99 neo

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published: July-5-2017

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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.


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Meze 99 neo

Meze 99 Neo
The Meze 99 neo 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 matte plastic cups look really and feel nice. This is the latest version with thicker pads.
The price is around € 250.- which isn’t cheap but also not really expensive when looking at the headphone market today. For € 300.- you can buy the Meze 99 classics. This one has beautifully crafted wood cups and is available in various types of wood and with silver or gold colored metal parts.
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.

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.
Accessories: 6.3mm adapter, airline adapter, carrying case
Clamping force: Medium

Sound description:

The Meze 99 Neo sounds 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. It sounds very similar to the 99 Classic but the 99 classic is slightly less ‘hollow and bassy’ sounding.
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, more so than the 99 classic which is the better one to 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 neo (Left, Right)

FR 99 Neo

And this is how it sounds 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

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

Dist 99 Neo L

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 4kHz the distortion becomes higher and reaches audible levels (1%). Distortion in that frequency band is more audible.
Below the same plot except shown in percentages.

Dist 99 Neo L 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 4kHz peak is really there though and not caused by ambient sounds.

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

CSD 99 neo

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.

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

spectr 99 neo L

This plot too shows small issues. Some lingering/coloration at around 1kHz (probably the sealed enclosure) and some small resonances around 3kHz and 8kHz.

By lack of oscilloscope shots (not enough time to measure that) below a step response plot of the Meze 99 neo. (Left channel)Step 99neo 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 more evidence of the ‘dark’ and bassy sound signature.
Below the Right channel.

Step 99 neo R

The measurements of the Meze 99 neo 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 neo (or 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.

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