Review: Meze Headphones 99 Classics
Jun 17, 2016 at 10:17 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
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Review: Meze Headphones 99 Classics
 
 
 
 
 
 
Before I start the review, I would like to thank these gracious people for their help in either organizing the tour or helping me listen to audio equipment related to the 99 Classics:
 
[u][color=rgb(17, 85, 204)]@bSquared64[/color][/u]
[u][color=rgb(17, 85, 204)]@iFi audio[/color][/u]
[u][color=rgb(17, 85, 204)]@LorandCz[/color][/u]
[u][color=rgb(17, 85, 204)]@MezeTeam[/color][/u]
Suzette
[u][color=rgb(17, 85, 204)]@Questyle[/color][/u]

 
Introduction
 
Meze (pronounced Meh-Zeh).  Antonio Meze, to be exact, who is the Chief Designer and owner of the Romanian-based Meze Headphones - is the mastermind behind the Meze 99 Classics. Meze Headphones has been a growing company that’s been seemingly flourishing as of late.  I first found out about them through happenstance.  Months ago, scouring through Head-Fi, I saw the 99 Classics being mentioned, and wanted to find out more.  At the time, the only information of the product was online.  I feel that the 99 Classics product page is one of the best explanations with pictures and video of a product that came directly from the company - bravo.  The page, if you are interested in learning more about the 99 Classics with regards to their construction techniques, measurements, and ingenious solutions to issues headphone owners usually face with other manufacturer’s headphones such as discomfort and reduced sound isolation is here.
 
Fast forward to several months, and I found out that Meze was offering a tour to listen and then review the headphones.  I signed up, and was sent the 99 Classics in Walnut Gold.  Before I was sent the 99 Classics, though, I was able to listen to the 99 Classics from Bruce Ball, Vice President of North America for Questyle at The Source AV, in Torrance, CA. Several weeks later I was able to listen to the Walnut Gold, Maple Silver and IEM lineup at Meze’s booth at this year’s CanJam SoCal in Costa Mesa, CA.  Here’s a few photos from the meet:
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Exhibitors' outing during CanJam SoCal - K1 Speed Go-Karting
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Meze - Made the podium in his final group heat
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Maurice - Made the podium in his final group heat
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Lovely upcoming and available headphones
  
 
This was where I met Mr. Meze himself for the first time.  He is a smiling bundle of joy, and I can tell he loves what he does.  He let me listen to his lineup including his in-ear monitors, and at least one of his products in the future should be a very good buy to add to one’s collection - if and when it comes to market.  A while later I was able to listen to a few different Meze headphones at this year’s AXPONA - Audio Expo North America, to get a more thorough feel for the headphone.  Here’s a few photos from the meet in the Chicago area:
 
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Listening to the headphones at the meets gave me hours of auditory sneak peeks if you will before receiving the 99 Classics for myself to listen and write about in detail.  Since I knew I would write about the 99 Classics and was part of a tour, I will read the reviews when the tour is over, as I do want to read about what other listeners thought about the headphone - just not before I write and publish my own thoughts of the headphone.
 
Do I like the 99 Classics?  Do I think you will like the 99 Classics?  Come along the journey with me to find out!  

 
Audio equipment used in the review
 
Headphone
Meze Headphones 99 Classics Walnut Gold: $309.00
 
Headphones mentioned and compared
Cleer NC Noise Cancelling Headphone + Remote: $299.99
Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 (Modified with SMC, DHC Nucleotide V3, and E-MU Ebony Earcups): $399.99
Master & Dynamic MH30: $329
Master & Dynamic MH40: $399
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 AEi: $349.95
Torque t402v: $399.95
 
Sources
Custom PC (Intel Quad CPU, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 670 FTW 2G, .007 Petabyte of HD space, Windows 10 Pro)
iPhone 6 (Space Gray, 128GB):  $849.99 or $399.99 with a 2-Year Contract
Microsoft Surface Book: Starting at $1,499
Questyle Audio QP1R Golden: $899 USD
 
DAC/Amps
Grace Design x Massdrop m9XX DAC/Amp: $499.99
iFi Audio micro iCAN SE: $299
Questyle Audio Q192 DAC with Headphone Amp: $649.98
Woo Audio WA8 Eclipse Battery-operated Headphone Amplifier & DAC: $1,899
 
Accessories/Interconnects Used
AudioQuest Headphone Plug Adaptor (3.5mm > 1/4"): $24.95
AudioQuest Pearl USB 2.0 A ⇨ B Cable (1.5m): £25 (~$35.57)
 
Software Applications Used
Spotify Premium – Extreme Setting
TIDAL HiFi – Lossless
 
 
Thanks for the interest!  I have been a music aficionado since first listening to greats such as Anita Baker and Michael Jackson in their glory years.

An avid wrestler, coach, teacher and mentor, I like to immerse music lovers in headphones, earphones and sources that do nothing but make the listeners smile.

