Meze EMPYREAN - the First Isodynamic Hybrid Array Headphone
Dec 5, 2018 at 2:31 PM Post #1,651 of 11,742

Pharmaboy

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Hi, yes, the customer has all the right to ask for a replacement if there is a white dot, and we will replace.

But it is more complicated that that.

Usually milled aluminium is polished and sandblasted.
CNC milling means that a drill carves out the entire shape thus leaving behind a trail. Polishing evens out this trails(marks) left behind by the drill head. The sandblasting creates an even grainy surface (such as mac laptops). Final effect is a smooth textured surface.
The anodizing means basically oxidizing the surface. Anodizing is not adding an extra layer but corroding the top surface of aluminium thus creating a barrier. In this process you can add pigment which enters this corrosion crevasses.

But we didn't do this. Because (to the dismay of my team) I usually choose the hard way in order to create something unique:
What we did was to work like crazy until we go an nice even milling tool path effect and then directly anodize it. This means that there is not polishing or sandblasting to cover up any imperfection caused by milling. This process causes causes a lot of extra cost and headache due to the very high scrap rate.

Bellow a closeup of this type of milling texture on a prototype I am working on for a new IEM. This texture is made with ball head milling head. This picture is from early 2018 and i still didn;t release this model with this texture just because we still weren't able to stabilize this texture in mass production. (We will release it first without texture and keep working on this texture for future releases). We are fanatic about making something special. Not choosing the easy path. We could have simply made a casting tooling like everyone else and cast all the Empyrean aluminium parts and then paint them and you would have a frame with same surface effect like all other aluminium headphones frames.


As you can see in the image above the surface consists of "hills and valleys". It is very difficult to create an even anodizing color effect across the entire surface when your surface is textured like this.

White dot means the anodizing didn't fully take effect on on of those countless surfaces.


Bellow is closeup of Empyrean texture which I am super happy to have achieved after great difficulties.

It's necessary to understand that this frames as a sort of craftsman's work that is not at all like serialized mass production. It's like a carving with a CNC machine. Even if there is a programming in the machine, the outcome will not be always identical at microscopic level and the the anodizing will just reveal that. And due to the extremely high detail and the countless facets created by the mill on the surface of the aluminium it is very very hard to achieve 100% even coverage.


This post--and this technical information it conveys--are amazing. That closeup of the Empyrean shows detail I didn't even see IRL.
 
Dec 5, 2018 at 3:49 PM Post #1,652 of 11,742

Rowethren

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Dec 5, 2018 at 9:42 PM Post #1,653 of 11,742
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Still need to figure out how to publish reviews on Head-Fi, but I just published it on Medium: https://medium.com/@koenromers/fight-for-the-throne-audeze-lcd-4-meze-empyrean-165c1740b027

@koenoe nobody will believe you that this is your first review. Very well structured and expressed. But even more striking are the photos. Could be the best user made photos so far of the Empyrean.


Okay, is anyone gonna answer this for me or not? Did the carbon/finish change on the prototype to the finished version?

Yes, we did change something on the carbon fiber headband. Early prototypes where gloss (shinny) finish surface but we finally went with a satin finish look as it's more discreet. The headphone already has a lot of texture and patterns going on in grill.

The frame has that textured look up close? Looks awesome.

Yup.
 
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Dec 5, 2018 at 11:17 PM Post #1,654 of 11,742

Hifiearspeakers

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@koenoe nobody will believe you that this is your first review. Very well structured and expressed. But even more striking are the photos. Could be the best user made photos so far of the Empyrean.

I would love to offer my review as well...except the Empyrean hasn’t reached the USA yet. Do you know when US dealers will have them in stock?
 
Dec 6, 2018 at 2:53 AM Post #1,655 of 11,742

koenoe

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@koenoe nobody will believe you that this is your first review. Very well structured and expressed. But even more striking are the photos. Could be the best user made photos so far of the Empyrean..
Thank you very much! You're more than welcome to use the pictures if you want to :)
 
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Dec 6, 2018 at 3:13 AM Post #1,656 of 11,742

Rowethren

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Dec 6, 2018 at 3:15 AM Post #1,657 of 11,742

PhilW

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Dec 6, 2018 at 3:38 AM Post #1,658 of 11,742

paul2qute

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Get my hugo TT 2 and M scaler tomorrow, nintronics haven't mentioned Meze audio Empyrean headphones.
Would be nice if they all came together.
In an ideal world all orders that customers have ordered should be met first, here in the UK hi-fi shops have bought them and still advertising they are in stock yet I'm still waiting for mine but I suppose that my fault for part ex all my gear which ties me to one shop
 
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Dec 6, 2018 at 4:28 AM Post #1,659 of 11,742

PhilW

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Get my hugo TT 2 and M scaler tomorrow, nintronics haven't mentioned Meze audio Empyrean headphones.
Would be nice if they all came together.
In an ideal world all orders that customers have ordered should be met first, here in the UK hi-fi shops have bought them and still advertising they are in stock yet I'm still waiting for mine but I suppose that my fault for part ex all my gear which ties me to one shop

I hope you get them soon
 
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Dec 6, 2018 at 5:56 AM Post #1,661 of 11,742

Nomax

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....after many many hours with this great headphone......i prefer the alcantara Ear pads

NOMAX
 
Dec 6, 2018 at 6:35 AM Post #1,662 of 11,742

TheAttorney

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Still need to figure out how to publish reviews on Head-Fi, but I just published it on Medium: https://medium.com/@koenromers/fight-for-the-throne-audeze-lcd-4-meze-empyrean-165c1740b027

I agree with the others that this is a well written review, and the photos are great.

