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My personal impressions on Meelectronics Ai-M9

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi all

I recently bought a pair of Ai-M9 for me and a pair of Ai-M2 for my wife, and as promised here is my personal review of the M9.

First of all I want to publicly thanks ljokerl for his recommendation: I'm very happy with these phones and I probably would not even know them weren't for ljokerl. Thanks, dude, in my name and in the name of all those people you've helped choosing a pair of phones!

Second: I want to thanks Meelec, specially Martie, for her gentle attention. They were so kind as present me with an additional pair of the new M2, and in general the customer care was incredibly good, specially taking into account that I just spent 30$, shipping included.

Last but not least: don't take my comments as facts. These are my views on the phones, and although I want to be objective this is very difficult, specially regarding audio. Nonetheless I will try to be as neutral as objective as I can.

Let's go to the matter... These are the phones:
MEElectronics AI-M9 Hi-Fi Sound-Isolating Earphones

Building quality, appearance. Well, taking the price into account (18$ as of this writting) the building quality of the phones is astounding. Metal casing, well finished, sturdy. They have a glossy finish which makes the phones look very good, too. The cable looks a bit cheaper, but it is pretty solid. I have the "old" cable, black and rubbery, not the "silvery" new cable of recent Mee models, and although the plug (straight, not "L") looks fragile, it is not and has a very low profile. The "Y" joint is pretty strong and the cables enter the casings through pretty solid rubber strain reliefs.
The phones include some accesories: a plane adapter which I'm not going to use, one of these rubbery things to wrap the cable (which has better quality than other models I've seen), a semi-hard case (very slim, very useful) and plenty of silicone sleeves including a pair of bi-flanges. The silicone tips are pretty soft, which may be good for some people (more comfort) but bad for others (probably, less isolation).

Update: how could I forgot... These phones have a very common problem: there are no "tactile" indication of left vs. right bud. JVC, some AKG and Sennheiser models, maybe others, include a "bump" or a raised dot, to indicate the left phone. This is very useful if you use the phones in the dark (at the bus sometimes, in bed, etc.) as otherwise you have to use some additional light to distinguish each side, specially in symmetric phones like the M9, where both buds are virtually identical. For me it would be a noticeable quality increase if some tactile mark is included to mark one of the phones (a bump or a raised dot in the strain reliefs or the casing, etc.).

Comfort, wearing. They are extremely comfortable, to the point that I've felt asleep twice while wearing the phones without noticing they were on my ears. None of the included tips seemed to fit me properly, lacking sound isolation or being too soft as to "retract" over the metal nozzle. The bi-flanges provided the better seal but weren't too comfortable to me. Fortunately, the great silicone tips that came with my cat-chewed JVC Air Cushions fit the M9 perfectly and provide decent isolation. Many foams will fit the 5mm nozzles, too, so finding a good seal and acceptable tips is quite easy. My wife, by the way, finds the provided silicone tips MUCH MUCH better than the JVC ones, so it's a matter of taste. Provided tips are very good (better than the ones that came with my SoundMagic PL30, to cite an example).

Another comfort-enhancing thing these phones have is that the cable doesn't enter the phones in a 90° angle, but about 135°. This means that even if you shove the phones deep into your ears, the strain relief rubbers won't hurt your ears (it happens to me with my JVC HA-FXC50, for example).

I don't have problems wearing the cable straight down or over the ear. I haven't tested thoroughly but when worn over the ear, the cable doesn't have that nasty tendency of jumping over my ear, which is GREAT because "designed-to-be-worn-over-the-ear" phones that I've had all showed this problem.

The cable doesn't have great microphonics, which amazes me because in my experience rubbery cables all had a lot of microphonics, and that allows me to wear them with the cable straight down, which I like better. Compared with the microphonics I have with my JVC HA-FXC50, this cable has NO microphonics. The new silvery cable will have even less, specially because it includes a shirt-clip if I understand correctly.

When using tips that isolate a lot (that is, with a better seal), the left driver presents a bit of crackling, solved just by inserting them a bit more slowly. My left ear canal is bigger than the right one, but the shape is weird, so it's not strange to me that one driver has crackling noises and the other doesn't. In these phones, it's the left driver the one which crackles due to the "vacuum" in the ear canal. As I told, inserting the left bud a bit slower solves the problem and avoids damage to the driver.

