Meze Audio Empyrean

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The Meze Empyrean Review
Pros: Fantastic sound
Easy to drive
Comfortable
Pick up every detail of the track
Cons: Price
Highs are pronounced on some recorded tracks
Pick up every detail of the track
The Meze Empyrean Review

By

Icefalkon


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When I received these from another Head-fi member as part of the review tour, I had to let them sit for a few days as my DAC has experienced some troubles. So, I unpacked them, went “oohhh…. ahhhh” over the box and the insanely good cables that came with them. Then about three days later I started listening to them. Now, these were a replacement as the original ones put on tour had a problem. The previous reviewer got to demo these for some extra time and burn them in before I got them. They are more than sufficiently burned in at the time of this review.



For this review, I will be using my Test Music microSD card attached to an iBasso DX220 MAX, an iBasso DX220 EX with AMP 8EX, and my Monolith 788. I will be using both Furukawa cables that come with the headphones and my own pure silver Litz cable consisting of 4 conductor 21AWG wire. The music in this review is an eclectic mix of the different genres all FLAC and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in 512bit DSD format.



For starters, make no mistake, these are TOTL (Top of the Line) headphones made by Meze in Romania. These are the first Isodynamic Hybrid Array Driver Headphones ever produced. They were designed and created by Meze Audio and Rinaro Isodynamics, two companies known for their creativity and innovation in their fields of expertise. These are planar magnetic headphones of the highest quality. Everything about them is high end. From the feel of the cans themselves to the earpads to the comfort level, high end. The headphones are impeccably designed and feature a slew of innovations within. Also, of note these headphones are completely assembled by hand. Here are some pics and numbers for those who care.





Manufacturer: Meze Audio www.mezeaudio.com

ACCESSORIES

• Case: High-strength aluminum suitcase with foam inserts
• Two sets of earpads included: one real leather, one Alcantara
• Cable options:
- 2.5m OFC cable, 4pin mini XLR plugs ending with 6.3 jack connector
or
- 1.2m OFC cable, 4pin mini XLR plugs ending with 3.5 jack connector
or
- 2.5m OFC cable, 4pin mini XLR plugs ending with 4 pin XLR connector

*Vegan option available upon request.



EMPYREAN TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Driver Type: Rinaro Isodynamic

Operating Principle: Hybrid Array

Ear Coupling:

Frequency Response: 4 – 110,000 Hz

Impedance: 31.6Ω

Nominal SPL: 100dB (1mW / 1 kHz)

Maximum SPL: >130 dB

Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): <0.1%

Weight: - 430g

MZ3 DRIVER SPECIFICATIONS

*PHYSICAL*

Geometrical Shape: Ovoid

Size: 102mm x 73mm

Weight: 82g

Casing: Fiberglass Infused ABS

*DIAPHRAGM*

Type: Rinaro ISOPLANAR©

Active Area: 4650 mm2

Weight: 0.16g

Acoustic Mass: 10.7 kg/m4

Lower Frequency Limit: 4Hz

Upper Frequency Limit: 110.000Hz

*MAGNET ARRAY*

Type: Isodynamic

Size: 75mm x 49mm

Magnetic Flux: 0.35T

Warranty Period: 2 Years


These are beautifully designed and extremely comfortable to wear.


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As you can see, these headphones are top-notch and feature unparalleled engineering. After unpacking the unit, it was time to get down to business. Starting with the iBasso DX220 MAX using my own pure silver Litz cable with a 4.4mm connector. I began with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”. This song sounded amazing through the Empyreans. I head things that I never heard with any of the other headphones I own or have reviewed before. At the beginning of the song, in the left channel, I heard a melody that I never heard before. Also, one can hear an off-tempo guitar strumming in the background. It sounded as if I was in the studio with them. The piano and lead guitar were particularly beautiful, and the soundstage was expansive. These took one of my favorite songs of all time and made it new and fresh.

