Meze 99 Classics review
Meze 99 Classics review
Meze 99 Classics review

Meze 99 Classics Review: Pleasant and immersive listening experience

Meze 99 Classics review
9

The Romanian company Meze gained global recognition with its headphones. Within the span of seven years, they established a notable presence in the market, competing effectively with well-known brands in the full-size headphone segment.

99 CLASSICS
99 CLASSICS

Packaging

As always, the introduction to the device begins with its packaging, and in this case, it’s quite intriguing. The box comes in a beige color adorned with an illustration of the headphones and prominently features the brand logo, model name, and color variant. Speaking of colors, there are two versions available: Walnut Gold and Walnut Silver. The review focuses on the latter. The box itself is robust yet compact, featuring a magnetic lid that opens effortlessly.

Upon opening the box, you’re greeted by a sturdy leather case embellished with an iron logo on the front. The case is secured with a clasp equipped with two sliders, providing ample protection for the headphones during transport. Inside the case, the headphones are snugly nestled, showcasing the precise fitting of the case to their size. In the center, there’s a small fabric pouch containing cables and adapters.

Meze 99 Classics contents
Meze 99 Classics packaging

Design

As mentioned earlier, the headphones boast an intriguing and distinctive design that belies their affordable price point, setting them apart in the market. The headphone cups are crafted from walnut wood, each showcasing a unique and natural textural pattern due to the inherent characteristics of the wood. The selection and preparation of the wood are meticulous processes, requiring extended periods of drying in specialized equipment to achieve the vibrant colors seen in these headphones. It takes approximately 8 hours to form a pair of cup bodies, and the entire manufacturing process spans 45 days.

Prior to assembly, the wooden components undergo thorough inspection to ensure they are free from defects. Additionally, the manufacturer emphasizes their commitment to environmental sustainability by sourcing wood exclusively from mature trees that have completed their life cycle. This ensures minimal impact on the environment. Furthermore, the materials used in construction are of premium quality, including walnut wood and fittings made from cast zinc and manganese steel. Notably, the assembly process eschews the use of glue in favor of bolts, contributing to the headphones’ durability and longevity.

The headphones are connected on both sides with 3.5 mm connectors
The headphones are connected on both sides with 3.5 mm connectors

The headphones feature 3.5 mm connectors on both sides for connection, with markings present only on the connectors themselves. This may pose a challenge when connecting, so it’s important to ensure the wire isn’t twisted and to use the markings for proper alignment. The connection points are not very wide, limiting compatibility with alternative cables.

The ear pads are of medium size and may not comfortably accommodate all ear shapes. They are constructed from eco-leather without perforation, which may lead to discomfort or sweating over time, particularly in warmer conditions. Despite this, the headphones offer a snug fit and effective passive noise isolation. They feel secure on the head, even during movement, thanks to their tight fit. Additionally, their lightweight design, weighing only 260 grams, ensures comfort during extended listening sessions. The automatically adjustable headband conforms to the wearer’s head size without applying excessive pressure. Overall, the headphones exert above-average pressure on the ears when worn.

Sound

To assess the sound quality of the Meze 99 Classics, I used my Shanling H5 without any comparative analysis this time. For those interested, I’ve previously reviewed the Meze 109 PRO, which offers a contrasting sound profile. It’s worth noting that the Meze 99 Classics require a significant warm-up period to fully reveal their potential, typically around 40 hours. Without proper warm-up, the sound lacks depth in the bass and the midrange feels compressed.

Meze 99 Classics have a dark, warm presentation
Meze 99 Classics have a dark, warm presentation

In terms of presentation, the Meze 99 Classics offer a melodic sound with a warm, dark character and a pronounced, punchy bass. They prioritize musical coherence over micro-detail and midrange emphasis, resulting in a relaxed listening experience. These headphones can be driven adequately by budget sources, but their true potential shines when paired with a quality amplifier like the Zapo within the same price range. While they don’t demand high power, they are sensitive to the quality of the source material, which becomes evident when transitioning from a smartphone to an external DAC.

It’s important to consider the synergy between the headphones and the source, as well as the inherent sound characteristics of both components. When auditioning the Meze 99 Classics, it’s advisable to bring your own source and listen to familiar tracks from your preferred streaming service. Avoiding the use of an equalizer during the audition is recommended, as it may mask certain shortcomings in the sound. If you’re satisfied with the sound without equalization, minor adjustments may further enhance the listening experience.

Meze 99 Classics Review
Meze 99 Classics

Frequencies

In terms of low frequencies, the Meze 99 Classics offer a pronounced emphasis, dominating the sound signature and providing substantial weight to the overall sound. While the texture is present, it may not be particularly impressive, suggesting a need for further warm-up. The bass attacks are soft and lack speed, but they contribute to a solid foundation that pairs well with the midrange, creating a cohesive soundstage suitable for various genres.

Moving to the middle frequencies, once warmed up, they exhibit improved clarity and depth. Vocals sound soft and natural, with a decent stage width for a closed-back model. However, there may be a lack of detail in vocal parts in some tracks, as they can be overshadowed by well-separated instruments that possess a rich harmonic quality, resembling live performances.

In the high frequencies, there’s a noticeable emphasis that brings out the nuances of cymbals, percussion, violins, and other instruments, particularly enhancing instrumental and classical music. These frequencies are rendered delicately without causing listener fatigue, contributing to a pleasant listening experience. While micro-detail emphasis may not be the highlight, the overall sound remains coherent and harmonious.

In summary, the Meze 99 Classics offer a pleasingly dark presentation akin to tube amplifiers, featuring deep bass, even midrange, and well-defined high frequencies. While they may not deliver an astonishing level of detail or vocals that captivate, their balanced sound signature ensures an enjoyable listening experience across various music genres.

The combination of walnut wood and cast manganese-zinc steel not only ensures durability but also lends a timeless elegance to the headphones.
The combination of walnut wood and cast manganese-zinc steel not only ensures durability but also lends a timeless elegance to the headphones.

Conclusion

The Meze 99 Classics offer a compelling package, featuring an appealing design, premium materials, and a well-rounded sound profile. The inclusion of a case and two cables of different lengths enhances their versatility for various usage scenarios. Crafted from high-quality walnut wood and cast manganese-zinc steel, these headphones not only exhibit durability but also exude a visually stunning aesthetic with precise fitting of components.

Comfort is paramount with the Meze 99 Classics, as they provide a snug fit without exerting pressure on the ears, ensuring prolonged listening sessions remain enjoyable. The soft and comfortable ear pads contribute to this comfort, although their lack of perforations may lead to some sweating over time. Weighing only 260 grams, these headphones are lightweight and won’t cause strain on the neck or head.

Sonically, the Meze 99 Classics deliver a pleasant and immersive listening experience characterized by emphasized low and high frequencies. This sound profile caters to music enthusiasts who prioritize overall music quality over intricate details. Furthermore, the headphones are highly sensitive to the quality of the audio source and bitrate, with better sources and higher bitrates resulting in a more enjoyable listening experience. Overall, the Meze 99 Classics offer a compelling blend of design, comfort, and sound quality that will resonate with discerning music lovers.

Meze 99 Classics review
Meze 99 Classics
9