Meze Audio 109 PRO Review: Best Headphone Under $1000?

Meze Audio 109 PRO Open-back wired headphones

$799.00
Meze Audio 109 PRO Open-back wired headphones
9.2

Build

9.5/10

Features

9.0/10

Sound

9.0/10

What We Dig

  • Warm, Natural, Detailed Sound
  • Luxury Build And Design
  • Comfortable Fit

What To Think About

  • Soundstage Isn’t Super Wide For Open-Back Headphones

It’s hard to believe that Meze Audio has just released its first Dynamic Open-Back cans, but here they are. Dubbed the Meze Audio 109 PRO ($799), they are stunning, crafted from a carefully curated combination of materials. Those materials include some impressive stuff, like finished walnut wood, zinc, manganese steel, and quality faux leather.

Inside the walnut wood earcups resides a novel 50mm Dual-Composite diaphragm. It has an outside ring (or torus) made up of Beryllium-coated semicrystalline polymer surrounding a cellulose-carbon fiber composite dome.

The new driver is designed to provide a natural, emotionally engaging listening experience. That, combined with the luxurious velvet, wood, and leather, makes the 109 Pro quite extraordinary for the sub-1k price point.

So, is the Meze Audio 109 PRO the headphone to buy below the thousand-dollar mark? Read on, and I’ll let you know the scoop!

Specs At A Glance:

  • 9.8-foot extra-long cable with a gold-plated 3.5mm mini plug
  • 5-foot cable with a gold-plated 3.5mm mini plug
  • It comes With a 1/4″ adapter
  • frequency response: 5-30,000 Hz
  • sensitivity: 112 dB
  • impedance: 40 ohms
  • weight: 13 oz.
  • Warranty period: 2 years

Meze Audio 109 PRO Review: Our Impressions

Meze Audio 109 PRO

Build Quality

Meze has never been content with making run-of-the-mill headphones, and with the 109 PRO, they follow suit. The company considers all its headphones to be works of art, and this new design fits the bill. The build is sturdy and luxurious while still being lightweight, which is remarkable.

The elaborate metal and wood construction favors Meze’s popular closed-back dynamic headphones, the 99 Classics, but the 109 PRO is slightly larger. That gives them a more robust feel even though the cups are open. It also improves the fit, especially when you have a big head like mine.

Additionally, the 109 PRO is more ornate than the 99 Classics. It has added details like sculpted metal grills that sit between the drivers and your ears, which takes things to a different level.

As far as wearability goes, the velvet-covered earpads and leather suspension headband, similar to the 99 Classics, make the 109 PRO amazingly comfortable to wear. They drop on your head and self-adjust. Once in place, there are no bad pressure points, either around your ears or on top of your head.

New Cellulose/Beryllium Drivers

Meze Audio 109 PRO

All that stuff is great, but the true heart of the Meze Audio 109 PRO is its new driver with its Dual-Composite diaphragm. The Beryllium-coated semicrystalline polymer outer ring precisely dampens movement, while a copper-zinc alloy ring stabilizer reduces vibration and distortion.

In the center of the diaphragm, the cellulose composite dome reinforced with carbon fiber is designed to be super light yet stiff, making it possible to reproduce high frequencies with incredible detail, clarity, and definition.

I’ve seen cellulose-based drivers (which can sound natural but also “soft”) and Beryllium-coated polymer drivers (which can be detailed but also “sharp”), but I’ve never seen them used together like this. Meze proficiently aims to give you the best of both worlds. I think the combination works quite well in my listening tests, but more on that in the listening section.

Furthermore, Meze angles the drivers to better line up with your ears, thus creating an evenness of sound you may not get from lesser headphones.

In The Box:

You get a decent accessory package with the 109 PRO, including a nice zippered hard case, two 3.5 mm headphone cables- one 1.5 m (5ft.) and one 3.5 m (12ft.), and a pouch to hold the cables. You also get a 3.5 mm to 1/4″ inch adapter.

I found the two cables to be a little too stiff and curly for my liking. That said, they are tangle-resistant, and I was happy to get a longer cable for desktop listening along with a shorter cable for use with portable players. If you want a more flexible cable or a balanced option, Meze offers some premium braided upgrade cables with various connections.

Meze Audio 109 PRO Review: Listening Impressions

Meze Audio 109 PRO

First of all, I have to note these headphones have a very high sensitivity rating, making them quite easy to drive. While they are pretty forgiving regarding the source, they clearly sound their best with better gear. As I went up the ladder with DAC/Amps, I was able to get greater levels of detail and separation out of them.

To that end, I performed most of my listening tests with the capable Hifiman EF400 Desktop DAC/Amp set to low gain (NOS). I then played a bunch of test tracks from the TIDAL Android app.

Listening Notes

When it comes to sound quality, right off the bat, I have to say I was quite enamored with the 109 PRO’s tuning. Some people say Meze headphones are a bit too lively in the treble or bass, depending on the model, but I didn’t hear that here. Overall, the 109 PROs were quite balanced, with just enough presence up top and punch on the bottom to keep things interesting.

I found these headphones to be quite refined, with nice detail going from top to bottom. While the perspective is somewhat forward, they are remarkably articulate without being too aggressive, which to me, is the goal. Unfortunately, many headphones miss the mark in this regard, most trending too analytical. The 109 PRO resolves detail in a beautifully natural way without the need for undue edge.

I was really impressed at the articulation on the low end, which was very good for a dynamic driver. There was also no bloat or boxiness, which made the 109 Pro’s presentation of vocals and instruments come across with a distinct lack of coloration, which is really good for a sub-1k headphone.

Dynamics were also excellent for the price point. The 109 PRO played music with a precisely controlled energy that constantly kept my head nodding. True bassheads may wish for a little more punch, but to me, it is just about perfect.

You may get a bit more transparency when you look at headphones above 1k, but even then, some of the more expensive offerings will have trouble matching the 109 PRO in its brilliant reproduction of musical ambiance.

The Magic of Hermanos Guiterrez

Meze Audio 109 PRO

Listening to “El Bueno Y El Malo” from the new Hermanos Guiterrez album, I was blown away by the openness of the sound. The soundstage and imaging were amazingly speaker-like, and I couldn’t get over how organic the guitars sounded.

In addition, the separation between the different parts of the mix was excellent, with each brother’s string part floating in its own little bubble. These headphones make you feel like you are sitting at a live recording.

This track is supposed to highlight the juxtaposition and emotion of each brother’s playing style, and the 109 PRO presented this to perfection. The music was so engaging over these headphones. I couldn’t help being enraptured by the melodies.

Meze Audio 109 PRO Review: The Verdict

To sum things up, the Meze Audio 109 PRO Headphones, with their novel driver, provide a remarkably neutral, organic, and transparent performance. They have a “live music” quality that stops you in your tracks. I have headphones on hand that costs several times what the Meze’s do, and I found myself drawn back to their musicality over and over.

Along with that, these headphones are amazingly comfortable during long-wearing sessions, and you don’t need to spend a fortune on a source to drive them (but you will be rewarded if you do).

If you’re looking for luxury near-reference headphones for less than 1k, these are the ones to buy! I believe these headphones will become that elusive endgame purchase for a decent percentage of audiophiles. Highly Recommended!


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