Empire Ears Legend EVO

Comparison.

The comparison was done using EVO with a stock cable, Azla Sedna eartips, and LPGT; volume matched in every comparison.

EVO vs EE Legend X (LX) – I know I will get asked about this comparison a lot.  In case if you missed it, I already covered it in my Sound Analysis section when I was describing EVO sound, thus no reason to repeat myself.  Just one thing I do want to add, EVO tuning improvement in mids is so noticeable that it makes LX sound kind of veiled in comparison.

EVO vs EE Odin – at first, I wasn’t sure if this comparison makes sense, but quite a few people asked me about it, so I decided to include it.  The soundstage sounds similar, except for EVO mids/vocals having more depth.  Despite dual bass drivers, Odin’s bass doesn’t sound as elevated, it has a great extension and fast punch, but the quantity is scaled down, especially in sub-bass when you compare it to a bigger, bolder, more textured bass of EVO.  Lower mids are also leaner in Odin which can be related to its scaled down bass quantity.  As already mentioned, upper mids are quite similar, especially when you zoom into vocals performance.  But as soon as you shift your attention to the treble, you will find Odin to be crisper, brighter, and airier, while EVO treble definition is still resolving, but sounds smoother and more natural.

EVO vs 64 Audio U18s – I had to use M20 apex module here to boost the bass of U18s, which resulted in a loss of soundstage width, making EVO soundstage to be wider in comparison.  The bass is where I hear the biggest difference between these IEMs.  U18s bass is softer, slower, and less articulate, still impressive, but nowhere near the sub-bass depth, the mid-bass punch, or the speed of EVO bass.  The lower mids of U18s have a little more body which gives its mids more organic and smoother tonality.  In comparison, EVO lower mids are a little leaner and upper mids have more clarity and better resolution and retrieval of details.  And the same goes for treble, EVO treble has more clarity in comparison to U18s being smoothers and more reserved.  That change in treble is probably attributed to use of M20 module, otherwise with lower isolation apex modules it could be closer, but at the expense of lowering U18s bass impact.

EVO vs 64 Audio Trio – while both exhibit a strong bass performance, boosted treble makes Trio sound sig V-shaped.  In comparison to EVO, Trio bass is even more elevated in quantity.  When it comes to mids, there is a big difference with Trio lower mids being very lean and upper mids being quite recessed; in comparison EVO lower mids have more body and more presence while upper mids are more elevated and with much better retrieval of details.  The treble of Trio is a lot more piercing in comparison to a more natural and clear treble of EVO.  Soundstage of EVO is a little wider as well.

EVO vs FirAudio M5 – this is another hybrid comparison I was curious about.  First of all, M5 soundstage is not too far off, though EVO is just a touch wider with more depth in mids.  M5 has a decent quality analog DD bass with a deep sub-bass and punchy mid-bass, but its sub-bass is more rolled off in comparison to EVO.  EVO mid-bass has a very similar punch, but its sub-bass is more elevated and better textured.  Lower mids are similar in quantity and quality, with both being above neutral and contributing to more body in the sound.  But from there, going up, the tuning is different.  M5 has a more elevated and brighter upper mids while EVO upper mids sound smoother and more natural in comparison.  And the same with treble, where M5 is brighter, crisper, and airier, while EVO treble is more natural and sounds smoother than M5.

EVO vs Oriolus Traillii – I wasn’t sure at first if this comparison will make sense, but added it at the end because many Traillii users express wishful thinking about DD bass.  Starting with soundstage expansion, the Bird instruments and vocals stretch wide/deep/tall, while EVO has a phenomenon of instruments stretching wide while vocals expanding slightly less in width and more in depth and height.  The sound sig of Traillii is more W-shaped balanced while EVO is W-shaped with more bass emphasis (borderline L-shaped).  Both EVO and Traillii have a deep and elevated sub-bass extension, but EVO sub-bass rumble is even more elevated and mid-bass punch is noticeably stronger.  Overall, EVO bass feels tighter and faster while Traillii bass is more relaxed and laidback.  The lower mids of Traillii have a thicker body while EVO is leaner, and the upper mids of Traillii is smoother while EVO is more resolving.  With treble, EVO is smoother and more natural relative to brighter and crisper Traillii treble.

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Source pair up.

In each source pair ups, I was using a stock cable and AZLA Sedna eartips.  EVO is easy to drive considering its 103dB sensitivity and 4.5ohm impedance, though since sensitivity is a bit on a lower side, I had to push volume a few clicks higher relative to other IEMs.  No hissing was detected.  For your reference, these are brief pair up notes.  And by brief, I just focus on any changes related to signature and general tonality, without going into too many details of technical performance difference.

Lotoo LPGT – my baseline pair up with a borderline L-shaped/W-shaped tuning, deep elevated sub-bass, strong mid-bass punch, natural detailed forward mids, and clear, well defined, and still natural tonality treble.

A&K SP2000 SS – in this particular pair up it was hard to tell SP2k apart from LPGT.  Go figure!

L&P P6 Pro – the main change I hear is in tonality with Pro being brighter in upper mids and treble.  As a result, the sound sig is more balanced and the bass doesn’t sound as powerful.

Hiby R6 2020 – deep elevated sub-bass with a strong mid-bass punch, natural detailed and slightly more revealing mids, a little brighter crisper treble.  Good pair up.

Cayin N6ii w/R01 – deep and even more elevated sub-bass, strong fast mid-bass punch, natural detailed mids, and natural detailed treble with a great definition.  I enjoyed this pair up.

iBasso DX300 w/amp11 mk2 – excellent bass definition, slightly more forward mids with a natural detailed tonality, and clear detailed treble with more airiness. A very good pair up.

iBasso DX300 MAX SS – the soundstage expanded even wider, and I hear quite a few changes in sound.  Bass is more powerful, especially in sub-bass region.  But I do hear a little less body in the sound and upper mids being brighter and a bit dry.

LPGT + C9 (tube mode) – another surprise where the sound turning was a bit too bright, especially mids being more forward and brighter.  Personally, I wasn’t too crazy about it since I enjoyed a more natural tonality of EVO mids.

There were quite a few surprises, and I thought EVO will pair up great with all the source, but as I mentioned above, with some the sound became more balanced and brighter due to the bass losing some of its power.  DX300 w/amp11, N6ii w/R01, and R6 2020 were my favorite pair ups here.

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Conclusion.

It is impossible to talk about EVO without referencing LX.  Even the name of this latest EE release is Legend EVO, clearly suggesting that we are dealing with evolution of the original Legend X.  But I noticed that evolution of new EE releases often gets inspired by their previous “hits”.  Back when I was reviewing Odin, I referred to it as a lovechild with a shared DNA from Zeus, LX, and even Wraith.  With EVO, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was influenced not only by original LX, but also Odin, because relative to LX, EVO tuning was updated with more resolving and detailed upper mids and improved bass articulation.

EVO is a very addictive IEM that will appeal even to those who are not fans of enhanced bass because it doesn’t have traditional L-shaped sig.  It evolved into audiophile quality basshead IEM that can equally satisfy those who prefer consumer tuning with enhanced bass and others who are picky audiophiles and want natural clarity and good retrieval of details in addition to quality bass.  And yes, EVO does come with its own secret sauce weapon, Weapon X Bone Conduction driver which has an audible effect, not a gimmick.  But at the end of the day when I put EVO in my ears, it’s not just about the bass, or the natural clarity of the mids, or the effect of BC.  It’s the overall tuning and how it all comes together and makes me enjoy any genre of music I throw at it.

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5 thoughts on “Empire Ears Legend EVO

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