Meze Empyrean over-ear Headphones - Official Thread

The Meze Empyrean are Meze’s stab at high-end headphones. Meze bringing their unique design to high-end headphones should be a real treat and after trying them out at CanJam SoCal I am super excited to try out the finished product! Anyone else get a chance to try them out at CanJam NYC, SoCal or Axpona?


I heard these at RMAF on several different setups. They had them connected to various high end Auris tube amps. I would describe the sound as bassy and rich. It has emphasized bass, and if you imagine an FR graph, just tilt a straight line down from there into the high treble. I think it is a planar cousin of the ZMF atticus in several ways. I really liked it.

The telling part came when we took a pair over to the zmf table, and hooked it up to a Gilmore light Mark 2 from Massdrop. The overly gooey sound went away and it sounded very clean, rich, and the part I liked the most, not fatiguing in the treble despite having plenty of detail. I don’t think those Auris amps were doing this headphones many favors.

It is definitely unique for a planar magnetic headphone. If you get a chance to listen to it, I definitely would. Try to make sure it’s paired with clean sounding DACs and amps though. I would not say this is a headphone appropriate for treble-heads.


Listening to the Empyrean was the highlight of the day for me this past Sunday at CanJam. Absolutely phenomenal headphones. And what actually blew me away more than the sound (which was excellent) was the build quality and comfort. The design is brilliant and, no exaggeration, they are THE most comfortable headphones I’ve ever worn. The clamp and weight distribution is better than any set of cans I’ve put on my (massive) head. I could easily see myself wearing these all day without the slightest bit of fatigue.


@taronlissimore Any idea why the US Meze Empyreans don’t seem to have an XLR cable as an option? I see it on their website, but only see the 1/4" or 3.5mm options here.

1 Like

Ok, listening to these through the ADI-2DAC and Phonitor XE…and… well I kind of want to go back to the Airist R-2R -> HoloAudio Azure chain… they feel lifeless, in comparison. Very accurate, the bass has lost some oomph and feeling, still there just not emotional. Very detailed, doesn’t feel as wide, imaging is still great, feels like lows are recessed, and mids are more forward along with highs having some brightness to them. It is crazy how neutral/uncolored the Phonitor/RME ADI-2DAC combo is, it really is an extremely revealing combo and will find any flaws with your chain.

With this combo, the Empys are from my memory on par with the Utopias, with better bass, and to my ears less detail and imaging quality.

Just swapped to my Verite…and instantly prefer the Verite sound over the Empyrean…Need more time to verify with proper a/b…but as of right now…with some quick song swaps and HP swaps…Verite takes it. I’m going to play with these two for the next 30min or so…I’ll update this post if I have more thoughts…

Switched to the micro suede, comfort instantly went up, on an already amazingly comfortable headphone. Also, the bass is up, highs tamed a bit, a little more forgiving. More in line with the Verite now…let me switch and continue my stream of conscious…

Verite is back on my head and they are sounding less fatiguing? Hmm…odd. Something about the highs is bothering me with the Empys, can’t quite pin it down. I’m fairly positive it is just a preference thing unique to me though.

Time to switch to the Azure and do some a/b…

@#%@#!%!@#%@!#%^… :face_with_symbols_over_mouth::triumph::rage:


Wow, the Azure amp is nice, it definitely is doing something to the sound…slightly less fatiguing…well I should clarify the chain does not have the ADI-2DAC, but the Airist R-2R DAC, which I’ll have to do a proper comparison of the amps on the same chain to make sure the major change is the amps and not the DACs.

I really like this combo, I’m on the Verite. Yes, I think I’m more of an “emotional” listener…give me color, give me life, emotion, I want to have goosebumps =) I will say the Azure does have some…quirks…it almost has an artificial sound at times…which breaks the feeling I’m getting from it, but it only occurs on occasion, this is both with the Verite and the Empys.

