If you are familiar with Romania's Meze Audio, named after the founder, Antonio Meze, you know that they have carved out quite a niche in the headphone market. Pardon the pun here, but yes, the original model was literally carved from wood and served up what many consider to be impeccable sound, design, and quality.
The Meze 99 Classics have a new younger sibling, and that is the 99 Neo, which gets rid of the wood in favor of plastic to bring down the price point a bit. I guess you would say this is their BMW 3 series, but we are not sure why you wouldn't just get the Classics with such a little price difference (roughly $50).
Aesthetic and Build: The design is the same as the Classics sans the wood headphone cups. They are simply beautiful and reminiscent of old school designs and audiophile luxury of days gone by. One of the things you will immediately notice when slipping these on is the self-adjusting inner headband and lightweight feel. These headphones are incredibly comfortable and allow for long listening sessions without any discomfort. There is no need to fiddle with anything, these cans just go on flawlessly right out of the case. The earcups are a soft memory foam that creates an excellent seal for sound isolation and helps with overall comfort. Overall the attention to detail is impeccable, and for the price, you are getting one of the more stylish headphones on the market.
A more functional part of the design is the recessed ports, and detachable cable, which allows you to remove and/or replace the cable easily should it become damaged or worn out. You can also easily replace the pads and headband should they need replacing, so you are more or less are going to be able to have these for a long time. The Neos also have a lower impedance of 26 ohms, which makes them easy to use with your mobile devices as they don't require much power to drive, and they sound GREAT with a DAC or HD Audio player if you have one.
What's in the box: The unboxing experience is quite good, but it seems like they could do it in a more environmentally friendly way, there is just more packaging than necessary here as with most headphones. The carrying case you get is premium, and that comes with a small round cable/adapter carrying case, which is a nice touch.
How Do They Sound: The Neo 99's offer an excellent sound signature for the money you are spending here; in fact, it's hard to beat for $250. The bass is warm and rich without being excessive or overcooked, balancing nicely with the well-tempered mids and crisp highs. Per usual, we tested the headphones with a variety of genres and on two different sources, the iPhone with Spotify and iTunes AAC files and the AKJR HD audio player with FLAC/AAC files.
Hip Hop was vibrant with punchy bass and crystal clear lyrics, electronic music was also superb with a delicate balance of bass and highs that provided an enjoyable listening experience. Jazz was a touch finicky with some mids getting lost, but for the most part, very passable for the price point. Rock had the same issue as Jazz here, but only when things got very complicated with the composition. Acoustic and classical performances sounded impeccable, with a beautiful and wide soundstage that gave the music a real presence.
If you are looking for a super comfortable pair of mid-tier over-ear headphones, the Neo 99 is a great bet for the money and better than most at that price point. They work well with just about every popular genre, sound solid on iPhones due to their low impedance and even better on HD players. The big conundrum here is why not just buy the Classics for another $50 bucks or so? Unless you really don't like wood, it might be a better bet to just drop the extra cash and go for the top of the line Classics model.
- Insanely comfortable
- Eye-catching design
- Great sound
- High value for the money in this price point
- They are a little bulky for traveling
- Might be better off just getting the Classics
More at MezeAudio.com