Review: Meze Empyrean – Hail the King

Another amp you can often see the Empyrean showcased with is the Feliks Audio Euforia, and luckily for you (and me), I have that amplifier right here with me. I reported on it a few weeks ago and the amp easily made it to our recommended buy section. With the Empyrean you get a really dynamic and transparent sound with great imaging and very wide sound stage. The body in bass and mids is more or less equal to that of the DAVE but the treble section here is quite a bit more expressive, lively and energetic because of the tubes in use. This amplifier and tube combo shows that the Empyrean’s treble is top level as well, it just depends on your setup. In this combo it’s mostly the sound stage width, depth and spaciousness that will blow you away. Impressive stuff.

The third amplifier I’m absolutely loving the Empyrean and a whole bunch of other headphones immensely with is the Auris Audio Nirvana (also on the recommended buy list). The amp itself, especially in single ended mode, is full bodied and very musical. The difference with the balanced output lies in this thickness and the balanced output sound more natural. At the same time you get a very wide sound stage with the perfect amount of air, top quality bass and mids (both with still very good impact) and energetic, lively treble. The layering is incredible and the whole package has a warmer feel to it, with a smooth powerful delivery. This for me is a match made in heaven.

With the big brother of the Nirvana, the Headonia (2A3 tube amp) , you in single ended mode get a more neutral, yet very precise sound from the Empyrean. With this output the vocals get an extra focus and also the treble section becomes more edgy. For me personally the best synergy is with the balanced output which sound softer, fuller, more musical and more engaging. There’s no harshness, vocals sound more natural and it’s a much easier to listen to combo. I clearly still prefer listening to the Empyrean with the excellent Nirvana though.

With Violectric’s V281 amplifier, the balanced output is the one to use with the Empyrean and most other headphones for that matter. You get a darker kind of sound with great layering but with a slightly smaller sound stage. The airiness, spaciousness and layering however are excellent. The sound is fast and precise, bass is tight and punchy and reaches down low with a good rumble.  The upper mids, vocals and treble are a bit more upfront in the combo but nothing overly so. The V281 can’t compete with the DAVE but at the same time it makes the Empyrean really fun to listen to. So it isn’t the best match but it’s not bad at all either. A lot of people would give a kidney for this setup, we’re just a bit spoiled.

Unfortunately I don’t have Cayin’s 300B amp here with me but I do have the Cayin HA-1A MKII tube amp. The HA-1A a pretty good, full and warmer sounding amplifier in general and I most of the time prefer it with orthodynamic headphones. This amplifier makes every headphone sound extra musical and to me the synergy was a really nice surprise. Great bass, lovely mids, excellent vocals and energetic treble (non stock tube combo). The layering here is really impressive but even though the presentation is airy, the sound stage isn’t the widest/most extended. IT’s a really nice combo just like the V281 but the Euforia, Dave and Nirvana just play at an even higher level.

This does show that the Empyrean scales up nicely with a good (high end) amplifier and depending on your personal preference you can somewhat influence the transparent Empyrean’s sound. I wouldn’t worry too much if your amp is up for the task or not though. Yes there always is better, but that’s life.

Conclusion

Well well… What a headphone Meze Audio have come up with! If you’ve been following me or Headfonia for a while you know I always call the classic Sennheiser HD650 “the King”, and well it’s time for the King to retire. But don’t be sad, a new King is born.

This is a headphone everyone will still be talking about in 20 years. The Empyrean just is incredibly good and it checks all my boxes, and then some. We’re pretty spoiled when it comes to good gear and good headphones, but this is one is extra special. Just listen to it with a good amp at home or in your office and I bet a lot of you will join #TeamEmpyrean right away. Who’s with me?

It’s no wonder that the Empyrean is going to the recommended buy list for headphones. It’s the easiest decision of the year and it more than deserves its spot.

What a masterpiece. Double thumbs up.

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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.

10 Comments

  • Reply November 15, 2018

    Musikverein

    I guess the Meze guys set a new standard in personal audio here.
    Lieven, the same is true for your reviewing with an unique style as well.

  • Reply November 15, 2018

    Peter Devito

    I heard the Empyrean at Canjam NYC in February–and haven’t been able to get them out of my mind ever since. The sound is just about the best I’ve ever experienced from a headphone, and the design/appearance is on a higher level of artistic/architectural quality than we’re used to seeing in headphone audio (those screens are masterful). These headphones are really something special…

  • Reply November 17, 2018

    Chris

    Beautiful headphone, it’s on my list for High End Munich 2019. Lieven, which headphone stand do you have? Can you make a special about headphone stands? Thank you, Chris

    • Reply November 17, 2018

      Lieven

      I have like a bunch of Sieveking Omega and 1 Klutz Design. And then some simple ones

  • Reply November 17, 2018

    himanshu

    what do you think about LCD X comparing with these?

  • Reply November 20, 2018

    Tibor

    Do you take kidneys? 😀

  • Reply January 4, 2019

    Thunder

    Thank you very much for review, Lieven!

    Design and build quality certainly is leagues above the hifimans. This one breathes luxury. And sounds great too.

    Isn’t it ironic Hifiman HE1000se costs crazy $3,500, much worse build quality, and is made in China?

    Looking forward for your comparison with MX4, Odin, and Utopia. I want get one of these. MX4 is selling at very good price $1,500. Also very good build quality and nice warm sound.

  • Reply July 9, 2019

    Collin

    How does the Empyrean compare to the Ether 2 in your opinion?

  • Reply September 24, 2019

    Adam

    Hi

    I have two questions.

    1. What do you think about DAC: Matrix X Sabre Pro for Meze Empyrean? Will it be good?

    2. What’s the different between Feliks Audio Euforia and Auris Nirvana, because first cost about 2k euro and second about 5.3k euro. I want choose one, but can’t listen Nirvana. Is it worth investing in Nirvana than Euforia for Meze Empyrean?

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