We have seen many good headphones in the recent months and years, but it seems that the higher end segment is concentrating on planar magnetic drivers. The market is filled with cans from established orthodynamic headphone manufacturers like HiFiMAN, Audeze and Abyss themselves, but we have seen new introductions like the Empyrean by Meze, the MrSpeakers Ether headphones and the newly launched Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 from Alex Rosson (ex-CEO of Audeze).
I can only compare the Diana Phi with what I have in my inventory though, as I won’t make any judgements based on short term listenings or sessions from the past. Those aren’t credible in my books and I won’t add comparisons to something I haven’t heard at home. Let’s take a look how the Diana Phi compares to my other headphones.
Meze – Empyrean (2,999$)
The Empyrean is probably the biggest newcomer in the arena of planar magnetic headphones. The team over at Meze Audio have crafted this headphone for a long time, and have only released it once they were absolutely satisfied with it. I’m using the leather pads on my Empyrean, as the signature of it more appealing to my taste.
One of the most obvious differences between the Empyrean and the Diana Phi is the warmer tonality and the thicker notes of the Meze. It puts quite some more weight into the signature, where bass enjoys a more prominent placement.
The Empyrean has more body throughout, and especially low ends seem bigger than on the Diana Phi. The Abyss on the other hand is faster, tighter and has more control over the bass response. It has higher resolution down there as well. The slower bass of the Empyrean gives the Diana Phi the edge for being suitable of more genres.
What fascinates me about the Empyrean is its generous way of making poorer recordings sound better, where the Diana Phi is more critical of them. The Diana Phi strikes again on the technical front though, it has higher resolution, creates a bigger stage and its instrumental separation is bar none.
The Meze keeps the musicians closer to you in its constructed stage, while the Diana Phi sets them a bit further away with a more holographic approach. The Empyrean seems more compressed in comparison to the Diana Phi, which is more open.
Where I find the Meze ticks better is overall weight. It gives instruments and singers a certain natural body. The Diana Phi on the other hand gives them more air to move, which makes them also faster.
Treble is one aspect of the Meze where it clearly falls short against the Diana Phi. The Abyss is again faster, more agile and overall just more present. The Meze seems slightly more muted in that regard, due to its overall warmer and almost darkish sound.
The Abyss to me tickles out more information and details of the music, it places them more obvious in your sight, where the Meze seems to be blending them more in the scene. It’s the separation where the Diana Phi just takes the crown.
MrSpeakers – Ether 2 (1,999$)
The MrSpeakers Ether 2 is a headphone that truly won me over last year. I still enjoy it on a regular basis, especially with the Hugo2 as a transportable setup.
In comparison to the Diana Phi, the Ether 2 is slower and has a warmer sound-signature. The MrSpeakers has a more compressed stage, where instruments aren’t as precisely separated as on the Abyss. In terms of sheer resolution it’s also a win for the Diana Phi.
The Ether 2 has a softer and maybe more dynamic bass, while the Diana Phi has more impact and speed. The Phi also goes lower and has more control in it’s lower registers. Diana has a more present sub-bass rumble, that builds a good and solid foundation.
Midrange again is faster and lighter with the Phi than on the Ether 2. MrSpeakers puts more body in the sound, where you get a meatier presentation. Where it misses out again in comparison to the Diana Phi is transparency, resolution and layering. The Ether 2 has more warm air around the instruments, while the Diana Phi goes for pitch black darkness and portrays instruments in spot-light.
Treble on the MrSpeakers is softer edged and a tad less forward, more shy if you will. Upper registers of highs are rather grainy on the Ether 2, whereas they are cleaner and purer on the Phi.
More comparisons on the last page.