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Meelec A161P Thread: *Review* Part 1: General Ergonomics & Sound Summary 7/28/12 [Review list by...

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 

Meelectronics ordering link / Google Shopping

My Review

Post#1: Intro // Post#2: Packaging & Accessories

Post#3: Build Quality & Cable Ergonomics // Post#4: Fit & Isolation

Post #5: Sound Evaluation [Temporary Summary Provided - Complete Evaluation Coming soon]

 

User Info

Post #6: User Modifications (Coming Soon) // Post#7: List of Reviews & Impressions 

(Part 1 of review, posts 1-4, completed  on 7/28/12)

 

Meelectronics A161P

 

700

 

Introduction

 

  Officially released in May 2012, the A161P is Meelectronic's new flagship IEM. Ergonomic, filled with practical accessories and boasting a competent yet accessible sound. Because of these factors  I can safely say it's among the better choices you can make in this price range. To see where I'm coming from you can view my IEM history and read my whole evaluation progress. To note, it is backed by one of the best customer services in it's class. I want to thank Joe Daileda for the opportunity to sample this unit, thanks for bearing with the wait, I remain thankful. 
 
 
Specifications
 
Driver Type: Balanced Armature (Knowles ED series driver, specific model unknown)
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz (specific range to be tested)
Sensitivity: 110dB (Fairly easy to power, a portable amplifier will not be needed)
Impedance: 16Ω (Low impedance, proving once again that an amp is not needed)
Cable: 130cm with a single button remote and microphone
Connector: Gold-Plated L-plug
Warranty: 1 year
Price: MSRP 119.99 (Generally found for ~100$)
 
*Notes in paranthesis are based on my knowledge or plans to confirm or specify specs. 

Edited by Inks - 7/28/12 at 4:12am
post #2 of 55
Thread Starter 

(back to top/table of contents)

700

 

Aspect 1: Packaging & Accessories 

(see my evaluation process)

 
Packaging
 
  In sum, the packaging presentation of the A161P is outstanding. It is quite reminiscent and perhaps inspired by the packaging used in Monster IEMs, except in a more compact, practical size. It passes my criteria, as I was able to open the packaging without any needed damage, found everything well laid out and was able to put everything back together with minimal effort. Because of this, I felt I can always maintain it's packaging value and presentation. Upon opening, it felt as if I was revealing a quality product, well done by Meelec. 
 
Accessories
 

700

 

  First off, it's a relief this product provides you with a protective carrying case. It isn't particularly of high quality, but I can expect it to get the job done in most cases. Considering most manufacturers don't provide a protective case, this is definitely a plus. The shirt clip is attached to product when opened, but easily displaced to use however practical, another plus. The earguides provided by Meelectronics are perhaps the best I have used, beating my previous favorites from Phonak. Why? They are lightweight, soft and do a good job of holding on the cable despite the cable's thinness. The Phonak guides are also good all-rounders, but aren't as good in holding a grip on the cable in comparison to the Meelec guides. The headset to pc adapter is quite a treat for those that want to use the A161P's microphone for PC gaming, good bonus by Meelec. The TRRS adapter for select smartphones is perhaps the least useful of all the accessories included as every well sounding smartphone has a standard headphone plug. Phones that will need this adapter are likely to be very poorly sounding based in my experience, usually older models. 

 

While the tip options are there, I feel there's potential for more....

 

400

 

  Moving on to tips, you get quite a selection as shown above. You get the generic single flanges in small, medium and large. Biflanges (which can be assume to be a universal medium size) and Triflanges in small and large. The one tip I have an issue with are the small triflanges. Why? They simply mess up the sound because the bore output diameter is too small...

 

400

Bore output diameter marked in red 

 

 As shown above, it is noticeably smaller in output bore diameter compared to the other tips. As a result it compresses the treble, placing a veil on the overall sound.

 

 While the large triflanges are much better than the small ones, having the proper output bore diameter, they too degrade the sound to a smaller extent. This time, the tips are imply too long, as a result it hurts the treble presence a bit. While the length helps you get a deep insertion, it's length is a degrading aspect in both sound and comfort. Luckily, there's a way to improve it....

 

Suggestion to Users: Hidden biflange option?

 

400

 

  Simply cut off the smallest flange located at the very top, the result shown above. Doing this, you'll notice treble gets a bit more presence and it proves to be more stable in fit and seal compared to the previous configuration. You can basically think of it as a slightly smaller biflange option compared to the regular ones. 

