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Meze 99 Classics headphones


I was contacted recently by Romanian audio company, Meze Audio, about reviewing their much-loved and respected (but still slightly boutique) 99 Classics headphone. Of course I jumped at the chance and have thoroughly enjoyed discovering a new brand with a wonderful headphone and a fairly unique (and enjoyable) sound.


I’d heard the names Meze and 99 Classics on Head-Fi prior to Meze contacting me, but I’d never taken the time to really investigate either the brand or the headphone. I’d have to say now that it was a mistake on my part because I’ve been missing out on the rise of a new and serious player in the headphone market. I am very thankful to the Meze team for reaching out and introducing themselves and their marvellous headphone!

The 99 Classics that I received for review are the Walnut / Gold version. There is also a Walnut / Silver version that sounds the same and a slightly different model called the 99 Neo that is black and silver and, according to the reports of others, has a slightly different sound. My understanding is that the Neo presents a slightly brighter sound, but is more alike the Classics than it is different. That said, please consider this review for the 99 Classics only and do look elsewhere for details before purchasing the Neo version if they take your fancy over the Classics.

The 99 Classics retail for $309 (USD) direct from Meze or via Amazon so they’re not exactly a budget headphone, but I would still describe them as good value for money in the full-size, closed, over-ear headphone market. Let’s check some specifications:


  • Frequency response: 15 – 25,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
  • Impedance: 32 ohm
  • Cables connection at headphones: dual entry 3.5mm plugs
  • Cable options: 1 x 1.2m cable with mic and remote, 1 x 3m cable – both 3.5mm termination, OFC cables with kevlar reinforcement
  • Weight: 260g (9.2 oz) without cables
  • Driver: 40mm dynamic (mylar)

Similar to the recently reviewed German Maestro GMP 8.35 Mobile Advanced, the 99 Classics are a source agnostic headphone that will work happily with a phone, portable player or full desktop setup.  The 99 Classics are a very different beast though. Where the 8.35s are a loveable, rugged, ugly duckling headphone, the Classics are a glamorous headphone that makes me want to care for them more and therefore take them out of my house / office less. Let me stress at this point that Meze have designed the Classics to have fully replaceable parts so while perhaps not as rugged as the aforementioned 8.35s they are totally as viable for long-term use due to their repairability and I don’t see them as fragile, they’re just not built like a tank in the way the 8.35s are.

First Impressions: Unpacking & Design

These are one of the sexiest headphones I’ve ever seen – let’s just get that out of the way first up. From the finish and look of the wooden cups to the custom-moulded, sculpted metal fittings and the wide, leather headband, everything about these screams luxury and quality. This is a headphone you’ll want to display.

When you open the attractive retail packaging you’re greeted by a hard case for your new headphones. The hard case is about as compact as it could be for a non-collapsible headphone, but it’s still going to take up significant space in your bag. That said, I always appreciate a headphone that comes with a quality case like this because it makes it easy to take headphones with you when needed without worrying about damaging them.

Inside the hard case are the headphones themselves of course, but also a neat little zippered pouch containing the cables, an airline adapter and a 3.5 to 6.3mm adapter. All-in-all the 99 Classics are perfectly accessorised for all circumstances. The long cable is perfect for desktop use with an amplifier and the short cable is perfect for mobile usage.

Headphones On: Comfort & Fit

Placing the 99 Classics on your head reveals a wonderfully comfortable design. Between the wide, leather-wrapped headband and the soft, memory-foam earpads, the 99 Classics are a joy to wear even for long periods of time. The cups are attached to the headband with a supple rubber ring (see images) so they can adjust their angle against your head without creating any pressure. On top of that, the suspension headband is, in my opinion and experience, the most comfortable design for long sessions without pain.

For me, the size of the ear cups on the 99 Classics are just right in terms of staying small and compact, but placing no pressure or contact against the ears. They easily envelop the whole ear and I can’t see most people having issues despite the compact size of the overall earcup. I believe that early models of the 99 Classics may have had some trouble with the inside of the cup being too shallow and pressing against the ear, but this was rectified some time ago and I found the current version (late 2017 / early 2018) of the 99 Classics to be just right.

Music On: Sound Quality

As an overall description, I would describe the 99 Classics as relaxed and warm. Don’t think for a second that this equates to sluggish or thick sounding, but recognise that these are not for those who seek clarity and neutrality. This is a headphone for lovers of musicality, soul and great bass. Somewhere in the tuning of the 99 Classics I do think there is a tiny bit of engagement or excitement missing, but there is still plenty going for them so read on to better understand if these will suit your tastes in a headphone.


The bass from the 99 Classics is almost perfect. These are a basshead’s dream. The bass is punchy and full and just a tiny bit loose. The looseness serves to create a great sense of weight in the bass and it’s not sloppy, just a little bit relaxed. For genres and recordings that need some punch and rumble, the Classics are just magic. Deep bass guitar notes and R&B beats are all rendered with an extremely enjoyable warmth, body and rhythm. The sound can get a bit thick sometimes due to that slight looseness in the bass, but it never goes so far as to be unenjoyable.

