Talisman of Sound!
PROS: beautiful design, solid build, balanced sound sig, hi-res sound with a clear revealing tonality, quality accessories.
CONS: the sound is VERY eartips dependent, shorter nozzle with a shallow fit.
The product was sent to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Back in February when I attended CanJam NYC, Meze team was very excited to let me hear their upcoming new pair of IEMs. I only had a brief listening session with these monitors while using my own eartips, just enough time to form a rather positive opinion about the tuning. A month later when Meze Advar was officially announced and made its debut at CanJam SGP, I was reading people’s impressions and thought to myself, did Meze Audio change the tuning? There was a number of comments talking about enjoying the bass and mids, while treble was too bright. I talked to some of these people and found out they used stock Type-E eartips with Advar during their auditioning.
As many are aware, when dealing with universal IEMs, eartips selection can either make or break the tuning. Obviously, we all have a different ear shape and earcanal anatomy, one size doesn’t fit all. That is why I can’t stress enough how important it is to try different eartips before finalizing the opinion about sound tuning. It’s also one of the reasons I made eartips rolling a permanent feature in all my reviews. And I’m not just talking about trying different eartip types, but also going up and down in size of the same eartips set. That’s exactly what I did when I received Advar for review before I spent the last month testing these new audio nuggets from Meze! Here is what I found.
Unboxing and Accessories.
The packaging box Advar arrived in is rather compact, with an outer sleeve featuring a symmetrical design artwork in gold print which supposed to represent Romanian folklore. Underneath, the top of the box cover features the same artwork but in glossy black. With cover removed, you will find a foam insert with Advar shells, like two glossy pieces of cufflinks jewelry. Below foam insert, there is a protective case with the rest of the accessories inside.
Included were 5 pairs (SS, S, M, L, LL) of Final Audio Type-E brand name ear tips, a cleaning tool with a brush and a long flexible cleaning whisker, MMCX removal tool, hard shell mini-case, and a cable. The custom shaped protective EVA hard case is the same I found with Rai Penta, just slightly modified inside. It’s not a real leather, this is EVA material, but it looks like a real leather and has a protective hard shell with a soft inner lining and mesh pockets on each side. On the outside, you have a metal Meze Audio logo and even a little loop to clip the case.
The idea behind the MMCX assist removal tool is to align it with a joint, wedging it between cable and the connector, and squeeze the claw to disconnect cable from earpieces. Final Audio also included a basic plastic tool with the same functionality, but theirs was flimsy and broke after a few uses. The MMCX removal tool from Meze has a durable built, cool look, and keychain-like design.
The included cable looks great too, and it’s the same one that was included with Rai Penta. According to Meze, this is higher purity silver plated copper (SPC), 4 twisted wire conductors with each having 20 litz strands. The IEM side connector has MMCX plug inside of a clear transparent housing with a red color mark for right side. The cable has a flexible heat-shrink pre-shaped earhook, custom y-split with Meze audio symbol, clear plastic chin-slider, and a matching custom Meze audio branded connector plug. The stock cable comes with 3.5mm gold plated plug, and Meze also offers optional 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced terminated SPC cables. I got 4.4mm cable back when I received Rai Penta and was using it with Advar.
Advar unboxing experience is not over the top, but quite satisfying, and MMCX connector removal tool and cool IEM case add a custom touch to stand out from the crowd.
Meze calls Advar a “piece of visual and sound art”, and they are absolutely right. Every Meze product is like a work of art, and Advar is no exception. The shells are made of solid stainless-steel, produced by metal injection molding with CNC finishing. They are not lightweight, adding a nice 10g heft to your ears. The nozzle is on a shorter side with a mesh grill over the top. Because of that, Advar shells do have a shallow insertion, thus need a good set of eartips for secure fit. The shape of the shells is very ergonomic, fitting perfectly in concha-cavum area of my ear just outside of the ear canal. The shells itself have a black piano finish, with a large bronze-color “talisman” circle embedded into the faceplate. And I think the pinhole in the middle of that design is not just for decoration, but actually to vent DD driver, just like another pinhole at the base of the nozzle. The isolation was great, like two little earplugs in my ears.
Inside of these small shells, you have a single 10.2mm dynamic driver. I wasn’t able to find much info about the details of the internal design. But regardless, IEMs should be evaluated based on their sound, not necessary what is inside “under the hood”. I will cover all the sound analysis details in the follow up sections of the review.