Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir Closed-Back Headphonessearch

Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir Closed-Back Headphones

Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir Closed-Back Headphones

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An Instant Classic Goes Dark

A regular fixture on InnerFidelity’s “Wall of Fame,” PC Magazine’s “Editors’ Choice” section, and award lists around the world, the 99 Classics get a dark new look in the 99 Noir. Made in collaboration with Meze Audio, these headphones update the original medium-brown finish with a deep matte espresso and swap the gold hardware for more understated black. This sleek colorway is a great complement to the sound signature, which hasn’t changed a bit: It’s the same warm, rich, bassy, enveloping sound loved by headphone enthusiasts, speaker enthusiasts, and those looking for their first audiophile gear. Finally, we amended the original accessories package to include only the most frequently used items, making the price more accessible than ever. 

Note:  Shipping is free to US members with subsidized international shipping.

First-Run Production Perks

When you join this drop before it goes into production, you’ll get some exciting perks:

  • Q&A with Antonio Meze
  • $10 toward your next Massdrop purchase

Construction & Accessories

Built for the long haul, the 99 Noir—like the 99 Classics—uses no glue and very little plastic: just lots of walnut wood, metal, and screws. The CNC-carved walnut ear cups are fitted with memory foam ear pads wrapped in soft PU leather. And the “99” in the headphone’s name? It’s a reference to the cups’ size: 99 millimeters tall. The stamped manganese spring steel headband is self-adjusting for even pressure distribution and easy on and off. While the two cables in the original kit measured 10 feet and 4 feet, we opted for a detachable 6-foot cable: deemed by the community to be not too long, not too short, but just right. It’s still equipped with a microphone and remote for taking calls and controlling tracks. You’ll also get a plug adapter and a woven nylon carrying case.

Behind the Scenes

Sometimes with our Massdrop Made products, we go pretty far to end up close to where we started. In the case of the 99 Noir, we began 2 years ago with prototypes that had varying reductions in bass—and even prototype drivers aiming for a more neutral sound. But after rounds of testing and community feedback, we realized we had lost a lot of what made the 99 Classics special. In the end, we decided not to change the sound signature at all, so the reviews you see of the 99 Classics are representative of what you’ll hear with the 99 Noir. 

As for the colorway, Meze worked hard to provide us with different finishes and colors of wood, hardware, logos, and screws. We then used these samples to mock up further combinations in Photoshop. Images went out to select members of the community, who came back with their opinions. Eventually, we requested a special, community-designed combination to create the final look you see on this page. Lots of care, handiwork, communication, and patience went into this collaboration to get you the revered sound of the 99 Classics with an updated aesthetic. We thank our partners at Meze Audio for making it possible! 

About Meze Audio

Meze Audio was born in 2009 in Baia Mare, Romania, when founder Antonio Meze wanted a pair of headphones he could feel as connected to as he did with his Fender Stratocaster guitar: a pair of headphones into which he could pour his passion for music. The company’s breakthrough came in 2015, when—after years of development—it launched the 99 Classics. The recipient of countless awards, nominations, and positive reviews, these headphones represent the company’s obsession with quality and its meticulous, no-compromises, as-long-as-it-takes approach. The goal is clarity without harshness, freshness without fatigue. Behind Meze Audio is a dedicated team of engineers, musicians, artists, and designers, and headphones are at the intersection: where everyone’s interests meet. 

Reviews of the Meze 99 Classics

  • "Meze 99 Classics have a pneumatic, even-handed, ear-neutral sound. Highs are crisp and shimmery; their even, laterally wide sound pressure and energy are probably the biggest reason people suggest the 99 Classics have a large soundstage ... The transition zone to high mids and mids is beautiful." Headfonia
  • "The midrange on the 99 Classics is superb. Very coherent and even throughout; voices are rendered with wonderfully balanced tone; performers are neither too distant or in your face. This is a marvelously organic and musical headphone. Time after time as I compared these cans against others in its category I found them not only superior in balance and natural sound, but also delivering a far more fun listening experience than competitors."  – InnerFidelity
  • "I found the 99 Classics to be a ton of fun, very friendly, and super involving. Rather than persnickety sorted and diva-fussy accurate, these Romanians played it looser, bigger, and very wide. Such width is uncommon for sealed cans." 6moons
  • "The sound? In a word: lovely. Slightly on the warm side of neutral but not overly so. A mid-range that’s just right and treble that’s a smidge rolled off but always communicative. The Mezes seems to tap music’s soul. If I’ve just described a well-sorted valve / Class A sound then so be it." – Darko Audio
  • Head-Fi
  • A’Design Award

John Darko’s Sunday Mornings With the 99 Classics

Design Evolution by Antonio Meze

Specs

  • Massdrop x Meze
  • Driver size: 40 mm
  • Ear cups: CNC-carved walnut wood
  • Ear pads: Memory foam and soft PU leather
  • Headband: Stamped manganese spring steel
  • Hardware: Cast zinc alloy with electroplated coating
  • Frequency response: 15 Hz–25 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 103 dB at 1 kHz, 1 mW
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Broadband isolation (100 Hz–10 kHz): -17 dB (measurement source)
  • Rated input power: 30 mW
  • Maximum input power: 50 mW
  • Cable: 6 ft (1.8 m) detachable Kevlar OFC with microphone and remote
  • Plug: ⅛ in (3.5 mm), gold plated
  • Weight without cable: 9.2 oz (260 g)

Included

  • Woven nylon carrying case
  • ⅛–¼ in (3.5–6.35 mm) plug adapter
  • Manufacturer’s 1-year warranty 

Shipping

All orders will be shipped by Massdrop.

