It is safe to say that as a writer for MajorHiFi, I get to try out A LOT of headphones. This week, I got the chance to experience a headphone that is a new favorite! The headphones are the Meze Empyrean! But what is so special about them, and are they right for you? Let’s take a closer look with this Meze Empyrean Review!
Meze Audio Empyrean Planar Magnetic Headphones Review & Analysis
In the Box
-Meze Empyrean headphones
-cable (available in 3 options: 3 m OFC cable with 6.35 mm connector, 1.3 m OFC cable with 3.5 mm connector, or 3 m OFC cable with 4-pin XLR connector)
-two sets of earpads (one coated in leather and one coated in alcantara)
-hard shell super protective carrying case with handle
The attention to detail of the design of the Meze Empyrean is obvious. And the deliberate design of the headband is no exception. The headband features a two tiers: a leather headrest and a carbon fiber frame, giving it structure.But most notably, the headband features the Meze patented distribution wings. These wings maximize the surface area that the leather headrest touches across the head. But how does it translate to comfort?
The first time I put the headphones on my head, it was remarkably how supported the entire system felt. The earcups felt both light and secure over my ears. This unique feeling was comfortable and reminded me of the sensation I got the first time I tried on a suit that fit really well. The headphones were supported in all the right places.
Additionally, attached to the carbon fiber frame is the extender and yolk. The yolk and extender are made of aluminum and have a light yet strong feel. The balanced of the design feels extremely durable and supportive to the headphones as a whole.
The earcups of the Meze Empyrean have an attractive and interesting look. The pattern of the grill on the outside of the grill gives a feeling of intricacy, expensiveness, and class. It has somewhat of a vintage feel as well. This contrasts beautifully with the yolks of headband which feel more modern and more mechanical.
The earcups are large and have a ovoid shape. The choice to make the earcups ovoid was intentional. Meze wanted the earcup to stay super tight around the ear so that it would decrease the amount of weight of the headphones as a whole. In other words, no space was wasted with this design.
One of the most striking things about the fit of the Empyrean is that they feel nice and have a sense of weight in the hands, but feel weightless on the head. In addition, the earcups feature an Isomagnetic earcup attachment. This attachment has two purposes. On one hand, it makes switching out the earpads a breeze. Simply hold the base of the earpad firmly, and apply pressure away from it. Additionally, the magnetic attachment connection contributes to the efficiency of the headphones! How innovative! The connection demagnetizes the field generated by the planar magnetic driver and redirects it back into the the driver. It also holds the earcup in place.
The earpads of the Meze Empyrean, in addition to being super easy to swap, are super comfortable. It was one of Meze’s priorities to make sure the headphones were fully serviceable and the earpad design is no exception. They are made of thick foam and follow the ovoid shape of the earcup. I love that the package comes with two sets of earpads, one leather and one alcantara. This will help folks who are sensitive to heat while listening. The leather pad coating is soft and light. The inside ring of the pad is perforated.
Likewise, the alcantara pads are super soft to the touch. They are lighter and feel cooler on the ears. And like the leather pads, they are perforated on the inside ring.
The Meze Empyrean comes with your choice of cable: a 3 m OFC cable with a 6.35 mm connector; a 1.3 m OFC cable with a 3.5 mm connector; or a 3 m OFC cable with a 4-pin XLR connector. Them demo unit I’m working with came with the 3 m OFC cable with the 6.35 m connector.
The cable is thin, and when coiled up, it doesn’t take up much space. However, it has a shiny, black cloth coating, which makes the cable a bit stiff, and thus tough to manage.
The cable attaches to the earcups of the headphone via mini XLRs. The connectors feel durable and high quality and sport the Meze logo– making me further believe in their strength.
The drivers of the Meze Empyrean are specially designed hybrid array isodynamic drivers by Rinaro. They are held in frames made of fiberglass infused acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). The drivers are called “hybrid array” because the same diaphragm actually holds two different voice coils of different shapes. As a result, the drivers reproduce sound with minimal distortion, are super lightweight, are efficient, and can reproduce an extremely wide range of frequencies.
The low frequencies of the Meze Empyrean are full, natural, and realistic, with an aesthetically pleasing emphasis that doesn’t overpower anything. The lows have a wonderful sense of space around them. This spaciousness provides an incredible sense of emotional impact for mixes that use low end to provide that impact. As a result, the headphones work well for a wide variety of genres!
I can hear the full sustain of transient kick drums. This contributes to the sense of groove because it reveals the way the kick interacts with buss compression, while leaving plenty of space for thick low-mid instruments to move and work alongside it.
