All TechWeek writers are indepentent and from many different countries. Some english misspelling and grammar mistakes may occur. Want to contribute? Join the team
This time we’ll talk about what happens when music meets poetry. And – no, this is not my next dive into romantic epithets, but a direct quote from the announcement of a new model from the Romanian company Meze . For the first time, this beloved audiophile brand has released planar closed-back headphones that you can safely take with you on the go. The famous hybrid isodynamic drivers developed by Rinaro have been upgraded to this portable form factor, the body of the novelty has become lighter and more compact, but we are promised that it has retained the thoroughbred sound of the hit Empyrean and Elite.
At the same time, her price tag is a little more affordable, with us it is 2000 euros. Personally, I’m pretty cool about most closed planars, but I’ve always genuinely enjoyed Meze and Rinaro’s premium collaborations, so I’m looking forward to testing the Liric with great anticipation. Is this audacious attempt to optimize euphoria successful? Will the headphones become the favorites in their segment? By the way, the name Meze Liric was inspired by the creators’ love for the culture of their country, for its music, poetry, and folklore. So get creative and let’s get started.
We are greeted by a large box in the cover, which depicts ghostly hands raised in a solemn gesture. Beneath it is an elegant inner box made of cardboard of different textures, on its lid there is a golden inscription Liric, and a sophisticated pattern of spiral audio tracks of a planar membrane descends from the letters. Of course, I was waiting for a suitcase, like the older Meze models, but the colorful presentation still softened the disappointment.
The package bundle of the novelty is moderately generous: a strict black wardrobe trunk with a velvet lining, a 1.5 m wire with a 3.5 plug, a 3 m wire with a 3.5 plug, an adapter for 6.3, an aircraft adapter and a leatherette case for cables. I note that the EVA case is not only durable, but also small in size, it will be convenient to take it with you.
But I didn’t particularly like the regular wires, they noticeably mike, and their acoustic transparency is a compromise. In general, these are the easiest cables to replace, I recommend buying a good balanced audiophile cable instead, or at least a slightly more serious cord. Connectors for connecting to the bowls are standard 3.5, there should be no problems finding options for an upgrade.
I can’t say that Meze Liric impressed me with their design. The earphones are very photogenic, but they feel a bit cheaper than they look to me. Although, of course, they have their own style, which they carefully worked on. The model is finished in black, excluding copper rods and expansion hole inserts. The structure is made of magnesium alloy, steel and aluminum, the bowls are oval, their outer panels are covered with artificial leather. The last decision, perhaps, seems to me the most doubtful, otherwise there are no comments.
The assembly is impeccable, no backlash, creaking or looseness. The headband is wide and flexible, it is covered with natural leather, soft ear cushions filled with memory foam are also made of leather and Alcantara. The body of the Liric is not foldable, but it is still compact enough
The new Meze closed planars feature a reduced weight of 391g, which greatly improves wearing comfort during extended music sessions. Personally, after my Focal Utopia , Liric seemed insanely comfortable. A proprietary smooth adjustment system is used, the clamp is not overly strong, but reliable, the bowls rotate 360 degrees. The only thing I can complain about is that the narrow ear pads cover the ears too tightly, it feels like they are being covered with my palms. True, after getting used to this impression passed. And, thanks to a good fit, the model provides adequate passive soundproofing.
Specifications and Compatibility
• Frequency range: from 4 Hz to 92 kHz;
• Sensitivity: 100 dB;
• Resistance: 30 Ohm.
As you can see, Meze Liric’s parameters are very friendly. Of course, when dealing with planars, tempting numbers are no guarantee that the model is really capable of playing with anything other than a stationary one. But other models of Meze headphones have always performed well with powerful portable sources, so the new product should have become even easier to build up.
In general, according to the results of testing, it happened. Some exactingness in amplification and current output is still present here, I didn’t like how the model sounds with ordinary mobile DACs or budget Hi-Fi players , but older devices like the FiiO M17 or iBasso DX240 do an excellent job. In general, I confirm – Liric are able to play decently in a portable bundle. But, of course, it is desirable to give preference to a balanced connection. And I note that the desktop processor will be able to unleash the potential of the headphones even better.
