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Meze Empyrean Loaner Program

Discussion in 'Sponsor Announcements and Deals' started by Todd, Feb 8, 2019.
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  1. Todd Contributor
    Hi All,

    We have had an Empyrean headphone to play with now for a little over a week and are ready to share it with some interested customers. We will offer it to the first 5 to sign up for the loaner program. Please be someone who is considering buying this great headphone. A review will still be expected with the loaning of the Empyrean... We will offer a second loaner program for those who are interested in hearing it and writing a review.

    We will send it out with the stock headphone cable as well as our go to Cardas Clear cable so you can try that out too! I would expect to be ready to part with my Empyrean by Tuesday or Wednesday... email me to sign up...

    Loaner Program Rules:

    Send your name and address, telephone number and your Head-Fi user name to me (Todd) at todd@ttvjaudio.com. Do NOT PM me as you will not be included in the program without an email.

    You will get the loaner for 1 week to use in your home with your system. After your one week is up, you must send it to the next loaner participant. Email me (todd@ttvjaudio.com) the tracking info so I can pass it on to the recipient.

    You MUST write a review and post it in this loaner thread. It must be posted in the same thread as this announcement for the loaner program. Please post the review here first and feel free to post it somewhere else if you like!

    Once you have received the loaner, email me to let me know you have it and I will send the address for the next person.

    Our loaner programs are USA only. We are restricted from shipping/selling outside the USA on most products.

    mezeempyrean1.png

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    Todd
     
    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
    wje, JM1979 and Thenewguy007 like this.
  2. Todd Contributor
    HI All,

    Here is the list so far... Will take 1 more participant if someone is looking to own these awesome headphones.

    Empyrean Loaner Program



    1 ray-dude

    2 Wardo783

    3 Thenewguy007

    4 Monsterzero

    5 PeteSTRADAMUS

    6 vladpetric

    7 Quadfather

    8. craigfralick

    9. wormsdriver

    10. ngoshawk
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
    Monsterzero likes this.
  3. betula
    Why are 80% of review tours limited to USA only? Are there not enough potential customers in Europe?
     
  4. PeteSTRADAMUS
    Damn, How did I not notice this any earlier lol. Smh
     
    Quadfather likes this.
  5. Todd Contributor
    Hi betula,

    I am a retail store in the USA and am not permitted to sell and ship most of these products outside of the USA, These units are not provided for free by the manufacturers - I have to buy them. I use these loaners to promote the products and TTVJAudio and hopefully the participants buy them from TTVJAudio in return for the in home audition. Also, the shipping outside the USA becomes an issue as it is expensive. Most of the stuff I loan out is also expensive and my own personal gear and I brought it in to use here in my shop once the program is over. Also, some of the products are 120v only and do not have power supplies that are switchable.

    It is not a slight of you guys in Europe or elsewhere. Where I can I do try to send stuff and have, in the past, sent some Apex amps for meets in the UK.

    I hope this helps explain why we only do our loaners in the USA. If you are having a meet and want to pay for the shipping to and from you, I am willing to loan out some of the gear I have so you can try it. Contact me via email and we can work something out. todd@ttvjaudio.com

    Todd
     
    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
    Beagle, marhol, wje and 1 other person like this.
  6. betula
    Thanks Todd,

    My comment was not against you. I am sure you do an awesome job in America.

    My comment is aimed to Meze who is a European company, not not launching a similar review tour in Europe.

    All the best Todd,
    betula
     
  7. Todd Contributor
    Hi betula,

    I did not take it personally and feel bad that I cannot serve customers in Europe with very many of the products I carry. I hope that maybe sometime there will be a product you are looking for that I can be of service to you.

    I am actually glad you asked so I could explain. Its not a matter of wanting to do loaners there - it is a matter of keeping my dealerships and not offending the dealers you have there.

    and all the best to you also betula!

    Todd
     
    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
  8. Todd Contributor
    Hi All,

    This loaner program is now closed to new participants - I have one more than I originally planned to have. I will box them up tomorrow and send them your way! Enjoy the Empyrean headphones - I know I am. And don't forget to use both the stock cable and the Cardas Clear cable we are providing for this tour. I look forward to your thoughts and impressions of these headphones!

    Todd
     
    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
    Monsterzero likes this.
  9. JM1979
    If a new slot opens up, I’d love to participate. I’m very intregued by these headphones.

    If it is of any value, I’d be happy to compare against the LCD-3 (sold in last month) and Ether 2 (own now).
     
    thecrow likes this.
  10. Todd Contributor
    Hi All,

    As you can see I have add a few more loaner participants but I cannot add any more to this program. I hope you understand - 10 people is double what I had planned to allow. I hope everyone enjoys the Empyrean. It is shipping out today to #1 on the list!

