A restless night last month directed me to grab my iPhone for an email check. 4:30 a.m. A natural selection, of course. Atop my Inbox, a very pleasant review request from Meze Headphones. A perfectly timed email closest to the dawn.
I have been waiting (patiently) for the arrival of an amps&sound Kenzie headphone tube amplifier and wondered what headphones to use other than my reference (and much admired) Master & Dynamic MH40s. Since I was still waiting on a response from Audeze (some of you have requested our thoughts on the new Sine), the impending Meze delivery seemed to settle the choice.
Not long after, a set of Classic 99 headphones arrived from Meze's home base in Romania.
Meze has done a full court press of marketing on the web and through social media. A very good job. The website is outstanding and the look and feel of the headphones is superb.
Each set comes with a detachable 1.2 metre long cable with an inline mic and remote, a 3 meter long Kevlar OFC cable. Also included, a 6.3mm gold-plated adaptor, an airline adaptor and an hard shell carrying case.
The 99s throw a detailed but very smooth treble response. Among the most refined I've heard from headphones at this price. Brahms' slow movement from his beautiful Second Symphony begins in the tenor range of the cellos and is always a good test of smoothness. The cello section of the Berlin Philharmonic (Rattle on EMI) sounded absolutely beautiful. And this heard with the headphones right out of the box. The headphones improved in the treble as the audition session continued.
Designer Antonio Meze certainly matched a beautiful midrange with his treble. Classical music sounded beautiful but the headphones could rock as well. Tidal HiFi streaming of Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool announced the bass emphatically. Bass was not overly emphatic and not deep, but certainly went low enough that each octave was in a balance with each other. That gave a 'completeness' to the Meze sound. In many spots, the complete musical picture was almost holographic.
I loved the way the Meze did macro and micro dynamics. When dynamics are there, musical interest is maintained. No matter what track was being played, the Meze's ability to demonstrate loud and soft was a delight.
The 99s did justice to all sorts of rock music. Michael Jackson’s best sounded detailed and very rhythmic. The bass was defined but did not go as low as my Master & Dynamic MH40s. No real criticism, as the Meze headphones are beautifully balanced between octaves. For most, the bass will go as low as you’ll need. The eight string basses at the beginning of Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra (Reiner/Chicago Symphony) resonated on their low Cs clearly. Even the variances in vibrato could be heard. This track is my headphone test of tests for accurate bass.
The 99s are very comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and isolate sound well (not noise cancelling). You'll get through your favourite boxed set without the need for comfort breaks.
The Meze 99s project quality construction and materials. But, the sound is so good, they could be wrapped in plastic and still sell. That they look so nice is wonderful for pride of ownership. At the price point, manufacturing quality and the excellent sound, the Classic 99s are a no brainer for purchase. Highly recommended.