5mm and 3.5mm, so I assume you can order 3.5mm terminated cable as well.  Connectors are standard 2pin 0.78mm, with Empyre name and corresponding L/R marking.  Also, the earhook portion of the cable has a pre-shaped clear sleeve, for comfortable and secure fit without a need of memory wire.

But the visual highlight of the cable is a silver Valknut y-split and a small silver chin slider.  The y-split 3 interlocking Valknut triangles were custom made by PENTACONN, which apparently makes more than just 4.4mm plugs.

And if you have a source with other than 2.5mm balanced jack, EE also offers an optional 2.5mm to 4.4mm and to 3.5mm adapters.  Despite their DIYish look, these are high quality PWA built adapters, and 2.5mm to 4.4mm one I received with review sample was quite transparent in comparison to some of my other adapters that color the sound.

Page 2 – Design.
Page 3 – Sound analysis and Eartips selection.
Page 4 – Cable pair up and Comparison.
Page 5 – Source pair up and Conclusion.

58 thoughts on “Empire Ears ODIN

  1. Hi Twister ,
    I was looking to buy the u18 based on what you said you enjoy for pass few years but was wondering has the odin changed this preference? If it was your own money, buy either u18 or the odin?
    Thanks
    Peter

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      1. Could you let me know what your thoughts are between u18 and odin, once you had a think 🙂

        I liked the u18 when i tested it, the zeus xiv had a good mid range and airiness but was lacking bass. Tried ely on show room floor, though not the best environment to hear them

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      2. Odin and U18t mids have a lot of similarity. But bass and treble are different. Obviously, U18t BA bass doesn’t have the same impact or texture, and also, the treble has more sparkle while Odin treble is very detailed as well but has a smoother more natural sparkle.

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      3. So if it was your $3500 dollars you spent the last 6month flipping burgers for, which one would you get, Odin for the better bass texture and impact?

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      4. Probably Odin, a perfect bass and treble tuning is hard to find. Plus, PWA 1960 Cardas cable is one of the best, so it’s a bonus. On head-fi in EE thread, there is a person already offering to pay $1k for this cable to anybody who doesn’t want it after Odin purchase.

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      5. Cheers for the clarity, will have to wait to see if ee do one of those 20% off sale in the future
        Would probably sell that cable for money towards code 51 😛 although it would hurts its resale value

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      6. I really like the Legend X for bass, but if I’m looking for something with a very holographic sound and I’m torn bt Maybe Odin (but I don’t like the way the EE shells fit in my ears), U12T and U18T. What would u recommend? It seems like people usually prefer the u12t over the u18t, but I haven’t heard either one of those. Thanks!

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      7. Yes, some prefer the fit of 64audio shells, and if you want more bass go for U12t, but the tonality will be warmer and smoother. Odin and U18t soundstage perception will be wider and these actually have very similar mids, but Odin has more bass and more natural treble. All matter of a personal preference, U12t has a smoother less revealing tuning.

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  2. Hi,

    Great review. Soundstage is very important to me and I’m looking for my TOTL in that department. The best I’ve heard was the 64 Audio Fourté (the largest I’ve heard plus ethereal).

    Is Odin also one of the IEMS with the biggest/largest soundstage? In your review of the Elysium you said soundstage was comparable to Fourte’s soundsatge (which surprised me, typically people say Fourté has the biggest soundstage), does Odin beat both in that department? dos it also feel “ethereal”?

    What would be best/largest soundsathe IEM you’ve heard?

    Thank you

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    1. There could some subtle variations between reviews and my description, especially when I test with different sources (introduced P6 in this review) and sometimes switch between cables and eartips, but the transparency of mids in Odin will give that ethereal feeling, and for sure Odin is one of the widest.

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  3. Hey!
    Great review, thanks! From what I heard from you previously, it seems that we have quite similar sound tastes. Recently I was quite impressed with CA Ara. So, could you, please, say few words about how Odin is in comparison with Ara, Solaris and Andro 2020?
    Best,
    Nick

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    1. it is on a different level due to a difference in drivers and tuning and technical performance. Double DD bass of ODIN offers a more articulate bass with a deep sub-bass, though Solaris is not too far off, its mids are more layered and more revealing/reference (perhaps, some might prefer a more natural tuning of Andro mids?), and treble of its quad ESTs sounds more realistic than any of these 3. But then, keep in mind, we are talking about IEM which is 3x more expensive. ODIN is unique in its tuning, while some people might get for that price Solaris and Andro and some upgrade cable.

