Meze Audio has today announced a new flagship headphone model: the Elite. Like the Romanian company’s previous flagship headphone, the Empyrean (video here), the Elite has been produced in collaboration with planar-magnetic driver manufacturer Rinaro Isodynamics. The Elite features the Ukrainian company’s all-new ultra-thin 0.011 g Pharus diaphragm that, according to the press release, makes good on “advances in polymer processing” to net improved acoustic performance.
According to the Elite’s spec sheet, THD sits at 0.05% across the entire frequency range and 101dB efficiency married to 32 Ohm input impedance means the Elite can be driven without the need for specialist amplification (although specialist amplification will undoubtedly improve their sound).
The Pharus driver sports the dual-voice-coil configuration that we first saw in the standard Empyrean, one that allows the serpentine tracing to take care of lower frequencies and the circular trace – aligned with the ear canal for better time alignment – to handle mids and highs. The driver housing – the ‘tiny room’ in which the driver plays music – has been re-tuned by Meze accordingly.
And as anyone who has spent time with a high-end headphone will know, changing the earpads changes those ‘tiny room’ dimensions’ and can change the headphone’s sound. The Alcantara-only 30mm earpad that came with the Empyrean also ships inside Elite’s ‘suitcase’ box and can easily be swapped out for Meze’s all-new 25mm-deep earpad made from a mix of leather and Alcantara.
Back to the press release: “An innovative design feature developed by Rinaro is the Isomagnetic® earpad attachment, which uses the demagnetizing field generated by the driver to hold the earpad in place, whilst also redirecting the magnetic field back into the driver and improving driver efficiency.”
Keener observers will know of lead designer Antonio Meze’s enthusiasm for industrial design. Whilst structurally similar to the Empyrean, the Elite’s frame is made from alumimium with a CNC process that takes 20 hours. We only have to look at the intricately carved patterns on the earcup’s outer grille to see why. Moreover, according to Meze, it takes Rinaro 100 hours to manufacture and test each of their drivers. A sharp reminder then that it’s not only the raw materials that contribute to a product’s cost but also the time taken to turn those materials into their final form and finish them to a standard that befits any luxury intent.
And those time-related costs are a major reason why Meze’s Elite will sell for US$4000.
Further information: Meze Audio