Meze Audio LIRIC

Newsee

500+ Head-Fier
The most open sounding closed back
Pros: Clean addictive bass
Comfort
Reserved beauty down to the details
Cons: Brighter than my taste
About myself:
My usual music genres are pop, rock, jazz, a bit of electronic. I noticed lately that I mostly preferred songs are with female voice with not too busy strings and lots of bass in the background. My last discovery is Jennifer Warnes, absolutely stunning.

My tonality preferences: I like it warm. I do not need upper mids and treble energy. My ear channel acoustics gives me plenty.
Bass shall be there, a lot. Deep, moderately controlled.
I love the sound of my Empyreans including the"recessed highs" and "elevated midbass". I am looking for a similar sounding closed back, even if I have some aversion against closed back sound. What usually disturb me most is some sort of reverb which is easyest to pick after single drum hits.

Take my jurney with Liric with this info as background.

I have never written a formal review before. As part of the Liric tour I would like to share my experiences more in form of a story rather than a review.

Prolog​

I happened to be around my favourite HP shop (k55.ch) so I jumped in for a quick snip of air and a comparision between T+A Solitaire P and Meze Elite. I was surprised by the new shop setup. The listening room was moved, became more space, more light, more comfortable sofas, more HPs on display. Among many, a pair of DCA Stealth. As the tour Liric was on the way to me I thought it would worth to listen to some high end closed back sound to have a reference point. Plans changed, Stealth on head. To exclude the shortcoming of the south part of the chain I choose Dave direct as source, fed from my Hiby R8 on USB. Based on Head-fi readings I was expecting some harsh sound, but no. It was nicely balanced, clean sound. Someone mentioned (@Thanatos) that Lyric has very strong subbass. As I had the Stealth on head, which according to the rumors has also very deep bass I put together a new test list from my recent favourites, which I thought would fit the Liric:

https://open.qobuz.com/playlist/8744464

Almost all of the songs on it are showing the most important elements already at the first 30 seconds, so it is easy to go through when multiple HPs are involved in test.

So everything was ready for further experiments, and a beautiful Verite Closed was also available for audition - it had to go through the same parcours.

When already in the process, and Lyric is also available, then let's go for it, best is direct comparison :) What an experience!

What remained im my memory is about the stage (strangely, because normally I do not care too much about it. Maybe because my current lineup gives me good enough result).

If I compare to a FullHD television (16:9) , where some old programs (4:3 format) gives the picture only in the middle, left and right black bulk - that was the Stealth. Same FullHD TV with movies gives the black bulk up and down - that was the VC. FullHD with picture overall- that was the Liric.

Soundwise the Stealts was a bit flat for me. Sweetest was the VC. Best (deepest?) bass - Lyric. If some sharpness in the tonality was not there, the Lyric would have been the overall winner. Most noticed in the "September in Montreal" from Anne Bisson on the above mentioned list.

Main act​

I got home - a box waiting.

Unboxing - with great excitement. I would not loose too much words on it, many did already. Wonderful experiment, Meze knows how to design down to the last details. The big box, the carry case, the accessory pouches, and the Lyric itself - a joy for the eyes and to touch.

Liric__arrived.jpg


Comfort - top notch. Light to wear, disappears on the head immediately. I think I have an average head, apart of a lenghty bump in the middle which could cause a hotspot, but not with the Liric.

Three notes about the ergonomics:

1. The light weght invites the lazy to handle the thing with one hand only - which works, but in that case the height rods are slipping out of the set position. With two handed handling it does not happen.

2. The Lyric has some anti pression holes on the cup. When on head without sound, they generate some funny wind noise on the move. With music it is not audible.

3. Setting the height: the most comfortable when set so that the space around the ear is evenly distributed. However, I noticed that it sounds better, if I pull it up a little, that it pushes the earlobes up a little. Might be personal. (I just tried the same trick with my Empyreans while writing this - works the same way)

The cables:

Two almost identical cables, difference is just the length - does it make sense? They are good looking, fit to the HP, not microphonic - but why not a balanced cable with multiple heads/adaptors. Or at least one of them. Many, who likes good HPs on the go has a good player/stick with balanced out. The Lyric benefits from power. On mobile eqipment the balanced out almost always has more power.

In the tour set a beautifully braided balanced spc cable was included, originally designed for the Meze Audio 99. It emphasized the brightness, which is not my preference, therefore it did not get the listening time what the aesthetic would have required.

Sound:

First impression: it does not sound like a closed back. The typical closed back reverb that mostly disturbing me does not exist. Soundstage is wide open.

Bass: clean and deep. No midbass hump as on the Empyrean. It justified the assumption and rendered all the bass passages of the songs on the tailor-made playlist with ease and fidelity. My favourite became the "Blue Jeans" from Natty Bong. That bass is just addictive. And it can go even deeper, as in the "Keep The Wolves Away" from Uncle Lucius on "And You Are Me". I suppose that must be the subbass area.

Mids and highs: It is clean a crisp. Let's say when I set the volume level where the bass is (very) satisfactory, it sometimes tends to produce brightness that I do not like. I suppose it is in the area of upper mids. Not my favoirute tuning. As I read on the Empyrean thread that many people was lacking energy in this range, I suppose they will be satisfied with the Liric.

Equipment pairings

I mentioned earlier that the Liric needs power. On every equipment I had to turn the volume a bit higher than with the Empyrean. Let me share my notes that I made with different equipments, climbing up the quality ladder.

Liric-mobile-torture.jpg


LG V60:
- volume almost at max (69 out of 75),
No harshness, deep, highs, have I ever heard anything this good on this?

Lotoo PAW S2
- now we are singing. Mids arrived. "I am my fathers doughter"
Hadouk "soft landing" - very good.
Nardis - the snag drum is not up to, but everything else are. Volume 70 of 100.

When paw S2 is connected to R8 (does it make any sense?) , 62 is enough, there is much more bass then when connected to the LG V60.

Kann (OG):
Perfect match. Bass comes through in full, highs are slightly tamed by the warmth of the Kann. Just perfect. As dac from LG V60, or AK connect + mconnect of iPhone. (I do not have local music stored on the Kann).
Volume 92 of 150.
More bass, more mids, punchier than S2.

Fiio X3ii:
Power 83 out of 120 - what? As good as Kann OG? Not after direct comparision. Mids are missing a bit. But still, impressive.

Kann Cube:
Less warm bass, more treble, more details. 89/150

Hiby R8:
58/100
Cleaner bass.
I was listeneng to the Liric mostly on this due to the mobility, ease of use and the quality droving power of the R8.

Liric_desktop_torture.jpg


R8 with MHA200
Softer deeper bass, softer overall.

Burson Conductor 3XR:
Wider image, cleaner.

Rockna WaveLight + MHA200:
Even deeper, still soft bass, even more detail.
By a lucky coincidence the Rockna WaveLight was by me for home auditioning during my share of the Liric tour.

Liric_high_speed.jpg


Looking back on this list, I can see that the Liric is showing very clearly the sonic properties of the equipment it is connected to. A feature of high end headphones. Some say 'the Liric scales very well'

Gaming rig: Khadas Tone2 Pro + BX2+ : ahoj! No brightness! Background music, effects (like explosions), as enjoyable as with my goto can LCD-3, or even more - without any complain from family. Not the slightest even from 2 meters distance.

Comparision to Empyrean:

I would say one can hear that they come from the same house. This shall not lead to the conclusion that they have the same frequency characteristics though.

Subbass goes deeper and more obvious due to lack of midbass thump. In upper region there are more energy. Of course the Liric can not race in opennes against the open back older brother. (Or sister? I always think about it as feminine).

Epilog​

It could be a perfect closed back for me, if it was not for the bright scent time to time. What makes me thinking is that during HP shop audition it was less obvious. Do I have to invest in a Dave? Would 100-200 hours of burn-in help? Or a different cable? Due to the superb (sub)bass performance, the comfort, the wide stage and not at last the optic, my hands are still itching to give another chance to this beauty.

Let me say good by with my favourite picture, my dream triumvirate.

Liric_in__dream_team.jpg


Many thanks to Andy and the Meze crew to give me the possibility to take part in the tour.
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ScornDefeat

500+ Head-Fier
Meze LIRIC - A Formidable Entrant to the High-End "Portable" Game
Pros: Fine craftsmanship and build quality, comfort, pleasing, easy-on-the-ears tuning
Cons: Lacking "wow" factor with its technical performance
Introduction:

The Romanian-based Meze is a brand that has solidified their place in the high-end headphone ecosystem. While their range of headphones may he a tad polarizing (with the tuning of the Empyrean being at the forefront of that), there are nearly-undeniable truths about Meze's devotion to the craft; these are very well-built, finely constructed, comfortable and attractive headphones. Antonio's dedication to the hobby and to the industry is equally undeniable.

Over the past year, Meze has unleashed a double-strike on the game; the top-of-the-line Elite, and the closed-back Planar, LIRIC. The closed-back Planar market is fairly (and somewhat surprisingly) limited, with the most notable previous entrants to the field being from Audeze. LIRIC takes the Meze Planar approach and scales it down to a Closed, Semi-Portable format, while avoiding a true high-end price tag (although certainly in the upper-middle echelon of headphone pricing).

Everything but the Sound:

Look and Feel - This is an understated, but premium, headphone. Aesthetics are not as striking as the Empyrean, bringing a bit of a "boxy" vibe, but they maintain attractiveness for the form factor, with the bronze trim adding an elegant touch. Build quality is robust, with the headphone emanating quality while in the hand.

Comfort - The pads feel plush and comfortable around the ear and on the head; the headphone is fairly light-weight, and brings overall strong comfort.

Stock Cable - It is adequate with no auditory concerns or significant ergonomic pitfalls, but is a bit microphonic. An upgrade cable might be worthy of consideration to reduce microphonic tendencies and slightly increase ergonomics.

Isolation - With resprect to Closed-Backs, this category is fairly important. It can be characterized as good, potentially above average, although there are other headphones (including Elegia) that seemed to have a very slight amount of additional isolation.

The Sound:

Overall tuning - This is a sonewhat-neutral, but leaning on warm, tuning. The tendency towards slight warmth is more due to the muted treble than an overabundance of low-end.

Bass - There is good depth here and acceptable impact ("slam"), although this is certainly not amongst the hardest-hitting Closed cans. Bassheads will be yearning for more, but the bass never gets in the way here.

Mids - A bit recessed (mostly notable on female vocals) but not overly warm; more natural tonality than both some other Closed-Backs and Planars, but not quite approaching the natural timbre of a ZMF Auteur or a Rosson RAD-0. Overall, a pleasing mid-range presentation.

Treble - Muted and lacking in "sparkle," will please those who are susceptible to treble fatigue. Reminds me a bit of ZMF treble tunings (most notably as such on the Aeolus). This may be perhaps one of the more polarizing elements of the LIRIC, for those who prefer a brighter presentation.

Sound Stage/Imaging - Somewhat closed and narrow, acceptable but unremarkable imaging. No "wow" factor to either staging or imaging here.

Resolution/Detail Retrieval - There is no real yearning here in that you're lacking in clarity or transparency, but details and nuances you may pick up on the top-tier headphones in this class will be lost here.

Comparison versus Focal Elegia (with Dekoni Sheepskin pads):

One of the most popular hifi Closed-Back headphones over recent years is Focal's Elegia, which continues to be used by a wide array of folks despite being recently obsoleted by two other Focal offerings. While Elegia and LIRIC play in two different price points, many may look at the LIRIC as a potential upgrade option for diving into the deeper end of the Closed-Back pool.

LIRIC is notably more comfortable than Elegia, with superior build quality. LIRIC has more bass depth and impact than Elegia (especially comparing to Elegia with stock pads; the Dekoni leather pads do narrow the gap a bit). Elegia has a more-forward mid-range presentation than LIRIC. LIRIC's mids are smoother than Elegia's, but slighly-recessed in comparison. Elegia has greater emphasis in the treble region than LIRIC. Elegia does have a tendency to sometimes be too forward, too aggressive; LIRIC does not possess that quality. LIRIC does, at times, come across as a bit "muddy" compared to the Elegia, and I prefer Elegia's soundstaging over LIRIC's.

Conclusion:

This headphone was built for listening; from the comfort, to the robust build quality, to the no-frills, crowd-pleasing tuning (slightly warm with no fatiguing qualities), this headphone exists to be used, to be listened to regularly. This headphone exists for the music, not to be lost in the technicalities. I find myself sometimes listening to the headphone more than the music itself, so to speak; with this headphone, that problem doesn't exist. The trade-off there is that it may not be the most exceptional headphone on the market and it's technicalities may not "wow" you; but for it's particular use-case as a semi-portable closed-back headphone, it certainly excels, and may very well be the best option on the market for that particular use-case.

Playlist (used directly for comparison to Focal Elegia):

Donald Fagen - Morph the Cat
Emily Haines - Siren
Death - Zero Tolerance
Sonny Rollins - I'm an Old Cowhand
Boz Scaggs - Sierra
Skrillex - Bangarang
Sade - Why Can't We Live

20220601_114405.jpg

jinxy245

Headphoneus Supremus
One of the Best Closed Back Headphones
Pros: Ear friendly sound signature, top notch build, excellent comfort, easy to drive
Cons: Price (subjective of course), bass emphasis not for everyone, mids can be too subdued for some tastes
I’ll start as I usually do with sincere thanks to Meze & Andy Kong for organizing this loaner tour. They were generous enough to allow us about 2 weeks with the Meze Liric to put it through it’s paces and I did indeed enjoy my time with them. There’s a lot of info already out there about the Liric construction and design so I’ll only touch on that as necessary. For more information, check out Meze’s dedicated Liric website: https://mezeaudio.com/collections/all/products/liric
Liric.jpg

Fit and Comfort
One thing I’ve always appreciated about Meze is their design aesthetic. Every headphone I’ve seen from Meze has been pleasing to my eyes, and the Liric is no exception. From the angle of the extension yoke rods to the gold air vent hole on each cup there is a look to these headphones that I find wholly appealing. Also consistent with my experience with Meze, the Liric is very comfortable, even after long listening sessions. They are light at 391 grams (less than a pound) and more importantly the weight is well distributed. I felt no hot spots or other discomfort, though noggin size (or lack thereof) may play a deciding factor here. As always YMMV.

