Meze Audio LIRIC - The portable isodynamic hybrid array headphone
Nov 22, 2021 at 3:53 PM Post #331 of 965

SpeleoFool

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Obligatory Unboxing Photos:
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One Week Impressions:
I've now had LIRIC for roughly a week, and have had a chance to run it through its paces. Having spent more time with it, I have only become more impressed.

LIRIC is quite versatile. Obviously, being closed back opens up some special use cases. But beyond that, it's also quite forgiving of lesser sources. It also scales well with better sources.

I tried LIRIC briefly for gaming to good results straight out of an XBox controller. I need to do more testing for PC gaming (i.e., "gaming with a proper amp chain"), but imaging is extremely good, which bodes well.

LIRIC's standout features to me are its clarity, imaging, airiness, and exceptionally staging for a closed back. Music sounds big and has room to breathe. Timbre is fantastic. Detail is great, but not exceptional--it's really a nice balance that shouldn't disappoint people who crave detail extension, but it's not quite the best game in town--Susvara, Stax, Utopia, and others do more to retrieve microscopic detail; LIRIC's focus is elsewhere, yet it still brings enough detail game to fairly be called a detailed headphone. Without having done a direct A-B to confirm, I'm reminded of Arya detail--if you're coming up from lesser cans, Arya sounds remarkably detailed and clean. But if you step down from Susvara, Arya's limitations are apparent.

It's worth noting just how engaging LIRIC is. Both my wife and I have found it hard to stop listening. I handed LIRIC to her to check out a couple tracks and didn't get them back for an hour, lol. And they have kept me up too late more than once this week.

Amps and Sources:
I started my listening on ADI-2 -> A90 since that's my current desk chain. That's a super clean chain, but can be a bit bright on the high end. LIRIC treble is incredibly well controlled (superb balance between bright & detailed w/o being too peaky or sibilant). Nevertheless, a few tracks started pushing the boundaries of comfort on sharp treble from A90.

V280 is an all around better pairing for LIRIC. Despite it being "easy" to drive, bass performance most certainly scales with better amplification. I found one track (see playlist below: "Crazy Maybe") where A90 struggled to keep up with the wrecking-ball impact of the beats, but V280 was more controlled. The slight warmth of V280 is also very welcome with LIRIC. Furthermore, treble is more controlled, with peaky passages still being "sharp," but not piercing. I am using Holo May as the DAC for V280; this has become my all around favorite pairing for LIRIC so far.

I first heard LIRIC on a Gilmore Lite, and a few tracks on GSX Mini. From limited listening, it feels like the Mini and V280 were similarly good. I just acquired a Mini, but have not yet listened enough to compare vs V280--only enough to mention that it's a good pairing.

I also suspected that LIRIC would do well on tubes, and am happy to report that LIRIC + Pendant delivers exactly what I'd hoped for. Although LIRIC doesn't really need any help with "smoothness," treble control, warm mids, and holographic imaging are all super-welcome flavorings for LIRIC.

I don't have a clear amp preference for LIRIC between V280 or Pendant; both are great options, and I expect I will bounce between them based on mood. Tubes are my preference for more relaxed listening. Solid State is good for when I am more mentally engaged with listening.

Portable Use:
One of my favorite chains for taking full sized cans portable is SP1000+Amp -> Arya. Performance trades blows with desktop chains, and it's great fun to blow peoples' minds with that setup.

If that chain has a weakness, though, it's the open backs--it can be challenging to control ambient noise levels when out and about. On the other hand, you can drive with Aryas and still hear traffic perfectly well, lol.

In any case, LIRIC ups the game here, since you can still get stunning music in less-than-quiet environments. Isolation is very good, but I could still hear a loud TV through quiet passages. I recently met up with a friend from XBox and we sat out front of a Starbucks that was piping its own music over outdoor speakers; we were able to get an adequately good listening experience out of that, including critically picking apart various tracks. I enjoyed watching my friend discover new things about songs he's known for ages ("they double-miked these vocals!").

We tried LIRIC from his phone and got good audio quality, but it was too quiet. A portable amp might be a good pairing. I'd love to hear impressions of Cayin C9 -> LIRIC, if anyone has that chain.

Gaming Notes:
Most capable headphones tend to fall into one of two categories for gaming: good for PVP, or good for immersive play. Rarely are headphones good at both.

Imaging is the most important pre-requisite for PVP performance, since you need to hear danger before it arrives and you need to know where it's coming from. Where many headphones fall apart for PVP is by getting overwhelmed when action gets thick. If gunfire and explosions drown out what's coming around the corner then you lose the tactical advantage of good imaging.

One of my favorite "cheaper" options for PVP is Beyerdynamic 1990; for gaming it "over-separates" to the extent that individual sounds feel like separate entities floating in space rather than a cohesive tapestry, but individual sounds are easily detectable and precisely positioned, even when things get busy. The net effect is that it's harder to get sucked into the game, but much easier to track spatial sounds--it reminds me of how "detective mode" in the Batman Arkham series allows you see through walls at the expense of all the gritty, detailed environment textures.

In any case, LIRIC has some of the best and most precise imaging I have heard from headphones, and that translates extremely well to gaming performance. My standard gaming test is the "No Fighting in the War Room" level of COD: Modern Warfare Remastered, since that level has plenty of action, atmospheric effects, and nearly every weapon in the game. It's a decent analogue for PVP play since you can hear NPCs moving around and reloading, etc.

