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MEElectronics M9 - Impressions/Review

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Well, Joker was kind enough to comment on a M9 review give away that MEElectronics was doing.  I signed up and got a pair to try out.  MEElectonics is not a company I've ever really looked at.  I knew they existed, but I just never really payed attention to their products much.  I know some models were well liked, and they were some good budget level products.  Free pair, I figured why not give the brand a try.


I intend to cover this in a few sections.  I want to comment on some initial impressions and my take on the earphone from a general standpoint.  I will then start comparing how it stacks up to some other earphones I have lying around.  Right now I have a few other earphones sitting around like the Denon C700, Sleek Audio SA6, Yuin OK1, and Klipsch Custom 3.  I'm going to do some back to back listening with these and see where they excel and lack.  Singular impressions are one thing, but comparative impressions tend to show key traits more definitively.


Initial impressions:


I want to start out by saying that I had no clue what these earphones cost at first.  Getting the original packaging, the nice carrying case, the slew of tips, and the earphone itself, I thought this was a decent $60 to $80 earphone with a good excess of tips.  I later found out this can commonly be had for around $20 which to me is just nutty.


The below impressions are with this earphone amped off my Meier 2Move and EQed flat.  These are broken in.  I am using a Comply T-500 tip.  I've toyed with a number of MEElectronics provided tips.  Many work, and they do offer a variety of differences in response and presentation.  The T-500 tip is one I've used for a number of eaprhones, and I like the comfort of them.  They do soak up some of the upper treble, and I am aware of this.  This earphone is slightly bright on the top end, so this type of tip isn't a bad idea.  Make note that different tips do influence frequency response some and the overall presentation some.


Initial listening is mixed.  This earphone is a dynamic, and during break in it was obvious these needed a considerable amount of break in effort.  While the driver doesn't sound constrained out of the box like some earphones (ex. IE8), its presentation and dynamic range sound very limited before sounding rough.  The driver does seem to loosen up a bit as it breaks in and the dynamic range increases.  Sound is effortless within the functional range, so increasing this during break in does let you get more output from it without getting funky.  After break in, I do confirm what I thought earlier.  The driver's output capability while loud is limited to a relatively mild amount of output that it can do cleanly.  It is sort of like the Denon C700 in this regard.  These just don't seem to have the clean throw of some higher dollar IEMs, by higher dollar I mean $200 plus, so don't get me wrong here.  Within the clean range of output, these are beautiful sounding earphones.  Yes, you can get a decent amount of unclean output from these.  They just messy up some.  If you stay to medium to low volumes, you'll be quite happy.  If you go louder, you're just asking for unclean sound.  That's all there is to it.  Amping isn't a factor here.  It's not a power issue.  In fact, these are plenty easy to drive.  I am powering them with my Corda 2Move, but these are a piece of cake to drive.  Sensitivity is in the middle.  I would say the output capability is something you will find common among budget level products.  You just don't really see a high output driver in budget products.  I know I'm starting to make the M9 sound kind of bad, but really you shouldn't think this way.  For what it lacks in dynamic range and shear output, it does make up for with quality of sound. 


Frequency response is excellent and well extended on both ends.  It's slightly bright on the top end and has a slight  emphasis on the low end.  There is a slight dip around 600Hz that tends to lean out the lower mids and makes the bass sound a little more pronounced than it really is.  I EQ everything I run, so I do try and make an effort to learn the response and gauge its influence.  The response is actually well balanced with only slight and smooth dips and peaks that give a little enhancement to the lower bass and upper treble which is commonly desirable. 


Sound stage is quite good.  Sounds come across well placed.  It might be slightly intimate in presence but has a good sense of depth.  It's better than I'd expect for such a low priced earphone, a lot better in fact.  Transparency isn't 100% which is its only major shortcoming when trying to create a believable sound stage.  Some of it is physically feeling the earphone vibrate, but most of it is distortion.  Transparency is proportional to the output level.  Again this isn't surprising for a budget level product, but critical listening will create a very good end sound and presentation that's certainly above average. 


So what about general listening?


The treble is nice with good detail and edge.  There's a good amount of detail, and it's just nice to listen to and has that bite that makes treble bits fun to listen to.  Mids don't particular stand out outside of that slight dip in the lower mids..  Bass on these is fun and go deep.  Despite these lacking clean output, these do output bass with solid authority and depth.  It does brighten as you increase output, but I am surprised by the extension and good control these do offer at low to medium volumes.  It's above what I'd expect from a $60 earphone and a surprisingly good experience from what's only $20 on the street.  These to me are not $20 earphones.  The sound isn't $20.  The packaging and accessories are not $20.  It's a good $60 value and $80 retail wouldn't be bad for them.  MEElectronics retails these at $30, and I have to applaud them for offering so much in such an affordable package.  They just perform a lot better.  I'm impressed by the frequency response and balance.  I'm impressed by the quality of treble and the quality of bass (at reasonable output levels).  I'm impressed that it gives a good sense of sound stage placement and layering.  There's good separation and cleanliness, and they handle noisy tracks well.  The output limitations are to me expected side-effects of building on a budget.  You simply won't have a high output driver at this price point.  The quality of sound scales completely with the output level.  You can get a very good critical listening earphone with these.  If you want to crank up the sound, I would lean towards other options.  These will just suffer more and more as you go louder.  If you are a low volume listener, these can provide a pretty outstanding experience for the price point.  Add in decent build and a pile of accessories, it's just a great overall product.



