Prelude / About MEElectronics :
I must admit this; when I first read about MEElectronics products on head-fi , the first thing that came to my mind was " ohh what a weird name for an audio brand - this must be another Flavour of the month!” I didn't really bother much until a few members actually tried out their IEMs and seemed to be enjoying them. They looked really impressive to me, one of the main reasons being that they were inexpensive. I got my hands on their lineup and today I would be starting off with the M6 which is also my favourite in the complete lineup .
Before I start off with the review, another factor which I feel is worth mentioning is , unlike a lot of other not- so- big or startup brands, MEElectronics isn't based out of China. This came as a surprise to me when the products were shipped from California ,USA . Also its not just the origin but a lot of other factors which give it the non-chinese feel about which I will speak later.
MEElectronics: award winning headphones & accessories
My M6s were shipped from California by USPS first class mail and reached me in about 10-12 days.
They come in a transparent medium sized box which is comparable to the Hippo/Crossroads box in dimensions . The clean transparent packaging gives you a complete view of the IEMs and some of the supplied eartips . The lower half of the packaging holds the carry pouch but isn't visible due to the brand label ,specifications etc printed on the front and back.
Once you open the package and pull out the tray , you find the IEM , pouch and ear tips resting in the moulds. Each of the 3 different ear tips is showcased on the plastic tray whereas the rest of the tips and accessories can be found inside the carry pouch.
The M6 comes with an air line adapter ,black hard case cable winder and 4 different sets of silicon tips . There's the usual small , medium and large tip along with a triple flange. This is my first time with the triple flange and it has left me with some mixed reactions. More on that in the fit , isolation section.
The hard case is circular and lot slimmer compared to the one supplied with the SoundMagic , Brainwavz IEMs. What it means is this one wont cause a bulge in your pocket I really like that !
Overall the package is neat and tidy , good number of accessories for the price but nothing too generous .A biflange and a few foam tips would definitely make it perfect but then you get what you pay for and the provided tips actually work best with the M6.
Would give a 4/5 for the packaging and set of bundled accessories. A bi-flange and some foam tips would definitely get them a 5/5.
Design & Build Quality .
The M6 basically come in two different colour scheme . Solid black and transparent clear version .I must confess I love the clear type because it looks really different from other IEMs and pretty cool to show-off. Infact I was lucky enough to land up with the clear versions !
The plastic housing design is 2D like , similar to the SoundMagic PL-50 , so these could be well suited for sleep hours .They are pretty light as well but the stain reliefs adds some weight to it. Also these have a small length of an added memory sleeve coming out of the stain relief for the IEMs to be worn over the ears similar to the UE 5,TF010's etc.The memory sleeve helps the cable to take proper shape of your ears and act like the cable ear guides which you get with SoundMagic. As a result of this over the ear design , the fit is pretty much perfect and its so firm and comfortable that it doesn't easily fall off . But due to this the M6 can't easily be worn straight down .
In the transparent clear type model the complete internals of the IEM housing can be seen clearly, right from the cabling ,drivers and the soldering .Now that's something very different and awesome compared to other IEMs.
The ear tip nozzle is slightly bigger than the most IEMs so all 3rdparty tips might not fit perfectly but I was able to fit the Brainwavz foam tips on to these and the MEE tips on M2. So the one's who are interested could try some tip rolling , I personally didn’t feel the need to .
One flaw in the design is the lack of filters on the eartip nozzle. You look down and you have the drivers right in front of you .So there are chances of dust or some foreign particle entering housing and obstruct the sound if the user is not very careful . Hopefully MEElectronics makes note of this and takes care of the filter in the follow up.
The build quality is astonishingly amazing for an IEM under 50$ ! Not just 50$ it even puts some of the top tier IEMs to shame in terms of the cable quality .Its that good. Everything about these feels really excellent and you can make out that some fine quality parts have been used .I love the silver (colour) transparent sleeved cable which feels smooth, rubbery(sleeve) and sturdy. The clear stain reliefs on the IEM housing ,3.5mm connector and the cable splits are very solid . The complete IEM feels much more expensive and of top notch build quality compared to any other IEM Ive tried .IMO, only the Brainwavz M2 and M3 is really comparable in terms of the quality ; the rest of the models in this range look pretty cheap and chinese like in comparison.
So overall these have amazing build quality , one of the most beautiful and sturdy cables I’ve come across. Would generously rate it 4.5/5 overall in design and build quality. The lack of filters is the only drawback as such .
Fit and Isolation :
I first tried these with the supplied triple flange because I had never used a triple flange earlier . Surprisingly they turned out to be different from what I expected. .Since they are a little longer than normal tip or bi-flange, they go deep inside your ears .So incase your ear canal isnt very wide and deep this just wont fit right. The same happened with me and have heard similar stories with lot other M6 + triple flange users . Nothing to worry because the medium silicon tips worked perfectly for me and provided decent isolation as well . Depending on your ear size , I would recommend you use the small , medium or large silicon tip only and don’t just try the triple flange because in that case you might give up the IEMs. As I always say the right choice of tips is very very important to get a proper seal and fit and a perfect fit is important to get the best out of the IEM. An ill fit or the wrong tip can make even the best IEM sound horrible !
