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Over-Ear item created by MezeTeam, Nov 3, 2015
Pros - Very nice, smooth sound. Fancy-schmany design. Pretty comfy.
Cons - Small cups. Shallow pads. Microphonic cable.
November 2016 Update I wanted to come back to these and let you all know that I bought my very own pair of Walnut and Silver 99 Classics at RMAF. I also had Maze send me the new, deeper pads. I'm so impressed with how Maze has responded to the community here on headfi. I'd suggested a less bling-bling design with silver instead of gold in my review, and they quickly responded. I also suggested deeper pads, and they responded to that, too. With that, the only complaint I have is with microphonics and would suggest that Maze look into putting a plasticized sheath above the y-splitter to cut down on the rubbing microphonics I get with the fabric cover. Other than that, Meze's got it nailed with these!
And I want to give a big shout out to Antonio and Mircea from Maze. I met them, and we chatted a bit at RMAF. Seriously cool cats!
INTRODUCTION Okay guys, this strange introduction. When I saw the Meze 99 Classics pop up in the sponsors forum, I didn't give it that much thought. Blinged-put woodies didn't look like my thing. Then one of my Head-Fi buddies PM'ed me and asked if I was going to review them. I've reviewed a fair amount of IEM and portable source gear but am a bit of a noob with headphones, but I thought I'd at least poke around and find out what these were. Searching the forums for Meze brought up some controversial posts regarding Meze's previous headphones. Go ahead, do a search sometime and see what you find. With that information in mind, I was intrigued and figured these deserved a listen. Would they stir up more controversy? Would they be the headphone that puts Meze firmly on the map? I wanted to find out of myself, so I threw in for the review tour. For those of you too impatient to wait for the end, I'll let you know right now that while not perfect the 99 Classics are a great-sounding headphone that suits my tastes very nicely but comes with a few caveats that I'll deal with in the review.
Spoiler: Here's a bit of general information about Meze and their design philosophy from their website:
As a team directly involved in arts and sports, we, here at Meze Headphones understand that music is not just a pastime but a way of life. Whenever we're creating or performing we're accompanied by our favorite tracks. We designed our headphones to transpose you in our world. The real wood design was specifically created to offer a warm sound, a sound that you can enjoy no matter the situation. Experience your music in a new way. Let us take you on the journey we followed, to the perfect natural sound.
Our mission is fairly simple: to raise the bars in terms of audio quality and design for headphones in general. We want you to feel the music you like, we want to give you the chance to enjoy that special song, just as the original artist intended it to sound. Besides offering a crisp and clear sound, our headphones will leave people wondering what is that special song that you're listening to. Allow yourself to experience music like never before, comfortably and with style.
Our first concern is to satisfy you, our fans and customers. Our customer support team is always looking to deliver the best solutions and answers to all of your questions. So, do not hesitate to ask us anything. We will get back to you as soon as possible. And do not forget: we're looking forward to your feedback.
Our passion for music and art is the drive behind Meze Headphones. We created our range of headphones and earphones with this aspect in mind. We created them as if for ourselves.
Meze Headphones has stood by its values since the beginning of the company. We did not follow trends and let them influence the audio quality and design of our headphones. They are timeless objects that will not go out of style the next season. We achieved this through patience and dedication.
The team behind Meze Headphones is a team of passionate specialists, with backgrounds in sound engineering, product design, crafting, and music.
Since wood is the trademark of our company, we make sure that each and every pair of headphones and earphones are carefully crafted from selected lumber.
We chose to use only air dried walnut lumber for the spectacular colors that it can display. As a result, we have to wait up to eighteen months for the lumber to dry so that we can shape the wood into the emblematic Meze Headphones look. This is the timeframe needed only for curing and drying the lumber before any further processing can begin. We are patient because we know that the end result is worth the wait.
The process of shaping just a single pair of earcups takes up to 8 hours. The whole process of sanding, lacquering, and finishing lasts 45 days. We could cut corners but we take great pride in delivering the best product to our customers.
The craftsmanship of our headphones and earphones is paramount. The wooden components of our products are carefully inspected and no flaws are permitted to reach the final assembly. Aesthetics are as important for us as they are for you. We want you to wear a pair of Meze Headphones and know that you are enjoying a timeless art piece.
We are using walnut wood for its sturdiness and for its acustic qualities. Although harder to find and to work with, we chose walnut for the brighter, more balanced sound that it offers to our headphones. Simply put, it is a blend of technology, art, and nature.
