It’s a great day at MajorHiFi when I get the opportunity to compare two killer flagship IEMs. My colleagues have written extensively about both, the Khan and the Legend X. But we received a few requests to compare these two stars. So, this review is for folks who are familiar with at least one of these models, but are hesitant to seal the deal. Which IEM suits your ears and preferred genres? Let’s find out in this Noble Audio Khan vs Empire Ears Legend X Review.
The Khan and the Legend X are quite similar in their shell design and dimensions. They both offer smooth and ergonomically contoured shapes, though the Legend X has a slightly larger design. But they’re equally easy to pop in, and in terms of comfort and lightness, they are on par. I got slightly more sound isolation from the Khan, perhaps because I paired it with foam tips, while the Legend X was fitted with silicone.
The Legend X has a hybrid, seven driver setup. Two dynamic W9 subwoofers power the lows, while five balanced armature are distributed among the mids and highs. (2 mid, 1 mid-high, 1 high, 1 super high). The six driver Khan takes the hybrid design one step further; in addition to its one dynamic and four balanced armature drivers, Noble has thrown in a piezo electric driver for the high frequencies.
Both IEMs are reasonably easy to drive, and for the the purposes of this review, I used the FiiO Q1 Mark II to power them. But be warned that the Khan is not suitable to be driven from your iPhone. The lightning adapter is insufficiently powered or shielded to handle this bad boy. So, you’ll need a portable DAC/amp or player.
The cables on both IEM models use a 2-pin connection. The Legend X employs Effect Audio’s 26AWG UPOCC Litz Copper, while the Khan uses a stock cable, which also has a durable 4-wire braided design. The cable on the Legend X is slightly thicker, and it terminates with a super solid right angled plug. In contrast, the plug on the Khan, while appearing sturdy, has a simple, straight design.
Overall Impressions: The Khan’s precision and killer soundstage vs the Legend X’s rich low-end and colorful dynamics.
You can expect deeper and more forward leaning lows from the Legend X. Playing Van Morrison’s Into The Mystic, the bass line drove the song when listening through the Legend X. But on the Khan, the bass had a more realistic timbre and took a more natural place within the mix, dominating the stage less than on the Legend X. The Legend X is also more present in the sub frequencies, making it more suitable for hip-hop. But with respect to pop, it’s a personal preference because both IEMs present a ton of speed. So, they’re both super fun in this genre. But if you like a rich punchy feel, then stick with the Legend X. And if you enjoy a lighter, “crispier” character, you’ll prefer the clean low-end of the Khan.
The Khan presents the more even midrange, offering a broader scope of the mix. As a result, low frequencies excluded, you’ll get a fuller feel from the Khan when listening to sweeping rock choruses. In contrast, the Legend X will convey more forward leaning vocals with the low mids slightly scooped out. And with its powerful bass, the Legend X offers the more dynamic profile.
Listening to tracks with heavy instrumentation, the Khan does a better job in the layering of instruments, translating into a cleaner and more delineated picture than the more clouded Legend X. And because of its relative lightness and precision, the Khan lends itself better to more delicate instruments like acoustic guitars and strings. It presents the more natural and detailed sound, bringing out nuances in snare hits, for example, that were lost on the comparatively thick and more compact sounding Legend X. Part of this difference might be due to the fact that the Legend X is so good at eliminating resonance. And some may actually prefer the more dense flavor that it offers.
Listening to string solos in the upper octaves, both IEMs displayed a similar amount of transparency. But the Legend X exuded a darker and more majestic character in its presentation of the instrument. Indeed, the Khan is the more buoyant IEM. For instance, it conveys light and airy vocals, while the Legend X exhibits a more solid and weighty character to female vocals in this register. And as mentioned above, listening to pop percussion instruments, you’ll get an edgier, more crystalized feel from the Khan, while Legend X presents less sparkle and more of a blunted or dampened flavor.
The Khan definitely wins in this department. You’ll not only get a more spacious soundstage from the Khan, but the sense of dimension will be more apparent as well. It displayed more height and greater accuracy with respect to instrument placement. The clean layering on the Khan probably contributes to this. And in general, if you’re looking for a truly holographic experience, you can’t get much better than the Khan.
These IEMs have very different personalities. If you like a generous low end combined with a rich and dynamic profile, the Legend X should be your choice. It’s also the less fatiguing IEM, making it more suitable for long listening sessions. But if you prioritize utmost detail and clean precision along with a superb soundstage, then you can’t go wrong with the Khan. And in terms of sheer skill, it’s hard to beat.
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