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Meze 99 Classics

Rating:
4.34559/5,
  1. nmatheis
    Meze 99 Classics: Great all-around woodie!
    Written by nmatheis
    Published Feb 11, 2016
    4.5/5,
    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.
     
    ABOUT US
    OUR STORY
    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
    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 CUSTOMERS
    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.
     
    PHILOSOPHY
    MOTIVATION
    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.
    VALUES
    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.
     
    PEOPLE
    The team behind Meze Headphones is a team of passionate specialists, with backgrounds in sound engineering, product design, crafting, and music.
     
    TECHNOLOGY 
    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.



     
     

    SPECIFICATIONS



    1. Transducer Type: Dynamic Neodymium / Mylar
    2. Transducer Size: 40mm
    3. Frequency Response: 15Hz - 25KHz
    4. Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
    5. Impedance: 32Ohm
    6. Rated Input Power: 30mW
    7. Maximum Input Power: 50mW
    8. Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
    9. Plug: 3.5mm gold plated
    10. Ear-cups: walnut or maple
    11. Weight: 290g
    12. MSRP: $309
    13. Warranty: 2 years

     
     

    PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES



    As usual, I'll go over the packaging and accessories in pictorial format with a wrap at the end. 
     
    UNBOXING
    Meze99Classics-15.jpg
     
    WHAT YOU GET
    1. 99 Classics
    2. 1.2m OFC cable with microphone and Play/Pause button
    3. 3m OFC cable
    4. Airplane adapter
    5. 1/4 inch adapter
    6. Cable pouch
    7. Headphone travel case
    8. Manual
     
     

    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.
     
    CHOICES...
    Meze99Classics-17.jpg
     
    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
    Meze99Classics-16.jpg
     
     
    CABLE
    Meze99Classics-18.jpg
     
    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.
     
     
     
    SOUND
    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"
    Meze99ClassicsFR.jpg
     
    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!
    1. View previous replies...
    2. reddog
      I a great review, full of information, made for a fun read. I also like the photos.
      reddog, Feb 11, 2016
    3. Bansaku
      Nice review! :)
      Bansaku, Feb 11, 2016
    4. Laura Jia
      Hello
      I am Laura. sorry to interrupt you. Could you review our BT earphones? 
      here is my email: laura@ivafee.com
      I don't know how to get touch with you.
      I look forward to your reply.
      Best Regards,
      Laura
      Laura Jia, Feb 16, 2016
  2. Aornic
    Fun and organic sound with a unique look
    Written by Aornic
    Published Jun 19, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Good amount of bass, very strong mids, comfortably extended treble, easily driven, detachable cables, unique aesthetics, great isolation, carry case
    Cons - Space for ears a bit small, clamp needs time to break in, might get too hot after extended use in the summer, hard to lean back with due to the band
    [​IMG]
     
    Background
     
    It was a curious moment in my recent history of trying out various headphones, the day I first put on the Meze 99 Classics. I already knew, judging from other reviews, that I wasn’t in for a neutral experience, but rather one with a “fun” sound signature. Yet again, I find myself reviewing such a headphone – but this time I ran into far fewer shortcomings than I have in the past.
     
    The idea of this sound signature is that neutrality be damned, music is for pleasurable listening. They accentuate traits that sound enticing, vibrant and joyous at the sacrifice of an overall balanced sound. The ZMF Omni did this by having a very natural mids and bass-centric sound at the cost of slightly rolled off treble. The Fostex TH-X00 did this by having excellently deep and present bass, enjoyable lower-mids and extended treble – but it struggled to reproduce upper-mids and female vocals well. The treble also got quite harsh and sibilant to my ears at times. The Shozy Zero had a slightly bassy and mids-forward sound signature that did incredibly well with electronic music genres, but it too had slightly rolled off treble that prevented it from shining with other genres.
     
    Knowing full well that the 99 Classics were out to achieve a similar listening experience, one that lies to you in terms of presentation but in a way you can easily forgive given certain parameters, I was honestly surprised – and in a good way. But more on that later.
     
    20160619_132210-min.jpg 20160619_132349-min.jpg 20160619_132645-min.jpg 20160619_132737-min.jpg
     
     
    Specifications (from the Meze website)
     
    Transducer size: 40mm
    Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz
    Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
    Impedance: 32Ohm
    Rated input power: 30mW
    Maximum input power: 50mW
    Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
    Plug: 3.5mm gold plated
    Weight: 260 gr (9.2 ounces) without cables
    Ear-cups: walnut wood
     
     
    Build, Design & Comfort
     
    I find the design of the 99 Classics to be a rather contentious issue in the headphone community. I rarely find any indifference toward it as individuals either seem to love it or think it is tacky. My first thought was “this is rather unique.” Given my biases in headphone aesthetics, the Meze offering fell well into my spectrum of appreciation because I have a strong affinity for wooden earcups. However, the reason I like the design goes beyond that. Out of all the headphones I have seen yet, this looks the most like something out of a steampunk setting, and that by itself is unique in a world populated with plastic and Beats style brand-shouting. If Corvo from Dishonored owned a pair of headphones, it would look a lot like the Meze 99 Classic.
     
    99-classics-fully-serviceable1.jpg
     
    On further inspection, you will not find plastic in its construction either. There are three visible materials to the eye – walnut wood, leather and metal. Apparently the construction does not make use of glue either, preferring screws. The slider adjustment is without any incremental changes, rather going for an approach where you pull the earcups into place, after which they hold steadily.
     
    It comes in three color configurations: Walnut Gold, Walnut Silver (which I have with me) and Maple Silver. The Maple Silver makes use of white pleather, cables and metal in its design to complement the paler wood. If I had to choose between the three, I would choose what I have – the Walnut Silver. Once again, my bias is showing because I prefer darker wood in both the construction of headphones and acoustic guitars.  
     
    These are very light headphones indeed. After bouts with the Hifiman HE-500 and ZMF Omni, the 99 Classics are very much an unencumbered fit on my head for long periods of time. The clamp force is a bit high at first, but adjusts over the course of a few days. The seal provided is a very good factor in its isolation, which is a great deal higher than the other full-sized headphones mentioned in this review. However, the earpads themselves are only big enough to just fit your ears. Mine just about make it and I have medium-large ears. As summer comes to England, I have found the pads to get quite hot on extended usage. Due to the extremely fitted design, there is less space for the ears to breathe – a tradeoff for an incredibly good seal and its musical benefits.
     
    I could not find any discernible difference in earpad width on either side as they are quite uniform. Any distinguishing of the left and right channels will purely rely on the placement of the attached cable – which have the markings on them rather than on the headphones themselves.
     
    Lying down with these headphones can be a bit awkward due to the metal ring on top. Leaning against a pillow or wall can be met with a sharp knock against it, making it so you have to re-adjust. Lounging around in these will take some getting used to.
     
    20160619_134100-min.jpg 20160619_134114-min.jpg 20160619_134200-min.jpg 20160619_133810-min.jpg
     
     
    Features
     
    On that note, I am very satisfied with the two cables provided by Meze. One is a cable for portable use with your smartphone as it has a play/pause button attached and is at the preferred length. The other is 10ft and for home usage. Both cables terminate in 3.5mm, with a 1/4 adapter being provided in the box. They are lean, flexible and braided and will last a good while. There is no neck adjustment however. The existence of detachable cables alone is a big plus in my book and makes for easier transportation.
     
    And speaking of transportation, the carrying case provided in the box is another feature I am quite impressed by. It is sturdy and quite handsome, ready for a home in any backpack for easy transport. The box itself is not easily discarded either, it too has a premium look to it.
     
    20160619_134430-min.jpg 20160619_134553-min.jpg 20160619_133155-min.jpg 20160619_133555-min.jpg
     
     
    Sound
     
    A major reason I like my ZMF Omni Cherry is because of how it reproduces acoustic guitars. It has a very natural sound to it, making it an excellent pairing with acoustic songs. My first big, and lasting, impression from the Meze Classic 99 was just how well it did in this regard too. One of my favourite tests for a headphone’s capability in this field is to run my own recorded acoustic guitar playing through it. It had a similar natural feel that the Omni had, with the major differences being in how it was not as laid back and how the soundstage was far more intimate.
     
    The sound of the Meze’s goes into the “fun” tuned realm, with a major element of doing so being its slightly boosted bass. The bass extends quite far down too, undoubtedly aided by the isolation provided by the seal. After switching back and forth with the Fostex TH-X00, I found that it was the second deepest sub-bass in my current headphone collection after those. I never found it to be too much, too overbearing or too artificial. Instead, it has a very punchy sound signature with a lot of oomph to it that goes immensely well with electronic music genres. I don’t hear any bleed into the mids either, the separation is quite clean. However, the bass has a slight earthy quality that removes from any sense of cleanliness, with a tiny bit of distortion that isn’t audible on most recordings. However, I find that this might aid the sound signature rather than hinder it as it is a very organic sound.
     
    The mids are very, very impressive. I would sing an ode the lower-mid magic that is taking place that allows the reproduction of acoustic guitars to be so inviting, similar to the Omni but a bit more energized - to the slight detriment of a natural touch. There is a smoothness to the midrange that insists on reproducing the body of vocals, both male and female, quite amply with quite stellar clarity. If a song, such as Stairway to Heaven or In the Air Tonight, chooses to build up slowly - you will hear each and every instrument addition in the mix and be able to discern it quite aptly. I find this a feat on a headphone with this narrow of a soundstage, with this isolated and closed of a design. I do not know if it is the walnut wood cups, but it feels like the midrange has more room to breathe than a plastic pair of headphones would. Therefore, separation is quite good to say the least.
     
    The treble is the region I slightly feared for before I put these on for the first time. I had heard good things about the bass and mids, but in my experience such characteristics are often at the cost of the high end. It would either feel too artificial and forced, be too rolled off to make way for the other frequencies or be too sibilant. Interestingly, it was none of these things. It does not venture into problematically sibilant territory and neither does it seem to linger around, banging on a ceiling limit that would stifle cymbals and other instruments that make use of treble.
     
    I would even go so far to call this a balanced pair of headphones, to an extent. Yes, the bass is a bit boosted – but it does not take away from just how well the other frequencies are represented. A  pleasant low-end, coupled with a warm and accurate midrange (vocal harmonies and the like showing with ease) and a comfortably extended high-end makes this a definite fun listen. The only detraction in terms of how it presents sound would be the soundstage. I’m not a designer, but I feel that it couldn’t be helped much with the closed design – which also lends to just how impressive it is that the mids separate so well.
     
    This is one of the few headphones I have come across that I can recommend for all genres of studio-recorded music. Live recordings could be heard on open cans, for the soundstage and the like, but a well-recorded studio track will come out and play just fine on the Meze 99 Classics. I don’t face trouble from older genres like classic rock any more than I do with electronic dance music. It just does it all so, so well for its price range.
     
    Amping
     
    Rated at 32 ohms, these headphones are not hard to drive at all. Meze themselves allude strongly to this because they provide the play/pause switch on the shorter cable for smartphones. I did however try them with my three amplifiers on hand to see what differences occurred. All were fed from my Schiit Gungnir USB Version 2 DAC.
     
    2016-04-0917.33.19-Copy.jpg
     
    Schiit Magni 2:
     
    Simply made louder. The same effect can be reproduced by the volume knob on your portable player of choice.
     
    2016-05-2812.09.11-Copy.jpg
     
    Cavalli Audio Liquid Carbon:
     
    Sadly, the sensitivity of the Meze is such that I heard the first-run Liquid Carbon power issue – with a slight hum intruding on my listening. I did gauge that the sound was overall warmer, as expected from the amp.
     
    20160611_140036.jpg
     
    Venture Electronics RunAbout Plus:
     
    Now this was impressive and the pairing I chose for listening to the Meze from now on. The portable RunAbout Plus does not emit much power on paper, but in practical usage it is a little powerhouse. Its signal has a tiny touch of warmth and sweetness to it, but it is overall quite articulate. It greatly aided the strengths of the Meze’s – particularly in the midrange and its stellar pairing with acoustic guitars.
     
    The bottom line of this, to my knowledge, would be that it does not require amping, but it can benefit from it with the right pairing. Of course, as efficient volume can be easily achieved, you could obtain a magical sound signature with your DAP of choice as they all have their own characteristics that are brought to the table.
     
    Comparisons
     
    Bass Quantity: TH-X00 > Classic 99 > ZMF Omni > ZMF Vibro Mk. I > HE400i > DT990 > HE-500 > HD600
     
    Mids: HE-500 > HD600 > ZMF Omni > Classic 99 > HE400i > ZMF Vibro Mk. I > TH-X00 > DT990
     
    Treble Quantity: DT990 > HE400i > TH-X00 > Classic 99 > HE-500 > HD600 > ZMF Omni > ZMF Vibro Mk. I
     
    Soundstage: DT990 > HE-500 > ZMF Omni > HD600 > HE400i > ZMF Vibro Mk. I > Classic 99 > TH-X00
     
    Comfort: DT990 > TH-X00 > HE400i > HD600 > ZMF Omni > Classic 99 > ZMF Vibro Mk. I > HE-500
     
    Aesthetics: Classic 99 > TH-X00 > ZMF Omni > ZMF Vibro Mk. I > HE400i > DT990 > HE-500 > HD600
     
    Lightness: Classic 99 > DT990 > TH-X00 > HD600 > HE400i > ZMF Vibro Mk. I > ZMF Omni > HE-500
     
    Conclusion
     
    There is no two-ways about it, colour me impressed by the Meze 99 Classics. Yes, the clamp and earpad warmth will take some getting used to, but the sound is very impressive for the pricerange in which it sits. Aesthetically, whether you love or hate how it looks, it is unique and that alone is something to be considered with just how many headphones are being designed and released every year as the audio industry blossoms and grows further.
     
