When it comes to buying headphones, price, battery life, wired or wireless, ergonomics, aesthetics and sound quality do play an essential part of making that difficult decision. Brand loyalty matters and while established names dominate, we like to think that new companies can also offer up something different and if you’re looking to find a new pair of headphones, the Meze 99 Neo might be right up your alley.
Meze is an audio company out of Romania, focused on making high-quality professional headphones for people who not only appreciate sound quality but aesthetics and design as well. Coming in at US$309/S$469, the 99 neo offers a simple but shapely form factor, modular design and eye-catching matte black cups,before swooping you up with a very competent sound signature. But stripping it down to the basics to keep the price down and, Meze is offering a very compelling pair of studio-worthy headphones.
Right out of the box, the 99 Neo comes in a very nice hard EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) carrying case. The case itself a curvaceous form-fitted to the 99 Neo. Inside you find an accessories velour pouch with extra accessories. What you get are:
- The headphones
- Hard shell EVA carrying case
- 1.5m Kevlar thread OFC cable with mic and remote
- Gold-plated ¼-inch adapter
- Airplane adapter
- Velour cable and accessory pouch
The headphones themselves have a pseudo-futuristic circumaural design that highlights the impeccable craftsmanship. The headphones’ sealed-back design means that they are all put together in stunning detail and much of it can be easily replaced if broken, since it is modular.
The PU leather memory foam earpads are thick and soft, and sit snugly on the ears. The earcups are also spacious and the floating pivot design lets the ear cups swivel and twist to spread weight evenly across the skull and around your ears. Some headphones create pressure points around the ear that get extremely uncomfortable after a while, but you won’t have any qualms here, especially if you enjoy binging on Netflix shows or listening to Spotify for hours on end.
One thing for sure is that these headphones feel light despite the solid build, weighing a mere 266 grams. This is due to the materials used, which comprises mostly of hard plastic, with the headband made of spring steel and the centre cap that connects the headband to the ear cups, are made from electroplated, die-cast zinc alloy.
Another feature is its self-adjusting, suspended headband. The leatherette headband automatically adapts its length to fit the shape of the user’s head thanks to a sliding system. The clamping force of the Meze 99 neo is secure and stable, it all fits with just the right amount of snug that you can move your head from side-side without any worry and can be worn for hours without a hint of fatigue.
Interestingly, the 99 Neo headphones are symmetrical. The orientation of left and right sound is determined by the marked cables rather than the headphones themselves, a pretty nifty feature that would help stop flipping the headphones all the time.
When it comes to noise isolation, the 99 Neos does without it, opting for a more traditional passive block to reduce external noise. In regards to that, it is just okay. Without any music playing, external sounds are still audible and rather muffled. Turn on your music and it is expected to improve. You will probably need to increase the volume a bit to compensate for the surrounding noise, especially in a particularly noisy area, such as a crowded subway. But otherwise they’re nice to use outside.
Just as form follows function, the Meze 99 Neo sounds clear and balanced even at low volume. Diving into hip hop tracks with Pouya’s ‘1000 Rounds’ and then psychedelic rock with Tame Impala’s ”Lost in Yesterday”. The lows are well integrated and dynamic with deep bass. The treble extends well with good vivacity which imbues the sound with a little extra crispness. There’s a nice sibilance and clarity from the cymbals, snares and hi-hats. What comes as a surprise was the mids, though it felt that the mids were slightly pushed back compared to the lows and highs, it didn’t seem to get lost in the mix and held plenty of detail of their own.
Regardless of the genre, the 99 Neo provides a very easy-going, warm and smooth quality that never seems tiring and makes long term listening sessions a definite reality. Testing on Spotify via computer and iPhone 11 via Thunderbolt 3.5mm adapter, you get a well-rounded sound color on both devices, due to the 99 Neo’s low impedance, which is sufficient enough to run on any mobile device. But with that being said, it does feel that the Neos are better off with a slight boost in volume to get that sonic sweet spot.
It’s not surprising that a well-invested headphone such as the Neo would need a little pick-me-up from a DAC Amp, in particular the FiiO BTR 3 Bluetooth Amplifier has made the 99 Neos sound even better. Music and movies are further amplified with more vigor, mids and highs are more clear and expressive while holding all the details in the mix.
In a nutshell, the Meze 99 Neo is a pretty decent mid-tier headphone, as it offers an all-rounder experience with a premium feel. With so much to offer from its well-thought ergonomics, contemporary aesthetics, stellar comfort and richly-balanced sound signature, there’s definitely a lot going for them, especially at a sub-S$500 price point, this should be a perfect pair for anyone looking to up their audio game without spending too much.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Though not well-known, Meze has shaped up to be quite a showstopper with their range of mid-tier to premium headphones, and we can’t wait for what’s next in their line of products.
Aesthetics - 10/10
Build Quality - 9.5/10
Performance - 8.5/10
Value - 8/10
Geek Satisfaction - 9.5/10
User Review( votes)
Beer, Bikes and BBQ, 3 of Zacky’s favourite things. He may look like a gnarly badass biker on the outside, but a gentle soft geeky teddy bear in the inside.