Meze 99 Classics Headphone Review – Does it Really Sound Good?
Meze Audio released the Meze 99 Classics headphone back in 2015; it’s almost 3 years already in the market and they entered the market with a bang. If I can remember correctly, rave reviews started to come out left and right early 2016. Reviewers gave this headphone glowing reviews and customers’ feedback were very positive as well. We didn’t get a chance to try the 99 Classics back then; two years later and I have the opportunity to test and listen to it, finally! To be honest, all this time I have no idea about its audio quality nor its tone. I was thinking that this was somewhat an analytical headphone or something that is for enjoyment of “classical” genre. I was quite surprised the first time I wore and listened to the 99 Classics. I was caught off guard and didn’t expect that it would sound this way. Does it live up to the hype? Did I like the 99 Classics? Please continue reading my Meze 99 Classics review below and check out my impressions and subjective listening experience.
Meze 99 Classics Headphone Review
The Meze 99 Classics is a beautifully crafted headphone with its Walnut wood ear-cups paired with an all-black design with Gold accents. It features 40mm transducer with a frequency response of 15Hz to 25KHz and an impedance of 32 Ohms. It has a sensitivity of 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW. It has a rated input power of 30mW and maximum input power of 50mW. The included cables are detachable and are Kevlar OFC cables with gold plating on the ends. The headphone itself isn’t really the portable type as you can’t fold it but it is light, weighing only 260 grams without the cables attached.
The 99 Classics comes in a nice sturdy box and you can see on the front portion of the box a photo of the 99 Classics together with badges or recommendation awards from different media outlets. The photo on the middle (above) is the back portion of the box, and the third photo (right) is the carrying case for the 99 Classics. It’s a nice stylish and study case, although a little bit bulky as well.
The 99 Classics’ packaging includes the hard EVA carrying case; a 1.2m thread Kevlar OFC with mic and remote cable; a 3-meter thread OFC cable; a 6.3mm gold-plated jack and an airplane jack adapter. There’s also a small pouch for the cables, which can be placed inside the hard EVA case. Basically you get the essential things to get started listening to your favorite music out of the box. The cables are moderately thin and tangle free. They also feel sturdy, although I would take a little extra care on the 3.5mm plug portion due to its slim design.
Above are some close up photos of the Meze 99 Classics. Since the cables are detachable, I’m sure you can use third party custom cables with the 99 Classics; and probably a balanced cable as well. The headband portion is quite comfortable and sits nicely on my head; and I think the clamping force is just right. One thing that’s a little bit annoying though is that you can hear that “booiing” / “thiiinng” metal sound whenever the metal headband is hit or struck.
The Walnut ear-cups looks really nice and since these are real wood, the pattern varies from one 99 Classics to another. The finish is not glossy or mirror-like; it is polished but with matte finish. Again the Gold accent stands out and it looks really nice, making the headphone look and feels premium. By the way, this is the Walnut Gold version, there’s a Silver version if you don’t like Gold.
If I am not mistaken, Meze Audio changed the ear pads on the newer versions of the 99 Classics with a thicker one. If I am not mistaken, I think the early 99 Classics had slimmer pads and many felt that the stock pads were too thin and a little bit uncomfortable. This newer version comes with a thicker foam inside the pads. Generally speaking, the 99 Classics is (very) comfortable to wear and it’s okay for long period of listening session.
I’m not quite sure what kind of technology Meze Audio used on their transducer or driver, but these are dynamic drivers that leans towards the warm side. On their site, they only said that “the sound of the 99 Classics is crisp and clear, offering non distorted and balanced sound”. It’s also symmetrical, meaning left and right channel is determined where you plug the left and right cable.
Looking at the graph of the Meze 99 Classics, we can see that it is somewhat v-shaped with a dip on around 3K to 4K frequency. The graph alone tells us that the 99 Classics is indeed a warm sounding headphone with a laid back or recessed upper mids. I have been using this 99 Classics for more than a couple of months now and I’m quite certain that the drivers are burned in properly by now.
The bass section is the star of the 99 Classics. I don’t find it a really bassy headphone, but it is definitely warm sounding and the bass goes deep. I find the 99 Classics great for listening pop and EDMs as well. Although, bass could get a bit strong on some genres or types of music.
The mids section is smooth and lush, although I find it a bit laid back or recessed; probably on the upper mid-section. Vocals (male and female) sound good, sweet, somewhat silky smooth and clear; although not that intimate enough to my ears. Meanwhile the treble section is airy, non-sibilant and with enough detail and clarity to counter its “warm-ness”. The highs are nowhere analytical, sharp or edgy and probably (just) a tad rolled off.
In terms of soundstage, instrument separation and layering; they are probably not the best qualities, in my opinion, but they are definitely not bad either. The 99 Classics has a good amount of sound staging but not that wide, and instrument separation and layering is only decent to my ears. They are nowhere near compared to open back headphones, specially Planar ones. But this doesn’t mean that the 99 Classics failed on this part. It didn’t! It’s just what you expect from a closed back headphone. In fact, probably better compared to other closed-back headphones thanks to the acoustic properties of its wood ear-cups.
So to wrap things up, the Meze 99 Classics does (really) sound good for its price and for its specific sound signature or characteristics. It is a warm sounding headphone and compared to other warm sounding headphones that I have tried before, like the V-Moda(s), I think I would lean towards the Meze 99 Classics. Aesthetically speaking, it looks stylish and it’s comfortable to wear. I don’t want to over emphasize its level of comfort since your mileage may vary, but generally speaking they are comfortable to wear. The headband section look and feels sturdy, but I would take a little extra care on the wooden ear-cups and the section connecting the ear-cups and the headband.
Another good thing about this headphone is the detachable cable feature. You can easily replace them when the stock cable wears off or gets damaged; or you can connect customized upgrade cables, specially if you are a “cable-believer”. The hard EVA carrying case is also a plus, since you can’t fold the headphone and you need a place to put it on, specially when you transport the 99 Classics.
Overall, I think people who are looking for a warm sounding headphone would appreciate or even love the Meze 99 Classics. It has a (very) consumer-friendly sound signature, what many people are looking for in a headphone. It does sound good for its price and I think it’s worth trying it out specially if its sound signature and its style is what you are looking for.
The Meze 99 Classics is now available in Walnut Gold and Walnut Silver, with a retail price of $309. You can get one on Amazon.com here.