Meze 99 Neo - Reviews
Pros: Natural yet energic soundsignature, wide holographic soundstage, beautifull design, good construction, light and very comfortable, detachable cable, easy to drive
Cons: Slight bass bleed with bass heavy tracks, some sound leakage
MEZE 99 NEO (Enthusiast but Late) REVIEW:

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SOUND: 8.5/10
CONSTRUCTION: 9/10
COMFORT: 9.5/10
ACCESSORIES: 9/10
VALUE: 8.5/10


How much headphone do I have really?? Well, at least 20 pairs ranging from 20$ to 1000$, some go, some take dust, other are sure keeper like this Meze 99 Neo, and it isn’t for perfection of tuning but for the flavor it give. I like musicality way more than technicality in the sens that if it sound too monitor like, well, I just need one pair of those not 20 and as an amateur music producer I use the Sony MDR-7509 for this, wich I don’t use to enjoy music tough. I like different flavor as I enjoy different music style, and it was time that I test this incredibly sexy closed headphones and understand if the good words I read about them was as real as the less enthusiast impression. Yes, I was more aroused by the look than sound description, I wanna touch them, caress them, kiss them , and now I can do it and can tell you that even ifthe body is sexy, it have a sexy soul too.

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CONSTRUCTION, ACCESSORIES & DESIGN :

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Unboxing Meze products is a very exciting experience, like opening a glossy pharon tomb to find that cleopatra is finally alive. What hit your eyes first is the quality protective case you have, it is made of hard material that take perfectly the shape of Meze headphone, with not extra space.

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In the middle, another tissue poaching case hiding your nice cable and extra connector. The presentation is sure well thinked, and I think Antonio Meze is really meticulous about every esthetical aspect of Meze brand.

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Look at this perfect black metal headband curve, this shiny metal holding, all this little details that just wow they eyes and hold attention without forcing an over luxurious esthetical approach : its call elegance. Sobre but eye catchy, mature but not boring looking, something that AKG would dream to achieve with there similar but cheaper headband find in model like the 701. Here, Meze make a statement : it can be as beautifull as comfortable, and durable. This type of construction design for 250$ is something I respect.

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Even if the earcups are made of plastic, it isn’t a cheap looking one, it have a grainy texture and mate black color that is a pleasure to watch and touch, we will not get overly sensual here but yeah, this type of details even if superficial for sound rendering is very appreciate for headphones collector.

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But must of all, its the comfort, i’m sure any head size will fit between these 2 cups, and even if you can’t sleep with them its as comfortable as having 2 pillows pressing gently but firmly your head. The earcups plastic use make them very ligh even if they have solid metal bands. As well, because I own the AKG K-400 in the past, I know what it is to not being free to shake your head when a song posess you, beleive me these 99 NEO will never fall from your head even if you are a headbanger listening to death metal, they are THAT well soldered to you.

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And it have a detachable cable too, a kevlar one sir, with a mic...why? Well, I guess because they are adequate to be drive by smarthphone as they are 26ohm and easy to drive, forgive me to never even care to plug it into a phone, i mean, i’m on headfi aren’t I? Anyway, I plug it into the Radstone ES100 so perhaps I would like a mini cable to make them became some kind of BT headphones.

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Sturdy, sexy, curvy, not cheapy, ultimately comfy and...if something really bad happen like you fall from a cliff and survive but they don’t : part changeable, just give Meze a call.



SOUND IMPRESSIONS :


The Meze 99 Neo is all about musicality, it offer a wide warm and well layered sound that enjoy as much playing contemplative modern Jazz or Classical quartet than muscular bassy electronic or pop music. Neo do not try to be a perfect student that know every answer of acoustic laws but in they end is too serious and utterly boring for music enthousiast, no, he got plenty of personality to share and some artistical imperfection that come with its soul spontaneity. It sound as much natural than excitingly musical and all that with some tenderness to it.

At first, for the purist or critical listener, depending of music style, it can be a hit or miss, but if you pair the Neo with right clear source like the Xduoo X20 or any clean DAP , Dac or (in lesser extend) phone, it will shine and make you think you have very big open back headphones over your ears or even a pair of well placed hifi speakers from each side of it.

The bass have great body and weight even if it slighlty decay on mids on bass heavy tracks, mid bass being pumped up and ultra energic giving an exciting turn to acoustic drum used in jazz or rock, mids being lively with impressive presence and timbre that can deal so well with vocal, piano or violin, and treble having just enough extension to give you the details you need without the harshness or peaks that can make long listening fatiguing : Neo is a rebel maestro that know how to read a partition and give it all layers it need but with an expressive twist that will sure polarize audiophile.

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SOUNDSTAGE have something special for a closed back, its very wide and around your head with great imaging capabilities that have extra realist decay to it depending of number of instruments. So deepness is good too, as if you have your head stock in the middle of intimate hall, not a cathedral, but this effect as said is even more phenomenal with music that isn’t overcrowned or extremely bassy, wich give you alot of choice appart from power rock, classical symphony or heavy metal, it will give this beautifull vastly musical and enjoyable immersivity.



PrAT is above average, but its more about impact and attack, wich without being ultra fast is very agile and spot on, but the pace can be too slow and create unwanted reverberation especially with heavy bass impact.



AMPING power need is just non benificial with this 26ohm headphone, they are extremely easy to drive wich is a very welcome aspect and underline the fact that Meze make the Neo for portable use. It can be drive properly by anything, but it do not mean it will sound the best with any audio source, cleaner it is, better will sound the Neo.



BASS is there Alot, its muscular, weighty and very punchy with just the right hint of textured needed to have good grip in soundstage. Lower end dig very deep, so you will have no difficulties hearing clearly sub bass line and it will be well separated from pumped up mid bass, this type of presentation make it as nicely enjoyable for cello centered classical music than synth bass plus digital kick in electronic, but here, better will be the mastering better will be the final result. I really enjoy Vivaldi sonata for Cello and Basso duo, its full bodied and quite clear with wide airy presentation, never feel bloated or artificial sounding, as if we really are in the intimate concert hall with the two musicians, cello being more fowards as it should and lower registry basso being backward but lively with right note weight and presence, Then I put some complex and fast Aphex twin and man, it make my skull shake at high volume, causing more mid punch reverberance than expected and sometime distracting me from rest of audio spectrum due to overly authoritative punch energy. I can imagine basshead banger really enjoying this approach, for me, its the only drawback of the Neo, and its perhaps due to the plastic material used for earcups. So, let’s conclude that the Neo are as much enjoyable for basshead than audiophile, if we choose right music to pair it with.



MIDS are extremely charming but have dualist approach in some sens, because it will sound phenomenal with bass light music like Meredith Monk albums, in wich her voice it will be full of presence and wideness, with great timbre, enough decay and righly layered from other instrument when it occur. The same lush musicality will happen with Madeleine Peroux if there not too foward sacoustic bass line, as it will sound more full bodied because of this perfect upper mid bass emphasis, but the bipolarity begin when you put boomy electronic or bass heavy pop, wich will stole some of resolution to lower mids. For violin or piano, this will sound perfect, it will had impact in note and extra body, wich is something I crave for as piano can feel thinely rendered sometime, decay will be good too and realist, but if its bass heavy jazz with authoritative bass and toms, again, well, it can warm it a little too much. Anyway, for a U shape headphone, I really find the vocal not recessed, just slightly veiled or coloured in lower mids by bass wich can even be benificial for some song like ‘’Comet Out your House’’ from Lali Puna that have synth bass and heavy electro kick well layered and a timbre registre of the signer that pair perfectly with Neo bassy soundsignature.



HIGHS aren’t super emphased, but neither veiled or dulls sounding. We are in a warm, musical, permissive world with the Meze, everything is quite balanced with the exception of bass kick. Because of the great imaging and impressive soundstage, instruments do not struggle to show there presence, its there without being overly textured, wich make the Neo so uniquely addictive. Percussion have great texture and extend, but aren’t sharp or too bright, it feel natural and inviting. Listening to Jakob Bro ‘’Welcome’’ song of bass, guitar, sax, drums quartet, all instrument are easily hearable and well placed, and percussion are spot on, classical guitar sounding smoothly behind the center stage wide sounding saxophone, recording was meant to be heard like this and it is a joy to listen with the Meze even if I would have love a little more sparkle and decay in lower highs. If there any colouration in treble, it will be to push some micro details just a hing fowards, wich will help with instrument separation. No harsh peak whatsoever with the Neo, its a reconforting sound, like a hot chocolate in front of a fire, you make yourself comfortable and enjoy a cozy rewarding musicality.


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COMPARAISONS :



VS TAKSTAR PRO82 (100$) :

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Even if the price range isn’t the same, I find it interesting to compare these two because both are closed headphones and offer competetive price.

CONSTRUCTION of Takstar PRO82 is more targeted for worryfree outside portability, while the Meze even if ligh enough as well as beautifull to wear, is more adequate for small walk or inside portability, like school, work or train. As Meze arent foldable, they take lot of space in your bag with there protecteive case that you sure want to use to portect there precious look, so its the type of headphone you care about while the PRO82 in other hand are more a all terrain and careless (to some extend) type of headphone and do not really need protective case as they are quite hard to scratch or break.

Takstar is all metal including the cups and look very similar to Audio technica ATH50, we can neither say they are beautifull or ugly, and overall sturdiness is excellent.

For the look, Meze win beauty contest with its stylish luxurious classy look, not doubt about it and that even if compared to PRO82 the cups are made of textured plastic. Its just from another class here and surely biggest aspect that justify price difference.

Kevlar cable of the NEO is of better quality than the basic one side cable ofPro82.

Both headphones are extremely comfortable, I cannot decide for a better one here as we just don’t feel pression on head or ears from both and they have about same weight too.

SOUND quality of both is excellent, but the NEO have a way bigger soundstage that feel airy and around your head compared to the more fowards and wide sounding presentation of PRO82. Bass of MEZE is warmer but have more body and a wider presence, lower region is more accentuated than the more punchy energic presentation of PRO82, wich feel faster than Meze but dryier too. Mids of Takstar are little more recessed even if brighter and more clearly separated from the lows, where the NEO give extra pleasant warmest to vocal or instrument and do not have upper mids harshness like the PRO82. Treble extension is perhaps where the Meze feel less extended, in the sens Pro82 is a very detailed closed headphones for the price even if it lack sparkle or echo like the Meze that have more room in soundstage for instrument placement and decay. All in all, the Meze feel from another league in term of musicality, even if the Pro82 is more energic and (micro)detailed it lack musical finess and lushness of the Meze.



VS HIFIMAN HE-300 (300$) :

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CONSTRUCTION of the HifiMan HE-300 isn’t that bad for durability with its thick industrial compenents, but its quite rough and squeaky too. The metal that hold the big ear cups look like a DIY project, there screws everywhere, and the plastic used for this cups is thick and cheap looking. For the headbands it use real leather but do not have lot of cushion to it and another time : rough. Meze Neo 99 look like a sent from heaven that have been crafted with love compared to this austere depressing Hifiman design. About design and comfort, the NEO is from another planet where audio lover body is respected and well understand, the HE-300 just feel like an insult to human body in fact.

COMFORT of Meze is natural and form to your head while HE-300 is a squeaky torture device that is ultra heavy and uncomfortable with cheap earpads that do not form to your head.

SOUND quality is another time night and day, or let’s say, cold dry night with agressive neon street lamp and colourfull sunny day with fresh air from the Meze ocean.

The Hifiman HE-300 is really a cold sounding analytical headphones wich can sound musical with very specific style, and even with them, it still ahve a dry soul less approach, everytime I take back the Meze after the listen of same track with HE-300 it was a sincere releive, as if all my nerve were attack with the agressive fowards trebly sound of HE-300 wich even for an open back do sound claustrophobic. I need some air! Thanks Meze for this well needed oxygene : music can actualy breathe!

BASS of HE-300 is more textured but its like if it try to compensate the lack of weight, punch and body it do not have, while the Meze even if not the tighest in attack separation have plenty of body and punch, wich give a more energic and alive sound without sounding bloated in they end. Mid punch have more finess with the NEO, HE-300 being open lacking in this region even more than lower end. Overall texture of Meze is more adequate and natural too.

MIDS of HE-300 are overly fowards and agressive and prompt to upper mids harshness, where the Meze is sweet, musical and full bodied even if slighly coloured with bass warmth. Sometime the separation of vocal can be better with HE-300 in bass heavy track….but you don’t want to listen to this too bright shouty fatiguing signing anyway.

TREBLE extension of HE-300 is sure more prononced and without any roll off, I even suspect bats can’t take as much treble fowardness, its skalpel sharp and crave every details it can, to the point of over saturation, this do not give HE-300 more sparkle and brillance strangely, as the Meze have more natural decay and even sound better with harpsichord instrument as the note have more roundness and impact.

All in all, the Meze 99 NEO are made to generously enjoy music while the HE-300 is artificial and overly analytical sounding. This comparaison experiment underline the fact that more details do not equal to more enjoyment as well as richer sound, because the body of everynote give a more realist musical rendering in they end.


VS GRADO SR325i (300$):

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Firstly, perhaps construction look more solid, but its an illusion as the SR325i heavy earcups can slide down for no reason with the time, as well, the cable will undoubtly break one day or another due to twisting earcups. Because of hard on ear pressure and heavyness factor, they became uncomforatble very fast, were the Meze Neo is just pure comfort joy. Overall construction of thick metal cups are perhaps more costy than the plastic of Neo, but as said, it is a design flaw.

Being open back, one would think the Grado have bigger soundstage but that isn’t exactly the case, its just slightly wider but feel less around your head and tall because of a more fowards sound presentation. In they end the Meze feel more airy and spacious.

BASS of Sr325i is more textured and grainy, but lack lower extension of the Meze even if both are quite very punchy headphones, the Meze tough add more colouration to the mids.

MIDS and vocal feel more fowards and present than Neo, but less wide and transparent, as well, it can be harsh in upper mids where the Meze feel smoother.

HIGHS have little more extension with the grado in lower treble and give extra decay to percussion, but make overall sound feel sometime too fowards.

All in all, i find myself using more the Meze 99 Neo because of a more forgiving musicality that can be as smooth without bass and very energic and exciting with bass driven music.



SOUND SOURCE PAIRING :

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With Xduoo D3 :

The D3 is an entry level DAP with good sound but clumsy interface. Its very small but quite powerfull as well. Sound is quite neutral, clear, slightly bright but not extremely well layered or detailed. With the Neo it make a good pairing with plenty of volume. The bass kick very hard but isn’t too out of control, in fact, it earn some extra tighness even if it still can be brain shaking a little, wich is a great experience with very bassy track ‘’Koh-I-Noor’’ from Mr Twin sister as the sub rumbling is delicious and do neither stole kick weight or vocal fowardness. We have a good sens of space for the synth that fly around our head and even if D3 isn’t the clearer or must detailed DAP, I do not feel it lack treble extension. The Meze Neo like bright DAP as it make it sound even more energic and give extra focus to treble but stole some soundstage deepness and resolution potential.



With Xduoo X20 :

The X20 use the famous Sabre ES9018 dac chip, wich give ultimate clarity and black backgroun noise floor. This is what need the Meze 99 Neo to extract full potential of its excellent dynamic driver. I use must of the time high gain with X20, but not for the Meze wich I find sensible to too powerfull amping, so low gain it is and it sound delicious. Now the bass is more controled, have a smooth texture and more transparency, mid bass is less agressive in attact but still weighty, mids are wide with good presence and tranparency, all layer are clearly separated and overall sound have more details and is more linear. The Neo is more U shape even if far from mid centric, with perfectly clear source like X20 the soundstage feel more airy and instrument separation are more natural. This is my favorite pairing for extra sharpness that just complement rightly the warm airy musicality of 99 Neo.



With Ibasso DX90 :

Now, the Ibasso DX90 is my favorite DAP, and it have dual ES9018 dac, delivering powerfull and ultra clear and precisely layered sound. It have 3 gain mode, if you make the error to use the higher gain Neo will sound wrong and boomy, but using lower and clearer gain the miracle happen : its the more neutral balanced pairing I find. Even bassy tracks like ‘’Evensong’’ from Bola sound perfect, as the bass is less emphased but sure still enough punchy. The soundstage potential is take to its paroxysm with synths pads coming from each side of your head, kick and snare in the middle and voice above it in a transparent way, sound presentation being very holographic and dense with all details being push fowards to give extra dynamic to Neo lush presentation. These two was meant to be togheter, DX90 being sharp to the point of sometime making bright headphones sibilant, here the Neo earn from this approach and mix its color with perfect musicality. Even the always hissy background noise of Jessica Pratt recording became smoothed out magicaly, without loosing anything else and even having extra body in vocal presence. Hard to explain, but the Neo love this type of high end audio source, pair them with ultra clear but dynamic and balanced audio source and the Neo black angel take you to heaven. I know that Meze create the 99 Neo for portable use, thinking about phone surely, but to give them full respect, I think they deserve better.





With Earstudio Radsone ES100 bluetooth receiver :


This will not give you as much joy as the DX90 in term of extra clarity but will certainly take to next level Meze potential compared to average phone audio out. Here, its a dynamic approach, energic and well layered sound with a fast tigh presentation that help 99 Neo being even more agile and have extra tigh bass.

CONCLUSION:

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I cannot hide my joy listening to the Meze 99 Neo, and hope it will be contagious, but sometime passion about musicality is something more subjective than about technicalities. I consider the Neo very generous with lot of music style, giving extra body to cello or warming voice of my favorite signer with great presence and wideness. As a listener with diversify taste, I always struggle to find the right all arounder, and that even more with closed back, it will either sound good for classical or electronic, the Neo do the trick for both because of extra mid bass. As well, i never have treble sensitivity problem with them and can listen for long hours without any fatigue. For a closed back, it is simply magical. Other aspect is how comfortable these are, it is by far my must comfortable headphones even if not my must portable. The fact its easy to drive do not make pairing complicate, but I suggest extra clear source to make them shine even more and permit some sparkle that can be shy in the highs. Meze achieve a masterpiece of design here, and it deserve credit for it. Sure, 250$ is a serious amount, but as every parts of this headphones are changeable, I think its a good investement and you will not regret having that type of natural but energicaly punchy headphones in your home.

Attachments

Pros: Visual appeal - Material and build quality - Long term comfort - Lush sound signature
Cons: Bass can be bloomy - Headband transmits noise
Greetings!

Today we're checking out another drop dead gorgeous product from Meze, the 99 Neo.

