Meze Empyrean II Vs Focal Utopia 2022 Comparison Review

The Meze Empyrean II has been out for a few months now but you still might be on the fence about whether or not it’s the best option out there. Putting up against another heavy hitter might be helpful to inform your buying decision. The Focal Utopia is another top-of-the-line headphone like the Empyrean that might also be on the table for you. Let’s see what about these headphones might be a deciding factor for you. 

What You Get

Empyrean II Utopia 
  • 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
  • Utopia 2022 headphones
  • Carrying case
  • Two cables
    • 1 5ft (1.5m) mini-jack cable with 1/4” (6.35mm) Jack adapter
    • 1 10ft (3m) cable with XLR connector

Look & Feel

In this price range, you’ll never be disappointed by how these headphones are built and how they feel to wear. The Meze Empyrean II and the Focal Utopia have compelling designs that showcase expert craftsmanship. As for which one I would rather wear on my head for an extended period, I would choose the Empyrean II. The Ear cups are more circumaural and cover a larger area of my head, but the pads are softer. With the Utopia, I feel the fit is more secure but the weight starts to become a factor from a few hours of listening. 


The Meze Empyrean II and the Focal Utopia feature two different driver principles. Both of their drivers are totally unique to these brands. The Empyrean II uses a special type of planar developed in collaboration with Rinaro called “Isodynamic.” For the Utopia, a dynamic driver is used that incorporates pure beryllium and an M-shaped dome. Neither of these headphones are particularly hard to drive, and their power should be evenly distributed with most DAC/Amps.


If this was a comparison between the Utopia and the original Empyrean, the specific differences here would be easier to discern. However, the Empyrean II is closer to the Utopia’s presentation than ever before. Both headphones feature very direct stereo fields that are also dome-like. They both blend depth and immersion with accurate localization and strict positioning. The Utopia still feels the most direct to me though. When listening to both headphones one after the other, the Empyrean II is still floaty. It all comes down to the type of spatial imaging you find more immersive.

I don’t mind that the Empyrean II isn’t as accurate as the Utopia because I find myself more engaged with the imaging of the former. The sound elements have more distance away from you and between other sounds in the mix, adding more depth to the sonic environment. With the Utopia, the imaging is incredibly dynamic, but the proximity of these sounds only works for me when listening on a critical level. With the Empyrean II, I feel like I get more of that balance between critical listening, and pure enjoyment. 

Low End

I wouldn’t consider either of these headphones to be very bassy, but they both deliver great depth and detail. They both have great balance in their low-end response, but if you’re looking for more emphasis, the Utopia might be what you want. The frequencies have a bigger body than most of the subtler tones and textures found on the Empyrean. There’s more of an outward warmth to the timbre of the Utopia that feels like it’s filling in more of the blank spaces that the Empyrean highlights more. You can feel more of a gravelly foundation on the Empyrean though, and that’s what I found more enticing. It has a leveled smoothness that I prefer over the Utopia.


The only major differences in the midrange are what end of the frequency spectrum they prefer. With the Utopia’s warmer tone, the low-mids will be slightly more elevated, whereas the Empyrean II will have its upper-mids more bodied and crisp. Neither set of headphones misses a beat anywhere in the frequency response though. While they have their preferences, nothing else that exists in the mids feels like not enough attention is given to them. Both of these headphones exude pristine musicality that communicates the weight of instruments. Vocals have more underlining artifacts and feel more lush on the Empyrean II, but the Utopia doesn’t seem too far behind in comparison. 


While both the Empyrean II and Utopia feature expressive highs, they go about it a bit differently. You can expect sizzling textures and crisp details with both headphones, but the main difference is how naturally the treble feels. The Empyrean II is very colorful, but it seems exaggerated. Nothing about this response is particularly distracting, but up against the Utopia, it can come across as more artificial. The Utopia features sparkly details, while also being incredibly natural and realistic. 


The main difference between these headphones isn’t just a few thousand dollars. Different elements of their sound will make the biggest impact on your buying decision. Even the smallest details matter here, and in that sense, I personally prefer the Empyrean II. I tend to think about which set of headphones will I keep coming back to and enjoy no matter what, and that is what tips the Emyrean over the edge for me. You might prefer the Utopia and its more direct and accurate presentation, but it’s missing that extra bit of room and texture for me. These are both expertly crafted headphones though, and I would never compare them as one being worse than the other.

The Meze Empyrean II and the Focal Utopia are available at Audio46.

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Alex S. is a sound designer and voice-over artist who has worked in film, commercials, and podcasts. He loves horror movies and emo music.