    I’m mostly about the sound quality however, and I respect this headphone most of all for how effortlessly it goes with my vast and diverse music collection. I would wear this on a flight and not miss my other headphones at all as a playlist continues on – each song being well served.
     
    20160619_132957-min.jpg 20160619_134452-min.jpg
     
     
     
    Thanks for stopping by. You can follow me at:
     
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aornicreviews
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aornic
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/aornic1024
    Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jesuschristonxtc
     
    Song Impressions
     
    Equipment used: Foobar200 WASAPI Event > Schiit Wyrd > Schiit Gungnir USB Ver. 2 > Venture Electronics RunAbout Plus.
    All tracks in lossless FLAC in at least 16/44.1
     
    Aerosmith – Dream On (2012 Remaster)
     
    The low end reminds me of when I listened to this song through the TH-X00, but with more lush and present mids and overall balance. While the soundstage is not as vast as the HE-500, there is no confusion in the instrumentation and overall sound structure.
     
    a-ha – Take On Me
     
    A punchy and immediate listen due to the low-end representation, but without losing the warmth and smoothness of the vocals or the delicate background acoustic guitar and cymbal patterns.
     
    Nine Inch Nails – Closer
     
    The Meze absolutely conveys the attitude of this song. The deep bass extension aids the heartbeat drum beat while the mids and highs accentuate the swirling synthesizers and cymbal loops. All the while, Trent Reznor’s tortured vocal takes centre stage. Great listen due to the Meze’s strengths.
     
    Black Sabbath – Planet Caravan
     
    Geezer Butler’s bassline drives this song but never intrudes into the vocals/mids. The pleasing mid-bass is at work here. The soundstage, while constricted, does reproduce the separated and panning instrumentation quite well – particularly the hand-struck drumming by Bill Ward.
     
    Prince – Controversy
     
    From the first hit, you know the Meze means business due to how this funky track’s bassline just digs deep and steady as the drums accompany it. As the clean-guitar work on the right track strums, quite clearly, you can clearly hear Prince’s vocal and the repeating voice going “OOMPH” in the beat.
     
    Childish Gambino – Heartbeat
     
    I always turn to this song when I want to test sub and mid-bass response. Compared to the TH-X00, which handled the sub-bass frequencies effortlessly and quite impressively, the Meze doesn’t dive as low but does a far better job with the rest of the frequencies. Also, the snare sounds a lot more immediate – with more body bouncing off the vocal as the song continues.
     
    Chris Isaak – Wicked Game
     
    Once again, the Meze 99’s impress me with how they reproduce acoustic guitars. Couple that with the fact that the midrange brings forth the sultry vocal so well makes this a great listen. If I had to find a flaw, it would be that the backing vocal “this world is only gonna break your heart” is slightly less pronounced than on some other headphones like the Omni or the HE-500 – which are in different price categories. This is one of my favourite songs of all time, and I really appreciate what the Meze can do for it.
     
    Clint Mansell – Lux Aeterna
     
    The mids shine further on this track due to how well they manage to separate the different string tracks, an important and distinguishing feature because of how easily overlapped they can be on some headphones. The percussion has a lot of impact due to the bass impact, helped by the seal.
     
    Coldplay – Clocks
     
    While the soundstage is constricted, it is notable that this highly layered track maintains a good amount of separation in its presentation. The vocal absolutely soars, as it should.
     
    Daichi Miura – Unlock
     
    The TH-X00 reproduces the vocals in this song in a sibilant manner so I was glad to see that the Meze absolutely did not. The rest of the instrumentation is well served, only hampered due to the soaring and reverb-laden nature of the song and just how well it does with a large soundstage.
     
    Eminem – Without Me
     
    While the synth bassline doesn’t sound as incredible as on the TH-X00, the tradeoff is that the instrumentation is much more immediate and clear – especially the vocals/rap.
     
    Fleetwood Mac – Dreams
     
    A song I re-visit with every new piece of gear and one I know as well as the back of my hand. While it is much more intimate than the Omni and the HE-500, the superb separation the Meze possesses aids greatly in the vocal harmonies of the chorus. The acoustic guitars and vocals sound warm and are well distinguished from the bassline.
     
    Peter Gabriel - Flood & Mercy Street
     
    I choose both these tracks because of how intricate the instrumentation is. The 99 Classics do really well with both, particularly in the shimmering cymbals/percussion of mercy street and the acoustic guitar in Flood. Coupled with just how nicely the vocal harmonies ring out in both, this is a great listen.
     
    Metallica - For Whom the Bell Tolls (2016 Remastered)
     
    The Meze properly represents the fire and brimstone production of this thunderous track. The drums hit hard and he guitars absolutely bite as they should, all while Cliff Burton's basswork is audible beneath it all. I'm especially impressed with how vibrant the cymbal crashes are in the mix.
      w00x, bgbkt, PinkyPowers and 3 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Taowolf51
      @Aornic They used to not offer returns on opened headphones, but after looking on their site, this may have changed! Hopefully it did. :)
      Taowolf51, Jun 21, 2016
    3. cyberslacker
      im tossed between the Meze and MH30, anybody did a side by side ?
      in price/performance and both not needing an amp.
      they are at the top of my list, for office listening.
      cyberslacker, Jun 23, 2016
    4. pytter
      Thanks for the great review! Hadn't actually heard of these before so will definitely be looking to audition!
      pytter, Jun 25, 2016
  3. FortisFlyer75
    99 Classics an instant Classic?
    Written by FortisFlyer75
    Published Apr 17, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Build, Design, Warm yet clear exciting natural detailed sound with plenty of bass, case and accessories. Price
    Cons - Cable tangles to easily, could do with a shorter option without playback control, Micro phonics on cable. Pads tend to get warm to hot over time

    Meze 99 Classics (Gold) review

    April 2016
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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    Sources used:

    Sony ZX1 Walkman, HP X360 Spectre with MS Win 10 laptop, Tag Mclaren DVD32R cd player.
     

    Amp & Dacs used:

    Chord Hugo & Mojo with QED Reference & Vertere DFI USB cables & Audioquest “jitterbug”,
     Vorzuge PureII+ portable amplifier with Whiplash Hybrid V3 LOD
     

    Specification:

    Transducer size
    40mm
    Frequency response
    15Hz - 25KHz
    Sensitivity
    103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
    Impedance
    32Ohm
    Rated input power
    30mW
    Maximum input power
    50mW
    Cable make and material
    Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
    Plug
    3.5mm gold plated
    Weight
    260 gr (9.2 ounces) without cables
    Ear-cups
    Walnut wood


    For more insight and info please visit here>>> Meze - 99 Classics
     
    The review model is Walnut with Gold finish.  
    2 other finish versions available: Walnut & Silver / Maple wood finish with silver.
     

    My Meze story…

     
    It all started for me when I was browsing Head-fi as usual a few months back and noticed the banner on the side of the page and noticed a uniquely different striking looking pair of headphones I had not seen before to the norm with the lovely wooden cup and gold accented metal which is cast zinc had me intrigued and thinking to myself these must be a £1K headphone just by the just on looks alone so headed on over to their website to have a look and was surprised to see the price was only 309 Euros.
     
    I thought nothing of it after that hoping one day I might get to listen to these at a show or I bumped into another Head-fier who might own them to have a listen then I noticed the Meze tour and thought to myself I could not turn down the chance to listen to these for seven days and here is where I have to say thanks to Meze for letting me listen to these 99 Classics in the bliss of my own home for several days so finally my turn has arrived to have these unique looking beautiful headphones, but do they sound as good as they look?
    Before I start on the sound of these without too much teasing I will firstly start from the beginning with the Ergonomics and design….
     

    Ergonomics & Design

    (Please scroll down to “99 Classic sounds” for review on how they sound)
     
    Firstly you are presented with a nice sturdy high finish printed box with which opens up like a book to reveal the EVA moulded hard case for storage & travel which protects the 99 Classics. This case is the start of the eye to detail that you see Meze apply to the headphones with the case been contoured as low profile as possible so the case is relatively bulk free for when in transportation anywhere. It has a double zipped entry and a nice loop hook for hanging the case. 
     
    Once open you will find the Meze sitting there in the velour glove like protection of the EVA moulded hard case with the cables and accessories stored in a clever round soft case which has zip up closure.  I wish more headphone company’s had this rather common sense approach with eye to detail with thought given to how best to store the cables and plugs and the accessory case sits nicely in the gap between the headband and ear cups. 
     
    In the accessories bag they have supplied two cables, both copper OFC Kevlar cable one with a shorter run which has a remote/microphone cable for use with both Android and Apple phones as well as any other dap that has a 3.5 jack is 1.2 Metre in length and and has play/ stop button which doubles up as next and previous track and phone / end call buttons.
     
    The other cable is a generous 3 Metre length for use at home and then they complete the accessories set with a Gold plated 6.3mm jack adaptor plug and Aeroplane adaptor plug. The Headphone drivers are symmetrical which means the left and right is in the headphone is determined by the L & R marked 3.5 mono jack plugs which are easy to hook up for listening.
     
    Also the left hand cable jack input has a raised ridge to differentiate it from the right cable so can be identified without having to look for the marked L & R symbols which is another simple yet nice touch.
    The Classic headphones are light to hold in the hand and are not big as conventional full size headphones making these ideal for travelling especially been closed back headphones although I know for hardcore commuters there is no foldable design or swivel on the cups to make them more compact for storage when travelling which for me would take away from the overall design and implementation of the build on these headphones.
     
    First thing I noticed was how light they feel on the head and this is helped I think by the way the headband is also designed with a simple yet clever and effective way the adjustment works. The PU leather headband is fairly thick and nice soft and supple which contributes to the non-fatiguing fit for listening sessions.
    It’s the least fiddling I’ve had to do with headbands for quite a while which becomes bit of a god send, like I say it is the eye for detail for the simple little things that having been taken into the design aspect of these 99 classic’s that makes you start to warm to them before you even put them on.
     
    The ear pads themselves are also a PU leather which have a memory foam inside and for me my ears just fit inside the cups but for some of you who have bigger lobes (like my father who tried them on) may find these become more a case of “on ears” instead of “over the ears” pair of headphones. I will come back to the pads a bit more in the “99 Classic sound” section…
     
    Everything on this headphone is meant to be serviceable in the long term and used no glue, just nuts and bolts so if anything was to go at some stage down the road it can be replaced although hopefully by the feel and look of the way these have been designed they should last a long time unless you are a professional rock star who likes to throw them around in room destroying tantrums then they should be okay.
     
     
     
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    So how do the 99 Classics sound?….
     
    I am by nature someone that is mid centric with my listening taste and is the first thing I make sure this is the first stop in hearing the music if my ears like this area making sure it is not recessed at all but I am not adverse to a signature that delivers a bass happy signature as I do own the JH16pros as my custom iem’s which are tuned to something like +6 db if I remember rightly and then I have the Sony 7520’s which although not obvious with their bass authority do have some bellows on them in the lows after owning the too bass light EU version of the ZX1000 Sony made which was essentially the same headphone with edgy treble and very light bass response.
     
    Then last year have been listening too a lot of top end open backs after longing for a nice pair of high end pair of cans I finally purchased a pair of Grado GS1000e’s which I love and adore and if I had the money could imagine two or three more flagship open backs I would love to own and have also still been keeping my ears on the pulse with mid-price cans like the Beyer T90’s which I was really surprised with last year how good they were for the money so with looks and the cost box been ticked already on these Meze Classics would the sound match its design & build or was it going to be a shallow listening experience with just a pretty pretentious pair of headphones trying to just shift numbers on its designer looks?
     
    Please roll up finally for sounds from another galaxy far-far away, Well Romania to be precise for design and manufactured in China.
     
     
     

    99 Classic sound impressions

     
    First thing I had to try these with was to see if my Sony ZX1 would be enough too drive them as I’ve had a few apparently efficient headphones the ZX1 has struggled with (including my Sony 7520’s) to get the optimum from them so wanted to know if it would be enough to drive the 99 Classics 32 ohms and thankfully they also did not just drive them with ease and effort they still had plenty left on the volume scale if needed so was nice to know they could pair with my ZX1 if I needed to use this for a trip somewhere with just my Walkman without my Hugo or Pure amp.
     
    First thing I noticed before getting into the nitty gritty details on the sound is once I had these on I noticed the cable does suffer from micro phonics, although I personally use them just sitting in my armchair I detect this were also designed to be used mobile given their size, isolation and remote cable supplied so could be an issue for the Meze commuter out there who would want to use them on the go.  I personally love the feel and flexibility of the cable despite its micro phonics but the only other sticking point for me at the same time with this cable is it does tend to get tangled up a bit too easy and the 3 metre cable can be a separate game of un-ravel the snake before you get to have a listening session. 
     
    Back to how this sounds, first thoughts were WOW! The bass immediately stands out when playing these on my ZX1 and you know from the word go you will not be lacking any bass from these headphones ever!  Meze state they are naturally balanced sound with no artificial tweaking but you cannot help but feel these are bass tuned driven from the front line with their signature and does set the stall out for these as been a fun and exciting sounding headphone yet after a few tracks I was starting to notice there was more to them than just been a bass hungry headphone which my fears are when you get a headphone with plenty of bass is; does this mean the mids are recessed or does it bleed into the mids at all but luckily the mids are pretty balanced.
     
     
     

    The Meze Bass

     
    What makes these different? Well the more I was listening to these although predominantly they feel like they are on a soul driven bass carpet ride - the bass on these is not just quantity here, bass = quality also on the 99 Classics and has plenty of layers and tonal balance to the bass makes these feel quite life like with plenty of punch and control and can easily differentiate the mid to low bass notes and can be subtle or brutal in their impact especially the sub bass kick it is capable of as the Classics with any recording will engage that into the delivery of what you hear. 
     
    When hooked up to the Hugo or Mojo the bass only gets better as it tightens up even more and becomes focused and even more controlled with even more detail nuances to be heard in the bass notes is what actually makes or breaks these headphones as there are plenty of headphones that can do bass but not with the level of detail, tonality and timbre which feels at home with almost any genre I throw at it.
     
