Meze 12 Classics - Reviews
Pros: musical, engaging sound signature; beautiful; well built; great value
Cons: slightly prone to sibilance, microphonic cable
       Let me start by sincerely thanking Meze for organizing this tour. I have (gratefully) been selected to participate in this Headphone Tour, during which I am able to listen to and keep the 12 Classic. The only requirement is to post the review which you see here. Having the opportunity to sample equipment in the comfort of my own home, with my own source and music, is an absolute joy for which I am truly grateful. The Meze 12 Classic’s MSRP is $79 (USD) and can be found here: https://mezeheadphones.com/products/meze-12-classics-gun-metal-wood-earphones
 
 
Build Quality Comfort and Accessories
 
 
       Let’s put the first thing first. My pet peeve: Manufacturers, can we PLEASE make it easy to distinguish right from left? The Meze are symmetrical earphones, and there is no angle to the nozzle. I figured out that the mic is to the right by listening for the breath in the right channel of Zep’s “Going to California” long before I noticed the markings on the strain relief just below the driver housing. And I looked hard when I first got them. If it wasn’t for a particularly sunny day, (and the fact that I happened to be wearing reading glasses,) I’m not sure I would have found the markings at all. They aren’t colored, just raised and rather small (which is necessary given the gauge of wire used, but still). I think all manufacturers need to approach this in a more user friendly way.
 
       Beyond that, I’d say Meze did very well. The walnut wood housings look awesome, and I found them to be very ergonomic…easy to grip and the end of the barrel is concave making it easy to insert in the ear. Comfort was never an issue. Nothing rubs against my ears, and once a good seal was made, I never experienced any discomfort during long listening sessions. The cable appears to be of high quality and feels very robust; however the cable is VERY microphonic in my experience. Wearing them cable up didn’t work well, either. The cable may be durable, but it is too stiff, so it wouldn’t stay wrapped around my ear. Wearing the cable in that manner also put the microphone next to the angle of my jaw, which isn’t ideal for conversations and made it awkward to use the control. I found that using the included shirt clip mostly mitigated the problem, so it wasn’t a big deal for me in the long run. The clip was a royal PITA to put on, but once attached was in no danger of falling off. Meze included a good amount of accessories for this price; 5 different pairs of tips (silicone S, M, L, bi-flange, and genuine Comply), a semi rigid clamshell case (zippered & a good size to fit in your pocket) and a Velcro cable tie, as well as the aforementioned shirt clip.  
 
       Before I offer my listening impressions, I’ll start with a little about myself. I’m pushing 50 and have less than perfect hearing. I’ve been a music lover for as long as I can remember, and I learned to listen a little more critically during the few years I sold audio equipment (and the more I listen, the more I learn). My fascination/infatuation with headphones began about 4 years ago, and has only gotten stronger. The majority of my listening was done listening to FLAC, WAV & various MP3s with my Shanling M3, Fiio x3 (1st gen.), Samsung Galaxy S7, or through my HP all in one PC and Audioquest Dragonfly1.2. My tastes are fairly eclectic, but my listening centered on classic rock, folk, jazz, classical and various genres of EDM. I did burn them in for 36 hours prior to critical listening; however I did not hear any notable difference throughout my evaluation.
 
 
Sound
 
 
       While not as efficient as BA drivers, I found that I could achieve good volume with any source I tried. With my Samsung Galaxy S7, the volume isn’t graded by numbers. The volume tended to edge toward the red “unsafe” listening mark when listening to some tracks, yet the Meze never sounded strained. (How does the phone know the actual SPL output, anyway? I appreciate the effort to fight hearing loss, but it seems a bit impractical to have to hit “OK” every time the volume creeps past the threshold.) As good as the Meze Samsung combo was I did find them to scale well with my better sources. I achieved a good seal and great performance with the stock silicone tips, so I did all my listening with them. Whether because of the shallow insertion, or the vented enclosure, isolation was average, muting outside noise but not totally blocking it out. I found they performed well while traveling, but personally they wouldn’t be my 1st choice, since I tended to bump the volume a bit too much to compensate in louder environments.
 
       I found the tonal balance to be captivating. Breaking the sound into the usual categories, I’ll work from the bottom up. Sub bass is present, but not accentuated. Listening to Lorde singing ‘Royals’, I can discern the lowest notes, but the mid bass has more punch and grabs my attention. I didn’t find the punch in the bass to be sloppy at all. Listening to Casey Abrams’ fingers pluck his standup bass during ‘Blame It on Me’, the attack and tone sounded natural not blurred. ‘I Said’ (Michael Woods Remix) by deadmau5 was stand up and dance good…I just couldn’t get enough. My personal preference usually leans more toward a weightier sub bass & more linear mid bass, but the 12 Classics presentation was totally engaging and enjoyable.
 
