I bought this IEM with full retail price. This is not a sponsored review.
A week ago, I posted a review on Empire Ears Professional (EP) Series top of the line – Phantom. Thank you Head-Fi and fellow Head-Fiers for the all the support although I am still a relatively new review provider. Phantom is an all-rounder, but the Legend X perform beyond an all-rounder, close to perfect. Being the top of the line of X series, Legend X caters the needs of the audiophile community. I will explain this further in the latter part of this review.
“At long last the Legend has returned to the throne to push the limits of in-ear monitor performance to its highest point ever. Experience a world-class prestige IEM and a new era of uncompromising design and performance. From its arsenal of 7 proprietary drivers (including twin sequential W9 subwoofers) to its industry leading, state-of-the-art 10-way synX crossover network, the Legend X is the culmination of everything extraordinary we do at Empire.” Empire Ears on Legend X.
From EarWerkz Legend R and Legend Omega, Empire Ears had put in lots of effort addressing the greatest challenge yet - incorporating the low-reaching, impactful bass of the W9 subwoofers, with technical performance rivaling any in-ear monitor on the market. By presenting the Legend X to the market, Empire Ears proudly proclaim that the challenge was overcome. By offering top-tier levels of transparency and separation, as well as one of the widest sound stages in the industry, Empire Ears X Series flagship has earned its position at the top of the line-up: Legend X, a Legend is reborn.
7 Proprietary Drivers, Hybrid Design
2 W9 Subwoofers, 2 Mid, 1 Mid-High, 1 High, 1 Super High
10-Way synX Crossover System
A.R.C. Resonance Mitigation Technology
Impedance: 14 ohms @ 1kHz
Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 40kHz
Sensitivity: 102dB @ 1kHz, 1mW
26AWG UPOCC Litz Copper Cable, Handcrafted by Effect Audio
In Ear Monitor
Empire Aegis Case
Empire Dust Bag
Empire IEM Pouch
Empire Cleaning Cloth
Empire Cleaning Tool
Empire Ears embedded a few technologies in the creation of Legend X. The technologies such as synX Crossover Network and A.R.C Resonance Mitigation Technology are explained in detailed on Empire Ears websites. For those who are interested can browse and read through.
I chose Universal with 3.5mm terminated when I order this IEM. The shell is Piano Black with Empire Ears Logo on it – shiny and nicely done. I love the colour matching. The shell could potentially be huge for those who have relatively smaller ears. I would recommend them to opt for Custom fit for the best result.
I used my Effect Audio Ares II in 2.5mm balanced terminated as the cable. I used Sony NW-WM1Z (without any modification) and iBasso CA01 adaptor to run this IEM on balanced output.
Hotel California (FLAC 192kHz/24Bit) - 70 on low gain
Billie Jean (FLAC 96kHz/24Bit) – 60 on low gain
Payphone (FLAC 44.1kHz/16Bit) – 60 on low gain
Better Than Revenge (FLAC 44.1kHz/16Bit) – 63 on low gain
入阵曲 (PCM 44.1Hz/16Bit) – 63 on low gain
Send My Love (FLAC 44.1kHz/16Bit) – 63 on low gain
Perfect (FLAC 44.1kHz/24Bit) – 63 on low gain
The first impression I have towards Legend X is the unbelievably wide sound stage. This could be the widest sound stage an IEM can possess. It is a breakthrough and thank you for all the hard work from Empire Ears to make this happens. The wide sound stage makes separation and imaging even better. This IEM sounds extremely spacious. Generally, Legend X sounds very sturdy – solid, powerful and robust. All-rounder could potentially be the best adjective to describe the performance of this IEM. The sound signature I would describe as lush – warmth and fullness. Notes are more authoritative and have a sense of life about them.
I would describe the lows of this IEM as seismic and weighty – you feel it more than hear it. Only IEMs can have this quality of lows. The lows remind me of subwoofer in car audio system where you put the subwoofer at the back of the car. The kick comes in without bleeding towards other frequency spectrum. After nearly 2 years of relentless R&D Empire is proud to announce the Weapon IX (W9), a proprietary 9mm rare-earth magnet subwoofer with the ability to deliver extreme output, accurate dynamics and sublime sound quality all at the same time. The keys to these performance capabilities lie at the very core of its design, where the woofer is enclosed in a tuned bass-reflex system with a front-firing sound port and rear-firing vent for maximum efficiency. It is very fascinating that having a significant size of subwoofer (9mm) that create seismic and weighty lows without trading off the details and clarity of the frequency spectrum. Amazing. The attack and decays of the lows are fast for this IEM with full of energy.