Moving on to “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang I found the highs a little pronounced, but the bass is excellent and headspace is superb. I was surprised by the tone of the highs so my next pick was for Emmerson Lake and Palmers, “Lucky Man”. The guitar was so vivid and clear it was surreal. The balance of tone in this piece is crazy. You can clearly hear the finger picks and the harmonies were spot on. Moving through twenty more songs I began getting a good feel for these. It was time for a more complicated track so “Tom Sawyer” by Rush seemed to fit the bill. Lee’s vocals are already high pitched so I wanted to see if the Empyreans would handle them nicely or make them sound shrill. I was pleasantly surprised that the highs did not sound as shrill as they did in the other song. I then cued up the iconic Beastie Boys “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right”. I wasn’t sure how this would sound on these, but I have to tell you…with a smile, this song kicked ASS on these headphones. Every single instrument was placed perfectly, the background cymbals were crisp, and the response was fast. The soundstage was prominent, and the texture of the sound was awesome. Thoroughly enjoyable!

Another high performer with these headphones was Def Leppard. Everything from “Foolin” to “Pour Some Sugar on Me” to “Two Steps Behind” sounded as if I was right there during a rehearsal. Again, these headphones are made to sound amazing across any genre, that is for sure.

At this point, I have to mention the most impressive live recording I heard on these headphones and that was “Bohemian Rhapsody” from Queen: Live at the Bowl. This is another song I use to judge the quality of headphones as this is a great recording with a lot of complex sounds coming at you in this live show. The detail was outstanding! Everything from the audiences’ response to Freddie Mercury singing, to the harmonics, was out of this world. When Brian May’s solo came in I was taken back to seeing them live myself…and to Wayne’s World! I can’t type or read this without laughing. This song was my absolute favorite with these headphones. Period!

Other songs of note that sounded over the top were:

Yesterday – John Lennon

Turn the Page – Bob Seger

Fur Elise – Beethoven

Southern Cross – Crosby, Stills & Nash

Suite #1 For Unaccompanied Cello – Bach (Performed by Yo-Yo Ma)

(I just) Died In Your Arms Tonight – Cutting Crew

Serenade #13 for Strings in G Minor – Mozart

Desperado – The Eagles

America – Razorlight

Baba O’Reilly – The Who

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – David Archuleta

Lift Me Up (featuring Rob Halford) – Five Finger Death Punch

I must give a special shout out to Tim McGraw’s “Don’t Take the Girl”. This song is also recorded exceptionally and everything about this track sounded amazing. The layering of sound and the texture brought out more emotion than I, or my wife, have ever heard and brought out with this song. The details of the steel guitar in the background and the placement of instruments was mind-blowing. If you do get to try these, I highly recommend this song, and I dare you to not get emotional during it.

WOW.

I moved on to the iconic “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd. This timeless album is a staple of many audiophiles and spans generations. There is no need to focus on any single song here, they all sounded ethereal and the quality of the sound was superb. Everything had an amazing “studio-like” quality to it. As if…one were right there with the recording engineers for the entire album. I cannot really express the crazy smile I was wearing the entire time I was listening to DSotM. It simply blew me away. What I can say is that I have never heard this album the way I have with these. OUTSTANDING!

What I noticed with these is that they are extremely versatile and easy to drive. The bass has an amazing impact for an open-back headphone. It was surprising and I kept taking them off in wonder! I swapped out the DX220 MAX to use my PC as the source feeding into my Monolith 788 DAC and out the balanced XLR port. The sound was just as good as with the DAP but I did notice some things that I did not before. The most important to relay is that vinyl rips did not sound very pleasant with these headphones. They are very precise, and with that being said, you hear every single nuance of the recording. IF you ripped from a vinyl record, you would hear the scratching of the vinyl. Also, of note is something I am always reminding people about, your headphones are only as good as the files you play. These will pick up every “wrong” detail just as easily as they pick up the “great” details of a song. Keep that in mind when considering purchasing these. I found that if I excluded all the vinyl rips in my collection, I would still have thousands of hours of amazing playtime with these and never miss the rips. But I felt it must be conveyed in the review.

I went back and forth to the DX220 MAX and the Monolith 788 for the better part of three weeks. I hit every genre in my collection, and nothing sounded less than amazing. There were a few tracks where the highs were more pronounced but after comparing with my other headphones, I determined that it was the recording of the track that produced the sound. The Empyreans come with two sets of magnetic earpads. The leather ones produced a tighter sound but the cloth ones were a joy to use. Going back and forth from leather to cloth was the real joy here as it was so easy. I did find that wearing the cloth ones was more pleasing to my ears both sound wise and comfort-wise. You can wear cloth earpads for hours on end without discomfort.



