Meze EMPYREAN - the First Isodynamic Hybrid Array Headphone
Dec 15, 2018 at 9:41 AM Post #1,817 of 11,890

ciukas

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Obvious a simple mistake. The answer is revealed later on.

Not a mistake, I think @xxx1313 is spot on. I wrote similar impressions on the bass output with the alcantara and leather pads. I find the alcantara pads to have greater bass heft and bloom in the 20-50hz region whereas the leather pads tend to emphasize the upper bass w significantly better 'punch'. So depending on the type of music you're listening to, you can come away with the impression that one type of pad has greater bass than the other. For instance, techno music or scenes with explosions will have more rumble down low with the alcantara pads, and certain types of rock music will sound more bassy and more punchy with the leather pads.

I also partially agree with xxx1313's assessment that the tonality of the bass is better with the alcantara pads, but only in the 20-50hz region because I find the tonality of the upper bass, lower midrange more seductive with the leather pads when the music calls for it.

As I've previously stated, on balance, I prefer the leather pads. Even with electronic music, producers often like to throw in beautiful bass beats in the 100-200hz that are all too often veiled and slightly lacking in speed and punch when using the alcantara pads. So I find it worth it to trade off some subbass with the leather pads for better upper bass and that magical midrange that the Empyrean so obviously excels in. However, soundstage and vocal positioning is better w the alcantara pads, and it is not a subtle difference... though the presentation of the Empyrean is holographic and so convincing with the leather pads that it would be a non issue for most people.

I found that another way to significantly increase the soundstage of the Empyrean with leather pads is to use a quality silver cable. I was pleasantly surprised at how much change I was hearing because I remember being disappointed with how little of a difference the EA Lionheart cable brought to the LCDi4. I bought the Lionheart primarily for ergonomic reasons then, so I wasn't too fussed about it but I became somewhat of a cable skeptic then. Now, there is no doubt the silver cable I'm using presents much more micro details, and a truly cavernous soundstage (even larger than the one with alcantara pads w standard cables). The issue I have with it is that the increased transparency came at the cost of warmth and body in the bass and midrange. Vocals were more 'breathy', more 'polite', bass lacking bloom, and worst of all, for some reason the trebles were presented in a much more forward manner. So reduced warmth in combination with more forward and brighter trebles meant that music sounded less natural, and more analytical. I always welcome more details and a wider soundstage, but the presentation and timing of these details are just as crucial a factor imo. For me, the Empyrean is all about its refined sound presentation, it is superbly balanced - and thus far I think second to none. It's still early, and I'm still doing comparisons with other TOTL headphones, but I feel this an area where the Empyrean really shines. The positioning and the partitioning of the frequency ranges is impeccable with the standard cables.. near perfect.

I went back to using the standard copper cables, they're a better match. Yet another stinging reminder that it is truly about system synergy, and not about what's the 'best' or the most expensive solution out there. Nonetheless, the silver cables truly opened my eyes in that there is still so much room for improvement with the Empyrean. I can see my silver cables working much better w Audeze headphones, so I will keep them for future cans. I will order the upgrade Furukawa copper cables 6.3mm whenever available, and report back on differences, if any.

Edit: Should’ve read their posts properly before going off tangent. Apologies to @jmills8 and @Boogie7910
 
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Dec 15, 2018 at 10:16 AM Post #1,819 of 11,890

tunes

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I’m definitely eager to hear how they compare to the LCD4 and Ether 2.
I am waiting patiently for someone to compare the DAVE (+) (-) HUGO Mscaler directly driving the Empyrean to the Hifiman HE 1000V2 and HE 1000se, build quality aside? And finally to the Abyss and Stax 009 (with Carbon)?

Yes the Hifiman HE1000 really changes for the better with high quality silver wire cables. I participated in the Hifiman upgrade program and so far really like the increase in dynamics of the more efficient HE1000se but not sure if the sound stage is just as deep as with the HEKV2, but don’t have the HEKV2 anymore to do a side by side comparison.

I am about to sell my Focal Utopias since I always seemed to prefer the more holographic sound stage of the HEK V2 in direct comparison driven by DAVE, and want to have one other alternative to the the HEK1000se. I am also waiting to see if the Hugo Mscaler that I preordered will expand the sound stage of the HEK1000se and or Utopias before moving on to the next acquisition. I am most interested in hearing how the overall three dimensionality of the sound stage and micro detail differs between the Hifiman HE1000se, Empyrean, and Abyss driven by the DAVE with and without Hugo Mscaler and then a final comparison to the STAX 009 driven by KGSSHV Carbon or HeadAmp Blue Hawaii amps. I know this is a bit much to ask as there are only a small number of headphone addicts who have the money, time and interest to acquire such an Arsenal but you just can’t get a real world assessment at even the well attended headphone JamCam events with different electronics, cables and the most problematic issue, ambient noise poisoning the experience with open back headphones. Sorry for the long post.
 
