"The Empiric" a DIY Headphone Worth a Shout-Out!

You just never know what's going to show up from InnerFidelity's headphone measurement program. Today I got to measure a rather unique completely DIY headphone.

"The Empiric," built by superbestaudiofriends.org member feilb is a visual stunner. But more stunning, much more, is that they are not modifications of an existing headphone, but rather a self-designed and hand-built from the ground up headphone. Well, he sourced the drivers, but everything else is pure imagination.

He's got some great pictures in this imgur folder. I can't resist dropping this one in, but don't miss the rest. Just spectacular.


What's even more dumbfounding is that a guy can take a $15 driver and get it to measure this good! So good, that I had to take them into the listening room, push the reference cans aside, and have a listen. I ended up spending 30 minutes enjoying a half dozen tracks. I'd rank them as a good mid-level headphone—something quite a few <$1000 headphones can't seem to manage.

Just an outstanding job, mate!!!

SBAF threads here and here.


Okay, the bass is the right level, but a bit mushy with distortion. And the treble is a bit grainy...but c'mon, a $15 driver. Still big kudos!

Seth195208's picture

Outstanding job! I can imagine how much work it took.

Three Toes of Fury's picture

A great combination of engineering, design, and proof that there is great sound-per-value to be found in this hobby!! Keep up the good work!

Thanks Tyll for sharing this...its a different kinda posting and a pleasure to read.

Peace .n. Living in DIY Stereo


DisCHORD's picture

I might just pick up a few sets of the drivers used in the Empiric.

Takato14's picture

... are capable of even better performance in a sealed + pleather pad implementation too. Plug the four rear ports with blutak and cram some super thick open-cell foam behind it and you can get almost planar levels of bass performance without messing up the treble.

Extremely good drivers, these ones. There's a 40mm variant too so that opens up some interesting transplant options (HD6x0 anyone?)

Seth195208's picture

I would be scratching my head right now.

bogdanb's picture

come on!
I've been financially supported by my wife for the last....8years!
Well I do from time to time some good money when I have a photoshoot.
She works in advertising!!!!

it would also might be worth listening to what Paul Barton has to say about speakers.
I can't find the video on yt but was a nice talk about how he builds PSB speakers and how hard is it to deliver the same quality over each pair built... don't think it was RMAF... maybe something similar.

Congratulations on the cans!!!! Rara avis!

Make them connect to an iPhone and I'm in the market! (after the second and fatal failure of my NAD Viso's .... really disappointed in the build quality!)

&Tyll! thank you for your great work as a journalist!

Seth195208's picture

I prefer this PB interview..
Along with Floyd Toole, I've been a big fan Paul Barton for quite some time. Yep, I'm a speaker builder.

NA BLur's picture

I have heard some pretty inexpensive headphones / portable speakers that actually sound good and knowing the drivers are not all that great the physics is really in the enclosure. What type of enclosure, what damping material is used, and the geometry are critical to just about any speaker I know of.

Good to see some DYI projects are still out there making noise.

MrO's picture

Damn those look good... They just about tick every box!

jacksonjack's picture

Numerous earphone DIYers likewise alter earphones by including damping materials and better cabling plans. Contingent upon the task's level of many-sided quality the genuine working information of electrical hypothesis can run from about none to PhD level so there truly is something for everybody.