Next up...some comparison listening.

(See Post #16 for comparison)

Edited by mvw2 - 7/15/10 at 7:48pm
post #2 of 22

I also will be reviewing these over the next week or two thanks to Joker's kindly post.


For a quick initial impression out of the box. I found them to be a bit boomy in the bottom end and quite sharp in the top end a bit with somewhat recessed mids, so they are a classic V shaped sound. I am currently finding the bass too boomy and the treble too sharp though so I am going to let them cook with my burnin files for the next couple of days and see what happens.


I also agree these come with an excellent selection of tips and accessories, the case is very nice as is the little tool from rolling up the cables.


I do have some issues/concerns though. The biggest being the jack, I find it's design to be a bit unwieldy but at least it appears to have somewhat decent stress relief. The other issue for me is these seem to have a larger nozzle than anything I have been using for a while, they seem to be about the size of the NE7M which caused me fits for comfort and seal, so I may not be able to give a great appraisal of these, but will try every tip I have at my disposal to see if I can achieve a good seal. I also think I may not be able to wear these over ear due to their design which is a knock against them for me as I prefer over ear to hanging down but this is just a preference thing.


The jury is out on the cable as I like how it feels but have not had a chance to try it walking around with it for microphonics and will see how it handles being used.

post #3 of 22

After reading Joker's post about the giveaway i signed up and I too was chosen to review these. Haven't had time to but will work on it once time is available

post #4 of 22

Ah so you are one of the ten to receive the M9 sample. Very nice. So far this is very impressive - I am definitely subscribed for further updates (would love to see the freq graph resulting from you eq settings, too). It never ceases to amaze me how in-depth your analysis is, even for a low end product.

post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 

Well, I just wrote a good 6000 character response and comparsion with the bunch of earphones I have, and...I lost it all when Head-Fi went to its short maintainance.  Awesome.  Now I get to wrote it all again.

post #6 of 22

I have started to do my initial writings in Word and then cut and past into head-fi after having things like that or accidental page refreshes etc cause me to loose work in the past. Notning like spenidng alot of time typing up a well thought ot detailed response in a thread only to have it all go up in smoke.


I feel your pain...

post #7 of 22

dweaver, the cable is pretty good esp at such a low cost earphone. It's a bit microphonic straight down but over the ear there's none of it and the cable is pretty durable so that's always good.


It really is a good budget earphone. I got them a couple weeks ago and got a nice surprise. I didn't care for the case, airline adapter or that thing to help you wrap your cables however but it was nice package at that price.

post #8 of 22

OK I have to say this but I think I have found an IEM just not suited for me. I am having fit issues and when I do get them to fit the bass and treble is just to much. I have let them burn in for 24hrs but they are still very boomy on the low end if I get a good seal and the treble is is just unnatural for me. I suspect for some these would be awesome but I just can't handle it. I will let these sit and burn for the next week, checking them daily but unless this settles down my review will negative in regards to sound with a not discussing the fact that this may be more due to my preferences than anything. But I also am finding that even at low volumes these just don't come across as right to me.


I am wondering how much of my challenge is coming from not listening to entry level IEM's though as well as I have been spending alot of time with my SM3 and MTPC IEM's both of which are higher end and clearly (as they should be) better than the M9. But I also know I really liked the MP4Nation M2 so it is just as likely my preference from warm midranges and not nearly as hot or sparkly treble.


I will just need to make sure I explain what is causing my dislike of these as one persons poison is anothers love.


For those who have heard both, could it be these are like an entry level Panasonic HJE900? Based off what I have read about that IEM it seems like these may have some similarities sonically to that IEM.

Edited by dweaver - 7/13/10 at 9:19pm
post #9 of 22

Maybe you should spend a few days not using such iem's that are so much better than the M9. They are a good budget choice and may very well punch above their price range but they aren't anywhere close to any of the higher universals. I had some fit issues until I put on some ebay triple flanges and now they work great for me. Keep in mind that this is a $20 product which means their likely targeted audience are those who come from stock buds of some sort and looking for an option that is better but does not hurt the wallet. Their sound signature is also suited to be for the masses as well.