It is well to mention that all the wood that we use in our headphones is strictly harvested from mature trees that have reached the end of their life cycles. This way, we are helping the environment and we're giving the old trees a chance to shine one more time in the shape of Meze Headphones.
LINKS OF INTEREST
Meze 99 Classics Page: LINK
Meze 99 Classics Tour Thread: LINK
Meze 99 Classics Thread: LINK
DISCLAIMER There is no financial incentive from Meze for writing this review. I am in no way affiliated with Meze, and this is my honest opinion of the 99 Classics. I hope my feedback proves useful for my fellow Head-Fi members as well as for Meze.
ABOUT ME I'm a 43 year old father who loves music. While I listen mostly to electronic and metal these days, I do listen to a wide variety of music - from electronic (Autechre, Boards of Canada) to modern/minimalist composition (John Cage, Philip Glass) to alternative rock (Flaming Lips, Radiohead) to jazz (John Coltrane and Miles Davis) to metal (Behemoth, King Diamond) to classic rock (Eagles, Rush).
I'm primarily a portable audio enthusiast. My portable music journey started with the venerable Sony Cassette Walkman and then progressed to portable CD players, minidisc recorders (still have my Sharp DR7), and finally on to DAPs like the Rio Karma, iRiver IHP-1xx, iPod 5.5, iPhones, and the newer crop of DAPs from Fiio and iBasso.
Being a portable audio enthusiast, I typically listen with IEMs but am enjoying listening with full-size headphones more and more and tend to like u-shaped sound signatures, although I break out v-shaped IEM & HP from time to time for fun.
As with a lot of people my age, I've got some hearing issues. I've got mild tinnitus and suffer from allergies, which can affect hearing in my right ear. I'll admit it, I'm not blessed with a pair of golden ears. That said, I've been listening to portable gear for a long time and feel confident in assessing audio gear - just wanted to be transparent up front.
Transducer Type: Dynamic Neodymium / Mylar
Transducer Size: 40mm
Frequency Response: 15Hz - 25KHz
Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
Rated Input Power: 30mW
Maximum Input Power: 50mW
Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
Plug: 3.5mm gold plated
Ear-cups: walnut or maple
Warranty: 2 years
PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES
As usual, I'll go over the packaging and accessories in pictorial format with a wrap at the end.
WHAT YOU GET
1.2m OFC cable with microphone and Play/Pause button
3m OFC cable
1/4 inch adapter
Headphone travel case
BUILD & ERGONOMICS Again, I'll attack this section in pictorial format, commenting on what I like and what I think could be improved as I go.
When I first saw a picture of the 99 Classics on the tour accouncement, I honestly thought they looked a bit too bling-bling. My recommendation was to replace all the gold trim with silver to tone things down a bit. Well, you know what? Meze listened, and they've now added a black/silver/walnut model to the lineup in addition to the original black/gold/walnut and white/silver/maple models.
MEET the Meze 99 Classics
When handling the 99 Classics, it was immediately apparent that a lot of thought went into their design. Simple and elegant are words that came to mind. A bit bling-bling, yes, but that can be overcome by choosing the black/silver/walnut model.
What did I like? I like the very comfortable self-adjusting suspension headband, comfortable ear pads, just right clamping force, pivoting cups, and the fact that the 99 Classics are primarily a metal + wood design held together with screws instead of glue.
What did I think could be improved? I'm not a fan of the cups, which aren't wide enough and end up feeling a bit cramped and kind of like a hybrid on/over ear design. My biggest recommendation to Meze is to strongly consider using a wider cup to give our ears a bit more breathing room. My second biggest recommendation is to make the pads a bit thicker, so my ears don't touch the drivers. My third recommendation is to lose the fabric sheath above the y-splitter cable to reduce microphonics. My final recommendation is to have the cable exit at a slight angle to the front. The straight-down exit combined with the fabric sheath caused a lot of scratchy microphonics whenever the cable brushed against my shoulders. Change these while keeping the same sound, and I'm all in Meze!
Just a note that these don't fold flat. Didn't bother me, as I'd probably use these in the office but it might bother some of you so just be aware.
