Empire Ears – AXPONA 2016

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Empire Ears nearly flew under my radar at AXPONA’s Ear Gear Expo. The custom In-Ear manufacturer had a substantial presence in the main floor ballroom with a fully stocked table sporting their rather large selection of ear-molded products.

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As is the case with many other CIEM manufacturers, Empire Ears had a selection color and faceplate options, all on display in a colorful fanfare spread neatly across their space.

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VP of Sales Jack Vang gave me the lowdown on the big picture. Their Olympus series is named after greek gods and starts with 2 BAs per ear and ends with 14. The flagship Zues XIV has a 7 point crossover point network and a quadruple bore design for its 2 low, 6 mid, and 6 high drivers. Its only been on the market for a mere 3 months, but the CEIM really takes it to the max in terms of specs. Retail for the Zeus XIV is a very flagship-ish $2099.

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Of course any IEM from the lineup can be purchased in any color, but the 7 piece progression looks well spread in terms of tech distribution. Anyone familiar with these types of setups knows that a higher number of drivers doesn’t necessarily mean a clearer sound. Indeed, given other company’s approach there is even little relationship between the number of drivers and frequency response. Any IEM can be tuned to any response and tons of drivers appear to reliably only guarantee one thing, a bigger shell. That’s not to say the greatest IEMS of our day don’t have the largest driver collections, but rather a word of warning to those obsesses with the best – any one of the lineup has potential to be a winner for you. Check reviews, talk to people with experience in the subject and try to get a live demo at show like EGX if possible. You may find your favorite is not the most expensive option.

The entire Olympus line is also available in universal versions for the same cost. Empire ears also offer a selection of both comply and spinfit tips on their website as well as reasonably priced cable options. Like many (but not all) audiophile CIEM makers, Empire appeals to both sound quality enthusiasts and performance artists alike, though their list of featured artists doesn’t seem quite as extensive as UE or JH Audio. Go get ’em Empire, the market is ripe for the picking and there is still room available for growth in sound quality within the product category.

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