Immature listeners might find the mids being recessed. This comment might be a little unfair towards this Legend because it is merely the lows are taking the front and centre stage. By using more precise term to describe, the mids are actually nicely done if we were to analyse it alone. The vocal and mids instruments are full, smooth and sweet – for both male and female vocalists. Adam Leveine and 阿信 sounds full of soul while the lows are kicking in energetically at the back. The layering has been done perfectly by Empire Ears. Adele and Taylor Swift – 2 of my favourite female singers sound silly smooth, sweet and breathy. The presentation of vocals is flawless and rich in body – naturalness, realism. It is not analytical or clinical at all.
Cymbals is crisp without piercing the eardrums. Not much of sizzly or sibilant high in this IEM. I can easily listen to this IEM for hours. This is very important because fatigue-causing highs will kill the entire IEM. The presentation is very open, airy, spacious at the highs. Sufficient amount of air is injected for Billie Jean. It sounds breathy. Good spacing created good imaging which prevent congestion – very accurate and precise performance. It rises steadily then extends well before it decays smoothly. The smooth decays or roll-offs prevented unwanted distortion – making the highs as sweet as candy. Well done Empire Ears!
Lionheart by Effect Audio
EA propriety customised 7 bundle litz hybrid proportional mix
Silver plated copper and Gold-plated copper hybrid
EA UltraFlexi insulation
The emphasis at the lows is reduced and shifted to mids and highs. The lows now are taking only the front stage and mids have been elevated to the center stage. Listening to the vocals, they are now richer and fuller. The lows are still having sufficient amount of emphasis and weight. The IEM is now more balance and transparent as compared to Ares II.
Horus by Effect Audio
Propriety multi-size stranded design
Ultra-high strands count
Ultra-purity OCC Gold plated silver
EA ferrite guard technology
EA Ultraflexi insulation
This could be the perfect matching for Legend X except for the price of the cable (It costs about 2000SGD). The presentation is now even more spacious and transparent. The kicking at the lows are even faster and more controlled. I will describe this cable to tame the beast and making it performing better at its region. As compared to lionheart, this would be a more balanced performance matching – highs are breathy and the mids are sweet. Flawless!
SP1000 Stainless Steel
I am using the balanced output of this DAP. This could be one of the cleanest sounding pairing. Very pronounce lows – weighty and seismic. The soundstage is mind-blowing, even wider than WM1Z. The separation is astonishing with the aid of widening of soundstage. Overall presentation is balance with slight emphasis on highs – brighter than WM1Z pairing.
Chord Mojo (Opus #3 Optical Output)
Good extension at the lows and highs. The overall presentation is warmer and richer now. This is a more musical pairing. I find the details are slightly compromised for the sake of musicality.
Chord Hugo 2 (Opus #3 Optical Output)
The sound signature is close to Chord Mojo pairing – warm and smooth but with better separation. The sound stage is wider in this pairing as compared to Mojo. I would classify this pairing as fun and musical too, but it does present the details and clarity well. Very clean and breathy vocals with fast attack and decay of lows. However, it is not as seismic as NW-WM1Z – a little superficial.
Campfire Audio Solaris
The soundstage and amount of air in Legend X is definitely a great selling point over Solaris. Solaris does present the fullness and richness. However, due to the slightly narrower soundstage, it could sound a little congested, but this is very source dependent. I did manage to find some pairing that can make Solaris wider in term of soundstage. Close fight here!
Trinity emphasis more on transparency. Yes, Jomo did it very well on their Trinity. It is like a piece of glass that you can see through every note. This reminded me of HD600. However, Legend X is bringing the whole stage performance to the listener. Very different experience and this is very subjective. I would opt for Legend X because I do need some musicality in daily listening.
Empire Ears Phantom
Phantom has slightly narrower soundstage as compared to Legend X. The performance at the lows is a clear win for Legend X – Cleaner and leaner. I find the lows of Phantom are a little tubby in some of the track. It could definitely be mitigated through series of cable rolling.
This is a cold and dark IEM (for me). I would prefer some musicality and sense of life when listening to music. Sony M9 can be a very good reference IEM but for daily listening I will opt for Legend X.
Campfire Audio Andromeda S
Another tough choice. I am huge fan of Campfire Audio especially Andromeda. The limited Andromeda S is warmer as compared to Andromeda. The lows of Andromeda are definitely leaner as compared to Legend X but in term of energy and weight Legend X will have my vote. The mids are equally good but one is at the front stage while the other is at the center of the stage. The highs of Andromeda S are soaring, and some people do find it a little fatigue causing. Legend X highs are more like a tamed beast. Close fight!
With years of research and development, I really appreciate how Empire Ears present the new Legend, Legend X to the community. It is an all-rounder in term of performance. Looking forward for more surprises from Empire Ears. It is definitely worth waiting.