Meze Audio Elite are stunning planar magnetic headphones with supreme musicality

They might have a price tag to make your eyes water but Meze Audio’s flagship headphones will make your ears very happy

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Meze Audio Elite headphones

Meze Audio Elite headphones

Review Overview

Our rating


Our verdict

Flawless, uncoloured reproduction
Extremely comfortable, with high-quality construction
Mind-blowing frequency range
They reveal every nuance in a mix
Makes listening to music genuinely joyful

Price is prohibitive for most


It’s not often that a pair of headphones comes along costing more than your first car. But in the rarefied world of high-end planar models, extortionate prices are commonplace. In fact the £3,749 that Meze Audio asks for its new, flagship Elites is something of a sweet spot for other manufacturers including Audeze, Focal, HiFiMan and Final Audio. As you might expect, these are not your run-of-the-mill headphones. They’re a serious investment for anyone who values cutting-edge fidelity — and has a big budget. So what does this almost-£4,000 really get you?

Meze Audio’s Elites are hand-built with top-class components. The frame is fashioned either from aluminium or tungsten (both at the same price), the headband is leather and the cups are joined by a flexible strip that distributes their weight evenly while providing a snug yet remarkably comfortable fit. Two sets of leather ear pads are provided, one slightly thinner to lower bass pressure a moderate amount if that’s more to your taste. The cups also slide up or down a little to adjust to your head but the mechanism is firm enough that once in place they won’t move around by themselves. Their weight is just 420g, despite feeling relatively large.

There’s no wireless tech here — these are a wired-only model. Each cup has a proprietary mini XLR socket to which you connect the high-quality braided cable. Five terminator types are available; 4-pin XLR, 6.3mm, 4.4mm, 3.5mm and 2.5mm, and you order the one you want on purchasing, or extra ones separately. An XLR cable would be suitable for a mixing desk or a higher-end headphone amplifier unit, while the more common 6.3mm and 3.5mm cables will connect to a much wider range of gear like hi-fi separates, iOS devices and computers. The mini XLRs at the cup end fit very comfortably and have catches to disconnect them.

Given the lack of bells and whistles, you won’t be surprised to learn that Meze Audio has directed all its efforts into just two things. The build — which, as we’ve already noted, is superlative — and the sound. While most headphones use a dynamic design, these are planar magnetic headphones; a system employed more often in higher-end models such as these. They use a thin, flat diaphragm with a magnet suspended next to it and an electromagnetic signal running through wires turns the diaphragm on and off. Planar magnetic drivers tend to be more sensitive and precise than dynamic models but also larger and sometimes require more juice to drive them, though happily, that isn’t the case here with a relatively low 32 Ohms resistance.

Meze has collaborated with acoustic specialists Rinaro Isodynamics in developing the new Elite Isodynamic Array used in the headphones. You can read in-depth about how this works on the website but at its heart is a dual driver system where a coil in the upper area emphasises low-frequency sounds and a smaller coil lower down focuses on mid and high ranges. This apparently eliminates small time delays when sound enters the ear canals. There’s a lot more detail about the science behind the system but, honestly, you don’t really have to understand it to enjoy the sound it produces.

Meze Audio Elite headphones (tungsten)
Meze Audio Elite headphones (tungsten)

And enjoy it you will, because the Elites sound phenomenal. The open-backed circumaural design means they envelop your ears but don’t box in any bass; instead they release a fair amount of sound in the form of leakage but that’s true of any open-backed model. The frequency response is a jaw-dropping 3 Hz to 112 kHz, making them capable of reproducing a far wider range of sounds than most cans with their standard 20 Hz to 20 kHz range. While better numbers don’t always mean better performance, with the Elites it’s unarguably true that they do.

The soundstage is exquisite, with flawless separation and stereo placement across a range of genres. In sonic terms they are extremely well balanced, offering sweet, detailed and rich reproduction in every frequency range. One thing they do, which is a feature of high-end open-backed models, is reveal the huge variation in loudness and mixing treatments between different tracks and albums. Music that has been mastered to a lower level, or mixed more to the centre than using panned elements, is very noticeable on the Elites when listened to next to punchier or more dynamic mixes. This is of course a good thing, since it’s revealing what the mixes really sound like rather than artificially creating more bass and thus making tracks all sound more alike. There are plenty of much cheaper cans around if that’s what you’re after.

While the Elites perform to the highest standard with all genres, it’s fun to revisit particularly detailed or dynamic tracks because these headphones reveal nuances that you have probably never heard before. Some of our favourites, in no particular order include John Martyn’s Solid Air, Spiritualized’s Let It Flow, or most anything by Sigur Rós. Electronica is just as rewarding, with Massive Attack’s Mezzanine sounding even more dense, lush and layered than usual. At this level of engineering it’s always preferable to use a high quality source to maintain the best possible fidelity all the way from a turntable and converters for example to the headphones, though even just playing a music library from a Mac the experience was still a real eye-opener.

Meze Audio Elite headphones (tungsten)
Meze Audio Elite headphones (tungsten)

These are truly impressive headphones that you could easily mix and master on, confident in the knowledge that you’re hearing a true representation of your music. For audiophiles, the listening experience is spectacular with any style of music. Price is going to be an issue and likely place them out of reach of many people, even some who are working professionally in music production. You are paying a premium for sure but it does elevate things to a level that will make you find real joy in listening in a way that, after experiencing the Elites, makes other headphones seem rather dull.

Key features

  • Open-backed, circumaural design
  • Magnetic planar system
  • Rinaro Isodynamic Hybrid Array drivers
  • Mini XLR plugs with multiple connector options
  • 3 Hz – 112 kHz frequency range
  • Custom designed and built
  • Max SPL: >130dB
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms
  • Aluminium and tungsten frame options
  • Weight: 420g

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