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Meze Empyrean II Headphones vs. Meze Elite and the original Meze Empyrean, which headphones are the best for you?

Meze Empyrean II Headphones vs. Meze Elite and the original Meze Empyrean, should you believe all the hype?

Today, we will discuss the brand-new Meze Empyrean II and how it compares to the Meze Elite and the original Meze Empyrean. This article will primarily discuss my impressions of the headphones regarding build quality, look and feel comfort, and sound quality.

It has been a few years since I first heard and gave my impressions on the Meze Empyrean on my personal YouTube channel before becoming a part of the TSAV team. That headphone was very divisive, and I watched people engage in heated arguments online and in person about how much they loved or hated those headphones; some people even lost friendships over it.

I can understand both sides of the argument with those headphones. Still, for me and my preferences at that time, they were my favorite headphones for electronica, EDM, synth wave, electro, and other subgenres of electronic music with their nightclub or black rock city desert dweller vibes.

They aren't perfect for every genre of music and have a very emphasized bass signature with a treble that some listeners loved, and others didn't enjoy. For me, however, they were an electronic music lover's specialty headphones, and those of you who listen to lots of electronic music like I do may have auditioned or purchased the original Empyrean at one time.

They were headphones I always wanted to own but never pulled the trigger on just because the Meze Elite came out and was better suited for more music genres. I have had the Elite in-house with me since around 2021, so I am familiar with their sound, and they are still a reference for every amplifier and headphone video we make on this channel.

Now, in 2023, the Meze Empyrean II is here, and let's discuss what type of listeners I believe will fall in love with their sound. I say sound because Meze's build quality and design are second to none. They are headphone artists and, along with Rinaro, make some of the best-quality headphones in existence today.

Meze Empyrean II Headphones
If you are familiar with the design and build quality of the OG Empyrean and Elite, then you can expect the same quality, look, and feel from the Empyrean II. The metal on the cups of the Empyrean II is different from the polished surfaces of the Elite and OG Empyrean.

The metal almost reminds me of holding a finely built firearm, durable, practical, yet elegantly effective.

Meze Empyrean II

I am a big fan of the more subdued flat black with a pop of silver coloring to showcase the Meze logo.
Comfort is top-notch, as always with Meze. While the headphones weigh over 450 grams with the pads on and around 385 grams without the pads, they distribute the weight exceptionally well combined with their world-class headband system and my favorite Isomagnetic earcup-to-ear pad attachment system in the headphone world.
The headphones include two sets of pads, the newly designed Duo earpads for the Empyrean II, which blend premium leather and Alcantara. The base of the pads is formed by leather with internal perforation, and the Alcantara portion of the pads comes into contact directly with your head and face.

Meze Empyrean II Duo Earpads

They are superbly comfortable but can make some noise when moving your head around; however, when sitting reasonably still, it is a non-issue. The Duo pads produce a deeper, more decadent bass signature while still providing a relatively spacious sound signature.

The second set of pads are the Angled Alcantara pads, which are also highly comfortable and sound a bit more detailed and spacious, with a cleaner, less prominent bass signature and a bit more mid-range presence for a less flavorful sound presentation for when you want a bit more accuracy when listening.

Meze Empyrean II Alcantara Earpads

The Open-Back Empyrean 2 headphones have an FR of 8-110,000 Hz, an impedance of 32 ohms, a sensitivity of 105 dB, and a THD of less than .05%, making them extremely easy to drive even out of a dongle DAC, or portable dap; however, the quality of the amplification they receive will produce noticeable improvements and or changes in the overall sound they produce.

The headphones include a premium silver-plated or Copper cable with the termination of your choice from Meze. The cable is a huge step up from the Meze cables of old that used to be included with the original Empyrean and Elite when they were released.

The unit sent to me from Meze for this video included the silver-plated cable, which is likely the best choice for more analytical listeners, or copper may be preferred for a bit more laid-back sound.

Meze Empyrean II Headphones Case

Lastly, the headphones can be stored in a high-strength ABS plastic suitcase with foam inserts and a leather handle. The included case is a better size for traveling with than the original Empyrean or Elite aluminum-style larger briefcases.

 Let's get into my sound impressions of the Empyrean 2 and how they compare to the Elite and OG Empyrean.

For most of my impressions, I listened to all three headphones with my Chord Hugo TT2 and Chord Hugo 2 for solid-state amplifier DAC combos and to the Woo Audio WA22 and McIntosh MHA200, fed by the Chord TT2 as the DAC and lastly, the ampsandsound pendent fed by the Hugo 2 for tube amplifiers.

As I stated earlier, the pads make a significant difference in sound, so you should try them in-store or at home to get an idea of the differences in sound and see which you prefer. For most of my impressions and comparisons, I used the Duo Pads on the Empy II, the Hybrid Perforated Pads on the Elite, and the Leather pads on the OG Empyrean. 

Meze Empyrean II Silver Plated Premium Cable
I love that you can easily switch the pads to give you different listening experiences, tailoring the sound to your liking before even thinking about tone control or EQ profiles.

If you are a fan of bass, the Empyrean II has some prominent bass that is even more pronounced with the Duo Pads vs. the Alcantara Pads. The bass signature is not neutral and goes for a warm, full-sounding sub-bass and mid-bass, yet still cleaner sounding than the OG Empyrean.

