Hi-Fi+ Awards 2016: Headphones

Final Audio Design Ltd. SONOROUS III,
Focal Utopia,
Meze 99 Classics Walnut Gold,
MrSpeakers ETHER Flow
Hi-Fi+ Awards 2016: Headphones

Value-Priced Headphone of the Year

Meze 99 Classics

The first product out of Antonio Meze’s Romanian headphone lab, the Model 99 Classics are a closed-back design featuring a 40mm full-range Mylar transducer with a Neodymium magnet system, a V-shaped metal head band with a single flexible inner band of comfy pleather, two sets of Kevlar-wrapped OFC cables (one with and one without an in-line microphone/media controller), and walnut ear-cups. These last are solid blocks of walnut, CNC milled, then hand finished and polished to an artisan matt finish.

In our test, Alan Sircom said, “The Meze 99 is an unexpected joy. It has a sensational musical performance, even when played with very humble audio equipment, and is comfortable enough (both in wear and in listening) to allow the listener to spend many hours at a stretch in the company of the Meze 99 without a care.” 

Reviewed in Hi-Fi+ Issue 134

Closed-Back Headphone of the Year


Drawing heavily from some really big hitters in the Final range, this headphone has a lot in common with the SONOROUS X and SONOROUS VIII, despite the more than ten-fold price differential. Based around a 50mm dynamic driver that features a polycarbonate/glass resin molded front plate, Final’s unique Balanced Air Movement mechanism, and synthetic leather ear pads, the SONOROUS III looks and sounds more upmarket than many of its peers. In listening, Chris Martens felt that “it offered deeply extended and powerful, (albeit somewhat elevated) bass, with plenty of pitch definition and transient impact,” with a vibrant midrange, an extended treble response, “effortless transient speed”, and “a satisfying quality of coherence.”

Reviewed in Hi-Fi+ Issue 137

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