    It’s not totally perfect as there are some songs where it can sound just a tad over cooked with the low bass notes making it sound bloated, this is a hit and miss thing I encountered which seemed to happen with some good recordings as well as the more average ones so could just be a mix of the generous Meze bass colliding with the way it is mixed on that particular recording for whatever reason beyond my technical knowledge in the sound engineering department...
     
    For the most part for someone that has been listening to a lot of open back headphones with a more neutral tuned bass in the last year I found these really addictive as it has an uncanny knack of just sounding quite natural to listen too musically rather than analytical listening sense although it is the ability they have to be analytical enough with details which is mixing well in the warm exciting dynamic fun melting pot with this seductive bass signature which is also in part to the rest of how Meze have built the building blocks of how this sounds overall has a sense of cohesion to everything. 
     
    After all it’s okay having a great bass presence which actually has quality as well as quantity but what about how it co- exists with the rest of the sound on these 99 Classics?...
     
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    The Meze Mids
     
    The one thing I started to notice after a few tracks is that the Classics were not just a one trick pony with just been all about the bass as the more I listened the more it became apparent that what I was hearing with the amount of detail in the bass I was hearing across the mids on this headphone and even started to notice nuances in details on recordings I had heard a hundred times over down the years actually sounding different even after hearing those songs on some more expensive headphones in the last couple of years. It was like they had somehow paved a way in the mids for the little details in recordings to stand out quite distinctively on their own.
     
    The mids in general have a good balance of been evident without been to aggressive or forward with a hump to them or recessed and sound clear with an ability for good timing, rhythm & speed which never makes a song slouchy or slow. 
     
     It did make me start to wonder how they were doing this as I thought I had heard it all before until now considering how much these classics are priced at so somehow they are finding a way for the detail to shine through that you will sit up and notice when listening.
     
    The soundstage quite wide for a closed back considering it’s small cup size also and it is this soundstage with the excellent stereo imaging which gives these headphones a sense of 3D sound with plenty of depth and height which is contradictive to the small cup design appearance from the outside then putting them on is like taking a step inside the Tardis!
     
    These are well insulated closed backs but have to say the imaging is done really well and placement of instruments still have plenty of space around each other and has a very clear presentation which I think lends to the micro details coming through in the mids really well, so well I am trying to work out how I have not heard some of this detail on more expensive cans in last couple of years in the way Meze have managed to do it. 
     
    Vocals are clear and focused in the centre and well placed to rest of the soundstage, like the mids they are not recessed and can clearly hear the lead singer at all times and female or male vocals sound equally as good with a fragile/ tender or powerhouse vocalist sounding just as impressive. 
     
    The mids also have a good sense of speed, rhythm and timing for a dynamic driver and seem to keep up easy with fast music and the more I listened to my vast eclectic library of Flac & WAV files the more I noticed these are suited to any music even classical as the classics portray very good sense of depth and height which the dynamics of the bass range helps give that sense of feeling with recordings. 
     
     
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    The Meze Treble

     
    One thing I did worry about initially was the treble which is smooth as butter at times as the highs were not harsh or edgy (which is always my biggest worry with a headphone or iem) nor forward started to think they may have been a bit lost in the balance of the mids and the powerhouse bass but with more songs that went by started to notice it was there but is evenly spread in the mix with complex songs with a lot happening but with something like acoustic music or more easy going music you can hear the top end very easily with a precision to the ringing echoes in micro details of hi-hats and symbols been struck and with very good recordings can portray an uncannily very realistic sounding treble note with Hi Hats & symbols.
     
    Finger picking of acoustic guitars or sliding the fret board started to re assure me the treble can have a nice extension giving it the lively enough feel a treble still needs all though always though it doesn’t feel like the most forward of sounding treble sounding headphones it is there and with a refined smooth quality. 
     
    With a few straight days under my belt now although you know these are a headphone with a sense of bass on tap in its spades it has a nice balance although not a neutral one with a warmth to its signature and nice natural timbres with anything it plays as even Piano’s do not sound artificial so far but drums and guitar do stand out with this Meze yet it sounds on the most part clear and precise in its execution and delivery and have never heard them sound like they want to distort during music that is hectic, loud and fast and I have been known to listen to my stuff on the louder side of the moon to some out there although not to points of distortion to the ears with treble losing it composure and making the ears bleed. 
     
    I usually do spout about different songs and artist I have heard along the way when listening as references but with just listening too so much across a broad range over last few days (as it’s been that addictive) suggests I actually am enjoying and liking these more than I thought I ever would.
     
    Last few days of repeated listening to some artist as they sound so good on the Meze like I’ve heard guitars from Rodrigo & Gabriel which is very well suited with the way the hand slapping on the guitars comes through with a resonating wooden echo on the bass which I guess is complimented by it actually coming from a wooden cup driver in the 99 Classics.
     
    Fine guitarist such as Antonio Forcione, Lee Ritenour, Kaki King, Joe Bonamassa sound great with good realistic string tones with good speed & decay and just perfect leading and trailing edges to notes with plenty of micro detail in the picking of each string been played with the likes of  AC-DC, Muse, Foo fighters or Pink Floyd have that fluid speed, power and drive that makes electric rock guitars come to life.
     
    Where the quality meets depth and slam with clarity on the Meze and can hear how life like the bass is with Imelda May albums with the string bass really hitting through the floor and another great recording with Imelda’s albums as there can be many instruments and harmony’s on top of each other when one of their songs is in top flight but every one of her band can be heard with ease due to the sense of space and soundstage the Meze lends to this good recording.
     
    One of my favourite bands Fleetwood Mac rocks with the drive of Mick Fleetwoods signature drumming with the lower mids of Mcvie’s bass guitar sounding multi toned notes with good reverb and meat to the strings and Lindsey’s upper mid guitar sounds pin point without been overly sharp and the harmonys of the group are layered on imaginary clouds and correctly placed in the soundstage and re-living Rumours or Tusk remastered with the added studio outtakes & alternative versions of the album songs are meant for these Meze headphones as the 99 Classic 40mm drivers compliment that already rich punchy layered bass and laid back blues sounds Fleety Mac excel at time and time again.
     
    Moving away from my world of Rock genres Dance music really has a kick and slam and this really is how you know how much bass these can throw at you as dance tracks like Sia with her last two albums 1000 Forms of fear & This is acting have bass lines that gradually work their way down to the basement or just a sudden explosion of bass impact like a subwoofer can really emphasis Sia’s vocals which are powerful in their own right but the Classics bring her voice to life with a very energized and clear engagement that is right at the front of the stage. I think I had goose bumps listening to Sia with a few of her songs on the Meze.
     
    … Zola Jesus, Leftfield, Rob D or Daft Punk’s Tron OST has dimension and impact depth, power, height and control with sounding and feeling (yes, feeling) like a real club like Jamo or JBL bass through these CNC & hand crafted wooden cups as it resonates which some might not like but I happen to love it as long as the actual tonality and realism of the bass sounds correct to the relevant song.
     
    This is also why live music really excels on the 99 Classics and really takes you to another place with that vast soundstage with the recordings actually making the Meze soundstage sound bigger than it usually does with studio recordings yet Fleetwood Mac – The Dance Live is where the Meze bass is at home as it makes the drum kicks just like they sound live as the drum sound travels around you as it pans out from Micks centre point on stage and the frequent use of chimes, symbols, hi-hats show how capable it can handle the treble as good as it does in the mids and bass on this album.
    Stevie Nicks “Soundstage sessions” Live another example of this with her gritty V10 powered blues tilt into rock driven vocals.
     
    Cream live at Royal Albert Hall especially the ten minute drumming showcase song “Toad” is exceptional to listen to on the 99 Classics and captures the spectrum of frequency ranges and instruments been played whilst capturing the feeling of actually been there with the soundstage presence of width and distance with the crowd in the background. 
     
    I am quite a sucker for female vocalist including Stevie Nicks as already mentioned but listening to female artist like Nina Simone, Sia, Birdy, Tori Amos, Ellie Goulding, Lissie or Florence & the Machines big sound all take control and the addictive bass presence with good textured mids takes a back seat whilst you become transfixed to the focus the 99 Classics vocals manage to capture with the sense of raw emotion and placement with timing and tonal rendering of the vocal pallet feel and sound real enough to captivate and belief allowing me to lose myself in the music. 
     
    Kate Bush - Aerial  is another very well recorded album although there are some oddity tracks on these two cd’s which really exemplifies the spaces and airiness of this album which makes even the obscure tracks on here interesting too.
     
     Tori Amos Crucify & Under the Pink remastered it really shows what the 99 Classics can do with recordings that are mastered really well and can perform on a level of reference listening in terms of detail and natural feel of music that connects when you listen to these which let you just enjoy rather than analyse the music so must be something about how they have struck a balance despite the uncanny ability to be one of the really bass pronounced sounding pair of headphones I’ve heard for a while but it’s how it handles the mid bass and sub bass with distinction of tonal accuracy and timbre reality has helped me relive these remasters of Tori Amos like the first time I ever heard them.
     
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    Despite these been a warmer sounding pair of cans with that Meze sound classical music is really suited to the 99 classics also because although warmish it has the clarity room to breathe with detail to still make symphony’s like Mahler No.5 have authority yet a spatialness and air without It becoming trapped or muffled in the horn section when during the lively passages and the higher than average detail for the price tier can be heard during the quite passages in the background gives the sense of how big the venue is with sound reverb from various movements of sounds made by people rustling and moving.
     
    Wood kid big wide open power sound with Tracks like Run Boy Run and Iron becoming addictive in the mid-range building layers as the song develops and the sub bass again excels with Woodkid recordings and his crescendo high that builds continuously towards the end of Run Boy Run never loses control even when at a high volume lending to the impact the final section of that song builds up too.
     
    Again there are a few songs that have at times when the Meze shows the tendency to bloat with the bass it can bleed a little to the lower mids and muffle or cancel out the clarity of the song yet with Nina Simone it shows the 99 Classics are capable of the nailing it when it keeps the bass in check rhythm and timing really captivating and the classic song “Sinner Man” on the 99 Classics shows the Meze’s ability to shine with the treble section on a track like this.
     
    The piano seems to flow quite naturally and sounds good when it hits the breakdown section at approx. 8.30mins before the final melee run of all the instruments portrays the piano keys not overblown on the bass note edge and the upper mids to highs of notes the timbre sounds natural enough to me so the warmth of the Meze does not ruin the spacious trebly feel of this song or ruin that mid to high driven rhythm & timing that had me tapping my feet along with this 10 min journey of a song.
     
    The reason I think the 99 Classics is managing to pull at my heart strings is because of the way Meze have made this have a cohesion of sound which although warm and no matter how they say it is tuned it has a more than neutral or studio flat tuned feel bass about it to my ears yet there is a lovely balance to these headphones which is only really set apart from the amount of detail they manage to somehow extract in the right areas at the right moments to compliment the overall exciting bass driven signature.
     
    With all this Meze have managed to really gel this into sounding a *non fatiguing fun & enjoyable yet accurate enough for serious listening headphone at the same time which has left me feeling perplexed in a happy way!?
     
    *denote is for as many hours as they are good to listen to with plenty of listening time with them the PU leather pads can get a bit warm at times so not sure how that would bear for people who it will fit on the ear over a prolonged listening session. 
     
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    Finally what album I find will pretty much try any headphone in all departments in their songs is an old favourite of mine that I almost forgot to try until the 11th hour of having these on loan and have down the years used: Yello – The Race album as one of my demo track cds for auditioning my speaker Hi-Fi seperates and now use in same way in the head-fi world with trying out equipment which I now have the luxury of now days having the much improved remaster version and have to say listening to this really did blow my mind as it was just spot on as if I was hearing this through my B&W floor standing speakers.
     
    The balance between the different frequency’s is very coherent has an amazing sense of speed and clarity in the mids whilst this bass impacts with a sub bass rumble is continuing in the background to the soundtrack of major drum rolling and and the hi-hats resonate just perfectly as they clash repeatedly.
     
     The Race track is a very dynamic track and the Meze is faithful to this and adds that meat to the bone where a lot of neutral headphones will lack in reproducing how this track should sound with a really slick and fast presentation with plenty of dynamics and a proper sub bass feel which makes the most of the soundstage and imaging with the sound of old racing cars panning from side to side.
     
    There are few headphones out of all of them that have managed to capture this album just right like always hearing these track on a pair of big speakers and I can truthfully say I have heard it on only two or three headphones that were two open backs and one closed back costing between £500-£1700 which really done this song justice so was in my element listening to this album again to how the recording is across the spectrum.
     
    The Classics also sounded really competent when I heard trumpets and trombone’s with Trombone Shorty’s “For true” album and the trumpet having a focused centralized point of sound delivery with plenty of body and verve blasting the air with a feel of power which gives a very 3D dynamic feel in listening as if been at a parade in New Orleans which then gave me the bug to listen to more blues music orientated music on these 99 Classics. 
     

    Conclusion

    The 99 Classics have really surprised me after first visually liking these with intrigue through to hearing them finally thanks to the Meze tour coming along.
    Though at first hearing these can predominantly just sound bass accentuated with not much treble end but after listening to this for prolonged period they are more balanced than they appear as my biggest dread is a recessed mid in a headphone so having just the right amount of mids which do not seem to humped or recessed helps build the foundation allowing the really low bass to work on these.
     
    Oh yes that bass, which really would not work if not so much attention had been paid to getting them to sound very detailed with a good sense of accuracy of timbre, speed and space leading to good separation with that BASS and have a good frequency sweep with clarity from the upper mid bass all the way down to the sub bass floor all with a smooth cohesion of dynamics which makes these become addictive despite not all tracks benefitting from this it is few and far between with its warmish tint but not overly warm sound that it becomes a bit fuzzy and sluggish sounded is the quality of detail that is combined and intertwined into this quite inconspicuous fun, rich, dynamic and responsive open sounding closed back cans.
     
