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My personal impressions on Meelec CC51

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 

 

Hi dudes!
 
When I really love a pair of phones I usually spend as much time as I can testing them before writing a review, but this time I just couldn't wait anymore wink.gif I've spent a bit more than a week testing them, using them as many hours in a row as I could, taking notes. Finally, I did a test run with them, using an ad-hoc set of music and sound to stress and evaluate them properly. So, even though I've not spent a month with them and I did all the tests in a hurry and very excited with the experience, I think I've tested them enough to write this review.
 
These phones are, for me, a special case in many aspects, so I want to make some things clear before going to the matter.
 
For a start, I experimented with them a wow factor from the first time I saw them, and it happened again when I first listened to them. So, although all my reviews are entirely subjective, this one is going to be even more subjective because I utterly love these phones. This said, I'm going to be sincere and honest, as always I've tried to be.
 
Second, all my reviews here have been about Meelec models, so you may think I have bias. Yes, I do. I love Meelec phones because almost all my life I've been searching for cheap but quality phones. I never had a lot of money to put in audio gear, so being able to experience quality audio without having to spend big bucks was refreshing to me. I discovered Meelec here, experienced their greap cheapie phones (the M9, for example), had to deal with their customer care department and it was amazing. Later, I wrote them sometimes with quite harsh criticisms and they listened to me. I signalled the problems of their phones in my reviews and still they thanked me for doing so.
 
What I mean is that although I see Meelec products in good light I've NEVER lied in my reviews, I've never written reviews so Meelec people would like them (that would have been utterly useless for the forum, for me and for Meelec). I've always been sincere about what I wrote, and my intention was always to give an alternative vision of the products, not centering in describing the sound, but trying to give a holistic (for lack of a better word) view of the phones I've reviewed, while at the same time make you laugh a bit.
 
These are the puppies:
 
 
As an introduction, these are the top-of-the-notch phones of the new Clarity series from Meelec. These retail for about 80USD and have a couple of distinct features: the housings are made of ceramic, and the dynamic drivers are "microdrivers", longer and thinner than usual dynamic drivers, and positioned at the very tip of the housings. I've taken photos of them, but they looked like crap, so I'm going to use some stock photos of the phones and my own photo of the microdrivers.
 
But let's go to the matter!
 
 
Building quality, appearance. My pair is black ceramic, much better looking than the white ones if you ask me. The white ones, shiny as they are, can be mistaken for good looking plastic, but my graphite coloured pair is astounding! Except one friend that thought they were made of magnesium, all the rest had to touch them, as they didn't know the material by just looking at it. Most people said they were made of graphite!
 
Take a look at the naked phones:
 
naked.jpg
 
 
naked2.JPG
 
naked3.jpg
 
 
I've removed the silicone tips for the photographs because there are plenty of photos of the phones wearing the tips, but then the driver capsules are not visible, and they are darn pretty!
 
The building quality is just amazing. The ceramic housings are by no means fragile. I abused them on purpose and couldn't make a dent or break them. They are suitable for everyday use, that's for sure.
 
The cable, unfortunately, is just average. Due to aesthetics issues, Meelec didn't use their typical cable, the metal braided, silicone coated cable, extremely resistant and good looking. It's the cable you can find in the M11+, for example. Unfortunately, it wouldn't look very good on the CC51, with the ceramic body et al. The cable in the CC51 is thinner and good looking, but not as resistant. Moreover, my pair of CC51 showed a bit of microphonics, which I've never faced in any other Meelec model. Using the shirt clip makes the cable non-microphonic at all, so it's not a great deal. And still, the CC51 is much less microphonics than other non-Meelec phones I have, so as I said, not a big deal.
 
The cable has a shirt clip that I removed because I don't use them usually. Bad idea. I removed the clip before reading the great ljokerl review (entry 2C29, link here), which warned about it. Removing the clip can badly damage the cable, and in fact I damaged mine. Not to the point of cutting the metal, but I peeled the rubber. I could fix it easily with a thin strip of metallic tape, as you can see here:
 
dent.jpg
 
 
Summing up, I don't like the new cable. I would be more than happy to see the old cable in these phones, even though it looks horrible.
 