Review Details
Before I offer my listening impressions, I’ll start with a little about myself and other points of interest. I’m over 50 years old and have less than perfect hearing. I’ve been a music lover for as long as I can remember, and my preference leans toward the warm side of neutral. I’m a huge believer in the “my ears/your ears” axiom, and I believe the signal chain makes a difference. Feel free to liberally add as many mental IMOs and YMMVs as you want while reading.

My chain for playback is various WAV, FLAC, & MP3 files from my refurbed HP Elite Desk via USB to a Bifrost 2 to either my ifi Pro iCan (1st version) or ZMF Pendant (also 1st version). The Liric sounded wonderful from both the Pendant as well as the ifi, but I had a slight preference for the Pendant and did the majority of my listening utilizing that amp. I felt no need to burn in the Meze since it is a review loaner and likely has a couple of hundred hours on it already.
Liric Desktop.jpg


Sensitivity and Isolation
I found the Liric to be very easy to drive, and it sounded excellent from both my (old) Samsung A10 as well as a Fiio M6. I won’t go into much detail there since I rarely use headphones on the go and I did almost all of my listening with my desktop setup. Suffice it to say that for portable use, the sound was very engaging and satisfying, at least with the equipment I had on hand.
Liric_Fiio.jpg

Overall the Liric is good at isolating outside noise, if not class leading in that regard. I did wear it solely in my relatively quiet home which admittedly isn’t the best test for sound attenuation. It did a respectable job of drowning out dogs barking and other various noises especially with music playing, but there was always a small sense of being a part of my surroundings as opposed to being in my own world. Depending on your preferences this could be a good or bad thing. Given my usage, it didn’t bother me at all.

I think it’s worth mentioning Meze has a few design choices that may have something to do with that sense of connection. The Liric utilizes a pressure equalization valve and a proprietary ear pad air flow system which seems to add to an “openness” to the sound and I’m guessing has an impact on isolation. I can also tell you that this is one of the only closed back headphones I’ve experienced that doesn’t aggravate my tinnitus, which is a pleasant surprise since most closed back headphones do. I can’t say that has anything to do with the aforementioned features, but it would be a plausible explanation. As always YMMV.

Sound
IMO this headphone does indeed adhere to the Meze house sound. My preference is for headphones that are on the warm side, and I’ve found Meze delivers on that front consistently.

Even though the bass is more subdued than many of Meze’s offerings, it is still a bit north of what many would consider neutral. The bass does seem to be somewhat un-planar like in that I don’t find it to be particularly fast and agile. It does reach deep when called for, and it’s not so slow as to be considered sluggish, it’s just not lightning fast. I’d place it between the Empyrean and the Elite, though I only heard the Elite briefly at CanJam NYC. I still found bass to be satisfying and pleasing for my preferences.

Things sound tighter in the mids but I wouldn’t call them dry. There was good clarity and no fatigue during my listening. There is a bit of a dip around the 1-2khz region and again in the upper mid/lower treble area. I didn’t find it to be bothersome, however those craving the most linear mids will likely be disappointed.

There is extension up above 10khz, but my hearing is spotty at best in that area due to age & job related hearing loss, so I won’t be commenting there.

The Liric is not the last word in plankton, I found the resolution to be on the relaxed side and detail is discernible if not in your face. Though some may crave a more forward presentation, I found enough detail to make me feel as though I’m not missing anything. It might have more to do with the relaxed presentation than the ability to eek out fine levels of sonic detail.

Moving on to headstage, the Liric does have some unique tricks up it’s sleeve...or pads I guess. I’ll start by saying I don’t believe it’s possible to get a “closed back headphone that sounds like an open headphone”. This Meze is no exception, but as I previously stated, there is an openness to the sound that can likely be attributed to the Liric’s distinctive design. The result is a coherent image that has some width but better depth, and an airy quality that seems to give some extra room around the notes. It is a presentation I’ve come to enjoy the more I listen.

Some Comparisons
Unfortunately I have nothing on hand that would be fitting for a direct comparison to the Liric. The closed backs I have are sub $500 dynamic drivers and hardly class leading. I do have the ZMF Aeolus and an ETA “Mini” which I do think would be a couple of interesting comparisons.
Meze ZMF ETA.jpg

Despite being an open back dynamic headphone, the Aeolus & the Liric do have some common ground. They’re both tuned with boosted bass and overall warmth in mind. I am using the ZMF Verite perforated lambskin pads with my Aeolus currently, which retains the downward sloping sound signature, but tames a bit of the Aeolus’ mid bass response. They both seem to have good extension to my ear, though the Liric goes a bit deeper and is a bit more forceful in the sub-bass region then lowers the mid bass more sharply. Aeolus overall has the tighter bass to my ears, though it’s not by a wide margin. The larger difference is in the midrange & treble regions, where the Aeolus dips around 2-4khz, the Meze rises there. Headstage interestingly is fairly similar as well, with the Aeolus just pulling ahead in all directions except depth, where the Liric admirably matches (for a closed back headphone). I’d say detail retrieval is on par with one another as neither headphone was outclassed here.

The ETA Mini is a different beast altogether, being an on ear dynamic driver headphone with a more intimate headstage, but snappier transients and better detail retrieval. I decided to include this comparison because IMO despite being $300 (at the time of writing) the sound can keep up with offerings in this price range. The Sub bass region is slightly better extended on the Liric, and is more impactful as well. The ETA mid bass does not rise as much in comparison, and is tighter and more controlled throughout. There is definitely bass presence with the ETA, but more interesting for me is there is a good amount more slam from the dynamic driver as well. From the mids on up to the treble, the Mini is more linear and revealing, feeling a bit dryer overall but never fatiguing to my ear. Headstage is definitely more the Meze’s strong suit, the ETA being more intimate overall, but maintaining very good imagery and coherence. As I mentioned above, I actually find detail retrieval to be more evident in the ETA overall, the Meze trailing even if not by a huge margin. They are very different presentations that IMO compliment each other well.

As I said at the start, I quite enjoyed my time with the Meze Liric. Antonio Meze has a knack for tuning warm and inviting headphones that are also beautiful and comfortable. The Liric is no exception, and is one of the finest closed back headphones I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. If you are at all interested in the upper end of the closed back headphone market, it would be a mistake to overlook the Meze Liric.
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godmax

100+ Head-Fier
Meze Liric - get connected to your music
Pros: sleek look
substantial feel
comfortable to wear
good isolation
balanced sound with light mid-bass bump
reacts well to EQ
Cons: vocals might need some EQ
Liric.Depth.All.png

Right after unboxing I plugged in the Liric into the Singxer SA-1 that was fed by the Denafrips Ares II and started listening. I wasn't immediately wowed like the first time I was listening to the Empyrean. But some headphones just need some time to grow on you. The sleek look and substantial feel of the Liric is just impressive, I doesn't have the majestic grandeur of the Empyrean, but lets you know and feel that you have a well engineered and durable headphone in your hand with a penchant for understatement. Also very comfortable to wear for long listening sessions (like the Empyrean).

Working my way up the "food chain":
  • Burson Soloist 3XP + Composer 3XP: Brought already the Empyrean to shine, especially when the Soloist is in PowerAmp mode and the Composer is handling the volume control, so does on the Liric (even the bass pressence is a little bit on the leaner side)
  • Gustard X26pro + Headamp GS-X mini: Like with almost any headphone this combo brings everything to shine and no exeption here with the Liric!
  • Questyle CMA 400i: Now we bring meat to the bone with Questyle's gorgeous amplification circuit, even that added bass pressence isn't as snappy it could be, it just gets you connected to your music as no other!
After a while I played around with EQ (for most people this might not be necessary or even out of question), since I was not 100% happy with the presentation of the vocals of the Liric, they were present and not subdued, but sounded somehow slightly distorted like using old radios with limited dynamics (might be only a personal perception).
So I added the filter settings from AutoEQ and WOW these made the vocals on the Liric outstanding (that I really call "veil removed"!), also the Empyrean has this to some extend without EQ, but not as obvious as on the Liric.
This really changed my opinion on the Liric completely - together with the Questyle CMA 400i or the Gustard X26pro + Headamp GS-X mini combo you really get connected to your music. You feel you are in you music and not overburdened with the last detail that might be hidden in the track.

MP.Closed.Backs.01.jpg

It was about time to call the rest of the planar closed back gang in, so final contenders of the Meze Liric (with EQ) were:
  • Dan Clark Audio AOEN 2 Closed (with EQ) -> might even have wider soundstage (deep pads I assume) as the Liric, but -as expected -does not reach the Liric in the other qualities but is already very close.
  • Kennerton Rögnir (with EQ) -> that snappy impactfull bass (even with my non-bass-heavy tuning and the perforated pads) no other planar here can offer. Also sounds almost as open as the Empyrean and let you hear all the details that all other cannot bring to your ears! Still the undefeated king of closed backs (if you like that qualities)!
  • Audeze Penrose X -> even its marketed as a gaming headset the Penrose offers a very well balanced planar sound that does not need to hide from the others, but has its limits vs. the "audiophile" headphones
Emp.Liric.jpg

  • Meze Empyrean (with EQ) [yes, open back, but same driver family as Liric]-> both "tuned" to harman target, but you can hear that the Emyprean is the better headphone overall, it not only sounds more open (again also deeper pads) but offers that grand enjoyment of music experience, but the Liric shares much of that DNA with having its own personality, so its not just a closed-back mini Empyrean.

"chains" used for comparison:
  • Gustard X26pro + Headamp GS-X mini
  • Burson Soloist 3XP + Composer 3XP
  • Singxer SA-1 + Denafrips Ares II
  • Questyle CMA 400i (optional with Geshelli Labs Erish)
  • iFi Zen DAC + Zen CAN
  • Hiby R5
Liric.Depth.Erish.png

The Liric doesn't need a powerhouse to be driven, the Geshelli Labs Erish will get you there...but the Liric scales very well and spiritualizes the unique (euphonic) distortion characteristics some amplifiers provide. For me the Questyle CMA 400i or the Gustard X26pro + Headamp GS-X mini combo really hit the sweet spot.
Sadly the my turn on the Questyle CMA Fifteen review tour was already over before the Liric arrived, I would have really loved to check out both together since I am sure they might have been a perfect match!

Conclusion
For me the Meze Liric (with EQ) is one great headphone that very well earned its right to exist in the crowded headphone market.
Look, build, isolation, sound (with EQ) - all in one appealing package for you to grow on and get connected to your music.
Urge.to.buy.jpg


Hint: the Meze Liric was temporary offered for review as part of the EU review tour

Update #01: I did order my own Liric after the review was posted and the review unit passed to next reviewer
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M
Mansinthe86
So you probably wouldn't recommend them as upgrade to the Aeon 2 Noire?
godmax
godmax
@Mansinthe86 I did not try the Noire (= Aeon 2 Closed with the perforated pads) yet. As all in audio - it depends - what you want to „improve“ or upgrade. For comfort the Aeons are very good already, but the Liric is even better. As for sound I shy not away to use EQ on my headphones, if it improves the sound in my personal perception. As I did try to write, with the right EQ setting and amp I feel more connected to the music with the Liric as e.g. with my A2C. In the meantime I did even order a Liric for myself, but also will keep the A2C:)
Kereru
Kereru
I actually upgraded to Liric from DCA Aeon 2 Noire after I compared the two planars. For me, the Liric has the more detailed sound and much better layering. I also agree with @godmax regarding “being in the music” more with the Liric.
The Liric is also a much more portable headphone compared with Aeon 2 Noire and much easier to drive - I use it with an A&K DAP when I travel.

Edit: also +1 regarding EQ - I don’t have a problem with it and Liric responds very well

Olumm

500+ Head-Fier
A fantastic offering from Meze with only a few minor issues...
Pros: unbelievable comfort, quality build, basically everything with this headphone
Cons: cables could be better, cost of entry is high... but that's the industry right now, maybe slightly flatter dynamics... if I am really trying to find fault.
Let me first start by thanking Andy for this opportunity to spend some quality time with the Meze Liric. It has been an absolute pleasure.

I primarily listened to the Meze Liric with my portable gear while at the office. I did spend some time with the Liric in my listening room on my main gear, but that really just isn't the purpose of this headphone for me. I have been looking for a portable headphone for a few years now... none have really fit that bill... until now.

tempImageGzGQSs.jpg


Gear Used:

Portable Gear:

Oriolus BA300S
ifi xCAN
EarStudio ES100 mrkII

Desktop Gear:
Hifiman EF400
Shanling EM5

Sources
Tidal HiFi Plus
Audiolab 6000CDT

Let me start this off by saying that my listening preferences typically lean towards warm and detailed presentations of sound. I loved my ownership time of the Meze Empyrean and hoped that the Liric had some of what made that a truly fantastic experience for me.