FINAL THOUGHTS

Well as my time with these came to a close, my listening became almost desperate. I wanted to hear EVERYTHING in my entire collection but there was simply not enough time. Personally, I listen to a lot of different genre’s but with these, I found my two favorites were Rock and Classical. These headphones, to me, sounded like they were made for these two genres. I loved everything about the Empyreans. The build quality is fantastic, the comfort level is outstanding, and the sound quality is WAY above this price point. I found that anything I threw at these headphones came out sounding awesome. The sound quality this produces really is at the top of the heap. There are not many things I say that I enjoy enough to want to own in this hobby anymore. These are not one of those things.

I want these.

Bravo Meze…Bravo.

Thanks for reading!
Last edited:
icefalkon
icefalkon
H
Hoegaardener70
Thanks. I actually own the Empy and also the ab-1266 and Utopia. Both are clearly above the Empy in terms of SQ, imho. But the Empy is so fantastic even with modest gear, which for me is its real strong point.
icefalkon
icefalkon
@Hoegaardener70 my point was that they are right up there in sound and cost less. That, for me, equates to more bang for your buck.
Meze Empyrean
Pros: Build quality
Accessories
Very mature, musically engaging and highly involving sound that is easy to love
Comfort
Plays every genre of music
Stunning looks
Fair price
Cons: Bass isn't the best i've heard
Not for neutral and crispy sound signature fans

Meze Empyrean is a top of the line product by Romanian Meze. It is a true staple of current headphone audio market coming at whooping 2999 USD.

Packaging

Empyrean’s box and accessories included scream quality. Firstly, we are greeted with an aluminium suitcase which is both a pleasure to look at, but also insures safety of our headphones.

Inside, you’ll find two pairs of earpads – real leather and alcantara. Both are of very high quality and they attach/deattach magnetically, which means that swapping them takes a couple of seconds.

Also, getting your Empyrean you can choose between three different cables to be included in the box – 6,3mm, 3,5mm or 4-pin XLR. Keep in mind, that the 3,5mm variant is 1.2m, and the two others are 2.5m


Cable

The cables included with the Empyrean are one of the best stock cables I’ve ever seen in any headphones period. All connectors are high quality, they are comfortable and sonically doesn’t limit the quality whatsoever.

However, spending 3000 USD (and probably even more for the rest of the setup) you can’t go wrong with a screaming edge aftermarket cable, and you’ll get an improvement. As we all know, with hi-end audio the differences are starting to get really slight the more expensive you go, but seeing that Meze really cares about the cable that they include in the box is a treat. At the end of the day, stock cables that are included by some of the other’s manufacturer’s flagships (wink wink Sennheiser and Grado) are shameful in comparison.
Build quality

In terms of the build quality and an overall feeling of the Empyrean I’d like to put this straight – it is the best built pair of headphones on the planet.

All materials used are top quality, the whole unit doesn’t make a sound while using them or adjusting the headband size. It is a true joy having them in your hands and on your head. The only other headphone on the market that I could even compare the Empyrean to is Focal Utopia, which is also a top tier build quality, but Meze feel even just a bit better.
Comfort

Once again Meze Empyrean is nothing else than astonishing. It’s a rather big construction, but the headband distributes its weight flawlessly, the earcups are big and soft which leads to being able to spend a whole day with Empyreans on your head. It is not AS comfortable as the almighty (in that terms) Sennheiser HD800, but it’s much better than every Audeze, Hifiman and Focal headphone that I’ve ever used.
Driver

Empyrean uses an isodynamic, hybrid array driver developed by the Rinaro company. It is one of the most (if not THE most) sophisticated and unique driver unit in the whole headphone market. I don’t want to write a book about it, as all you need to know is on Meze official website. For more info about this great technology, go to mezeaudio.com
Sound

Meze Empyrean are fantastically built, well engineered and an overall joy to use, but it doesn’t end there. They deliver a very enjoyable, rich and pleasing tone, which is so easy to love.

Bass is probably the worst part of Empyrean. Don’t get me wrong, its great, but it sometimes underperform a little bit. Of course, it vastly depend on the choice of AMP you’re using with these, but I’ve never heard the bass to really get on the level of Hifiman HE-1000 or Abyss AB-1266. It lack’s a little bit of definition and texture. It’s a joy to listen to, as it’s rich, thick and has plenty of body, but it’s not the best I’ve heard.