    Todd
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
    wormsdriver likes this.
  11. singleended5863
    Hi Todd,

    Are you going to give another chance for other headfiers after those 10 above people?
    I didn’t really hear this loaner program too until today. :slight_frown:
     
  12. Mshenay Contributor
    This is an awesome opportunity, while I'm not participating in this, I would like to thank @Todd for extending yet another loaner out to our community. I know that there's a lot of gear I get to hear only because of his programs. That said, I look forwarding to reading over everyone thoughts. I'm familiar with the prefferances of quite a few of you so It'll be good to get some feedback on the Emyrean from members who's input I value and trust
     
  13. Antonio Meze
    I salute @Todd for his initiative and hard work to organizing this tour and I want to assure @betula and everyone else that have in plan to make such tour as well in Europe ever since the launch of the Empyrean. Thanks for your patience. It will come eventually.

     
    Meze Audio Design. Comfort. Sound. True audio. Stay updated on Meze Audio at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    https://www.facebook.com/mezeaudio https://twitter.com/mezeaudio https://www.instagram.com/mezeaudio/ https://www.mezeaudio.com/ marketing@mezeaudio.com
  14. ray-dude
    Just in time for the long weekend, I received the loaner Meze Empyrean’s Saturday (thanks Todd!), and have been enjoying them all weekend. I’m going to continue to do some extended critical listening (and post updates if I have any), so please let me know if you have questions, I’ll do my best to answer them while I have these in house.

    ************************

    Disclaimer: The Meze Empyrean’s described below were provided by TTVJ Audio as part of a demo tour, in exchange for posting an honest review when I was done with the unit. The loaner unit has been sent along to the next person in the tour (thank you @Todd!). No other consideration was given nor received.


    Background

    I made it to RMAF this year, but I was off line most of the time so I missed the buzz about the new Meze Empyrean’s and missed out on a chance to hear them in person. Since I’m actively looking for my next set of headphones, I was obviously disappointed. When @Todd posted that TTVJ was starting a loaner tour for the Empyrean’s, I jumped on it (thank you Todd!)

    I own a Hugo2, and Hugo mScaler and DAVE, and I’m full on addicted to the Chord sound, and the intoxicating effect of what I call the Chord Magic: music feels real and physical, and the emotionality of the performance becomes tangible. I use my Hugo2 at the office (with MrSpeakers Closed Aeon Flows) and on the go (with custom Noble Katana IEMs), and I use my mDAVE when at home (two channel and with Sennheiser HD-800’s (with SR mod)).

    I’m actively looking for an upgrade to my Senn HD-H800SR’s, and been leaning toward the Abyss Phis and HiFiman Susvaras. Both are amazing headphones, but quite demanding. It is important to me to not give away any of that Chord Magic or transparency by adding an amplifier to to my chain, so I’ve been hoping for a more efficient ToTL headphone to enter the scene. Seeing how efficient the Empyrean’s are, they immediately popped on my “to audition” list, primarily for my home setup.

    In this review, I’ll be comparing the Empyrean’s against my home and office kit, looking to see the next step can be had without having to get a Hugo TT2 to drive them.


    Hardware

    Source setup

    MacBook Pro and Mac Mini, running latest OS X, content on local SSD, running Roon Core
    Bit perfect to Roon Bridge end point on a NUC7CJYH running a highly optimized and stripped down AudioLinux in RAM
    End point connected by TOSLINK and USB to a Chord Hugo mScaler, connected by dual BNC to Chord DAVE
    End point connected by USB to Hugo2 (no mScaler)


    DAC setup

    Chord Hugo2 ($2400)
    Chord DAVE ($10000)
    Chord Hugo mScaler ($5000)


    Headphone setup

    Meze Empyrean ($3000, loaner unit being reviewed), with stock cables and Cardas Clear cables
    Sennheiser HD800 (with SR mod) ($1400)
    MrSpeakers Aeon Flows headphones (closed) ($800)


    DAC settings
    Cross feed set to 2 for DAVE and Hugo2, unless recording is binaural (0 crossfeed)
    Neutral filter for Hugo2
    PCM+ mode, HF filter off for DAVE (per recommendation when using mScaler)
    All DACs volume matched using a SPL meter (at least to the best I could)


    Content

    For those that have read my reviews of the Chord DACs, this list will be familiar as my go to demo tracks:

    Murakkaz Ah Ya Muddasin, from “The Splendour of Al Andalus” by Calamus (MA Recordings, DSD64)
    Remarkable recording in what sounds to be a majestic and spiritual centuries old cathedral in Spain. With the right equipment, you are transported to a place you’ve never been to but always want to get back to. When the full group joins in, it is profoundly challenging to reproduce the mids and highs without sounding shrill and congested. When the reproduction is effortless, it is magical (to say the least…my jaw drops every time when it’s “right”) If the sound chain is able to maintain that glorious soundstage, it is off the charts. Todd Garfinkle is a magician behind the microphone.

