Headphone & Headamp Review

MEZE 99 Classics: Head To The Beat

Offering a singular style, design and sonic approach, Paul Rigby reviews the Meze 99 Classics headphones

You know, I was actually tentative about even writing this review. It’s rare to see a piece of hi-fi  being promoted anywhere and everywhere to the same extent. I’m all for getting your name known but the Classics have been hawked around more often than those sunglasses Ads you see on Facebook. Meze’s marketing department is due a raise, that’s for certain but there’s such a thing as whoring yourself around to such an extent that it seems like desperation. I’ve seen these things reviewed on headphones sites (well, yes), lifestyle sites (ok), gadget and phone sites (hmmm), camera sites (ok, hang on a second)…

So, I might be review site 4,057 on the hit list (does the ego a power of good, that does) but I’m game. My mind is open, as ever. 

MEZE 99 Classics: Head To The Beat

These Romanian-built Meze 99 headphones tote a set of 40mm Mylar drivers and arrive in a box with a hard shell-type case. They are over the ear and closed back in design. A wee box within contains the extra accessories including two sets of OFC cables covered in Kevlar.

MEZE 99 Classics: Head To The Beat

One features an inline microphone and controls and one does not. Both fit easily into sockets on the headphones chassis itself. Both offer a 3.5mm termination which, to my mind, is just not good enough. If the Meze 99 has audiophile aspirations it must offer a 6.35mm option too. Utilising convertor plugs will lower sound quality on this system fine enough to illustrate the effect.

MEZE 99 Classics: Head To The Beat

Toting Neodymium magnets that are contained within the CNC-created, solid walnut earcups, the headphones are connected to a metal band flexible inner band that offers the head adjustment.

MEZE 99 Classics: Head To The Beat

It’s an interesting and lightweight system that contrasts intriguingly with the usual expanding, telescopic headphone system. It works well, though and is comfy to boot. 


I started with vinyl and She’s Got Claws from Gary Numan’s Dance 2LP reissue, pressed on purple vinyl and featuring the superb bass talents of Japan’s Mick Karn.

How to describe the bass from the Meze 99 headphones… Have you ever seen those old WW2 films? Those featuring a captured spy in the chair, Gestapo villain in a long coat and a nasty facial scar wants facts, facts, facts! You know the type. But it’s no go from our hero. His lips are sealed. So the Germanic tough slaps the…guy…around…the..face! That, my friends, is the bass from the 99s. Each bass hit is a wallop across the chops. It’s massy, massive and meaty. It’s big, it’s full of impact, its…well, it’s nasty. Nasty, nasty bass that hits you in the solar plexus like a heavyweight boxer.

MEZE 99 Classics: Head To The Beat

And I expected, after a few seconds of this lower frequency uplight, to hear a higher frequency downturn. That is, I expected the bass, so much of it was there, to swamp and leach all over the soundstage. It didn’t. Well, look psychologically it kinda did. That is, you can’t help but be mentally affected by the bass so you may think the mids are being bloomed by the bass but that’s not really the case. The mids are pretty tight and focused, yes, but not really swamped. There’s a slight warmth for the midrange but that seems to be endemic to the nature of the headphone sound. That is, there is an overall dark glow over the soundstage but there is enough air and space in the upper frequencies for the mids to hold their own and deliver the detail you need. Even treble-based cymbals are suitably tremulous. 

MEZE 99 Classics: Head To The Beat

The only issue I do have is the actual amount of space available. The big bass sound does take up a lot of room. Hence, the amount of air available for the more delicate frequencies in the soundstage is reduced. Don’t expect overly extended reverb tails, therefore. Those fascinated by the use of silence and air within classical and jazz tracks might want a demo to confirm that the 99s are for them. I’m not slating these headphones in any way and I’m not removing these genres from the 99’s forte, I just think that jazz/classical fans should double check that these headphones treat their ears and their well and come up to their expectations. For most, it won’t be an issue. A slight measure of caution is required, though. 

MEZE 99 Classics: Head To The Beat

I tried a CD version of the album, Extra Special! from Peggy Lee and was pretty bowled over with the performance from Lee and her jazz-inflected backing orchestra. 

MEZE 99 Classics: Head To The Beat

Lee herself was filled with energy and vivacity, exuding emotion though the bending of her vocal chords which were easily ‘seen’ by the ear. A little emphasis here, a little extra air there, the lead vocal was full of impact. As was the brass section, actually which displayed a welcome texture, that essential vibration that shows that a human being is blowing a trumpet and not a wind machine. Secondary percussion via the bongos were noticeable by a precision and focus that provided a tonal accuracy that was remarkable for headphones of this price point and bass? Well, it was no surprise that the upright bass provided a superb foundational rock to the entire track. 