 

Conclusion

Aspect 1: Packaging & Accessories (4/5 Rating) ****

 

  The A161 provides quite an array of accessories that are for the most part useful. In addition, they definitely get that extra bonus mark for outstanding packaging and presentation. Had they provided more tip options (foam would've been nice), they would have gotten the full marks, but definitely excel regardless. 

 

==========================================================================================

 

  Having been in contact with the vice president of sales and marketing (Joe Daileda) to make this  review possible, I feel my suggestions may not be in vain. Therefore, this is how I feel the accessory options may be improved...

 

A Suggestion to the Manufacturer: Nozzle Adapter?

 

400

 

  Like Monster's nozzle adapters (shown on the left above) which expand the tip options of small diameter nozzle IEMs, it would be great to include a similar adapter for the A161P. The picture above shows an adapter I made, it's basically a stem from an old pair of Sony Hybrid tips. Of course, I'm sure Meelec can do a much better job as my adapter has become too slippery due to skin oils. 

 

400

 

  Based on my criticism of the small triflanges, you can assume that these IEMs sound their best with large output bore diameter tips. As shown above, most of Meelec's tip collection fit the criteria quite well, problem is, they simply don't fit the A161 because of it's thinner nozzle. 

 

 

400

 

    But as shown above, an adapter will remedy this issue, expanding the options of the A161P. I think it would be smart  for Meelec to attempt such a mechanism, it allows the A161P to use almost every tip Meelec sells. 

 

To conclude, a last suggestion to users and perhaps the manufacturer

 

Increase isolation of silicone tips with foam?

 

400

 

  As you can see above, there is a piece of foam lying underneath these single flange tips. What does it do? Simply increases isolation. I cut off a portion of Shure foam tips I didn't use and placed them inside the tip's stem, placing them at the bottom. To make it work, you have to make sure the foam is close to the bottom, otherwise it is going to be a failed attempt. It's the reason why the Sony isolating tips simply don't work as Sony didn't glue the foam as far down as possible, this creates a gap allowing frequencies to enter. The foam has to cover the bottom portion of the tip very well, when it does, there's noticeable isolation improvement. 

 

400

 

  As shown above, not did Sony fail to place the foam as far down possible to make sure no frequencies still enter, the foam is of poor quality. To note, you don't necessarily have to glue the foam to the stem as long as it's stable. 

(back to top/table of contents)


Edited by Inks - 7/28/12 at 3:47am
post #3 of 55
Thread Starter 

(back to top/table of contents)

700

 

Aspect 2: Build Quality & Cable Ergonomics

(see my evaluation process)

 

Build Quality

 

  While the build quality doesn't impress as much as the accessories and packaging, it is still fairly well done. The shells are made of plastic, colored by a glossy finish. It makes it aesthetically more vivid, but unfortunately this means one has to be careful about chipping that may occur on the paint. The shells and strain reliefs attached are very stable though, well put together, they won't split apart unlike offerings from certain manufacturers. 

 

400

 

  As shown above, the A161P sports a metal mesh to protect it's interior from wax and dust. While it proves to be quite stable and does it's job quite well, it requires maintenance. Ear wax and dust can easily get trapped within mesh, so regular checks are suggested. One may use a cleaning cloth or a cleaning tool similar to this one. Matter of fact, it would have been nice if Meelec had included one. 

 

400

 

  The A161P has a long strain relief that protects the cable as it comes out of the shell. Unfortunately, the area above is of some worry. I feel a slightly longer, tapered strain relief protection would have aided here as general bending may eventually expose the innards of the cable in this configuration. I don't expect any real big issues here though, my pair is still doing fairly well. I do suggest users to be careful with this area of the cable though and suggest using the earguides when worn over the ear to protect this area. 

 

400

 

  Moving on to the cable, Meelectronics claims that the cable used on the A161P has experienced the least of amount of issues compared to their other cables, having been used on a previous Meelec model (?). They had this product planned a couple of  years ago and were careful about their choice in cabling. Ideally the one on the A151 would have been used, but it didn't comply with the strain reliefs on the shell. This was their next choice, since it was proving to be durable among their line-up, despite it's appearance. The cable certainly feels flimsy and brittle, specially in it's upper portion where it happens to be thinner for practical purposes. Fortunately, the strain relief on the plug (shown below) is well made and j-plug configuration is a good compromise between an l-plug and straight one. While the cable isn't one of the most reliable ones in build, even at it's price bracket, I have so far experienced no issues despite months of use.