Meze is a Romanian company that stormed their way into the spotlight in 2016 with the 99 Classics. That headphone was (and still is) the perfect example of a marriage between design and performance. The simple but shapely form factor, modular design, and eye-catching walnut cups initially drew you in, then it won you over with a very competent sound signature. The 99 Neo keeps much of the same look and feel of the 99 Classics, but with some material changes that bring the price down, along with a slightly altered tune. A 249 USD, the 99 Neo is an extremely compelling product.

Let's take a closer look!

Disclaimer:

A big thanks to Doina with Meze for the wonderful communication in arranging a complimentary review sample of the 99 Neo. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinions based on over a month of routine use of the 99 Neo. They do not represent Meze or any other entity. If you want to order your own 99 Neo, you can check it out here: https://www.mezeaudio.com/products/99-neo

Source:

For at home use the 99 Neo was powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp or Radsone EarStudio ES100 with my Asus FX53V laptop sourcing music. For portable use, it was commonly run straight from my LG G6 so I could take advantage of the inline mic, or via the EarStudio ES100 connected over Bluetooth to the G6. Both the M0 and M1 from Shanling were also used. The 99 Neo is very easy to drive and sounds great from any sounrce I tried. Bass is a little tighter out of the TEAC, but I don't think amping is needed.

Personal Preferences:

I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, Brainwavz B400, and thinksound On2 offer examples of signatures I enjoy. I generally listen at very low volumes, so keep this in mind when reading my thoughts on how an earphone sounds.

Specifications:
  • Driver: 40mm
  • Frequency Response: 15Hz – 25kHz
  • Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
  • Impedance: 26ohm
  • Rated Input Power: 30mW
  • Maximum Input Power: 50mW
  • Weight: 260g (9.2oz) without cables
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Packaging and Accessories:

The 99 Neo's packaging is clean and elegant in design without much in the way of frills. The front contains a straight on shot of one side of the 99 Neo showing off the smooth curve of the spring steel headbands and new, black plastic, highly textured ear cups. The left side outlines a few features and special qualities, like the self-adjusting PU headband and power efficiency so it can paired with any phone. On the right side of the package you find a frequency response chart along with a comprehensive list of specifications. The back is my favorite part. The coloring changes to matte black with a wire frame image of the 99 Neo printed in a contrasting reflective black. Centred is;

CLASSICS SERIES

MEZE 99 NEO

DESIGNED BY ANTONIO MEZE​

It all comes together beautifully, perfectly exemplifying the subtle beauty of the design of the 99 series of headphones.

Flipping open the magnetically sealed flap, you are immediately greeted by an outstanding hard shell EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) carrying case. The case is curvaceous and form fitted to the 99 Neo, just like it was with the 99 Classics, However, here the exterior is coated in a much more durable material than the faux-leather used on the 99 Classics case variant. Inside you find the 99 Neo surrounding a velour pouch in which the accessories sit. In all you get:
  • 99 Neo
  • Hard shell EVA carrying case
  • 1.5m Kevlar thread OFC cable with mic and remote
  • Gold-plated 1/4” adapter
  • Airplane adapter (though this isn't shown on the website anymore)
  • Velour cable and accessory pouch

It's disappointing that the 99 Neo doesn't comes with a second, mic-free cable as the 99 Classics did, but at least the mobile cable here was improved over the one provided with the 99 Classics. Cloth below the y-split, rubber above means microphonics are no longer an issue.

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Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

The 99 Neo isn't just a pretty face. The construction of this earphone is immaculate. The PU leather ear pads are thick and soft with a uniform ovular shape that wraps around the ear. They attach to matte black plastic ear cups that have an attractive pebbled texture. 99 Classics parts make a visible appearance here, since when you the pads are removed the baffle the driver is attached to is still stamped with the Classics' part details. Other hardware, like the silver ring around the base of the ear cups, the surrounds for the cable port, the hanger connecting the PU head pad to the spring steel headband, and the centre cap that connects the headband to the ear cups, are made from electroplated, die-cast zinc alloy. It's all put together with outstanding attention to detail, and much of it can be user replaced if broken since the 99 Neo, like the Classics before them, are modular.

Comfort is another strength of the 99 Neo. All of it's qualities come together to be something wonderful. The rounded design, spacious ear cups, and the floating pivot design that lets the ear cups swivel and twist to spread what little weight there is evenly across the skull and around your ears. Some headphones create pressure points around the ear that gets extremely uncomfortable after a while. Not a problem here. If you enjoy binging on Netflix shows or listening to albums from to back, the 99 Neo is a good headphone to keep you company.

When it comes to passively blocking out external noise, the 99 Neo is just okay. Without any music playing, outside sounds are still audible but lose definition and become muffled. You could still hold a conversation with someone while wearing the 99 Neo, but you'll struggle to understand what they're saying. Turn on your music, and as expected things improve. You'll likely still need to increase the volume a bit to compensate if in a particularly noisy area, but otherwise they're nice to use out in the world.

Overall, the 99 Neo is a beautiful headphone with outstanding build quality and decent passive isolation. My only qualm is aimed at the spring steel headband which if tapped lets off a ringing noise that easily penetrates your music. I don't recall this being an issue on the 99 Classics. Then again, those were a tour unit and were only used when stationary, so the opportunity to experience that issue never really arose.

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Sound:

Pads: In addition to the stock pads, I gave the 99 Neo a go with Brianwavz's Hybrid PU/Velour pads, as well as their full Velour pads. To my surprise, the Velour pads turned the 99 Neo into a complete bass cannon, the opposite of what I usually experience with that style of pad. It also closed in the sound somewhat, taking away the 'impressive for a closed back' airness the 99 Neo displays with the stock pads. The hybrid PU/Velour pads were the most balanced of the three as it toned down the 99 Neo's mid-bass, gave the treble more voice and sparkle, and improved the sound stage further. I quite liked this combination and would recommend giving these pads a try. They're also slightly larger and deeper than the stock pads and help make the 99 Neo even more comfortable.

Back in February of 2016 when I was given the chance to review the 99 Classics, they were the highest end headphones I had a chance to spend any significant amount of time with. Prior to that, the AKG K553 Pro I picked up from Massdrop held that distinction. The 99 Classics sounded similar to me, but addressed some of the shortcomings of the K553s, namely bass extension and treble peaks. The seven short days spent with the 99 Classics certainly made their mark as a benchmark product for me.

The 99 Neo shares qualities with the Classics but is a warmer, bassier experience and overall has a slightly darker tone that carries it pretty far from the sound of the K553 Pro. Treble extends well with good sparkle but is de-emphasized and rolls off at the top. This gives the 99 Neo a very easygoing, smooth quality to it that makes long term listening sessions a reality. On Steely Dan's “Cuervo Gold”, cymbals hit with a soft, airy 'tsst' but remain detailed and well-textured. Notes are well-defined with a tuned weight that keeps the 99 Neo from sounding lean, yet the amount of air and space between instruments and effects remains open and layered. The effect is the same in the opening moments on King Crimson's live rendition of “Night Watch” from The Great Deceiver with chimes continuously tinkling away in the background behind swelling cymbals. Despite being so laid back, the 99 Neo's treble presentation is pretty phenomenal, though I can definitely see some wanting more emphasis.

The mid-range is slightly recessed but is thick and full bodied in a way that gives vocals a silky smooth, yet still quite crisp and detailed presentation. I really like how natural everything sounds too, from the out-of-tune violin playing in the opening of Aesop Rock's “Big Bang”, to the intense guitar solo of Funkadelic's “Maggot Brain”. “Big Bang” also shows how nimble these drivers can be, handling Aesop's uncharacteristically speedy delivery with ease. Don't worry, the 99 Neo remains clear and articulate even with true speedsters like K.A.A.N. on “Still (pro. Cashflow)”. It's a really liquid sounding mid-range that flows exceptionally well and in my opinion, really ties together the 99 Neo's sound.

Bass on this earphone is elevated with a mid and upper focus giving the low presentation a very lush feel to it. Extension is good but there is some roll-off present before dipping into those truly visceral regions, as evidenced in the opening moment's of Kavinski's “Solli”. While texturing is good, it's slightly loose and can show bloom on tracks that are already mid-bass skewed, like Infected Mushroom's “Drum n Baasa”. At times the 99 Neo's low end can be slightly overwhelming, though you can lessen it a couple dB by pushing the headphone forward over your ear. Want to maximize the low end, push it back so your ear sits at the front of the cup. Well, that worked for me. Your experience may differ. Alternatively, if you aren't opposed to EQ the 99 Neo is receptive to alterations. For example, with my Shanling M1 I dropped 1dB at 62, 3dB at 125, 2dB at 250 and 1dB at 500. This gave the sub-bass a touch more presence, removed the bloom, and improved clarity in the mids by making them a touch more lean.

When it comes to sound stage I found the 99 Neo quite open and spacious for a closed back set of headphones, with excellent layering and separation. Imaging from channel to channel is clear and direct, but can be vague when it comes to finer movements. Something like the thinksound On2 shows greater precision in those instances. Love it for movies and music, but not as amazing for something requiring pinpoint accuracy, like gaming.

Overall, the 99 Neo is an entertaining set of headphones with a warm, easygoing signature. I really enjoyed it with classic rock and modern pop and EDM where it's smooth presentation truly shined. It was also a joy with vocal focused music since there was zero sibilance I could detect.

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Select Comparisons: All were used with their stock pads

Polk Audio Buckle: The 99 Neo and Buckle have very similar signatures. I'd say the 99 Neo is a direct upgrade though, given on a technical level it is so much better. The 99 Neo's bass for one. It is more articulate and textured with a much more dynamic range. The Buckle comes across very one-note in comparison. The mids on the Neo are slightly more forward and lack the veil of the Buckle, letting fine details shine through that the Buckle masks. Treble in the Neo is slightly more emphasized, shows greater space between instruments, and shows more shimmer in cymbals which have a certain dullness to them through the Buckle.

When it comes to build, the Buckle feels rock solid though it's not a looker and single-sized 2.5mm connector is a clear weak point. The mix of leather and aluminum is representative of the premium price they commanded back in the day. Comfort is good, but the hefty weight isn't spread out quite as well as it could. The 99 Neo is definitely the more comfortable of the two, though passive isolation is better on the Buckle and it's a little more compact and therefore better on the go. Neither fold up or lay flat though.

A-Audio Legacy: My Legacy was a blind buy on Amazon, one I have been thrilled with. It's audio performance greatly exceed my expectations given it has such a loud and boisterous design, clearly aimed at those more worried about style than function. Since it has active noise canceling the alters the signature greatly, this comparison will be with ANC off.

The most notable difference between the two, one that is instantly apparently the second music starts playing, is sound stage. The Legacy is significantly more closed in and intimate, completely lacking the airiness of the 99 Neo. While it's presentation isn't as layered, the Legacy does present more nuanced imaging and separates instruments nearly as well. The 99 Neo has a more forward bass, but the Legacy extends deeper to provide a more visceral feel with slightly improved texture. The 99 Neo's mids are thicker and more detailed with a more natural timbre. Treble on the Legacy has more shimmer and emphasis with similar extension and clarity.

In terms of build and comfort, I'd take the 99 Neo all day, every day. I love the Legacy's design and the fit and finish is excellent, but it's hard to call them attractive. Interesting is more appropriate. The use of heavy metals and a tight clamping force limits comfort long term, as do the pads which warmed up more and in a shorter period than Meze's offering. In the Legacy's favour, they do fold and the cups swivel up to make them more compact. Plus, they passively isolate much more effectively.

Campfire Audio Cascade: The Cascade is Campfire Audio's first headphone. It's a lot more expensive than the 99 Neo and maybe not a fair comparison, but it's always nice to see just how well something competes with more expensive gear.

Like the 99 Neo it has a bass-forward signature, but to my surprise came across a bit more balanced. Note that I'm running mine without any of the acoustic filters in place. The Cascade's bass has a better mid-/sub-bass balance with greater extension. It's slightly quicker with a fair bit more control in the mid-bass than the 99 Neo, and as such is completely absent of the bloom and looseness the Neo can display at times. The Cascade's midrange is leaner and more articulate with even more detail.Vocalists sit further back in the mix too, giving a more spacious feel to your music. I personally prefer the 99 Neo's extra warmth and silkiness. I just wish it has the same clarity as the Cascade. The Cascade's treble seems a bit colder and more prominent, while also being sharper and more accurate. At the same volume, it's more fatiguing than the 99 Neo, though I wouldn't call either of these fatiguing.

While the Cascade seems like it's bulletproof, I have some concerns. The arms holding the cups on are aluminum and one was bent slightly out of the box. The headphone is quite heavy so if dropped, I would expect some damage. The Neo is much, much lighter and yet feels more resilient. It also has the benefit of being user repairable, unlike the Cascade. The Cascade's pads are real leather and it shows. They feel much more premium and are magnetically attached. Another plus over the Neo's pads.

Final Thoughts:

Finding a headphone that ticks all the right boxes is a challenge. Maybe they sound amazing but look horrendous. Maybe they're drop dead gorgeous but fail to impress in any regard when it comes to their sonic performance. Maybe they've got everything going for them, but are fragile. Maybe the cost of entry is astronomical. Where does the 99 Neo fall?

At around 250 USD they're affordable. The materials used are durable and put together perfectly, though the steel headband can be noisy. Comfort is second to none, really. These are amazing to wear. The sound, while on the bassy side, is well-tuned with strong technical performance. There are very few headphones that I've come across that do so much right and so little wrong. Someone that's looking to step up their headphone game without spending a bundle would do very well to start with the 99 Neo.

Thanks for reading!

- B9Scrambler

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Some Test Tunes:

Aesop Rock - Skelethon (Album)
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories (Album)
Elton John - Yellow Golden Brick Road (Album)
King Crimson - Lark's Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp - Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom - Converting Vegetarians (Album)
Infected Mushroom - Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack - Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac - Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy - The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco - F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt - Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bone) (Album)
Pros: Superb build quality, looks gorgeous, balanced sound.
Cons: Non-foldable, earpad outline for earpad rolling could be better.
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Hot off my rendezvous with the Meze Audio 11 Neo, the exquisite house of Meze in Romania has managed to delight me with another guest and although I am yet to be a full-on convert for the cult following surrounding how Meze has managed to be a company associated with meticulous standards both in form and function. I am yet put again tempted by them to try and prove such standards do exist with their interpretation of what a headphone should look and sound in the form of the Meze 99 Neo. Provided directly by Meze Audio in exchange for an honest realview. You can visit their castle, I mean website at Meze Audio. The Meze 99 Neo, released in 2017 and is priced at $249, it sits smack on a headphone market swarming with audiophile grade options. The Meze 99 Neo Headphones houses a 40mm dynamic transducers on a black ABS plastic earcups, 15Hz - 25 KHz Frequency Response, 103dB Sensitivity, 26 Ohm Impedance. The 99 Neo features detachable Kevlar OFC cable which bodes well for those worried of cable breakage as well as an in-house subdued yet contemporary design conceptualized over long hours of sketches and outlines and with all these specifications, is the Meze Audio 99 Neo worthy of a fan base?

Packaging and Build Quality





The Meze 99 Neo barged in into my office sporting its packaging with shades of 2-tone grayscale. All the necessary details and information about the headphones is stated with 3 images of the 99 Neo all highlighting its detailed construction, do note that the back of the package has a security hologram on the lower left portion to guarantee authenticity of the 99 Neo which as they say, it’s all in the details. Opening up the box greeted me with an admirable and sexy black case contoured to the curves of the 99 Neo, the zipper zips smoothly and hanging tab is also present as well as a metal chrome and black Meze logo which I would love to have as a pin to stick on my work backpack. A brochure is also present along with all their current line-up of headphones and earphones and company details which was good for light reading. Inside the box was the 99 Neo’s themselves, comfortably resting on the smooth suede lining interiors of the case. A storage pouch was also present along which contained the detachable Kevlar OFC cable, 6.3mm gold-plated jack and an airline adapter. I tried storing the 99 Neo with cables attached on the case and sadly, it doesn’t work so the case is clearly for portable usage and not for storing it when used at home, I’d recommend getting a dedicated headphone stand because the 99 Neo is damn sensual to look at.



The 99 Neo isn’t foldable in any way which was fine since it has a gorgeous case to begin with, trade-offs my lads. It uses ABS plastic for its earcups which had leather-like grooves and is isn’t a fingerprint magnet, it is sturdy and the cable ports as well as the earcup outline is lined with electroplated precision die-cast zinc alloy, I have seen how this electroplating process takes place and believe me, the 99 Neo metal components won’t be rusting anytime soon. The headband is a chromium-manganese alloy which is if you’re familiar with your alloys, this specific combination provides improved strength and ductility for the times your 99 Neo meets your bad days and so far, none of my bad days have broken the 99 Neo. The support system of the 99 Neo utilized a self-adjusting PU leather headband with 99 Neo embedded on the top portion joined underneath by an elastic rubber garter attached to a thin strip of metal which terminates on a striking zinc alloy(also electroplated) joint for the 2-piece headbands.



The earpads uses soft PU leather with medium density memory foam. It is soft and non-irritating to wear and use, I managed to pull off around 3-4 hours of use on it, the clamping force of the headbands is also cozy, I have a relatively small head so the clamping force might be strong for others, depends really. I’m also glad that the Yaxi earpads that I have lying around did fit the 99 Neo and will state the differences in the sound analysis portion of the realview while so far the comfort was relatively similar except that the Yaxi earpads on the 99 Neo gave a encased feeling since it has larger chamber circumference as well as the velour part gave a more movable feel for the earcups.


Changing the earpads on the 99 Neo is easy and doesn’t involve any proprietary molds which I have seen on other headphones making earpads changing a pain. The included detachable Kevlar OFC cable isn’t stiff nor too pliable, it has the right amount of tension to it allowing it easy to store while also being hefty enough to stay in place and not wiggle around when used on the go. All of the cables metal components are machined aluminum with gold-plated plugs. The included mic controls worked flawlessly on both Android and iOS devices as well as the mic itself, the y-split has subtle 99 Neo branding and compliments the headphone aesthetics well. It is slightly microphonic yet unnoticeable most of the time. The overall build of the 99 Neo is indeed a work of art both made for work and art, no clanking and rattling here and there and the design language flows fluidly from each component to another.

Tonality

Upon using the Meze 99 Neo’s, a sense of lax atmosphere envelops the user. Despite switching from multiple sources ranging from the Opus 1, Sony ZX1, Xduoo X3ii, Sony CAS-1 via an MSI laptop and also direct from the said laptop and the OnePlus 3T, the 99 Neo sound was evidently a non-overdoing set of cans, it delivers a smooth and easy sound which leans on the warmer spectrum. I have used it extensively and haven’t found any singular frequency that distinctly outshines any other aside from the low-end giving a more resonating vibe that ever so slightly extends to the midrange.