Ringing in my ears?  Oh, tinnitus?  I get that about 2 times a year, for about 10 seconds each time.  Other than that, I’m currently good to go with regards to my hearing.  Even if my hearing is perfect or not so perfect, what I hear may or may not match what you hear, for a multitude of reasons (genetic, physical, psychological, age, etcetera).

My music preferences are anything that has a great beat to it, not too vulgar in nature and anything that can induce head-bobbing, toe-tapping and maybe even dancing if the mood is right.  I normally listen to (alphabetically): Alternative, Classical, Hip-Hop, Indie, Popular/Top Hits, Rock, and R&B/Soul.  I will even from time to time listen to Blues, Jazz, Modern Electronic, Retro/Classics, and World.

Measurements - I measure headphone output dB with my decibel measurer app that anyone can download, replicate and have an instant reference with what I use to test.  Frequency spectrum measurements are seldom posted, as the manufacturer’s measurements are usually the best guidelines to go by.  Why?  They use them to tune their equipment, and it’s from their own specific parameters.  I completely agree with Ken Ball from ALO’s statement/post when it comes to frequency response measurements (verbatim):

“…I thought it might be good to post some frequency response measurements first before we see a lot of variations posted by people. Without going into a long drawn out thesis / debate on measurements I just want to say that I have not seen any reviewers measurements that are accurate and it can be difficult to interpret a freq measurement. I don't use HRTF compensation curve on my measurements because I am familiar with the raw freq curve so when I see a curve I know what it sounds like and am comfortable with what I am seeing. So to state my measurement so I can be happy that this is the official freq I am posting it here now. I do not really want to get into any debates on what the freq means or read into it too much as a freq measurement is only a very small part of the over all picture of the product. I would MUCH rather listen to the IEM than read a freq.

In addition, I dont want to sound like I dont welcome people to also have fun and measure, but just want to say that taking a accurate measurement is tricky, also tricky to read into the measurement. I spent over $15,000 on on measurement system and it took me almost a year with professional help to calibrate and set it up 100%. So in doing so it is expensive and can be difficult to set up and calibrate. I know my set up is accurate because I send my IEMs to independent labs to double check everything.”

Measurements are valid to possibly get a glimpse or gist of what we are hearing, but measurements are not the end all be all.  Various manufacturers have told me privately that even though it may measure flat, it may not sound flat.  Also, measurement devices do not equal our brain and cannot measure with absolute 100 percent certainty with regards to what we hear and feel.  I listen with my ears, and write based on my interpretations of the music that is being presented to me.

A wise man once told me: "Music is the only thing that doesn't have war, pestilence, garbage, crap - music is so general, it's such a beautiful canopy of peace."
 
 
Design insight
 
Mr. Meze offers a look into the building process of his 99 Classics through the 3D CAD program Solidworks, and narrates throughout the beautifully-created video as well:
 
 

 
Let’s meet the man, Antonio Meze himself!
 
I wanted to learn more about the Meze Headphones company, so I inquired with Mr. Meze to learn a little bit more about his philosophy regarding his company and products.
 
Mr. Meze answered these questions (edited):
 
What is your audio background?

My first contact with audio was at a young age when, as most people have, I became an avid music listener. Music then accompanied me in my work, like a muse if I may say so myself. This passion was further fueled by picking up an instrument, a guitar to be more precise. From there to designing headphones and searching for the perfect sound was just an obvious transition, to me at least.

What gave you the inspiration to create the Meze Headphones company?

I would have to say that it was the desire to have a pair of headphones that was perfect for my own needs. As I said before, listening to music was a big part of my life, it still is, and I wanted to enjoy the tunes that I fell in love with from a pair of headphones that catered to my needs. I also wanted to create a pair of headphones that looked as good as they sound. Being a designer, I wanted Meze Headphones to not be just your run of the mill headphone company, but a brand that would be recognized as a classic over the years.

Why the model name for the Meze Headphone: "99 Classics"?

As you probably already know, our previous headphone models had similar names, 66 Classics, 73 Classics, 88 Classics. The name came from the earcup diameter of the previous models. For the 99 Classics it's not related to the diameter but taking further the legacy of our previous models, hence the name Meze 99 Classics.

What is your goal for your customers with regards to their experience with your headphones and IEMs?

We want them to be as satisfied as we are with our line of products. We want them to feel the excitement of receiving a pair of headphones that, besides the sound signature, is different for each user. The wooden earcups of the 99 Classics are different for each and every of our customer, there are no two pairs that look the same. The earphones were created on a similar concept. We want our customers to not just listen to them but to also wear them, you may call them an addendum to their own style.

What was the reason(s) for your unique design when creating the 99 Classics?

The 99 Classics have a very strong character and lined up in my collection of headphones they do stand out very much. This gives us the chance to make a stand in the headphones scene which is so much populated by brands that invest a lot in marketing.

The other reason for this design is the fact that our headphones will not be mass produced in huge numbers like most others out there. Thus, the manufacturing technologies used are adapted to the volumes that we are looking to produce. They look a bit exclusive because they are a bit exclusive.

