Pros: Clarity, Warm full sound, rather detailed
Cons: Potential comfort issues with small ears, revealing of bad recordings.
Typical Meelectronic packaging. Black thin cardboard box with a window exposing the CC51 and some of the accessories. On the front the model number is given as well as a logo and a logo showing they are powered fine by iPods. On either side there's either an Meelectronic or CC51 logo. The back has features/specs and a picture of the accessories. No frills, it's not minimalistic, but it's not in your face.
Once the box was opened I was surprised with a velvet covered plastic which held the CC51 and its accessories in place. Everything was secure from the included silicon ear tips to the signature semi-hardshell Meelectronic carrying case. Nothing special, but there really doesn't need to be anything else. I'm satisfied, especially for the price. The velvet covered plastic was a nice addition though. It's the little touches like that which will please a customer. Keep it up Meelectronics!
Overall the packaging was to be expected of a budget IEM. No frills, but everything you need. Meelectronic gives a decent selection of tips and the case is a nice addition.
Design and Build Quality
I was anxious to see how a ceramic IEM would look. First thing I noticed about the CC51 is that they are tiny, in-fact these are about half the size of the A151. The body has a smooth design and it makes me wonder how Meelectronics managed to pack such a sound into such small housing. Each IEM is stamped with an MEE and on the short cable stress relief they have an R and L imprint, which I found to be a nice, clever, touch. The nozzle is as big as the IEM, which, while being small, it will give users of small ear canals some trouble. The nozzles are also made of, what seems to be, aluminum for a nice two toned touch.
As I said some users may have comfort issues. This is part because of the wide nozzle, but it's also part because the shallow mushroom tips, not shallow insertion, the tips just aren't very long. The bi-flanges didn't give me good isolation so I couldn't test them. The inside ends of the tips, that insert into the IEM, have a tendency of digging into my ear slightly. This causes slight irritation. Nothing major, but enough to where I can't wear these for hours. My trust Comply T400 tips unfortunately do not fit on these due to the bigger nozzle. Hopefully Meelectronic will take this into consideration for the future and make the silicon tips a bit softer perhaps. I did manage to find a good fit though and the isolation is rather good on these with a good fit.
The CC51 are built very well though, I have no concerns about the IEMs themselves. The cable is a bit thin, which caused some microphonics. Meelectronic suggest to try these over ear to reduce them, but I couldn't get a good fit over ear. The shirt clip also present a minor problem with the cable, while it's removable it may come at the cost of messing up the cable. When I took mine off it left a little surface scratch on the cable, for instance.
I like the CC51 stamp on the y splitter, it's a nice touch, which Meelectronic seems to be figuring out it's the little things that add up! The L plug seems to be made well and causes no concern for me.
Overall the isolation is good, the microphonics are a bit noticeable, definitely not for exercise. The build quality is decent, a better cable would be nice, but the IEMs themselves are excellently made. If these had a braided cable like the A151 I would be thrilled. Comfort is subjective, but if you have small ears though do not buy these, they won't fit well. These are definitely made well though, definitely above average for the price. Lastly Meelectronic, please make the shirt clip easier to get off.
As usual I gave these 50 hours of burn-in, though I feel these are quite good right out of the box.
To describe the sound of these might be a bit contradictory. These have a nice warm, full and natural sound to them. At the same time they are very clear, rather detailed and certainly revealing of bad recordings. A few of my favorite songs were almost unlistenable because the clipping in frequencies was easily noticeable, some may see this as a pro, some may see it as a con. I don't want people to think these are labeled as analytical though. While they are clear and detailed they are very musical and gosh do I love music on these.
The lows are punchy, extend very well and sound natural. No part of the bass feels bloated or over emphasized to me. The bass is simply wonderfully balanced with the rest of the sound, especially compared to other offerings for the price. The mids are only the slightest recessed, but even as an owner and avid lover of the Ad900, I can still appreciate the full mids presented here that are smooth and clear. The highs are slightly more prominent than the mids, but again, they do not overshadow them. The highs have a nice sound to them, they extend well and don't sound grainy, they sound very natural. There's no sign of fatigue here and on quick listens no notice of sibilance, but I'll test for that later.
These IEMs aren't as quick as my Ad900, but I haven't found a genre yet these do bad with, from drum and bass to alternative rock. These headphones have the punch and aggression able to make any music come to life. Distorted guitars sound raw while bass is punchy. These definitely aren't forward though, but they aren't laid-back, somewhere in the middle they lie. The soundstage is nice and intimate, I feel like I'm in the music and the instrument separation is great.
Time to listen to some tunes!
Between the Buried and Me - Mordecai
I chose this for the metal heads! The CC51 handle fast metal very well. The bass is punchy, the double bass is thumping at a rapid pace, the guitars are crunchy, aggressive, and very clear. The vocals are lacking a little, they definitely feed a tad recessed. Everything sounds wonderful though, these headphones definitely suit metal well. Every little nuance is heard easily.
Herbie Hancock - Chameleon
I chose this to see how the CC51 would handle some fusion jazz. The headphones have a slightly warm presentation to them which definitely suits jazz. This sound sounds wonderful. The guitar in my left is clear and right in the middle of the mix where I feel it should be. The drums and bass are most prominent, but not by much, and they sound warm and smooth, like the song. The horns come in and are definitely the forefront of this song and they sound beautiful. They're smooth and clear and while they're the focus the rest of the instruments are easily discerned.
Sara Bareilles - Bottle It Up
I chose this to see how the CC51 handles sibilance and female vocals. Unfortunately there's a little bit of sibilance, not much to annoy me, but to nitpick there is. The rest of the song has a nice warm sound to it, Sara's voice is smooth and never sounds grainy. As good as the song sounds, if you listen to a lot of sibilance prone music these may not be for you.
The Beatles - Rocky Racoon
I absolutely love this song. The simple western song, warm acoustic guitar and a stand up piano make this a fun song. The vocals and guitar sound excellent, very clear and warm. The stand up bass resonates well and the hi-hat hits are easily heard and sound very natural. I really love this song, it's one of my most listened to songs and the CC51 play them back wonderful.
Pretty Lights - Pretty Lights vs. Radiohead vs. Nirvana vs. NIN
I chose this as my electronic song to see bass response and how it handled electronic in general. The sounds are panning and fading in and out beautifully. It's giving me the illusion that the sounds are swirling around my head, it sounds wonderful. The vocal samples are a bit in the background compared to my Ad900 for instance, but they were never very forward in the mix to begin with. The bass drops and extends deep, has great detail and control. I definitely feel the bass textures lightly rattling my ears the best they can. The CC51 handle this track beautifully.
I once said that the Meelectronic A151 were possibly the best IEM under $100, well the CC51 changes that for me. I think the CC51 may be the best IEMs under $100 for sound quality. The bass extends deep and has great texture and impact. The mids are a tad recessed but sound full and lush when the highs and lows aren't the focus. The highs extend well but there's some sibilance unfortunately. As for nitpicks? I wish the silicon tips were a bit more comfortable, I wish removing the shirt clip didn't pose a threat to the cable, I wish the cable were braided like the A151 and I wish the nozzle were a tapered a little for those with smaller ear canals.
I highly recommend these though, the sound suits me perfectly and the clarity and overall sound is just wonderful for the price.