compare Meze Empyrean with Focal Stellia

Looking to upgrade my headphones. Pretty much tied to these two as options. The Meze is open and I'd prefer closed however I'm intrigued by the appearance and the tech innovation. The Focal is closed, which I prefer, and I've heard some opinions that it's particularly good for classical--which is 80% of what I listen to. 

I'll be listening though my phone, but with a dragonfly red DAC, and directly from my Hegel Rost integrated.

I like clarity, accuracy, a good soundstage. 

Thanks for input. 


I was recently given a RAAL CA-1a to take home to demo. I consider the RAAL SR1a ’earphones’ one of the very best SPEAKERS I have heard at any price. I tend to dislike headphone sound. Read the reviews from Stereophile and anyone else.

RAAL-requisite CA-1a Circum-Aural Ribbon Headphone is here! @HeadAmp | Headphone Reviews and Discussion -

The new CA-1a is like regular circum-aural headphones though it is not a pretty headphone. Unlike the Meze Empy which was nice looking and sounded rather good. I had the Meze with the Benchmark HPA4 amp (a perfect match). However, the RAAL CA-1a just kills the Meze sonically, even with a $500 Schitt Jotunheim R amp. With the $7K RAAL VM-1a tube headphone amp, it is the most dynamic sound I have ever heard. Led Zeppelin’s WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS was never as powerful as with the CA-1a and the VM-1a amp on PENTODE mode.

The CA-1a cost $2K, and I do not have $2K, but I will be buying this headphone somehow. It is almost as good as the SR1a (very similar sonically) but it has the advantage of being like the Meze in that I can listen when lying in bed. I cannot do that with the SR1a.

Read the comments on Head-fi from FOCAL owners that bought the RAAL SR1a.

I have not got a chance to listen to the Focal, but when I tried Meze Empyrean with Chord Anni at a local retailer I was very disappointed. With this combo, the sound stage and dynamics were inferior to my Fostex th900 + Chord Dave combo.

Please give a shot to Fostex th900. It's really good for its price tag. The sound stage is very good for a closed-back headphone, and the bass is really good.