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Meze EMPYREAN - the First Isodynamic Hybrid Array Headphone

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by MezeTeam, Feb 9, 2018.
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  1. ls13coco
    Not sure of any science behind it, but I've been using a XLR to 1/4 adapter for some time with my Flows and 2c before my amps with balanced outputs arrived, been great. I still use the adapters when I use the Burson Fun and I see no problem.
     
    tradyblix likes this.
  2. JLoud
    I have a nice adapter by Norne. I can’t hear any difference with my Abyss Tc. I agree, by nice cable and adapter as opposed to two cables.
     
    tradyblix likes this.
  3. betula
    Upgrading from 2Qute to Qutest was one of my best purchases in the past. I haven't tried Hugo1, but Hugo2 is said to be a great combo with the Empy. Secondhand Hugo2s can be found around £1200. I would definitely go for Hugo2 even if that means a little waiting/saving time.
     
  4. betula
    Brief sum up of my journey to the Empyrean:

    For many years I was a typical audiophile on a budget, playing in the sub £1000 region including amp and headphone. This was a good time for learning about sound signatures, pairings and the basics. (HD600/650, THX00, M100, Fidelio X2, Nighthawk, Nightowl, Schiit Vali, iFi Micro BL, Mojo the ones that immediately pop up in my memory.) Mojo with Nighthawk was a great pairing. For about £600 I still think it is a killer combo although I sold off my third Nighthawk a couple of years ago and I haven't heard the NH since then. :)

    Next chapter was reaching above £1000. Another educational period. I had learnt that £1000+ headphones have an even more specified tuning. Blind buys are not advised anymore, as personal taste matters even more. Also, objective performance doesn't necessarily reflect the asking price. In my experience secondhand market tends to put the pricing right.
    Headphones that pop up from this period: Clear, Elear, LCD2, LCD2C, LCD3, HEXV2, Aeolus, Atticus.

    My DACs and amps were evolving simultaneously. CMA600i, 2Qute, Qutest, Taurus MKII. I have realised DAC is as important as the amp. An amp can only amplify the technicalities given by the DAC.

    I have tried and owned many other headphones and gear during the years. I just mentioned the most memorable ones. (Other flagships I tried: HD800s, Verite, LCD4, Utopia.)

    Back to the Empyrean:

    I sort of auditioned the Empyrean by accident. I wasn't planning to do so, just happened. I was originally going for the Aeolus which didn't really impress me, so started to try anything I was interested in. Thank you again Audio Sanctuary.

    IMG_20180519_142338579.jpg

    IMG_20190406_111424654.jpg

    The Empyrean immediately impressed me. Stood out with its immaculate sound presentation. I just couldn't find a fault with the sound out of TT2 + MScaler. By this time I knew that headphones can impress at first but living with them is a different thing. Before this audition I bought and sold the Clear for this very reason.

    I left the shop without the intention of buying the Empyrean for the high price but the sonic experience left a big impact in my mind. The bug was tickling my brain. The first time ever I thought I heard the best sound. The best sound for my taste and needs. Better bass than the LCD2/2C (which IMO beats any bass under £1800), clarity of the Clear without being aggressive/harsh, LCD shadow from the upper registers was gone. Friendly, inviting, engaging sound with all the technicalities I could ever ask for in a tasty, 3 dimensional, silky smooth but airy and clear soundstage.

    I have been a happy Empyrean owner for over two months now and I still feel the exact same way. These headphones give me the bass extension and clarity I need, they offer a spacious 3D sound, lifelike and well-separated, well-staged mids/vocals, clear and airy treble without being too dark or too bright. For me this is headphone perfection I have never experienced before. Not with the HD800s, not with the Verite, not with HEKV2, not with Utopia.

    Amp/DAC-wise:

    At the time of the purchase my home system was the Qutest with Taurus MKII. I was still thoroughly impressed with the Empyrean out of it, but from memory I was missing some clarity compared to TT2/MScaler. Also, mid-bass seemed to be slightly more emphasised.
    I thought there is no escape, I must find a way to get the TT2 sooner than I planned. I did find a way and I have no regrets. (MScaler must wait though.)

    The TT2 lifts the Empyrean to the next level: just as I remembered.
    Like some reviews and comments say, the Empy can sound a bit too velvety from lesser gear/amps and the mid-bass can feel just a touch more emphasised sometimes than perhaps necessary.
    Not with the TT2.
    Chord's mid-level DAC/amp adds extreme resolution to the picture without any effort. It just feels so effortless and natural. A clean, clear and airy picture. Even the slightest 'veil' have been lifted, there is just clarity everywhere and balance. Glorious balance and coherency. From the deepest lows to the highest treble. Mid-bass emphasis? Forget it. Mid-bass is as clear as anything else in the picture. It is just a healthy contour to the bass that doesn't feel like an emphasis. It is all natural. Still puts a big smile on the face of the bass-loving audiophile but not on the extent of clarity or balance. Classical music? You got the bass finesse. EDM? Still shakes your brain. One of the many wonders of the Empyrean. (Especially when paired with something like the TT2.)