Let me try to explain in simple terms all the interweaving of terms and parameters that accompanies the description of the new Meze Liric.
Let’s start with their amazing driver. This is a hybrid isodynamic emitter MZ4 Isodynamic Hybrid Array, which is produced by hand at the Rinaro factory in Ukraine. It’s been scaled down and retuned, but its key stats are the same as those we’ve seen on the Empyrean and Elite. The diaphragm material is a specially developed isotropic thermostabilized polymer with a conductive layer. Try to read it twice as fast, yes, yes. That’s audiophile lyrics for you. The reinforced driver housing is made of glass fiber reinforced polymer and can withstand the 0.3 Tesla isodynamic magnetic field generated by the hybrid magnetic matrix.
The lightweight and durable diaphragm weighs only 0.08g, has a large active area of 3507mm² and measures 92*63mm. The total weight of the speaker is 71 g.
If you’ve read my review of the Meze Empyrean, you’ll remember that their diaphragm combines an orthodynamic helical track for mid and high frequencies located directly opposite the ear canal, and an isodynamic zigzag track located at the top of the driver for bass. Meze Liric received exactly the same scheme of two independent audio tracks.
But the headphones also has its own trump cards. First, it is the patented Phase-X technology developed by Rinaro to minimize the distortion inherent in closed-back headphones. It improves the spatial picture of the sound, allowing you to achieve more precise positioning of imaginary instruments. Secondly, here we are waiting for the air circulation system through the ear pads Ear Pad Air Flow (EAF). Special channels connect the acoustic chamber of the headphones to the interior of the ear pads, allowing the MZ4 driver to use not only the volume of air in the acoustic chamber, but also the volume of the ear pads. As a result, the engineers managed to reduce the weight and dimensions of the model, while maintaining the full sound quality
In addition, there is a pressure equalization system and air circulation in the headband. As you can see, the closedness of the structure, in theory, should not be felt at all.
Contrary to my expectations, the model’s disposition turned out to be much more restrained, technical and neutral than the famous Meze Empyrean with their recognizable velvety warmth. The new Lyrics don’t try to be overly showy, they don’t flirt with the listener, they don’t hypnotize them with delicious colors, romantic subduedness or intense emotionality. They build the sound image in light and graceful layers, preserving the natural plasticity of the instruments, contrast differences and readability across the entire spectrum.
However, micro-details do not have razor sharpness, they are perceived rather organically. At the same time, the headphones are excellent at attacking, the presentation is collected, punchy, light in timbre, lively and mobile. The balance between the energetic whip of the notes and the smoothness of the overtones is well maintained, I can’t blame Liric for either the fanatical sharpness of the contours or the lazy laxity of the game.
These are just universals that correctly cope with any genre, complement each piece of music with a moderate portion of melody, but invariably retain intelligent accuracy, subtly drawing out the patterns of the acoustic canvas. Their brightness compensates for the shortcomings of the closed form factor, and this is appropriate, the repetition of the same Empyrean sound threatened to slide into the absolute dominance of pumped up bass and poor intelligibility.
And here, with your permission, I will quote verbatim one of my own recent statements about the main concept of audiophilia: “We have a specialized technique that allows you to hear more. , expand the depth of the bass and the length of the upper layers of the treble.Usually, I associate such a calm immersion in music with planars.Because manufacturers of other Hi-Fi headphones often to such an extent they are carried away by various kinds of tinting and accenting that, as a result, nothing is heard there at all.
There is no informative sound, no control, no balance between macro dynamics and emphasizing nuances, no recognizable character of the instruments. Sweet, colorful, sparkling, rolling, melodious haze. Even in the top segment, such devices are occasionally found. For entertainment, it’s nice to listen to them, but audiophile technology should not only amuse.”
