So, I recently picked up a used Legend EVO (for a great price) and I have some thoughts that I don’t think I’ve heard anyone else express, so I wanted to share them here.
Everyone knows that Legend EVO is a “bass monster”. There is no denying that. The bass is big, bombastic, and unapologetic. Beyond the mere frequency response, though, the full range bone conduction driver gives the EVO a certain “X factor” that is hard to describe - it hits in a way that I’ve never heard any other IEM even come close to. My theory is that the full range bone conduction driver more closely mimics how we hear over-ear headphones, so the EVO presents sound very much like a full size headphone, and a REALLY good one at that. I have owned MEST mkii for a couple of years already, so I’m no stranger to bone conduction, but fwiw it is MUCH easier to hear what the EE bone conduction driver is doing than what MEST’s is doing. With MEST it’s more like you just trust that the bone conduction MUST be doing something because the sound is way better than the frequency response would suggest. With EVO you very much hear & feel exactly what the BC driver is doing. You can literally feel it with your fingertips if you touch the faceplate lightly. This produces a dynamic sound unlike any IEM I’ve ever heard. MEST’s bass is technically only a few db less than EVO’s, but the difference is NIGHT AND DAY.
Legend EVO is commonly considered to be one of the premiere choices for modern electronic music. But here’s the thing: my musical tastes primarily span 2 realms: Techno and Jazz. For Techno, EVO is a BEAST. It hits hard, it is engaging, it is explosive - so much so that it actually shows me where tracks that I thought were bass heavy really don’t dig that deep, because when I listen to them with EVO I KNOW it can go so much deeper and I never realized that my music didn’t go that deep. But who listens to Jazz with Legend EVO? That’s crazy talk, right? Well, here’s the part I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone else express:
In real life, bass is generally louder than treble. If you’re in a jazz club, and there’s a piano, a double bass, and drums, you are going to hear the drums above everything else; then the double bass; then the piano. So while my brain initially told me the bass was over-emphasized for acoustic music, after a lot of listening and back-and-forth with MEST and over ears, I’m not so sure that’s true. Here’s a thing that I’ve noticed that I never expected in my wildest dreams: PIANO sounds more realistic to my ears on Legend EVO than anything, in ear or over ear, I’ve ever listened to. Piano tones are famously difficult to accurately reproduce - I think because the full range tonality of the hammer hit and string vibrato and body resonance is so hard to accurately capture. But if you think about it, the hammer hit and the body resonance of a piano key - even a high frequency key - is rooted in bass. The hammer hits with percussion, then the string vibrates at the key frequency, and then the body of the piano resonates. The former and the latter live largely in the bass region, only the string itself lives in the mids & treble. I think the elevated “X factor” bass on Legend EVO allows it to reproduce piano in a way no other IEM I’ve ever heard can. Maybe no other headphone can. This is doubly true for saxophones - sax timbre on EVO is peerless. And drums? Forgetaboutit.
Sure, sometimes the double bass comes across more forward than I know it should, but honestly my brain compensates for that. But the way EVO adds body and resonance to live instruments is like nothing I’ve ever heard. I really don’t think this is confirmation bias, because I never expected this to be the case, and I really don’t have that much invested in this. I honestly just hoped EVO would present my techno better than MEST; I never dreamed I would like how it presents acoustic music. But then I’ve never really fully understood “timbre”. But the way I hear EVO do piano & sax more realistically than MEST (or even Verite or Utopia?) is I think what timbre is all about. It’s not in the main tones, it’s in the nuances of the full frequency resonance. And maybe, just maybe, the foundation of that resonance lives in the bass region.
Either that or I’m trippin. lol