…sorry…Empyrean thread…not amp thread :wink:

Emps are back on the head…I think I figured out something…they sound slightly congested compared to the Verite, mind you, it is very slight. But with the chain I’m using I can pick it up. It on occasion loses its imaging and detail, and feels like noise being thrown at me…this I do believe is due to the mastering of some of the tracks… I also can be overly sensitive to this sort of thing and is probably why I like the HD800, Verite, and now SR1A so much, as they do imaging and detail so well. I do not blame the Empyreans for this, as it is a quirk of mine and that they seem to not handle bad sources very well. But still, more time is needed. :wink: conscious stream to continue for maybe another song or two…

They really can pick up some cool details in tracks that are mastered well though and really do shine…they are definitively the best Planars I’ve heard to date for extended listening. Which to be fair, I don’t have a lot of TOTL Planar experience. The closest TOTL extended listen I’ve had was the LCD-X and these blow those out of the water easily, but are almost 3x the price.

Just for reference sake, I’m listening to my Qobuz library on random…It mirrors my Spotify playlist that I’ve posted a couple of times and can be found in my reviews.

Ending on this track, and it is very relaxing and highlights a lot of the great things the Empyrean can do:

and here is the youtube, I’m not posting the official video…it is, well…not my thing:



I owned the Empyrean and recently sold it. A great headphone, but personal reasons forced the sale. A local Head-Fi pal is on the verge of landing a loaner pair of the Verite from Zach: if/when that happens, I’ll get to hear it at length IMS on most of the same amps I used for the Empyrean. Really looking forward to that, 'cause brief auditions of the Verite @Canjam/NYC indicated this is a headphone that improbably combines great detail & resolution with a somewhat warm, anything-but-bright/tiresome voicing. That’s a near-impossible trick in my experience. Gotta hear more…


Ok, so more head-time finally…work is starting to slow down thank goodness. I am back on the Phonitor XE and ADI-2DAC chain.

I am enjoying this much more than the first go around. Brain break-in :wink: these are smooth, mids feel a lil’ distant, along with the highs. But not in a bad way, more in a relaxed way. I think these are definitely in the relaxed listening realm. I can see just leaning back imbibing and enjoying some great music.

I’m having a different feel to these, this go around. Nice detailed (not as much as the verite), and fun. The bass is smoooooooth! I could see these being an instant buy if they were a bit cheaper. For the price, I think I would rather go with the Rad-O with my own custom coloring options or even the Stelia, but like, that is just, like, you know, my opinion man! But that is as of now… we will see when I have more quality time with them.

For now, I think I’m just going to enjoy them, for what they do.

Another note…these are very well made and very good looking! the chassis and the aluminum cutouts are fantastic, they look really, really good. Also, very comfortable, a little clampy, but not bad at all, also very light on the head. The Suede pads are amazingly comfortable! I will have a hard time swapping them out, but not physically as they just pop off, they are magnetically connected similar to the way CA Cascades are. I wish more headphones took this approach to pads.

Time to get a couple more tracks in.


Here are some shots from this weekend, mostly just auto correct and some photoshop express light touches while on my iPad. I was playing with a couple of my lenses, I’m really liking the Kamlan 1.1 manual lens it’s bokeh is really nice (all of these pictures were taken with it)


I finally got a chance to spend a little bit of time with the Meze Empyrean today (thanks to @TylersEclectic). This has been something I’ve been eagerly anticipating for a while, particularly given all the hype that has built up around these cans.

My listening time was limited, and I wanted to spend that with them on my head, rather than doing measurements and taking pictures, but these cans were fully “burned in” (to the extent that such things matter), and were driven with TOTL gear/sources.

Initial impressions …


The Empyrean are gorgeous to look at and are beautifully finished. They look and feel the way a $3,000 headphone should. Only Focal do this better, right now. The carry case is substantial, and a very nice addition.


They’re quite a bit larger than they look. I did not have to extend the yokes at all to perfectly fit my average-sized head. And they are very light and extremely comfortable with barely perceptible clamping pressure - yet they stay put without issue.

In the planar-world, only MrSpeakers Ether 2 are even in the running for this level of comfort. And it’d between those, and these, that I would say are, by far, the most comfortable planar headphones you can buy.

The pads are … well … THICK.

This has been a bit of a trend lately … especially with planar units … we’re borderline “comedy thick” on the pads here. They’re superbly comfortable, and compliant, and make getting a proper seal a no-effort affair. There’s not really an issue with thick pads, as long as the sound and comfort are where they should be, and they are here … but I did find it amusing just how thick these are.