The midrange is where the Empyrean shines. Warm, lush and rich, yet very detailed and so natural. Vocals sound extraordinary and it creates a sort of mist, that wraps around you and delicately whispers into your ears. Intimate, analog and just crazy enjoyable.
Treble is natural and well balanced. It never gets harsh, but its not muddy and restrained. Lots of details, high frequencies just shine and deliver a sparkly, vibrantshow full of sophistication. It sits perfectly in the middle of where it should be – detailed and crispy yet delicate and thick.

As for the soundstage, Empyrean creates just about a perfect sense of airiness and openness. It’s wide, deep and very, very accurate. Imaging and separation are spot on, you’re easily able to distinguish every single instrument playing and point its exact place on the stage. Fantastic.
Summary

Meze Empyrean is the most complete product in the headphone market right now. Where it’s competitors offer an outstanding aspects they do tend to fall short in one or more categories. Focal Utopias are fantastically made, but their sound signature is very unforgiving and not for everyone. Hifiman HE-1000SE and Susvara offer almost unreal sonic capabilities, but the build quality is somehow doubtful for the price.
Meze Empyrean has it all – are fantastically made, beautiful, comes with great accessories and they sound extraordinary, while being very pleasing and involving to the ear. If you’re looking for a top of the line headphone, Meze Empyrean should be on the top of your list.

Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
  • Headphones – Audeze LCD3, Focal Utopia, Hifiman HE-1000SE, Abyss AB-1266, Kennerton Odin, Sennheiser HD800
  • AMP – Cayin HA-300, iFi iDSD Pro + iCan Pro, Fezz Audio Omega Lupi, Cayin HA1A mk2


    For more reviews visit ear-fidelity.com
Pros: Overall tuning, changeable pads / changeable sound, comfort, style, smoothness, spectrum-wide detail retrieval
Cons: Stock cable is a bit of a bottleneck
The Empyreans might be the best headphone on the planet right now depending on your tastes. I was fortunate enough to review them a little while ago on the channel and have been in love ever since. I tend to use the leather pads almost exclusively because I love the extra bass presence they provide and I find the velours to create a slightly less realistic overall sound due to a slight upper-mid emphasis, but they still sound great overall.

Here's the full review I posted to YouTube:
Full Meze Empyrean Review

Comments

I read your review, I got really excited and then I was off to find other reviews, they got me equally excited about the Meze Empyrean. The next thing I knew, I was ordering a pair from HeadAmp, I will receive them on Tuesday 4/16/2019, I hope I love them as much as you I am really looking forward to enjoying them, I currently have the HiFiman Ananda which I actually really enjoy, but you have made these sound like an Endgame kind of Headphone, so maybe I can get them and never think about any thing else for a while.

Thanks for a Great review!!
 
Never in a million years would I have imagined myself burning this much money on a pair of headphones, and interestingly, from Romania; which isn’t particularly famous for its technological innovations or audio products. I was originally going the demo MrSpeakers Ether 2, the staff recommended I tried the Empyrean, and it was like love at first listen, simply the most accurate and best sounding headphones I’ve ever heard so far, beats my favorites Audeze LCD-X and MrSpeakers Ether hands down, in terms of weight/comfort/sound quality/built/looks, unfortunately it comes at a price, and a huge one too! But then if it’s something that I use a few hours everyday editing/mixing/listening to music, I guess it’s totally worth it. :wink:
 
I read your review, I got really excited and then I was off to find other reviews, they got me equally excited about the Meze Empyrean. The next thing I knew, I was ordering a pair from HeadAmp, I will receive them on Tuesday 4/16/2019, I hope I love them as much as you I am really looking forward to enjoying them, I currently have the HiFiman Ananda which I actually really enjoy, but you have made these sound like an Endgame kind of Headphone, so maybe I can get them and never think about any thing else for a while.

Thanks for a Great review!!
Did you ever get your Emp? If so, any thoughts? Congrats by the way.
 
How are Meze's own silver coated cables for Empyrean, compared to Silver Dragon cables?
 
Nice review! Empyreans is amazing! It is so comfortable and the sound signature is great!
 
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