 

400

 

Cable Ergonomics & Microphonics

 

  How practical is the A161P's cable in everyday use? This where the cable's thinness becomes a plus, it is lightweight and flexible due to it. It feels soft to the touch and has proper length. A neck cinch is provided, improving placement and comfort near the head. There are no major tangling issues, though mild tangling it can at times occur due to the cable's memory properties. The cable has a certain amount of "memory", basically meaning it tends to settle itself in the most common matter used. If it tends to twist in a certain area, it will continue to do so. You can change the way the cable settles by counteracting it's placement, this may at times be needed but it isn't of big concern compared to other models I have used. 

 

700

 

  The microphone included is well placed, calls are heard loud and clear. I specially liked it's big, practical, single button remote. Compared to Phonak 022s, the button just felt better to the touch, I didn't have to point my fingers as much due to the bigger button and allowed a softer touch. An issue that does arise for the microphone is due to the cable's memory properties. When in use, you have to make sure the portion pictured above is always facing forward to get a clearer reception. At times, the cable gets used to placing this portion backwards, this is when you have to twist the cable to revert it back in place and counteract the cable's memory. While it sounds bothersome, it easily settles itself. This is by far, superior to the memory issues I had with the Phonak 022's microphone which required lots of tinkering to finally settle in place. There is moderate cable noise when worn down without a shirt clip. Almost none if worn over-the-ear or with proper use of the included shirt clip. 

 

Conclusion

Aspect 2: Build Quality  (3/5 Rating) ***

Cable Ergonomics (3.5/5) ***1/2

 

  Overall, I'll say the A161P's build quality is fairly average. There is definitely room for improvement, specifically in the cable. But as the rating shows, it is still quite decent, I don't expect any real constant issues with these but I suggest users to treat with care. Luckily, the factor that inspires confidence is the support backing the product.

 

  "I feel Meelec's customer support is among the best industry, they dealt with all issues I have had with any of their products. Based on what I have heard from friends in this hobby, I'll say it's the best, based on my personal knowledge"

 

  The cable is fairly practical. Thin, lightweight, low noise and with one of the best single button mics I've used. Full marks aren't given due to the cable's slight memory issues and tangling. To note:

 

"Even though the A161P doesn't have a non-remote counterpart, the mic is so discrete that I feel it shouldn't impose on users not needing the mic/remote"

 

======================================================================================================

 

A Possible Option for Users:

Modification to Allow Replaceable Cables? 

 

  A big possible bonus may be the option of having them modded by Brian of BTG Audio, to allow replaceable cables by Westone. It has yet to be done, but it looks likely to work. I hope to get the chance to send my pair for testing. If proven to work, not only are you backed very well by Meelec within warranty, this option allows even longer longevity outside of warranty. The mod costs 30$ plus the cost of the wanted cable. Likely around 50$, but it is nice to know that your pair may not be useless when faced with issues outside of warranty. 

(back to top/table of contents)


Edited by Inks - 7/28/12 at 3:48am
post #4 of 55
Thread Starter 

 (back to top/table of contents)

700

 

Aspect 3: Comfort & Isolation

(see my evaluation process)

 

 The shell design of the A161P is generally quite comfortable and luckily allows the user to get the proper fit. As shown above, the nozzle has a slight bend, making it quite complementary to the ear's first and second bends. Because of this, it just felt more natural to fit inside my ears than convention straight nozzle designed IEMs that have a similar shell size. The shells and cable are fairly light weight, the former being fairly small, there's no cartilage pain issues due to it's size. Unfortuantely lack of a foam tip option may be a negative for some, but remedied with aftermarket tips. 

 

(insertion tutorial video by Etymotic)

 

400

 

  To allow the maximum performance and isolation, I recommend inserting them to ear's second bend. The picture above depicts how they look inside my ears with the proper insertion, of course, your mileage may vary. I recommend seeing the tutorial video above. I personally find that pulling my ears at the top with some slightly twisting as inserting, provides the best method. The insertion depth is by no means uncomfortable provided you are used to IEMs. The shell's design comfort rivals that of high-end Westone and Shure IEMs. In comparison to Etymotic ER4S, you don't risk discomfort issues arising from inserting them past the ear's 2nd bend or by the cable's weight. Regardless of the deep insertion, they end up settling quite nice inside your ears, no pain whatsoever. 

