- Pleasant appearance;
- Natural wood bowls;
- Good sound;
- Detachable cable;
- Unpretentiousness to a sound source.
- Wooden bowls require careful handling.
Meze was founded by Antonio Meze, who had previously created product design for third-party companies, as well as streamlined production processes and brought the sound of third-party headphones to a reference level, for example, for Fostex. This experience allowed me to create Meze 99 Classic headphones that attract attention at first glance, not least due to the stylish packaging.
This is a large cardboard box, decorated in the signature style for Meze: strictly, without frills, but stylish and solid. The front panel opens like a book, inside there is a hard case for storing headphones on a foam pedestal.
The standard kit includes:
- Hard case;
- 1.2 m cable with microphone;
- Cable 3 m;
- 6.3 mm gold plated adapter;
- Adapter for an airplane.
Meze 99 Classic Walnut Gold is a full-size, enclosed earphone with a dynamic driver. Despite the traditional form factor, the design has interesting solutions that are rarely found among competitors. The first thing you pay attention to is natural wood bowls. The second is a metal power structure, under which there is a soft headband belt attached to it on stretchable belts. And in general, when you turn the headphones in your hands, you get the feeling of a thing not done on the conveyor belt, but in a cozy workshop by the hands of a master.
Meze 99 has another design feature that the company is particularly proud of – they are completely assembled on screws, there is no glue, and at the same time the headphones are completely collapsible, all details can be disconnected, armed with a suitable screwdriver. This allowed us to create not only a beautiful but also absolutely maintainable product.
The design of the headband is double: there is a metal power frame that holds all the parts in a single shape and holds the headphones on the head, and underneath it is a soft belt in contact with the head, mounted on stretch straps. This approach has greatly improved convenience, you do not need to adjust the headband under your head, just put on the headphones as conveniently, and the headband itself will stretch to the desired length.
Belts almost do not change the tension depending on stretching. Whether wearing a large man or a teenage girl, the headband will exert almost equal pressure on the head.
I also add that it is very wide, which allows you to distribute the already moderate pressure over a large area, which makes it almost invisible during prolonged listening.
I listened to the headphones for many hours in a row, one weekend I spent 6 hours with them, and for all this time I almost did not notice the headphones on my head, I was comfortable. Is this not the best compliment to the engineers who developed this model?
However, there is a nuance that needs to be said – the length of the headband stretching is not very long, so if you are a big man, I recommend trying Meze 99 before buying. They sit on my head at maximum tension. I think that 80% of potential buyers will not notice this nuance, so it is impossible to write it down.
One of the main features of Meze 99 and the pride of the company are natural wood bowls. This is not plastic veneered, this is a piece of wood that has been processed on a machine for a long time to give it the necessary complex shape.
The tree gives the sound a unique character and timbre color, not for nothing that classical musical instruments have a wooden acoustic chamber.
And in Meze 99 it is felt, the sound is different, not like in headphones with a plastic case. Of course, a direct comparison with competitors is not relevant, because it is necessary that the shape of the bowl and the driver are the same, only in this case we can talk about the role of the tree in sound perception.
And for this, Meze has another model of headphones – 99 Neo. These are the same headphones, but with plastic bowls. I listened to them and compared with Classic – the sound differs noticeably, despite the fact that the form and drivers are the same. And personally, I liked the sound in the version with wooden bowls more, it is softer, more pleasant and less aggressive.
As I mentioned earlier, it is possible to disassemble the cups with a screwdriver and replace any part, having previously ordered it from the manufacturer.
Bowls are attached to the headband through a hinge, rotating in all planes with a small amplitude, this allows you to lie on the ear cups on the head of any shape and size with comfort.
A hole for connecting the cable is provided at the bottom of each bowl.
The earpads are upholstered with soft artificial leather, and the memory foam is used as a filler.
With prolonged contact with the head, the foam heats up and takes the form of the listener’s head, crushing more or less in the right places without noticeable resistance. After putting on the headphones, you need to wait a couple of minutes for the foam to take the desired shape, after which you will notice that you will almost cease to feel pressure on the head.
The depth of the ear pads is average, so if your ears noticeably go sideways, they will touch the driver’s protective mesh.
The internal volume is not a record, but sufficient to completely fit the average ear inside.
I appreciate ear cushions for convenience, they are comfortable, provide sufficient, though not record-breaking, soundproofing, and allow you to listen to music for many hours in a row.