So: the new Meze did not disappoint me. If you are looking for isodynamic headphones with adult resolution and good clarity, this is your option.
With the construction of the scene, the model also works adequately. Of course, one should not expect a huge scale, as in open full-sizes, but the panorama does not differ in deliberate intimacy either. The positioning of the instruments is correct, there is enough air between them, although all this is combined with an overall coherence. And, given the realistic volume of sound images inherent in Lyric, as a result, the track is served unobtrusively, smoothly, even a little analog.
The basses are tight, elastic, with forcing reverberations. The depth of the sub is far from record-breaking, but acceptable, the variability of textures and articulation of strikes are excellent. The low-frequency range seems layered, detailed, holographic, and absolutely not fatiguing. The tactile response is present, but fluent, without increased onslaught. The model is able to emphasize vibrations, halftones, small curves of the relief.
The mids are clear, detailed, expressive and fast. The parties have a share of softness, but it never turns into a continuous honey flow. The tones are clean and natural. The resolution is not bad for its class, the picture is quite informative, with a delicate transfer of micronuances up to quiet rustles. I also note the excellent naturalness of the vocals, it is worked out weightily and reliably, without “digital” dryness or heart-rending loudness. Of the minuses – for lovers of drive, the handwriting may seem overly restrained, and the stage, as I already mentioned, is not prohibitively wide here.
The upper frequencies are graceful, iridescent, transparent and delicate. They have an impeccable definition and excellent length; with a high-quality source, you can hear a very rich range of juicy overtones. It is for this part of the spectrum that I want to sincerely praise Meze Liric, the crystallity and lively flexibility of the high frequencies make listening incredibly involving, all spoiled gourmets will understand me. But the serious potential of headphones in this range inevitably leads to their criticality in relation to musical material, pay attention to this.
Let’s start with the main question: will the new Meze Liric become a more affordable alternative to the Meze Empyrean, or do you still need to save up? You know, I don’t have an answer. On the one hand, Liric’s handwriting turned out to be more technical, light and strict; not all audiophiles who are in love with Empyrean will suit it. The presentation of the novelty is not so heady and addictive, there is less naturalness, complex textures, detail, depth and scale of the panorama.
But, on the other hand, in terms of price / quality ratio, Liric is certainly more profitable, they are one third cheaper than the former Meze flagship, and almost half than the current one, and their level is also quite top-end. Also, your use case matters. If you understand that you will listen to closed headphones much more often than open ones, because you have little time for home music sessions – take Meze Liric and don’t fool yourself. But if you need exactly the standard where the isodynamic driver from Rinaro Acoustics shows its capabilities better, look at the warm Empyrean or the more linear Elite.
What about competitors from other manufacturers? Here I propose to focus exclusively on closed-type models.
Audeze LCD-XC planars are analytical, monitor-driven, cool and distinct, with great detail, fast-paced attacks, uncolored tones, massive lows, accentuated vocals and prominent, bright, sharp highs. Headphones are balanced, energetic, but not as friendly, soft and natural as Meze Liric. and in terms of ergonomics, the LCD-XC is more compromise, their large bowls personally seemed to me too heavy.
Let’s move on to the top closed dynamos. I don’t really like the Sennheiser HD820 model , so we’d better stop at the Denon AH-D9200 . The handwriting of these headphones is warm, driving, atmospheric, slightly V-shaped, with a pleasant weight of the instruments and an overall cozy charm. Their characteristic feature is called “I don’t want to shoot.” Here, any composition is played in a harmonious manner. The model knows how to be charismatic, but without unnecessary aggression, her velvety and liveliness is very captivating. Meze Liric, in comparison, sound cooler and smoother, more unobtrusive, biting and light, they should appeal more to fans of tracking micronuances.
If you’re looking for an audiophile bundle for listening to music on the go, take a look at the Meze Liric. Of course, in some aspects there are compromises, but still, the model, it seems to me, turned out very well. Just, if possible, listen to it before buying, it still tastes good. Well, do not forget about the source with normal power.