It's jus curious: I use the smallest tips on all the IEM's I have, but I must use the M tips with these, or otherwise I don't noise isolation at all and the drivers fall from my ears! It is VERY strange, and it is not because of the included tips, because it has happened with other small tips I've tested (from JVC and another brand, don't remember which one). Well, live to see!

Isolation, sound. Noise isolation is a bit inferior to other phones I've tested recently, as the SoundMagic PL30 and PL21 or the JVC HA-FXC50. Not very different but I should try on the noisy underground or other noisy environments to check if the noise isolation is enough to hear the music over the noise on those environments. Wearing, for example, the JVC HA-FXC50 on one ear and the M9 on the other doesn't show a great difference in isolation, though.

Of course, noise isolation depends heavily on the tips. For me, the included tips provided noticeably less isolation, don't ask me why. The bi-flanges are a bit better, but I find them a bit uncomfortable so... I've tried foamies, which provide better isolation but end up being way too soft due to body heat up to the point of being a problem if I remove a driver from my ear: it's impossible to put it back on my ear as the tip is too soft. I can think of a clear (but dirty) metaphore but someone could find it offensive The JVC tips provide a great degree of isolation while giving great comfort at the same time.

And now, to the hairy subject: sound... For me, sound quality in the M9 is astounding for the price. Out of the box they have too boomy basses, clearly recessed mids (and muffled voices) and not very bright highs, but this sound signature changes by using them just a few hours. I don't know exactly how many hours of burn-in they received, I have been using them for a few days, but probably much less than 24 hours in total. Now basses are deep but tight, not "eating" other frequencies, although they may sound "boomy" to some (my wife doesn't like the basses on this phones, for example), and certainly they are much deeper than the SoundMagic PL21 or PL30 if you ask me. JVC HA-FXC50 are boomier to me, too. Mids and voices now sound clear and not muffled, still a bit less stronger than I like but decent and clearly distinguishable, not hidden by other frequencies. Much better than my old PL30, for example. Highs are crispy and brilliant, but not "chilly", I mean, they are there, they're brilliant but they don't drill your brain. Overall, I find the sound signature to be exactly what I like, so I'm not objective here

The drivers are decently detailed. Not as detailed as the JVC HA-CX50, but to me more detailed than the SoundMagic PL30. I coudn't swear, though, because it's been six months since I last listened to a pair of PL30 (I no longer have mine).

They are sensible enough to be easily driven by any DAP/PMP, but "non-sensible" enough to avoid hissing. Using my FiiO E5 with them didn't improve the sound greatly: OK, the voices sounded better, but in exchange I could hear the electric noise of the E5. That's probably the only drawback, sound-wise, that I have with these phones: they're quite revealing of imperfections in the source. I can hear (faintly, but audibly) the electical noise in the sound output of my laptop, specially when using the E5. Not a great problem, though, as my main portable source, my Sansa Clip, doesn't have such problems with these phones.

Compared with the SoundMagic PL21, the M9 are better overall, specially taking into account the minimal price difference. Compared with the PL30, I like the M9 better, but I couldn't tell if they are objectively better or not. To me, they are superior clearly, but it's a matter of taste, I suppose. Compared with the JVC Marshmallows the M9 are incredibly better to my likings and it's curious because is actually cheaper to buy two pairs of M9 and get them shipped to Madrid than to buy a pair of Mallows in a phisical shop in Madrid (depending on the shop, of course, but...). Compared9 with the JVC HA-FXC50, the M9 are less detailed, less tight basses but much more comfortable and cheap, so I don't know if the JVC's are a step above or below the M9 taking everything into account: the JVC model is about 60$ in almost all shops in Madrid, maybe 40$ if you are lucky, while the M9 is about 25$ shipped. On average, the JVC are twice the cost and, in my very humble opinion, they doesn't sound twice as better.

Summing up. For a 18$ phones, they are really great. With the new cable they're going to be just fantastic. I miss a clip shirt, an L-shaped plug and maybe foamies, but overall they are a very good bang for the buck. I thought that SoundMagic were, on the average, the best bang for the buck (regarding sound quality, but not building quality in my opinion...) but my mind has changed: both M2 and M9 are, to me, better options than the PL21 and PL30 (for example).

