Meze 99 Classics

Rating:
4.37302/5,
  1. fleasbaby
    "...if you think ahm seeeeexy..."
    Written by fleasbaby
    Published Jan 16, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Pretty, pretty, pretty...
    Cons - Smaller ear cups, can get hot
    I would like to thank Meze for kindly allowing me to listen to a review sample of their 99 Classics model. I will freely admit to being a little bit of a review whore lately. I have become curious to hear what is going on outside of my normal headphone stomping grounds. I am a Grado modder and an earbuds enthusiast. I turn my own wooden cups on a lathe in my workshop, and am always trying new drivers, new shapes, new headbands, etc, etc. I am also a very devoted follower of the new earbuds being put out by Venture Electronics. The Zen V1 and V2 are like nothing I have heard in such a tiny package.
     
    I listen to a wide variety of music, but focus mainly on Jazz and the Blues. I believe firmly that there is “good” music and “bad” music in this world, the differentiator being the intent and sincerity of the artist in their delivery. This means any genre or era can tickle my fancy, but not just any artist or band in those genres. The truth is always conveyed in their work…
     
    I was not provided with any monetary compensation for listening to the 99 Classics, and spent 7 days with them before mailing them on to the next tour participant. During that time I took them to my office, and as is my habit spent my working hours listening as I worked….I usually use a Pono player or a Rockboxed Sansa Clip +. I also plug directly into my Macbook Air and listen to Bandcamp a lot.
     
    The Meze 99 Classics arrived in a very pretty box, that contained a very pretty carrying case, and in said case, the headphones themselves….which were very pretty. They are almost self-conscious in their beauty, with handsome wooden cups made from Walnut, black leather for their headband and pads, and a nice, matte black springsteel headband. They also have gold metal trim around the cable entry-points on the cups and on the suspension points for the headband pad.
     
    They come with two cables. A long one, with no microphone/buttons, and a short one, with the aforementioned doohickys. These are in a nice little soft pouchy-type thingy with an airplane seat adaptor. The pouchy-type thingy sits comfortably in the carrying case. I found the cables a little microphonic and noisy. The headband made a bit of a racket when I touched it with the cans on my head as well for some reason. Interestingly enough, the cups (which are flawlessly finished) aren’t labeled for left and right, but the cables are. I assume this means the cups can function as left and right, no problem, it’s just the connection on the cable that determines which side sits on which side of your head. This makes sense I guess….never thought of it, but if the cups are exactly alike (as they seem to be) then it doesn’t matter.
     
    The cups were a little smaller than I expected for some reason. From the pictures I thought they would be bigger and encompass my ears more easily. This was not the case, and I did start to hurt after a little while, and get hot ears using them. I am a taller person, with a bigger head and ears. Their connection to the headband was questionable. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on it for fear of breaking something. I am sure Meze stress-tested these though, and there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
     
    How did they sound? Very, very relaxed. Almost Sennheiser-esque. This isn’t my usual sound preference. I look for just south of neutral with good extension on both ends. I am not going to lie though, you could listen to these things for days without any fatigue if they fit you well. They also sounded best out of my Macbook Air.  Overall I enjoyed my experience with them…but I couldn’t help but feel my colleagues at the office thought they were just a little too ostentatious. I got several comments to the tune of “fancy-schmancy headphones buddy…”. This was my primary dislike about them (and if you’re a manufacturer this is the least of your worries I think).
     
    They were almost over-designed. They look like something you would buy if you deliberately wanted people to think you spent a lot of money on them. Some people want this, others don’t. I fall into the latter school, not the former. This is personal preference though, and admittedly a silly one at that.
     
