Meze 99 Classics

Rating:
4.37903/5,
  1. obsidyen
    Great All-Rounder Headphones
    Written by obsidyen
    Published Jul 7, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Pleasant Sound Signature, Even Frequency Response, Superb Design, Comfortable
    Cons - Drivers Are Too Close to Ears, Mids Are a Bit Too Strong
    Background:
     
    I’m a 30 year old bank examiner and an audio enthusiast. My other hobbies are cars, fitness and occasional clubbing. I’ve been an “audiophile” since I got my first stereo system in 2010 (Yamaha amp and Monitor Audio speakers). I still enjoy speakers a lot, listen to Dali speakers these days, but I like headphones as well, especially when I’m doing stuff on computer or I’m outside somewhere.
     
    I prefer full, balanced sound with elevated bass. I dislike harsh treble and treble peaks, I also dislike pronounced upper midrange. I enjoy slight upper midrange dips for fatigue-free listening experience. I listen to most genres, but I prefer electronic music, dance music, alternative and other modern genres but I also enjoy classical a lot, especially when it’s a live performance. Extended and powerful bass response is important to me.
     
    Meze 99 Classics Specs:
     
    1. Transducer size: 40mm
    2. Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz
    3. Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
    4. Impedance: 32Ohm
    5. Rated input power: 30mW
    6. Maximum input power: 50mW
    7. Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
    8. Plug: 3.5mm gold plated
    9. Weight: 260 gr (9.2 ounces) without cables
    10. Ear-cups: walnut wood
     
    Accessories:

    Carrying case, 2 set of cables (1 long cable and 1 short cable with mic), aeroplane adapter, 3.5mm to 6.4mm adapter.
     
    99-classics-accessories.jpg
     
    Design and Fit:
     
     Meze 99 Classics could be the dream headphones for people who like headphones made from wood. The cups are made from walnut and have a satin finish wood grain. It feels very nice and luxurious in hand. It also looks very attractive and yummy. The design is also very fashionable. It is a headphone that can turn heads in public, as the combination of wood and gold look very attractive together. It is not a particularly manly or feminine design and will look good on everyone. The good thing is even if you don’t like the gold look, Meze offers other choices as well such as the silver design.
     
    Meze 99 Classics are over-ear headphones and cover around my ears. They are also fairly comfortable. However, my ears touch the fabric inside the cups, thus my ears are very close to the driver. This has a huge effect on the sound signature of 99 Classics and is probably the intended wearing style as the sound signature will be different if the pads were larger and ears were further from the driver. I will speak of this in Sound Analysis section of the review. For most people, 99 Classics will be very comfortable headphones, especially for the intended portability purpose. 
     
    Sound Analysis
     
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    I exclusively listened to EDM and contemporary pop with 99 Classics. Some tracks I have listened to: This One's For you by David Guetta, This Girl by Kungs, Tears by Clean Bandit, Sex by Cheat Codes, This is What You Came For by Calvin Harris, Bonbon by Era Istrefi, Too Good By Drake, Lyrics by Skepta and many others.
     
    99 Classics are very easy to drive. They sound good from iPhone 6s or Chord Mojo. I think they don’t scale much, if at all. Actually I think iPhone 6s’ flat and neutral sound signature fits better to 99 Classics than the slightly fuller and warmer tonality of Chord Mojo. In terms of bass performance or detail, I did not find to Mojo to add anything over iPhone 6s, only volume.
     
    99 Classics are fairly balanced headphones. The bass is slightly elevated but this is necessary since these are portable headphones and in noisy environments low frequencies are the first to suffer. Thus, out and about these will sound very neutral in low frequencies. In quiet environments, these will have slightly elevated bass response but not even that much. I do not find it anywhere near basshead levels. Just right enough to enjoy EDM, pop and other contemporary music.
     
    Mids are the strongest point of 99 Classics. If you are a mid lover, then you’re in for a treat. The reason why mids sound strong is due to the design of 99 Classics. The drivers are very close to ears and this makes the mids sound louder and stronger. Just try it with any V-shaped headphones you have. For instance, Fostex TH900s fit loosely around the ears and the ears are far from the drivers. TH900s are, by their nature, v-shaped headphones. However, if you press the earpads towards your ears, you will hear more mid detail and the sound will become less v-shaped. If, as people have been speaking in 99 Classics threads, Meze start to sell some bigger, traditional size earpads, I believe the sound will become less mid-focused. I would see this as a welcome change, because I like mids as neutral or slightly pushed back. I am not a fan of in-your-face mids. If you like your mids, however, 99 Classics will be great for you. There is actually a slight dip in upper mids and this was probably by choice to prevent upper mid harshness but low-mids and mid-mids are very strong.
     
    Treble of 99 Classics are airy and present but never harsh. If you like excitement in music and enjoy treble, you will like 99 Classics. Even if you prefer headphones with reduced treble, you will still like 99 Classics. The treble is present and extended but also flat and polite.
     
    As far as soundstage goes, both depth and width are very good for closed-back, portable headphones. These do not feel like closed-back headphones at all. I found 99 Classics great for multimedia purposes and enjoyed watching films with them very much as there was a very 3D soundstage and great explosions due to the bass capabilities of the headphones.
     
    As far as comparisons go, I find my Noble K10U Aluminium and Ultrasone Edition M  to be easily superior to 99 Classics as they should be due to the price difference. They play on a higher technical level on every part of the frequency response. Compared to Oppo PM-3, a more fair comparison can be made. PM-3 will give you more technical performance, more detail retrieval, more scalibility, more powerful bass and fuller sound. 99 Classics will give you a wider and bigger soundstage, more treble excitement (but not necessarily more detail) and better performance for films and games.
     
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    Conclusion
     
    99 Classics are great headphones at their price point. They are very nice allrounders and can be used at home and outside for various purposes whether it be music, games or films. I would easily recommend them to people who enjoy fun factor rather than analysing music and for people who prefer to have only one set of headphones. In the future, I hope to see headphones with 50mm biocellulose drivers from Meze Headphones with the same wood design. As portable headphones, you cannot go wrong with 99 Classics. Recommended.
      ChickenWaffles and MezeTeam like this.
  2. mark2410
    Meze 99 Classics Quick Review by mark2410
    Written by mark2410
    Published Jul 5, 2016
    3.5/5,
    Pros - WOW, seriously wow. Looks fantastic. Wow bass. Wow treble.
    Cons - Way too much wow. Shallow cups hurt my ears.
    Meze 99 Classics Quick Review by mark2410
     
    Thanks to Meze for the loaner.
     
    Full review here http://www.head-fi.org/t/813263/meze-99-classics-review-by-mark2410
     
    Brief:  All the wow and dazzle Romainia can muster.
     
    Price:  US$309 or 309 euro’s.  (£232 or £259)
     
    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
     
    Accessories:  Baggy for the cable and bits, a hard case for everything, a long non phone cable, a shorter phone cable, a 6.25 to 3.5mm adapter and lastly a plane adapter.
     