First Impressions
Wow. That was all I could manage as I unpacked the Liric from the shipping boxes. The presentation case is what you would expect from a company such as Meze. I love the font that is used for the Liric... it reminds me of some font used in a 1960-70's Filmore East/West poster. Opening the travel case added to my sense of quality, as the cables came packaged in their own leather pouches. That's a nice little touch Meze. The only negative in this initial experience was the cables. To be honest... I never used the stock 3.5mm cables that are included. I despise that rubbery feeling on cables, and while I am sure they work just fine... I am shocked to see no balanced option for these cables as a stock offering. Thankfully, the Liric was shipped with a 4.4mm balanced cable as well. Now, this 4.4mm balanced cable is basically an IEM cable that has been terminated for 3.5mm instead of mmcx/0.78. I appreciate this cable, as it is lightweight and non-microphonic, but the slides that go over the 3.5mm connections have failed and will slide off the wire when trying to remove the cables from the Liric. I am sure this is just an issue with this particular cable having been used by so many people, but wanted to include that in this review, as your mileage may vary.

Taking the Liric from the travel case was an absolute pleasure. I had read how light the Liric felt, but I wasn't ready... I thought I was, but I wasn't. The Liric are not a small headphone by any extent of the imagination, but the weight is so much lighter than I was expecting. I immediately took them from their case and placed them on my head. Now, the pads are smaller than the Elite/Empyrean, but my ears fit in them without any issue... and I don't have the smallest ears. I can't describe to you just how comfortable these headphones are on the head. The Elite/Empyrean has set the standard for me, and while the Liric are not the same design... boy are they close. They are by far the most comfortable closed-back headphones I have ever had the pleasure of wearing. Before the Liric I would have given the comfort award to the Sony MDR-Z1R... but with only my memory of the Z1R I can confidently say that the Liric develop no hotspots on my head regardless of the amount of time worn.


First Listen
The Liric are rated at 30Ω and 100dB, and while not 'hard to drive' they certainly do require more than my other closed-back headphones of choice... the Focal Elegia. I wanted to see what the Liric could do with even the most basic of portable listening scenarios, so enter the Apple dongle. Now, before you stop reading, hear me out... the Apple Dongle, while not an amazing dac/amp does provide an easy point of entry for a lot of people wanting to use their phone as a streaming audio device. Granted, not many people buying a $2k headphone would use the $9 dongle...but I was surprised that not only did it have plenty of juice to drive the Liric... it didn't sound half bad either. Yes, there was compression happening and the low-end was slightly less full, but in a pinch... that little thing would work.

Having spent about 20 mins with the Apple dongle I was satisfied with it and moved on to the ifi xCAN and Oriolus BA300S and just wow... wow what a sound!

I am a sucker for the Punch Brothers. I know that their albums aren't the best recorded, but I don't care. I love the interplay between the instruments and vocal harmonies.

Punch Brothers - The Phosphorescent Blues
The first track on this album is one of my absolute favorites... Familiarity. This track shows off what your headphone can do in terms of dynamics, staging and imaging. The Liric did not disappoint in the staging and imaging, not at all. The layering that the Liric can produce is probably my favorite aspect of what it can produce. Streaming this from Tidal as a 'Master' album just sounded simply fantastic. The only area that I can hear that are slightly less than ideal would be the dynamic reproduction. When comparing the Liric directly to my modded and EQ'd Elegia... yes, the Elegia will hit harder and have greater dynamics, but boy does it fall flat on the other areas compared to the Liric. All I can say is that I was so happy with the Liric and this track that I lost track of time and before I knew it... the album was over.

Max Cooper 3D Reworks 001
I know, I know... a bunch of audiophile clicks, pops and stereo imaging. Yes, but good lord do I love to sit down and just let this EP do its thing. This entire EP will test how your headphones and source layer, stage and keep up with speed. I am happy to report that the Liric absolutely demolished this EP. I EQ'd a tiny bass shelf +2dB and just sat back in my office chair while neglecting my duties for 18:11 of pure listening bliss. The imaging and stage of the Liric continue to impress me, but now the speed has my brain struggling to keep up with what is going on. I cannot take anything away from the Liric here... nothing at all. I would happily sit here for hours at a time and just enjoy what I am hearing.

The second track on this EP is called Repetition 3D. It starts with a lovely man speaking in the right channel. As the track progresses the voice moves from right to left in a circular rotation around your head. This binaural recording is a trip for anyone that struggles to understand the difference between sounds in front of you vs. behind you. The Liric provided me with the absolute best recreation on this track of any closed'back headphone I have ever tried. Spectacular imaging, layering and sense of space. Also, with some planar drivers spoken voices can sound thin... compressed and just off in general. The good news is that the Liric reproduces a much more natural sound in spoken voices than even the Focal Elegia. Overall I found myself again just checking out and allowing the entire EP to play while I sat back in my favorite chair and just enjoyed what was happening.

Jacob Collier - Djesse Vol. 2
The second track on this album titled Sky Above is just an angelic presentation of Jacob, a guitar and a female vocalist starting out... and my god does the Liric convey a sense of layering and space on this track. Vocal timbre is an absolute treat here and even makes me think twice about my default leaders of vocals the HD650. About halfway through this track the band picks up and this globe of sound just fills in... what an experience. I just want to be here... right now.

Conclusion

I have to say that the Meze Liric has impressed me on so many areas that I can say without any hesitation that it is my favorite closed-back headphone to date. My major complaint with the Liric is the cable(s), and if that is the one and only true issue that I have... oh well. There are plenty of other cable manufacturers out there. I have a cable system from Hart Audio that works very well with the Liric, and if I was keeping the Liric I would have another custom cable made for it.

While the Liric can scale well with higher performing gear... it's not as much of a change as something like the HD650/600. Yes, it will improve, but like many planar headphones... that % of gain often times is just not worth it imo.

We often forget what brought us down this path... the love of listening to music. When you get to this place where you are investing significant $$$ in to a hobby you have to just sit down and listen. If what you are hearing puts a smile on your face and makes you want to get up and dance, then what else do you want? I can say without any hesitation that the Meze Liric checks all of those boxes for me, and it will happily replace my Focal Elegia at some near point in the future.

Thank you again Andy, and thank you Meze for creating this truly amazing headphone!
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ZzZzZzZ
ZzZzZzZ
Nice review of Meze Liric !!
Waiting for your EF400 review.

Slim1970

Headphoneus Supremus
Portable Fidelity
Pros: Lightweight, comfortable, high quality build, good extension at both end of the frequency spectrum, good resolution, spacious sound
Cons: Lacks a bit of dynamism and drive
Thanks to Andy once again for letting be apart of another Meze, Yulong tour. Everything I’ve heard from both companies has been fantastic. The Meze Liric is no exception. Having heard the Empyrean’s and owning Elites my expectation was somewhat high with the Meze Liric’s.

After unboxing the Meze Liric’s, everything you get just exudes quality. You get a carrying case, two 3.5mm cables of varying lengths and thickness. An airplane adapter and 3.5 to 6.3mm adapter. As a bonus there is a 4.4mm Meze Audio 99 Series Silver Plated upgrade cable that comes along with the tour sample of the Lirics. I’ve been using this cable almost exclusively.

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The Liric uses a scaled down version of the Isodynamic Hybrid Array Driver found in the Elites and Empyreans. The MZ4 driver was redesigned to work in a closed enclosure. It preserves all the clarity, detail of its bigger brothers and uses the same shape dual voice coils. The latest innovation added to the MZ4 drivers is what Rinaro calls the Phase-X system. The Phase-X technology is supposed to improve the ambience and spatial sound imaging of the lIric’s. This will be put to the test later when I describe the sound of the Liric’s.

Some key specs of the Liric’s are 30-ohm impedance with a SPL of 100 dB with a frequency response of 4-92,000 Hz. The overall weight of the Liric’s is 391 grams. They are really light and comfortable with moderate clamping pressure.

The Liric’s are designed for portability, but also work great on desktop system. Since the Empyrean’s, the Meze team has always crafted elegant designed headphones. The Liric’s may be compact, but they are built to same uncompromising standards as the Elites and Empyreans. The chassis is magnesium with a gloss/matte textured exterior. The earcups are covered in leather, with copper accented rods giving the Liric’s a very contemporary look, beautiful!
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(Photo courtesy of Meze Audio)

Now onto the sound of the Lirics. My favorite device for listening to the Liric’s was on the Cayin C9 using the Hugo 2 as the DAC. The bass was layered, well defined and deep. There seems to be a focus in the mid bass region, but the Liric’s still manages to have very good sub bass presence. Compared to my Stellia’s, the Liric’s bass isn’t as punchy, quick, or dynamic.

The Liric’s do have a more expansive sound with slightly better bass depth and layering. I contribute this to the new Phase-X system. The transients aren’t as snappy as they are on the Stellia’s, but the Liric’s do very well at displaying tactual sensations.

The Liric’s sound clean throughout midrange. Nothing is over emphasized. The Elites sound a bit fuller and more natural, but this is not what the Liric’s are trying to be. The mid-tones of the Liric’s are focused and expressive in their own right. What I found in my listening session with the C9 is it adds a natural bass boost and some flavor to the midrange. Giving the mids of the Liric’s more presence without muddying up the sound.

The treble of the Lirics can be a mixed bag. I feel it leans towards the brighter side of neutral compared to the warmer sounding Stellia’s which don’t seem to accentuate the highs as much. The Liric’s treble is very extended and nuanced, very open-back like. The Liric’s treble can sound a bit too energetic on certain tracks like Laurie Anderson’s “Born, Never Asked”. With that said, the sense of spaciousness and instrument separation portrayed by the Liric’s is undeniable.

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In closing, I enjoyed my time with the Liric’s. They are light weight, well-built and very comfortable. The Liric’s sound composed at all times. No matter what genre of music is being played, the Liric’s drivers are always in control of the music. My only gripe is the Liric’s could use a bit more dynamism and drive. Compared to my Z1R’s and Stellia’s the Liric’s at times don’t sound as authoritative and dynamic. Outside of that, the Liric’s fill a niche in the portable market and exude quality. Great job Meze!
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gerelmx1986

Headphoneus Supremus
MEZE LIRIC: A nice clear-sounding Headphone
Pros: Clear mids and Highs
High levels of isolation
lightweigth
Cons: Bass quantity for some coukd be a con
Air bubble in headband where embossing is located
Uncomfortable for long listening sessions
No visible markingd to identify Right and Left cups
Earpads not designed to be replaced by the owner
About me



I consider myself an audiophile, but I am not into Graphs and numbers (measurements). I listen to Classical music, mainly Baroque to romanticism. My library is my own FLAC and DSD Rips and downloads I have bought through the years.



DISCLAIMER

The Meze Audio LIRIC was provided free of charge to me as part of a world-Review Tour. I was not offered any sort of financial or gifts to publish my honest review here and ultimately I have given the Heafphones to the next User in the row.



Unboxing Experience

The unboxing experience is pretty stabdard. A Cardboardbox surrounds inside it another hard cardboars box which contains the Headphones and accessories, much like what sony does for their packaging.

Accessories included in the box (Default retail packaging):

  • Booklet explaining the LIRIC Making
  • HARD EVA Headphones carry case
  • Airline adapter
  • 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter
  • 1.5m TPU copper cable terminated in 3.5mm SE
  • 3m Soft TPU cable terminated in 3.5mm SE
  • Pouches for the cables
  • Meze LIRIC Planar Magnetic Headphones
Included extra but Not paty of the retail packaging is a 4.4mm Silver-plated copper cable as part of Mezes Upgrade cable series.

THE LIRIC INSIDE OUT

The headphones have a leather band with the Liric embossing, then there is on each side two metal rods to adjust the HP to head height.

The cups are made of plastic and there is a Golden button which is the pressure relief vent. On the otherside of the cups there is the grills that protecte the Drivers and the non-user-replaceable Pads.



The driver from the Liric is a planar Magnetic dual Array system dubbed the Rinaro/MEZ4 system, which is easy to drive at 30-Ohms and capable of 20Hz to 92kHz frequency response. In my experkence they are fairly easy to drive nut if you want to feel the rumbly bass vibes you must use a powerfuk source.

After prolomged listeninh i experienced pain as in the clamping force was too muxh



Sound analysis

Testing was made with the following

  • Source files FLAC 16/24-bit from 44.1kHz to 384kHz & DSD
  • Devices: NW-WM1A, NW-A25, DMP-Z1, Windows 10 VAIO Laptop
  • Classical music
Bass: The bass while one can hear some bass amount on the Liric, and awesomely on low power sources like the NE-A25 (10mW per channel) or NW-WM1A Single-end output (60Mw). There is some lacking in the bass region as I describe it as lean-bass or “Bass for classical music purist”, the problem with this kind of bass is that it robs some music their essence. On Monteverdis Madrigal “Gira il nemico insidioso” and “Ardo avvampo” [La venexiana | Mobteverdi: Ottavo Libro dei Madrigale|GLOSSA MUSIC] there is a Bass Singer and I felt he was robbed of his deep notes and rumbly voice. Piano sounded a bit boring specially Mozart piano sonatas with Mitduko Ulchida on Philips and while organ music can reach deep lows, there is a a lack of the body in the bass registers.

Nonethelesss this kind of bass cleared up many bassy recordings from their weakness and made them sound great, specially older Karajan recordings and some of the Bach cantatas on the Hnassler klassik series with Helmuth Rilling Bachakademie Stuttgart.



Mids: extremely clear, like I never heard some of my music, even with my reference HP, the sony MDR-Z1R, hearing instrumental cues I never heard before with such a crystal clarity like a Cembalo continuo line in Albinonis Concertos Op. 10 [I solisti Venetia|Claudio scimone|Albinoni, Tomaso: Concertos Op. 10|ERATO], voixes and strings sounded sweet.