Driving them was extremely easy. Even the AudioQuest DragonFly Red or Cobalt could push them to extreme (even dangerous) levels of replay, without issue, even with regards to deep sub-bass reproduction. But most of my listening was done with the “big” Chord stack (with more than ample power).

You could EASILY run these off any competent DAP and even most phone-dongles will drive them well (to 110 dB peaks) with power to spare.


There has been an arse-load (that’s two metric fuck-tons) of hype around these cans online. I can certainly see why they are well received, popular, and hard to find in-stock. It would be remiss of me to say they aren’t excellent - because they are.

They are, for sure, fully competitive at their price point - especially in regard to other planar cans; however, for me at least, I think they’re somewhat victims of their own hype.

Overall bass performance/level is probably the closest to the Abyss AB-1266 that you’ll find. The LCD-4 extends a hair lower, but qualitatively there really isn’t anything in it. At the same time, these are bass-tilted headphone. If I attempted to draw their frequency response plot, the bass would be elevated and it’d be a declining, shallowly-angled, straight-line into the mids, a bit of a dip in the mids/upper-mids, and then continuing that down-angled straight line into the treble.

Bassheads looking for planar cans in this price-range should probably look here first.

The mids, and the upper-mids in particular, are, I feel, a bit recessed. Resolution here is also not as good as I would have hoped. The Sennheiser HD650 will out resolve these in the mid-range. While planar cans are not my first choice for resolution/detail-centric listening, I was a bit taken-a-back at how obvious the delta in mid-range resolution was vs. other similarly targeted cans.

More interestingly, the bass articulation, detail and resolution is first-class and the treble doesn’t lack for incisiveness or detail, either.

One notable aspect of the treble was that it felt a bit like it was being injected directly into my ears, where the rest of the sound seemed to come from above/around the ear.

This was a little disjointing and I felt was a little bit less coherent than the delivery of offerings like the RAD-0, Ether 2, LCD-4 or Abyss. More listening time might make this moot (I ran into something similar with the tia Fourté, and after a few hours it wasn’t apparent any more). But as it is, this was a distraction in my listening and that’s never a good thing.


I’ve said more than I probably should for a “first impressions” post. I actually quite like the Empyrean. Some aspects of them are top-of-their-class. I totally get why so many people rave about them. They do a lot right, they’re well made, gorgeous, super-comfortable and very satisfying to listen to … especially for those that like a rather more bass than is natural/neutral.

They’re well worth auditioning if you’re in the market for an open-back planar, with a bass-tilt, at this level.

For me … well, my princess lives in another castle.


This is exactly how I hear these as well…it is very hard to convey the “above/all around my ears” bass and mids…I kind of mention it in previous posts. But on certain tracks it gets too wall of noise for me, I blame my own hearing issues and mastering of certain tracks…honestly I was sipping on some sizurp when it happened and now I’ve forgotten the track I was listening to…but if it happens again I’ll be sure to note the track. But it was on Qobuz studio streaming service so a minimum of CD quality streaming. I’m glad I’m not crazy :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: in what I was hearing as @Torq has had a similar experience with them.

Also they really do need to be seen and worn, as they really do outperform majority of headphones in the comfort and looks department…minus my precious ZMF Ziricote cans :wink:

@Torq thanks for the impromptu meet up and respite from my work crazy lol


heard the Empyrean with Cayin N8 in tube mode - what a wonderful experiance

the comfort is really best or on same level with Mr Speakers - Dan was always #1 for me and my big head with small ears


Chapter 1: Empyreans

Edit: forgot to say where I got them :wink:

I have these on loan from Kitsune HiFi. These thoughts/impressions are my own and Kitsune HiFi only requested that I post about my thoughts on them. These will be going back to Kitsune HiFi.

I was pleasantly surprised by how light and just plain beautiful these headphones are. Comfort is exceptional, along with the build quality. They are a sight to behold.

They are much bigger in person than one might expect though, which isn’t a detraction just a statement.

Sound of the Empyrean:

I find these to be a very interesting listen, they do not fall in line with what I was expecting. The mids-highs are beamed into my ears while Lows-low/mids are to me seems to be coming from above and all around my head. It is a very interesting experience and one I recommend anyone who gets the chance to demo a unit to try.