    Build Quality:  Sumptuous.  Its looks superb, it feels superb.  This is an item of Quality.
     
    Isolation:  Pretty fair, you could maybe get away with using these on a bus.  Fine for walking out and about if you were so inclined.  Not one for Tube or flights though.  Oh and as ever you’ll need to look out for wheeled chariots of death because you won’t hear traffic.
     
    Comfort/Fit:  Fit was great, on and done.  Comfort though, the pads got all around my ears but the cups were shallow enough that the insides rested directly on my ears.  This rapidly got oppressive and grew to pain.  After an hour I wanted them off and hurled across the room.
     
    Aesthetics:  They look stunningly good.  I didn’t love the cream but even still, damn they look great don’t they?  I can’t imagine anyone not thinking these look impressive even if they may not be to their own personal tastes.
     
    Sound:  Wow.  Wow again.  They are V shaped but with a flat bottom.  The bass is elevated, very seriously elevated and loves to come rip roaring out of nowhere at you.  Its great quality though so that I don’t mind so much.  It’s punchy with a hint of bloom, a pretty spot on blend actually.  Though a little less maybe of it.  Actually if it would maybe just take a Valium and sit the F down for a bit.  It’s like someone just fed it a bag of sugar and fistfuls of blue Smartie’s.  The treble is just the same.  Too excitable, super impressive for sure, I mean it is seriously impressive but oh good lord please just sit still for a bit, please.  Now these certainly make a massively impressive first impression.  It’s simply all of the wow, so much wow, it’s off the charts impressive.  The mids, they are less wild but have a great breadth to them.  Lots of openness and a touch dry, great detail retrieval though and great clarity.
     
    Still the V shaped nature of the bass and treble I find overwhelming.  If it were the bass on its own it would be fine but the treble, ahh for me that’s too much.  Its Grado esq treble with a spike in there up somewhere high that is just exhausting to my ears.
     
    Value:  So long as you want its sound then it quite comfortably beats the Senn Momentum Over-Ears acoustically and detail levels.  It also looks fantastic.  Overall it’s a high quality item, more than deserving of its price.
     
    Pro’s:  WOW, seriously wow.  Looks fantastic.  Wow bass.  Wow treble.
     
    Con’s:  Way too much wow.  Shallow cups hurt my ears.
      MezeTeam likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. voxie
      Hey Mark, thanks for sharing. Just wondering are they built to last re everyday commute? 
      voxie, Jul 6, 2016
    3. mark2410
      well time is the only true test but they are really very very nicely constructed. i would expect they would survive well especially given the cable is easily changed (they the bit that usually goes) and the whole things can be dismantled and repaired, i would expect them to live as long as you want them to. if anything i would say their somewhat noticeable looks could be the biggest problem, you look at them and you can tell they were expensive so it might be a bit of an invitation to thieves.
      mark2410, Jul 6, 2016
    4. voxie
      Thanks Mark for your reply, agree re an invitation to thieves.
      voxie, Jul 6, 2016
  3. Mshenay
    Simply Enjoyable
    Written by Mshenay
    Published Jun 24, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Inviting Sound, Ease of Use, Comfort, Build
    Cons - Slides Back with Tilted Head
    I want to thank the MezeTeam over at Head Fi for allowing me the chance to review the 99 Classics as part of their Tour. 
     
    You can purchase the 99 Classics in three colors right from their web site
    https://www.mezeheadphones.com/headphones.
     
    20160511_090925.jpg
    The team over at Meze was kind enough to launch a Tour for the 99 Classics back in December, even better they will be awarding a pair of the 99 Classics to one of the participants! I always enjoy working with products from a company that's as passionate about their potential customer base as they are about their products! 
     
    Box and Packing 
     
    The 99 Classics arrive in an elegant black box. Gold lettering and the faded silhouette of the 99 Classics make for an excellent first impression. I always appreciate minimalist packing, there's something to be said for simplicity. 
     
    20160511_104517.jpg
     
     
     
    The box is held closed by a magnetic flap, with the headphones secured inside of semi hard shell case. The shell it self has a textured black finish and forms itself around the unique shape head band and ear cups. I found the case to be extremely easy to handle and rugged. Again, I'm noticing a bit of a trend here with their design choices. 
     
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    Build Quality and Design
     
    The 99 Classics have a great in the hands feel to them, the metal head band is rigid while the suspension strap flexible to it. Overall, it feels solid, the metal headband does flex with a little effort and has just a little tension on it, allowing for an comfortable fit. It was neither loose, nor excessively tight on my head. 
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    The Walnut cups are beautiful, and well complimented by the gold assembly. Personally, I think the gold compliment the walnut better than the silver. I love the shape and stain of the cups too. The overall design is gorgeous to look at.​
     
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    For a smaller headphone, I found the ePads to be rather spacious.  The material was supple and breathable, it didn't get nearly as warm as I would have expected it to. The addition of a removable cable is much appreciated as well, I had no issues with the 3.5mm jacks nor the termination ports. 
     
     
    Overall, I'm fond of the design! I love the visual style of the headphone in addition to how easy it is to operate, it didn't feel delicate or brittle. Taking it on and off my head was hassle free as was transporting it. While I wouldn't want to walk around with the headphone, it's design makes such portable use a realistic possibility.  It was comfortable to wear and simple. Again, I really appreciate the more minimalist design they've implemented. Even better is that each part can be individually replaced as needed. An with nothing glued down, assembly and disassembly is simple. 
     
    While, I do not know the full in's and outs of the warranty being offered by Meze, I can speak for the modding and DIY guys who will appreciate the simplicity of build, as well as the availability of parts. An I my self personally enjoy being able to repair and service my own equipment when possible. However please be aware that any modification of self imposed repairs my void the warranty, so always check with the manufacturer first. 
     
    Sound 
     
    If you'd like an idea of my preference and what I gauge as neutral check out this article.  
     
     Overall, I found the 99 classics to be very warm and organic. The sound stage and micro detail were on par with most of the closed back headphones I've heard in this price range. What really stood out to me, was how effortlessly the 99 classics switched from genre to genre. 
     
    Starting with the lows, there was ample punch and decay to the bass. They had enough impact for heavier faster genres like Drum n Bass or Dub Step, while also proving to be tame enough to handle acoustic folk and rock.  
     
    The mids are sweet, with a little less edge than I like but still enough excitement for me to enjoy both metal and jazz. It paired nicely with both high quality and poorly recorded music, proving to be warm but not mushy. 
     
    Up top the 99 classics have enough air to bring out some of the fainter details, without being overly transparent. Making an excellent compliment to both my binaural classical as well some of my poorly ripped 50's pop. 
     
    All in all, these are a touch bassy than true neutral, but offer a very inviting and forgiving sound! I loved being able to just enjoy my music without necessarily having to make a lot of EQ adjustments. 
     
