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  • Writer's pictureinToit Reviews

The Meze Advar: expensive, luxurious, velvety...

Hi all, and welcome back to The Audio Neighborhood! We’ve got the Meze Advar into the channel for review. This is a relatively new IEM from Meze that comes in at $699 dollars. The price is steep, but it is constructed well. Nevertheless, can the sound keep up? Let’s… get inToit!

Like I said already, the Advar is a relatively new edition to Meze’s IEM line up, and it is constructed well. I reviewed the Rai Solo from Meze a while back, and I’ll place a link to that review here for those that are still intersted in that one as well.

Like the Rai Solo, the Advar also uses a MMCX connection, which allows for the IEM to swivel in one’s ears so that they can achieve a more comfortable fit. The cable is composed of a silver-plated copper, and terminates in a straight, 3.5mm plug. The preformed ear hooks, although aggressively curved, are quite comfortable, and the braided cable is generally soft to the touch, without taking on any form of memory from use. I’m glad Meze ditched the memory wire that some of their older cables came with.

The shell houses a 10.2mm dynamic driver that Meze claims is true to their house sound. The driver material is not mentioned in any of the promotional materials, and I find this a bit suspect for an IEM in this price range. Nevertheless, the stainless-steel shell is gorgeous; however, and ergonomically sculpted to fit precisely and comfortably in the ear. I was originally worried that the stainless-steel housing would weigh too much, and have a tendency to fatigue the ear or sag within it; however, this IEM is seriously tiny, and any weight disappears in my ears when in use. The deep chocolate colored paint job has a glossy, enameled look to it, which seems thick and potentially durable to wear. Gold accents are utilized throughout. The Meze logo is painted in gold on the side, the nozzle is gold, and the MMCX connecters- and the covering for the port of the driver is gold as well. The overall aesthetic is sophisticated, luxurious, and pleasing.

As part of the Head-Fi tour which provided the Advar to the channel and made this review possible, Meze included a 4.4mm upgrade cable. For all intensive purposes it was similar to the stock cable in terms of build, just terminating in a balanced, straight, 4.4mm connection rather an unbalanced, 3.5mm one. By the way, both cables were 1.2 meters in length. The box also included a leather, hard-shell case, 5 pairs of Final Type E ear tips, a MMCX removal tool, a cleaning tool, and a user manual. In the course of my testing, the included Final Type E ear tips were my preferred tips for this set, and I didn’t really feel much of a need to swap them out. I also didn’t really notice a heck of a lot of difference in the performance from the single-ended cable to the balanced one, and would probably just stick with the cable that came out of the box if I were to purchase this set for myself.

The sound, both is, and isn’t commiserate with the price of the Advar. The Advar does keep up with other IEMs around the $700 price point and below, but I still think the Advar is somewhat over-priced regarding its general resolution and level of detail. What I mean is that I recently reviewed the Moondrop Variations, and the Advar isn’t quite the articulative set that one is. It also wasn’t as mid-forward or richly detailed in the mids as the Final Audio B3 was when driven off a proper source. The Advar does have pretty good detail for a single dynamic though, it’s just not going to keep up with standout electrostatic drivers or BA’s in a head-to-head listening session. Where the Advar does excel with its presentation is in the melodic and delicate nature of its detail. In comparison to the B3, it’s note weight is thinner in the mid-range, and its treble is less consistent in its extension. The bass weight of the Advar is more appropriate, dynamic, and definitely engages the listener more; however.

Returning to sourcing, the Advar is also much more sensitive to run in comparison to something like B3, which is uniquely insensitive for an all BA-driven set. On high output impedance amplification, I picked up more hiss on the Advar than B3, and more than I would have expected for a single dynamic. With that said, it’s also not the most sensitive set either, and I could not detect the hiss for the most part during playback, but again, it was just more than I would expect from a single dynamic. This could be rectified with an IEMatch from iFi on both the Gold Note DS10 Plus and the Geshelli Archel Pro, but this also seemed to dull the Advar’s energy a bit. In the end, I ultimately went back to just running them unadulterated off these devices, as I preferred their presentation that way. But, it was dead quiet when driven off the the Drop THX AAA 789, the Hiby FC3, the Periodic Audio Rhodium DAC, and other playback devices of a more standard affair. Even so, the Advar did scale notably with higher-tiered amps and DACs; even if it didn’t often expose poorer reproduction equipment. In other words, the Advar was impressive to listen to off of just about every device, but still showed noteworthy gains when paired well and driven appropriately.