Those of you who know me know that I've been listening to a lot of classic rock, electronic and metal lately. I might throw in some hard bop jazz or modern minimalist composition every now and then, too. Just wanted to make sure you know what kind of music I listen to for context. Unlike some other reviewers, I don't keep to a strict playlist (although I do have some songs I do always end up listening to). Instead, I choose songs I know well and feel like listening to. I feel it's more organic that way. I try to get at least 16/44 FLAC but don't shy away from using AAC or MP3 if that's what I've got on-hand. Anyways, on with the show, eh...
I listened to the 99 Classics out of various sources from my iPhone 5S, various DAPs, and the Apogee Groove. I also did some casual comparisons with my AKG K553 Pro and Philips Fidelio L1.
Here's the FR curve Meze threw up on their website, along with the following quote: "Artificially tweaked frequencies: Meze's solution - Tuning a balanced natural sound"
So did Meze succeed in creating a balanced, natural sound? Well, I think from the introduction you can tell I thought the answer is a yes. For context, I was just coming off the HiFiMan Edition X headphones (LINK to review) when I received the Meze 99 Classics. In fact, @grizzlybeast and I swapped the 99 Classics and HEX at our usual drop off spot, which quite amused @MezeTeam who thought it sounded very Noir-ish! Anyways, back to our story. Erm, I mean review... HEX were the best headphones I've heard to date, so I was figuring I'd be underwhelmed with the 99 Classics. But when first plugging them into my iPhone 5S for a quick listen, I read liked what I heard. Nice tastefully enhanced bass that felt a bit loose. Neutral mids. Smooth as silk treble. Good (but not great) soundstage. Ahh... Very easy to listen to. Moving on to my DAPs tightened things up a bit. The punchy bass extends deep with just a slight mid-bass hump. Mids again remain neutral and sound very natural. Treble remains clear and detailed but without accentuating sibilance. Soundstage gets a bit bigger but is still constrained by the closed nature of the 99 Classics.
As mentioned above, I primarily listened to the 99 Classics with classic rock, electronic, and metal. I found it well-suited for those genres. Older, leaner classic rock recordings were filled out quite nicely. Bass kept up with my electronic collection pretty well, although the soundstage was a bit limiting. As far as metal, I don't listen to tech-death so can't comment on how technically capable these are for the more demanding sub-genres. However, the 99 Classics do pass my black metal test of allowing me to listen to black metal classics without feeling like my eardrums are being impaled. Score!!!
Compared to my AKG K553 Pro, the 99 Classics sound much more natural with more action in the lower end and less action up top. The way the 99 Classics handles things is much more to my taste and is just another nail in the coffin for my K553 Pro, which are in the For Sale forums right now should you be a neutral head who wishes to take them off my hands.
Compared to my Philips Fidelio L1, the 99 Classics sound much livelier with higher quality bass and increased upper mid and treble presence. I've been feeling that the L1 are too dark and veiled for my tastes for a while, and again this was the nail in the coffin. If you'd like a pair of L1, please visit the For Sale forums and take them off my hands.
SUMMARY So, does all this mean I'm ready to sell off my lesser-used cans and buy the 99 Classics? Nope, and I'll tell you why. Despite really, really enjoying the sound, comfort, and build quality, I'm not a fan of the narrow cups. I need just a bit more room, and I've got smallish ears for a 5' 9" guy. If the ear cups were bigger and the pads a bit deeper, I can see this easily being my pair of "office cans". As mentioned above, I'd also love to see the fabric removed above the y-splitter, but this is something I could overcome with an aftermarket cable so it's not a biggie. But those cups just didn't get along well with my ears. Does that mean they won't get along with your ears? Nope. They might be perfect for you, so if you're looking for a new pair of smooth, natural sounding woodies, please give the 99 Classics a look!
To wrap, I'd like to give a big thanks to @MezeTeam for choosing me to participate in this tour. After this, I'm really looking forward to the next headphones from Meze!
Pros - Beautiful, Great Build Quality, Fun Sound, Easy to drive
Cons - Sound signature lean toward energetic fun, with the bass a bit bloated
Meze 99 Classics mini-Review
Let me start by stating that this is my third review of an audio product. I am an audio enthusiast, being that I spend tons of money on decent audio gear. I can tell what sounds good to me, and that generally falls in line with the general consensus amongst fellow audio enthusiasts. So take from this what you can, especially with my lack of audio vocab. I have had 5 days to evaluate these headphones, so this is a mini-review at most.
