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Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir Review (Headphone)

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir closed back headphone. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $200. I understand it is identical to Meze 99 Classic which the company sells for a lot more money.

The 99 Noir has a quirky look that is unique and for me, comfortable:

Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir Review Closed Back Headphone.jpg


Dual mono 3.5 mm removable plugs are provided which fit very tightly. They are long and narrow so if you need to replace them, you have to get something that is the same.

The 99 Noir is pretty light headphone at 270 grams. Inside cup dimensions are 65x50x19 (height x weight x depth).

The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. I searched for any and all measurements I could find online. Alas while a number of them are close to mine, none are using the exact fixture down to coupler and pinna. As you will see, I have confirmed the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests.

Getting a good fit was easy with both channels matching each other at my two targets on the first install.

Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir Measurements
There is nothing more important than frequency response of a headphone as each is seemingly different and that difference leaves a very distinct character:
Massdrop 99 Noir Measurements Headphone.png


Wow, that is some bass! While I don't mind it having a lot of sub-bass, what is after that is clearly way too much. There is also a hole between 2 and 4 kHz.

The owner also sent me a set of BRAINWAVZ Micro Suede Ear Pads. I had much more difficulty getting the two channels to match but after the fact I discovered that one pad wasn't mounted tight:

Massdrop 99 Noir Measurements Headphone with BRAINWAVZ Micro Suede Ear Pads.png


Assuming these are not run to run variations, the two issues identified with stock pads are much less severe now.

Back to original pads, here is the relative frequency response:

Massdrop 99 Noir relative frequency response Measurements Headphone.png


There is distortion in bass but considering that we will be taking that down in EQ, the 99 Noir may have very good response there:
Massdrop 99 Noir Relative THD distortion Measurements Headphone.png


I wish we didn't have the disturbance around 3 to 6 kHz though which also exceeds my target in absolute terms:
Massdrop 99 Noir THD distortion Measurements Headphone.png


Group delay shows some naughtiness in bass:

Massdrop 99 Noir Group Delay Measurements Headphone.png


Impedance is flat and low:

Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir Impedance Measurements Headphone.png


I was surprised that the spec is 32 ohm. I am too lazy to remeasure so I wonder if someone knows if there has been changes in the driver.

This is one sensitive headphone requiring IEM-like power to play:

most sensitive closed back headphone review.png


Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir Headphone Listening Tests
I always start with my female audio tracks and the first track there, does not have much bass. What little it had got warmer so I didn't mind that. The highs on the other hand sounded a bit "tizzy" (yes, this is a technical term!). I then jumped a couple of tracks to one that had bass and boy, there definitely was way too much of it. So out came the parametric EQ tool:

Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir equalization.png


Yes there are a lot of filters there. Transformation was dramatic though. Not only was the bass far more balanced now, overall spatial qualities improved hugely. Gone were the recessed vocals and you now had a open, and very pleasant soundstage. I left the deep bass uncompensated and that brought delight to my ears as I listened to my tracks with such content in there! :) I don't think there is too much sub-bass in my book. :D

Once there, I sat there enjoying track after track in my library. As a matter of fact I am listening to them as I type this.

Conclusions
There is no question that out of the box the Meze 99 Noir is hugely flawed headphone, both objectively and subjectively. It is not annoying though as long as the bass does not distort for you. Add half a dozen filters by eye as I did and what you get is very enjoyable, hi-fi experience. It is like taking a F student and bringing him up to B+. Combine that with the light weight and overall comfort, and you have a something that can be a very good headphone.

I cannot recommend the Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir without EQ. With EQ, I am happy to do so. If yo have this headphone and are not using EQ to fix its flaws, you are missing out big time. Assuming my measurements are correct, and you don't want to use EQ, at least get the replacement pads and see if it fixes things a bit.