Estimated ship date is Apr 18, 2019 PT.

After the drop ends, payment will be collected and the group’s order will be submitted to the vendor up front, making all sales final. Check the discussion page for updates on your order.

Recent Activity

I thought the standard version with the gold looks nicer than the MD version, and I didn't want to wait so long, so I purchased a pair at full price on Amazon. Here are my impressions: (4 Stars out of 5) I can understand why these cans get so many rave reviews. The highs have the most beautiful texture to them. Crisp and detailed without any harshness or sibilance. The midrange is exactly right, with no bright peaks or perceptible recesses. I experienced no ear or head fatigue after 2 hours of continuous listening at high levels. They are surprisingly easy to drive. I like my music loud, and even running them straight from my Galaxy S8 without any external amp or DAC, I can get surprisingly loud, clean levels. The headphones are the most comfortable pair I own, out of a large collection, exceeding even the cozy AKG K701. They look beautiful, and the cans, case and cables all exude the feel of quality. The midbass is the achilles heel of these headphones. There is a cloudy bloom in this range that sounds like the resonance of the walnut enclosure. It is prominent enough and undesirable enough in character that it is a rather constant annoyance to me, unless I'm listening to music mastered between the late '70s and early 90s, where there tends to be less relative content in this frequency range. Normally this would be a deal breaker for me, but the mids and highs are so gorgeous that I still recommend these headphones and rate them highly. The low bass is nondescript. It is there in proper balance, but isn't especially punchy, tight, nor articulate. It doesn't sound bad, rather its overall character simply leaves me utterly nonplussed. The low bass is quite vibrant though, which is good. Some folks claim these phones are dark or rolled off in the high frequencies. I don't find this to be the case at all. They certainly don't have boosted highs like the Beyer cans, HE400i, or the venerable but grossly overrated ATH-M50X. I suspect that those who perceive the highs as less prominent are listening at low volume levels and their perceptions are colored by the Fletcher-Munson curve. This states that human ears are less sensitive to bass and treble at lower volumes. Therefore, cans with boosts in these ranges sound more balanced to those who listen at low levels, whereas a headphone like this one will sound more balanced at higher levels, as the headphone itself is indeed more balanced, and the human ear's frequency response curve is rolled off at lower volumes. Lastly, my first pair had a notable channel imbalance. One driver was noticeably louder than the other, shifting the balance well to one side. I confirmed the problem was in the headphone by swapping the left ear to the right and vice versa (problem shifted to the other side of my head with the rotation of the headphone), summing the music source to mono to ensure the problem was not in the recording (balance still shifted in mono), and lastly, swapped the cables to the opposite driver (problem remained on same side of headphone). In addition to the imbalance, there was a mismatch in frequency response, as evidenced by listening to a monophonic sine sweep from 20-20kHz. There were a few areas of the range where the image drifted to one side or the other, although the drift was rather small and less perceptible than, for example, the 3 Hifiman planar models I own. I have ordered a replacement pair and hope to have better results with the balance. I will revise down if the second pair exhibits a similar problem. Otherwise, recommended despite its midbass tonality. The mids and highs are that good. UPDATE: I received my replacement pair No channel balance issue with the second pair, so my first must've been defective. BUT, the small but noticeable frequency response discrepancy between the drivers still exists, as noted by ear with music and with a sine sweep test tone. Thus, the imaging could be better- some vocals, guitars, bass, etc. mixed dead center in the original recording will present slightly panned to the left or right depending on what part of the frequency spectrum they occupy. However, this is common in cans in this price bracket. Lastly, on my second pair, one of the two cables was defective. The TRS cable was fine, but the TRRS cable with the inline mic sounded like it was miswired out of phase, with a very hollow sound. The effect was similar to a plug not inserted all the way into the jack, but it was. source device was Galaxy S8. This phone works fine with other headphones with TRRS plugs and inline mic/remotes, so the problem is definitely in the Meze. I didn't test this cable with the first pair, so I'm not sure if this issue is a one-off manufacturing defect, or a design defect / incompatibility. Still really like these headphones though. UPDATE #2: I received the replacement TRRS mic/remote cable. Meze's support was excellent, they replied within a day and by the end of the week I had my new cable. The new cable works fine, so I must've just got a bad one, and there is no inherent pinout incompatibility with the S8.