Empire Ears Bravado-What’s all the fuss??!!

Written by ngoshawk
Published 2 minutes ago

Pros – Fit.
Good sound at this price.
Solid Bass.

Cons – You will want the Phantom or Legend after this…

Empire Ears Bravado-What’s all the fuss??!! ($599usd)

synX Crossover Technology

Basically, this is a special crossover technology that provides more audio bands per driver. This will allow for lower distortion, Best Signal to Noise Ratio and an Ultra-Wide Frequency Bandwidth. More info about this tech in the following link: https://empireears.com/collections/x-line/products/bravado-universal-in-ear-monitors

synX advantages

synX powered in-ear monitors have remarkably high stereo separation and smooth phase response, leading to more dynamic realistic imaging and staging for both live and studio use. synX features a myriad of other advantages including:

Ultra-Wide Frequency Bandwidth: The ESR produces a super-wide frequency range, offering listeners unparallel sound quality and details that bests even the most high-end headphones on the market.

Best Signal-to-Noise: In order to ensure that all of the industry-leading sound quality is heard in your ears we’ve worked to create a unique combination of handpicked resistors, electrolytic capacitors, and filters in order to ensure the cleanest signal path possible while offering an exceptionally low noise floor.

Low Distortion: Extremely low distortion means that every nuance in your mix will be reproduced faithfully without audible artifacts.

Maximum Signal Transfer: Every driver and crossover is individually wired and insulated with 7-strand, UPOCC Litz wires to eliminate acoustic feedback and further soldered with highly conductive, ultra-pure silver and gold Mundorf Supreme for maximum signal transfer.

Technical Specifications:

2 Proprietary Drivers, Hybrid Design
1 W9 Subwoofer, 1 Mid-High
4-Way synX Crossover System
A.R.C. Resonance Mitigation Technology
Impedance: 22 ohms @ 1kHz
Frequency Response: 8 Hz – 40kHz
Sensitivity: 98dB @ 1kHz, 1mW
26AWG UPOCC Litz Copper Cable, Handcrafted by Effect Audio

Gear used/compared:

Campfire Audio Jupiter (3.5se cable)
64Audio U8 (2.5 bal cable)
Simgot EM5 (3.5se cable)

Thebit Opus #2
Macbook Pro/iFi xDSD
Shanling M5/iBasso PB3
Questyle QP2R

Songs used:

Too bloody many to list all, but you want songs, so there you go:

Coldplay-All I Can think About Is You
Coldplay-A Message
Coldplay-White Shadows
Dona Onete-Sonos de Adolescente
Los Lonely Boys- Heaven (en Espanol)
twenty one pilots-Trees
twenty one pilots-Car Radio
twenty one pilots-Heathens
Damian Marley-Everybody Wants To Be Somebody
Damian Marley-So A Child May Follow
Damian Marley-The Struggle Discontinues
Ziggy Marley-Lighthouse
Ziggy Marely-See Dem Fake Leaders
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado

twenty one pilots-Trench


Coming in a rectangular black box, laden with the EE wings (looks like the pilot wings I got as a kid for flying, not a bad thing either…), there is a loop used to open the box sideways. Upon opening you are met with not one, but two black draw string bags of differing sizes. One big enough to fit the whole Pelican-style case in and the other small enough to harbor the IEM’s and a cable. A nice feature. A simple quick start guide, and cleaning cloth add to the cover.

Under is the aforementioned pelican-style case wrought with two clasps. Nice and tight. Water-resistant as well. Opening said case reveals a very well protected interior with a foam cutout shaped to keep the IEM and cable protected in separate compartments. A bit cumbersome with the tips on, but it does work. I did find myself getting the Effect Audio Ares II cable somewhat tangled when trying to put the critter to sleep. But the main point is protection, and this is among the best protected I have seen. And the largest case I have seen for an IEM. I can live with it.


Made from a singular molded piece, the quality is evident. Even if the black glossy sheen draws fingerprints. This is not the first black glossy IEM I have encountered, and ALL of them draw fingerprints. But that cleaning cloth can come in handy. With a solid 2-pin connection, there is nothing of note to discern the Bravado from the ESR save the slightly more organic curves and dips of the Bravado. Plus, the labeling present on the Bravado as well. The nozzle is fairly narrow and long-ish so fit is good. The Final-E tips are a bit of a pain to draw on to the nozzle, and the isolation, while excellent is a bit disconcerting to me. Almost like gaining altitude in a plane. But, once the music starts, all is forgotten.

I have no qualms with either the fit or finish, both are top notch and what I would expect from a top tier maker such as Empire Ears, and at the respective prices.

Sound extraordinaire:

I listened to the Bravado before the ESR. A big mistake. Why? Well, I like a bassier warmer sound and as a result, found the ESR too neutral for my preference. But, after much listening, I understood the ESR well. It is meant for that neutral, reference taste/sound and as such performs quite well. It is very, very good.

The Bravado on the other hand is meant as an entrance in to the Empire Ears world. Providing a sound, which is more straightforward, with better reach of sub bass (but not necessarily better quality), the Bravado does its job nicely. After my initial listen, I immediately put it up there with my current offering at this price point, the CA Jupiter. Coming at that sound with much different approaches, I liked how the Bravado presented the sound: with a good bit of detail, but not meant to be clarity-king. No, to me the Bravado is meant to present and honest sound, which can be built upon with EQ, or without. Enjoying it that way on the Opus #2/iFi xCAN rig, I preferred having the XBass+ and 3D+ off. The Bravado presents itself well without any additional input, a good sign.