    Meze has done a sterling job of releasing a headphone that, if they fit you comfortably, will provide endless hours of sexy-looking, fatigue-free listening via your sexy-looking iDevice at the coffee shop while you sip espressos and shop for fancy leather brogues, mustache wax and expensive cologne online before joining your friends that evening at your local gastropub to drink microbrews and fancy whisky while discussing the Coachella lineup for this year and what you will wear while you’re there.
      Mark Up likes this.
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    2. reddog
      A great, informative review.
      reddog, Jan 16, 2016
    3. nmatheis
      Damn, Bruce. I love your reviews. Short, to the point, and injected with great, great humor. Head-Fi needs to keep feeding you gear!
      nmatheis, Feb 10, 2016
    4. fleasbaby
      LOL...thanks :).
      fleasbaby, Feb 11, 2016
  2. BloodyPenguin
    The Meze 99 Classics is Simply, Fantastic
    Written by BloodyPenguin
    Published Nov 9, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Amazingly Fun Sound Signature, Wonderful Build, Big Soundstage, Very Comfortable, Dual Detachable Cables
    Cons - Braided Cable is Prone to Being Microphonic, Ear pads Can Get a Tad Warm Over Time
    --
    I’m rarely surprised by headphones.  If anything, most of the time I am slightly let down, I think a headphone is going to sound great, but it then disappoints.
     
    With the Meze 99 Classics, it was the complete opposite; I thought they were just going to be another pretty face, a headphone focusing more on looks than sound, but I was SO wrong, so VERY wrong.  The Meze 99 is now one of my favorite headphones.  I‘m blown away by so many aspects of the 99, let me share those with you. 
     
     
    **All Photo Were Taken By Me, No Stock Images Were Used From the Manufacture**
     
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    *Specs*
     
    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: 6.3mm gold plated
    Ear-cups: walnut wood
     
    https://www.mezeheadphones.com/meze-99-classics-gold-wood-headphones
     
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    *Accessories*

    As this is one of the first models out there, there are a few things missing from the full production run, like the 6.3mm to 3.5mm and airplane adapter.  But no worries about those as I have a million of them around the house. 

    The hard case itself is just awesome, as it is solid and understatedly handsome.  Inside the case you will find the 99 Classics sitting snug and safe along with another small, softer case for the cables.  It is a fully function and well laid out design. 
     
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    *Build*
     
    Over the top, beautiful; that is how I describe the Meze 99 Classics.  It is truly an elegant and tough built headphone.  This is a headphone that exquisite blends wood and metal.  You can tell Meze used very high end materials for this build, that include:  “CNC carved wood ear cups, cast zinc alloy hardware with electroplated coating, stamped manganese spring steel headband, memory foam and soft PU leather”.
     
    What caught my attention are the two braided cables.  One shorter with a microphone and one much longer without a mic (forgive me; I do not have exact lengths of each cable at this time).  Both cables are quite beautiful and have a very premium feel.  My only issue with the cables is that both seem to display a decent amount of Microphonics because of the cover material.  Being a detachable cable, maybe there will be an optional version that could be DIY or purchased through Meze at a later date. 

    Now, while I am more of a Function over form kind of guy, I feel like as long as it sounds good, it can also look this good.  I just hate when companies care about looks and catch phrases over actual sound substance.  With the Meze, there is no need to worry in any of those departments though.
     
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    *Fit*

    These are clearly an over ear headphone.  Comfort and distance around the ears is very good.  The only issue some might have is the pads getting a little warm with extended use, though I do love how soft the PU leather is, it is like a pillow around the ear. 

    The headband is very similar to the AKG K 240, with the headphone automatically adjusting to your head with some cleverly placed elastic materials.  I wish more headphones were like this as it allows for a perfect and quick fit.
     
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    *Sound*
     
    Bass – Does play a prominent role in the Meze 99 Classics sound signature.  There is a lot of warmth and fullness down low.  While I would say for the most part the bass stays controlled, it can wander a tad out of hand here and there.  Sub-bass kick is wonderful, a lot of force with its bite.

    Mids – I have a soft spot for the 99’s mids.  They are just north of neutral, while also being dynamic and detailed.  I think this is why I like these headphones so much, the middle is a great place to be.  A lot of speed, action and clarity resonate from here; this is where the magic happens.
     
    Highs – While the Meze 99 Classics don’t extend too high, I never feel a loss of detail.  A slightly early roll off leads to a smoothness and sophistication not often heard with many other headphones I have heard recently. 
     
    ­Isolation – Due to the easy fit and soft leather pads, the Meze 99 Classics can form quite a nice seal.  That seal in return leads to a really nice isolating headphone.  I just had my friend try these out a few minute ago while I was writing this, he was really impress how well these headphones block off noise.  He thought they were even noise canceling, until I quickly corrected him.
     