       Moving on to the mids, we have detail and articulation a plenty, with only a hint of sibilance in hotter recordings. Even though we’re not on the level of refinement found in TOTL offerings, male & female vocals both sounded natural. A good example is ‘The Sound of Silence’, as reinterpreted by Disturbed. David Draiman’s voice sounded like thick hot gravel, which is how it is supposed to sound, but the punctuations on the letter S were a tad sharp. The 2 collaborations between Joe Bonamassa & Beth Hart are among my favorite Rock recordings. When Beth is bringing it home at about 2:08 into ‘Chocolate Jesus’, I literally got chills. I discovered Carla Huhtanen from a free MP3 Download, “Eternal Baroque”. Hearing her sing ‘Griselda’, RV 718 (Vivaldi) on the 12 Classics, the reverb from the space was clearly discernible and her voice rang out powerfully. It amazes me how enjoyable a well recorded 239 MBPS MP3 can be, and playing this one on the Meze was the perfect reminder.
Treble had just the right amount of shimmer for me. Strings and cymbals sounded wonderfully crisp and resonant without entering into shrillness. The high hats in ‘Bad Asteroid’ by The Aristocrats, or ‘After the Thrill is Gone’ by Eagles (it’s so hard not to write “the Eagles”) was well defined not pushed back in the mix, and the strings in Mozart’s Symphony #1 in E-Flat major had the right amount of presence and bite. In song after song, no matter the genre, the Meze’s highs proved to be well defined without becoming overwhelming.
 
       While not outstanding, the soundstage was pleasantly wide with a good amount of depth, and a bit less height. Listening to Jeff Beck Live+, I felt as if I was about 5th row center in a fairly large venue. I never felt the soundstage to be overly constricted or flat, even on older recordings like the Stone’s ‘Street Fighting Man’. The soundstage may not be dramatically large and impressive but it never drew attention to itself at all unless I was listening for it.
 
 
Quick Comparison
 
 
       Since I was fortunate enough to be chosen for the Meze 11 Neo tour as well, I thought it would be useful to do a comparison to the 12 Classic’s little sibling (retailing for $20 less). The build quality, isolation, comfort and accessories are all but identical between the two pairs (Same mic, remote, cable, and 3.5mm connectors). Whether you like the dark walnut barrel of the 12 Classic or the smooth metal appearance of the 11 Neo, (my sample was the Iridium color, which I find reminiscent of Apple’s Rose Gold) the overall quality is undeniable.
 
       While sonically comparing both, there is enough of a similarity to begin to define a house sound, yet enough differences to distinguish each of them. I found the Neo to be a bit smoother overall, with more of a sub bass emphasis, well-defined mids and a more relaxed treble. This is not like comparing a Sennheiser HD 650 to a Beyerdynamic T70, because they have more in common than not. ‘I Said’ (deadmau5) had a little extra oomph in the sub bass, and a touch less in the mid bass. Voices on the Neo were lush without being recessed; the sibilance noted in Disturbed’s ‘The Sound of Silence’ was still there (it’s in the recording) but less pronounced. Listening to Tina’s cello in ‘First Embrace’ by Peter Kater and Tina Guo, I found the Neo to have a shade more richness in the cello; the Classics revealed a touch more bite. As much as I thought I would gravitate toward the Neo, I can honestly say I enjoy the Classic equally. If you have über-revealing sources, the Neo might be the perfect fit. If your sources are the dark and rich, the Classic could be the ticket. It really boils down to a matter of preference, and I am thrilled that I have them both.
 
 
Conclusion
 
 
My thanks again go to the Meze team. I am very pleased to have been introduced to the Meze brand and to the 12 Classics in particular. The 12 Classics are an energetic, musical, engaging earphone that perform well with any type of music you throw at them. Solid Build, beautiful appearance and quality accessories are the icing on the cake. If I hadn’t been familiar with Meze, and you handed me a pair and let me listen for a while, I’d have no problem believing these were twice the price. At $79, I can’t think of another earphone I’d recommend as highly. Well done, Meze. Well done indeed
Bansaku
Bansaku
Great review!
jinxy245
jinxy245
Thanks!!
I know I'm not one of the great reviewers, but I do try...lol
Pros: Outclasses more expensive IEMs, fun warm signature, great look
Cons: People with smaller ears may have fit problems.
By now, I'm sure almost everyone on Head-Fi knows the company Meze. After such a huge positive response to their full size 99 Classics, Meze has now made new IEMs, the 12 Classics. 