    It all adds up to meaning you can just sit back and relax to the music on these and hear a great amount of detail retrieval at this level the Classics are set at without it been over analytical in the detail department that makes these sound good with lesser recordings and sound really great with superior recordings whether Red book or Hi-res tracks so they scale well.
     
    I really think this maybe be the headphone that could ween the bass happy Beats generation onto a headphone that still can do bass but with a natural balance to the order of putting tonality and detail in the music first with a dynamic feel and engagement that has made me rethink that headphones at this price can and maybe still have a place when you own more expensive offerings.
     
    So for that young Beats owner making the jump they might not need to upgrade to the next level for a while before the day comes they feel ready to go flagship level if they ever go that far which then does make me also wonder if Meze can produce this build, design with this sound for this price would and could they do with a bigger budget for a flagship model one day?
     
    Will be keeping my eye on Meze in the future for sure but for now will seriously consider getting one of these later on despite owning the very talented detailed Grados which I love and my current Sony 7520s feel the urge to still have a pair of these for sure which has surprised me as I went into this really thinking they cannot sound good as they look! How wrong I was, sorry Meze, somehow I find myself listening to the 99 Classics happily for hours (when pads do not get to hot) and do have to remind myself I am listening to a pair of headphones that are priced at only 309 euros currently. 
     
    … they may not be totally perfect after all there is room for improvement in some areas the 99 Classics are a lot closer to overall cohesion perfection musically than others at this price point and the few negatives I pointed out would not be a deal breaker for me especially at this price and sure this is a company which will work on those things in time with the amount of attention and effort  they pay putting into the design and build as well as most of it has been a common sense approach with a reasoning behind the design to have a use and not to just look pretty so look forward to the future offerings as I feel Meze could be one to watch grow over time into a bigger player if they can cook up more  headphones like this. 
     
    Although as you can tell by now I am concluding to liking these Meze I will say this with an impartial approach still, if you like your bass in your music you will like these with the added benefit of still sounding fairly balanced still with clarity and more than average detail at this price point with good eye for detail and great thought behind the build. 
     
    But if you are the type of person that likes a more neutral  flatter bass like studio monitoring style reference of bass reproduction or a lighter bass not so much bottom end then you might want to try something else but if you like a real sense of how music is not about analytics in details only and more about emotion and soul with dynamical power and excitement to its signature on tap then these my friend are for you (probably!)
     
    Lastly...  DSC05344.jpg  
    Thank you for the opportunity to have these for seven fast and fun days that opened my eyes once again to how the audio world can still surprise and is evolving at all levels.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. rocketron
      A great and insightful review. Out standing photographic skills. Makes this one of the best reviews I have read on Headfi. Thank you.
      rocketron, Jun 10, 2016
    3. erich6
      Awesome review.  Thanks for taking the time to do this and share with all of us.
      erich6, Nov 26, 2016
    4. FortisFlyer75
      Thanks erich6, It was my pleasure as I found a headphone that really does not have to cost the earth to be good.  I am still enjoying these and won't say it too loud but these get more listening time than my Grado GS1K's!  Funny enough I am doing a review on the classic 12 IEM at the moment so is interesting to compare how they have transferred the 99 sound from a headphone into an IEM...
      FortisFlyer75, Nov 26, 2016
  4. B9Scrambler
    Meze 99 Classics: Amazing!
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Feb 20, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Build quality - Design - Comfort - Energetic and reasonably balanced signature
    Cons - Cloth cables are a tad noisy
     ​

    DSCN0322.jpg

     
    Greetings Head-fi!
     
    The 99 Classics first appeared on my radar when I read @BloodyPenguin's review. Not only did his description of the 99 Classics sound intrigue me, but his images showed off the physical beauty of this amazing headphone. When I laid eyes on the 99 Classics, it was love at first sight.
     
    When I saw that Meze was running a Canadian leg to their 99 Classics tour, it was pretty late in the application process. I'm not sure if it made a difference in @MezeTeam's selection process especially since I'm pretty inexperienced compared to the majority of their selected applicants, but I want to thank @nmatheis for putting in a good word for me.
     
    When Meze contacted me to advise that I would be put on the tour, I was taken aback. This amazing looking pair of headphones would eventually serenade my ears, even if only for a short period. To say that I was stoked was an understatement. The best headphones I've heard/owned to date have been the UE6000, AKG K512 MKii, and my current favorite, the AKG K553 Pro. I was VERY excited to hear how the Meze 99 Classics would compare to these headphones which I have become very familiar with.
     
    Disclaimer: The Meze 99 Classics were sent to me for seven (seemingly very short) days as part of their Canadian tour. I am in no way affiliated with Meze and receive no financial compensation for this review.
     
    A little about me:
     
    While I'm still pretty new to the world of hi-fi portable audio, my love of budget earphones and headphones has allowed me to more-or-less find my preferred signature. Don't think this means that I avoid variety, because that couldn't be further from the truth!
     
    My gear is still pretty basic, consisting of the venerable Topping NX1, HTC One M8, and an Asus G73 laptop with Plantronics Rig USB amp. My current favorite earphone is the JVC HA-FXH30. I primarily listen to EDM (liquid drum and bass ftw), hip hop, and classic rock, but have been known to dabble in metal and jazz. While I enjoy a good sounding product, physical design is also key. If they look boring but sound great, that's cool, but I would like to have something interesting to look that is also great sounding. Since I have such an unnecessarily large collection of headphones and earphones, I spend just as much time listening to them as I do enjoying the variety of designs. Luckily, the 99 Classics had no problems nailing my criteria for beauty in both sound and design. Now, to the fun part.
     
    *****
     
    I flip back the magnetically sealed flap after spending a few moments dissecting the subtle images of the 99 Classics printed on the front and sides of the box. On the inside of the flap I see foam has been glued, preventing the beautifully molded case from being scratched or damaged in any way.
     
    I reach into the box and lift out the hard EVA case. It molds to my hands. The leather texture feels premium to the touch, smooth but not slick. The zippers, thick and durable, fluidly move their way around the case, splitting it in two.
     
    Tilting back the top half of the case I get my first glimpse of the 99 Classics. They look great in pictures, and even better in the flesh. I lift them out and set them to the side, picking up a small velvet case about the thickness of two hockey pucks. Coiled inside I find two cables, one for mobile use, one for home use. Let's set that aside too. Also inside is an airplane adapter and a 6.35mm adapter. Very nice. I zip up the case and return my gaze to the 99 Classics.
     
    Wow, what a glorious looking headphone. My eyes flow from the golden inserts where the cables plug in, across the flawless surface of the wooden ear cups, up to the leather headband that arcs gracefully between the two cups. I could stare at these for hours, but if they sound as good as they look that would be a waste.
     
    I plug the cable into each ear cup, lift the 99 Classics onto my head, and let them rest around my ears. Perfect. The weight distributes across my head flawlessly. My ears fit just inside the ear cups, held snug by the memory foam. Now this is comfort.
     
    So, what to listen to? Some Crystal Method? I don't think so. Rage Against the Machine? Not quite. Tool? That could be nice, but it doesn't feel quite special enough. Oh! I know. Supertramp's Crime of the Century, one of my favorite albums of all time. That's the perfect choice.
     
    I lay down on the couch, lean my head back, close my eyes, and hit 'play'. From the sweet harmonica intro of "School", to the Wurli piano solo in "Bloody Well Right", to the intense journey through jazz, rock, and progressive that is "Rudy", to the closing moments of "Crime of the Century", everything is played without effort. The emotion immaculately portrayed, no detail missed. Bass hits just right. Treble is prominent and sparkles with gusto. Hodgson's voice effortlessly echoes across the soundstage. My smile widens. Let's throw on King Crimson's "Lark's Tongues in Aspic" next...
     
    *****
     
    That was my intro to the 99 Classics, and an experience that carried over to practically every listening session I had with them. Their natural, slightly warm and mostly balanced sound, supreme comfort, and delicious good looks completely won me over. Not since first listening to the AKG K553 Pro, my primary headphone, was I so pleased.
     
    Sound Impressions:
     
    Since the K553 Pro was the best headphone I'd heard to date, it was only natural that this review compare the two. Prior to the 99 Classics crossing my path, the K553 Pro met pretty much all my needs. At times I felt they could be a little bright and their sub-bass presentation leaves a bit to be desired since they roll off early, but they offer up lots of detail with clean, smooth mids. As long as you avoid unnecessarily high volume listening, the AKG K553 Pro can be a very pleasant listen.
     
    To my surprise I found the 99 Classics and K553 Pro similar in many aspects, though they did differ in some important criteria, those being the areas where I had issues with the AKG. Treble provided just enough shimmer along with lots of detail, and never approached discomfort or sibilance. The 99 Classics don't have quite the same extension as the K553 Pro, but they never felt like they were lacking in any way. Mids were just as clean and clear, handling anything I tossed at them with aplomb. I particularly enjoyed them with male vocals and the lengthy guitar solos you find in many classic rock tracks. Sub-bass met the needs that my AKG K553 Pro fails to address. The 99 Classics have just the right amount of extension and rumble to work with all of my favorite music, something the K553 misses the mark on. Mid-bass is punchy and reasonably quick, never bleeding into the mids. I enjoy the snappy sound of the K553 Pro, but the 99 Classics retains most of that energy while being easier on the ears and more versatile across a variety of genres. I'll chalk that up to their additional warmth and slightly more relaxed treble presentation.
     
    Listening to all my favorite tracks again and again was nothing but pleasant, and there really wasn't anything about the 99 Classics that I disliked. They're just a darn good headphone. Every listen was an event, from the time I picked them up to examine their curvaceous design and flawless construction, to the last note played before they were returned to their case.
     
    If I were to make any suggestions for improvements, it would have to go to the cables. They look beautiful and feel wonderful, but being cloth-covered meant they could be a bit noisy, and will likely be subject to fraying down the road. Still, this is a VERY minor issue in my opinion, and is pretty much negligible.
     
    I can't say much on isolation since they were used only indoors in a relatively quite environment (no way I'm taking a loaner outside!!). That said, they were able to adequately block my lovely fiancee's music and videos, so there's something.
     
    Summary:
     
    The 99 Classics are my favorite audio device, hands down. The unboxing experience leaves nothing to be desired. Simple but effective. The accessories are of high quality. The headphones themselves are drop dead gorgeous. All that backed by amazing sound quality means the 99 Classics are just a stunningly good piece and worth every penny.
     
    Thank you @MezeTeam for giving me the opportunity to try these out, and for exposing me to my new favorite headphone. I'm excited to see what you have in store for us later this year. If you ever run another Canadian tour, I'll be the first to sign up!
     
    Thanks for reading!
     
    - B9Scrambler
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Bansaku
      Great review!
      Bansaku, Feb 21, 2016
    3. jinxy245
      Very nice review...I enjoyed the description of your aural journey.
      jinxy245, Feb 21, 2016
    4. B9Scrambler
      Thanks guys! I found the soundstage on the K553 slightly larger. For a closed back they're pretty spacious. The 99 Classics have a pretty average soundstage in my opinion. Still, it works well with their signature so no complaints here.
      B9Scrambler, Feb 22, 2016
  5. SoundApprentice
    The 99 Classics’ organic and natural sound is truly special.
    Written by SoundApprentice
    Published Oct 29, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Warm and immersive sound. Excellent attention to details in build and design.
    Cons - Narrow ear pads can cause discomfort

    [​IMG]

    WOOD IS GOOD



     ​
     ​
    “Are those new? They look stylish.” “New headphones? They’re spiffy.” “Ooo, I love those.” I can’t make this stuff up folks. There’s been no shortage of compliments since donning the Meze 99 Classics headphone at my office. Yes, you read that right. Sometimes part of my reviewing process includes testing products from the cubicle of my nine-to-five. Music plays a big part in getting me through the workday—drowning out the chatter of my office mates is also an excellent test. But let’s get back to those compliments. When the look of your headphones catches the eyes of non-audiophiles, as in nearly 60-year-old finance guys and Gen X women, you know you’ve done something unique. That uniqueness is what’s helping put Romania’s Meze Headphones on the audiophile map.

    Successfully spurred ahead by an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in late 2015, Meze Headphones has been running at full speed since launching the Meze 99 Classics, a gorgeous closed-back wooden headphone that, simply put, sounds as unique as it looks.

     

    First Look


    “Silver and gold, silver and gold. Ev'ryone wishes for silver and gold. How do you measure its worth? Just by the pleasure it gives here on earth.” Burl Ives certainly didn’t have headphones in mind when he wrote these lyrics for the 1964 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special (guilty pleasure; it’s a childhood favorite), but that song popped in my head the moment I saw the 99 in its gold and silver variants. Pleasurable indeed. The 99 is a prime example of #audioporn.

    Silver and gold. Black and silver. Walnut and maple. With rich, luxurious finishes—and a $309 price tag—there’s nothing subtle about the 99. It’s eye-catching, it’s elegant, and it’s one of the most aesthetically intriguing headphones I’ve used. From the box, to the cast hardware, to the sustainably sourced wood, Meze Headphones founder and designer Antonio Meze clearly aimed to make the 99 a statement piece. The result is a headphone that’s robust and relentlessly refined—and also surprisingly lightweight (260g). Of the wood headphones I’ve owned, including premium Grado and ZMF models, the precision CNC-cut and hand-finished cups of the 99 stand out. Their satin finish and flawless grain is simply lovely. As a former percussionist that once had an affinity for raw maple snare drums, the silver and maple 99 makes my heart skip a beat.

