Meze 11 Classics
Retail price: $79
Ear buds are some of the most loathed audio devices due to the fact that making big sound from a tiny bud is a challenge of massive proportions. But the elegantly crafted Meze 11 Classics is a huge leap forward for tiny cans.
The exterior of the cans, with their ebony wood enclosure, are the start of the natural balanced tone and hint at the quality below the surface. The textile braided chord, which features an in-line microphone for use with iPhones and the like, is noisy to start, but after some break-in it becomes more supple and transfers less external noise, and while it can still tangle, it’s still not like the vinyl wrapped cord on Apple’s ear buds.
From delicate, open classical recordings to live recorded rock concerts and even bombastic hip-hop, the Meze 11 Classics handle all demands with ease, and the sound quality when used for phone calls is superb — almost like talking on an old land line. The fact that the price comes in at under $100 is magnificent and makes the Meze a clear standout among other headphones in that price range.