Pros: Fantastic bass response. Hifi and excellent sound quality for the price. Great build quality for the price. One year warranty.
Cons: Not designed to wear over the ear. Microphonics require using the chin slider and shirt clip. Treble will be harsh to some.
Meelectronics M9 Classic
At the time this review was written, the M9 classic is listed on sale for $9.99 USD. I honestly don't know how the price on these could be this low. Here is a link to their site:
Meelectronics is known for their “bang for your buck” personal audio gear. Over the past few years I’ve purchased several different of their budget models. One thing that has always struck me with their products is that they consistently and routinely offer a level of build and sound quality that surpasses their asking price.
First and foremost, a great big thank you to Mike at Meelectronics for supplying me with a sample to use for review purposes. I am in no way affiliated with Meelectronics, and was given an opportunity to sample this product in exchange for an honest review.
To start this review, please allow me to share a little bit about myself so you can better understand my observations. I AM NOT a numbers and graphs audiophile or sound engineer. Personal audio enthusiast? Absolutely! Headphone junkie? Possibly…
There’s something about quality DAPs, amplifiers and earphones that intrigues me, ESPECIALLY if they can be had for low prices. I’m a budget-fi guy. I buy the $5 to $400 headphone or IEM that looks promising, in hopes that I can find that one new gem that can perform above its price range, and compete with the big boys of this industry. If you look at my profile and inventory you will see I have purchased many, and I mean MANY different headphones ranging from $5 all the way up to $400. For me, it’s been more about getting great price to performance ratio, and hearing a variety of different gears with diverse signatures. With this hobby, we often times pay a lot of money for minor upgrades. One thing I’ve learned is that price DOES NOT always indicate good sound and build quality.
I’m always looking for great audio at a great price. I’m after headphones and IEMs that give me that “WOW” factor. I can appreciate different signatures as long as they are presented in a way that is pleasing to my ears. It’s my pleasure to share my experience with audio products, and make recommendations based on what I have heard.
The Meelectronics M9 has been around for a while now. I first stumbled upon them on Amazon and EBay over a year and a half ago. The product description at the time boasted some bold claims, stating that they could compete against many much higher priced models. Having already purchased the M6 at the time (which by the way is an epic in ear monitor that I still own as use to this day), I purchased them in hopes that they would live up to their claim. They held a place in my collection for a long time, and yes they were very good. The only reason I don’t still have that same pair is because I gave them to a relative who seemed to love them more than I did, so I gave him “the gift of Head-fi”.
When Mike asked me if I wanted to review the new M9 classic, I was excited because I had an idea of what I was getting into having heard the M9 a while back. He explained that this was a bare bones package focused on giving the consumer a Hi-Fi budget monitor that focuses on build and sound quality, and didn’t waste resources on packaging and needless accessories. I’m happy to say the M9 classic is just that.
Open box displaying the specifications and one year warranty
The M9 classic comes in a very generic looking brown flip top box that is held shut with a branded and barcoded sticker and a “certified frustration free packaging” logo. Opening the box revealed some simple specs about their product, and information about a one year warranty, which is something you seldom if ever see in an earphone priced this low. The M9 comes in a plastic zip-lock baggie with dual flanged silicone tips (which are some of the best tips you can get in my opinion) and a shirt clip attacked. Underneath one of the cardboard flaps is a selection of three single bore tips, sizes S-M-L
Holding the M9 classic in my hand, my first impression is that these have a build quality beyond their asking price. Having tried many earphones, I can tell the craftsmanship that went into these were in an effort to check all of the boxes in terms of what is required for someone to approve of their build quality.
Cable Jack and Housings
Chin Slider, Cable cinch, Shirt Clip
The M9 classic has a sturdy L shaped plastic plug with an adequate rubber/plastic-ish strain relief that transitions nicely into a very nice clear/black cable. I am really impressed with the cable. It is pliable and has very little memory to it. It doesn’t seem to be the type of cable that would be prone to tangling. Honestly, it is really well done. The cable cinch is sturdy plastic that seems to be the same material as the plug, and it comes with a chin slider that does its job and works very well. The supplied shirt clip is pretty standard plastic. The housings seem to be a black painted thin metal material that isn’t too heavy or bulky, and seems to be very sturdy. The strain reliefs leading to the housing seem very sturdy rubber/plastic that is almost too rugged in my opinion. I say this because I could imagine the possibility of some crimping of the cable going on where the cable meets the strain relief if someone were too rough with them. I would like to have seen the same strain relief on the housings as the plug. Honestly though, if that’s the one thing to worry about, we are doing pretty darn well. PS, don’t forget about the ONE YEAR WARRANTY. Did I mention they have a one year warranty? (When purchased from authorized retailers).
Considering that these would probably be used with portable devices in most cases, I primarily did my demo with my LG G3 phone, and with my portable rig, a Samsung Galaxy S (Wolfson chip) with Topping NX1. I also used my Fiio E17 DAC/AMP at 24 bit, 96000 Hz out of my laptop setup. I used Google music downloaded in its highest quality download setting (320 kbps), and streamed flac via Tidal streaming service. I gave the m9 classic approximately 30 hours of burn-in by playing them at loud volumes with different varieties of music.
I used my usual same songs for testing this gear:
“Limit to your love” by James Blake
“One” by Metallica
“Madness” by Muse
“Get Lucky” by Daft Punk
“Some Nights” by Fun
“The Soundmaker” by Rodrigo y Gabriela
“Basically” by Tei Shi
“One” by Ed Sheeran
“Outlands” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack
“Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits
My initial impression before burn-in was that these were overly bright and didn’t have very good resolution. This changed after burn-in. Please do not judge these right out of the box, as you will not be experiencing these at their full potential. Also, like all in-ear monitors, finding the right tip that is the right size and seals well is essential in getting the best sound quality you can achieve from your earphone.
