From the Depths Came a Broiling Pitch – A Review of the Meze 99 Neo

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::Disclaimer::
Meze provided the 99 Neo free of charge in exchange for my honest review, for good or ill.

The Meze 99 Neo sells for $249
www.MezeAudio.com
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I received an alert from Joker: Meze had offered The Headphone List a review unit of their newest spawn, the Neo. Did any of us care to tackle it? Quick on the draw, I was. The 99 Classics is currently my preferred portable over-ear. In fact, I wrote such a thorough, flattering review, Meze felt certain I had been part of the original tour. No Meze, I was merely doing what I do, celebrating exceptional equipment. The 99 Classics’ signature resonates perfectly with my tastes, and is one of my favorite things to listen to, at any price range. I simply adore it.

So I was eager to get my hands on their Neo variant. I expected… well, I don’t know what I expected. On paper, it seemed like Neo was nothing more than a plastic-cupped version of the 99C. But I don’t know of any headphone company which does that. When a manufacturer releases a new unit, and gives it a new name, they almost always retune the thing, if for no other reason than to appeal to a new segment. The broader the range of flavor on offer, the broader the potential customer base.

I just didn’t know what the Neo would be. It could go either way.

Everything about the Neo proclaims its new flavor. It isn’t Rocky Road to the 99C’s Neapolitan. Nothing so extreme. Rather, it’s Double Fudge Brownie to 99C’s old-school chocolate. Richer, chewier, and more adolescent.

You can see this even in the carry case. Meze didn’t have to redesign the case. Why would they? But they did it anyway, as a statement: Neo is not Classic. The case is neither better nor worse than the old one. It’s just different. Both are beautifully crafted and a great way to carry these phones about.

Look at the weaving! That shit gives the geek in me a stiffy!

The cable has been redesigned. Though, I think that is for the whole 99 line, not just Neo. The lower-portion of the cable is still covered in a nice cloth, but now, after the Y-split, the cord is sheathed in rubber. I think this is meant to reduce microphonic vibrations. Whatever the reason, the cable was well-made before, and it’s well-made now.

Just as the 99 Classics before it, the Neo is highly comfortable. The clamp force holds them secure, and the pads keep things soft and easy. I have no trouble wearing them for long hours at a time. Due to the plastic cups, Neo is a touch lighter, and will prove even friendlier for those long listening sessions.

Neo is using new pads. When the 99 Classics first released, they had small pads, which garnered more complaints across the web than anything else… by far. So Meze released new pads to go on their next batch. I have those larger pads, they came with my 99C. Yet Neo’s pads are bigger still. They’re wider, and deeper.

Certainly, these new pads play a role in what I hear. How much of a role, is hard to say, so we shall take on this challenge now.

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About Author

Pinky is an artsy twat. Illustration, graphic design, writing. Yet music escapes him, and always has. He builds his own cables, and likes to explore the craftsmanship of others. He's a stabby one, also. At the first hint of annoyance, out comes the blade. I say he's compensating for something... in a big bad way. If we all try really hard as a collective, maybe we can have him put down.

8 Comments

  1. Mateo on

    That damper glued to the front of the driver actually it comes by default with the 99 classics… Did you get to hear the 99 Neo without the damper glued?

    • Pinky Powers on

      Hmm. Interesting. My 99C came used, and heavily modded. I undid all the mods I found, but it’s possible he removed that damper and forgot to tell me.

      • Mateo on

        It would even be interesting to remove that 99 Neo damper and see what it turns out …

  2. Juan Luis Quiroz on

    Hi Pinky! Again here =)

    Did you get to try the 99 neo with other pads? If so, is the sound improved?

    • Pinky Powers on

      I haven’t messed around with different pads on these. Maybe I should.

  3. Juan Luis on

    After the burn in of the Cayin N3, it was finally a good match with the Neo? Oh, and if you compared it to your former favorite Sennheiser Momentum, which one would come Victorious?

    • Pinky Powers on

      Yeah, they play nicely together. The N3 really filled out after burn-in. I don’t hear any of the weak-sauce sound I did at the beginning.

      Neo is a very warm headphone, and the N3 is a very warm DAP, which isn’t the best way to go. Normally I would recommend pairing Neo with a more neutral player. Or going with the 99 Classics for the N3. But, I can’t deny, the result here is still highly enjoyable, if not the most optimal.

      • Juan Luis on

        I do not totally agree that cayin n3 is “very warm”. Yes, it is slightly, which gives a certain organic / analog touch to the sound. But the general is a clear sound, and very detailed for its price. I mention it to you because I have a Sennheiser Urbanite, which is reputed to sound very warm and dark, but paired with the n3, it step up in clarity, especially in upper mids and lower treble.

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