Empire Ears Zeus vs Spiral Ear SE5-way Reference (2.099 USD vs 1650 USD)
Both monitors have mid-centric approach. SE5 is a little darker, while Zeus has open tone. Overall, SE5 seems more organic and Zeus sounds more technical. They both are very impressive in terms of resolution.
In sub-bass region, SE5 is a little more powerful and emotional. Detail and texture levels are similar, but SE5’s decay is a bit longer and more natural in comparison. Both SE5 and Zeus can handle fast metal tracks very well in bass presentation.
SE5 has a little more prominent mid-bass presentation, while Zeus sounds less warm in this region. Pursuant this tone difference in mid-bass, Zeus creates more neutral approach. In addition, resolution level of mid-bass is similar.
Both have an impressive and forward midrange with very similar resolution level. However, SE5 is a little better in terms of average note thickness and uses larger sizes while creating instruments. In this regard, SE5 is a bit more capable to release lower harmonics and sounds bolder in comparison. On the other hand, Zeus articulates details more and is more transparent, but both are non-fatiguing.
Overall tone is natural on both monitors, but SE5 is less aggressive in terms of note structure. SE5 is less stressed in releasing notes, puts some organic signs and grains on them, while Zeus sounds cleaner with a bit open tone. In upper midrange, SE5 is smoother, while Zeus has more detail. In addition, SE5 spreads more emotion and naturalness on vocals, but Zeus’ vocals are cleaner and more resolved. However, Zeus can tend to sibilance more depending on record quality.
Zeus has more prominent and slightly brighter treble presentation. SE5 is less detailed, but more forgiving with a truer tone. In addition, Zeus is more sensitive to bad recordings, but both have a good speed. Resolution and extension levels are very similar; SE5 has a bit more natural attack/decay ability.
Soundstage and Separation:
Both have impressive stage depths, but Zeus is slightly wider as well as having longer distances between instruments. SE5 has warmer and darker spaces, while Zeus has more neutral ones. In terms of background, both are very clean, but SE5 is a little blacker in comparison.
Zeus has a little better imaging and instruments separation; it uses a bit smaller instrument size in a larger space and this creates more distant and separated instruments. However, SE5 is more coherent and focusing is easier at the cost of having a little congestion in instrument placement.
Empire Ears Zeus vs Lear LCM BD-4.2 (2.099 USD vs 1300 USD)
As we all know, Zeus is BA-only powered unit, while Lear 4.2 utilizes 4 BA and 2 dynamic drivers. The presentation styles are also different; Zeus has mid-centric signature and Lear is a little U-shape.
The comparison is done with Lear’s bass knob set at the half way.
The sub-bass of Zeus is slightly more prominent, while Lear carries more air in accordance with dynamic driver advantage. Texture and resolution level is similar, but Lear sounds a bit more emotional and natural. During fast metal tracks, Zeus betters Lear in terms of speed.
Neither of them have a dominant mid-bass presentation. Overall tones are in natural class with a bit warmth, but Lear’s mid-bass is more emotional by a very small margin. Both Lear and Zeus are able to provide neutral air between instruments.
As it is in the description in the first part of the comparison, Lear has an U-shape signature that results in laid-back mids, while Zeus locates midrange closer to listener. Detail level is similar, but Zeus is more controlled, resolved and natural; it also betters Lear in terms of recreating both thin and thick notes well. Lear sounds a bit thin and has ‘’bright and mechanical’’ transparency when compared to Zeus. In addition, Zeus has more three dimensional vocals as well as slightly better resolution. Both tend to sibilance, but Zeus is smoother in upper-midrange area.
Both have a slight brightness in treble region with a similar prominence, but Zeus is more natural and refined. Extension and detail level is high on both, but Zeus sounds more resolved pursuant treble speed advantage in fast metal tracks. However, both are sensitive to bad recordings. We need to take that Lear gets smoother when the bass quantity increases into consideration. However, Zeus still sounds more natural.
Soundstage and Separation:
Lear has wider stage with more spacious and slightly laid-back structure in comparison. On the hand, Zeus is also airy and its depth is definitely more distinctive, especially in crowded tracks. In addition, Zeus has blacker, more stable and clearer background, while Lear has some stability problems in fast tracks in accordance with its general character. Both use impressive stage spaces and neutral air between instruments, but Zeus betters Lear when it comes to separation, coherence and imaging.
Empire Ears Zeus is a very strong monitor that brings musical technicality to our ears. My personal opinion is that it can be ranked very high among my custom in ear monitors. The craftsmanship is very nice and the overall comfort is good. However, we need to take its only mechanical problem ‘’the hiss’’ into consideration. The MSRP of custom Zeus is 2.099 USD with the exception of customization options.