MEZE 99 series 2.5mm Silver plated BALANCED CABLE REVIEW:
Are you capable or just snake oil?
One thing sure, cable are something collectable, and I have so much of them taking the dust it’s not even funny. Why so? Because there lot of cheap detachable cable out there, that manufacturer try to make disappear from their shop by including them with budget earphones or headphones. Some have bad connectors, other have bad isolation, other are badly assembled. Some go green because of copper oxydation, other have intermitent sound cut off because of inner broken signal wires and other one, whatever the price, can work perfectly for years and years.
Yes, cable are a gamble.
But there different type of cable family: Unbalanced and Balanced.
The different between those two is utterly important, and should really make us regret to use unbalanced cable that are factualy inferior for trustable signal conductivity free of any interference.
Unbalanced cable use 2 conductors and 2 wires-a signal wire and a ground wire-, the ground wire serve to shied the signal wire from surrounding interference and to carry part of audio signal.
Balanced cable use 3 conductors and 3 wires- 2 signal wires and 1 separate ground wire-, some think that this 2 signal wires are made for separate left and right stereo signal but this isn’t really that simple, here its more about NOISE CANCELATION due to inversed polarity of the 2 signal wires.
Adding a signal (LEFT) to an inverted copy of itself (RIGHT) results in a canceled signal, as positive peaks in the original signal correspond to an equally negative peak in the inverted signal (and vice versa).
Sure, balanced cable become more and more important as the cable lenght become longer, due to more risk of interference and noise, but why using it for headphones or earphones then?
Because we want the cleanest signal possible, and as well, numerous DAP begin using 2.5mm balanced output to deliver lower THD or/and even more power for hungries cans.
TODAY iI will review the new SPC balanced cable from MEZE, wich is designed expressly for their 99 Classic and 99 Neo Headphones.
This cable have silver plated oxygene-free coppers wires with soft transparent TPU coating. It is 1.4 meter long and have separate Left and right connector and a 2.5mm 3 poles jack (balanced).
Priced at 100$, I was considering this type of cable a little overpriced, but it look like its selling for 50$ finally, wich make it an affordable upgrade for your MEZE 99 Classic or Neo.
You can buy this 99 series 2.5mm cable for 50$ directly from MEZE HERE
CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN:
Compared to stock cable that come with my NEO, construction material is different and use Thermoplastic polyurethane instead of kevlar and basic rubber, this suggest a better durability and elasticity-flexibility. It is way softer than sticky rubber part used with the stock NEO cable, as well, the balanced cable isn’ with a mic and remote wich I personally prefer as I never use this features.
Left and right connector are of the exact same quality, using same material with the difference that balanced cable connectors are black and stock NEO are grey. In term of overall construction, it isn’t high end looking like some multi braided, pure silver or ultra thick cable can look, but the real difference with stock cable is more about inner part used, like silver plated OFC wires that theorically promess better conductivity.
The 2.5mm connector is still a straigh jack, I would have prefer a L jack here but no big deal as its personal preference.
The fact that MEZE 99 NEO are extremely easy to drive with their 22ohm impendance can make you think going balanced is kinda vain, but this will be true if you only need the extra voltage ouput power that you DAP or DAC-AMP have to some extend, wich isn,t the case because every headphones benifit from cleanest conductivity, as well, I think higher voltage inflict on overall sound dynamic.
So, when I plug the NEO into balanced output of my Xduoo X20, first thing that hit me was the improved clarity and dynamic, soundstage do not really expand but gain in deepness due to clearer more (micro) distortion free rendering. But that’s wasn’t all.
BASS became tigher and more controled and gain in separation, this do solve in part the overemphased lower end that was going out of control wich became more rounded as well as less boomy. With the track ”Produk 29” by Aphex Twin, the sub synth line was mixing badly with mid bass making it too thick and unatural as well as vibrating the NEO earcups in an annoying way, well, i test this very track to see if Total harmonic distortion was lower and if dynamic will be more balanced, the result is without a doubt rewarding. So, factually, the bass is improved and instead of gaining in impact, it loose some and gain in clarity, texture, speed and separation.
MID RANGE again became clearer with balanced cable, it have more air in imaging too and a more lively and fowards presentation. Due to less bass bleed, vocal are more detailed and thicker in timbre. Still, this is subtle and will not suddenly transform your NEO headphones into bright or analytical one, but you have now a more accurate spaciality and higher clarity.
TREBLE is another highlight of balanced output, due to extreme black background floor he feel more crisp and detailed. Highs are more delicate and balanced, compared to more artificial sounding one with stock unbalanced cable that feel pushed fowards trough an opaque wall of sound. Here, we have a more refined and revealing treble response that make the NEO even more natural sounding ans way less agressive than with stock cable.
To me, the biggest improvment that offer balanced connection is in term of bass control and treble accuracy, for critical listener like me, it’s really a game changer and make me even more enthusiast about lush sound of the MEZE 99 NEO. If we sum up all little improvment it make, should it be about transparency, dynamic control, transient response, treble or lower distortion, the balanced NEO sure gain a big sound improvment in they end. If you are sensitive about any type of improvement about sound rendering, like me, you will not want to go back the unbalanced way.
In term of construction, improvment is there too, but more marginal as I like the kevlar part of stock NEO cable but not the Y rubber cables that feel cheap and sticky, so the soft TPU coating without feeling extremely luxurious sure feel like an upgrade over the stock cable.
If the price stay at 50$, I consider this cable a great value and certainly worth the buy to hear what the MEZE 99 NEO or CLASSIC are capable of. Balanced (TRS) output improvment over unbalanced (TS) output isn’t snake oil or zealous audiophile believe, its just factual, and to enjoy this factual improvment, well, the only way is to buy this very cable I just review.
- Silver plated OFC wires
- Sound improvment
- Softer and more durable construction
- good value at 50$
- same connectors construction than stock cable
- too pricey at 100$ MSRP