I've reviewed their Classic, and appreciate Meze letting me review this model. Stay tuned for comparisons.
I'm a lifelong musician, live and studio sound engineer, always with heavy duty earplugs. Often the only one in my band wearing them, but then, I've retained my unusually sensitive hearing because of it. I've tried too many headphones and in-ears to list. I'll refer to what I've tried where it's relevant in the review, to keep it simple. I've got some I'm happy with now, but I'm never tired of trying new things, so it brought me to these headphones.
What I Look For
I prefer warmer headphones, full lower mids, flat mids, reduced high mids. More than a moderate mid bass bump bothers me, and sub bass rarely extends low enough in most quality cans I'll try. I'll say "quality" since there are plenty that are explosive down there, but often at the expense of everything else. Some have said you can't have all frequencies well represented, but enough come close to this, so I know this can be done.
Fit has had me reject 80% of what I've tried. I much prefer over-ear. It's hard enough to get an over-ear to go over your ears (Senn. Momentum 1 for example and Momentum 2 isn't much better). My ears are fairly flat but learger around, proportional to being 6'5". My head is also, triple X hat size. Most companies could fit larger heads, with just an inch more band extension, but only some seem to take that into consideration.
Design and Comfort
These arrived well package and designed. Nice solid case and aesthetics. Very light yet sturdy. The plastic replacing the Classic's wood is sturdy, and not inclined to fingerprints. Still, I'm more into the sound aspect (and the fit, naturally). The band auto-fits easily, though like many w/ this style on me, they tend to contract when worn and have to be pulled back down sometimes. The design seems to allow some flex to fit better.
Fully extended they reach my ears but press on the top of my head. The pressure at the top of the cups that I had with the Classic is not there now. You'll see in pictures I slipped the band on top of the metal hoops to make more room. Pads are better, still not quite deep enough. As pictured, I'd put on Audio Technica MSR7 pads, perfect fit perfect, more space for ears, and sound. I'll go into that in more detail further into my review.
Sound Quality and Ideas
A bit warmer vs Classics and I prefer that. That Meze treble magic that no other company has pulled off. Clarity without any lack of detail, yet no audible peaks and no fatigue, even for one as sensitive to treble as me. This is their strongest point. There is still a bit of mid-fi quality, but that's not a bad thing. For their price, they are among the best. Many long for a "closed HD650 (now 660s) with more bass and air" and these are that.
The high mids are just right, blending with the highs perfectly. Another big win. The true mids (roughly 500 hz to 2 khz) are close to flat but with a pleasing bit of low mid warmth the Classic didn't quite have making them enjoyable, without a hard sound, yet you feel like you are missing nothing. Like the highs, they do this better than almost everyone else I've heard. A sound you can trust for accuracy, but is easy on the ears. Nice work.
The lower mids are not lacking, the Classic did a bit. There is a bit of a buildup here, and in the higher bass, evident on some recordings. That bugs me. My headphone earpad swap (to AT MSR7 pads) got rid of that as they added spaciousness, treble detail (without fatigue) and no loss of bass (rare with a pad swap) or maybe even a touch more sub bass. Low mids are a 6-7 stock, and a 9-10 with the MSR7 pads. Yes, it's that good.
Mid bass is nice with the right amount of boost. It has a bit more than the Classic, but till within an ideal range. Not for purists and not the "fastest" thing, but very pleasing. The fun goes lower (to my ear at least) than the Classic that rolled off under 40 hz. These don't roll off until under 30 hz with useful sub info at / below 20 hz. Graphs don't show this improvement though, in fact they show the Classic with the same or more extension.
How They Make This Better
Consider an easily removable pleather padded band vs. what is clamped on, as larger head folk like me can get by with just the outer metal hoop wires. They can be gently bent to fit even better. Their light weight, even lighter without that band, means no padding is no problem when the weight is spread out, with those two flat bands, which could always be wrapped in some thin padding, if needed. That would not be any issue for me.
Meze, please consider buying Audio Technica MSR7 pads. Test them, and develop your next pad based on that. They slip into the groove and fit perfectly. Images show the same depth - but the less rolled off interior means it helps the cups sit a bit farther out to fit ears better. The better stereo depth and width, cleaning up low mids / mid bass, no loss of subs and better treble clarity (with no extra treble level) is a worthwhile goal.
A word on the Audio Technica MSR7 ear pads. These are not as comfortable as the Meze stock pads which are amazingly soft. That firmness allows them to stay a bit farther out, giving you that space. The MSR7 pads ARE still very comfortable, it's just that the stock pads can spoil you, as they are among the most soft and compliant pads I've felt. So you won't feel uncomfortable, you just won't have the super pillow stock pads on them.
Additionally, that firmness can cause the clamp to increase, if you have a large head and the clamp bothers you, you will find it increases with these pads since they don't compress as much. I'm already to where they are a little too small for my head so that did make it worse. If I did a "big head mod" and removed the band to just leave the outer rings, this will not be an issue and I'm considering buying these and doing just that with these.
Mid December EDIT / Update for Brand New Pair
I need to add an update / edit to my review and on every Meze post, where I had said something in particular. The Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 pads, which worked a miracle on the Sony MDR-1A, did change the sound of these headphones a bit. The test pair I had had a bit of a lower mid to high bass resonance build up that these tamed. I think that's what also bothered Tyll and others. They still do that, and if you want that area cleared up a bit these do it. They don't increase treble or decrease the sub bass, but the mids are every so slightly more recessed (true mids, 500 to 2 khz), the high mids aren't changed. I ordered a brand new pair. Not this may be because of slight quality improvements but these new Meze 99 Neo were best stock. Right out of the box, no burn in. The MSR7 pads had the above minor effect, but it is no longer needed, high bass and low mids had no excess to me, and true mids were full and as accurate, as do I prefer. I can't say these are the best in my collection, as each as a purpose, but they are now my favorite sounding all-rounder. My EMU Teak and my Sony MDR-1A are a bit more extended on both ends of the spectrum but don't have quite the stereo magic and gets a bit fatiguing on some songs with that. My Sony MDR-Z7 has slightly more soundstage / warmth.
My Samson Z55 is a bit more flat / accurate. These still do treble better than any headphone I have ever heard. As easy on the ears as Senn HD650 but not 'veiled'. It you want a closed option - with a bit better imaging, more sub bass and more detail without any harshness, get these. I don't feel I lose any detail v. brighter phones I've heard, all the way up to the brightest and most expensive tested (the Focal Utopia or Sennheiser HSD800 / 700). Mids are absolutely perfect. Nothing missing, but no hot spots in true mids as Sony MDR-Z7 had before it was modded, and still can have occasionally, as some Planars can have. Even very neutral Samson Z55 is slightly north of what I'd like in that area vs. these. Without a high bass, low mid issue, I can't find a frequency area on it I'd want to change even with EQ if I tried to (I mix and master lots of music, I can usually find something). I'd maybe add 1 db at 10-20 hz (yes - I can hear that low), and that is it. Maybe 1/2 db less mid bass. If they did a slight tweak in design or quality control that caused this keep doing it. These are the BEST headphones under $250, period. I'd say even under $500. Open or closed. Being free of resonances and so spacious sounding, you don't need them open to to get that kind of width in their sound.