    Specs & Comparisons 
    1. Transducer size: 40mm​
    2. Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz​
    3. Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW​
    4. Impedance: 32Ohm​
    5. Rated input power: 30mW​
    6. Maximum input power: 50mW​
    7. Detachable Kevlar OFC cable​
    8. Plug: 3.5mm gold plated​
    9. Weight: 260 gr (9.2 ounces) without cables​
    10. Ear-cups: maple wood​
    11.  ​
    I sourced them from my LG V10, Audio GD NFB10ES2 and Hifiman HM901/601, an I again found them to be very consistent, offering a similar sound from source to source. While moving up to higher quality sources did yield a more detailed and controlled sound, there were no significant or major losses moving down. 
     
     99 Classics vs Sennheiser HD 25-1 ii
     
    In terms of sound, the two headphones have a very different signature. Overall, I found the 99 Classics to have a more balanced softer sound, again making it easier to move between genres. The HD 25-1 ii was darker overall with a better controlled sub bass, but was a touch grainy up top. 
     
    Still in terms of function, the headphones differ in design. You find the HD 25-1 ii popular with a lot of DJs for it's incredible isolation, and aptitude for bass heavy music. Not to mention it's nearly indestructible, how ever it's not really all that attractive and has a NASTY peak at around 8.4khz. So yea, with proper EQ  and a quality source the HD 25-1 ii can exceed the 99 Classics, but at the cost of simplicity and comfort.  
     
    That being said, I like using my HD 25-1 ii exclusively when I work out with a Rock Boxed hm601 with also has a rather complicated and very specific eq setting just for the HD 25-1 ii, so outside of the very specific chain that I have for the HD 25-1 ii, I enjoyed the 99 Classics out of all of my each of my sources, without the need for any EQ. 
     
     
    Conclusion 
    Again I'd like to thank the MezeTeam for offering me the chance to listen to these, and I would honestly recommend them to any one in the market for a closed back headphone within this price range. It's simplicity and versatility make it an excellent choice for both new and experienced listeners. Plus it's gorgeously assembled wood and metal build, will ensure that it's both a pleasure to listen to and look at. Candy for your eyes and ears! 
     
      B9Scrambler and MezeTeam like this.
  4. yage
    A headphone for the closet basshead audiophile
    Written by yage
    Published Jun 22, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Midrange and treble performance found on much more expensive headphones
    Cons - Sometimes overeager bass response
    Meze Headphones is a newcomer to the headphone scene, though you wouldn't know it if you gave their full-size 99 Classics Gold headphone a look and a listen. If there was ever a situation in head-fi-dom that gives cause to the maxim "don't judge a book by its cover," the 99 Classics might well be it. I know I was guilty of running afoul. I thought that Meze was competing more on looks than performance. Time to eat some crow.
    Description
    The 99 Classics have quite the distinctive appearance. The review sample came dressed in walnut and gold trim. Personal preference left me feeling that it might look slightly out of place in the office. Meze offers two other combinations - walnut / silver and maple / gold. Out of the three, I think the walnut / silver is definitely the most elegant.
    The walnut ear cups are satin finished and smooth to the touch. Their size was on the smallish side, which reminded me a lot of the Sennheiser Momentum. And like the Senns, I had to move the ear cups back so that the backside of the my earlobe just slid into the opening. The ear pads didn't sit against the nape of my neck like most full-size cans do, but I felt that I got a good seal anyway. (This was also borne out in the listening - you'll understand later.) The ear pads themselves are fairly thin and firm.
    Clamping force provided by the steel headband is comfortably snug. I didn't feel like my head was clamped in a vise, nor was I worried that the headphones would fly off my head if I had to suddenly look up from typing on the keyboard. Height adjustments are automatic, there's an elastic band hidden in the leather wrapped head pad that lengthens or shortens as you move the headphones down or up. They're also quite light - definitely comfortable enough for long listening sessions.
    A great feature is the fact that the earcups are symmetrical - left and right only exist when you plug in the cables. The left connector has a slight ridge to let you know by feel which side you're grasping. The only quibble I have here is that the cable is fairly microphonic. It's probably not much of a concern when moving about, but can be a little distracting in a quiet environment.
    Another set of cables with mic and volume controls are included, as well as a 1/8" to 1/4" adapter, an airplane adapter, a microfiber pouch to hold the loose items, and a stylish rigid carrying case to keep everything together.
    Overall, I was very pleased at the level of fit and finish that the 99 Classics displayed. Meze clearly did their homework here.
    Listening
    Now, build quality is one thing, sound quality is another. Here, the 99 Classics deliver... mostly. The tonal balance and articulation of the midrange and treble is simply exquisite. On "I'm Old Fashioned", Coltrane's opening exposition had a nearly perfect blend of warmth, inner detail, and air. Fuller's trombone and Kelly's trumpet also possessed a warm glow that would match the performance from much more expensive headphones. Cymbal strikes didn't devolve into tizz and fizz. Drew's piano solo sounded expressive, warm, and eminently human. The Meze was clearly punching above its weight class in these frequency registers. Bass, however, came across a little too juiced. It didn't quite strike the right balance as the mids and highs did, electing to telegraph weight and tone at the expense of relaying the finer points of Chambers' technique. Swapping in "Al vaiven de mi carreta" from Afrocubism, the bass sounded nicely filled in and better balanced with the rest of the mix. Vocals were spot on and images well delineated, but I noted a lack of depth to the presentation.
    Pumped up bass can sometimes prove to be an Achilles' heel on classical music. I cued up 'Jupiter' from Charles Dutoit's interpretation of The Planets, and encountered a decidedly pleasant surprise. In this case, the bass response of the 99 Classics imbued the presentation with a concert hall-like feel. In other words, it made the headphone sound bigger than it actually was. The presentation was very immediate - you definitely have a front row seat with the 99 Classics. Spatial resolution was good, but again it was in the traditional sense where images appear in a straight line from left to right through the head. The 99 Classics proved their worth in the deft way it handled the dynamics of the orchestra while finessing the sonics with detail and air. Impressive. Moving on to Chesky's release of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, I detected a slight unevenness during Wild's opening run on the keys, possibly due to the tipped-up bass. Strings possessed good body and pizzicatos had a clear pluck with a halo of tone following soon thereafter. However, the 99 Classics struggled to fully reproduce the acoustic of the performance hall.
    The slight unevenness in the lower registers held the Meze back from consistently turning in stellar performances on modern pop and rock. On "Ship to Wreck", the bass line and kick drum were a little too phat, but still tuneful. And I registered no complaints on the portrayal of Welch's vocals - smooth and with a hint of warmth. When I listened to "Intervention" from Arcade Fire's second album, Neon Bible, lower notes from bowed bass had a slight emphasis while the kick drum was a touch overbearing. Contrast this with "Since I've Been Loving You", where John Paul Jones' bass line was more prominent than usual but still believably balanced within the mix. The 99 Classics also turned in a satisfying performance on Adele's "Water Under the Bridge" from her latest album, 25. Vocals were neither sexed up nor toned down, snare hits possessed good snap and air, and cymbal strikes were portrayed with clean timbre. But another track on that same album, "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)," had the lows sounding a bit overhyped.
    I also noticed that the 99 Classics seemed to shine on the AudioQuest DragonFly v1.2 rather than my Sonett 2 / C-5xeMP, so most of the impressions I've laid out are from the former setup rather than the 'he-man' rig. I detected a slight bit of chestiness around Joao Gilberto's introductory vocals in "Girl from Ipanema" with the Sonett 2 in charge, along with a more resonant character to plucked bass and guitar notes. Perhaps the lower output impedance of the DragonFly controlled the drivers better.
    Comparisons
    The NAD VISO HP50 has been somewhat of a benchmark in relatively affordable sealed headphones. It has a slightly warmer sound signature and the midbass displays a propensity for coloring the sound just a hair. Its midrange and treble clarity are a small notch down from the 99 Classics, which seem to capture inner detail a bit better. However the HP50's offer better bass control, whether driven from a tube or solid state amp.
    The Oppo PM-3 is a step up in price and a slight jump in sound quality. Its midrange is creamy smooth, but treble presence is a little softened next to the 99 Classics. The Oppo also takes a step back from articulation in favor of tone, but offers a more even-keeled presentation. The Meze counters with a more dynamic, impactful experience.
    Conclusions
    Meze clearly has a very competitive headphone in the 99 Classics. I feel that if the bass response was dialed in just a bit more without touching the midrange and treble, they'd have an instant classic in their hands. For now, I think the 99 Classics work best for the closet basshead with a low output impedance amp who doesn't want to sacrifice midrange and treble refinement. My bet is that probably describes a lot more audiophiles than they'd like to admit.
     
