This week we reviewed the Meze 99 Neo headphones. This is the second model by Meze, the Romanian manufacturer responsible for the famous Meze 99 Classics. It stands out from its predecessor for its plastic ear cups and updated transducers, which benefit from a few adjustments. It is also less expensive than the Classics model. We wanted to determine whether or not these slight alterations impact the overall sound.
Just like its predecessor, the Meze 99 Neo headphones benefit from high-quality craftsmanship. In other words, the headphones are put together without using any glue and can be fully disassembled. This means that the Neo 99 is not a disposable piece of equipment and can absolutely be fixed if need be. Another particularity 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. All there is to do is place these headphones on your ears and they will naturally adjust to your head. The leatherette-clad memory foam earpads sit snugly around the ears and do not apply excessive pressure.
The Meze 99 Neo is light, and the user should have no problem moving his or her head from side to side. It is very comfortable and can be worn for hours without a hint of fatigue.
The Meze 99 Neo headphones are fitted with 1.5” wideband dynamic transducers with a sensitivity rating of 1 kHz for 1 mW of power. The frequency response ranges from 15Hz to 25kHz, and their impedance is rated at 26 Ohms at 1kHz, which is 6 Ohms more than the 99 Classics. Although it seems obvious that similar transducers are used for the 99 Classics and 99 Neo, this difference in impedance ratings shows that they have been slightly optimized for this newer model. A marginally different sound signature is thus in the cards. As for the rest, this moderate impedance rating enables the Meze 99 Neo to be paired up with a smartphone or, a better option of course, with a DAP or portable DAC.
The Meze 99 Neo comes with a carrying case -shaped to ensure a perfect fit with the headphones- a detachable cable fitted with a 3.5mm mini-jack connector and a microphone, and a mini-jack to 6.35mm jack connector.
We listened to the Meze 99 Neo with the Encore mDSD headphone amplifier and DAC, and a Xiaomi Redmi Pro smartphone. We played FLAC (CD/HD) and MP3 (Deezer Premium) files.
The Meze 99 Neo inherited the qualities of the 99 Classics, which means a clear and balanced sound, even at low volume. The lows are well integrated and dynamic, with an energy favoring the high-bass register rather than the infrabass. The restitution is lively and full of rhythm regardless of the musical style. Yet, the listening experience is never tiring, which means the user may enjoy very long listening sessions. Although the Meze 99 Neo doesn’t offer a soundstage as wide as that of an open-back model, it leaves enough space between the layers so that the sound doesn’t become oppressive. However, there is one notable difference between the Meze 99 Classics’ and the Meze 99 Neo’s sound signature as the latter puts extra emphasis on the low-mids. This adjustment is a welcome addition and adds density to the vocals. Inherently, the highs seem less soft, but it doesn’t take anything away from the overall balance.
What we liked:
- The manufacturing quality.
- The wearing comfort.
- The balanced sound.
What we would have liked:
- More emphasis on the bass register.
The Meze 99 Neo headphones are just as pleasant as the Meze 99 Classics in their own way. Its sound signature is not as strong in the infrabass, and the low-mids are brought to the fore, but the overall balance is just as rounded. A perfect companion for long listening sessions, even at high volume.French