The bass is not overwhelming but it doesn’t seem as “tight” or precise as what I was expecting. It has nice substance and the traditional planar signature. Bass is there hovering it feels like. Not unsubstantial, but not having the impact I was expecting. Bass for these, kind of throws me off, it is there and sounds very good, but the placement is throwing my brain out of whack due to feeling like it is coming from above and all around my head.

Vocals are very exceptional; they are laser beamed into your ears lol. Same with the highs and other mid-frequency sounds. But the vocals especially are excellent. High hats, snares, snaps, violin, etc., are also fun to experience with the Empyreans.

Highs and mids are for me what really shines as the stand out sound on the Empyreans.
Throw a couple of Pentatonix tracks on for a fun evening.

Overall the sound signature is not overly bass-heavy and I think what shines are the mids, vocals, and highs. The highs aren’t “sparkly” but layered there just about right.

Staging is in front with a decent stage, small venue, intimate but not closed in. Imaging is also in a similar situation for me, as it has just enough separation to keep it a relaxed listen without pulling everything either too close together or far apart. Detail retrieval is also kind of in the Goldilocks realm, as it is “just right” for that enjoyable listen without either going too analytical or blurred together.

As far as sound goes, for me, this falls in the realm of sitting in your audio battlestation, preferably with insert booze of preference here, leaning back and getting lost into what you are listening to while letting your brain engage/disengage and wander.

Build, looks, what it comes with:

This thing is fantastically put together! It screams quality and high end. Honestly one of the best looking, designed, crafted and assembled headphones I’ve come across so far. I can’t really say much here except exceptional quality, craftsmanship and attention to detail went into creating this. The aluminum body and design are beautiful, I can sit and look at these for a long time. Then throw in the fact that they are insanely light and comfortable, well, these are definitely the best “planar” headphone I’ve had the pleasure of having on my head so far.

They come in a very James Bond villain briefcase. An extra set of pads (which are magnetically attached, seriously why haven’t the rest of the industry followed suit!!!) and a cable. I’m unsure as to which cable is stock as my demo unit came with the upgraded cable ending in balanced XLR (which is a very well-built cable, I kind of want one…).

At the end of the day:

So, these are excellent, I find them well built, with a very smooth easy sound, with a just-right kind of sound signature across the board. I could easily recommend them to anyone with the means for a beautiful easy to listen to and power planar headphone.


  • For me though I have other headphones on hand that just don’t leave room for these in my stable of headphones at home. I would personally prefer my ZMF Verite or RAAL SR1a over these. That isn’t to detract from these though as this is just my preference. I appreciate greatly what Meze has created in the Empyreans, they are beautiful, unfortunately, they just aren’t for me. They may very well be your cup of tea though and I highly recommend seeking them out for a listen.

I didn’t get a chance to write up my full review yet for these but I expect that’ll come in the next few days. In the meantime, my take on the Empyrean is as follows:

Build: 10/10
Comfort: 11/10
Detail retrieval: 8.8/10
Speed & dynamics: 7.5/10
Tonality: 9/10

Overall I find the Empyrean to be a good headphone, just not a great headphone. It does a lot of things right in areas that really matter to me, like build and comfort, and the tonality is really quite agreeable - but ultimately it doesn’t quite stack up to other similarly priced flagships like the ZMF Verite, RAD-0, or some of the HiFiMAN planars in terms of technical performance. I think for a lot of us who prioritize comfort, the Empyrean could still be a good choice though. If you imagine a punnet square where one axis is comfort and the other is performance, the Empyrean sits squarely in the desirable box. This is impressive because it shows that it’s possible to make a planar magnetic flagship truly comfortable and usable for a long period of time. I just wish they had pulled out a few more stops on the magnets or the diaphragm, or something to get it closer to its price point.

Here’s the video for now:


Excellent review!

Not only was it as enjoyable as yours typically are, but it was nice to see that the majority of what you said lines up pretty much exactly with my experiences with them. I find that to be a valuable sanity check for my own listening (i.e. it’s nice to know I’m not imagining things!).

And there are at least three of us I know of that have commented on the odd effect where things sound like they’re coming from different places or aren’t quite coherent. Which is an interesting contrast to the massive “perfect/can-do-no-wrong” hype these have received from some quarters.