    Associated Equipment
    Headphones - Audeze LCD-XC, NAD VISO HP50, Oppo PM-3
    Amplification - AudioQuest DragonFly v1.2, DNA Sonett 2
    Sources - AudioQuest DragonFly v1.2, Ayre Acoustics C-5xeMP
    Cabling - Analysis Plus Pro Oval Studio balanced, Analysis Plus Pro Power Oval
    Power / tweaks - Bryston BIT 15, UpTone Audio USB REGEN
  5. 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.
     
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    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.
     
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    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.
      bgbkt, PinkyPowers, pytter and 2 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
  6. bala
    Pairing good looks with good sound.
    Written by bala
    Published Jun 19, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Design, comfort, build, easy-to-drive & lovely sound.
    Cons - Size/portability, microphonic cable, slight fit issue.
    The 99 Classics have an eye-catchy refined style about them. I had the Walnut Gold finish, though I like the both the Walnut and maple silver finishes more.The premium cable looks wonderful and complements the headphone design. These are a "good size" headphone provided with a nice hard pouch. There are two sets of detachable cables provided one for more mobile/smartphone use and the other for at-home listening.The headphone does not have predetermined LR (though the cables are marked), so it could in principle be worn either way which is a cool design in my book. Meze has done a wonderful job on the build of this headphone and one can "feel" the sturdiness the moment you lay hands on it. The solid metal band, lovely polished wooden earcups, and well-set earpads all rounded up by a compartmental design (have a look at the teardown on their homepage) makes this a thing of beauty. The headphone design also ensures an almost completely serviceable product.
     
    2016-05-2212.21.391.jpg
     
     
     

    The 99 Classics is a headphone that one cannot easily dislike - if that does not sound like a compliment, let me tell you that it is! The bass is catchy, pushed a bit forward and slightly loose or boomy (but I am of the opinion that's the "woody" character). Soundstage is very good for a closed headphone with appreciable dimensionality.Good treble presence with enough liveliness without getting into the "bright" territory.The mids are clean and clear and presented in a very neutral style (though I was expecting a mid-forward presentation). There are times when I felt that the bass got in the way of the music but these instances were far and few, sufficient to say that suitable source matching would make this headphone better but improper ones don't pull down the enjoyment factor much.Together, the presentation makes this a wonderful all-round headphone. On the go, the added bass warmth was very satisfying and complemented by the clean and clear mids and highs (this just made pop & electronic much more appealing). At home, the clarity provides a very engrossing listen.These headphones are driven well right out of my iPod Classic, Fiio X3 and my laptop. An entry level amp/DAC setup (say the Dragonfly) can only make things better by providing a cleaner source with more clarity - and they deserve it!
     
    Meze99classicsocialimage.jpg
     
    The comfort on these are wonderful if the earpads are seated in circumaural fashion (which it did for most of my friends!) but in my case the earpads actually turned to be smaller, applying more pressure on the upper ear! That meant I would have to re-adjust them every now and then to minimize discomfort. During outdoor use, I found the size of the headphone and the fact that the earcups do not fold flat as issues hampering comfort. Considering the sound quality, I decided to carry the headphone in a backpack than leaving haging on around my neck. These were the niggles that affected my experience with the otherwise wonderful headphone.
     
    The Meze 99 Classics are worthy of being considered as a good choice for the discerning music listener. They traverse the border of clarity and a fun sound very adept manner. Apart from the small complaints regarding comfort/fit I can heartily recommend them to everybody looking for a stylish, well built and good sounding headphone. My full review is available on my blog.
      MezeTeam likes this.
  7. moedawg140
    Review: Meze Headphones 99 Classics
    Written by moedawg140
    Published Jun 17, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - One-of-a-kind build, pride in build and listening experience
    Cons - Some listeners may feel that the earpads may get warm over time
    Review: Meze Headphones 99 Classics
     
     
    I tried to post a review only to the review template, but I was unable to because the system stated I was above the maximum character count, hence the review thread creation.
     
    My main review is here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/811551/review-meze-headphones-99-classics.
     
    Here is the TL:DR version (my video with comparisons and full review is located in the review thread):
     
     
    Is the 99 Classics worth it?

     
    If you are interested in a headphone that has a terrific build, a smooth and punchy sound and a price that won’t break the band, the 99 Classics is worth an audition and purchase.  
     
     
    Final thoughts
     
    ...For a one-of-a-kind type of presentation: Walnut earcups, gold hardware and an overall bespoke sound - the 99 Classics is a true performer, inside and out.  Is the 99 Classics the most holographic headphone you will listen to in your life?  Maybe, maybe not.  What the 99 Classics manages to personify is a headphone that you will be proud to present and wear with pride, not worrying about exact technicalities, and to truly get lost in the music for a very comforting experience.

     
    Specifications
     
    1. Transducer size: 40mm
    2. Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz
    3. Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
    4. Impedance: 32Ohm
    5. Rated input power: 30mW
    6. Maximum input power: 50mW
    7. Two Detachable Kevlar OFC cables (Length = 4 ft/ 1.2 m and ~9.84 ft/ 3 m)
    8. Plug: 3.5mm gold plated
    9. Weight: 260 grams (9.2 ounces) without cables
    10. Ear-cups: walnut wood
    11. Earpad inner dimensions: Length = 6 cm/ 2.36 in X Width = 4.5 cm/ 1.77 in
      B9Scrambler and MezeTeam like this.
  8. Takeanidea
    Meze 99 Classic - wooden elegance Indiegogo smash hit....and a great set of headphones
    Written by Takeanidea
    Published Jun 13, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Bass Soundstage Value
    Cons - Isolation

    MEZE 99 CLASSIC
    What beats beneath the elegance?

