A difficult initial call here, since we were tempted to let the visuals over-ride the aurals. The headshells are a classy turn of walnut, a curvy cone into which are embedded the cable connections down low, one to each ear. The headband hangs onto the peak of the cone, secured by a giant golden rivet, while the strut holding the adjustable inner headband is similarly golden bling, as are the cable entries, the cable joint and the minijack plug. This bling thing may go down well in trendy Melbourne, but on the morning bus in Sydney we noticed people staring if not actually pointing at us, while the missus and work colleagues actually ridiculed them. Possibly we could pull it off if we looked like the alien young man in Meze’s product photography (above).
But of course this is eye of the beholder stuff. You may love the bling — Meze got this project well overfunded on Indiegogo, so clearly the gold lovers are out there. And there are, we note, two other versions of the 99 Classics where the gold bits are replaced with silver bits (on one of these the walnut is replaced by a lighter maple).
Our job is more the ear-of-the-beholder side of things, and here the Mezes performed very well, significantly beyond their price category, indeed, with a full and fluid sound from their 40mm drivers, and a nice flat response from the upper bass north to the smooth and open-sounding treble response. They do push the bass somewhat, and in a quiet home or office environment it can get a bit dominant, especially with bass-strong material — Aimee Mann’s version of Nobody Does It Better was really quite swamped down there, and the overbalanced frequency scale can mask higher detail even on gentle tracks like
Bill Fay’s War Machine; it tended also to over-emphasise yet dull the impact of the double bass and deep strings on classical works. On the other hand they souped up lighter tracks very nicely — early Police tracks or Blondie’s Denis Denis, say, gained great solidity and enjoyment.
And on the bus commute, or anywhere with background rumble, an extra hit of bass is no bad thing, and we found the Meze 99s a delightful and comfortable companion on the road — especially as their combination of 32-ohm impedance and 103dB sensitivity (1kHz, 1mW) delivers plenty of level from your average iPhone/iPod touch minijack. Their short cable is just right to reach the pocket, though its inline lozenge has just a single button for play/pause; no track control. No swivelling either, so they’re a little larger to stow than some rivals.
The last thing we like is the price — you might expect such quality of construction and sound to arrive somewhere above the asking price here in Australia — which is $499.
So, you decide on the bling. For sonics, they’re fair value, best for the commute given they’re a little strong on bass, but still a pleasure in quieter surroundings.
Meze Classics 99
Type: closed, dynamic, cabled, over-ear
Impedance: 32 ohms
Sensitivity: 103dB (1kHz, 1mW)
Weight: 260g without cable
Contact: Addicted to Audio
Telephone: 03 9810 2999 / 02 9550 4041