Best Closed-Back Audiophile Headphones of 2023 | Moon Audio
Best Closed-Back Audiophile Headphones of 2023 | Moon Audio
The Meze Liric is the first closed-back reference headphone from the award-winning developers of the Empyrean and Elite headphones. The interesting thing about the Hybrid Magnet Array on the Isoplanar Diaphragm of all the Meze headphones is it truly gives you the feel of a dual-driver implementation. With regular magnet arrays or with dynamic drivers, the coloration is consistent all the way through the frequency band. In the Liric's case, the bottom frequencies are on the warm side and the high frequencies are prominent and well-defined. This makes for a delightfully unique sound. Because of the bottom-end warmth, we classify the Liric as a warm side of neutral headphone, though it's not as warm as the Empyrean. We find the Liric has a more immediate sound. The instruments are right there in front of you; one feels surrounded by the artist with a depth of sound that is large and cohesive.
The Liric is not hard to drive, but we find that planar magnetic headphones really shine with some extra power. You don't need a super-powerful desktop DAC, but you might find a USB dongle DAC won't give you the volume that you desire. We recommend a portable DAC such as the Chord Qutest. In a case where you have both balanced and unbalanced options, such as on your Astell & Kern player, you always should utilize the balanced port with this headphone.
The Liric closed-back headphones are so comfortable that they will disappear on your head. We can envision enjoying these for many hours in front of a computer with a desktop system. The headband fits snugly; it is neither fatiguing nor clampy. Meze has always done a remarkable job with the mechanical engineering of their headphones. They are all very comfortable, which can be a rare thing with headphones.
“In our folklore, lyricism is found in the smallest of details, from odes to poems, from flute songs to the melismatic tunes of the “doina” (a style of voice singing specific to Romania). Our first closed-back isodynamic headphone was born out of love for music, poetry, and the indisputable attachment we have to our country’s culture.
We’ve been wanting to do a portable planar for a while, and following two successful collaborations with Rinaro, it was a natural next step. Naming it LIRIC was not a game of chance. It was an ideal metaphor to paint the authentic, vivid and poetic sound disguised behind its ethereal silhouette.”
Antonio Meze, Lead Designer and Founder of Meze Audio
Meze wanted it to express the very thing that makes us Meze Audio – cutting-edge technology embodied into an artful, almost sculptural frame. While different than anything Meze has done before, LIRIC preserves the same design language characteristic to us, with new additions in terms of materials and ergonomic approach. Designed for high-fidelity listening on the go, LIRIC delivers high build quality and excellent comfort, and a life-like, immersive listening experience.
Time flies when you're having fun! Together with Rinaro Isodynamics, Meze is adding a third model in their collaborative lineup. LIRIC raised a true challenge for both companies: how can they create a planar closed-back headphone that will change all standards in the audiophile world. Fusing Meze Audio's industrial design capabilities with Rinaro's technological development, LIRIC brings a new flavor for all the active audiophiles that like to take their music on the go.
For the past 10 years, Meze Audio has been developing audiophile headphones and earphones renowned for their timeless design, pure comfort and engaging, vivid sound. From looks to technology, Meze Audio products are designed to surpass all short-living trends and become heirlooms, rather than just headphones. Today, founder Antonio Meze and his skilled team design and develop their products in Baia Mare, Romania, in the spirit of their original ‘no-compromise’ vision.
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. 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.
LIRIC features the state-of-the-art technology developed by Rinaro, re-engineered for day-to-day use. The MZ4 Isodynamic Hybrid Array driver was scaled down and tuned to deliver an audio experience in-line with it's larger counterparts found in Empyrean and Elite. Combined with the closed-back design, it helps preserve the original clarity and emotion of your favorite music through enhanced sound and minimized external noise. Each driver is entirely hand assembled and tested in Rinaro’s industrial facility in Ukraine.
Reinforced polymer housing designed to withstand the demanding 10,7N load generated by the Hybrid Magnet Array.
[MZ4] ISOPLANAR DIAPHRAGM
Weighing only 0.08g with a large active area of 3507mm2.
[MZ4] HYBRID MAGNET ARRAY
Symmetrically placed on either side of the diaphragm the neodymium magnets are arranged into a Hybrid Array to create a 0.3 Tesla Isodynamic magnetic field required for a uniform activation across the whole diaphragm surface.
ULTRA LOW DISTORTION
Total harmonic distortion (THD) measures under 0.15% in the whole frequency range.
71g combined driver weight designed to create a headphone that offers comfortable listening on the go.
Improved ambience and spatial sound imaging through innovative technology. (Patent pending)
ULTRA HIGH RESOLUTION AUDIO
Upper frequency limit of audio reproduction is 92,000 Hz.
100dB@1mw/1kHz; 30Ω Can be driven by almost any portable source without needing amplification.
SCALED FLAGSHIP ISODYNAMIC HYBRID ARRAY TECHNOLOGY
One of the most sophisticated and advanced planar magnetic technologies in the world has been scaled down for portable use. (Patented in US, EU, China and other countries.)
