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Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir Closed-Back Headphones
$200

Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir Closed-Back Headphones

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$200
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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
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90%
would recommend to a friend
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psmitty77
84
Jun 14, 2019
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WARM MUSIC ALL AROUND ME! Comfort too.
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.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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zimin175
44
May 22, 2020
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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!
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Would recommend to a friend.
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zimin175
44
Jul 9, 2020
UPDATE: So my Brainwavz pads arrived a while ago and I have since spent time using them. Specifically, it's their Sheepskin Leather Angled Memory Foam Earpads: Comfort: More comfortable by a significant margin; this has totally solved the earbite problem I had on my left ear (even with the stock large pads) due to the larger and angled nature of the pads, i.e. thinner on one side of the pads. Warmth of pads: Given the leather nature, I suppose these can still be quite warming, but I don't notice a lot of difference vs. the stock pads and overall still pleasant to wear. Sound: Overall still enjoyable although the pads seem to boost up the bass by a bit. That 'all around sound' still stands with enough clarity in details and prominent mids. Hope this helps with anyone considering changing the pads!
KESM
196
Apr 4, 2019
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I received my pair today...these are punchy (warmish...relatively speaking). The inner headband tension mechanism is smartly designed; it seemingly auto adjusts (while worn—during head movement) for a comfortable & continuous fit. The SQ is musical & engaging (fun). The overall fit is comfy straight out of the box. The matte warm brown finish on the cups are gorgeous. My one con would be thickness of the ear pads; I would prefer slightly plusher padding...not that the padding is skimpy...just sayin’. However...this is day one...so I may be overly sensitive as these have obviously not been worn in. My musical choice is Rick James: The Complete Motown Albums on Tidal/Spotify (recently discovered). There’s nothing like late 70s/early 80s glam funk to break in a new set of HPs.
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moonboobs
30
May 2, 2020
Unity beeetch! Coke is one hell of a drug.
Jamie73
27
Aug 24, 2021
Unity…bitc¥€£
DareToBe
205
Apr 4, 2019
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Sounds great and surprisingly comfortable! Sound signature is similar to audioquest nighthawk. Less technical than nighthawk but even more engaging. Beautifully made of wood and metal. Better biuld quality than 4XX, 58X, 6XX and 7XX.
dan-theman
75
Apr 11, 2019
None of these are going to break outside of abuse, but I love the lack of plastic noises when you move the headphones around. Can't say that about my Sennheiser. Still, in actual listening it doesn't matter.
vvcv
12
Apr 5, 2020
Hey, thanks for the Nighthawk reference. I have a pair that I really enjoy, and just ordered the 6XX pair. I am a speaker guy, and will put on cans for a different perspective of the performance/recording, but most listening time is in front of speakers. If you used headphones on 15% of your listen time, and already had the two I mentioned, would you buy this headphone? Please advise -I will also buy the Dark Voice for the 6XX pair. I guess the heart of my question is if you think the SMSL SP200 amp would pair better with this headphone or with the Nighthawk -or are these two headphones really that similar where I wouldn't gain much difference with an amp like the SMSL?
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dan-theman
75
Apr 7, 2019
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With the small-hole pads, these guys sound essentially perfect to me. Glad I waited on them. They are also comfortable and they look great IMO. Late night keyboard practice has just gone up a notch.
dan-theman
75
Apr 11, 2019
I feel like I should add that I’ve done a fair bit of fairly objective headphone testing in the past if you are interestedhttp://dtmblabber.blogspot.com/2013/07/headphone-frequency-response-repository.html?m=0
TheHawk
33
Apr 16, 2019
Well I ended up jumping on these, shipped out last Thursday and they arrived Monday. I’ve only spent an hour or so listening to them so I won’t offer up a detailed review but I most certainly like them. I listened for half an hour of tracks I’m very familiar with using the larger ear pads they come installed with. They sounded good but I thought the mids were a little too recessed and although the bass had good presence it lacked detail. Swapped to the small hole pads and re-listened to the same tracks. In short the mids and highs sounded much better and the bass tightened up. The bass lost a little extension but the trade off of extra punch and detail is worth the tiny sacrifice. As others have noted......it just makes the overall sound more cohesive but still retains their warmth that makes them easy to listen to. In short you should definitely experiment with the pads and it’s great that it comes with two sets that definitely sound different from each other. Everybody hears differently so one persons trash is another’s treasure. And yeah......super easy to drive with my iPhone/iPad which was my primary reason to buy these.....they can play very loud without maxing your volume on YouTube, iTunes, etc.
xNKatx
35
Oct 30, 2019
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Great, but only if you invest some more money into it.
The Good
  • Comes with a case. That's really great.
  • Comes with more pads, that's always a good thing.
  • The bass is great, punchy, fun to listen to.
  • Decent isolation.
  • Great physical look.