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Dec 15, 2018 at 5:41 PM Post #1,821 of 11,890

saudio7

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Empyrean are much easer to drive, so it is better to listen to them directly from Dave, with HE1000 you can get some improvements with external amplifiers like 933.
HE1000 are brighter headphones, they lack flesh when compered to Meze.
 
Dec 16, 2018 at 9:38 AM Post #1,825 of 11,890

xxx1313

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Sorry, I meant this (and corrected it in the post above):
After more listening with the Empyrean, it is clear to me that the leather pads have considerably more upper bass than the velour pads.
 
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Dec 16, 2018 at 10:17 AM Post #1,826 of 11,890

franz12

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Unfortunately, my local audio shop didn't carry lcd4 and utopia.

Instead, it carried LCD4Z, D8000, along with Empyrean. I spent about 2 hours (fairly short IMO) to figure out their differences.
In the local audio shop, velour pads were default, so I didn't have a chance to try leather pads. As Jude prefers velour pads to leather pads, I assumed that velour pads were as good.

The bottom line is that I probably agree with you: LCD4Z plays at a higher level than Empyrean in the end to my ears.

LCD4Z and Ether 2 are tonally quite similar. But when I was switching back and forth empyrean with ether 2, tonal differences between Empyrean and Ether 2 were quite noticeable.
(I stopped listening d8000 after I noticed that piano solos in one of Diana Krall's song sound quite recessed. (sounded like just background music, not prominent as solos)).

Also, there are a few thing quite noticeable.

1. Empyrean had an immediate wow factor with a V-shaped FR (rich mid-bass in lower frequencies with fairly bright treble)

2. Vocals on Empyrean were recessed. (Song: Hello by Adele) Empyrean did create a sense of soundstage, but in a way by pushing vocals further away.

3. Female vocals like Adele or Diana Krall sounded quite smooth. But at the same time, Empyrean seemed to lose some inner details/resolution compared to Ether 2.

4. There was some unevenness in upper mid/lower treble. In that regard, I don't think it sounded as much clean as ether 2 or lcd4z.

5. Empyrean sounded a bit darker than Ether 2, though I already consider Ether 2 as neutral/warm. To my ears, somewhere in mids in Empyrean was too much dampened.

Overall, Empyrean sounded pretty good with rich mid-bass and smooth vocals. I agree that Empyrean is quite enjoyable, and I can see that a lot of people certainly love it.
However, in terms of pure sound quality/transparency/balance, I think that Empyrean is still a level below than LCD4z and Ether 2. Personally, I don't see myself paying 3k to this headphone, as lcd4z is a better option for what Empyrean can deliver, IMO. Indeed, I ended up spending more time with lcd4z as it turns out to be better than I initially thought.
 
Dec 16, 2018 at 10:55 AM Post #1,827 of 11,890

jmills8

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Unfortunately, my local audio shop didn't carry lcd4 and utopia.

Instead, it carried LCD4Z, D8000, along with Empyrean. I spent about 2 hours (fairly short IMO) to figure out their differences.
In the local audio shop, velour pads were default, so I didn't have a chance to try leather pads. As Jude prefers velour pads to leather pads, I assumed that velour pads were as good.

The bottom line is that I probably agree with you: LCD4Z plays at a higher level than Empyrean in the end to my ears.

LCD4Z and Ether 2 are tonally quite similar. But when I was switching back and forth empyrean with ether 2, tonal differences between Empyrean and Ether 2 were quite noticeable.
(I stopped listening d8000 after I noticed that piano solos in one of Diana Krall's song sound quite recessed. (sounded like just background music, not prominent as solos)).

Also, there are a few thing quite noticeable.

1. Empyrean had an immediate wow factor with a V-shaped FR (rich mid-bass in lower frequencies with fairly bright treble)

2. Vocals on Empyrean were recessed. (Song: Hello by Adele) Empyrean did create a sense of soundstage, but in a way by pushing vocals further away.

3. Female vocals like Adele or Diana Krall sounded quite smooth. But at the same time, Empyrean seemed to lose some inner details/resolution compared to Ether 2.

4. There was some unevenness in upper mid/lower treble. In that regard, I don't think it sounded as much clean as ether 2 or lcd4z.

5. Empyrean sounded a bit darker than Ether 2, though I already consider Ether 2 as neutral/warm. To my ears, somewhere in mids in Empyrean was too much dampened.

Overall, Empyrean sounded pretty good with rich mid-bass and smooth vocals. I agree that Empyrean is quite enjoyable, and I can see that a lot of people certainly love it.
However, in terms of pure sound quality/transparency/balance, I think that Empyrean is still a level below than LCD4z and Ether 2. Personally, I don't see myself paying 3k to this headphone, as lcd4z is a better option for what Empyrean can deliver, IMO. Indeed, I ended up spending more time with lcd4z as it turns out to be better than I initially thought.
Thanks for your experiences. I hope to demo it myself cause Adele or Diana Krall are my top two disliked singers.
 
Dec 16, 2018 at 11:05 AM Post #1,828 of 11,890

xxx1313

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Unfortunately, my local audio shop didn't carry lcd4 and utopia.

