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Multitest headphones – Headphone Heaven Fieldtrip

Prijs: € 3500

Multitest High End Hoofdtelefoons

Level 3

Multitest High End Hoofdtelefoons

We are ready for the nun plus ultra of the headphones, at least as far as the collection of Beter Beeld & Geluid is concerned. We apply some substitutions in the selection. Because of the price and system difference with the other sets, we are exchanging Sonoma’s electrostate set (headphones and amplifier) for the Hifiman HE1000se. And we’ll swap the Audeze LCD-XC for the Audeze LCD-3.

As with all headsets in this category, there is a lot to write about these four models. Everything shows that these are top models where manufacturers have invested a lot of time and energy to deliver their business card. We try to share with you the essence of the models we listen to. For more information we refer you to.

Meze Empyrean

The series build-up of Meze is extremely simple and a bit extreme. There are two models over-ear. The previously mentioned and tested 99 Neo/Classic of 199/299 euro. And then the Empyrean who has to cost tenfold: € 2,999. Just as the 99 Classic is a sensational product, the Empyrean is in this price range of high enders and that is certainly handsome. Colleagues from the music press at home and abroad write praisingly about the Empyrean, so our expectations have been raised.

For the Empyrean, Meze works together with Rinaro, a company that still has its roots in the Soviet Union. Rinaro developed the planar driver for Meze.

Design and finish have similarities to those of the Meze 99 Classic. The headband, the lines and shapes have an unmistakable signature. The background of Antonio Meze as an industrial designer shows itself well in the Empyrean. Much effort has been made to land difficult-to-process materials such as carbon and titanium in the desired shape and structure so that design and material properties can reinforce each other.

The Rinaro-designed planar driver has a double voice coil; one is spiral-shaped, and the other has a zigzag shape. This should improve the timing and differentiation of high and low frequencies. Finally, the ear cushions are magnetically attached to the headphones. This is not only convenient but also good for the sound because it eliminates a magnetic stray field and sends (part of) the magnetic field back to the driver, which should lead to higher efficiency and dynamics. A kind of turbo-prop, to use an analogy from engine technology. The shape of the auricle is egg-shaped, in order to save weight and to better fit the shape of the ear.

How it sounds

These are headphones we’re having trouble taking off. During the test we sit on our listening couch and alternate the headsets. But we don’t want to do that, take the Empyrean off! How nice this sounds. Like we’re listening to a high-end audio system in the room.

Our impression is that there is a bit of colouring in it, a bit warmer than we would expect from a planar. But certainly not unpleasant, on the contrary. We get sucked into the music, we hear details we didn’t hear before. And then we turned especially no audiophile music. You know, singer/songwriters with a guitar and a drum, recorded with high end tube microphones. You know about hi-fi shows.

We’re starting Sting’s Englishman in New York. We look at each other: what have we missed all these years in this song! The pizzicato’s of the violins seem to have a kind of delay or overdub that still reveals an undiscovered layer in this grey track. And a lot more. In short: we forget the technique of this Empyrean and want to listen to it. And don’t take it off, especially since Jaap/Yung wants to listen to it too: “No, I am!”

What does Harriëtte say about it?

Poe: It’s obvious we’ve risen a class. If we look at impulse behavior, it’s simply halved. There’s a pulse and then… nothing. Very impressive. The response is also cleaner and less messy. Low picks up smoothly. Strangely enough, the deformation is slightly higher in the low, but lower in the high weather. And more even. In short: a clear improvement overall compared to the lower class.

Specifications Meze Empyrean

Type Over-ear open back
Driver Rinaro Isodynamic Hybrid Array
Sensitivity 100 dB
Impedance 31.6
Weight 430
Cable length N.B
Price 2999

 

Audeze LCD-3

In this category we would like an Audeze aircraft and according to Björn the LCD-3 is a suitable model. It is true that the price is a lot lower than the other three, but the model above that is priced over 1,000 euros higher. Dilemmas, dilemmas.

Design and fit of the LCD-3 are sublime. The combination of wood and leather create a luxurious and warm look, delicious. The wood is African Zebrano hardwood (certified) and you can choose for real leather or artificial leather. You can order this last variant from Audeze as Vegan Leather. We think this word find fits perfectly in the list of Blocking friezes and Curling parents. It’s not for nothing that Audeze has established herself in high end headphones. What beautiful devices these are, especially in this segment. It’s tough and elegant at the same time. Big and big as befits an American.

And then the sound. Here, too, we hear everything that can be taken out of the music chain. Compared to the Meze Empyrean and the final D8000 described below, we just miss the refinement and soundstage. The latter are so good that the difference manifests itself well. Shouldn’t we try a higher model of Audeze? Dilemmas, dilemmas. The high weight (we estimate 550-600 grams) is also mentioned here as a disadvantage, also because the other models are significantly lighter. Weight and comfort go hand in hand. No matter how fine the LCD-3 sounds, a heavy headdress quickly becomes a burden.

