CELEBRATING
50 YEARS

Audio Files: Best Audio Gear of 2019

From affordable to audacious, here’s our favorite new stuff from this year

Meze Empyrean headphones
Meze Empyrean headphones

Meze Empyrean headphones

If someone asked me what’s the “best” headphone out there now, I’d have to say the Empyrean, a $2,999 model from Romanian company Meze Audio. Using a new planar-magnetic ribbon driver design, the Empyrean delivers a smooth sound that’s easy to listen to all day long—and the plush earpads and unusual headband design make these headphones comfortable enough to listen to all of Miles’ 1960s sides in a single sitting. Unlike most high-end headphones, they even sound pretty good when plugged straight into a smartphone or tablet.

Brent Butterworth

Brent Butterworth has been a professional audio journalist since 1989, and has evaluated and measured thousands of audio products. He is currently a writer at Wirecutter and editor of the SoundStage Solo headphone site; served as an editor at such magazines as Sound & Vision and Home Theater; and worked as marketing director for Dolby Laboratories. He also plays double bass with several jazz groups in Los Angeles.