This is my first experience with Meze Audio, and I’ve fallen head over heels in love. There are so many great headphones on the market, but few have a sound as memorable as the Empyrean. Let’s talk about what makes these cans so special in this Meze Audio Empyrean Review.
Meze Empyrean Hybrid Array Planar Magnetic Headphones Review
IN the BOX
If you have problems finding a comfortable headphone, the lightweight, fiberglass frame Empyrean may be the perfect solution. It’s like wearing a puffy cloud on your head. Meze employs suspension wings to increase the headband’s contact surface area with your head. As a result, it alleviated the weight on uncomfortable pressure points. And I have to say, after wearing these cans for a long listening session, my chakras have never felt so aligned.
The Empyrean uses an “isodynamic” hybrid array driver (yes, planar magnetic). This basically means that magnets are placed on each side of the diaphragm to produce isodynamic magnetic field that creates a uniform activation across the entire surface of the diaphragm. The diaphragm on the Empyrean uses two independently shaped voice coils to deliver “more selective acoustic performance to the various areas with the structure of the ear.” If this is boring you, how do you think I feel? The switchback coil is more efficient at producing lower frequencies, while the spiral coil excels at producing the middle frequencies. And the ergonomic, ovoid shape of driver increases the active area.
Don’t fall asleep on me folks, this is important. If that snazzy design isn’t enough, Meze has also employed “isomagnetic” earcup to earpad technology. The ear cup attachment takes advantage of the demagnetizing field created by the driver to hold the earpads in place. In doing this, the magnetic field is redirected back to the driver to improve efficiency.
Speaking of earpads, in addition to the leather earpads, Meze has also thrown in an Alcantara (material) pads, which should change the sound signature a bit. I’m guessing it will remove some of the low frequencies and might increase transparency. But for the purposes of this review I stuck with the leather pads.
As for the cable, there are a few options. You can go for the 3m OFC (4 pin mini XLR) that ends with a 6.3 jack connector. If you want to be more mobile, you can opt for the 1.3m OFC with a 2.3 jack connector. Finally, if you want to go balanced, Meze also offers a 3m cable with a 4 pin XLR connector.
One of the advantages to the hybrid array driver is its efficiency. At 31 Ohms and a sensitivity of 100dB, these cans don’t require much juice to drive. And a small portable amp should do. But to do the Empyrean justice, I coupled the it with the iFi Black Label Micro.
Overall Impressions: Perfect balance, smooth, detailed.
The lows are rich and present, giving nice punch to bass when listening to pop, and plenty of girth to acoustic double bass. Don’t worry, my little bass-phobics. The low-end avoids overkill. In fact, the balance is primo. But let’s talk about what makes these cans so unique. The Empyrean offers incredible detail, while maintaining a honey-like smoothness. To be honest, I’ve never tested a headphone that has combined these two characteristics with such skill. Listening to Bruno Mars’ That’s What I Like, the bass felt super dry and textured, bringing out the intended qualities of the instrument in that track. But when I switched to cellos, though the detail remained, a fluidity emerged, highlighting the graceful cohesiveness of the note progressions. It almost feels like it’s adjusting itself to whichever genre you choose. My little brain doesn’t understand it. But it’s pretty incredible.
Very present in this range, with generous low mids that perfectly balance out the higher mids. If you like a warm and full-bodied rock chorus, these cans won’t disappoint. At the same time, the layering is spectacular. And even listening to tracks with heavy instrumentation, nothing was lost in the mix. Separation is top notch, even bringing a clean profile to usually muddy guitar strums in the lower mids. And again, the level of detail is superb. Drums and percussion, for example revealed nuances that I’ve rarely heard before. In fact, the sound is comprehensive that it’s almost as if the Empyrean slowed down the recording to unravel all the subtleties. I’m not high. Just confused. Finally, there’s a tenderness to the way the Empyrean handles acoustic instruments. And for such a precise headphone, that touch of softness is hard to achieve. Forgive me for the repetition, but that smooooothness...Jesus, Joseph and John Lennon.
Man, you’ve got to listen to some female vocals on these things. I played my girl, Whitney Houston to test out the highs. And yes, her vocals are naturally airy. But wow, these cans were made for her voice. That silkiness was ever present while retaining great transparency. Listening to string solos in this range, perhaps it wasn’t the most detailed presentation I’ve ever heard (though still great), but the melodic character was so pleasing to the ear, that I really didn’t care. Moving back to pop, percussion in this range may lack the sparkle or “crispiness” you’d get from a Focal headphone, for example. That being said, listening to Miles Davis has never felt so painless.
Spacious soundstage, yes. But what impressed me the most, was the imaging. Especially in terms of width and depth, instrument placement was super precise, making for a very multidimensional experience. Some folks may wish there was a little more height there, but hey...You can’t have it all.
What the freq. I’m blown away. Rarely would a practical audiophile like me consider paying 3 grand for a headphone. But the Empyrean is something special. And if you value utmost clarity and separation, but you’re also a sucker for warm, sweet, easy-listening sound, you won’t find a better headphone than this baby.
You can order Meze Empyrean at Audio46 today.