Reviewed on: SoundStage! Solo, September 2021
I measured the Meze Audio Elite headphones using laboratory-grade equipment: a GRAS Model 43AG ear/cheek simulator/RA0402 ear simulator with KB5000/KB5001 simulated pinnae, and an Audiomatica Clio 12 QC audio analyzer. For isolation measurements, I used a laptop computer running TrueRTA software with an M-Audio MobilePre USB audio interface. For most measurements, the headphones were amplified using a Musical Fidelity V-CAN amplifier; I used a Schiit Magnius amplifier for distortion measurements. These are “flat” measurements; no diffuse-field or free-field compensation curve was employed. If you’d like to learn more about what our measurements mean, click here.
Because of the unusual nature of these headphones, and because I know readers may want a little more technical detail in this case, I’ve added some extra charts. Enjoy (I hope).
This chart shows the Elites’ frequency response with the part-leather/part Alcantara earpads. This is very much within the norm for open-back planar-magnetic headphones, although usually that big peak centered at about 3.5kHz would be shifted down by about 1kHz.
Here we can see the effects of the different earpads. Switching from the leather/Alcantara pads to the Alcantara pads has a big effect. Output below 800Hz is reduced by 2 to 12dB. Between about 2 and 9kHz, lower treble and mid-treble output is reduced by about 1.5dB on average. Above 10kHz, the top octave of treble is boosted by about 1.5dB on average.
This chart shows how the Elites’ tonal balance changes when they’re used with a high-impedance source, such as a cheap laptop, some tube amps, or some professional headphone amps. As with almost all planar-magnetic headphones, there’s no significant difference.
This chart shows the Elites’ right-channel response (measured with the leather/Alcantara pads) compared with three other open-back audiophile headphone models: the HiFiMan HE6se, the Focal Utopia, and the Meze Empyrean. Other than a mild reduction in midrange energy from 800Hz to 2.2kHz, the Elites are similar to typical headphones of this genre.
Above is a comparison of the Elites with two headphones that come very close to the Harman curve: the Dan Clark Audio Æon 2 Closeds (fitted with the optional perforated pads) and the AKG K371s.
The Elites’ right-channel spectral-decay plot (measured with the leather/Alcantara pads) shows a strong resonance at about 330Hz, which may be the cause of the extra-punchy bass I noticed with these pads. That super-high-Q hash between 2.5 and 5kHz is typical with planar-magnetics, although there’s less of it than we normally see. My hunch is that this lends the headphones a greater sense of “air” and spaciousness.
Here’s the THD vs. frequency chart, measured at 90dBA and 100dBA (both levels set with pink noise). Basically, there’s no distortion, which is typical of planar-magnetics.
In this chart, the external noise level is 85dB SPL, and numbers below that indicate the degree of attenuation of outside sounds. The lower the lines, the better the isolation. I compared them with some other high-end models, and the Elites’ isolation is typical for their product category. I threw in the Dan Clark Audio Æon 2 Closed headphones so you could see how these compare with a closed-back design.
As we almost always see with planar-magnetic headphones, the impedance magnitude is nearly flat (averaging about 34 ohms) and the phase response is similarly flat.
Sensitivity, measured between 300Hz and 3kHz, using a 1mW signal calculated for 32 ohms rated impedance, is 96.3dB with the Alcantara pads and 97.7dB with the leather/Alcantara pads. So the Elites won’t really get cranking in the unlikely event you plug them straight into a smartphone, but they should perform well with any decent amplifier.
Bottom line: No red flags here—the Elites’ measurements correspond very well with my listening notes, and those were very positive.
. . . Brent Butterworth