Not as prominent as the OG Empyrean, with a bit less sub-bass and quite a bit less mid-bass, which allows for the mid-range to sound cleaner and more defined, reducing some of the bleed from the bass regions into the mid-range on the original Empyrean.

Meze Empyrean II Headphones Case 

The punch or slam in these regions is okay, and it presents a bit differently depending on the track and how it was produced, but the slam of the Empyrean II isn't its strongest point.
It's still enjoyable and doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the headphones; however, the Meze Elite sounds to have a bit more slam.

The midrange sounds present and spacious, with some tasteful flavor and warmth to its character. However, it's not as warm sounding and present for vocals as the Elite.

So, the Empyrean II's midrange doesn't sound neutral. Still, there is more presence in the midrange than in the Original Empyrean, which allows for better separation and definition in the mid-range that I think many listeners who value that type of sound will prefer over the OG Empyrean.

There is more energy across the board in the mids up to the upper mids when comparing the OG Empyrean to the Empyrean II, which allows it to sound more technically capable and clean than its predecessor.

The Empy II's treble has also seen a relatively significant increase from the OG Empyrean across the board, with maybe a slight dip under the Original Empy around 10k and some of the upper treble frequencies.

I think this was done with intention, as many listeners were bothered by a few peaks in the treble or felt there wasn't enough treble on the OG Empyrean.

The Meze Elite has less treble than the Empyrean II, around 8k and 10k, giving the Elite a warmer, darker, sounding top-end when listening.

The Timbre and tone of instruments and vocals falling in the bass and mid-range are warmer than that of neutral, and again, go for a colorful sound signature instead of a complete accuracy, with the Empyrean II still sounding less colorful than that of the Elite or OG Empyrean.

Instruments falling into the upper mid-range and treble regions have good definition and clarity while sounding slightly brighter and more defined than when listening to the Meze Elite.

Meze Empyrean II Headphones

The sound stage provides good vocal and instrument localization and separation with a reasonably flat perceived stage profile that travels outside the headphones from left to right with a medium width. The depth of the stage and the overall sound stage can be improved, sounding more holographic and dimensional when you mix tube amplification into the mix.

Overall, I prefer the Empyrean II off of tube amps, whereas I enjoy the OG Empyrean and Elite off tubes or solid state.

The sound stage of the Meze Elite sounds more intimate and less spacious than the Empyrean II, with the Empy II having less vocal intimacy and warmth but sounding larger and more separated than the Elite.

Detail and resolution are plenty for my tastes. Still, I know some of you guys are ultra-detail resolution heads, and the Empyrean II is a marked improvement in the detail and resolution over the OG Empyrean, with the detail and resolution sounding in some respects even more detailed than the Elite, especially in some of the treble regions.

I believe Meze listened to many listeners who took issue with the original Empyrean and what they would like to see in an Empyrean II, addressing many of the criticisms some listeners had with them.

I feel for manufacturers because it is impossible to please everyone, so most manufacturers do their best to make products they can be proud of and allow us to enjoy. I think it's easy to be a critic and much more challenging to be a maker. I believe the Meze Elite leans closer to the original house sound that Meze is so famous for and closer to the OG Empyrean in some ways.

Meze Empyrean II Headphones

The Meze Empyrean II is the most technically complete sounding headphone Meze has made, I believe, even surpassing the Elite in many ways from a technical standpoint, and the Empyrean II is a set of headphones that I think aims to bring more of those analytical critics into the Meze Family which is a smart move.

Are they the best Meze headphones ever made? That is super subjective and will be up to you and what you prefer, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder or, in this case, the listener. I enjoy all three headphones for different reasons and can see how each will appeal to different listeners.

There is something still extraordinary about the powerful bass, organic, live, and trippy-sounding soundstage of the OG Empyrean, as well as the way the Elite present vocals intimately with a delicious, rich flavor that is very special, sounding less analytical when compared to the Empyrean II.

The Empyrean II allows you to see or hear deeper into recordings with better midrange separation and treble extension, so all three have unique and enjoyable flavors.

I honestly wish Meze wouldn't discontinue the OG Empyrean, as I still think they are hands down the best headphones for electronic music, for my preferences.

So, I will not tell you they are the best Meze headphones ever because the best for one person isn't the same for another, and that is not what we do at TSAV. TSAV Jason, from day one, has been super cool about this, wanting us to discuss what I like and don't like, giving you our audience impressions, and letting you decide for yourselves.

You should listen to the OG Empyrean, Empyrean II, and the Elite with your audio chain, side by side, and make up your mind, and not let internet hype tell you what to like or not like.

Each of these headphones is a masterpiece in its own way, and one will be preferred over the other depending on a listener's preferences, the music they most listen to, and their audio chain.

That doesn't mean I am a Meze fanboy either, and to be honest, I wasn't that stoked about the Liric closed-back headphones, but these three headphones in this video have a special place in my heart. I am highly impressed with what Meze has accomplished with the Empyrean II, and a big thanks to the team at Meze for sending me the new headphones for review.

Meze Empyrean II Headphones

If you are interested in trading up your old headphones, amplifiers, or other gently used audio gear for a new set of headphones or a new amplifier, check out our trade-up program, and don't forget we will price match other authorized dealers!

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From $150 earphones to multi-million-dollar home audio, cinema, and automation systems, TSAV is a HiFi enthusiast's paradise for building the system of your dreams.

So, let's start the conversations in the article with comments on what you think of these three headphones. Do you have a favorite? If so, why? Until next time, friends, remember, let the music be your guide!

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