Very enjoyable listen, and super-comfortable, beautifully put together, well presented, but just falling shy of the very highest accolades for me, a part of which is simply based on price. While the comfort cannot be beaten, currently, the sound (for me) can, and at a lower price point.


Concur with @Torq here, as when I had a set in for demo…they were amazing build and comfort wise but the sound was just not there for the price point. Especially regarding the coherence aspect. Also a good sanity check for me lol, even though torq and a couple others experienced similar issues it’s nice to see we aren’t alone lol.


Having owned the Meze Empyrean since June of this year here are my thoughts!

Equipment used:

Amp’s: - SPL Phonitor X - HDV820

DAC’s: - Schiit Yggdrasil - HDV820


Lowest quality CD Red book 44kHz up to 192/24-bit streamed from Qobuz or from my own library played through JRiver25.

Build quality:

At launch Meze originally had some issues with their anodizing process of the aluminum frame that caused the finish on the headphones to easily blemish and scratch; Meze was quick to remedy this and extend the anodizing process which also changed the color of the aluminum frame some as well giving it the “gun metal” finish we see today. All materials used are of premium quality providing excellent comfort and durability. The few months I have owned these they have not picked up any scratches/dings and still look pristine. I don’t have any doubts these will stay in very good condition for many years to come.


Meze nailed this one! The suspension headband, thick soft pads (both suede and leather) multi point adjustment (vertical and 360° swivel) where the yoke attaches to the headband, and another pivot adjustment where the yoke attaches to the frame of the drivers gives you a lot of freedom to mold these to your head. This level of adjustment makes for a headphone that while 430g seems to disappear from your head! I have had many extended listening sessions 8+ hrs. of both music and for gaming, without any form of fatigue.


The Empyrean is very easy to drive! You would be hard pressed to find something that can’t power these to be pleasant to listen through. Running balanced through my AK 100ii DAP, there was enough power (1.7Vrms) to acceptably listen to most genres of music with only bass heavy songs struggling to be presented correctly.

The SPL Phonitor X and HDV 820 had more than enough power to drive these to full potential; to the point where the power available in these amps really are overkill for the empyreans. All of my listening on these were done in low gain mode with the volume at 9-11 o’clock.


While the DAP and HDV 820 were able to drive the headphones just fine in this section I will discuss sound quality through the Schiit Yggdrasil DAC and SPL Phonitor X amp only:

You have two sets of pads to choose from and this will vary the sound greatly. The leather pads give you a more intimate (narrower soundstage) and overall more excited/ intense sound signature. I found this caused some distortion in the lower frequencies, recessed the mids further and increased treble (even with the leather pads it’s never to the point of being too bright or fatiguing). My preference is with the suede pads; they present in a more relaxed manner with a much wider soundstage, cleaner more articulate bass, smooth mids and airy highs. The Empyrean is a jack of all trade’s kind of versatile headphone that has superb bass and vocals. Timbre is on point, and very natural sounding. With the suede pads the soundstage is very wide (not HD800 wide but not too far off either) with acceptable imaging.

While comfort, fit and finish are superb on these headphones detail retrieval is where most people have a hang up. At an MSRP of $3000 I would agree fully that if detail retrieval is your sole objective there are many better options available. $1600 HD800 is hard to beat for the price/performance you get, $2500 ZMF verite are a superb headphone that if you don’t need planar slam could be end game for many. In my own practice I have found that Meze/ Rinaro’s tuning of the driver may be somewhat to blame for this, these are bass-tilted headphones… possibly to a fault. The bass can drown out the mids and details making it very hard to pick up on certain parts of music you may be familiar to listening for in analytical tests. Couple this with the leather pads which seems to be the preference for most and I find it can muddy up the listening experience especially during points in a song where sonically there’s a lot is going on.

I say the lack of detail retrieval may be somewhat down to the tuning of the drivers because at home I have found that an eq of -3.5db preamp with 3db boost at 1.5k makes a huge difference in bringing the mids back into the mix. Taking that a step further, using the crossfeed option with the Phonitor X also seems to help make a big difference in detail retrieval and clarity. I couldn’t begin to tell you what is going on in the analogue circuitry of the Phonitor X’s crossfeed section to cause this but I can say that as a listener it creates more separation, pulls bass back quite a bit and brings the sound signature much closer to a neutral presentation. With these adjustments made it does make the detail retrieval much better than the default Empy’s sound signature but still doesn’t bring it on par with other premium planar’s like the RAD-0, LCD-4 etc.

