*I am reviewing the Meze 99 Classics as a condition of the recent tour conducted by the fine folks at Meze. The following is simply my honest impressions.
Introduction and Initial ObservationsFirst, a little bit about this headphone. The 99 Classics are marketed as a headphone built from the ground up with an aim at those looking for both high quality, neutral sound and high-end looks in one package. There are a few things I'd like to add to this, now having seen, touched, and heard the headphones myself--these promises are definitely delivered upon in my experience. I was impressed that the headphones use real wood and metal, with very little to no plastic being used at all. Further, I find the headphones to be quite attractively designed, though this will come down to personal preference. Despite this, the headphone remains quite light and ideal for listening on the go. My only qualm with the build quality of the headphones is that I would rather they cost about $40-50 more and come with lambskin earpads instead of the cheap feeling pleather ones that come with it at present.
Equipment UsedJRiver Media Center (FLAC files)→Aune T1 (with various tubes)
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
-Nothing fancy here, really. But, fortunately, the 99 Classics don't need anything fancy to sound great.
How Do They Sound?I really liked listening to the 99 Classics. They have a lively, energetic sound, yet have a touch of warmth to them. The highs are clear, but not sharp. The mids are fairly intimate and bass has a pleasant fullness to it. The way these are tuned actually reminds quite a bit of a "smaller sounding" ZMF Omni. The Omni has deeper bass, more detail, larger soundstage, more depth, and better imaging BUT if you were to kind of take the core essence of that warmish, intimate, and yet detailed sound of the Omni and shrink it into a portable headphone, I think it would look a lot like the 99 Classics. Some more points on the 99 Classics:
- Extremely easy to drive.
- Sounded equally nice out of the T1 and my phone. I would be totally content using these portably with nothing but a phone or mp3 player. To emphasize: no dedicated amp needed.
- They are very light on head. Not the most comfortable headphone ever, but quite good still. I actually had this weird issue where the headband would pinch my hair and pull it when I removed the headphones. Despite this, I actually like the headband design.
- These lean warm and are energetic sounding. Treble-heads need not apply. Also, I'd say bassheads will be disappointed. However, those who like a lively sound that isn't overemphasized in any one area, you will probably dig the 99 Classics a lot.
- Many people have complained that the earpads are too small. I agree to an extent, and think the pads would be better if just a bit bigger, but I am overall OK with the way the pads are at present. One really cool thing is that Meze has taken this feedback into account and accordingly have made larger earpads available.