Lows

Having said that the 99 Neo being a set of warm sounding cans, its low-end performance doesn’t overpower the other frequencies in a manner of great extent. Kicking in Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams in 16/44 Flac showcases its good bass attack capabilities, sub bass drops had good body to it and decays on a slower pace which was surprisingly wasn’t congesting even on consecutive sub bass drops. The bass performance was clean and reverbs effortlessly providing an added zest on the lower frequencies which resulted on its easy sounding warm signature.

Midrange

The 99 Neo’s midrange gives it its strong coherent performance, transitional notes in the lower and upper midrange weaves through the spectrum smoothly. Angela Bofill’s Angel of the Night in 16/44 Flac had good dynamics on them and the female vocals had distinct clarity on them and had good definition which compliments the bass hits well. Vocal timber sounds a tad colored but doesn’t reach unnatural levels. Trying out the male vocals was done with Scorpion’s Wind of Change in 16/44 Flac, upper midrange performance was clear and detailed even showcasing sporadic extension abilities while the male vocals still sounded a tad colored but had more air to it which was extensively highlighted near the 3:33 minute mark.

Highs

I decided to pull out Jerry Cortez’s Around the Globe in 16/44 Flac to focus on checking out the 99 Neo’s higher frequency abilities. There is noticeable lack of bite on this set of cans although it is still able to deliver a lively and musical vibe on the signature. The lack of bite also showed supplemented the fact that the 99 Neo’s doesn’t induce harsh and piercing highs instead gives out a totally non-fatiguing experience.

Soundstage and Imaging

Spandau Ballet’s Code of Love in 16/44 Flac was used to test out the soundstage and imaging which right off the bat gave out a rather intimate feel, studio-like. Imaging was distinct and easy to identify. There is great sense of left to right orientation especially when instrumental hits are made. Detail retrieval is on point. Those who put a premium on a very wide soundstage would need to look elsewhere.

Yaxi Pads on the 99 Neo’s


I was fortunate enough to have the Yaxi Pads for the CD900st’s lying around and from all the other earpads I had the fit the CD900st, it was surprising that only the Yaxi’s managed to fit the 99 Neo. This was all because of the 99 Neo’s very slim earpad lining outline which all the other earpads didn’t managed to fit in, the leather on those were too thick so note that when you are looking forward to trying 3rd party earpads for the 99 Neo’s. The noticeable differences between the stock 99 Neo earpads and the Yaxi’s were the circumference size. The Yaxi’s had a much larger circumference and also had deeper earpad depth giving more area for your ears and the 99 Neo drivers themselves although the cloth lining had the same thickness on both earpads. Sound changes were minimal with the Yaxi giving out more air and soundstage than the stock one’s yet also taking the highs down which wasn’t a good thing. I ended using the stock earpads until now.

Conclusion


There is much to be said for the Meze 99 Neo just from its build quality alone which is unusual for a company who is fairly new to the game. The accessory set checks all the right boxes not to mention the sophistication poured on them. The sound needs no getting used to as it sits right home with it’s easy to love appeal, one not focused on getting critical and clinical with technicalities. Viewing the 99 Neo at $249 on an audiophile perspective familiar with his options wouldn’t entice one much except for the fact that this set of cans would possibly last a long time even with constant use, a result stemming from the confidence you can get just when using it 1st hand which suits its name, 99 Neo, a sign that something new can feel lasting.

More reviews on my site, http://audiorealviews.site/
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Pros: - lightweight
- attractive appearance
- good soundquality
- non-fatiguing sound presentation for long listening sessions
Cons: - bass a bit loose
- crackling memory foam
- earpads not comfortable with every earsize
Unboxing / Inside the box:

The headphone comes in a sturdy carton box wrapped into transparent foil. One side of the box is closed by two magnets and it nicely folds open.

Now something i have to mention because of my experience with another headphone. The new box & headphone fragrance. The new scent your nose will notice after opening the box the first time is there but vanishes quickly.

Next you will see a well made pouch containing the headphone itself and the cable. It is a very solid case you can use for save transportation and storage of your headphone and cable and some other small accessories. The pouch can easily be opened and closed using the two smooth running zippers.

In the middle of the pouch, there is a round shaped small pouch hosting the detachable headphone cable and two adapters. The headphone cable is nicely braided with a soft kevlar thread beginning from the 3.5mm TRRS connector going up to the y-splitter of the cable. Outgoing from the cable-splitter the two cables for (L)eft and (R)ight are now covered by soft rubber. Between the splitter and the headphone-plugs there is also a remote with a play/pause function for mobile devices and a build in mic. I really like the slim and well done connectors of the headphone cable. They fit very well. Small thing but worth to mention.

Cable length including connectors is close to 1,45 m. Plugs of the cable are marked L & R.

You will not receive much microphonics while scratching the kevlar braided part of the cable with your fingers and the microphonics when touching the upper rubber part of the cable are also more than acceptable.

Enclosed to the small pouch you will get a 3.5 mm to 6.4 mm adapter and an aeroplane adapter.


Optics & Build Quality:

After opening the carrying pouch i just said „Wow“. Its black and beautiful and there is metal and screws. The Meze Neo just looks desirable in the box. Lets get it out of the box to throw an eye on the details.

Grabbing the cans out of the pouch you will notice how light they are. These phones are showing quality and provide good haptic out of the box. The metal detailes and screws are giving the phones a very reliable touch.

*** Important Note: The headphone is fully servicable in the case any part has to be replaced. ***


Wearing & Comfort:

Lets put the cans on and feel them. But first i have to find out whats the (L)eft and whats the (R)ight earcup. After a couple of minutes i still didn't get it and just plugged in the headphone-cable and played a left and right channel test file. Theres no marking for the (L)eft and (R)ight channel on the headphone.

The 99 NEO is a very lightweight headphone at 260gr.

Earcup size may not fit the larger kinds of ears. I think my ears are about average. After about an hour of wearing the NEOs i felt the earpads pressing unpleasantly against the lower part of my ears. Nevertheless they felt comfortable to wear at first.

The fit of the headphone is self-adjusting and similar to the one used on the Philips Fidelio X2. The clamping force of the headband is ok but a bit too soft for my taste.

If you make funny faces you wont hear any sound coming from the headphone-structure. Only if you nod your head heavily you can hear the headband doing spongy sounds while readjusting. You wont hear it while listening to music at all but i definitely prefer a step by step clickable headphone adjustment without elastic bands.

Overall comfort while wearing the phones it really good. Probably the headphones are wearable for hours without getting annoying if you dont have big ears.

The pleather earpads and inner memory foam are soft and comfy. But the foam material Meze is using for the cutions of the earpads is not a good choice. It makes a light crackling sound when you move your head. I first thought it was some kind of distortion noise (like rustling foil) coming from my player.


Sound:

Testequipment:

- Lake People G100 FE (technically close to Violectric HPA V100)
- JDSL Labs Dac
- Astell & Kern AK70 MK II
- Flac & MP3 files

Highs:

Detailed and not harsh or fatiguing. Not thin or edgy sounding. Highs and Mids play well together.

Mids:

The mids have a good body while being detailed.

Bass:

The bass is elevated. I tested the bass of a Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 32 ohm these days too. That was a no-go experience. Boomy and overshadowing the other frequencies. The bass of the Neo 99 does not bleed too much into the mids and highs. Its a warm presentation. Sometimes it can be a bit too soft and lose sounding. But i found this to be rare. Layered presentation is there but sometimes gets lost a bit.

Soundstage:

Soundstage is good. I could easily hear where the sound of an instrument is coming from.

3d-effekt / Spaciness:

Music tends to sound more 2D than 3D. Average spaciness presentation. I havent heared a closed headphone yet that takes you into mindblowing wide spacious landscapes. The NEO performs good here.

Voices:

Voices are pleasant to the ears and non-fatiguing or thin sounding. High female voices dont let your ears bleed.

Overall presentation:

Non-fatiguing and warm presentation that is predestinated for long listening sessions. High, mid and lower frequencies complement each other well but for my taste the sound could use a bit more refinement of the presented frequencies. I red that there are differences between the classic and the NEO model of the Meze 99.


Support Impressions:

Friendly, helpful and quick answering customer service. I think good support is very important and also a part of the produkt.


Conclusion:

The Neo 99 is a good looking and well crafted headphone. You can easily say its a piece of art.

The fact that its fully servicable is a great thing. The cans are made for long not fatiguing listening sessions. Comfortable and lightweight headphones for people with small ears.

Being realistic and keeping the price range in mind the sound presentation is good. Let your ears decide.

But for me the NEO is missing some of the magic that makes me foot-tapping and enjoying every part of the music plus i always hear the crackling memory foam of the earcups when theres no sound playing. For the next cans Meze should consider using other foam.

In another review someone said:“ I really wanted to love these headphones...“ but they're just not for me. I second this and have to say that I expected more. But i know that Meze got new hardware in progress and maybe there will be something for me in the future.

The Meze 99 series are good debut headphones doing many things right but also some things wrong. If the next models get refinement we will get really awesome headphones.


Visuals:

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Pros: VERY efficient
Left cable connector marked for easy ID
Comfortable for extended listening time
Complete with everything you need for home or on-the-go use
Cons: Heavy mid-bass
by Tom Lewis
aka Squeaky Duck
13 Jan 2018

Recently I had the pleasure of being included in a worldwide tour posted here on Head-fi.org of the Meze Audio 99 Neo headphones. This is my personal opinion of these headphones.

Disclaimer - I am by no means an audio professional. I am an audio enthusiast & hobbyist who likes to tinker, so this is my experience with the NEO 99 headphones pertaining to their sound quality, comfort, price and construction merits. My regularly used headphones are the KRK KNS-8400.

The music I had chosen is what I am very familiar with and have had the pleasure of actually listening to live. My personal preference is jazz, 80's rock, classical, and some opera.


My primary sound source is a digital audio workstation with Samplitude 2496 Recording & Editing Suite and VU Player running through an ASUS Xonar DS DTS sound card locked at 24bit/192k 2ch with Burr Brown op-amps, Monster interlink II cable feeding my Kenwood KA-5700 integrated amplifier. All of my electronics are powered from a 1kW APC Smart UPS which has good AC power filtering, and yes, it does make a difference and the noise floor is exceptionally low. All of my digital sourced music used here is FLAC or uncompressed PCM format.

The Meze 99 Neo showed up in a nice storage box detailing some of the headphone's specs and features. Inside was a felt lined ballistic nylon hard case that provided excellent protection to what was inside, something many headphones should include but do not. I would love to get a case like this for my KRK headphones too. Nestled inside was a small round soft case with the full length 10 foot cable, a 4.5 foot cable with microphone for your smart phone, 1/4 inch adapter and an airline adapter. All bases covered here for use pretty much anywhere.

Looking them over I was impressed with the attention to detail in the build quality. The main part of the headband is all black spring steel with silver colored die cast zinc mounts for the adjustable padded comfort band. The ear cups are ABS which seem inert and the ear pads are soft leather which was a nice touch and reflect the quality & workmanship. The cable connected to each ear with a 1/8 inch plug on the bottom of each ear. I liked this since it made it easy to store them and if your cables were to get damaged it would be a simple swap for new ones. The left plug has a ring crimped into the shell to identify it from the right. The headphone cable itself is wrapped in Kevlar weave to protect the wire and the connectors are metal, not cheap molded plastic.

Meze Audio did their homework on the fit and comfort of these headphones. The ear cups are attached to the band to allow them to fit comfortably and secure without the proverbial "C-clamp" feel. The soft leather ear pads provided a good seal around the ears without the sweaty feel other leather pads may have. Their softness allowed me to wear my glasses with minimal discomfort. As for weight, they are very light, weighing in at only 9 ounces. I felt no big addition of weight even of an hour or two of use each night. The Kevlar jacket on the cable reduced the typical headphone microphonic rumble from moving around which is very good.

Now as for the sound, this is subjective and merely what my impressions of this set can do.

The mids and highs were smooth and balanced. vocals have a fairly neutral sound. The bass was more than I expected. These headphones will go as low as human hearing will allow, but with a pronounced hump in the mid-bass region that on some of my older recordings was a blessing, yet on well recorded music it was admittedly annoying and a bit muddy. I played around with the equalizer a bit to smooth it out which made a huge difference in long term listening. The settings I used were:
80Hz, -3dB
150Hz, -4.5dB
300 Hz, -3.5dB
Filter Q 1.4

99 NEO Specifications
Transducer size: 40mm
Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz
Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
Impedance: 26 Ohm
Rated input power: 30mW
Maximum input power: 50mW
Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
Plug: 3.5mm gold plated
Weight: 260 gr (9.2 ounces) without cables
Ear-cups: ABS Plastic

Audio Playlist:
Dawn Upshaw - World So Wide
Lee Ritenour - 6 String Theory
Michael Murray - Bach - Great Organ at Methuen
Victims Family - Voltage and Violets
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab - The Power and the Majesty
Tappi Tíkarrass - Miranda (vinyl)

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Listening Impressions

Dawn Upshaw's - World So Wide
This album was a good test of female vocals as Dawn's vocal range can and does reveal breakup on a lot of headsets & speakers making her sound a bit screechy if there is any breakup happening. In this case vocals came through in full detail with no detectable screechiness or sibilance. The vocals sounded neutral. Strings, woodwind instruments and percussion were well defined and clean. The only oddity I heard sticking out was tympani drums sounds a bit bloated despite the EQ curve I listed in this review.

Lee Ritenour - 6 String Theory
This had a nice warm sound listening to 16-year-old Canadian classical guitarist Shon Boublil playing two caprices by 19th Century Italian guitarist/ composer Luigi Legnani. You can hear him breathing and his sleeve moving on the nylon strings of his Martin Blackwell Classical guitar. What was interesting is being able to audibly judge how his fingers were sliding across the guitar frets as he played. The sound is clear with no harshness and the guitar's natural wood sound comes through.

Michael Murray - Bach - The Great Organ at Methuen Memorial Music Hall
If you like pipe organ music Michael Murray is an exceptional organist to listen to. Bach's Tocatta in F Major (BVW 540) played on the great organ at Methuen Memorial Music Hall in Methuen, Massachusetts. This used to be one of the largest organs in the world with 6,088 pipes and 84 registers. The biggest one I know of is the Fratelli Rufatti organ in the Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco with 9,235 pipes and 147 registers. WOW. If you live in or near San Francisco GO SEE AND HEAR IT. Anyway, without the EQ curve used, the sound was heavy and there was loss of detail throughout. With the EQ curve, you can hear a lot of low end detail and the acoustics of the hall clearly. Listening to Passacaglia & Fugue in C Minor (BVW 582) you can hear just how BIG this organ truly is (and you can hear the mechanics of the valves working in the background if are listening closely for it).

Victims Family - Voltage and Violets
Quivering Lip is a tune making fun of movie plots. The recording is very clear on all vocals and the NEOs played them nicely and the sound was actually neutral. You can tell it was recorded in a basement. Son of Church is a snappy and well recorded instrumental. The drums came through with good percussion and were really snappy with punch. When I lived in California they performed often at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma. They are hardcore punk but a lot of fun to listen to.

Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab - The Power and the Majesty
Just for fun, I tried Mobile Fidelity's Thunderstorm on CD. The thunder sounded pretty damn real on the NEOs with the volume up. Just listening to the raindrops, wind and water running made me feel cold and wet. That's convincing sound.

Tappi Tíkarrass - Miranda (vinyl)
The recording on vinyl is very good but Björk has a natural edginess to her sound on this album. On lesser headphones Skrið has a hard sound that is not enjoyable. Listening to it on the NEOs without the EQ curve was actually good and very listenable. Drek-Lek and Beri Beri had a good sound stage on the NEOs. Vocals were good. Get Ekki Sofið had ambience with a large sound stage. With the EQ curve in play the vocals became more alive with a more defined sound stage which was very apparent with the drums. I've always liked listening to Björk Guðmundsdóttir. She has a unique sound and style to her music. When she was in San Francisco I saw her performance on the stage at pier 32 (great show). Tappi Tíkarrass was her first band in 1983.

Lastly I tried them out on my Sonim XP5 smart phone with the same music. Now this is where these headphones really shine. Their inherent pronounced mid-bass characteristics and faint drop in the upper mid-band actually made for a really fun time listening to these and made up for the shortcomings of my phone's audio electronics. The sound was very well balanced and quite smooth with no equalization needed at all. I think I found a new add-on to buy for my smart phone here.

Conclusion
Overall, I like them. The build quality is there. The included accessories and hard shell case complete the ensemble well. The fact you can change out cables and use them with your cell phone to listen AND talk is a plus. Yes, they have a definite sound signature of their own, but on a lot of music they do the job well. If you are into critical monitoring for recording these are not headphones to get (that's what my KRK's are for). But for general listening at home they do the job well. They are very efficient which is good for portable electronics giving you more run time on batteries.

Overall at $249 a set I think they are a good deal.

In a nutshell, these are a good set of headphones I'd like to own for my portable electronics.
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Pros: Great bass sound.
So much fun.
Comfortable
Cons: Loses some details in extremely intricate music
Cable is too long for me
They are just a review pair. I don't own them yet.
Meze 99 Neo by Howlin’ Fester
Everything you want.


Introduction:
When Meze launched the 99 Classics, I remember seeing the banner on Head-Fi. The beautiful wood cups and closed back immediately caught my eye. I wanted to check out and see who was producing those beautiful headphones. I’ve been following Meze since that first banner flash, and now I finally get to try out one of the Meze products. I am lucky enough to be selected as part of the Meze Neo tour. It has been a long time coming, but I finally received the 99 Neo from @Jinxy245 the week before Thanksgiving. In short order, I opened the box and threw some music at them.

Gear and First Impressions:
Rig of choice is 16/44 FLAC from Cayin N3>USB out>RSA Intruder-medium gain. As soon as I got the Neo, I fell asleep to Steely Dan’s Can’t Buy a Thrill album. Not going to say too much about that since it was first impression, and I fell asleep within 4 or 5 songs. But the initial impression was very positive. Meze are great looking headphones. They are not heavy, they fit well, and I was able to lay down without them being pushed around by the pillow.

Physical attributes:
The feel and fit of the Meze 99 Neo are perfect for me. The circum-aural aspect of the ear pads fit around my ears like a glove. I feel like the clamping force is spot on, and I like the isolation of the cups. With respect to headphones, I guess that I am huge fan of closed back headphones. I have Fostex Th-900, Audeze LCD-XC, Senheiser Momentum V1. With that being said, I really love how the 99 Neo fit and feel.