    Meze’s attention to detail doesn’t stop at the headphone itself. The 99 comes with a custom hard zippered travel case, gold-plated 6.3mm (1/4”) and airplane jack adapters, and two cables with a zippered felt storage pouch—a 1.2m portable cable with inline mic and remote and a 3m cable for your home listening room. Manufacturers often cut corners on cables, but Meze delivers a color-matched Kevlar-reinforced OFC cable that’s as refined from end to end as the rest of the 99.

    All this attention to detail is all well and good, but does the 99 sound good too?

     

    First Listen


    While the 99’s look is sharp and elegant, its sound is warm and inviting. And did I mention unique?

    The 99 positions you as a backstage VIP, center stage, behind the curtain. Behind the curtain? Don’t let that statement be a turn off. What I mean is that the 99 is intimate in its presentation. The closed-back cups make for an up close and personal listening experience that leaves the music floating just a few inches around your head while the 99’s sonic subtleties draw you in, its warmth envelopes your ears, and its dark balance allows for listening well into the night.

    The 99 has what I will call “well-rounded sound.” From its deep sub-bass, to its darker than expected treble, the 99 offers a smooth sliding scale of sound that seduces your ears. There’s not a hint of sharpness, sibilance or roughness, well, anywhere. The bass is boastful, perhaps a bit overzealous at times, but not what I would consider boomy. The mid-range is balanced, warm and robust. The healthy highs roll off in a nicely relaxed manner that, somehow, still sounds acoustically realistic. Revealing? Reference? Maybe not so much—the 99 seems too polite for those terms. But when you settle in and start listening to the music instead of listening to the headphone itself, the 99 becomes incredibly immersing.

    When I say that the 99 places you behind the curtain, I realize that implies that it sounds veiled. I hesitate to use that term as it’s so often used in a negative or derogatory way in audio reviews. What I mean is that the 99 has a natural softness to it; it has all the instrument details, all the tonality, and all the accuracy that you could ask for, yet it’s all done so… soothingly—the 99 forces nothing on you; it’s never harsh or in your face; it’s well-controlled, almost as if it’s mimicking the recording session in the dampened studio.

    For example, I expected the maple cups to give the 99 some bite—maple is usually a brighter sounding and resonant wood—but there’s no aggressiveness in the sonic signature of the 99. Time and time again it’s just smooth, smooth, smooth. The major perk here is that the 99 is a savior of ****ty sound. It easily tames the sizzle of hot recordings and poor playback devices. In fact, it plays well with every music genre I threw at it—Bjork, Lucy Rose, The Cinematic Orchestra, John Butler, Glass Animals, Ambient Jazz Ensemble, etc., etc.—and it plays well with damn near every device, too.

    With a rated sensitivity of 103 dB at 1 kHz/1 mW and 32-ohm impedance, the 99’s 40mm dynamic neodymium/Mylar transducers are so easy to drive that even the most basic smartphones, iPods and DAPs will push them to deafening levels. With that said, I found that amping the 99 made minimal differences performance-wise. I’m used to headphones performing vastly different from amp to amp, but that just wasn’t the case this time around, and I think that’ll be a welcomed trait by anyone looking for hi-fi sound without the desire to acquire other hi-fi devices. While there’s simply no denying that better quality amps and DACs produce better sound, the 99 lets you hear the gear for what it is while its own sonic signature stays pretty damn consistent. My only recommendation on gear is to skip pairing it with a high current amp because you will hear some current noise and background hiss.

    The most challenging part of reviewing the 99 is comparing it to other headphones. The 99 is so unique to my ears that quick comparisons to other staple headphones simply don’t do it justice. For instance, I commonly switch between headphones multiple times during a single track and replay certain parts with each one to do more critical comparisons. While I tried that with the 99, I found that it really ruined the experience. To really hear what the 99 does you need to spend time with it. But I know that most in this hobby are quick to judge and demand X versus Y comparisons. So here are a few things that I noticed when comparing the 99 to some other popular headphones.

     

    The Comparisons


    Meze 99 Classics vs. Shure SRH840 and SRH1540: Closed-back. Darkish. Descending highs. I fully expected the 99 to sound very similar to the Shure headphones that I’ve recommended so frequently. I was wrong. The 99 bested my daily drivers in many ways. The 99’s bass extends deeper and hits a bit harder—more oomph if you will. Both the Shure SRH840 (review) and SRH1540 (review), in comparison, seem to be a bit more controlled and punchy, but only at higher frequency ranges. The 99 is clearly fuller sounding when you get into bass-heavy tracks—take Bjork’s “Hyberballad” for instance. The 99’s mids are also smoother and more linear, albeit more relaxed. Mid-range is Shure’s sweet spot, but compared to the 99, both Shure offerings push the mids more aggressively into your ears. This makes vocalists sound more forward and in your face, and while I like this with some tracks, on others I prefer the 99’s subtler approach. While the pushed mids also help with instrument separation and atmospheric space compared to the more intimate and closed-in sounding 99, it introduces some roughness and grain. As for the highs, the 99’s are even more rolled off and relaxed than either of the Shure headphones mentioned. Simply put, the Shures have far more zing in the treble region. I found the SRH840 and SRH1540 to both be more revealing of micro details than the 99, but this comes at the expense of slightly sharper highs, occasional sibilance and increased graininess (mostly with poor recordings). The easiest way to put it is that the 99 sounds far more organic and natural than either Shure. Surprising indeed.

    Meze 99 Classics vs. Sennheiser HD650: The HD650 is a staple in the headphone community, so it only makes sense to offer a brief comparison. Much of what I said above about the Shures actually also rings true for the HD650 comparison. Further, the HD650 is simply a very different headphone from the 99; it’s mid-centric, open-back and much more picky with amps. But if you have an amp that’ll drive the HD650 and 99 equally, you’ll find that the HD650 again lacks the smoothness of the 99. The HD650 also can’t touch the 99’s deep bass lines. In fact, the 99 manages to make the “lush” HD650 sound surprisingly thin. What the HD650 offers, however, is more attack, a far wider and more three-dimensional sound stage, and better instrument separation than what the 99’s closed-back design can muster. Overall, the 99 is more versatile; it’s a headphone that anyone can listen to regardless of musical preference whereas the HD650 excels with only certain genres and certain amplifiers. I won’t say that one is better than the other because they’re just too different in all intents and purposes.

    Meze 99 Classics vs. ZMF Headphones The Omni: I don’t have The Omni (review) currently on-hand to do a direct comparison anymore, but from recent memory, the 99 sounds more like the ZMF Headphones offering than any of the others mentioned. Both the 99 and The Omni excel at being smooth operators. The Omni most definitely moves more air and has harder hitting and more emphasized bass; it also has slightly more upper-mid presence, sounds a touch more spacious due to the semi-open design, and has a bit more treble pop. But tonally, they both favor what I consider to be a thicker and darker sound, a more intimate sound stage, and both stray far, far away from being harsh or sibilant. If you like the ZMF Headphones house sound, the 99 might be a nice choice for your portable headphone needs.

     

    The Caveat


    If I could change one thing about the 99, it would be the ear pads—they’re simply too damn shallow. Give my ears some room to breathe, Meze! Seriously though, I have an issue with ear pads that touch the lobe and helix of my ears—especially during long listening sessions. I appreciate the sleek styling of the headphone itself, but the slim medium-density foam ear pads compress to the point that my ears press against the liners covering the driver housings. Their circumference also feels a bit cramped, as if they were stuck somewhere between being a large on-ear and narrow around-the-ear design. Are my ears too big? Do they stick out too far? I don’t think so, but your results may vary. The supple synthetic leather can also get a touch toasty, but perhaps that’s nitpicking.

    Nevertheless, I have a theory that the 99 could benefit from a roomier, deeper and angled genuine leather ear pad. First, I think comfort would drastically increase. Second, a deep angled pad (think ZMF or Brainwavz ear pads) would move the driver away from the ear, which should help to open up the sound stage and treble clarity just a touch. If that proves true, the 99 would be supremely comfortable and incredibly balanced sounding. In other words, it would be very hard to best, in my opinion.

    Ear pads aside, the 99 is incredibly comfortable. I find the elastic suspension strap to be better fitting than similarly designed AKGs or the Audioquest Nighthawk, and the clamping force and weight is comparable to the Sennheiser HD650, which I have no problem wearing for hours at a time.

     

    Final Word


    Do a quick Google search for audiophile headphones and the top results will include the likes of Audeze and Sennheiser, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Meze Headphones soon sits among the top ranks. The 99 Classics’ organic and natural sound is truly special. It’s admittedly relaxed at first listen, but as soon as you stop thinking about what you might be missing, you’ll start hearing just how immersive it is. The 99 Classics is without a doubt a hi-fi headphone worth experiencing. Meze’s aim is for perfection, and while I won’t claim that the 99 Classics is the be-all and end-all headphone for everyone, its performance most certainly sets you on the path towards Audio Nirvana.

    Here’s to hoping Meze Headphones forgets to ask for my review unit back.

      Dreddguy, Halam, rafaelo and 2 others like this.
  6. Bansaku
    A Timeless Classic
    Written by Bansaku
    Published Feb 25, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Beautiful design, intimate and engaging smooth sound, excellent detail and resolve
    Cons - Ear pads could be deeper
    Intro
     
        Meze Headphones is a company with a simple philosophy;  Motivation, Values, People. With a passion for art and music, achieved through patience and dedication, Meze design timeless masterpieces. Ignoring current trends that come and go with the seasons, influenced by none, they create headphones as if for themselves. Consisting of passionate specialists, with backgrounds in sound engineering, design, crafting, and music, the team has stood by their company’s values since the beginning.
     
        My first experience with Meze Headphones was shortly after the release of their 88 Classics. A couple years back my travels took me to a “men’s den” gift shop. The first thing I noticed upon entering the store, nestled between a rare Italian marble chess board with dragon forged obsidian pieces and a diamond crusted Zippo lighter made from platinum and unobtanium, was a gorgeous and unique looking headphone hanging on a stand behind a locked glass display case.  I had recently watched several glowing reviews of the 88 Classics from my tech-news sites, so I walked away disappointed to not be able to demo them. (For the record, I did ask.) 
     
        To celebrate the launch of the 99 Classics, Meze set up a North American review tour exclusive to Head-fi. Needless to say, I jumped on the opportunity and was one of the first responders. To my pleasant surprise, I was chosen for one of the spots in the Canadian leg of the tour! However, my good fortune was about to take a turn for the better. Taking second place in iFi’s iCAN micro SE Intergalactic launch competition, I won myself my very own pair of 99 Classics!  This is awesome as I would have been very very sad to have to send off the review pair to the next tour member after only one week of use.
     
    fulltilt.jpg
     
     
    Disclaimer
     
        This is the tricky part, and I had to think a lot on how to go about this review. While I am part of the Canadian tour and obligated to write an honest review of the 99 Classics, I do own them personally. After much thought, I decided why does it matter? The fact is, I absolutely love the 99 Classics design and their sound. Review sample or not, in the end my words will be honest and objective, nothing more. 
     
     
    About Me
        
        37 years old, I grew up in a family consisting of musicians, broadcaster/sound engineers, and amateur DJs, I always had a deep appreciation and understanding of both music and sound. I was further educated in this self interest after taking courses in both electronics and sound (Electro-Acousto aka The Path to Golden Ears). While I believe a listener’s preference in sound is subjective, the science behind it is not. I am not swayed by buzzwords, hype, trends, brand recognition, or big numbers on charts; I am the nemesis of the commissioned salesperson. Opinionated as I am, my words are not only objective but honest. I view all criticism as constructive, as long as it is sincere. 
     
    Specifications
     
    1. Transducer size: 40mm
    2. Transducer Type: Dynamic Neodymium / Mylar
    3. Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz
    4. Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
    5. Impedance: 32Ohm
    6. Rated input power: 30mW
    7. Maximum input power: 50mW
    8. Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
    9. Plug: 3.5mm gold plated
    10. Ear-cups: walnut wood
     
    Accessories
     
    1. 1.2m OFC cable with 1-button control talk module
    2. 3m OFC cable
    3. Airplane adapter
    4. 6.35mm adapter
    5. Cable pouch
    6. Headphone travel case
    7. Manual/Stickers
     
    box.jpg   case.jpg   logo.jpg
     
    For more information and nice eye candy, head over to the 99 Classics website.
    To read up on general discussion and impressions, check out the official thread here.
     
    Design & Ergonomics 
     
        Each pair of 99 Classics takes about 45 days to perfect, and it shows. Taking 18 months to cure before being CNC carved, each walnut ear cup has it’s own unique grain with no two cups looking alike. The metal hardware is a cast zinc alloy with electroplated coating, and are fastened to the spring steel headband with screws and nuts; There is zero adhesives and plastics used in their construction!  Both the memory foam ear pads and the headband are made of a soft polyurethane leather.
     
    front.jpg   band.jpg   side.jpg
     
        Despite the use of wood and metal in the 99 Classics’ design, the headphones are incredibly light, weighing in at 290 grams. Thanks to the extra wide headband and the double-wishbone style of the spring, wearing the 99 Classics feel almost weightless; The headband extends to a perfect fit every time. Clamping force is extremely tolerable, with very little discomfort coming from the ear pads. This combination of design features ensures for long term wearability. I would like to note that while personally I find the ear pads to be both wide and deep enough for my ears, some might find the fit to be on the small side. Meze has taken the initiative based off from reviewer feedback and are working on slightly larger/deeper ear pad design. Overall though, the pads do offer pretty good sound isolation from the outside world yet offer virtually 100% sound leakage at moderate to high volume.
     
    right.jpg   left.jpg   cup.jpg
     
        In regards to the included cables, Meze did not overlook their appearance and design. The detachable cloth sleeved cables are of the Y-design, meaning that the left and right channels connectors are separate. I have to commend Meze for using this connection method as I am not fond of the single insert cables. With no cable running through the headband, not only is there less microphonic noise, but less potential for channel imbalance due to unequal cable lengths, all while making the 99 Classics more user serviceable. All three of the 3.5mm plugs, as well as the Y-split have gold and black metal housings featuring seamless rubber stress reliefs. There is some microphonic noise when the cable is rubbed after the Y-split, but it is not too bothersome. I do have to give mention to the control-talk module as well. It's design is quite functional with an easy to locate rubber button that gives the user tactile feedback when pressed; You will never wonder if you are depressing it enough or not. I would also like to add that clicking the button once activates play/pause/answer, twice is to skip to the next track, and three times for previous track. Unlike most single button control talk units I have used in the past, I have yet to experience an instance where the 99 Classics' control talk button failed to register my click. Bravo! However, I do have one minor gripe. If I had to make a suggestion, the unit should be lower down on the cable to avoid inaccessibility when wearing collared outerwear. Inside while at my desk or on the couch, it's not an issue.
     
      y.jpg   ct.jpg   plugs.jpg
     
    *Pictures taken by me using my iPod Touch 
     
    First Impressions
     
        Inside and out, Meze presented me with a product that radiated elegance! The outside of the box is stunning; Against a matte black background with the words “Meze 99 Classics Gold, Designed by Antonio Meze” in gold, the embossed glossy outline of the 99 Classics could be seen. Upon opening the magnetic latch, I was immediately greeted by the stylish moulded hard travel case with a metal Meze logo in black and gold shinning up at me! Taking the 99 Classics out of their case, all I could do is stare; They looked absolutely stunning! The combination of the black and walnut with gold accents is tastefully done. Every screw, every line, every angle, and every curve serves the purpose of both function and aesthetics; The design and craftsmanship are an awe-inspiring work of art! I will admit, I did stare at myself in the mirror wearing the 99 Classics, capturing every nuance of their design from all angles.
     
