Meze Empyrean measurements and thoughts

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by Vtory, Jan 26, 2019.

  1. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    Got a chance to hear and measure empyrean. It's actually a demo unit currently on a small-closed loaner tour (luckily one guy in the loaner happened to be my local mate!).

    I was very curious about this product due to many good things heard from last year rmaf visitors. Before going for ether 2, also considered empy as upgrade candidate but excluded them last minute following my gut.

    In short, empy do very good jobs in some asepcts -- particularly for relaxed listening purposes -- but had quite serious deal breakers at the same time. Interestingly empy's good parts are mostly shown in measurements (frequency character), and bad things are difficult to objectively present (perceptional time character).

    Associated equipments
    • DM Convert-2 dac
    • Radiao ISO twins (Jensen 1:1 Transformer)
    • EC Black Widow 2 headamp
    • Senn HD800, MrSpeakers Ether 2

    Subjective impressions
    1. Largely neutral sounding, but W-shaped coloration. Think this as a clockwise-rotated 2nd-3rd gens high HFM (to be specific, HEK1/2) plus additional fixes.
    2. Probably tuned for having fun rather than critical listening. Lots (really!) of sub-bass, downward tilted warm tonality, tastefully emphasized treble. Entire tuning is quite in line with what Dr Olive has argued "preferred target" [1]. Meze must be a harman follower.
    3. Very impressive bass. Among what I consider worthy, empy has the most bass. Nearly guilty-pleasure level much. This large quantity of bass was tastefully done without introducing negative side effects. So, it's not a low quality boom box ... at least for "quantity".
    4. However, while it is pleasing for certain tracks, lack of bass technicalities seriously bothers. For this level of league, I would like to see tighter and more differentiating bass. Susvara was wonderful. HD800 is good aside from leanness. Ether 2 is outperformed by those two but much improved with the aid of convert 2. But empy... just harms great bass shaped by my upstream gears. Loose, sloppy, muddy, bloomy, and soft (in bad way) are some words I can easily think of when hearing empy. No it's not beats-bad. But I would not consider empy's bass deserved to totl transducer league. At least not with my rig.
    5. Midrange was just off. Lost details, plastic timbre, and no clarity. I also think both HD800 and Susvara are weak at this region. Auteur and Ether 2 are much righter to my ears.
    6. Treble is a mixed bag. Upside is that empy is not as harsh as hd800 but edgier, sharper, and airier than ether 2. In the same ballpark of Auteur with artuer pads. Downside is that it often sounds rough and less refined. Some complicated passages sound too oversimplified as well.
    7. Unlike hd800 and ether 2, empy could not resolve subtle changes in source. I was almost shocked when master mode of convert-2 didn't feel much changed from normal mode.
    8. I highly recommend convert-2 users to avoid this. Suspect empy can neither scale well nor pull most of convert-2. May apply to any super-resolving sources. Feeling free from source-investment nervosa isn't all that bad though.
    9. Headstage was nicely wide/deep but a bit diffusing images by comparison. Good image separation.
    10. #1-#9 are based on Alcantara pads. Leather pads generally worsen weaknesses but result in more fun and more W.
    My statements read a bit too harsh. But indeed I enjoyed empy. They sound entertaining and involving with healthy dose of luxurious feeling. Price aside, for those who want secondary fun headphones that doesn't sound shitty, empy can be easily recommended.

    Nevertheless, as a reliable transducer for the purpose of critical listening, empy seem to fall behind contemporary performance leaders [2]. Maybe there could be wonderful amp and/or dac that can make empy really sing. I am not sure though. Another possibility is that the tested unit is defective (many companies had hard times in solidly manufacturing planar headphones). But not quite likely -- FR measurements look just ok or even good.

    Thinking this is Meze's first challenge toward top league, it's rather natural that Meze was almost unlikely to get everything right in the first try when engineering, science, and art must be harmonized perfectly.


    Here are EARS FR measurements. All the measurements are Alcantara pads only. Thought I measured leather pads too but I didn't. Oh well.

    upload_2019-1-26_18-8-25.png

    Channel matching is great, as it should for 3k product.
    Probably due to the scooped 2-3k region (note that SBAF-compensation already adjust for 2k effect), bass feels more overwhelming than the graph suggests.
    Except that, fr doesn't hint most of my complaints. Honestly it looks good to my eyes.