What are your goals for the future with regards to the Meze Headphones company?

This is a good one. As you probably saw on the Meze Headphones Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, we are preparing the launch of our new line of earphones, the Meze 11 Neo and 12 Classics. These are completely new designs that have nothing to do with our older in ear models.  Besides this, we are working on a new and more affordable variation of the 99 Classics that will be called 99 Neo-Classics. Some people got the chance to see a prototype version of this model at our booths at CanJam SoCal, CES2015, and at the Munich High End Show.

But besides the earphones and the 99 Neo, we have plans for an open back model and more high end IEMs. More information on that will come when it's ready.

Is there anything you would like to add?

As a matter of fact, yes. We'd like to thank the Head-Fi.org community for accepting us as you have. It's not just the reviews, but the abundance of questions that we're receiving that makes us feel right at home here. Seeing how users share their impressions and tips on our products and how we get to interact directly with them is something we cherish dearly. With every batch of production, we try to perfect the products based on user’s feedback.

I'd also like to thank you Moedawg140 for having this interview.


 
 

Here’s my review of the 99 Classics in video form (view in YouTube on your browser to jump from mentioned section to mentioned section [table of contents]):


 
 
Inside the box
 
I can almost smell the Walnut already
  
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99 Classics Manual and Warranty Information​
  
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First, you are presented with a well-made box that has a magnet as a close flap.  This is getting good already.  Once you open up the box, you see a headphone case that is made specifically for the 99 Classics, as it is molded precisely to the contours of the headband and walnut earcups.  One of the most beautiful headphone cases I’ve laid my eyes on.  Unzip the headphone case and you will see:
 
 
 
99 Classics in the color you chose - Walnut Gold, Walnut Silver or Maple Silver.  Also:
 
  1. Shorter detachable fabric 3.5mm Kevlar OFC cable with mic and play/pause button
  2. Longer detachable fabric 3.5mm Kevlar OFC cable
  3. 3.5mm to ¼ in adapter
  4. Airplane adapter
  5. Felt case for accessories
  6. EVA hard case for the 99 Classics and accessories in felt case

 
Build and aesthetics
 
 
Such few headphone companies these days make their headphones with a handmade approach, as most have bits of plastic, glue and other materials that aren’t fully conducive of a headphone that you know is uniquely made-from-scratch, dare I say, organic in nature.  As organic foods largely omit chemicals, the 99 Classics omits anything artificial.  This is a company that shows every component used, and from what I can see, it’s one small internal connector on each side of the headphone, washers, screws, and custom fasteners that can only be screwed on.  The metal hardware is made out of cast zinc and manganese spring steel, showing “Meze” and the Meze symbol.  Simply breathtaking to see.  The internal components of the 99 Classics are made of sturdy, long-lasting ABS and silicone parts.  
 
The 99 Classics uses real walnut wood and maple wood machined on a 5 axis CNC machine.  Hand finished, stained and polished after the machining.  Also, the best facet of all in my opinion is that the wood is obtained from sustainable sources, as some types of earcups from some manufacturers use wood that may very well be endangered and/or protected.
 
So much, but not all, of this headphone is about the build and ultimately how it looks because there isn’t a headphone currently available in the market that is quite like it.  The 99 Classics was made from the ground up, and it truly shows.  Looks and questions about the headphone from people are the norm, and zero have said to me that they didn’t like the look of the headphone.  This is one gorgeous headphone, from the slim glossy black headband, to the black leather headband that has “99 Classics” blazon on the top, to the gold fasteners and connectors, to the soft memory foam earpads, to the one-of-a-kind walnut earcups (more about this later), the 99 Classics is simply an instant classic.
 
  
 
Last but certainly not least, the fabric Kevlar OFC cable is tastefully created, as the shorter cable has a mic and a play/pause button to take calls, and the longer cable can be used when you want to connect stationarily at home, with a great sounding amplifier such as the iFi Audio micro iCAN SE.  Even the airplane and 3.5mm to ¼ in adapters have received the gold plating treatment, looking quite the part.  One more thing: it takes around a whopping 45 days to create a 99 Classics from start to finish for you.  If that isn’t a conversation starter with regards to this headphone, I am not entirely sure what is.
 
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Fit and comfort
 
The 99 Classics is light in weight at 290 grams and feels rather light on the head as well.  Differing wood grain will add or subtract a few grams from the overall weight of the headphone, but the weight coupled with the design of the components bodes well for a comfortable, non-fatiguing fit.  The metal headband is affixed to both left and right earcups, and rise above the head, creating not only good clamping pressure, but even pressure as well.  There is elastic on both sides of the headband which provides a sort of “Flexfit” to the top and sides of the head, further increasing overall comfort and fit.  The earcups rotate and pivot, but subtly so.  The headphone is also not foldable, but is small enough to transport without much issue, especially when carried around in the custom-made headphone case.  This also means you won’t get any hinges that are normally used to fold headphones, just a curved headphone that allows you to not only seamlessly look good, but feel good.  The earpads are medium-density memory foam and fit my medium-sized ears rather well.  Isolation does pretty well as a passive noise canceler as a whole because of the headband construction and density of the memory foam earpads.  For those who may find the stock earpads to be more on-ear than over-ear, a larger earpad size is available as a separate purchase.   The earpads are comfortable to me, but I can see how some might feel that the earpads may get warm after a while of listening.  The clamping force may be a little tight for those with larger-sized heads, so if you normally fall within this range, you should try the headphone before you buy.
 