Meze has confirmed that they have multiple pads that are in R&D and set to be released in 2020, I am hoping that the new pads will give better performance and sound quality. My hope, and this is a tangent of my own thoughts which Meze have not confirmed or even spoken of… Is that the Empyrean frame could be built as a chassis to a modular sound system. The cups and drivers were engineered in a way that owners could swap them out with ease and very quickly (not RAAL Sr1a quick with the driver change, but within 15 min). New pads or drivers could be developed and an owner could swap them out themselves for a different sonic presentation while retaining that incredible comfort. This would be a huge quality of life improvement to the audio world and one I personally would love to see from Meze.


The Empyrean is an extremely comfortable headphone that you can have on your head all day without fatigue of any kind. The quality of materials and design will ensure a product that will last many years. While the Empy scales well with better gear, it is a headphone you can listen to out of most equipment and get good performance from it. At a price point of $3000 USD, the detail retrieval is lacking, this can be improved some by eq changes etc. but still IMHO will not be worth purchase if you are looking for a super detailed headphone. Overall sound signature is a fun and dare I say it… musical rather than analytical. There is a bass bump- slightly recessed mids with present but never overpowering or fatiguing treble; vocals through the Empyrean are some of the best I’ve heard, and timbre is very authentic. This is a great headphone for background or relaxed listening for any genre from classical to EDM. Having owned it for 6 months I still love listening to the Empyrean every time I put them on, however I am now looking for another detailed/ analytical headphone to fit that need.


Very goo write-up Joshua. It sounds like a really great headphone. At this price point there are a few contenders that would make the decision of which one to own a hard task. Thanks for your detailed thoughts I enjoyed reading them. Enjoy.


Did Meze forget to pay their advertising bill or something? :joy: J/k. Sorry, not sorry.

Great technical reviews guys. They were at least as informative and exciting to read as TPS reports. :joy:

I will just come right out and say it… I prefer the Empyreans to the Raal SR1A and HiFiMan HE1000SE, HE1000V2, and Anandas.

To clarify the Raals are technically superior in some ways and if you don’t mind very little bass or enjoy folding out the wings and living out a childhood fantasy pretending you’re a super hero that can fly then by all means dare to dream.

They are great too if you’re into analyzing music instead of enjoying it.

I’m not even going to bring up HiFiMan because everybody knows their pluses and minuses.

Since getting the Empyreans this would be the first time in a very long time I’m actually enjoying music more using MERE headphones. So much so, that my REAL dedicated two channel audio systen that has cost me personal friendships, and relationships, and more money than most people’s coke addictions has been relegated to collecting dust and getting no airtime.

I may have a serious problem!

I’m starting to have concerns how many hours I’ve clocked on the Empyreans in the last week alone.

Here’s my daily routine for Saturday:
6:00AM I wake up having only slept a few hours and was excited to get an early start returning to the Empyreans which I’ve been playing virtually nonstop since I got them a week ago so much so I fell asleep to them the previous evening.

Intermittent bathroom breaks, occasional brief expeditions grazing in front of the fridge, and a trip to the liquor store aside…my ass has been held-up like an innocent bystander in a bank robbery. I’ve been glued to my recliner in my main listening room listening to music all morning, day, and it’s not looking any different for my evening :notes:. I know, 1st world problems.

Drops mic… that’s my review. No pontificating here.

Sometimes I wonder if headphone junkies are so disaffected that they don’t even know when they’ve actually just scored the best method to inject ‘musicality’ (yeah I said it) into their lives.

Please send help if I don’t report back in tomorrow…I may have overdosed! :joy:


Thought I would share my experience with the Empyrean’s
I had them in for review about a month ago.