    Below are comparisons normalized at 1k (all 1/6 oct and sbaf-compensated).

    upload_2019-1-26_19-24-35.png
    upload_2019-1-26_19-24-42.png
    upload_2019-1-26_19-24-49.png

    Interesting to see some common patterns between empy and hd800 (which was also shown in jude's measurements).

    Distortions and spectrogram to come later .. or not. They measured much dirtier than actually heard. No idea why. Maybe will find another chance to re-measure.

    Footnotes
    1. See this to get some idea how "harman headphone target" look like under sbaf-compensation: https://imgur.com/ehcfJDa
    2. Excluding Ether 2 (I may have a huge ownership and new toy bias. Furthermore, I can't be fully assured regarding product quality variation), I'd take Auteur over empy any day even if both are sold at the same price.
    MOD NOTE:

    purr1n measurements (leather pads): https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...n-measurements-and-thoughts.7396/#post-249969
    purrin measurements (suede pads): https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...urements-and-thoughts.7396/page-2#post-251225
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2019
  2. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    I think it's less the Olive target, and more that Antonio Meze is just a massive closet basshead, the 99s only sound right of you have glasses to break the seal with.
     
  3. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    Make sense. 99 was a bass monster to me when perfectly sealed!
     
  4. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    I just looked up a good gif to reply to this but got a photo of hitler hugging his dog so I'm pretty much done with that search.

    Anyhow, how did you find the soundstage compared to the Susvara? The Empyrean seems like such a polarising pair of headphones, I've read both good and bad.
     
  5. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    As you already know, susvara needs a lot of juice from amp AND it scales well. These imply susvara sound would be largely determined by amps and dacs. So many variables involve. I'm thinking head stages and imaging are particularly so beyond a certain level of transducer quality.

    In addition, as a disclaimer, I couldn't try various amps for susvara. My memory is all from pairing with allnic hpa-5000xl. So, prepare a bunch of salt lol.

    That said, here are my takes
    • Empyrean's soundstage is big. As big as susvara. Both are narrower than hd800 though. Instrument seperation and placement are quite in the same ballpark to my ears.
    • However, empy's rendered images and stages are diffusing. I mean, not only for separate images, but also for entire stages. I seldom use the term "veiled". But it sound like that very thin veil is placed between me and the stage, which wasn't as evident as hd800/ether2 with the same rig. Or the analogy of naked vision (susvara) vs decent glasses (empy) -- regarding transparency or -ish feeling -- may apply.
    • Overall empy's soundstage reminds me of hek1. But I think I like hek a bit more. Still slighly diffusing but not as veiled as empy.

    PS. I am kinda generous toward cost performance (or value) of fuckingly priced products. This comes from the following personal philosophies or beliefs:
    • Really good things don't come with cheap price. If something good is done cheaply, the same effort would make wonder with unrestricted costs.
    • Sane people never consider multiple-grand audio components. So if one is willing to dump that amount of cash, he or she is insane. For those insane dudes, what really matters is gains, not gain per cost.
    • Beyond a certain price point, the marginal rate of substitution (MRS) between cost and performance/perception/satisfaction becomes really subjective.
    • I am not on the market any more hahaha. Of course half joke.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019
  6. Rowethren

    Rowethren Acquaintance

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    Going to try and get a demo of these today and compare with the Ether Flows and Ether 2 as that is what I currently have and one of my other upgrade options. I do tend to prefer a bassy signature but I still want it decent quality; your impressions have given me pause for thought from that perspective...
     
  7. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    Ether 2 is a big departure from ether flows in every criterion. Tonality-wise empy is rather closer to efo. But I am not sure if I can call "efo to empy" upgrade.. Anyway, check out my E2 measurement as well: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...akers-ether-2-measurements-and-thoughts.7194/

    If you like slightly v-shaped efo's tonality, I also recommend you try hifimans. Hek has lots of similarities with empy in tonality and timbre. But with much more robust technical proficiency. In particular, hek v1 and arya may be worth auditioning.
     
  8. Rowethren

    Rowethren Acquaintance

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    Interesting thanks, I do quite like the EFO but I find they are a tad lacking in bass for my taste, the treble can be slightly hot on occasions (very rare) as well but I wouldn't want to loose any technical quality to the sound especially if they are £1000 more expensive... I do actually really like the sound of the Z1R but I don't need a close headphone anymore as I have a CIEM for isolation so I am planning on selling my EFO and Z1R to upgrade to an overall "better" headphone if such a thing actually exists. I think the place I am going to demo today has the HE1K v2 but not the v1, SE or Arya unfortunately but I will give them a try thanks for the suggestion.
     