My wife wearing the 99 Classics
 
 
Glasses and the 99 Classics
 
I tried the 99 Classics with sunglasses to test if they feel comfortable while the 99 Classics is on my head.  I tested with the Oakley Offshoot, which have larger stalks than regular eyeglasses.  The 99 Classics puts very little pressure on the Offshoot stalks, but isn't a concern with regards to pain or anything of the sort.  Your mileage may vary, especially since different sized heads, eyeglasses, tolerance to wearing eyeglasses with headphones and other factors will all come into play.
 
Oakley Offshoot, 99 Classics on head with Offshoot
  
 
 
How to replace earpads
 
The earpads do not need an inner ring since the headphone's inner ring is installed in the earcups themselves!  Start by pulling the earpad material away from the earcup as shown

 
Keep pulling

 
Nice and easy

 
You've almost got the earpad off

 

 

 

 
Slide one side of the earpad in the earcup's groove, slowly working your way around

 

 

 
Move the headphone around to make it easier for you to install the earpads

 
Give it a little twist to position the earpads, and you are good to go!

 
 
Power required to drive the 99 Classics
 
Not very much, as the 99 Classics are sensitive, and reach ear-piercing levels rather easily.  11 out of a maximum 16 volume of the iPhone 6 is where it gets starts to get really loud.
 
 
Disclaimer and hearing factors
 
The 99 Classics sound impressions are mainly for anyone wanting a point of reference regarding how they more or less pair with the iPhone 6, QP1R and Surface Book (among other paired equipment as well).  Other sources may vary slightly or greatly as the 99 Classics sounds different enough with these three sources to warrant mentioning.  The 99 Classics will have a warmer and pronounced effect in the overall bass region when pairing with the iPhone 6.  The 99 Classics will have a supremely detailed with slight treble and bass boost with expanded detail when paired with the QP1R.  The 99 Classics will have a more balanced and natural sounding approach to its presentation when paired with the Surface Book.  For reference, the 99 Classics is fairly easy to drive, as a smartphone such as the iPhone doesn't take full volume for the 99 Classics to emit levels that can damage hearing pretty quickly.
 
We all hear differently, and our experiences with regards to how our interpretation of what we hear vary greatly.  Some factors that come to mind (and not limited), are:
 
Your inner ear and skull’s overall composition: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/the-unique-vibrations-of-your-skull-affect-how-you-hear-music-654940/?no-ist.
 
Hearing loss as we age, also known as presbycusis: https://www.ohio.edu/news/months/nov1998/111.html,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbycusis.
 
Heredity, noise trauma, dietary habits, smoking, hypertension, atherosclerosis, are other factors that affect people’s overall hearing ability.
 
 
Ramen, curry with rice, tea, Calpico Lychee plus White Peach, Pocky, with a 99 Classics on the side
 
 
Analyze this and that
 
The test tracks that I use in my reviews are located in these albums (album alphabetical order)
 
1989 (Deluxe Edition) by Taylor Swift (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
21 by Adele (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Bad (2001 Special Edition) by Michael Jackson (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Bangerz by Miley Cyrus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
Beyoncé by Beyoncé (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Heart Blanche by Ceelo Green (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit)
Make Yourself by Incubus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
No. 5 Collaborations Project (EP) by Ed Sheeran (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
One by One by Foo Fighters (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit)
Random Access Memories by Daft Punk (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit)
Schubert Berliner Philharmoniker by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit)
The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Thriller by Michael Jackson (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit)
X (Wembley Edition) by Ed Sheeran (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
 
Several standalone tracks (track alphabetical order)
 
Dock of the Bay by The Persuations A Cappella Dreams (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)
M.O.R. by Blur – Blur 21, Blur (2012 Remaster – Special Edition) (MP3 320kbps 44.1kHz/16bit)
Schubert String Quartet No. 14 in D minor D. 810, Death and the Maiden: III. Scherzo. Allegro molto by Oslo String Quartet – The Schubert Connection (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit)
Serenade (Spanish Dance), Op. 54, No. 2 by Jano Starker and David Popper – Wilson Audio Ultimate Reference (APE 44.1kHz/16bit)
The Peppery Man by Natalie Merchant – Leave Your Sleep (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)
These Bones by The Fairfield Four – I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)
 
If I am listening to a product that is not able to be listened with the highest resolution tracks that I have mentioned, I will listen to the TIDAL versions (FLAC).

