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Golden Ears: Meze 109 Pro Review - Audiophile Music and Gaming

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

We reviewed the original Meze 99 Neo back in 2019 and were impressed at their comfort and energetic sound. Meze is back and has dialed it up to 11 with the Meze 109 Pro. Featuring an exquisite mix of solid walnut, open-back earcups, ultra-comfortable cushions, and a driver that uses both carbon fiber and beryllium, these headphones feature the kind of wide open, highly detailed, and fun sound that makes them perfect for music and games alike. 

At $799, they’re a perfect candidate for our Golden Ears review column, so let’s dig in and see what lies within this upper echelon of high-performance headphones. 

Specifications

  • Current Price:$799 (Headphones)
  • Transducer Size: 50mm
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz - 30KHz
  • Sensitivity: 112dB SPI at 1KHz, 1mW
  • Impedance: 40 Ω
  • Weight: 375 gr (13 oz) without cables
  • Ear Cups: Walnut Wood
  • Accessories:
    • Case: Hard EVA pouch
    • Included cables:
    • 1.5m soft TPE cable, with black aluminum casings, ending with 3.5 mm jack
    • 3m soft TPE cable, with black aluminum casings, ending with 3.5 mm jack
    • Headphone termination: 3.5 mm TRS jack
    • Included adapters: 6.3 mm gold-plated jack
  • Warranty period: 2 years

Meze 109 Pro - First Impressions and Key Features 

The Meze 109 Pro is a beautiful, exuberantly premium over-ear headphone. It doesn’t take more than a passing look to see that it is built around a design that’s meant to be aesthetically unique and, well, pretty darn fancy looking. Meze always emphasizes making great-looking headphones, but the 109 Pro is perhaps my favorite among its line-up. 

It starts with eye-catching, earthy solid walnut earcups. They have wide-open backs with a spoke-like design covering a mesh grille that Meze says is acoustically transparent and increases the soundstage. Manganese accents in the pivot and adjustment band lend it an almost royal look. The adjustment band in particular has an almost fine-instrument aesthetic that’s very nice.  A vegan leather headband and thick velour ear cushions complete the look.  

The frame is lightweight but sturdy. The chassis is built from zinc and is dampened to keep errant touches from ringing through your ears. Your head never actually touches the frame, though. An adjustment band is positioned underneath and is trimmed in soft leather. It slides very smoothly, with just enough resistance to fit around your head and not shift when it’s in place. The cushions are just as nice, soft, and pillowy. Everything you come in contact with is nice to touch, including the wood earcups. 

There is true craftsmanship here, and that’s especially evident in the fine details. The perfect finishing of the wood. The way spokes of the open backs draw your eye to the grills and reflective driver within. Subtle gold accents around the ports for the detachable cable. 

My particular favorite touch hides within the earcups themselves. 

Beautiful. 

Hidden behind that grille is the star of the show, Meze’s custom 50mm dynamic driver. It’s a dual-composite transducer, composed of a beryllium-coated outer ring and a carbon fiber cellulose dome. A copper-zinc stabilizer ring around the outside absorbs vibrations. A neodymium magnet and copper coil reside around back to power the movement of the driver and create sound. All of this is housed in a CNC-milled aluminum frame. 

Cellulose and beryllium drivers are nothing new, but this is the first headphone I’ve personally heard of that combines them both in just this way (let me know of others in the comments). The dome follows a W-shape, which Meze says brings out fine details in the high frequencies better than traditional designs. The drivers are also angled to be a better anatomical match to your ears.

As a premium headphone, you also expect premium presentation and packaging, and Meze Audio nails that as well. The box has a unique aesthetic that’s interesting enough to keep around if you want a display piece or for some added protection in storage. 

You really don’t need it, though as the headphones also come with an excellent, custom-molded hardback carrying case. The inside is finished in soft velvet to keep the headphones safe and scratch free. It’s fairly bulky and will take up a good amount of space in a bag, but provides the necessary protection such expensive headphones demand while also providing a bit of extra space to store a cable bag.

Underneath the headphones is a vegan leather bag that holds a pair of 3.5mm cables. One is shorter, three feet, and made for portable listening. The other is a better fit for desks and is nine feet total. Both are soft and flexible with metal housings and gold-plated terminations. They don’t feel quite as premium as the rest of the headphone but get the job done well. 

And you know you're dealing with a high-end pair of headphones when it ships with its own glossy lookbook. This has that too and is a neat little extra to check out as you're listening to the headphones for the first time. 

Given the price, I would have loved to see an alternate set of pads included in the box. Pads wear out over time, so having a back-up is nice, and is a way to give listeners a bit of customization potential when the two sets use different materials. Still, I’m not complaining too much, because the comfort and sound quality are outstanding exactly as is. 

Meze 109 Pro - Fit and Comfort

The Meze 109 Pros are some of the most comfortable over-ear headphones I’ve ever worn. They’re very light and the velour cushions hugged my ears with jump enough clamping force to feel comfortable and secure. The sliding adjustment band does a great job of distributing its weight, so hotspots were never an issue — and I’m particularly susceptible to it. It may sound corny, but these headphones are almost like a hug for your eyes. Meze did a wonderful job here. 