So, before you see these headphones reviewed on mother and baby sites, toy soldiers sites, gardening sites and baking a better granary loaf sites be assured that the headphones themselves are pretty special in sonic terms. Bass might be the star of the show here but there is enough midrange clarity, tonal accuracy and soundstage organisation to impress just about any hi-fi fan out there. 


Price: €309

Website: mezeaudio.eu 


UK – https://amzn.to/3mR5jRn

USA – https://amzn.to/3ehILWN

EUROPE – https://amzn.to/3oJXr5T

GOOD: bass impact, focused soundstage, tonal accuracy, midrange insight

BAD: 3.5mm terminator option only


[Don’t forget to check out my new Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]


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Origin Live Enterprise 12″ arm
Transfiguration Proteus cartridge
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Leema Elements CD Player
Icon HP8 Mk.II headphone amplifier
Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp
Sennheiser HD 650 headphones
Vertex AQ & Tellurium Q cable
Blue Horizon Professional Rack System

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components

All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner

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  • Reply
    15th April 2018 at 10:26 am

    Very well written review. I understand the sound of these cans completely by Reading the review.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      15th April 2018 at 12:02 pm

      Very kind of you Geoff – thanks very much.

  • Reply
    Joshua Sater
    26th December 2018 at 6:33 am

    I just bought a set of these headphones for myself for Christmas. They are my first hi end (ish) headphone so I don’t really have anything to compare them to, but I will say that yes the bass is substantial. It’s not muddy, or overpowering, and it doesn’t drown out or bleed over into anything else (in my opinion… some claim otherwise). But there is a lot of it. The highs and mids can take a bit of a backstage sometimes. He’s right about the soundstage too. All that bass makes it seem a little close at times. I will probably be getting the balanced cable upgrade that Meze offers as this is supposed to refine the sound a bit and REALLY extend the soundstage and my Onkyo supports balanced headphones. If I end up getting them I’ll try to come back here and let you know how much of a difference they make. All in all I’m happy with them. Everything sounds good. The quality seems good, the look and the presentation and packaging are beyond what I was expecting. But they are warm (maybe the wood has something to do that with that). So be aware that these are a very good sounding but also warm set of headphones when you buy.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      28th December 2018 at 2:54 pm

      Thanks for your considered thoughts, Joshua.

  • Reply
    Maziar Dalvandi
    19th January 2020 at 6:15 pm

    I like “Classical & Vocal & Guitar Solo & Instrumental”
    Can you help me for buying one of these hedphones?

    1) Meze 99 Classic
    2) Audio Technica MSR7b or SR9
    3) V-moda M100 Master

    Tnx a lot and excuse me for my bad english.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      20th January 2020 at 11:38 am

      Hi Mazier – do you have a budget figure for your headphone purchase?

  • Reply
    1st July 2020 at 5:16 pm

    Good review Paul. I have had the Meze 99 Classics for a couple of years now. Been pretty pleased with the sound on the whole and they are comfortable and easy to listen to for long periods. Bass is substantial and warm sounding(less so when I wear my reading glasses) but not as defined as I would like and especially when I went from the original(Mk2) earpads to a replacement pair of pads(apparently different in dimensions from the earlier ones). I have seen lots of comments to that effect and these headphones are in need of some pad swapping, in my view. The original and subsequent replacement earpads have rotted and fallen apart because of the use of pleather in their construction. Replacing them with original Meze pads is pricey when postage is included, so I looked for alternatives that may last a bit longer and may also sort out the bass a bit. My current pads are the Brainwavz sheepskin oval memory foam pads and the Brainwavz Hybrid pads before that. Didn’t get on with the hybrids because they sucked the life out of the bass response too much, albeit with better definition and more soundstage because of the additional room around my ears and the additional distance away my ears were from the speakers. They were a little cooler because of the perforations on the insides of the pads, but I think that is also where the bass went. The sheepskin pads are a different matter altogether. Not only are they more comfy and roomy, albeit sweaty in the summer, they feel quality and I think they change the frequency response for the better in all aspects, taming the bass just enough and giving more clarity through the mid and top end. Perhaps more importantly, I hope I won’t have to change them as often as the fruit in my fruitbowl.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      2nd July 2020 at 9:28 am

      Thanks for your comments and insight Ade, appreciate it.

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