    Soundstage – Here I found the biggest surprise the 99 Classics had to offer, a huge, well-tuned soundstage.  It is so wide, yet instrument separation stays so crisp and organized.  I honestly can figure out how Meze got this broad feeling from a closed, well isolating headphone, it is remarkable.
     
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    *Overall Thoughts*

    As I you will have concluded from my review, I really like the Meze 99 Classics.  I think they are extremely fun and energetic, making them an obvious guilty pleasure for me.  They are analytical in their approach, yet still stay away from the label of monitoring.  They look incredible and have the personality to back it up.
     
    While these are almost perfect, I do have a few suggestions to expand the overall enjoyment of the 99 Classics.  As I already mentioned my thoughts on the braided cable, I think there is one more replacement part I would like to see available and that is set of velour pads.  I think those would help reduce a bit of the bass and also help a tad with longevity of wearing the Headphones.  If I find a pair of velour pads that work for the 99 Classics, I will update my review.
     
    I’ve reviewed over 30+ headphones this year alone and the Meze is a bright spot among them.  A surprise I honestly did not see coming. The 99 Classics is truly a great overall headphone for those looking for a warm, entertaining and detailed musical experience.
     
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    --
      Bert, Wilashort, Currawong and 11 others like this.
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    2. apaar123
      is the soundstage good enough for gaming?
      apaar123, Oct 17, 2016
    3. MrOTL
      Nice pics!!! Gorgeous!
      MrOTL, Nov 1, 2016
    4. superuser1
      Great review.. so much so that im going to pick one up myself very soon. thank you
      superuser1, Jan 3, 2017
  3. dan.gheorghe
    Good all a rounder but excellent with classical / instrumental
    Written by dan.gheorghe
    Published Nov 3, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Excellent soundstage, details, transient response, very comfortable, beautiful design & finish
    Cons - Little distorsion on lower bass
    The design and finish of these headphones are absolutely gorgeous and they're also very comfortable. 
     
    Meze 99 Classics was an unexpected surprise. I didn't expect such performance from them especially in the areas that closed headphones don't usually excel. 
     
    I’ve  rarely heard such soundstage and such openness in closed headphones. They can compete here with lots of opened headphones in my opinion. 
     
    Let's make a summary with what impressed me the most:
     
    Soundstage
     
    I’ve  rarely heard such soundstage and such openness in closed headphones. They can compete in this area with lots of opened headphones in my opinion. This and some other things make them perfect for instrumental/classical music, but these headphones can be used with almost any musical genre.
     
    Imaging and Instrument Separation
     
    This is another section that impressed me very much. Every instrument is very well delimited showing very good imaging, instrument separation and layering. They handled crowded music passages with ease.
     
    Transients
     
    The transients are wonderful on Meze 99 Classics. The attack is explosive and the decay is fast but well extended. This leads to an energetic and tactile sound experience which I appreciate very much in the sound reproduction both in headphones and speakers!
     
    Details
     
    These headphones are quite analytical. I was surprised with the level of details they are capable of.  This was a major plus for listening to classical music. Combined with other strong points of the Meze 99, every instruments is vibrant and full of life.
     
    Besides a small bass bump, I found these headphones to be quite neutral. 
     
    The bass is fast, punchy and quite well extended showing very good sub bass as well. It might have a slight might bass hump somewhere but nothing to worry about. The sub bass might present some distortion that was noticeable on some songs but overall it wasn’t disturbing. Overall, I found the bass to be quite nice, engaging and to put meat (muscle because of the speed and punch)  on the bones of the songs.
     
    The treble is sparkly and airy. Not harsh, but won't mask recording faults.
     
    I think that Meze 99 Classics just became my favorite closed headphones at the moment. Actually let’s forget for a little while that they are closed and just say that they are wonderful headphones in general.
     
    Besides the eye candy looks, good quality and very nice finish, they also offer an incredible sound quality which made me loose myself inside my music often offering me goose bumps along the way.
      FortisFlyer75, ameze and MezeTeam like this.
    1. Joeybgood
      I agree with you review wholeheartedly Dan, I don't , however , find the earpads to be very comfortable. Despite the lightweight of this headphone my ears get sore fairly quickly. Do you have a replacement pad that you would recommend for these? tks
      Joeybgood, Jan 10, 2016