Meze Empyrean over-ear Headphones - Official Thread

Nice. I have an EH 6CG7 plugged into my Vali 2 now.

Likewise, although I currently have the Loki removed from my chain.

I used to have an iFi Nano BL that I enjoyed very much.

5 Likes

My time with the Empyrean has exceeded expectations. My preferred chain so far is Audiolab 6000N Streamer with ESS Sabre DAC > LTA MZ2 with linear power supply. This is preferred over the Chord Qutest and A&S Mogwai SE inserted into the chain, which remains my go-to for the VC.

The presentation of notes with the Qutest is refined with polished edges (which I prefer over the sharper edges of the Bifrost 2 with the VC) that does not pair well with the Empyrean, which in its native state is already the opposite of incisive. The sharper edges with the Sabre DAC complement the Empyrean. I don’t currently have my BF2 in my possession, but I can understand how the BF2/Schiit DACs and Empyrean are often in the same chain.

The Empyrean, a planar, has an absence of distortion compared to the VC (different from detail retrieval; some distortion can be favorable). The MZ2 is a push pull amp with less harmonic distortion / tonal weight / wetness (in general, compared to single ended) that pairs well with the Empyrean. The Empyrean-Mogwai SE pairing is a very good one, but 2nd choice here. The linear power supply of the MZ2 also complements the distinct/well executed/desirable staging of the Empyrean (perhaps attributable to its planar isodynamic hybrid array design that presents like 2 or 3 way speakers, distinct from a single driver dynamic speaker/headphone).

There is likely more to follow, this post was intended to just indicate my preferred pairing to date.

8 Likes

Hi everyone, im new to this forum and i want to share something important i found inside the meze empyrean.
Im always curious about the inside of all the equipment i have and what i found inside the meze really shocked me they use to small standard quality cable with normal Soldering, so i m going to change the cables to silver plated copper with pure silver soldering and share my experience and some photos with you.

Here is the before pictures

Please be careful. Personally, I wouldn’t go near a pair of $3000 planar headphones with a soldering iron.

7 Likes

Me nether, i will use silver and try to do direct contact with no solding at all

Just got the tour unit in!

10 Likes

This is the third time I’ve had the Empyreans to try out in my own system. My system has been different each time I’ve had them but my opinion of them hasn’t really changed much…I’ll formulate my thoughts and try to give it a few days before posting my “impressions/review”

6 Likes

Cool. In a perfect world, there would be a comparison with the HE1000SE and 6SE.

2 Likes

I can compare it with the Susvara if you’d like :slight_smile:

If you must, but a different weight class :slight_smile:. I have more experience with dynamic drivers, and trying to get a better read of what is planar sound vs Empyrean sound.

3 Likes

Disclaimer : Please take with a grain of salt. This is my opinion and my opinion only.

Packaging – Some of the best packaging I’ve seen for a headphone. The suitcase is really cool and the handle has a soft close to it. Everything fits well in the case and it makes you feel like you really bought something premium when opening it up.

Build Quality – Build quality is always what people praise the Empyreans for. It’s nice to the touch and the headphones feel solid. In my opinion, the headphones look like two curling stones or when turned upside down, the cups look like a thong but I think most people find the headphone very attractive. While I do think the quality is good, I don’t think we should really be expecting any less at this price point.

Cable – Cable is pretty terrible. It keeps its shape and doesn’t really instill confidence. I would probably buy a new one right away. It also didn’t come with a balanced end which I think should be required for any headphone over $2k. Anyone spending that much on a headphone will generally have a balanced amplifier and is generally serious about getting the most out of their equipment.

EDIT: I was told that a balanced cable does come with it but the tour did not include one. Regardless, I’d still recommend buying a better cable. :slight_smile:

EDIT 2: Apparently you have to choose either balanced or SE. Other TOTL headphones include an adapter for balanced to SE. That’s generally my preferred cable option.

