Commercial brands are pretty much like IT girls: should one of them flash her bare belly in the street, the next day the whole town would follow to vast enjoyment of the «other half of mankind», and then the whole country goes wild. Likewise, brands would hate to lose the race. It happens way too often that vendors are following trends, copying competitors' most eye-catching marketing moves, often compromising on the most important – it's the sound in this case.
Sometimes it's just the opposite: the manufacturer invests heavily in development, natural sound qualities, with almost nothing left for the product's appeal and marketing. Prices will eventually soar, confusing customers’ minds and feelings. We, music fans, used to rush to quench our thirst for new flashy toys, which didn't quite sound like real music should – just making some odd sounds. But in the course of time, the «music brotherhood» learned how to discover a true "Turgenev Girl" with a deep and extraordinary inner world, where there is no place for a single false note!
Text: Alexey Kashirskey aka Hans Barbarossa
We thank Meze for providing the sample for listening
Today we have a guest model that is beautiful in every way. And it's not the question whether you like it or not, it's when the product is equally pleasant to observe and a pleasure to hold. I reverently hoisted it over my head. And it's so nice to listen to! In other words, today we will focus on overhead headphones Meze 99 Classics.
Having put on a test track, I'd like to point out that Meze Company is a young and dynamic manufacturer that specializes in headphones. Its "port of registry" is Romania. The company's motto: "Quality, style and sound! Only natural materials, bolts, nuts, and no glue and schlock! "
Frequency response: 15Hz - 25KHz
Headphones Type: Dynamic / Closed
Sensitivity: 103dB / 1KHz, 1mW
Cable: removable / two
Connector: Jack 3.5 + 6.3 mm adapter
Weight: 260 g (without cable)
Appearance and ergonomics
Couple more seconds and I’d have started listening to the packaging box. The set is above all praise. Headphones picture on the box looks like a model on a glossy cover - Meze 99 Classics what else can you say? And the slogan is almost like saying, “I love you” (to music, of course!) - «Perfect natural sound - perfect natural fit».
Inside the box it gets even more interesting: there’s a branded tablet case, black, and it feels like leather, convex shape, yes, it’s sending shivers down your spine. I grab the case, and a couple of seconds later music starts flowing like Pushkin’s poems. So very fine!
Yes, and the black tablet dropped another dark "matryoshka" - a smaller one, also round, stuffed with an adapter / plug for music at 10,000 km above the earth, a 3.5 / 6.3 mm adapter and two detachable cables: for pairing with mobile devices and stationary equipment. All you need to spend a great night with a beautiful model. Seriously, great cans! Flawless. Metal, wood, leather and impressive screws and bolts. Quite aesthetic!
Headphones are available in four colors. WALNUT GOLD, WALNUT SILVER and MAPLE SILVER. I chose the “maple silver” ones I do not know why, but at that time I was drawn to the "Light Side of the Force" (remember my review of the white German MAESTRO GMP 435 S?). And I do not regret it. Removable wires "blink" predictably: for the darker models - black, for lighter ones - white.
As you may be aware, everyone has their own head, and Meze 99 Classics resided on mine so softly and comfortably that I wish somebody else’s head experienced the same. In the worst case scenario, one can use the mild adjustment, which slides also very elegantly.
Perhaps my own ears may get too hot under such tight cans. I conducted a ruthless experiment on myself wearing the headphones for a few hours in row in the summer heat. And I heard nothing except comfort and favorite tunes. However, the a/c started right behind my back "to the music of Vivaldi's", but we won’t tell anyone... Let the a/c also have a listen and it was a nuclear meltdown outside the windows, but the music did not sound worse.
Main sound test was conducted with MyST DAC 1866OCU V.2, Lotoo PAW Gold, QLS qa-360, Colorfly C200 and iBasso DX80, and the smartphone Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.
With all sound sources, the headphones delivered at the appropriate level, including even the smartphone. Although there are some slight nuances, but in general everything is very good. My acquaintance with the Meze 99 Classics was in three steps.
First. I took them out of the box, listened to some music briefly, I realized that I like them, and since I was supposed to come up with some other review, I put aside the pretty model for a while.
