When I reviewed the new Dan Clark Audio E3 a few weeks ago, another headphone was constantly on my mind. That headphone was the Meze Audio Liric, which goes for the same price as the E3. These are both premium closed-bac headphones that are dying to be compared to one another, and a comparison review feels appropriate. Which pair should you choose?
What You Get
|Dan Clark Audio E3
Look & Feel
These headphones are similar in that they both feature a rather compact design compared to what you usually expect from this price range. The E3 is a bit bigger than the Liric, and its frame lends itself better for portability overall. If travel isn’t a factor for you though, then the E3 has the more striking design, with its gorilla glass finish. Both headphones showcase incredible craftsmanship and comfort though.
The Liric and E3 have very specific configurations for their planar magnetic drivers. With the Liric, Meze brings their isodynamic hybrid array thanks to their collaboration with Rinaro. It also implements Phase X technology to lessen phase and maintain spatial accuracy. The E3 features a specialized AMTS design found with their Stealth model. These are both high-end systems that make their respective headphone have a clean output that is easy to power.
Both headphones contain some of the best soundstages that closed-back headphones offer. It’s very hard to say which one I prefer since these headphones offer imaging characteristics that I find in some of my favorite headphones. If you’re a fan of headphones with wide open headspaces like the best open-back headphones offer, but you also want the isolation of closed-back, then you can’t go wrong with either the Liric or E3. That doesn’t exactly narrow down which one might fit your tastes though. What I began to notice the more I listened was that the Liric seemed to have more of a distance to it between the sound elements. Sounds from the left and right channels display more of a specific origin than the E3. The E3 still has great separation, but its positioning of elements is also floatier and sounds a bit less precise than the Liric.
Neither the E3 nor the Liric will give you the most enticing bass, but both headphones still offer great low-end clarity. Overall, the Liric possesses the darker timbre with the most forward resonance of the two, but the tone feels laid back. You get more texture in the bass than the E3, but the E3 has a better impact balance that’s more immediately gripping. The E3 still doesn’t have a ton of meat on it though, and the Liric has more flavor to its lows.
The midrange is where both these headphones shine in terms of frequency response. Both the Liric and E3 reproduce midrange detail with a ton of grace. They’re both incredibly similar in terms of the natural purity of these frequencies, but there are a few distinct differences. With the Liric, the instruments feel a bit quicker and weightier. The E3 can quite match that level of solidity but makes up for it in smoothness. You get stronger upper mids on the E3 though, resulting in livelier vocals. I prefer the depth of the mids on the Liric, but the E3 isn’t that far off.
If you’re not into bright treble, the E3 and Liric might not be for you. Both headphones showcase a biting high-frequency response, with significant gain to their frequency content. They’re not exactly the same timbre, but they feature a crisp presentation with striking details. The Liric features more pinpoint accuracy in my opinion. You get great control in the highs with the E3, but their texture acts more as a top layer than a natural propagation of the sound spectrum.
Interestingly, we have two high-end closed-back headphones that are so alike. The Dan Clark Audio E3 and Meze Liric have a lot in common, like their price point and elements of their sound signatures. Certain aspects like the soundstage and high-frequency timbre lean me towards preferring the Liric, but the distinction has never been closer compared to other comparisons I’ve made. There’s no way you can go wrong with either one though, as the Liric and E3 make for great endgame closed-back headphones.