With the release of the Meze Elite and Dan Clark Audio Stealth, many are eager to hear a comparison of these two headphones that both run for around $4,000. With both of these being such big ticket items released in the same time frame, they’re going to be a very interesting look into what each company sees as the current standard of HiFi audio. I was a big fan of both the Stealth and the Elite upon hearing them separately, but was not sure what to expect when putting them side by side.
Look and Feel
These are both super comfortable headphones, and I can’t say one triumphs over the other in this regard. The Stealth has a tighter grip than the Elite does, making it perhaps a tighter seal but also allowing less air flow. They both have very similar headbands that use two long pieces of metal and a leather strap. The Elite’s ear cups have an adjustable length, but the Stealth’s adjust automatically.
The most important thing to note is that the Elite is an open back while the Stealth is a closed back. I’ll be keeping this in mind for the sound comparison, of course. Both use planar magnetic drivers, and Meze designing theirs in collaboration with Rinaro Isodynamics.
As I mentioned, this section is a bit unfair, as the Elite is an open back and the Stealth a closed back. However, the Stealth prides itself on its abnormal width for a closed back, so perhaps it’s not too ridiculous to put them side by side on this parameter. Well, as much as I wanted to say the Stealth defied the odds and is wider than the Elite, it simply is not. The Elite is undoubtedly a larger sound, especially spreading out percussion and low end more than the Stealth. However, the Stealth is far closer in width to the Elite than any other closed back on the market, I can almost guarantee.
These have fairly different low ends. The Stealth is more focused on the upper end of the lows whereas the Elite has much more sub presence and overall intensity. They have similar amounts of punch, both extending attack a fair amount. However, the Elite’s punch hits you in the chest a bit more, as it’s more biased towards those lovely basement frequencies. The Stealth, however, has a bit more of a balanced low end that’s less dominant at times, and may be better suited for those shy of too much rumble or weight. The Stealth’s low end feels more realistic and transparent, but the Elite’s feels more impactful and gripping.
These two are probably most similar in their mids out of anything. They both keep a fairly flat response, pushing the high mids and cutting the low mids a tad, leaving a hefty amount of air between the low end and lofty high frequencies. The Stealth is more colored and high-mid heavy than the Elite, which errs more on the side of extreme cleanliness instead of saturation or increased texture. Both will be snappy and crisp in their mids, but the Stealth perhaps less transparent here than the Elite. The Elite also appears to have more punch in the mids than the Stealth, but the Stealth has more extended vocal presence due to its brighter high mids.
Both the Stealth and the Elite are notably bright headphones, but the Elite handles its brightness a bit differently. While the Stealth has a wider boost that seems to focus more strongly below 8kHz, the Elite has a smaller boost that creates a thin layer of high-gloss shine using the 8kHz+ range. This means the Elite will have a thinner high end to it that acts as a finishing outer-shell, as apposed to the more texturized, dry sounding highs of the Stealth. Neither sounds darker than one another, but the Elite feels more silky and glistening while the Stealth feels more breathy and airy.
The Stealth and Elite have some definite similarities in their mid range tuning and attack extenuation, but stray quite a bit from one another in most other areas. I think the low end response and soundstage style would be the biggest point of decision for me, and probably will be for many others. Hopefully my analysis has helped clear up some of your indecisiveness instead of just creating more.