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Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir Closed-Back Headphones

Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir Closed-Back Headphones

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Product Description
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 Read More
Review Highlights:
Comfortable, pleasant, good surround, sufficiently detailed, and a lot of bass
By no means am I an audio expert, and so I have resorted to collating the different ways various reviewers here have described the headphones. So if it helps anyone, these are some amateur statistics from almost every review from today and back to Dec 2019 (I had to have a stop somewhere or risk questioning how I spend my time while working from home…): - There were at least 31 mentions of the Meze 99 Noir being comfortable. Definitely the top comment! Although at least 10 did find the headphones uncomfortable whether it’s from the clamping force or from the small pads, or sometimes the small ‘large’ pads. Another 6 found the pads too warming, i.e. sweaty ears. - At least 20 mentions of it having a lot of bass, in a good way, and at least 7 liked how switching to the small pads “tightened up” the bass or produced a more balanced sound. However, at least 8 found too much bass overall (even with the small pads) and at least 3 found the bass boomy and muddy (with the large pads). - At least 17 mentions of getting a ‘warm’ sound or at least 15 mentions of the sound being overall nice and enjoyable. - At least 10 mentioned getting a ‘fun’ (or V-shaped?) sound. - At least 12 liked the ‘big’ sound or wide soundstage for a closed-back headphone, but at least 2 found the headphones lacking soundstage. - At least 5 mentions of the sound being detailed and bright, but at least 14 mentioned of the sound lacking detail, not being analytical, or being coloured in general. - And at least 5 appreciated the good mids or intimate sound. Now on to the part where I try my best to describe the headphones after some burn-in time and prefacing this with the fact that I did switch from pad to pad and ended up using the large pads (mainly due to better comfort): Comfort: Unfortunately I’m part of the small portion of people that found the small pads uncomfortable. Switching to the large pads however made me forget about even checking whether my ear was hurting [Note: I have relatively big ears for a non-alien]. Extra prolonged use (3+ hours) does bite into my left ear. I’ve ordered the Brainwavz pads but it’s still stuck in the US so will update once I try them on! Warmth of pads: After relative prolonged use (2-3 hours), I might realize having ears being somewhat sweaty, but in no way distracts me from wearing when in use. I’ve experienced worse in other headphones, e.g. Sennheiser PXC550 and IEMS in general. Sound: I agree with the sound being very pleasant, enjoyable (see conclusion below), and ‘all around’ (considerably wide but obviously incomparable to open-backs). As for details, they are definitely there but I would suggest to lower your expectations but not lacking to the point that you would need to squint and listen hard for them. As for bass, I agree with this being the main point of the headphones alongside comfort, and it can get a bit boomy and loose, but the genres I listen to don’t focus on too much bass so it ends up with me really enjoying that extra bass. Conclusion: I really think that how much you enjoy the sound of these headphones really depends on what you enjoy listening to. I enjoy listening to different music styles and can say that I’ve enjoyed listening to my favourite albums more ever since I got the Meze 99 and paired it with the Audioquest Dragonfly Cobalt and Tidal Hi-Fi. I’m not a gear head though so comparisons are limited to my IKKO OH10 IEM (entry-mid level chi-fi), my Beoplay H4 (entry consumer-grade over-ear wireless), and Audioengine A5+ monitor speakers paired with an entry-level LP player. As a couple of examples (+ mentions of my favourite tracks): - Weezer’s Pinkerton has been my go to since I got the headphones, i.e. because the album sounds really good on the Meze. The enveloping-like sound really enhances garage rock-style music (good bass, a lot of distorted guitars, and crash/ride cymbals) without being tiring. Rivers’ voice takes a bit of a step back, but when the rest of the band chimes in they sound really side-by-side-y in a really nice way. My favourite part? That drum solo in Pink Triangle coupled with double solo guitars where the bass drum really kicks you and not in an overly sharp way. - The Carpenters (yes) has also been another go-to. Karen’s intimate vocals are top of the world for me and she’s known for close-miking, so you get a really smooth and pleasant aural display of her peaceful vocals. Mids take a good step forward and in For All We Know, Karen’s vocal intricacies are highlighted and you can hear a lot of that vibrato and those “sss”, quick breathe-in, and slight lip smacking details (no, I’m not a fan of ASMR). In Those Good Old Dreams, the imaging of instruments and the vocal echoes really stand out. My favourite part, though? The electric guitar solo in Goodbye To Love. - The Beatles, which typically is the material I compare across gear, is… Well, let’s just say that the production and (re)mastering prowess really, really stand out. Most favourite track to listen to? Fixing A Hole and those good hi-hats, vocal echoes, harpsichord rhythm, distorted solo guitar, and melodic basslines. - Simon & Garfunkel, as my way of testing lighter, acoustic styles of music. Favourites? Bleecker Street, Wednesday Morning 3am, Mrs. Robinson, and those beautifully-harmonized side-by-side vocals that stand out well (particularly in the first two). Welp, the time spent on writing this probably could have been better spent on doing actual work? Thanks for reading; it’s my first headphone review ever!
