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Meze Audio LIRIC Headphones: Review

The $2,000 Meze Audio LIRIC face some stiff competition. Do they continue the winning streak for the Romanian manufacturer? We think so.

Meze Audio LIRIC Headphones

It’s oddly prophetic that we are having a discussion about the Meze Audio LIRIC this week.

Having previously reviewed the original Empyrean, which remains one of my all-time favorite headphones; the LIRIC has big shoes to fill as an understudy to the flagship. Meze continues to innovate, and this collaboration with Rinaro who are based in Lviv and living under the current threat of Russian missile strikes and the war in areas north of Kyiv and in the southern part of the country feels very different right now.

Meze are based in Baia Mare, Romania, which is located very close to the Ukrainian border. Meze have proven to be the “little engine that could” in the headphone space delivering one surprising pair of IEMs and headphones after another.

They may not be a very large company in terms of the sheer volume of product that they move — but their products belong in any serious discussion with the best products in a number of categories. If you are considering products from Audeze, Dan Clark Audio, and HiFiMAN — you need to include the comparable Meze Audio headphone if the prices are comparable.

Meze Audio LIRIC Headphones atop box

The Skinny

Made of lightweight aluminum, magnesium, plastic and spring steel, the LIRIC runs the gamut of materials and implements Meze’s strong sense of industrial design. Antonio Meze is a passionate bike rider and you can see it in every product that he designs; the choice of materials, ergonomics, and how everything comes together.

The magnesium frame for the cup is quite good and without much of a look could easily be confused for the plastic of the cup back. The plastic is of high quality with a texture to it as well, giving the headphones a clean and modern look.

Meze Audio LIRIC Headphones Hinge Adjustment

The adjustable shafts of the cup are machined from copper finished aluminum and showed no wear with use over the few months I’ve spent with the LIRIC.

Everything feels slightly tight out of the box and it does take a few sessions and adjustments to make everything move with less tension. The one part I would change is the headband, though. I have never really liked single piece headbands preferring to have some sort of frame above as support.

That said, I fully understand why Meze did this and approve of the implementation of the leather headband; the pleated venting allows for a good fit with no heat build-up.

Making adjustments was easy, and I actually preferred the unit to sit higher on the side of my head. This gave me a very good fit and seal; with no pressure below my ears, which is something that I have had on some other headphones.

The distribution of the weight allowed me to conduct extended listening sessions and everything worked for me except for the ear cup size.

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Meze Audio LIRIC Headphone Inner Earcups

The cups are an oblong shape and were slightly small for my slightly larger than average earlobes.

This proved to be somewhat problematic for in regard to long-term listening; especially on my left side as I have worn an earring since high school. An extra band and slightly larger pads would alleviate this issue for someone like myself.

Technology

From the website: “Rinaro originated in the USSR (today’s Ukraine) during the Cold War, as part of a state-funded acoustic technology research program. With government backing and access to advanced testing facilities, the team was able to focus all of its efforts on planar magnetics.

Meze Audio LIRIC Headphones powered by Rinaro Isodynamics

A field they have continued to innovate in for the last 30 years, since the collapse of the USSR. In the last decade, Rinaro have expanded their capabilities and capacity with the development of state-of-the-art R&D and manufacturing facilities in Ukraine and Poland.

The new facilities have been a driving force in the creation of the revolutionary Isodynamic Hybrid Array technology found in Meze Audio Empyrean, ELITE and LIRIC headphones.”

Utilizing two different shapes for the drivers in a headphone is hard enough, but Rinaro has figured out how to make it work. The switchback coil voices the low end while the spiral handles the midrange and is placed directly over the ear canal.

This placement shortens the amount of time it takes the midrange information to get inside your ear. This also enhances the size of the soundstage a bit, acting like a near-holographic effect some IEM’s have. The interior grille as well as the placement of the magnets enhances the sound, with the grille acting to spread the sound further, increasing soundstage nicely.

Meze Audio LIRIC Headphones Driver Design

Finish this with a vent hole, allowing the unit to breathe & one could almost call this a semi-closed back headphone. Combined, this makes for yet more technological advancement from Meze, utilizing existing technology; but with the expertise of a world-renowned company in Rinaro.

