99 classics

back to Meze Audio
back to measurements

published: July-5-2017

post separation

NO SMOOTHING is applied to the shown plots. Most measurement sites have some smoothing applied which ‘irons flat’ sharp peaks and ‘wiggles’. I do not use smoothing because some info about sound quality is lost when plots are smoothed.

Aside from a small correction of the microphone itself also some correction in the lowest frequencies is applied to the plots to compensate for the perceived loss of bass when using headphones. This is described HERE in more detail.
A ‘horizontal‘ frequency response curve on the shown frequency response plots on this website thus indicates a perceived ‘flat’ tonal signature.

ALL measurements are made with a good SEAL on a flatbed measurement rig.
The shape of your head, bone structure, pad size, pad ‘softness,  (compliance), hair or no hair and or wearing glasses may (drastically) change the frequency response of some headphones, so… your personal experience may differ substantially from these plots.

Frequency response (tonal balance) is the most sound-determining aspect of headphones. A horizontal line shows audible neutral response in the plots on this website. Deviations in different severities at different frequency bands have an effect on the sound character.
The bigger the deviation the stronger the effect.

Below an aid to help determining the sound character of headphones with relation to the frequency response.


post separation
Meze 99 classics

Meze 99 Classic
The Meze 99 classics is a closed dynamic headphone. It looks and feels first class and is really nicely made. Everything is screwed and can easily be (dis)assembled. The wood cups look really nice. This is the latest version which has thicker pads. The beautifully crafted wood cups and is available in various types of wood and with silver or gold colored metal parts. (the one pictured/tested here has silver colored metal parts)
The price puts it in the € 300.- range which isn’t cheap but also not very expensive when looking at the headphone market today. For € 250.- you can buy the Meze 99 neo but the nice wood is black plastic instead.
The comfort is high and the sound signature is tuned for usage on the go. A little extra bass and good isolation is important in these circumstances.
It can be driven directly from portable sources such as phones, tablets and DAPs.
An extra amp is not needed.
Touching the metal parts of the headband is quite audible. Also the cable is quite microphonic. This means you can clearly hear it when the cables are touched or rub against clothes. To me this is at a level that would annoy me.

Note that this headphone was measured at ears-unlimited-logo where unavoidable background noises were present in the demo room. Distortion levels and spectrum plot performance may thus be better in reality than shown on the plots.


Type: Over ear, closed
Usage: Home/office/portable (not for sport activities)
Driver type: dynamic
Pads: pleather (replaceable)
Foldable: No
Headphone connector: 3.5mm TS in each cup
Cable entry: dual
Cable: Kevlar 3m with 3.5mm TRS plug and a 1.2m cable with inline mic/remote
Driver size: 40mm
Max power rating: 50mW
Max. S.P.L.  120dB
Impedance: 32 Ω
Efficiency: 103dB @ 1mW
Sensitivity: 118dB @ 1V
Weight: 260 g.
Inner pad dimensions: depth: 18mm. height: 60mm, width 40mm oval shaped.
Accessories: 6.3mm adapter, airline adapter, carrying case
Clamping force: Medium

Sound description:

The Meze 99 Classics sound overly bassy and ‘fat’. For those that prefer a ‘neutral’ and natural sound it is not the perfect headphone. It has a ‘hollow’ sound to it and upper) mids are recesssed.
When using on portable devices and listening to popular music the described sound is not necesarily a bad thing. Pop recordings actually do not sound poor on this headphone and can see why many people are liking the sound.
The mids also have a ‘thick’ signature, as in lacking clarity/presence, and is way too ‘laid back’ for me.
To me it sounds fatty, bassy, hollow and lacks ‘bite’ which are all negative words but many others may find it pleasantly bassy, warm, laid back with pleasant soft highs.
There is no ‘sharpness’ to the sound which many people may find pleasing.
The treble is subdued compared to the bass but not of poor quality. Smooth would be a good description.