Highs: equally as clear and sweet as the mids, though, at times fatiguing with some Harpsichord solos from Bach and Handel, but it was rare to find a fatiguing recording with the lyric as opposed my Z1R with its blasphemous stock cable they are incredibly fatiguing in the highs.

Stage and separation

Good layering, Stage is not that huge, partly as they’re closed backs, some recordings felt that the sound was limited in a walled space, only showed stages incredibly huge if the recording had these.



Pair-up

Sony DMP-Z1 (Balanced/High Gain volume knob between 09:50 -12:00 ):

Wide soundstage, clear mids and highs, excellent separation, some feeling of the bass movements

WM1A (Balanced/High gain, vol. 80-100 of 120):

Good soundstage but smaller as on the DMP.Z1, bass a bit weak on moving air but still great, great clarity

WM1A (Unbalanced/High gain, vol. 100-120 of 120):

The stage is like a medium hall still hearing the bass and excellent mids and highs

A25 (unbalanced only vol. 20-30 of 30)

No soundstage at all, still able to hear clear sound esp in bass and mids highs

Laptop: Probably the worst of them all. Muddy sound absolutely no stage and separation



Comparison:

MDR-Z2R with Kimber axios Cu: less clarity in mids and highs than the LIRIC, more bass impact, more soundstage.



MDR-Z1R with Lavricables GRAND (pure Silver)

More clarity matching that of meze lyric, while retaining their bass impact and slam, larger soundstage than with the Kimber cable

IER-Z1R IEM: more bass slam and digs deep, lyric is cleaner in the mids. Om highs they are about the same, larger sound stage on the IER-Z1R with better separation.

IER-M7 Quad BA IEM: more bass slam and rumble on the M7 but same decay spped on both, mids and highs here LIRIC wins providing more details than the M7. On sound stage the M7 is slightly bigger thn the lyric but not by much

Koss porta pro

Tge koss may have more bass but it sounds dirty and not clear, here the LIRIC has a huge advantage of coming out super clean and clear, the sound stage feels quasi inexistent on the porta pro, despite being open back.
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Unseen Aura
Unseen Aura
Cups are made of Magnesium.

Subtle but very visible markings to differentiate left from right, aside from print the design is one-way. Whole design is intentionally understated, so things aren't meant to pop out & be crazy visual like (their) other cans.

Earpads are user replaceable: Video (released by Meze a good two months ago). Similar & for many reasons better than Audeze's or DCA's earpad replacement system.

Air bubble isn't an air bubble at all, just looks like it depending on lighting and is part of the design, but this specific topic is a never-ending trivial debate about being a true "con". Also explained somewhere in the Liric thread or similar.

ngoshawk

Headphoneus Supremus
Closed back & an isodynamic hybrid, but is it good?
Pros: Meze build
Richness to the sound
Warmth to the sound, which favors many
Cons: Restrained tuning for this price
Tough competition at the price
More plastic than other Mezes?
Does not break boundaries like I was hoping
Meze LIRIC ($2000): Closed back & an isodynamic hybrid, but is it good?

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LIRIC

Intro: As part of yet another excellent tour, Andy Kong sent a LIRIC for a nice extended time with which to listen. A top-notch gent, who truly values honest enumeration of opinions, we continue to be lucky to have him as an asset to the community. I also believe this is why he is sought as a representative to so many fine companies as well. I have 14 days with the unit, which is just enough time to provide an honest evaluation of the Meze product.

Having previously reviewed the original Empyrean, which remains one of my all-time favorite headphones; the LIRIC has big shoes to fill in as an understudy to the flagship. Meze continues to innovate, and this collaboration includes Rinaro, which has produced quality products since WW2. On history alone, you could spend a fair word or seven, so that will be infiltrated throughout the review, as necessary.

I again thank Andy for the faith in these feeble words. It truly is a treat.


Specs:

OVERVIEW


Driver Type: Rinaro Isodynamic Hybrid Array® MZ4
Operating Principle: Closed
Ear Coupling: Circumaural
Frequency Response: 4-92,000 Hz
Impedance: 30 Ω
Nominal SPL: 100 dB (1 mW / 1 kHz)
Maximum SPL: > 130 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): <0.15%
Weight: 391 g



MZ4 DRIVER SPECIFICATIONS

Geometrical Shape: Ovoid
Size: 92mm x 63mm
Driver Weight: 71 g
Casing: Fibreglass reinforced polymer
Diaphragm Type: Rinaro Isoplanar® MZ4
Active Area: 3507 mm2
Diaphragm Weight: 0.08 g
Acoustic Mass: 6.5 kg/m4
Lower Frequency Limit: 4 Hz
Upper-Frequency Limit: 92,000 Hz


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In The Box (and a really cool one at that...):

Display box

Case: Hard EVA pouch with velvet lining
• Two cables included:
- 1.5m soft TPE cable with 3.5mm jack
- 3m soft TPE cable with 3.5mm jack
• Adapters:
- 6.3mm jack adapter
- Airplane jack adapter
• Cables pouch
- Warranty period: 2 years



Gear Used/Compared:

Kennerton Rögnir ($3700)
Audeze LCD3 ($2200)
Kennerton Magni ($799)
CFA Cascade ($799)

MBP/Burson Funk
MBP/Stingxer SA1
MBP/iFi Pro iCAN/iDSD
Shanling M6 Pro


Songs:

Alex Fox
Pink Floyd
Buena Vista Social Club
Elton John
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Shane Hennessy
Jeff Beck
Dave Matthews
Tommy Emmanuel
David Bowie
R.E.M.


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Unboxing:

The Meze experience has always been of a premium variety and the LIRIC is no different. Coming in a large padded box, inside a form-fitting cardboard box, which is inside yet another cardboard box; the Meze is well protected.

The all-black case comes replete with a padded top laden with the LIRIC logo. With an “overbite” on the lid, the box fits together snuggly. Opening the lid, the underside of the top portion has a thick soft foam pad in black, which protects and holds in place the traveling case. Held open by two salmon colored ribbons, the likeness to a jewelry box does not go unnoticed. The bottom has a form fitting soft foam cutout to hold and protect the traveling case. Snug fitting as well, the case will not move.

Taking the thinner traveling case out, I marveled at how thin it actually is comparatively. With a horseshoe crab-like look to it, the feel is yet again premium. The double-sided zipper is protected by a leather form fitting strip, making for a near sealed affair. Unzipping the case, the inside is covered in soft suede, again in black (a subtle theme throughout), which is also form fitting with the headphone and cables only able to go in one way. This keeps the case thin and the headphones well protected.

Under the headphone in a cutout area is the well apportioned manual, complete with imagery in glossy color.

The cables also come in a nice leather drawstring bag, but because it is so good looking; I did not cinch the straps. Those cable pouches fit under a crosshatched stretch of elastic in their own area. Overall, the premium quality of fit and protection meet the Meze standards to me.

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Build/form/fit:

When one purchases a Meze item, one expects flawless construction no matter the price of the unit. From the $69 Neo11 to the $3000 Empyrean, the expectation is the same. And for the most part, the LIRIC fits the bill.

Starting with the cable, the 4.4bal version is of 8-braid silver variety and very premium. Wound semi-tightly, there are absolutely no microphonics, and the lay is perfect. A bit shorter than I would like is the only flaw. The other cables of copper variety are surrounded by TPE black plastic and the familiar copper color of many Meze varieties. Soft and supple, they do seem a bit more institutional than premium. But all cables function well. For my review, I utilized all, but spent approximately 90% of the time using the 4.4bal cable.

Made of lightweight aluminum, magnesium, plastic and spring steel the LIRIC runs the gamut of materials and the Meze expertise of each. The magnesium frame for the cup is quite good and without much look could easily be confused for the plastic of the backs. The plastic is of high quality with a texture to it, which is used for handling purposes, and to keep the unit looking pristine. No fingerprints were had at any time. The adjustable shafts of the cup are of a copper colored aluminum and showed no wear with use so far. Tight of adjusting, once you find your optimal placement; the unit stayed there. The one part I would change is the headband, though. I have never really liked single piece headbands preferring to have some sort of frame above as support. That said, I fully get why Meze did this, and trust the implementation of the leather headband. With pleated venting there is good fit, with no heat buildup. Adjusting was easy, and I actually preferred the unit to sit higher on the sides of my head. This gave me a very good fit and isolation, with no pressure below my ears such as I have had on some headphones. Even distribution of the weight (which is light anyway) allowed me extended listening times, except for the ear cup size.

The cups are of oblong shape and a bit small for my slightly larger than average lobes. This was the Achilles of long-term listening to me, especially on my left side as I have carried an earring since high school. The extra band and slightly larger pads would dissuade me from this pressure, I do believe.

The LIRIC upholds the typical Meze tradition of a quality build, good to excellent fit and a functionality that could be considered industry standard. That said, the mixing of materials, especially the plastic (mostly the plastic) does seem to lie at a level below the price. I do like the overall look, though.

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Technology:

From the website: “Rinaro originated in the USSR (today’s Ukraine) during the Cold War, as part of a state-funded acoustic technology research program. With government backing and access to advanced testing facilities, the team was able to focus all of its efforts on planar magnetics. A field they have continued to innovate in for the last 30 years, since the collapse of the USSR. In the last decade, Rinaro have expanded their capabilities and capacity with the development of state-of-the-art R&D and manufacturing facilities in Ukraine and Poland. The new facilities have been a driving force in the creation of the revolutionary Isodynamic Hybrid Array technology found in Meze Audio EMPYREAN, ELITE and LIRIC headphones.”

Utilizing two differing shapes for the drivers in a headphone is hard enough, but Rinaro has become a world expert in the technology. The switchback coil voices the low end while the spiral handles the mids, placed directly over the ear canal. This institution of placement shortens the time those mids need to get inside your ear. This also enhances soundstage a bit, acting like a near-holographic effect some IEM’s have. The inside grill as well as the placing of the magnets enhances the sound as well, with the grill acting to spread the sound further, mimicking and implementing soundstage nicely. Finish this with a vent hole, allowing the unit to breathe one could almost call this a semi-closed back headphone; but not really. Combined all of this makes for yet more technological advancement from Meze, utilizing existing technology; but with the expertise of a world-renowned company in Rinaro.

Further developing of the ar pad Air Flow (EAF) system, also by Rinaro; allows for the use of thinner ear cups by providing venting to not only the outside, but also through vent holes to the ear pads themselves. This allows for the cavity areas of the ear cup and pads to be used as acoustic chambers, which thus affords smaller ear cups. The result of all of this is the MZ4 isodynamic hybrid driver of the LIRIC utilizing Phase-XTM (pending), which improves ambience and spatial sound imaging and the aforementioned other changes.

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Sound:

Summary:

I said in my Rai Penta review that I do believe Meze missed an opportunity to do for IEM’s what the Empyrean had done for headphones. I did like the Rai Penta but thought they could have done more to it. Since then Meze has been on a bender of development and inspiration. I find this good to see. Filling in the niche at the $2k price is another laudable but very tough task. This falls squarely into some excellent open and closed back headphones such as the LCD3, and ZMF Eikon, as well as the HiFiMan HE6se & Arya, along with the Beyerdynamic T5 & Sennheiser HD820; which some still consider the standard at this price.

I will start by saying the LIRIC is a very fine headphone. It is a Meze after all. Musically sound, artistically detailed; the LIRIC comes across as a headphone that does not want to offend. And that could be its greatest and weakest points. Detail is strong with succinct clarity without being antiseptic or clinical. It is not lush either. A happy medium seems to have been reached using the Rinaro driver and earcup/pad set up. Bass is solid if not deep reaching. I would not call it bass shy either. Mids are solid if set back a bit. Vocal treatment of both male & female is good, but not great. And up top, the treble note holds is all together without too much sparkle. I would call the LIRIC unoffending overall.

Moar:

The bass is tight and fast, with very good speedy decay; without being too cutoff or succinct. I would have preferred a bit more, but the sound is solid regardless, without bleed (one would hope so...) into the mids. I find on my iFi Pro duo that I push the Xbass all the way up to counter the lack. I do lose a bit of clarity as a result, but it fits my style better. Leave it neutral and you appreciate how all the sounds work together.

David Bowie’s voice on Space Oddity solidify my feeling of the mids, which are quite good without being dramatic. Some mids overly-promote themselves as the center of attention like a diva would. Not here. Subdued would be an insult to me, but more akin to polite and not wanting to show off. Female vocals come across as better with more vibrancy, and I take this as a result of the routing of sound directly into the canal like the dual-shaped drivers do. There is nothing offending here yet again, but not overly inspiring either. Call it on the warmer side of neutral without promoting it.

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Treble plays without too much sparkle or gratiness and as a result, the overall timbre is good. I can happily live without the over-push of the high notes some current models promote in this range, such as some mentioned above. I do find it lacking in inspiration though. Passionate would be a more apt description of the upper end and overall sound character.

Some might find this lacking emotion or boring, but I would call it evenhanded without offending. Soundstage is quite good for a closed-back and layering & separation are above average as a result. Running through the excellent Singxer SA-1, there is a certain lilt to the sound, which benefits the LIRIC quite nicely. Run a warmer signatured DAC/Amp such as the iFi Pro duo mentioned, and the LIRIC feels warm and on the lusher side of life. Not bad in my mind. Call it multiple characters, fitting the mold of the non-offending.


