The name Meze is associated with some of the best audiophile headphones on the market. Models like the Empyrean, and Elite are among some of my favorite headphones, showcasing immaculate imaging and emotional sound signatures. Now, the Empyrean has a proper follow-up aptly called the Empyrean II. This is also another collaboration with Rinaro, which allows Meze to expand on their planar driver technology to find the best tuning possible. With that in mind, could the Empyrean II possibly improve on its predecessor?
What You Get
- Case: High-strength ABS plastic suitcase with foam inserts and leather handle
- Two sets of earpads included: Duo + Angled Alcantara
- Cable type: Premium Silver-plated or Copper PCUHD
- Connector type: 2.5 mm, 3.5 mm (1/8 in), 4.4 mm, 6.3 mm (1/4 in), 4 pin XLR
Look & Feel
Every Meze headphone is built like a work of art. The Empyrean series in particular is an aesthetically beautiful set of headphones, with their unique grille patterns and exceptionally sturdy aluminum frame. With the Empyrean II, you can expect the same quality of craftsmanship, this time with a black coating that includes silver accents. In terms of fit, the Empyrean is as comfortable to wear as ever, with its all-encompassing ear-cups that surround your ears with a firm seal.
This is the latest Isodynamic hybrid array driver technology from Meze and Rinaro. It contains individual switchbacks and spiral shaped voice coils in one driver, which is a new configuration that aims to reproduce better accuracy and precision. Other components keep the driver operating the same way as previous versions of the Empyrean, such as the MZ3 magnet array that places neodymium magnets across the diaphragm. This specific diaphragm has a spiral coil and switchback coil that helps distribute bass and middle-high frequencies. To drive the Empyrean II, an outboard DAC/Amp of some sort should be used for the intended performance of these headphones, but they’re still relatively easy to power.
Expecting anything other than immaculate for a Meze Audio-produced headphone soundstage is just foolish. It’s hard not to be impressed by anything with the Empyrean name attached to it, whether that be the original or the Elite version. With the Empyrean II, it’s hard to think what they could possibly improve, but Meze finds a way to produce a headphone with some of their most precise imaging and soundstage depth yet.
While the other Empyreans have no issue engulfing your entire head in an immersive sonic environment, the Empyrean II finds a way to do the same thing while featuring its strictest stereo accuracy yet. You still get this entirely open headspace that wraps around you, but the emphasis in the stereo field this time around centers on realistic separation. The spatial imaging reproduces a soundstage that better highlights the space between instruments than any other version of the Empyrean so far.
Everything feels like it’s being performed directly in front of you, with vocals being sung right in front of your face, slightly raised in the mix. The sensation that the Empyrean II’s soundstage offers is that it almost mimics the feeling of being in the studio with the artist. Other versions of the Empyrean accentuate sound elements being performed from specific origins, but the Empyrean II is less ethereal with its imaging. When you listen to the Empyrean II, you can imagine yourself in the control room while the artist tracks the song. It plays better to the more intimate qualities of this version of the Empyrean that better demonstrates a realistic, breathable space.
The Empyrean II offers an incredibly dynamic bass response without sacrificing the warm textures the series is known for. Everything about this bass comes through with balance and transparency. It’s a natural tone that supplies proper lift to each individual note, while still resonating with a subtle sub-bass vibration. The frequencies have a concise form that presents a lot of punch and can sound very big when it needs to. Nothing about the bass ever gives off the impression of being too dominant, rather it elegantly evens out its more theatrical bass elements. It’s a super smooth timbre that might not always be as quick as it needs to be, but the response will always be natural and engaging.
You don’t have to worry about missing anything in the midrange, as the Empyrean II offers nothing but pristine clarity here. You still get that touch of warmth to the frequency response, but it never comes anywhere close to clouding the sound signature. Instead, the Empyrean II hits with extremely punctual notes that contain a ton of weight. This allows the mids to take on a complete shape, to which the Empyrean II can go further with revealing detail and depth for many different instruments. It results in an incredibly lush frequency response that conveys exceptionally life-like features. Vocals are especially crisp, exuding the most transparent details that the Empyrean II has to offer.
Surprisingly, the Empyrean II has a touch of sharpness in its treble. It’s not a consistent brightness, but the highs exhibit a clear jump in accentuation with some performances. There’s incredible clarity in the highs, with a crisp tail that adds a satisfying hiss to the ends of many different instruments. This sensation never overextends into harshness, but the tone is still quite cutting in some moments. If you like you’re cymbals to have sizzle, then the Empyrean II will supply that, but I can see some listeners who are sensitive to these heightened frequencies not being quite as enthusiastic about this timbre.
The Meze Empyrean II is almost exactly what I expected it to be, and somehow it still had me floored with its exceptional performance. Its soundstage is as immaculate as ever, providing even more immersive qualities on top of its newly found precision. All the best characteristics of a reference sound signature are combined with the richness of a high-end audiophile headphone. Combined with the Empyrean’s mostly unchanged craftsmanship that seems like it’s built to withstand the test of time, the Empyrean II comes with the highest regard once again.
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The Meze Empyrean II is available at Audio46.