The ONLY thing that I am not fond of is the length of the headphone cable. I prefer a mid-length cable of around 4.5 feet. But that is just a niggle, now isn’t it? If I bought the 99 Neo or the 99 Classics, I would either shorten the cable, or buy a replacement cable that is shorter. Otherwise, I do like the cable. Below the Y-split, it is cloth covered and above the Y-split it is rubber. Neither sections of the cable experiences much microphonics, and rolling it up for transportation, doesn’t really induce memory kinks. I don’t use cables with remotes, so I won’t comment on that.

Edit: 01.29.2018
With regards to the cables: The Meze 99 Neo only comes with the shorter/microphone cable in the box. The review pair traveled with the shorter/mic cable AND the long/standard/NO-mic cable. The long/standard/NO-mic cable can be purchased separately for $20.

Sound:

Over the next few days, I just listened to them while working. I ran through most of the Beatles later works. White Album, Let it Be, Revolver, Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper’s. I wasn’t doing any critical listening, but one of the things that really struck me was how deep, rich, and full the Meze 99 Neo made the Beatles sound. They were really astounding on these older recordings (new remasters). But mostly I just worked and occasionally, I would need to pause, look out the window and listen to part of a song. I think this was the first time I was really able to “hear” Paul’s bass lines. Ringo’s drums were clearly presented, and other percussion instruments were clearly represented. While writing this, I had to pause and listen to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Very nice.

The Meze 99 Neo seem to be easy to drive. I powered them with the Ray Samuels Audio Intruder amp. On medium gain, I only need about 1/4 of the power or less. This gives me great listening level with good impact, but not being loud. That is one of the things that I tend to find with other headphones, is that I want to turn them up to get the bass impact and slam. I really feel that the 99 Neo do that more safely.

Musings on Two Beatles Songs and Four Headphones:
OMG! Listening to the Beatles song “When I’m 64” is a revelation. Such fun bass lines and bass presence without overpowering the rest of the song. Switching over to the THX-900, I feel like I’m getting a more clinical representation of the song. I had to turn the volume up with the THX-900 to get the same kind of fun impact of the 99 Neo. One thing I did notice about the 99 Neo and the old Beatles stuff is that the L-R balance is more distracting and sharp. Meaning that vocals in the right are extremely panned right, etc. With the THX-900, they are more cross centered. This could be a function of the THX-900 being “semi-closed”. While listening to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” on the THX-900, I can definitely hear the bass lines, but is like I have to work harder to find it. The Meze 99 Neo smacks you with it.

Switching over to LCD-XC, you are immediately hit with the weight. (If anyone ever talks to you about the LCD-XC, it goes something like this… “LCD-XC, huh?” “Yup.” “How heavy are those things?” “Heavy. Oh, so heavy.” “OK. How do they sound?” “Sound great. But man are they heavy.” Anyway, I digress.) Listening to When I’m 64 and Lucy Diamonds, the LCD-XC really present the Beatles well. There is bass heft, and feel. But still find myself reaching for the volume to keep turning them up. The bassline in the chorus of Lucy in the Sky sounds glorious. But at a volume price.

Trying the Senheiser Momentum (Version 1). When I’m 64 sounds evenly presented and kind of boring. I don’t get that OMG moment that I got with the Neo 99. If I turn them up, I can force myself to have more fun with the increased volume. Definitely good headphones for travelling, but I very rarely reach for the Momentums

If I had to rank the headphones for these two Beatles songs, it would look like this: 1. LCD-XC (but had to really turn it up). 2. 99 Neo (just represented the songs in a “FUN” way on a lower volume.) 3. THX-900. Great sound across the board, but missing the “FUN” factor on the Beatles songs. (AND I LOVE MY TH-900). 4. Momentum. Just average.

Comfort:
Well, the Beatles aren’t my normal evaluation songs, so I should move on to my evaluation music. However, this first half of the review, I am really impressed with the Meze 99 Neo. Putting the Meze back on after testing the Fostex, Audeze, and Sennheiser, the meze really wins for comfort. Let’s do a comfort ranking. 1. Meze 99 Neo. 2. THX-900 (but I would like a little bit tighter clamping). 3. LCD-XC. Comfortable around the ears, but did I mention they are heavy? 4. Momentum. Tight clamping, tight on the ears. Didn’t really bother me, but when I took them off, I was glad they were off.

Glasses:
I also have to mention that the Meze 99 Neo are comfortable with glasses. I’m old and I wear reading glasses and computer distance glasses. My spectacles fit just fine under the Meze pads. I don’t feel pressure on the arms/temples.

Song evaluations:
Steely Dan - Do it again. This is probably the song I listen to the most when evaluating music. With the 99 Neo, I’m able to hear everything clearly and well presented. There are high hat rides and cabassa throughout the song. I can hear those high frequency instruments clearly and distinctly while getting a good bass thump.

Porcupine Tree - Hatesong. This is one I’ve really been looking forward to hearing. It naturally has a deep drumming bass line. That was represented well. But the Tom drums after the 6:00 minute mark are where the Meze 99 Neo really shine.

Fleetwood Mac – Dreams. Soundstage. The Meze 99 Neo don’t have the widest soundstage. When I’m listening to Dreams, the background vocals and acoustic guitar seem a little closer with the Neo than with other headphones and iem I have tried.

Kansas – Miracles Out of Nowhere. I grew up listening to Kansas on my stereo in my bedroom, and through old Realistic – White – Plastic – Closed back headphones. This takes me back to my childhood. Hearing all of the individual instruments in the band playing off of each other in different locations of the headphone is a real joy.

Santa Esmeralda – Don’t Let me Be Misunderstood. The definition of a smile. When the song starts off with hand claps, stomping, congas, drums, then the acoustic guitar strums in. Followed by a flamenco solo. This just made me smile very much. Definitely check this out if you have the chance.

Tool – The Pot. Thought I would throw some recently recorded music at the Neo. This Tool song has lots of bass and guitar. They all seem to blur together. On most tool songs, it is hard to get a distinction between Maynard’s voice, and the other instruments. This follows suit here with the Neo. If I change out the Neo for my Trinity Audio Hunter iem – gunmetal filters & silver litz cable, I can differentiate all the instruments separately and clearly hear Maynard’s voice. Tried the same thing with the TH-900, and the TH-900 can clearly separate all the instruments. Fun factor on this Tool song has to go to the Fostex over the Meze Neo.

Fleetwood – Rumours album. Moving from Tool over to the Fleetwood Mac, I think this is where the Meze really shine for me. Older recorded music. It gives it the heft, thump and fun factor that is needed. But I can still hear highs to give it some fun. Maybe the harmonics of the guitars aren’t as clear and bright as they could be on the song Second Hand News, but the sound is fun and inviting. In the middle of “The Chain” all the music pauses except for McVie’s bass line. That is rendered wonderfully on the Neo.

Conclusion:
In listening to the Meze 99 Neo over the week, I have been really impressed with the build, fit, comfort, sound and thump. Right now the Meze headphones are on a short list of headphones I want. In fact, the Meze 99 Classics or the Meze 99 Neo are the only new headphones that are on that list. I could see myself using these a lot more than some of my other closed back headphones.

As I’m finalizing this review and proofreading, I’m listening to Steely Dan’s catalog. These sound perfect with Can’t Buy a Thrill and Countdown to Ecstasy. As I mentioned, I believe that the Meze really shine with older classic rock albums. As I was going through my collection, I realized how much of my FLAC music IS the older recorded music. So just for fun, I put on the Virginmarys – King of Conflict. This is a newer recorded album. It sounds very good with the Meze 99 Neo as well. Drums that make you want to get up and move. Check out Portrait of Red for an awesome and fun song.

I would definitely recommend these headphones for anyone interested in closed back headphones that are simply great sounding and fun. I will be buying a 99 Classic or 99 Neo. I give it 4.5 stars. What more could you want from a headphone?

EDIT: Update 01.29.2018
Meze was running a holiday special on the 99Neo for $199. After writing this review and before the end of 2017 holiday season, I purchased a set of Meze 99Neo. I still absolutely love the 99Neo. I was part of the Shanling Hi-res Portable Players Review Tour. I got to experience the 99Neo with the Shanling M2s. I believe that they have tremendous synergy. You can read my review of the M2s here:

https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/sh...d256-hifi-lossless-music-player.22354/reviews

The Meze 99 Neo are definitely my “go-to” pair of headphones at this moment. I had been doing a majority of my listening with in-ear-monitors prior to this.
Pros: easily driven by portables; smooth sound signature; forgiving with poor recordings; addictive bass
Cons: noise prone frame; lack of micro details; mids a bit too thick; overzealous bass
In early 2016, I had the pleasure of participating in the Meze 99 Classic tour. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. A new release from a relatively unknown company that sounded that good was impressive, not just to me but to many of those who had the pleasure of hearing them. When I heard that Meze had planned to release a less expensive version, ($249 USD MSRP, and an advertised $50 discount for Black Friday 2017) I was excited to sign up for the Neo tour. To see how the 99 Neo stacks up to its more famous older brother, read on.

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I found the 99 Classics to be a beautifully designed headphone, and the 99 Neo doesn’t fall far from that mark. Where the Classics had wooden earcups (Walnut is all that is offered on their website currently with either silver or gold trim) the Neo is listed as having “coal black textured earcups” made of ABS plastic, but I personally find them to be solidly built and no less attractive.

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The rest of the build is (from memory) all but identical to the 99 Classics, and the website states “As the Neo shares the DNA of the Classics, we guarantee that the 99's are serviceable if any parts ever need to be replaced.”

Comfort wise, the Neo feels exactly how I remember the Classics to be, which is to say very comfortable (in fact the larger pads provided are even more so). The weight (260 gr or 9.2 ounces without cables) is very well distributed with no hot spots noted and the clamping pressure never caused me any discomfort (larger heads may have different results).

There has been much discussion (here and elsewhere) about the earpads, so I’ll put a bit of my 2 cents in here. When the Classics were 1st released, there was much ado about the size of the earpads. Many felt that they were too small and uncomfortable (I and a minority of others had less of a problem with them). Meze, being the responsive company that they are had issued a couple of different pads to counter this, eventually settling on the size that is offered with the 99 Neo here. Since Tyll from Innerfidelity reviewed the Neo, there has been even more of a kerfuffle around how they affect the sound. I’ll leave my sound impressions for the appropriate section, but comfort wise, these earpads certainly fit the bill for me. Plush, fairly roomy, and made from medium density memory foam, I have no real complaints with the comfort these pads provide (of course YMMV, yadda yadda…).

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Accessories are very good for this price range. 1st off, there is a useful & sturdy carry case which is a decent size for throwing into a backpack without taking up too much room. The case could be smaller, but like the Classics, the Neo doesn’t fold flat. My major criticism is that you have to unplug the cable to fit the Neo into the case. Although the review unit came with a 10ft long cable more suited for desktop or living room listening, the Neo is only shipped with a 4’ cable best used portably, but long enough if you sit close to your computer. That cable has an inline button remote which is said to be compatible with Smartphones and Android capable DAPs, but I didn’t get the chance to test this myself. The headphones themselves are symmetrical, so the only way to tell the left from the right is the white on silver writing on the connections, which I found to be difficult to read without glasses.

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Rounding off the accessories is a 1/8” x ¼” adapter, as well as an airplane adapter.


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Before I offer my listening impressions, I’ll start with a little about myself. I’m 50 years old and have less than perfect hearing. I’ve been a music lover for as long as I can remember, and I learned to listen a little more critically during the few years I sold audio equipment (and I continue to learn the more I listen). My fascination/infatuation with headphones began about 5 years ago, and has only gotten stronger. The majority of my listening was done listening to FLAC, WAV & various MP3s with my Shanling M2 (1st gen), Fiio x3 (1st gen.) or through my HP all in one PC and Audioquest Dragonfly(V1.2). My tastes are fairly eclectic, but my listening centered on classic rock, folk, jazz, classical and some of the genres of EDM. I didn’t bother with burning in the headphones since this is a review pair and probably already have a few hundred hours on them, nor did I hear any difference throughout my evaluation.

Isolation is about average for a closed back headphone, muting outside noise but not totally blocking it out. Even with music playing at reasonable volumes, some sound can intrude .The metal frame I found to be highly microphonic, noisily clanging whenever knocked against just about any object. The cable seems to be improved from the Classics in that regard; I experienced less microphonics than I remember with the Neo’s older brother. The Meze is incredibly easy to drive, reaching deafening volumes with any source I tried, but they did scale up with better sources.

I’d describe the Neo as a lush and warm headphone. It’s not the most resolving headphone by a long shot but it is enjoyable to listen to nonetheless. It throws a fairly wide and deep soundstage for a closed back can, which I find particularly impressive in this price range.

The bass on the Neo is pretty far north of neutral. Since the emphasis is more on the mid bass, I wouldn’t call these basshead cans. In fact there does deem to be bass roll off starting in the neighborhood of 50Hz. The lowest notes are audible, however they aren’t presented with authority. The quantity of bass can be problematic as it does bleed into the lower midrange, and it’s not the most detailed bass either. While not as crude as ‘one note bass’, upright bass can sound smeared and indistinct if the recording isn’t up to snuff. To spite all that, I found the presentation is pleasant, if not downright addictive. I doubt that the lack of nuances would be noticed by the majority of listeners, and most will enjoy the extra boom the Neo brings.

The midrange is present and has good clarity overall. The biggest problem here is a slight ‘cupped hands’ resonance with certain voices, which is further evidence of the pumped up bass. It’s most obvious with male vocals, but it’s not a glaring problem and is fairly track dependent. There is little to no problem with sibilance or other upper midrange anomalies, so guitars and such sound natural with a good amount of bite, without glare or fatigue.

The treble isn’t horribly rolled off, but I wouldn’t call it airy and extended either. There does seem to be a dip between 5 & 8K, but I found that to be pleasant and not ‘sucked out’ but rather smooth. Occasionally some of the more delicate cymbal work and other audio markers can get lost in the mix, but that is track (and age) dependent, I think. If you’re a fan of shimmer and sparkle, these won’t likely scratch your itch, but in the other direction all but the most treble sensitive would likely find these to be a satisfying headphone. The highs can be a tad coarse in ‘texture’ on some recordings, but again it’s never piercing, and it’s not horribly egregious.

As I alluded to before, I feel any review I did would be incomplete without touching a bit more on how the earpads affect the sound. When Tyll from Innerfidelity reviewed the Neo, he concluded that “the sound is more colored and uneven” with the newer pads and that Meze had “gone backwards with these pads”. Anyone who hears the original 99 Classics & the 99 Neo will notice the difference in the bass right away. Even from memory, the difference was pretty stark. Personally, I’m not nearly as critical of the sound of the Neo. Is it a reference quality headphone? No…no it’s not. Nor was it intended to be, unless I miss my guess. Tyll is absolutely correct (IMO) that the Neo comes off as “colored & uneven”. This is a take on a ‘fun’ sound signature, and fun it is. There are always tradeoffs when designing headphones, and Meze made their choices.

I couldn’t help but be curious how much the sound would change with a little pad rolling, so I did experiment a little. The closest pads I have on hand to the original Classics pads would be the stock AT M40X pads.

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The plastic lip on the rear of the pads are a little different in size compared to the Neo, so it was a bit of a PITA to get the pads on properly, but once I did, the Neo did come much closer in sound (from memory) to the original Classics. The Neo retained most of its bass slam, but there was less bass bleed into the mids. Clarity overall was improved, and a bit more air and definition was added to the treble. It didn’t work miracles, no sub bass was gained, and the bass was still on the loose side, but it was very similar from memory to the 99 Classics with the original pads. The other thing it had in common with the original pads was, yes, the comfort. Every complaint lodged against the original pads would apply here as well. It wasn’t unwearable to me, but others with larger (or different shaped) ears would likely have a problem. The newer pads are indeed more plush and roomy, and for many that could be a deal breaker. What a difference a pad makes.

I have to stress that to spite all its flaws I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the 99 Neo. I was fairly critical of the Neo in my review because if you look (or listen) from a ‘reference sound’ perspective, this headphone falls short on several points. However, if you’re looking for a smooth bass enhanced sound signature that’s definitely more on the ‘fun’ side of the audio equation, The Meze 99 Neo is hard to beat. It is like audio candy for me. It's great every now & then, and satisfies a craving but I wouldn't really want it as a steady diet. Imperfect or not, I smiled many times while using the 99 Neo. In the end, that’s what many of listen to music for anyway
Pros: Quality Build, Fun & Honest Sound, Amazing Treble
Cons: Still Tight On Large Heads, Ears Can Touch Drivers
Meze 99 Neo
I've reviewed their Classic, and appreciate Meze letting me review this model. Stay tuned for comparisons.

Background
I'm a lifelong musician, live and studio sound engineer, always with heavy duty earplugs. Often the only one in my band wearing them, but then, I've retained my unusually sensitive hearing because of it. I've tried too many headphones and in-ears to list. I'll refer to what I've tried where it's relevant in the review, to keep it simple. I've got some I'm happy with now, but I'm never tired of trying new things, so it brought me to these headphones.

What I Look For
I prefer warmer headphones, full lower mids, flat mids, reduced high mids. More than a moderate mid bass bump bothers me, and sub bass rarely extends low enough in most quality cans I'll try. I'll say "quality" since there are plenty that are explosive down there, but often at the expense of everything else. Some have said you can't have all frequencies well represented, but enough come close to this, so I know this can be done.

Common Issues
Fit has had me reject 80% of what I've tried. I much prefer over-ear. It's hard enough to get an over-ear to go over your ears (Senn. Momentum 1 for example and Momentum 2 isn't much better). My ears are fairly flat but learger around, proportional to being 6'5". My head is also, triple X hat size. Most companies could fit larger heads, with just an inch more band extension, but only some seem to take that into consideration.

Design and Comfort
These arrived well package and designed. Nice solid case and aesthetics. Very light yet sturdy. The plastic replacing the Classic's wood is sturdy, and not inclined to fingerprints. Still, I'm more into the sound aspect (and the fit, naturally). The band auto-fits easily, though like many w/ this style on me, they tend to contract when worn and have to be pulled back down sometimes. The design seems to allow some flex to fit better.

Fully extended they reach my ears but press on the top of my head. The pressure at the top of the cups that I had with the Classic is not there now. You'll see in pictures I slipped the band on top of the metal hoops to make more room. Pads are better, still not quite deep enough. As pictured, I'd put on Audio Technica MSR7 pads, perfect fit perfect, more space for ears, and sound. I'll go into that in more detail further into my review.

