Review - Blon Z200

Review - Meze Audio Advar

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Also available on YouTube in Spanish: Acho Reviews YouTube 

The Meze Advar have been loaned to me as part of a tour very kindly organized by Andy Kong on Headfi. The conditions were that each member of the tour could keep the Advar for 10 days and then post a review/impressions within 14 days. 

Other than that, no specific requests were made, in fact, the exact words used were “You have complete freedom to write up your sharing or impression as long as it represents your true feeling and opinions toward the product.”

Therefore, my review will be as unbiased and sincere as possible (as always), but it hasn’t cost me anything to try out these IEMs.

You can visit the official page of the Advar here: https://mezeaudio.com/products/advar


Intro…

Let me start off by mentioning that the dates that the Advar arrived unfortunately were while I was taking my summer vacation. They actually arrived on a Wednesday and, due to some delays on making it home, I didn’t get chance to pick them up until the Monday when I arrived back at work. As I mentioned above, the tour rules were 10 days, so I had wasted 5 of them before I actually got to listen to them.

However, my first days back at work are always spent catching up on emails and other administrative work that has built up in my absence, so that involves days of uninterrupted sitting at a desk, a perfect time to listen to the Advar.

Before moving on (finally) to the important part, let me just mention that the Advar are a set of IEMs that feature a single 10.2 dynamic driver per side, retailing for just under 700€ here in Europe. I am a fan of dynamic drivers and also a big fan of Meze in general (I still feel they make some of the best looking headphones out there), so I may actually be more biased than I said at the beginning 🙂


Presentation…

As this is a tour unit, I am obviously not the first person to open the contents, so I won’t go through the whole unboxing process but I will say that it is nicely presented.

In the box we get the IEMs, underneath which we find a user manual and a very nice transport/storage case. The case may be a little on the large size but I have to say that I really like it, along with the multiple compartments it has on the inside to keep the multiple items that I like to carry (such as the Go Blu etc).

Inside the case we find the 3.5mm single ended cable, a cleaning tool, an MMCX removal tool (which is also a keychain) and a set of FInal E tips in multiple sizes.

In the shipment there is another smaller box included, containing a 4.4mm balanced cable, identical to the 3.5mm cable in the main box, which is not included with the usual retail package. 


Build and aesthetics…

I have yet to see anything made by Meze that didn’t look good (in my opinion of course) and yet to hold anything by Meze that didn’t seem to be well built. The Advar are no exception.

I have said on multiple occasions that I am not a fan of gold and the Advar do use gold (or more of a brass) coloured highlights, I actually think they look rather good on them. I can’t say that these are the most beautiful IEMs that I have ever seen but at the same time, I must say that I do like the overall aesthetics, even if they do collect more fingerprints than I would like.

The build quality is what I would expect from Meze. These have been through multiple peoples hands, being shipped all over Europe, and  while I have no doubt that everyone on the tour has taken good care of them, they show no signs of wear and tear that is common on so many demo units.

The shape of the shells is a shape that I have become very fond of lately, fitting my ears well and making them extremely comfortable for me. 

My only negative would be the use of MMCX connectors but as I have said with other brands, if the connectors used are of good quality (that these certainly seem to be) then I don’t have too much of an issue. The inclusion of the MMCX removal tool is also a positive in this regard.


Sound…

*As always, all tracks mentioned are cliackable links that will allow you to reference the track in the streaming service of your choice

No matter how good the build is or how good they look, the important thing is how they sound, and I think this may be the most polarizing part of the Advar. I have managed to not know much about them before testing them (as I always try to avoid creating expectations due to reading/watching reviews) but I do know that some people really like them and others, well, let’s just say they don’t like them quite as much. Personally, I am in the first group, those that like them. In fact, I enjoy them much more than I thought I would, but I am getting ahead of myself now so I’ll break it down into my usual pattern.

First let me say that, as always, detailed impressions were formed using the iFi Gryphon and the balanced cable, although I did listen from various other sources also. I also tried various tips (I didn’t try the ones included as I already have the same model tips, so there was no need) and I have to say that my favourites have been the Azla Crystals. The tips included (well, my set of tips that are the same type) made things a little too hot in the higher ranges for my personal tastes and I found that the Crystals balanced the signature a little more towards my personal preferences.

