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Meze Empyrean Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Reviewed Jan 25, 2022 at 10:35 am
Meze Empyrean Picture
7.6
Neutral Sound
3.8
Commute/Travel
5.1
Sports/Fitness
4.5
Office
4.4
Wireless Gaming
6.5
Wired Gaming
1.4
Phone Calls
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Open-Back
Wireless No
Noise Cancelling No
Mic No
Transducer Hybrid

The Meze Empyrean are exotic, open-back headphones for audiophiles. They're the first 'Rinaro Isodynamic Hybrid Array' planar magnetic headphones, and this design is advertised to reduce their driver weight, provide ultra-high-resolution audio, and reduce total harmonic distortion. In addition to this unique driver, they're outstandingly well-built with geometric aluminum grilles, leather padding, and a carbon fiber headband. Despite looking large and bulky, their fit is lightweight and comfortable. However, some users may be disappointed by their warm sound profile and dark, veiled treble. They also lack a thumpy low-bass, although this is to be somewhat expected from open-back headphones.

Our Verdict

7.6 Neutral Sound

The Meze Empyrean are good for neutral sound. Thanks to their open-back design, their passive soundstage seems wide, open, and spacious. That said, they have a warm sound profile that delivers a bit of extra boom to mixes. Their rolled-off treble veils vocals and lead instruments while sibilants like cymbals are dulled. Although planar magnetic drivers typically help bass accuracy, these headphones also really lack low-bass. You need an amp to drive these headphones to their full potential, too.

Pros
  • Spacious passive soundstage performance.
  • Great frequency response consistency.
  • Outstanding build quality and comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Very underemphasized treble response.
3.8 Commute/Travel

The Meze Empyrean are bad for commute and travel as this isn't their intended use. Although they're comfortable, well-built, and come with an outstanding hard case to help protect them when you're on the go, their open-back design means that they won't block out any noise around you. They also leak a lot of audio, which could bother other commuters around you, and you need a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter if you want to use them with your smartphone.

Pros
  • Outstanding build quality and comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Bad noise isolation performance.
  • Not very portable and bulky design.
5.1 Sports/Fitness

The Meze Empyrean are poor for sports and fitness as they aren't intended for this use. They can fall off your head with moderate head movements, and their audio cable can snag on something and pull them off your head. To use them with your smartphone, you'll also need an 1/4" to 1/8" TRS adapter.

Pros
  • Outstanding build quality and comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Bad noise isolation performance.
  • Mediocre stability.
  • Not very portable and bulky design.
4.5 Office

The Meze Empyrean are poor for office use. They have an open-back enclosure, so they aren't designed to block out noise like ambient chatter, and they leak audio, which can annoy others around you. They also use a 1/4" TRS connector, so if you want to use them with your PC's AUX port, you'll have to purchase an adapter separately. To get the most out of them, you'll also need an amplifier.

Pros
  • Outstanding build quality and comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Bad noise isolation performance.
  • Not very portable and bulky design.
4.4 Wireless Gaming

The Meze Empyrean are wired audiophile headphones, and you can't use them wirelessly.

6.5 Wired Gaming

The Meze Empyrean are just okay for wired gaming. If you don't need mic support, they offer a comfortable listening experience, and their open-back design helps create a spacious and wide passive soundstage for a more immersive gaming experience. Their warm sound profile also adds a bit of boom to your gameplay, which can help emphasize sound effects while you game. However, they don't have any controls and need an amp to power their drivers.

Pros
  • Spacious passive soundstage performance.
  • Outstanding build quality and comfortable fit.
Cons
  • No mic.
  • Very underemphasized treble response.
1.4 Phone Calls

The Meze Empyrean are audiophile headphones and don't have a mic, so you can't use them for taking calls.

  • 7.6 Neutral Sound
  • 3.8 Commute/Travel
  • 5.1 Sports/Fitness
  • 4.5 Office
  • 4.4 Wireless Gaming
  • 6.5 Wired Gaming
  • 1.4 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Jan 25, 2022: Review published.
  2. Updated Jan 18, 2022: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

Although the Meze Empyrean are very large and look bulky, each design element is thoughtful and detailed. They're made from premium materials, which shows from their aluminum frame with eye-catching geometric-patterned grilles to their copper hinges. Unlike many other headphones with a ski band headband design like the HiFiMan Arya, their carbon fiber headband and leather headrest has a wave-like look with 'pressure distribution wings', which are advertised to spread the weight of the headphones on your head. They also come with two different sets of earpads: one pair made of leather and another pair made of Alcantara, which is a synthetic fabric with a suede-like feel. They come in two color variants: 'Jet Black' and 'Black Copper'.