Equipment wise, I own/have owned HT Omega Claro Halo, K702, HD650, K550, Beats Studio, SE535 Reshelled (CIEM), Xiaomi Piston 2, TTPOD T1-E, Xuelin ihifi960, Blox BE03, Brainwavz S5, Bravo Audio Ocean, PreSonus HP4, Racoon SG-300, Audio Technica AT-LP120 Modded, Anthem Integrated 225, Burson Soloist, Supreme Sound Lycan. So I get a good sense of what I can get in terms of sound quality for the extra cost. My favourite combination is Foobar with ASIO playback to HT Omega to my K702. The source is very important, and most of my music is in FLAC.
The source of this review will be my Xuelin DAP (ihifi960), HT Omega Claro Halo, and LG G3. No separate amps will be added to the mix.
Meze 99 Classics is a low impedance closed headphone, and it will mainly be compared to my K702, and Beats by Dre Studio.
Build Quality and Ergonomics:
The "99s" looks drop dead gorgeous. It exhibits exceptionally beautiful craftsmanship from the first moment I laid my eyes on them. The soft PU leather feels great, though I wished that they were a tad thicker to allow the pads to seal even better. The stitching on the pads has some imperfections, but only the moderate OCD person will be bothered by it. The wood and metallic parts are all manufactured beautifully. The 99s are very light and comfy on the head, and can be worn for extended periods without fatigue. The internal spring mechanism hides beautifully within the leather band, however; it occasionally will catch my hair. The cord is good looking and plenty adequate for a headphone asking $300+.
Soundstage is very good for closed headphones. I feel that it is approximately 75% that of the K702s which has a huge soundstage. In my experience, it is only bested in this area by the K550s.
The highs are quite detailed. It doesn't extend very high, though that is not all bad. The highs feel smooth and soft.
The mids are very forward, a little too much so in my taste. It does make some genres more fun eg. R&B, Pop, EDM.
The bass is very powerful; in some regards too much. It over-emphasizes the bass similar to the way Beats by Dre Studio does it. It is very good at massaging the ear drum, and makes you feel like you are at a club. The bass will bleed into the other frequencies, and lack a bit of control. It just contributes to its unique sound signature. Again, being that I prefer the more analytical approach of the K702s, the 99s not necessarily suit my taste, especially when I already own the Beats Studio already.
These headphones are beautiful. If you want to convey to others that you are a person of sophistication and class, these are the headphones to get. That's without even talking about the sound quality. Let's not dismiss what is in my opinion a great asset for the 99s, low impedance. These headphones are light with low impedance; that makes for an awesome on-the-go pair of cans. If these were around when the Beats by Dre Studios hit the market, I would have purchased these in a heartbeat. They give me the same pleasure as the Studio in terms of enjoying Billboard's top 100 etc, with the bonus of not requiring additional amplification (Studios require 2 AAA).
When comparing to K702s, they are too different. Though they costs approximately the same, the K702s are soft and controlled, compared to the in-your-face nature of the 99s. It's not that if you like the K702s, then you won't like the 99s. They are actually quite complimentary; I would want the K702s at home for relaxed or critical listening. I would want the 99s for commuting, where the closed back design eliminates most of the busy world while sounding good from my DAP or phone.
Personal Note: Due to the relative easy nature of the assembly/disassembly of the 99s, I am very curious to see how the community will develop around these; whether home hobbyists will alter the wooden cups or the pads for a more custom approach.
Pros - Excellent attack, cohesive, easy listening, nice midrange, decent soundstage
Cons - looks may be a bit flashy w/ the gold version for some. Not fully over ear
MEZE 99 CLASSICS mini-REVIEW
Intro I signed up for the tour that Meze solicited for after being approached by them to give their headphones a listen. I have no ties or any personal bias so as always below is my honest opinion of these headphones. I just want to give a run down of the usual categories. I will start by saying that this is a very good headphone by Meze.
The Meze 99 Classics have a sturdy and practical build that looks like a headphone for home usage but functions like a portable. The suspension strap provides effortless adjustment even for larger heads like my own. The headphone cups don't fold or bend but there is a pivot point under the gold plated joint caps that give enough way for an easy fit on various head shapes. It did take a little finagling to get a good fit but once I have a good seal I rarely find the need to reposition the headphones. While I wish every single headphone company in the world would avoid the half over ear, half on ear design I find these decently comfortable. The padding is somewhat soft yet my ears touch the inside of the cloth covering the driver and my ears are a little crammed inside.
