With technology growing better with every generation, digital audio is starting to close the gap in the battle with analog. Some say that the gap has already been filled and analog no longer has its advantages over it. However, it will still cost you a lot to get to that decision compared to the price of a high-end analog solution.
A good example of this is Meze Audio’s 99 Classics. A pair of wired headphones that bring with them a classic design with real wood, and a unique pattern. A bit of flat response, but then mixed with vibrant highs and a slight boost to the lows to give it a little warmth. All of this without deviating too far from the start. There is no Bluetooth or anything else to go with it. Just two wires leading to a single 3.5mm jack, attached to a remarkable pair of headphones.
They make use of real walnut wood in their design that not only provides a unique appearance but affects the sound that you hear as well. Meze (pronounced “meh-zay”) explains that the process of shaping, sanding, lacquering, and finishing takes up to 45 days to complete before the headphones are packaged and shipped.
Each earcup is unique in the design, even between the left and the right thanks to this. Giving each pair of headphones their own visual story.
The cushions are soft to the touch, and the headband flexes gently as you place them around your head. There is no sliding or other adjustments required by the user. Simply slide them onto your head and they will do the rest. The metal band curving from one cup to the other provides just enough pressure to keep them on your head without falling off, but nothing more. All of this leading to long hours of listening without any noticeable discomfort.
They provide quality cables that include both a regular 3.5mm TRS connection for general device/source connectivity, as well as a 3.5mm TRRS for smartphones and other devices that can use an in-line microphone. The cables are well designed for comfort and durability and offer enough length no matter what you are using them for. The cable drags quietly across your clothes while you move around so that it doesn’t transfer any noise that could distract you from your listening.
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As for their performance, “classic” really explains it all. It kind of feels like something hot from a past generation. Kind of a cross between Creative (their nicer line) and something from Beyerdynamic. Great for classic rock, and certain guitar and drum solos really pop thanks to their design.
The highs are incredibly crisp and filled with detail. The lower frequencies are variable (depending on the track) but smooth. In some songs, the lows don’t hit as hard, but allow the mids and highs to be highlighted a bit. In some other tracks, the low end demands its presence a little more. With either scenario, the result is typically pleasing.
Of course, they aren’t perfect for everything you could possibly listen to. Like most hi-res headphones, they are best matched to what they respond best to. So you will find a lot of entertainment in pairing them with a unique playlist of music that compliments their performance the most.
We paired them to a number of tracks stretching across multiple genres of music. A few examples of what we liked, include:
- Alan Parsons – Rubber Universe
- Bread – The Guitar Man
- Goo Goo Dolls – Iris
- Ariana Grande – R.E.M.
- Black Crowes – She Talks to Angels
- Blacktop Mojo – Where The Wind Blows
- Boston – More Than a Feeling
- Crosby, Stills & Nash – CSN 2012 – Deja Vu
All of the tracks listed were either FLAC or DSD in format and delivered using a DAC (like the FiiO M11 Pro) or tube amp solution (ie, Little Dot MK2). They respond well to any amp, although they don’t take much to drive them at just 32 ohms. A powerful tube amp can seem to be a little too much when it comes to volume. While a DAC solution seems to provide the best volume spread. They also sound just fine plugged directly into smartphones or a computer. You don’t even lose too much when you do, although the difference is still noticeable without a hi-res amp.
Thanks to the enhancements over the years of streaming content, even sources like YouTube sound fantastic with these. You can browse all day for unique videos to watch where these headphones really stand out. A good example is Teddy Swims’ cover of “Let Me Love You” by Mario.
I think it would also be important to point out that I think these would be great for plugging into a guitar amp for a jam session during those times you can’t make a lot of noise openly. I would say that these would sound great for such use.
You do get all the accessories you’d need to pretty much use them however you’d ever want, including a nice case to keep them safe in (have to keep that wood from getting scratched up and preserve their wonderful design).
A wonderful pair of headphones that both look and sound amazing. They are also incredibly comfortable. We had a lot of fun spending hours listening to music and pairing the headphones with specific tracks that allow them to shine the best. Amazing guitar and drum solos, and great for certain rock options (although great with many other genres all the same). They definitely have a lot of character to them that reference listeners and even audiophiles could benefit from. A great step into the realm of hi-res listening without spending too much (yes, even at this price, it isn’t that much compared to what’s out there). Of course, you could absolutely buy something better–but it will cost you a lot more typically. I could easily compare these to a pair of $1,000 headphones from one company, while another similarly priced model from another company may blow these out of the water. For what you are paying here, these are a wonderful find.
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*Average price is based on the time this article was published
- Transducer size: 40mm
- Frequency response: 15Hz – 25KHz
- Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
- Impedance: 32 Ohm
- Rated input power: 30mW
- Maximum input power: 50mW
- Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
- Plug: 3.5mm gold plated
- Weight: 260 gr (9.2 ounces) without cables
- Ear-cups: walnut wood
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