Empire Ears Bravado MKII

Source Pair up.

Bravado MKII has low impedance (4ohms) and low sensitivity (99dBm) spec.  In this testing, I paid close attention to pair up synergy with various sources, paying closer attention to the sound sig.  Of course, there will be some variations depending on signature of the source, but overall, it paired up well with everything, even high output impedance R6.  But due to lower sensitivity volume had to be set higher.  Also, no hissing was detected, except when paired up with C9 amp.  For your reference, here are my brief pair up notes.

Lotoo LPGT – wide soundstage, not very wide, with more depth and height.  U-shaped signature with more emphasis on bass, natural mids and vocals with imaging placing them slightly out of your head, natural organic treble.

LPGT + Cayin C9 – soundstage is noticeably wider, typical of C9.  Mids are slightly elevated, balancing it nicely with treble, but there is also a lift in bass, making signature a little more L-shaped, but bass is not overwhelming, just has more authority, deeper texture, and stronger impact.  A little bit of waterfall hissing.

A&K SP2000 SS – wide soundstage, not very wide, with more depth and height.  U-shaped sound sig with a lot more emphasis on bass.  Actually, I hear more bass slam in this pair up and while I still feel sound sig to be U-shaped, now it is leaning more toward L-shaped which also pushed mids/vocals a little lower in quantity.  Vocals are still natural, and treble is clear, natural, but a little more revealing here.

Hiby R8 – wide soundstage with more depth and height.  In this pair up I preferred to turn the Turbo off since it was adding a little more punch to the bass.  With Turbo off, the sound is more balanced, though due to a slightly recessed mids, I would still consider it more U-shaped.  Bass is powerful here, mids and vox are natural, and treble non fatigue, yet still detailed.

iBasso DX300 – similar to other pair ups I hear a wide soundstage with more depth and height than width.  Sound sig here is U-shaped with more bass emphasis, actually another borderline L-shaped pair up example. Bass is very powerful and textured here, mids are smooth and a little warmer, and treble is also very natural and smooth.

Shanling M6 – very interesting pair up because it was slightly different from other DAPs.  Soundstage is the same, wide, but not too much since I hear more depth/height here.  But the sound signature was more balanced, almost W-shaped with more bass emphasis, and mids/vocals came up in quantity to the point where I can’t call it U-shaped anymore.  Even treble had a little more sparkle and airiness.  I actually enjoyed this pair up.

FiiO M11 Pro – the soundstage expansion is similar to other daps, being wide, but not too much and having more depth/height.  Signature here is U-shaped, with mids being just slightly recessed, and as expected extra emphasis on bass.  But this U-shaped sig was closer to W-shaped because mids were recessed just slightly.  Bass is very powerful and extended, mids are natural, organic, and treble is very well defined, natural, and detailed.  Another very good pair up.

iBasso DX160 – another pleasant surprise since here the soundstage expanded in width, similar to pair up with C9 amp, with the sound being more 3D holographic.  The signature is U-shaped with more emphasis on bass, but mids are not recessed too much.  Bass is fast and tight, feels faster relative to other pair ups.  Mids are natural, but also a little brighter.  Treble is crisp and detailed, and not harsh at all.

Hiby R6 – this was my “high impedance” test since this original R6 has 10ohm output impedance and I wanted to check if Bravado MKII will sound any different here.  The soundstage is similar to other pair ups, wide but not too wide.  The sound signature is actually W-shaped, still a nice emphasis on bass but a little less in comparison to other pair ups, perhaps due to high OI.  Mids are natural and detailed, treble is a little brighter, not harsh, but it is brighter than in other pair ups.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – had to push the volume closer to the max in this pair up with my aging galaxy S9.  The soundstage is similar to other DAP pair ups, wide but not too wide.  Signature is U-shaped with a strong bass impact, actually bringing it closer to L-shaped.  Mids are natural, organic, and treble is smooth and natural with just enough sparkle to give sound a good level of resolution.

ee_bravado-mkII-20

Conclusion.

I’m probably going to get yelled at by saying “entry level” and $799 in the same sentence.  It is true, I’m not familiar with many latest chi-fi releases and other budget sub $100 IEMs.  Thus, throughout this review my reference to “entry level” is relative to today’s kilobuck IEMs with an average $2k price tag, including a handful of recent $1k releases labeled as EDC (Every Day Carry) referring to budget friendly IEMs for everyday listening on the go.  For me personally, in the last few weeks Bravado MKII became my Every Day BASS Carry IEM.

Also, I don’t want people to get turned off by my constant reference to “bass”.  Yes, it has a healthy bass slam weaponized by its W9+ DD cannon, but the signature is not L-shaped, it is U-shaped with a bass enhancement.  And the bass doesn’t reach the same massive slam as Legend X, thus if you are allergic to too much bass, you will find Bravado MKII to be less fatigue.  It is still LX Jr in my book, but with less bass and smoother treble.  At $799 we are talking about tribrid design featuring their new W9+ DD driver (used in EE latest flagships), BA mids, and dual EST drivers.  It is a fun tuned IEM, and regardless of some other multi-kilobuck birds I have been listening to lately, I still enjoy Bravado MKII very much, like a guilty-pleasure bass snack!

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

    Like

    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.

      Like

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