The bass of the Bravado can become quite intoxicating. This is no basshead IEM mind you, but the realism with which it presents itself is a marvel. Especially at the price point marketed. Nicely done, with a bit of rumble, good presence and feel, without bleeding into the mids. What more could one ask for?

Vocal presentation in the mids can be defined as somewhat muted. Pink Floyd’ live version of The Great Gig In The Sky typifies this reluctance to be too far forward, especially during that sublime solo. A stunning voice, presenting itself with reverence for the historical aspect of the song. Follow that with Junior Brown’s deep reaching voice in Just A Little Love, and you get the sense that EE wanted the Bravado to represent music with a nod to nostalgia or history. Junior’s voice penetrates pretty much anything, and still does so here, but not with the authority of other IEM’s I have heard. I do not consider this a fault at all, but a nicely done differentiation from the crowd.

Turning the volume up, oftentimes I have a hard time keeping the volume up due to the harsh way some treble is presented. Nothing of the sort happens here. The drum stroke of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Riviera Paradise can become harsh to me, as can SRV’s impeccable solo. But not here. I raised the volume, taking in full force that sublime solo. Having seen this exact solo four times when he was alive, the song and SRV mean the world to me. This is one of my all-time favorite songs, and he is my favorite artist. Not one thing bothers me through the trio of #2/xCAN/Bravado during this song. I only reach to turn the volume down, for it was quite loud.

Each note, each pluck of string is where it should be as well. Enveloping the stage, you understand who and what is the center of attention as the support flows back into their respective roles, only coming out for their individual solo. A magnificent song presented quite well here. If you cannot tell, I am rather enjoying the Bravado, and do understand what the fuss is about.


Empire Ears Bravado ($599) vs Campfire Audio Jupiter ($799):

The Jupiter is considered by many (including myself) to be the flagship that started it all for Campfire Audio. Not really a true flagship since the Andromeda followed fairly soon, but the note that set the stage for the others in the line to follow. The mids are to die for. Sumptuous, full, rich and forward the mids make this an intoxicating sound. And just like the U8, it does take time to adjust to that forward sounding mid. But the wait is well worth it. With a bass that supports the sound as well as it can in support, the two are on par with each other. And both are of good quality as well. If you want a bit of soul to your mids, then the Jupiter might just be the ticket. But the Bravado is not far behind.

Empire Ears Bravado ($599) vs 64Audio U8 ($899, B-stock):

The bass on the U8 is amongst the best I have or have heard, period. Deep, rich, voluptuous, voluminous and rumbly; the U8 provides you with that downhome blues bass note. And that is why I purchased it. The overall signature did take me a while to adjust to, as it can be somewhat flat of note. But, once adjusted you relish that deep, dark varnished tone. This is the IEM I reach for when I need my single malt scotch. Not when I want one, no…when I need one. That said, the Bravado provides a very good bass. Not the quantity of the U8, but sufficient enough and of such quality that it can hold its head high, while drinking that single malt.

Empire Ears Bravado ($599) vs Simgot EM5 ($499):

The Simgot comes in with a very good fit. Comfortable to wear and a wonderful cable allow the user to forget about wearing the EM5. With a fairly neutral sound, the bass falls well shy of the Bravado. I would state that the EM5 has a much brighter sound as well. Treble is definitely emphasized and can get a bit tedious at higher volumes or after longer sessions. I do like the simplicity of sound from the EM5, but it fall short of what the Bravado brings to the table.

Empire Ears ESR ($899) vs Empire Ears Bravado ($599):

An inhouse comparison might not be fair, but it can draw one down the road of which Empire Ears travels. As stated already, the lines of EE proceed on different routes. And that is good for each forges their own path. The Bravado’s path is one of more bass quantity and a warmer signature. The ESR is as neutral as I have heard. And, as stated elsewhere many prefer the Bravado for that more personal signature. Vocal treatment falls behind the ESR as one would figure, but there is more of a “feeling” in those vocals. You understand the singer better I believe. You get more personal with the Bravado, and that is all right in my book. So, choose wisely for it may be harder than you think.

Well…what is left?

This is a rather short review, and I will admit that I went more into the esoteric listening as opposed to the analyzation of sound. Not that I’m any good at analyzing sound anyway. But I feel with the ESR/Bravado off-the-cuff thoughts are where it should be. Not bad mind you.

So, from all of this, what should you reap? Heck, what should I store? Well, an initial understanding of a top of the tier IEM company first of all. Second, and probably more important is an appreciation for what Empire Ears does to not only their top IEM’s, which receive a huge following and appreciation; but from their entry and mid-tier. Often times this aspect can be lost when going from one line to another with IEM’s. I won’t mention anyone in particular, but it does happen. They try to trickle down the sound from their top IEM to the mid/lower items. And it just does not work.

Happily, here, EE has not chosen that route (or so I think). Each line up presents their own take on that EE sound. And I am happy to say it works. The Bravado is quite a good unit and could very well replace my current unit at this price. That is about the highest praise I can give.

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