I want to thank the MezeTeam over at Head Fi for allowing me the chance to review the 99 Classics as part of their Tour.
You can purchase the 99 Classics in three colors right from their web site
The team over at Meze was kind enough to launch a Tour for the 99 Classics back in December, even better they will be awarding a pair of the 99 Classics to one of the participants! I always enjoy working with products from a company that's as passionate about their potential customer base as they are about their products!
Box and Packing
The 99 Classics arrive in an elegant black box. Gold lettering and the faded silhouette of the 99 Classics make for an excellent first impression. I always appreciate minimalist packing, there's something to be said for simplicity.
The box is held closed by a magnetic flap, with the headphones secured inside of semi hard shell case. The shell it self has a textured black finish and forms itself around the unique shape head band and ear cups. I found the case to be extremely easy to handle and rugged. Again, I'm noticing a bit of a trend here with their design choices.
Build Quality and Design
The 99 Classics have a great in the hands feel to them, the metal head band is rigid while the suspension strap flexible to it. Overall, it feels solid, the metal headband does flex with a little effort and has just a little tension on it, allowing for an comfortable fit. It was neither loose, nor excessively tight on my head.
The Walnut cups are beautiful, and well complimented by the gold assembly. Personally, I think the gold compliment the walnut better than the silver. I love the shape and stain of the cups too. The overall design is gorgeous to look at.
For a smaller headphone, I found the ePads to be rather spacious. The material was supple and breathable, it didn't get nearly as warm as I would have expected it to. The addition of a removable cable is much appreciated as well, I had no issues with the 3.5mm jacks nor the termination ports.
Overall, I'm fond of the design! I love the visual style of the headphone in addition to how easy it is to operate, it didn't feel delicate or brittle. Taking it on and off my head was hassle free as was transporting it. While I wouldn't want to walk around with the headphone, it's design makes such portable use a realistic possibility. It was comfortable to wear and simple. Again, I really appreciate the more minimalist design they've implemented. Even better is that each part can be individually replaced as needed. An with nothing glued down, assembly and disassembly is simple.
While, I do not know the full in's and outs of the warranty being offered by Meze, I can speak for the modding and DIY guys who will appreciate the simplicity of build, as well as the availability of parts. An I my self personally enjoy being able to repair and service my own equipment when possible. However please be aware that any modification of self imposed repairs my void the warranty, so always check with the manufacturer first.
If you'd like an idea of my preference and what I gauge as neutral check out this article.
Overall, I found the 99 classics to be very warm and organic. The sound stage and micro detail were on par with most of the closed back headphones I've heard in this price range. What really stood out to me, was how effortlessly the 99 classics switched from genre to genre.
Starting with the lows, there was ample punch and decay to the bass. They had enough impact for heavier faster genres like Drum n Bass or Dub Step, while also proving to be tame enough to handle acoustic folk and rock.
The mids are sweet, with a little less edge than I like but still enough excitement for me to enjoy both metal and jazz. It paired nicely with both high quality and poorly recorded music, proving to be warm but not mushy.
Up top the 99 classics have enough air to bring out some of the fainter details, without being overly transparent. Making an excellent compliment to both my binaural classical as well some of my poorly ripped 50's pop.
All in all, these are a touch bassy than true neutral, but offer a very inviting and forgiving sound! I loved being able to just enjoy my music without necessarily having to make a lot of EQ adjustments.
Specs & Comparisons
I sourced them from my LG V10, Audio GD NFB10ES2 and Hifiman HM901/601, an I again found them to be very consistent, offering a similar sound from source to source. While moving up to higher quality sources did yield a more detailed and controlled sound, there were no significant or major losses moving down.
99 Classics vs Sennheiser HD 25-1 ii
In terms of sound, the two headphones have a very different signature. Overall, I found the 99 Classics to have a more balanced softer sound, again making it easier to move between genres. The HD 25-1 ii was darker overall with a better controlled sub bass, but was a touch grainy up top.
Still in terms of function, the headphones differ in design. You find the HD 25-1 ii popular with a lot of DJs for it's incredible isolation, and aptitude for bass heavy music. Not to mention it's nearly indestructible, how ever it's not really all that attractive and has a NASTY peak at around 8.4khz. So yea, with proper EQ and a quality source the HD 25-1 ii can exceed the 99 Classics, but at the cost of simplicity and comfort.
That being said, I like using my HD 25-1 ii exclusively when I work out with a Rock Boxed hm601 with also has a rather complicated and very specific eq setting just for the HD 25-1 ii, so outside of the very specific chain that I have for the HD 25-1 ii, I enjoyed the 99 Classics out of all of my each of my sources, without the need for any EQ.
Again I'd like to thank the MezeTeam for offering me the chance to listen to these, and I would honestly recommend them to any one in the market for a closed back headphone within this price range. It's simplicity and versatility make it an excellent choice for both new and experienced listeners. Plus it's gorgeously assembled wood and metal build, will ensure that it's both a pleasure to listen to and look at. Candy for your eyes and ears!