Updated: Jan 26
The dark warrior with a soft face. in deutsch
frequency range: 15 - 25000 Hz | sound pressure level: 103 dB | impedance: 26 Ohm | dynamic.
The 99 NEO will not necessarily meet the taste of those who already found the Classic too bass-heavy.
Bass Mids Trebles Stage Imaging
8 8 8 7.5 7.5
Processing Comfort Earpads Headband Weight
9 8 7 9 260 grams
Price 199 €
Pro Contra - musical - mids and highs slightly lack bite
- bass-emphasized - bass-emphasized
- relaxed signature... - ...which sometimes seems a bit too dark
- Lightweight - ear pads a bit thin and small.
MEZE always has the ambition to combine design and sound, so that their products not only functionally provide what they are made for (music playback), but also an aesthetic claim behind it.
Since I rather value the functional aspect, I often complain that this part comes too short with some manufacturers and then you have a headphone sparkling in the sunlight with unique hand paintings of Native Americans, but in the best case can also hold a tin can or a shell to the ear, where then the "sea noise" still sounds more natural than from the extravagant work of art.
For my taste, MEZE usually finds quite a good mix, even if the SOLO (IEM) could not fully convince me sonically, as well as the 99 NEO.
The 99 NEO is the successor of the 99 Classic and enriches the company's portfolio with a warm, bass-heavy and relaxed sound, which, however, brings enough energy to make the L-signature musical and lively.
The 99 NEO is not only visually very appealing, it also does not show any weaknesses in terms of workmanship. The only weak point might be the ear cup's attachment to the headband, but that's more of a haptic "weakness" than the materials would give in.
The ear pads could be a bit larger and deeper, but the padding is extraordinarily comfortable, even if it rests slightly on the (large) ear. Other pads (e.g. those of the Brainwavz HM5) provide a remedy here.
Even though I am very sensitive especially with the padding of the ear cups, for example, if my ear bumps against the inside or the pads do not completely enclose my ear, I have no major problems with the NEO even after hours, except for a slight feeling of pressure. The headband automatically adjusts to the shape of the head with rubber grippers and distributes the 260 grams (which also makes the 99 NEO lightweight) evenly across the skull.
The scope of delivery includes a robust, fabric-covered cable with microphone and remote control, which is connected to the left and right of the headphones via mono jack (3.5mm). In addition, there is an airplane as well as 6.3mm adapter and a small fabric box for the cable. All this incl. the 99 NEO is in an attractive hardcover case.
With 103 dB at 26 ohms, the 99 NEO plays extremely effectively and also without problems on the smartphone.
The isolation, on the other hand, could be a bit better, at least in terms of sound emission to the outside world. Direct neighbors can sense music on the bus or train even at moderate volumes and certainly sing along at slightly higher levels if they know the song. However, the isolation to the inside is quite good when the music is playing.
The NEO actually offers me exactly what I expected in advance. A musical and full sound. This is primarily due to the bass, which clearly wears the pants on the NEO. Unfortunately, it sometimes lacks the necessary precision and firmness, so that it sometimes grumbles grumpily instead of hitting hard. Actually, a bit of a pity, since this fact is the only serious point on my list of shortcomings of the NEO, respectively runs like a red thread through the signature, together with the somewhat limited stage dimensioning. Nevertheless, the bass does a good job overall, as it is not outrageously overloaded or overpowering despite the clear elevation.
Somewhat more neutral and colder music sources are recommended here in combination, since warmer ones could thicken the bass even more. However, it is always fun due to its powerful punch and it can also present finer passages without too much exuberance. In addition, it has an appealing sub-bass response if you cut back the upper range a bit with the help of an equalizer.
The mids are equally relaxed as they are detailed. Musicality is certainly the keyword here as well. However, they are warmed up a bit too much by the bass, especially when music provides a lot of "boomy" upper bass. In general, bass guitars are a bit too fat and boomy. This detracts somewhat from the overall performance of the mids, although it depends on the genre and mastering here. But the problem is more the interaction of the upper bass with the lower mids, which makes some things sound too fat and emphasized. I would wish for a bit more directness and firmness there. Towards the top, the mids clear up well and have a lively character. Voices sound a bit too warm, but still authentic.
If you like very physical mids that can still score with a good range of detail and transparency, especially with less bass-intensive music, you might find what you're looking for here. To me, however, they are a bit "hollow" at times. Garishness or other nasty peaks are not discernible.
The treble blends in with the relaxed, warm and softer sound of the 99 NEO. They lack a bit of bite and certainly some brilliance, but they still don't necessarily lack liveliness. They shouldn't pull back much more at all, otherwise the 99 NEO would slip into absolute darkness. So they more or less keep it alive. Sibilants or unpleasant harshness are a foreign word for the NEO. Even if cymbals could like to sound a bit more grippy and it sometimes gets thinner in the treble, I can't complain about the variety of information. However, you have to listen a bit closer so that you don't miss anything.
The stage won't make you tip backwards from your chair, because it has more of a studio character than live event feeling. On the other hand, it is just as well positioned in terms of depth as it is in terms of width, even if there are limitations in both cases.
The imaging can convey a good 3D image due to the good utilization of the individual axes and an appealing breakdown to different layers, if the songs were produced that way. However, the bass ensures that the finest blade is not unpacked in the separation, as it sometimes acts a bit growly. However, instruments and details can be located well, even when things get hectic.
Unfortunately, I have no comparison to the MEZE 99 Classic. However, I can deduce from MEZE's own advertising that the 99 NEO will not necessarily meet the taste of those who already found the Classic too bass-heavy. Even if optics and sound are not necessarily connected, the appearance of a headphone can already give an indication of the expected sound, especially if the design is deliberately used as a support by the manufacturer.
The 99 NEO looks robust and powerful to me (especially due to the headband and the silver brackets). Like a warrior that always attacks in the dark.
For me, this is also directly reflected in the warm and rather darker sound, which is nevertheless quite musical and despite its physical character does not seem oppressive.
I would still wish for a bit more bite and firmness, especially in the basement, but the NEO is for me a good example of how a harmonically tuned L-signature can sound, albeit a bit too relaxed for my taste. Despite the bass emphasis, mids as well as highs still have enough room to breathe and the audiophile demand does not come up short. For me, it performs consistently in a good range within the targeted signature over the entire frequency range. However, a few dB less in the bass can work wonders.