In the Meze 99 Classic headphones, the cable is removable, 2 cables are included in the kit: one for connecting to a phone with a microphone and a length of 1.2 meters, and the second for connecting to stationary equipment with a length of 3 meters. Both cables have a 3.5 mm jack.
The kit includes a 6.3 mm jack adapter.
Both cables are protected by a fabric braid to the divider, and after the divider they are silicone.
Jackies are straight, with good anti-kink protection.
The cable connects to the headphones reliably, with a noticeable effort, spontaneous disconnection is excluded. But there is no lock, therefore, if you accidentally catch on the wire for something and pull it well, it will fly out of the socket without potentially damaging it.
Among the shortcomings, I note a noticeable microphone effect. At home, this is not striking, but if you use headphones on the street, when you touch the cable with clothes when walking, you will hear every step.
Meze 99 Classic uses a traditional 40 mm dynamic driver with a Mylar membrane.
Mylar is a synthetic material whose physical properties make it possible to make a very light, but at the same time rigid membrane. These properties allow for a reasonable price to get an excellent-sounding broadband driver with a minimum of distortion in the sound.
The driver resistance is 32 Ohms, the maximum power that can be supplied to it without damage is 50 mW, which means that the headphones are well suited for use in conjunction with mobile devices.
At the same time, the driver is sensitive to the quality of the sound source, the better it is, the clearer, more dynamic, and neat the sound becomes.
I listened to Meze 99 Classic headphones mainly at home, but for the experiment, I walked down the street once in them. Noise isolation is sufficient to listen to music in a noisy environment, but if you want to keep the wooden bowls in good condition, I recommend using them at home. Exposure to water, snow, dust, and sudden changes in temperature on the tree will negatively affect over time.
Yes, and the microphone effect during a walk is clearly visible, you have to additionally fix the wire to the clothes in order to minimize it.
At home, there are no restrictions on use, and given the high level of comfort due to the hanging headband and soft ear pads with memory effect, listening to music for long hours will be easy and pleasant.
The weight of the headphones is 260 grams, this is not much, and given the large headband area over which the mass is distributed, we can say with confidence that they will almost not be felt on the head even after 6 hours of use.
Usually, in the chapter on comfort, I have something to say and what nuances to draw your attention to, but in the case of Meze 99 Classic, I have nothing to note, if they fit you in size, then comfort will be high, and I can’t note any nuances.
Sound in computer games
Buying universal headphones home, we hope that they are suitable not only for connecting to musical equipment for thoughtful listening to classical music, but also for entertainment.
Computer games have long entered our lives and are not going to retire, on the contrary, every year they penetrate deeper, attracting new players and attracting those who previously did not pay attention to them.
For testing in games, I connected the Meze 99 Classic to the Fostex HP-A4 amplifier.
I played the following games: Alien Isolation, Battlefield 4, Escape From Tarkov, Overwatch, and Prey.
Headphones fully justified my opinion that good music headphones in games will sound great, and those headphones that can not convincingly play music in games will be mediocre.
It was very nice to play Meze 99 Classic, the sound was convincing, lively and powerful. Special effects pleased with the detailed elaboration and good low frequencies, which were not artificially amplified, as is customary for gaming headsets, but sounded as they should, deeply, powerfully, and elaborated.
At the same time, the headphones have sufficient resolution so that through the sounds of explosions and shots I can continue to hear the rest of the sound picture of the virtual world, the low frequencies do not mask the mids, and therefore I perfectly heard the enemy running behind the wall while my partners shot and threw grenades at the enemies. I heard the voices and commands of the enemies through the hum of heavy machinery or the sound of the inexorable approach of an alien predator decisively pushing through the beams of the Sevastopol space station at a time when my character, crouching into the wall, covered with a box, was waiting for the arrival of a transport train for urgent evacuation from the nightmarish compartment.
Surround sound to the headphones was given without difficulty, despite the closed acoustic design of the headphones, I was intuitively clear on which side the sound or shot was heard, there was no problem with the orientation in the sound.
Moreover, in games I heard several special effects that had eluded my attention before. Perhaps I just hadn’t been in specific gaming situations before, and the sound combinations were previously different.
Surely it is, but it’s nice to realize that good headphones give not only satisfaction from their contemplation, but also allow you to hear something that you did not hear before or did not pay attention to.
Sound quality when playing music
Most of the time I listened to the Meze 99 Classic paired with the Fostex HP-A4 amplifier, for the experiment I connected it to the Cozoy Takt Pro.