What can I tell about appearance? I couldn't be neutral here, because these phones are the most beautiful phones I've ever had. In fact, people asked me about them when commuting, and I'm not the kind of guy you would talk to voluntarily and for free floatsmile.png Really, people were amazed by the looks. OK, you don't see good looking phones in Madrid, most people use iBuds or whatever crap came with their mobile phones. In fact, youngster think that wearing SkullCandies is the greatest experience when it comes to style. So, it's almost impossible that the CC51 went unnoticed.
 
The ceramic body is shiny, a bit cold on winter ksc75smile.gif, slim, elegant, smooth, and surprisingly doesn't catch much fingerprints, which was one of my source of concerns. The black ones look like graphite, the white ones are... well, white. Here goes a stock photo of the black model:
 
stock-black.jpg
The R and L markings are embossed on the little strain reliefs at the end of the housings, rendering them invisible on low light. Given that the housings are identical on both sides, trying to wonder which one is which in low visibility conditions is almost impossible. These phones are calling for tactile feedback NOW! As a temporal fix, since the markings are embossed, sliding my fingernail through the strain relief helped a bit to locate the "L" side. Not the best way, if you ask me.
 
The plug is an L-shaped, low profile and gold plated 3.5 jack. The strain relief on the plug is short but sturdy, and in fact the entire plug is small but sturdy. I'm not a fan of L-shaped plugs usually, I prefer 45 degrees plugs, but this plug is much better than the longer 45 degrees you can find on the M11+, for example.
 
The tips are a bit different, because they have to be a bit wider but still cover the driver, so chances are you cannot use your favourite tips with the CC51, you will have to live with the provided ones. You can use the ones that come with the JVC FXC-50, though, as the microdriver is very similar (well, as far as I can remember, because I no longer have them).
 
The smallest ones were tore at the tip, so they were unusable. Fortunately my ear canals wanted the medium sized ones, and I finally used a pair of JVC Marshmallow decored foamies with my CC51. I tried to fit a pair of Comply T400 I have around but it was impossible. A real pity, because the CC51 would ROCK with Comply tips.
 
 
 
 
Comfort, wearing. Well, I must confess that I was a bit concerned about fitting and comfort, as I thought the housings wouldn't allow for deep insertion. When I have to use shallow insertion with silicone tips, the phones have a nasty tendency of sliding out of my ears, so I have to reinsert them from time to time, I lose seal, etc.
 
When I first inserted the phones in my ear canals I noticed that the housings would prevent a normal IEM to be deeply inserted, but I forgot that the microdrivers are long! OK, you cannot insert the CC51 right into your brain as I like, but they won't fall easily. I had to reinsert them sometimes, but given the humongous amount of hours I've been using them, I wouldn't even mention it, really. They fitted OK, much better than I though.
 
The tips provided are not an amazing set, as you can find on the M11+, but just 3 pairs of single flanges and a pair of bi-flanges. Since the drivers are 6 mm, the bi-flanges were just useless for me, I just couldn't put them into my ears. I finally used the single flanges, mid size, which were very comfortable. Homemade foamies work, too, and doesn't affect sound at all.
 
Surprisingly enough, they can be worn with the cable over-the-ear. They look weird and they are not extremely comfortable, but you can use them like that if you want. I preferred to wear them straight down, but I tried some hours with them over the ear and, except for the amazed looks of some people around me, no problem at all.
 
When worn over the ear or using the shirt clip, microphonics are non-existent. But when wearing them straight down without the shirt clip, they catch some friction noise. Less than other similarly cabled models, but more than other Meelec models. I wore the cable under my t-shirt most of the time, and then there weren't any microphonics, period.
 
If you are like me, you will have a hard time putting them in the carrying case: you will stand like a drooling idiot looking at them full of love. Don't worry, after a few seconds you will be back on Earth and start wrapping the cable to put them on the carrying case L3000.gif
 
Contrary to ljokerl, I didn't have any driver flex problem when inserting or removing them.
 
I didn't felt asleep with them on, but not because they are not comfortable: I was quite afraid my kitten would eat the cable if I slept with them on. I haven't been specially careful with them, but I wasn't careless, either. I gave them a normal use but keeping an eye on avoiding damage because these are not cheap!
 
Last but not least, they are very easy to put and remove. Unfortunately, the 6mm drivers are not the best idea for people with very small ear canals. They can be inserted, but are not very comfortable. A couple of friends I have with extremely small ear canals really enjoyed the sound but couldn't use the CC51 for more than 15 minutes without having a bit of ear sore. For average (even small) ear canals, the comfort is more than enough. I don't have big ear canals, in fact I would say they are small rather than average, and I didn't have any problem wearing them for more than 6 hours in a row, so don't worry too much. My record was wearing them for 11 hours in a row, with no ear sore.
 
