Meze 99 Classics is an over-ear headphone that has been present on the market for some time now. Let’s check if it’s still worth getting in 2020 for 309$.
If you saw our Meze Empyrean’s review then you would know that Meze is pretty serious about the unboxing experience of their products. The box of 99 Classics is great looking, it packs some exciting accessories and the overall experience is joyful.
Inside you’ll find your headphones, a very useful hard case, a 1.2m cable with mic and remote and a 3m cable. Also, there is a soft puch for your cables, a flight adapter and a 6.3mm adapter for your stationary gear.
It’s worth to mention the hard case one more time. It is nicely made of hard shell imitating leather. It is quite spacious, so you won’t have to worry about your headphones being squished, and you can easily fit both of your cables inside. Great touch.
As I’ve mentioned before, you’re getting two different cables in the box. First is a 1.2m one with mic and remote terminated in 3.5mm jack, to use with your smartphone (which you easily can, as these are very easy to drive). The second one is a 3m cable, also terminated in 3.5mm jack. The longer cable is pretty useful if you plan to use the 99 Classics in your home, as you won’t have to be glued to your desk.
I believe that the 99 Classics are the best made pair of headphones in this price range. No sight of plastic, beautiful wooden cups, metal headband with an elastic band for improved comfort, detachable cables in both ear cups. There is really nothing to be afraid of in terms of durability. Also, Meze has a fantastic customer service, so even if you’d murder a part of your 99 Classics, these guys will easily deliver spare parts for you to fix your headphones yourself.
Thanks to the lightweight construction (260g without the cable) and a great headband construction Meze 99 Classics sits on your head very comfortably and it’s a pleasure to use, even for a long period of time.
The only problem I see for some people is that the ear pads are not the deepest, so if you have large ears it could result in some slight problems with fitting your entire ear inside, or you can end up touching the driver cover. Not happening to me, but I have rather small ears and I’ve heard that some users had this kind of problem. It wasn’t a deal breaker in any of this cases, but it’s surely worth mentioning.
I believe that the simplest way to describe the sound of 99 Classics is – bassy, fun and energetic. It’s nowhere close being neutral or analytical, focusing more on a huge dose of fun and being just easy to listen to.
The bass is quite dominant, but it’s not in your face like in Sony WH-1000XM3. It sound’s full and thick, but it lack’s a bit of this subsonic rumble, thanks to a slight recession in the sub-bass region. Anyway, it sounds energetic, has a very pleasing rhythm and sense of presence. Compared to Hifiman Sundara is lacks definition and texture, but it’s a completely different approach to the sound, rather than being worse.
The midrange is more neutral than the bass response, yet thank’s to the defined focus on the higher bass male vocals sound thick and full. The rest of the midrange’s spectrum is quite flat and neutral, presenting a very universal representation of the sound. Also, 99 Classics have this lovely timbre of vocals and live instruments, which is pretty easy to love. Again, compared to the Sundara it is less texturized and the overall resolution is better on the Hifiman, but 99 Classics are more pleasing sounding of the two.
Treble is pretty much delicate up until the higher notes, when the interesting things are starting to happen. Once again I’d call the sound quite neutral and even up until around 10k, where the focus is being held on. It isn’t prone to sibilate, yet is quite detailed and defined. Treble response isn’t neither dark nor bright, but I find it quite temperamental.
The soundstage is probably the least expressive and impressive part of the sound of 99 Classics. Compared to the Sundara it sounds a bit hollow, the imaging isn’t exactly on the level of the Hifiman’s and it is not as spacious. I know it’s unfair to compare an open back headphone to the closed back 99 Classics tho. Overally, the staging of 99 Classics is pretty good, but nothing extraordinary, even for a closed-back pair of headphones.
It’s pretty hard for me to objectively rate the Meze 99 Classics. While the overall sound quality isn’t on the same level as for example Hifiman Sundara, it is a very enjoyable pair of headphones and you just simply want to listen to them. I believe that’s the definition of a great product. At the end of the day, some customers are looking for the best quality in a specific price range, and others just want to have a fun experience with a very pleasingly tuned pair of headphones. If you lean more towards the latter, I’d highly recommend the Meze 99 Classics, as it’s just an emotional sounding headphone, but keep in mind that in terms of pure SQ the Sundara is an overally better product, and by some margin.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones– Hifiman Sundara, Sony WM1000XM3, Meze 99 Neo, Meze Empyrean, Audeze LCD3, MrSpeakers AEON2, Sendy Aiva
- Source – Smartphone, DX3 Pro, Hip-Dac, Fiio M11, Cayin N5ii, iFi iDAC2, Topping A50+P50