8.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.98 lbs
Clamping Force
1 lbs

The Meze Empyrean are comfortable headphones. Despite looking very bulky, the headband feels good and can distribute the weight across your head, which is great for long listening sessions. The ear cups clamp well, while the plush padding feels nice against the skin. The ear cups have 360 degrees of motion, too, which can help fit a variety of different head shapes. However, some users may find the shape of the ear cups to be a bit big.

0
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
No Controls
Ease Of Use No Controls
Feedback No Controls
Call/Music Control No
Volume Control No
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls No
5.3
Design
Portability
L 8.5" (21.6 cm)
W 9.3" (23.6 cm)
H 2.8" (7.2 cm)
Volume 223.98 in³ (3,670.30 cm³)
Transmitter Required No

Like most audiophile headphones, the Meze Empyrean aren't very portable. While the ear cups can swivel to lay flat, they aren't designed to fold to conserve space. You can see a photo of the headphones' default position here.

9.0
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 16.3" (41.5 cm)
W 12.9" (32.8 cm)
H 4.4" (11.2 cm)
Volume 930.31 in³ (15,245.00 cm³)

These headphones have an outstanding case. It's more like a briefcase and is mostly made of plastic, which feels solid and durable. There are latches to help keep it closed and a handle to help you carry it from one place to another. There's padding inside the case to help protect the headphones, and there are dedicated spots to store the cable and extra pads.

9.0
Design
Build Quality

These headphones have an outstanding build quality. They're made of high-end materials from the carbon fiber headband and leather headrest to their aluminum body with adjustable hinges and ear cup grilles. The headband have 'pressure distribution wings' to help spread the headphones' weight across your head. They also come with two pairs of ear pads: a pair of leather pads and another pair made of Alcantara, a synthetic microfiber textile, which allows you to choose which feels best to you. If you're switching the ear pads, there's a magnetic contact surface on each ear cup which makes it easy to align the padding to the isometric hybrid array driver. Overall, they feel very durable due to their premium build.

6.0
Design
Stability

The Meze Empyrean have mediocre stability. While they should stay in place while you're seated, they can move around with small head movements and fall off your head with high-intensity shakes.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Meze Empyrean headphones
  • Alcantara paddings
  • 2.5m OFC cable (4-pin mini XLR plugs ending with 6.3 jack connector)
  • Carrying case
  • Manual

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-2.61 dB
Treble Amount
-4.24 dB

Using the leather ear pads, the Meze Empyrean have a warm sound profile. They lack low-bass, which is expected from open-back headphones but have a bit of extra high-bass to add a touch of boom to mixes. That said, their recessed treble weakens and veils vocals and lead instruments. Sibilants like cymbals are also dull. Although all of our sound tests are conducted with the leather ear pads, you can see a comparison of the frequency response when using the leather versus Alcantara ear pads here.

8.1
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.38 dB

These headphones have great frequency response consistency. Although they're prone to inconsistencies in bass delivery due to the ear cup's fit and seal against your head, as long as you take the time to adjust their fit to your head, you should experience more consistent audio delivery each time you use them.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
7.4
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.42 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
59.93 Hz
Low-Bass
-6.68 dB
Mid-Bass
-1.73 dB
High-Bass
1.6 dB

The Meze Empyrean have good bass accuracy. They lack a thumpy low-bass, and although this is somewhat expected due to their open-back design, it's still less than what's produced by some high-end open-back dynamic headphones like the Focal Clear Mg. The underemphasis also continues into the mid-bass, and as a result, mixes lack rumble and a bit of body. That said, a bump in the high-bass adds a bit of extra warmth and fullness.