Would recommend to a friend.
Everyone for Tyll at Innerfidelity to Zeos has given these a favorable review. The most compelling review was from John Darko though, and that got me to buy them. The overall opinion being that these are just well-made, fun cans that always sound good no matter the pairing(s). I agree. The "fun" part of these headphones is that the music is just all around me and extremely easy to listen to. I love the way the Noirs present sound: the soundstage is respectably wide with proper imaging, which covers every spot in front of your face--no dead zones. On the right track, one sound or effect can travel along the front of your head without ever dying out, and that gives these things a surprisingly holographic feel. The extra heft to the low end does not bother me. In fact, it feels substantial in a natural way to me--not tubby and bloated like I feared. I should take the time to say that I am using the LARGER EAR HOLE PADS that come with this set, so that is the sound signature I am referring to. I believe the SMALLER EAR HOLE PADS increase bass and treble, but some review or another advised against it, so I have not tried that combo yet. The above traits are a huge bonus for headphones I just bought to kick around the house. I also think the Noirs may scale up better than people have said. I have noticed the difference in swapping sources, and I even got the balanced version of the cable on amazon (the MEZE brand one) to enhance sound a bit. I think the cable that comes with it has a TRRS connection for MICs. I wanted a TRRS that foregoes the MIC for balancing the L & R channels. Finally, the comfort...DAMN. This suspension headband is wonderful. You can put it on your head and gracefully go up and down with the earcups. There is no jerkiness, wobbly nature, etc. Just a smooth fitting that easily adjust higher or lower to fit you perfectly. I wish I had better words to describe this experience, but it is greatly satisfying. Lightweight is another word that comes to mind--easy to relax with. I highly recommend these for people that want to comfortably enjoy well-represented music, but I think some audiophiles will be surprised by how much they enjoy these as well.
Would recommend to a friend.
See all 709 reviews
Q&A Highlights:
How heavy is this Headphone? I shall primarily use this for Travel, so I wanna know the weight. Thanks!
Weight without cable: 9.2 oz (260 g)
Is it noise isolating?
Almost every closed-back has some form of isolation from outside noises and this is no exception. Just keep in mind that no, there's no ANC
See all 37 questions

Customer Reviews

(709 reviews)
87% would recommend to a friend
By Feature
Build Quality
Music GenresPopular among reviewers
ActivitiesPopular among reviewers
Aug 9, 2023
Activities:Casual Listening, Gaming
Music Genres:Classical, Electronic, Pop, R&B, Rock, World
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Dead driver after 6 months
Sound was pretty good for listening to music casually and as a gaming headset. Driver in the right ear was totally dead after 6 months.
Recommends this product? No
Jul 27, 2023
Activities:Movies & TV
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They're alright
They feel a little cheap in some aspects but overall alright. I'd like a better cable but overall it's good for the price.
Recommends this product? No
Jun 3, 2023
Activities:Casual Listening, Critical Listening, Gaming
Music Genres:Classical, Electronic, Jazz, Metal, Pop, Rock
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Not the Best for an Audiophile
I almost never use these headphones. Despite the nice build quality (the wood's nice), there are some critical flaws. The headband does not stretch all the way for a big head like mine. It's a very tight fit, and with glasses on, it's downright uncomfortable. Furthermore, the sound signature is too V-shaped. The bass is a little too boomy, with highs that are exaggerated yet not detailed. Loudness without clarity. The cord is also annoying. A little too heavy and tangles easily. Overall, not a comfortable experience, for both my ears, and my physical comfort.
