Empire Ears Raven is one of the most anticipated IEM releases of the year, and we were beyond excited to be among the first to get to listen to it. While we’ll have a full review with extended details coming soon, we wanted to provide a preview with some of the basics and our first impressions.
Raven’s visual design is different from anything else that Empire Ears has released. Most of their IEMs feature a standard “custom” style acrylic shell with either a minimalist design and simple logo – like the Legend X and Legend EVO – or a distinctly dazzling visual design on the faceplate – like Wraith, Valkyrie, and Odin. Raven is all black, with a unique embossed Empire Ears Logo on one side, and the Raven logo on the other. The blackout look captures the essence of “Raven” – both in terms of the real-life bird, and the fantasy and mythological motifs inspired by it. (Note: our review unit is the standard black edition. The limited Launch Edition features a unique gold plated faceplate.)
Raven uses the full range of Empire Ears internally developed technology. Under the hood, you get twelve total drivers: one bone conduction, two dynamic, six balanced armature, and four electrostatic. Essentially the driver complement is Odin + bone conduction. With that set of drivers, is Raven’s sound – more or less – Odin with more bass?
In short, “Odin with more bass” isn’t too far off, but there’s definitely a lot more to Raven. The core Odin characteristics of being fast, technical, dynamic, and revealing, without losing sight of engagement and musicality are clearly still here with Raven. The bass is one piece of what Raven adds to Odin’s sound, but there’s also more on the technical side.
Raven’s soundstage is exceedingly wide, and the imaging is incredibly clear. The Empire Ears x Astell&Kern Odyssey also added a bone conduction driver and a bit more bass to Odin’s sound, but where Odyssey emphasized the fun, and lost some of the imaging characteristics in the process, Raven manages to enhance both ends of Odin’s sound – being simultaneously more musical and more technical.
Right out of the gate, Raven demonstrates excellent versatility: rock, pop, jazz, classical… just about everything I threw at it sounded great. I’ll be going deeper into my playlists to bring you a full review very soon, so be sure to check back, and follow us on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram for the latest on Raven and a wide variety of HiFi and personal audio products.