We’ve had a long-standing relationship with the team over at Meze. When our resident audiophile, Mark, started looking at their devices, we quickly saw that for the price, they had some serious quality. When Meze contacted me to look at their 12 Classics IEMs, I was obviously only too happy to oblige but I did wonder whether a device with a similar look and feel to their other products, and with a 3.5mm jack could still compete in the 2018 market where those playing from smart devices are often using Bluetooth headphones. Thankfully, I needn’t have worried.
- Clear, crisp audio
- Balanced soundstage
- Additional tips and case
- Well priced
- Might feel too light in ear for some
- No volume control on unit
The Meze 12 Classics are an iterative upgrade on the 11 Classics (you could have guessed that right?) and follow the same design aesthetic. The variant we had to review was the Iridium with the Walnut housing. These go very well together and set the tone for the entire experience. Meze has a number of over-the-ear headphones that might fit better for some, and you can see our review of a couple of them over at the Meze 99 Neo and Meze 99 Classics reviews.
Let’s start with the unboxing. Standard for Meze here really. Inside the small box which has call outs for the titanium coated drive membrane and copper-clad aluminium coil used in these IEMs, you’ll find the 12 Classics as well as an instruction manual, 4 sets of silicone ear tips of different sizes, as well as a set of Comply foam tips, and finally a cable clip and carrying case. The case has a relatively hardened exterior which should protect your 12 Classics during transport, and it’s always nice for more premium accessories like this to be included.
The unit itself is, as previously mentioned, the Iridium variant although there is a Gun Metal colour scheme also. The ear bud has a small Meze Audio logo on the concave rear of it, which flows into the Walnut finish, and into the Iridium which is continued onto the silicone bud (if using those). The cable is a dark plastic coated copper look, and there’s a three-stage button on the control pod which hangs halfway down the right side cable. Those three stages deliver play/pause/answer call, skip track and previous track functionalities. The button on the control pod, which also sports a pinhole microphone which is pretty good for voice calls, is easily found due to the slightly raised nature of it, and the actuation is clicky and tactile.
The only downside about this design is that unless you have absolutely perfect vision, and good lighting, the L and R markers to denote the ear bud designations are a little hard to see, as they reside on the backside of the ear bud’s wire cover.
Specifications – Meze 12 Classics
- Driver Type: Titanium coated 8mm Mylar driver
- Coil Type: Copper-clad aluminum voice coil
- Frequency response: 16 Hz – 24 KHz
- Impedance: 16 Ohm
- Sensitivity : 101dB (+/- 3db)
- Total Harmonic Distortion : < 0.5%
- Noise attenuation: up to 26dB
- Headphone Jack: 3.5mm gold-plated jack plug
- Cable Material: 7N OFC cable,
- Cable Length: 1.2m
Performance & Use – Meze 12 Classics
If you have read any of my previous IEM reviews (No? Go do so!) you’ll know that I sometimes have a tough time in terms of comfort and fit. Hell, even over the ears sometimes cause me the same issues. I think that’s the perfect place to start in this review as I had no such issues with the Meze 12 Classics. Both the silicone and the Comply buds fit nice and snug and whilst the Comply tips isolate a lot more, the silicone ones do a decent enough job. Comply are by far the better option though for comfort.
The Walnut finish on the bud is lovely but it delivers no weight to the bud at all. This is a blessing and a curse, but more the former. It can feel cheap when picked up at first but that’s a material choice. Once in use, it helps when sitting in the ear to limit dislodging or movement, as well as delivering increased fatigue protection. Boy are they comfy too, especially with the Comply tips on.
When you get them in your ears is where the fun starts obviously. Connecting them up to something like a smartphone and not an audiophile-grade amp, and they deliver extremely good performance. The first thing I noticed was how balanced the soundstage felt. Vocals were crisp and present, whilst bass and other low-end beats were rumbling and clear. All of this without hampering the mid-level either. I’m no audiophile at all but I can see subtle differences from the 11 Neo ear buds in the bass especially. It’s not deeper, it’s somewhat more hard-hitting. It strikes you quicker, but with the same depth of the 11 Neos. I hope that makes sense – it does to me. Suffice to say that the low end here is a balancing act. This is not a gaming set of ear buds that air on the side of throbbing, warbling lows at every turn like a Michael Bay trailer waiting for the next damn drop. No, here it’s more subtle but the clarity feels excellent to my ears.
I tried these ear buds on Hip-Hop, Pop, Jazz, as well as a couple of more obscure tracks, and I definitely noticed areas of the tracks I’d never heard before. Footsteps appearing in the intro to Blockboy JB’s “Look Alive” was something new to me. Going back to my roots and listening to Liquid’s “Sweet Harmony” was a hell of an experience with the 12 Classics. The piano house beat was pure joy, and just after the minute mark, I felt a bass rumble I’d not heard previously, subtle as it was. I actually enjoyed listening to older tracks to see what else I could hear. The downside of this is hearing just how many vocalists have an erratic “suck” of breath before in between lyrics – not their fault I suppose.
If I had one complaint it would be that sometimes they feel a little less crisp with the Comply tips on than with the silicone tips. That’s technically not a complaint as you get access to both sets of buds!
Conclusion – Meze 12 Classics
The Meze 12 Classics certainly deliver a quality audio experience when all is said and done. You will get a slightly better listening experience with the silicone tips on, but the Comply tips are, for me, much more comfortable and it’s worth the sacrifice.
The inclusion of a few different sizes of buds is a welcome one if not anything special in 2018, but the inclusion of different types of buds is something that you see at the more premium end. These have a premium soundstage to my ears, whilst not having a suitably premium price tag attached. Whilst £69 is not overly cheap, I think it’s value for money for what you’re getting here. Whereas I normally prefer a Bluetooth headset for the gym, and working out in the Garden, these are my go-to earbuds for any indoor listening, and for when I want to really hear the music I’m listening to. Any old set of ear buds can deliver a loud, and bass-heavy soundstage, but very few will be brave, at this price, and deliver a balanced soundstage for those that want more than a noisy mess in their ears.
I’d like to see perhaps a nicer cable sleeving (it’s okay), and perhaps a volume slider on the control pod, but aside from that I can’t really fault them too much at all!
The 12 Classics are certainly worth a stab if you’re after something wirelessless in 2018. Make haste to your nearest Amazon shop using our link above and hover over that buy button until. You won’t regret it.