Unlike many full-sized competitors, the headphones sound good even when paired with a mobile phone, they have enough power. Of course, the sound is not so bright, dynamic and detailed, as in the case of connecting to stationary equipment, but even in this case it is pleasant to listen to Meze.
When connected to Cozoy Takt Pro, the headphones worked almost the same way as when connected to the Fostex HP-A4, the source power is enough to reveal them. There may be some difference in the nuances, but overall Cozoy was able to handle them.
Wooden bowls of the headphones give the sound softness and a characteristic timbre color, while the drivers are tuned to enhance the low frequencies. Together, these two factors give a very interesting result. The sound is far from perfectly neutral, but it is musical and sounds nice, especially if you sit in the headphones for a couple of hours and get used to their style.
Good detail, smooth midrange sounds and evenly raised low frequencies below 150 Hz give a soft, enveloping but detailed sound.
The sound virtual stage turned out to be very wide for closed headphones; it is easy to arrange musicians in their places if you listen to a recording of a live performance. And in studio recordings, it’s also easy to track the location of sound in space. Usually closed headphones have more modest features, here Meze 99 surprised me. The scene is well audible both in depth and in width, I did not notice any restrictions.
The dynamics of the headphones is also worthy of a high mark, of course, the dynamic driver loses to planar competitors in terms of punch power or sharpness of impact, but the hardware requirements are much more modest. In general, the dynamics and attack speed of Meze 99 are at a good level, not a record, but very solid, I do not think that anyone will have serious complaints about this parameter. Percussion instruments sound lively, soft and powerful enough so that you can feel the whole spectrum of emotions while listening to your favorite compositions.
Probably, it may seem that the headphones are perfect, it is worth buying them and you will forever forget the worries and dreams of the best models, but this is not entirely true. Meze 99 Classic sound really good, but they also have features. I noticed that when playing some compositions, high mid frequencies, smoothly turning into high ones, show a light grain. She is not striking, but with careful repeated listening it periodically becomes noticeable.
Also, the headphones are far from so much praised in the circles of audiophiles “perfect neutral sound.” They have their own character, presentation and softness of sound, I’m sure most music lovers will like this presentation, but if you are looking for headphones with a serious claim to the perfect sound, probably Meze 99 will not work.
It is pleasant, comfortable to listen to Meze, as if you were sitting in your favorite soft chair at home, nothing bothers you, and you plunge into the bewitching world of your favorite tunes, the sound envelops you and carries you on a boundless journey of imagination.
Headphones play back low frequencies with pleasure, deeply and with sufficient power, although softer than competing headphones due to the reflection of sound from wooden bowls. Frequencies below 150 Hz are amplified by about 3-5 dB, according to my feelings, which gives the sound more depth and massiveness. I hasten to reassure you, this is not a buzz and a hoot that young people love so much, it is a meticulous tuning of sound, and excessive intensity is noticeable at rare moments when listening to a recording of a symphony orchestra or other live instruments, while it remains within reason.
Mid-range headphones work out best, they sound smooth, detailed, dynamic and at the same time natural. Vocals that are masculine and feminine are pleasant to listen to, even at high volume the voices do not disturb the hearing, remaining pleasant and natural. Acoustic instruments also sound pleasant, not only sound is well heard, but also the texture, which not all competitors manage to convey.
High frequencies, starting from about 7000 Hz, fade into the background, while sounding clean and melodic. The main thing – there is no distortion or sibilants, the sound, the higher it is, the farther it goes, but at the same time without losing in details, brightness and elaboration. Of the nuances, I note a slight graininess, which is manifested in some records, not in all. But in order to hear it, you need to listen to the track several times with great attention.
Headphones Meze 99 Classic Walnut Gold were definitely a successful model. They look amazing, sound beautifully and musically and sit very comfortably on your head. What else to expect from a long-awaited purchase?
At the same time, Meze can be a great gift thanks to the stylish packaging, rare wooden bowls and unusual appearance. And, not least, the appearance corresponds to the content, they are not only beautiful, but also sound great.
I think lovers of soft sound should not miss the Meze 99 phenomenon, even if they do not become your ideal, they will remain good friends who are able to give a sea of joy and emotions.
- Pioneer SE-C8TW Truly Wireless in-Ear Headphones: A Complete Review ★★★★★$72.95
- Apple AirPods 2: A Complete Review $137.95
- Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X Gaming Headphone: A Complete Review $295.02
- Sennheiser HD1 Free Bluetooth Wireless Headphone: A Complete Review
- Simgot MTW5 Wireless Headphone: A Complete Review $33.99