There probably aren’t a lot of serious headphone enthusiasts who aren’t familiar with the Meze 99 Classics and 99 Neo headphones. With a combination of style, build quality and excellent sound at an attainable price, these really put Meze Audio on the map. They became a massive hit and are still hugely popular today. In this review, I’m checking out the latest version of the Meze 99 Series silver-plated upgrade cable.
This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Meze 99 Series Silver Plated Cable Review
Good handling and ergonomics
Very minimal microphonics
Robust with excellent strain reliefs
Clean and resolving
Package and Accessories
The cable comes in a small rectangular box. Inside the box is a soft, black protein leather pouch embossed with the brand logo. Tucked away inside the pouch is, of course, the cable, which also comes with a Velcro cable tie. It’s nice to see a pouch included as it can be used to store the cable when not in use.
Build Quality and Design
Unlike the Meze 99 Series 2.5mm balanced cable (review here), this new cable looks and feels less utilitarian. On the contrary, it has a much more pleasing aesthetic. This time around, it’s a twisted 4-core wire with transparent insulation that showcases the glittering silver beneath.
In terms of handling, the SPC cable is delightfully supple despite its ample girth. It drapes really well and doesn’t have any kinks or memory. There is virtually no microphonics at all; in fact, this is one of the quietest headphone cables I’ve ever used.
The 3.5mm mono plugs are the same size and shape as the ones on the original cables. Incidentally, they are also compatible with many other headphones as well. Each plug has an L or R denotation for identification plus the left side has a raised ridge at the base which can be identified by touch. In addition, each plug has a sturdy, transparent strain relief, as do the Y-split and termination plug.
The rhodium-plated termination is available in single-ended 3.5mm and balanced 2.5mm variants, while the balanced 4.4mm plug is gold-plated. It’s flared towards the base for easier grip when unplugging and is the same matching colour as the Y-split and mono plugs.
The 99 Series SPC cable brings the best of both elements to the table. It’s neither pale and bright nor warm and mushy but then again, the 99 Classics never were either. Compared to the stock OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) cable, the SPC cable immediately sounds tighter and more nimble. It reduces some of the 99 Classics’ inherent warmth, bringing more precision and a cleaner sound throughout.
Where I hear this cable making the most difference is in the mid-bass. It takes away some of the bloom and warm air, replacing it with more definition and slam. The bass is further textured and speedier, while still maintaining that 99 Classics natural impact and drive. I really love this slightly cleaner presentation because it not only adds some bite to the bass but it enhances the layering thanks to the leaner note size.
As expected, the midrange benefits from the tighter bass too. With less mid-bass bleed, the mids become more transparent and cleaner throughout. This enhances separation and layering, as well as making the stage feel more organized. The increased transparency also means macro and micro details are easier to pick up.
I’m finding a new joy in electronic music with the 99 Classics where normally, I sometimes find them a bit warm for all that thumpy goodness. But now, I’m getting more detail and separation throughout without compromising the liquidity and natural tonality of the 99 Classics midrange.
In the high frequencies, the 99 Series SPC cable again shows increased resolution and tidiness. I’ve always loved the treble response of these headphones and now it sounds even sweeter. Slightly denser notes with controlled decay and greater extension make the treble more even and natural at the same time.
Some extra shimmer and air are generally never a bad thing for a warm headphone and so it is here. The improved extension adds air and sparkle which has a positive effect on the overall presentation and not just the treble. Subsequently, the 99 Classics sound more balanced while maintaining their organic richness.
For a closed-back headphone, the 99 Classics already have a quality soundstage. With the SPC cable, the stage is expanded just slightly. It’s the structure and tidiness of the stage where the difference is more obvious. The added resolution and separation give the imaging a nice lift, resulting in a cleaner overall sound.
I’m always happy for any excuse to don the 99 Classics (or the 99 Neo for that matter) but in this case, the 99 Series silver-plated cable made it even more rewarding. At $119, it offers a moderate sound upgrade and a considerable upgrade in terms of ergonomics.
In addition, this is a supremely quiet cable that practically eliminates all microphonics. It’s classy enough to match the striking visuals of the 99 Series headphones and at the same time sufficiently rugged to be practical for portable and desktop use.