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      1. Well, that’s definitely a good news. However, I was thinking more of a tuning side, as in my opinion solaris, ara and andro represent different approaches. Solaris for bass heads, andro for holographic effect, and aragorn brightness but in the good way, with clarity, airiness, resolution and retaliation. From those three I preferred the least one. So, my question is could you please tell which one if the three approaches is enhanced by Odin? Or it is like taking only good things from all approaches at the same time? From your review, it sounds that there is no weak spots in terms of sound at all.
        Nick

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      2. Yeah, the latter one. And weak spot is only relative to your preference. Some will say Odin mids is a weak spot because it is not as warm or organic, others will prefer a more transparent reference quality mids of Odin as its strongest point. Or, people hated LX bass because it was overwhelming, while others bought it specifically for its bass. Based on my preference, when it comes to sound tuning, Odin is solid.

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  4. And in terms of signature? You said Odin has less bass than LX. Yet, LX is hard to beat. Does Odin still have bass tunes sound or it is rather U or W shaped iem? For instance, I like the bass in Solaris 2020, bit in previous model I found it to be overwhelming.

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  5. Hi twister6!
    I already have the noble sultan. I am considering my next purchase between ODIN or Erlkönig LE. Which one do you recommend?

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  6. Hey, twister
    Hm, so you write about Odin as kinda all-rounder, which got only good parts from different approaches to the sound. Bass is there, mids are clear, treble is not suppressed or brightened. Perfect sound indeed, what else can you desire? But in the conclusions you state that it’s a product of a man’s vision instead of being for everyone – confusing statement. What did you mean?
    Continuing the idea, in answer section you said that ely and u18t are still in your preferable list. Which can mean that there is smth in them that Odin lacks. And both of them are also considered to be all-rounders, so in theory they should compete with Odin, not complement each other. While you also said that u18t is quite similar to Odin.
    And also, comment please on the shell size. Odin looks kinda bulky like JH Roxanne or smth, but on your picture it looks like despite the bulkiness it nicely fits in the ear. Do you have any fit issues/can one in theory experience them?
    Cheers,
    Henry

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    1. It’s not a small compact shell, but it has a good fit with my ears per picture, but don’t expect it to be compact like Ely or U18t. And indeed, Odin, Ely, U18t are my favorite. It’s impossible to have one favorite, at least in my opinion, instead people search to find one that comes close to checking every box. And for many they narrow it down to a few. Regarding my conclusion, you have to be familiar with EE 😉 They finalize the sound and then keep tweaking based on people’s feedback. And again, people have different preferences, and in some cases you hear pre-production unit which sounds good and then someone offers another feedback at the end and they boost treble or lower the bass. It has been like this with many of their releases. Odin has been 2+ yrs in a making and Dean finalized the sound relying this time on his personal taste, especially since no CanJams this year. So, in my personal conclusion, while I had complaints about some of their previous releases, I have no complaints here. To my ears, this is the best iem I heard from them. But we all have personal preferences. I find Odin bass and treble to be perfect for my taste. Regarding mids, in some recordings I prefer Odin tuning (similar mids as U18t) but with some other songs I prefer more natural and less revealing mids tuning of Ely. Does this all makes sense?

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      1. So, with small ears there may be some issues? it’s just that the problem is not only with the shell size, but also with how the weight is balanced and with the fit itself. I mean, Z1R is not only huge, but also just sticks out of the ear. Previous solaris was also big, but fitted way better.
        Well, I just thought that usually people select favorites that differs from each other – for different music genres or mood, whatever. And those are quite similar, at least from what I understood. So it’s like you can have a hatchback, sedan and allroader and they are used for different purposes. And in this case it’s more like toyota camry, bmw 3 and bmw 5 or smth like that. So, in the end you will stick to one of them much more than to others.
        Yeah, now I understood what you meant. Thx, man! Love your reviews)

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      2. Yes, if you have small ears, could be an issue. And z1r are “monsters”, I can’t tolerate them in my ears either, Odin is a lot more comfortable and lighter. Another thing, if you have a narrow earcanal and use only small eartips, the nozzle of Ely will be too thick for you.

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  7. Hi twister,
    Just curious as to whether or not Odin will be available in a custom in-ear monitor option. Any idea on that? I always have issues getting a good seal with universals but the Odin is what I have been waiting for.
    Thanks,
    Kelli

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    1. Honestly, have no idea. Initial release is universal. And I think Jack mentioned on head-fi they are looking into custom but have to figure out the design to fit into ciem due to so many types of drivers inside of one shell.

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      1. Thanks for your quick reply. I am impatient and would like to get the Odin now but I am afraid I will kick myself if a custom is released in the upcoming few months.
        Also you mentioned the universal might not work well with small ears which makes me think waiting and hoping the Odin comes out in customs. Your review was excellent which only makes waiting more difficult!

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      2. The fit is a subjective opinion. My ears are an average size, no issues with a fit. The shell of Odin is not that big even so it does look bigger in zoom in pictures of my review. That is a reason I always include a picture of how iems fit in my ears. But then, back in the days people were telling me they can’t fit Solaris in their ears, while I had no issues. Thus, I would never say “one size fits all”. What other universal iems do you have? If I have those, maybe I can let you know how Odin shell compares?

