Meze Empyrean Headphones land at InnerFidelity

Headphones companies in general are stepping their game up in the lifestyle arena just as much in the technology, sound quality and bespoke fabrication ones. The focus on presentation of headphones in advertising, social media and at trade shows has become an art and science unto itself as ever more manufacturers invest huge sums of money into R&D, design, materials selection, and marketing than ever before IMO.

Why?

Because the headphone market has become a high-end battlefield for companies looking to recoup their investments via the hard-earned dollars from consumers looking for the ultimate experience in not only the listening joy garnered from their headphones of choice, but in how their purchasing approach to the exposure to said headphones is conducted and managed.

Take for example the brand new Meze Empyrean Isodynamic Hybrid-Array Headphone. Having heard them and been deeply impressed by them at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest this fall, I’m chuffed that the company has chosen me to review them and having perused their high-end, luxury and technology-oriented website to get further information on the Empyrean, I can say I came away impressed with that online experience in and of itself: incredible photography, high-quality videos detailing construction of the headphone, every conceivable specification and question addressed plainly and with a look and feel of style and class.

Skip ahead to the Meze’s getting delivered here and unpacking them I was wowed by the all-metal, black-anodized briefcase that so securely insured their safe arrival and the presentation of said case when opening it to see the Empyreans for the first time since Denver in October. Every aspect of this experience of unpacking them felt like something that oozed bespoke, handmade, high-quality goods – more Piaget watch in its tenor than cans if you get my drift, and at $2,999 USD for the Empyrean, so it should be because like an expensive watch these are a luxury item, albeit one that helps one lose the impact of time on life rather than help chronicle it.

So, after luxuriating in all that online research and unboxing experience and holding the production-version Empyrean in my hands (delicate to look at, they possess a solidity that belies their relatively light 430g weight), let’s talk a bit about the design, build and specs, as this unit is going to be burning-in for the next few days via the Naim DAC-V1 headphone amp, so listening notes will follow in the future review.

The patented “suspension wing” headband design (leather and carbon fibre), is unique and increases the contact surface-distribution area for less pressure and it, and the skeletal aluminum driver yoke/chassis are meticulously integrated. Build quality is impeccable and there’s not a millimetre anywhere on the ‘phones that doesn’t look perfectly executed: particularly the CNC-milled aluminum outer driver grilles whose sculpted equilateral-triangle cutout pattern has to be seen close up to appreciate the 20 hours of mill time required to complete them and the chassis itself.

I wrote briefly about my initial listening impressions with the Empyrean in my Rocky Mountain Audio Fest listening session notes, where I touched on how the Empyrean is imbued with a Ukraine-manufactured (by Rinaro) hand built and tested “Hybrid planar-magnetic dual-sided magnet geometry array [that] features three distinct sections within an unbroken trace pattern but with a rounded maze-like upper section (switchback coil) and a more circular shape for the lower half of the driver array all with differing levels of excursion to handle differing frequency levels (upper trace: bass, lower trace: treble and midrange).”

The symmetric neodymium magnet placement – sandwiching the diaphragm – is accomplished to help create the required Isodynamic magnetic field to ensure consistent diaphragm-surface activation, add in the company’s patented ferromagnetic plates to channel the demagnetizing field back into the driver array, away from the wearer’s head and Meze saw an efficiency increase of 1dB (12 per cent) – an impressive feat that neatly kills two design-parameter birds with one stone.

I’m really looking forward to spending as much time with the Empyreans as Meze will allow me, check back for a full review in the near future. Listed specifications below.

  • Driver Type – Rinaro Isodynamic Hybrid Array
  • Operating Principle – Open
  • Ear Coupling – Circumaural
  • Frequency response – 4 - 110,000 Hz
  • Impedance – 31.6 Ω
  • Nominal SPL – 100 dB (1 mW/1kHz)
  • Maximum SPL – >130 dB
  • Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) – <0.1%
  • Weight – 430g
  • MZ3 DRIVER SPECIFICATIONS PHYSICAL

  • Geometrical shape – Ovoid
  • Size – 102 mm x 73 mm
  • Weight – 82g
  • Casing – Fiberglass Infused ABS
  • DIAPHRAGM 

  • Type – Rinaro ISOPLANAR
  • Active area – 4650 mm²
  • Weight – 0.16g
  • Acoustic mass – 10.7 kg/m4
  • Lower frequency limit – 4 Hz
  • Upper-frequency limit – 110.000 Hz

COMPANY INFO
Meze Audio
Independentei 12/3, Baia Mare, 430071, Romania
info@mezeaudio.com

COMMENTS
Simply Nobody's picture

My recommendation for Inner/fidelity product of the year award, Meze Empyrean :-) ...........

Martz_cz's picture

I see "sony like" specification, frequency response 4 - 110000 Hz :-D. Innerfidelity, please confirm this!
Cans looks nice, but price is too high for headphones (my opinion).

GimmeCans's picture

Seems that Innerfidelity 2.0, like it's parent Stereophile, is focusing more and more on the 'deep end' products and shows decreasing interest in cans like the Beyer Amiron ($599) or the Audeze LCD-2C ($799), MrSpeakers Aeon ($799), and Quad ERA-1 (~$700). Remember when everybody flipped out over the $1500 price tag of the Sennheiser HD800? Headphones are the last remaining point of entry for people getting interested in quality music reproduction at home without spending a fortune, 'high-end' speaker-based systems having entered the territory occupied by luxury sedans. It would be nice to see some less 'deep end' products get reviewed.

Rafe Arnott's picture
Hi,

I have a review upcoming of the Quad ERA-1 (around $800 USD) in which I compare it to the AEON Flow Open ($799 USD) , and also a review of the LCD-2 Classic ($799 USD) upcoming too...

The Cambridge Audio DUO MM/MC headphone amp is $299 USD which I wrote a preview on already, ditto for the $900 USD Focal Elegia and we've had reviews on the RME ADI-2 DAC ($999 USD) and the $299 USD xCAN by iFi, all within the last couple months.

So I'm not sure why you'd think I'm just writing about four-figure gear. I mix it up as best I can, but having some 'phones, DACs, or head-amps that are higher-priced help not only me with SQ-comparisons based on price, but my readership as well.

Cheers,

-Rafe

GimmeCans's picture

Thanks for responding Rafe; glad to hear that a broad base of products are on your radar. More and more, headphone systems seem to be a popular 'gateway' to high fidelity (I dislike the term 'high end') for many so I think it is beneficial to spotlight entry and mid-level products too; the better ones (like the Beyer Amiron Home) help keep the 'boutique' products honest. I just thought the Quad and LCD2C would make a fun 'shootout' style review due to their virtually identical price points. It's encouraging to see planars moving into the 'mere mortal' pricing segments as the technology gains popularity. The forthcoming Janszen electrostats also look promising at about the same price point as the HD800. Looking forward to the Audeze and Quad reviews, hopefully the Janszen too.

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