        Once I finished admiring the 99 Classics’ design, fit, and comfort, it was time to put them to the test. To be honest, I did not know what to expect in terms of sound. Too many times I have been tricked into purchasing headphones based off from misleading advertising and over-hyped reviews so I am always expecting the worst (despite my optimistic outlook on life). It only took seconds into the first song for all reservations I had to vanish; The 99 Classics’ sound was beyond my expectations! Track after track, no matter what the genre, I was impressed!
     
    Sound - The Basics
     
        Meze promotes the 99 Classics as having a balanced sound that is crisp and clear. Adding in warmth, I whole heartedly concur.  Across the whole frequency spectrum, the 99 Classics remain solid with no exaggerations or peaks. The overall sound is liquid and transparent with excellent extension and detail, yet remain non-fatiguing to the ears. The transition from bass to mids to treble is incredibly smooth, with no bleed or bloat.
     
    Bass - Slightly north of neutral, bass is powerful and prominent. Sub-bass extends very deep with just the right amount of weight    as to not overpower the rest of the upper frequencies. Mid-bass, while relatively flat, does have a slight hump giving the 99 Classics a touch more punch. However, much like the sub-bass, mid-bass does not bleed into the lower-mids. Overall the speed of the bass is quite fast and controlled though there is a small bit of looseness in the sub-bass, giving the resonance a touch of rumbley fun.
     
    Mid Range - Impressively neutral, detailed, and transparent. The mids are neither recessed nor elevated, simply flat. This does not mean the 99 Classics are boring, or too analytical, quite the opposite. Possessing both body and breathe, vocals are beautifully rendered with zero peakiness or accentuation to the sibilance. Instruments are nicely detailed with excellent texture and transparency; There is no grain to be heard.
     
    Treble - Despite having a balanced frequency response, treble does take a slight backseat to the mids. However, this does not translate to being modest,  recessed, or having an early roll-off. Quite the opposite in fact. Treble is crisp and clean with fantastic extension; The sound is fairly airy and detailed with just the right amount of sparkle and shine. There is no exaggeration in the mid-treble, the classic 6 KHz spike that would add to the potential harshness of the sibilance or add piercing glare, nor is there any peakiness at 10 KHz region that adds fatigue. 
     
    Soundstage -  While the 99 Classics are of a closed back design the soundstage is slightly above par, giving the listener a good sense of 3D/holographic imaging. Left/right and up/down are of equal width, with the front/back width slightly behind. Instrument separation if great, never sounding congested or cramped. Although due to the warm, wood tone of the sound signature, holographic imaging does suffer a touch in comparison to the rest of the 3D sound-space. Overall, the 99 classics soundstage can be described in one word: Intimate.
     
    Sound - Music
     
         With the exception of a few, I listen to virtually every genre. What impressed me about the 99 Classics is their ability to handle every genre flawlessly. From Classical to Heavy Metal, Jazz to Electronica, I was never let down by their ability to do the song justice! I would like to point out that if the track is poorly mastered, or an mp3 of a low bit-rate, you will notice the flaws. On the plus side, high bit-rate/Hi-rez music will sound absolutely flawless!
     
        Listening to the audiophile classic Spanish Harlem - Rebecca Pidgin is a must for all music lovers. I always turn to this song as a test of a headphone’s dynamics, and the 99 Classics did not disappoint. Rebecca’s voice was well rendered, with a good sense of naturalness. The sibilance of her voice can pose problems for headphones of all quality, including ones that cost numerous times more that the 99 Classics, but not so here! Every note was pitch perfect with an airy naturalness. The bass had excellent definition and weight yet played perfectly, un-obscuring towards the rest of the sound.  Each draw of the bow across the violins had texture and resolve. Every shake of the rattle sounded unique, and could be easily discerned. The piano was well rendered without glare or congestion.
     
        Stravinsky’s The Royal March - Soloist New York is an excellent track to demonstrate a headphones ability to handle transients. Between the brass, strings, and percussion, this song features powerful transients. To fully appreciate the 99 Classics ability, I turned up the volume to above average listening levels. What I was presented with was an awesome sense of excitement! The drums were tight and taut, never sounding dull, sluggish, or lacking definition. The horns sounded crisp and clean, well defined with excellent ear-tickling bite! Cymbals splashed with very fast and accurate attack, sustain, decay, and release. The bass-strings resonated deep with both speed and definition.
     
        While the 99 Classics have the ability to render music of the more ‘natural’ variety admirably, their ability to handle the modern sounds of Pop and Electronica is equally fantastic. A mix between techno, jazz, and classical, Mona Lisa - Juno Reactor is a good example of fast and pumping modern sound. Bass is very fast and tight, with the sub-bass blooms rendered with the right amount of weight. The tribal drums are relentless in their assault, with each palm strike of the skin being easily discernible over the rest of the beat. Background vocals were upfront and mesmerizing, the strings had great dynamics, and the horns bite hard! This song can get very busy, yet the 99 Classics hold their own, never missing a beat nor subtle effect!
        
        Binaural tracks really excelled through the 99 Classics. I was happy to hear that despite the warm wood tone impending the sense of holographic imaging, binaural tracks did not suffer. Compared to a lot of closed back headphones I have owned/heard, the 99 Classics were able to render the imaging with greater accuracy. David Chesky sounded like he was in a large cathedral 30’ away as he walked up to the microphone and whispered into my ear; His breathe could be felt on my ear! Likewise, Edgar the Barber’s virtual haircut sounded equally impressive, giving me a good sense of moving his scissors around the sides, top, and back of my head. And yes, it did make my ears flinch a little.
     
        I know it’s kind of an odd area to touch on, but what really impresses me about the 99 Classics is their ability to handle electric guitar distortion. Whether it’s the raw sound of Heartbreaker - Led Zeppelin, the masterfully recorded classic 2112 - Rush, or the newly release Dystopia - Megadeth, I was not let down! Their ability to handle fuzz, squeals, wails, crunch, distortion and noise without butchering the sound or bleeding my ears is nothing short of impressive; The 99 Classics distort like a champ! 
     
        Lastly, I present to you what I call the ‘Captain Tractor Test’. Captain Tractor hails from my home city of Edmonton. Well traveled and decently know, they have been around for more than 20 years. Their sound can be described as Indie, with a mix of maritime folk and prairie rock. I have seen them play live in numerous venues, big and small, acoustic and amped, probably close to 30 times.  Simply put, the 99 Classics pass the test with flying colours! Absolutely perfect! Closing my eyes, I am placed in the sweet spot in front of the band! Every singer, every instrument sound flawless!
     
    Sound - Movies, Games, and General Use
     
        Movies & games are perhaps the most overlooked uses of headphones in many reviews for many headphones. In fact, for the 99 Classics I have yet to find a single mention here, or various other tech and review sites in regards to movies, video games, and every day use such as YouTube and Podcasts. Rest assured good folk, I got this covered!
     
        As a child of the 1980’s, I love giant robots and monsters hell bent on destroying man-kind. For this reason, Pacific Rim has been my go-to movie to demo equipment; The first 15 minutes of the movie is simply awesome! The movie starts off with a short narrative of the back-story, segueing into the plot’s present day scenario. Two Jaeger pilots, brothers, are awoken out of bed and changed with defending the city of Anchorage from a giant killer monster; The Kaiju. This movie’s sound engineering is phenomenal, with so many subtle and mundane sounds mixed with an epic, heart pounding soundtrack, Pacific Rim puts A/V equipment to the test. Normally I am listening for things such as the crackle of a fluorescent desk lamp warming up, the beating of the rain upon metal, how centred and clear the dialogue is, or how well I can hear the action over the soundtrack. However, while watching Pacific Rim with the 99 Classics I found myself so drawn in the next thing I realized is that I had watched 75% of the movie; I had to go back and re-watch the prologue again! Simple put, the 99 Classics offer a detailed and engaging sound. Every subtle and nuanced sound was easily heard, the dialogue remained completely centred and concise, and the music pounded my ears yet never treaded upon nor overpowered the other sounds in the mix.
     
        Because of their tweaked-neutral sound signature, gaming with the 99 Classics was also a treat. I find that while clean and clear, the majority of competitive gaming headsets offer nothing in terms of excitement, mostly due to their too flat sound signature and lacking in bass weight. The 99 Classics once again performs admirably with modern games of all genres. Spells, attacks, and the screams of hell-spawns in Diablo III were wonderfully rendered with excellent separation and clarity. I had absolutely no trouble hearing and pinpointing the sound of a Treasure Goblin amongst the horde of dozens of demons and undead trying their best to thwart my efforts of sending them back to the underworld! The beautiful Classical-Gregorian score sounded as dynamic as it was haunting, with each instrument possessing wonderful texture and resolve adding to the dark atmosphere of the game’s locations. Dialogue came across as centred and clear, with 3D positioning of on screen characters well represented. With games like Fallout 4 and Dying Light, 3D positioning and accurate location of sounds is critical to surviving. You must know where the dangers lay or else one can easily be caught off guard by an unruly group of individuals who want nothing more than to put and end to your life. I again had no issue being able to locate my enemies in the 3D soundscape; I never had to listen too hard to hear every nuanced environmental noise and sound. As both games are heavily story driven there is quite a bit of dialogue. Much like movies, voices were well rendered, sounding clean and natural.
     
        Given their excellent performance in regards to dialogue in movies and games, it’s not surprising that the 99 Classics sound great listening to online media. Commentary in Podcasts and YouTube vloggers sounded clear, centred, and natural. No one’s voice sounded muffled, boomy, or overly sibilant. Because of  the 99 Classics’ design, I had no issues listening to hours of YouTube with no discomfort on my inner-ears nor my head. The ear-pads did get a little warm, but never did I find them getting sticky or sweaty.
     
    Sound - Summary
     
        The 99 Classics do so much right offering a detailed, liquid smooth, engaging, and fatigue free listening experience. I simply could not find a fault with their overall transparency and resolve. While not in the same echelon as the Sennheiser HD800, they are easily in the same league as the Momentum offering a very similar sound in terms of both detail and sound signature, which to be honest is the type of sound I prefer in headphones. Unlike the latter, the 99 Classics offer the same balanced sound but with a sprinkle of pizzaz added in. Some audiophile purists may consider Meze’s tweaking to be more consumer friendly. I myself prefer to think that the 99 Classics are geared towards audiophiles who want to step away from analytical for a while and just relax with a smooth yet detailed and fun sounding headphone.
     
    Amping
     
        With an impedance of 32Ohms and a sensitivity of 103dB, the 99 Classics are efficient enough to be powered by virtually anything with a 3.5mm jack. Whether it be a Gameboy Advanced, HDTV, iPod Classic or iPod Touch 6 Gen, I never had to go above 50% volume to reach a moderate listening level. For both my Creative E3 and my iCAN micro SE (0 dB gain) I never had to go above 25%. As efficient as the 99 Classics are, I highly recommend giving them the love they deserve and pair it with an amp worthy of $300 headphones. For example, with both the E3 and iPod Touch, the bass sounds loose and less controlled than it does with the iCAN micro. In fact, pairing with the latter, the 99 Classics’ bass is more in line with what audiophile purists prefer. 
     
    Burn-in
     
        40 hours is what is recommended by Meze, and I highly encourage anyone to give the 99 Classics at least that amount of time before any critical reviews. Bass becomes more controlled, less loose and bloomy, and treble detail definitely comes up a few notches. Overall, after burn-in the sound becomes less ridged and and more liquid.
     
    Value
     
        The question begs, at a MSRP of $309 US, are the 99 Classics a good value? Absolutely! If I had not won my pair of 99 Classics, after spending a week with my tour pair would I have any reservation about purchasing my own pair? None! As mention earlier on in this review, I would have been very very sad to send the headphones off to the next reviewer. Their detailed and smooth sound coupled with gorgeous, timeless beauty through suburb craftsmanship are truly a welcome addition to anyone’s collection, including my own. Adding in the moulded hard travel case, 2 well crafted cables, and accessibility of the components definitely adds to their long term value. Eventually I am going to purchase a stylish mannequin head and proudly display the 99 Classics in my living room amongst my other cool items I like to show off.
     