Sound Quality and Ideas
A bit warmer vs Classics and I prefer that. That Meze treble magic that no other company has pulled off. Clarity without any lack of detail, yet no audible peaks and no fatigue, even for one as sensitive to treble as me. This is their strongest point. There is still a bit of mid-fi quality, but that's not a bad thing. For their price, they are among the best. Many long for a "closed HD650 (now 660s) with more bass and air" and these are that.

The high mids are just right, blending with the highs perfectly. Another big win. The true mids (roughly 500 hz to 2 khz) are close to flat but with a pleasing bit of low mid warmth the Classic didn't quite have making them enjoyable, without a hard sound, yet you feel like you are missing nothing. Like the highs, they do this better than almost everyone else I've heard. A sound you can trust for accuracy, but is easy on the ears. Nice work.

The lower mids are not lacking, the Classic did a bit. There is a bit of a buildup here, and in the higher bass, evident on some recordings. That bugs me. My headphone earpad swap (to AT MSR7 pads) got rid of that as they added spaciousness, treble detail (without fatigue) and no loss of bass (rare with a pad swap) or maybe even a touch more sub bass. Low mids are a 6-7 stock, and a 9-10 with the MSR7 pads. Yes, it's that good.

Mid bass is nice with the right amount of boost. It has a bit more than the Classic, but till within an ideal range. Not for purists and not the "fastest" thing, but very pleasing. The fun goes lower (to my ear at least) than the Classic that rolled off under 40 hz. These don't roll off until under 30 hz with useful sub info at / below 20 hz. Graphs don't show this improvement though, in fact they show the Classic with the same or more extension.

How They Make This Better
Consider an easily removable pleather padded band vs. what is clamped on, as larger head folk like me can get by with just the outer metal hoop wires. They can be gently bent to fit even better. Their light weight, even lighter without that band, means no padding is no problem when the weight is spread out, with those two flat bands, which could always be wrapped in some thin padding, if needed. That would not be any issue for me.

Meze, please consider buying Audio Technica MSR7 pads. Test them, and develop your next pad based on that. They slip into the groove and fit perfectly. Images show the same depth - but the less rolled off interior means it helps the cups sit a bit farther out to fit ears better. The better stereo depth and width, cleaning up low mids / mid bass, no loss of subs and better treble clarity (with no extra treble level) is a worthwhile goal.

A word on the Audio Technica MSR7 ear pads. These are not as comfortable as the Meze stock pads which are amazingly soft. That firmness allows them to stay a bit farther out, giving you that space. The MSR7 pads ARE still very comfortable, it's just that the stock pads can spoil you, as they are among the most soft and compliant pads I've felt. So you won't feel uncomfortable, you just won't have the super pillow stock pads on them.

Additionally, that firmness can cause the clamp to increase, if you have a large head and the clamp bothers you, you will find it increases with these pads since they don't compress as much. I'm already to where they are a little too small for my head so that did make it worse. If I did a "big head mod" and removed the band to just leave the outer rings, this will not be an issue and I'm considering buying these and doing just that with these.

Meze 1.JPG Meze 2.JPG Meze 3.JPG Meze 4.JPG

Mid December EDIT / Update for Brand New Pair

I need to add an update / edit to my review and on every Meze post, where I had said something in particular. The Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 pads, which worked a miracle on the Sony MDR-1A, did change the sound of these headphones a bit. The test pair I had had a bit of a lower mid to high bass resonance build up that these tamed. I think that's what also bothered Tyll and others. They still do that, and if you want that area cleared up a bit these do it. They don't increase treble or decrease the sub bass, but the mids are every so slightly more recessed (true mids, 500 to 2 khz), the high mids aren't changed. I ordered a brand new pair. Not this may be because of slight quality improvements but these new Meze 99 Neo were best stock. Right out of the box, no burn in. The MSR7 pads had the above minor effect, but it is no longer needed, high bass and low mids had no excess to me, and true mids were full and as accurate, as do I prefer. I can't say these are the best in my collection, as each as a purpose, but they are now my favorite sounding all-rounder. My EMU Teak and my Sony MDR-1A are a bit more extended on both ends of the spectrum but don't have quite the stereo magic and gets a bit fatiguing on some songs with that. My Sony MDR-Z7 has slightly more soundstage / warmth.

My Samson Z55 is a bit more flat / accurate. These still do treble better than any headphone I have ever heard. As easy on the ears as Senn HD650 but not 'veiled'. It you want a closed option - with a bit better imaging, more sub bass and more detail without any harshness, get these. I don't feel I lose any detail v. brighter phones I've heard, all the way up to the brightest and most expensive tested (the Focal Utopia or Sennheiser HSD800 / 700). Mids are absolutely perfect. Nothing missing, but no hot spots in true mids as Sony MDR-Z7 had before it was modded, and still can have occasionally, as some Planars can have. Even very neutral Samson Z55 is slightly north of what I'd like in that area vs. these. Without a high bass, low mid issue, I can't find a frequency area on it I'd want to change even with EQ if I tried to (I mix and master lots of music, I can usually find something). I'd maybe add 1 db at 10-20 hz (yes - I can hear that low), and that is it. Maybe 1/2 db less mid bass. If they did a slight tweak in design or quality control that caused this keep doing it. These are the BEST headphones under $250, period. I'd say even under $500. Open or closed. Being free of resonances and so spacious sounding, you don't need them open to to get that kind of width in their sound.
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Pros: Well priced, comfy, durable, inline control, nice case
Cons: Does not fold flat
Firstly, thanks to Meze for allowing me to participate in the loaner program. Lots of great reviews and photos of the Neo. I will provide a review based on my 40 something year-old ears whose favorite headphones currently are the Audeze LCD-XC and Hifiman HE-6. For a fairer comparison, for mid-fi closed headphones, I have the Denon D600 and Oppo PM-3.

For its price, the Neo is really great value if you are looking for a durable, handsome, very comfy, darker, dynamic driver, bass heavy headphone with in-line controls. Compared to the planar PM-3, it is more comfortable and more bass-tilted. However, it does not fold flat and therefore is a little bit more bulky to transport…however, the case is very nice and like most headphones, you do need to unplug the cable to store it in the case. It works well out of my iphone 6 and to be honest, it sounds the same out of my Fiio X5 3rd gen. The Denon D600 is more V-shaped if you enjoy that, while the Neo is more balanced comparatively. I have also tried it out on my desktop amps, and again to be honest, I don’t think it scales up too much….perhaps, I don’t have golden ears.

The fit is fantastic, as it is a self-adjusting mechanism and I figure it would fit most heads, and the headphones themselves are extremely light. I can wear them all day without any discomfort.

So, what is the downside…none really, especially if you enjoy the bass-tilted sound. If you get a chance to try it and you like the sound, the value is unbeatable. If you are not sure, because it is not too pricey, it would be worth a gamble to purchase them and give them a go. If it does not work out, resell them later without much monetary loss.
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Pros: Very comfortable and stylish with an instant, easy fit. Easy to drive. Very good sound for relaxing listening or modern music.
Cons: Less great with acoustic and classical. Non-folding cups make them bulky for portable use. Cable is a bit noisy. Earpads can get a bit sweaty.

A few years ago a company from Romania caught my attention with some wood headphones that had attracted a few members. They quickly spotted that they were a rebrand of some Chinese wood headphones and nothing much came from it. However in the intervening few years after that initial bad start, Antonio Meze was hard at work on making a pair of well-designed, good sounding, and most of all, unique headphones. The result of his toil were the Meze 99 Classics, which are now joined by the black 99 Neo being reviewed here.

The down-side to the design is that the cups don't fold flat, so along with the large arcs, once cased in the simple, but suitably solid included case, they aren't as portable as might be ideal and they are really going to stick out if used on public transport.

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The cables for the headphones are dual-entry using very thin 3.5mm TS plugs.. The standard cable, which is very long, terminates in a 3.5mm plug which can be adapted to 6.5mm with the included adaptor. A 3.5mm 3.5mm TRRS cable with an inline mic and play/pause buttons for smart phones is also included.

Uniquely the headphones themselves don't have left and right cups, but are entirely symmetrical, so it doesn't matter which cup which plug is inserted. To determine left and right, the plugs themselves are marked, the left plug also having a protruding ring, making it easy to feel which side is left simply by touching the plug. This cable, due to the un-damped wooden cups can transmit some noise when rubbed, though I didn't find it a serious problem. Some people with noisy clothes might find it a bit of an issue, however.

Overall, the simplicity of the design has resulted in great ergonomics and a light and comfortable pair of headphones that are also very attractive.

Compared to the 99 Classics, the 99 Neo supports black plastic cups with a leather-like pattern, and silver-colored metal parts in place of those which were gold-colored on the 99 Classics. This naturally makes for a very attractive pair of headphones.

The result of using plastic cups has two consequences: The first is that the 99 Neo are cheaper, Amazon.com showing $249 versus $309 for the 99 Classics. That's a 20% saving.

The second is that a different cup material means different resonances and a possible change in sound. It was this which I wished to investigate.

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By default, both pairs of headphones have something of a warm-of-neutral sound, with a slightly, but not too forgiving treble, and moderately boosted bass. This is something I call a "consumer" tuning, as it mates well with modern, popular music.

It also works well with older pop music that has been mastered in a way that lacks bass somewhat, as it boosts that region. Where it doesn't work as well is with classical and similar acoustic recordings, where the greater "air" of brighter headphones makes for a better match.

While I wouldn't call the 99 Neo detailed, I wouldn't call it congested either, as the bass through to the treble is reasonably precise, with enough detail, even directly out of my iPhone 6, that I was capable of enjoying listening with them using some of the more modern music that I like.

The sense of soundstage and instrument separation is also quite good for this price bracket, with again, only the slightly muted treble taking away from that on acoustic recordings.

That being said, for fun I tried them out of Chord's Hugo 2 after using them out of my iPhone, and while the Hugo 2 sounded more natural, the 99 Neo wasn't going to show anything like how much of a jump in resolution the better hardware was capable of delivering.

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Comparing to the original 99 Classic was a bit trickier. For the most part, they were more similar than different, the sound of the original having a slightly nicer presentation, as sound reverberating off wood does. It wasn't, however, a big difference, and one I don't feel the need to go into detail over.

The biggest difference is that the 99 Neo is cheaper, with Amazon.com showing a price of $249 versus $309 for the Classic. That means for a 20% saving, if you don't mind forgoing the wood, you can get pretty much the same pair of headphones.

I wish these had been available back in 2007 when I started in the hobby, as these would have been the perfect pair of headphones for me at the time. Once again I reckon Antonio Meze has made a good pair of headphones for the average listener who wants something stylish and good-sounding.

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Pros: Good build quality.
Excellent bass quantity.
Easy to drive.
Cons: Bass bleeds all over the mids.
Far from neutral.
Lacking detail and nuance.
About 25 years ago, I had this horrible set of Pioneer 4-Way speakers. Not the wonderful ones built in Japan with premium drivers and accurate crossovers. Nope, these were the kind of speakers you find at garage sales with cheap the near peeling off the edges, along with Cerwin Vega and old JBL’s. As much as I can criticize them, I can honestly say I have never enjoyed a stereo as much as I enjoyed ‘em hooked up to an early nineties Yamaha stereo receiver. I have since moved on to much more accurate, expensive, and well-built equipment. But to be totally honest, listening with the Pioneers was just flipping fun.

Nowadays my tastes have matured, and my headphone collection includes the Alpha Primes and the Sennheiser HD-800S’s. My search for neutrality has paid dividends, and my music collection is an eclectic blend of Stoner/Doom, Prog, World Music, Jazz and Classical. I have no complaints about my gear. However, I still remember the headbanging fun of those old speakers, and no matter how good my current headphones are, they don’t scratch that particular itch.

Enter the Meze Neo 99’s.

I tried the Classics when they were part of the tour about a year and a half ago, and reading my notes as well as my review clarified my memory of the experience. I loved those headphones, and gave them a solid four-star rating. I recently decided to reward myself with my first set of new headphones in a long, long time. Reading the reviews and thread comments confirmed my suspicion that the Neo 99’s might bring me even closer to the Pioneer experience. To make this review really, really short: I was right.

You may notice that I am rating these headphones with a rather harsh three-stars. They simply do not have the clarity and detail of the Classics, at least not compared to the notes I took. For instance, the bass bleeds all over the mids, obscuring fine details. The most recent album by Argus is a good example of what I mean...

“From Fields of Fire” is one of the best traditional or classic metal albums I’ve heard in years. The recording is exceptional, and the performance by the musicians is pretty strong. When I listen with the Neo 99’s, all of the emotional impact remains in the recording, but the tonal properties of the guitars, and especially the bass guitar, are severely lacking. Comparing the exact same recording on the exact same equipment with my venerable Grado SR-250i’s, the detail embedded in the recording was nothing short of remarkable. The sonic character of the bass as well as the drums were as if from an entirely different recording, and I heard the same thing with every other headphone that I own.

Returning to the Neo’s, the fine detail, my reason for using headphones in the first place, was all but absent. This was also apparent in the vocals, guitars, and cymbal work of the drummer. Even the bass drum presence was limited to a lively ‘thud’. As a transducer, the Neo 99’s are simply not accurate instruments revealing the subtle, and even not-so-subtle, details of the recording. But for that matter, neither were ancient Pioneer 4-Ways sold at Circuit City and the Good Guys in the 80’s and 90’s. And the more I grow in this hobby, the more convinced I am that we should all have some Pioneer/Cerwin Vega/JBL speakers in our lives. Because the truth is, when I listen to anything heavy with my other cans and IEM’s, I always seem to reach for the Neo’s to hear if they give me that extra something I crave, and they usually do. I’m just not fooling myself into believing they are anything but what they are: good headphones at a competitive price that sacrifice detail for impact.

I’m totally okay with that!
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Pros: Good looking
Very good build quality
Clean smooth sound
Cons: Bit bas heavy with some music
Sound stage not quite as wide as with the classics
Limited re cable options
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Thank you to Meze for the loan of these headphones.


My ears are 55 years old and so not perfect, I listen to a combination of high res files on portable daps and a high end home system.


I am a Maze Classic owner and was intrigued to see what this cheaper variant had to offer. Comfort is very good and the ear pads are just the right density to give a good fit but keep your ears at the right distance from the speaker. As with all closed back phones your ears will get hot after prolonged use. Isolation is quite good bit loud outside noise can be heard over quite music, there is very little sound leakage.



With classical music they perform well with restrained uppers, clear mids and warm base. With rock music they can be confused by sustained base complex base but vocals work well and treble is sweet with no tinny cymbals. Sound stage is quite wide and has a sense of depth and appears well layered.



With the stock cable on SE out the Fiio x7ii drives them to good volume, switching to balanced adds more volume and a greater sense of depth.

Used with a Schiit Mjolnir 2, they really sing especially with good NOS valves.



In conclusion if you’re looking for a good well-made set of phones for general listening you cannot go far wrong with these. Go out and audition a pair today to see if they suit your hearing and equipment!
Pros: Gorgeous aesthetics. Lightweight and comfortable. Value for money.
Cons: Bass can be a little boisterous.
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Disclaimer

This sample was sent to me for the purpose of an honest review. I'm not affiliated with the company in any way and all observations and opinions here are my own, based on my experience with the product.

The Meze 99 Neo is currently priced at $249 and can be purchased from the company's website: https://www.mezeaudio.com/

Like most people on this type of site I'm a lover of music. In my younger days I spent several years as a hip-hop DJ (using real vinyl and turntables) as well as producing a variety of music on computer using a combination of MIDI and live instruments. I did a Home Studio Sound Certificate at the Milton School of Audio Engineering in Brisbane, Queensland which covered the setup of audio for playback and recording in a studio environment along with other basic engineering principles. Nowadays I prefer to simply listen to and enjoy music.

My taste in music has changed a great deal over the years. For a long time my only interest was in rap and hip-hop music. Now though I listen to all kinds of music including jazz, classical, rock, psytrance, folk and ambient. I listen to music everyday using portable gear consisting of a DAP and mostly IEMs or simple desktop setup consisting of a laptop and DAC at work and my desktop setup at home which is based around my PC or Shinrico D3S with a DAC, often but not always including a tube amp and full-sized headphones or speakers.

My preferred sound signature is fairly balanced with slightly elevated mid-bass and deep well-extended sub-bass, clear and resolving midrange with a touch of warmth and clean, airy treble. I'm not offended by brighter sounding gear but dislike any sibilance. The majority of my music is 16/44.1 flac files as I stopped using physical media (CD/vinyl) many years ago and prefer the convenience of digital formats.

Packaging and accessories

The Neo arrived in a high quality, light gray cardboard box with a partial image of the headphone on the front. The box is sealed by a magnet and when opened reveals the hard carrying case inside, nestled among some black protective foam.

Opening up the case presents you with the headphone and a hockey puck-shaped zippered case which contains the cable and two adapters (x1 airline, x1 3.5 mm to 6.35 mm). The hard case is a great addition and is perfect for protecting your headphone when not in use or during transport.

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The included cable is nice and a perfect length for desktop use while still being practical enough for portability. The lower section has a braided material covering and above the Y-split it changes to a rubberized sheathing. At the top end are the two 3.5 mm plugs that connect to either side of the headphone. A small feature that goes to show Meze really does pay attention to detail is the slight raised ridge on the left cable plug where most manufacturers opt to make both sides identical.

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On the left side is the metal in-line microphone and rubberized single button controller. The button has a nice tactile click to it and feels quite durable. Finally the cable terminates in a straight metal, 3.5 mm plug.

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Build, comfort and isolation

Onto the headphone itself now and this is where so much of the Neo's appeal comes from, in its sublime form and design. Simplicity is key in this aspect and it lends an effortless elegance to the Neo's appearance. The basis of the frame consists of a double sided manganese spring steel arch which is lightweight yet very sturdy. Connected to this is the self adjusting headband that's screwed in to the lower section. This particular headband is a wide pleather with "99 NEO" embossed on the top side. There's very little down force to it which is a good part of the reason this headphone is so comfortable but the fit feels really secure and sits firmly in place, even when you're moving about.

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Meze have cleverly forgone the usual clasp that secures the metal arch and instead connected it directly to the earcups. This time around, gone are the wooden earcups and they've been replaced by charcoal black ABS plastic. The earcups have a slightly textured matte finish, look great and at the same time very robust. Lastly the earpads are a medium density memory foam that softly hug your dome and have enough space inside to accommodate even large ears.