The isolation is pretty good and sound leakage is minimal. This would make an excellent work tool. Especially considering its sturdy, modular build.
The cables are detachable and are dual entry. The cups are of a non glossy wood and everything else is metal. I find no plastic parts anywhere in the headphone. The 99's are of a premium build with good attention to aesthetics.
From the Meze Website:
"FEATURES We aimed for perfection in every component it designed. CNC carved wood ear cups, cast zinc alloy hardware with electroplated coating, stamped manganese spring steel headband, memory foam, soft PU leather are the materials your hands and eyes will get to enjoy. No plastic here for you to see.
Besides the usual warranty everybody is offering we guarantee that the 99's are endlessly serviceable if any parts would ever need to be replaced because we did not build this headphones for them to break after 2 years so you can go buy new ones. No glue, just nuts and bolts."
Specs / Accessories PRICE 309.00_USD
"SPECS Transducer size: 40mm Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz
Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
Rated input power: 30mW
Maximum input power: 50mW
Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
Plug: 3.5mm gold plated
Ear-cups: walnut wood"
Portable cable w/mute button
Extra long cable
1/4 inch adapter
Headphone travel case
2015 iMac 27 inch 5k
Geek Pulse Infinity
Personal library of electronic, Hip hop, Soul, and many others of various formats
Frequency response summary The Meze is a very musical headphone with a slightly elevated bass response, even natural midrange, and smooth unoffensive high end. Think HD650 with a better reach down low, less extension in the treble, less upper mids, and possibly slightly rougher in the treble but about the same quantity. This is a very agreeable headphone and overall I would say it is tuned very nicely for my tastes.
The classics have a slightly fast decay on the bass but the attack, while punchy, is a bit murky at times yet still adequately solid. It's ability to sustain a deep rumble is fair but it's punchiness is very good. The bass slam is fairly weighted but not like a planar. The sub bass reaches pretty low to my ears. Even though the sub bass sounds elevated and the mid bass hump isn't really overdone, the kick drums are where this headphone displays it's tactility.
The midrange of the Meze is very cohesive, full in the middle mids, not overly thick in the lower midrange, and a bit tapered in the upper mids. Sometimes I want a more airy sound with sharper presence region but unlike the MH40 I had a while back I rarely feel like its too overcast / murky sounding. There is enough clarity in the midrange to keep me satisfied and vocals sound great to me. There are only a couple of closed back headphones I have heard in it's price range to best it in overall transparency but the midrange on the 99's is a believable one.
I find the headphone to be a little tinted with the ability to reveal sibilants and treble detail. The treble doesn't sound really airy but sparkle is present with high hats and cymbals being aloud to have their freedom without making you squint. You will be able to tell the poor recordings fairly easily vs the bad ones with this one.
Technicalities This headphone has one of my most sought after qualities in music...punch. This headphones transient response works like a well lubricated set of pistons as the music drives the transducers into a very engaging performance. Everything pops, snaps, flickers, clicks, and sings on these set of cans. The instrument separation is great as well as the imaging for such a little headphone, while not the best in its price, it is still exceptional.
The soundstage is pretty decent as well. It sounds as if the music is decently spread out on the sides with a little bit of depth too. This is not just the flat and wide soundstage but a wholistic picture of soundscape. If the headphone had better treble extension it would really showcase what it has here. While I don't feel like I am listening to an open back headphone, I also don't hear too much clutter. This is a very nimble headphone with sounds being easily drawn out of the recording to dance in their own spaces.
At 309.00 the Meze proves that good things do come in small packages and at a good value. I also have become aware that Meze will have different color schemes for those not so keen on a flashy look and want a more low profile piece of gear. This headphone earns an easy recommendation for those seeking good sound that offers some mobility and hours of fatigue free listening. In fact, this headphone will be on my shortlist when the time comes again for me to need a portable headphone... which may be soon.
Two thumbs up!
Pros - Great sound balance, Good sound stage despite closed back, Very comfortable, High quality build
Cons - Slighty microphonic cable
I have these headphones on loan from ifi Audio/Meze headphones due in part to my iClub membership and I thank both companies for this opportunity.
But rather than spend time on specifications let me get straight on with practicalities and sound quality if I may as the specs are well covered in other posts and reviews already.