    Conclusion
     
        If you are a headphone junky who wants to add to their growing collection, rest assured that the 99 Classics will be a proud addition. If you are simply someone in the market looking to find a headphone that offers a detailed fatigue free yet dynamic sound, you can’t go wrong choosing these over the other more well established brands. With a price of $309 US, Meze Headphones has a real winner with the 99 Classics. Combining a smooth and natural listening experience that promotes a timeless design in a visually stunning package all while maintaining superb fit and comfort, there are few reasons not to fall in love with these headphones. My hat’s off to you, Antonio Meze, and your team of professionals; You have made a fantastic headphone!
     
     
    1. View previous replies...
    2. jinxy245
      A great review, thanks!! I just received my pair for review, and I'm enjoying them thoroughly. So far a winner to my ears. Some have called the mids a bit pushed, but that doesn't seem severe to my ears, and can be track dependent. I'd love to hear your thoughts between these & the PSBs...I'm slowly narrowing my choices down....

      Thanks again!
      jinxy245, Mar 5, 2016
    3. Bansaku
      @jinxy245 Thanks! Actually, I have been slowly taking notes and a PSB vs Meze will be coming soon, once my sleep habits fall back to normal. :)
      Bansaku, Mar 5, 2016
    4. jinxy245
      Very cool and rest up!! I'll look forward to the comparison.
      jinxy245, Mar 6, 2016
  7. grizzlybeast
    Great Headphone from Meze that may even be a Classic
    Written by grizzlybeast
    Published Jan 28, 2016
    4.5/5,
    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

    SAM_1869_Fotorfas.jpg
     
     ​


    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. 
     

    Design/ Comfort ​

    hgj.jpg
    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. 
    asgf.jpg
     
    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

    SFXCFB.jpg sgsagf.jpg
    erg.jpg
     
     ​
    FROM SITE

    "SPECS

    Transducer size: 40mm

    Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz
    1. Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
    2. Impedance: 32Ohm
    3. Rated input power: 30mW
    4. Maximum input power: 50mW
    5. Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
    6. Plug: 3.5mm gold plated
    7. Ear-cups: walnut wood"
     
    Accessories
    Portable cable w/mute button
    Extra long cable
    Airplane adapter
    1/4 inch adapter
    Cable pouch
    Headphone travel case
    Manual

     ​

    Sound

    sdfghs.jpg
    Gear used
    2015 iMac 27 inch 5k
    Geek Pulse Infinity
    Tidal
    Sound Cloud
    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. 
     
    Bass
    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. 
     
    Midrange 
    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. 
     
    Treble
    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. 
     
     

    CONCLUSION/VALUE

     
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     ​
    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!
    1. View previous replies...
    2. grizzlybeast
      Kinda jonesing for these.
      grizzlybeast, Feb 2, 2016
      MattAsAHatter likes this.
    3. pablodiablo
      @GBansaku
       
      You're kind of reinforcing my point.  The better loudspeaker manufacturers don't use solid wood cabinets, like you seem to believe.  Solid wood, especially hardwoods, tend to be extremely resonant, making them great for building instruments, like drums, but horrible for making speaker cabinets.  Manufacturers like Wilson Audio use acoustically inert materials like MDF for the cabinets in order to eliminated resonance within the cabinet.  My Paradigm Studio Reference 100s have a beautiful rosewood finish, but it's just a veneer applied to the MDF the cabinets are made of.  I'd hardly call my Paradigms 'cheapo.'  Certainly not the $200,000 Wilsons I listened to last week.  The loudspeaker designers I've personally spoken with include Clayton Shaw of Spatial Audio, Robert Lee of Acoustic Zen and Sean Casey of Zu audio.  They would all disagree with pretty much everything you just said.
       
      Bottom line:  exotic woods impress neophytes and charlatans, but are a sign of inferior design for those of us who actually grasp the nuances of hi-fi audio.
      pablodiablo, Feb 9, 2016
    4. MezeTeam
      MezeTeam, Mar 1, 2016
      MattAsAHatter likes this.
  8. s_f_g
    Build and sound quality set the 99 Classics apart
    Written by s_f_g
    Published Jan 27, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Immersive natural sound, built to last, portability
    Cons - Ear pads can get a little warm
    Long-winded background

    While far from claiming to be an audiophile, I have always appreciated good quality sound – driving from Devon to Cornwall to buy Heybrook HB1s and later becoming obsessed with Irving M. Fried’s ‘IMF’ transmission lines. After a succession of headphones that broke far too soon I settled on the Soundmagic E10 and the Grado SR60s. After a year the Grado’s cables detached from the cup but welding them back proved a simple fix. After a while, however, it seems I had welded them one time too many and they packed up. The Soundmagics lasted a few days longer than their warranty before their (non-replaceable) cables also packed up, and the electrical shop wouldn’t even look at them – saying earphone cables were too small and fiddly to repair.

    I had had enough of headphones that were neither robust nor repairable. But I wanted good sound! I visited Harrods, Selfridges and John Lewis in London to try on everything from high end open back to budget headphones – keeping an eye out for that rare thing, great sound and robustness.

    In the middle of trying on the much-commended Oppo PM-3 headphones in Selfridges, an employee pointed me towards the Meze 99 Classics, signalling that these were his favourites. I didn’t recognise the brand and had never been a tremendous fan of AKG-like headbands, which these had, but tried them on briefly. I was taken aback by their sound, which stood out from that of the other portables I had been trying. Later, seeing Meze’s claims about build quality with the rare words ‘built to last’, combined with the reviews on this page, I was even more curious about the headphones.

    Disclaimer:
    I wanted to trial the Mezes more thoroughly outside of the busy store and Meze very kindly provided me this pair for review.

    P1201886.JPG


    Sound quality

    My interest in these headphones was based largely on accounts of sound quality on this page and many reviews cover this part well. Here is my novice interpretation.

    Immersive. When first listening to the Mezes in the store I was absorbed by the particular nature of their sound, unlike my experience with other headphones in the store. This quality held up while trialling them more thoroughly. The 99Cs make you want to listen; I found hours went by immersed in the music.

    Portable, adaptable. Another appeal to me was the fact that they were said to be driven well without an amplifier and that they suit many genres of music. To me, this made them both portable and adaptable. Playing through a phone (a Huawei P9 Lite) produces plenty of volume. They sound as good playing folk band Lau’s ‘Lightweights & Gentlemen’ as they do grime artist Kano’s (wonderfully produced) ‘Roadman’s Hymn’. Nitin Sawhney’s ‘The Pilgrim’ sounds as spellbinding as it should, with wonderful soundstage and separation. The detailed midrange means Joss Clapp’s guitar in Kathryn tickell’s ‘Air Moving’ is a joy. The sub bass isn’t conjured out of nowhere but controlled and satisfying where I want it, as in Murlo’s ‘Lava Leaf’ and Joker soundtrack ‘Why So Serious?’. The treble in Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s ‘In the Back of a Taxi’ is crisp. After listening to them briefly with an Arcam Alpha 8 amplifier, I'm sure there is even more to get out of the 99Cs with decent amplification.

    Sonically, the 99Cs impressed me more than the B&W P5, P7, PX, B&O Beoplays, Bose QuietComforts, Sennheiser Momentums and Oppo PM-3s. Of course, some of these have dramatically different emphases, but I found that unless you have a particularly strong liking for bass emphasis (Momentums) or accuracy (Oppo PM3 – which I didn’t find nearly as engaging!), the Mezes were an incredibly solid contender. It might be interesting to compare them to the Denon AH-MM400s, which I tried once and feel could be somewhat comparable – although I’m not sure if the Denons are as repairable.

    P1101865.JPG


    Comfort, design

    I find the look and functionality come together very well. The wooden cups are exquisite, and the whole thing has a very 'quality' feel. The initial prejudice against the metal headband design is long gone, I find it brings the headphone together well.

    The ear cups feel good and isolate decently for commuting, although they can occasionally get a bit warm and sweaty. The adjustable headband strap is simple and works as it should. A very minor point I find is that the metal headband can resonate quite loudly when tapped or knocked.


    Overall thoughts

    It is impressive that a company’s first headphones can tick so many boxes that other manufacturers fail to address.

    I would choose these headphones alone for their sound character; soundstage, natural presentation and absorbing qualities alone, but their exquisite build and serviceability in the portable headphone market really sets them apart.

    It feels like a rare find, to come across a small company making such fine headphones in this price bracket; I wonder how long it will be before they appear everywhere?
  9. crabdog
    Looks and personality combined
    Written by crabdog
    Published Oct 22, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Serviceable build with added longevity. Gorgeous, lightweight, comfortable. Fun, intoxicating sound.
    Cons - Quite a step up in price from the 99 Neo.
    DSC_0106.jpg

    Tabatha Coffey

    Introduction

    In 2015 Meze Audio released a headphone called the 99 Classics which led to what they call their "breakthrough year". It was their first headphone created entirely in house whereas before they were buying components externally. The Classics took the audio enthusiast community by storm and suddenly we were seeing it everywhere and just about everyone seemed to own one.

    What was it that made them so desirable? Well, there were a few reasons they have been so successful. First of all they look dope, especially if you're a fan of wooden earcups. They have a design aesthetic that's is immediately appealing with it's simplistic elegance. Not only that but they're built with longevity in mind, each individual part being easy and inexpensive to replace. They also sound good, which obviously matters as fickle audio aficionados aren't going to buy something purely on looks alone. Wrap all that up with a very affordable price tag and the rest is history. Today I'll be taking a much belated look at the walnut and gold variant of the Meze 99 Classics.

    Disclaimer

    This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. I am not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions here are my own, based on my experience with the product.

    The Meze 99 Classics cost $309 USD and are available from the Meze Audio website and Amazon.

    Packaging and accessories

    The 99 Classics come in a tasteful white box with a nice picture of one of the earcups on the front and back along with some of the various awards the headphones have collected since their release. There are some specifications and features listed on the sides and first impressions are positive.

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    Opening the box we find a very nice, contoured, clam-shell carry case with a smooth matte texture and finish. I actually like this more than the one that comes with the Neo although they're essentially the same albeit with a different finish.

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    Inside the case are the headphones and another small zippered pouch which contains two cables, an airline adapter, a 6.35mm adapter, user manual and warranty information.

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    Let's look at the two cables - one is ten feet long and ideal for desktop or living room use and the other four feet long with an inline control and microphone which is great for portable use, whether you're taking the Classics outdoors or just moving around the house. Both cables have a braided material cover from the plug to the Y-split where it changes to a rubberized style to reduce microphonics. They Y-split has a nice gold band with the company logo and this matches perfectly with the gold accents on the headphones. At the top are two 3.5mm plugs and both cables terminate in a straight, gold plated 3.5mm plug. These cables have just the right mix of strength and suppleness so they feel durable yet sit and roll up nicely.

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    Specifications
    • Transducer size: 40mm
    • Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz
    • Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
    • Impedance: 32 Ohm
    • Rated input power: 30mW
    • Maximum input power: 50mW
    • Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
    • Plug: 3.5mm gold plated
    • Weight: 260 gr (9.2 ounces) without cables
    • Ear-cups: walnut wood
    Build, comfort and isolation

    For many users appearance is an important factor when purchasing headphones. If you're one of those people then this could be the one for you. Enter the Meze 99 Classics with their simplistic yet sophisticated and elegant looks that are so easily distinguishable from all the rest.

    In a lot of cases if a single piece or section breaks you're up the brown creek in a barbed wire canoe or in other words, you're out of luck and have to start looking for a new headphone. Well this isn't the case with Meze's 99 series headphones as they've been designed in a way so they can be fully disassembled. Thus if a component breaks the headphones are still fully serviceable. You can simply order the replacement part and get yourself back up and running in no time. Kudos to Meze for doing this rather than going with the usual "designed to fail" practice of so many products.

    Starting with the spring steel headband which is very sturdy but also due to the minimalist design using two thin strips it's very lightweight. Attached to this via a cast zinc alloy cross structure is the wide and well padded self adjusting headband. The steel headband extends all the way down to where it's attached to the center of the earcups. The conical earcups are made from a single piece of wood - in this case walnut, which not only looks great but has wonderful, natural resonating properties. On the underside of each earcup is where the 3.5mm cable plugs connect, again highlighted with a subtle gold ring surrounding the holes to fit into the the overall style.

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    Onto the earpads now and I believe that these have been improved since the early versions of the Classics and now share the same ones that are used on the 99 Neo, being a bit thicker and more plush than the original ones. They're large enough to fit around my big ears and deep enough so that my ears don't come into contact with the driver covers.

    These are very comfortable headphones and I can wear them for hours on end with no discomfort whatsoever. They are closed backs though so if the weather is hot your ears can become a little warm over time. The earpads are soft and plush, clamping force is just enough to hold the headphones steadily in place without putting the squeeze on your precious dome and the headband sits really nicely without any unnecessary pressure on the top of your head. This along with the light weight means top marks for comfort.

    Isolation is about average for a closed back headphone so they do block a good amount of external noise and should be suitable for most situations whether at home or out and about.

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    Sound

    Gear used for testing

    Acoustic Research AR-M20

    ATC HDA-DP20

    Galaxy Note 5

    JRiver/flac > Arcam irDAC-II

    JRiver/flac > Topping DX7

    The 99 Classics are very easy to drive. With an impedance of 32 Ohm and 103dB sensitivity they can be paired with just about any device. The Galaxy Note 5 had no problems driving these and for my preferred listening level 70-80% volume was plenty loud enough without any noticeable drawbacks. Obviously using a high quality DAC or amplifier is likely to give even better results. Because of their warm and bass heavy nature I prefer to use them with a neutral or bright source but in fact they still sound great regardless.

    After having experience with the 99 Neo I had a fairly good idea what to expect from the Classics and I was not disappointed. Just like with the Neo the first thing that struck me was the bass - again there's a lot of it. Then there's the silky musicality and superb tonality. The 99 Classics have a fun approach to sound reproduction but that doesn't mean they can't also take on a serious tone. Listening to Beethoven's string quartets is just as satisfying as some hard hitting Infected Mushroom. There's an energy to the Classics that belies their technical ability.