Comfort – Pads are comfortable and easy to switch out. The leather pads do get a little hot over time. I’ve generally never had any issues with comfort when it comes with Empyrean. This time around though, I didn’t adjust the headphones well enough and it caused a hot spot on the top of my head. I felt like the tour model was a little pickier where I had to tune it in just right so that there wasn’t too much pressure on the top of my head and there wasn’t too much clamping force on the sides of my jaw. Overall, I do find them to be one of the more comfortable headphones out there.

image
From Meze Audio’s website

Sound (all impressions with leather pads) – When listening to Empyreans, the heavens open up, treble pierces your ears and the thunderous bass brings you back to life when your heart stops. At least that’s what you expect me to say right?

The Empyreans bring me back to a simpler time when I first got into the hobby. Listening to my first “high end” ($200+) headphone back in 2009 was like discovering a new world. Never before had I heard voices as clear, treble as sparkly, and bass as hard hitting as when I first tried the DT770 pros in high school. Nowadays, we have multi-kilobuck headphones by companies like Hifiman, ZMF, Focal, etc. that push all the yesteryear TOTL headphones into the budget category. Old goodies like DT880/600ohm and HD600/650 still have some staying power but don’t bring nearly the same resolution as the newer headphones.

In order to get a good feel of how the Empyreans sound, I listened to them by themselves for a couple hours without switching to a different headphone. Treble is clear, mids are present, and bass has a good slam. I noticed that the bass impact that was exciting at the very beginning was starting to get a bit annoying. For example, Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” is a great track to test bass and spicy treble. The bass starts nice and impactful but by the end of the song, I was starting to get a headache and I was just glad the song is over. One thing I found interesting that not too many other people comment on was the bass location. It seems like the bass was coming from the top section of the drivers rather than in the middle/lower middle portion of a dynamic driver. It’s not a deal breaker but something I noticed. I think it’s due to where the bass is produced on the top half of the driver.

image
From Meze Audio’s website

The tonality outside the bass is relatively unoffensive but the timbre of the planar drivers does show during songs with brass instruments or heavy male vocals. There’s a bit of grain that will pop up here and there. Overall, things sound as they should but the bass can be so overpowering that the Empyreans can feel like a one trick pony at times.

Soundstage and Layering – The soundstage of the Empyreans is average when it comes to headphones. It’s not quite as round and compact as the Utopia but it isn’t that wide either. I found that the layering of the Empyreans needed some work. During busier sections, the headphone felt congested and stuffy. Certain instruments got lost in the mix or details weren’t as present.

Dynamics – One thing I’ve noticed with the Empyreans on all three setups I’ve tried them with is that the dynamic range of the headphone is smaller than what I’m used to. I never felt like the headphone was ever quiet. I don’t normally listen to music that loudly but most of the music I listened to would go from 6-10 when it came to dynamics. It didn’t really hit me until I switched over to my headphones and heard a section of the music that was considerably quieter than the rest of the song. So instead of being able to effortlessly play the pianissimo parts, the Empyrean would stick to a mezzo-forte and grow to a fortississimo. I could see how those who just like to rock out with their socks out would prefer the Empyrean.

Resolution – The details and resolution of the Empyrean competes with the mid-tier “average joe” TOTL headphones like the HD800, Arya, etc. The characteristics of the Empyrean really remind me of the value DT880/HD600 but taken to its final form. It brings me back to all the things I was looking to hear when I first bought my headphone and bumps it up to 10 or 11. After feeling like I spent enough time with the Empyreans, I put on my Susvaras and remembered why the Hifimans command such a high price. Not once did I ever feel wowed by what I heard from the Empyreans but the Susvara still provides me some wow moments. The Empyreans are really good, until you’ve heard better.