The Meze headphones are nicely packaged and look and feel more premium product than I was expecting at their listed price. The wooden ear cups are especially good looking. They are very comfortable although they are over ear are not as large as the HD700s. They do not feel hot or heavy over a protracted period of listening and don’t have any pressure points. The headband especially is nice and wide so making it an easy and comfortable fit wherever you position them on your head.
I used them with my laptop/ifi micro iDSD/iUSB power/iP2 system using Tidal Hi Fi as source and compared them to my existing headphone of choice for that system which is the Sennheiser HD700.
Aretha, Chain of fools
James Bay, Chaos & the calm
Dusty, In Memphis
Eagles, Hotel California
Keb Mo', Keb Mo'
Leon Bridges, Coming Home
Rickie Lee Jones, RLJ
Gregory Porter, Liquid Spirit
Bob Marley, Legend
T.Rex, Electric Warrior
First I have to say I found it very difficult to concentrate on individual tracks and found myself drifting off and just enjoying the music. Perhaps that is enough of a review right there?
Secondly and more perplexing I found it really difficult to choose which headphone I preferred overall. They both had individual strengths but I found time and time again I thought I had a winner only to change my mind when I swapped back.
In terms of bass then the Meze is warmer and has a more obvious bass component but is not any more extended than the HD700 and is not a loose or thick bass. It sounds like you had activated the X bass on the micro iDSD and then left it out in the HD700.
The midranges of the 2 headphones are very close to ideal with the HD700 a bit more neutral and the Meze slightly more forward but left me unable to say which I would prefer overall.
In the treble the HD700 feels more extended while the Meze is certainly not rolled off but just a little less crystal clear. I am sure that many people would find the Meze almost perfect in this respect but for me it was like the bass situation but reversed if you get my meaning.
So on balance and if I had to choose only one based on sound across the board I would take the Meze by a hairs breadth.
What the HD700 now does to turn the table back is to present a bigger, wider and more focussed sound stage. The Meze is very good and for a closed back phone very good compared to others I have heard. The HD700 is closer to my preferred imaging again by a small amount.
So, and this is where my dilemma rests. I cannot say which overall I would pick and this despite I have paid my own money for the HD700s.
If I was travelling a lot and needed more noise isolation then the Meze would be great. Likewise if I am at home and the family are not using all the Wi-Fi bandwidth then I might stick with the HD700s.
It’s too close to call and much closer than I expected, and how and where did Meze get the expertise to develop these headphones compared to one of the biggest audiophile headphone companies globally?
Let me conclude by saying the Meze 99 Classics are surprisingly good headphones of any type for the money and I could happily use them on a daily basis.
Dear ifi Audio & Meze thanks for the loan, and are you sure that you want them back???????
Pros - Pretty, pretty, pretty...
Cons - Smaller ear cups, can get hot
I would like to thank Meze for kindly allowing me to listen to a review sample of their 99 Classics model. I will freely admit to being a little bit of a review whore lately. I have become curious to hear what is going on outside of my normal headphone stomping grounds. I am a Grado modder and an earbuds enthusiast. I turn my own wooden cups on a lathe in my workshop, and am always trying new drivers, new shapes, new headbands, etc, etc. I am also a very devoted follower of the new earbuds being put out by Venture Electronics. The Zen V1 and V2 are like nothing I have heard in such a tiny package.
I listen to a wide variety of music, but focus mainly on Jazz and the Blues. I believe firmly that there is “good” music and “bad” music in this world, the differentiator being the intent and sincerity of the artist in their delivery. This means any genre or era can tickle my fancy, but not just any artist or band in those genres. The truth is always conveyed in their work…
I was not provided with any monetary compensation for listening to the 99 Classics, and spent 7 days with them before mailing them on to the next tour participant. During that time I took them to my office, and as is my habit spent my working hours listening as I worked….I usually use a Pono player or a Rockboxed Sansa Clip +. I also plug directly into my Macbook Air and listen to Bandcamp a lot.
The Meze 99 Classics arrived in a very pretty box, that contained a very pretty carrying case, and in said case, the headphones themselves….which were very pretty. They are almost self-conscious in their beauty, with handsome wooden cups made from Walnut, black leather for their headband and pads, and a nice, matte black springsteel headband. They also have gold metal trim around the cable entry-points on the cups and on the suspension points for the headband pad.
