About the Meze Audio Empyrean
A statement piece from a design-focused audio company
The Meze Audio Empyrean headphones are one of the most solidly built, visually stunning headphones I've ever tried.
A statement piece from a design-focused audio company
These stellar planar magnetic headphones have been years in the making. Throughout production of the Meze Audio Empyrean, Antonio Meze and his team have taken their prototypes to high-end headphone shows all over the world — collecting feedback along the way. I've been fortunate enough to hear the Empyrean twice, about a year apart. The finished product delivers an absolutely deluxe headphone experience, with the best bass response I've ever heard in a pair of planar magnetic headphones.
In fact, Meze Audio teamed up with Ukrainian research team Rinaro to develop an entirely new take on traditional planar drivers. They call them "Isodynamic hybrid" drivers, and it is more than just a fancy name. I feel they've carved out a completely new sound signature, and I really enjoyed it.
Solidly constructed with fine attention to detail
Antonio Meze has an industrial engineering background, and these headphones look and feel like the result of a master at their craft. When I first held the Meze Empyrean, I reacted like you might when handling a piece of art. It felt like I was doing something wrong. Not because the headphones feel overly delicate — they're not — but because the design is so clean and detailed, it was like I was putting my hands on a fine sculpture.
The Empyrean headphones arrive packed neatly in a heavy-duty travel case.
From a distance these might look like closed-back headphones, but a closer look at their robust aluminum frame reveals a different story. An intricately etched pattern in the earcup allows air to flow in and out freely. In the carousel above, you can see a video of the machining process that Meze Audio uses to create these beautiful earcups.
Incredibly comfortable and beautifully packed
The Empyreans are among the physically largest headphones out there, but they also might be the easiest to wear at this size. A flexible, carbon-fiber headband acts as a spine for a leather strap that hugs the crown of your head. This evenly distributed the weight of the headphones, and I felt like I could've worn them for way longer than the hour audition I had with them.
Of course it helped that the earpads were some of the thickest, and softest to the touch that I've ever worn. The pads delicately cradled my head, avoiding pressure points, yet still managed to stay securely in place as I moved my head. Meze packs two sets of earpads — one leather, one Alcantara® — inside a heavy-duty, luggage-size carrying case. It is a stunning presentation.
One-of-a-kind driver for powerful full-range sound
If that impeccably packed briefcase reminds you of something Q would hand James Bond, just wait till you look at the technical wizardry inside the driver. Planar magnetic drivers in general are pretty complex, but here are the basic physics: a super-sized diaphragm moves lots of air, resulting in spacious sound with true-to-life dynamics. The diaphragm is covered with a flexible voice coil circuit and trapped in a magnetic field. It moves when the circuit receives an audio signal.
This color-coded illustration of the Empyrean's hybrid array planar diaphragm shows the separate voice coils for bass (blue) and mids/highs (gold).
Meze and Rinaro developed a way to separate the voice coil circuit into two distinct parts. There is a spiral coil that is positioned right next to the ear canal so that it can carefully distribute mids and highs. Since there is no obstruction to the listening path, it provides greater resolution and helps lower distortion.
Above that spiral, the snake-like coil handles the bass, and only the bass. This is likely why I heard — and felt — that deep, authoritative low-end, whereas some planar drivers can occasionally sound too "polite." But, like those other planar drivers, the bass here is clean and bloat-free. It's the best of both worlds.
Special magnet array for greater efficiency
One of the coolest features of this headphone from a tactile standpoint is the planar magnet system. The same magnet array that moves the drivers also helps secure the earpads to the earcups. Those lush pads fasten in place with a satisfying snap.
Meze's unique magnetic mounting method also serves a sonic purpose. When the earpads are firmly in place, they help send magnetic power back to the planar driver system. That extra magnetic flux increases the driver output and the overall efficiency of the Empyrean headphones.
