These two top-of-the-line models are my favorites in the Noble Audio and Empire Ears lineup. Why? Because they’re both perfectly balanced and accurate without the sacrifice of personality. This makes them both versatile and super fun. They’re also in the same price range. So, let’s find out which one is for you in this Noble Audio Kaiser vs Empire Ears Phantom Review.
Noble Audio Kaiser vs Empire Ears Phantom Review
IN the BOX
Both, the Kaiser and the Phantom are easy to fit in the ear thanks to their slightly elastic over-ear wires. So, there’s no need to endlessly mould them around the ear. With respect to comfort, I’ve worn both IEMs for long periods of time. The Kaiser begins to press on the ear contour after a few hours of use, causing some discomfort. The Phantom, on the other hand, feels a lot smoother and softer against the ear. And despite the larger size of its shells, it is much lighter in weight. The Phantom also offers superior sound isolation, probably because of its shape, which seems more naturally formed to the contours of one’s ears.
The Kaiser has 10 balanced armature drivers. Noble Audio doesn’t reveal many specifications, so I can’t tell you to which frequencies these drivers are directed, but my guess is that it’s a pretty even distribution. The Phantom has 5 balanced armature drivers; 2 low, 1 mid, 1 high and 1 super high. Remember, kids: more drivers don’t mean better sound.
With respect to the cable, the Phantom appears to have a much sturdier build. It’s got a super thick Copper Litz cable with 2 pin connectors and a pimpin’ solid 24k Oyaide gold plated right angle plug. Again, Noble Audio has not revealed much about the design of its cable. It also has a 2 pin connection, but is quite a bit thinner with a much less impressive plug.
Overall Impressions: The Kaiser is tight, clean and elegant while the Phantom is warm, punchy and rich.
The lows on the Phantom are deeper and more opulent than those on the Kaiser. Though the bass on the Phantom doesn’t sit any more forward, it certainly has more oomf when it comes to pop and hip-hop music. It also handles the sub frequencies a little more authentically, giving you that reverberating feel at the lowest of lows. Although both IEMs have great transient responses, the Kaiser feels just a bit tighter. So, don’t get me wrong. The Kaiser is one snappy headphone that also sounds great listening pop. But if you want some serious meat in your music, you’ll be happier with the Phantom. Moving onto rock, the lush lows of the Phantom provide a lot more warmth to big, full-bodied choruses. But if you prefer a cleaner, more delineated sound, you might opt for the Kaiser.
Both IEMs have a nicely balanced and present midrange. But because of the Phantom’s warmer lows, the lower midrange appears to have more presence on the Phantom. So again, if you like a fleshy sound, you’ll probably prefer the Phantom. On the flip side, the Kaiser greatly outshines the Phantom in terms of separation. And this becomes especially apparent when listening to acoustic guitars. Strums and picks have more transparency and resolve on the Kaiser. And in general, it’s a tidier sound. For this reason, genres like folk are sound more precise on the Kaiser.
Listening to strings, I sensed a little more transparency in the Kaiser. In terms of texture, it was just a bit more nuanced. But this difference was less apparent when listening to brass in the upper registers. However, the Kaiser’s superior separation was still evident. Listening to fast moving saxophone riffs, the note progressions felt cleaner and more well delinieated. It can also be described as a thinner sound. And again, for that reason, the Phantom had a more luxurious feel in this range.
The Phantom wins here. It has a much grander feel. But because of its comparative soft character, it seems to lack the pin-point accuracy of the Kaiser in terms of imaging. But if you want it big and wide, go with the Phantom.
These are both great IEMs with such different personalities. The Kaiser has a refined sophistication, while the Phantom holds nothing back, giving all the warmth, thickness and punch one could wish for. For a clean, well separated sound, the Kaiser is for you. For a lush and full-bodied character, go for the Phantom. Finally, if in-ear comfort tends to be an issue for you, you’re probably safer going with the Phantom.
You can find these IEMs for the best price at:
Audio 46: Noble Audio Kaiser Encore (use our promo code, “majorhifi” to get a 10% discount)
Audio 46: Empire Ears Phantom (use our promo code, “majorhifi” to get a 10% discount)