Meze Empyrean’s
Short review by Jeremy (jb77)

The Empyrean’s by Meze

The Empyrean’s are a headphone that really caught my interest from its initial release. From its RINARO ISOPLANAR® DIAPHRAGM drivers to its machined cups, it’s carbon fiber headband, all of these for some reason simply got me interested in this headphone. Fast forward to when I started reading reviews and this seemed like it would be a headphone I would really enjoy. Ok enough with my rambling, let’s get into my short review. For those who would like to read more about the Empyrean’s, please visit their site and read through to the bottom(lots of scrolling) and watch the videos on the construction process. Meze’s website for the Empyrean’s is:

Initial impressions

To my surprise this headphone did not initially impress me, as I was use to the sound signature of my Focal Elex, which is quite different compared to the Empyrean’s. This is why it is important to listen to only one headphone at a time for an extended period, before making a final judgment.


As with all audio gear this is my personal subjective opinion. Everyone has their own preferences, which in turn makes everyone’s review subjective to their tastes and opinions. However with the aforementioned, most of us can still agree on what is a ‘good’ headphone vs a ‘bad’ headphone.

Gear I used for the review

Open Back headphones

  1. Focal Elex
  2. Audeze LCD-2C
  3. Verum V1

Headphone Amp Inventory:

  1. Schiit Mjolnir 2 (MJ2) (Tube Hybrid)
  2. Monolith Liquid Platinum by Alex Cavalli(LP) (Tube Hybrid)
  3. Massdrop THX AAA 789
  4. JDS Labs Atom

Source(DAC) Inventory:

  1. Airist Audio R-2R Dac
  2. SMSL SU-8 v2

Cable Inventory:
Interconnects are Blue Jeans Cable:
Belden 1800F balanced cables
LC-1 single ended rca cables

Headphone cables:
Corpse Cable Gravedigger Cardas Audio Litz Balanced Cables for:
Focal Elex
Audeze LCD-2C

Corpse Cable Mogami 289 Balanced Cable for:
Verum V1

Build Quality
10 of 10

The build quality is absolutely phenomenal. From the use of premium materials, to the machined cups, to the carbon fiber and leather headband. The Empyrean’s are one of the best made headphones you can purchase today.

10 of 10

Simply put. These are the most comfortable planar headphones I have ever tried. Easily an ‘all-day’ comfort level.

Sound Quality
8.9 of 10

On to sound quality, the part that most of us care about.

Detail , the Empyrean’s are very good at detail retrieval however they are not detail monsters, they do dive into your recordings and dig out detail, though they are not a class leader by any means. Seek other headphones if your goal is to get the most detail retrieval possible.

Soundstage , the Empyrean’s have a soundstage that is very impressive, what I mean by that, is the soundstage hits all three axis, it has width, depth and height. Soundstage is something that is very subjective on what people enjoy, some really enjoy an intimate soundstage and others look for the ‘biggest’ soundstage they can find. The Empyrean’s are in the middle. Though because of the way the soundstage is presented in this headphone, it is very “lifelike” it gives you a sense of being “there”.

Imaging , the Empyrean’s have very good but not excellent imaging. However with the above mentioned soundstage, it delivers an amazing listening experience. It adds “life” to your music.

Treble , the Empyrean’s have great treble extension, though they do lack some air that other headphones can deliver. This does however make the Empyrean’s very forgiving, for the vast majority of music they are not fatiguing. I did however have the slightest bit of fatigue with the leather pads on initial listening with my test tracks I specifically use for testing treble fatigue. However once I became acclimated to the Empyrean’s this reduced to become a non-issue.

Midrange , the midrange response on these headphones is simply wonderful, it presents itself very nicely without out being really forward or recessed. It comes across as more flat or linear.

Bass , Bass on the Empyrean’s is incredibly detailed throughout the low end. I believe these headphones have some of the most detailed bass I have ever heard. The bass is also very impactful and full, that can reach very low frequencies. The impact they have with the leather pads is insane, it makes my Audeze LCD 2 classic seem bass light in comparison. But the Empyrean’s do it in a way to add body, weight, and dimension to the sound, also I used some test tones and the Empyrean’s do audibly go down to 20Hz. Very impressive. This amount of detailed bass definitely adds warmth and weight to the sound. With the aforementioned being said, I can see the potential for this amount of bass to come across as bloated on certain systems. I did not have this issue on any of the amps I used (mentioned above) including my 2 hybrid tube amps. Though I can see this being tube dependent on my LP and MJ2. I used my favorite tubes for both the LP and MJ2.

