In Norse mythology, a Valkyrie is a female figure who chooses which men will live and die in battle. So this week, when I got a chance to listen to the Empire Ears Valkyrie, I was curious how they’d sound. Would they embody the stoicism of what I imagine the mythological Valkyries to possess, or would they be otherworldly, unlike other IEMs in their price range? Let’s take a closer look with this Empire Ears Valkyrie review!
Empire Ears Valkyrie Review
In the Box
-Empire Ears Valkyrie IEMs
-Effect Audio Eros II cable - detachable two-pin cable with custom 2.5 or 3.5 mm connector
-metal protective case (Empire Pandora case)
-Final Audio E-type tips (ss, s, m, l, ll)
Look and Feel
The Empire Ears Valkyrie has an absolutely breathtaking presentation in its box. And upon lifting up the box’s flap, the Valkyrie shows itself. It has an absolutely gorgeous blue-green-yellow faceplate. And of course, in the middle, is the golden Empire Ears logo. It’s housing is made of the same acrylic material as the other Empire IEMs. As a result, it feels strong, yet remarkably lightweight in the hand. Additionally, the Eros II cable by Effect Audio brings its look to the next level of high-end.
Comfort and Fit
The Empire Ears Valkyrie fit perfectly in my ears. Empire’s over-a-decade-long research into IEMs means they’ve figured out a few things: notably ergonomic fits. The universal version of the Valkyrie, like the other Empire Ears universal fit IEMs, has a semi-custom shape. In addition to its lightweight feel, the Valkyrie sits securely, yet supremely comfortably in my ears.
The Empire Ears Valkyrie features a tri-hybrid design. With a W9 dynamic subwoofer, a balanced armature by Knowles and Sonion for the midrange, and an electrostatic driver in the highs, each frequency band has support.
The frequencies are divided up among these drivers via Empire’s synX Crossover Technology. This technology is remarkable because Empire Ears engineers can fully control parts of the frequency response in order to eliminate potential phase incoherence. Additionally, these crossovers use specially chosen high-end components to keep the noise floor as low as possible. Then, the crossover is wired to the drivers via 7-strand, individually insulated litz wires, which are then soldered to their terminations with ultra pure silver and gold Mundorf Supreme to maximize signal transfer.
The Empire Ears Valkyrie comes with the option of a 2.5 mm or 3.5 mm Eros II premium cable by Effect Audio. It features UPOCC copper/silver hybrid wiring. The strands within the cable have variations in their thicknesses, because of the quick transmission speeds in thinner wires and the thick, smooth sound of thicker wires. Combined with thin, yet appropriately flexible transparent insulation jackets, the cable is both beautiful and easy to manage.
The low frequencies of the Empire Ears Valkyrie have power and energy. With a sub boost around what sounded like 30 Hz, they seem to have a tight and controlled sense of reach which helps to bring life and dimension to kick drums, sub synths, and other low frequency rich instruments. However, in comparison to the Empire Ears Legend X, the actual level of the lows feels a little bit lighter. By contrast, the lows of the Valkyrie have a good amount of space around them, and seem to have a bit more movement and nuance.
For example, when I was listening to the song Lazarus by David Bowie, the kick had punch and reach. It’s tight sub reach let it have a sense of space and movement, which gave it groove and energy along with the bass guitar which plays a similar rhythmic pattern.
The middle frequencies of the Empire Ears Valkyrie have presence, detail, and separation. And while they have a great deal of harmonic complexity, I wouldn’t describe them as a thick sounding IEM. Rather, their middle mids have lots of nuance, but have a light cut around what sounded like 300 Hz. Combined with a boost across the high-mids between what sounded like 3 and 5 kHz, they lean upward toward vocals, drum attacks, and articulation. However, darker synths, organs, strings, and guitars have great separation from more high-mid focused instruments due to a cut around what sounded like 2 kHz.
For example, when I was listening to the song Slow Burn by Kacey Musgraves, the bass guitar felt a little light in the mix. However, synths, electric guitars, reverbs, and fiddle had great separation from the high-mid of the acoustic guitar strums, vocals, and banjo. Additionally, the vocals, acoustic guitar, and snare slap had presence and forwardness in the mix. The vocal sounded like it had emphasis in the throat and mouth.
The high frequencies of the Empire Ears Valkyrie had presence, texture and beautiful air. An accented lower treble with emphasis around what sounded like 7 kHz provided both presence and texture to cymbals, vocals, drums and percussion. However, then a light cut around what sounded like 8 kHz helped to alleviate potential sibilance and harshness. Finally, a boost in the upper octave around what sounded like 12-13 kHz provided air and lift to mixes as a whole.
For example, when I was listening to the song 1919 by Terri Lyne Carrington, the snare brushes had forwardness and tons of beautiful texture. Likewise, the piano hammers sat forward in the mix and had a sense of activity and movement. Additionally, the cymbals felt textural and harmonically complex with an overlying sense of lift and excitement. However, the highs of cymbals and brushes had great contrast and separation from the pianos and finger noise of the upright bass.
The soundstage of the Empire Ears Valkyrie had a solid phantom center and beautiful reach in vertical space. However, emphasis on high-mid presence created a skewed sense of depth. But, because the mids were able to reveal room sounds, as well as a feeling of quickness there, the IEMs were able to provide depth if it was particularly emphasized in the mix.
For example, when I was listening to the song Cleva by Erykah Badu, the kick, bass, and lead vocal sat solidly in the center. Then, the piano, percussion, hand drums, and vibraphone created a feeling of movement and excitement out to the sides. Additionally, the lows of the kick and bass guitar anchored the mix down by the shoulders while the high-hat, vocals, and bright string synth gave it extension up above the head. Lastly, the vocal was super present. The vibes sat a little closer in space than usual, but because their room sound had fullness, it dragged them back in space a bit, giving them greater depth.
Overall, the Empire Ears Valkyrie has a unique sound, one that delivers detail and presence. With a sense of pretty high-end extension and a solid low end, it works well for a wide variety of genres. However, because of its slightly quieter middle midrange, I enjoyed it most for acoustic music, jazz, and hip-hop as opposed to rock.
The Empire Ears Valkyrie is available for the best right here at Audio46!