 

400

 

  Another plus is that it can also be worn over-the-ear quite well. The bends on the nozzle are now are facing a different direction, but it still works quite well. It becomes pretty identical in fitment approach to that of the Brainwavz B2 when worn over-the-ear. The only negative factor is the microphone's placement, it becomes harder to reach the remote and harder to capture your voice to the receiver, unless moved as one is talking. Fortunately, the strain reliefs don't degrade the comfort despite sticking out a little when worn over-the-ear. 

 

  Isolation is very good, proper for commuting on train, planes, buses or busy environments. Of course due to the high isolation, it is recommended to take precaution with one's environment. In terms of stock tips I found the biflanges provide the best isolation, it encloses with the shell quite well. Aftermarket foam tips yield better isolation that the stock ones though, Monster Hybrid Foam tips and Comply Whoomps being 2 good options. Of course you can also attempt the foam mod on the stock tips, mentioned on post2, yielding the same isolation levels as the aftermarket tips suggested. 

Conclusion

Aspect 3: Comfort (4/5) ****

Isolation (4/5) ****

 

 Pretty good marks on both accounts. Comfort is outstanding, just a hair away from being leading in it's class. Ideally a slightly smaller housing shell would've perhaps earned it the highest rating possible, but it's still very noteworthy. The lack of a foam tip option in stock configuration also pulled it a hair away from full marks. 

 

  Isolation is great, no complaints from this regular user of public transportation. Despite lacking a foam tip option, the stock biflanges rival the isolation of foam tips, but those who don't get a seal with them may not be so lucky. As mentioned previously, due to the fairly high isolation, precautions should be taken in one's environment. 

 (back to top/table of contents)


Edited by Inks - 7/28/12 at 3:49am
post #5 of 55
Thread Starter 

(back to top)

*incomplete*

(To be updated in Part II)

(see sound evaluation method)

 

Sound Evaluation

 

  I know this is a big chunk many readers are interested in reading, rest assured it will get done soon. I plan on releasing it in unison to my EX1000 and ER4S reviews. Specifics will get mentioned along with objective data and comparisons to similarly priced products. 

 

  I can provide a summary of what to expect for the time being....

Sound Summary

 

  It is their most flat, balanced IEM, yet it still leans towards a consumer oriented sound, characteristic of their other models. It may not be linear enough to be a reference monitor, but it's more forgiving and accessible sound makes this compromise to please and easy into a greater mass. In sum, it's coloration makes it a "safe" bet, why? Bass levels are boosted because as such is the trend of common manufacturers (Beats, Bose, Skullcancy etc), yet the level of the boost will be much smaller than these mainstream IEMs, making it closer to a flat, reference response. This introduces users to a more realistic tone while not straying too far off from the familiar. Treble is slightly laid back, this allows it to forgive compression and recording artifacts that can be harsh when an IEM has a more transparent response. With these characteristics in mind, Meelec is introducing an IEM that is both accessible and well performing in it's price bracket. 

 

  I have had tons of experience with notable IEMs, hitting close to the 70 mark. Based on what I've heard, it's definitely going to be among a top-spot in it's price bracket based on my criteria. In terms of fidelity, based on my criteria, the A161P is more accurate to IEMs such as the Klipsch X10, Fischer Audio Tandem, Radius TWF11R, Spider Realvoice, Monster Turbines and the currently popular EPH-100. I can even stretch that it outperforms far higher priced IEMs such as the Earsonics SM2 and Sennheiser IE8. I feel it's big competitors at a similarly priced  Etymotics HF series, Phonak 011/022 (grey filters), Brainwavz B2 and Sony XBA-1. Even among these, it's the one with the more accessible price, with the exception of the XBA-1. Hopefully I get a chance to compare them to the intriguing XBA-1 as I plan on attaining it. I do expect a close fight, but the current backing of the A161Ps has the upper hand for the time being.   


Edited by Inks - 7/28/12 at 3:33am
post #6 of 55
Thread Starter 

*coming soon*

(back to top)

User Modifications


Edited by Inks - 7/27/12 at 10:30pm
post #7 of 55
Thread Starter 

(back to top)

Reviews & Impressions

(feel free to message me if you would like to added to this list)

 

Review by Keanex: Meelectronics A161P, The Most Satisfying IEM I've Ever Heard

 

Review by shotgunshane: Meelectronisc A161P - Intro into Neutrality

 

Review by tinyman392: Meelectronics A161P

 

Review by -y0-: Meelectronics A161P

 

Review by psygeist: Articulate and Musical 

 

Review by DigitalFreak: The Meelectronics A161P

 