     
    99-gold-product1_21_08_2015_13_12_44_0_570x720.jpg
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    It has been mentioned that a review has the potential for bias. [​IMG]The headphones are sent to us for free evaluation for 7 days in return for an honest review on Headfi. [​IMG]We ship them onwards at our own cost and for the majority of us we do not get to keep the headphones. Reviewers are doing this because they like listening to different headphones and writing about them. [​IMG]As for the companies who are offering their product to the community for testing , I believe this is something to celebrate and to embrace. In my opinion , it gives the products offered up for review a positive start. From thereon all bets are off . The headphones sink or swim accordingly. Thankfully , all ears are different all headphones are different and all musical tastes are different. This is why we hope as reviewers you will find this as some benefit in your decision as to which headphone or headphones you choose to buy with your hard earned cash.
     
    A tale of Trev and his tumultuous trip with the wooden marvel that is sure to be talked about until revision II hits the market.
    Many months ago I was perusing the head fi threads and found the Meze page scouting for reviewers for a European Tour. The looks alone convinced me that these would be worth a listen so I put my name forward and luckily was chosen.
    Finally my turn has come up. I can give you my findings based on a week with them.

     

    Introduction
     

    Meze are an up and coming Romanian company who did a kickstarter campaign for the 99 Classics. We can speculate as to why this was but I believe this phone is the first bespoke full size product they have made.  Their website is well presented and currently only 2 products are on sale, the 99 and an IEM. Clearly there are high hopes for this phone.
    With thanks to Meze ,I have had the pleasure of listening to their sole over the ear headphone for a little over a week.
    I hope I can give you a flavour of their sound signature and some insight into comfort, fit, looks, sensitivity and versatility.
    The 99 Classics are the result of in house development and a successful Indiegogo campaign. I am not a fan of Indiegogo because of having to pay money up front for a product which may not have a working prototype. Meze, being an established company carry no such pitfalls and reached their investment goal in 2 days.
    The 99 Classics are an over the ear design. They have chosen wood for their cup design in keeping with previous models. Meze believe that a wood design is timeless and they have built their headphones to last. The wood cups take 45 days of work before they are ready. They are highly polished and each cup is unique in the grain it has.
    The cups and pads are relatively thin and of a medium width. They are a closed design. The drivers are close to the ear. My ears fit inside the cups but I do have small ears. Meze are looking at the design to see if larger cups ,thicker pads etc are feasible but for now let us look at what is real.

     

    The Sound
     
     
    The sound signature is a fun one, many reviewers seem agreed on this. I found the bass to be quite prominent without bleeding markedly into the mids and highs. There are advantages to this signature particularly with regard to tracks which are considered bass shy.
    Modern tracks are not bass shy in my opinion. Even to the point of eqing some bass off hip hop /loudness wars type material, I have had more fun listening to other genres.
    Classical music has a new lease of life with the 99. Without sacrificing the grandeur of the violins and piano and horn sections there is a pleasant background oomph that gives a nice body to the presentation. I would encourage any owners to send us their impression of Classical Music for good or for bad. For me I found it really lent something and had me searching for my favourite selections. For those who are not necessarily die hard classical fans but don't mind a few strings lending some depth to a song , please try Eve of the War by Jeff Wayne.

    [​IMG]
    The extra bass lifts the track in my opinion.
    There are many tracks out there that lend themselves to the Meze style of delivery - Gary Numan’s Replicas

    [​IMG]
     
    sounds like a different recording for example.
    The low end I would describe as somewhat slow in it’s decay possibly even a little flabby. This is not a criticism because I found it extremely pleasing on much of the music I listened to.

     
    For all the bass weight here there are other redeeming factors for those seeking a refinement in their sound quality.  Put any track you like on - there is a clarity here that makes it’s way through the bass. I felt that the obvious characteristic of this clarity could be heard through the echo and separation of the instruments. The Meze headphones have got this right, certainly for the sound I look for in a headphone.
    We have bass and we have clarity so in terms of a €300 headphone we have some very good plusses.
     
    As a comparison I have a pair of Pendulumic Stance S1+ bluetooth closed phones .
     
    267971-stereoheadphones-pendulumic-stances1.jpg
     
     

    They retail at £174.99 or €221.56 , approximately 26% cheaper.
     
    They are a neutral sounding headphone with what I’ve considered to be a competitive sound quality for this price brand. The Stance sounded relatively boring when pitted against the 99s.
    Next up , the more expensive Mr Speakers Alpha Dogs, a closed full size with larger cups and larger pads.

    DSC01749.jpg
     
    A quote from a head announcement from Dan as of May 2016  -
    “To celebrate the end of an era and thank our customers, especially the Head-Fi community for so much encouragement and support, we're holding a "Thank You" sale for our entire line of T50-based Mad Dog and Alpha headphones.  These will be the last we make, and once these Alpha and Mad Dog headphones are gone… “That's all folks!”
     
    Mad Dog:  $299.99 now $269.99
    Mad Dog Pro: $449.99 now $379.99
    Alpha Dog: $599.99 now $499.99
    Alpha Prime: $999.99 now $799.99
    …which makes the Alpha Dogs €434 or 44% more expensive.


    The Alpha Dogs sound more airy and refined than the Meze 99 Classics. The Meze Classics have more bass extension , far more, than the Alpha Dogs. The difference is not a subtle one.  The Dogs have an arguably more accurate , faster decaying low end response.  
     
    How do the Meze Classics compare to similar priced IEM’s? The concept behind the full size and In Ear is entirely different but the results are the same - sound comes out. I had a set of Sony XBA4ips knocking about so I tested the 2 side by side.
    Sony-XBA-4-400x300.jpg
     

    The Sony ’s have 4 drivers each side - all balanced armature - 1 full range 1 tweeter 1 woofer and 1 super woofer.
    They are now discontinued but are highly regarded in the In Ear world.

     
    A pair can now be had for £199 or €252 - 16% cheaper than the Meze.
    The Meze has better sound quality in my opinion. The bass is far bigger on the Classics, the sound is much richer and thicker , the sound stage is bigger and the clarity and separation beats the Sonys.

     

    Sound Quality Conclusions
     
     

    The Meze 99 Classics have a bassy, rich , thick , clear, wide sound signature. They can compete favourably with IEMs and closed headphones in the same price bracket and some will prefer the sound signature over closed headphones  costing significantly more.
    Is the hump in the bass likely to become fatiguing over weeks , months and years? This is a question many may ask.  I feel a responsibility to addressing this issue , particularly as it seems I have recommended these headphones for classical recordings. Most people I know are using the classical genre as a means to relax ; to use a headphone that is screaming and punching rather than soothing and caressing is not really what we are looking for! The reason I am hoping the Meze won’t fatigue is because they are not just about bass ; they have lots of other qualities. Those qualities do not need lots of volume to become part of the signature , they are present at relatively low listening levels. I believe one of the key factors in listening fatigue stems from not only listening to artificially enhanced frequency ranges , it also comes from being forced to listen at a high volume to bring all of the dynamics of the music into the mix.

