While I noticed that many full-size headphones have a similar design with round earcups pivoting and attached to a yoke extended from a headband, Meze took a different approach with Empyrean. The yoke portion is attached to the back of the earcup, while the yoke rod is connected using a unique spring-loaded mechanism. The earcup itself can freely rotate 360 degrees around the rod and have mini-XLR cable connector at the bottom. The spring headband is lightweight and made from carbon fiber, while the leather headband strap underneath has a unique shape to sit more comfortable on top of the head. Actually, referred to as pressure distribution wings, these patented suspension wings increase the leather headrest contact surface, literally hugging the shape of the top of the head to relief pressure points.
The back of the earcups has a grill with a mesmerizing pattern artwork, CNC milled from a single piece of solid aluminum, which also controls the airflow of these open-back sculpted chassis. According to Meze, the CNC milling time takes almost 20hrs to sculpt this aluminum skeleton. Despite its 430g weight, Empyrean felt very light with an even weight distribution on my head. The unique shape of a leather headband strap, carbon fiber spring headband, cushy earpads, and the spring-loaded attachment to earcups made these headphones feel very comfortable and non-fatigue even during extended use.
Part of this comfortable fit also comes from the uniquely shaped ovate earcups/earpads. Earpads, which feel like a marshmallow memory foam, are deep enough for my ears not to touch the inner part of earcups and spacious enough for my ears to fit in comfortably with room to breathe. Earpads attach magnetically to earcups, but it’s not just for convenience of faster replacement. It’s actually part of a special isomagnetic coupling technology which demagnetizes and redirects the field generated by the driver to improve its efficiency while also holding earpads in place.
The choice of ovoid shape was not coincidental. It was chosen by Rinaro/Meze to optimize a magnet structure in order to minimize the weight while maximizing the output power. And it wasn’t just the magnetic array design optimized to increase the power, but also the combination of two independently shaped voice coils (switchback and spiral) within the same diaphragm to enhance the acoustic performance of these headphones. The switchback coil, positioned in the upper part of the driver, is designed to reproduce lower frequencies, while the spiral coil, positioned in the lower part directly at the ear-canal level, is designed to reproduce middle and high frequencies.
As you can imagine, I’m more used to dealing with IEMs where you have BA and DD drivers. So, all this is new and fascinating to me. But after reading about the technology behind Empyrean and then comparing it to other planar magnetic headphones, you can certainly appreciate the unique nature of Meze design and how much work went into it. But at the end of the day it’s all about the sound which I’m going to cover in the next section of the review.