For example, when I was listening to the song Lazarus by David Bowie, the kick drum felt energetic, yet laid back. It was quick, yet had a sense of smoothness that made it come across in a realistic way, while maintaining clarity and energy but without being overpowering in the mix. Sometimes headphones that are quick add a feeling of hardness, but I didn’t get that sense at all from the Empyrean. Rather, the kick drum in this song added to the groove along with the bass guitar, and had wonderful extension and separation from the low-mids.
The midrange of the Meze Empyrean, like the low frequencies, feels even and natural. While clear and quick, the mids also have a feeling of softness which makes it equally equipped to handle dense and sparse arrangements. And like the lows, there seems to be an incredible sense of separation of instruments in the midrange.This separation works especially well for music with instruments in the same frequency range, like jazz, bluegrass, and classical. There aren’t many headphones that can handle the speed and homogeneity quality of bluegrass instruments, but the Empyrean did an outstanding job!
For example, when I was listening to the song Elzick’s Farewell by Old Crow Medicine Show, the Empyrean was able to keep up with each note of the fast moving fiddles. It was able to maintain separation between the fiddles and mandolin, which often gets lost with other headphones.
The low-mids of the Empyrean seem full and properly stated in the mix. As a result, bass guitars, cellos, organs, and pianos feel properly full without clouding the mix. Additionally, the middle part of the midrange feels even, which provides a sense of easy harmonic complexity. Contributing to the sense of separation between the midrange and the high-frequencies, a small dip in the lower region of the high-mids lets harmonically rich midrange instruments sit apart from vocals, for example. Vocals feel natural and real. They lean slightly toward the higher region of the high-mids but feel tonally appropriate and realistic because of the wideness of the q of the dips and the lightness with which the dips take place.
For example, when I was listening to the song Roll with the Punches by Dawes, the bass guitar and electric guitar had, what seemed like, a perfect sense of separation where they were able to work together to create groove, bigness, and energy, while still sound like two different instruments. Additionally, the electric guitar guitar sounded full, but had a softness to its texture up in the lower region of the high-mids. This helped to give it space from the vocal. Taylor Goldsmith’s vocal sat in the mix how I’d expect it to sit levelwise. It had fullness, articulation, and just seemed super natural overall.
The high frequencies of the Meze Empyrean are energetic. There is a beautiful sense of dynamic energy from them. They are even in the lower treble, with a slight dip at the very top area of it. The upper treble and upper octave have emphasis. As a result, while cymbals, percussion, the breath of vocals, and strings are harmonically complex, their realism starts to shift here and lean toward the lighter, airier side.
For example, when I was listening to the song So Tender by Keith Jarrett, I could fully hear the difference in harmonic detail between each cymbal, but they felt skewed somewhat toward their texture and air, as opposed to their bodies. The quickness of the highs helped to give their attacks presence, without making them louder in the mix which I absolutely loved because it really brought out the skill of the drummer and contributed to my enjoyment of the song.
The soundstage of the Meze Empyrean is divine! It has a remarkable sense of separation and nuance across all three dimensions. The extension in both the highs and lows creates substantial contrast between the high frequency instruments up above my head and the grounding nature of basses, low pianos, and kicks by my chest. Additionally, the sense of width contrasts dramatically from the strong, intimate phantom center. Instruments that are partially panned to one side or another have a sense of specificity and accuracy to their placement. Finally, the sense of depth of the Empyrean has nuance and spaciousness. This depth feels both accurate, and dramatic because while instruments that should have intimacy feel beautifully close in space, instruments that are meant to sit backward feel speaker-like in their distance.
For example when I was listening to the song Quizas Quizas Quizas by Pink Martini, the height of the shaker, güiro, and breath of vocal sat dramatically apart in height from the lowness of the upright bass. Additionally, both of those extremes felt separate and measured against the more middle-of-the-road placement of the strings and keys.
Additionally, the sense of width was dramatic with these headphones measuring the intimate center of the vocal and the width of the strings and horns. There was accurate nuance between the width and center in regard to the slightly off-panned percussion and keys.
Lastly, the sense of depth had great contrast between the intimate sounding vocals and horns and the super far-off nylon string guitar and pizzicato strings. These extremes were filled in with the elongated strings, piano, upright bass, and harp.
Overall, the Meze Empyrean is a beautifully executed headphone. It is comfortable, sounds incredible for a wide variety of genres, and gives life to both dense and sparse arrangements. It feels active without feeling hard, but rather gives an aesthetic sense of softness to mixes that need it, and specificity to mixes that need it equally. My only complaint is that the cable is a bit stiff for my liking, but that is if I’m really trying to find something to bum about. Otherwise, this might just be the perfect headphone.
The Meze Empyrean is available for the best price here:
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