Few headphones have had the staying power of the Meze Audio 99 Classics; I remember the first time Antonio Meze stuck a pair on my head at CES and thinking that they were rather different for the money. Two pairs have been part of my collection for over 4 years and I have wondered when something like the Meze Audio 109 Pro would be forthcoming.
That question was answered in March 2022.
I was both thrilled and amazed to see Meze Audio at CanJam NYC 2022 for the simple reason that the war in Ukraine has impacted them in a very real way; their corporate and R&D offices are based in Baia Mare, Romania which is rather close to the Ukrainian border and the city of Lviv.
Lviv is a 4-5 hour drive from Baia Mare, but Meze Audio have technology partners based in Lviv and things right now are not business as usual for the obvious reasons.
After the end of the Cold War, what was once a dead market for high-end audio has become a thriving scene with dozens of domestic manufacturers. Eastern Europe is not only supporting its own domestic consumer electronics industry but exporting reference-quality level equipment to the finest audio stores to the rest of the world.
Meze Audio have grown in the right way; after a few missteps at the beginning the brand has built a strong foundation in the market and now offer some of the best headphones in the world; with the Empyrean, Elite, and Liric leading the charge.
The interesting news from CanJam NYC 2022 was the working prototype of the forthcoming Meze Audio 109 Pro open-back headphones that will be in the $1,000 USD/EUR range when they are launched later this year.
The headband was a prototype but certainly similar to the one used on the 99 Classics with some aesthetic changes.
One of the key features of the 99 Classics was how easy it is to drive; even from something like my old iPhone 6S. When I switched over to the Helm Audio Bolt or Clarus CODA Dongle DACs, there was almost too much power.
The forthcoming headphones are not, however, just an open-back version of the 99 Classics. They might share the same design language, but the 109 PRO is more complex, even bigger in size, and with an entirely different sonic presentation.
The 109 PRO combines open-back design with a walnut wood chamber that follows the unmistakable aesthetic language of Meze Audio, and is precisely engineered to deliver an exceptional soundstage and a highly detailed, enveloping sound, with just the right amount of punch.
“With this headphone, we have proudly achieved our goal of delivering the same level of workmanship found in Empyrean and Elite, at a lower price point. We know that fans have high expectations from us so, when making the 109 PRO, our goal was to build something to surpass those expectations. We focused a lot of resources on sound development, and I think the result is sublime.” – Mircea Fanatan, Managing Director of Meze Audio.
In true Meze Audio fashion, the 109 PRO blends together carefully selected materials such as walnut wood, zinc, manganese steel, assembled together using only nuts and bolts, making this headphone fully and endlessly serviceable.
“At the core of it all, music is an expression of emotion, a celebration of life and a token of everlasting memories. Every part of the 109 PRO headphones, from the premium materials we used to the intricate engineering, embodies that same emotion our favorite music makes us feel.”- Antonio Meze, Lead Designer and Founder of Meze Audio.
The Meze Audio 109 PRO will be available in October for slightly under $1,000 USD/EUR.
We have a review coming soon.