Form and function go hand in hand in each and every manufactured product. The art that goes into crafting aesthetically pleasing silhouettes has always been a welcome view so when I 1st saw the Meze 99 Classics, it is clear which direction this certain headphone is aiming for and only to find out that it was from a company with emphasis on providing products with elegance and finesse. What we have to realview now however isn’t the 99 Classics but Meze own approach for an entry level audiophile product in the form of the Meze 11 Neo IEM which is thanks to their trust, we are able to secure a pair in exchange for an honest review, priced at $59.00 and can be purchased directly on their site at Meze Audio. The Meze 11 Neo has 2 shade options to choose from, Iridium and Gun Metal and what we have now is the Gun Metal version. The Meze 11 Neo is spec’d out with a single Titanium coated 8mm mylar dynamic driver, 16Hz – 24KHz Frequency Response, 16Ohm Impedance and a 101dB Sensitivity. If there were any doubts about Meze artistic perspectives, one need not look far to have all doubts dispelled and just take a peek with the Meze Audio logo, such faint opulence.
Packaging and Build Quality
I never check unboxings of products that I am about to review to preserve each unboxing experience one to look forward to and when the Meze 11 Neo arrived, bubblewrap and all. I was dismayed when I saw that the box was damaged due to courier handling. Although the box was all roughed up, the unboxing experience was still delightful, the 11 Neo’s came in a white smooth finished box with an attached hook on top and the specification sheet on the underside, separating the top and lower boxes reveals the 11 Neo’s placed on a molded foam with a round matte zipper case and once again, the opulent Meze Audio logo on it. Opening the case shows the shirt clip, 3 sized silicon tips (S, M, L) and 1 bi-flanged tips yet the main attraction was the included Comply T500’s which is what we would be using for the duration of the realview after trying for 2-3 days of going back between the bi-flanged or T500 to get a feel of which would showcase 11 Neo’s optimal performance.
The unboxing joy continued on when I found 2 Meze Audio stickers! What a way to get an initial user to be a fanboy, I am already. The 11 Neo driver housings, y-split and 3.5mm housing are all aluminum which cries out superiority over all those who choose plastic. The rounded approach all over the product was evident on the concaved shell housings and rounded edges on the y-split and 3.5mm housing. A 1.2m 7N OFC cable was used to run through the IEM and included was a mic control with only the play/pause-accept/drop function, it doesn’t tangle too much and is thick enough as well, not sticky and compliments the Gun Metal color quite well. Subtle microphonic is observed when used and not bothersome even during listening sessions. All in all, one should savor going through the 11 Neo’s package and build for the precise work they did this.
Being Meze’s entry level representative, one should get a hint to whatever house sound are they aspiring for in this one. The Meze 11 Neo’s sound right off the bat shows a fairly soothing low-end and midrange rendition. It is clear that they aimed this to sound neutral which they successfully did, it is however noteworthy that it also has more emphasis on the low-end than the brilliance aspect which resonates a warm signature, well controlled warmth at that.
Meze 11 Neo doesn’t sweat taking on the lows, it provides a well bodied bass if not full at best, Anathema’s Distant Satellites in 16/44 FLAC on the Opus 1 provides an almost thumpy midbass that doesn’t sound thin at all. All throughout the track, the sub bass also slams cleanly creating a reverb that diffuses fast yet softly creating the ambient warmth signature more prominent. Boomy bass is not an attribute one can find on the 11 Neo but the clean and smooth bass performance is its forte.
Incorporating the midrange on a well bodied low-end often requires an accentuated midrange to lift the vocal range on the levels that is distinctive. Michael Jackson’s Baby Be Mine in DSD2.5 on the Opus 1 lets the male vocal burst through the frequency intimately and blends well, crisp and clear. It is gentle, don’t be looking for those peaks here and there for the 11 Neo keeps the midrange on a delicate and accurate tone. MJ’s The Girl is Mine in DSD2.5 on the Opus 1 as well sounded engaging with no noticeable sharping of the treble and upper midrange, timbre is constant.
Taking queue from its color, 11 Neo’s Highs are almost gun metal like, cold and dark, not ideally the words you’d want to see on the higher frequencies yet the highs of this IEM compliments the low-end and midrange excellently. Daft Punk’s Beyond in 16/44 FLAC on the Opus 1 delivered great high frequency attacks and gives great clarity and definition on instruments. No piercing peaks and shrills as well, this is how an 11 Neo gun metal shoots everybody.
Soundstage and Imaging
Daft Punk’s Within in 16/44 FLAC on the Opus 1 creates a rather intimate club ambience and great detail retrieval, specially on the 1:00 minute mark. Instrumental placing is distinguishable. Coherence with the low-end, midrange and highs makes the imaging definite. Do take note of the crash cymbals on your tracks when using the 11 Neo’s and you’d find it easily identified and a very fun ordeal to spot here and there.
We have established the Meze 11 Neo’s overall sonic performance and it is a balanced sounding piece with a very calming low-end that lets the midrange and highs cut through effortlessly. Throughout the realview, the Opus 1, Hidizs AP200, Sony ZX1, Sansa Clip+, Sony Cas-1 and OnePlus 3T was used with often times the Opus 1 and CAS-1 churning out the DSD’s and the rest 16/44 FLAC’s. The Meze 11 Neo synergizes the most with the neutral sound of the Opus 1 and did exceptionally well with the OnePlus 3T as well. The Comply T500 also works best with the 11 Neo’s so they might have done this on their own R&D since I have done a whole rotation of JVC Spiral dots, Final Audio Type E, Sony Hybrid tips and the Comply T500 was the perfect match, great seal and isolation.
Made with the aim to craft elegant works of art transitioning to audiophile products, Meze 11 Neo gives its user a glimpse of the world they work in. Showcased in a complete package with precise determination of not leaving the entry level users alienated, the inclusion of the Comply T500 and Meze Audio stickers welcomes those who venture into their product with open arms. The Meze 11 Neo provides a balanced sound with a touch of warmth and robust build quality to ease you into their other offerings. Comparisons with other products are welcome yet inessential for they approached their products on a level of careful scrutiny, from build, sound quality to price which preference will only precede such. Unlike the witch that offered Snow White with a fatal apple, Meze offers its users a delicate treat you would be coming back for more.