Superb build and comfort, Wonderfully textured bass, Natural voicing, Engaging but tasteful tuning, Spacious stage
Thin cable can tangle, Some may find treble splashy, Isolation just mediocre
Backed by Meze’s venerable aesthetic and ergonomic design, the Advar is an excellent choice for those wanting an engaging U-shaped sound built atop a strong technical foundation.
The folks at Romanian Meze Audio have been busy lately with a slew of product refreshes alongside brand-new releases. In turn, though once a cult brand, Meze has come to be considered relatively mainstream amongst audio enthusiasts. The brand has also been rather gentrified after the release of its flagship dual-motor planar headphone. This was followed up with a refreshed flagship and a new closed-back counterpart. Their IEM selection has been less serviced with only refreshes of their affordable 12 Classics. That changes with the new ADVAR, a brand-new high-end single dynamic driver in-ear. It immediately strikes with its gorgeous stainless-steel housings and a precisely tuned 10.2mm dynamic driver promises sound quality to match. Due to its vastly different design and slightly cheaper asking price, the ADVAR sits alongside the Rai Penta rather than usurping it as the company’s in-ear flagship. In terms of tuning, the company stated in early interviews that they were aiming to retain the house sound pioneered by their over-ear headphones creating an experience that should be familiar to fans of the brand.
The Advar just launched for $699 USD. You can read all about it and treat yourself to a unit here.
I would like to thank Alexandra from Meze Audio for organising this review of the new Advar. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
- Page 1: Intro, Unboxing, Design
- Page 2: Sound and Source Pairings
- Page 3: Cables, Comparisons & Verdict
- Driver: 10.2mm Dynamic Driver
- Frequency Range: 10 Hz – 30 kHz
- Impedance: 31 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 111dB
Meze has always had a way with unboxings. It’s simple and compact yet effective and does well to showcase the Advar’s sleek design. The outer packaging is stylish with gold foil and pattern motifs. Sliding off the sleeve and opening up the box reveals the IEM shells within a velvet inlet. Below is the carrying case that contains the rest of the accessories. The case itself is a highlight and is very similar to that included with the Rai Penta but with a few design improvements. It’s a leather case with a metal badge that features a new gloss paint job. Its internals are covered by soft non-scratch fabric and it has 2 upper pockets with a divider to carry accessories with a single larger pocket below to hold the IEMs in place. Inside, buyers will find the stock 3.5mm SPC cable, a cleaning tool and 5 pairs of Final Audio’s popular E-tips. In addition, Meze has introduced an MMCX tool similar to Final Audio’s but with a lavish machined metal Meze logo stamped on top. The tool is a great addition as it reduces the chance of bending the delicate pins in the MMCX connectors when rolling cables. Altogether, a high-quality set of accessories that I cannot complain about.
After laying eyes on the Elite and Liric, I was still enchanted by the beautifully formed ADVAR. Many IEMs attempt to capture a similar style but Meze’s is the most enchanting yet. It is also possibly one of the hardest IEMs to photograph due to its curved lines and high-polish finish. Breaking out 3 light panels and I still don’t feel I’ve done Meze justice, just trust that these look just as good in person as in photographs if not better. The all-stainless-steel construction feels amazing too, with great density despite the diminutive size. The contrast between the gloss smoke and bronzed gold accents gives them a regal look that matches their quality feel. Furthermore, thanks the use of both injection moulding and CNC, the flush-fitting 3-piece design has perfectly formed edges that hold up even under 1:1 pixel peeping. The Advar is nothing but top-tier machining work and I can’t imagine many hours and passes were invested into each unit.
The cable experience is very much similar to the Rai Penta with essentially the same wire and design. While the Advar isn’t a TOTL design, it remains an expensive product and in the modern-day, I would expect a slightly beefier cable. The thinness of the wires is most irksome and contributes to slightly more tangles than your typical braided cable. Otherwise, it is supple with minimal memory leaving little room for other complaints. Both IEMs use MMCX connectors but the Adavar’s do feel slightly more tactile perhaps owing to their newness. The SPC wires are complemented by custom Meze metal connectors as before and the 3.5mm plug is now gold-plated rather than the harder-wearing rhodium. The pre-moulded ear guides are slightly more shapely than before too, hugging the outer ear better for a more stable fit – a good inclusion given the heavy shells.
Fit & Isolation –
Comfort has always been a focus for Meze and this strength has carried over to their in-ears too. By virtue of its single dynamic driver design, the ADVAR has uncannily compact shells especially compared to the vast majority of high-end multi-driver designs. Their rounded profile lets them essentially disappear during wear with folds and angles that complement the anatomy of the outer ear. Furthermore, they are a very slim, low-profile earphone – so much so that you are able to wear them whilst lying on your side. I know some listeners like to use IEMs when sleeping and these would be one of the best options on the market.
Beyond this, fit stability is strong due to the slim proportions and snug seal alongside the over-ear fit. Despite their weight, I never found them to work loose or lose seal. Isolation is just about average which is to be expected given the obviously vented nature of the housing design. They are suitable for daily commute and some may enjoy the spatial awareness compared to a fully-sealed design. However, those wanting strong noise attenuating abilities for frequent public transport or flying, for instance, would want to look elsewhere. For my ears, this does contribute to the comfort factor in the form of reduced wearing pressure. In character, this also means there is no driver flex apparent.