They come with two cables. A long one, with no microphone/buttons, and a short one, with the aforementioned doohickys. These are in a nice little soft pouchy-type thingy with an airplane seat adaptor. The pouchy-type thingy sits comfortably in the carrying case. I found the cables a little microphonic and noisy. The headband made a bit of a racket when I touched it with the cans on my head as well for some reason. Interestingly enough, the cups (which are flawlessly finished) aren’t labeled for left and right, but the cables are. I assume this means the cups can function as left and right, no problem, it’s just the connection on the cable that determines which side sits on which side of your head. This makes sense I guess….never thought of it, but if the cups are exactly alike (as they seem to be) then it doesn’t matter.
The cups were a little smaller than I expected for some reason. From the pictures I thought they would be bigger and encompass my ears more easily. This was not the case, and I did start to hurt after a little while, and get hot ears using them. I am a taller person, with a bigger head and ears. Their connection to the headband was questionable. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on it for fear of breaking something. I am sure Meze stress-tested these though, and there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
How did they sound? Very, very relaxed. Almost Sennheiser-esque. This isn’t my usual sound preference. I look for just south of neutral with good extension on both ends. I am not going to lie though, you could listen to these things for days without any fatigue if they fit you well. They also sounded best out of my Macbook Air. Overall I enjoyed my experience with them…but I couldn’t help but feel my colleagues at the office thought they were just a little too ostentatious. I got several comments to the tune of “fancy-schmancy headphones buddy…”. This was my primary dislike about them (and if you’re a manufacturer this is the least of your worries I think).
They were almost over-designed. They look like something you would buy if you deliberately wanted people to think you spent a lot of money on them. Some people want this, others don’t. I fall into the latter school, not the former. This is personal preference though, and admittedly a silly one at that.
Meze has done a sterling job of releasing a headphone that, if they fit you comfortably, will provide endless hours of sexy-looking, fatigue-free listening via your sexy-looking iDevice at the coffee shop while you sip espressos and shop for fancy leather brogues, mustache wax and expensive cologne online before joining your friends that evening at your local gastropub to drink microbrews and fancy whisky while discussing the Coachella lineup for this year and what you will wear while you’re there.
Pros - Amazingly Fun Sound Signature, Wonderful Build, Big Soundstage, Very Comfortable, Dual Detachable Cables
Cons - Braided Cable is Prone to Being Microphonic, Ear pads Can Get a Tad Warm Over Time
I’m rarely surprised by headphones. If anything, most of the time I am slightly let down, I think a headphone is going to sound great, but it then disappoints.
With the Meze 99 Classics, it was the complete opposite; I thought they were just going to be another pretty face, a headphone focusing more on looks than sound, but I was SO wrong, so VERY wrong. The Meze 99 is now one of my favorite headphones. I‘m blown away by so many aspects of the 99, let me share those with you.
**All Photo Were Taken By Me, No Stock Images Were Used From the Manufacture**
Transducer size: 40mm
Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz
Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
Rated input power: 30mW
Maximum input power: 50mW
Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
Plug: 6.3mm gold plated
Ear-cups: walnut wood
As this is one of the first models out there, there are a few things missing from the full production run, like the 6.3mm to 3.5mm and airplane adapter. But no worries about those as I have a million of them around the house.
The hard case itself is just awesome, as it is solid and understatedly handsome. Inside the case you will find the 99 Classics sitting snug and safe along with another small, softer case for the cables. It is a fully function and well laid out design.
Over the top, beautiful; that is how I describe the Meze 99 Classics. It is truly an elegant and tough built headphone. This is a headphone that exquisite blends wood and metal. You can tell Meze used very high end materials for this build, that include: “CNC carved wood ear cups, cast zinc alloy hardware with electroplated coating, stamped manganese spring steel headband, memory foam and soft PU leather”.
What caught my attention are the two braided cables. One shorter with a microphone and one much longer without a mic (forgive me; I do not have exact lengths of each cable at this time). Both cables are quite beautiful and have a very premium feel. My only issue with the cables is that both seem to display a decent amount of Microphonics because of the cover material. Being a detachable cable, maybe there will be an optional version that could be DIY or purchased through Meze at a later date.
Now, while I am more of a Function over form kind of guy, I feel like as long as it sounds good, it can also look this good. I just hate when companies care about looks and catch phrases over actual sound substance. With the Meze, there is no need to worry in any of those departments though.
These are clearly an over ear headphone. Comfort and distance around the ears is very good. The only issue some might have is the pads getting a little warm with extended use, though I do love how soft the PU leather is, it is like a pillow around the ear.