    As I mentioned above there is loads of bass present and while it's not the most controlled and sometimes even a bit loose it does sound very natural. Bass notes are fairly rounded, so they don't have a sharp or etched presentation but one that is more liquid and relaxed. There is a little bass bleeding into the midrange but it's not a detriment, it just adds to the overall warmth and the mids are not compromised as a result but rather enhanced by it. Sub-bass hits pretty hard but isn't as prominent as the mid-bass. There's enough of it to give you that sense of an earthquake without bringing the house down around you.

    Midrange on the Classics is definitely one of the highlights. Despite the warm overtones the mids still manage to reveal a great amount of detail and maintain their excellent tonality. Vocals are forward sounding but not overly intimate and possess that same silky smoothness throughout. It's organic, natural, even and ridiculously easy to listen to. Just like with the Neo stringed instruments sound amazing from classical pieces to the crunch of electric guitars and everything in between.

    Treble has a crisp and airy appeal that brings some much needed lightness to balance the Classics' warmth. There's good extension without ever being harsh or sibilant. It really helps to bring out some of the detail that might otherwise be lost in the richness of the bass and mids but somehow Meze found the perfect amount to keep the balance without making the headphones overtly V-shaped.

    For a closed back headphone the Classics have a great soundstage that provides immersive depth and excellent layering throughout. Imaging is superb and instrument placement makes for a truly engaging experience. This also makes the 99 Classics a pretty good companion for gaming and watching movies too.

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    Comparisons

    Meze 99 Neo ($249 USD)

    The Neo comes very close when it comes to audio quality but the Classics seem to have something that gives them a slight edge. Is it worth shelling out the extra money for the Classics? When it comes to pure sound there's not much in it but the Classics do seem to have a little more refinement, most notably for my ears in their treble which has a little more sparkle and air and in the bass which is slightly tamer and tighter. In terms of appearance the two are obviously very similar but for me there's something about wooden earcups that makes them that much more desirable. Either way if you buy one or the other I'm sure you'll be more than pleased with the results.

    *The next two comparisons are basically copied+pasted from my 99 Neo review (here) because the Neo and 99 Classics are so very alike in terms of sound quality.

    Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro 250 Ohm ($179 USD)

    The DT990 is well known for its strong V-shaped signature so it has similarly boosted bass levels but also has a lot more treble as well. It’s more resolving than the Classics and reveals more small details but can get a little strident or overenthusiastic on the high frequencies. The DT990’s bass notes are more defined and controlled bringing more punch where the Classics brings the thump. Both headphones are exceptionally comfortable and well worth their respective prices.

    Ultrasone Performance 860 ($362 USD)

    The 860 is much more linear across the board so offers a very different sound compared to the Classics. Bass is tighter and faster without any of the same boomy properties found on the Meze. Midrange in comparison is a lot thinner and less lush than the Classics'. The treble is where these two have the most in common, being neutral-ish on both. The 860 reveals more details in music but presents itself in a more accurate and less emotive manner compared to the “fun” tuning of the Classics.

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    Conclusion

    So there you have it. It was almost a forgone conclusion after experiencing the 99 Neo that I would enjoy the 99 Classics but I didn't expect to enjoy them that much more. Yes, they sound very similar indeed. Yes, they look similar but there's just something about the 99 Classics that I love. It's an experience from the moment you pick them up until real life obligations or things like food and sleep force you to put them down.

    They're attractive, lightweight, comfortable, portable and a totally enjoyable listen. They're fun but they also give you juicy detail, great extension on both ends, a full-bodied and rich midrange. They're easy to drive and sound good even straight from a smartphone. If you're looking for a pair of headphones and $309 is within your limits then the Meze 99 Classics come highly recommended from me.

    Maybe Meze Audio knew they had something special on their hands when they named these Classics because they have essentially become that in their own right.
  10. adeypoos
    A-Meze-ing cans!
    Written by adeypoos
    Published May 17, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Light, comfortable, musical, dynamic and warm sound
    Cons - Earpads can get a bit warm, bass can be over emphasised
    My route to headphone bliss!


    My story wouldn't have started at all if it wasn't for the crappy headband quality of my previous pair of headphones, the Focal Spirit Professional. After a 2nd pair cracked-up on me, believe me when I say I wasn't! Pity, because the sound was all I wanted in a headphone, or at least I thought that to be the case at the time. Comfort, on the other hand was bearable, certainly not in the same league as my Sennheiser HD558's but noticeably better than my Grado SR80's. I have to start by saying that my headphone requirements have somewhat changed since my early foray into head gear. I used to be of the opinion that closed back headphones were boxy sounding and lacking in "air" and soundstage qualities. That was largely true at the time(early 90's) and I went for the highly-rated and reasonably priced Grado SR-80's, which to my ears were dynamic and free-flowing in sound but also quite harsh sounding as well. About 4 or 5 years ago I picked-up the Sennheiser HD-558's for a bargain price(about £90 if remember correctly). These were so comfortable, very smooth sounding and their soundstage was excellent. Quite the opposite of the Grado's in fact but lacking dynamic expression. However, I was able to listen to them for hours on end in comfort, without my ears getting fatigued as they did with the Grado's.

    So coming more up to date, a couple of years ago I decided that in a busy household I needed sealed headphones to keep sound both in and out for everyone's sanity. I had listened to the Bose QC25's, which were amazing for keeping out sound, but made me feel like I was on a train going through a tunnel at times. They also lacked clarity and refinement, so were out of the running. I went into a branch of GAK and checked out the Shure SR840(good value but harsh), Shure 940(very bright and lacking bass - these were on special offer and I could see why based on what I'd heard), Beyer Dynamic DT770(comfy but closed and muffled sounding to me), Audio Technica M50's(boomy bass and harsh treble). I also listened to the Sennheiser HD650's as a reference, just in case there is, in fact, something wrong with my hearing. Fortunately for me, these sounded great, even on an iphone, but being open cans, they were contrary to my headphone objectives. Onwards to Richer Sounds. I listened to the AKG 550's, which are highly rated by many publications. Good open sound for closed cans, but they were harsh in the upper midband and treble. Onto the Shure SR1540's. Incredibly well made and comfortable. Very smooth sounding(too smooth and a bit boring really), but with an elevated upper bass and treble in a "loudness button" fashion. Expensive too! The Oppo PM3's were very neutral and clean but unexciting to my ears. Probably didn't give these enough of a chance, but none of these cans compared to the Focal Spirit Pros! So after 2 years of headphone contentment from a sound point of view, if not comfort and build quality, I found myself in the market for headphones once again. Step forward the Meze 99 Classics! As I had done with the FSP's, I read many reviews to gauge the quality of sound and comfort, especially as there were no dealers within a sensible distance to audition. It would cost me almost as much in travel costs to audition as to buy, so I took a punt based on reviewers I have come to know and trust as having sound preferences similar to my own and ordered a Walnut/Silver pair of 99 Classics.


    Comfort

    As soon as I put these onto my head I knew the comfort concerns were not going to be a problem. My main concern would be with the earpads getting warm and they do a bit. However providing the ambient temperature isn't too high and you are not doing anything too strenuous they're not too bad. Head clamp force seems fine to me, although after the FSP's I was used to this and the 99C's are much nicer to wear. Not Sennheiser 558 comfort, but close enough. They are nice and light too!


    Construction

    After the Focal Spirit Pros, I could not bring myself to trust Focal's quality of construction again. So when I was looking into the 99 Classic's, the metal headband(even if it does ring occasionally when you go to scratch your head, it won’t snap in a hurry), wooden ear-cups(look and feel quality), kevlar cables(cable microphony isn’t a big deal to me) et al definitely had an influence on my purchase decision. Opening the box, surveying the walnut and silver finish, quality of fit and finish is first class. They are stunning to behold and every pair is unique to boot!




    Sound

    Straight out of the box, the bass bloats a bit and the treble is wispy and lacking in detail - all the usual qualities of a brand new set of cans really.

    After a few hours things improved noticeably in the areas mentioned and I could clearly hear the potential of these cans.


    On the third day with my new Meze 99 Classics. Sound-wise, the changes are more subtle now. I think the bass is a bit more solid but it still has a luscious warmth to it, which I am liking for the most part. My Focal Spirit Pros were more controlled throughout the bass region, but burn-in times are not on a par just yet so it's too early to say, although I think the bass warmth of the 99C's is here to stay. I'm not sure if I prefer it to the FSP's but it is a nice change after having got used to a particular sound signature for a couple of years, one that was punchy and extended, albeit slightly drier and more neutral in presentation. One area where I think the 99C's have improved is in what “Naimee's" would call P.R.A.T. which I guess falls into line with my previous comment about improved solidity in the bass region. I imagine this will be where the 40 hour burn in time comes into play - not there yet, but homing in rapidly. Reckon I'm on 25 hours now. The treble seems a little more incisive at this point, with a more natural decay to cymbals. Now I'm only listening via a Macbook Pro headphone output and I haven't hooked up my Firestone Fubar 4 headphone amp at this point, so it'll be interesting to see if this makes any difference at all(it certainly did with my FSP's but I'm not convinced it'll make such a difference with the 99C's).

    I think the stand out sound point for me is the sheer sweetness and musicality of the 99C's, they are a lot more of an easy listen than the FSP's, unsurprising really as they are a studio monitoring headphone. Liquid comes to mind and at the moment I am loving it.


    Day 4 - things have settled down across the frequency range now. Far less of the errant bass and treble of day 1, but the lovely, musical warmth the 99C's exhibit still shines through like a beacon. Been listening to some more rock today and another thing has struck me about the sound, the 99C's really shine when there is a distorted guitar sound. I guess the effect is akin to that of tube v solid-state amp and you fellow guitarists will know what I mean by that. There is something about the way distortion is rendered, in that it makes the music much creamier and more listenable. I often find the sound of distorted guitars to be a problem for headphones(and hi-fi equipment generally) in that there is often a glare to the sound that is harsh, making certain genres of music unpleasant to listen to. Now the 99C’s certainly aren’t perfect, but my hearing isn't and I'm not sure that ultra high end headphones would do a "better" job than the 99C's in terms of listenability. I am convinced that the slightly elevated bass warmth and possibly the wooden maple tonality may be the reason for this. Again, I have to stress that I am listening through the bare output of a Macbook Pro, so I'm sure the sound will notch up further when a dedicated headphone amp is used.

    Something I haven't mentioned yet is the soundstage. Wow, for closed back headphones the 99C's are very good and that along with fairly good sound isolation means they are very practical for all kinds of situations. The sense of space instruments are given is fine indeed, not in a sterile, analytical way, but retaining the feeling of togetherness at all times and the focus on the emotion and performance of a song. Don’t get me wrong here, they are detailed enough, without being overly analytical.


    So here we are just over a week in. I reckon I'm just past the 40 hour burn in point and I can speak more clearly about my impressions of the 99C's. The bass seems to be getting better as time goes on. Listening to "Forgotten places" by Alif Tree there is a pronounced double bass line which sounds wonderfully fluid and tactile without being boomy. This track would highlight bass inadequacies quite clearly and I'm happy that the drivers in the 99C's are subtly changing for the better. The bass has P.R.A.T. whilst remaining warm. The treble seems to have smoothed out and become more detailed as well. These headphones are so easy to listen to and yet they are not "easy listening" in their presentation owing to the vivacity and musical pleasure they convey. My first week has been immensely satisfying and I'm glad I didn't splurge on the B&W P7 wireless I'd auditioned in a shop the week before. These headphones are much better than those, sonically speaking, although the bluetooth convenience would have been nice.


    Three weeks in and I'm not sure if my ears are deceiving me but I'm still hearing improvements in the bass. The tubbiness has largely gone, although the warmth is still there. Midrange performance seems to be better as well, although I think this may be because the bleed from bass region has reduced, bringing out the midrange qualities. Listening to James Brown’s classic album “In the Jungle Groove”, snare and drum hits seem to have more dynamic expression and those subtle shuffles that Clyde Stubblefield produces on the “Funky drummer” have more impact and separation than before. Charles Sherrell’s bass line is rich and mellifluous. Some people scoff at burn-in time on equipment - I beg to differ!


    I am about 6 weeks into ownership of these cans now. I have been listening with my iPhone 5S, MacBook Pro headphone output and finally, my headphone amp, the Firestone Fubar 4 amp/dac.

    The sound definitely steps up in definition and clarity through this amp, but the fundamental musicality of the 99C’s remains the same. What is nice is that I don’t really miss not having playback through a higher end source, which I thought might be the case when I finally got around to using a dedicated headphone amp. Having said that, one can definitely appreciate a better source - it doesn’t go un-noticed when it’s there.

    Just sounding out my thoughts(pun intended), I’m amazed by how the 99C’s scale up or down without embarrassing the sound source. The quality of the recording matters, of course, but a lot of headphones are barely listenable on poor, compressed recordings - not the case with these. This is good news because I don’t feel the need to seek out the best recordings any more, which makes a lot of music more accessible now. This would not be the case with my Grado SR80’s, which would literally strip the skin off the inside of my ear drum on poor recordings that I can listen to quite comfortably with the 99C’s. Critics might say this is the transparency superiority of the Grado’s - say what you like, but if I can listen to music comfortably for longer, both physically and aurally, that is good news as far as I’m concerned.


    At the 2 month point, I would say the 99 Classics have really settled in now, to the point where they are, to my ears, not going to change noticeably any more. They are not perfect sonically, but musically they are divine. I have continued to hear their sound attributes blossom. Whether this is still burn-in or me getting used to their sonic signature, I don’t know anymore. What I can say is that these are extremely enjoyable and sound exceptional for the money. Highly recommended, whatever your choice of music or means of playback, as a long-term investment in head-fi pleasure. Enjoy!