    Noche Maravillosa, from “Salterio” by Begonia Olavide (MA Recordings, 16/44.1 FLAC)
    Another gem of a recording and performance from Todd. The precision and clarity of the instruments (particularly the percussive ones) is intoxicating and tangible.

    Rimsky-Korsakoff: Scheherazade, 1st movement conducted by Fritz Reiner (Analogue Productions Remaster, CD layer from SACD)
    The most perfect recording of the most perfect performance I’ve ever heard. Listening to this recording on a transparent system is a life changing experience: you are standing with Maestro Reiner in Chicago as his orchestra reaches for a performance for the ages. A cultural treasure, and worthy of building a world class system around.

    Handel: Messiah - Chorus. O thou tallest good tidings by Dunedin Consort (Linn, CD layer from SACD)
    Handel: Messiah - Hallelujah by Dunedin Consort (Linn, CD layer from SACD)

    A magnificent recording, reconstructing the original version of Handel’s Messiah, with a total of 12 singers. The normal complexity of the piece is captured in a way where you can hear each voice in the chorus, and how it comes together into a larger whole. An amazingly intimate performance when the reproduction chain can manage the complexity and dynamics and not have the soundstage become muddy and flat.

    Arnesen: Magnificat - Fecit potentiam by TrondheimSolistene (2l, 24/192 FLAC)
    This is such a lovely recording at any quality level, but goes from incredible to other worldly as the chain scales up. The orchestra, choir, and church should all have equal contribution to something far greater than the sum of its parts. When it all comes together, you can feel the three core elements feeding off each, creating a profound joy that is sweeps you into euphoria.

    Stardust, from “Duets” by Rob Wasserman (16/44.1 FLAC)
    Every track on this album is a gem, but this one is particular is a fantastic test of sound stage and imaging. At its best, you hear each backing voice precisely in space, but still presenting as a harmonious whole. In real life, detail and precision spatial placement isn’t hard and clinical, why should it be in reproduction?

    One World, from “Session 1” by Sareena Overwater (Blue Coast, DSD64)
    One World (Instrumental), from “Session 2” by Sareena Overwater (Blue Coast, DSD64)

    Real magic from Cookie. These tracks are wired directly to deeply held memories for me, and the stronger the reproduction chain, the stronger the emotion that they evoke. There are better examples of piano performance and better examples of vocals, but the emotional truth and power of this performance is unmatched.

    All I Want, from “After Blue” by Tierney Sutton (BFM Jazz, 16/44.1 FLAC)
    Tierney Sutton has a striking clear and present vocal style, and that is on full display on her “After Blue” album of Joni Mitchell standards. I continue to be amazed how ever better DACs extract ever more nuance and subtly of performance from top tier vocalists. It is a joy to hear the depth of craft and art of vocal performance on tracks like this.

    L’Amor, from “Bella Terra” by Arianno Savall (Alia Vox, 16/44.1 FLAC)
    If “Rosa fresca” makes you fall in love with Arianna Savall singing about love, you’ll want to seek out her “Bella Terra” album. An accomplished harpist and vocalist, Savall is at her best when she brings both together: voice and instrument are one, and evoke marvelous sound and emotional resonances in each other.

    Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, from “Open Your Ears” by The Persuasians (Chesky, Binaural 24/96 FLAC)
    One last gem from Chesky. There is a profound difference to listening to a recording of a group of people sing, and being with a group of people that are singing. This is another recording that (at least for me), when you cross some magical threshold of transparency, the people become real.


    Physical Impressions

    The unit came well packed in a brief case that would make Tony Stark proud (see unpacking photos below). Physically, it feels quite robust and solid, without feeling bulky or imbalanced. The suspension headband sits very nicely and comfortably on my head (I’m spoiled with this style headband from my Aeon Flow, big fan). It is definitely heavier than I’m used to, but felt very secure and stable on my head, with weight very nicely distributed.

    Reading about the design of the hybrid driver certainly sparked my interest in how it actually sounds, but before that, first some words about the build quality. The leather pads are extremely comfortable, and the precision machined aluminum enclosure is incredibly attractive. This is one of the best built pieces of audio gear I’ve ever seen. The materials and precision machined parts are truly world class, and well beyond what one experiences, even with ToTL cans (*cough* HiFiman *cough*). The aesthetic choices are not precisely my cut of tea (Romanian steampunk chic?), but enormous respect and appreciation to the Meze team for the care and precision craftsmanship they invested in these headphones.


    Listening Impressions: Paired with Chord Hugo mScaler + DAVE

    Both the Hugo2 and DAVE have absolutely no issue driving the Empyrean’s direct. I appreciate the high sensitivity, and not having to have a headphone amp in the chain.

