$3k USD for a set of headphones gives you a lot of options. What is your most important attribute for a headphone? Personally, I would not spend the asking price (3K) for ‘regular’ Empyreans. If you are set on the Meze brand, I would look for the Empyrean Elites instead. Last fall, imported Chameleon edition Elites were going for 3.2k USD. Granted, the euro was weaker then.
I believe PS Audio have stated they used Audeze headphones in the past to voice the HP outs of their gear, but I am not sure which models. The new LCD-5 can be had for around $3k with a bit of luck.
The SGD should be able to power most headphones, save for the outliers like HE6-SEv2, etc.
Similar to CarbonF1, I just bought a pair of Meze Elites from Headphones.com as an ‘open box’ for $2999. There isn’t a scratch on them. I’ve seen the Elites on other sites in ‘open box’ offerings for $3200 (check out Roon’s store).
I’ve owned Audeze LCD-XCs for 7 years. As much as I like the sound of those I couldn’t wear them for more than an hour. As the years went on I found I was far more sensitive to their weight and would be hard pressed to wear them 30 minutes. The Elites have a different sound, less high end, smoother, but just as pleasing to my ears. But best of all I literally sit in my home office and listen to them hours on end without the least bit of head fatigue. They’re just so comfortable.
Look at some of the Open-Box offerings, you can get these for pretty close to the $3K you’re willing to spend on the Empyreans.
Is it the particular sound of Meze that you’re interested in? If so I agree 100% with the above comments. If you’re worried about ease of drive, the Focal Stellia can be had from TMR at well under your budget and is super easy to drive with excellent detail.
I am a headphone fan. I don’t mean to dissuade you, unless you are planning to get a separate headphone amp to hang off the SGD down the road, the SGD isn’t quite up to the task for getting the best out of $3K headphones.
Have you looked at the Sennheiser 800 S, Focal Clear, or the Hifiman Arya V2? There’s lots in the ~$1500 range.
Before I joined this forum I was on the Headroom forum. I could stock a store with my headphone collection. It was my thing for a long time. I have given many away just so they get used. But my favorite all time headphones are a $140 pair of wireless Ankers. I use them 3 hours a day on average. Six hours on the drive down here. Six hours on the ride home. They are my precious. Gollum Gollum.
$3000 headphones are just silly. What next, power cables and fuses??!!
If we stay in your budget, I think it’s not unreasonable to split your budget in half and spend $1500 on headphones and $1500 on an amp. You can get quite a lot of bang for your buck if you look for a used $1500 amp.
If you use the filters in this search, make sure you choose N. America and set a price range like $1200 to $1800. There’s a lot available.