Also I had some issues with them originally but used them strictly for a couple days and it was much better after putting them on right after the e-Q7.

post #10 of 22

I hear you Rawrster, I will make sure i use them exclusively for a day or so, so I can get used to them. My only concern is whether I will be able to stomach the treble. Having said that, I want to make sure my dislike of that sonic feature will be discussed properely in my review as this may exactly what others want in an IEM. As they stand now I would say they are of a similar quality sonically to the MP4Nation M2 but completely different from that IEM. Hopefully I will be able to guide people to the IEM that fits their sonic preferences best vs. just trashing an IEM because it doesn't suit me. The good news is I know someone at work who will probably love these when I am finished reviewing them, so they will get a good home  when I give them away :-).


I do wonder if these have anything in common sonically with the HJE900 though...

post #11 of 22


Originally Posted by dweaver View Post

I am wondering how much of my challenge is coming from not listening to entry level IEM's though as well as I have been spending alot of time with my SM3 and MTPC IEM's both of which are higher end and clearly (as they should be) better than the M9. But I also know I really liked the MP4Nation M2 so it is just as likely my preference from warm midranges and not nearly as hot or sparkly treble.



This is quite likely as the M9 is more offensive when coming from high-end sets compared to other similarly-priced earphones (Soundmagic PL30, Senn CX250, etc) because it just isn't very refined and its flaws become gratingly noticeable (and quite literally grating). I think rawrster's suggestion is a good one if you're willing to put yourself through it - if you have some stock earbuds listening to them for a few hours should help you out. I use JVC Marshmallows for an hour or two personally when looking to switch from high-end sets to low-end ones. This is also why I like to review my earphones in groups - cheap with cheap, pricy with pricy, bassy with bassy, etc. And do keep in mind that while the M9 is a good $20 earphone, the M2 is a great $65 one, and it shows. Both may be budget sets compared to the triple-driver crop but comparing them isn't really fair. But of course personal preferences play into as well.



Originally Posted by dweaver View Post

For those who have heard both, could it be these are like an entry level Panasonic HJE900? Based off what I have read about that IEM it seems like these may have some similarities sonically to that IEM.

In the very general sense that both emphasize treble and bass this is true. However, unless you really hate forward sound, the HJE900 will not sound grating or unrefined even next to high-end BA-based earphones. At its core the HJE900 is just a solid 'fun-sounding' dynamic IEM but it has a few characteristics (very believable timbre, excellent imaging) that push it from good to great, at least to my ears. And of course the HJE900 is warm and fluid while the M9 really isn't either of those things.

post #12 of 22

I've read that the HJE900 treble can be piercing so I'm guessing that means quite in your face. Is that something you are experiencing with them?


The only real issue I have with these is the stock tips are not very good for my ears and I had trouble fitting them properly. It happened when I had the M6 as well a while back so it probably isn't a coincidence but that was completely solved by triple flanges which are my favorite tips if you haven't noticed. They also suffer from driver flex if I push the housing in while they are on.

post #13 of 22

I have a pair of double flage tips I bought off the internet that are the only tips that I can use with the M9 so far. Ya I do think this really is a case of looking at the price and basing the sound on what is being spent. I will likely spent a day with the stock buds and the use these and A/B between them as this is likely the target audience. Thanks for the suggestions |Joker| and rawrster.


And yes I was referring to the treble of the HJE being reported as piercing. Well now I will see if I actually know how to review something as this will be the first product I have reviewed I am struggling with liking.

post #14 of 22

Very nice review, mvw2, and very much what I have experienced with the M9.  I've had mine for about 4 months now, and they are very fun to listen to because they are so active.  But exactly as you say, if you push these too high, they not only get messy and boomy, but they might hurt your ears due to the sheer volume they can pump out! 


I have found they are not a good pair with my Zune30, which has the EQ settings (dropped in all flash and HD Zunes), because the Zune is too warm for the M9 -- the M9 gets too boomy on drums, bass guitar, etc.  I can use them for 60's & 70's music where the mixing level is much lower and flatter.  Radiohead, Muse, Gomez, many modern bands that mix at obscenely loud levels are nearly impossible to handle with the Zune + M9 combination.


However, with the Fuze, I can bump the 60K setting down 1 or 2 notches and it is just right for the M9 -- very clean across the entire spectrum.


And I agree that the soundstage is nice and spacious on these, surprising for a $20 phone (what I paid for 4 months ago).


Makes me wonder how nice the M9's improved big brother, the M11+ will sound when it is released soon.

post #15 of 22

dweaver, what you are going through now is exactly why the M9 was the most difficult earphone I've had to review. You are used to the high end in the world of universals and no matter how good the $20 earphone sounds at the end of the day it is a $20 one so that should be taken into account. If you have ibuds maybe you can use that since it will make you appreciate the M9 right after you put them on :P

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