Listening impressions...and other thoughts
I usually recommend listening to planar magnetic headphones through a high-powered desktop headphone amp. Still probably a good idea here, if possible, but I actually listened to the Empyrean through a smaller, portable headphone amp/DAC. And this more than did the trick with these efficient headphones.
The soundstage felt spacious and breathable, but not huge. And never so stretched out that it was at the expense of the dynamics. Paul Simon has a full orchestra behind him on the song "Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War." As instruments changed in volume from soft to loud — and back — it all felt incredibly textured and real, never too laid back.
These headphones have pinpoint imaging, too, which made the bouncy, reggae-infused track "Tequila Mockingbird" by hip hop artist Smino even more fun. The St. Louis emcee's sing-song, southern-drawl flows seemed to stick right in the middle, while the hypnotic drums and bass swarmed around my head. Guitar samples, ad-libs, and back-up vocals came from very specific places in the mix, and I marveled at how well-produced the song sounds.
Speaking of hearing a song again for the first time, I put on "Can't Find my Way Home" by Blind Faith next. I can't count how many times I've heard this song, but I still find that those opening chords cut through the monotony of Classic Rock radio and grab my attention. Well, they've never sounded quite as detailed and haunting as they did on the Meze Empyrean headphones. By the time Steve Winwood's vocals kicked in, I had closed my eyes, so consumed by the lifelike cohesiveness of the sound that I forgot I was in a room full of people.
And, oh yeah, that bass. I think that's what I enjoyed the most about these headphones. While the low-end had a slight emphasis, it felt true-to-life on whatever type of music I played on it. It never felt overbearing or out of place on tracks that didn't call for a lot of bass. But on Vince Staples' hip hop track "War Ready," these headphones were ready to reproduce that deep, detailed sub bass.
These headphones bring the thunder.
- open-back design offers transparent sound
- planar magnetic drivers tuned to deliver smooth, revealing sound with enhanced dynamics
- patented hybrid array driver delivers articulate mids and highs with tight, strong bass
- machined and hand-assembled at Meze's headquarters in Romania
- made with premium materials and metals
Isodynamic Hybrid Array Driver Details:
- co-designed and co-developed with Ukrainian research group Rinaro
- planar magnetic drivers offer exceptional musical detail with low distortion
- extra-light, rigid isoplanar diaphragm starts and stops quickly for clear, articulate sound
- oval-shaped diaphragm increases efficiency helps lowers mass of drivers
- separate voice coil traces for accurate sound across a wide frequency range
- "spiral" coil positioned directly next the ear canal for resolving mids and highs
- "switchback" coil dedicated to low-end reproduction for authoritative bass
- strong, symmetrical magnetic array for greater diaphragm efficiency with fluid movement
- patented ferromagnetic plates lock earpads firmly into place
- earpad mounting system sends the magnetic field back into the driver to increase driver output
- a separate headphone amplifier is required to properly power these headphones for optimum sound quality
- milled-aluminum frame with lightweight carbon headband
- leather headband strap evenly distributes the weight on your head for effortless fit
- fiberglass-infused plastic earcup chambers
- two pairs of thick, well-cushioned memory-foam earpads for supreme comfort:
- furniture-grade stitched leather earpads
- soft Alcantara earpads
General Info and Specs:
- 9.84- foot detachable oxygen-free cable terminated by a 1/4" headphone plug
- heavy-duty design with braided cloth covering
- terminated at the headphone with 4-pin mini-XLR connection
- hard-shell briefcase with soft, egg-crate foam protective interior
- frequency response: 4-110,000 Hz
- sensitivity: 130 dB
- impedance: 31 ohms
- weight: 15.2 ounces
- warranty: 2 years
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
- MFR # EMPYREAN 6.3mm
What's in the box:
- Over-ear headphones (gun metal)
- 1 Pair of leather ear pads (installed)
- 1 Pair of Alcantara ear pads
- 10' Audio cable with 1/4" (6.3mm) plug
- User Manual
- Thank You card
Meze Audio Empyrean reviews
A nice alternative to the other TOTL headphones out. Many like the Abyss, Utopia,LCD4 can be a little hot in the treble. The Meze have gobs of detail, but the treble is a little lower in volume. Not rolled off, just a little pulled back. I have all of the above mentioned headphones, and I am happily adding the Empyrean to my collection. Nice all rounder with slightly enhanced bass and a sound stage that just seems right. But of all the afore mentioned headphones, I like the vocals on the Empyrean. It is their greatest quality in my opinion. Male and female vocals just sound natural.