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Different compensation, but I am wondering possible QC issues?

    Some thoughts:
    upload_2019-3-14_9-27-36.png

    upload_2019-3-14_9-28-58.png

    Now these seem quite different from @Vtory's results.
     
  10. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    Just need to flip Jude's graph and it should be 'bout right.
     
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    I have heard the exact same thing from trusted ears.
    Lean and tizzy is what I heard (again this is hearsay)

    I am going to tell SBAF readers to take things with a grain of salt at this point. For one, I don't trust certain randos' impressions (not talking about you @Rowethren, since your comments are consistent with what I have heard from trusted ears). Secondly, it's quite possible that people are listening / measuring different samples that are actually different. This has happened many times before. People are pretty deaf, including reps who sell this stuff to be able to identify if a sample is off from the norm.

    More information is needed. More samples. More measurements. More ears on it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  12. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    Good catch. There were similarities AND departures between gras and ears results.
    Attaching hd800-empy comparisons with both rigs.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Maybe I have to re-measure and re-hear empy again when I find any chance. Interestingly it seems that my results are rather consistent with Hrodulf around 2-3k and 9-10k, compared to two gras (Meze's and Jude's) measurements.
     
  13. Rowethren

    Rowethren Acquaintance

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    I already posted this in the Meze Empyrean thread but on the note of Ether Flow vs Empyrean here are some of my thoughts/opinions:

    I have had the Empyreans for a couple of weeks now and I think I have decided upon the leather pads as the vocals sound more prominent. The bass is really slamming so songs with repeated fast bass drum kicks sound phenomenal, almost hit as hard as the real thing, the bass just feels so hefty I love it! A fair bit more bass than the Ether Flows as well in both mid bass and sub bass.

    The treble and mids are nicely detailed and never harsh but at the same time I never feel I am missing any of the detail which is perfect for my preference. The Empyreans are more detailed than the Ether Flows and you really feel the texture of each instruments but they manage to avoid the occasional harshness of the Ether Flows as well.

    The sound stage is nice and wide, you get an out of head feeling with well recorded tracks, certainly far better than the Ether Flows I had before hand, it is very easy to pick out each instrument as well if there is something specific you want to listen to in a particular song.

    The Empyreans can very occasional sound a bit recessed in the vocals but I only found this with the velour pads and not the leather ones.
     
  14. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    Got another Empy in the lab. Will post the results once I have them.
     
  15. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    You guys are working on a profile for Empyrean? That would be interesting. Really love the work you guys are doing. The profile for the hd800 is truly impressive.
     
  16. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    We should get at least 3 without any strange variance between them to consider doing an average profile.
     
  17. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    I got one in too from a member.
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Preliminary Results - Frequency Response.
    EARS/SBAF compensation (flat line across = perceptive neutral).
    Leather Pads

    Meze Empyrean Frequency Response - Leather Pads
    upload_2019-3-21_10-19-51.png

    1. Can't directly compare to @Hrodulf results. Different rig.
    2. However, this is not consistent with @Vtory's results where we have achieved a good level of consistency with each other (unless he used the velvety pads).
    3. Again, the above is EARS/SBAF where a flat line across is perceptive neutral. The dip in the upper mids coupled by the sudden rise at 8-9kHz is "difficult" (free to ask me more, otherwise we will leave it at this.)
    4. The timbre seems off. Steely. Will need further investigation to see if this is inherent or a function of FR which can be corrected via EQ. Could the steep dip at 11kHz be a peak in disguise? Are there other irregularities in the top octave?
    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Flat plate coupler CSD.
    No pinna or concha, so results will be different from EARS/SBAF.
    Useful for looking at pure driver behavior in the highs. The FPC might be better than the EARS for hig-frequencies, but that is another subject worthy of discussion.

    Meze Empyrean CSD - Leather Pads
    FPC Meze Emp.jpg

    No extended ringing except for a small one at 18kHz, note peaks at 10kHz and 15Khz with broad dip centered at 6kHz.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
  20. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    This seems to coincide with our readings. The CSD shows a really clean behavior, sounded that way too. I'd blame those peaks for the metallic timbre.
     

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