Speaking of preferences, here is the graph of the Meze Advar in comparison to my personal preference target. Although I have repeated this many times, I will say it again, my target is just a guide and not a “be all / end all” in regards to what I like.

Subbass is more than present enough to please those who look for that low end rumble. “Chameleon”, my usual go to for this, is very impressive in the lowest ranges as the rumble is there but it never seems to be out of control. “Royals” is a track that is not the cleanest of subbass but the Advar keeps it together nicely and makes the track actually sound much better than I am used to.

Midbass is very clear and articulate, surprisingly so. With modern recordings such as “Don’t Start Now”, there is a clear boost to midbass but it does not affect any of the other frequencies negatively. The same goes for EDM, suchs as “I Fink U Freeky” or “Sun is Shining”, bass hits are clear, well defined and do not interfere with the lower mids.

Based on the graph, I would have expected the upper mids to be more absent, struggling to bring vocals forward, yet that is not the case. For the majority of the vocal and acoustic instrument focused music I listen to, I found the vocals to be very clear and present, without seeming to suffer for presence at all. Even tracks like “Bombtrack” provide good clarity on vocals, even if they are not quite as forward as on other mid forward sets.

A track I like to use to test the forwardness of vocals is “Make Noise” as Busta Rhymes' voice is pushed to the back of the mix in the recording, making it difficult to appreciate at times. While the Advar doesn’t push it forwards, it also doesn’t hide it completely, meaning that the vocals are actually intelligible, even if they are not present enough in the mix (again, this is a recording issue).

Up in the higher ranges is where I find the issues with the Advar. The extension is good, as is the sense of air, however, those higher frequencies can be a little harsh, depending on the track. For example, “Smooth Operator” by Sade, presents too much emphasis in the higher ranges of the percussion, making parts of the track seem too bright. The same happens with simple acoustic tracks, such as “Sugar (Acoustic)”, where parts of Francesco Yates’ vocals are just a little too hot in the upper ranges.

Taking my usual sibilance test track, “Code Cool”, it is quite easy to notice that things are just a little too sibilant, however, I actually notice more the upper brightness on the percussion than on her voice. Sibilance is present, more than it should be, but it is not painful, just too bright.

Details I find to be very good on the Advar, even if they are not the most detailed IEMs I have ever heard, they are still impressive, helped a lot by the soundstage and imaging. The soundstage I find to be way above average for a set of IEMs and the placement of the details is very good. This works together to make things sound detailed without actually pushing those details in your face. The timbre of vocals (and instruments in general) also works in favour of this, making for an impressive sound stage and presentation.

Isolation may not be the best, especially in the lower ranges, but it is much better than I would expect from such a wide and opening set of IEMs. I can’t see these being an issue if used in circumstances with average noise, although they will suffer on a plane or train, due to those low rumbles.


Conclusion…

I have to say that I am impressed by the Meze Advar, I find them to be a very capable and pleasant set of IEMs, except for one thing, and that is the additional brightness in those upper ranges, making certain music a little too harsh. Yes they are a bit above my usual bass level preferences but the clarity and definition of the bass makes up for it, and although the upper mids seem to be a little too tame on paper, that wasn’t my experience when listening.

I am not sure if more experimentation with tips (or maybe even a tuning filter) would tame that treble slightly but I did try a bunch of tips and none really seemed to improve it over the Crystals that I based this review on. Unfortunately I had limited time with these IEMs so I didn’t have more time to experiment.

Other than that, I personally can’t fault the Advar. The timbre is great, they have good details and performance, I find them very comfortable (maybe not quite as comfortable as the IE600 but very close), they are well built and I like the aesthetics.

All I can say is that I am grateful that I had a chance to try out these IEMs and Meze are still high on the list of manufacturers that impress me.


All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on achoreviews.squig.link
 
All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on achoreviews.squig.link/isolation

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