 

Before my review, I would like to give a huge thanks to Meze for giving me the opportunity to participate in their Meze 12 Classics Review Tour. 

 

Since there are already detailed specs and pictures in the first review, I will not be posting those. Instead, I am going into detail about how good these sound, especially for the asking price.

 

I have been on the lookout for good balanced sounding IEMs for quite some time. For reference, so far the IEMs I have owned or currently owned are:

Shure SE425

Klipsch X10

Klipsch X20

Hifiman RE-400

 

So, I do not have much experience with many IEMs yet. However, I know what good sound is, and I know what kind of signature is for me. These Meze 12 Classics, in short, are pretty much perfect for me. I really like warm bass, but not overbearing bass, and the Meze's have it. I like natural sounding midrange, and the Meze's have it. I also like flat somewhat recessed treble, and you guessed it, the Meze's have it. Honestly, the only fault I see with the Meze 12 Classics are the ear tips. I have smaller than average ear canals, but the smallest tips size was too small and the medium tip size is too big. But that is not Meze's fault, because I just have weird ear. Using the provided Comply foam tips fixed that problem for me easily. 

 

I forgot to talk about build quality; it is very well constructed. For $79, I can't believe the attention to detail they put in. The cable looks beautiful, and feels sturdy too. I think the wooden casing around the driver is a very nice touch. I have not had it long enough to test durability, but these seem like they can take a beating.

 

I have since gotten rid of the Klispch X20 and Shure SE425, so I only had the Hifiman RE-400 and Klipsch X10 to compare the Meze's with. Overall, I would describe the sound signature as north of neutral and warm. In terms of bass quantity, it has more than both the RE-400 and the X10. It does have the best sub bass out of the three in my opinion, and kicks hard when you need it. I am a huge fan of the Sennheiser HD650, and while the 12 Classics have more perceived bass, the same amount of mid bass warmth and balance of the 650s is there. I'm already a huge fan of the bass these give. 

 

The midrange is great too, and sounds just as good as the X10 for me. It also sounds more natural than the RE-400, as the RE-400s seem a little too analytical and flat in the mids for my taste. I think the midrange is the Meze’s strong point, in my opinion very natural and open. This makes the soundstage bigger than what you would expect from a typical IEM too.

 

Now, the treble is sort of the thing that makes or breaks a headphone for me. The 12 Classic’s treble is definitely recessed in the upper response past 10 khz. But, I don’t think that takes away from the overall performance. You can still hear plenty of detail, but it’s not in your face. The response in the treble reminds me of a warm pair of vintage speakers. It does an amazing job of taking away the harshness from many of today’s less than stellar recordings. This is what I like to call a “fun” IEM. And really, isn't that the point of music listening? To have fun?

 

I am overall very pleased with the Meze 12 Classics, and for $79, I don’t think there is much competition. It is a more enjoyable listen than the Hifiman RE-400, and a good dynamic driver alternative to the Klipsch X10, which sounds very similar but more expensive. I very much want to buy these after having the chance to try them out for the review tour. Once again, thank you Meze for these amazing IEMs!

DivineCurrent
DivineCurrent
@taxidrivr in my opinion, the X11/X10 have slightly more detail compared to the 12 Classics. 12 Classics also have more bass in general, but the quality sounds the same to me. Really, it's a matter of sound signature preference with the two, X11/X10 have a more neutral bass and midrange while the 12 Classics have a more impacting warmer bass with less sparkle in the treble. And the RE-400 has about the same detail as the 12 Classics, just a lot less bass and hightened midrange. 
taxidrivr
taxidrivr
@achelgeson thanks for replying; think I'm gonna jump on the x11 and see how they work for me. I've read the RE-400 build quality isn't so great which has held me back on it.
 
how is the build quality on the x11? I know many report of poor cables but it might be situational. 
DivineCurrent
DivineCurrent
@taxidrivr I've had the X10 for a year and a half now, no problems with build quality for me. I tend to baby my equipment, so that is also why mine has seen no physical damage whatsoever. As long as you put them in their case after use, and when removing from your ears pull on the main metal part of the earphones rather than the cables, you should be fine. I just wonder why so many people mistreat their IEMs; they complain about build quality after they throw them on the floor and walk on them, it's no wonder they break so quickly. I highly recommend the X10/X11, you won't regret getting them, especially for the price now.
Pros: Big sound, great comfort, package and build quality, real value for money
Cons: Non removable cables, sound changes depending on the tips used,sometimes microphonics
First of all I would like to say a big Thank You to the Meze Team for including me on the review list of the both products 12 Classics and 11 Neo IEM's. I was very surprised how quickly they arrived from Romania to UK, so the guys behind the team move very fast. I have received the both pairs for free to review in exchange of my honest opinion about those two wonderful products. Is worth to be noted at the time of writing this review the Meze 12 Classics sell on Amazon.co.uk for £69 , so that is quite a low price, but are they worth it? YES, I think they do but we will get to that later.
 