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Comfort is excellent with the soft pads and light clamping force and I can easily wear the Neo for hours on end without discomfort. The closed backs mean that your ears might get a bit hot but hey, closed back headphones are always going to be like that. The wide, well padded headband and low down-force add again to the comfort.

Isolation is pretty good too as you'd expect with closed backs and there's really not much more to say about that. While I personally prefer to use in-ears on the go the Neo is also well suited to the task and there's enough isolation given to use it in most scenarios without issue.

Sound

Gear used for testing
  • Acoustic Research AR-M20 > 99 Neo
  • ATC HDA-DP20 > Phatlab Sassy II > 99 Neo
  • Foobar2000 > Topping DX7 > 99 Neo
The Neo does not require amplification as it's super easy to drive with an impedance of just 26 Ohm. It can be paired with almost any low powered device but as always, a better DAC will usually provide superior overall sound. Due to the warm nature of the headphone I'd recommend a neutral source to get the best results.

I never had an opportunity to hear the 99 Classic so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from the Neo. I was pretty certain they'd be good considering the coverage, awards and hype that had surrounded the Classic. My first listen gave me something very different from what I was anticipating. I thought it was going to be a very "audiophile" tuned sound, rather linear, perhaps even close to neutral with a clean, tight bass, loads of detail and resolution etc. Imagine my surprise when I heard the accentuated, meaty bass and warm overtones. "Wait a second" I thought... This is tuned for fun. It's built to be emotive, to make you forget that you intended to do some critical listening and instead draw you in and lose yourself to the music. These things are designed for pleasure plain and simple.

Bass has a healthy boost taking it way north of neutral. It has a slow attack, giving bass notes a soft edge and similarly the somewhat slow decay adds to the rounded effect. At times it even seems a bit loose but that's not necessarily a bad thing although on occasion it does mean that some detail in the music gets lost. There's a definite mid-bass hump that carries over into the lower mids and adds to the overall warmth. Sub-bass in contrast is quite tame in tonal balance but can still provide a satisfying rumble. It extends fairly well but does roll-off a little and plays second fiddle to the mid-bass dominance.

Midrange is lush and organic, very musical and not in the least bit dry or analytical. In "New Horizon" by The Gentle Storm the mids occasionally struggle for a foothold and are suppressed by the thick drums. In Loreena Mckennitt's "Emmanuel" however, the Neo shines on this vocal and strings based track, its warmth smoothing Loreena's high notes and bringing out the rich resonance of the classical backing strings. An album that's a great match for the Neo's properties is Language of the Ancients by S1gns of L1fe, with it's soothing, ambient sounds and hypnotic bass lines.

Treble is unremarkable but only because it plays a lesser role in the overall warm tuning. Timbre is accurate and the extension is there, it's just that the treble doesn't have much prominence. It does make the Neo easy to listen to and should appeal to the treble sensitive. Listening to Utada Hikaru's "Traveling" the track's inherent sibilance can still be heard, so the treble is not artificially smoothed over but rather sits at the back of the mix. Still in Bill Withers' "Soul Shadows" the hi-hats have a great lift and come out to play throughout the whole track.

Soundstage is above average for a closed back headphone. There are plenty of times when it can reach outside of the headspace, generally in music with lighter bass this becomes more evident. Depth though is very good and the imaging is excellent. Positional cues are accurate and defining in the large sized sphere portrayed which provide the added bonus of making the Neo good for some first person gaming as well.

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Comparisons

Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro 250 Ohm ($179 USD)
The DT990 is well known for its strong V-shaped signature so it has similarly boosted bass levels but also has a lot more treble as well. It's more resolving than the Neo and reveals more small details but can get a little strident or overenthusiastic on the high frequencies. The DT990's bass notes are more defined and controlled bringing more punch where the Neo brings the thump. Both headphones are exceptionally comfortable and well worth their respective prices.

Ultrasone Performance 860 ($362 USD)
The 860 is much more linear across the board so offers a very different sound compared to the Neo. Bass is tighter and faster without any of the same boomy properties found on the Meze. Midrange in comparison is a lot thinner and less lush than the Neo's. The treble is where these two have the most in common, being neutral-ish on both. The 860 reveals more details in music but presents itself in a more clinical and less emotive manner compared to the "fun" tuning of the Neo.

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Conclusion

The Meze 99 Neo is more than just a good sounding headphone. The look and feel of it combined with the sound provided all add up to make it an experience that's quite unique. If you're a fan of attention to detail and subtle elegance you'll get a kick out of how well this headphone is designed. However those looking for neutrality should seek other options. Sure it might not provide the best audio quality out there but you have to keep in mind the very affordable $249 price tag which ultimately makes this a very easy recommendation for anyone looking for something comfortable, stylish and downright fun to listen to.

Specs:
  • Transducer size: 40mm
  • Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz
  • Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
  • Impedance: 26 Ohm
  • Rated input power: 30mW
  • Maximum input power: 50mW
  • Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
  • Plug: 3.5mm gold plated
  • Weight: 260 gr (9.2 ounces) without cables
  • Ear-cups: ABS Plastic
Pros: Fun-sounding, comfortable
Cons: Small soundstage, might be too bass-heavy for some
DISCLAIMER:
This review is based upon a tour sample unit provided to me by the manufacturer in exchange for my honest and unfiltered opinion. I am not being compensated in any way for writing this review. I have shipped the sample unit to the next reviewer.


ABOUT ME
I listen mostly to heavy metal, hip hop, and electronic music, as well as movie and video game soundtracks. I value detail, clarity, and soundstage above other acoustic qualities. I like V-shaped sound signatures, generally those with more of an emphasis on the treble. Other headphones I own or have owned in the past include the E-MU Teak, Mee Audio P1 Pinnacle, Mee Audio P2 Pinnacle, Fostex TH-X00, V-Moda M-80, V-Moda LP2 Crossfade, Beyerdynamic DT-770 (250 ohm), KZ ATE, Mixcder X5, Mee Audio M6, Hifiman HE-400S, and (very briefly) Phillips Fidelio X2.



SOURCES

I have used the Meze 99 Neo with the following sources:

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Global > Meze 99 Neo

Windows 10 PC > JDS Labs The Element > Meze 99 Neo

I have tested these headphones with Spotify Premium high-quality streaming and local FLAC.

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PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
The Meze comes in a sleek semi-glossy box. The unit I reviewed came with a high-quality rigid carry case, 2 cables (one longer cable for desktop use and one shorter for use with a mobile source), a cable container, a ¼” to 3.5mm adapter, and a stereo female to 2-prong mono splitter. The texture of the carry case is exquisite, and the cable container fits below the top of the headband inside the case so that every component is easily portable.

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BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN

The build quality of these headphones is excellent. I had previously thought about purchasing the Neos for myself, but ultimately decided not to based on the promotional images I’d seen. I had thought the luster of the cups was too shiny, but the sheen is much more subdued in person. Though I’m still not the biggest fan of the silver accents on the headband, I would not be embarrassed to wear these in public. The self-adjusting headband is smooth and stays in place perfectly while on my ears. I’d love to see it emulated on other headphones. The one negative point I’d like to make is that I’d occasionally get hairs caught in the silver parts of the headband. This did not happen often but was painful when it did.

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FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION

I’m somewhat sensitive to clamping earpads. I have replaced the stock earpads on the E-MU Teaks and TH-X00s I have owned with Dekoni lambskin earpads, as the stock earpads become uncomfortable after a short period of time. The Neos earpads are more comfortable than the stock Fostex earpads, but not as comfortable as the velour pads on the DT770s. I could wear them for about 3-4 hours before they became uncomfortable. The earpads completely enclose my ears without squashing them, but I have small ears, so YMMV. Isolation is above average, less than the DT770s but more than the semi-open Fostex headphones. I have a fairly noisy keyboard and I couldn’t hear myself typing over music at a moderate volume. The Neos passed the girlfriend noise leakage test with flying colors, for which the threshold for failure is very low. I could listen to my music at high volumes even lying next to her without her complaining. For comparison, she has complained about noise leakage from my TH-X00s at higher volumes while sitting about ten feet away. These are a great option for listeners using public/shared spaces.

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SOUND SIGNATURE/QUALITY


The sound signature of these headphones is very warm, with pronounced bass and mids and rolled off treble. The bass is not as strong as in the TH-X00 and E-MU Teak, and does not slam the way the Fostex variants do. The Neos lend themselves well to distorted electric guitar driven music like heavy metal and hard rock. Bass drums and snares sound great as well. Clarity and separation are good. The Neos are not overly detailed, but are pretty forgiving of poorly recorded music. On the negative side, the soundstage is small, probably smaller than the DT770s and definitely smaller than the semi-open Fostex headphones.

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GAMING

I did not game extensively during the time I had these headphones, but I can say that positional audio works the way it should in first person shooters like Battlefield 1. However as I mentioned in the previous section, soundstage is lacking compared to the semi-open Fostex variants.

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AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

The Neos are designed to be driven easily from mobile sources. I usually listened to music on my phone through the Neos at less than 50% volume, and at my desktop at less than a quarter turn from 0 on The Element on low gain. I did not notice a difference in sound quality between the two and did not test the Neos on my phone using an external amplifier.

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CLOSING WORDS


As I mentioned at the start of my review, I generally prefer detailed headphones with pronounced treble. The Neos cannot be described as such. The fact that the Neos impressed me so much in spite of this is a testament to how good these headphones are. They are easily driven, fun-sounding, well-built cans available at a very reasonable price ($200 retail). I cannot recommend these enough. Five stars.
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Pros: Attractive styling, good build quality, pleasing non-fatiguing sound, good comfort, and very efficient.
Cons: Sound isn't as smooth and balanced as the Classics. Slight closed-back effect to the sound.
Disclaimer: This is a review of a review unit of the Meze 99 Neo's.

Meze 99 Neo Review

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The Meze 99 Neo is quite and attractive looking headphone that actually sounds quite nice as well. It's an excellent choice for a portable headphone and is best suited for electronic, energetic, and modern music genres as it has a slightly v-shaped sound in my honest opinion. I had two other headphones to compare the Neo's with, but not going to directly compare them much sound wise as the other two are open-backs and much more expensive than the Neo's but I will draw some comparisons between them. About my sound preferences, I personally lean towards more neutral headphones or slightly warm headphones overall as I have a very eclectic taste in music and like my headphones to play well with most any genre.

The specs of the headphones:
26 Ohm impedance
Sensitivity of 103dB at 1kHz, 1mw
Rated input power of 30mw
Max input power at 50mw
Weight without cable is 260g

Comfort & Build
The Meze 99 Neo is quite a comfortable headphone to my head, the headband mechanism is an auto-adjustable system similar to what is found on AKG headphones and headphones such as the Audioquest Nighthawk/Nightowl. The earpads have been notably changed from the original earpads found in the early Meze 99 Classics, earpads which I found too small and uncomfortable, the larger earpads are definitely a good design change on the Meze teams part even if it does change the sound signature a bit. I can wear the new earpads for hours without much discomfort, though some readjusting at times is needed for me so the Neo's get an B+ rating from me on comfort.

Build quality is something where the Neo's really shine in just like in the Classics, the heavily modular design, large amounts of metal, robust ABS plastic earcups, and a design that feels like it was made with longevity and durability in mind gives this headphone high marks for me. The cable also feels nice and I didn't really have any complaints with it on my usage of the headphone. This headphones gets an A+ in build for me at it's price range. The feel of quality of the build is closer to my Amiron Home and below the DT 1990 Pro. Next I am going to talk about the sound of the headphone. The ABS plastic earcups while not as pretty as the wooden ones on the Classics to my ears I feel they are more durable and make it honestly a more robust portable option overall than the Classics.

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Sound:
Arguably the most important part of any headphone. So how do the Meze 99 Neo's sound? Quite frankly, they sound very good, they are a slightly more colored and slightly more bassy and sparkly sounding version of the Meze 99 classics which is more smooth sounding. Fidelity between the 99 Neo and 99 Classic's is the same, they seem to use the same transducer so it's more housing differences between the two.

Soundstage & Imaging:
The Meze 99 Neo's soundstage and imaging is honestly quite good, just like with the classics may be the best headphones in their category I have heard in terms of how spacious the soundstage is and how natural the imaging comes across. The 99 Neo's do have a mild chamber effect to their soundstage where you notice it at times but it's not really an notable issue for most tracks. Not sure how much is the new pads and how much is the different housing material compared to the 99 Classics. I'll give the soundstage an imaging a B+ rating overall.

Midrange & Vocals:
The midrange and vocals of the Meze 99 Neo's are overall quite good. There is a bit of a recession in the upper midrange which does take away from the presence of the vocals a bit and part of why I say the headphone is a little v-shaped sounding. The vocals sound natural but do take a bit of a step-back. The midrange overall is quite smooth and without any major issues. I'll give the midrange and vocals a B on the Neo's as I would personally prefer a bit more presence in the vocals and more balance compared to the highs and bass.

Treble:
The treble on the Neo's is quite non-fatiguing, non overly-sibilant, and overall quite pleasant to listen to, but it does have some extra sparkle to it which I feel does detract from it overall at times, but like any headphone with a slightly v-shaped sound this does lend itself well to to certain tracks and genres. The Classics with the original pads didn't have this extra treble energy and were smoother overall. Treble gets a B overall.

Bass:
The bass on the Neo's is quite prominent and strong with good impact, I would say it's a little too accentuated overall. This makes the bass very nice for EDM and some contemporary music but can be a bit of a problem with some other tracks as it can come off as a bit too much and maybe a tad bloated at times. Overall the bass also gets a B rating from me as I personally despite some excess as I found the bass of pretty good quality overall and quite fun with bassier genres.

Conclusion:
The Meze 99 Neo is a solid headphone in my books, while I personally would prefer to own the Classics for their more natural and smooth sound and honestly I'm a bit of a sucker for wood, I would be perfectly content with the 99 Neo's as a portable option and I would be less afraid of damaging them as I would be worrying about nicking the wood of the 99 Classics as I can be a little rough on portable headphones. The Neo's are incredibly easy to drive and can be driven with ease and authority out of most portable devices. If one listens to a lot of contemporary music and wants a nice robust portable closed-back the Neo's are on the top of my suggestions. The Classic's are for those who want a more natural and analog experience. The "Neo" name is quite fitting for these headphones. I do recommend these headphones and a must listen to those looking for a very efficient circumaural closed-back. A nice benefit to both the Neo's and Classics is there is no extra cost in buying an amplifier, etc. Whether one likes the Neo's or Classic's sound more simply comes down to preference.
Pros: great price/performance ratio, built quality, accessories
Cons: comfort could be better, too much emphasis on bass
IMG_20170819_110201505.jpg


Thank you very much to Meze for letting me have the new 99 Neo for a week as part of their world-wide loaner program. I wanted to hear the ‘Meze’ sound since the 99 Classics came out however I did not have a chance yet to try the original wood-cup version.

My daily driver is a NightHawk these days, connected to Chord Mojo. The 99 Neo was plugged in to Mojo for most of the time, and I will often refer to NightHawk as comparison even though these headphones are rather different, not playing on the same fields.

IMG_20170819_110650469_BURST000_COVER_TOP.jpg


Package:
The 99 Neo is pretty impressive for the price in every sense. Here in the U.K. they cost around £200, and I have to say Meze does deliver for this money. The headphones come with a very nice, semi-hard and good sized carrying case and two non-tangling, good quality cables: a shorter one with built-in play/stop button and a long one for home use.

IMG_20170819_110223819_HDR.jpg


The headphones are well-built using good quality materials. I am not a big fan of plastic cups, would happily pay a little more for wooden ones, but they look and feel fine.

IMG_20170819_110447580.jpg


Interestingly there is no left or right sign on the headphones as they are completely symmetrical. The cable determines which cup will be the left and the right one. Unfortunately the L/R signs are hardly visible on the plugs, but you can decide which side is which if you look at the writing on the top of the headband.

Comfort:
Coming from NightHawk I am pretty spoiled regarding comfort. The 99 Neo are not uncomfortable, but I also wouldn’t say they are very comfortable. They are fine, won’t cause you any discomfort, however I couldn’t forget they are on my head and after 30-40 minutes it was a smaller relief to take them off and let my ears breath. (Or change for the NightHawks.)

IMG_20170819_111034535_HDR.jpg


I don’t think my head is much bigger than average, however I had to stretch the self-adjusting headband to its maximum. The only other headphones I experienced this small size issue were the HE-400s’s. They are still big enough for me, but someone with a slightly bigger head would struggle. My ears on the other hand are relatively small, and still they were touching the cups inside which I don’t particularly like.
Another small annoyance for me was that occasionally my hair stuck to the small screws on the headband tearing a couple of hairs out as I took the headphones off my head.

IMG_20170819_111113073.jpg


Sound:
The sound of these cans is quite impressive for the money. They sound big, fun and musical with plenty of bass. I have to say, I didn’t expect such a big sound from relatively small plastic cup closed back headphones. They were built for fun listening and probably beat pretty much anything in their category (closed-backs around £200) for this purpose. I definitely like them more than I liked the NAD HP50 or the Momentums.
Bass, especially mid-bass is a bit too much for my taste it is not always in line with mid and treble quantity, more about that later.
Interestingly the sound signature often reminded me for the Fidelio X2s, although those have a much bigger soundstage.

IMG_20170819_111124429.jpg


Being closed-back the soundstage of the 99Neo is not very big. It is quite narrow actually, with a pretty upfront presentation, far from being laid back. Spaciousness is ok for a closed-back, but I did experience a little ‘in the box’ feeling with the mids and treble. They are just not as airy as sound can be on semi-closed or open headphones, but that is not really a surprise.
Imaging is ok again for what it is, an affordable closed-back. Nothing really stands out, but also nothing is really lacking.
In my opinion the biggest difference between Meze 99 Neo and NightHawks is sound resolution. NightHawks being a category higher, offer far better resolution which translates to more details and clarity, much closer to a ‘lifelike’ sound presentation. Again, not a big surprise looking at the price difference and different design (closed back vs. semi-opened).

IMG_20170819_110944630.jpg


The Meze 99 Neo has a very warm sound signature, which I tend to prefer. It is about music and enjoyment rather than analytical detail hunting. Meze Neo was made for easy-listening. As I mentioned before this warm and musical sound comes with a pretty upfront presentation which can be too much after a while if someone prefers a more laid back sound. Not as aggressively 'in your face' as the Fostex X00s for example, but still very ‘bravely’ in the front line.

