Empire Ears Bravado MKII

Sound Analysis.

I analyzed Bravado MKII sound performance paired up with LPGT while playing a variety of test tracks, such as Agnes Obel “The curse”, Sandro Cavazza “So much better” (Avicii remix), C-Bool “Never go away”, Ed Sheeran “Shape of you”, Alan Walker “Darkside”, Galantis “Hunter”, Iggy Azalea “Black widow”, Indila “Boite en argent”, Dua Lipa “Love again”, Counting Crows “Big yellow taxi”, David Elias “Vision of her”, and Michael Jackson “Dirty Diana”.  From my experience of dealing with W9+ DD sub-woofer in Odin review, I gave Bravado MKII plenty of burn in time, and started analyzing the sound after about 150hrs of standalone playback.  I used stock Type E eartips in this analysis.  Also, in my description below I will refer to Bravado MKII as MKII.  Also, VERY IMPORTANT, Bravado MKII has 99dB sensitivity, thus listening volume needs to be higher in comparison to other average sensitivity IEMs, otherwise at lower volume it will sound a lot darker and bassier.

MKII has a distinct U-shaped signature due to mids/vocals being slightly recessed and placed behind a more prominent bass impact and a more relaxed treble sparkle.  In some pair ups, with different sources and even cables, the signature was closer to W-shaped where mids came up, being more forward.  And in others, it was edging closer to L-shaped where bass was more elevated.  But overall, I still consider MKII to be U-shaped, and regardless of elevated bass, I found the overall tonality of mids and treble to be more natural and smoother.

Retrieval of details is not bad.  These are not exactly micro-detail tuned IEMs that going to pick up every small nuance in sound, but surprisingly they have a good level of clarity and retrieval of details without any exaggeration.  The coherence of tuning covers mids to treble, but bass does stand out so I can’t say that overall tuning is coherent because there is a clear distinction between the bass and mids/treble.  But it doesn’t sound like a hybrid either where in many cases you have a recessed lower mids dip to enhance the impact of the bass.  Here, the bass is simply elevated to bring up more impact and rumble, all that while keeping a surprisingly good control without spilling into mids.

Bass is the star of MKII tuning.  It goes down deep with an elevated sub-bass rumble, powerful visceral mid-bass impact with above average speed and surprisingly well controlled decay which gives you a clean separation from the lower mids.  In some pair ups where the sound is pushing more toward L-shaped sig, bass can slightly overshadow the mids, but I can always hear a clean edge of the decay without muddying the mids.  Actually, the bass is faster than what you would expect from a dynamic driver, and it feels bouncier and tighter. And without sounding too cliche, it really does come into play only when called upon, depending on the genre of music you are listening too.

Mids and treble are natural, detailed, with plenty of clarity and just enough body to make vocals and instruments sound not too thin or too muddy.  Mids and vocals are slightly recessed, thus I find MKII to be more U-shaped (not V-shaped).  Mids are not as layered or separated, not too analytical either, just natural and not too thick or too warm.  Despite a powerful bass, mids/vocals are easy to focus on without being distracted by bass.  Treble has a natural laidback sparkle, not a single offending peak.  It is not too extended or airy, but just enough to give mids and vocals good sense of clarity.

The soundstage is above average, wide enough, but I do find more depth and height in comparison to width.  The imaging is convincing within limits of above average soundstage.  I had no issues picking up the placement of instruments, nothing is congested, vocals and instruments occupy their own space and I can easy pin-point every element.  Especially with vocals, their placement was projected more out of my head, more forward.

It does have “every day carry” easy going natural clear sound with a bass enhancement to let you hear and feel a powerful impact.  One interesting thing to note, despite its enhanced bass impact, it works quite well with many genres of music because bass is only in your face when called upon, and in other tracks you just get the benefit of a warmer and richer timbre.


Eartips selection.

The selection of eartips is crucial to any in-ear monitor and will affect the sound, especially the bass impact depending on the seal.  Due to a large opening of my earcanals, I usually go for the largest size eartips to get a better seal.  Also, please keep in mind, eartips impressions are subjective and based on anatomy of your ears.  Plus, relaxing the seal is a good way to lower the bass impact and also to eliminate the driver flex.

Final Type-E (stock, baseline) – wide soundstage, not too wide but with more depth/height.  U-shaped sig with more bass emphasis.  Deep and powerful bass impact, natural mids and treble.  I usually use LL Type-E, but here stepped down to L to relax the seal which helped with driver flex and made bass less fatigue.

Symbio F – always love to try these eartips with all new IEMs because they don’t act like other foamies.  Here, the sound turned to be W-shaped, very balanced, with bass being slightly attenuated yet still going deep and hitting hard, just scaled down in quantity to balance nicely with mids and treble.  As a result, mids are more open, natural and detailed, and treble is still well defined and even with added sparkle.

AZLA Xelastec – these turned the sound into more V-shaped signature, attenuating mids down while bringing bass and treble more forward.  I expected bass to come up, but didn’t expect treble to be more forward and brighter with these eartips.  Actually, wasn’t too crazy about this eartips pair up with MKII.

SpinFit CP100 – this one was very similar to Xelastec with bass and treble being more forward, though mids were not as recessed.  But I wasn’t as crazy about treble being brighter in here.

Symbio F was my favorite eartips pair up with Bravado MKII along with Type-E, but I do have to mention that tighter seal of foam eartips in combination with W9+ DD bass brought in a little more driver flex.


Page 3 – Cable pair up and Comparison.
Page 4 – Source pair up and Conclusion.

5 thoughts on “Empire Ears Bravado MKII

  1. Congrats for your beautiful review, i appreciated comparison with IT07.
    I Love my IT07 and Maybe to have more on EE catalog i’d chose Valkyrie Mk2.
    Also cables feedback are very usefull


    1. Haven’t used ie800S in years, but for sure remember ie having less bass and much brighter/harsher treble. Plus, ie non removable cable and those weird eartips, well, you see where I’m going with this.


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