 
 
 
Noise isolation, sound. Again, out and about into the wild territories of evaluating sound...
 
This time, the territories are wilder. For a start, I don't have any other similar or better phone in my collection, so I couldn't compare. These are the best phones I've had. I've tested much more expensive phones, but only for minutes, so I couldn't compare with these. The more similar I have are the A151, but the sound signature is different so there is no point in comparing them now. Moreove, I haven't tested the A151 yet!
 
Thing is, I felt in love with the sound from the very beginning. I must confess I love clarity and detail in phones, but I'm not a fan of clarity-based sound signatures, because I want the sound to have body and colour, I just prefer non-neutral basses. This means that I had some prejudices about the sound, because I thought I wouldn't love much a clarity-oriented sound signature. I gave for granted that basses would be weak at best.
 
I was wrong. Utterly wrong. The basses are there, and although I wouldn't give these to a basshead, a friend of mine that loves when the basses push out his eyes out of his skull told me that these were "la h*stia". Sorry, I cannot translate the profanity.
 
As I say, basses are there, not "in your face", but controlled; tight, but punchy; deep and fast. I want to insist on the last point: fast. ljokerl talked about it in his great review, too. Some phones which provide deep and impactful basses lack speed, giving unnatural attack and decay times, and the basses end up eating sounds that are near them in time, not in frequency. Most of the phones I like suffer from this, and usually is not a big deal, unless you always hear bass-centric music. But in that case you probably like fake attack and decay times because you like the basses to be the protagonists. The CC51 is not like that. IMHO, microdrivers are good at delivering fast basses and providing correct decay times (which usually worry me more than the attack time), separating the basses from surrounding sounds, and the CC51 is the perfect example of this.
 
The mids are fantastic. The clarity and detail give natural voices, clear and detailed of course, but also warm. They don't sound harsh at all, and although warm they're not recessed. It's a bit embarrassing, but I almost cried listening to Kellswater, by Loreena McKennit. It was like having her singing in front of me, almost whispering, but being able to pick every detail in her voice. Fantastic.
 
Since clarity and detail are advertised as the main characteristics of the CC51, I was at first afraid of harshness. The JVC HA-FXC50, the other microdrivers I've used, where at times very uncomfortable when playing isolated guitars, for example, or fast paced electric guitars. I just couldn't listen to AC/DC with them, as they screeched from time to time. I was almost sure the CC51 would suffer from the same problem, so I prepared an AC/DC session! No screeching at all. The CC51 doesn't have a cold sound signature, but more a warm and smooth sound. This leads to a perfect balance, in my very humble opinion: you have clarity, detail, but you don't have harshness and screeches! Well, to be sincere I managed to make them screech with carefully chosen pieces where the mids sounded distorted, but even them the CC51 gave a reasonably clean sound.
 
The highs are not harsh, I've already told that. They sound clean, extremely clean, to the point of being revealing. This is not good if your source gear is crappy. Even if it is not crappy, these phones may reveal limitations you never noticed. For example, my Sansa Clip+ makes some weird noises, almost inaudible, when you are playing with the menus and no music is sounding, or when pausing and resuming, and I never heard them until now. They are very low volume but extremely clear! So, beware if you use a crappy player.
 
When all ranges combine, you get a very detailed sound, where you can mentally isolate every instrument, where you can tell if some violin player has sinusitis from how he breaths. You get impactful basses, warm and detailed voices and clear highs without harshness.
 
To test how the phones behaved with big dynamic ranges and a crowded spectrum I used the finale of "Tubular bells III", by Mike Oldfield, the part where the little girls stops talking and the tubular bells enter. Most of my phones sound weak at that point, or distort some part, or can cope with the change in volume, etc. The CC51 performed perfectly. So perfectly that I'm afraid I won't enjoy that piece anymore unless I listen to it with the CC51 or better. Darn. I listened this part again using a simple FiiO E5 headamp and when the tubular bells started to sound I could feel my brain crunched. That may account for some of the things I've said in this review beyersmile.pngbeyersmile.pngbeyersmile.png Even in that high volume maelstrom, I could pick perfectly the instruments that sound on the background, the chorus (almost inaudible in any other phone I've tried), and I think this is the best sample of the sound signature that I can provide.
 
