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Meze Audio 109 Pro
Cable length: 1.5m, 3m
375g (without cable)
Antonio Meze continues to blaze a trail in the headphone enthusiast market with the Meze Audio 109 Pro. These open-back headphones sit in the middle tier, below the Empyrean II and Liric, and above the Meze Audio 99 Classics. Let’s see if these boutique headphones land in the sweet spot.
Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.
Audio enthusiasts with some money to spend will enjoy Meze Audio’s tuning and attention to detail. Folks who want open-back headphones should consider these for the build quality.
What’s it like to use the Meze Audio 109 Pro?
Meze Audio — probably best known for the 99 Classics — has a distinct look to its headphones. They tend to feature dark, earthy palettes, wood, and metal. The 109 Pro continues this throughline with their sustainably sourced black walnut housing, complimented by satin black, and copper-colored detailing. Overall, the finish is good, with intricate flourishes and subtle branding. For instance, looking at the complex grill over the dynamic drivers is pleasing. Not content with making attractive headphones, you can fix and replace plenty of parts on the 109 Pro, extending the lifespan.
The open-back headphones’ frame comprises wood, zinc, manganese steel, and vegan leather. They weigh 375g without the cable. Given that these headphones are meant to stay where you set them up, they do not fold down. However, they come with a sturdy hardshell case and a pouch you can fit in the case for stowing the included cables. These soft TPE-covered cables terminate at a standard 3.5mm headphone jack with two lengths (1.5m and 3m). Plus, you get an adapter for 1/4-inch headphone jacks.
Included with the 109 Pro are velour earpads, which feel nice but aren’t exceptionally cushy, like those on the Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X. For the price, a second pair of earpads would be appreciated in a different material. While the headband utilizes a comfortable tension fit that disperses the weight evenly and automatically sizes to fit, the clamping pressure, in combination with the ear pads pressing on the sides, can cause slight nerve pain after an hour or two of use. Ultimately, this depends on how the 109 Pro headphones fit you, and for reference, this is a concern I have with more headphones than the average consumer. Still, it’s surprising to experience nerve pain from headphones that do not fit super tightly. That said, it doesn’t happen every time I wear the headphones.
How do the Meze Audio 109 Pro connect?
To connect the 109 Pro, you get two cables to choose between that connect to your source using a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s also an included adapter for 1/4-inch jacks. Each cable is made with a good quality TPE-clad Y-cable and securely connects to each ear cup via one 3.5mm male TS per side. You’ll appreciate the two cable length choices if there’s some distance between your audio player or PC tower.
Speaking of computers, you can drive the 109 Pro without a dedicated headphone amp from your computer because they have an impedance of 40Ω and a sensitivity of 112dB SPL (@1kHz, 1mW). You’ll likely need a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) if you want to listen at home from your phone, but nothing too fancy.
How well do the Meze Audio 109 Pro block out noise?
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The Meze Audio 109 Pro are open-back headphones that do not block much external noise. This is not a bug but a characteristic of open-back headphones, which do not isolate well. So, you’re best off listening to these in a quiet room so that your environment does not interfere with your enjoyment, and consider that your tunes might be audible to those around you.
How do the Meze Audio 109 Pro sound?
Editor’s note: this review uses a hover-enabled glossary to describe sound quality based on a consensus vocabulary. You can read about it here.
Should you buy the Meze Audio 109 Pro?
The Meze Audio 109 Pro will make sense if you have the right gap in your headphone collection. For most, the 109 Pro will not be a sole set of headphones, as they don’t make much sense outside or on commutes, for example. They’re not especially “neutral” sounding, so audio engineers should keep that in mind.
All that considered the 109 Pro headphones stand as well made and relatively lightweight. They fit comfortably along the crown as well. The ear pads aren’t the coziest, but they feel fine. Like most parts of the 109 Pro, you can replace them. They provide a good width of the stereo field and let you easily detect where instruments are panned. Try them if you’re looking for a bit more bass output than the average open-back set of headphones.
What should you get instead of the Meze Audio 109 Pro?
If what appeals to you is the somewhat consumer-oriented sound and wood accents, the Meze Audio Classics 99 cost less money ($309 at Amazon), although the sound is pretty different. There are also the Thinksound ov21 headphones ($399 at Amazon), which use sustainable materials and scoop the mids a little more than we’d like, but otherwise are excellent headphones and notably lighter weight. Both of these options have closed-backs for better isolation.
What stands out about the Meze Audio 109 Pro’s tuning is that there’s more low-end than you might expect for open-backs. At the same time, Sennheiser boasts a plethora of headphones such as the HD 600 ($299 at Amazon), HD 650 ($399 at Amazon), and HD 660 S2 ($499 at Amazon), which all sound great, they all roll off the low-end volume. They all suit critical listening due to their traditionally “neutral” frequency responses. Compared to the 109 Pro, these have less treble emphasis as well.
Suppose the Meze Audio 109 Pro is too rich for your bank account. In that case, the Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO are a solid alternative at a cheaper price ($209 at Amazon) for analytical listeners. The bass response measures flat, and the treble adheres well to our legacy studio curve. Still, they’re not nearly as luxurious as the 109 Pro.
Similarly, if you have a headphone amp, the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO sound great for $529 at Amazon. Striking a good balance of repairability and not requiring a headphone amp, the Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X are excellent for that legacy studio tuning, and priced at $269 at Amazon. Meanwhile, the closed-back Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X ($249 at Sweetwater) sounds a bit closer to the Meze Audio 109 Pro.
Frequently asked questions
No, the Meze Audio 109 Pro are open-back headphones, and, therefore, do not isolate, or cancel noise. You’ll want to listen to these in a quiet space.
Meze Audio is located in Romania, where the 109 Pro is also manufactured. Founded by Antonio Meze, the company is boutique and privately held. Meze Audio is an anomaly in the current market, otherwise dominated mainly by large corporate conglomerates.
You’ll need a DAC of some kind, likely a simple dongle, to listen to the Meze Audio 109 Pro on an iPhone or Android device.