The Mediocre
  • I personally don't think the default pads are comfortable enough. I bought the angled sheepskin pads from Brainwavz, and since the headband is perfect for my headsize, this combination ended up being one of the most comfortable closed-backs I've owned. With the new pads, you also get much better isolation than whatever this comes with.
  • The headband... If it fits you, you're good to go... But I don't think this headband will fit people with really big heads. Luckily, it fits me nice and snug.
  • The cable is so... questionable... The cable is very thin, and feels like it'll wear out over time if you're not careful with it. The connector is also quite small and doesn't feel all that robust for frequent connect/disconnect.

The Bad
  • After owning some more headphones and coming back to this one, the lower-mids sound almost missing in comparison to Massdrop's Beyerdynamic DT177X. They're there. However, if you're not accustomed to listening to different headphones, you might not notice this (and simply put, not care).
For 200$ though? I'd say these are pretty good. But I think these headphones have a character to them that can be a hit or a miss depending on what you like listening to.
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Would recommend to a friend.
Cape_Horn
2
Nov 27, 2019
I completely understand. They're worth every penny. Happy listening!
i3abd
0
Jul 9, 2021
So... I have the 177x and I really like them, what is different from both of the headphones? I'm trying to experience a different sound but I'm not looking for something drastically worse
EkinnE
96
Jul 5, 2020
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Pleasantly surprised after adding different accessories
These have been a really pleasant surprise and find for me. I originally bought them to appease my girlfriend who is getting increasingly sullen about my time spent in headphones, lol. She is treble sensitive and likes bass, I wasn't going to buy beats, so I figured after watching reviews that these could fit the bill to get her to shut up. Man have I been surprised! Firstly, the stock pads are garbage. The large ones are too bassy and the small ones sound decent but are too small and uncomfortable for prolonged listening, and I have a tiny head and ears. Not to mention your ears will touch the felt over the drivers, which I can't stand. I'm pretty sure that I got the last pair that Massdrop had, they had a wait of 5 months after I purchased my unit. These reacted very, very well to 4 nights of youtube pink noise burn-in. Changed the sound signature significantly for the better. Reading through the "discussions" on this headphone on Massdrop, a user name Fayne suggested the Brainwavz oval angled sheepskin pads (thanks Fayne, great recommendation). These combined with the 2.5 mm balanced Meze cable from Amazon completely changed these headphones. They made them much more comfortable and easy to wear with more juice and changed the sound signature for the better. The picture attached is with the stock cable and the Brainwavz pads. Brainwavz will give you a 10% discount if you sign up for their email blast, bringing the angled pads to around 30$ shipped. The 2.5mm balanced cable is 49$ prime one day shipped. They are now super comfortable, VERY lightweight, with a fun and pleasant sound signature that is darker without letting the bass get out of control and bully the other frequencies. I grew up in Atlanta, these are Goodie Mob, Outkast, etc. headphones all day and twice on Sundays. I also love psytrance and other edm and these shine for those genres. I run them with the THX 789 amp and SMSL Su-8 dac balanced at home and with the EarStudio es100 mkII balanced on the go with great results. These are my first closed back headphone and I really like the intimacy and the absence of sound leak/intrusion. And my lady really likes them, can't forget that! lol. Lastly...Epstein didn't kill himself. Self evident but worth stating. Accessories:
https://www.brainwavzaudio.com/collections/oval-memory-foam-earpds/products/headphone-memory-foam-earpads-sheep-skin-leather-angled

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FQ2BCK5/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