Another strength of the Advar came from its staging. Uniquely, the stage here is eerily spherical; depicting as much depth as it does height and width. I wouldn’t describe the stage as huge, but its above average and has a good dimensional quality to it. Although the center image is sharply in focus at all times, peripheral detailing could haze-up upon occasion. This included peripheral vocals, which were notably fuzzy or more non-descript at times compared to the main vocals. The Advar could also become confused and cluttered on busier tracks, even though it showed great separation on most tracks- especially simpler ones. Transients were mostly excellent, but mildly sluggish in its character, here or there; which was particularly apparent amongst frequencies in the low-end. Instrument distinctiveness and placement was simply outstanding; however. Listening to the Advar, I felt like I was on the stage with the instrumentation, and could take a walk around each instrument’s player; like I was in a slow-motion music video or something. The stage is “sneaky good” on the Advar, and I think this will be a subtle characteristic, which will attract a lot of listeners to purchase it.

Tonality is mildly warm, and somewhat subdued, with a striking, refined and almost indirect punch to the impact of its notes. In this way, it is in alignment with Meze’s house sound- especially their more traditional presentation. Yet there’s also just the slightest bit of reverb and a certain delicateness that is usually only found in Meze’s more expensive gear. The general performance brings to mind the descriptors: alluring, balanced, and romantic. It is captivating, charismatic, and relaxing; smooth and soothing. I could listen to the Advar for hours.

In terms of the sound profile, it is rather interesting. To the ear, things sound mostly even upon first listen, but after some time, and in comparison with other IEMs, one begins to notice certain subtleties; which won’t be for every listener, but also give the Advar its unique voice and character.

The bass digs decently deep, but rolls decidedly after 37 Hz or so to my ears. There’s still a decent amount of sub-bass and low-bass presence, but it’s also notably lower in presence in an IEM who’s bottom-end is already a step behind most of the mids and treble. It also doesn’t quite have the low-end resonance, push, or punch of other Meze products. The bass here is striving more for balance than dominance. Low-end dynamics are audible and informative, but more assistive than the star of the show. Still, the bass is refined, warming, lush, looming, mildly woolly, and chocolatey. Its presence is just lacking a wee bit; here or there, but then again, so are the dynamics, at least, to a certain extent. It’s also not the most detailed bass in the world, but there’s just enough detail to keep up with the rest of the presentation. I’d characterize the overall bass performance of the Advar as harmonic and assistive- like adding a low-G-string tuning to a Ukulele. If you don’t know what I mean by this, have a glance at some videos on YouTube to find out more.

This mids on the Advar are also well executed, but early mids (before 2.5K Hz or so) suffer in comparison to central and upper mids. So, while a “sucked-out” effect does occur in the early mids to a mild extent, this also creates breathing room for the bass to trail off; so there is minimal bloat to the overall sound. Even so, some will find early mids lacking on this set, as the biggest dip on this set occurs in this region of the Advar’s sound. Nevertheless, overall detail and clarity of the mid-range should not be questioned, as its overall sound is smooth, detailed, and informative to its listener.

The treble is smooth and articulate too. I will point out that there is a pretty steep dive at 9K, but this doesn’t appear to overly detract from the treble’s capability. But that as it may, it does sound elegantly rolled because of it, and more mellow than brilliant. With that said, there is also quite a bit of energy in the presence and early brilliance regions, and a pretty large hump in the air region with an apex around 15K. This adds more excitement than air to the ear; however, and doesn’t go so far as to sound aggressive in anyway- keeping these both listenable and engaging for long-listening sessions. Another way to put this would be to say that the air is sneaky, but not prominent.

But, to wrap things up, the Meze Advar is a superbly constructed, well-thought-out IEM, that’s as pretty to look at, as it is to listen too. I received the Advar as part of a Head-Fi review tour, and they arrived just as beautiful and unspoiled as if they hadn’t been handled by 5 other people previously. As such, I expect that they will be a rugged set as well for those that need rough rider in this price range.

Speaking of the price, this is a luxury product, and as such, you’re paying a bit of a luxury tax with the Advar. Even so, it does sound great! And it is now one of my IEM’s around its price. With that said, given the sound quality here, I’d expect to pay a bit less- even considering the Meze luxury tax. If one could snag an Advar for between $449 and $549, it would be a hell of a deal, and definitely worth it at that price-tag, even if I think it’s a bit overpriced as it stands. To put it in perspective, these are competing more with IEMs around the $500 dollar price bracket- with IEMs like the Final Audio B3 and Moondrop Variations rather than more expensive sets. But, don’t fret, as there may be hope for a potential price drops on these in the future. If history is any indicator with their in-ear- monitors, Meze has tended to release their IEMs at a higher price initially and then offer their customers deals later on in some form or another, at least, every now and then. So, keep an eye out for a deal, as, at $699, I’d say this would have to be the particular sound for you to take the plunge on this one.

In sonic summary, the Advar’s sound sets a darker mood. It’s warm and it punches deeply. Yet, the Advar is also mellow and smooth- with enough air and energy to maintain interest, but not so much so as to dissuade longer listening sessions. For a pleasing single dynamic, it’s definitely one to keep an eye out for, especially for those that love the Meze house sound.

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Get the Meze Advar at: Gestalt Fine Audio

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