I assume this is the reason MEElectronics didn't provide foam tips with the M6 because when I tried the M6 with the brainwavz foam tips , they just didn’t sound right. Talking about sound , lets have a look at the sound signature and quality in detail.
Sandisk Sansa / NuForce uDAC .
IEMs used for comparison - NuForce NE6/Head Direct RE-2.
Amping :(amps tried- Fiio E5 , NuForce Icon mobile).
The M6 didn’t benefit much from amps other than absorbing their sound signature into its sound . For example using the M6 with the uDAC or Icon mobile brings out the midrange slightly and makes the vocals more forward. Similarly using an E5 increased the bass on M6s to the point they could be classified as Bassheads's IEMs.
So basically these wont really need an amp unless you are used to listening at very high volumes or need more using an E5 .
The M6s didn't show much post-burn in effect other than slight settle down of bass and brightness in treble. The following sound impressions are based on about 50-60 of burn in attempt.
Bass is in plenty even without a biflange or the the tripleflange tips .The bass isnt as heavy as the Hippo boom or the Nuforce NE6 so doesn't give the M6s an entry to the Bass monster IEM club To give you an idea ,quantity wise the bass is lot more than the Head Direct RE-2 but slightly less than the NE6. It doesn’t go very low like the Hippo VBs, so not much sub-bass there but clean punchy and medium heavy impact in bass which wont interfere with your mids whatsoever. Overall the bass is pretty much perfect for those who find the bass to be lacking in IEMs like RE-2,PL-30 but don’t desire very heavy bass like that of NE6.
The midrange on the M6s isnt as impressive as its bass or treble but it isnt bad either. The, instruments sound excellent but can't say the same thing about the vocals . The vocals sound slightly recessed in comparison to the cymbals ,guitars etc .This also has something to do with the soundstage cause the vocals seem to be coming from the far and give you an impression of a small hollow in the mids. As a result of this your vocalist in the track will never give you that in your face presence .
Baring the vocals , the rest of the mids are pretty impressive and neutral .The mids are not as warm or airy as the NE6 but tending more towards the darkish tone. The piano and guitars are lively and beautiful , the drums very solid .So incase you listen to lot of electronica or not so vocal-ish music you will love the M6s mids but if your music revolves mainly around lush and smooth vocals these wont satisfy you. The vocals aren't missing but just pushed back and seem to be coming from far , making all the instruments more prominent and forward sound.
The treble is on the brighter side but not too sharp .I can say it has a good extension considering other IEMs in the price range .For my tastes,it has the perfect spark and excitement a treble should offer .Not too bright nor too dark / recessed. In some rare tracks I did notice a little sibilance but it wasn't something that would make me immediately pull out the earphones. The ones who are very very sensitive to sibilance might notice it , others wont. Otherwise the treble is one of the most detailed , clean and clear treble than in under 40-50$ range. The only other IEM that comes close would be the RE-2.
Soundstage / Instrument separation :
Soundstage is nothing spectacular but average for an IEM in this tier.It gives you a good idea of the width and depth but it won't make you move your left to right .As mentioned The instruments are very well separated from each other and the vocals are placed behind the instruments in a way that they seem to be coming from a distance.
SQ rating : 4.2/5.
Final Impressions /Conclusion :
Overall baring the vocals , I love everything about the M6s sound . The vocals are also decent but wish they were a little more lively and I could have thought of crowning these as the best IEM under 2k .As of now I can say these are on par(better in treble) than the RE-2 and NE6. These just give you a very different presentation of sound . I love it for listening to some fast electronica music for jogging /running etc .
Leaving the sound aside these leave its competitors far behind in terms of build quality which is by far one of the best I have come across.The fit and comfort is also excellent and very well suited for workouts , running etc.
Who should buy ?
* Anyone looking for a rugged , not too analytical or balanced IEM with some fun bass , good instrumentals and clean-clear treble.
* Perfect IEM for jogging , workouts or listening in sleeping position.
Who souldn't buy -
* Someone who wants bass and only bass !
* Someone who is very particular about vocals and perfectly balanced sound.
Considering these have by far the best build quality ,cables and pretty good sound as well .I can rate them a 4.5/5 for the overall package and without a doubt say they offer lot more value as a complete package , for the price.
PS : The review is completely subjective and based on my personal opinion , so please do not hesitate to post if you feel differently.Also all the ratings are purely based on the comparison with other available products in same price range. Someone shouldn't misunderstand the ratings and believe that a 4.2/5 40$ IEM is better than 3.9/5 80$ IEM . The rating is just show how much value a product offers for the price.
Edited by Faheem - 11/28/10 at 7:57am