atelier 13 audio
"If you’re an audiophile with a good set-up at home, and you are looking for a pair of headphones that can match the very best loudspeakers, then you really owe yourself the opportunity to audition these superb headphones"…
... an excellent overview ...
Few headphones can make me feel awe
This is not only due to the Empyrean's sonic performance, but also to the "precision of the scalpel" with which the technical development of this headphone was executed.
The secret behind the sound is a new design approach ... one which should set new 'accents' for the further development of the magnetostat headphone topology :
The sound membrane and the way in which it is made to vibrate has been completely revised by Meze.
The Rinaro Isoplanar Array
The "Rinaro Isoplanar" membrane in the center layer was supplied by the Ukrainian company Rinaro, which was able to invest a lot of time and money in the development thanks to state funding. The sound is created by two neodymium magnets which are arranged symmetrically on each side of the membrane. The idea behind this “hybrid arrangement” is to generate an efficient magnetic field that has the same strength on both sides. This leads to a uniform activation over the entire membrane surface. The frequency range is an unbelievable 4–110,000 Hz. Definitely “overkill”, especially since the adult human hearing usually barely hears further than 15,000 Hz.
Rinaro addresses another headphone problem - namely precise 3D sound reproduction - by allocating the task of frequency restitution to two separate coils that are attached to the membrane. The snake-shaped coil takes care of the lower frequencies, while the spiral coil in the lower third of the membrane is dedicated to the medium to high frequencies. Since the latter is located directly above the ear canal, sound waves enter the ear directly and without delay. Despite this 'technical tinkering', the developers have managed to create an extremely light headphone driver, which is ultimately extremely beneficial to the ergonomic comfort of the end product.
Often neglected in the development of headphones are the ear cushions ... this is regrettable, because their effect on sound reproduction is not insignificant. The Empyrean offers a choice between an artificial leather and a microfiber ear pad.
Another important detail - for people who are concerned about the effects of electromagnets on the human brain - is a ferromagnetic grid that shields the listener from the magnetic fields of the headphone driver :
This shield is built into both ear pads.
Ergonomically, the Empyrean is flawless. The weight of 430 grams is optimally distributed over the skull by the "winged" headphone strap and the spring steel bracket. It should be noted that the weight of the Empyrean could be significantly higher had the exo-skeleton of the headphones - milled from one piece (!) - not been made of aluminum.
When it comes to wearing comfort, the Empyrean "makes no mistakes". The 'stately' size and shape was designed to fit every head, and the relatively loose fit should not cause discomfort during an extended music session at home or in the recording studio . Since the Empyrean is an 'open' design, it is not suitable for commuting anyway.
Sound and Personality
Thanks to the included velvety microfiber ear pads, the Empyrean is available in two versions.
The leather-like ear pads deliver a true-to-the-original, more neutral sound for purists who don't want to add or remove anything from their favorite recordings.
The microfiber ear pads, on the other hand, not only look nicer and more cuddly in my opinion, but also convey this feeling to a certain extent when listening. The bass appears slightly fuller, with hard sounds being subtly attenuated in the higher frequency ranges.
The aforementioned possibility of adapting the music to your own preferences is only a nuance that does not change what the Empyrean is at its core.
it is a beautiful spirit, an idealist. Instead of looking at the mass of hard or cold tonal reality in the face, it invites the listener to lean back and make himself really comfortable and indulge in the remote high sky of “Audiophilia”.
But again from the beginning, and without allegories:
Strangely enough, the Empyrean never sounds thin, cold or uncontrollably pompous. Its deep sounds reach into the lowest frequency ranges, are precise, powerful and at the same time extremely detailed.
The mids are hard to describe ... although "flawless" seems seductive as a term. Here I have to go to Rebecca Pidgeon with her song «Spanish Harlem». A song I often use to find out if my test subject can breathe life into the singer's immaculately boring voice. Lo and behold : the perfect marble voice has a hint of echo, which seduces the listener to dive deeper and completely lose himself in it. Seductive like a siren. So far, I have not tested any headphones that score so well in terms of clarity in this frequency range in the mid-range, and at the same time flatter the ear canals so pleasantly and velvet-ly.
... more on Sound and Personality
The technical ability of the empyrean to reach up to 115 kHz alone made me wish I had the ears of a bat, or at least those of a toddler. But I can say with certainty :
The Empyrean never sounds unpleasantly sharp, even with recordings that have unpleasantly sharp sounds. Nonetheless, it is very precise in the highs. This, however, with an uncommon delicacy, which literally rivets me to the edge of the chair when I concentrate on the details in this frequency range.
With the ability to reproduce the spatiality (or the illusion of it) of a piece, I believe time and again to hear that the bass range is indeed slightly played in a different place than the highs and mids. The question here is whether my brain is playing tricks on me because I know about Rinaro's spiral and rewind. However, I never find this impression disturbing or even incoherent. Rather, it makes it easier for me to concentrate on every detail of the music and immerse myself completely in it.
Summary and Conclusion
Thanks to the open design of the Empyrean, one gets an “outside of the head” experience that only open headphones can convey - although in my opinion the Empyrean rarely gets serious competition from headphones, even from those that are often US$ 2,000 more expensive.
Which brings me straight to the question of whether the Empyrean can justify its price in terms of sound. This certainly depends on the owner's ability to indulge and immerse themselves in the music. I am convinced that the empyrean can grow on anyone who spends a long time with it, even very puristic, analytical music lovers. That is why I am convinced that the Empyrean grows in value the longer you live with it, which can ultimately justify the impressive price.
Far too seldom do I have the pleasure of introducing a headphone manufacturer that is as ambitious and loving of detail as Meze Audio. In addition, they deserve praise for exhibiting a good deal of courage in researching and successfully developing "unconventional" solutions that are then meticulously and flawlessly implemented into products that are also pieces of aesthetic art !
Rinaro Isodynamic Hybrid Array
4 - 110,000 Hz
100 dB (1 mW / 1 kHz)
> 130 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)
~ 430 g
MZ3 Driver Specifications
• PHYSICAL •
102 mm x 73 mm
Fiberglass Infused ABS
• DIAPHRAGM •
Lower Frequency Limit
• MAGNET ARRAY •
75 mm x 49 mm
Warranty Period : 2 YEARS
Copper Finish in stock
High-strength aluminum suitcase with foam inserts
Two set are included : one real leather, one Alcantara
2.5m OFC cable, 4pin mini XLR plugs ending with 6.3 jack connector
1.2m OFC cable, 4pin mini XLR plugs ending with 3.5 jack connector
2.5m OFC cable, 4pin mini XLR plugs ending with 4 pin XLR connector