Meze Audio ELITE Review

Meze Audio Empyrean ELITE

Comparisons

 

Next to the comparison with the original Empyrean, let’s compare it to some other high end open back planar magnetic headphones on the market. The comparison was done with the Musician Pegasus as DAC and the Ferrum HYPSOS/OOR headphone amp/PSU combo.

I am a huge fan of the Hifiman Susvara ($6000). Compared to the Meze, it is much harder to drive. Sound-wise the Susvara is slightly more neutrally tuned and it overall has less body and weight in the bass and mids. I personally do feel the Susvara still has the edge over the ELITE when it comes to precision, clarity and 3-Dimensionality. The ELITE bests the Susvara for me in regards of naturalness, timbre and layering. Voices on the ELITE are more natural with a smoother and fuller presentation. The sub bass presence and rumble on the ELITE is also bigger and more impressive. In regards to spaciousness and sound stage they are fairly alike, though the Hifiman extends further on top. In that region it also has more energy and sparkle where the ELITE is more laid back. These headphones are very differently tuned and as such they are more complimentary than they are competitors.

The Kennerton Wodan ($2499) is more alike the ELITE in regards to body and bass presence, but it’s not as balanced, fast and clear. The ELITE probably has a bit more bass and mid body, and it’s better balanced than in the Wodan. The ELITE also bests it in speed and clarity. Again I feel the ELITE has the edge over the Wodan when it comes to depth and layering, as well as the sub bass presence. In regards to the precision and detail retrieval, the golden medal also goes to the ELITE. The 3-dimensionality and left-right balance of the Wodan are impressive though. Vocal wise, the Wodan puts them more to the front. In regards to treble they similarly tuned with the same amount of energy

The Hifiman HE-1000SE ($3500) is one of my all-time favorite headphones. Compared to the ELITE it is lighter in body, but like the Susvara it is excellent when it comes to speed, tightness and attack. Bass presence in the HE-1000SE is much lighter and the sub bass presence is more limited. The detail retrieval, depth and layering of the HE-1000SE still is incredible, and because of the lighter body and more neutral tuning, it is more easily perceivable than in the ELITE, even if they closely matched. The ELITE is fuller sounding, and the presentation is softer, warmer. Treble is more energetic and extended in the HE-1000SE and overall its clarity is even higher than in the ELITE. The HE-1000SE to me also seems to dissect and deliver very complex passages in a more flowing better. Both headphones play at a high level and both are musical in their own way. The ELITE is more Fun, and the HE-1000S is more neutrally precise. Like with the Susvara these headphones are different enough to have them both in your collection.

Meze Audio Empyrean ELITE

The Audeze LCD-MX4 ($3000) studio headphone is very differently tuned. It’s lighter and much more forward sounding compared to the ELITE. Bass of course is present in a lighter way, as well as the sub bass, though it is very good detail wise in the Audeze. The MX4 is really good when it comes to clarity, precision, layering and depth and it shares that with the ELITE. The Audeze vocals are lighter and presented more to the front. I do prefer the ELITE when it comes to dimensionality, openness and spaciousness. The top end extension on the Audeze is more energetic. All-in-all the MX4 is tuned in a more flatter, neutral way which is very logic. Both headphones perform technically strong, but the delivery is very different. Again a complementary setup.

Sources / Amplification

Looking at the ELITE’s characteristics I really do advise to use this headphone with a clean, neutral source with non-boosted bass and body. The ELITE does scale up nicely and with its transparency, I feel it’s really important to combine it with a good amplifier/source.

For me the ELITE sounds its absolute best with the Auris Audio Headonia and it’s like a match made in heaven. I can listen to this combo all day long: great balance, superb energy, an incredibly strong performance and a high musical level with some tube smoothness. What’s not to like?

If you switch to a bigger and fuller sounding amplifier such as the Solaris, you will get bigger bass and body, making the ELITE sound further away from the balanced side. For me this combo wasn’t the very best as it makes the ELITE very bass and full in the minds. With a solid state amplifier like the Violectric DHA V590, you get a sound signature which is in between both. You get a high energy level but it’s not as balanced sounding. The clarity and speed in this combo is great but the fine detail and extension isn’t as present. It’s bigger brother the Niimbus US4+ scores better in this regard and it makes the ELITE sound more balanced. The amount of body in bass and mids is less present here though, resulting in a sound signature leaning more to the neutral site. It is very precise, fast and energetic however.

Meze Audio Empyrean ELITE

The very powerful OOR headphone amplifier, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, also is a great match with the ELITE. Here you get the ELITE in its most neutral way, with extremely good extension, clarity and detail retrieval. Bass is fast and super tight. From top to bottom you get immense clarity, excellent speed and a very high resolution. It’s an incredible experience. It’s kind of comparable to the Headonia sound, but it’s more neutral and has that typical solid state character where the Headonia has the tube smoothness. But both incredible amps for the ELITE, no doubt about that.

For me the ELITE is a headphone to use at home, where you can give it all the power it needs, but Meze does say the ELITE is easy to drive and the specs confirm that. So let’s hook it up to some of my favorite high end portable sources.

In theory the sound signature from the Astell&Kern SP2000 should nicely match with that of the ELITE and it in reality also does. You get more neutral and highly resolving tuning, and all that with plenty of headroom left. Bass and body are perfectly balanced, but I feel like the ELITE can use a bit more power to keep that tight and fast delivery. For the rest this is musical, energetic and very precise. A really good combo, but a dedicated amp is still better.

More on sound on the last page of this review. 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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