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A short film about the Meze Liric

  • Are closed-back headphones inferior to open-backs? Yes. But also no. Ignore the black-and-white thinking. The answer is, as always, it depends. Some (but not all) closed-back headphones come up short on airiness or headstage width when compared to some (but not all) open-back rivals. The dogma ignores that this just isn’t true of all models. Put a Focal Stellia (closed) next to a Sennheiser HD6xx (open) and you’d be hard-pressed to call the latter the better all-rounder.

    And just as aesthetics matter for loudspeakers, our headphone preferences hang on more than sound quality. Closed-back headphones can go out into the street where sound leakage from an open-back would disturb others and environmental noise would disturb the wearer’s musical enjoyment. Is this one reason why all active noise-cancelling headphones are closed? Probably.

    The differences don’t end there. The Apple AirPods Max outstrip the Sony WH-1000XM4 in almost every audible respect: clarity, dynamics, sub-bass reach and noise-cancelling. Does that make the Apple the better of the two? That depends on one’s attitudes to on-head comfort and portability. When sat on this commentator’s head, the AirPods Max display insufficient side-clamping force; the earcups’ extra weight (compared to the Sony) cause them to hang next to the ear as much as they cup the ear. Moreover, the Apple headphones don’t fold into a ball (Armadillo style) like the Sony. In their folded state, the Sony can go into a large coat pocket whereas the Apple must hang loose or be tucked away into their bra-like protector — you can’t really call it a carry case.

    Even more comfortable than the Sony WH-1000XM4 are the Meze Liric — a high-end, closed-back passive planar-magnetic headphone from Romania. Despite the Liric’s greater earcup bulk, their side-clamping force is expertly judged. The Liric cup the ear just so and leaning forward wouldn’t send them to the floor. I can’t say that about the Apple AirPods Max. Does this make the Liric more of a ‘go-anywhere’ headphone? They don’t fold but they do ship with a hard shell travel case. Back on the head, the Liric feel like a true luxury product. Out in the street, their visual understatement makes a snatch-n-grab from undesirables less likely than for the mainstream-approved AirPods Max.

    We handled the Liric’s product introduction here. In the video above, we take a deeper dive.

    🎥 Camera: Olaf von Voss
    🎬 Editor: John Darko
    🕺🏻 Motion GFX: John Darko
    💰 Sponsor segment: Jana Dagdagan

    Further information: Meze Audio

    Also seen in this video…

    Focal Stellia

    Dan Clark Audio AEON 2

    Schiit Jotunheim II

    iBasso DX300

    🎵 Song IDs? Playlists of all music discussed and heard in this video – and other videos – can be found on my PATREON

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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