Next time, I decided to test them a little longer (the night is long), going through a variety of musical genres. In the night, some issues were raised with regards to some tracks – namely, the aggressiveness of the midbass (sounding almost like a football hooligan). Eventually, I had to leave the headphones to burn up for about 50-70 hours.
Finally, I sat down with the headphones in absolute ecstasy.
I would describe the sound of Meze 99 Classics as neutral, slightly warm, with a very clear and elastic bass or even a slight rise in the midbass section.
The headphones have good high-speed characteristics. Among the cans built on the base of the dynamic transducer, they are one of the fastest (we do not take into account planar models and BA in-ear monitors).
Meze 99 Classic delivery is very natural and musical. You are welcome to follow my footsteps: I have tried such tracks as Megadeth - Dystopia, Megadeth - Symphony of Destruction, Pantera - 5 Minutes Alone and Slipknot - Psychosocial. Although I am not a big fan of this kind of music, upon hearing it, I realised the true depths of my own soul. Rolling drums - fast, clear, you can almost feel the tension of the membrane on the drum, its vibrating impact, and the bass drum is not just “breathing” , it’s breathing straight in your face. Captivating from the first roll ...
Guitar riffs are strikingly natural and masterful. The bass is coming out clearly - simply great! Vocals are treated beautifully, it is clear, smooth and expressive. And the cymbals! I'm talking about the plates, and hi-hat. Rarely can you hear such a clear and precise spark in working out HF. After all I’ve heard I rushed to order Megadeth - «Countdown to Extinction» on Amazon. See what I mean? This is how you become a metal head.
It's amazing how these headphones play out the “heavy” genres. And my favorite New Wave tracks also sounded fabulous. I completed the whole album of The Pretenders - «Get Close» in a blink, so I once again felt the charm of the 80’s music with the magnificent voice of Chrissie Hynde. I also had a listen to my favorites Buzzcocks - «Singles Going Steady».
Great Meze 99 Classics sounded superb with Leftfield - «Leftism». It is breathtaking! The song called Original featuring vocalist from the Curve Toni Halliday literally blows your mind. And then there’s another great one Open Up feat. John Lydon ....
But every sweet has its sour. Some badly mixed and slower tracks sounded unclear. Whether midbass sounded out of place, or was it something else ... Maybe I was out of shape: kept on searching for the “wrong” track, clicked and clicked but it could never be found ... Eventually, I played the rare recording of Architectural Abdabs - « Lucy Lea (In Blue Tight) », do you know them? If you don’t, I’ll tell you - this is very young Syd Barrett, and the very first name of the legendary Pink Floyd. It’s hard not to complain - the sound is terrible, but the song is good.
There were some questionable moments - with shoegaze, and indie rock, but the flaws are not actual problems of the genre, but of the track itself and the way it’s mixed. There are tracks where the bass seems too aggressive like a fighting bull terrier.
The bottom line:
Bass - Crisp, fast, tight and a little aggressive in the midbass. The headphones play everything very clearly and polyphonic even in the subbass area. The rise and decay of sound are very clear.
Mids – mid frequencies are very thorough, natural, with a good deal of details, the total flow is smooth. Cool!
Treble - clear, without unnecessary aggression, accurate and smooth.
The overall delivery is slightly warm, more on the bass side, but it will still depend on your sound source. They have certain charm and the most powerful punch, smooth and clear mid and delicate treble. Some people like it, some people do not really, but if the sound of Meze 99 Classics once gets you, then it is for long.
The headphones are special, but quite very interesting, I would advise to buy them without a doubt, especially to those of you who listen to “heavy” genres, although not exclusively metal fans. Of course, before you buy them it is always good to have a listen. But these headphones are pleasing to the eye, very beautiful, elegant, comfortable, and most importantly, have a good sound. The price on the official website of the manufacturer is 309.00 USD. I think the price tag is just as good as those cans actually sound.
Excellent sound, quality of materials and workmanship, price.
Not everyone may like more aggressive style of delivery in the midbass section.