Today I’ll be reviewing the Meze 99 Classics. This headphone surprised me because it not only looks great, but sounds incredible as well. Now the company and team of audio enthusiasts that created this headphone are actually located in Romania and they spent two years designing and crafting this headphone in-house. The result is they’ve engineered a truly high quality headphone that is also beautifully crafted.
But even though this is a headphone that I think just about anyone would enjoy listening to, there are a few reasons these may not be the perfect choice which I’ll discuss in this review as well.
Now currently, the Meze 99 costs just over $300. If interested, you can click below for purchasing information.
Now included with these headphones you get two sets of cables, a hard case, a smaller accessory case, a ¼” adapter and an airline adaptor.
The braided woven nylon cables are detachable, tangle resistant and although a bit microphonic, they’re very high quality. One is a shorter 4ft cable with an inline mic and control and the other is a 10ft long cable. The connectors are all high quality and both cables terminate in gold-plated 3.5mm straight plugs.
Both the hard case and smaller accessory case are both well made and are a good compliment to the look and feel of the headphones.
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
Then regarding the design, these have a beautiful and elegant presence about them. The combination of wood and metal is elegantly done without looking gaudy or ostentatious in the slightest.
There are currently three different design and color options which include the: Walnut Gold, Walnut Silver and Maple Silver (which is the option I have here). Each design includes satin finished, hand polished, wood grain earcups, which will make each pair of Meze headphones completely unique.
The earpads and headband are made of a synthetic protein leather and are very comfortable feeling, though you will notice heat build up around your ears, particularly in warmer environments or during longer listening sessions. The ear pads also contain a medium-density memory foam which has a nice amount of cushion to it.
The headband is self adjusting which is a unique and a very effective way to get the perfect fit. And this seems to contribute to the headphones feeling lighter to wear, than they actually are.
Now regarding the comfort, overall, these have a nice and cozy, fit. The headband and earpads both feel very comfortable. Weight distribution is excellent so you don’t get hot spots on the top of the head. And the clamping force is moderate so these feel secure while wearing them without feeling like they’ll easily slide off your head.
The ear cups and ear pads are just barely large enough to fully surround your ears, though again, it’s more of a snug feeling as your ears are touching the insides of the earpads. However, if you have larger ears, you may find the fit to be a bit too tight or that it starts to feel uncomfortable after an extended period of use.
But aside from that, the only other aspect that might take away from the comfort is the way the self adjusting headband pulls up a bit on the head. So as a result, I felt a little more pressure on the tops of the earpads. It’s not a big deal though, as you can still wear these comfortably for hours at a time. And ultimately, it’s this unique design which helps you to quickly and easily get a comfortable fit every time.
Also, these do a good job forming a nice seal and have pretty good noise isolation which means you won’t need to turn the volume up as loud to try and drown out any surrounding noise.
Then moving onto the sound quality, this is where things get really exciting. The Meze 99 is easily one of the best sounding headphones at this price point and even competes well in the $500 and under price range. Overall they have a sound signature that’s very dynamic, punchy and filled with a crisp and detailed treble. It’s a very enjoyable sound that manages to stay within the normal quantities of both bass and treble. And at 32 ohms, these are super easy to drive and sound great even with just a smartphone.
So starting with the bass, the low end is a real pleasure to listen to. There’s a slight bass emphasis, that goes down deep, well into the sub-bass region and will bring out any rumble in your music. On songs with a tremendous amount of bass, you actually get the sense that the bass is shaking your head.
And the mid-bass is remarkable as well. With faster paced songs like Josh Vietti’s electronic remake of Canon in D minor, the speed of the mid bass really shines through. It hits hard and leaves just enough decay without it sounding too muddy.
And whereas other headphones will tend to emphasize either the low-bass or mid-bass, the 99 Classics manage to implement both mid and low bass wonderfully. Which is why the bass on the Classics sounds weighty without being overly muddy. As a result, you also get a strong sense of impact as well as some nice rumble to go along. So ultimately, when a song demands bass it’ll be there, but when a song has the bass levels toned down, the Classics accurately represent that as well.
And even with the slight emphasis in the low end, the mids are well preserved and sound fantastic. On a song like The A Team by Ed Sheeran, his vocals sound as smooth as butter. His voice doesn’t sound dry and the mids on the classics have a liquid quality to them which makes vocals sound more realistic.
