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Meze Liric 2 Review – Closed-Back Maximiser

Pros –

Gorgeous build and design, Serviceable, Balanced and likeable tonality, Improved imaging, Excellent balanced cable, Detachable pads

Cons –

Doesn’t fold for storage, Some loss of bass weight

Verdict –

The Liric II suits those wanting a sound that is rich and relaxed yet articulate and genre-flexible all in a premium closed-back form factor that still manages all-day comfort.  


About Meze –

Meze is an award-winning audio company from Romania that specializes in high-end headphones. They focus on superlative craftsmanship, authenticity, immersive yet emotive sound tuning and excellent ergonomics and design. In addition, a core value for Meze is longevity, delivering serviceable products and sale of replacement parts straight to the consumer. This philosophy has granted the company a dedicated worldwide fanbase that continues to grow with each release.

Introduction –

2 years ago, Meze released their first closed-back planar magnetic driver headphone, the Liric. It took technology from the flagship Emyprean and Elite, filtering them into a more compact, portable form factor. While it was met with a positive reception, users and reviewers were critical of its permanently attached earpads that undermined the serviceability Meze is renowned for. In addition, some found the new form factor had produced a thinner sound that contrasted the beloved richness offered by their open-back models. The Liric II represents a tasteful refinement of the original. There are certainly more similarities than differences, with the updated model employing the same chassis and MZ4 driver. However, it introduces new wooden faceplates, magnetic detachable earpads and QWRM that enables a smoother frequency response. Altogether, it’s a familiar offering that has been adjusted perfectly according to popular feedback.

The Liric II is available for $2000 USD at the time of writing. You can read more about it and secure one for yourself at Meze Audio!

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Alexandra very much for reaching out to organise a review of the new Liric II. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the headphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

Contents –

Specifications –

  • Drivers: MZ4 Rinaro Isoplanar
  • Frequency Response: 4 Hz – 92 kHz
  • Impedance: 61 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB
  • Weight: 427g

Behind the Design –

MZ4 Isodynamic Hybrid Array Driver

The Liric 2 uses the same MZ4 driver as the original, a derivative of the MZ3 driver seen in the Empyrean. The MZ4 has been shrunken down and re-tuned for the Liric’s portable form factor. It has an ultralight iso-planar diaphragm and a hybrid Neodymium magnet array placed symmetrically on either side of the diaphragm to exert uniform force across its entire surface. It is also a dual-driven system with twin voice coils with a switchback woofer and spiral mid-high motors. Two motors allow the driver to direct a certain frequency range towards a specific region of the outer ear, reducing reflections and phase cancellation. The in-house developed driver sports ultra-low distortion, high-resolution design, is lightweight and easy to drive.

Phase-X

Closed-back designs come with their set of pros and cons, and few would argue that most fall behind with regards to soundstage and imaging performance. To combat this, Meze has implemented a new technology dubbed Phase-X which is designed to minimize the phase distortion seen on many closed-back designs. The technology aids absolute linear phase resulting in accurate spatial imaging. Moreover, the company argues this is conducive towards a faster transient response decay allowing for a more detailed sound with sharper direction and more accurate distance portrayal. 

QWRM

Of course, the structures surrounding the driver play just as important a role in the sound output as the driver itself. QWRM standing for quarter wavelength resonator mask is a new innovation exclusive to the Liric 2. It comprises of a precision-milled metal filter placed in front of the driver that attenuates peaks at 7kHz and above to produce a smoother and more linear frequency response.

Removable Earpads

The earpads are now detachable and use a simple magnetic attachment system similar to the company’s over-ear models. This opens up the opportunity for easy servicing but also replacement and third-party pads which can offer alternative sound tunings. The downside is that the earpad air flow system seen on the original is no longer in effect.

Pressure Equalization System

As with the first model, the Liric 2 uses a tuned air vent hole on the faceplate of the headphone designed to control airflow and improve ear cup chamber pressure. The company reasons this provides a more natural, spacious sound alongside reducing wearing pressure and fatigue.

Macassar ebony wood

A dense wood, Macassar ebony contributes both to the aesthetics of the headphones alongside the sound quality. Meze posits that the new material is partly responsive for the warmer sound profile offered by the Liric II in addition to reworking the front-side acoustics.

Hand-braided Cable

While the original model only came with two lengths of single-ended rubber cables, the Liric 2 comes with a standard a 3m TPE single-ended cable alongside a new 1.3m 4.4mm balanced cable. The balanced cable uses Furukawa PCUHD Copper conductors and sports a hand-braided design similar to custom boutique cables.

Unboxing –

The same ultra-premium unboxing found on the original model remains mostly unchanged barring new graphics on the outer sleeve. As opposed to the low-key aesthetic of the original, the II offers a warm-hued sleeve that conjures images of nature, a nod to the revised build and sound of the headphones. Within is a pu-leather hard case that opens to reveal the zippered carrying case. From here on, the unboxing is mostly identical to the original which is a great thing.

