Empire Ears Legend EVO

Sound Analysis.

I analyzed EVO sound performance paired up with a neutral LPGT source 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”, Bob Marley “Jamming”, David Elias “Vision of her”, and Michael Jackson “Dirty Diana”.  I let it burn in for at least 150hrs before I started taking my notes.

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While the original LX has an unmistakably L-shaped signature due to its elevated bass that stands above upper mids and treble, EVO scales up the quantity and the quality (resolution) of the mids to create a more balanced sound signature while keeping it close to the legacy bass impact of LX.  The difference between LX and EVO mids is like night’n’day.  I’m still debating how to describe the sound signature of EVO because relative to LX the sound sig is more W-shaped with extra bass emphasis.  In some pair ups, using different eartips, cables, DAP sources, the sound was closer to W-shaped balanced, while in others it was more L-shaped.  EVO is still the audiophile-quality basshead IEM, just not exactly your traditional L-shaped where the bass is the main focus dominating the tuning.

The tonality is natural, detailed, not revealing, or dry, and also not too warm or colored.  I would go as far as calling it naturally transparent and resolving since the timbre of instruments and vocals does sound natural to my ears, the sound has a good resolution and clarity, and I don’t hear too much of muddy coloring like you would in some other L-shaped tuned IEMs.

The bass is the shining star of EVO tuning, but it is slightly lower in quantity next to the original LX, creating a better tonal balance between lows and mids.  EVO bass still has a similar weight, impact, and texture as the original LX, just with a better control and slightly scaled down in quantity.  LX bass is big and bold, and it sounds more straight forward and less technical.  EVO bass sounds and feels more multi-dimensional, with better layering, improved articulation, and better dynamics.  While taking FR measurements, I noticed a little bump around lower mids at 400Hz.  Out of curiosity, I used Parametric EQ to attenuate it down, and the bass became flatter, almost like it was negating the effect of Weapon X BC driver which I assume contributes to this layered bass performance.  Sometimes it is hard to detect the effect of BC driver in high frequencies, but it appears to be more noticeable in EVO lows.

As I already mentioned, mids in EVO are more elevated in 2k-4k region (relative to LX) and have a more forward and focused presentation that brings more clarity and better definition to the sound, especially when it comes to vocals.  I’m not suggesting that upper mids are more elevated than expected Harman Target Curve.  They are actually where they supposed to be, but LX has uppers mids attenuated down which took away from the clarity and resolution.  Lower mids are above neutral, giving the sound more natural body without any extra thickness or muddiness.  Upper mids sound natural, detailed, resolving, layered, not exactly warm or organic since they don’t color the sound too much, but I do hear a natural tonality.  In many instrumental, classical, or vocal tracks with natural (non-synthesized) instruments where pounding 4×4 EDM bass drums don’t come into play, you can truly appreciate the natural transparent tonality of the upper mids.

Treble is clear, detailed, natural, well defined, with a modest amount of airiness, less peaky and more natural in comparison to LX.  The naturalness of the treble is also due to upper mids being more forward (relative to LX) which creates a more linear transition from upper mids to lower treble, making it sound more natural relative to LX.  If you are looking for an energetic treble with more sparkle and air, this is not it.  EVO’s treble has a more polite presentation, not rolled off or attenuated down, but rather more natural and relaxed.  And I know, I sound like a broken record with non-stop talk about ‘natural’, but that is how I hear it.

Soundstage is wide, stretching more left and right relative to depth and height, which creates a more elliptical surround space for instruments.  But I noticed a very interesting holographic effect that was specific to the mids, definitely atypical for basshead level iems.  Per EE description of its W10 Bone Conduction driver, there was a reference to reverb enhancement which could explain this 3D physical space effect on vocals where I’m hearing them having more depth and height than width.  The overall imaging and accuracy of instruments and vocals placement was quite impressive, especially with mids taking a more center position while instruments were positioned around them.  Unlike LX, bass in EVO is no longer a dominating factor that overpowers the sound, and as a result it gives mids and treble more room to breathe, which improves the layering and separation of the sounds and consequent improvement in imaging.

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Eartips selection.

The selection of eartips is crucial to any universal in-ear monitors and will affect the sound, especially the bass impact/quantity which depends 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 will be based on and relative to anatomy of my ears.