Comparison:

Meze LIRIC ($2000) v Kennerton Rögnir ($3700):

The Rögnir instantly feels more detailed and energetic. Running the XLR cable, the Singxer has a hard time keeping up. Switching to either the Burson Funk or iFi duo simply makes the Rögnir sing (truth be told, so does the Singxer, but without the power). Bass seems lighter, but has a much better feel to it, and the mids are simply sublime. The Meze does feel richer and warmer in signature using this path, but the vibrancy with which the Kennerton promotes the sound is simply intoxicating. Had I heard the Meze first, I would have been quite satisfied walking out the store with it (after paying...duh), but going directly to the Kennerton, it would be a no contest purchase of the Rögnir, and I would wish the Meze good luck.

Different prices, different approaches. I own only one of these and will do so for the far future.

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Meze LIRIC ($2000) v Audeze LCD3 ($2200):

My first major headphone, TOTL purchase, the LCD3, to quote PinkyPowers, “satiates my desires for a flagship headphone.” I do not care if the Empyrean might be better. I do not care if the HD820 or LCD5 might sound better. The LCD3 is my apex for open backed headphones and as such is still the staff with which I judge all comers. It takes a fair amount of power to drive, but I do not care. It is the open back version to my closed Rögnir. I have indeed reached my “end game” (I hate that term; I prefer satiation point). How then might I compare such a fine open back to the LIRIC? Well, most new versions of the LCD3 are right smack in the same price bracket, that’s how.

As such, the LCD3 sounds voluminous as a result, with better bass depth and feel. Mids do sound a bit too far forward comparatively, but the detail wrought from within is right up there with the best I have heard or prefer might be the better term. Getting past my lust for the LCD3, the LIRIC does compete well with the overall qualities with a very solid fully functional sound that does not offend. The LIRIC can hold its own here, but to me is not equal. Joe Walsh’s sublime guitar work on the live version of Hotel California simply melts me through the LCD3. I respect it through the LIRIC. There is the difference.


Meze LIRIC ($2000) v Kennerton Magni ($799):

The Magni (v2) was a sale purchase after reading some excellent reviews. Considered a “B-stock” purchase, I did not know there was a V3 coming out, which made the driver board of wood instead of plastic. I was a bit miffed but listened again. I was happy. Over the last several months I have culled many excellent headphones from my herd. Some that were extraordinary. But after hearing the Rögnir on tour, I knew I had met my end. One would think that the Magni would go as well, except that upon arrival I listened for three solid weeks falling further behind in reviews. It was worth it, and that listening solidified its place in my lineup. Extremely luscious bass without being drippy, and a wonderful treatment to the mids makes this a very vibrant signatured closed-back. One in which the Meze may wish to aspire.

That said, the warmth treatment from the LIRIC cannot be matched completely by the Kennerton and that can be chalked up as a win for the Meze. But for half the price, the Magni is a magnificent headphone indeed.


Meze LIRIC ($2000) v CFA Cascade ($799):

Included here because the bass treatment is so damn fine, I liken this to the purchase of the Magni. Many have come and gone, but the Cascade stays for its portability and sheer fun factor. The fit is darn near horrible, but it is foldable.

Sound wise, the bass is superb if a bit overbearing. Laying down that gauntlet, the Cascade lends itself to a connection from bass to mids, which is still hard to fathom. How can such bass quantity not simply squash the mids?! Well, the guitar work of Tommy Emmanuel says it can. On Guitar Boogie (Live) he lays down a line, which comes across as clear and crisp with very good detail. There is a fun factor here that the LIRIC simply cannot match. The LIRIC does sound better overall (and should), but factor in why we listen sometimes, and the Cascade is normally the one I still reach for when a pick me up raucous good time is needed. Inspiration if you will. Think of the scene from The Breakfast Club where Emilio Estevez breaks the glass to the music, and that’s it. Period. The LIRIC would be the one providing the cool counter to that raucous good time and that is all right as well.

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Finale:

The above-mentioned headphones in comparison is an odd bunch. They are the chosen ones of mine, which I have purchased on my own and kept. As such, my sample may be few but diverse. I have had the pleasure and honor of hearing many of the best produced, period. The Empyrean at the time was close to being a purchase of mine I liked it so much. Others have come and tried to best the Empyrean, but I still consider it one of the best produced headphones out there. A VERY worthy secondhand purchase for those who do not need to have the “latest, greatest” models. Not everyone needs the latest or “best.” What you need is what you like and sounds the best to you. Hence my collection above. Every time I think of selling the Cascade, I pull it out again and give a listen. This quickly quells the thought yet again.

And herein lies my issue with the LIRIC. I am not sure if it is trying to be a mini-Elite or mini-Empyrean. Or hold its own merits. Listening to that same Tommy Emmanuel song, the clarity and detail are in fact better than the Cascade and Magni, and it should be. But is it better than a secondhand Empyrean? I’m not sure. Yes, the Empyrean is an open back while the LIRIC fills the needed niche from Meze for a TOTL closed back. And please do not get me wrong...it is good. Quite good at what it does. Soundstage is right up there with the best closed backs I have heard. That richness of sound emanating from within is sometimes ethereal in nature and quite wonderful in its richness. But when you could have an Empyrean for the same price, even if used; how do you decide?

The LIRIC is good, but some will find it on the more boring side of life, and I think they miss the point of where it is supposed to lie. To me it is supposed to fill in the TOTL closed back as a very worthy alternative to the overly bright & overly vibrant TOTL’s out there from other manufacturers. If that is your pleasure, then fine. But if you prefer a more mature sounding TOTL closed back, then the LIRIC is worth a listen, even against a used Empyrean.

I again thank Andy & Meze for the wonderful tour, without which I probably would not have heard the inspiration for a flagship closed back from Meze. I value that very highly.

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makan

500+ Head-Fier
Meze has a winner in the Liric
Pros: Great and gorgeous build
Lightweight
Non-fatiguing warmish neutral tuning
Cons: On the pricier end of closed headphones
Thanks to Meze and @Andykong for arranging the loaner tour for the Meze Liric. Below are my impressions. Just to let you all know where I am coming from…started on the headfi journey about 8 years ago, when headphones became a necessity to enjoy music in the presence of our infant children. The LCD-2 with the schiit bifrost and lyr was my first setup, and fast forward now, have cycled through the usual suspects in the dynamic, planar and estat cans, and have settled mainly on estats as the first love and planars as the mistress. I am an open-back kinda of person, but do have the LCD-XC as my lone closed headphone.

I was interested to see if the Liric would unseat the XC as my go-to closed can, so this review will be based on that question.



Meze does not disappoint with build quality. I had the Empyrean before, and the Liric has the same luxurious feel and look. It is solid and smooth in its cup motions as well as the height adjustments. It comes nicely packaged with a case. I found the cables to be adequate but a little too reminiscent of the Hifiman HE1000 and Susvara surgical tubing type of feeling. The connectors are well-made, look good and connect smoothly.



Comfort-wise, it is light, nicely balanced on the head with an adequate but not too tight clamp. Compared to the XC, it feels like a feather, and you won’t be threatened by its weight for longer sessions. The XC is heavy, although it doesn’t bother me as I am usually on a recliner when I am using it. The earpads are soft and so, overall, comfort-wise, it is all good.



OK, how does it sound? I drove the Liric straight from my RME ADI-2 DAC. The sensitivity is high, so you don’t need a monster of amp to run it. Overall, I would say it has a warmish neutral tuning. There is certainly no lack of bass, but those who are looking for a neutral tuning may find the bass a tad strong. This may be my own bias, as I prefer estat headphones and the bass on estats are less pronounced and thick in general vs dynamic and planar cans. For a closed headphone, I find the soundstage width to be pleasantly adequate. I think it is wider than my LCD-XC. The XC is a more neutral can with a little more emphasis on the treble side vs the Liric. The Liric does not fatigue, but those who look for or enjoy a stronger treble presence may find they would want to eq a little. Having said all that, for someone who just wants a musically and warmish closed headphone, the Liric is a good choice. The warranty is a solid 2 years and transferable. The build and its looks are great. Easy to drive and non fatiguing planar sound.



So, is it worth to pony up the $$ for it. In the grand scheme of closed headphones, it is on the pricier side, but if you want to only own 1 closed headphone, and have the means, I would recommend it. Best if you can audition it, but if you can’t, the transferable warranty allows you to move it to another owner easily. As for me, I think I will keep my XC at this time, as I slightly prefer the more neutral sound of the XC, and I am attached to the wooden cups. I also only use closed headphones about once a month, and so inertia wins at this time. I do wish my XC was as comfortable as the Liric, as they are super comfy and light and can be used on the go while the XC is a stationary type closed headphone.



Thanks again Meze and @andyk!
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elnero

Headphoneus Supremus
Meze Audio Liric
Pros: Build quality
Great all-rounder
Decent passive isolation
Cons: Lack of 6.3mm cable
Price is a little on the high side
Introduction
The descriptions of the sound and comfort of Meze’s high-end offerings have intrigued me ever since I first read about them. I’m more of a closed headphone guy though so the Empyrean and Elite didn’t get much serious consideration. When Meze announced the Liric though, my interest was piqued and I jumped at the chance to try them via the review tour.

Disclaimer
As a tour reviewer I was not compensated in any way for my review. I had the headphones for a two week period before sending them off to the next reviewer.

Liric.jpg


About Me
I grew up playing cello and to a lesser degree stand up bass, piano, and singing. In my late late teens I started playing bass guitar which became my primary instrument of choice.

I discovered speaker based high-end audio in my mid-teens. That led me down a path of taking Audio Engineering, working in a couple of high-end shops as well as for a high-end speaker manufacturer. About 20 years ago I bought my first decent pair of headphones. After that, my focus shifted from speakers to headphones.

Somewhere along the way I developed TMJ, probably at least partially as a result of a broken cheekbone when I was younger. This has caused a lot of issues for me as I traveled down the headphone path. I had a strong preference for in-ears until I got to the point where I couldn’t put them in anymore without pain. Even the clamp of most headphones causes issues. This got so frustrating that I stepped away from Head-Fi for a number of years. I lived with Sony WH-1000XM2 and 3’s during this time, it was only working from home due to the pandemic that brought me back to Head-Fi. Unfortunately, TMJ is still an issue but I was lucky enough to find the Audio Technica ATH-AWAS not only doesn’t irritate my TMJ, but suits my preferences almost perfectly.

My Preferences
I lean towards the warm side of neutral. Being a bass player, I like some weight and decent transient response to give the music foundation and drive. That and getting the tone right are big factors in my overall enjoyment of the music.

I’ve also found I’m rather treble sensitive, especially when it comes to over emphasis of vocal sibilants. That’s meant that I’ve tended to steer more towards headphones with a more laid-back treble region. I wouldn’t necessarily say a laid-back treble is a preference though, it’s more of a sibilance avoidance.

I think I’m a rare bird in that I’m not looking for headphones to recreate a speaker-like experience. I’ve always embraced the way headphones present music. That said, things like separation, width and depth are still important to me but I’m far less concerned whether the music is “in my head” or not.

What you get
While unboxing the Liric, my first impression was of a headphone suffering a bit of an identity crisis. Meze markets the Liric as a high-end portable, yet the first thing we see when taking it out of the packaging is a very nice storage box. Inside this storage box is a fairly large hard shell, zippered travel case with the headphones and accessories inside. Maybe it’s just me but the two different cases felt odd and unnecessary.

Accessories included are two 3.5mm cables, one is 1.5m while the other is 3m. There is also a screw on 6.3mm adapter, an airline adapter and cable pouch.

I found the two included cables perplexing. They look to be the same cable, just different lengths. How many people would be using a 3m cable for portable use? Considering the price point, I would have liked to see a more robust 3m cable with a 6.3mm end for home use instead.

Build Quality
The Liric feels solid and they have an understated sexy vibe to them that the copper accents only add to. The leather earpads feel soft to the touch but also have decent firmness. The headband’s unique design does not look to have a whole lot of padding which was a little concerning.

Comfort
I needn't have been worried about the headband’s comfort. This design is outstanding. It pretty much just disappeared from the top of my head. Absolutely brilliant! I wish my AWAS had this type of design.

On the flip side, given Meze’s reputation for comfort, I was a little disappointed that there was more clamp on my cheek and jaw than I had hoped for. Now that’s not to say they have an overly tight clamp, it’s firm without being excessive, but it did irritate my TMJ which limited my listening session times. I’m not sure if they could be stretched to loosen them some, but as this was a review pair I didn’t want to try.

My Setup
I tend to be a one headphone guy or I guess I should say one headphone per purpose. One for home, one for portable. I’ve tried having multiple home headphones, but every time I had something other than the AWAS on my head, I found myself eyeing up the AWAS, wishing I was listening to them instead. I finally gave in and decided to put together my setup with one purpose in mind, to maximize the potential of the ATH-AWAS as best I could within my budget. It’s still an evolving process but as of the time I had the Liric here it consisted of:
Bluesound Node 2 (hardwired) → Denafrips Ares II → a fully upgraded TomB built Torpedo III running RCA 12AZ7 tubes. Interconnects and headphone cable are OCC copper from Audio Sensibility.

Setup.jpg


Sound
It’s been quite a while since I’ve done any reviews or had to write down my impressions for others. I forgot how hard this is. Most of my listening was done comparing to the AWAS so I’m writing both parts at the same time so some aspects of the Liric may be covered better in the comparison section.

I’ll start this off by saying I really like the Liric. It leans to the warm side, but not overly so and it proved to be a good all-rounder that performed competently with everything I threw at it. This is a bit of a giveaway for the comparison, but if I hadn't heard or own the Audio Technica AWAS, the Liric would be on the top of my list.

