Meze Audio ELITE - Flagship Open-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones

As of September 1st in Romania (1:30am there), the Meze Audio Empyrean Elite is now officially launched!

From Meze

Highlights

  • A deep black grill with intricate carvings completes the look, turning ELITE into a futuristic take on personal audio design.
  • Take a closer look to discover the highly complex geometrical imprint accentuated through the silver finish of the CNC aluminum frame.
  • Materials were chosen not just for the exciting sensory experience their raw texture provides, but also for comfort and durability.
  • A carbon fibre headband with a real leather headrest were added to the frame, for an ultra-light feel and maximum durability.
  • Driver type: Rinaro Isodynamic Hybrid Array Driver®
  • Open-back, Circumaural headphones
  • Aluminum CNC frame
  • Carbon fibre headband
  • Patent Pending pressure distribution wings
  • Revolutionary isomagnetic ear pads
  • Anthropometric ear cup shape

MEZE X RINARO

Meze Audio and Rinaro Isodynamics continue their collaboration for the release of the new ELITE Isodynamic Hybrid Array headphone. Combining the outstanding mechanical design and ergonomics from Meze Audio with the signature technology and acoustic engineering of Rinaro, ELITE is here to set a new standard in top of the line headphone performance.

With a custom, newly designed driver, created by Rinaro Isodynamics, ELITE is the result of 3 years of research and development through which we strived to create a powerful, lifelike, and immersive experience that awakens the senses of the listener.

ULTRA LOW DISTORTION

  • Total harmonic distortion (THD) measures under 0.05% in the whole frequency range.

LIGHTWEIGHT

  • 75g combined driver weight designed to create a headphone that offers prolonged listening sessions.

ULTRA HIGH RESOLUTION AUDIO

  • Upper frequency limit of audio reproduction is 112,000 Hz.

RINARO PARUS® DIAPHRAGM

  • An innovative low mass acoustic diaphragm constructed on an ultra-thin biaxially oriented semi-crystalline film.

EASY TO DRIVE

  • 101dB@1mw/1kHz; 32Ω Can be driven by almost any source without the need for amplification.

PATENTED ISODYNAMIC HYBRID ARRAY TECHNOLOGY

  • One of the most sophisticated and advanced planar magnetic technologies in the world.

MSRP = $4,000 USD

Our demo unit just arrived at our US warehouse and is currently en route to the Canadian office as I type this!

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This looks cool, I dig the color scheme. The ‘silver surfer’ of headphones! lol

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Beautiful. To me the Empyrean has always nailed design and comfort but the general consensus seems to be that it didn’t quite have the technical chops of other flagships. If this takes a step up on resolving ability and other technicalities, it could be very exciting.

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Meze has a real knack for nailing aesthetics. There were some changes made to the driver between versions and our demo unit arrived with retail units so I should have some headtime on it this week if customs cooperates!

I’ve been using the Empy Phoenix this week in anticipation for some back to back comparisons.

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Very cool! Looking forward to sound impressions vs the originals :slight_smile:

It looks great - very sci-fi!

Edit: Meze Audio describes the Elite as having an “alien-like chassis” on head-fi. That’s a better way of putting it!

Leaving this here in case anyone is curious - https://www.headfonia.com/review-meze-audio-empyrean-elite/

I’m curious to see more impressions given their assessment that the Elite sound fairly different from the OG. Here I was planning to take another swipe at ZMFs with an Aeolus or another VC (given the new stabilized sets coming out), but now I might have to reconsider…

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Bloom Audio has a review: Meze Empyrean Elite Review - YouTube

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If they can just get the sound right on this, it’d be perfect. Such a premium feel and comfort.

New flagship alert! :rotating_light:

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Now THOSE I’m excited to see reviews on. I’ve been looking for an excuse to get a Meze, pray they improved upon the OG.

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Same. The first review on YouTube is promising, though not particularly reliable. Will be watching for more. Like you, I’ve been on the edge of interested in Meze for some time and would love a new flagship in contention.

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This will be a very special headphone if they nail the technical performance without compromising on the OG’s musicality too much.

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Fun at $4K? (Note: none of this is mine… none :joy:)

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what is with the dot matrix fonts on these high end dacs? I expect this to ask me if I want to play a game.

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I wonder how much flagship headphones will cost in 10-15 years…

Now, that would be kinda cool.

But, I’m wondering if, in the case of that DAC, it was designed to be in a rack so the thinking is “make it easier to see from farther away”

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First impressions - listened for about 30-40 mins last night. These are just notes I took as I was listening. This pair was loaned to me by a local buddy who also provided me a RME ADI-2, GSX Mini, Susvara, and Heddphone.

Setup

I compared the Elite with the Susvara through various different types of music. I mostly listen to music that contains vocals. I did not listen to any Jazz, EDM, or orchestral music but I did listen to artists that use real brass instruments (I.e. Jason Mraz, Michael Buble, etc). Setup was Wavedream XLR → Luxman L550axii → Sus and Wavedream RCA → GSX Mini → Elite.

Edit: All listening was with the Alcantara pads.

Comfort/Aesthetics/Accessories

Basically the same comfort as the OG. I’m not the biggest fan of the chrome. I can see why they went for it but it’s not for me. Cable is still pretty terrible imo. The new silver briefcase is pretty nice.

Sound
Compared to the Sus, the Elite vocals are a bit more forward. The overall tonality is a little brighter as well. Voices don’t quite have the same texture as Sus. This results in a bit of emotion missing. It’s much easier to discern different voices with Sus compared to Elite. Elite is more energetic compared to Sus. For acoustic music with vocals, the guitar is fighting with the vocals in the Elite compared to for Sus, the guitar is clearly a step back or more of a supportive role. Brass instruments are still just a tiny bit edgy but not as bad as the OG Empy.

Overall dynamics for the Elite are pretty compressed. There’s not a lot of range in volume between the soft and loud elements in a song. The bass bloat from the OGs are gone. Bass is not as punchy as I would like and I’d almost choose OG’s bass over Elite. The OGs bass was more dramatic and made the headphone more fun but it would just overpower the rest of the frequencies. They fixed the issue where the bass seemed to be coming from above with the new driver tracing.

Imaging is decent but separation isn’t quite as clean as Sus. Decay is a bit more natural compared to OG Empy. Sus is able to pull out more nuances in the music compared to Elite.

Conclusion
So based on my first impression listen, I think Meze took the Empy and tried to give it a more agreeable tonality for the audiophile. I think they succeed in that but I still have similar complaints with the Elite as I did with the OG. The overall sound seems very compressed and sounds as everything is the same volume. I don’t have the OGs to compare but I would say resolution is possibly better but still falls short of Sus. I know some might not believe that’s a fair comparison but if I get some more time with it, I’ll compare the Elite with the Hedd as well. Overall I think the headphone is ok but a bit boring. The lack in dynamics kills it for me and the bass has been overcorrected to the point where it loses the OG’s character.

TLDR: If you’re looking for an upgraded Empyrean, this isn’t it.

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Thanks for the write-up. Which pads did you use for the duration of your listening session?

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Alcantara pads, sorry for not including

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