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sweetchaos

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#3
To import this PEQ profile into 'Equalizer APO', use:
Preamp: -6.0 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 180 Hz Gain -10.0 dB Q 1.0
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 401 Hz Gain 4.0 dB Q 3.0
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1200 Hz Gain 2.0 dB Q 1.0
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2300 Hz Gain 4.0 dB Q 3.0
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 3808 Hz Gain 5.5 dB Q 4.0
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 8600 Hz Gain -5.0 dB Q 4.0
Otherwise, see my PEQ guide.
..................................................................................................................
For those who don't have PEQ-capable app, and want to use GEQs instead.
Preamp: -5.2db
32 0.6
64 0.9
125 -6.0
250 -5.9
500 3.2
1000 1.0
2000 3.7
4000 4.7
8000 -3.1
16000 1.3
Preamp: -6.6db
20 1.2
25 0.8
32 0.5
40 0.3
50 0.1
63 -0.4
80 -1.0
100 -1.8
125 -3.9
160 -7.1
200 -6.9
250 -4.0
315 -1.5
400 3.2
500 0.6
630 0.5
800 1.1
1000 1.7
1250 2.3
1600 1.7
2000 3.3
2500 4.0
3150 2.2
4000 5.7
5000 0.5
6300 0.9
8000 -3.6
10000 -1.3
12500 0.9
16000 1.1
20000 3.5
If you want to import into "Wavelet" (Android App):
GraphicEQ: 20 -5.6; 21 -5.6; 22 -5.6; 23 -5.7; 24 -5.7; 26 -5.7; 27 -5.7; 29 -5.8; 30 -5.8; 32 -5.8; 34 -5.9; 36 -5.9; 38 -6.0; 40 -6.1; 43 -6.2; 45 -6.2; 48 -6.3; 50 -6.4; 53 -6.5; 56 -6.7; 59 -6.8; 63 -7.0; 66 -7.1; 70 -7.4; 74 -7.6; 78 -7.8; 83 -8.2; 87 -8.4; 92 -8.8; 97 -9.2; 103 -9.7; 109 -10.2; 115 -10.7; 121 -11.3; 128 -12.0; 136 -12.7; 143 -13.4; 151 -14.1; 160 -14.7; 169 -15.1; 178 -15.3; 188 -15.2; 199 -14.8; 210 -14.2; 222 -13.4; 235 -12.6; 248 -11.8; 262 -11.0; 277 -10.2; 292 -9.5; 309 -8.6; 326 -7.7; 345 -6.6; 364 -5.4; 385 -4.3; 406 -3.7; 429 -4.0; 453 -4.5; 479 -5.0; 506 -5.3; 534 -5.4; 565 -5.4; 596 -5.4; 630 -5.3; 665 -5.2; 703 -5.0; 743 -4.9; 784 -4.7; 829 -4.5; 875 -4.3; 924 -4.1; 977 -3.9; 1032 -3.7; 1090 -3.6; 1151 -3.5; 1216 -3.4; 1284 -3.4; 1357 -3.3; 1433 -3.4; 1514 -3.4; 1599 -3.3; 1689 -3.2; 1784 -3.0; 1885 -2.7; 1991 -2.1; 2103 -1.4; 2221 -0.7; 2347 -0.6; 2479 -1.3; 2618 -2.0; 2766 -2.6; 2921 -2.8; 3086 -2.8; 3260 -2.3; 3443 -1.3; 3637 -0.3; 3842 -0.2; 4058 -0.9; 4287 -2.4; 4528 -3.4; 4783 -4.1; 5052 -4.6; 5337 -4.9; 5637 -5.2; 5955 -5.4; 6290 -5.7; 6644 -6.0; 7018 -6.5; 7414 -7.2; 7831 -8.4; 8272 -9.8; 8738 -10.2; 9230 -9.0; 9749 -7.7; 10298 -6.8; 10878 -6.4; 11490 -6.1; 12137 -5.9; 12821 -5.8; 13543 -5.7; 14305 -5.6; 15110 -5.6; 15961 -5.6; 16860 -5.5; 17809 -5.5; 18812 -5.1; 19871 -4.0
Otherwise, see my GEQ guide.
 