     
     

    The Style
     
     
    The unit I was sent was one of 3 models being sold.
    The Walnut Classic Gold model - elegance with the wood cups, the 3 colour scheme and the size is understated. The understated has been achieved with the thinness of the pads the ear cups and the non solid dual rings supporting the headband.

    99-gold-product1_21_08_2015_13_12_44_0_570x720.jpg
     
    The Walnut Silver - for those who will love the walnut effect but may feel the gold as a darker colour may look perhaps a little too much. The silver offsets the darkness of the finish of the cups quite pleasantly in my opinion.
    99-platinum-product1_09_02_2016_12_56_51_0_570x720.jpg
     
     
    The Maple Silver - a much more modern styling , much brighter and lighter in colour scheme of course. My favourite combination of traditional wood with advanced minimalism. Beautiful.
    99-silver-product1_22_09_2015_15_53_53_0_570x720.jpg
     

    The Fit
     
     The headphones fit my ears extremely well. I have small ears. The drivers are very close to my ears. I am certain this is giving the bass a lift. However, I have no feeling that there is a lack of upper range frequency loss due to the proximity. For this reason , I am wondering whether there would be an advantage with thicker pads. This may well over time lend more comfort to the listening experience for those with larger ears so if Meze manage to achieve the same sound quality with bigger pads then this is surely some research worth pursuing.
    The headband has just the right amount of tension in it that the leather adjustment band rests easily around the top of the head ; no pulling clamps and adjustment bolts at the side of the headphone and everything is done in a second.
    There is a degree of movement on the cups against the ears and there is a slight clamping effect.to This will maintain that proximity to the ears and help to generate the bass. It’s all about the bass!

    giphy.gif
     
     
    Sensitivity
     
    The Meze Classics are loud enough to use on your phone and ask for no amplification. Below my Cubot H1
    Cubot.H1.jpg
     
    tested extensively with Deezer on numerous 320 kps tracks as well as some uploaded flacs. They respond to a cleaner crisper source and you will hear differences between a phone and a DAP.  I was fortunate to coincide this review with a loan from HiFiHeadphones of the Audio Opus 1 Digital Audio Player.
    the-bit-opus1-dap-baladeur-hifi-dac-cs4398-x2-24bit192khz-dsd_1__1.jpg
     

    I loved the sound of this player hooked up to the Meze headphones. They performed extremely well together and in fact the vast majority of my testing was done sat in a comfortable chair as close to the outside as the weather would allow.
    On some days , this was directly outside in sweltering heat with only my music and a chilled pint or two of beer to comfort me. I have no hesitation in recommending this as ideal listening conditions. The writing was done when it was raining and the listening was done when the sun was shining.

    Tequila-Sunrise.jpg
     
     
    The correct way round I’m sure you’ll agree.

    In the spirit of researching this article , I decided to see what difference, if any , adding the Chord Mojo Dac/Amp par excellence to the stack would make.
    eabd6-Image.jpg
     
    Attaching the optical out cable from the Opus 1 to the Mojo the Classics were put into 1 of the 2 headphone outs of the Mojo. To my surprise , I did not like the output from the Mojo. The Meze Classics sounded better direct from the Opus 1! Amezing!
    The sound thickened up using the Mojo, it sounded like the Meze were being pushed too hard.  This makes life much easier in my opinion. ……or does it? Much experimentation can be done with sources for the Classics; some will make the Meze sound too bassy some will hit that sweet spot. Many of the cheaper sources are bass light that I have heard; the Colorfly C3 for example may be a good bet.

    Capture.png
     
     
    Lovely looking very small not particularly powerful or great storage or UI but sounded lovely with the Classics. And pretty cheap…
     
     
    Isolation
     
     
    The Meze 99s have average isolation. At moderate listening levels in a quiet environment none of the outside world gets in.  With the TV on sat beside your loved one there will be an issue.
    The headphones don’t bleed so they can’t be heard by anyone else whilst they are being worn. The thinness of the pads and cups leads to some outside noise getting in. Whether people consider the Meze suitable for out and about  is a moot point ; there is an advantage to a headphone with some isolation but not overmuch. Some traffic noise can be considered  necessary for safety.

    The finish of these may lead people to consider them for indoor
    Versatility use only.  Maze however have supplied 2 leads - 1 is a 3 metre cable for indoor listening ,the 2nd much shorter with an inline mic for hands free phone calls.

    99-classics-accessories.jpg
     

    Out and about use is further enhanced by the large carry case provided.
    99-classics-design.jpg
     
     

     The phones do not fold flat so the case is too large for pockets but will fit in a backpack for  commuter  / tourist use.
    I would strongly recommend when not being worn and carried around that the headphones stay in their case. God forbid that they might be dropped on their cups and get scraped on the pavement.
    Oh hang on……

     
     
    The Company
     
     
     The next part of the story is a tale of disaster! Yes, even reviewers get clumsy sometimes. For reasons unknown to me I ended carrying the Meze 99s into work from my vehicle in a velour bag. I was that confident they couldn’t possibly be dropped by me ; I am far too careful for such things.  Suffice it to say , I tripped on a crack in the pavement that didn’t exist, stopped myself from falling by means of a double fast trot on the spot and a good bit of windmilling and grabbing at air, and something had to give. The Meze 99 Classics did just that. They came out of my hands which were too busy flailing around to save them from hitting the ground! To my horror I noticed I had created some small chips on both wooden cups! This is both a testimony to the Meze’s strength (they didn’t crack right down the middle or on any of the seams-there aren’t any) and the fragility of the veneer finish.  
    Had the same happened to any set of headphones I am sure the result would have been similar. In short, please look after them!
    I immediately contacted Meze and offered to pay for them in full.  To their credit Meze sent me a prompt reply stating accidents happen , the headphones were repairable and there would be no question of me buying these headphones.
    Bear in mind that all parts of Meze 99 Classics are replaceable.

    99-classics-fully-serviceable1.jpg
     
    No glue is used. I have a pair of AKG K1000s , built to last , looking as good as the day they were made. Apart from they are struggling with  subbass on the right driver. I believe the reason to be that the glue has deteriorated over the course of the 20+ years since they were made. Not an impossible task to remedy by any means , but a long discontinued phone of this sort of value means either an expensive specialist repair or an unenviable DIY repair. All this for a pinprick hole in a bead of glue. Maze have sensibly avoided this pitfall . No glue is used, everything can be unscrewed.  Another consumer friendly aspect to these phones.
     