Below the frequency response of the Meze 99 classics (Left, Right)

FR 99 classic

And this is what it sounds like as well. Elevated bass (the part below 200Hz) and warm mids (downwards slope from 200Hz to 4kHz). It is lacking somewhat in clarity/presence which is caused by the dip around 4kHz. Treble is smooth and a little subdued compared to the bass/lower mids but still present enough to not get the feeling of it sounding rolled-off in the treble. Treble quality itself is quite good. No annoying sharp sounds.
The slightly cheaper plastic version (still feels high quality) has a similar sound profile.
Below the 99 classics and 99 neo overlayed. The 99 neo has slightly more lows and is even slightly warmer sounding. The differences are quite small so in practice it will be hard to tell these apart. The difference could even be down to driver variations.

FR 99neo vs 99 classic

output resistance / dampingfactor

As this is a low impedance dynamic headphone the frequency response could be output resistance dependent when certain higher output resistance amplifiers are used.
To test this the headphone is measured via a low impedance amplifier (0.2Ω) and a high impedance amplifier (120Ω). On a higher output resistance amplifier the output level will be considerably lower. To compensate for this the amplifier is cranked up to the same level (at 1kHz) as the low impedance amplifier. This way the plots are overlay-ed and it is easy to see how the tonal balance changes.

Right channel only, driven from 0.2Ω and 120Ω amplifier.FR 99 classic R 120
As can be seen the difference is negligible and the tonal balance of this headphone doesn’t change when the source has a higher output resistance. The driver is mechanically fully damped and thus does not need electrical damping.

Below the distortion plots of the Meze 99 classics: (only right channel shown)
The distortion products are shown in dB.

Dist 99 cl R

The distortion is quite low for a medium sized dynamic driver. 0.5% in the bass area is quite good. Distortion in the mids is low (below 0.1%). Only around 5kHz the distortion becomes higher and reaches audible levels (almost 1%). Distortion in that frequency band is more audible.
Below the same plot except shown in percentages.

Dist 99 cl R percent

Do note that some of the distortion ‘spikes’ may well have been caused by ambient sounds in the demo room from ears unlimited when it was measured there.
The 5kHz peak is really there though and not caused by ambient sounds.

Below the CSD of the Meze 99 classics (Left and Right channel are superimposed)

The 8kHz peak is a resonance, just like the peak around 16kHz. Usually this indicates somewhat reduced treble quality. Don’t expect the finest nuances to come through.
As the treble is subdued compared to the bass the treble still sounds smooth.
When driven from a 120 Ω output resistance amplifier nothing changes.
(0.2 Ω and 120 Ω of the right channel are superimposed)

CSD 99cl 120

Below the spectrum plot of the Meze 99 classics (Left channel).

Spectr 99 cl L

This plot too shows small issues. Some lingering/coloration at around 1kHz (probably the sealed enclosure) and some small resonances around 4kHz, 8kHz and 16kHz.

By lack of oscilloscope shots (not enough time to measure that) below a step response plot of the Meze 99 classics. (Left channel)step 99 cl L
Very little and reasonable short lived ringing. The hump in the middle indicates an midbass boost. The fact that the rising edge does not reach the 0dB line is evidence of the ‘dark’ sound signature.
Below the Right channel.

step 99 cl R

The measurements of the Meze 99 classics indicate it is anything but a ‘reference’ sound quality headphone. It is quite colored in sound (as in opposed to realistic/neutral).
This isn’t a bad thing though as many people prefer a headphone with a ‘warm’ and bassy character over ‘neutral’ sound. Not everyone wants to hear all warts of the recordings.
The tonal balance (boosted lows) is actually preferable when commuting.
For those circumstances the 99 classics is a good option. There are cheaper alternatives that sound equally well or even better but do not have this build quality and feel.

For those looking for finest details and a more realistic and ‘neutral’ sound quality while enjoying music at home this is not the ideal headphone.
For those looking for a warm and bassy (not basshead) type of sound with subdued and pleasant/soft treble this may be a viable option.

post separation

back to Meze Audio
back to measurements