The audio industry is by and large dominated by brands that have existed since the dawn of audiophilia itself. Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, Grado and more are just a few of the brands that come to mind when you think of high-end audio. So when the guys at Headphone Zone dropped us a mail if we’d like to check out the Meze 99 Classics by boutique Romanian firm, Meze Audio, we were obviously excited. After spending almost two weeks with the headphones, I can safely admit that these are some of the best sounding headphones I’ve used. Want to know more? Check out the review below.
- Driver Unit: 40mm Dynamic
- Frequency Response: 15Hz-25KHz
- Impedance: 32 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 103 dB
- Weight: 260 Grams
Headphone design usually veers between understated, elegant and brash, loud. The 99 Classics on the other hand, these look luxurious. The aesthetics over here might be polarising but there is no denying the attention to detail.
A hard case is provided in the box packaging itself and even that has been built to an exacting standard. The molded case is a necessity because of the physical structure and dimensions of the headphone. We weren’t too enthused by the simple fabric pouch holding the cables and adapters. Talking about accessories, you get two sets of cables in the package. The 1.2 metre and 3 metre cables are both suitably high quality, fabric coated and fitted with a heavy-duty Y splitter that won’t break under stress.
There’s simply no denying the level of quality that you are getting here. The materials used range from walnut wood to spring steel and memory foam. The headphone has been completely designed in-house, led by company head Antonio Meze, with a clear focus on modularity. Every single component in the headphone is replaceable by the company and the avid DIY’er. Starting off with the earcups, the walnut wood used has a gorgeous grain to it. Along the bottom edge on both sides are jacks for plugging in cables. There is no left or right marking on the Meze 99 Classics as you can plug-in the cable on either side.
The cable jacks and connector for the headband are finished in gold which we personally didn’t like too much. Meze makes a silver variant for those who’d prefer something a little more subdued. The headband itself is made of darkened out steel that sits above your head. The twin bands structure is durable and holds the entire structure in place. Between the two earcups is a leather band that holds the entire headset in place. Elastic on either end ensures that there is enough wiggle room for it to adjust to the shape of your head. The entire system plays a large part in making the Meze 99 Classics one of the most comfortable headsets in the category.
The other part would be the earcups themselves. The wood earcups are light while the memory foam, pleather material offers a decent seal. I do wish they offered better noise isolation but I’ll take the lighter clamping force and sublime comfort levels. We had no issues wearing the headphones for hours on end with just mild discomfort caused by a bit of warmth on the helix of the ear.
The Meze 99 Classics have a brilliant musicality to them that makes listening to music really pleasurable. The tonality here is mostly flat but there is a certain warmth on offer that elevates the listening experience from analytical to something you can simply enjoy without having to think too much. That’s not to say that the Meze 99 does not resolve a lot of details. Far be from it, starting off from the highs, treble performance is clear and detailed. The sound signature is mildly V-shaped and in terms of treble performance, this means that it is just slightly forward in the mix which helps avoid fatigue. The mids on the other hand sound absolutely smashing. The natural and detailed representation of voices makes listening to female vocals a particularly enjoyable experience. Vocals are full-bodied and dynamic. Listening to Lana Del Rey or Sade on the Meze 99 Classics was more enjoyable than on many higher priced headphones we’ve tried.
And that brings us to bass. There’s a slight warmth here which adds coloration without degrading the experience. There’s no obvious slam and because of it genres like dubstep or trance don’t have that visceral feel you might prefer. On the other hand, genres that have a more steady or smooth bass signature sound fantastic on the Meze 99 Classics. As we mentioned, bass might not hit you hard but it is well-defined and the bass guitar on our test tracks sounded really good. Soundstage is decently wide for a closed back headset. There are not many closed back headphones that do better at this price point.
The Meze 99 Classics are some of the best sounding headphones you’re going to get within the price range. Despite not being the most neutral sounding headphones in the category, we actually preferred the warmth of the sound signature.
Could it do with a bit more bass slam? Sure but that would possibly muddy up the satisfyingly smooth bass, detailed mid section and the non-fatiguing highs. The Meze 99 Classics are priced at Rs. 24,999 over at Headphone Zone and you should definitely take advantage of their home audition program to check it out. These are definitely worth adding to your collection.