The first thing that struck me upon listening to the Liric is its soundstage. It has decent, but not spectacular width and it is more out in front than I’ve become accustomed to. This gives more of a sense of watching a performance on a stage from a few rows back. Imaging is very precise which gives instruments their own space to breath. I thought this presentation worked very well for larger scale music.

As I mentioned earlier, my setup is geared to play to the AWAS’s strengths and to bring out as much of the bass as possible. Tube choice has played a fairly significant factor in this. The RCA 12AZ7’s I’ve settled on (for now) have great extension and bring out the bass better than other tubes I’ve tried. In addition the RCA’s have sweet midrange and treble without sounding too mushy or soft. They really make the AWAS sing.

Initially, in this setup, I found the Liric’s bass to have some bloom that set it apart from the rest of the spectrum. I swapped a number of different tubes into the setup. The Liric responded well to these changes and I was able to tame the bloom this way. Swapping the RCA’s back in after a few days of tuberolling, I was surprised to find the bloom wasn’t an issue anymore. I’m guessing the Liric may have needed a settling in period. I used the RCA’s for the rest of my time with the Liric.

Midrange on the Liric is quite good if maybe a little uneven. For instance, when listening to a piano some of the notes seemed to have less weight than others. I didn’t delve into this though as I only noticed it on a couple of occasions. Vocals are fairly well done but there were occasions where singers could have a bit of a pinched nose quality.

The Liric’s treble is a little on the odd side. I didn’t find it particularly bright, but it could have a bit of added tizz and emphasis on sibilance. I’ll get a little more into it in the AWAS comparison.

Compared To Audio Technica ATH-AWAS
This was really what I wanted to get out of the tour. I really love the AWAS, it suits my preferences almost perfectly. Where it still falls a little short for me is in the sub-bass. I tend to liken the AWAS to a really good bookshelf speaker. It has a really well done mid bass that’s fast and punchy without being overdone but rolls off quite a bit in the sub-bass. For most of the music I listen to the lack of sub-bass isn’t noticeable but there is a portion where that sub-bass is required to fully enjoy the music. This is one of the main reasons I was intrigued by the Liric. Initial reports suggested they might have some similarities to the AWAS but with a fully extended bass. Could the Liric supplant the AWAS in my setup? Read on to find out.

Liric and AWAS.jpg


As much as I love the AWAS, I’ll admit, the build quality leaves a bit to be desired. Beyond the wood cups, it doesn’t feel terribly substantial. While I think a lot of the parts are metal, they don’t have a very robust feeling. The new headband design fits me better than the 3D wing system of previous generation AT woodies, but without modification, it causes hotspots. The Liric by contrast, feels so much better built. It definitely gives more confidence that it will hold up over time.

One of the most noticeable differences between the AWAS and the Liric is their soundstage presentation. Both have similar width, but where the Liric’s soundstage is more out in front, the AWAS is much more “in your head” with greater height and larger instruments. This results in the AWAS having fuzzier instrument placement than the Liric but a more intimate nature.

The AWAS has the best resolution and detail retrieval I’ve heard in a headphone but then I haven’t heard what are considered the heavy hitters in this regard. Honestly, I’ve wondered whether more would actually detract from the musical enjoyment or if I’ve hit the sweet spot for my preferences. The Liric doesn’t quite get to the level of the AWAS, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything until directly compared.

Because of my sensitivity to sibilance, I have always leaned towards headphones with a laid-back treble. The AWAS would be the exception to this rule. I wouldn’t call it a bright headphone, but it definitely has more presence than a lot of headphones I’ve owned in the past. What makes it work, is there’s not a trace of added emphasis on sibilance in my setup and it doesn’t feel like it’s been rolled off to achieve this. It’s smooth, sweet and very natural sounding. By comparison, the Liric’s treble is less prominent, but it isn’t as smooth. It can have a little extra tizz and the occasional added emphasis on sibilance and sound somewhat thin. So even though I would consider the AWAS brighter, the treble was more noticeable on Liric.

I feel like the AWAS is more balanced through the midrange. The tonality of the AWAS often grabs my attention with how “right” a particular instrument will sound. This is where I struggle a bit describing what I hear. I don’t want to give the impression that I thought the tonality of the Liric was off, it wasn’t, it’s just that, in the time I spent with them, they never had that goosebump inducing quality that the AWAS can have for me.

The Liric definitely has the sub-bass that’s missing in the AWAS. Albums that rely on that sub-bass, like Dadawa’s “Sister Drum”, were much more enjoyable with the Liric. I think the Liric does a great job with regards to how well that sub-bass integrates into the rest of the bass spectrum. It feels well-balanced without intruding on the rest of the spectrum. For songs and albums that don’t have that sub-bass, the Liric seemed to only have a touch more bass than the AWAS.

Sister_Drum.jpeg


Where the AWAS pulled ahead in this area though was the detail and speed of it’s bass. The Liric, and this was regardless of tube choice, has a less snappy, more rounded bass that hangs on a little longer. In direct comparison to the AWAS, I felt the Liric reined in the pace whereas the AWAS got my feet tapping more often. In my notes from listening to Joss Stone’s “Soul Sessions” album I wrote “with the AWAS you get a better sense of the bass player's expressiveness and groove”.

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Dynamics on the Liric also had this sense of being reined in comparison to the AWAS. The crescendo in some songs, or when a singer would really belt something out, felt like they were being held back in comparison to the AWAS. For something more intimate like the Sarah McLachlan’s “Hold On” on the “Freedom Sessions” album Sarah’s vocals at the end of the song are almost overwhelming. I think this would also be due in part to the closer and greater height of the presentation of her vocals. On the flip side of that, a far denser recording, like Dadawa’s “Sister Drum” holds together better on the Lyric where everything has more room to breathe and the dynamics being reined in a bit allows a better perspective on the music without it overwhelming.

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Compared To Shure SRH1540
I bought the Shure’s because over the years I’ve heard good things and I thought they might complement the AWAS. While they're decent headphones, the overall difference in detail and resolution plus too much midbass and a rolled off treble have me ready to let them go. I only kept them around this long to compare to the Liric.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time comparing them though. It was pretty obvious right off the bat that while the 1540 is a nice enough headphone in its price range, the Liric is quite a step up.

That said, in my head, when I was listening to the Liric I would sometimes think “this is like a more mature 1540”. Both have good sub bass presence. Both are on the warm side. Both are comfortable and isolate fairly well. But then when I switched to the 1540 I would realize there are distinct differences.

As one would expect given the price difference, the Liric is quite a step up in detail and resolution but their bass and treble presentations are actually quite different. The 1540 has more upper bass presence that bleeds into the lower mids which makes some instruments sound thicker and warmer than I would like. To add to that warmer signature, the treble is quite laid back in comparison.

The other distinct difference is the soundstage. The 1540’s are closer and less wide. With the Liric you get a much more precise instrument and sense of the space.

Overall, the Liric is just leagues ahead of 1540, as it should be given the price difference.

Conclusion
This audition/review didn’t go quite how I expected. Prior to hearing the Liric, I wondered if they might be able to dethrone the AWAS in my setup. In the end though, I found the Liric to be more of a complement to the AWAS. They definitely did a great job on those albums where I felt the AWAS falls short and they did it more as a peer to the AWAS than something like the Shure 1540’s.

While I may like the AWAS more for most things, the Liric wasn’t far behind in its enjoyment factor on these, plus the Liric just seemed to work well with everything I listened to. It was definitely a treat to have around and it’s the first headphone I feel could live happily beside the AWAS and get a decent amount of use. The downside is the price. Here in Canada, the Liric retails for $2600 which is about $700 more than the AWAS. If pricing was more in line with the AWAS or a bit cheaper it would make for a more compelling possibility.

With that said, someone looking for a closed-back all-rounder with outstanding build quality should have the Liric high on their list to try.
elnero
elnero
Thanks! Yes, hearing the Liric definitely has me even more curious about the Elite and Empyrean.

Always interested in hearing about any help that might be out there for TMJ. Feel free to send me a DM.
DCBOY
DCBOY
Interesting. I think the SRH1540 punches way above their weight class with imaging/soundstage.
Currawong
Currawong
Excellent write-up. The way you described your experiences with the LIRIC was easy to understand. I was just noting down my impressions about piano with the LIRIC and I'm glad that someone else noticed the same thing I did.
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macdonjh

Headphoneus Supremus
Meze Liric Closed-back Planar Head Phone
Pros: Clear, forward mid-range
Clean, smooth sound
Bass extension
Fit 'n finish is excellent
Cons: Recessed treble
Bass lacks slam
Meze Liric

Disclaimer: I was able to enjoy these head phones as part of a tour directly from Meze.

Introduction: I’ve been a happy listener to Meze’s Rai Penta and Rai Solo IEMs for two or three years. I really love the sound of both IEMs. I’ve enjoyed the sound of planar head phones for much longer, but have not yet heard the Meze Empyrean, so I was really happy to be included in Meze’s tour for Liric. Now I’d finally get an opportunity to hear what Meze orthodynamic is all about.

Packaging: My loaner pair arrived in a plain brown shipping box. Inside that was a Meze-branded outer box, then the Meze display box.

Liric ship box.jpg Outer box.jpg

What’s in the box? Inside the display box was the Meze storage box, hard case, the Liric head phones and some accessories. Cables included are a 1.5m long 3.5mm TRS, a 3m long 3.5mm TRS, and a 1.5m long 4.4mm Pentaconn. There is also a 3.5mm x ¼” TRS adapter and an airplane adapter.

Display box.jpg Case.jpg
The retail display box and the storage box.

Physicals:
  • Head phones: The shape of Liric’s ear cups reminds me of the Empyrean’s (as if I’ve ever had an Empyrean, a bucket list item for me). The head phones are supplied with leather-covered pads. The head band has textured fabric on the “inside”, and leather on the “outside”. There’s just a little bit of padding. You’d think the lack of padding would be a drawback, but Liric are so light they never got uncomfortable. The Liric have smooth posts with a friction slide for adjusting the head band height. The smooth posts also allow the ear cups to be rotated front to back. The gimbals allow for rotation top to bottom.
Case open.jpg Carry case open.jpg
  • Cable: As mentioned, I received three cables with the Liric. At the head phone end, Liric uses 3.5mm mono phono plugs (I guess that would be tip-sleeve or TS?). The two cables with 3.5mm TRS phono plugs at the source end appeared to be identical other than length. Thicker than the IEM cables I generally use, but thinner than the cables I have for my head phones. The outer jacket feels thick and rubbery. Even so, the cables are pretty flexible (but not tops in this regard), and it doesn’t seem like they’d ever tangle. I also received a short 4-core silver-plated cable with a 4.4mm Pentaconn connector at the source end. I used this cable most since I could use it with my desk-top gear and a 4.4mm-to-4-pin XLR adapter.
Liric.jpg
The Pentaconn cable, here shown with my 4.4 x 4-pin adapter.
  • Fit, Comfort, Isolation: I’ve already noted Liric are light; they almost disappeared when I put them on my head. The head band provides, for me, just the right amount of clamping force. Enough so the pads are pressed against my head for a seal but not so much as to be uncomfortable or even squash the pads. The ear cups barely fit my ears, but fit they did. I also had a quarter inch or so of head band adjustment left when I got the ear cups at the right height. My other long-term head phones are both open back, so I can’t really comment about isolation compared to other closed backs. Simply holding Liric in my hands, with my hands covering the pads, I found the sound was pretty well contained inside. Perhaps not enough for your significant other to sleep next to you, but probably enough for unobtrusive use at the office.
What I Listened to: I used four different systems to try Liric, some only briefly, though:
  • Astell&Kern AK70 Mk II
  • AK70 Mk II (analog out) -> Aune X7s amp
  • AK70 Mk II (USB out) -> Schiit Bifrost I multi-bit -> Schiit Mjolnir I
  • Laptop (USB out) -> Schiit Gungnir multi-bit/ Unison -> Schiit Sys -> Schiit Aegir
Long term reference head phones are HiFiMAN HE-500 and Stax SR Lambda.

Since I didn’t listen to Liric very long either straight from my DAP, or using the Aune amplifier I’ll make some quick comments here. Liric didn’t shine when connected straight to my DAP. Of course, I never use a DAP to power full size head phones, so I could be displaying expectation bias here. They just seemed underpowered. Bass was always recessed and lacking in power (more about this later) and music lacked life. Presentation was improved with the Aune amplifier in the chain. But shortly after I tried the Aune the balanced cable arrived and I could listen through my much more familiar Schiit amplifiers. So that’s what I did. Besides, I much prefer using the outboard DACs to the analog output of my DAPs.

Living room.jpg
My living room system: Gungnir multi-bit, Sys, Aegir

Also, a quick note about my desk-top systems: I got the best sound from my Bifrost/ Mjolnir pairing, so that's what I listened to most. I've had mixed results using my Aegir as a head phone amp. It powers my Stax well, and is good with my old, inefficient HiFi-MAN as well. With more current, more efficient head phones, not so much.

Best sound.jpg
My bedroom system: AK70 Mk II (blue, center of the table), Bifrost I multi-bit, Mjolnir I
Also stacked in there is my Aune X7s amp


Soundstage: I’m not particularly concerned with soundstage when I listen to head phones. Even so, I did listen for this a little with Liric. Charles Ives’ “Three Places in New England” (Mercury Living Presence) showed me a sound stage which stretched from ear cup to ear cup, but no farther, which is what I expected, it’s what I usually hear. There wasn’t much height or depth presented, either, but I was neither surprised nor alarmed by this. That presentation mimics what I hear when I attend symphony performances. Of course, there is reverberation in the hall, but the direct sound from the instruments is spread stage-left-to-stage-right with little height or depth information at my Row T seat. Instrument placement with Liric allowed me to hear some oddities in this recording. Typically, a piano is placed in front of the orchestra at center stage. Not in this recording: to the left of the stage. The woodwinds were farther to the right than I expected, seeming to be where I expected the brass to be.