Meze 109 Pro - Listening Impressions 

The Meze 109 Pro isn’t a difficult headphone to drive, but I would recommend using some kind of amplifier instead of plugging directly into your phone or PC. They scale well with additional power in the low-end especially. For my testing, I used a mix of the Fiio K7, XDuoo XD05 Plus, and even the RODECaster Pro 2

I’ll also note that this headphone feels like it has been custom tuned for me. There’s plenty of mid-bass and sub-bass for solid body and slam, lots of space and air between layers, no veil whatsoever thanks to a well-tuned mid-range and treble area, excellent details, and a wide soundstage. I listen to a lock of progressive rock, hip-hop, pop, chillstep, and string and piano mixes. I also play a lot of games ranging from MMOs, to single-player action games and RPGs, and first-person shooters. It has been outstanding across the board and is just plain fun to listen to. 

Here’s how it breaks down. 

Bass: The Meze 99’s were known for their warm sound signature, but I think the 109 Pro really one-ups it in balance and quality (and you would expect it to at this price and caliber of headphone). The bass is full, fast, tight, and highly textured. The cellulose and beryllium dynamic driver is wonderfully tuned for pop, rock, hip-hop, and other mainstream listening, but is also able to make orchestral tracks sound full. Still, the punch and slam of driving tracks is really where it shines best. 

Nastya Kazantseva’s Imaginary Place is a great example of the kind of texture the 109s are able to deliver. You can hear and almost feel the low-end thrum and buzz of the low-end synth. 

These aren’t bass cannons, but they’re warm and fun and really worked well with my library of rock, metal, chillstep, hip-hop, and modern cinematic classical.

Mids: The mids are a bit forward but aren’t grating or harsh. The slight mid-range push adds energy to the listening and works to draw vocals forward a bit. The midrange is very detail rich and the sound is spacious enough that you can hear every instrument clearly but nothing every impedes anything else. Details like oscillations, reverb effects, guitar picks on strings, all come forward. It feels very dynamic, but also organic and natural. 

This also applies to vocals which are smooth, and the layering to build songs is very transparent. Airplanes by B.o.B. genuinely surprised me. You can hear Hayley William’s layered vocal lines, which I had never appreciated before. The play between male and female vocals hands off easily and smoothly and no one ever overpowered the other. It’s very, very well done. 

Treble: One of the biggest improvements from the Meze 99s is the treble performance. The tuning here is brighter overall, which allows more details to rise out of the mix and provide a better impression of clarity. There’s much more sparkle, which really shines with acoustic guitars and pianos that are mixed behind other elements like drums. Cymbals have realistic attack and decay, and just like the rest of the spectrum, there is plenty of detail.

The balance of treble with the rest of the mix really brings these headphones to life. It’s well-balanced and well-tuned, and adds much needed energy and air to the listening experience. 

Technical Performance, Soundstage, and Imaging: The technical performance on these headphones is outstanding. They present a spacious image with lots of depth to the sound. The imaging within this soundstage is also very good, making it easy to pick out specific instruments or audio cues and focus on them without losing forcing you to exclude other layers from your attention. There is enough breathing room and positionality that each element has its own place. Atmospheric reverbs sound particularly washy and immersive while percussion steps forward, highlighting detail on the cymbals and adding pop and snap to tracks. 

As I discuss in the sections above, these details also lack nothing in detail retrieval capabilities. They feel particularly high-resolution while also being very fun, energetic, and engaging. 

Gaming: The Meze 109 Pro is an excellent gaming headphone. The open soundstage allows games to sound wide and spacious. This is a boon for single- and multiplayer games alike, but I especially liked them for multiplayer shooters. The imaging is perfect for picking out the position of enemy footsteps, allowing you to hear and pinpoint them even before they’ve entered your field of view. The bass-rich tuning is also great for making sure your games stay sounding fun as well as highly detailed. Their superb comfort also makes them a perfect fit for long gaming sessions.

You’ll need a separate mic with this one, but it’s well worth grabbing one so you can have the best of both worlds. Don’t buy this headphone just for gaming, but definitely consider it in your purchase. 

Overall Impressions and Final Thoughts

The Meze 109 Pro is an outstanding headphone. It doesn’t come cheap, but it’s genuinely been one of the biggest surprises of the year. Before this, I had really been on a planar magnetic kick, but this is the kind of headphone that shows what a great dynamic driver can do. 

The sound is incredibly well-tuned. It doesn’t fall into the audiophile trap of delivering detail at the expense of a fun, rich sound. Instead, it delivers plenty of detail with a great sense of space, a cohesiveness only a single dynamic driver can provide, and is very fun. I’ve found it hard not to get a bit lost in my listening, whether that’s being immerse in games or bobbing my head along with songs, even if it’s the first time I’ve heard them. 

At $799, they’re expensive but still manage to fall in the mid-range of high-end headphones. For that money, they’re a sterling example of the kind of step-up this caliber of headphone can deliver. It’s the jump from 720p to 4K, the boost from a 27-inch gaming monitor to a 48-inch OLED, a Bluetooth speaker to a full sound system. It’s impressive, fun, and an excellent pick for an all-in-one headphone that will elevate your listening across genres and types of content. Expensive, yes, but also outstanding. 

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.

9.0Amazing
Pros
  • Beautiful design
  • Outstanding, engaging sound quality
  • Warm bass with plenty of detail
  • Wide open soundstage enhances immersion
  • Excellent for multiple genres of music and gaming
Cons
  • High price
  • Included cables are lackluster for the price
  • No pad options


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight