Meze Audio ELITE Review

Meze Audio Empyrean ELITE

Cable

 

As said you have the choice between 3 types of cables: balanced XLR (2.5m), 3.5mm(1.2m) or 6.3mm(2.5m). The cable supplied is Meze’s standard OFC cable (99.95% copper). You can find out all about it here.

If you want to buy additional cables for your ELITE, you of course can do so. An extra cable will set you back between €149 and €219. Sonically there’s nothing to complain about the Meze cables, but they’re not the most flexible or easiest to work with. I am sure many of the ELITE owners will be using a nice aftermarket or Meze upgrade cable.

I myself have mostly been using the PlusSound X16 and Forza Audioworks Noir HPC MKII myself, and mostly the latter one.

Sound

I have been using the ELITE in a balanced configuration, with a multitude of amplifiers. We’ll get into some dedicated pairings later in this article.

We are happy to say that ELITE has the sound, the looks and the vibe that we were looking for, and even though it is continuing the Empyrean legacy, it has a totally different personality.

Even though the original Empyrean and the Elite look alike, they sound very different. The ELITE to me is the more precise sounding one, where the original version has a more fun approach. Let’s dive in!

General Signature

As a side note, the original Alcantara Pads are quite a bit thicker and they slightly increase the side-pressure. With their soft feel and terrific fit, they to me are the most comfy. The thinner hybrid pads with the real leather feel colder but they’re still very comfy.

We used a multitude of amps for this section, but the main description below is with the V590 DAC and Headonia combo.

Meze Audio Empyrean ELITE

In regards to sound, the ELITE has a clean, perhaps lighter, more neutral and fast sound. The ELITE’s control is incredible, no matter how complex music and difficult passages you throw at it. Basically this is a very short description of how the ELITE sounds, no matter what pads you’re using with it. With the Hybrid pads you elevate these characteristics even more and they to me make the ELITE sound its best. The Hybrid pads to me are fuller sounding but they have a better definition and better clarity, while the Alcantara pads have a more laid back, lighter and smoother presentation with more forward sounding vocals (because of the lighter body). The ELITE is sensitive when it comes to the AMP/source it’s being used with, and it’s transparent in that way. The Solaris in example makes it sound fuller and heavier, where the Headonia makes it sound more precise, refined and dynamic. More on that in a bit.

Body-wise, you have plenty of presence and good impact. Most comes with the Hybrid pads and the rest depends on the source you have it hooked up to. The ELITE’s clarity and cleanness is really excellent and the detail retrieval is very high. The ELITE sounds very dynamic and depending on the source/amp you pair it with it does nicely scale up. The ELITE is fast and the attack is spot on. Sound-stage wise the Empyrean scores very well with a nicely spacious and natural presentation, both in width and in depth. The separation, dynamics and layering are very good and the mid timbre is really incredible. Note extension and decay from top to bottom are also very very good. Another thing I really like with the ELITE is the effortlessness/naturalness in the delivery and the spaciousness in the presentation . Of course it’s an open back headphone, but the extension, balance (left/right) and stereo imaging really is a pleasure to experience.

The ELITE is a fairly balanced headphone (depending on the amp), playing at an even higher level than its little brother, but more on that later.

Meze Audio Empyrean ELITE

Bass

Bass, as in many Meze headphones, is full and it always comes delivered with good punch. Bass is fast and tight and the Rinaro drivers are always perfectly in control. The bass presence and impact is good and it’s never too full or overpowering. Bass goes really deep when needed, with excellent layering. The sub bass presence is powerful when called upon. I really like the bass quality as well as the quantity. Here we have a case where the quality is slightly more important than the quantity, but the ELITE is not bass-shy in any way. Most bass body and presence you will get with the Hybrid pads but it also very strongly depends on the amplifier you’re driving the ELITE with.

Mids

The mids perfectly connect to the bass in regards to presence and body and the ELITE appears very balanced. The mids sound full at all times but they are oh so natural as well. The mid timbre is incredible and for me it’s probably the part where the ELITE shines the most. The spaciousness, naturalness, separation and extension are exemplary and the Rinaro drivers absolutely nail it.

The mids are addictive with a very musical presentation. The mids are soft, resolving and completely unfatiguing. The vocals (which can be more forward depending on your amp) are super impressive and addictive. The mids to my ears, simply are a delight to listen to.

Treble

The treble section is softer on the ears and it shares the natural and slightly softer presentation of the mids. They’re really easygoing on your ears but they at the same time carry enough energy to keep things exciting. Treble also is transparent and a warmer tube amp will soften down this section, where an amp like the Atlas will make it more neutral, cleaner and livelier.

All-in all I don’t think anyone will be offended by the ELITE’s treble as it’s never sharp, harsh or overly focused. If you’re a fan of the old type Beyer treble in example, this probably isn’t your type of treble.

Meze Audio Empyrean ELITE

Vs Empyrean

The comparison all Empyrean owners are probably waiting for. This comparison was done in balanced configuration with the HDA V590 as DAC/Pre-amp and the Headonia as amplifier.

The original Empyrean to me sounds less balanced, less clean and it isn’t as precise, controlled, fast and refined as the new ELITE. In the original Empyrean complex passages sound more messy, less articulated and this isn’t the case at all with the ELITE. To my ears everything is more balanced, clear and in place with the ELITE. It does that in a very effortless way and it makes the ELITE easier to listen to. Add better speed, tightness and extension to that, and you have the top performing ELITE.

In the ELITE version the bass presence seems higher, but it’s more refined, faster, clean and detailed (the presence also depends on the pads and amp used). Bass also feels more balanced with the rest. The ELITE actually is more refined and precise from top to bottom, with a higher level of detail retrieval and clarity overall.

With all the different pads available for the original and new Empyrean, it’s not the easiest to compare these two headphones but they really do sound different and alike at the same time. You can hear it’s family. To me the Empyrean was already good and very musical, but the ELITE performs at a higher technical level.

I’ve been going back and forth between these headphones for many days now and while they both have their own characteristics and strengths, I do keep going back to the ELITE as it’s more precise, clean and technically strong. In the end it comes down to what kind of tuning you prefer. If you like the exact tuning of the regular Empyrean, you might not like the Elite. If you feel the Empyrean can be improved in clarity, speed and precision, then the ELITE might be the one suiting your tastes best.

The ELITE review continues on the next page. Use the jumps below or click here.

Page 1: Meze, Rinaro, Empyrean, ELITE, Driver.

Page 2: Pads, Technical specs, Driver specs, The Box, Accessories & Price, Design, build quality & comfort.

Page 3: Cable, Sound, Vs Empyrean

Page 4: Comparisons, Sources/Amplification

Page 5: Sources/Amplification, Conclusion

4.4/5 - (313 votes)

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

6 Comments

  • Reply September 1, 2021

    MhtLion

    Great review!! Always spot on!! I will be looking forward to hear your feedback of Meze ELITE with upcoming A&K SP2000″T”. Doubtful, but still hoping T has a little more power.

  • Reply September 2, 2021

    InvisibleInk

    There have been quite a few Summit.fi releases lately. Audeze refreshed its line up and added the LCD-R and the electrostatic CRBN. Dan Clarke Audio with its Stealth. ZMF is about to released a refreshed Verite. The Drop HD8XX will soon be available. Seems like the engineers are still busy and prices are going up.

    • Reply September 6, 2021

      Zachary Mehrbach

      While we’re always striving to make our MFR process better and come out with great products, we don’t actually have any “new” version of the Verite in the works or plan to replace it.

      We do however come out with LTD editions of the Verite and plan on having some stabilized and possibly other LTD versions of the Verite for this years ZMF November. As usual those versions are not tuned differently, but just have different woods and colors used for the cups.

      Hope that makes sense and always flattered to be mentioned!

  • Reply September 8, 2021

    Steve

    I got in on the product tour on Head-fi, but I’m at the bottom of list, won’t see this for a few more months! Can’t wait!

  • Reply September 30, 2021

    MASA

    Great review!
    Thanks!

    By the way, I know you praised the combo with the previous Empyrean in your AurisAudio HA-2SF review, but with the HA-2SF as an amp, which combo do you think you prefer between the Elite and Empyrean?

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