 
Sound impressions
 
The 99 Classics is a warm, textured, and adequately immersive sound, mostly in the sub to midbass and midrange frequencies.  If you are used to a more neutral, flat, or even balanced sound, you may feel the 99 Classics are bassy and maybe even boomy if your source is not the most synergistic with the headphone.  This is not a basshead headphone, but in my opinion, is a hair less than the basshead territory with regards to the overall sound that is presented to your ears.  I wouldn’t call the sound balanced, but I would call it balanced with a bass tilt.  
 
Remember earlier in the review when I said “one-of-a-kind walnut earcups? Not only do the earcups look different (from a tan look to a dark molasses color), but they sound different as well.  From the several that I've listened to back to back to back, they all varied somewhat - mostly in the bass region.  This is not to say that the variances between the headphones are night and day - no, most from a dark dusk to night is the difference to my ears.  Despite the differences, the bass is full with loads of heft, the midrange is textured and lush, with the treble sounding pretty laid-back and nowhere near sounding fatiguing.  
 
Spatial capabilities are adequate, but an expansive soundstage and pinpoint holographic accuracy aren’t the 99 Classics’ strong suits.  The music that is presented to your ears is pretty forward, especially because of the closed/isolating nature of the headphone.  Imaging is not incredibly detailed, but you get most out all of the sound that you want to hear and feel at your fingertips.  
 
This headphone to my ears is as close to an in-ear version of a headphone as you are going to get.  Good isolation, very lightweight, closed-back, and a good universal fit with the leather earpads equivalent of good foam in-ear tips would be the reasons why I believe the 99 Classics is like a headphone commensurate of an in-ear.

 
DAC/Amp impressions
 
Grace Design x Massdrop m9XX

 
(m9XX is on the lower left) - I primarily listened to the m9XX and 99 Classics with the Custom PC using the latest drivers for both the DAC/Amp and PC.  The m9XX is a DAC/Amp that emits a detailed and reference-level quality sound signature that sounds like a product that is not very colored on either end of the sound spectrum or anywhere in between.  
 
As mentioned in my m9XX review, the m9XX embodies a "Portable Desktop Solution", or "PDS":
 
Portable – powers IEMs with the linear volume selection, meaning from “0.” (or ½/.5) to about 50 (with a sensitive IEM such as the Shure SE846) the volume rises very gradually.  The m9XX powers most all headphones with some serious power at the higher numbers.
 
Desktop – emits a dedicated desktop/quality (or better) sound, which is amazing for its miniscule dimensions.  Headphones get VIP treatment, and IEMs get VIP treatment as well, as both are taken care of with the utmost of affection.
 
Solution – this is a portable desktop solution for higher powered phones like the Samsung S5, computers, or anything that utilizes a lineout or optical out.  The solution is an immensely high-fidelity sound in the palm of your hand that you can transport, and as a result, is simply marvelous.
 
The m9XX coupled with the 99 Classics provides a very good balanced sound, with highly adequate midbass punch, and soothing texture in the midrange.  Treble is clean, but not very bright.  More of a gentle breeze than an edgy or strident sound.  If you want more options with regards to the amount of bass you hear and feel via hardware switches, the next amplifier mentioned is a great option.
 
iFi Audio micro iCAN SE

 
I primarily listened to the micro iCAN SE and 99 Classics with the Custom PC using the latest drivers for both the Amp and PC.  The micro iCAN SE is an amp that produces a defined and resolute sound signature, especially when coupled with the QP1R.  Detail is palpable, and the smooth, macro detail of the 99 Classics truly shines.  The "3D HolographicSound" setting helps add in a little more forward, rich and transparent sound field perception.  iFi Audio explains: "3D HolographicSound recreates a holographic sound field like listening to a pair of speakers."

Here's the 3D HolographicSound settings:
- = Direct
●●● = 3D for flat sounding recordings.
● = 3D for recordings with excessive stereo effect.

I only need to turn the volume dial a little (to around 9 o' clock) to obtain a comfortable listening level.  The micro iCAN SE also features a Bass Boost switch, called "XBass".  iFi Audio explains: "XBass was uniquely-designed to extend the bass response to suit different headphones."

Here's the XBass settings:
- = Direct
●●● = For bass shy headphones.
● = For average bass headphones.

XBass is my favorite setting on the amp because I can immediately hear and feel a change in the bass response (increased volume of bass, texture and decay).  

At the one dot setting, I personally feel the 99 Classics benefits with this setting.  A little more bass is apparent, and is starting to reach basshead land for sure.  The one dot setting is best for average bass headphones and the 99 Classics has an above average bass presentation in my opinion.  The 99 Classics would benefit the best with using the one dot setting for a nice bassy presentation, and the three dot setting for a basshead-type of presentation.  With that said...

