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Welcome to Sound Gear Labs’ review of the 99 Classics by Meze Audio; a pair of closed-back headphones that are revered in the headphone community and admired by basically anyone who sees their beautiful walnut ear cups. These over-ear headphones offer extremely high–quality, fun listening mixed with some high-end aesthetic details.
Let’s get started with our Meze 99 Classics review.
Some over-ear headphones look stupid but the Meze 99 Classics are drop-dead gorgeous. The wooden ear cups coupled with the bright metal accents of the frame offer a classic combination that is sure to impress.
The above photo is of the Walnut Gold variety but Meze also offers these headphones in a Walnut Silver as well (you guessed it, the only difference is the gold is, instead, silver).
I’ll touch on it a bit more in the comfort section but the Meze 99 Classics offer a self-adjusting headband and implement this feature very well. The headphones look good when you’re wearing them and don’t stick out too much from your head too much as some larger-framed headphones do (I’m looking at you, Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR.
These are some seriously comfortable headphones. Let’s get into some specifics.
The ear cups are made from plush medium-density memory foam covered in a very soft PU leather – they are excellent for very long listening sessions and give the feel of very premium headphones.
I will say that my ears can get a little on the warmer side after some time – an issue that seems to be pretty common with closed-back headphones simply due to the closed design and competing goal of preventing sound leak. I find myself lifting the headphones off of my head every now and then to give my ears a fresh rush of cool air but then I get right back to business after a few seconds.
I do, generally, prefer fabric material to leather – it doesn’t get quite as greasy over time and I find it keeps my ears a bit cooler. Many people might opt to replace the leather ear pads with a fabric. I did this on my 99 Neos and I can recommend it if the leather isn’t your thing – just know that it will change the sound isolation and likely the sound itself (though only a bit).
Some self-adjusting headbands can add extra pressure on the top of your head or just simply not work very well. That’s not the case with the Meze 99 Classics. The self-adjusting headband is implemented very well and does nothing to detract from the overall comfort.
The Meze 99 Classics weigh in at 260 grams, a little bit on the lighter end of the scale (but in a good way). They feel like they float on top of your head and I’ve never had any issue with uncomfortable pressure points.
The clamping force of the Meze 99 Classics seems to be about average compared to other over-ear headphones we’ve tested. Combining the moderate clamp with the memory foam earpads creates a very comfortable listen.
I’ve never had any issues wearing these headphones for many hours at a time.
The Meze 99 Classics are some seriously good-sounding headphones. With that being said, they’re absolutely not neutral in their frequency response. They’re for music lovers who want a smooth, warm, fun-sounding pair of closed-back headphones. They’re not for people who want accurate sound reproduction in a studio or production setting.
Another great feature of the Meze 99 Classics is that because of the lower impedance (32 ohms) they can run off of anything. By that, I mean that you don’t need a headphone amp as many audiophile headphones do. I will say, however, that I personally run these through my Schiit Magni 3+ headphone amp as often as I can, it just adds an extra bit of energy and punch.
The bass is warm, rich, smooth, and fun. While some audiophiles may find the bass either a bit too much or not quite as punchy and accurate as some (not a lot of dynamic driver headphones quite compare to the snappy bass offered by high-quality planar magnetics), they’re a fun listen and are excellent for more bass-heavy (and sub-bass heavy) music like pop, hip hop and electronic.
The mid-range is also quite lush, warm, and accurate. From a technical perspective, the mids may be the truest aspect of the 99 Classics’ sound profile, offering an impressive amount of detail.
The highs are solid but nothing to really write home about. They are, again, warm though a bit subdued. I feel like cranking the highs just a little bit would make these headphones a perfect V-shaped EQ for a fun, energetic listen. Instead, the highs are smooth but, honestly, perhaps could use a bit more.
All in all, the Meze 99 Classics are a very fun listen and, while not necessarily offering reference, balanced sound, have a sound signature that will certainly appeal to the masses.
The warm, natural sound quality is fantastic and simply a joy to listen to. They’re an incredibly good first step into the hi-fi headphone world, offering a sound quality on par with much more expensive headphones.
