Meze has been a standout brand since they first entered the headphone market, and when I caught wind they were releasing a new model, I was eager to get my hands on it. The Elite is Meze’s newest big-ticket item at $4,000, putting it up against some of the best of the best in this high-end price range. I’ve been among many to have an overwhelming love for other Meze headphones, so the bar was high for the Elite, and the first listen was full of suspense for me.
What’s in the Box
• Case: High-strength aluminum suitcase with foam inserts
• Two sets of earpads included: one Alcantara®, one Leather+Alcantara® Hybrid
• Cable options:
- 2.5m OFC cable, 4pin mini XLR plugs ending with 6.3 jack connector, or
- 1.2m OFC cable, 4pin mini XLR plugs ending with 3.5 jack connector, or
- 2.5m OFC cable, 4pin mini XLR plugs ending with 4 pin XLR connector
Look and Feel
Similar in structure to the Meze’s Empyrean, these are not the smallest headphone, but they are also luckily not the heaviest. I find them almost disorienting in how light they are at first, as given their size, my head was expecting much more weight on it. Their grip is not excessive, allowing your ears a ton of room to breathe in ways few headphones do. Both sets of ear pads are some of the softest, most comfortable I’ve ever used in my life, and that’s saying something. It’s clear that comfort was a major priority when making these, and it’s paid off quite well.
A number of innovative designs have been incorporated into this headphone in order to deem it worthy of its “Elite” status. First, the driver has been redesigned and retuned in collaboration with Rinaro Isodynamics. Next, a new low mass acoustic diaphragm has been added in addition to new hybrid ear pads made of a leather-Alcantara mix. The aluminum frame of the Elite in made through a complex CNC process that allegedly takes over 20 hours per headphone.
These are ultra-wide, and I expected no less from Meze. The main feature here is definitely the sound separation, for me at least. This is an unusually airy headphone, it feels like there’s a very misty, dissolving quality to the sound. The placements of instruments is realistic but definitely pushes past the point of complete believability into a realm of more cinematic depth, which I quite enjoyed. The Elite’s soundstage is deceivingly understated, feeling so calm and serene at first but suddenly sending shivers up your spine as your favorite track finds itself reaching new heights and shapes in its dimensionality. .
The Elite has a light touch to it, it’s far from a heavy handed sound. The first part of this delicate feel is its very dry, porous low end that allows for a lot of texture and timbre to come through instead of addressing only the essential booming frequencies in order to create impact. Because of their incredible sound separation, you’ll find baselines, kicks, and other basement elements feel pleasantly unfamiliar in their cleanliness and defined, specific location. What I liked most about the lows on these is that they felt nuanced in a way that made them feel just as satisfying and exciting at low volumes as they did at higher levels. The Elite's lows are not so dependent on intensity, instead taking a more complex path and executing the journey flawlessly.
The mids on the Elite are fairly subdued and filtered, unsurprising given its softened edge. For me, a more recessed high mid and neutral low allows for a more realistic sound, as sharpness, resonance, and intense warmth are qualities usually added by listening devices instead of heard organically in person. Listening to Amy Winehouse’s blaring belts and runs, the Elite doesn’t overdo the metallic timbre that underlies her voice at times. It keeps the harsher frequencies in check but gives us small enough doses of them to keep things energetic and engaging. If you’re a fan of a more subdued high mid and don’t want a bunch of saturation or added body to the low mids, the Elite strikes a very unassuming, transparent mid range balance.
This is where some people may be unsure about the Elite. They’re quite bright, and certainly going to offer a bit of shine and gloss to a lot of tracks. Per their nuance and subtlety, this brightness feels more detail-oriented than it does a huge, overarching frequency boost. I don’t see the level of highs on the Elite offending any listeners, but I do see it being more fitting of those who want a noticeable airiness and silkiness to their music. The highs are definitely the least transparent part of the Elite’s sound, but I enjoyed the unique tint they add to the headphone’s character. The Elite's brightness is done how brightness should be: not afraid of pushing things up a few notches, but knowing the limits.
There are a growing number of highly impressive big-ticket headphones out there, but Meze separates themselves from the pack with the signature airiness each of their headphones seem to have and exceptional understanding of nuance and intricacy. Its natural, controlled sound makes it as good a headphone for enriching the in-person feel and movement of classic music as it is for bringing out the most ear-tingling, groomed timbres from rock or electronic productions. The Elite truly meets the expectations you’d have for a new release from an already-hailed headphone company. Those who are longing for something to finally give them that sound adrenaline rush may at last get their fix with the Elite.
You can purchase the Meze Elite here.