Gear Review: Meze 11 Deco Earphones

Founded in 2009 by Romanian designer Antonio Meze, Meze Headphones creates distinctive audio devices that appeal to casual listeners and audiophiles alike. Polished wood housings set Meze’s headphones and earbuds apart from the pack, delivering both superior audio quality and a unique look.

Meze started out with the Classics series, a line of four devices with dark accents and handsome ebony housing. Since then, the company has expanded with the Deco series, featuring light beech housing, white cords, and silver accents.

Meze 11 Deco earphones

Meze 11 Deco earphones

I tried out the Meze 11 Deco earphones, the first in the new series. Designed by Antonio Meze himself, the distinctive earphones stand out with their flared cylinder shape, glossy silver hardware, and beech enclosures. The 11 Decos come with a built-in microphone, three different sizes of silicone earphone covers, and a sleek white carrying case.

As a musician and casual listener who prefers headphones for my daily audio needs, I was curious to hear how the Meze 11 Deco earphones would change my listening experience. Since my ears are practically molded to my trusty AKG K240 Studio headphones, I tested out the 11 Decos against two other pairs of earphones, the Yamaha EPH-20 and Sony MDR-EX10LP.

Compared to the other earphones, the 11 Decos score high marks for sound isolation. They fit comfortably and effectively block out noise from the external world while delivering rich playback for a wide range of music, from chamber music to electronic pop.

I was impressed by the quality of the bass, which sounded more present than on my headphones. Even on beat-heavy tunes, the low range was full and never tinny. Though I preferred my beloved AKG headphones when listening to a Brahms trio, I was surprised at how fresh and resonant the strings and piano sounded on the 11 Decos.

The 11 Decos left the other earphones far behind in terms of dynamic range. On the 11 Decos, audio quality remained fairly consistent throughout the dynamic spectrum, from whisper-quiet to full volume. I could see these earphone becoming a trusty companion for travel, commuting, or other situations with lots of outside noise. The built-in microphone is a nice bonus feature that makes the 11 Decos an ideal choice for listeners on the go.

Meze 11 Deco earphones

Meze 11 Deco earphones

Though the cord is billed as “non-tangle”, I couldn’t detect anything particularly tangle-free about it. However, the roomy (and attractive) carrying case goes a long way in preventing the earphones from ending up in a knotted ball at the bottom of a bag or purse.

While most earphones have straight or L-shaped plugs, the 11 Decos feature a diagonal plug that sticks out at a 45 degree angle from the headphone jack. Though this gives a wider range of motion and decreases wear and tear when compared to a straight plug, the angled plug takes up slightly more space in a small pocket or bag when compared to the L-shaped plug.

As expected, the 11 Decos far outperformed the other (cheaper) earphones in terms of overall audio quality, delivering excellent sound and great value. Complete with extra features like the built-in microphone and handy carrying case, the 11 Decos are a solid buy at $79 USD retail. They hold appeal for music aficionados in search of a versatile set of earphones, as well as design aficionados who appreciate a sharp-looking product.

Though I’m still loyal to my trusty headphones at the office, I’d reach for a pair of 11 Decos when on the go. But it looks like headphone devotees like myself won’t have to wait long to experience the Deco sound and design. I’m keeping an eye out for the launch of the Meze 77 Deco headphones, which are currently under development.
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