The bass characteristics and emphasis of the 99 Classics are fairly balanced across all bass frequencies, but the ability of the Classics to stay strong right down to 20Hz makes them sound like sub-bass monsters because we’re so used to headphones that are beginning to roll-off by 20Hz. They also have a very slight lift to the bass below 100Hz compared to the bass above 100Hz. This results in an amazing sense of depth and extension in the bass from the Classics and is why they are so incredibly enjoyable for bassy genres like R&B and Hip-Hop.

It’s important to note here that the bass characteristics I’ve described above do not for a moment hinder the Classics’ ability to deliver a clean and clear rendition of non-bassy music. It goes without saying that there is a degree of warmth that is always present, but the mids and treble definitely shine through on tracks with a more acoustic focus. For example, while not an acoustic track as such, Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop from their live album, The Dance, came on while I was writing this and the bass from the kick drum and large toms was chunky and deep, but the cymbals, guitars and vocals shone through with plenty of grit and texture. It’s a touch bassier than it probably should sound if we’re being purists, but it’s totally enjoyable if you’re just being a music lover.


The mid-range from the Classics is almost as strong as the bass performance. Vocals and instruments are clear and liquid sounding with just a tiny bit of extra warmth thanks to the gorgeous bass performance. It’s probably a good thing that I am actually having trouble finding words to describe the mid-range from the Classics. They’re just right. Everything is how it should be without emphasis on any frequencies and with good balance against the other parts of the frequency range. If I had to nit-pick, my one complaint would be that the mids are slightly lacking in texture because the upper-mids and lower treble are a touch too polite, but it’s a minor issue and totally worth it for the easy and highly enjoyable listening experience it produces.


This is where things get a little more conflicted for me with the 99 Classics. Firstly, let me clarify that these are, overall, very very good in all ways. However, with that disclaimer out of the way I have to declare the treble as their weak-point when compared to the other frequencies. There are two slight issues with the treble in my opinion: firstly, the treble doesn’t quite keep up with the mids and bass which leaves the whole presentation sounding slightly soft and lacking in focus. I tend to be treble-sensitive so for me to be saying that they lack a tiny bit of sparkle and clarity is really saying something, but I can’t stress enough that it’s just the tiniest bit that’s lacking. These are not bad in any way, they’re just not perfect. The easy-going treble from the 99 Classics leaves them in the category of relaxed listening for me and prevents them from ever becoming highly engaging. I never don’t enjoy them, but I’m never ‘wowed’ by them either.

The other treble issue for me is the same one that held back the German Maestro GMP 8.35 – the use of a mylar driver and it’s associated treble quality. Mylar drivers, by their very design, crinkle and distort during the forwards and backwards motion required to create the sound waves. This crinkling exhibits as mild distortion and we hear that as a slight edginess in the treble. This edginess is present with the 99 Classics and is a second slight hindrance to the overall treble quality. Even though the treble is slightly recessed in the Classics, it can occasionally get just a little bit edgy and harsh. It’s very minor, but it’s enough that I think it’s worth mentioning.

With all this said, it might sound like the Classics are significantly flawed in the treble range, but their not as bad as it might seem. Indeed, what I’ve described above is reasoning for why the Classics aren’t one of my favourite all-time headphones, but they come mighty close. They are outstanding headphones in all ways and it’s a couple of minor 1-2% type flaws that hold them back from perfection.

Imaging & Soundstage

The 99 Classics present a really nice soundstage for a closed headphone. They’re quite intimate as you would normally expect from a closed design, but the sense of space and separation is very good. The soundstage isn’t particularly wide, but it’s well-spaced in a hemisphere in front of the listener. Centre-stage sounds are well-focussed with off-centre sounds curving in towards the ears. Everything sounds well-separated despite the fairly small presentation and is beautifully coherent which speaks to an excellently tuned headphone.

After a Few Weeks: The Final Verdict

With ongoing use of the 99 Classics I’ve come to the conclusion that they are a unique headphone in that they are probably the most warm and lush sounding headphone I’ve ever heard without straying into the thick and mushy territory. I will never forget one of my worst headphone experiences ever with the Quincy Jones branded Q460, a headphone that failed where the 99 Classics succeed. The Classics sound incredible on tracks that demand bass performance, but they do so without sacrificing quality at all other frequencies. They tip the warmth scales just a tiny bit too far towards the bass for my tastes, but it’s only by a hair and they remain very enjoyable regardless. They don’t quite make it to my all-time list, but they came mighty close. What holds them back is just a tiny lack of engagement and that’s all – nothing glaring, nothing major – there are just a few headphones that I find more enjoyable and engaging.

The 99 Classics are a very easy headphone for me to recommend and I do so without reservation. If you like bass and/or if you like a relaxed listening experience, the Classics should absolutely be on your radar. Add to that the very reasonable price tag and the gorgeous design and build quality and there are very few people on the planet that shouldn’t at least check these out. Obviously, if you’re a fan of lean, neutral or analytical sounds then you probably should look elsewhere, but if you want to just put on headphones and know that everything will sound great then the 99 Classics from Meze Audio are totally worth a listen.

If you’re keen to see why so many people are in love with the 99 Classics and why they almost made my list of all-time favourites, you can pick some up using the link below. As always, links to Amazon here on this site help to provide some modest income that goes towards buying new gear for reviews and it doesn’t cost you a cent. I appreciate any and all support!