The bass on these were without a doubt my favorite aspect to their frequency response. The M9 classic boasts punch and rumble with good extension and speed. James Blake’s “Limit to your love” was played with no problem, and the dynamic driver maintained the speed needed to keep up with the throbbing bass tones without distorting any other frequency. With all other tracks, bass tones were spot on. I didn’t find much in terms mid bass bleed with these in comparison to many other budget models, in fact they were quite good for any price range. Kick drums had nice impact without being overdone. Bass extended very low during test sweeps, as I could hear rumbling at 10Hz extending evenly all the way up into the midrange. One final thing to add is that not only does the M9 classic have good bass, its quantity is perfect in the sense that both bassheads and audiophiles will be able to enjoy them.
The M9 Classic has a V shaped signature. Bass and treble are out in front of the midrange, but it is not severe to the point that it sounds disjointed. Usually the problem with budget models that have strong bass impact is that it is usually followed up with a bleed that makes the midrange seem distorted or lacking in resolution, especially with a V signature. That is not the case with these. If anything, a little more warmth to the lower midrange wouldn’t have hurt, and would help give the midrange a little more texture. Usually any Sam Smith song will reveal a veil in his voice. I didn’t find that with the M9 classic. There was a nice sense of separation for the most part, and it was with only the most complex music passages that the single dynamic even hinted at having trouble keeping up. Moving up to the upper midrange, things progressively got crisper and slightly drier. There is a certain shimmer in the higher midrange and treble area that gives this tuning a sense of high energy. I enjoyed them at a lower to medium listening volumes. At higher volumes, the upper midrange and treble did reveal some sibilance in certain singer’s pronunciation of the letter S, and I got a sense of graininess and sizzle on some cymbal crashes. Please note that I can sometimes be a bit sensitive to treble, and this was when listening at what I consider to be unhealthy listening levels.
I touched on it in the upper midrange, but these have a treble response that is crisp, giving these an energetic feel to the signature. It works well with the rest of the tuning. I did notice the driver getting slightly overwhelmed during complex treble passages, but the same could be said for some much more expensive earphones. I really enjoyed these during Dire Straits’ “Sultans of swing”. The treble response played the cymbals and high hats beautifully. Also, these play EDM, Pop, Dub Step, and Hip Hop extremely well, and their treble almost seems geared for these genres. While those who are very sensitive to elevated and energetic treble might have an issue with these, others will like them for the same reason.
Soundstage and Imaging
With bass that extends all the way down to 10Hz, and an elevated treble response, the M9 Classic soundstage is wide, with good depth because of their fabulous bass response. The midrange could have used a little more texture to round out the sound, but all in all I am VERY impressed with what Meelectronics accomplished for such a low asking price. Think about it, they are pretty much selling a great sounding IEM that performs way over their asking price, along with a one year warranty, all for the price of a one year warranty on just about any other product! Crazy!
Comfort and Microphonics
The M9 classic has a very simple and ergonomic design. They are designed to be worn up and into the ear and not over the ear. The angle of the strain relief does not promote ergonomics conducive to wearing them over the ear. With that, microphonics are an issue. Fortunately, the supplied chin slider and shirt clip definitely helps with this.
To put the M9 classic more into perspective I will compare it to similarly priced, and similarly tuned models.
Xiaomi Piston 2.0 ($25 on many sites)
The Xiaomi Piston offers a better accessories package with a world class case that is super clever and still to this day blows my mind. Their three button remote is a plus for all smartphone (especially android) users. However, I personally prefer the sound quality of the M9 classic. With a faster bass response and minimal bass bloat, it makes the Piston 2.0 bass seem sluggish, bloated and sloppy in comparison. While the upper midrange and treble on the Piston can be more relaxed and better for loud volumes, I prefer the crisp delivery of the M9 classic, especially at lower to medium volumes.
JVC HA-FX40 ($18-$30 on many sites)
The JVC HA-FX40 carries a little more weight in their lower midrange, giving a bit more texture which I prefer. I give a slight edge to the M9 classic’s bass. Both models have occasional treble peaks that can be harsh. Build quality I will give a slight edge to the M9 classic because of the L shaped plug versus the straight plug of the HA-FX40, and the strain reliefs at the housings of the Meelectronics model in comparison to the HA-FX40 offering nothing in terms of strain reliefs at their housings.
Philips SHE3590 ($9-$20 on many sites)
The SHE-3590 is a budget legend in terms of sound quality. Still, I will give the M9 classic the edge in terms of bass response. The M9 classic has faster bass speed and response from what I hear. With a more textured midrange and treble that is crisp and not harsh whatsoever, I prefer the Philips model in these areas. The SHE3590 works better for rock music and band genres. I prefer the M9 classic for EDM, Pop, and Dubstep. As far as build quality is concerned, M9 classic is hands down the better of the two in all aspects from top to bottom.
Awei ES900 ($8-$20 on many sites)
I thought this would be a good comparison, but long story short the M9 classic is just flat out better. Resolution is superior, and it outperforms the ES900 in Bass, Midrange, Treble, Soundstage and Imaging. Also the cable is much more ergonomically easy to handle and use as compare to the flat cable of the ES900.
If you are looking for a high energy sound, and something with great build quality, with a warranty to boot, and all for around twenty dollars or less, look no further than the Meelectronic M9 classic. You won’t be disappointed!
Thanks for reading and happy listening!