    Sure, the TT2 is pricey. Relatively. But how much perfection is worth for you? :)

    IMG_20190728_141226047.jpg

    I have found my perfect system and it is staying for a few years for sure. If I count the number of listening hours for the price I have and I will put into this system, it is a pretty good deal actually. Definitely cheaper than a ticket to the cinema. (Who goes to cinema these days anyway?)

    Anything beyond this price point is out of reach for me for now. I am still interested in the Abyss TC or Susvara but they cost twice as much as the Empyrean. To be honest I have lost interest in any other headphone atm.
    The TT2 is also the upper limit of my amp/DAC budget for now. And it sounds better than any combo I have ever heard.

    Owning a system like this actually reduces your head-fi time as you loose interest in 80% of the threads/conversations. You rather just listen to music instead. :)
    Except when I feel to share a post like this after a modest glass of wine.

    Anyway, I hope some of you have enjoyed some of my words. Sharing joy is multiplying your joy. Head-Fi is probably the biggest meeting point for audio enthusiasts around the globe. Most people around us don't really understand our obsession with audio quality. Here most folks do. That's why I thought I risk another lengthy post. Hope it is ok with you all.
    Enjoy your weekend with one of the best headphones of the world in 2019!

    IMG_20190728_141326571_1.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
  5. CaptainFantastic
    Thank you for your detailed post. I am sure I speak for many when I saw that the effort to give such a detailed account is appreciated. Very insightful and informative.
     
    betula likes this.
  6. Roasty
    That's a nice post and thank you for sharing. I am also very much enjoying my empy with a dac3b/hpa4 combo.

    I was very curious about the Hugo tt2/m scaler combo too, but for some reason decided to go the benchmark route.

    Curious, would u be considering adding on to your setup in the future with a dedicated amp and the tt2 solely for dac duties?
     
    betula likes this.
  7. betula
    Your system looks pretty too. I would love to hear the HPA4 one day. Would be great to compare the two setups.

    I tried the TT2 (as a DAC only) with the Taurus MKII and even though the Taurus is a great, powerful, neutral amp it didn't add anything to the picture, only some coloration. TT2 alone is more than enough to drive any headphone. IMO for headphone listening it is unnecessary to add an external amp to TT2, it only brings coloration which in fact is distortion.

    Adding an external amp to the TT2 is far from my taste, but if someone is into over-saturated pictures or over-sweetened coffee, they might prefer it.
    I haven't tried the TT2 with speakers yet, but I am sure with efficient speakers my opinion would be the same.
    I would only add external amp to the TT2 with hard(er) to drive speakers.

    IMO the clarity, finesse and dynamics of the TT2 can only be overshadowed by additional equipment, especially for headphone use only.
     
  8. k3kz

    Been meaning to ask you, which headphone stand is this? That's not a Sieveking Sound, is it?

    Other than that, i very much agree with your observations :) BTW, Audeze LCD-i4 is also amazing with TT2. Especially in warm weather, for obvious reasons. Sometimes I have trouble deciding which one I like more, that or the Empyrean :D
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
    betula likes this.
  9. betula
    No, it is not. It is a random oak omega headphone stand from Amazon called 'Kalibri' (had to check the name). I swapped my AudioQuest Perch for this as I was a bit worried about dust getting into the transducers and this omega stand seemed like a good enough solution to prevent that happening.

    Also, as I have limited space on my desktop I wanted to put the stand on the top of my TT2. The base of the AQ perch is made of metal, and I would have been worried about accidental scratches. With oak it is not an issue.
    This stand looks better with my setup and it is even cheaper than the (otherwise great) Perch stand. I just wish it was 1 cm taller for the cables...
     
  10. Wraith.
    Thank you Betula, great write up. I broke one of your cardinal rules and ordered the Empyrean, TT2 and M Scaler all unheard a couple weeks ago. This is based on pouring over every bit of info/write up I could consume over the last 5 months. When I see a write up like this it helps ease any lingering trepidation I may still hold.

    Last night I settled on the Lumin U1 mini as the source, again unheard. All were purchased new at a healthy discount so i’ll have no issue selling if the combo doesn’t work for me, which I doubt.

    Now to suture the hemmoraging wound that is my bank account.
     
    betula likes this.
  11. betula
    Bold move, but I am pretty sure you won't regret it. Just make sure you share your impressions. :wink:
     
  12. CaptainFantastic
    Could you share where you found the Empyreans new at a discount?
     
  13. betula
    Most EU retailers are willing to give some discount after a brief negotiation (except UK retailers in my experience) it is just a matter of how you approach them. Previous purchases or trade ins of course can help. The reluctance of UK sellers made me buy my Empyrean from Germany on a much better price compared to UK retail.
     
  14. Wraith.
    PM sent Capn’
     
  15. adcustom
    Awesome post, betula. I've been listening to the Empy with TT2 + M Scaler lately and my heavens...it is...incredibly enjoyable.
     
    HK_sends and betula like this.
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