    Conclusions
     
     
    The Meze 99 Classics have a distinctive rich sound. They add bass to tracks , some will benefit from this , some will not . There is much more to these headphones sound than bass. Due to the combination of all these things, I would recommend them for classical music and bass shy music. I had a great deal of fun listening to all my favourite tracks and genres of music with them.
    There are 3 distinctive styles, hopefully there is a style available for everyones taste.
    The headphones can be used outdoors as well as indoors and go very loud even from a smartphone. Isolation is not in the top tier - tube rides and busy roads may lend themselves to a different headphone. If you do use them outside be careful. If you can’t be careful, don’t worry! They’ll fix them for you.
    Meze have a winner on their hands with the Meze 99 Classics. They are fun sound with some serious styling and are built to last.

    1. View previous replies...
    2. FortisFlyer75
      Very enjoyable read and to the point with nice smattering of humor ; )
       
      (I long to hear these again and have missed the Classic's sound sig.)
      FortisFlyer75, Jun 14, 2016
    3. Takeanidea
      @Bansaku thanks for your observations - that's exactly what we needed to hear
      @FortisFlyer75 thanks for the kind comment
      Takeanidea, Jun 15, 2016
    4. glassmonkey
      Nice review! I totally agree with using a leaner source on these. Love the Meghan Trainor gif!
       
      Here's a cover of All About That Bass with some actual bass for all the fans of Avi Kaplan of Pentatonix.
      glassmonkey, Jun 15, 2016
  9. TravAndAlex
    Style, I’d like to introduce you to substance. Oh, I see you’ve already met.
    Written by TravAndAlex
    Published Jun 10, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Build quality, design, materials, included accessories, fun engaging sound.
    Cons - Slightly loose bass, synthetic leather ear pads are warm.
    Meze 99 Classics Review
     
    COMPANY:  Meze
    MODEL:  99 Classics
    COST:  $309 USD  (approximately $400 CAD at time of writing)
    TYPE:  Closed, Dynamic, Over-Ear
    DRIVER SIZE:  40mm Neodynium
    FREQUENCY RESPONSE:  15 Hz – 25 kHz
    EFFICIENCY: 103 dB
    NOMINAL IMPEDANCE: 32 Ohms
    WEIGHT:  260 Grams
    COLOURS:  Sustainable wood ear cups:  light maple with silver accents and beige ear pads or walnut with gold accents and black ear pads
     
    INCLUDES:
     
    Headphone Adapter – 3.5 mm to 6.35 mm and 3.5 mm to dual airline 3.5 mm.
    Headphone Cable – 1.2 meter OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) with single button remote, and 3 meter OFC.   Both are 3.5 mm with dual sided 3.5 mm mono connectors to ear cup and are Kevlar covered.  Cables are white or black depending on color of model.
    High quality padded cardboard box.
    Clamshell hard-sided carry case with zipper closure and color-match logo.
    Small zipper pouch to store cables and adapters.
     
    IMG_4017.jpg
     
    Build, Aesthetics and Comfort
     
    What’s the first thing you think of when I say “Romanian hi-fi audio?”  If it isn’t headphones, perhaps it should be.
     
    Smaller, boutique companies perhaps need to try harder than the established juggernauts.  In this case it is very obvious how this benefits the consumer and how it drives innovation and greatness.  Antonio Meze (pronounced "meh-zeh"), company founder and designer of the 99 Classics, has worked on creating anything from ski poles, to bottles, to cell phones for other manufacturers.  Now he’s designing products under a company bearing his own name, and the 99 Classics certainly bears all the hallmarks of a labour of love.
     
    In the best way, these remind me of vintage JBL speakers.  They exude the perfect industrial mix of wood and metal.  Clearly designed to be admired and not solely listened to.  Sure, there are other speakers out there that sound great and look fine, but only with their grills on.  1970’s JBL knew that the listener wants to take off those grills and see the modern design and quality of the hidden bits.  They knew that while you rocked out, you would admire both the beauty of design and the roaring beast of sound.  The 99 Classics are no different in this regard.
     
    I’ve written before that the Sennheiser HD598 “offers a distinctive design focused on luxury and refinement”, and I meant it.  However, side-by-side with the Meze 99 Classics, the overall impression of the HD598 is one of plastic, and plastic just doesn’t impress with any sort of intrinsic value, not like the solidity and feel of natural wood and metal.  The Meze headphones make the HD598s look and feel like a bit of a toy in comparison. 
     
    These headphones remind me why I fell in love with music playing gear in the first place.  The tasteful design sensibilities are seamlessly integrated with the headphone’s structure.  There is a wonderful balance (and not compromise) of form and function.  This starts with the high quality packaging, the abundance of included accessories and of course, the headphones themselves. 
     
    IMG_4014.jpg
     
    Meze proudly declares that there is neither plastic nor glue in any part that the user interacts with – actual screws hold everything together.  This strengthens the luxurious impression, but also creates a headphone that can be repaired (much like the quality items of yesteryear).  Wood, metal and high quality synthetic leather is what you feel and see.  Of note, the synthetic leather ear pads are very comfortable but on the warm side (expect to be a bit sweaty after an album on a balmy day).  Perhaps an option for HiFiMan Focus style pads (leather exterior with velour on the skin touching side) would offer a better balance and remain a bit cooler.  The foam in the ear pads appears to be memory foam, but it seems to rebound much more quickly than Sennheiser Momentum ear pads.
     
    Sizing is done via an elastic suspension headband that automatically adjusts depending on head size, and overall it works perfectly: pop them on your head and they fit first try.  Tension is perhaps just ever so slightly strong.  A metallic skeleton frame hovers above the suspension band and creates the clamping force (which is slightly on the tight side as well).  I applaud the thin profile and appealing curve, it is a FAR more attractive design than the similar one employed by HiFiMan. One drawback is that the design is non-folding so they cannot be made more compact for travel.  In many ways these remind me of the first generation Sennheiser Momentum (another easy to drive, mobile, sealed headphone of similar cost) from the thin, stylish design, to the shape and size of the ear cups and non-folding construction.
     
    Continuing that comparison, one of the main complaints about the original Momentum Over-Ear headphones was the small cup size, which was not friendly to those folks with larger ears.  The space within the 99 Classics’ cup is of approximately the same height as the Momentum and about 10-15 mm wider.  Depth is also on the shallow side, something to be aware of if you struggle to find headphones ample enough to contain your ears.  While I’m lucky enough that I can wear Momentums comfortably, the Classics fit me perfectly and do offer noticeable if slight, amount more room. 
     
    Overall, these are a very comfortable pair of headphones with light weight, soft ear pads, and reasonable clamping force.  Isolation from outside noise is about average for a headphone of this type.  Microphonics from fabric wrapped cables can bother some folks, but wasn’t an issue for me.  Another point of interest is that left and right are not marked on the headphones themselves, this is determined by how you insert the marked cables.
     
    Of note, the web site is excellent with pictures, descriptions and videos detailing the build and design.  It is well worth visiting to see how these headphones are put together.  Nothing is hidden behind the proverbial curtain and Meze certainly seems proud of their creation.
     