Using the three dot setting adds more volume of overall bass and on most all tracks has bass that can be heard, felt (immensely, but sufficiently), and there is more perception of prolonged reverberation and decay.  The three dot setting turns the 99 Classics into a basshead headphone (at least without source EQ applied), but it turns the 99 Classics into less of a balanced sounding headphone.  The result of the three dot setting is creamy-smooth and immensely punchy sounding bass that may overtake the rest of the smooth sounding midrange and higher frequencies.  True powerhouse compared to most headphones at any price with regards to the amount of bass that is presented at this setting.  If you want a resolute presence with a good reproduction of dynamics, the next DAC/Amp mentioned is a good choice to check out.
 
Questyle Audio Q192 DAC with Headphone Amp

 
(Q192 is on the lower right) - I primarily listened to the Q192 and 99 Classics with the Custom PC using the latest drivers for both the DAC/Amp and PC. The Questyle Q192 DAC/Amp uses a Wolfson WM8740 DAC, and the OPA275 LPF output stage all but eliminates TIMD (Transient Intermodulation Distortion).  LPF and buffer utilizes WIMA FKP2 capacitors, Schottky rectifier, 9 pieces of Nichicon FG capacitors and 18 sets of separate regulators are used as well.
 
The amp section of the Q192 is the Current Mode Amplification technology.  There is a 500kHz broad band range that outputs distortion of 0.0004%.  USB asynchronous 3X clock structure (same as the DAC model CAS192).  
 
What does all of this technological talk mean?  Overall a very clean sound that is punchy in the lows and with a smooth sound in the mid and high frequency ranges.  The Q192 creates a pristine ambience and increases the rich sound of the 99 Classics.  Soundstage perception is heightened with the combination as well.
 
Woo Audio WA8 Eclipse

 
The Woo Audio’s epic WA8 Eclipse is the “world's first battery-operated vacuum tube headphone amplifier”. The WA8 Eclipse features SET Class-A transformer output, and a 24bit/384kHz DAC.  The amplifier feels like it weighs more than the posted 2.4 pounds, because it feels very solid and premium in the hand.  I wouldn’t call the WA8 Eclipse portable, but I would call it transportable, with a bag or backpack.  I didn't have an issue taking it around with me from place to place. Set up isn’t difficult as it can be stood or placed on its side while listening to your favorite music.  I also like the ability of the WA8 Eclipse to connect to any DAP or smartphone with an auxiliary cable. The WA8 Eclipse’s battery only lasts 4 hours, but has the high power to drive headphones of 8-600 ohm impedance. It's great to have a triple-tube DAC/Amp at your fingertips wherever you go if you so choose.
 
While portable, the WA8 Eclipse comes with a military-grade vacuum tube design rated for 5,000 hours of life. Two or three-tube operation provides versatility to create more sound quality differences between a plethora of in-ear monitors and headphones.  The WA8 Eclipse’s single-ended Triode topology utilizes OCC single crystal copper output transformers, which offers “high bandwidth and low loss”. The WA8 Eclipse also uses an ESS SABRE Reference 24bit/384kHz DAC, which works well with hi-res music and is also compatible with Apple iOS, Android and other 3.5mm-compatible devices.
 
The WA8 Eclipse operates via external DC power or battery operation.  The DAC/Amp provides stable power to the vacuum tubes and the DAC, offering 4 hours of playtime – and the unit is also operable during the time the DAC/Amp is charging.  How does the WA8 Eclipse sound paired with the 99 Classics?
 
The overall sound is that not very far off from larger desktop tube amps - a warm and punchy but also laid back sound that some people are going to really enjoy.  What I mean by punchy is that the bass has some heft to it and brings out the Walnut earcups’ capabilities with success, and what I mean about laid back is that I feel that the WA8 Eclipse’s sound is diffuse in nature, especially when directly comparing to a solid state sound like the m9XX or Q192.  Furthermore, the sound to me may not sound as completely detailed as the two previously mentioned DAC/Amps, but when my wife listened to all three, she preferred the sound of the WA8 Eclipse.  What this tells you is the best way to find out what sounds the best for your specific preferences is to listen to whatever you'd like to possibly purchase, yourself - to come to a determination to what sounds amazing to your ears.  You may find to truly adore the WA8 Eclipse for the tube-like presentation, the transportability, or the sum of all of its features.

 
Headphone comparisons
 
Before I start with the comparisons; I have listened to a lot of audio equipment, but I haven't listened to everything.  If you request a comparison and it's not listed in my profile and hasn't been reviewed, then there is a chance that either I haven't listened to it in a long while and don't want to compare by memory, or I don't have the requested product(s) with me to compare.  Consider being proactive by sending me a PM (private message), sending me the headphone(s) and/or sources, IEMs, etcetera, you would like for me to compare, and I'll add it to the review (or any review that I've written).  If you don't have the requested product(s) with you and I don't have the requested product(s) with me, chances are slim that I will be able to fulfill your request because I always like to A/B with audio equipment that's immediately on-hand.
 
My headphone comparisons are volume matched as close to the 0 to .1 dB discrepancy of the two A/B compared headphones as I can; to read my full method, check out the (Q15) Decibel Measurements, Disclaimer and Headphone Comparisons section in my Questyle Audio QP1R review.
 