Final Type E (stock) – I wasn’t able to get the best seal with stock Type E (L) and as a result hear the sound to be more balanced and a little brighter at the top since some of the bass impact was missing.

SpinFit CP145 – Had to play a little bit with EVO+CP145 placement in my ears to get a good seal.  The sound was similar to Type E stock tips, but with a more elevated bass and a little more brightness at the top.

Azla Xelastec – Perfect seal in this pair up with a deeper and more visceral lows, more natural slightly pushed back mids, and natural detailed treble.

Azla Crystal – very similar to Xelastec, just with a little more sub-bass rumble.

Azla Sedna/Light – going from Light to original Sedna elevated the bass where I preferred the original one to get more powerful impact and deeper extension.  Mids are more balanced and slightly more revealing, and I hear a little more air in treble.  Original Sedna was my preferred choice.

Symbio F – the sound is more balanced, rather than L-shaped, but one noticeable change here is in soundstage being slightly narrower, with more out of your head depth.  Symbio F are always my go-to foam eartips, but not sure if they work in this pair up with my ears.

While eartips rolling EVO, I noticed that wider bore eartips worked better with these iems, and it will be very important to get a good seal if you want to maximize the power of the bass.  Of course, everything will depend on your ear anatomy, where for me personally stock Type E didn’t work, but Azla Senda made a better pair up.

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Cable pair up.

I’m aware that some people don’t believe in cables and have very strong opinion about it.  It’s not my intent to change those minds.  Instead, I’m just sharing what I hear during my testing.  What makes sense to me, a metal wire is a material with physical properties of resistivity, conductivity, purity, and unique geometry, all of which put together act as a filter between your source and earphones.  Variations of these physical properties can affect the conductivity of analog signal, resulting in a sound change, from a subtle to a more noticeable level.  If the talk about cables upsets you, please skip this section.  Otherwise, enjoy these short impressions.

EE x PWA vs EA Ares II (LX stock cable) – a noticeable soundstage width difference with PWA cable stretching the sound wider left/right.  This also affects the imaging where w/Ares II the sounds are clustered closer to the center while with PWA they are more spread apart.  And I also noticed that EA cable gives bass a stronger and more elevated impact which pushes mids a little more back.

EE x PWA vs Eletech Socrates – a very similar sound sig and tonality, but soundstage is not as wide anymore, shrinks a little w/Socrates.  Btw, Socrates cable is still my top recommended pair up with original LX which brings up its mids more forward.

EE x PWA vs Eletech Aeneid – opposite to Socrates, in this pair up I actually hear soundstage spread even wider than stock cable.  Also, noticed a lift in mid-bass impact and smoother vocals at the top.

EE x PWA vs PlusSound Copper+ – in this pair up, soundstage width is not too far off, maybe with stock cable being just a touch wider, but the difference I noticed was mostly in upper mids being a little more forward.

EE x PWA vs PlusSound PPH8 – the soundstage is the same, I hear a little stronger mid-bass and brighter and more open upper mids when switching to PPH8.

EE x PWA vs EA C51 – the soundstage is the same, I hear a little stronger mid-bass and smoother upper mids when switching to C51.

EE x PWA vs EA Centurion – the soundstage is a little wider and overall imaging and separation of the sound is pushed to the limit of holographic expansion.  Bass is a touch softer and upper mids are more forward with even further improvement in retrieval of details.  Probably the best pair up with EVO I heard, though you have to keep in mind an eyewatering price tag.

EE x PWA vs PWA 1960 4W – widens soundstage a little bit, bass sounds tighter and a little faster, with a little more mid-bass punch, upper mids are slightly higher in quantity and more resolving.  This is another great pair up example.  Tried it with 1960 2W (Odin’s Stormbreaker), but the change was minimal, only in bass being a little tighter and faster.

EVO already comes with a great cable and the effect of cable rolling here is not as drastic as it was with LX.  I’m not saying that you have to buy multi kilo-buck cable to improve EVO sound quality, but if you have invested into one already, I would encourage to try it with Centurion, as well as trying the original PWA 1960 4W.

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Page 3 – Comparison, Source pair up, and Conclusion.

5 thoughts on “Empire Ears Legend EVO

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