Poor Audiophile

Meze 11 Neo In-Ear Headphones with Titanium-Coated Drivers Arrive for Review

Romanian-based Meze wants to redefine the price-performance benchmark for audiophile in-ear monitors.  We absolutely loved the Meze 99 Classics over the ear headphones and consider them to be among the best headphones you can get at the $300 price-point.  Now, Meze has ventured into the in-ear-monitor space with the brand new 11 Neo.

Meze reached out to us and sent us an early pair.  How early? Well, let’s just say we are among the first to get our hands on this hot pair of IEMs with Romanian stamps on the package.

At first glance, you’d swear you are opening a slick pair of IEMs that retail for $150-$250.  The packaging is impeccable.  They look great. They feel great in your hands.  Putting them in and turning them loose, you’re immediately taken by their big, natural sound—something you don’t normally get with IEMs and you absolutely don’t get for the incredibly entry-level price of $49.

The bass and midrange of these budget-minded audiophile headphones hits the sweet spot. I can’t think of any IEM at this price-point that sounds better than these do. In the few hours that I’ve had the 11 Neos, I’ve been focusing on female vocalists.  Sade’s Soldier of Love is a great test for just about any system.  Sade’s vocals are very natural through the 11 Neo IEM headphones.  The bass on “The Moon & The Sky” is nice. It holds the song, packs a wallop, and is voiced a tad on the heavy side. But it never gets sloppy or loose.

Holly Cole’s “Take Me Home” from Temptation is sultry and beautifully rendered through the 11 Neo.  Holly Cole’s voice is rich and tonally accurate. The 11 Neos give a bit of ground on the three dimensionality of the soundstage on this song but opened up a bit on “Little Boy Blue.”  I wasn’t expecting the 11 Neos to nail this presentational aspect.  It’s a rare IEM indeed that can accomplish this feat—but the 11 Neos did tease.

Circling back to Holly Cole’s “Take Me Home” or her cover of “I Can See Clearly Now” the detailed strike of piano notes sounded a bit rounded off, but retained a nice tonal character.

Even with their stock ear tips, noise isolation is exceptional. However, to up the ante, the 11 Neos come with the highly acclaimed Comply memory foam ear tips.  We haven’t tried them yet, but we expect them to further enhance the sound of the 11 Neos.  Because pairing Comply memory foam ear tips tends to increase the bass response, we’re curious to see if the already punchy bass becomes a bit more pronounced.

The 11 Neos also feature an inline microphone and remote control. It worked with basic play/pause with a single click on the one-button remote and engaged Siri by holding down the button.  I initially could not get a forward or reverse command to work by pressing the button the accustomed two or three times but Meze team told me just to press the button faster.  The command set for the 11 Neo is

We’re looking forward to getting to know the 11 Neo IEM headphones better over the coming days and weeks. While you can’t necessarily tell a book by its cover, you can tell something from a headphone’s initial sound and the Neo 11s sound really, really good. I can always tell a good speaker, headphone, or piece of equipment by the way it moves me.  When I get in gear that I really like, I forget that I’m reviewing the gear and just want to play more and more music. It’s like a great first date where you’re just lost in the conversation and everything else seemingly disappears.

Let’s just say that the 11 Neo and I had a great first date. Is this love at first sight? Don’t know yet.  All I can tell you is that we’ll be seeing each other again, real soon. You can get more info on the 11 Neo here.