Cleer NC Noise Cancelling Headphone

 
With the ANC mode enabled, you are going to get an overall warmer presentation from the NC than the 99 Classics.  Bass is similar, but will seem more prevalent from the NC.  Midrange is smoother with the NC but both are lovely sounding.  Treble is a little more steely, but not too strident in nature.  Soundstage is similar - closed-in, and all encompassing - at your fingertips.
 
Without ANC mode enabled, the sound is closer to the Meze headphone, but the biggest difference to my ears is actually the weight, as the NC weighs more than the 99 Classics, and that may be more of a concern than the not-too-different sound signature of both headphones.
 
Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 (Modified with SMC, DHC Nucleotide V3, and E-MU Ebony Earcups)

 
The TH-X00 (my version) is simply more bassy in the subbass region, and sounds like there is a little less midrange emphasis than the 99 Classics.  Treble is more extended with the TH-X00, and the larger earcups lend to a larger perceived soundstage and layering as well.  The 99 Classics has more of an overall natural sound, and the TH-X00 has more of a technical sound.  Here’s the kicker, though - differences in both models’ wood earcups will more than likely lend differences in sound, even between the same models.  Meaning, your own individual results of the sound comparisons of the two headphones and same models may vary.
 
Master & Dynamic MH30

 
This is a headphone that sounds even bassier than the 99 Classics.  Midrange is more meaty from the MH30 and the higher frequencies are not as apparent as the Meze.  There is slightly less detail and resolution of the MH30 compared to the 99 Classics.  The MH30 would be the choice if you want mostly a bassy presentation with on-ear headphone, and the 99 Classics would be the choice if you want a lighter weight headphone with more sweet and resolute audio waves to your ears.
 
Master & Dynamic MH40

 
The MH40 is more resolute in regards to every facet compared to the MH30, but does emit less bass than the MH30 as well as the 99 Classics.  The midrange is more balanced sounding than the 99 Classics, but not as textured, as I would attribute that at least partly to the Walnut earcups.  Treble is more extended from the MH40, without sounding harsh.  Soundstage and pinpoint accuracy favors the MH40 more, but sounds less natural than the 99 Classics.
 
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 AEi

 
These two headphones are not too far off in overall comparative sound signature.  The sound is more organic/natural sounding with the 99 Classics, however, the detail, imaging, soundstage, and clarity is not night and day between the two.  Lower frequencies resonate with more aplomb with the 99 Classics, but another model may not resonate as much compared to the Momentum 2.0.  Midrange is smooth for both, but I feel that the 99 Classics has more of a natural, lush emittance.  The most highest frequencies are similar as well, but the 99 Classics would have very slightly more mellow of a sound.
 
Torque t402v

 
This is a headphone where the trademarked mod:fi™ technology can “change” the amount of bass via 4 adjustable low frequency settings by rotating the earpads at different locations:  
 
Yellow = Most bass (1)
Blue = Bassy (2)
Red = Less bassy (3)
Black = The least bass (4)
 
The Blue is most like the 99 Classics’ amount of bass, but when you add the Yellow, the overall sound of the t402v isn’t as detailed as the Meze.  You will need to implement the Red or Black to begin to equal the clarity of the Meze, but then you lose out on the bassy sound of the t402v.  Midrange is a little on the thin side compared to the Meze, and treble continues in this trend as well.  The square earpads and fit of the t402v help to dial in a more spacious sound compared to the 99 Classics, but overall doesn’t sound as natural as the Meze headphone.

 
Should you modify?

It’s really up to you.  By now you should know that having this headphone as part of your collection (or only headphone) that exemplifies the midbass and subbass regions.  With that said, you may want to dial in modifications to help bring out the bass as well as taming down the treble even more in the process.  What can you do?

EQ – use your source’s EQ settings to dial in a preferable frequency response to your ears.

Bass Boost or equivalent – use your source’s Bass Boost or equivalent button or switch, as you can with a button press or flip of a switch have immediate results with increased bass with the expense of probably lower perceived treble.  The 99 Classics already embody a rich bassy sound, so Bass Boost should be used if you want even more bass or if you are a basshead.

Earpad change – changing the earpads may change the frequency response to one that sounds better to your ears.  There will be a larger earpad size available from Meze for purchase as well.

Third-party elemental cables – copper, SPC, silver/gold or silver litz, etc. may help further refine the sound signature of the 99 Classics.

Physical modifications (be careful and focus on reversible mods first!) such as adding foam, felt, different materials and densities can make for a very fun project to help create the sound that ends up sounding utterly amazing.

I personally won’t be modifying as I am thoroughly enjoying the unique sound signature the 99 Classics produces.

