Meze 99 Classics review: Gorgeous design, captivating sound

Meze is a Romanian audio brand that manufactures premium products with a unique focus on aesthetics. The manufacturer offers a good selection of audiophile headphones and IEMs today, but the 99 Classics was the brand’s breakthrough product, released in 2015. Seven years later, the 99 Classics continue to be a phenomenal option. in the $500 Sub-Category.

One of the reasons for the enduring success of the 99 Classics is the design; thanks to a wood-grain finish and meticulous attention to detail, they stand out from almost any other product in its segment. The second reason is sound quality – the 99 Classics have a lively sound that makes them a tour de force. So if you’re thinking of getting your hands on a new pair of headphones, that’s why you should consider the Meze 99 Classics.

Meze 99 Classics: price and availability

Meze 99 Classics Logo

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda/Android Central)

The Meze 99 Classics were unveiled in 2015 and are available worldwide from Meze Audio and its authorized distributors, Amazon and most audio stores. They retail for $309 and come in two color finishes – Walnut Gold and Walnut Silver. Meze offers a two-year warranty as standard with the 99 Classics.

Meze 99 Classics: Design and comfort

Meze 99 Classics flat lay on a white table

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda/Android Central)

Meze prides itself on its design prowess, and it’s easy to see why. The 99 Classics are absolutely stunning to behold, and Meze has done a brilliant job of combining a classic design aesthetic with a few modern touches to make them stand out. The 99 Classics have an exquisite wood grain finish; in a sea of ​​similar-looking plastic and metal designs, the craftsmanship and attention to detail are a breath of fresh air.

The 99 Classics are the best-designed headphones you’ll find in this category – the Walnut Gold color option in particular is gorgeous.

Meze sells the 99 Classics in two color options – Walnut Gold and Walnut Silver – and the gold option in particular is striking. The gold contrasts really well with the walnut finish and gives the 99 Classics some extra flair – not that they need it. It’s not often that I pay so much attention to the design side of things, but in that respect the 99 Classics are in a league of their own.

This fanatical attention to detail extends to the rest of the design. The 99 Classics have metal rails that look thin, but they’re built to last and don’t flex too much. There is a unique metal structure covered in gold that connects the leather headband to the rails, and it adds a lot of elegance to the design. The Meze branding on either side of that metal frame is sleek, and the headband itself is leather and has good padding.

The elastic design of the headband ensures that the weight is evenly distributed and does not cause fatigue even after prolonged use. The same goes for the ear cushions; the plush leather is extremely comfortable and breathable. The detachable cables are high quality and Meze bundles two pairs in the box, one with an in-line mic. The left cable jack has a slight ridge, so you can easily tell left and right sides apart without having to look at the indicators on the cables.

These are the most comfortable headphones I have ever used.

The best part is that you don’t need a lot of tweaking here; the elastic headband takes care of it. The lightweight chassis (260g) combined with the sleek design and sturdy build quality gives the 99 Classics a leg up on its rivals, and upgrading from the HD6XX I noticed an immediate difference: they are much more comfortable for prolonged use. They’re just as light as the best wireless headphones, including the Sony WH-1000XM4.

The clamping pressure is just enough to give you a nice seal, but not so much that it becomes uncomfortable after a few hours of use. This was a problem with the HD6XX, and I was starting to notice some fatigue after four hours of use. That’s not a problem here; in fact, the 99 Classics are hands down the most comfortable helmet I’ve ever used.

Meze 99 Classics on a table

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda/Android Central)

Finally, Meze bundles the 99 Classics into a high-quality hard case that makes them easy to transport. The design isn’t inherently suitable for portable use, but you can if you need to – they’re easy enough to drive via a USB-C DAC. The supplied cables terminate in 3.5mm connectors and you will also find a 6.3mm jack in the box.

Overall, Meze has done a great job with the design and build quality of the 99 Classics, and they’re easily among the most comfortable headphones in this category.

Meze 99 Classics: sound quality

Meze 99 Classics plugged into Fiio K9 Pro

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda/Android Central)

The Meze 99 Classics are not what I would call analytical; rather, they have a lively sound that shines through different genres. 40mm dynamic drivers are standard fare in this category, and while not tuned to produce a neutral sonic signature like the Sennheiser HD650 or not as dynamic as the Austrian Audio Hi-X55, where they really come into their own is delivering an engaging sound.

What the 99 Classics lack in technical precision, they more than make up for in an engaging sound that’s delightful.

This is at the heart of what sets the 99 Classics apart from their rivals; you don’t get the most technically accurate sound, but use them for an extended period of time and you’ll find they have a unique presentation that is wonderful. This is especially true for the low end; the 99 Classics have a meaty bass that is vibrant and exciting, but at no point does it become overbearing.

Mids are punchy, with vocals that shine without any exaggeration or sibilance. There’s plenty of clarity and detail, good instrument separation, and plenty of oomph to the sound.

Meze 99 Classics designer wood grain finish

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda/Android Central)

The highs are smooth and detailed, but it loses some character in the high end. Overall, the tonality here is very engaging, and the 99 Classics excel in a wide variety of genres – I’ve listened to a lot of classic rock, metalcore, house, grunge, synthwave, and jazz over the years. two months I used the headphones, and I never had the impression that there was harshness in the sound.

With a sensitivity of 101 dB and an impedance of just 32 Ohms, they’re also incredibly easy to drive. I mainly used the 99 Classics with the Fiio K5 Pro and K9 Pro, but I also switched to the portable KA3 and BTR5 when using the headphones with the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Nothing (1) phone, and it doesn’t had no problems playing music from various sources. Any decent USB-C DAC should be enough to drive these headphones.

Meze 99 Classics: The competition

Side view of HD6XX on a white table

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda/Android Central)

The Sennheiser HD6XX continues to be one of the best overall options in this category, and that’s down to its technical proficiency. The HD6XXs are built to last, and while not as comfortable as the 99 Classics, they offer a neutral sound signature and are more immersive. At $279, they’re also affordable. The DT 177X GO is a good alternative if you want a closed design, but they are more expensive at $429.

If you want a comfortable fit and a bass-focused sound signature similar to the 99 Classics, you’ll want to check out Sony’s MDR1AM2. They have a swivel design built for portability, are incredibly easy to drive, and a vibrant sound that suits a variety of genres. There’s nothing exciting about the design, but for $298 they’re a viable alternative.

Meze 99 Classics: Should You Buy It?

Meze 99 Classics flat on table with cable plugged in

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda/Android Central)

You should buy this if:

  • You want headphones with an exquisite design and solid build quality
  • You need comfortable headphones to wear all day long
  • You want a lively sound with an engaging low end

You should not buy this if:

  • You need headphones with a neutral sound signature
  • You want closed earphones that are easy to carry

The Meze 99 Classics don’t aim to deliver the most accurate sound. Rather, they aim to produce the most lively sound, and they do a phenomenal job in this area. They handle a wide variety of genres with unusual ease, and the powerful bass combined with the natural mids and detailed highs create a very engaging and fun sound profile.

Then there is the design. Much of the appeal of the 99 Classics is down to their gorgeous design, and they definitely look a lot more upscale than their price. The walnut finish with gold accents gives the 99 Classics a distinct edge over their immediate rivals, and the breathable leather ear cushions and lightweight chassis make them one of the most comfortable headphones you’ll find in this category.

All in all, if you’re looking for headphones that have vibrant sound and an eye-catching design, you won’t find anything else in the sub-$500 category that comes close.

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