The build quality on the 99 Classics is very solid.
Meze Audio advertises these headphones as being built with no glue at all, just nuts and bolts with a hand finish and polish on the walnut. When you get these in your hands they feel both light and well constructed. All of the materials feel and look premium.
In regards to warranty and parts replacement, here’s a quote directly from Meze Audio:
“Besides the usual warranty everybody is offering, we guarantee that the 99’s are serviceable if any parts would ever need to be replaced because we built these headphones to last.”
The Meze 99 Classics, released in 2015 and have been incredibly popular, in part due to their accessible price point (which has been consistently around the $300 mark).
While this headphone is under $500 and isn’t exactly cheap, they sit quite firmly in the middle between entry-level closed-back headphones (like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X or the Sennheiser HD 569) and those at a more premium price point (like the Focal Elegia or the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro). From a value point of view, that gives them a fairly narrow market…which seems to be someone looking for a fun pair of over-ear headphones and who is willing to spend a few hundred in the process.
From a strict value point of view, someone looking for the best bang for their buck may be better served taking a look at the ($100 cheaper) Meze 99 Neo headphones, an extremely similar set of cans from Meze Audio just with matte black hard-plastic ear cups (rather than the walnut but still super sexy) and a very similar sound quality and frequency response. But if you have the extra $100 and are a sucker for style, we wholeheartedly recommend the Meze 99 Classics as a solid mid-range value.
Here are the specs provided straight from the Meze Audio website about the Meze 99 Classics.
Transducer Size: 40mm
Frequency Response: 15Hz – 25KHz
Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
Rated input power: 30mW
Maximum input power: 50mW
Weight: 260 grams (9.2 ounces)
And here’s what’s included in the box:
Case: Hard EVA carrying pouch
Cable: 1.2m thread Kevlar OFC with Mic and remote
Cable: 3m thread Kevlar OFC
Adapter: 6.3mm gold-plated jack
Adapter: Airplane adapter
If you can afford the extra $100 for the Meze 99 Classics, we recommend spending the extra money to get these headphones. The design is simply gorgeous and they sound incredible while still maintaining a simplistic and minimalistic aesthetic. If you’re shopping purely on value, however, the Meze 99 Neos (which are basically the same headphone without walnut ear cups) make for a great deal in their own right.
Honestly, this is a difficult question to answer because the Meze 99 Classics are so much fun to listen to. They’re warm and natural sounding headphones perfect for pop, rock, jazz, electronic…anything at all really. Being closed-back headphones they won’t offer the same soundstage and in-the-room feeling as open-back headphones so we may suggest going a different route if you’re looking for headphones for classical music.
The Meze 99 Classics aren’t designed to be studio headphones but, instead, are designed for listening to music. You won’t get the same sound reproduction as you would a pair of headphones with a flat, reference frequency response.
Yes, these are really fantastic sounding headphones for gaming. The only thing worth mentioning is that the mic quality isn’t great; people you’re playing with may get a bit frustrated with your muffled voice. I’d recommend pairing these with an external microphone if you do want to use them for gaming.
There’s not a huge amount of sound leakage on the Meze 99 Classics. Being closed-back headphones (with medium-density memory foam earpads), not a lot of external noise comes in and not a lot of the sound gets out. These are very solid choices for working in the office, traveling, and not annoying the people around you.
Meze headphones have a great reputation and perhaps none more so than the 99 Classics.
While their brother, the 99 Neo, is probably the better choice for someone shopping simply for value, we can’t recommend enough the absolutely beautiful design of the 99 Classics paired with their wonderful sound. We’ve featured these headphones on our Best Budget Audiophile Headphones and Best Closed-Back Headphones articles.
The Meze 99 Classics are the pinnacle of form meets function, pairing a lush, warm, vibrant sound with possibly the most beautiful design of any headphones we’ve come across.
We wholeheartedly recommend these headphones to anyone looking for a fun, smooth listening experience that won’t break the bank.