Meze Audio made a huge impact this year with the stellar Empyrean Elite. Their collaboration with Rinaro in creating their staple isodynamic planar drivers has proved to really impact the nature of the sound signature, in giving it that truly high-end experience that not many headphones can replicate. When I thought Meze might be done for the year, they go ahead and release another brand new audiophile headphone. This time, it's a closed-back headphone with the return of the Rinaro Isodynamics collaboration, and for half the price of the Elite at $2000. Can Meze create audio magic again with the Liric?
What You Get
- Carrying case with soft plush interior
- 1.5m soft TPE Cable with aluminum casings, ending with 3.5mm jack
- 3m soft TPE cable, with aluminum casings, ending with 3.5mm jack
- Headphone 6.3mm gold-plated jack
- Airplane jack
Look and Feel
When taking the Liric out of the hard case for the first time I was surprised to see how compact and ergonomic the build was. This may be one of the most portable audiophile headphones that's been made recently. Its closed-back principle makes it friendly to commute with, while featuring that same well-structured frame that Meze has developed so well. The size of the earcups make them a great fit, adding a ton of support and comfort to your ears. They add just enough air to avoid fatigue for long hours of enjoyment.
Through their collaboration with Rinaro, Meze has been given driver tech that no other headphone manufacturer has access to. With the Liric, Meze's hybrid array planar make a return, but with a few new quirks added that help shape the sound signature for a closed-back design. For this purpose, the MZ4 casing was scaled down in order to fit its principle while still keeping the same level of clarity found in their Empyrean models. One of its most innovative features is their new Phase X technology, which minimizes phase distortion and increases spatial accuracy and immersion. This is accomplished through linear phasing which performs a faster transient response decay.
In this price range, closed-back headphones can work some magic with their soundstage. To no surprise whatsoever, Meze delivers a wonderful, spacious image with the Liric for one of the best soundstages in a closed-back audiophile headphone period. The positioning feels light and airy, giving it a more floaty spatial placement than any other closed-back I've heard. This is definitely the Isoplannar at work, giving the Liric an Empyrean or even an upper-end HiFiMAN type of imaging that feels unique to such a headphone. It makes the Liric come across as natural, featuring properly distant sound elements which bloom from the sound field rather than from the driver. Separation is excellent, communicating complex layers with ease, and with always enough headroom to soak in that air between instruments and sound effects. There's a great bubble of sound that the Liric displays with incredible transparency, and allows the music to really breathe within the mix.
This bass response definitely won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it still provides plenty of detail to revel in. You might be surprised by the low-end's lack of drive, and it's a major factor that plays into the tonality of the Liric overall, which is much more lean and relaxed. Bass textures are still prevalent though, providing smooth vibrations from the sub-bass albeit in a much more reserved display. The mid-bass doesn't exactly have a considerable bite, but its timbre presents a cleaner presentation that performs nicely when listening to softer bass grooves or isolated drums.
When it comes to the midrange of the Liric, the frequencies definitely have more meat on the bone. The fundamental midrange frequencies feature an enticing liveliness to its response, with more forward presentation and richer tone. With this style of sound signature it's easy for the timbre to become unfocused, but the mids on the Liric are so well controlled that I barely found any issue with its resonance. Everything performs naturally and with a grace that's rare with its level of detail. Vocals are performed with air, and instrumentals are articulated with harmonic depth within this spacious timbre.
The treble here bites a bit hard, but are still pleasant as they don't venture too far into overly bright territory. While they feature the same level of grip as the midrange, the highs keep a pool of well-rounded details to enjoy, with a crisp timbre that offers a natural shine to the Liric's top end. Clean textures are welcomed in its timbre, and they veer into a semi-piercing feel but pull back in a natural way before becoming too harsh.
For my ears, Meze has done it yet again, delivering an audiophile experience that is hard to replicate with most closed-back headphones. It's a premium experience that finds more value in your daily life as a companion that is safe to take with you wherever you go. Their special Rinaro driver houses special properties that make this one of the most unique closed-back sound signatures out there. If you can get past the more lean bass response, then the Liric has a rich and smooth timbre that is easy to sink your teeth into.
You can purchase the Meze Liric here.