I recently tested out Empire Ears’ new Valkyrie, and I was interested to see how it stacked up to the more famous IEMs in this price range. Since both, JH Harvey’s Roxanne and Valkyrie are both selling at $1599, I thought this comparison would be a good place to start. At the same time these IEMs differ greatly in terms of design and sound signature. So, I think this contrast will also give folks a better idea of what to expect from each model in general. Much has already been written about both of these IEMs. Therefore, this review is for folks who are already familiar with at least one of these models but want a solid comparison before pulling out their wallets. Which IEM will suit your listening tastes and preferred genres? Let’s take a look in this JH Audio Roxanne vs Empire Ears Valkyrie Review.
JH Audio Roxanne vs Empire Ears Valkyrie Review
You can expect more sound isolation from Roxanne. Her stems are much longer and the seal is a lot more snug. But I found both IEMs equally comfortable to wear.
Roxanne sports 12 balanced armature drivers – 4 low, 4 mid, 4 high. Valkyrie, though only employing 3 drivers, boasts a triple hybrid design. She got a dynamic for the lows, a balanced armature for the mids, and an electrostatic for the highs.
Both IEMs are easy to drive, and I didn’t need much volume adjustment when switching between the two. For the purposes of this review, I used the ol’ Dragonfly Red.
Valkyrie uses Effect Audio’s 26AWG litz copper/silver hybrid cable with a 2-pin connector, while Roxanne has gone with a Litz 4-pin. The 4-pin is probably more solid than the more universal 2-pin connection. But because 2-pins are more common, they’re easier to replace. You’ll also have more options if you ever want to change things up with resp
Finally, Roxanne comes with an adjustable bass dial on her cable. But more about this below.
With her bass dial turned up to the max, you’ll get much more low-end presence from Roxanne. But here’s the thing with Roxanne. When you boost her bass to the highest setting, her clarity is slightly compromised. So, let’s make things fair and keep her levels at factory setting. Still, even at the middle setting, Roxanne packs more of a punch than Valkyrie. Listening to a couple of pop tracks, Roxanne’s bass not only leans further forward, but also delivers more weight and thickness. So, Roxanne definitely has more richness in this range than Valkyrie. Still, when testing out some hip-hop tracks, Valkyrie seemed to have a more apparent sub-bass response. In terms of detail, both IEMs perform equally well. But testing out some string tracks in the lows, again, Roxanne displayed more gravitas and flavor, while Valkyrie had a more buoyant feel. So, if you like your strings to have a lighter timbre in this range, go for Valkyrie.
I’m conservative when it comes to balance. And this is the main reason I prefer Roxanne to Valkyrie. She’s a lot more even in this range. She gives more love to the low mids than the relatively lopsided Valkyrie. And as a result, Roxanne displays more body and a more expansive feel, especially when listening to rock and pop-rock tracks. That being said, if you prefer more forward leaning vocals and upper mids, or a more dynamic and “contrasty” sound, then Valkyrie is your girl. And if you listen to a lot of pop music, I think you’ll find that the balance in combination with Valkyrie’s lively nature a lot of fun.
With respect to separation and detail, again, both IEMs present and equally clean and transparent profile. But moving back to acoustic instruments, Roxanne delivers a more natural performance. Listening to cellos in this range, though Valkyrie perhaps displayed more texture, the lower frequencies of the timbre were missing. So, the presentation on Roxanne was more absolute. And certainly, for classical music, or acoustic genres in general, you’ll get a more realistic feel from Roxanne. And even on rock tracks, Roxanne conveys a much more solid sound. Though both IEMs deliver a tight performance, listening to Fleetwod Mac’s Big Love, for example, the snare is dense and hard hitting. And Valkyrie just doesn’t deliver the same level of smack, even though, on its own, she would be considered a very vibrant IEM.
As in the mids, Roxanne will give you more solidity in the highs. So, while percussion instruments sound extremely crisp on the Valkyrie, they have more density on Roxanne (though they don’t feel rolled-off). And in the same way, Roxanne gives vocals a thicker, heavier feel, while Valkyrie delivers a lighter and airier performance.
Though both IEMs deliver a highly multidimensional listening experience, Roxanne delivers a grander soundstage. This is not only because she’s more spacious; since Roxanne’s lower frequencies are more present and sweeping, she gives the impression of a more massive stage. Take The Beatles’ remix of Savoy Truffle, for example. When the brass comes in, because the Roxanne’s lower registers have the same gravitas as the higher frequencies, the track just feels bigger and more majestic.
Both of these ladies present great skills. Both are highly detailed, well separated and super tight with impressively holographic soundstages. However, in terms of the genres that these IEMs can handle, there’s no question that Roxanne is the more versatile out of the two. She’s also richer and more expansive. And given these factors, Roxanne will always remain a heavy hitter in the under $1500 price range. That being said, if you already own a lot of well-balanced all-stars, the Valkyrie will certainly be a unique addition to your collection. More importantly, she’s got the looks.
You can find both of these IEMs for the best price here:
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