Further developing of the ear pad Air Flow (EAF) system, also by Rinaro; allows for the use of thinner ear cups by providing venting to not only the outside, but also through vent holes to the ear pads themselves. This allows for the cavity areas of the ear cup and pads to be used as acoustic chambers, thus affording smaller ear cups. The result of all of this is the MZ4 isodynamic hybrid driver of the LIRIC utilizing Phase-X™ (pending), which improves ambience and spatial sound imaging and the aforementioned other changes.

Sound

I will start by saying that the LIRIC is a fine headphone.

It gets all of the fundamentals right and makes a point of never trying to offend.

And that could be its greatest attribute and biggest weakness at the same time.

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Meze Audio LIRIC Headphone Cable

It delivers detail with excellent clarity and never sounds antiseptic or clinical. It also never sounds lush; which would suggest that Meze decided to aim for a neutral sounding headphone that would work with a wider range of DAPs, desktop amplifiers, and Dongle DACs.

Some might feel that the tonal balance robs the low end of some impact and the treble of some energy but that’s something that can be changed by your source or amplifier.

The LIRIC is definitely not a bass “shy” headphone but there are other headphones in the same price range that deliver more weight in that regard.

The midrange resolution is very good but vocals seem to struggle depending on the source/amplifier. They don’t have that velvety smoothness of the Empyrean which are state-of-the-art in that regard.

Using my iFi Pro Duo, I found myself turning on the XBass setting to make up for the absence of weight in the extreme low end; the bass is generally very tight and quick with all genres of music but some of the music that I enjoy requires that extra push to really come alive. The setting does result in a slight loss of transparency so it’s something to be aware of with both the LIRIC and other headphones.

David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” solidified my feelings about the midrange, which are quite good without being dramatic. I’ve listened to a lot of headphones that put too much emphasis on the midrange as a method of masking deficiencies in other areas; something that is definitely not the case with the LIRIC.

Calling them “subdued” is probably too harsh of a criticism because I will take a polite sounding presentation over an aggressive one 24-7. You can make the LIRIC sound more energetic versus having to dial back a hard sounding treble which is preferable in my opinion.

Female vocals have more presence with the LIRIC and that was consistently the case with all sources and amplifiers; more detail, greater texture, and not as distant sounding in the soundstage.

The treble never gets hard unless your source device or amplifier emphasizes that aspect of a poor recording which is a definite plus with a closed-back like these headphones; you can boost the volume and it doesn’t become etched sounding at all.

The soundstage is good for a closed-back and layering & separation are above average. Running through the excellent Singxer SA-1, there is a certain tilt to the sound, which benefits the LIRIC quite nicely. Run a warmer sounding DAC/Amp such as the iFi Pro Duo, and the LIRIC feels warm and on the lusher side of life.

The LIRIC worked well across many sources as well. I spent the majority of my time with the Singxer SA-1; it was the best pairing countering the neutrality of sound with the “lilt” in the SA-1 — adding a slightly brighter character to the sound.

Meze Audio Liric Planar Magnetic Closed-Back Headphones Angle

Conclusion

The Meze Audio LIRIC is a very good headphone; it does a lot of things really well for a closed-back headphone and that makes it somewhat unique. The soundstage is right up there with the best in the category when we’re taking about closed-back headphones and that will matter for a lot of listeners.

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My issue is that I can’t decide if the LIRIC is trying to be an ELITE Jr. or Empyrean Jr. — it’s something that I’ve noticed with some of the latest offerings from HiFiMAN as well.

If you get the amplifier and source correct — the Meze Audio LIRIC can be a fantastic all-around headphone that might never leave your side. Get that part of the equation wrong and you might never learn to appreciate what it can do.

Where to buy: $2,000 at Crutchfield | Audio46 | Apos Audio

Meze Audio LIRIC Headphones Box Top
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. MadMex

    April 2, 2022 at 3:05 pm

    Meze is getting close, and by that I mean they have a $4k, $3k, and now $2k headphone. Next, using deductive logic, has gotta be the $1k and that’s where I’ll jump in because I’ve grown old on my 99 Classics but can’t quite reach for the stars, meaning the multi-k ones.

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