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An ancient heritage
Growing up in Maramures, Romania, you’re surrounded by forests so old, so dense, where secular treetops work like a natural fortress to shelter over 10,000 species, from plants to bugs to wolves and bears. Ancient, magical places where human touch is almost nonexistent.
The history, philosophy of life and the culture of the villagers are intertwined with the forests. High churches with hand-sculpted heavy fir or oak poles and shingle roofs, traditional houses made of timber, they are guarded by colossal gates with intricate woodcarvings of the Sun, the tree of life, or ropes and wolves' teeth meant to protect a sacred space from harm.
Here, in the “land of wood”, the trees are sources of deep pride and honor, and the architecture is one with the nature.
Working with wood
To us, the smell of wood is the smell of home, so building our own products with it was simply natural. In our attempt to give old trees a chance to shine again, we managed to create an unexpected statement piece - the 99 Classics.
It’s been about 6 years since the Classics came about and they continue to receive recognition from the audiophile community, especially for their distinctive design.
Essentially, our admiration for wood and woodworking is what gave birth to this aesthetic language that’s particular to Meze. Unlike any other short-lived color or pattern trends, wood can be ever lasting. Growing in concentric layers around the trunk, limbs and roots, wood develops a pattern that’s completely unique to each tree. Color, luster, texture, grain, and figure come into play to create its final character.
But wood doesn’t just make something look good. When used in instruments, for instance, it reveals unique acoustic properties that give life to unparalleled sound. Being so passionate about music, taking that sound essence and put it into an audiophile headphone was a conspicuous step for us.
The choice of walnut
Treasured for their rich, dark color, specific grain character and beautiful smell, walnut trees are strong and durable, yet, somehow, lightweight and malleable. For woodworkers, walnut is somewhat like a “jack of all trades”.
As part of the 99 Classics, walnut has the power to vibrate in a harmonious way, producing warm, detailed sound, while naturally enhancing noise isolation. Combined with a closed-back headphone design, the wooden frame balances the energy of all frequencies, creating better sound resonance.
Working with wood is no child’s play.
The walnut we use comes from certified, sustainably managed sources, harvested from mature trees that have reached the end of their life cycle. This way, the environment is protected, leaving room for new life to sprout.
The rich colors of walnut require the use of air drying, a long and expensive process, and it takes eighteen months just for the wood to dry properly. Steam or kiln drying could be easier, but the colors tend to be washed out and the structure compromised. After that, the process of shaping just a single pair of earcups takes up to 8 hours. The sanding, lacquering and finishing last for 45 more days.
The craftsmanship of our designs is paramount, so all wooden components are then carefully inspected and no flaws are permitted to reach the final assembly.
We work so hard on them and build them this way because we wanted to create something to last a lifetime. A high-end headphone with multiple layers waiting to be uncovered one after another, with each listening session.
It’s a long wait until we get to feel the final product in our hands, but building a timeless piece that transcends all seasonal trends to become a favorite for so many… that’s worth it.
Find out more about the 99 Classics here.
*The photos from Maramures are from our personal archive.