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  8. I have the Dita Truth which are uncomfortable no matter which of the tips I have tried. The Nobel discontinued with 3 drivers which fits the best of the universals I have had using Comply foam tips in medium. Shure 846 that are ancient and they again fit ok with comply foam tips. A couple of others that I have since sold that I can’t remember what they were. It has been several years since using universals so spending mega bucks on Odin that are not customs makes me nervous. Any thoughts on what I have used in the past would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks Twister!

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  9. Nice review! Were you getting considerable volume output with P6 even at volume level 1? How’s the loudness compare to Solaris on P6? I am looking for IEM with deep sub-bass punch since P6 is extremely good at it. I find P6 goes quite well with Dynamic bass drivers so I am hoping ODIN could really deliver.

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    1. yep, Dan, volume is there at 1, but to my ears it is not loud. This is just the way P6 volume control works, but it is quieter than Solaris, though keep in mind, this is relative to how I hear it. Plus, didn’t you mention on head-fi thread that you got some kind of an adapter from PWA?

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  10. Alex, yes I got the PWAudio impedance adapter which I can use to lower the volume but it makes the treble rather harsh as it lowers the bass as I bring down the impedance, so I am not sure if it is most effective solution. I just love the visceral deep bass impact of Solaris 2020 on P6 so I want something similar but with a little more smooth treble on top while producing weaker volume level on P6. I recently tried Erlkonig on P6 and although I like the smoother treble but bass response was rather disappointing. It didn’t sound as transparent as Solaris 2020 either (Erlkong is still a great IEM having excellent synergy with other DAPs but not with P6). I just realized the BA bass cannot match the quality of DD bass. Since both Solaris and Odin have DD bass, how is the bass compared between the two? Is Odin as transparent as Solaris 2020?

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    1. If you want a deeper visceral and more articulate bass and smoother treble, than it is Odin. And Odin mids are more transparent than Solaris, less coloring. Btw, with P6, I listen to Solaris 2020 at volume 9 while Odin at volume 16. Odin is less sensitive and will be quieter at volume 1 of P6.

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      1. Wow..everything you said sound so juicy and promising! I am trying to find a replacement for my Solaris 2020 and Odin seems to be the one.

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      2. Well, it’s not just my review/impressions, you have seen the talk in EE thread on HF, seems to be unanimous opinion. Btw, MusicTeck is EE dealer now as well.

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  11. Hi!!
    Very good review…
    I am a big fan of the U18t, Tia Trio and Solaris, and i wonder for one IEM to rule them all…i love the 64 audio tunning and i ask myself if the maximum detail retrieval of U18t and wonderful dynamics of Tia Trio meets together into one iem, maybe this IEM was the Tia Fourte…but the recessed mids are pull me out of this direction…
    The Odin has better mids than the Fourte?
    I’m not convinced with the acrilyc shells…are they fragile?
    One common problem with the electrostatic drivers are the highs…the odin has sparkly highs like the U18t or at least like the Trio?
    What about the coherence problem, are they solve it?
    Thanks for the guidance

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  12. Hi Alex

    Great review. A little off topic but… How is the Romi Audio BX2? Are you using the BX2 plus or just the original BX2? It’s incredibly hard to find any impressions online so it would be great to hear your thoughts. Many thanks!

    Like

    1. I have original BX2. Will have to write separate review. Not enough hours in a day 😦 Great amp, but way too powerful for iems. This one is only recommended for hard to drive demanding headphones that need a lot of power (bx2 delivers up to 4W) or planar magnetic cans that need higher current source.

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  13. Hi again,

    I have a solaris 2020 and Empyrean. Odin is on the way, would you say Elysium would be complementary with these or it would be more of the same? I cant forget the clarity, resolution and soundstage of U18t yet I’ve already been there done that. Looking for new excitement. Need help. Sources will be sp2000cu and hugo2.

    Like

    1. Odin will have similar clarity and resolution as U18t, the changes: Odin bass is more textured, more analog, and Odin treble is a little smoother and more natural. Elysium has analog organic mids, those are exceptional, but the bass and treble are closer to U18t.

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  14. Hi!!

    Finally I couldn’t bear the treble spike of the Tia Fourte…i will exchange it for the EE Odin, but i fear for the treble on this earphone.
    I like the treble on the original Solaris, Tia Trio and U18t…
    I don’t like the treble on the Tia Fourte (too much) and don’t like the treble on Westone W60 (too little)
    It’s the treble on the Odin more balanced like the Solaris?
    Or maybe the choice on the Odin was not the best?

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    1. I cant bear the treble of fourte and noir too, especially when learning to metal.

      My odin’ treble is different from 64audio, its bright but never hurt my ear, i am very satisfied on odin’ treble.

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