Instead, it carried LCD4Z, D8000, along with Empyrean. I spent about 2 hours (fairly short IMO) to figure out their differences.
In the local audio shop, velour pads were default, so I didn't have a chance to try leather pads. As Jude prefers velour pads to leather pads, I assumed that velour pads were as good.

The bottom line is that I probably agree with you: LCD4Z plays at a higher level than Empyrean in the end to my ears.

LCD4Z and Ether 2 are tonally quite similar. But when I was switching back and forth empyrean with ether 2, tonal differences between Empyrean and Ether 2 were quite noticeable.
(I stopped listening d8000 after I noticed that piano solos in one of Diana Krall's song sound quite recessed. (sounded like just background music, not prominent as solos)).

Also, there are a few thing quite noticeable.

1. Empyrean had an immediate wow factor with a V-shaped FR (rich mid-bass in lower frequencies with fairly bright treble)

2. Vocals on Empyrean were recessed. (Song: Hello by Adele) Empyrean did create a sense of soundstage, but in a way by pushing vocals further away.

3. Female vocals like Adele or Diana Krall sounded quite smooth. But at the same time, Empyrean seemed to lose some inner details/resolution compared to Ether 2.

4. There was some unevenness in upper mid/lower treble. In that regard, I don't think it sounded as much clean as ether 2 or lcd4z.

5. Empyrean sounded a bit darker than Ether 2, though I already consider Ether 2 as neutral/warm. To my ears, somewhere in mids in Empyrean was too much dampened.

Overall, Empyrean sounded pretty good with rich mid-bass and smooth vocals. I agree that Empyrean is quite enjoyable, and I can see that a lot of people certainly love it.
However, in terms of pure sound quality/transparency/balance, I think that Empyrean is still a level below than LCD4z and Ether 2. Personally, I don't see myself paying 3k to this headphone, as lcd4z is a better option for what Empyrean can deliver, IMO. Indeed, I ended up spending more time with lcd4z as it turns out to be better than I initially thought.

Thanks for your impressions. Which DAC/headamp did you use?

I disagree with you on that LCD-4Z plays at a higher level than the Empyrean. I agree though, that the tonality of the Empyrean with velour pads differs from the LCD-4Z. If you find vocals on Empyrean recessed, try the leather pads. Moreover, there is absolutely no brightness in the treble with the leather pads.
 
Dec 16, 2018 at 5:28 PM Post #1,829 of 11,890

PeteSTRADAMUS

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Unfortunately, my local audio shop didn't carry lcd4 and utopia.

Instead, it carried LCD4Z, D8000, along with Empyrean. I spent about 2 hours (fairly short IMO) to figure out their differences.
In the local audio shop, velour pads were default, so I didn't have a chance to try leather pads. As Jude prefers velour pads to leather pads, I assumed that velour pads were as good.

The bottom line is that I probably agree with you: LCD4Z plays at a higher level than Empyrean in the end to my ears.

LCD4Z and Ether 2 are tonally quite similar. But when I was switching back and forth empyrean with ether 2, tonal differences between Empyrean and Ether 2 were quite noticeable.
(I stopped listening d8000 after I noticed that piano solos in one of Diana Krall's song sound quite recessed. (sounded like just background music, not prominent as solos)).

Also, there are a few thing quite noticeable.

1. Empyrean had an immediate wow factor with a V-shaped FR (rich mid-bass in lower frequencies with fairly bright treble)

2. Vocals on Empyrean were recessed. (Song: Hello by Adele) Empyrean did create a sense of soundstage, but in a way by pushing vocals further away.

3. Female vocals like Adele or Diana Krall sounded quite smooth. But at the same time, Empyrean seemed to lose some inner details/resolution compared to Ether 2.

4. There was some unevenness in upper mid/lower treble. In that regard, I don't think it sounded as much clean as ether 2 or lcd4z.

5. Empyrean sounded a bit darker than Ether 2, though I already consider Ether 2 as neutral/warm. To my ears, somewhere in mids in Empyrean was too much dampened.

Overall, Empyrean sounded pretty good with rich mid-bass and smooth vocals. I agree that Empyrean is quite enjoyable, and I can see that a lot of people certainly love it.
However, in terms of pure sound quality/transparency/balance, I think that Empyrean is still a level below than LCD4z and Ether 2. Personally, I don't see myself paying 3k to this headphone, as lcd4z is a better option for what Empyrean can deliver, IMO. Indeed, I ended up spending more time with lcd4z as it turns out to be better than I initially thought.
I haven't heard the Empyrean yet, but i had the 4Z for about 1 week and couldn't wait to get my Utopia back. I wasn't a fan.
 
Dec 16, 2018 at 9:55 PM Post #1,830 of 11,890

jinxy245

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I haven't heard the Empyrean yet, but i had the 4Z for about 1 week and couldn't wait to get my Utopia back. I wasn't a fan.
If you don't mind my asking, what didn't you like? Not engaging...too much/too little of a certain frequency? Either way, after hearing Empyrean, I'm honestly not sure how much higher you can go....looking forward to your impressions.
 

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