Value - By itself, the Empyreans appear impressive. They hit hard, vocals are clear, and build quality is great. However, when compared to the actual flagships of today, at the price of $3000 MSRP and street price not too far from that, it’s up against tough competition like the ZMF Verite, Focal Utopia (street price), Diana V2, Diana Phi (street price), and even Hifiman Susvara (used prices). The competition is either a little worse or comparable when it comes to build quality but resolution and sound easily outclass the Empyrean.

If you take Susvara at MSRP value, is a $6,000 Susvara 3x better than say a $1700 used Arya or HD800? I’d say no. Is the Empyrean 2x better than those two? I’d also say no. Is the Susvara 2x better than the Empyrean? I would say yes. These comparisons led me to this conclusion: the Susvara might not be the bang for your buck like an Arya or HD800 but it’s definitely worth the price difference over the Empyrean. How you might ask? Susvara sounds more natural and effortless. It probably has the best timbre I’ve heard from a planar. The bass doesn’t overpower the rest of the music. The soundstage and imaging are clear and wide. The music feels airy and each instrument or voice is layered as to not step over each other. The headphone feels light on your head and provides no hot spots over long periods of time. The Susvara resolves details that are almost impossible to pick out on the Empyrean. It knows when to be nuanced and when to be forceful.

Conclusion – Empyreans - The King of Mid-Fi. I believe there are headphones for everyone. There are people who love bright Grados and people who love dark Audezes. Some people love the wide stage and wow factor of the HD800 while others enjoy the extreme clarity and speed of Stax. Empyreans are basically the best Mid-fi sounding headphone you can buy. It is envied by many for its build quality, aesthetics, and comfort but also hated due to its lack of resolution and sound quality that doesn’t quite compete with its peers at the $3,000 price range. If value isn’t as important to you and you just want the very best that Mid-Fi can offer, look no further than the Empyreans.


From Meze Audio’s website

Music I enjoy – Vocals, Jazz, Boomer music (70-90’s), Asian (Jpop, Kpop)

Equipment used – Resonessence Labs Concero DAC → Goldpoint → Benchmark AHB2 → Empyrean

Other chains I’ve used Empyrean on -

  • Schiit Yggdrasil A2/Unison → Euforia/Flux FA-10 → Empyrean
  • Schiit Yggdrasil A2/Unison → Gilmore Lite mk2/Hegel H80/Zen Can → Empyrean

Special thanks – headphones.com team for organizing this tour and providing an opportunity to try headphones that I might or might not purchase.

24 Likes

I enjoyed this writeup =)

4 Likes

That was a really good write up hope to see more reviews like this one

4 Likes

Great review and formatting!

3 Likes

This review is a bit Sus :slight_smile:

4 Likes

Thank you for the review. You helped me make up my mind.

1 Like

Excellent writeup @driftingbunnies.

Great review, thanks! I’ve got a set of Empyreans, too, though I prefer my Utopias and will probably sell them. But I was curious as to:

“It also didn’t come with a balanced end which I think should be required for any headphone over $2k. Anyone spending that much on a headphone will generally have a balanced amplifier and is generally serious about getting the most out of their equipment.”

Your thought is entirely valid, but there are plenty of ‘serious’ high-end amp manufacturers, especially those building tube amps, who deal only in SE design. They don’t believe there is anything inherently superior about balanced over SE - it’s all down to how it’s used in the engineering/design. I’ve got an $8000 MSB power amp that has both SE and balanced inputs, and MSB suggests using SE for the best performance in their design.

While it’s true that there are plenty of high end tubes that are SE, I believe that most audiophiles try to get the best sound they can get based on what they have. Even if they have the option of using SE, most of the time, people will choose balanced. Even if it makes the smallest amount of difference, I think people tend to squeeze the most out of everything they have. Even Rob Watts included XLR outputs on the TT2 and Dave even though he absolutely does not believe in balanced. His outputs aren’t truly balanced but he understands that his audience wants “balanced” outputs. I’m willing to bet that even though MSB suggest SE, there are plenty of people who still use the XLR inputs :slight_smile: