Empire Ears has taken a stab at designing their first electrostatic hybrid IEMs. I recently tested their priciest model, the Wraith. And I was impressed by the richness and level of detail. But the bass response didn’t sound that Empirish. So, I was interested to see what they would do with their more affordable, tri-hybrid model, the Valkyrie. Will these buds produce the kind of sound signature that Empire Ears has become famous for? Let’s find out in this Empire Ears Valkyrie Review.
Empire Ears Valkyrie Review
IN the BOX
I never have issues with Empire Ears when it comes to fit. Though the shells are sizable, the contours are so smooth and ergonomic that they not only feel very comfortable, but they also provide a really good seal. So, the sound isolation is fantastic. In fact, the Valkyrie eliminates more outside noise most other IEMs I’ve tried in this price range.
This is as hybrid as it comes. A dynamic driver powers the lows, a balanced armature powers the mids, and an electrostatic driver juices the highs. Empire Ears employs a 4 way crossover to control the show. And they also use their EIVEC technology (Empire Intelligent Variable Electrostatic Control) to keep the electrostatic driver from freaking out and upstaging the other 2 drivers.
Empire Ears has decided to go with Effect Audio’s Eros II cable, which is a blend of Litz Copper and Pure Silver. For the purposes of this review, I used a regular unbalanced cable. But the Valkyrie is also available with balanced 2.5 and 4.4 terminations.
Like the Wraith, the Valkyrie is easy to drive, and it can easily be powered by your mobile device. But to keep things consistent, I stuck with the Dragonfly Red, which I also used to test the Wraith.
Man, these are like lightning bolts in your ears. Though not as yuge as the Legend X, the bass shows a great deal of power. Forward leaning with plenty of oomph, pop tracks pack a big punch. And listening to hip-hop, you’ll feel a solid sub-bass response as well. You’ll also get more warmth on rock tracks than you will on the Wraith. So, certainly, the Valkyrie presents a much bassier profile than the Wraith. In terms of transparency, the Valkyrie reveals plenty of texture in string instruments in this range. And like the Wraith, the Valkyrie delivers whopping speed.
You’ll hear some similarities to the Wraith in this range as well. Like the Wraith, vocals tend to shine through the mix. However, it seems like the low-mids are given a little more love on these buds, though the overall balance remains dynamic. I have yet to do an AB comparison with Wraith, so don’t quote me. But overall, the Valkyrie does offer more fullness. And the same impressive elements of the Wraith are apparent in these buds as well; fantastic separation and a high level of detail. It doesn’t have the same richness or weight as the Wraith, but it certainly delivers an extremely vibrant and animated feel. And if you’re feeling weary and depressed, 30 minutes of listening the Valkyrie will do more for you than a double espresso and a good spanking. It’s so damn tight. And I don’t just mean good.
Female vocals sound great on these things. Though not as thick and heavy as the Wraith, vocals still has a sweet velvety feel. And I actually like that it has a little more airiness and breath than the Wraith. It’s so emotive that any powerhouse performer will blow you out of your chair and make you cry like a baby. And the shedded weight also lends itself better to acoustic instruments in this range. Violins felt more nuanced, or at least more delicate on the these Valkyrie than the did on the Wraith. And you’ll get crisper, more sparkly percussion from the Valkyrie than you will from the Wraith as well. But to all my friends with sensitivity to high frequencies, don’t worry. They don’t border on sharp.
Like the Wraith, the Valkyrie presents a killer soundstage. The instruments are just so beautifully spread out that it makes you want to reach out to grab them. Instruments placed at the top of the vertical axis soared way above my head. And the sense of depth is quite stunning as well. The imaging is precise, but almost exaggerated in its placement. I love it.
Faster than a bullet with satiating bass and a massive soundstage, the Valkyrie is a #%$%load of fun. In fact, I like it more than the Wraith. Especially considering the price difference. It’s just more like the sound that Empire Ears became famous for. If you’re in the market for an expansive, heart-pounding signature with big vocals and outstanding precision, I doubt that these buds will disappoint.
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