I'm impatient to order a pair of black or clear M6, or a pair of the new-cable M9, who knows. What I have clear is that I will keep an eye into Meelec and I'm going to recommend their products. They may not be the best sounding phones in the market, the more sturdy, etc. but they are very cheap (they cost less than they are worth of), Meelec has a superb customer care and very interesting products, and if I need new phones I plan to buy theirs.

Had fun!
post #2 of 16
Thank you for the review.

Another member of the Meelectronic fan club : D Really, they MUST have something new planned for the new year. I think an all silver IEM with the silvery cord would look most fancy.
post #3 of 16
Wow, that is a very detailed and thorough review. Glad you're liking them so much . I especially agree with you on the angled strain relief - I really found that uncomfortable in the FXC50 after a while. The angled one on the M9 is a great solution compared to having no strain relief at all or a useless tiny one like I found on the Skullcandy Titans and (recently) the Lenntek Sonix Micro.

I think the M9 with the new cabling is going to beat out some much higher-priced IEMs in my book. They're just a tad behind the PL21s for me now because I've had so many issues with the build.
post #4 of 16
if you like the 9 try the 6, couldnt believe how much better they were or that they had the same driver
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orange1 View Post
Thank you for the review.

Another member of the Meelectronic fan club : D
I'm guilty

Quote:
Really, they MUST have something new planned for the new year. I think an all silver IEM with the silvery cord would look most fancy.
I think that Meelec has more than enough different models, but if they announce that they finally did put the new silvery cable on all the models, it is going to be a heluvalot difficult to keep from ordering! Oh, my wife is going to kill me
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post
Wow, that is a very detailed and thorough review. Glad you're liking them so much
Thank you, really, for your recommendation. If you ever come to Madrid, drop me a note and I'll buy you all the beer you can drink

As you can see from the review, i didn't insist much in describing the sound signature, because I don't think I could do it properly. People like you are much better at doing so. I tried to "fill the blanks" I noticed in other reviews. A pleasure to write, really.

Quote:
I especially agree with you on the angled strain relief - I really found that uncomfortable in the FXC50 after a while.
I think it was the first thing I noticed when testing them. I had been using the FXC50s very frequently lately, and the strain reliefs really hurt my ears, so it was a very positive change.

Quote:
I think the M9 with the new cabling is going to beat out some much higher-priced IEMs in my book. They're just a tad behind the PL21s for me now because I've had so many issues with the build.
I understand your point. Now I don't know what to do: ordering a pair of M6? waiting for the new M9 with the new cable? The casing can affect sound quality a lot, and from what I've read in this forum, the M6 are more than worth the price. On the other hand, I've had bad experiences with over-the-ear designs, but the M6 has the memory cable which I think it's exactly what I was looking for in over-the-ear designs. The casing is closed, it looks extremely cool... Damn, what I really want is to order both the M6 and the new M9, but really my wife is going to get very angry if I do. She thinks I have way toooooooo many phones and she is right, I don't have any real reason to give her to justify yet another pair of phones, and she doesn't have any similar hobby to compensate my expenses... Getting new phones just to try them is a bit egoistic on my side I suppose, so I may wait a bit before ordering these...

Now I start to understand the "sorry about your wallet" forum motto: it not because you may end up buying very expensive phones; it's because you may end up buying lots of cheap (but good...) ones!!!!!
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi mark!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark2410 View Post
if you like the 9 try the 6, couldnt believe how much better they were or that they had the same driver
The casing may affect sound a lot, so I can understand that the M6 are somewhat better. I'm a bit against over-the-ear designs, but the memory wire is a pro in my case, not a con.

I want to test the new cable, but that's something I can do with a pair of M6, so the decision is hard to take anyway.

Let's see what happens in the few weeks...
post #8 of 16
give the Radiopaqs a try, haddnt noticed you were in spain. atm they are bargains and trounce even the M6 and they arent over ear
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi mark

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark2410 View Post
give the Radiopaqs a try, haddnt noticed you were in spain. atm they are bargains and trounce even the M6 and they arent over ear
Are the Radiopaqs easy to find in Spain? I'm always wanting to try new models, and although I should wait a couple of months before buying yet-another-pair-of-phones, I can investigate them a bit, specially if they're easy to find in Spain.