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Would recommend to a friend.
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EdgeRunner
87
Jul 14, 2020
Really liked your review. Thanks also for the links!
EkinnE
96
Jul 15, 2020
Glad you liked it and I hope you enjoy these if you pick them up!
cheaplad
98
Apr 19, 2019
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Meze 99 Noir are smooth and fun headphones with elevation in bass. For closed headphones, the staging is wide. Having heard the comments about the "Revised" original pads vs the new pads, I have decided to use the revised pads from the start. Inside the earpads it is a bit congested but acceptable. I use a 8 core OFC 7N balanced cable with DP-X1A. Compared with the stock cable, I feel the vocal is a tad more forward. The bass is more impactful. Some Impressions (All songs were listened thru the Revised Original (RO) pads. Some songs were also auditioned thru the new pads (and the impressions were denoted as "(NP)" below):
  • It is a bliss to listen to the titled track of Ondekoza's Fujiyama (鬼太鼓座 富嶽百景)- the drumming is just oh so powerful.
  • (RO) Listening to "Uh Uh" Thundercat's Drunk, I could hear the details in the bass solo quite clearly. (NP) The bass is less boomy here and less detailed.
  • (RO) For Norah Jones' "Burn" in Day Breaks, the separation is good that I could hear Wayne Shorter's pure sax clearly even when Norah sings (also the good separation between piano + double bass + sax in the outro). (NP) Wayne Shorter's sax is less prominent here. His sax is less detailed when Norah sings at the same time.
  • (RO) On the titled track + "Cure" of Moonchild's Voyager. the vocal of Amber Narvan is as intimate as ever against the good dynamic syn-bass. (NP) The bass is far less present and less dynamic and Amber's vocal has less sparkle.
  • (RO) On Queen's "Dragon Attack" in The Game, the bass solo is more present (but Brian May's guitar solo in the middle is somewhat recessed). John's bassline is more detailed even when Freddie sings. You can feel how groovy John is here. (NP) The bass solo is less forward and less detailed.
  • "Manha De Carnaval" in The Paul Desmond Quartet's Live, the double bass provides good dynamic to support Paul's more forward alto solo. The bass-solo in the middle is quite present and detailed.
  • I have some problem with "Capicornus" in Austin Peralta's Endless Planets, the double bass is so overwhelming. But I guess it is about the problem of the recording.
  • Marina and the Diamonds' "I'm a Ruin" in Froot is a song with strong bass and sweet vocal. The separation is good that the punchy bass does not veil Marina’s vocal.
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  • On James Gang's "The Bomber" in Rides Again, the guitar and bass solo both manifest themselves in a nice balance way. Having said that, the bass is detailed and with slow decay.
  • Black Sabbath's songs like "Sabbra Cadabra" of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, or "Neon Knight" in Heaven and Hell, these phones help reproduce the signature wall of sound (Tony's guitar and Geezer's bassline).
  • On Judas Priest's "Painkiller" of The Essential, I am somehow surprised (in a nice way) by how detailed yet impactful the drum-kicking is in the background.
  • On The Dave Brubeck Quartet's "Sounds of the Loop" in Jazz Impressions of the U.S.A., each note of the double bass, again, is detailed in the background. The imaging of the instruments is quite clear - Desmond's Alto and Dave's piano is the front and Joe's drum set is a bit farther and Gene's double bass is in the back. Joe Morello's lengthy drum solo is quite present here.
  • (RO) It is so fun to listen to Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man" from the soundtrack of Pulp Fiction, especially the bassline. wow. You can hear Tommy Cogbill is walking his funky bassline here! (NP) Dusty's vocal is less forward here and the bigger disappointment is that the bass is more laid back
  • (RO) On 陳潔麗 Lily Chan's live rendition "非走不可/男朋友/祝君安好" from her Purely For You 2013 Concert, the vocal is sweet. (NP) The vocal has less sparkle here and bass is quieter.
  • The titled track of Michael Franks' Tiger in the Rain (WARNING: 2015 Remastered Version) is badly remastered and the the bass is unnecessarily elevated. The song has almost reached the point of unlistenable thru the Noir.
  • On Agnes Obel's "Familiar" from Citizen of Glass, the double bass here is very clear and dynamic.
  • BADBADNOTGOOD's "Kaleidoscope" from the III Album, the epic bass solo is impactful but it seems the decay is a tad too slow.
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VictorDaz
7
Sep 29, 2020
Where can i get the RO pads?
HeadJourney
48
Oct 20, 2020
Re "8 core OFC 7N balanced cable with DP-X1A" I'm interested in running these cans balanced and would like to know if your balanced cable has two standard 3.5mm (1/8") plugs on one end and an XLR 4-pin male plug on the other.
Robson
158
Apr 8, 2019
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These are so much fun to listen to, I'm really enjoying them so far. Sound is as previously described, engaging, warm, punchy bass, but not overly bright. They are extremely efficient, but do sound better with a DAC/amp combo. Since they are closed back they don't have the soundstage of my AKG K7xx, but they do pretty well. I've been driving them with Schiit Vali 2 amp/Modi 2 multibit DAC from my computer, and from phone. Build quality seems really nice, and they are pretty comfortable. Also, they look classy. Highly recommend if they drop again!
TM80
57
Jun 3, 2019
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I don't usually go for closed headphones. And actually still don't know why I ordered these... But I'm lucky I did! From the first seconds I clicked play and turned the volume up I understood what people meant when they said these were FUN to listen to (in addition to looking damn good). Paired them with Grace SDAC and O2 amp (haven't tried with my Little Dot mk II yet). The sound is definitely on the warmer side and has a lot of punch and energy behind. Not my first option for rock or metal (what I mainly listen to) but for EDM and rap these are just so damn good. Don't get me wrong, they are not "bad" for metal but when you come from Grado and AKG type of cans this just doesn't have the same effect. The soundstage is definitely narrower than with open headphones (shocking news right?) but has a good feeling and takes you right in the song. Will definitely not use or recommend these for gaming. Tried these also with the Brainwavz velour pads which took a bit of the warmth and lower end emphasis away and made them sound a bit more even. The swap brought them more in line with my other headphones but that's not why I bought these so I swapped the original pads back on to get the fun Meze signature sound back. Would have liked the normal cable better. Highly recommended!


Other headphones I own: Grado SR325e, HifiMan HE-400, AKG Q701, AKG K7XX and Sennheiser HD 6XX.


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Would recommend to a friend.
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pradeep-s
158
Feb 21, 2020
I am in the same situation as yours, new to hifi audio. Ordering a Senn HD 6xx and O2 amp. Thanks for asking the question. It helped me too.
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pradeep-s
158
Feb 21, 2020
Rock/metal is what Iisten to, mostly. I dint know Grado SR325e is good for that. I have ordered the Sennheiser HD 6XX with the MassDrop O2 amp. Aren't they good for rock/metal, though not as good as Grado? What are your inputs? Thanks.
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