Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac (5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 3.02), HP Z230 Workstation Win7/64, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming and Spotify Plus 320mbps on both computers, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Aqua Hifi La Scala II, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Questyle QP1R (AIFF), Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio (AIFF)
Headphone amps: April Music Eximus DP1, Aura Vita, Bakoon AMP-12R, Questyle CMA-800R (x2), Eversound Essence, Vinnie Rossi LIO, ALO Audio Continental Dual Mono [on loan]
Headphones: Forza Audio Works recabled Audeze LCD-2/XC & Sennheiser HD800; MrSpeakers Alpha Prime, stock HifiMan HE1000 (3.5mm, 6.3mm, 4-pin XLR), ALO-rewired Beyerdynamic T1 & T5p; Aëdle VK-1; Focal Spirit One; Campfire Audio Orion, Lyra & Jupiter [on loan]
Review component retail: €309

If you get into your top Google gear on one Antonio Meze, you'll learn that in 2006, he began his technical training internship at Nectar Design, prototyping tech in the medical industry in Long Beach, California. A year later he was in Amsterdam doing an internship at Freedom of Creation in 3D printing. The following year saw him as senior product designer in structural packaging at Prague's Cocoon Group. By 2009, he designed motorcycle helmets, goggles and related protection gear with MotoDesignStudio of Hollywood. Overlapping all of that until 2010 was a parallel 4-year collaboration cycle with Brooklyn Workshop. 2010 had him investigate light armour material and design a ski pole for Atomic at And-Design. 2011 had him work on mobile phones and car interiors for Bangkok's Cerebrum Design. If you haven't yet made the hifi connection, rewind by one year. Set your sights on London. It's where and when he founded the Meze Audio brand, now Meze Headphones. Born in Romania, Antonio is just as fluent in English, then speaks more than passable German and Hungarian and is currently adding Italian and French. Quite the renaissance man. More interesting for the headfi geeks are his 99 Classics over-the-ear wooden headphones. Like fine variety on a Mediterranean meze platter, those are available in Walnut with black/gold trim or Maple with white/silver accents. Introduced at €309 with free shipping direct from their website, the 99 combine an almost impossible level of industrial design and execution with an online presentation that's as comprehensive, informative and easy on the eye as conceivable.

For audiophile cred, there's a 40mm dynamic driver of 103dB 1mW/1kHz sensitivity which presents a 32Ω load to your portable or stationary source/amp. Connection is via detachable Kevlar-sheathed OFC cable terminating in a gold-plated 3.5mm plug. To translate these specs into practical perspective, if your device delivers 30mW into 32Ω, you're cruising. Meze in fact don't want to see more than 50mW. Nor would your ears. Response lists as 15Hz - 25kHz, so "five more" beyond how far humans can hear on either end of the spectrum.

To appreciate what goes into one pair of 99 Classics, it's not any glue but 70-something assorted bits. Those include plenty of screws, electroplated cast zinc and stamped Manganese spring steel, 5-axis CNC'd then hand-polished wood, medium-density memory foam, soft synthetic PU leather, ABS and silicone.

Are you worried over how these chic and noble materials add up on the scale? A pair weighs just 290 gramatons (~10.3oz). That and the efficiency spell outdoors fun, hence the accessories include short and long dual-entry leashes, a two-prong airplane adaptor, a 3.5/6.3mm adaptor, a soft bag for the cabling and a hard zippered pouch for the cans.

Two-axis cup swivel plus self-adjusting headband promise a perfect fit for any head.

With high-end audio's inflationary pricing practices, does something about the €309 Meze 99 Classics seem nearly too good to be true? That early commentators in fashion or tech magazines refer to it as "expensive" points at the crass disconnect between audiophiles and everyone else.