The headband is very similar to the AKG K 240, with the headphone automatically adjusting to your head with some cleverly placed elastic materials. I wish more headphones were like this as it allows for a perfect and quick fit.
Bass – Does play a prominent role in the Meze 99 Classics sound signature. There is a lot of warmth and fullness down low. While I would say for the most part the bass stays controlled, it can wander a tad out of hand here and there. Sub-bass kick is wonderful, a lot of force with its bite.
Mids – I have a soft spot for the 99’s mids. They are just north of neutral, while also being dynamic and detailed. I think this is why I like these headphones so much, the middle is a great place to be. A lot of speed, action and clarity resonate from here; this is where the magic happens.
Highs – While the Meze 99 Classics don’t extend too high, I never feel a loss of detail. A slightly early roll off leads to a smoothness and sophistication not often heard with many other headphones I have heard recently.
Isolation – Due to the easy fit and soft leather pads, the Meze 99 Classics can form quite a nice seal. That seal in return leads to a really nice isolating headphone. I just had my friend try these out a few minute ago while I was writing this, he was really impress how well these headphones block off noise. He thought they were even noise canceling, until I quickly corrected him.
Soundstage – Here I found the biggest surprise the 99 Classics had to offer, a huge, well-tuned soundstage. It is so wide, yet instrument separation stays so crisp and organized. I honestly can figure out how Meze got this broad feeling from a closed, well isolating headphone, it is remarkable.
As I you will have concluded from my review, I really like the Meze 99 Classics. I think they are extremely fun and energetic, making them an obvious guilty pleasure for me. They are analytical in their approach, yet still stay away from the label of monitoring. They look incredible and have the personality to back it up.
While these are almost perfect, I do have a few suggestions to expand the overall enjoyment of the 99 Classics. As I already mentioned my thoughts on the braided cable, I think there is one more replacement part I would like to see available and that is set of velour pads. I think those would help reduce a bit of the bass and also help a tad with longevity of wearing the Headphones. If I find a pair of velour pads that work for the 99 Classics, I will update my review.
I’ve reviewed over 30+ headphones this year alone and the Meze is a bright spot among them. A surprise I honestly did not see coming. The 99 Classics is truly a great overall headphone for those looking for a warm, entertaining and detailed musical experience.
Pros - Excellent soundstage, details, transient response, very comfortable, beautiful design & finish
Cons - Little distorsion on lower bass
The design and finish of these headphones are absolutely gorgeous and they're also very comfortable.
Meze 99 Classics was an unexpected surprise. I didn't expect such performance from them especially in the areas that closed headphones don't usually excel.
I’ve rarely heard such soundstage and such openness in closed headphones. They can compete here with lots of opened headphones in my opinion.
Let's make a summary with what impressed me the most:
I’ve rarely heard such soundstage and such openness in closed headphones. They can compete in this area with lots of opened headphones in my opinion. This and some other things make them perfect for instrumental/classical music, but these headphones can be used with almost any musical genre.
Imaging and Instrument Separation
This is another section that impressed me very much. Every instrument is very well delimited showing very good imaging, instrument separation and layering. They handled crowded music passages with ease.
The transients are wonderful on Meze 99 Classics. The attack is explosive and the decay is fast but well extended. This leads to an energetic and tactile sound experience which I appreciate very much in the sound reproduction both in headphones and speakers!
These headphones are quite analytical. I was surprised with the level of details they are capable of. This was a major plus for listening to classical music. Combined with other strong points of the Meze 99, every instruments is vibrant and full of life.
Besides a small bass bump, I found these headphones to be quite neutral.
The bass is fast, punchy and quite well extended showing very good sub bass as well. It might have a slight might bass hump somewhere but nothing to worry about. The sub bass might present some distortion that was noticeable on some songs but overall it wasn’t disturbing. Overall, I found the bass to be quite nice, engaging and to put meat (muscle because of the speed and punch) on the bones of the songs.
The treble is sparkly and airy. Not harsh, but won't mask recording faults.
I think that Meze 99 Classics just became my favorite closed headphones at the moment. Actually let’s forget for a little while that they are closed and just say that they are wonderful headphones in general.
Besides the eye candy looks, good quality and very nice finish, they also offer an incredible sound quality which made me loose myself inside my music often offering me goose bumps along the way.