IMG_20170819_111137260.jpg


Treble is always clear enough, and the 99 Neo being warm sounding headphones are never harsh or piercing.
Mids are slightly recessed and bass is always plenty, occasionally a little bit overshadowing the lower mids. Bass is definitely the strength of these headphones, it is fun and enjoyable, however it is quite far from neutral which might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
The 99 Neo is not a detail monster, won’t win hearts with extreme resolution and supremely clean and controlled bass. It is an affordable, musical closed-back headphone for music listening, and for the asking price it does its job pretty well. Overall sound is coherent, nothing is really missing. Mid-bass could be tamed down a bit, as it rules the sound too often, not always giving a chance to mids and treble to be present with the same weight.
Partly this is personal preference, but if someone prefers a more linear and balanced sound which is a bit closer to neutral, they have to look elsewhere.
Bass and treble extension is enough 90% of the time, but if someone is longing for the deepest bass notes to be as audible as the rest of the bass frequencies, they have to spend a little more money for headphones that can deliver that.

IMG_20170819_111202482.jpg


Meze 99 Neo is very easy to drive. It can easily be powered by a smartphone, and will deliver a good enough sound for most people however the improvement what an external DAC/amp like Chord Mojo brings to the picture, is quite significant. With other words, the 99 Neo scales well to its limits.

Finishing words:
I really enjoyed my time with these headphones. It is good to see that good quality (portable) audio is more and more affordable. The Meze 99 Neo is well worth its price, in case someone is looking for a musical closed back headphone. They are not perfect and for 1.5x or 2x of its price there is better sound available, however if your budget is limited to £200, with a very good chance you won't regret buying these.
Pros: Warm, natural sound. Comfort and a classy style. Fully serviceable!
Cons: Not as natural and linear as I'd like.
I signed on for Meze Audio's Head-Fi tour a few months back, and their latest product arrived for a short visit this month. The Meze 99 Neo (US$249) headphones. Thanks so much to Meze for including me in the tour.

This is my first time sitting down with any of their products, though I did read some reviews of both the Classics and the Neo in advance. I will keep this short, as there are many exhaustive reports already available online. I'll try to get to what I think are the key characteristics before you grow tired of me.


Photo courtesy of Meze Audio

Design
I love the look of the 99 Neo. The build quality is impressive, and the design is classy. The electroplated zinc alloy hardware combined with the plastic black cups and memory foam ear pads makes for a sleek look. The fact that all parts are serviceable is outstanding. Not many out there today that can make the same claim.

The hard shell carrying case for the 'phones, and the smaller accessory case are high quality. Both have a texture that is pleasing to touch. I assume the 99 Neo are aimed at users who are on the go. I did not have an opportunity to step out with the Neo.



Fit
The 99 Neo are 3oz. lighter than my main comparison for this report - the Audioquest Nighthawks. The Nighthawk's ear cups are slightly larger and shaped differently, so for my large melon, they're more comfortable. I've big ears too, so while the 99 Neo are quite comfortable, I've got more room in the Nighthawks stock pads.

Again, the 99 Neo are very comfortable headphones. I had no problem with them over longer sessions. Of course, the closed design is going to be warmer than an open one. Out here in the desert, it is something to consider. Of course, for their target audience, the closed back may not be negotiable.

Meze provide two cables - the short and the long. I used the longer cable the entire time, and appreciate having enough length to move around my office. My DHC cables are short, and keep me tethered to my source.



Both headphones have similar impedance - 26db (99 Neo) vs 25db (Nighthawks). The Neo is rated at 103db sensitivity. That's 4db higher than the Nighthawk. Wow. I'm sticking with my AQ Dragonfly Red paired with an AQ Jitterbug for power. Streaming cd quality tracks via Tidal the entire session. I listened with both a PC source and Android phone.

Listening
These are great sounding headphones. And fun. The bumped mid-bass, or bloom, is readily apparent. That bloom - and, maybe a dip in the upper mid-range - in combination result in a somewhat warm and close presentation. Intimate. Cymbals lack some of the overtones that the Nighthawks present. It's quite subtle, and overall they sound linear and natural. The 99 Neo are an energetic headphone. Dynamic, and driving. Punchy. At times, the shove in the low end brought to mind two channel speakers.

Based on my short time when them, I feel it's less about high frequency extension, and more about the slightly lifted low frequencies - this warmer, shadier tone. I really enjoy the sound. To my ears they are slightly less linear and natural in comparison to the Nighthawks with my Double Helix cable. You know, I would've have tried the DHC cable with the Neo, but the connectors did not fit. The Nighthawks are more relaxed, being a more open design.



Fiona Apple's voice on "The Idler Wheel..." illustrates my earlier point. Less head, and a tiny bit more throat and chest in vocals. And, cymbals lose some of their overtones. Acoustic drum stick attack and body are highlighted with the overtones slightly diminished. Pianos and other assorted keys on this record reflect this same downward shift of the stage. Again, this is subtle, and not necessarily a mark against the Neo. Just my own observations set down here for your consideration.

As for isolation - I don't have another closed pair available for a comparison. The 99 Neo seemed to isolate well. I was not able to test this in an office or elsewhere it might be needed.

The 99 Neo are a great sounding and stylish headphone. They were easily driven by my OnePlus3 phone streaming Tidal HiFi. Likewise with my pc in combo with the Audioquest Dragonfly Red. I wanted more time to test a more powerful amps affect on these sensitive phones. I am currently without my usual tube amps, so have stuck with the portable rig for the entire session. I think this may be more relevant for folks who are considering the Neo, anyway.

So, they are easy to drive, have a warm, natural voice, and are really comfortable. I think you can't go wrong if you are looking for a closed back and portable headphone in this price range. Add to this that they are stylish and fully serviceable, and they begin to compete outside this range. In a world of primarily recyclable products, one that has a higher probability of outliving me is very attractive.

In my reading I found that Meze has a devoted following, and I now know why. The 99 Neo are an excellent product.

Thanks for listening.
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Pros: Beautiful with a neutral source, good separation, smooth, smexy
Cons: slight micro phonics with cable and metal head piece
Meze 99 Neo Headphones Review - Expatinjapan

Meze 99 Neo review

Meze 99 Neo and Opus#3 dap

Meze 99 Neo headphones review
-expatinjapan


https://www.mezeaudio.com/collections/all/products/99-neo

`A fresh take on the 99 series for the uptown audiophile, 99 Neo brings together Meze Audio’s signature sound quality with cutting edge style.` - Meze website

Head pie has previously reviewed the Meze 99 Classics:
http://headpie.blogspot.jp/2016/08/meze-99-classic-headphone-review.html

A headphone which we love and has a strong fan base.
let us see how the newer Neo measures up when compared.



Build and unboxing



The Meze 99 Neo packaging echoes the 99 Classic packaging.
The Meze 99 Neo packaging echoes the 99 Classic packaging.
The Meze 99 Neo packaging echoes the 99 Classic packaging.




Meze 99 Neo and CEntrance Hifi-M8


Some specs for that special someone who likes specs and stuff.




Repeating the name so it gets embedded in your consciousness.
99 Neo, 99 Neo, 99 Neo...




99 Neo! By Meze! Designed by Antonio Meze.


Its a box, Jim!


Ooh, nice hard ass case to protect your precious goods whilst commuting or traveling across the world. But we all know you will just hang them around your neck to look cool.


Whats in the soft circular pouch? Is it a tiny cat hat?




Exquisite detailing. Each piece specially designed to be replaceable If the need arises.




Those cups. Smexy styling for the audiophile about town.


As an earlier review unit my headband lacks the 99 Neo logo that the final version will have.
Buuurnn for Head pie *sad face*


Ah there we go, a detachable cable for the 99 Neo.
When you just want to look cool, hang em around your neck without the cable and tell everyone they`re bluetooth.




Bits and pieces of my broken heart, mind and soul.
Oops, my mistake. included bits and bobs of fancy.
*The retail version will not include the longer cable or airplane adapter. Buuurn for you this time.



Sound.

As expected there is the obvious question of what is the difference between the two models?
The 99 Classic and the 99 Neo. Looks, material and sound in a nutshell.
Some will buy based on looks alone, one crowd preferring the natural and smexy wood finish of the 99 Classic, the others perhaps more cyber urban preferring the sleek black look of the modern commuter or inner city cyber punk.
Regardless one can`t be disappointed with either of these headphones by Meze. Like their earphones which echo the headphones look on a smaller scale having both would be ideal to match ones mood on any given day.
As usual I burned in the headphones for a a decent amount of hours before commencing on the review to keep the believers and non believers alike happy.
I used FLAC tracks of 16/44 mostly, and usually on a random shuffle mode. Daps employed for the purpose were the ipod touch 6G, iBasso DX200, Opus#1, Shozy Alien Gold and Opus#3.


Meze 99 Neo and Opus#1 dap.
Can`t got wrong with The Ramones!
Not a fan? GTFO!

The Meze 99 Neo differs from its predecessor in its cup change, from wood to black ABS plastic.
The sound differences happily echo the experiences I had with the 12 Classic and 11 Neo earphones.

Please see the earlier Head pie reviews:
Meze 12 Classics http://headpie.blogspot.jp/2017/03/meze-12-classics-review-expatinjapan.html
Meze 11 Neo http://headpie.blogspot.jp/2016/10/meze-neo-11-gun-metal-review.html
One expects a certain sonic signature difference from wood versus plastic, whilst this is most certainly true with these two headphones the valley between them both isn`t so wide. They share much in common as the general specs reveal.


Meze 99Neo and iBasso DX200. A bit of the sultry Lana del Rey.

Lets take a look back at the Meze 99 Classics
http://headpie.blogspot.jp/2016/08/meze-99-classic-headphone-review.html

`Vocals: Neither too forward nor recessed the vocals on the Meze 99 Classic hit the sweet spot for me.
Bass: A slight slow decay is present, but overall is fast enough to please with most music.
Mids: As with most woodies the mids play an important part in the overall presentation, not overly warm as such, more on the liquid side of things rather than a deep lushness. fairly neutral and dynamic with a quick decay.
Treble: It is clear and offers the detail one expects, it veers away from being extended to the point of harshness or sibilance and is pleasing to the ears. It reaches far enough for a good balance with the bass and the mids, each not over stepping their individual bounds.

Instrument separation: Good separation, not crisp as such with a slight smudging at times. Overall very good.
Sound stage: A decent soundstage that feels larger than my head, good instrument placement.`


The Pixies, one of the groups along with The Smiths who redeemed the 80s.

And now lets look at the Meze 99 Neo
Vocals: nice and balanced with the music, not too forward nor back overall (mens vocals can be slightly forward at times), very smooth and even.
Bass. Is tight and fast. At times deep and with a punch to it.
Mids: Quite lush, present and defined. Very clear and smooth.
Treble: It is not as stretched as I would imagine it might have been. But is more than satisfactory. It has a nice reach. It balances out the overly dark leaning sound signature and is its saving grace.

Separation: Is crisp and well defined. Individual instruments are
are differentiated from each other.
Sound stage: It is above medium. It is a closed headphone so there are some limitations, but this didnt interfere with any enjoyment. Sound stage is more outside ones head, rather than inside it.

It has a bit of a xXx signature at times, a bit of a lil something extra in the mids. at other times a XXx signature depending on what music is being fed to them.


Meze 99 Neo and iBasso DX200
`Laaaana` - ABC Warriors.



Value
Slipping in at a easy to digest US$249 - US$300 the Meze headphones are certainly an affordable entry point to high end sound, and high street looks.
Build quality is immaculate. And If not, If per chance any part fails all the parts are replaceable.


99 Classic versus the 99 Neo visually.


A comparison of the packaging between the Meze 99 Classics and 99 Neo.


Meze gave me a woody.


Old and new pads.
The new pads have a larger circumference and fit more comfortably over a more varied size of ears, also they are slightly thicker/higher.








Simply stunningly gorgeous in looks and sound.


The 99 Neo has some a dampener, the newer 99 Classic also have the dampener over the headphone speaker....mine does not `insert sad face emoji`. So whilst my comparisons may be `close enough`, perhaps they aren`t exact due the lack of dampeners.



Overall
The Meze 99 Neo are a great complement to its older sibling the Meze 99 Classic and both echo the sonics of the earphone series which also match up wood against synthetic materials.

Isolation is very good, so its handy for about town or commuting.

Slight micro phonics with the cable, but not really noticeable unless one is jumping about.

They are very easy to drive at 26ohms which is less than the 99 Classics.

I found the 99 Neo performed well when fed to the Opus#2 , but very much enjoyed them when paired with the more neutral Opus#1 which tamed some of the low end.

There isnt much between the Neo 99 and the 99 Classics being fairly near identical in build.

The 99 Neo has more bass, but not in a bass head sense, and also more mid heavy. Not to mention the obvious cup difference

It seems to handle most genres well, and my usual shuffle test rendered no complains, its a good all rounder as head phone.

I recommend a more neutral dap to pair with the 99 Neo to bring out its best.

I could listen to Mazzy Star for instance for hours with these headphones.

Smexy, stylish, superb lows and super smooth highs and vocals.



Thank you to Meze for sending Head pie the Neo 99 headphones for review

JuanLuis91
JuanLuis91
How interesting that the previous 99 classics do not have that damper on the speaker ... Have you tried to remove the 99 Neo damper?
ExpatinJapan
ExpatinJapan
No, I havent. Sorry
Pros: High build quality, comfortable, package, lightweight
Cons: average cup size, a bit bulky, they warm up after a while
Meze 99 Neo headphone review by Musicday



I would like to say a big thank you to Meze Romania, especially to Mr. Lorand that was kind enough to provide me free of charge a review unit of the relatively new 99 Neo headphone in exchange of my honest written review.



Introduction:


Meze Audio is a company from Romania who design and produces high quality headphones and IEMs at affordable prices and they have a great success among audiophiles and anyone who love to listen to music on headphones around the world. Their current flagship Meze 99 Classics was introduced to the market late 2015 and it was a huge success.

Meze 99 Neo is based on the same philosophy and concept of 99 Classics with great build quality while the price was reduced and that make these headphones more affordable for anyone wants a great headphone and have a limited budget.

At the time of writing this review Meze 99 Neo price on Amazon.uk is £220.19



Box and accessories:



The headphones have arrived in a well packed box and their own box feels smooth and doesn't betray the relative affordable price.

upload_2017-7-4_13-41-48.jpg



In the box we find 1.2 m long Kevlar reinforced cable for extra durability. The headphones are very well built and will last you a long time.



They can also can make a very nice present to your loved ones.

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Specifications

Transducer size: 40mm

Transducer Type: Dynamic Neodymium / Mylar

Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz

Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW

Impedance: 26 Ohm

Rated input power: 30mW

Maximum input power: 50mW

Detachable Kevlar OFC cable

Plug: 3.5mm gold plated

Ear-cups: ABS Plastic

Weight: 260g (without cable)


upload_2017-7-4_13-41-48.jpg


For the retail price of 99 Neo what’s included in the box quite nice. The hard case to store your headphones is nice and offer protection. Also there is a small velvet like pouch to store your cable when not in use.
A 3.5 mm-6.3 mm adaptor is included and an airplane adaptor.



Comfort and usage :



Having a low impedance and high sensitivity makes them very easy to drive, straight from your mobile phone or laptop. But i recommend a powerful music player or a DAC for best results. They weight only 260 gr without cable and they are very comfortable to use, but unfortunately after a long listening time my ears got warm and pause was needed. More likely leather earpads had to be sacrificed to keep the cost down.



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Music players used :



I have used when listening to 99 Neo the Tera Player, Shanling M2s and Chord Hugo 2 DAC paired straight to my laptop.

upload_2017-7-4_13-41-48.jpg


upload_2017-7-4_13-41-48.jpg




Sound impressions:



Tera Player with 99 Neo paired sounds good with warm and detailed texture, with punchy bass. The soundstage is not as opened semi opened headphones but it does a good job for a closed back headphone at this price point. I suppose the high impedance of the Tera Player didn’t help too much in this test.



A better pairing was with Shanling M2s. This player has enough power to drive 99 Neo load and clear. Mids are smooth and clear and both male and female vocals are well reproduced. I find this headphone to be a bit bright for my taste but the treble is detailed and extended. From my understanding Meze Audio recommend that the headphones need to be burned in for around 40 hours for the sound to open up and stabilize.



Foreigner: To know what love is being a good example of male vocals, and the higher mids clarity. Isolation is better than average for this type of headphones and there was no sound leakage when playing music next to someone.

upload_2017-7-4_13-41-48.jpg




When using Chord Hugo 2 things started to improve dramatically especially the clarity and the micro details that this headphone is capable of when paired with high quality gear. Is a pair that i have enjoyed using, being listening to music or watching a movie. 99 Neo offers more than one can expect at this price point.

I am glad that Meze Audio came along to decrease the gap between affordable good sounding headphone and expensive headphones.



Final words and conclusion:



Meze Audio created another fine headphone in 99 Neo. Is nearly up there with the 99 Classics flagship at a lower price. Once again has been proved that in the low end headphone market you can still get very good headphones, still affordable that sound more then they cost. You need to give them a try and hear yourself but at the retail price IMHO there is not much to ask for.
Well done Meze Audio !

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Pros: Versatility; different new look; build and accessories; value; warm engaging sound.
Cons: Heavy mid-bass hump might not be everyone's cup-of-tea; some microphonics; not that portable.
Introduction
Hailing from Romania, Meze are relative new-kids-on-the-block in the world of audiophile headphone manufacturing. Their first full-size offering, the 99 Classics were a “slam-dunk” first attempt at creating a genuine audiophile product, with a focus on aesthetics and quality. They’ve been hailed world-wide for their engaging sound as much as their head-turning looks, and have created quite the niche for themselves in that regard.



This reviewer’s ears pricked-up at the number of 4-5-star reviews the 99 Classics received from many trusted sources; and I was visually intrigued by the look of the superbly-crafted leather, wood, and metal construction. I pulled the trigger on a pair of Silver/Maple 99 Classics all the way from Australia without having auditioned them in person. Admission: I may have actually bought them for my girlfriend - she’s been taking somewhat of an interest in personal audio, and is a keen music-lover. However, she’d been somewhat put-off by the lack of a good-looking pair of cans that also passed my audiophile criteria (I’m can’t just let her waste her money on any old celebrity-endorsed fashion-cans now can I?). When they arrived she was thrilled with the way they looked, but I was blown-away – because they sounded bloody brilliant. As a result we’ve been tussling for head-time with them with one another ever since.

I’ve found the team at Meze are brilliant to deal with, in terms of communication and customer service. In only a short time, they’ve demonstrated themselves to be an impressive young company. When they announced a new version of the 99’s were coming out, I jumped at the chance to participate on a review tour and see what the “Neos” were all about (Disclaimer: I was sent the 99 Neos for one week in return for my honest and objective unpaid opinion).