Pros: Sound stage, bass, vocals
Cons: Some loss of sparkle, but if you are sensitive to highs or listen to most modern music, this may not be a negative.
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More details on the Meze Audio Empyrean
Features & specs
|Earcup Width x Height||3.643" x 5.082"|
|Mic For Taking Calls||No|
|Frequency Response||4-110k Hz|
|1/4-inch Adapter Included||No|
|Parts Warranty||2 Years|
|Labor Warranty||2 Years|
Overview: The Meze Audio Empyrean premium over-ear headphones is the first Isodynamic Hybrid Array Headphone, and is one of the most technologicaly innovative planar magnetic headphones in the world. Each pair is made with premium materials, and hand assembled in Baia Mare, Romania. Empyrean comes with two pairs of interchangeable ear pads, a 10-foot audio cable, and stores in a high-strength aluminum suitcase with foam inserts.
Empyrean Driver: The Empyrean headphones feature the MZ3 Isodynamic Hybrid Array driver, exclusively made for Meze by Rinaro Isodynamics in Ukraine. The Rinaro Isoplanar Diaphragm is manufactured from a custom developed isotropic thermally stabilized polymer with a conductive layer. It features a switchback coil at the upper part of the driver for reproducing lower frequencies (down to 4 Hz), and a spiral coil for mids and highs (up to 110,000 Hz), positioned directly over the ear canal to direct sound waves into the ear canal without time delays. The 75mm x 49mm diaphragm weighs only 0.16 grams (0.006 ounces), yet has 4650 square millimeters of active area. Placed on each side of the diaphragm is a hybrid magnet array to create an efficient Isodynamic magnetic field providing uniform activation across the entire diaphragm surface. The diaphram and magnet array are sandwiched inside a fiberglass-infused ABS frame. On the outside of each ear cup is a beautifully sculped, CNC-milled aluminum grill to ensure a natural sound transparency.
Ergonomically-shaped Ear Cups: The driver, ear cups, and ear pads are manufactured in an ovoid shape which minimizes weight and ergonomically fits around the ear. The ovoid shape mirrors the shape of the outer ear, wide at the top and narrow at the bottom.
Interchangeable Ear Pads: The headphones include two pairs of interchangeable ear pads. One pair is made of real leather, and the other is suede-like Alcantara. The ear pads securely attach to the ear cups via isomagnetic coupling. The demagnetizing field generated by the driver holds the ear pads in place while redirecting the magnetic field back into the driver to improve efficiency (by 1dB or 12%). The ferromagnetic ear pads decrease the magnetic stray field (by 95%) to reduce the affect of the magnetic field to the listener's head.
Pressure Distribution: The carbon fiber headband is made with unique distribution wings to increase the leather headrest's contact surface area with your head. These patented suspension wings equalize the pressure of the headband on your head, and relieve uncomfortable pressure points.
Cable: Included with the headphones is a 10' OFC (oxygen-free copper) standard cable with a 1/4" plug. The flexible cable is fabric-covered with dual 4-pin connections at each ear cup.
- Frequency Response: 4Hz - 110kHz
- Impedance: 31.6Ω
- Nominal SPL: 100dB (1mW/1 kHz)
- Maximum SPL: >130dB
- Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): <0.1%
- Dimensions: Width 3.643", Height 5.082", Depth 2.261"
- Weight: 19.7 ounces (with cable), 15.5 ounces (without cable)