The MZ4 driver combines individual switchback and spiral shaped voice coils within the same diaphragm, allowing sound to be targeted with more accuracy around the natural form of the ear, for a more selective acoustic performance. Using this combination allows the headphone to achieve an increased exposure of direct sound wave frequencies over the 10kHz range, as well as improved imaging and localization, by decreasing the impact of short-wave time delays caused by diffused field reflections.
The switchback coil is more efficient at reproducing lower frequencies and is positioned in the upper part of the driver.
The spiral coil is more eﬃcient at reproducing middle-high frequencies and is positioned directly over the ear canal, enabling more direct sound waves to enter the ear without any time delays.
ISOPLANAR DIAPHRAGM MATERIAL The diaphragm is manufactured from a custom developed isotropic thermally stabilized polymer, with a conductive layer. Through unique processing methods, an ultralight yet rigid diaphragm has been achieved.
At frequencies above 10kHz, where sound wave length is smaller than the cushions inner cavity, the sound field becomes diffused with an amount of direct and reflected sound waves within the ear canal. A significant increase of direct sound waves was achieved by positioning the most efficient part of the diaphragm in mid-high frequencies directly over the ear canal, resulting in improved 3D imaging and spatial localization.
An innovation to the MZ4 driver is the Phase-X™ system created by Rinaro as a way to minimize phase distortion issues, typically found in closed-back headphone designs. This patent-pending technology helps deliver an immersive spatial sound imaging. The Phase-X™ system improves the accuracy of spatial imaging, in-line with its open back counterparts, especially noticeable on binaural recordings.
ORIGINAL SOURCE RECORDING
Absolute linear phasing offers the listener the original spatial image as it was recorded. This includes information from the instrumentation as well as the recording environment itself.
Phase distortions, typically found in the conventional closed-back headphone designs, noticeably affect the reproduction of the spatial image of the original recording.
New for the Liric is the introduction of an Ear pad Air Flow (EAF) system, developed by Rinaro, which reduces the weight and size of the Liric headphone through optimizing it’s acoustic volume. Precision cut air vents which run from the Liric ear cup chamber into the ear pads allow the MZ4 driver to utilise acoustic volume from the ear pads as well as the ear cup chamber. This significantly reduces the required size of the ear cup chamber allowing Liric to keep a compact and truly portable closed-back headphone profile without compromising on the acoustic performance.
Combining high-end materials with an ergonomic design approach and a sleek, modern finish, LIRIC is made for the audiophiles who want to enjoy their passion in and outside the house, for hours on end.
A lightweight magnesium skeleton ensures the headphones stay flexible, shock-resistant and oxidation free, while maintaining an ideal fit for long listening sessions.
Padded headband cushions are symmetrically placed in a “+” shape to allow proper air flow, and lowers the heat and humidity buildup. Covered in genuine leather, the headband is perfectly tuned for optimal pressure distribution - it follows the structure of the head, creating firm and even contact. Just like all Meze Audio headphones, LIRIC is easily adjustable for a sturdy, yet comfortable feel that fits most head shapes.
The choice of an angled ovoid ear cup shape was best for surrounding your ears closely without adding unnecessary pressure or weight, at the same time offering a deeper sound and a better passive sound isolation.
A precisely tuned air vent hole can make a world of difference in how you perceive the sound around you, that is why Meze learned and adapted from the previous experiences and decided to add the Pressure Equalization System in LIRIC’s ear cups as well. The result: better controlled airflow, improved ear cup chamber pressure, and a sound that is airy, transparent, detailed and flows naturally, enveloping you into a whole new world of music.
No detail is left to chance when creating a multisensory experience. With the LIRIC, each texture was carefully selected to complete the other, creating a tactile spectacle distinguishable at first contact. Referencing the textures found on magnesium parts of professional photo cameras, this headphone preserves the same softness to the touch, while demonstrating an outstanding wear resistance.
Achieving the highly-refined finish was definitely a challenging process. The union of black leather, gloss-matte spatters on magnesium, and metallic copper accents were the perfect addition to this contemporary aesthetic, completing its portable personality.
|OVERVIEW||MZ4 DRIVER SPECIFICATIONS|
|Driver Type||Rinaro Isodynamic Hybrid Array® MZ4||Geometrical Shape||Ovoid|
|Operating Principle||Closed||Size||92mm x 63mm|
|Ear Coupling||Circumaural||Driver Weight||71 g|
|Frequency Response||4-92,000 Hz||Casing||Fibreglass reinforced polymer|
|Impedance||30 Ω||Diaphragm Type||Rinaro Isoplanar® MZ4|
|Nominal SPL||100 dB (1 mW / 1 kHz)||Active Area||3507 mm2|
|Maximum SPL||> 130 dB||Diaphragm Weight||0.08 g|
|Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)||<0.15%||Acoustic Mass||6.5 kg/m4|
|Weight||391 g||Lower Frequency Limit||4 Hz|
|Upper-Frequency Limit||92,000 Hz|