atelier 13 audio
MEZE 99 NEO
"We are talking about a handsome, absurdly well-finished, beautifully built, spectacularly comfortable handset that has some of the most musical midtones and treble that I have ever heard in the world of headphones"…
... what they say ...
"Meze Audio is an Eastern European manufacturer of headphones - something you don't see every day. The brand is a project by designer Antonio Meze, which started with a very interesting strategy : the brand's first products were OEM headphones, that is, existing models, coming from Chinese manufacturers that carried the Meze brand. This was a very smart strategy, because it allowed for a market test, with less need for investment capital and a reduction of the risks inherent in the development of a product of its own.
After a few years, Antonio was able to develop what his vision of a headphone is ... thus was born the beautiful Meze 99 Classics. It is a circumaural made for portable use, which was immediately a reason for enchantment in the enthusiastic community due to its beauty, finish and sound quality.
What I have for evaluation is the 99 Neo - a version with a more urban and accessible aesthetic of the 99 Classics, which exchanges wooden shells for plastic. It costs $ 199.
In physical terms, the 99 Neo is spectacular.
Firstly, there is refinement in the finish and construction. It’s a headphone all made with screws, which means that maintenance is simple - in a world where more and more products are made in such a way that repair is impossible or impossible ... so you need to buy another when you have a problem - this Meze approach is refreshing. Even on the brand's YouTube channel, there are videos teaching how to change even the driver! Parts like this are not listed for sale on the manufacturer's website, but I believe that by contacting them, it is possible to purchase these components.
The quality of the finish is also exceptional. The 99 Neo may have exchanged the older brother's wood for plastic, but in my view the result is far from "cheap" or "simple". The plastic is of the highest quality and looks surprisingly sophisticated. The bow is made of metal, and the piece that connects the bow to the headrest strap is a standout apart.
The cable is also very impressive, with part of its length covered with fabric and both connectors and remote control in metal. I just wish that this remote control also had volume buttons - it only has play / pause.
Comfort is also worthy of the most emphatic praise. This is, without a doubt, one of the most comfortable headphones I've ever had the pleasure of testing. However, here, I notice that the isolation could be a little better. But I know that this is because the brand chose to prioritize comfort - it is a choice.
In the box - which is very beautiful, by the way - there is a rigid nylon transport case, with a small bag that contains a P2-P10 adapter".
"When the phone arrived, I went to listen to the song 'So They Say' , by Rukhsana Merrise. I remember I was with my father at the time, and our reaction was one of total enchantment.
What happens is this : 99 Neo is absurdly silky and musical. It reminds me a lot of what I had with my old Stax SR-007, mixed with a Hifiman HE500 and an Audio-Technica W3000ANV. Of course, I'm not talking about a headset that is at their level, which is much more expensive, but the point is that it is absolutely amazing how much the 99 Neo is a really nice headset to listen to.
The mids are natural, organic, liquid and simply delicious. It is not the most transparent phone I have ever heard - if that is your goal, there are more suitable options - but if what you are looking for is pure enchantment, it is difficult to beat the 99 Neo for that price. The NEO just seems to want to hug you.
In fact, in terms of naturalness in the mid-range, it is a remarkably superior performer. Any recording of female vocals is frighteningly engaging, and the treble, to top it all off, sounds like a spectacular addition to the mids. It has that subtle "shine" that brings natural delicacy. The highs may be a little receded on the spectrum, but, once again, the key word is musicality and enchantment. And the highs are, exactly, to my ears, at the point where I want them. In a way, it's like I don't want to waste time talking about technicalities, because that's not the goal.
But, when we get to the bass ... it is quite strong, at least for my taste in music. The emphasis seems to be in the medium-low spectrum, in the region responsible for the sensation of impact".
Atelier Audio's Input
If you favor Electro, upbeat-contemporary or hard rock, then the "NEO-beat" sounds incisive, powerful and physical. An educated guess suggests that this $199 phone was aimed squarely at a "generation" of users considerably younger than myself :=))
"We are talking about a beautiful headset that is absurdly well finished, very well built, spectacularly comfortable and having some of the most musical mids and highs I've ever had the opportunity to hear in the world of headphones.
For me, the bass is a bit too overpowering. But refusing to be stumped, I solved 'my issue' by using my player's equalizer ... and crossed over the 'generational divide' ... only to find myself uttering a lot of [normally censured] expletives while listening to Ari Lennox's Night Drive"
It is sublime
Transducer Type / Size
Dynamic / 40mm
15 - 25,000 Hz
103 dB (1 mW / 1 kHz)
Rated / Maximum Input Power
30mW / 50mW
Detachable Kevlar OFC
3.5mm Gold Plated
260 g (9.2oz) - without cabled
Warranty Period : 2 YEARS
Case / Pouch
Hard EVA carrying pouch
1.5m thread Kevlar OFC cable with mic and remote
6.3mm gold plated jack