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Meze 109 Pro Review – Feedback Loop

Pros –

Beautiful & exceptionally comfortable design, Modular/serviceable, Vibrant sound signature, Spacious stage, Great separation, Easy to drive

Cons –

No balanced cable and stock cables are of mediocre quality, Thinner sound may not appeal to returning Meze customers

Verdict –

The 109 Pro boasts market-leading comfort alongside a vibrant sound signature that doesn’t overstay its welcome but injects music with a joie de vivre that hooks upon first listen and continues to engage thereafter.


Introduction –

Meze Audio is a Romanian audio brand who’ve achieved renown for its beautifully designed headphones. Since their product line has expanded with an array of other products suiting a wider range of buyers. With that said, their headphones remain a focal point and the 99 Classics that started it all similarly sustains as a popular, well-liked model. Meze is revisiting its success with the 109 Pro. This is an all-new model sporting a similar suspension headband system alongside walnut earcups. Yet, despite the visual similarities, this headphone promises to deliver a far different listening experience. With a newly developed driver and open-back chassis, the 109 Pro sets its sights on bigger fish and brings with it a more premium asking price. At the same time, this model is more accessible than Meze’s other newly released models putting it in a good position for audio enthusiasts.

The 109 Pro is available for $799 USD. You can read all about it and treat yourself to a unit on Meze Audio!

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Alexandra from Meze very much for her quick communication and for reaching out to organise a review of the 109 Pro. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the headphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

Contents –

Specifications –

  • Driver: 50mm Dual-Composite Diaphragm Dynamic Driver
  • Frequency response: 5 Hz – 30 kHz
  • Impedance: 40 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 112 dB
  • Weight: 375g

Behind the Design –

Driver

The 109 Pro uses a newly developed 50mm dynamic driver custom-tuned and assembled. The design started with the diaphragm which implements a dual-composite design. In the centre is a carbon-fibre-reinforced cellulose composite diaphragm. Its mechanical properties are aided by a W-shaped dome that further enhances rigidity. Ultra-thin torus, those striations that suspend the diaphragm, are beryllium-coated semicrystalline polymer applied using PVD that has enabled an ultra-thin design with uniform thickness.

In addition, Meze went one step further, implementing copper-zinc alloy stabilizer rings to absorb vibrations and further reduce distortion. Finally, the magnet structure has not been neglected, using high-efficiency neodymium magnets with a copper coil motor. All of this is encased within a CNC-machined high-precision aluminium chassis.

Comfort

Meze has implemented a few features to achieve the legendary comfort they’ve become renowned for. This includes a spider-pattern grill that makes the headphone more open, in addition, the driver grill is now flat and angled to provide more ear clearance inside the earcups. Velour pads provide a breathable experience for long listening sessions and the headband offers an elastic self-adjusting suspension system as seen on the 99-series.

Unboxing –

While the company has scaled down the presentation relative to their pricier models, the unboxing experience feels familiar Meze in terms of feel and accessory selection. Opening up the large hard box reveals the hard carrying case inside that has been custom moulded for the headphones and accessories. Opening up the case reveals a soft non-scratch interior liner and the headphones in addition to a soft zippered pouch with Velcro attachment. The case contains the 1.5m cable, 3m cable and ¼” adaptor. Both cables have an identical design and no balanced cable is included.

Design –

True to Meze form, the 109 Pro is a stunning creation that melds style effortlessly with function. It harkens back to the company’s roots with the 99-series headphones whilst introducing refinements in materials and design. The design may appear simple by comparison to the more regal Elite, however, the 109 Pro is a headphone that presents very well in person as you’d expect from the brand. Ergonomics have also been adjusted to suit at-home use alongside the adoption of an open-back form factor, resulting in much-improved comfort. The headphone also employs very little plastic, only the waveguides on the back of the earcups, and otherwise achieves absolute solidity with the core structure being entirely metal. In this vein, the headband spring and gorgeously styled headband holder assembly provide a regal contrast between black and bronze. The earcups pivot smoothly on ball joints retaining a quality feel with zero wobbles or squeaks but a smooth, evenly weighted motion across a full 3-axis of adjustment.

The unfinished walnut cups have a beautiful grain and a perfect finish whilst the new drivers are on full display behind a geometric bronze fascia. Much like a supercar, this provides a glimpse into the engineering underpinning its performance. The result is a headphone that looks and feels like a complete evolution of the 99-Classics design, a step up in all regards. One thing that hasn’t changed is the dual-entry 3.5mm removable cable system. This means upgrade cables designed for the 99 headphones and Liric will also fit the 109 Pro. The stock cable is, unfortunately, depressingly generic. It is the one component that really lets the headphone down and I would expect better at the asking price. Included are two generic rubber units with metal connectors and rubber strain reliefs. Both are identical, only differing in length being 1.5m and 3m long respectively. Both also terminate in 3.5mm connectors with no balanced option available. Though flexible, the cables feel tacky and fragile.

Fit & Comfort –

Weight & Headband

With a carefully considered design comes carefully balanced ergonomics. The 109 Pro is easily one of the most comfortable headphones I’ve had the pleasure of testing. Indeed, the chassis isn’t especially light on paper at 375g, but they balance it with perfection delivering a feel that is almost weightless. The improved headband assembly is equally responsible as the enlarged earcups relative to the 99 Classics. The more compact chassis also feels lighter and more forgiving than the Empyrean/Elite which are both superbly comfortable headphones but simply feel more cumbersome due to their dimensions. The 109 Pro has slightly reduced clamp force than the 99 headphones and the suspension band puts less pressure on the top of the head. The large headband spring gives even clamp force over a wide range and the wide, flexible leather strap conforms to individual head shape and distributes weight over a large surface area. Though not as elaborate as the spring band on the Empyrean and Elite, I didn’t find this design to be necessary for the smaller 109 Pro. The careful balancing gives Meze’s latest headphone absolutely perfect long-term wearing comfort with zero hotspot formation over time.

Earpads

Contributing to this impression are the velour earpads stuffed with a generous amount of foam. They don’t employ memory foam but a slightly stiffer and springier variety. I found the pads to be compliant and form a terrific seal when combined with the excellent headband design and articulating earcups. Pressure distribution is even and the fabric itself feels soft and highly breathable, especially when combined with the more open-cell foam used. I much preferred these on hot days to leather pads. They’ve also worn well during my weeks of testing with no visible areas of wear. To extend, those that criticised the Liric for its glued-on pads, the 109 Pro pads are easily removable and replaceable for sound/comfort adjustments and servicing.

I also found that the stiffer foam prevents the earpads from compressing over time, keeping the driver at a uniform distance from the ear and preventing contact/hotspot formations here. If you have especially wide ears these will be a strong choice as the angled drivers produce a whopping 3cm of depth at the rear which is even greater than the 2.5cm provided by the much larger Elite (Lambskin pads). My ears didn’t contact the drivers at all, further contributing to the excellent comfort achieved long term. I really can’t give the company enough compliments for what they’ve achieved here; Meze headphones have always been comfortable, but the 109 Pro is the most comfortable headphone I’ve tested period.

Quirks

This isn’t a section I usually touch upon but notable given the nature of the headphone. Out of the box, the headband was rotated on my unit (right was left and vice versa). Thankfully, the modular design of the 109 Pro meant that fixing this was a simple case of unbolting the 4 torx screws holding in the headband assembly and reversing the direction.

Next Page: Sound Breakdown

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