Whether they are better than the M6 or not, who knows... There are a couple of things I don't like about Radiopaqs: they're more expensive than the Meelecs and I don't like that "a headphone for each music style" thing. Maybe they're right and you need a different pair of phones for each music style, but I'd rather have a bit worse but all-around headphone. A matter of taste, I suppose.

I'll keep an eye on them, anyway Thanks for the advice.
post #10 of 16
you should ignore radiopaqs marketing, each can be used fine for different music types they just each have a different sound signature and i think the Jazz ones go great with everything. AMP3 are doing them for just £15 just now

if it wasnt for them giving them stupid names im sure they would have been a huge hit
post #11 of 16
Nice detailed review. Looks like you spent alot of time and effort. Maybe later when you plan to upgrade, you can give us a good review of the M6's vs the M9's. Will they sound much better than the M9's vs the price difference.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark2410 View Post
you should ignore radiopaqs marketing, each can be used fine for different music types they just each have a different sound signature and i think the Jazz ones go great with everything. AMP3 are doing them for just £15 just now

if it wasnt for them giving them stupid names im sure they would have been a huge hit
I'm going to test the M6 first, but probably next year I will buy some Radiopaq. I'll take a look at the Jazz, then

Thanks!
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Modifiedz View Post
Nice detailed review. Looks like you spent alot of time and effort. Maybe later when you plan to upgrade, you can give us a good review of the M6's v
s the M9's. Will they sound much better than the M9's vs the price difference.
Thanks for the compliments

Yes, if I finally upgrade and buy a pair of M6, I'll post at least a comparison.
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark2410 View Post
you should ignore radiopaqs marketing, each can be used fine for different music types they just each have a different sound signature and i think the Jazz ones go great with everything. AMP3 are doing them for just £15 just now

if it wasnt for them giving them stupid names im sure they would have been a huge hit
Argh mark! £15?!? I promised myself nothing more after getting the 13's but £15..can't hurt right? Haha. But you're always talking about them and its got me thinking hmm. I dunno, hopefully they will stay at that price for a while coz I should get the 13's next week, S2's are doing an amazing job of keeping me entertained, best £20 I ever spent - these tiny little drivers are really opening up with burn in and are producing some stunning sound, a bit dark but really great. and I've got some sample beta brainwavs coming next week too so plenty to keep me happy for a while.

Anyway OP, nice thoughts well done for a good review. And $18 seems like a bargain, there are so many good cheap IEM's now its great you don't have to break the bank to get a great sound. Yea..sorry about your wallet..but if you think you will just be purchasing all the cheap phones then I applaud your restraint, just stay out of any threads with W3, UM3x, triple.fi 10, SE530, IE8, RE0 and especially anything with 'custom' in the title, or just stick to threads with 'budget' in the title haha. Naa but yea give the M6's a whirl, they're very nice for the price. I had the M6's and the Klipsch S2's at the same time and chose the S2's so add the S2's to your list of budget must haves haha
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by timmyGCSE View Post
Argh mark! £15?!? I promised myself nothing more after getting the 13's but £15..can't hurt right? Haha.
I checked and they are 30GBP (at least in advancedMP3players.co.uk, dunno if that's the shop Mark was referring to). Not very expensive, anyway.

Quote:
Anyway OP, nice thoughts well done for a good review.
Thanks a lot for the compliments I'm eager to write more reviews, you guys are cool!

Quote:
And $18 seems like a bargain, there are so many good cheap IEM's now its great you don't have to break the bank to get a great sound. Yea..sorry about your wallet..but if you think you will just be purchasing all the cheap phones then I applaud your restraint
I'm trying to keep my hands out of new phones: if I start thinking "well, one more coudn't hurt" then I'll end up with many many phones, a thing that will embarrase me, really (I don't like buying things I don't need, although at times I do...).

Quote:
Naa but yea give the M6's a whirl, they're very nice for the price. I had the M6's and the Klipsch S2's at the same time and chose the S2's so add the S2's to your list of budget must haves haha
Wow, another model to add to the list! I'll check them, just in case I'm more or less decided to buy a pair of M6, but letting some time pass. After that I may try the Radiopaq, or the Klipsch.

Thanks for the advice!
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