Hello! I have lurked here for years and wanted to start out by saying thanks to everybody who posts here. I noticed that yesterday someone mentioned their first impressions of the Empire compared to their sub, and I had the opposite thoughts entirely. So, I really wanted to share my experiences for those of you thinking about getting one.
I'm not a pro or expert on measuring or reviews, but have read a lot of forums and reviews before and have had a lot of subs to compare to each other. My room is about 4000 cubic feet. I've owned some smaller commercial subwoofers in the past from Polk and Velodyne. Each step up brought me closer to better bass. I upgraded to a Rythmik Audio 15 not too long ago and while I liked it, it still did not have enough output for me.
I currently own a pair of MFW-15's. I got them used for a good price since so many people have had problems with them. I took a chance on them and while they are the best subs I've had, I've never really been 100% happy with them. They are co-located in one spot for maximum output and the best performance in my room.
When I saw the new Empire's for sale, I just ordered them on gut instinct. They arrived on a pallet. The packaging is fantastic. They are double boxed and shipped in custom cut foam. Even the shipping boxes looked nice when they arrived. No owners manual yet, but Chad said he is working on this. Even so, he walked me through my basic questions on the phone.
I can definitely say that the Empire's are totally amazing subwoofers and are the best I've had. They are easily outperforming my AV123 MFW-15's by a noticeable margin. They are louder, cleaner, punchier and more musical. Everything about their performance is an improvement from what I am used to. The midbass output is INCREDIBLE, just like Epik promised.
Things that used to bother me about my MFW-15's are no longer an issue. I could bottom out my MFW-15's if I pushed them hard enough. No matter how hard I push the Empire's, they just stay clean. When a movie plays now I just sit back and relax no matter how crazy the soundtrack gets.
My MFW-15's were also somewhat difficult to dial-in and blend with my main speakers. I struggled with it for a long time. The Empire's just dropped in with no fuss. The blend is seamless.
I took out my dual MFW-15's to hook up the Empire's in my room, so I don't know what they all would have sounded like together.
On music, the Empire's sound quality is also a big upgrade. I can absolutely crank these things on music too. I guess that makes sense since the pair of them have four 15 inch drivers between them! I look at the drivers and it is like they are barely moving on music even at wicked volume levels. It just sounds effortless. Clean jazz recordings like Diana Krall sound SOOOO good through the Empires. They only play what is on the recording and the upright bass sounds like it is in the room.
Movies are amazing too with these Empires. The depth charge scene from U-571 felt like it was shaking my room to pieces. The added midbass slam is just as good as the low bass. Iron Man, Finding Nemo, The Incredible Hulk, Fight of the Phoenix are being taken to a new level through these new subs. Anything with that crazy low bass is finding its way into my bluray player. I'm hearing things I never heard before. The sound also seems to keep getting better the more that I play them. They are breaking in NICELY!!!
I hear a definite change in the sound of the sealed Empires versus the ported MFW-15's. Everything sounds tighter on the low end and there is less overhang. It is very crisp and I love the sound!!!
The output in every register has also increased noticeably versus my old subs. With some rough measurements I am getting at least 3 dB more on the low end around 20 Hz. When I start using REALLY low test tones below 15 Hz, the MFW-15's don't like it. The ports and drivers go crazy and I have to back off. The Empire's sealed design doesn't mind the low test tones at all. I can't really hear anything from the subs with test tones below 20 Hz, but I can feel it and the walls and everything in my room starts rattling. Even at 10 Hz there is something going on down low.
As I go up in frequency, the Empire's start getting WAY louder than the MFW-15's. And when you start getting above 40 Hz it gets insane. At 80 Hz, ONE Empire is easily louder than BOTH of the MFW-15's playing together. It measured about 4 dB louder and I basically couldn't take it anymore it was so loud. With both subwoofers hooked up the max output is totally unreal. Movies that have heavy artillery or explosions now have chest slam thanks to the added output.
It is also cool that when you set your hand on an Empire playing really loud, you can't feel much of anything. The opposite firing drivers are really effective. It definitely has an effect on the sound. All my previous subwoofers shook, so I couldn't use them as end tables.
I probably sound like a broken record, but the clarity and sound of the system is just different now. The dynamics are also transformed. Even at the same volume level as my MFW-15's, my Empire's just sound more alive. When I have to occasionally listen at lower levels, this is a nice little bonus.
The Empire is definitely heavier than I expected. I liked that the MFW-15's were a little lighter and easier to move around. I left off the spikes and could push them around on my carpet. I used a dolly to roll the Empire's around and that ended up working out just fine though.
The Empire's don't have the same finish quality as the MFW-15's either. My MFW-15's are beautiful Cherry veneer. But, you can't hear the veneer, so I don't mind.
The finish of the Empire's is better than I expected though. The black finish is smooth and the grills on the sides make it look really nice. The round corners also make it look smaller than it is.
I just wanted to tell everybody not to question getting one of these beauties. Epik has a winner here. I am incredibly impressed with the performance and the craftsmanship. Now I get why people on the forums say that you have to hear it to believe it. It's like a tank, and sounds amazing. I don't think that they are charging enough for these subwoofers. I would have paid a lot more for them if I knew it was this good.
I have never been so happy with an audio component purchase. I took a chance on Epik and I am glad that I did! Their service has been amazing too. Chad really knows how to design a subwoofer and answered all my questions.
I will post more about them as I play with them more. I will try to get some pictures up shortly too. A friend of mine agreed to bring over his Hsu ULS-15 to compare with the Empire sometime, so if he brings it over, I can't wait to hear that too.
Sorry that this is so long! I just wanted to share.
P.S. At Chad's (Epik's owner) request, I bought Terminator Salvation and watched the gas station scene. The bass and especially the midbass coming from the Empire during this scene is nothing short of unreal. It was downright scary. Along with all of the explosions, the robot makes this noise as it moves around which the Empire's just crank out. It sounded like my room was being torn apart. Never heard anything quite like that before!!