Recommends this product? No
Jun 9, 2023
GutsyDo you have recommendations for headphones for large heads??? I need help 😭
Jun 14, 2023
wizzieI have a large head and these fit great. I don't wear glasses though so that might be the issue.
May 30, 2023
Activities:Casual Listening
Music Genres:Electronic, Rock
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Great bass respone, disappointing soundstage
The perfect headphone for those who like their bass and listen to many songs with deep lows/bass. Soundstage is really bad, but that was expected of a closed back heaphone. If you have the choice, go with the HD650 or HD6XX first, as those are much better headphones. Granted, you won't get as much bass as with the Meze, but in all other expects, the Sennheiser outclasses the 99 Noir. However, if you already own a headphone with a neutral/flat sound signature and want to enjoy something different, the 99 Noir is perfect and can provide a nice change for your music. Overall, I'm quite enjoying them, but they won't be my primary headphone as long as I have my HD650
Recommends this product? Yes
May 26, 2023
Activities:Casual Listening
Music Genres:Country, Electronic, Pop, Rock
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Great Clarity, Greatly Priced, Disappointing Soundstage
Their sound is crystal clear in its highs and lows but a bit lacking in the mids. However this usually isnt a problem and can be corrected with any simple EQ. The build quality, accessories and beautiful design are all top notch. My only actual problem with these is the very dismal soundstage. It's almost non-existent. I prefer my cans to be as wide feeling as possible, but these are about as immediate sounding as it gets. Overall these are a great beginner audiophile pair of headphones, but just not for me.
Recommends this product? Yes
Activities:Casual Listening
Music Genres:Electronic, Hip-hop
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Great value closed backs
I love the design language and quality manufacturing. The cans are easy to drive (I drive them from my phone frequently) and provide a comfortable and bass heavy listening experience (especially with a little eq). Please note that many 3mm cable housings won’t fit into the recessed socket. However, the included cable is good quality and does the job.
Recommends this product? Yes
May 19, 2023
Activities:Casual Listening, Critical Listening, Gaming
Music Genres:Hip-hop, Metal, Pop, Rock
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A gorgeous mid-tier headphone
I love my pair of 99 Noir's both for their sound signature and their beautiful design. You can read a thousand other reviews and breakdowns of the sound signature and looks are subjective so instead I'll just point out a few things that I've found in my year or so of ownership. I love how light these headphones are and regularly use them when traveling either by car or plane. They aren't the most noise isolating thing in the world but they are closed back and block out enough noise to be comfortably usable in both scenarios. Additionally, since they're easy to drive, I can happily use them with my nintendo switch or off any dongle dac while traveling. They aren't the most detailed set of cans in the world but they just feel so much more comforting than some of my headphones with much better technical stats, and they are by no means muffled or fuzzy.
Recommends this product? Yes
May 7, 2023
Activities:Casual Listening
Music Genres:Electronic, Jazz
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Comfortable and engaging
What's there not to like about these cans they sound incredible for closed back headphones. Fun and engaging! Super comfy look great well made.
Recommends this product? Yes
May 6, 2023
Activities:Casual Listening
Music Genres:Electronic, Metal, Pop, Rock
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Super comfort and great looks
It’s hard not to love the way these look. Shells almost look black…darker than I would have originally imagined, but it’s a neat dark Carmel color that looks even brighter in the light. These are certainly super comfortable and have a great retro look. Sound is fine and definitely great with anything modern. I had heard that something bassy like Billy Eilish were a great mix with these and I second that opinion.
Recommends this product? Yes
Apr 28, 2023
Activities:Casual Listening
Music Genres:World
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Amazing headphones, but...
Almost everything is way better than expected, but the high end feels like it's squished and left somewhere far behind. In general, anything with a lot of vocals sounds amazing some of the electronic pieces sound great if the song leans towards the low end, and classical music can be forgotten due to the lack of high frequencies. The headphone fits its targeted audience perfectly, long listening sessions, without any fatigue on the ears or the head.
Recommends this product? Yes
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