    One of the nice features of the Hugo mScaler is the ability to turn off its upsampling, and gradually add it back in until you get to the full 16fs resolution. This is a very good test of how headphones scale with quality of input source (a surprising number of headphones top out VERY early in the scaling ladder). With the Empyrean’s, SQ scaled very nicely and evenly as I took Redbook sources from 44kHz to 705kHz, much better than I’m used to hearing with most headphones. You will definitely be rewarded by feeding the Empyrean’s higher quality digital sources.

    I first did a cursory comparison with the Closed Aeons, just to get a baseline. Yeah, this is apples and oranges, but the closed Aeons are particularly strong with low distortion and good detail. In comparing the two with my usual test tracks I found the Empyrean’s more open than the closed Aeon’s (no surprise), with a very strong presence, good depth, and more detail. I would not swap out the closed Aeon’s in an office environment (leakage is still high with the Empyrean’s), but the Empyrean’s held their own for cleanness and low distortion.

    Shifting to comparing against the HD-800’s (with the SR mod), the Empyrean’s had better mid range details and dynamics than the 800’s, but the soundstage was flatter, narrower, and lower resolution.

    The quality of the bass of the Empyrean’s was surprisingly good (perhaps the best I’ve ever heard in a pair of cans). Full and present and musical, without any hint of boominess or loss of control. The 800’s didn’t stand a chance here. It is not often I hear headphones that have a low end that has the combination of presence and musicality that I’m used to in my 2 channel setup, but the Empyrean’s are the real deal, and have raised the bar for what is reasonable to expect from a pair of headphones.

    Shifting up the tonal ladder, the harp strings on Arianna Savall’s “L’Amor” were quite lovely, with each string pluck well articulated and nuanced, and the resonances between the strings well placed in space across the intimate soundstage. It felt like I was sitting in front of a harp being played by a world class musician.

    Unfortunately, in this and all my other test tracks, I heard some roll off or muffling in the high’s? The sparkle and high end energy I’m used to wasn’t quite there. I kept reaching for the volume to turn it up a bit to fill in the top end some more. It isn’t clear to me that this is a tonal balance issue (the Empyrean’s have a lovely neutral tonal signature), but could be a speed/resolution issue in the high end? I would need to do some extended critical listening to suss out what is going on.

    That being said, the strength in the mids and the bass make vocals particularly strong and present. The incredibly musical bass and mids really brings near mic’ed instruments into the room, and even reproduces the recording space.

    Alas, sound stage (while strong) still falls short of the HD-800’s. The breadth, height, depth and detail just don’t quite reach that level. For now, the HD-800 is still the King of the Soundstage in my setup.

    Todd was kind enough to also include a set of Cardas Clear headphone cables with the demo ($600 for the 5 ft length and $720 for 10 ft). Compared to the stock cable, switching to Cardas Clears profoundly changed the game for the better! The high end presence I was pining for was back, and the soundstage much improved, without giving up anything on the lovely mids and incredible bass. My 800’s still eek out a win on soundstage, but the Cardqs cables significantly narrow the gap.


    Summary

    In my huge headphone shoot out review (https://www.head-fi.org/threads/adv...-head-first-into-the-head-fi-deep-end.824351/) I commented on how what I call the 3 M’s (precision small scale manufacturing, materials innovation, and computer modeling) were completely turning the headphone world upside now. Meze is riding that way to the next level with the Empyrean’s.

    The Empyrean’s have the most impressive build quality I’ve ever experienced with headphones, and bring a listening experience that was obviously very carefully engineered and tuned, taking maximum advantage of advanced materials and a highly innovative hybrid driver design. They are a strong performer end to end, with some of the finest musical bass and mids I’ve heard in a pair of headphones. They scale beautifully with quality of source, so you have confidence that it isn’t your headphones that are holding you back from the best listening experience in your setup. If you invest in a pair, I definitely recommend auditioning aftermarket cables (the Cardas Clear’s were very nice).

    So will the Empyrean’s displace my HD800’s for late night home listening? I'm sorely tempted, but I don't think I can get past my addiction to the other worldly imaging and soundstage that the HD800’s bring to the table. The 800’s are some of the best and most frustrating headphones I’ve ever heard: tonal issues (some egregious), weak low end, and not even sitting cleanly on my head. The Empyrean’s have none of these issues, and blow the 800’s away in these and nearly all categories. However, I am a soundstage and presence junkie, and the 800’s are still king for me.

    For $3000, I would put the Empyrean’s at the top of what I think of as the value ToTL category. While expensive, the value is off the charts vs some other ToTL cans out there. If they are in your budget range, you should absolutely give them a listen before making a final decision. For now, I’m going to spend some quality listening time with the Empyrean’s for the rest of the week (before forwarding to the next person in the list) and see how I respond to extended listening (I’ll post updates here if I have any)



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    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019
    snk8699, wormsdriver, gwompki and 9 others like this.
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