I’ve been anticipating the 109 Pro since hearing a prototype version at this year’s CanJam in New York City. A new open-back headphone from Meze would excite any audiophile, as the 109 Pro already sounded promising. Now that the 109 Pro has been officially released, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot more time with them. It costs $799, which puts it in line with higher-end mid-fi headphones like the Audeze LCD 2. Is the 109 Pro up to that standard of quality?
What You Will Receive
- 109 Pro headphones
- Zipper hard case
- Leather cable pouch
- 2 3.5mm cables
- 1.5m and 3m in length
- Quarter-inch jack
Look and Feel
At first glance, the 109 Pro appears to be a carbon copy of Meze’s 99 Classics, with its walnut wood housing as well as large suspension headband. They even share a bronze piece that holds their metal frame together. I don’t think you’d be far off if you simply described the 109 Pro as an open-back version of the 99 Classics. It’s a fantastic design, so I don’t blame Meze for sticking so closely to it. The 109 Pro is not only well-made, but also very comfortable to wear. Its velour ear cushions gently seal your ears, allowing you to listen to the headphones for many hours without discomfort.
The 109 Pro’s main 50mm driver employs a dual membrane diaphragm. Its components include a beryllium-coated polymer, cellulose carbon fibre composite, and a copper-zinc alloy. Both TPE cables are black aluminium-encased and have 3.5mm connectors on each end, making them compatible with these Meze upgrade cables. The 109 Pro’s 40 Ohm impedance makes it easier to drive than all those open-back headphones in this price range.
If Meze knows anything, it’s how to give their headphones a great soundstage. Meze’s over-ear and in-ear products, whether open-back or closed-back, can really open up your music. This is why I was ecstatic when I finally got to spend more time with the 109 Pro than I had at CanJam. I got a much better sense of the 109’s scale while listening to the headphones for this review. The spatial imaging is completely holographic, with sound completely engulfing your headspace. They have a non-linear soundstage and provide plenty of depth from top to bottom for each track.
Instrument and vocal placement seem to be exceptionally well articulated, with the instruments and vocals appearing in a floatier space within the soundstage. However, I believe the sound elements are still closer to you than I anticipated. It’s a warmer sound signature overall, and I believe some of that tone is more naturally intimate, bringing everything closer together. What the 109 Pro excels at is bringing that intimate sound into a 3D space. In a dome, the soundstage is not so much in front of you as it is around you. The 109’s soundstage is not what I expected, but it is exactly what an open-back version of the 99 Classics should sound like.
The lows have a present warmth to them that is never used to overpower the sound signature. Instead, the 109 Pro’s warmth is used to create a smooth but consistent picture of the bass. While the frequencies have plenty of power, the 109 Pro isn’t about impact. The sub-bass and mid-bass both contribute to the fullness of the tone while maintaining a clean timbre. The 109 has a deep rumble in the sub-bass that lifts the sound significantly, while the mid-bass has a leaner tone. You may not like that it doesn’t punch as hard, but I believe the 109 Pro still does an excellent job of providing a gripping bass texture.
As a warmer headphone, the midrange emphasises the low-mids, but the rest of the frequency response can still present spacious, natural properties. These mids have a lot of space, giving instruments a distinct presence in the mix. Piano keys glide with grace across the frequency spectrum, filling the space with sharply defined attacks. With their pluckiness, acoustic guitars and orchestral strings give me the same impression. It emphasises the intimate profile of this sound signature exponentially.
The 109 Pro’s vocals stand out as one of its best features. Not only are they delivering full-bodied and realistic performances, but they are also enhancing their dominance in an exciting way. Their commanding personality is well balanced with the rest of the frequency spectrum, and they have an extremely emotive response. Some voices have guttural tones that you can feel. Which emphasises detail with a strong sense of expression.
Warmer headphones soften up in the highs, but the 109 Pro is not one of them. The tonality of the timbre here is striking, lending a lively resonance to the sound signature. It hits hard while minimising harsh tones and highlighting the sparkly textures. These frequencies sparkle in the mix, adding height to the soundstage and imaging. Cymbals and hi-hats have a lovely shimmer in a crisp resolution. Each crash hovers and dissipates around your forehead. Tambourines and chimes produce a sweet ultra-high resonance with a colourful waft of clarity. The highs really round out the sound signature with this response.
I could listen to the 109 Pro for hours and never grow tired of its lush sound signature. The 109’s level of comfort also helps, as it has an excellent build that matches the sonic fidelity on display. After listening to the 109 Pro and every other Meze headphone, I believe it is safe to say that this company does not know how to make a bad headphone. The 109 Pro is elegant and provided an enticing open-back experience on par with some of the best available. For some, $799 may be too much, but I believe Meze is bringing its best with the 109 Pro. At its current price, the 109 Pro is an excellent value that is well worth considering as your next audiophile purchase.