Empire Ears Odin Review

The Empire Ears Odin is a luxury piece, priced at $3400, and is the second most expensive in-ear monitor from the Georgia-based brand, behind the Empire Ears Wraith. The Odin was provided to me for an extended loaner demo by Headphones.com who are an official seller of the Odin and overall good people.

Now that aside, I will take a deep look into this IEM in a different perspective than I probably normally do, and I am doing this because I came away totally enamored by this thing. It makes my Unique Melody MEST and Hidition Viento sound so plain and vanilla compared to it and I just want to reach for the Odin every single time, for anything I am listening to. Why? Let's discuss.

What's in the Box?

Unboxing the Empire Ears Odin was like picking up a fresh candy bar at the store. You know its supposed to be delicious and you can't wait to get it open and see what its about. While chocolate bars are full of things like nuts, caramel, wafers and nougat, the Odin is packed full with two dynamic driver (Weapon-X DDs), five balanced armatures (BA), and four electrostatic tweeters (EST), underneath the colorful "taste the rainbow" shell. 

The Odin also comes with a customized PW Audio Stormbreaker cable that retails for approximately $1300 which is nicely braided and with custom metal logos for splitter. In addition to this, various tips and the typical Empire Ears round metal screw-on case is in the box.

Now, imagine picking up this candy treat and finding the Golden Ticket underneath the wrapper you just opened. To me, that's like what discovering the Odin is like. This ticket grants you access to a sonic world where chocolate flows as slick as butter, bass impacts with a satisfying crunch, and the resolution is clean like a flawless glass elevator.

Yes, I could have used an Odin/King theme for a review like everyone else did, but no, I am going to use a story about chocolate instead.

Odin's Sound Signature

The Odin is really a treat. It has a nice bass response powered by two independent dynamic drivers that control the sub-bass and upper-bass response. The resolution of these is nice, and provides a nice natural decay with a punchy sound that has good impact and rumble. This is definitely one of the nicer bass implementations I've heard for a hybrid or tribrid. 

While bass isn't highly elevated, it does have a sub-bass shelf above neutral that provides clean output without any mud and really falls in-line with my preferences. It's not like biting into that mystery white nougat thing which is kind of chewy and mushy. No, it's like biting into a Kit Kat wafer, where there's a lot of texture and layers and layers of depth; each with their own level of crunch.... err... sound.

The mid-range is on the leaner side, and isn't necessarily velvety like a thick creek of chocolate. It's more light and flowing like the waters that take you through the magical wonderland the Odin provides. Because the bass is very tight and clean, there was not any semblance of excess bloat, like an oversized violet blueberry here. The upper-midrange around 1 to 2 KHz is a bit nasally, but it's nowhere near as bad looking as the graph shown above would indicate; at least not for me.

When I first looked at the Odin graphs from various sources, I did not think I'd enjoy this IEM and this mostly came down to that 1-2KHz range which I do find an area I find sensitive. It looked shouty and potentially ruin vocals and other instruments for me. Surprisingly, the Odin does not do this. Yes, there is a bit more forward approach for vocals (females mostly) and when I listen to my jazz music where some piano notes come away much more forward than normal. This does help present a bigger sense of depth though, as you have notes more forward in the presentation, and others further away. 

Now, the treble: It is magical in my opinion. Listening to the Odin, the thing that really stood out to me was how smooth it sounded. It felt like you were floating in a room as it felt weightless and effortless. This is perhaps what that the EST driver is all about. There's only a few IEMs I have tried that provide this type of buttery smooth signature, and those all came from Vision Ears and the Shure electrostatic KSE1200/1500. 

While I don't think its as ethereal as a true electrostatic, I am quite impressed with how smooth the treble and overall sound signature flows within the Odin, while not compromising resolution. I think, normally, when you hear a leaner sounding IEM that isn't as lush and laid-back as something like the Erlkonig or VE8, you would expect the treble to sound slightly edgier. This is not the case with Odin and probably one of my favorite parts of the whole experience.

Coherency is great. This directly affects the smoothness of the overall signature from Odin. Its not like biting into something of a Butterfinger bar where the hard weird and super sugary peanut butter layer that throws the whole thing off (Ok I admit, I hated Butterfingers, and I have not tried the new recipe either). It's more like biting into a soft and creamy truffle. Your teeth just go straight into it without any thing in its path. It flows like velvety chocolate lava in the factory of an eccentric King of Candy: the Odin of candy, I guess.

More Listening Impressions and Comparisons

I did most of my listening of the Odin through the Lotoo PAW 6000, but also used it with the Dethonray Honey H1 and the Topping A90 amplifier and Bifrost 2 DAC. Of these, I enjoyed the PAW 6000 the most as it provided the most clean and neutral experience while have great dynamics and depth. The Honey H1 added the most kick to the sound and a warmer overall signature, while the A90 was quite a disappointment. Really. With this amp, I think the Odin's characteristics were taken away that make it top of the food chain. The dynamics were totally taken away rendering the Odin to sound rather flat and boring.

I also mostly listened to the Odin on jazz trio music, vocal bluegrass, and indie rock. I also took some time on other genres with my typical listening test playlist music like Daft Punk, Fleetwood Mac, Massive Attack, and others. But for me, the Odin really excels in acoustical music and stuff that has a lot of detail tightly wound up in layers and layers of depth -- stuff like My Bloody Valentine, or The War of Drugs, or Sonic Youth. It also excels in female vocal bands with a lot of depth to it as well. London Grammar sounds fantastic with Odin.


And to be frank, I think Odin is a great all-arounder. 

I unfortunately don't have any other flagship level IEMs besides the ones I own and I already mentioned that they sound just a little less exciting now after my short time with the Odin. I go to pick it up each time, because I want that thrill of going off into a wonderous candy land. 

The Odin delivers a reference sound signature, but a fun and well-defined bass attack, coherent mid-range, and a smooth treble display that mixes in top tier resolution, depth and layering, and a good soundstage that makes this both an excellent IEM in terms of tonality (sans slightly forward upper-mids) and technical performance.

It's crazy to think that just a few months ago I was reviewing the Wraith from this same Empire Ears company and asking myself, this is really their flagship, and it cost how much?! Now they released the Odin and I'm going wow. This is a night and day difference. It's still expensive though!

So, while some of Empire Ears previous IEMs have not been to my liking, whether just not my sound preferences like the Valkyrie or just a "bad egg" like the Wraith, it sure seems like the Empire Ears flock has delivered a golden egg in the Odin.