This effect is even more present in female vocals, such as when listening to, My Heart will go on by Celine Dion. The liquid like qualities of the mids make her voice sound emotional instead of lifeless or sterile. But then apart from vocals, the mids also sound great with things like cello or piano. For example, in the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven, the piano notes have a nice heft to them, but they also sound fluid and cohesive.
This is all in part due to the effervescent sound that comes from the lower frequencies which aids the mids. What you get from the mids is a presentation that’ll sound warmer and more refined than what you might be used to hearing with headphones that typically have a drier sound. So when it comes to the mids the 99 classics really excel as they’re able to give you a realistic presentation that doesn’t sound cold or sterile.
Finally we get to the treble, which is where things can get tricky when choosing a headphone.
The higher frequencies can often make or break a person’s decision to buy a pair of headphones. For example, if a headphone has excessive treble, then it’ll sound bright and fatiguing. However if a headphone lacks treble then it can sound unexciting and muddy. And this is where the Meze 99 is unique.
While it does have treble that leans more towards the brighter side. The overall sound of the these however, is not bright and actually has a nice twist to it. Unlike other headphones which can tend to respond poorly to equalization, the classics actually respond very well to it.
For example, when you’re toning down the treble, only the slight uneven peaks become toned down, but the detail in the sound isn’t lost. So with lower quality tracks or songs that haven’t been mastered as well such as Legend by Drake, the toned down treble of the classics still has enough detail to let you discover new things in your music, but not to the point where it will reveal all the flaws in the recording.
So this allows you to town down the treble on lower quality tracks in order to improve the listening experience with lower quality music.
And this really makes quite a difference because when the treble is unequalized, lower quality tracks will suffer a bit as the detailed treble will uncover flaws that may be in the recording. For example, with songs like How to Love by Little Wayne, all the processing and grain is clearly audible, and makes for an overall less pleasant listening experience.
However, when you’re listening to higher quality classical, jazz or other well recorded tracks, this brings out a very different and much more enjoyable experience. For example, when listening to the song Within from Daft Punk, the amount of detail that these headphones can showcase is almost overwhelming, but in a good way. As you’re able to hear every last ounce of sparkle and shimmer in the recording without it ever sounding harsh or fatiguing.
At the same time, the presentation that the treble on the classics puts out is very realistic and doesn’t ever end up sounding too hyped or unnatural. For example, when listening to high quality tracks like Josh Vietti’s electronic Canon in D minor, the entire song sounds precise, with a speed that never loses it fluidity. It’s almost like listening to lasers. You get a very clean treble with plenty of speed, that adds a lot of excitement to the music.
So ultimately, whether you prefer a more relaxed sound presentation when it comes to the treble, or you prefer a more vibrant and detailed sound, it won’t matter as the 99 classics respond very well to equalization and as a result, will allow you to enjoy the best of both worlds. The treble on these definitely stands out and makes this a really superb headphone for someone who listens to many different genres and types music.
Now even though these represent one of the best sounding and looking headphones you can buy around this price point, there are a few reasons you may prefer something else. Now, just keep in mind that these have more to do with personal preference than any real flaws per se.
For example, if you prefer a headphone that is more loose wearing or feeling around the ears then you may want to go with something else. While these are a very comfortable headphone to wear, they provide a more snug and cozy fit. So if you like a headphone that feels less “snug” or has more room in the earcups then you may want to go with a difference choice.
Also, if you prefer more of a lifestyle headphone or something that’s geared more for portable use, then these may not be as practical for your needs. Now the included case is excellent for storing these headphones, but the size of the case and headphones isn’t as practical if you’re planning on taking these with you often. So if you’re after more of an “on-the-go” style headphone then you may prefer going with something else.
But otherwise, these headphones have no problem competing with any of the top headphones in this price range and even above. And ultimately, besides sounding fantastic, what sets these headphones apart is the pride of ownership factor you get with these. Because just as you can tell a lot of time and attention went into the sound quality, likewise a lot of attention was given to make sure this is a headphone you would enjoy owning.
So while anyone should find these incredibly enjoyable to listen to, if you appreciate the elegant design as well then you’ll absolutely love owning the Meze 99 Classics.