Empire Ears Nemesis Review

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Empire Ears Nemesis Review

Empire excels at giving the listener an extremely wide frequency range. At least this is true for the two X Series models I’ve tried so far. In fact, I’ve experienced few brands that offer such bountiful lows and the clearest of highs in one IEM. And if you’re not usually into subwoofers, the Nemesis (and Legend X) might change your mind. Let’s see what makes these buds unique in this Empire Ears Nemesis Review.

IN the BOX

Empire Ears Nemesis Review

FIT

The big shells make the Nemesis easy to pop in. And the sound isolation is decent, but perhaps not as isolating as something like Shure. In previous reviews, I’ve mentioned that Empire Ears, though mostly comfortable, start to press on the back contours of my ears after long use. I didn’t feel any pain while testing the Nemesis. And the shape didn’t look larger or different from the Phantom or Legend X. Can ears be temperamental?

Empire Ears Nemesis Review

DESIGN

In terms of drivers, we’ve got a hybrid design; 2 dynamic subwoofers, and 3 balanced armatures –  1 mid, 1 high and 1 super high. I also love mentioning Empire Ears’ A.R.C. Resonance Mitigation Technology because I think it actually works. Designed to minimize resonance and vibrations, I find that this technology has a unique ability to keep subwoofers, especially, in check. Their snazzy crossover design probably helps too.

Empire Ears uses Effect Audio’s Ares II copper Litz cable, which has a 2 pin connection and a super sturdy 24k Oyaide gold plated right angle plug.

Empire Ears Nemesis Review

SOUND

Overall Impressions: Versatile lows, clear highs, rich character.

Lows

For those who like a subby, yet tight bass that’s not in your face, these buds are for you. And although the lows are punchy enough to make many tracks pop, they’re not particularly forward or dominating. So, they sounded great listening to EDM, but not present enough to make good ol’ Bruno Mars or OutKast live up to their potential. 

Mids

The mids have nice presence, but there’s a slight emphasis in the upper midrange. So for those that like it perfectly balanced in this range, you might opt for the Phantom. Personally, my ears are very sensitive to the upper mids, so I felt a bit of vocal harshness on certain tracks. But there’s still warmth and meat here, and the sound profile was suitable enough for full-bodied rock and pop-rock songs. Empire Ears does a good job of balancing richness with clarity. Acoustic guitars had transparency, resolve and great separation. Indeed, if you listen across genres, the Nemesis has a sufficient versatility.

Highs

These buds have an impressive amount of transparency. Listening to strings, I heard the more subtle textures and timbre of solo violins. But there was also a pleasing smoothness to the sound. The same was true for brass instruments, which were breathy yet fluid. When listening directly through my iPhone, the very crisp percussion sometimes bordered on sizzle. But when I listened through my FiiO Q5 DAC, any slight sibilance smoothed out.

Soundstage

Empire Ears produces a roomy soundstage. With plenty of depth with very accurate placement, the Nemesis offers a spaciousness and multidimensionality that you would expect from a headphone at this price range.

SUMMARY

The Nemesis is kind of a unique headphone with respect to its versatility. Who knew that you could switch from EDM to classical while listening to the same buds? If you’re a rock or pop-rock fan, you might prefer the even midrange of the Phantom. But if you’re into anything else or like to collect interesting sound profiles, the Nemesis could be a fun (and yes, pricey) addition to your repertoire.

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