First impressions: My first impression of Liric was of an n-shaped curve: lows and highs both recessed in comparison to the midrange. Remember, my first experiences were using just a DAP and an amp I don’t use often (and single ended as well). The good news is Liric didn’t sound as enclosed and muffled as a few other closed-back head phones I’ve heard do (a pair of Fostex, a Mr. Speakers Aeon, perhaps a couple of others). So far, I have generally preferred the sound of open back head phones, but the Kennerton Rognir and Meze Liric have shown me closed back designs can push my buttons as well. Since the Rognir have a small vent in their ear cups, the Liric sounding not-closed-in to me is an even greater feat since it appears to be almost fully closed. Each ear cup has a small copper-colored disc with an Empyrean-like cut-out in it. A small vent? Still, the highest treble isn’t as open and free-sounding as it is with either of my long-term open back head phones. To some extent, I never lost the impression Liric are holding back in the bass.

Highs: One of my favorite audition albums is The Doctor by Doc Powell, if for no other reason than the quality of the recording, including cymbals. David Manley did a tremendous job with this recording. While the cymbals shimmer and sound delicately brassy there’s a closed-in quality when I listened to Liric. While the sound isn’t muffled, it’s missing the expansiveness I’m used to from my open back head phones. Flutes and violins; however, don’t exhibit the same quality; perhaps only the highest notes are affected, lower and middle treble not as much. A couple of examples: the flute in Mendelsohn’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Keith Jarrett’s piano in The Koln Concert. The flutes in Mendelsohn were lovely. Smooth, light, true. Likewise with Keith Jarrett’s right hand. When playing low-treble notes, some resonance from the piano’s sound board could be heard; when playing even farther to the right the notes “tinkled”.

Liric standing.jpg

Mids: Liric’s mid-forward presentation helped lyrics be clear and intelligible. Margot Timmins, Emmylou Harris, Mama Lion, the choir from a Josquin Desprez CD I’ll mention in more detail later, Frank Sinatra. Mama Lion was let down by her recording engineer on “Can’t Find My Way Home”: she really belts out the song, but her vocals are kind of overcome by the instruments. I could hear all her inflection and vibrato with Liric, but even Liric couldn’t bring her forward enough to be on equal footing with the keys and guitar. Pity. Contrast that with Mississippi John Hurt singing “Casey Jones” while accompanying himself with acoustic guitar. His voice, slurry/mumbly words and all, was right in the center, his guitar just a bit beneath. There is one string which only buzzes when he picks it, it makes me smile. Listening to Doug Smith play solo guitar is a treat.

Lows: Bass from Liric is frustrating for me. “Bad Guy” from Billie Eilish’s debut has a funky thump, but the electric bass in my Stevie Ray Vaughn audition tracks, “Chitlins Con Carne” and “Riviera Paradise” was MIA. John Paul Jones’ bass was likewise subdued (in any Led Zeppelin song I listened to). But then, I’d listen to my bass-busting audition album, Blade Runner 2049 and hear the extension Liric is capable of, if not the slam I really crave. And then, there are bass tests other head phones (my HE-500 is one) fail like separating Geddy Lee’s bass from Neil Peart’s kick drum in “Limelight”. Liric’s resolution is good and allows me to hear those two instruments separately. Finally, there’s something amiss with tonality, at least in one of my test tracks. “Time” from Dark Side of the Moon just didn’t sound right; light and dry rather than warm and enveloping. This tonal weirdness was by far the exception, though.

Liric side.jpg
I wonder if having two or three vents in the ear cups would relieve some back pressure on the driver and open the bass?

Dynamics, transients and articulation: I really like when a horn section is blowing hard. Even more so when my head phones or speakers are articulate and don’t lose the leading edges of those notes. Disparate songs like the end of “B Movie Boxcar Blues”, displayed Liric’s ability to convey the power of a big band playing strongly, while “Casey Jones” is a good display of small-scale dynamics. The plucked strings and Hurt’s vocals are right out there, but the body of the guitar is behind it all, quietly supporting the strings with its resonance. I also enjoyed listening to “Gloria’s Step” from Bill Evans Trio – Sunday at the Village Vanguard. Here, the whole trio, included stand-up bass (well, the deepest notes are subdued compared to the baritone notes), are clearly audible, as are the incidental noises of the audience clinking glasses, talking amongst themselves and shifting their seats. Listening to Doug Smith play solo guitar is a treat (yes, I repeat myself). It’s not simply that Liric does a great job of presenting the tonal quality of Smith’s guitar (or Mississippi John Hurt’s, or Stevie Ray Vaughn’s…), but the rendering of the initial transient of the “pluck” and the smaller details of fingers sliding along the strings and fret board created a complete picture of the happenings in the studio.

Finding strengths: I realize I’ve fussed a bit about what Liric misses out on for me. So rather than dwell on any negatives, I started looking for music which sounded really good with Liric. “Ave Maria” from a disc of Josquin Desprez, was wonderful. Medieval vocal music, I think performed in a cathedral. The choristers were front and center, squarely between my ears. Howerver, the volume of the space, the ambient sound bloomed outward filling at least the earcups. And the closed-in feeling I get in the high treble is fully absent. All voices were open and, well, I can’t say soaring because it is more intimate music than that, but you get what I mean. And I know I was earlier critical of the lowest end, but really, Blade Runner 2049, while missing that head-filling power, was satisfyingly extended; which is paradoxical given the near absence of electric and stand-up bass in many jazz recordings I have (even recordings I know have those frequencies). Miles Davis, Ascenseur pour l’Echafaud, as I’ve said, is wonderful noir and entirely convincing. Miles’ muted (but strong) trumpet, drums quietly keeping time, an upright bass playing an occasional note and a plodding piano is sometimes all it takes to make the world disappear. While Jesse Cook has some deep bass, which was nearly absent when listening with Liric, in his recording of “Dance of Spring” I didn’t miss it (bass-head though I am). The precise rendition of Cook’s Spanish guitar with his sharply plucked and distinct notes, plus the spare but punctuated percussion prevented me from missing the bass. Even a fairly big jazz band like Roy Ayers’ came across well: I enjoyed listening to “Evolution” quite a lot. I listen to this song frequently when evaluating gear as the vibraphone solo at the end is a touchstone for me in deciding if leading edges or decay is emphasized by a piece of equipment. But there are also cymbals, guitar (way in the background), keys (both in the mids and playing a funky mid-bass riff), vocals (well, “Evolution” repeated over and over), and an electric bass which I didn’t miss that much even though it’s mostly covered up. Renaissance, baroque, string quartets and piano sonatas are all displayed the strength of Liric’s whole, organic sound. Even classical period symphonies and opera were credibly portrayed, only betrayed by the lack of the lowest foundation. Pipe organ, not so much.

Inside the cup.jpg
That famous hybrid orthodynamic driver

Comparisons: As a reminder, my long-term reference head phones are the HiFi-MAN HE-500 and Stax SR Lambda. I won’t actually spend a huge amount of time comparing the three. What I found during my time with Liric aligns quite well with the widely held stereotypes. The Stax are faster and more open, breezier at the top of the frequency curve. The antique SR Lambdas aren’t overly analytical to my ears, but they did present delicate treble notes with more finesse than Liric did. Mids are equally revealing and lush. I have some of the same reservations about bass from my Stax as I have with Liric: it’s extended, but simply doesn’t hit hard. In contrast, my HiFi-MAN has powerful, head-filling bass which can shake bedrock. Mids are rich enough but give up some nuance to the Liric and Stax. Highs are extended but again, not as light and breezy as the other two. I sure like my HE-500s when listening to energetic music, though.

I do want to say something about Liric’s stablemate: the Rai Penta. I was interested to hear if Liric and Rai Penta would team up to show a sort of Meze house sound. Sure, this is apples-and-oranges even if both transducers are from the same company. I listened to my Rai Penta with my Questyle QP2r DAP. My Rai Penta are more even across the frequency spectrum than Liric sounded, bass and treble were more evenly matched in volume to the midrange. I don’t think Liric bass is any less extended than what I hear from Rai Penta, but it is lower in level and doesn’t hit as hard. With Rai Penta, “Chitlins Con Carne” and “Riviera Paradise” sounded as I like them to sound, “Deeper Well” regained its menace. Similarly, Rai Penta didn’t have any more detail up top, but they do present those details on a more equal footing than do Liric so I didn't have to listen as hard to hear it. Both Liric and Rai Penta share a smoothly organic, whole sound which is easy to relax into, which can allow you to stop obsessing over audiophilia. Rai Penta, especially when paired with my QP2r, checks perhaps all my boxes. Listening to it alongside Liric reminded me how good a fit the Rai Penta are for me.

Conclusion: I like the sound of the Meze Liric with certain music. When I listened to them, I missed the openness, especially in the treble, of my open back head phones as well as the power and slam of the bass my planars deliver. That fussing aside, from the upper bass through the low treble, Liric are laid back and musical. Some might miss the resolution of detail monsters, but I simply enjoyed the holistic sound of my favorite songs. I found myself preferring my long-term head phones more because they checked more boxes with more genres than Liric did for me. One big caveat here is: I don't listen to full size head phones at the office or while commuting. If you need a closed back head phone to keep outside noise out of your head (or your music to yourself) Liric offers a more pleasing sound to me than the others I've tried in the past. In that regard, the Meze Liric joins the Kennerton Rognir in making me think I could like a closed back head phone.

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betula
betula
It is interesting that you hear it as 'n' shaped sound and to me it is more 'v' shaped. That's pretty much the opposite.
macdonjh
macdonjh
My thoughts exactly. I read your review after I posted mine (didn't want your impressions coloring my thoughts). Since we're so opposite in our impression, I don't think associated gear is a realistic explanation. I noticed a comment to either your review or @ufospls2's about burn-in. I was the first stop on one of the US tour legs and my pair might have had zero hours use. Perhaps others in this group will have different impressions as they break in with other users. I didn't even think to run them in; I rarely get fresh-from-the-factory gear. :)

Another explanation, though, is hearing. My ears are middle age now and we all know high frequency sensitivity drops off the older we get. I started thinking about that after I bought my 64Audio Trio and found I was in a small group who didn't find them hot/ bright/ tizzy. I love Trio's treble. It's a little harder to link bass perception to age...
macdonjh
macdonjh
Maybe it's both: brand new drivers causing restricted bass response and old ears causing the perception of recessed treble. I can say my well used Rai Penta suffer from neither. Glad I brought them to work today.

betula

Headphoneus Supremus
Meze Liric - portable high-end planar closed-back headphones
Pros: clean, crisp sound
- muscular sub-bass
- portable with carrying case
- strong, good quality build
- great passive noise isolation
Cons: glued on earpads
- bright, occasionally sharp treble
- overall sonic performance is not quite in the $2K league
Disclaimer

Meze Audio have decided to send a few Lirics on tour around the world. All participants are from the Head-Fi community and we were asked to share our honest, unbiased opinion after two weeks with Meze’s new closed-back headphones.


What exactly is the Liric and what is its position on today’s market?

The Liric is a high-end closed back headphone intended for portable use, retailing for £1899/$2000/€2000. This is an interesting price point for a portable closed back headphone; there are not too many direct competitors. Other closed back headphones like the Denon D9200 (£1250), Fostex TH900 (£1199), Audeze LCD-XC (£1245), Sennheiser HD820 (£1799), Focal Stellia (£2899) were not really meant for portable use. There is only one similar closed-back headphone package that comes to my mind and that is the DCA Æon Noir (£845) which is less than half the price of the Liric.

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Leather, magnesium and copper

My approach

I have always been an open-back headphone guy, in my experience closed back headphones are always a compromise when you need sound isolation or portability. I am yet to hear a closed back headphone that can sound as airy, spacious, natural, balanced and engaging as a similarly priced open back. The Liric has not changed my view on this.

With a little break I owned two pairs of Empyreans since its release in 2018. I instantly fell in love with the sweet, engaging, relaxed sound. The Empyrean does not emphasise certain technical treats, but I find its level of musical engagement pretty unique. In my opinion the amount of criticism it sometimes receives is undeserved. With a good cable (not the stock one) and a proper audio chain the Empyrean certainly deserves a ‘top of the line badge’ even now, when the Elite is out.

I was simply curious to see how the Liric stacks up to my Empyrean, even though it was created with different design and usage purposes in mind. For this reason I will refer to the Empyrean a lot, but I will also try to reflect on other closed-back headphones.

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The gear I used: RME ADI-2 DAC, Burson Soloist 3XP

Package, build, comfort

Opening the box is definitely a premium experience. The box is very nice, and it hides an excellent quality carrying case which is sturdy enough to chuck in a luggage. The carrying case is not huge, but it is also not small; pretty much twice the size of the DCA Æon carrying case. The headphone cable looks nice and feels quality, but it is a bit bouncy. You also get a fancy little brochure explaining the tech and story behind the Liric.

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The headphone itself is well made, feels sturdy and good quality, although do not expect the ultra-premium feel of the Empyrean. The Liric’s simpler headband and cups are covered with leather and the cups are made of magnesium. I have to admit, I only know this because I looked it up. At first I thought the cup frame is some high quality plastic, luckily I was wrong.