They don't need amping, in my humble opinion, but when amped they don't suffer from much hissing and the basses extend a bit, enough to give the sound "body" even at very low volumes. I wouldn't amp them, anyway.
 
The soundstage size is adequate. Given the clarity they provide, a bigger soundstage would sound a bit far. That's my opinion, of course, and maybe the CC51 could use a little bigger soundstage because presentation is intimate (I think like ljokerl), but I don't feel this is a drawback. For live music, though, the soundstage falls a bit shorter than I want.
 
Instrument positioning is average. Nothing that will surprise you, but the CC51 does its duty.
 
About isolation, it is average to my ears. I managed to put a pair of old triflanges I had around, which barely fit the 6mm drivers, and the increased insertion depth changed isolation a lot. Anyway, isolation using the included tips is enough to use them while commuting at a reasonably low volume (about 50% of my not volume limited Sansa Clip+), so for me is enough, although to be sincere I would love more isolation.
 
The housings are advertised as being sound-inert. Given that these are microdrivers, I don't think the housings affect sound at all, so I can't tell if the ceramic body is really sound inert or not. I don't care, anyway, because the ceramic housings are incredibly cool wink.gif
 
 
 
Summing up.
 
If you want to go near the clarity and accuracy of a balanced armature but with very good basses, these are your phones. OK, they're not as clear and accurate as a balanced armature (even cheap ones), but I think that for most people they would pass the test without problems. A certain friend believed me when I told him these were armatures...
 
These are very near to be my perfect phones. If they had a bigger set of silicone tips, or even better, foamies, tactile feedback on the housing stems or strain reliefs, and a more sturdy cable, they would be my perfect phones. They already are in sound, but seeing them with the cable of the Meelec A151 and with some good triflanges is a kind of wet-ears dream to me.
 
At the price tag, which is about 80USD at the time of writing this, they are much better than other phones I've used in the 100-120USD range, and weren't because I haven't used more expensive phones for a reasonable time, I would dare to say that even near-200USD would have a hard time against the CC51. I'm trying to get my hand in more expensive phones just to compare.
 
Remember that even though clarity and detail (together with great basses) are the flagship features, the sound signature is warm and smooth, not cold and analytical. There is some sound colouring which to my musical tastes is even desirable, but some of you may think otherwise.
 
For the retail price, you can't go wrong with these amazingly good looking phones, where sound meets style. Right now, if you ask me, the best phone you can buy from Meelec.
 
If you have any question about the review or the CC51, feel free to ask me!
 
post #2 of 40

How does the sound compare to the Apple Dual-Driver IEMs?  The price is comparable, and the form factor is comparable...was just curious about whether the CC51s would be an upgrade from the ADDIEMs.  (From what I've experienced, the ADDIEM has a similar signature -- a lot of detail, and controlled but not overwhelming bass.  Very comfortable and light, too, but they are plastic and not ceramic.)

post #3 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by -jinx- View Post

How does the sound compare to the Apple Dual-Driver IEMs?  The price is comparable, and the form factor is comparable...was just curious about whether the CC51s would be an upgrade from the ADDIEMs.  (From what I've experienced, the ADDIEM has a similar signature -- a lot of detail, and controlled but not overwhelming bass.  Very comfortable and light, too, but they are plastic and not ceramic.)


I've only listened the ADDIEM twice, and not enough time to compare with the CC51. I can tell some things, though. The ADDIEM was less comfortable than the CC51, and felt a bit cheap. On sound, I remember it was very good, but I don't remember the sound signature or anything remarkable. They didn't impress me as the CC51 did, and back when I tested the ADDIEM I had only heard to very cheap, rather low quality phones, so probably the CC51 sounds better, but I can't swear it, sorry :(

 

Probably ljokerl can help here.

post #4 of 40

I've been listening to the CC51s for a couple days now and I definitely agree with your assessment of them. The level of detail and clarity these things output is pretty darned impressive.


As far as the ADDIEM is concerned, I have a pair on hand and I can say quite easily that they don't compete with the CC51. They certainly have a lot going for them with their clear, detailed and unforgivingly analytical sound signature but, as clear as they are, they aren't quite as clear, detailed and spaced out as the CC51s are.

post #5 of 40

Nice review.

