I don’t think there is anyone who hasn’t heard about the Empire Ears. They make some of the best IEMs one can buy. Few years ago I reviewed their Bravado and it is an IEM I still fee is excellent for a bassy and caller sound signature. They have launched a lot of IEMs since then. Recently they came up with two hybrid earphones. Empire Ears Odin ($3399) is the flagship while the HERO I am working on is the lower high end IEM (Some can say its upper mid range IEM but anything over $1000 has to be labeled high as far as I am concerned). It houses one 9mm W9+ sub-woofer and 3 BA drivers in a 4-Way synX Crossover Network.
The Hero comes in both universal and custom fit versions and both the versions start at $1349. It doesn’t have any other color scheme for the universal fit and one has to be contained with the black smoke marble type face plate which in itself looks classy.
In their words:
Hero is relentless, fierce and unapologetic – a renunciation of rules, preconceptions and everything that’s expected from it. It represents a tour de force of Empire’s expertise and craftsmanship, elevating musicality presentation to a level non-existent in its tier. With DNA sourced directly from Legend X and Zeus XIV, Hero reveres our past to emulate flagship levels of performance without the flagship admission.”
It faces plenty of competition from IEMs like a various brands but I will compare it with the Unique Melody Mirage, Vision Ears VE6XC and Nocturnal Eden.
Get one from these links:
WHAT’S IN THE BOX:-
The first thing I noticed about the hero box is the heft. It has a very interesting packaging. Most of the time the IEM and all the accessories are placed in a single compartment but the Hero comes in a layered box. Lifting the upper lid exhibits the IEM and the cable but all other accessories are placed in a sliding compartment under it.
When you pay $1349 you get a 4 core Alpha cable made in collaboration with effect audio. A heavy all metal “Pandora Case”, 5 pair of Final type E tips in 5 sizes can be found at the bottom compartment. A cleaning cloth and cleaning tool can be found inside the carry case.
Here is my unboxing video:
HOW IS THE CABLE:-
Empire Ears have been shipping their IEMs with excellent cables long before this trend caught up. They have Effect Audio as their partner in crime. Hero ships with Alpha IV cable, in their words:
“At Empire Ears we believe that an extraordinary IEM requires an extraordinary cable. We’re proud to introduce Alpha-IV (A4); a premium handcrafted 4 core cable comprised of a proprietary 26AWG UPOCC Litz Copper with multi-size stranding. The advantage of multi-sized stranded design within the same encapsulations enables A4 to achieve distinct highs and details due to the signal transmission speed in thinner cable strands, while the thicker size cable strands deliver smoother bass and mids.”
One can choose 2.5mm, 3.5mm or 4.4mm terminations while placing the order. I do not see a lot of differences with the last gen cable. This cable too has the similar kind of memory problem. It is not the supplest cable but one has to keep in mind that litz cables are a bit stiff. Thankfully the 4 core cable is not heavy but the 3.5mm jack is on the heavier side though. The cable splitter is small and do not add weight to the cable while the cable/chin slider is very small and functional. Cable guides are easy on the ear and have a secure feel to them.
BUILD AND ERGONOMIC:-
I have been working a handful of IEMs in various forms but the Empire Ears Hero has one of the best fit. The Hero is made out of acrylic with layers of resin on it. It is sturdy and strong, nothing to complain about the build but might not survive a fall on solid surfaces from a 3ft+ height. Yes, it’s not the strongest material on the market but it’s fairly light weight and doesn’t feel heavy inside the ears making it more pleasing.
It incorporates a 3 bore design and has a cute looking bass vents at the side of the shell.
The best thing about these is the slightly longer nozzle, making the IEM get a bit deeper into the ear giving a very secure fit. The nozzle has a bit of lip which lets the tip sit without slipping out. Kudos to the final E type tips too, they have excellent grip inside the ear. Compared to some other IEMs this can feel a bit bigger than needed but the size is not problematic. It has a small wing type design to provide some stability.