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Although the whole headphone, including the drivers and ear-cups, is much smaller than the Empyrean, there is still enough room for my ears not to touch anything. It is a snug fit and the clamping force is much more noticeable than on the Empyrean, but still comfortable. After the first 90 minutes of listening the clamping force started to be too much for me, but perhaps the steel in the headband could be stretched gently to ease the pressure. For portability, I presume it is good to have a firmer grip.

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Significant size difference

Sound

As I mentioned earlier, my reference point for approaching the Liric was the Empyrean. I just wanted to know if they can compete sound-wise, forgetting all other practicalities and inherent design differences. Very soon I had to realise, it is simply an unfair comparison. In pretty much every area the Empyrean is superior. I am not even going into details as it would be pointless. This should not really come as a surprise, as Meze would pretty much shoot himself on the leg if he started to sell a better sounding headphone for £800/$1000 less. Basically I had to carry on with my evaluation of the Liric by forgetting the Empyrean.

The only scenario when I think someone might pick the Liric over the Empyrean, when it comes to sound, is the completely different tuning. The Liric is a much brighter headphone, but more about this in the ‘Tuning’ section.

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Technicalities

Being a closed back headphone it is not a surprise, that the Liric does not have the airiness, naturalness and soundstage size of open backs like the Arya (£1299) or LCD-X (£1079). For a closed-back I would say the soundstage is pretty decent, there is an ‘out of your head’ feel to the sound.

Imaging is quite precise; it is not difficult to locate individual instruments. When it comes to detail retrieval, dynamics, speed, none of these qualities struck me as particularly exceptional, but all of them are decent for a $1000+ headphone and do not make me feel something is really missing. Is this sound $2000 good? That is a tougher cookie which we will try to chew at the end.

One last thing I would like to mention in this section is when the music comes to really busy passages, I found that the Liric cannot always keep everything clear and separate; there is some smearing happening. A good example for this is the second half of the track Raido from Wardruna.

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Trickled down iso-planar technology from the Empyrean, the transducers are ∼24% smaller

Tuning


The Liric has a very clean, crisp and energetic sound from top to bottom but especially in the treble region. It is not as punchy as the TH-900, but still its energy level is closer to the Fostex flagship than it is to the Empyrean. The Empyrean has a big, soft and relaxed sound. The Liric in comparison is a crisp little energy bomb that wants more of your attention.

It quickly became clear to me, that the Liric was tuned for portable use. Both the bass and treble are emphasised, although quite tastefully. Still I would call this a relatively V-shaped sound which I presume is partly to compensate potential external noise and partly to offer a ‘fun’ sound signature. The Liric also has surprisingly good passive noise isolation.

I often say, that the true test of a TOTL headphone is how natural and lifelike it sounds. Apart from vocals and acoustic instruments the most obvious clues are drums and percussion. Closed back headphones have a disadvantage in creating a lifelike experience by design. Pretty much any similarly or even slightly lower priced open back headphone will sound more real and more natural than the Liric, yet the closed-back Meze does a fine job at not sounding overly artificial even after the Empyrean. While this aspect of sound is definitely a compromise coming from open back TOTL headphones, it is not necessarily a drastically painful one.

Closing my thoughts on tuning, at times I could not help thinking that the Liric sounds a bit like an enhanced and improved Apple AirPods Max or Sony WH-1000XM4: more of a consumer tuning but with double the resolution/detail retrieval, better balance and overall technical performance. This can be good or bad, depending on what you are after and where you are coming from.

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Specially designed air vent hole for optimising airflow and earcup chamber pressure

Bass/mids/treble

Bass is fun and pleasing on the Liric. It extends deep enough to represent sub-bass with authority, it is slightly elevated all around, but not too much. Sub bass is definitely a strong suit of the Liric, while the mid/upper-bass is slightly more tamed. Hence, the overall bass presence is authoritative, but not overblown; it does not bleed into the mids. Due to the overall thinner sound it is never overly bloomy. It is not as impactful as a TH-900 but also not a soft toy: the bass packs a decent amount of punch; it was definitely tuned for having fun.

There is not much to complain about the mids. Vocals sound relatively lifelike and clean. If anything, the bass and the treble somewhat steal the show and they do not leave too many thoughts for the quite airy but less memorable middle frequencies.

The treble is very clean and crisp. Much brighter what you would expect from Meze. Hard-core Meze fans like me might find it too bright while others will gladly welcome this change. This brighter treble definitely contributes to an enhanced perception of extra detail retrieval. Many people will welcome a gentle deception like this and that is ok.

While overall I like the sound of the Liric, to me personally the treble was borderline piercing and bity on certain recordings. I have to add; I am quite treble sensitive and usually prefer a slightly darker/warmer sound. (A track to hear my issue with the treble: World Looking In by Morcheeba.)

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Surprisingly good passive noise isolation

Closing thoughts

In my opinion the Liric is a good and fun sounding headphone, but at this price I can only recommend it to a niche audience in the ever growing world of multi-thousand dollar headphones.

If you are at home and you do not need sound isolation, open back headphones even around £1000-1400 will give you a more natural, overall better listening experience (Arya, LCD-X, HD800S, Aeolus, Auteur). These days you can also buy a second-hand Empyrean for the price of a new Liric which in my opinion is an exceptional value when it comes to sound for money.

If you are a home listener and simply need sound isolation, you might want to pick a slightly more affordable closed back. I am personally not convinced, that the Liric sounds £600-700 better than a D9200 or LCD-XC in general. In certain aspects like a natural tone it might edge them out, but I am not sure if that really justifies this price difference when you make a compromise on sound with a closed back design anyway.

The niche market where I can recommend the Liric even for its asking price is the travelling audiophile market. I can recommend it to someone who time to time has to depart from their beloved TOTL headphone or TOTL headphone collection and they are simply unhappy with the sound quality of the best ANC wireless headphones. I can recommend it to someone who wants to safely shove their portable headphones in a luggage, and do not want to worry about them even if they are left out on a table and tossed around. Someone who wants to listen to music 1-2 hours in their hotel room after a busy day or even on the plane with a good DAP. The Liric is a headphone that is able to carry a respectable portion of your home system’s sound quality while you are away: more Hi-Fi sound on the go than ever before.

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Conclusion

Meze marketing says that the Liric was meant to be a portable headphone, and in my opinion the price reflects this extra option of safe and relatively compact portability, which in my view is its unique selling point. Only time will tell if bringing the Liric into being was a financially more viable decision than creating an actual closed back Empyrean for home use.
In the meantime I keep enjoying my Empyrean and look forward to auditioning the Elite.
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FullBright1
FullBright1
IN the photos, you show a Burson and the RME.. Both of these Dacs (sound wise}... are "sharp and dryish"...very pristine. Similar to the THX Monolith DAC. So, when using a somewhat analytical sounding headphone like the LIRIC in combination with 2 clinical sharp Dac/amps.... you will certainly come to the conclusion that the LIRIC's Treble is "sharp" and the overall tonality is "bright".
betula
betula
One could argue, that it is not the best possible system synergy, but I would not call the RME nor the Soloist 3XP sharp and dry. The RME is simply neutral and the 3XP is one of the most analogue sounding SS amp I tried.

ufospls2

Headphoneus Supremus
Meze Audio LIRIC Full Review
Pros: Closed - Isolating
Tuning
Build
Materials
Cons: Lack of ultimate detail
"micro" detail, "micro " dynamics
img_1963.jpg


Meze Audio LIRIC

Hi all,

Today we are talking about another Meze Audio headphone. The recently released LIRIC closed back model. After my positive experience with the Empyrean and especially the ELITE, I was curious what sort of headphone Meze would go for in terms of a closed back model, and what sort tuning it would have. The LIRIC was released a short while ago at an MSRP of $2000USD, so it is not an insignificant purchase. Let’s find out how it fared against its open backed siblings.

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The Box

The LIRIC is designed to be a more portable headphone than the ELITE and Empyrean, therefore it is physically smaller, and uses a different, non suspension based headband. Also in terms of portability, it comes in a portable style case, which will fit easily in a backpack or similar type of bag. The LIRIC comes bundled with two 3.5mm terminated cables, one shorter, one longer. I would have liked to see Meze include at least a 4.4mm cable in the package, but they do have very affordable aftermarket 4.4mm cables available from their 99 series headphones, which work very well. You can also buy upgraded cables for the LIRIC from the 99 series, and I have read those will be offered in 4pin XLR shortly also.

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Very nice presentation from Meze

Obviously, targeting a price point which is half of the ELITE’s, there are concessions in terms of materials and overall build quality. The LIRIC just feels a bit less “premium” than the ELITE and Empyrean. With that being said, it is still one of the best built headphones I have come across. Meze Audio really nails this aspect. Although the physical size is a bit smaller, they are still an over ear headphone, and extremely comfortable. The pads feel deep and sumptuous. They are also a light headphone at around about 400g, and not at all uncomfortable for long listening sessions. The overall isolation level is good for a closed back, but if you need ultimate isolation, I would definitely recommend something with active noise cancelling, or earphones. In terms of aesthetics, I think the LIRIC is one of the best looking headphone on the market. The understated slightly textured black with copper accents is right up my alley, and I absolutely love how they look. I mean, ultimately I suppose it doesn’t really matter, but hey, it can’t hurt either.

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Understated and classy.

The LIRICs pads do not share the same magnetic attachment system as the Empyrean and ELITE, and whilst this is a shame, as its the best system I have come across, I also think Meze may have done this to achieve the sound quality and isolation the LIRIC provide. I will include a screenshot of the earpad airflow system Meze has come up with, as the website explains it better than I am able to. It is an interesting idea, and lends itself well to a spacious sounding soundstage, for a closed back. The LIRIC are not as wide and spacious sounding as most open backs, that still remains an elusive, if not impossible quality for a closed back headphone to achieve, but they are also a lot more spacious sounding than the Focal headphones, both closed and open. I think that what Meze has achieved in terms of soundstage with the LIRIC is impressive, and am curious what they might manage in the future if they continue to develop the technology.

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The driver of the LIRIC is essentially a scaled down version of the Rinaro ISODYNAMIC planar driver found in the ELITE and Empyrean. I would recommend reading my ELITE review for an idea of how this driver works if you have never come across it before, or head over to Mezes website. It Is an interesting approach to planar magnetic driver design, and worth understanding if you are going to purchase these headphones.

In terms of the drivers capability, at half the price of the ELITE whilst also being physically smaller, you obviously cannot expect the same performance. And that certainly holds true. The LIRIC does not have the same technical performance as the ELITE, and even the Empyrean. It sounds smaller, less detailed, less dynamically capable. With that being said, its tuning and frequency response are better than the Empyrean, for my personal taste. The bass of the LIRIC is slightly elevated, but I never found it to be overbearing, and it is less in level than the Empyrean. They have a bit more sub bass than the ELITE. The mids sound less thick than the Empyrean also, but perhaps a bit more upper mids and lower treble than the ELITE. I didn’t find the treble too hot at any point, especially the upper treble. With that being said, I did find it the tiniest bit shouty at times, but not at the level where it was close to being a deal breaker. I suppose you could tweak this slightly with EQ, but for the vast majority of my listening, I enjoyed the LIRIC without any EQ.

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LIRIC rear

I’m fortunate to be used to the sound of what are pretty much the top of the line in terms of headphones (barring Sennheiser HE1 type esoterica.) Therefore, it has to be expected that a pair which costs less than half of those headphones, will give up certain areas of performance ability. In that sense, I found the timbre of the LIRIC a bit plasticky at times, and as mentioned, a bit shouty and “boxy” sounding, especially with snare drums. The soundstage, as I mentioned earlier, is very well done for a closed back. Not the widest, but also not small. The imaging, detail, and and dynamics remind me of the Empyrean, in that they do the “macro” stuff well, but aren’t as strong at the “micro” stuff. Increasing the volume seemed to help this aspect somewhat, which was interesting.

I very much feel that the overall package however, combined with very competent tuning is entirely worth the asking price. If you need a closed back headphone, and don’t want to spend $4000 on the DCA stealth, or $5500 on the Hifiman HE-R10p, then the LIRIC makes a serious case for itself. Also, if you need a physically smaller, and more portable headphone, the LIRIC makes a very serious case for itself there as well. It is built wonderfully, with great materials, and has a more enjoyable tuning than the Empyrean. It’s a punchy, slightly “fun” sounding headphone. I see what Meze Audio was trying to achieve with the LIRIC, and I think they have managed it very well. I’m not as experienced with closed back headphones as I am with open backs, but I can’t think of a closed back that I have tried that I enjoyed as much as the LIRIC. I think that if you take note of your use case, and feel that the LIRIC fits it, its is very much worth consideration. Whilst the LIRIC doesn’t match up to the performance of its open backed Rinaro driver based siblings, it also costs half as much, and brings a lot of their good qualities to the table, whilst also being isolating, and portable. That makes for a very interesting and compelling package.

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I’d love to see Meze make an ELITE/Empyrean full sized closed back, with the driver and tuning from the ELITE. I think that would be up there for the best closed back, regardless of price. Until then though? The LIRIC does the job, and does it well.
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ufospls2
ufospls2
Fiio Q3, iFi Hip DAC V2, Boulder 866, Macbook pro headphone out.

Very easy to drive. Works well with modest sources. @geoffalter11
szore
szore
How long were they burned in for?
thehutch
thehutch
Nice review. I spent some time with LIRIC at Audio 46 in New York, listening off Mojo+Poly, and your review confirms all of my first impressions. Great tuning, fun sound, amazing build and form factor. But, yes, a bit boxy, occasionally shouty and not as detailed as my Stellia. Still considering buying one.
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