Close this search box.
Single Post

Meze Audio 99 Neo headphones


Not too long ago I was lucky enough to review the gorgeous 99 Classic headphones from Romanian company, Meze Audio. The 99 Classics impressed me, but didn’t quite make their way into my permanent rotation so I have to admit that I was interested but not excited when Meze offered me a listen to their similar, but different 99 Neo headphone.

Introduction & Overview

Given the large number of similarities between the 99 Classic and 99 Neo, I won’t complete a fully-fledged review of the 99 Neo, but encourage readers to check out the 99 Classic review to fill in any gaps in this article. I’m approaching this review as something of a comparison but with the recognition that these are two similar options from the same manufacturer – one does not need to be better than the other. It’s worth noting that the Neo is $60 cheaper than the Classic on Meze’s online store so one could expect the Classic to be better… or maybe it’s just the cost of the real walnut ear cups…

In the spirit of this pseudo-review / pseudo-comparison, let’s look at the specs for both headphones side-by-side:

Specifications (Classic / Neo)

  • Transducer size: 40mm / 40mm
  • Frequency response: 15 – 25,000Hz / 15 – 25,000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 103 dB at 1KHz, 1mW / 103 dB at 1KHz, 1mW
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm / 26 Ohm
  • Rated input power: 30 mW / 30 mW
  • Maximum input power: 50 mW / 50 mW
  • Detachable Kevlar OFC cable / Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
  • Plug: 3.5mm gold plated / 3.5mm gold plated
  • Weight: 260 gr (9.2 ounces) without cables / 260 gr (9.2 ounces) without cables
  • Ear-cups: walnut wood / ABS plastic

You could be forgiven for thinking you’re seeing double as you look at these figures. Just to confirm, the only differences on paper between these two headphones are the impedance rating (26 ohm for the Neo vs 32 ohm for the Classic) which suggests a different driver (or different configuration of the same driver) and the ear-cup material (wood for the Classic vs plastic for the Neo).

Many people might think that the wood cup is instantly preferrable for it’s sound properties, but my experience suggests that it’s less about the material and more about the design. Resonance can be a wonderful thing (think about a violin or piano), but can also cause problems when used in headphone design. Plastic on the other hand would make for a shabby violin, but can be ideal as a low-resonance chassis for headphone design. Some wooden headphones are amazing and some not so much. Ultimately, the proof is in the listening so let’s quickly discuss the design and then get to what really matters.

Design and Accessories

Just like the 99 Classic, the Neo looks beautiful, but this time in black and silver instead of black, wood and gold. The Neo sports the same custom-made metal flourishes that connect the headband to the ear cups and they look just as great in silver as they do in gold. The black plastic ear cups look like they’re wrapped in black leather and they feel good in the hand – this is not cheap plastic, but a quality material that happens to be plastic.

The earpads and headband construction are identical to the 99 Classic leading to an extremely comfortable headphone that seals well against the head and stays comfortable for hours.

Although made with a different tactile feel, the 99 Neo hard case is the same shape and size as the 99 Classic hard case and includes the same zippered pouch to hold the cable and accessories. The Neo comes with just the shorter, portable-style cable and not the long, desktop cable, but I think most people will be OK with that – the long cable is probably not necessary for most people’s setups. To match the headphones, the Neo’s version of the cable has the same black sheathing, but silver accents versus the Classic’s gold accents.

As to which headphone looks better, it’s 100% personal taste. A friend of mine said he loathed the look of the Classics in my previous review, but I quite like them and probably slightly prefer the look of the wood and gold compared to the black and silver. In both cases I am more comfortable using them at home than in public due to their slightly flashy (classy, but flashy) appearance, but I do like the design in both versions.

Sound Quality

My intention here is to provide a standalone assessment of the Neo’s sound and then a comparison to the Classic. It’s important to consider these headphones on their own merits, but it’s also understandable that you might read a review like this, go to an online store and suddenly realise that the Classic looks like the same headphone in a different colour scheme only to be left wondering if they are in fact identical headphones in different colourways so I will try to provide some clarity and differentiation as we go.


