I have been eagerly awaiting the latest IEM named after a Norse deity. It’s not from the brand I like to gush about, but Empire Ears is just as reliable for quality IEMs. I just don’t know what it is, but anytime a brand released an IEM with a Nordic Gods’ name attached, you know you’re about to get something special. This time it’s the Odin from Empire Ears, who released this flagship earphone alongside the Hero which I previously reviewed for MajorHiFi. The Hero was sort of the response to the pricy nature of their flagship models, attempting a flagship sound for considerably less. The Odin doesn’t mess around. For $3,399 Empire Ears looks to ensure you’re receiving an unmated quality worth its bold price point.
What You Get
As I was happy with how the Hero neatly organized its packaging contents, the Odin also shares the same philosophy. Opening the box folds reveal the striking Odin, and its either 3.5mm or 2.5mm cable, depending on which version you buy. It would have been nice to just see both cables included, as other IEM manufacturers have done that for less, but I digress. Opening the drawer compartment on the side of the box you’ll find the metallic Pandora storage case which feels highly durable, as well as 5 different pairs of Final Audio silicone ear tips. Lastly, you’ll receive a cleaning cloth and tool. When you see these guys in person you won’t want to get a single spec of dust on them.
Look and Feel
My god, these are some of the best looking IEMs out there. Just on first look, the Odin craves to be admired, and for good reason. The faceplates are mostly what I’m gushing about, as their multi-colored design meant to simulate the Bifrost rainbow bridge from mythology. There are nine individual polymer layers, each with their own lamination step filtering and reflecting different wavelengths of light. The result is the visually arresting earphone you see before you. A smart choice of aesthetic, mixed with the master craftsmanship of Empire Ears has created one of the best faceplate designs around. Do these pretty looking IEMs feel good? Depending on your choice of ear tips, yes! With only one or two adjustments to fit them just right, the Odin sports a tight and lightweight fit that doesn’t distract. The nozzle is long and wide enough not to get in the way all too much, while the housing sits naturally in the shape of your ear.
The Odin comes packed to the brim with complex components and driver systems. This powerhouse IEM boasts an 11 driver tribrid that includes 5 balanced armatures, 4 electrostatics, and Empire Ears patented dual W9+ dynamic drivers. The armatures contain most of the mid-range information, with two dedicated to low-mids, another two dedicated to mids, and one for mid-highs. Electrostatic drivers output both high and ultra-high frequency information, while the Weapon IX W9+ driver acts as a subwoofer that uses a larger internal coil diameter for a more dynamic envelope reproduction.
With all these different driver components acting at once, it’s easy for all this power to become unbalanced, making for unhinged signal output, but Empire Ears combats this with synX crossover technology. This 8-way crossover network strengthens the performance by providing high stereo separation and a smooth phase response to create the most reliant image possible. This is helped by the A.R.C technology that dampens the internals to attenuate any unwanted resonances.
With the robust system design of the Odin, it would come as a miracle to ever have a clean output, but the Odin does it even with a low impedance. The Odin only has an impedance of 3 Ohms at 1kHz, making the Odin usable with any headphone jack, no amplifier required. The Legend X system ensures an expansive frequency range, with the Odin standing at a response of 5Hz-100kHz. The potential of this IEM is truly impeccable. To top it all off, the Odin utilizes a Litz, quad-conductor cable, fittingly called the Stormbreaker. It ensures the cleanest signal output possible.
Without knowing about everything about all the hills the Odin climbs to best separate each frequency band to the best of its ability, the image output of the earphones is nothing short of spectacular for an IEM. One day there will be no distinction between the soundstage of an IEM versus that of an over-ear headphone, and the Odin comes the closest to realizing that. The depth of the sound signature is splendid, as instrumentals layer on top of each other with articulation and precision. Everything is placed accurately in the image as the Odin creates a wonderful sphere that encapsulates an immersive stage that feels right to the music. Tracks such as Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” expands showing off a wide field, leaving room for the elegant subtleties to shine, and specific songs from AC/DC separate the rhythm and lead guitars so well, they sound more musically distinct.
Empire’s W9+ driver goes a long way to deliver sub-bass tones and delivers them well. Not a baseheads sound, but some of the cleanest and smoothest you’ll hear in an IEM. Bass instrument has no problem being detectable for analysis, and the extra sub-bass lift does a good job adding some extra life to the lower bands, making explosive rock tracks ideal. It isn’t forward in any way, but instead, it is naturally balanced and dynamic. It can be as punchy as well as fluid, as the Odin will do its best to respond to whatever track you throw at it.
A beautifully well-realized mid-range that utilizes so many great details in a multitude of tracks. The low mids do a fantastic job adding some extra crunch to distorted guitars, giving tracks like “Josie” by Blink-182 a significant edge on the Odin. Punk and hard rock in general sound really spicy in the Odin, as the guitars, expand in width and leave room for a waft of details like harmonics and rudimentary noise.
On the opposite side of that, folk and more contemporary tracks are also a delight in the Odin, as tracks like “From the Morning” by Nick Drake feel just as warm and intimate as you’d get in a darker sounding IEM. Vocals reach a clear and concise timbre and are allowed enough space to show off exceptional textures. Bon Scott’s voice on AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell” holds and an extra amount of definition as the characters in his voice get a spotlight.
The higher bands of the Odin are a big highlight for me. On certain tracks, the highs can feel like dust, brushing over the rest of the spectrum like the wind. The airy textures made my favorite ambient tracks a more thought-provoking experience, as the feel of each album was more realized in the Odin. No harshness can be found, instead, higher bands sizzle and tail off naturally.
The Odin can do almost everything. It has a vast potential for dynamic range reproduction like no other IEM can. The clarity and resolution are unmatched and makes for one of the best IEMs Empire Ears have released yet. For $3,399 it better sound great, that’s for sure. If you’re willing to cash in on these bad boys, you’ll be more than satisfied.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Excellent stage, balanced signature, striking design, easy to drive
Empire Ears Odin is available at Audio 46
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