Specifications :
Frequency response: 16Hz - 24KHz
Impedance: 16Ohm
Sensitivity: 101dB (+/- 3db)
Total harmonic distortion: < 0.5%
Noise attenuation: up to 26dB
Titanium coated 8mm mylar driver
Copper-clad aluminum voice coil
3.5mm gold-plated jack plug
7N OFC cable, lenght: 1.2m
 
The Meze 12 Classics use both natural walnut wood and aluminium in the construction for a great premium feel and look. When I carefully inspected the package I had the impression they will cost at least 2X of the actual cost, so the Meze team managed to keep the cost low and not to compromise on the built or materials used.
 
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Box and accessories: I really like the presentation box, simple , minimalistic and doesn't extra unnecessary paper so very environmental friendly. Inside we find the earphones ( I will be referring in the review both as earphones or IEM's- In Ear Monitors ), with a nice EVA round soft carry case for storage and travel and 1 pair of Comply premium earphones tips T-500.
Actually I am surprised that they are included give the low price they sell for. Another reason I like Meze, they are always careful about the details.
 
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 Build quality and feeling : There is nothing here that I think it should be criticised, maybe apart from a removable cable that will be great, but as they already have a built in line microphone , play/pause button I can use them with my phone making phone calls or listening to music. Sometimes I can hear low noise when the cable rubs against the clothes but that doesn't happen all the time.
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Sound quality and gear used in this test: I have used Tera Player, LG Flex and Samsung S6 Edge + with FLAC ad 24 Bit files. With them all I was surprised by the sound Meze 12 Classics can deliver from such a small driver ( 8 mm titanium coated mylar driver ). The burning time recommended is at least 48 hours and once that time is reached the sound really opens up and they definitely remind me of the Meze flagship 99 Classics headphones. Is great that the sound signature is similar even this is a very small earphone.
Even using the picky Tera Player that has a 10 ohm output the pair is great without any bass roll off. Sound changes a bit depending on the tips used. My favourite are the Comply T-500 tips included in the package, more comfortable, better seal and together bass.  Right out the box the sound is open, punchy with great clear bass.
Now  after the burn in time is over i can say that the sound is more mature , with better instrument separation, tighter bass and clearer mids and highs.
Meze 12 Classics don't have the biggest soundstage from all the IEM's I tried, but I think you will  be happy with natural sound of the wood used  and the tuning that reminds me of the 99 Classics. I am yet to try the 12 Classics on the train or underground but I shall think you will have no problem being isolated from the outside noise, if you choose to comute with these earphones.
 
Final words and decisions : Think they really worth the price and I really like what you get here for your money and that includes all : presentation package, build quality, sound quality. This is definitely a great sounding earphone and a massive value for money. The Meze Team did really well and kept everything in balance. I would recommend this earphone to everyone and I think you not feel sorry if you will purchase it before listening to it first.
 
Future wish from the Meze Team: The Romanian based Meze Team is one of those companies I would like to see growing and see more high end products, maybe a 13 mm single driver IEM with a bigger frequency response or a hybrid model or maybe planar magnetic headphones in the future. I will keep my eyes on the Meze products in the future as I really like what they created so far, comfortable, great sounding and affordable
Soon I will be working on my second review of the  Meze 11 Neo and try to compare both in the end of the review.
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voxie
voxie
Thanks for posting a really well put together review. If only they had a detachable but am sure they are working on one, well maybe?
harry501501
harry501501
Thanks for sharing, i was looking at these last night and couldn't find a review anywhere... apart from the crazy description on Amazon UK lol. My experience with wooden IEMs is really positive. I love the HiSoundAudio Flamencos and I'm currently enjoying the MusicMaker Maples. the only let down were the HiSoundAudio Wooduo 2s which were overpriced and overrated imo.
Bansaku
Bansaku
Great review! Getting antsy myself, but like they say, all good things come to those who wait! How do they sound compared to the 99 Classics? 
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