Similar to the 99 Classics, the bass from the 99 Neo is a stand-out – wonderfully full and punchy, but also tight and controlled. It’s got a tiny bit more weight than is natural, but it’s deftly managed and results in a full and engaging sound. Of particular note is the sub-bass which often surprises me with its ability to rumble and roll. Sure, it draws my attention sometimes which may not be ideal, but it’s so enjoyable that I really don’t mind and I don’t feel like it becomes incoherent, just slightly emphasised.

Compared to the 99 Classics

The bass from these two headphones is incredibly similar with the 99 Neo sounding slightly fuller in the bass than its sibling, but this may be more a function of the rest of the tuning (mids and treble) more so than the bass tuning itself. Suffice to say, they are close enough as to make no significant difference.


I find the mids from the 99 Neo to be addictive. It’s not often I take off a headphone (other than my beloved NightHawks) and immediately wonder when I can next listen to them and enjoy their silky sounds. Well, the 99 Neo manages that feat. The mid-range is so delectably smooth and creamy, but detailed and revealing that it just makes me want to keep listening and exploring my music. These are a very special headphone for lovers of mid-range. There’s good balance between the upper and lower mids which keeps a sense of texture and detail without ever becoming reedy or thin on lower register vocals or instrumentals – masterful tuning, Mr Meze!

Compared to the 99 Classics

For me, this is ‘no contest’ (as you probably already gathered from my gushing above). The 99 Classics are a very good headphone, but the 99 Neo are just better when it comes to the mid-range. There’s a slight emphasis to the upper mids in the 99 Classics that some people will love because it imparts a little extra texture and sense of detail and air to the mids, but I find it also brings a touch of dryness that I don’t enjoy as much as the creamy 99 Neo. Both offer extremely enjoyable mids, but the 99 Neo’s mids are on another level in my opinion.


The treble was my main gripe with the 99 Classics so I was very curious to see how the 99 Neo sounded. I suggested in my 99 Classics review that the slight edginess in the Classics’ treble may have been a result of the distortion often inherent in mylar drivers. Either I was wrong or Meze Audio have mastered the art of tuning out said distortion. Whatever the cause and solution, the 99 Neo have a very enjoyable treble. These may not be ideal for treble-heads, but I never find them lacking in treble energy or quality. On a poor recording you can hear a little bit of edge in the treble (because it’s in the recording), but I never find myself wincing or reaching for the “skip track” button while wearing the 99 Neo. The treble is detailed, but smooth. It has good extension and a nice sense of clarity and air, but I would describe it as slightly on the polite side (perhaps a touch rolled-off at the upper end) and I prefer that. It will let you enjoy the music, hearing the details, but not having them jammed in your face.They are not mushy and blunted, but they’re definitely not razor-sharp needles.

Compared to the 99 Classics

The 99 Classics sound instantly brighter than the 99 Neo and I find that the increased treble energy and (in my opinion) lower treble quality cause a sense of congestion compared to the Neo. Despite having less treble energy, the Neo has a larger soundstage and a better image. Normally it is the treble that helps our brain find spatial cues in the music, but the better clarity in the Neo trumps the higher quantity from the Classics. Treble-heads will probably still prefer the additional sparkle from the Classics, but those who prefer musicality and a touch of warmth will find unexpected benefits in the Neo’s more restrained treble tuning.

Summary & Conclusion

I’m so thankful that Meze Audio gave me a chance to review the 99 Neo. Having felt favourable towards the Classics, but not enamoured, I was unsure what to expect and the experience has been nothing short of eye-opening. I will be staying tuned to Meze Audio’s new developments over the coming months and years to see what other magic Mr Meze and his team can create.

As for you, if you have $250 (USD) to put towards a pair of headphones and you enjoy a warm, musical sound (not mushy or thick, just warm), I can absolutely, wholeheartedly recommend the 99 Neo. Based on their styling, I probably wouldn’t wear them out in public, but would be constantly dreaming about when I can next wear them at home or in the office to enjoy their magnificent sound. Headphones at this price rarely sound this good!