8.2
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.36 dB
Low-Mid
0.92 dB
Mid-Mid
0.8 dB
High-Mid
-1.76 dB

The Meze Empyrean's mid accuracy is great. The range is well-balanced, ensuring that vocals and lead instruments are present and clear. There's a small dip in the high-mids, though, which slightly weakens the clarity and intensity of vocals and lead instruments.

5.5
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
6.4 dB
Low-Treble
-5.91 dB
Mid-Treble
-6.24 dB
High-Treble
-7.44 dB

The treble accuracy is sub-par. The response is recessed across the range, which results in very veiled vocals and lead instruments. Sibilants like S and T sounds are also very dull and lispy. If you're looking for planar magnetic headphones with better treble accuracy, check out the HiFiMan Arya.

7.9
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.39 dB
Dips
0.99 dB

The Meze Empyrean's peaks and dips performance is very good. A peak in the high-bass adds extra boom and warmth to mixes. Another peak between the mid to high-treble pushes vocals and lead instruments forward and makes them a bit honky. A dip throughout the low-treble slightly veils the upper harmonics of vocals and lead instruments, while an uneven mid-treble makes sibilants like cymbals alternatingly dull and piercing.

8.8
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.11
Weighted Phase Mismatch
3.82
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.02
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.25

The Meze Empyrean have an outstanding imaging performance. The entire group delay response falls below the audibility threshold, ensuring tight bass and transparent treble reproduction. The L/R drivers of our unit are also well-matched when it comes to amplitude, frequency, and phase response, which helps ensure the accurate placement and localization of objects like voices in the stereo image. While there are small peaks in the phase response graph, they shouldn't be audible with real-life content. That said, our results are only valid for our unit, and yours may perform differently.

8.1
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
2.81 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
3.98 dB
PRTF Distance
13.58 dB
Openness
9.4
Acoustic Space Excitation
8.1

The Meze Empyrean's passive soundstage performance is great. While the soundstage doesn't feel as wide as that created by the HiFiMan Arya, it's still perceived as natural and as if sound is coming from speakers placed in the room around you. Thanks to their open-back design, their soundstage also seems open and spacious.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No App
7.2
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.497
WHD @ 100
0.187

The weighted harmonic distortion performance is satisfactory. There are a couple of peaks at moderate volumes between the high-mid to mid-treble. This can be hard to hear with real-life content, though.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
No Firmware
Power
Passive
Connection
Wired
Codec
PCM, 24-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Leather Pads
Microphone
No Microphone

These are the settings used to test the Meze Empyrean. Our results are only valid when using them in this configuration.

Isolation
1.5
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-4.03 dB
Bass
-0.87 dB
Mid
-0.58 dB
Treble
-10.44 dB

The Meze Empyrean have bad noise isolation, which is expected from open-back headphones. Although it's highly unlikely that you'll use these headphones outside of your home or studio, they don't block out the low rumble of bus engines coming from an open window. They also won't cut down ambient chatter and struggle to reduce high-pitched noise like the hum of an AC unit.

2.6
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
59.44 dB

The Meze Empyrean's leakage performance is bad, but this is by design, as their open-back design helps create a more natural and spacious passive soundstage. That said, if you're listening to audio at a high volume near others, they can hear it.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
0
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
N/A
LFE
N/A
FR Std. Dev.
N/A
HFE
N/A
Weighted THD
N/A
Gain
N/A
0
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
N/A
Noise Gate
No
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
N/A
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample N/A
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
N/A
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample N/A
Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
No Battery
Continuous Battery Life
N/A
Additional Charges
N/A
Total Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
Passive Headphone
Charging Port None
0
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No
Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
No Bluetooth
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
N/A
PC Latency (SBC)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
N/A
Android Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
9.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable Yes
Length 8.23 ft (2.51 m)
Connection
1/4" TRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
0 ms

These headphones come with a balanced 2.5mm OFC cable. This cable has two 4-pin mini XLR plugs to connect to the ear cups while the end connection is a 1/4" TRS connector. The manufacturer doesn't include a 1/4" to 1/8" TRS adapter in the box though. That said, if you prefer a different connector, the manufacturer offers you the option of swapping out the 1/4" TRS connector cable for an OFC cable that has a 1/8" TRS end connector or XLR end connector when you purchase them.

Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
Audio Only (Adapter not included)
Wired USB
No
Non-BT Wireless
No

The Meze Empyrean can only connect to PCs via their analog connection. However, since they don't have a mic, you can only receive audio. If you're not using equipment like an audio interface or an amp/DAC, you'll need a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter. The manufacturer doesn't include this accessory in the box, though.

Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
Audio Only (Adapter not included)
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
PS5 Analog
Audio Only (Adapter not included)
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
No

The Meze Empyrean are audio-only compatible with PlayStation consoles when using their OFC cable with 1/4" TRS end connector. However, you need a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter to plug their cable in your control's AUX port, and this accessory isn't included in the box.

Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio Only (Adapter not included)
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
Audio Only (Adapter not included)
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No

These headphones can only receive audio when connected via analog to your Xbox console's AUX port. However, since their audio cable has a 1/4" TRS connector, you need a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter to plug it in, which isn't included.

0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Meze Empyrean come in two color variants: 'Jet Black' and 'Black Copper'. We tested the Black Copper variant, and you can see our model's label here. Some retailers also offer these headphones with an OFC cable that has a 3.5 (1/8") TRS connector or XLR connector instead of the standard 6.3 (1/4") TRS connector. If you come across another variant of these headphones, please let us know in the discussion section below.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Meze Empyrean are very high-end headphones with outstanding build quality and a comfortable fit. They have a unique hybrid planar magnetic transducer advertised to lighten their weight, improve audio quality, and reduce total harmonic distortion. However, although planar magnetic headphones usually have better bass accuracy due to their thinner diaphragm, which can quickly respond to changes in the input signal, they lack a lot of low-bass. Their overall sound profile isn't as neutral as other open-back headphones like the Sennheiser HD 800 S or the Focal Clear Mg, and they have a dark treble that veils vocals and lead instruments. While their passive soundstage performance is great, they still fall a bit short compared to heavy-hitter planar magnetic headphones like the HiFiMan Arya.

Check out our recommendations for the best audiophile headphones, the best headphones for music, and the best open-back headphones.

HiFiMan Arya

The HiFiMan Arya are better headphones for neutral sound than the Meze Empyrean. While both headphones are very comfortable, the HiFiMan have better frequency response consistency, a more neutral sound profile with better treble accuracy, and a wider, more immersive passive soundstage. However, the Meze have better build quality and come with a very sleek carrying case.

Focal Stellia

The Meze Empyrean and the Focal Stellia are high-end headphones, but the Meze offer a better overall sound performance. While both headphones are very comfortable and well-built, the Meze are open-back headphones with significantly better frequency response consistency and a wider, more immersive soundstage. They also come with a better carrying case to help protect them when you're not using them. The Focal are closed-back headphones with a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer. They also block out more ambient noise, and leak less audio at high volumes, which is good if you're listening to audio in a shared space.

Sennheiser HD 800 S

The Sennheiser HD 800 S are better audiophile headphones than the Meze Empyrean. While both headphones are comfortable, the Sennheiser have a more neutral sound profile with a more accurate treble response and a significantly more immersive passive soundstage. However, the Meze are better built and come with a hard carrying case.

Sennheiser HD 600

The Sennheiser HD 600 are better audiophile headphones than the Meze Empyrean as the Sennheiser have a much more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer. While they struggle to reproduce a thumpy low-bass, their mid and treble ranges are much more accurate and flat. However, if you're an audiophile who prioritizes a more high-end design, the Meze are significantly more comfortable and better-built. Their passive soundstage seems wider and as if sound is coming from speakers placed in the room around you rather than inside your head.

Sennheiser HD 560S

The Sennheiser HD 560S are better headphones for neutral sound than the Meze Empyrean. While both headphones are very comfortable, the Sennheiser have a more neutral sound profile with better bass accuracy, and they come with a 1/4" to 1/8" TRS adapter, which some users may prefer. However, the Meze have significantly better build quality, can create a more immersive passive soundstage, and come with a carrying case to help protect the headphones when you're not using them.

Focal Clear Mg

The Focal Clear Mg are better audiophile headphones than the Meze Empyrean. While both headphones are very comfortable and well-built, the Focal have a more neutral sound profile with better bass accuracy and have better frequency response consistency. However, the Meze have a larger, more immersive passive soundstage.

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