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the all-new Meze 99 Neos and see (…hear?) what we have on our hands (…head?).

Overview
The Meze 99 Neos are a $249USD pair of circum-aural (around-ear) closed, full-sized headphones. While they’re not advertised as ‘portable’ cans, their form-factor as well as low impedance (26 ohms) lends themselves to on-the-go usage, as well as home hi-fi listening – a little more on this later.


A quick overview of the specifications:

· Transducer size: 40mm
· Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz
· Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
· Impedance: 26 Ohm
· Rated input power: 30mW
· Maximum input power: 50mW
· Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
· Plug: 3.5mm gold plated
· Weight: 260 gr (9.2 ounces) without cables
· Ear-cups: ABS Plastic

Packaging, case and accessories
The Neos arrive in the same high-quality packaging as the Classics - a magnetised flip-lid box: It immediately screams “PREMIUM”, and reeks of high-quality from the very first glance.



Inside the box sits a clamshell case that anyone familiar with the 99 Classics will immediately recognise:



However, instead of a polished faux-leather exterior, it’s a dense and premium-feeling woven plastic material. For those of you who like to throw your cans into a backpack, take them to work, or bring them abroad as a travelling companion, you’ll be pleased to know this feels a little more scuff-resistant and will keep its appearance if it’s “loved” a little too much.

Unzip the clamshell case, and sitting snugly inside at the Neos themselves, as well as a nice zipped-up carrying pouch containing the following:

- 6.3mm stereo adapter
- Two-pronged airline adapter
- 1.2M cable with mic + play/pause button, 3.5mm termination
- 3M cable, 3.5mm termination

The accessories are all super high-quality, extremely sturdy, and extremely generous for the $249USD asking price.



So what’s the difference between the ‘Classics’ and the ‘Neos’?
At a glance? The price-tag, and the look. The Neos are $60USD cheaper than their 99 ‘Classic’ predecessors – so what does this mean you’re missing out on? Well, not much really. Instead of the famed unique walnut or maple wooden cups, they are replaced with a black ABS plastic. It’s fairly sturdy and premium to the touch, although it does pick-up fingerprints rather easily.



Aside from the colour-scheme and plastic cups, the only other obvious physical difference is the material make-up of the cables. Below the Y-splitter is the same fabric-wrapped material, but unlike the Classics, it is now rubberised above the Y-splitter leading up the 2.5mm (proprietary) ear-cup connectors. While the fabric cables were nice to the touch, this led to one of my only major criticisms of the 99 Classics – they are terribly microphonic. It’s good to see that Meze have listened to some real-world feedback on their product which has been reflected in the new model. I’m pleased to note these don’t have the same problem of sending noise of the cables brushing on clothing straight up into your ears. +1 Meze.



Spec-wise, a quick comparison between spec sheets informs me that the Neos are slightly easier to drive, at 26 ohms versus 32 ohms. The Classics are easily driven by absolutely anything – I wasn’t able to perceive any volume difference with the same amplification, so take this with a grain of salt.

Meze themselves say the Neo represents “A fresh take on the 99 series for the uptown audiophile” that “brings together Meze Audio’s signature sound quality with cutting edge style”. So as far I can tell the decision to release the Neo must be about attempting to appeal to a wider group of potential customers by playing at a more competitive price-range, and offering a subjectively different look to the wood/metal combinations of the Classics.

And speaking of aesthetics, a few thoughts from me:

Look + aesthetics
Ok, so I think the Classics look amazing, yet a little ostentatious. I happily wear my (oops, I mean my girlfriend’s) Maple/Silver pair at home or at the office, although I’ve never wanted to walk around outside wearing a pair of white leather and silver coloured full-sized headphones. On the other hand, the Neos are a completely different subject – they look…cool, for lack of a better word.

Perhaps say, a little more James Dean than Frank Sinatra?

A little more Darth Vader than Obi Wan Kenobi?

A little more Berlin than Paris?

A little more Mustang than 300SL?

They’re altogether a different vibe to the luxurious look of the Classics, with more of an ‘edgy’ scheme that’s likely to appeal to a different (and possibly wider) audience.



I happily donned them on public transport and walking around outside during my review time. In fact, I think I like the look of them even more than the Classics, and I’d happily integrate a pair into my everyday-carry:



Oh, and they look more at home on my headphone “stand” than any other cans to-date have:



Comfort, and portability
Like the Classics, these feel great on my ears, and perched on top of my head. Earlier production runs of the Classics were found wanting in terms of pad size, with some customers feeding-back that they were a bit of a tight squeeze, resulting in pressure and “hot-spots” on their ears. Meze quickly remedied this in subsequent production runs, and my pair of Classics were shipped with the larger diameter pad-size. The pad-size of the Neos appears to be identical, and I’ll wear them for 8 hours at a time without a worry.

The self-adjusting headband is made from elastic and (protein?) leather, and distributes the extremely light weight (260g) of the 99 Neos over my head nicely. I notice this pre-production review pair still has the “99 Classics” moniker embossed on them, but I understand this will be updated to “99 Neos” for the retail release:



I’d call the 99 Neos one of the more comfortable headphones I’ve spent time with. So comfortable I forget I’m wearing them. Until one of two things happen:

1. I start walking around, or
2. Something touched the manganese yokes that stretch over the top of the headphones

Regarding the first point: the self-adjusting headband, which while it makes for superbly comfortable long-listening sessions at home, tends to shift up/down a bit if you walk with some pace. Meaning that a “creaking” noise is relatively present if you’re using them on-the-go, which is reasonably annoying.

On the subject of portability, these make great portable headphones, if you have the room to stow-away the case and accessories. They’re non-foldable, and that case does take up quite a bit of room in a laptop bag. They isolate reasonably well, but not remarkably. Glasses-wearers may experience some troubles getting them to fit while wearing sunglasses or spectacles, but the main problem hear is the seal. The sounds signature, which I’ll cover later, is very seal-dependent and the bass will be affected noticeably.

In short, more transportable than portable.

And the second criticism: that impressive metal (manganese) structure that dominates the physical appearance of the headphones is highly microphonic. A sure-fire way to interrupt yourself from a relaxing listening session is to bump into anything at all. They RIIIIIIING when touched, much like the Classics. Being a review pair I didn’t want to mess with them, although I have found that I have been able to reduce the level of microphonics on my own pair by tying some heavy-gauge string between the two bars, or squeezing a pencil eraser between them just above the ear-cups. I think the little button between the string on tennis racquets works in a similar way. Microphonics would have to be my only major criticism of the build/form-factor of the Neos.

Ok, so that covers it on the physical side of things – they get a massive ‘TICK’ on build quality, comfort, and looks, so now onto the sound. Which, after all, is where the “rubber meets the road”.

Sound quality
“Enjoy crisp, clean sound – natural, balanced, undistorted.” – Meze website.

So how accurate is this claim? Not entirely. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sounds of the 99 Neos, and I think they are great headphones. But judging these claims depends on which world you’re approaching them from.

On one hand, if you’re very used to reference-style, neutral audiophile cans, you’ll be immediately surprised by the MASSIVE mid-bass hump, and may immediately put them (or dismiss them…) into the “FUN” camp.

If you’re coming from consumer audio-land, the amount of bass will be familiar (but of a higher quality and less distorted than what you’re used to), but the amount of detail in both the mids and treble will be both surprising, and hugely engaging.

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to headphone tuning, and I’m no different. I prefer a more mid-forward presentation, with bright treble and well-extended, but non-boomy bass. My main daily-driver cans are Grado GH-1’s (which I sometimes swap-out for Sennheiser HD650’s driven by a Bottlehead Crack when I want a more laid-back listening session). On-the-go, I use Beyerdynamic DT1350’s. In the office, I tend to use Beyerdynamic DT770’s, mainly for isolation.

With this points of reference in mind, I’ll try and comment of the sonic characteristics of the 99 Neos…according to my ears anyhow.

Source, chain, methodology:
I had a busy week testing on the 99 Neos. I’m not much of a believer in “burn-in” – all the same, given this pair had been to a couple of other reviewers prior to landing on my doorstep in Sydney, I can safely say they’ve had plenty of time to “settle-in”/”open-up”/insert other burn-in phrases here.

I logged around 50 hours of them, throwing every type of music possible at them, including classic rock; metal; folk/acoustic; EDM; hip-hop; and classical.

The rigs I tested them with were as follows:

Mobile: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (FLAC) > Audioquest Dragonfly Red/Black

Desktop: Macbook Pro > iTunes (ALAC) > Schiit Audio Modi 2U > Schiit Audio Asgard 2 / Little Dot 1+

Vinyl: Shure M91ED cartridge; Rega Planar 3; Schiit Mani pre-amp; Asgard 2 / Little Dot 1+



Bass
The low-end dominates the sound profile of these headphones…depending on the music you’re listening to. With a mid-bass heavy track such as “Show you the Way” by Thundercat, there’s an incredible ‘SLAM’ that’s unlike anything I’ve heard before. If you’re used to reference-oriented cans, it’s enough to put a grin of ‘guilty pleasure’ on your face:


The Neo’s bass extends reasonably well, but isn’t exactly the tightest nor most defined bass. It nearly borders on bloaty/boomy in some tracks, but that’s how it’s been tuned: for colourful, dynamic impact in the low-end. “Produk 29 [101]” is my go-to bass extension track, the Neos did roll-off some and weren’t able to dispatch the sub-bass with as much speed as a good planar (for example the Audeze Sine):


Mids
In addition to the mid-bass emphasis, the lower mids are forward, which creates a “wet”-sounding warmth between 100hz and 1-2000hz. The bass does bleed into the mids in bass-heavy passages, although with instrumental passages (electric guitar especially) there’s an amazing presence and body to the mid range. It works together like a big warm “hug”. Couple of standout tonal tests were the opening guitar passage on “Blood and Thunder” by Mastodon, and “Hummer” by Smashing Pumpkins:



Male and Female vocals sound perfectly natural. “Soothing” by Laura Marling was a particular highlight, with her voice sounding amazingly transparent alongside some remarkably lifelike strings:


Treble
Nothing remarkable or controversial to say here - not because it isn’t good (because it is), but because it’s neither fatiguing, nor rolled-off - it’s well-balanced and detailed. If anything, it’s the least “forward” of the frequencies in the 99 Neos, but plays its part in the overall tuning to create a warm, dynamic tuning.

Soundstage & Imaging
Reasonably good as closed cans go. Their bass-tilt makes it more of an intimate/in-head performance, but a studio binaural test demonstrated they throw a fairly wide soundstage (http://www.audiocheck.net/soundtests_headphones.php ). Imaging is again, fairly good for closed cans. Play a track like Mark Eitzel’s “Just Because”, close your eyes, and you’ll be able to point to the location of each band member like you’re sitting in the front row of a small club:

https://open.spotify.com/track/50C10SCxRLz3rXhRh7bX62

Amplification
They sounded honestly pretty good straight out of a phone, but reward you with better separation, PRAT and tighter bass with amplification. Some quick thoughts:

1. Asgard 2 vs. Little Dot 1+

- Slightly richer bass on the tube hybrids; and tighter, cleaner bass on the Asgard 2.
- Overall I tended to use the LD1+ a little more often, as it probably suited their tuning more.
- I didn’t need to go past 9 o’clock on the volume pot for either.

2. Dragonfly Red vs. Dragonfly Black
- Both are able to power them with absolute ease.
- The Black had a drier, airier presentation and sounded a bit faster.
- The Red sounded richer, more layered, with more impactful bass.
- I probably preferred the Black to be honest (maybe also because they also look great together...)

Vinyl
A lot of headphone review time gets spent on DACs and digital audio as a source, but I tend to spend a good portion of my listening time spinning wax. I’m not even going to bother weighing into the digital/analogue debate, although I will say I thoroughly enjoyed listening to LP’s on the 99 Neos. Say what you will about it, but vinyl’s a more emotional experience, no question – we are humans after all.

If you enjoy the sound of a well-mastered album on vinyl, I can highly recommend the Neo 99’s. A couple of notable albums were Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”, and the self-titled album by grunge supergroup “Temple of the Dog” (with beer shown for scale…of course):



Overall thoughts on sound
These are versatile cans that are an exciting and dynamic pairing for nearly all genres. They’re “balanced” in that there’s no dips to speak of, but rather it’s a definite ‘L-shape’ with a heavy focus on mid-bass and the lower mids. Without being analytical, they’re great headphones to simply pop on your head, and enjoy your music (which is what it’s meant to all be about, right?), as opposed to say mixing, mastering, or analytically testing other parts of your audio chain.

Some comparisons
I’ve chosen three pairs of closed cans for the sake of comparison here, because I think they might be relevant or interesting points of reference to someone deciding whether or not to buy a pair.

1. 99 Classics vs 99 Neos



I’ve chosen to compare the 99 Neos with the 99 Classics for obvious reasons – prospective customers are probably curious as to the sonic differences in addition to the aesthetic when deciding whether or not to spend another $60.

Other reviews have A/B tested these two models far more scientifically than I, but the short version is: they sound almost identical. I’m not sure whether it is due to age of my Classics, the pads, burn-in, or the cycle of the moon, but the Neos had a noticeably boomier, looser bass than my pair of 99 Classics.

I A/B-d them on a number of amps on bassier tracks, and found this to be the case every time. This got me thinking: if the drivers are the same, is it the pads? I did a bit of pad-swapping between the two, and found that it slightly altered the sound somewhat, but confusingly wasn’t the immediate source of the reasoning for the bass-tuning difference.

During this I did notice the pads on the Classics (white leather below) did have a layer of foam padding, whereas the Neos simply had a thin layer of fabric:



It was fun “cross-dressing” the Neos in the white pads from my Classics. Hey, it might be an interesting choice if you’re looking to swap pads down the track on your Neos, or perhaps an idea for a limited edition down the track from Meze:



So head-to-head: Is one ‘better’ than the other? It really depends on what’s important to you. Perhaps you prefer like the prospect of real, luxurious wood-grain (and that fact that no two are really alike in that sense) and a more ‘premium’ look. But if I were choosing again between the Classics and the Neos, personally I’d take the $60 change and be happier with the way the black-on-black colour scheme looks.

2. Beyerdynamic DT770 (80 ohm variant) vs 99 Neos



For many people these are the ‘gateway’ closed-back, full-sized audiophile headphones. Funnily enough, they were for me too. They’re worth comparing in that they’re in a similar price-bracket (although the street-price for the Beyers is often $100 less); form-wise they take-up about the same amount of room in a backpack; and they both offer an amazing sound-to-price ratio…although it is an altogether different sound and product experience.

The DT770’s have a classic ‘V-shape’ tuning, and straight away you notice the mids are very recessed compared to the Neos. This gives them a ‘drier’ sound, which is a little more relaxing, although there is also more pronounced sparkle in the upper treble. A lot of people complain of Beyer “Treble-murder”, but it sounds great to me.

In addition to the less-pronounced mids, one other thing you notice…is what you can’t notice – they isolate passive noise SO well. This is why they’ve been my go-to office cans for a long time. They also have a slight edge when it comes to comfort, the big pillow-y velour pads are just wonderful. People with larger ears will appreciate the extra space inside the cups as well.

The DT770’s are famous for being “bass-y” cans, but it’s a completely different bass experience. There is more sub-bass that is lower and cleaner hitting than the Neos, and it’s altogether more controlled and makes the Neos feel positively bloated in comparison.

The Beyers have the edge in terms of soundstage, in both width and depth. It’s a more open-back experience, with the sound feeling more ‘cavernous’ inside the cups.

Build-wise/accessories-wise, the Neos win by a mile. The cable sucks on the Beyers. It’s long, kinks easily, and is non-detachable. It also comes with a simple nylon thin bag which is almost laughable. But then again, philosophically these cans are like chalk and cheese: One is utilitarian workhorse and built like a tank; the other is a finely-crafted blend of form and function that’s as much an outward expression as it is an internal one.

All-in-all, the DT770’s make for better studio / desktop cans…if you’re not going far from said work-station that is. It’s a very different tuning, with the Neos being a more lively, warm and rich experience.

3. Beyerdynamic DT1350 vs 99 Neos



Many of you might want to know how these fare against dedicated portable cans, which is why I’ve compared the Neos with my Beyerdynamic DT1350s. I’ve had bad experiences with portables, in that they’re generally a compromise: they either sound compromised; or they’re built in such a way that they’re a) uncomfortable, or b) a bit too unwieldy.

The sound profile for the DT1350’s, to me, is almost perfect. The second I heard these, I sold my Audeze Sines (and pocketed a few hundred bucks too!). They are so balanced, they’re neutral, and the bass extends unbelievably low. How Beyerdynamic managed to squeeze this into such a small package is astonishing.

As you can see, the DT1350’s are simply much smaller headphones. They stow flat, and the cups swivel 90 degrees each way. In their semi-rigid case they take up about half as much room in a briefcase or backpack.

Form-factor wise, they are on-ears. So while they’re far more portable, they inevitably get a bit hurt-y on the pinnae after a couple of hours. Although on the other hand because they a decent clamp, and weigh nearly nothing they are great for strenuous activity – I’ve even managed some full-on road-running with them. They also work well with glasses.

Cable-wise, the DT1350’s have a non-detachable, Kevlar-coated permanently attached cable. It’s permanently kinked into the way it came folded, and tends to be very microphonic. Oh, and it has a laughably HUGE termination at the end – in fact it’s from the same parts bin as the DT770. At least you know it’s not going to break…

Sound-wise these are very different. Being on-ear it’s a fairly intimate experience with the DT1350’s, and being very neutral they have an almost ‘tinny’ quality, at a first listen (especially after some time on the Neos!). Settle into their timbre after a track or two, and it’s you’ll notice that it’s amazingly balanced with almost perfect bass. It’s tight, articulate bass that reaches deeper and hits cleaner than the Neos.

They’re overall better at being portable cans than the Neos, but simply aren’t “do it all” like the Neos are. It’s also a completely different SQ that depends on the user’s preference.

Conclusion
Meze ought to have another hit on their hands here with the 99 Neos. The fact that they’re $60 cheaper than the Classics means that the world of audiophile headphones has become even more accessible. They are an extremely versatile, well-built cans, and very might well be the only pair you might need – they simply have to be my go-to recommendation for a closed pair of headphones under $300. They might still be my recommendation for closed cans even at $500, but that depends on whether you like an all-black vibe, or can't resist the appeal of the unique wooden build of the 99 Classics...
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