I have a proposition for you. I’ll tell you all about the first balanced armature MEElectronics has made if you agree to think about buying them. Deal? Deal.
The A151 is MEElectronics’ first balanced armature IEM, and I must say, it’s a valiant first try indeed in a market saturated with <$100 IEM’s, and we all know MEE’s specialty is dynamic IEM’s right? So are these A151’s subpar? Far from it! Read on!
Packaging: The packaging of the SP51 is noticeably more upscale-looking than the previous line’s plastic box. Instead of the clear plastic boxes of yore, the current box is a dark and mysterious paper box with a mirrored inside. Inside, there is a “safety and tips” piece of paper that most people reading this have no need to read, the traditional MEElectronics case, and inside the case are extra tips. I’ve been trying to figger out what size the tips are, but I’ve lost my TX100’s to use as a reference.
Build: The A151’s are not made of any type of esoteric material like ceramic (CC51) or even metal, but they are, in fact, plastic. It’s really not a big deal though. The housings are very sturdy and as a bonus, I can sleep with these on! The cable on these is probably my favorite of all time on a <$100 IEM. It’s an incredibly flexible twisted cable a la Westone, and one of the few over ear IEM’s that work with my ears. If I do have any gripes about the A151 it’d have to be the strain relief on the plug. It doesn’t really do much to protect from strain. It doesn’t really bend much, which is a bit of a problem.
First Impressions: I really didn’t know what the first album to test the A151’s on, but I figured they’d err on the warm side of things seeing as how that’s how MEElectronic’s always done things. I decided to start with Emily Haines’ Cut in Half and Double. My first listen of the A151 showed a somewhat detailed warm IEM. The treble is smooth, even a bit toned down. The midrange is a bit romantic and the slightest bit veiled. Bass was surprisingly full for a balanced armature IEM, but for electronic with low beats, they struggled, which is acceptable for a single balanced armature.
Review: The gear that shall be used in this review are the Nationite NaNite N2, Sony A726, Blackberry Tour, and EMU 0204. Music is 320kbps. They’ve been used about 50 hours, and balanced armatures don’t technically need burn in.
I feel that the treble the A151’s have is pretty much ideal for my preferences. As a reformed treblehead, I prefer smooth treble to Grado levels of treble for almost any type of music, and smooth is definitely a word I’d describe the treble of the A151’s. Now, they aren’t exactly smooth a silk, there are a few dips here and there, mostly in the upper range and extension isn’t great, but pretty decent all in all.
The lower midrange is nice and meaty, erring on the warm side of things. The 1k-3k region is the slightest bit recessed though. Electric guitars and vocals can sound the slightest bit flat at times because of this. Regardless, it's ridiculously smooth sounding throughout, making these my ideal relaxation IEM's.
The bass is surprisingly punchy for a balanced armature, even moreso than a few dynamics I have. Sub bass however, is lacking in weight, which is to be expected from a <$100 single balanced armature design. However, what’s there is very formidable indeed.
Soundstage is very average. It’s a tiny bit out of my head though.
Detail retrieval is very good with the A151. It captures a bit more microdetails than the CC51 and M3. Tone is a bit off due to the softness of the sound though.
Conclusion: The MEElectronics A151 is a very competitive sub $100 IEM for those looking for a non-fatiguing sound signature. So how has MEElectronics done with their first balanced armature IEM? I’d say pretty dang good. Comparisons to its sister, the CC51 are inevitable, and I have to say that the choice is pretty hard. They sound rather similar—the CC51 having a more exciting sound, while the A151 falls on the gentler side, but if I had to pick one for all around listening, the A151 has my heart.