But I take issue with one point: You quite heavily marked down the Empyrean's build quality because of the marks on the CNC finish. And I agree with you that a unique finish and difficulty of manufacture are not much comfort to the customer if the end result is a visible blemish - it should have been rejected by QC. But perspective time: You also mentioned that you twice had driver failures on previous Audeze headphones. Whilst you haven't yet had an issue with your LCD-4, plenty of others have according to forum posts - at least in the early days (I haven't followed those threads for quite a while). To me that is a whole order of magnitude of "build quality" issue. So it's just as well that that Audeze provide great customer service - they actually have no other option if they are to survive.

So it's your perspective and emphasis on these build issues that I had a problem with, not the issues themselves. Still overall a great review though :)
 
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Dec 6, 2018 at 7:00 AM Post #1,663 of 11,742

koenoe

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I agree with the others that this is a well written review, and the photos are great.

But I take issue with one point: You quite heavily marked down the Empyrean's build quality because of the marks on the CNC finish. And I agree with you that a unique finish and difficulty of manufacture are not much comfort to the customer if the end result is a visible blemish - it should have been rejected by QC. But pesrspective time: You also mentioned that you twice had driver failures on previous Audeze headphones. Whilst you haven't yet had an issue with your LCD-4, plenty of others have according to forum posts - at least in the early days (I haven't followed those threads for quite a while). To me that is a whole order of magnitude of "build quality" issue. So it's just as well that that Audeze provide great customer service - they actually have no other option if they are to survive.

So it's your perspective and emphasis on these build issues that I had a problem with, not the issues themselves. Still overall a great review though :)

Thank you for your feedback. Might be worth mentioning that my LCD-4 started to have driver issues (bass distortion on the left driver) after I tried to replace the ear pads myself. The XC driver issues were the (in)famous crackling sounds of the diaphragm. I don't emphasise the lack of QC for that, because the drivers were working fine (for more than 2 years) for the first owners after they purchased the headphones. I do blame QC when brand new headphones are shipped with visible marks, but I wouldn't have emphasised it when these marks would appear after 2 years for example.

I see what you're saying though and I'll try to explain it better in the review.

Edit: maybe where I say `(but I won’t go into details about that in this review.)` I actually should go into details
 
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Dec 6, 2018 at 8:38 AM Post #1,664 of 11,742

TheAttorney

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I see what you're saying though and I'll try to explain it better in the review.
Edit: maybe where I say `(but I won’t go into details about that in this review.)` I actually should go into details

Firstly, it's a good thing that you immediately raised the issue in this thread - because your inconvencience and dissapointment will hopefully result in future owners getting a more carefully QC'd product.

Secondly, I realise I was too freely interchanging "build quality" with "QC" - they may be related, but are not the same thing.

Thirdly, I think the Audeze drivers issues have been so recurring that they may not be either Build Quality or QC related - instead its looks more like a Design issue that results in greater probability of future failure no matter how hard they try with Build Quality and QC.

Finally, I felt that your emphasis was wrong in the review (but right in this thread) because formally published reviews will still be read in months and years time - long after the manufacturer has sorted out any teething issues from their first batch. I personally avoid buying the first batch of any brand new product because there usually will be some teething problems somewhere. I don't know the best way of handling that in a review, but I've seen professional mainstream reviewers handle it by a footnote: Their main review assumes that the product that the reader will receive will be faultless, but they add a footnote at the end to say something like "Note that my review sample was pre-production/ex-dem/first batch/whatever and had issues X and Y. I've informed the manufacturer and their response was...."

I know yours was not pre-prod or ex-dem or a review sample, but hopefully you get the general idea.
 
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Dec 6, 2018 at 8:47 AM Post #1,665 of 11,742

koenoe

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Thirdly, I think the Audeze drivers issues have been so recurring that they may not be either Build Quality or QC related - instead its looks more like a Design issue that results in greater probability of future failure no matter how hard they try with Build Quality and QC.
I agree, at one point in the review I also call it a design flaw. Because I think that's what it is.

Finally, I felt that your emphasis was wrong in the review (but right in this thread) because formally published reviews will still be read in months and years time - long after the manufacturer has sorted out any teething issues from their first batch. I personally avoid buying the first batch of any brand new product because there usually will be some teething problems somewhere. I don't know the best way of handling that in a review, but I've seen professional mainstream reviewers handle it by a footnote: Their main review assumes that the product that the reader will receive will be perfect, but they add a footnote at the end to say something like "Note that my review sample was pre-production/ex-dem/first batch/whatever and had issues X and Y. I've informed the manufacturer and their response was...."
Again I agree. I've got an idea already how I can do this in my review. Will edit it tonight. :)
Thank you for this good feedback, I appreciate that a lot.
 

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