 
Cultivate a fresh sound™

What does this mean?  Too often we focus on only the music we are accustomed to.  I am usually this way as well.  Here’s an opportunity to listen to something you either may not normally listen to, or haven’t heard of.  As I publish reviews in the future, I will have new and older tracks from various genres that I’ve listened to in this section, and will be largely based on what songs really moved me in particular to the reviewed product I’ve listened to on it.  Even though the tracks will be linked to YouTube videos or audio-only versions, the tracks will either be listened solely from the iPhone 6 and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless, or from my Microsoft Surface Book and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless.  Instead of describing each track in immense detail, you can simply listen for yourself and bask in the beautiful music you may have just found for the first time right now!  What’s also great is that you can come back here just to listen to the tracks mentioned!  If you have any personal issues with any tracks posted, please PM me and I'll replace it with another track.  It's all about positivity in our musical journey.  With those kind words of encouragement, here we go…
 
Now I Know by Andy Mineo
 
A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey by Leyla McCalla
 
Finish Line / Down (Coloring Book) by Chance The Rapper, T-Pain, Kirk Franklin, Eryn Allen Kane, Noname
 
Maybe IDK by John Bellion

 
Is the 99 Classics worth it?
 
If you are interested in a headphone that has a terrific build, a smooth and punchy sound and a price that won’t break the bank, the 99 Classics is worth an audition and purchase.  
 
 
Final thoughts
 
The answers to my questions in the start of the review are this: No, I do not like the 99 Classics.  I adore the 99 Classics.  I think you will like the 99 Classics, especially if you want to experience a smooth, textured, warm sound that also feels light on your head.  For a one-of-a-kind type of presentation: Walnut earcups, gold hardware and an overall bespoke sound - the 99 Classics is a true performer, inside and out.  Is the 99 Classics the most holographic headphone you will listen to in your life?  Maybe, maybe not.  What the 99 Classics manages to personify is a headphone that you will be proud to present and wear with pride, not worrying about exact technicalities, and to truly get lost in the music for a very comforting experience.

 
Specifications
 
  1. Transducer size: 40 mm
  2. Frequency response: 15 Hz - 25 KHz
  3. Sensitivity: 103 dB at 1 KHz, 1 mW
  4. Impedance: 32‎ Ω
  5. Rated input power: 30 mW
  6. Maximum input power: 50 mW
  7. Two Detachable Kevlar OFC cables: Length = 4 ft/ 1.2 m and ~9.84 ft/ 3 m
  8. Plug: 3.5 mm gold plated
  9. Weight: 260 grams (9.2 ounces) without cables
  10. Ear-cups: walnut wood
  11. Earpad inner dimensions: Length = 6 cm/ 2.36 in X Width = 4.5 cm/ 1.77 in
 
Jun 18, 2016 at 12:06 PM Post #4 of 10

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
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  Beautifully written review like always my friend!

 
Thanks, buddy, means a lot to me.
 
  Nice review! Which headphone do you find yourself reaching more for; the thx00's or the 99's, or is it situational?

 
Thanks, @Vonx!  I would say it's situational - based on my mood.  Moar bass? The TH-X00 modded.  Easier to pick up and get going, with a natural presentation?  The 99 Classics.  If I want something more balanced in sound I may choose the HE350, HE1000, or reach for other headphones based on my current mood. 
 
Jun 21, 2016 at 5:20 AM Post #5 of 10
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thoroughly enjoyed your story, @moedawg140 
 
Meze Audio Design. Comfort. Sound. True audio. Stay updated on Meze Audio at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
 
https://www.facebook.com/mezeaudio https://twitter.com/mezeaudio https://www.instagram.com/mezeaudio/ https://www.mezeaudio.com/ marketing@mezeaudio.com
Aug 27, 2016 at 1:47 AM Post #7 of 10

tbritton

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It is now so extremely likely that I will be buying a pair of these!
 
Thanks for a terrific review!
 
Now to decide on which of the three I will go for... (they are all so lovely!)
 
Terry
 
Sep 1, 2016 at 12:12 AM Post #8 of 10

husafreak

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I just got a pair of these, whoops, I mean I got my wife a pair of these. Here's the thing without trying to re wright moedawg140's review. Which I agree with. I saw them, held them and listened to them at the SF Head Fi meet. Love at first sight. When you receive these you will not believe how great they look and how well they are made. Then you put them on and for me with a medium size noggin (or for my wife) they are super comfy, I love the spring loaded band fit, no fiddling with adjustments. And then they sound really, ahh, sweet. You will not stop smiling for a little while. These are not super detailed. These are fun! My wife loves them and we have both used them a bunch now for watching TV privately and some music. Just an all around great experience. I will admit that I am much more likely to grab my TH-X00's for listening to music but for TV or music on the go I'll take the 99's. Note that the metal headbands transmit some noise to the cups that will annoy you if you try to listen to them with your head on a soft pillow. The 10' cable has a bit of microphonics, not too bad. It is a mystery how Meze can offer these at the price, a great deal.
 
Mar 27, 2018 at 9:41 PM Post #10 of 10

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
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Thank you for the great review.even though my music taste died not overlap at all, I really enjoyed reading this review.
It’s all good - I’m glad you enjoyed the review.

Cheers! :beerchug:
 

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