While trying high-end products all the time, you might forget more affordable ones. We don’t: here is the Meze 12 Classics review, an 80€ earphone – that replaces the “11” series – which may be perfect for a lot of people.
First, I want to thank Doina from Meze Audio for giving me this sample in exchange for an honest review. We’re not affiliated, and my thoughts will be as objective as possible.
These are earphones developed in Europe – Baia Mare, Romania – and produced in China.
Some specifications (from mezeaudio.com):
- Frequency response: 16Hz – 24KHz
- Impedance: 16Ohm
- Sensitivity: 101dB (+/- 3db)
- Total harmonic distortion: < 0.5%
- Noise attenuation: up to 26dB
- Titanium coated 8mm mylar driver
- Copper-clad aluminum voice coil
- 3.5mm gold-plated jack plug
- 7N OFC cable, length: 1.2m
Unboxing, fit and first thoughts
If the goodness of a product shines through its presentation, this – judging from the cover – is a wonderful one. It may be obvious for someone, giving the long experience in product design of Antonio Meze, but nothing must be taken for granted.
This box is elegant, while clearly ready for being exposed in the stores. The picture of the earphones on the front face is the real position of them inside the box itself; and the shape of it reprises the Meze logo. This sign of cure is a constant in every way concerning these In-Ears. Every face of the box is smartly used to give us all the information about the earphones themselves as well as the accessories and other useful advertisements. The most interesting thing here, for audiophile people, is the frequency response graphic, which reveals the characteristic tuning of the company.
Inside the box you’ll find a carrying pouch with the Meze logo, a pair of Comply foam ear tips (great to find them!), three silicon tips (S, M, L) and a double-flange pair. Great selection. And there’s a clip to attach the cable on a T-shirt or something: guess… with the Meze logo! The “instruction manual”, which may sound useless, has instead some really useful tips like dangerous volumes ecc.. There’s also a Meze sticker which is good to add to your MacBook with all the others I’m sure you all have out there!
The “Classic” name that Meze gives to some of its products could mean two things: that you’re looking at a classy product (usually with wooden inserts); that it’s perfect for classical music (that is a difficult genre to reproduce, because of the transients and the soundstage it needs). Why did I think that? Because if you try some Neo versions of the same ear/headphones of Meze, you will find punchier basses and a slightly different tuning, more popular and modern. You can read our reviews of the 99s (Classics and Neo) to better understand this. We will see later if that’s the case even with these “12”.
Anyway, when you look at these earphones you immediately realize to hold a product developed with passion (if you saw the interviews with Antonio Meze you can understand what I mean). The wood gives a premium feel to the product and the overall build quality is top notch. The cable is not my favorite, I’d rather a braided style, but it’s well done and the metal inserts with the Meze logo are very high quality. It’s also oxygen-free, which means that the interferences are very low.
There is an issue regarding the fit of the 12 Classics with my ears: I’ve tried every silicon ear tip and everyone can’t help falling off. I now go with the Comply ones (which are much, much better), but I must be very careful when I walk or move because the fit is not the greatest for me anyway. That didn’t happen with my girlfriend, which found them perfect, for example. You can always wrap the cable around your ear like in IEMs and obtain a better fit for you.
My main source was a FiiO M7 DAP. I’ve also used my 2012 MacBook Pro (also with a Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface), my Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 with default dongle and with Audirect Whistle DAC/Amp.
I generally liked the sound of these 12 Classics. The signature is not so conventional, and you have to like a warm and pretty dark sound to appreciate them. If you are fan of clarity and brilliant treble, these aren’t probably your first choice. The instrument separation is decent, even though I heard everything pretty unbalanced on the lower side; this is a pro for certain kinds of music, because the bass is quick and punchy, and very dense, but it’s a con for other ones. I have to say that initially the soundstage was very limited, so I recommend following the tips of Meze and let them burn in several hours. Now it’s so much better than before, even though it’s not the widest stage you’ll ever find. The most enjoyable experience you can have with these is with certain kinds of modern music that are minimal and dynamic (sounds strange with the name Classics!) like Lorde, Oh Wonder and so on.
With classical music the things are a bit different. The enhanced lower frequencies remain, but the instrument separation is generally better. Still I didn’t find a perfect imaging, you haven’t the feeling to be inside the scene. The treble voices have sometimes too much reverb; the strange thing is that’s something affecting the male voices more than the female ones. Unusual fact, in my opinion. The particular tuning probably affects the sound in that way. I did find however a really enjoyable sound, fast and precise, more on a fun side than a reference one. From the provided frequency response graph, you can effectively see that the higher frequencies (from 10 kHz) are not the best; it’s the same signature as the 11 series, but I believe that they are tuned with some differences. And the wood may give some “naturalness” to the sound, for the ones who believe it in such small earphones.
The sound leak is almost inexistent, which is great.
The mic, unfortunately, isn’t great. It sounds a bit muffled, but I understand the majority of people prefer having it, even for emergency purpose. With this kind of earphones, I’d rather have a better cable with no mic, because they are made for music listening.
So, summing up, the bass is very good, the mid is okay, the treble is not the clearest one. I liked them a lot, because of the punchiness and the quick bass. The sound is embracing, and it surprises: I tried a lot of honest headphones which haven’t some impressive features; these are instead very “warm” in terms of sound, and really convincing. You must know that it’s not the most usual sound signature, however.
RevoNext QT2 (60€): these are more on a reference side, with a wider soundstage (they have open vents). The bass, instead, is slower and the punchiness, while present, is not managed as well as Meze did. Being IEMs surely gives a better fit, but the sharp angles didn’t really help for me: it’s always hard to find a good fit for me. The cable is similar, but the one of the 12 Classics can’t be removed. Overall sound is good for both, but if you need a reference earphone I recommend the QT2 over the Meze, which are instead less fatiguing and surely more fun.
Do I recommend the 12 Classics? For sure, because you get a good, non-fatiguing listening experience and a quick and detailed sound, even if a little bit dark, and they are easy to drive even with your smartphone. Consider that you might have some small fit issues, like me, and if you need to make a lot of calls with them you may find the mic not so good. I would take them as my daily drivers, if my ears were matching them better, because the sound is pleasant. And they look amazing.
- Great build quality, choice of materials and design
- Punchy and quick bass
- Fun sound signature
- Fit (Subjective)
- Mic sounds a bit muffled