The case has a waterproof zipper and is custom-molded to fit the Liric and Liric II. It accommodates the full sliding range of the headphones, so you don’t have to readjust them after storage. The interior is lined with a soft non-scratch fabric and the case also sports an elastic accessory holder. Two cables are included, a 3m standard rubber jacket cable with a 3.5mm termination and a new Furukawa hand-braided cable with a 4.4mm balanced termination. The balanced cable comes within a drawstring pouch that fits nicely within the elastic compartment of the case.

Besides this, Meze also includes a ¼” adaptor and aeroplane adaptor as on the original. It’s a stunning unboxing experience befitting a premium product with a premium set of accessories on top. The new balanced cable rounds out the experience and is something many wanted on the original. It’s great to see Meze go above and beyond, not only offering a balanced termination but also much-improved build quality too.

Design –

The name Meze has become synonymous with market-leading build quality and the same rings true here. The Liric II very much upholds this tradition using the same chassis as the Liric whilst introducing new Macassar ebony wood faceplates. Though not quite as visually congruent as the leather-clad original model, the wood chosen possesses a dark stain and a rich grain that complements the black leather and bronze colour scheme very nicely still. Meze has chosen samples with a flawless grain and a delightful matte finish that resists fingerprints and contributes to a more pleasing tactile feel. Altogether, it’s a premium-looking headphone now with extra character imbued by the unique woodgrain on every unit.

Not only is the Liric II a stunning and comfortable headphone, it also employs exclusively premium materials whilst being fully-serviceable to boot – meaning the headphones can be disassembled by the user and individual parts can be replaced in the event of failure. The Liric II takes this one step further with its removable earpads using the same magnetic attachment system as the Empyrean and Elite. The earpad design is identical with supple lambskin leather and abundant heat-activated memory foam padding. The lambskin headband, metal slider and hanger mechanisms remain too, and they are just as impressive as before. The headphones fold flat and offer a very stable, consistent fit and seal that requires no fiddling to get just right. However, they do not fold for storage as some competitors do.

Complementing the faceplates is the new balanced cable that offers a transparent jacket showcasing the copper conductors below. This gives the headphones an overall warmer-hued aesthetic and I appreciate Meze’s dedication to colour matching. The cable is removable, using dual mono 3.5mm plugs. While the 3m cable is just as disappointing as those included with the original model, the new balanced cable is very impressive and feels similar to a custom-made boutique cable. It has a thicker gauge and a smoother, more pliable jacket. The cable offers zero memory and premium metal hardware in striking satin gunmetal. Overall, it contributes to a far more enjoyable user experience due to the improvements in smoothness and pliability alongside the option to pair the headphones with balanced sources.

Fit & Comfort –

Weight & Headband

Where the original tipped the scales at 391g, the Liric II comes in at a slightly heftier 427g. In addition, the balanced cable is notably heavier than the thin rubber cables included on the Liric. However, in use, this isn’t really felt due to the exemplary weight balancing. The Liric II is just as comfortable as Meze’s other headphones and its predecessor. I was able to wear them for a full day without discomfort or hotspots. A lot of this comes down to the headband design which hugs a broad area of the head to spread weight over a large surface area. The fabric design with cross-pattern padding provides good breathability on hotter days. In addition, clamp force is perfect, high enough to maintain stability and seal but never excessive to the extent that it causes discomfort.

Earpads

The thick, highly padded earpads fully encompass my ears forming a true over-ear fit. The dimensions and construction are identical to that on the Liric meaning you get a full 30mm of depth, heaps of memory foam padding and a supple lambskin wool exterior. They also have a soft Alcantara internal lining and silk filters that prevent dust and debris from damaging the driver behind. Subjectively, the Liric II pads offer a slightly softer and smoother feel yet, but this could also be age-related as my Liric unit is around 2 years old now. This makes a good case for Meze’s build quality as my review sample presents as well as day one with few scuffs and wear marks despite years of use including being loaned to other reviewers and enthusiasts. Of course, the chief difference here is the magnetic removable earpad system meaning the pads are more easily serviceable. This also opens up the option for alternative and aftermarket ear pads for sound tuning though none have surfaced yet as of the post date of this review.

Sliders & Isolation

The hinge and slider assembles are identical to that on the Liric given that the chassis remains unchanged and this is once again, a positive. You get heaps of adjustment with 360 deg of pivot, vertical tilt and flat-folding for portability. The sliders are step-less and offer a very smooth action. As with the earpads, this mechanism hasn’t degraded at all on my original Liric sample as it feels identical in smoothness and tension to the Liric II unit suggesting this will hold up well over time. I do wish it was slightly tighter as the setting can change when fitting and removing the headphones, but it holds well during listening. As before, the Liric II offers heaps of adjustment range for listeners with various head shapes and sizes. However, due to the sharper angle of the headband, those with wider heads may experience fit difficulties. Otherwise, the Liric II is easily among the most comfortable headphones I’ve tested, and owner impressions over the years appear to agree.

Next Page: Sound Breakdown

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Picture of Ryan Soo

Ryan Soo

Avid writer, passionate photographer and sleep-deprived medical student, Ryan has an ongoing desire to bring quality products to the regular reader.

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