 

And I agree, ADDIEMs, at least stock ones, give up a lot of body and fullness to sound as clear and detailed as they do at their price point. The CC51 sacrifices very little to match that clarity and detail levels of the dual-armature ADDIEMs and doesn't sound like an analytical earphone at all.

post #6 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post

Nice review.

 

And I agree, ADDIEMs, at least stock ones, give up a lot of body and fullness to sound as clear and detailed as they do at their price point. The CC51 sacrifices very little to match that clarity and detail levels of the dual-armature ADDIEMs and doesn't sound like an analytical earphone at all.



Thanks for the insight, ljokerl :) A year ago or so, before entering the Meelec world, ADDIEMs were in my list, because I was looking for some phones with a lot of detail. But given that both the CC51 and the ADDIEM retail for a similar price, I wouldn't choose the ADDIEM.

 

As I said, last time I listened to them I was not very amazed by them, and I cannot say the same about the CC51, which surprised me much more than I though. I think it's the first time I consider a 80USD phone worth the money. On the other hand, my experience with phones costing more than 50USD is quite reduced, so I better talk in a low voice ;)

 

Again, thanks :)

post #7 of 40

Nice review. Can you elaborate a little more on how feasible it is to wear the CC51 over-the-ear?


Edited by EraserXIV - 3/7/11 at 2:04pm
post #8 of 40

Interesting review, I've been listening to them for about a week from |Joker|'s reviewer program. I agree with most of your review, but I don't think they compare that well to $100-120 headphones. I personally think they belong more toward the sub $60-70 range. 

post #9 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by EraserXIV View Post

Nice review. Can you elaborate a little more on how feasible it is to wear the CC51 over-the-ear?



I have them and if your ears are on the medium - large-ish size (like mine), you shouldn't have a problem wearing them over the ear, despite the longer stems of the CC51s.

post #10 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by EraserXIV View Post

Nice review. Can you elaborate a little more on how feasible it is to wear the CC51 over-the-ear?

The stem of CC51 is about as long as Brainwavz M2, but the housing is metal and has a slight angle on them.

 

 

post #11 of 40

Thanks for the pictures. This worries me a bit since I had trouble wearing the M2s over the ear due to the long stem length and it's the reason I eventually sold them. Hopefully the slight angle is enough to make routing the cable easier.

post #12 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EraserXIV View Post

Nice review. Can you elaborate a little more on how feasible it is to wear the CC51 over-the-ear?



Of course :) The only important point is to tilt the stem. I mean, when you put them over the ear the stem has to point upwards, right?, well, once you have inserted them and the stem is pointing to the sky, tilt them forward so the stem is almost resting on your tragus. That way the cable is more easily routed over the ear but the phones are still comfortable.

 

This becomes automatic as soon as you do it a couple of times.

 

If you want, I can take a photo of my wife's ear wearing them over the ear. She has small ears and is still able to wear them that way, so it may help.

post #13 of 40

Thanks for the review, I've been interested in the CC51's ever since meelectronics announced them. How do these compare to the panasonic hje900's? From what I understand they are both fast, controlled, and detail-oriented, but the CC51 emphasizes the mids while the pannys have a V-shaped response. Would you say that one is technically better, or would the main difference be about your preferred sound signature?

post #14 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 5370H55V View Post

Thanks for the review, I've been interested in the CC51's ever since meelectronics announced them. How do these compare to the panasonic hje900's? From what I understand they are both fast, controlled, and detail-oriented, but the CC51 emphasizes the mids while the pannys have a V-shaped response. Would you say that one is technically better, or would the main difference be about your preferred sound signature?


I haven't heard the Panasonic HJE900, sorry :(

post #15 of 40
Thanks for the wonderful impressions. I have a pair on loan from a friend, and these sound pretty exceptional - the bass especially is a bit better than A151 (which is understandable as these are dynamic driver IEMs) and overall these perform admirably. My only issue is not being able to get a proper seal with these. Even with the smallest tips, I'm facing slight discomfort in my right ear - although the comfort level has improved significantly recently.

I really like them, and I do agree with the L R sign issues - they are a bit less compounded if you have the P series where the inline remote is attached to the right ear piece. I'm still getting a hang of them, but these seem to be worthy of the price tag it sports - easily right up there with the A151 - two fantastic new releases by MEE.
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