Are we just hungry or do Meze Audio’s 99 Classics conjure up images of flatbread, falafel and baba ganoush, washed down with a chocolate-flaked ice cream cone? Whether or not there was any such intent behind the naming of these wired over-ear headphones, they are, for the most part, as delectable as they sound.
The launch of the 99 Classics mark a breakthrough for Meze Audio, a decade-old Romanian headphones brand created by a guitar-loving founder with a desire to make a pair of headphones he could feel as passionately about as his Fender Stratocaster.
Wired over-ears at this price point aren’t as common as they once were, due to the popularity and increasing quality of wireless headphones, but for anyone whose priority it is to get the best performance this amount of money can buy, a wired pair is still the only answer. So are these Mezes the answer?
Build and comfort
True to their name, the 99 Classics’ walnut-veneered earcups and gold or silver metal accents give off a strong aura of classic traditionalism.
Type Wired, over-ears
Cables 3m, 1m
In a market increasingly awash with minimalist, industrial-looking designs, they have a discerningly premium aesthetic, backed by a sturdy build and satisfying comfort.
The flimsy-looking skeletal frame is surprisingly rigid, while their large padded headband does well to prevent pressure from building on the head. With and without glasses on, we spend hours listening to the Mezes during testing, and their design is light and comfortable enough to do so without feeling burdened.
There is, however, slight evidence of the wood lacquer being worn on the bottom edge of the ear cups by the end of our time testing them – something you should perhaps expect to happen over time if they’re constantly placed on a desk.
A hardshell case will prevent the 99 Classics from being spoiled when they’re accompanying you outside the house, though, and there’s a handy pouch inside that’s large enough to store the supplied flight and 6.3mm adapters, plus both a 1m cable with in-line remote for portable use and a 3m cable for plugging into a home system. Both are double-ended at the earcup connectivity end, with ‘L’ and ‘R’ symbols on the cables denoting which strand goes where.
With a sonic character that’s easy to love at first listen, the 99 Classics are pleasingly even-handed and bask in full-bodied lusciousness and clarity from top to bottom. There’s a natural warmth to the midrange that laps up Chris Stapleton's country crooning as we play Whiskey And You, with the Mezes keen to throw his vocal under the spotlight.
This isn’t the most spacious presentation we’ve encountered in a pair of closed-back headphones, but we like their determination to make things as clear and focused as possible. Their character invites you to listen, and it’s satisfying to do so.
That solidity extends to the bass frequencies too, with lows impressively deep and well defined, whether they’re anchoring the droning bassline underpinning Billie Eilish's Therefore I Am or the sombre heaviness of James Blake's Atmosphere cover. Those who like their bass fat but not overbearing will be pleased with the Mezes’ low-frequency handling.
The 99 Classics are no slouches either, their crispness up top helping them sound balanced and snappy. We would, however, trade some of their smoothness and fluidity for a touch more bite. They tend to gloss over the rhythmic punch and enthusiasm of more upbeat tracks, stopping just short of a wholeheartedly good time. While these headphones are hugely listenable due to their pleasant tonality and comfort, they aren’t exactly natural-born entertainers.
Compared to the class leaders at this level, they aren’t as crystal clear or technically precise as the leaner-sounding Austrian Audio Hi-X55, which are more analytical in the way they surface detail and express themselves dynamically.
The dwindling number of wired over-ears compared to a decade ago means there aren't many models around today that we’d recommend at this price point. But the 99 Classics are one of them.
While we ultimately prefer the greater transparency and liveliness of the aforementioned Austrian Audios or our long-time favourites, the open-backed Grado SR325e, these Mezes are easy to find favour with. Their appealing combination of natural warmth and good insight, all-day comfort and classic looks make them an appetising option.
- Sound 4
- Comfort 5
- Build 4
Read our guide to the best over-ear headphones
Read our Austrian Audio Hi-X55 review
Read our Grado SR325e review