Since this is the second Meze 99 review we are having on the site in the past few weeks, I thought, given the similarities between the original 99 Classics and the newer Meze 99 Neo, I would be more to the point and shorter in this review as what was said during the original review applies to almost every area of the Neos. Essentially styling and build quality are excellent, and the changes can be seen in the materials for the earcups and the sound signature.
What is the Meze 99 Neo?
The Meze 99 Neo is basically a slightly cheaper version of Meze’s extremely successful 99 Classic Headphones. Instead of using wood for the earcups, this model has a nicely textured black composite plastic. The sound is a bit different too, which we will get into later, but much of the total package you are buying falls right in line with its big brother. For the most part, what we said in the more in-depth Meze 99 Classics review applies to the Neo as well.
What’s in The box?
The 99 Neo headphones come in a beautiful box with plenty of detail about the inside headphones. Its attractive packaging and as such they are perfect for giving as a gift for birthdays and holidays.
When you open the box up, you will be greeted not by the headphones but by the attractive and useful hard-shell carry case; the headphones are lurking inside. I like the case; it’s good quality and molded to specifically fit the 99 Neo rather than just being an off-the-shelf offering.
Inside the case, as mentioned, you get the 99 Neo and then a small pouch full of the accessories which you attach to the inside of the case with a velcro pad.
The accessories are simple enough; there is, after all, not much you can do with a set of headphones. You get the dual entry 3.5mm cable as well as a jack adapter.
The cable is very nice with good jack points and an excellent Meze branded splitter. It has a well-behaved cord on the bottom and changes at the splitter level to a rubber sleeve.
Build Quality and Style
From a distance, the 99 Neo just looks like a black version of the original classic model. Get them up close and, bar the materials, yeh they look the same.
In my opinion, that’s a perfect thing as they managed to create such an excellent design in the first place. Why would you mess with it? I am still a sucker for the classy brass and gold on the predecessor, but I know many people will be happy with the more modern and subdued look of the black model.
Build quality is excellent, everything is finished to a very high standard, and there was nothing to complain about in manufacturing. I mention in the classic review that this is one of the best headphone designs of the past few years. It is a modern take on a classic design, and it has been pulled off in a classy way. When I show people the Neo, they have no idea that they aren’t one of my far more expensive headphones. Side by side, the classics are definitely the more premium of the two, but both are beautiful sets of cans from an aesthetical standpoint.
Comfort & Isolation
The comfort is every bit as good as the 99 Classics. Quality earpads, low weight, and an excellent headband combine to make one of the comfier headphones that I have reviewed in the past few years. Not much external sound gets in or out of them, and whilst not the most noise isolating of headphones, they do a good enough job for use in the library or an office.
Wear time is right up there with some of the best. They are a really comfy design and have plenty of room inside to have no points of contact with medium-sized ears. Despite the odd break for hot ears, I found no fatigue from clamping pressure or the self-adjusting headband’s compression.
The sound follows a similar flavor to what you get with the 99 Classics, but the Neo’s have a more prominent low end and a slightly lusher midrange. Both are excellent sounding headphones in their own right, and I would say that only slightly the Classics have the edge in terms of refinement. It still has that analog and engaging sound of the Classic but takes things just a touch to the warmer side and pushing the bass up a couple of notches.
Highs – Less prominent top end than that of the Classic. It’s a smooth treble that does little to offend. There is still a solid amount of detail to be retrieved, but they seem to be tuned with a less aggressive end tack.
Mids – The mids are almost identical to the Classic but less a little bit of definition. Still, there is lots of depth and clarity, and that overtone of warmth really makes them great for rock and acoustic listening.
Lows – Certainly where the separation from their predecessors the low end. The 99 Neo has a fuller bass response thanks in part to an enhanced emphasis on sub-bass. I won’t say they are bass canons because they are not, but they do provide sufficient quantity to match almost any music genre. Speed in the low end is good for such a big driver, and distortion is almost negligible in this frequency; it manages to remain composed even on challenging and complicated compositions.
Conclusion & Summary
What we have here is essentially a Meze Classic lite. You get many of the great features that you get from the original model, just at a lower price. I know many people will be happy for a similar-sounding headphone as the Classics but with a bit more low-end grunt. I am one of those people. The Neo 99 is a great headphone, and value wise I think it is definitely worth considering if you were looking at the Classics but didn’t quite have the funds. They managed to bring the price down and did so without sacrificing what makes Meze headphones great. Hats off once again and a definite recommendation from us to buy!