"The Meze LIRIC sets a new standard for not just the world of closed back headphones, but the headphone world as a whole. With an innovative build and a sound that can be described as nothing other than state-of-the-art, and a game changer that rings in a new sonic future"
... initial impressions ...
Luke Davis - November 15, 2021
Meze made a big entrance with the 99 Classics that remains one of the most highly recommended portable closed-back headphones on the market. With the Liric, the company is returning to its roots and expanding upon innovations first made for their flagship open backs.
This is a high-end closed-back headphone that Meze has spent over 3 years developing. It has a focus on but not overt intention for portable use and represents the continuation of Meze’s collaboration with Ukrainian Rinaro. In particular, the Liric implements a similar switchback, dual-motor planar driver as seen on their flagship Empyrean and Elite open backs only shrunken down for its more compact frame.
The new driver dubbed MZ4 sports a few new developments such as the Phase-XTM system that has been designed to minimize phase distortion that plays a larger role in closed-back designs. As before, this is a hand-assembled headphone with an emphasis on modularity, quality and a superb usability experience..
The Liric takes some inspiration from the Meze house sound, with a laid-back upper-midrange and smoother treble with dark background. However, it also caries over the more technical nature of the Elite to some extent. In addition, it represents a slightly more engaging take with less warmth, greater sub-bass energy and slightly enhanced lower-treble presence too. I think these will all be welcome changes for many listeners. Of course, as these comments are relative to the Empyrean and Elite, this doesn’t make this a remotely V-shaped headphone. Overall, it is nicely balanced, far more so to my ears than many closed-back designs. It has a slightly more clarity-focused voicing than before and some quirks in the midrange. I do think this will be a crowd-pleaser overall.
A large part of the focus of this design was with regards to soundstage performance and, even on first listen, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the Liric carries over the lovely sense of spaciousness and separation achieved by the Elite, albeit not quite to the same extent. I would say that amongst closed-back headphones, even those in a similarly prestigious price tier, the soundstage impressed me greatly, depth is excellent, and the headphones separate well too. I feel where the closed-back design is felt most is within the bass as the Liric delivers a well-extended and hard-hitting sub-bass slam that is clearly more physical than that seen on essentially all open-back designs. Its tuning is sub-bass focused, delivering thick and weighted notes without introducing too much warmth or roundness.
The midrange is similar to the Empyrean and Elite being progressive and slightly laid-back, giving it a smooth, natural voicing albeit with a different execution. Like those headphones, the Liric has a good sense of body in the lower-midrange but doesn’t possess the same upper-bass warmth as those models giving it a cleaner more contrasted presentation. It is also slightly more articulate within the lower-treble than those headphones, drawing more attention to the leading edge of notes, percussion especially is crisper and clearer on the Liric. In turn, it sacrifices the perfect smoothness and coherence of its open-back counterparts, but I think many will enjoy the treble tuning as the upper-midrange and top-end still feel quite linear and never come across as bright or sharp. It has a dark background but subsequent upper-treble rise imbuing a lovely sense of sparkle and extension.
I did do a quick comparison with the Elite. I noticed immediately, that the Elite's midrange sounded more natural in timbre with its more progressive tuning. Resolution and space are both on another level as should be expected given it is over double the price.
However, it should be noted that this does not stand out as a weakness of the Liric. The Liric has the advantage of a crisper treble tuning and a more powerful, harder-hitting bass. It is, altogether, a more fun headphone if also a less accurate one. It is impressive how much soundstage has carried over to the closed and highly isolating form factor too.
Ryan Soo - November 14, 2021
Look and Feel
These are made with a lightweight magnesium frame and sport a similar flexible yet sturdy feel to the Meze Empyrean and Elite headphones. These are not the flashiest headphone we’ve seen from Meze, going for an almost completely matte black finish. However, they nonetheless feel luxurious and well-tailored the second you take them out of the box.
In terms of comfort, Meze really hit it out of the park on these. The headband has some of the best cushioning on it I’ve ever felt, and their extra deep, soft ear pads are the same trusty ones I’ve seen on their other luxury builds. These are a joy to wear, so much so you won’t want to take them off.
The LIRIC is a portable, closed-back planar magnetic headphone featuring technology from Rinaro Isodynamics, who also helped with the design of the new Meze Elite. The LIRIC features a scaled down Isodyanmic Hybrid Array MZ4 driver along with a “Pressure Equalization System” that’s meant to improve airflow, earcup chamber pressure, and allow for an airy, transparent sound.
The LIRIC aren’t exactly difficult to drive, but an amp is definitely pretty important with these. While you could use them without an amp, which I doubt many are considering, they’d need a hefty volume push. However, they’re still not a super power hungry headphone.
You don’t need your most insanely powerful amplifier in order to drive these sufficiently, and you won’t be pushing the volume knob much once they’re amplified.
Not only does the LIRIC have one of the widest sound stages I’ve heard on a closed back, but it’s also got one of the most separated and intricate. This is one of those headphones that busts a song open and lets it fly every which way. Your attention is constantly demanded as you hear the exact placement of each instrument, with new corners of the stereo field constantly addressed and explored. Needless to say, the ear candy on these is boundless. Plain and simple, the LIRIC does imaging like no closed back before it.
The LIRIC does low end the way it’s meant to be. It’s got a healthy rumble, reaches deep, doesn’t cloud the rest of the mix, and overall makes for an incredibly intimate, realistic experience. There’s a clear low end boost going on with the LIRIC. While this boost feels tasteful and well placed, it certainly beefs things up and puts impacts and attacks to the forefront. If you’re bass averse, these could be a bit much in the lows. However, for most, they’ll feel like a low-end-leaning organic sound. Listening to Cleo Sol’s new album Mother, the LIRIC spreads baselines wide and deep across the stereo spectrum and bathes the listener in a vibrational, textured sound bath.
The LIRIC are pretty bright, you’ll get that satisfying crisp edge and breathy layer on top. The highs have incredible precision and a natural timbre. They feel more true to life than life itself at times. This brightness definitely isn’t very rounded or softened, it’s a hyper-detailed, texture-extending sound. If you want a dampened, warmed up high end, the LIRIC isn’t really approaching it from that angle. While there is perhaps some light coloring, the overall character of the LIRIC’s highs is extreme cleanliness and a sharp but gentle edge. On albums like Sevdaliza’s Shabrang, the LIRIC carries the high end smoothly throughout, and allows some airiness to flow through. Yet, it still maintained an overall acutely tightened, specified boost, focusing more on the super highs than the low highs.
The Meze LIRIC sets a new standard for not just the world of closed back headphones, but the headphone world as a whole.
This LIRIC features the best of both natural, transparent qualities and enhanced, engaging dynamics paired with an incredibly tight and realistic room feel.
With an innovative build and a sound that can be described as nothing other than state-of-the-art, the LIRIC is a game changer that rings in a new sonic future.
Rinaro Isodynamic Hybrid Array
4 - 92,000 Hz
100 dB (1 mW / 1 kHz)
> 130 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)
~ 391 g
MZ4 Driver Specifications
• PHYSICAL •
92 mm x 63 mm
Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer
• DIAPHRAGM •
Rinaro ISOPLANAR® MZ4
Lower Frequency Limit
Warranty Period : 2 YEARS
Hard EVA pouch with velvet lining
Two cables included :
1.5m soft TPE cable with 3.5mm jack
3m soft TPE cable with 3.5mm jack
6.3mm jack adapter
Airplane jack adapter