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VintageFlanker

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#4
I understand it is identical to Meze 99 Classic which the company sells for a lot more money.
Assuming this is the case, I'm not ashamed to tell I loved my 99 Classics on the go: street, subway and other very noisy environments...
Not neutral by any means, but the overblown bass, along with decent passive isolation (with first gen pads from 2015 - not the ones reviewed) helped a lot for that purpose.

Thanks for the review ! :)
 
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#5
I'd rather have too much bass than not enough of it... just maybe not this much. I remember looking at these in the past, and the response actually looks more balanced than I recalled.
 
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#6
I am getting "Oops! We ran into some problems.
The requested page could not be found." as I follow the EQ settings link. That is a pity, I actually do have this exact headphone and would like to try it out.

Edit: eq link is fixed, thanks.

Which pads were used for the test? Drop is providing two sets with the headphones.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #8
When amir complains about too much bass, you *know* there is too much bass.
:) I complained about too much upper bass. That, I have rarely liked. It is the deep sub-bass which I very much enjoy.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #9
Which pads were used for the test? Drop is providing two sets with the headphones.
The main test is with the taller oval pads.
 
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#10
I know those are wrong, but I can't stop loving them. To me the 99 Classics are the mischievous kid that's so fun you cant really want to change in any way, because you know that your parties will not be the same without him.

My only concern it that sometimes the cans will get too warm.
 

frix

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#11
There is some talk that the original smaller/shallower pads had a more balanced sound. I really like how this headphone is made and its unique design. But man, stock frequency is just screwed way too much.
 

GWolfman

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#12
Thanks!

I know those are wrong, but I can't stop loving them. To me the 99 Classics are the mischievous kid that's so fun you cant really want to change in any way, because you know that your parties will not be the same without him.

My only concern it that sometimes the cans will get too warm.
Lol.

Too warm, as in trapped air causing the discomfort, outdoor use with the sun, or simply operating and heat dissipation? Assuming the first (not sure if #3 is even possible)...
 
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#13
I use them at home, and the Meze are my only closed back, so I do not really have other references, but supposedly this is to be taken into consideration. They seal extremely well and the pads leather feels a bit sticky, accentuating the warmth sensation, but I wont say they are really discomforting.
 

usersky

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#14
My experience exactly, cannot imagine a single reason to use this headphone considering how it sounds.
 

solderdude

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#15
these don't seem to differ much from the original 99 classics

1620197620486.png




The upper bass hump is what killed it for me as well as the 10dB dip around 4kHz. Treble I thought sounded fine (smooth)

Looks and feels nice. Needs lots of EQ so not my thing.
 

LightninBoy

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#16
:) I complained about too much upper bass. That, I have rarely liked. It is the deep sub-bass which I very much enjoy.
Phew thanks for clarifying. For me, "Amir loves bass" is an axiom right next to "A is A". I was beginning to question all of reality.
 

Jimbob54

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#17
I have never been able to get on with this headphone. They look great but once on my ears , they feel wrong and sound like a demo set in a mass market home electronics store. I will give the EQ a go but the not quite over ear/ on ear size for me is a deal breaker.
 
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#18
Hi Amir! You should look into doing a second run of measurements after making your EQ profile. It would be good information for the community, as well as, who knows, possibly interesting to the scientist in ya :cool:

It'd definitely help us better understand how powerful EQ can be/how big a difference a few filters can make.
 
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#19
Not surprised by these results. While I never tried the Noir, I listened to the Classics before and couldn't stand them. Ironically I ended up buying a Nighthawk, which measures just as bad - or even worse - but with Brainwavz HM-5 pads they become listenable. With EQ even more, naturally.

Interestingly the look of the Meze 99 Classic/Noir never appealed to me...
 
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