    IMG_4019.jpg
     
    Sound Signature and Quality
     
    The similarities to the Sennheiser Momentums continue, although in every way, I’d have to say the 99 Classics are the superior sounding headphone.  Both are relatively neutral and without fatal flaws in tonal balance, clarity nor dynamics.  The overall tonality of the 99 Classics is exceptional with a great balance of depth, mids and highs, while maintaining accuracy and excellent imaging.  The soundstage isn’t enormous like with some high-quality open backed headphones, yet placement of instruments in the mix seems very coherent, positional and not crowded.  Dynamics are very good (although not as punchy as planar type headphones provide), however the 99 Classics’ exceptional efficiency means they can be easily driven to dynamic levels from a phone or portable player and do not require an amplifier to enjoy.  Where vocals on the Momentum sound a bit recessed (although very even), on the 99 Classics they come much more to center stage.
     
    Midrange
     
    Vocals remain coherent and even in tone regardless of music style.  They incorporate well with the higher and lower frequencies, remain solid and clear, and offer a bit of punch and contrast to the background.  Unlike the Momentums, the midrange on the 99 Classics offers an even sound pressure with the highs and lows (the Sennheisers are more recessed).  Rich sounding in the lower-mid frequencies, they remain smooth and transition perfectly into the lower bass notes.  Overall impression is of good speed and detail.
     
    Treble
     
    Treble transitions seamlessly from the mid-range frequencies and remains clear and quick sounding across the board.  I found no harshness, and I wouldn’t describe these headphones as particularly bright, a good balance has been achieved with the midrange and bass.   The overall impression is intimate yet energetic. 
     
    Bass
     
    I tend to prefer an open headphone sound, and to me the bass response of the 99 Classics sounds slightly emphasized.  It doesn’t appear to be boosted, just is perhaps a tad loose and not quite so tightly controlled.  That being said, bass doesn’t overwhelm the mix and it certainly does create a fun sound signature.  Extension is good, reasonably deep and punchy, and the drivers seem capable with most music styles.  The lowest notes may create a bit of minor distortion or flutter, but this is not noticeable on the vast majority of songs, and wasn’t ever alarming.  The overall impression was engaging and enjoyable.
     
    IMG_4010.jpg
     
    Conclusion
     
    Although certainly a cliché, as a Canadian, I can’t help but see the number 99 and think of the finest hockey player of all time.  Gretzky embodied all the characteristics that truly made him ‘the great one’.  To put on the number 99, is to have a lot to live up to.  Amazingly, this little company from Romania has done it in the world of audio with this simply tremendous headphone. 
     
    They’ve made a comfortable, sealed headphone that can be used portably and is somehow an almost perfect balance of form and function.  The 99 Classics are undeniably beautiful in both construction and in sound.  They provide an energetic, vibrant experience and do so in a truly luxurious style.  They sound great with basically any type of music and look terrific anywhere headphones are welcome. 
     
    I’d like to personally thank the great folks at Meze and specifically the awesome Lorand Czibere for providing a pair of 99 Classics for me to review.   I look forward to where this company is headed.
     
     
    Style, I’d like to introduce you to substance.  Oh, I see you’ve already met.
     

      Wilashort, HungryPanda and MezeTeam like this.
  10. joeq70
    Pretty looking and sounding headphones that make for a great portable listen.
    Written by joeq70
    Published May 24, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Premium look and feel, easy to drive, sound great for portable use, fair price
    Cons - Bass could be both deeper and tighter, not something I would use as desktop headphone replacement

    *I am reviewing the Meze 99 Classics as a condition of the recent tour conducted by the fine folks at Meze. The following is simply my honest impressions.

    Introduction and Initial Observations

    First, a little bit about this headphone. The 99 Classics are marketed as a headphone built from the ground up with an aim at those looking for both high quality, neutral sound and high-end looks in one package. There are a few things I'd like to add to this, now having seen, touched, and heard the headphones myself--these promises are definitely delivered upon in my experience. I was impressed that the headphones use real wood and metal, with very little to no plastic being used at all. Further, I find the headphones to be quite attractively designed, though this will come down to personal preference.  Despite this, the headphone remains quite light and ideal for listening on the go.  My only qualm with the build quality of the headphones is that I would rather they cost about $40-50 more and come with lambskin earpads instead of the cheap feeling pleather ones that come with it at present.
     

    Equipment Used

    JRiver Media Center (FLAC files)→Aune T1 (with various tubes)
    Samsung Galaxy Note 5
     
    -Nothing fancy here, really. But, fortunately, the 99 Classics don't need anything fancy to sound great.
     

    How Do They Sound?

    I really liked listening to the 99 Classics. They have a lively, energetic sound, yet have a touch of warmth to them. The highs are clear, but not sharp. The mids are fairly intimate and bass has a pleasant fullness to it. The way these are tuned actually reminds quite a bit of a "smaller sounding" ZMF Omni. The Omni has deeper bass, more detail, larger soundstage, more depth, and better imaging BUT if you were to kind of take the core essence of that warmish, intimate, and yet detailed sound of the Omni and shrink it into a portable headphone, I think it would look a lot like the 99 Classics. Some more points on the 99 Classics:
     
    1. Extremely easy to drive.
    2. Sounded equally nice out of the T1 and my phone. I would be totally content using these portably with nothing but a phone or mp3 player. To emphasize: no dedicated amp needed.
    3. They are very light on head. Not the most comfortable headphone ever, but quite good still. I actually had this weird issue where the headband would pinch my hair and pull it when I removed the headphones. Despite this, I actually like the headband design.
    4. These lean warm and are energetic sounding. Treble-heads need not apply. Also, I'd say bassheads will be disappointed. However, those who like a lively sound that isn't overemphasized in any one area, you will probably dig the 99 Classics a lot.
    5. Many people have complained that the earpads are too small. I agree to an extent, and think the pads would be better if just a bit bigger, but I am overall OK with the way the pads are at present. One really cool thing is that Meze has taken this feedback into account and accordingly have made larger earpads available.
     

    Final Notes

    I haven't listened to a ton of portable headphones, but I like the 99 Classics more than all the ones I've heard. This included the NAD Viso HP50, Audioquest Nighthawk, Sennheiser Momentum, and Oppo PM-1 (cost is a factore here). When I decide to get a set of portables, it will almost certainly be the 99 Classics.
      Wilashort, MezeTeam and maxnik like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. joeq70
      @cyberslacker I would say that they are generally well built and definitely able to be used out an about, but they shouldn't be treated carelessly. I don't think they'd take well to being sat on. If I were going to go about town with them, I would keep then on my head/around my neck and then place them inside the carrying case that comes with them before placing them in a backpack or something like that.
      joeq70, May 25, 2016
    3. Philimon
      "... great for portable use ..."? If you like stares and snickers.
      Philimon, May 25, 2016
    4. pinoyman
      thanks for the review. i really like to buy one of these, specially the color white one. :)
      it looks clean to me.
      pinoyman, May 30, 2016