What does Harriëtte say about it?

It’s pretty clever what Audeze did with the LCD-3. The impulse behaviour in particular is remarkably good for a planar. Almost like a dynamic unit. The response is also incredibly linear. With a beautiful lowland: very rich. Distortion is good, but in the bass – for this class – runs a bit slow. The Meze and Hifiman do better. However, Hifiman has a crazy peak at the end of the graph around 8K. There’s something in that planar, like the Audeze LCD-2C…

Specifications Audeze LCD-3

Type Over-ear open back
Driver Planar
Sensitivity 102 dB
Impedance 110 Ohm
Weight N.b
Cable length N.B
Price 2399

Hifiman HE1000se

The HE1000se also has metal, wood and leather as striking style features. The nanometre-thick diaphragm of the driver provides a sound characteristic that is like an electrostate in terms of speed and dynamics. We also notice this when we put our hands against the auricle and move away from our head again. Even at some distance we can hear the influence of the hands on the sound. This is an open system with good reason. The HE1000se also sits comfortably, is easy to adjust and feels robust. Unlike the Hifiman Susvara, which is so difficult to control that it can also be connected to an amplifier’s speaker connection, the HE1000se doesn’t have to make it this far. On the Questyle the Hifiman HE1000se sang his song very well and we could enjoy what these headphones have to offer.

It’s getting a bit monotonous and that wasn’t it at all in the test; but where at Level 1 we still heard substantial differences between the headphones, this is mainly about nuance and taste. The measurements also show that to some extent. It will be about the match between the other devices in your system, your musical preference, the desired use. In this sense, good quality headphones are no different from speakers.

We enjoyed this Hifiman. Everything is there: high, middle, low, width, depth, detail, overview. Everything but high end gets used to.

What does Harriëtte say about it?

We see a somewhat messy picture in our measurements. The impulse behavior is not as good as we are honest. And also the distortion measurement shows a peak around 8000 Hz, which means it is also present at 16 kHz. Response is neat… But technically, this is not the high-flyer in the test. No complaints from a sound point of view…

Specifications Hifiman HE1000SE

Type Over-ear open back
Driver Planar
Sensitivity 96 dB
Impedance 35 Ohm
Weight 440 grams
Cable length N.B
Price 3499

Final D8000

By developing their own driver technology that is completely different from what is available on the market, they have come one step closer to the perfect display. Despite its open construction, the Air Film Damping System (AFDS) gives the D8000 an enormously open, deep and above all defined bass rendering, combined with extreme refinement in the high end. In the D8000, Final uses an annular control with their patented Air Film Damping System (AFDS), which drastically improves the low view compared to many competitors and, thanks to its light weight, also allows excellent high view. The diaphragm of many planar/magnetostatic headphones is poorly attenuated and can come into contact with the magnetic drive in case of large rashes. With AFDS this is impossible.

To enable repairs and future upgrades, almost every part is designed to be easily replaceable. This also enables easy upgrades. The Final D8000 is manufactured at Final’s headquarters in Kawasaki. Together with the precision of the individual parts, the precision of the tools ensures precision in the assembly. All these tools are manufactured by Final itself. They believe that in order to obtain the best quality, it is necessary to bring the source of raw materials close to the manufacturing facilities. This guarantees the best quality.

How does it sound?

We can’t choose between the Meze Empyrean and the final D8000. They have many similarities and subtle differences that make the choice twisted difficult. The final D8000 sounds more neutral than the Meze Empyrean and is therefore slightly better in soundstaging, holographic image. We can therefore well imagine that the D8000 is particularly popular with the professionals in the studio. In Wisseloord and other national studios the final D8000 can be seen more and more often. We don’t want to take this off either, we just want to listen to more music. It’s a good thing that we tested these last four headsets towards the end of the day, otherwise we would never have been able to listen to and measure 12 headphones… The match with the Questyle headphone amplifier is excellent, better than the match we heard (at shows though) on other headphone amplifiers. If you are considering purchasing the D8000, try it with a number of different amplifiers.

What does Harriëtte say about it?

Again we see excellent results. A nice response, a bizarrely good impulse behaviour and neat distortion values below the audible range. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be. If you look closely, you will see that the 2nd harmonic in Final dominates. And that the rest of it’s pretty well underneath. That’s funny to see, because with the Empyrean they are more divided and we see the 3rd harmonic higher. That gives it a slightly different touch… although these two models are very close to each other.

Specifications Final D8000

Type Over-ear open back
Driver Dynamic
Sensitivity 98 dB
Impedance 60 Ohm
Weight 523 grams
Cable length 1.5 meters / 3 meters
Price 3499

 

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