Review: Meze 99 Classics
Firstly I would like to thank Meze for sending me this sample, they have been used for well over 50hrs before writing this review.
*disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of writing a review, no incentive was given to write a favourable review. All opinions expressed are my own subjective findings.
Gear Used: HP Laptop > Keces S3 / JDS Labs OL DAC + O2 / iBasso DX200 / Audio Opus #2 > 99 Classics
· Transducer size: 40mm
· Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz
· Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
· Impedance: 32 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: walnut wood
Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
The Meze 99 Classics come in a lovely box, with a picture of the headphones on the front, a frequency graph and tech specs on one side and features on the other. On the back it is just black with the shape of the headphones in a glossy black outline. The packaging looks and feels great, you open the front via a magnetic flap and inside you will find the headphone case, and inside this are the headphones and accessories. I really like the detailing on the outer packaging; it is a great first impression.
Built quality is flawless; each pair will be unique due to the wood having a different shade/grain naturally. The cups are impeccably finished and everything feels great. The cable is detachable, they come with 2 cables which are covered in fabric below the y-split and rubbery above, the 3.5mm jacks that go into the headphones are very slim so using aftermarket cables will be tricky, but the stock cables work fine and are well built. There is good strain relief and the microphone and controls on the shorter cable feel great. I have no issues with the build quality, and every part should be easily replaceable if anything goes wrong.
Accessory wise you get a nice hard carry case that is just the right size to fit the headphones in, they do however fit better if you remove the cable before putting them in the case. You also get a little fabric pouch that holds the rest of the accessories, like both cables (1.2m with mic/controls + 3m regular), airplane adaptor and 3.5mm to 6.3mm adaptor. Overall the included accessories are brilliant and everything you need to get going.
Comfort and Isolation:
The 99 Classics are super comfortable, the self adjusting headband distributes the weight perfectly and they are pretty lightweight anyway. The earpads have changed since they originally came out, to slightly larger ones that fit my ears fine and are just the right depth. These are closed back so your ears will heat up a little over time, but overall they are very comfortable and I can wear them for long periods of time with no issues.
Isolation is pretty good on these, not as good as most IEM’s but they do drown out most moderate noises quite well and would be perfect for office use. They don’t leak either, and they would also suit general daily use well.
Split into the usual categories with a conclusion at the end.
Lows: The 99 Classics have a great low end; they are full with good extension yet without sounding too bloated. There is great articulation of bass guitars, and they sound relatively well controlled too. There is one tiny bit of resonance in the mid-bass that creates a little bloat, but this can easily be fixed with EQ and this is a result of the newer larger earpads. I really like the low end response of these as they have enough quantity to please most, but they are also well behaved for the most part; without bleeding heavily into the midrange. As I said previously, bass guitars have really good articulation, and kick drums have good slam. The lows only fall slightly behind when it comes to very fast and technical passages of some heavy metal where that mid-bass resonance can be a little overpowering.
Mids: The midrange is well separated from the lows, there is a small amount of bleed but for the most part they are clean and well detailed. The strengths here are timbre, acoustic guitars sound exceptional and there is great separation in the midrange. Both male and female vocals sound excellent, with plenty of detail but no harsh or sharp edges to notes. They are not quite as forward as the lows, but these are not really v-shaped sounding headphones, they manage to have a full low end with an insightful midrange too. Electric guitars don’t always have the bite that some more neutral headphones have and notes can sometimes sound a little rounded. But they are fatigue free with a smooth transition from the midrange to the highs.
Highs: The treble response of the 99 Classics is actually fantastic, it is smooth and fatigue free but not lacking in detail or presence. I was worried with the bump in the mid-bass that these headphones may come across a little dark, but again after spending some time with them I was pleasantly surprised at how transparent they are in the treble regions. There are no annoying peaks, they are not aggressive but they are resolving with good air and extension. The key up here is the tonality, they avoid the slight metallic tone that some headphones suffer from, and they are very natural and effortless.
The soundstage is wider than most closed back headphones, but they are not the most spacious sounding headphones. There is however good separation between everything and you can easily separate complex mixes.
Conclusion: As I said before, the more time I spent with these the more I came to appreciate their strengths and sound. At first some might find the bass to be the focus point, and in some ways it is, but they strike a fine balance between sounding fun and technical prowess. They do have a slightly elevated bass response, but the midrange comes across with excellent clarity and the highs have an effortless tone that is always present but never fatiguing. As a whole the 99 Classics individual attributes come together to create a relatively well balanced sound that is highly enjoyable without forgetting about the finer details.
Sound Perfection Rating: 9/10 (slight mid-bass resonance, but highly enjoyable overall)