Meze 99 Classics -Review- Yes I Wood!
In this world, we are used to things either being pretty, or useful. If you’ve ever tried to use a golden spanner, you’d have found it about as useful as a framed picture of your own intestines. However the Meze 99 Classics are claimed to be as good for listening to music as they are attractive; can it be true?
The name Meze brings up images of eating al fresco whilst overlooking the Mediterranean, and since the number ’99’ is attributable to a type of ice-cream here in the UK, a very enjoyable experience is brought to mind. We take our minds off food for long enough to put these headphones to the test..
- Looks lovely
- Sounds excellent
- Good fabric coated cables
- 1.2m and 3m cables included
- Hard carry case
- Some older recordings can seem overly bassy
- Cables are a little stiff
Design and appearance
As mentioned, the 99 Classics do make quite an impact visually; wooden earcups are paired with a headband design which makes a feature of a strong, supporting outer frame. This is coupled with a more yielding strap, suspended to fit the head automatically. It’s a design which might have been borrowed from the Wright brothers; so hopefully this construction of wood, metal and space will enable us to fly!
The Meze 99 Classics are also available in two other versions, besides the maple and silver type in the pictures. These are with a darker walnut wood for the earcups, with either silver details on the headband/earcups (walnut silver) or gold (walnut gold).
Earcups are pivoted where the headband joins them so they fit against the head very nicely, making them both comfortable and effective at keeping exterior noise to a minimum. Cables are a little bit stiffer than they would be ideally, but this is not a big deal.
Durability & build quality
Being ostensibly portable headphones (there’s a 3m cable in the box as well as a 1.2m cable with mic), the Meze 99 Classics look as if they can tolerate a bit of hustle and bustle; there are no obvious weaknesses and the cables are quite sturdy with strain reliefs in the usual places. The supplied hard carry case looks very useful for keeping the headphones in top condition.
The Meze 99 Classics are certainly among the most comfortable portable headphones; the clamping force exhibited by some portables is not needed here; instead the wide and self-adjusting headphone strap helps to keep the headphones in place, distributing the grip around the head and keeping pressure off the ears. The earpads may be a little on the snug size for some and might be a little hot in warm temperatures; we’ve not had any problems though.
These headphones are very good at eliminating outside noise, and are effective in preventing any sound leaking out too. A really good seal can be achieved thanks to the way the headband connects to the earcups, and very little can be heard with music playing, so take care out there!
The 99 Classics are definitely tuned with the mass market in mind, and their sound will appeal to most people who listen to music whilst on the move. It’s a good balance between detail and warmth, with a good bass kick as well.
The Meze 99 Classics should please any bass fan; there’s a roomy feeling sub-bass which seems to surround the head – it’s a good ‘party’ feel. With older recordings, lower frequencies can be picked out, and if you weren’t aware of those vintage basslines before, you will be now! The bass has a certain tangible quality which gives a nice body to proceedings, and has good definition; helped along by an uncluttered midrange..
The fleshiness of the bass is paired very nicely with midrange details, with clear harmonics adding some nice realism and space. There’s a surprising amount of detail, yet the Meze 99 Classics still have a fun sound. The midrange also contributes a spaciousness to the party with its detail; soundstage is actually quite impressive.
Treble is crisp and clear, but still balanced well with the lower frequencies; there’s a natural element to it which takes the edges off. Definition is good; percussion is rendered quite convincingly and wind instruments have a brash rasping quality. Again, this detail contributes to a feeling that the listener is truly in the midst of some fun and atmospheric action.
Soundstage & Separation
I cannot fault the Meze 99 Classics at what they do here; soundstage is wide, involving and very impressive for a closed back headphone. With midrange and treble harmonics giving a three-dimensional quality to each instrument, good separation and imaging are very successfully achieved.
Music Genres Good For and Why
Due to the way the bass response on the 99 Classics picks out bass frequencies from older recordings, these can sound quite different from how we’re accustomed to hearing them. Sometimes this works really nicely, sometimes the added bass gets a little too much. However with dance, rap and pop genres the 99 Classics are in their element and their bass response fits in very nicely. It would be a shame not to mention classical music (the genre the 99 Classics might have been named after) which came as a nice surprise when it was tried; it’s a very wide and engaging performance with lots of air and space. These headphones may have a fun sound, but they can definitely cope with serious pieces too.
I have to admit to hearing some things for first time whilst using the Meze 99 Classics; a bassline might have a little bit of texture to it which had previosly eluded me, backing singers surround me rather than standing at the back, and synths appear to be fresh and immediate with a new vitality.
The Meze 99 Classics work very nicely with decent gear, but they are also right at home when connected directly to a phone; be careful where you use the Meze 99 Classics because you’ll be dancing before you know what’s happening!