Pads , the Empyrean’s come with a pair of leather (or vegan) pads as well as Alcantara pads. These pads do affect both comfort and sound.

For about 2 hours, I listened to several tracks then swap pads, then a few less tracks and swap again, until I got down to just a single track at a time, would listen with the leather pads then switch to the suede pads. My initial findings are as follows:

Leather pads:
Much more up front or ‘in your face’ type sound, if I use the “concert” analogy the leather pads would be closer to the stage, they hit harder, have more pronounced bass, bass slam. Treble (for me) is elevated, mids are more forward. The leather pads were slightly harsh on my treble test tracks I use specifically to test for harshness.

Alcantara pads:
More relaxed sounding, everything takes a step back compared to the leather pads, if the leather pads were closer to the stage the suede pads are further from the stage, this (for me) ‘fixes’ the slightly elevated treble of the leather pads as on the same test tracks the suede pads are not harsh. Bass looses some of its heft compared to the leather pads, it does not hit as hard either. Mids are not as forward as the leather pads. Soundstage seems slightly better on the suede pads.

I did these initial comparison exclusively on the LP using my SMSL SU-8 dac.

Pad wise I would go back and forth depending on what I was listening to, though in the end I preferred the leather pads most of the time.

Forgiving , the Empyrean’s are probably some of the best ‘all-rounders’ you can currently buy. For the most part they ‘play’ well with whatever types of recordings and recording quality you throw at them. They will scale well when you play hi-res files, yet the also play very well with CD quality. Unlike most other high-end or flagship level headphones, the Empyrean’s are forgiving and allow multiple genres of music to sound fantastic on them. Thus IMO making them phenomenal ‘all-rounders’.

Non-Detailed Comparisons

Vs. my Focal Elex
For me they best my Elex in every category except imaging, as my pair of Elex have laser focused imaging. However the Elex has a completely different sound signature than the Empyrean’s, they are also the only dynamic drivers in the comparison. Previous to receiving the Empyrean’s the Elex was my daily driver. Now that the Empyrean’s are gone the Elex has resumed its roll as my daily driver and the Elex is still my favorite headphone I currently own.

Vs. my Audeze LCD2 Classic
The initial thought that comes to mind regarding this comparison, is the Empyrean’s make my Audeze’s seem bass light in comparison, it is amazing what the Empyrean’s are capable of.

Vs. my Verum V1
The Verum’s are more treble forward/harsh, they lack the detail, imaging, bass control etc. that the Empyrean’s offer. The Empyrean’s are the better sounding headphones.

Overall Impressions

Overall these headphones are flat out amazing in what they can do, they allow me to enjoy music like never before. They are my favorite headphones for enjoying music.
Are they detail kings!? No.
Are they the best in Imaging!? No.
Do they have the best response throughout the frequency range? No.
But that isn’t the point, the Empyrean’s are not the ‘best’ in any one category, However they are really good across all categories. They are forgiving and IMO are probably the best ‘all-rounders’ you can currently buy. IMO these are the headphones to grab to just sit back relax and enjoy music. Which IMO is what this hobby is about! Enjoying music!

Final Thoughts

Though this headphone did not initially impress me, after listening to it, now it has become my favorite headphone for enjoying music. It is an absolute recommendation, for those of you who like to just enjoy your music. For those of you who want to analyze and find all of the details in your music, this is not my first choice for those purposes. That being said, when I am able I will purchase the Empyrean.

As you might be able to tell my wife and I are Disney Fans.

E04CE058-7F75-430C-BED0-345CA00E7A96.jpegA12F7BF3-8475-4297-9F28-D68AD4DD9614.jpeg07437C59-D7CA-4100-9E54-1599531BEDD6.jpeg 542402FB-5913-4A07-A0A7-289D9DD95D3E.jpeg2BD14D5A-66F9-45D0-BBC5-54935C51034D.jpeg CC17E43F-17C9-408D-A8B2-D1AEE690713E.jpeg2033573F-981D-4461-BCA7-F47C72E04886.jpeg 862C5E47-7133-4190-9E26-3FDC79C25899.jpeg


You’re a hostage to your Empyreans, with Stockholm in full effect!

Glad you’re enjoying them so much. I may try and save up for a pair, with their build quality and most importantly, what many say about their sound they appear to be a real gem.