Running LIRIC straight out of an XBox controller, sound quality is quite good, and imaging is perfect. However, it was hard to tell whether heavy action might cover up spatial cues. In a moment of quiet, I quite clearly heard a reload precisely 3 feet or so to the right at a corner just in front of me, but it was quiet enough that it would have been more challenging to pick up through more action.

At this point I remain a little on the fence about whether LIRIC is good for PVP. On a PC rig with ample amplification, I think it might be. And if you're not aiming for leaderboard positions, it certainly should be. But I need more testing on PC before I make a call.

Music Pairing:
LIRIC is a capable all-rounder, though I occasionally find tracks that aren't ideal matches. Still, it's good enough that I'm enjoying all kinds of genres. Most any track that benefits from open staging and pinpoint imaging will shine on LIRIC. And that works well for lots of tracks. Chorusing, harmonizing, and other forms of layered vocals are particularly nice thanks to LIRIC's spectacular separation. Bass is well balanced and works well for bass intensive genres like rap, pop, and electronic music, but isn't too much for material that isn't trying to showcase the low end. Treble is super crisp and incisive without being too sharp.

At the request of an audio friend, I created a playlist for LIRIC (he liked the one I did for MEST). I intentionally compiled tracks from a variety of genres to showcase LIRIC's broad capabilities. Tracks are curated for flow, so this set makes for a nice continuous listen, despite being all over the map in terms of subject matter.

"Ear Licks with LIRICs" - 36 Tracks, 2h 42m 33s
Qobuz Version
Tidal Version

Conclusions / Parting Thoughts:
I picked up LIRIC with the intent of having a alternate closed back can to VC for more energetic tracks. However, having gotten more familiar with it, I'm finding a lot more overlap in material I like between these two cans. I still like VC on tubes as the ultimate indulgence chain--especially lush vocals. But I am also enjoying clear, detailed vocals on LIRIC. It's a different flavor, but both are good.

If I still worked in an office, LIRIC would easily be my new daily driver. It has the perfect balance of isolation and musical capability, and it doesn't require an extremely expensive or powerful chain to drive well. It also pairs very well with "getting stuff done" music (stuff like Infected Mushroom or other high energy, highly structured, vocal-light material that fuels the engines of progress).

Meanwhile, the relative portability has also elevated LIRIC to "weapon of choice" for ruining the uninitiated with a fine example of what music can be, out of a capable chain. SP1000 + Amp is a very good source. In general, I like warmer sources with LIRIC, and it's not super picky. It does require a bit of power to really shine, but it's quite listenable even out of my Xbox controller. LIRIC does benefit from ample clean power, but that's not necessary to drive them well.

I am seriously impressed with LIRIC and considering picking up a second pair for my wife. The combination of good resolving power, clean and open sound, and closed back isolation make it a really nice can for evaluating listening chains. A second set would make it that much easier to A-B different chains without the hassle of hot-swapping, and also opens up possibilities for simultaneous listening.

Well done, Meze.
 
Nov 22, 2021 at 4:10 PM Post #333 of 965

ThanatosVI

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Since I received my Liric they have been my Daily driver.
Didn't have the urge to grab one of my other headphones since then.

In the meantime I also used the Liric with my T+A Solid State amp. And while I always prefer my headphones with tubes, I do so in particular with the Liric.

Imo the Liric benefits a lot from tube amps.
 
Nov 22, 2021 at 4:50 PM Post #334 of 965

Beagle

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Nov 22, 2021 at 4:58 PM Post #336 of 965

Beagle

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Or maybe you wandered straight into it?
 
Nov 22, 2021 at 8:02 PM Post #338 of 965

Huntersknoll

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Running LIRIC straight out of an XBox controller, sound quality is quite good, and imaging is perfect. However, it was hard to tell whether heavy action might cover up spatial cues. In a moment of quiet, I quite clearly heard a reload precisely 3 feet or so to the right at a corner just in front of me, but it was quiet enough that it would have been more challenging to pick up through more action.
How did you know this was the exact niche question I had? Haha. Yeah I’d be running it out of an Xbox and PS5 controller. Good to know. I’d mostly be PvE games.
 
Nov 22, 2021 at 9:30 PM Post #340 of 965

ufospls2

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Not sure if this has been discussed yet, but can an owner confirm if the Furutech 3.5mm (picture below) will fit into the 3.5mm TS jack of the Liric?

FT-735-R.jpg

Knowing the size, I would think it probably will, but it might not. The Eidolic's seem to from the following photo, and they are similar in barrel size. I suppose it will depend on the length of the 3.5mm part, if it has enough clearance.

Screen Shot 2021-11-22 at 6.28.37 PM.png
 
Nov 23, 2021 at 1:00 AM Post #345 of 965

SpeleoFool

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How did you know this was the exact niche question I had? Haha. Yeah I’d be running it out of an Xbox and PS5 controller. Good to know. I’d mostly be PvE games.
I may game a little, lol.

Glad you found that bit helpful. I figured a few people might. I had to test controller performance given LIRIC is advertised as "portable." Especially since LCD-GX is good from the controller.

LIRIC is wonderful for PVE. It could use a little more oomph than the controller provides, but it gets loud enough and is all day comfortable. I'm playing Bastion right now, and the music is intoxicating. :xf_cool:
 

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