The driver features sandwich-like construction; on the outside are front and back fibreglass-infused ABS frames within which are front and back neodymium magnet arrays, and at the centre of which is the diaphragm. Meze says the resulting driver is sensitive, offers high resolution, and is extremely low in distortion (Meze claims it to be, “under 0.1% in the whole audio frequency range”). It also incorporates features to improve efficiency while minimising stray magnetic fields directed toward the wearer’s head.
As I began evaluating the Empyrean, I quickly learned two things. First, the headphone initially sounds good, but perhaps a little softly focussed and dynamically reserved. It needs substantial run-in time (>100 hours) before it opens up to achieve optimal resolution, transient speed, and dynamic acuity. Second, the Empyrean proved very sensitive to the quality of ancillary amps and DACs; plan on using top-shelf electronics to hear the Meze at is best.
At its best, the Empyrean offers neutral (yet never austere) tonal balance, extremely fine levels of resolution for both textural and transient sounds, expressive dynamics, and an almost casual-sounding, offhand quality of sonic naturalness. Candidly, I suspect some listeners might miss what the Meze does right, precisely because it is less about serving up hi-fi pyrotechnics and more about 'going deep' with the music.
As an example, try 'Walking On the Moon' from the The Yuri Honing Trio’s Star Tracks [Jazz in Motion, 16’/44.1]. The track begins with a subtle, softly plucked figure from bassist Tony Overwater, whose call is later answered by an expressive response from percussionist Joost Lijbaart. Then, the proceedings really take shape when Honing joins in on his saxophone. In each case the timbres and dynamic qualities the instruments sound spot-on and incredibly engaging. Major sonic treats include Honing’s powerful, evocative sax solo in the middle of the track and several dramatic bass and percussion exchanges along the way. Stated simply, the Empyrean creates large believable soundstages and the sort of gripping, you-are-there realism that’s rare to find in any transducer, regardless of type.
If you give the Empyrean time, it will reward you with a rare combination of balance, finesse, and all-round expressiveness. It is only with extreme reluctance that I must force myself to give these headphones back to Meze.
Meze Empyrean planar magnetic headphone
Type: Open-back planar magnetic headphone
Driver complement: “Ovoid”-shape (102 × 73mm), hybrid array, Rinaro Isoplanar™ MZ3 planar magnetic driver with 4650mm2 working area per driver
Frequency response: 4Hz–110kHz
Impedance: 31.6 Ohms
Sensitivity: 100dB @ 1mW/1kHz
Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.1% across the audio spectrum
Accessories: High-strength black anodised aluminium suitcase-style carry case with thick foam internal padding, two sets of ear pads (one Alcantara, one real lleather), and the users choice of 3m or 1.3m OFC signal cables terminated with 6.35mm or 3.5mm headphone plugs.
Price: $2999 US, €2999
Str. Independentei 12/3,
Baia Mare, 430071, Romania
Unit C1, Belcon Industrial Estate, Geddings Road
Hoddeston, Hertforshire EN11 0NT United Kingdom