Pros: Price, Very Good Sound When Modded, Build
Cons: Needs Modding
There aren't many sub-$10 IEMs in the market. With all the recent budget IEMs being priced at around $50, it leaves very little choice for people who are looking for a very cheap IEM. As far as I know, the main choice for many people is the Monoprice 8320 and having heard them, I certainly see why. They are the only IEM I have heard under $10 that actually sounds decent. It is not, however, good in all areas - the cable is a pain and so is the housing. Then I heard that Meelectronics had a new IEM that was going to be priced at $10 and I was certainly rather intrigued, having really enjoyed their A151. I would like to thank Mike for sending me a pair to review.
**Disclaimer** These were given to me in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Packaging, Accessories & Design
The packaging is very simple cardboard packaging and there are 4 pairs of tips, one of which are the Meelec double flange which are actually very nice.
The design of these is very simple, but the build and look of these certainly makes them look like they cost much more. The housing is very well crafted and the cable is one of the better stock cables I have come across. Isolation is rather poor because of the vent but fit is very good. These can be worn over the ear or straight down depending on your preference but I prefer over the ear because there is a fair bit of cable noise when worn straight down. The cable is nice and soft, no problems at all. The strain relief and build quality on a whole is also top notch. Considering how little these cost, I feel like Meelectronics does fantastically here.
Sound Quality (Stock)
When I first heard these, I was thinking that these are nice sounding V shaped IEMs, but they were not that special. Certainly not as good as the Monoprices. However, after listening to them for a while, I started hearing that the drivers were capable of a lot more. The stock sound is rather V shaped, bass boosted, mids recessed and treble a little shrill. The bass will probably satisfy many people out there who like big, loose bass, but IMO they were rather bloated and lacking in detail. The bass seemed to bleed into the mids a little and drowned out a lot of detail. The midrange was recessed, but bright. The upper mids have a little bit of a spike that seems to be there in all of Meelec's headphones that I have tried. It does increase clarity, but makes vocals sound a tiny bit off. The treble was actually rather nice, being a little emphasized, but having good detail and almost no sibilance. Soundstage and imaging were decent too, which is rare for such a cheap IEM. Most IEMs in this price range do not have a soundstage that expands past your head. Separation was lacking a little compared to the Monoprice and so was detail. Again, I felt like the bass heavy tuning was letting these down so I decided to try a very easy mod on them to see how they would try to respond.
I do realise that a lot of people will be put off by the idea of modding anything, let alone their tiny IEMs. Well bear with me, because this is definitely worth it and very easy. Some of you guys may have heard of the tape mod that some people have been applying to their IEMs. I have tried this on a few IEMs with differing results. The Monoprice because very bloated and smeared, but the A151P actually improved a little. I decided to give this a try on the M9 and man, I am glad I did. All you do is take a piece of tape and cover the vent, hole, port or whatever you want to call it. It takes literally 2 minutes. Best of all, it is completely reversible if you don't like it.
Sound Quality (Modded)
Wow, it really is an amazing transformation. I'm talking like a 5 to a 7.5 on Joker's IEM scale. No longer do we have the flabby and bloated bass. Instead, now we have a bass with solid impact that is still on the heavy side, but staying relatively fast. The impact is very satisfying, for anyone worried that the bass will be very light, it definitely isn't. More impact than the A151P for sure. It hits pretty hard but I am not hearing any bass bleed whatsoever. The bass is definitely the section that has been the affected the most. The midrange is now crisper but the upper mid boost is still there and slight problem that we had in the unmodded M9. The vocals sound just a tad off. It doesn't affect male vocals as much as female vocals. The clarity of the entire midrange has improved so much, it is really as if a blanket has been lifted off and instruments no longer sound nearly as warm. Treble is not affected much, in fact, hardly at all to my ears, but I liked the unmodded treble so this is not an issue at all. Soundstage and imaging seems to have not changed either, I don't hear a significant difference. Clarity and detail has been improved dramatically, I kid you not. This IEM has really set a benchmark for the cheapest of budget IEMs.To be honest I really do not understand why Meelectronics even have this vent at all. It is pretty obvious that even though the driver is dynamic, it does not need the port anyway. Why put it there when it is detrimental to the sound?
You may be scratching your head, wondering whether it is actually worth buying a $10 IEM and modding it. Well, I really doubt that you are going to buy anything better under $30, so I feel like it is completely worth it. The stock M9 is really not very good, but the modded one is amazing. Do we finally have that Monoprice 8320 killer here? Well I believe we do in not only the sound quality section, but in every single possible section. The packaging is better,cable is better, build is better and the fit and look is better IMO. And a little bit of advice to Meelectronics, try the tape mod on your IEM models that have a port and see what you think .