Review by Dacrazydudue: Amazing Clarity, Amazing Sound

 

Review by Walkgood (Ramón Garcia-Lavin)Meleectronics A161P IEM (Anythingbutipod.com)

 

Review by It'sMeHere: MEEletronisc A161P

 

Impressions by Tinyman392

 

Review by Tinyman392: MEElectronics A161P

 

Impressions by Flysweep (Spider Realvoice Comparison)


Edited by Inks - 7/27/12 at 10:30pm
post #8 of 55

You can read my review here and I posted some additional pictures here
 

post #9 of 55

Looks good subscribed.

post #10 of 55

I just received a pair of these and I must say that I am very impressed.  This is going to be an easily recommended earphone that competes with most everything I've heard under $200.  I'll share a review in a couple of weeks.

post #11 of 55

Some pics for the time being. This is one impressive set when it comes to detailing and precision. Effortless presentation and fair amount of musicality.

 

 

MEElectronics A161 MEElectronics A161

 

Reviewed.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/612772/meelectronics-a161p-review-articulate-and-musical


Edited by psygeist - 6/2/12 at 2:03pm
post #12 of 55
img_3971.jpg
post #13 of 55

i've heard the SBA-03 also has a BK , not ED. but if it does uses a ED , then much better biggrin.gif

post #14 of 55

I've had the A161p for approx two weeks & I'm enjoying it very much.  For quite some time, my iPhone-friendly IEM was the (wonderful) Spider RealVoice.  I've been very happy with the its performance (and sound) but decided to go for the A161p out of sheer curiosity.  I was also very interested in the A161p cause it uses a different, full range Knowles BA driver than the majority of the single BA IEMs out there, atm.

 

In many ways, the A161p & RealVoice share much in the way of sound & technicalities.  Both phones are remarkably balanced & natural sounding.  I feel like I could listen to either one for hours on end without fatigue.. but not get 'bored with their sound' either.

 

Spider Realvoice vs Meelec A161p (sound only)

 

Bass

 

The Realvoice possessed a heftier bass punch.. but it was also a tad loose and slow.  The A161p's bass sounds tighter, more precise, and linear.  

 

Midrange

 

The midrange on both phones is beautiful.  Clear, balanced, and possessing excellent timbre.  While the A161p's midrange sounds slightly more forward (relative to the RealVoice's midrange), I wouldn't say it's the defining characteristic or focus of the phone.  Both phones excel at presenting vocals with richness & accuracy.  While vocals on the RealVoice sounded slightly more natural & realistic (thanks to it's well tuned dynamic driver), voices were nearly just as detailed, smooth, and dynamic with the A161p.  The A161p is among the most natural sounding, single BAs I've heard to date, actually.  It's very accurate and lively through the midrange without imparting any real coloration or spikes.

 

Treble

 

Treble rolls off fairly quickly on the Realvoice.. while the A161p enjoys a bit more extension, sparkle, and presence in comparison.  It's also crisper and more articulate.  The A161p isn't a bright sounding IEM by any means, but it possesses a more engaging overall treble response than the Spider Realvoice, IMO.

 

Odds & Ends

 

Both phones possess excellent control (though the RV was a little slow/loose in some mid.lower bass frequencies).. but I found the fast, precise A161p to excel when fed complex music.  While the RV had slightly better dynamic range, soundstage depth, and note weight.. the A161p has better speed, clarity, and transparency.  I also found the A161p more articulate from end-to-end.  The Realvoice's massive dynamic driver gets the edge when choosing which phone presents music in the most natural manner but the A161p is nipping at its heels.  Make no mistake.. the A161p has a wonderfully smooth, "easy to listen to" natural character that's every bit as impressive, IMO.  Both the Realvoice & A161p are fairly intimate sounding phones.  While the Realvoice is a little more airy sounding, the A161p's intimate presentation sounds more cohesive and better layered.  The Realvoice has slightly better soundstage width and depth.. but the A161p images and separates instruments better.  Personally, I'd take the later characteristics over the former.

 

In the end, I'm more than happy to have the A161p.. I like it more than the Realvoice cause it combines the smooth natural character of the Realvoice with better precision, effortlessness, control, and detail.  I'm more than willing to sacrifice some of the natural texturing the Realvoice affords for the technical improvements & musicality the A161p excels at.


Edited by FlySweep - 6/7/12 at 1:26pm
post #15 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlySweep View Post

I feel like I could listen to either one for hours on end without fatigue.. but not get 'bored with their sound' either.

I remember I went on a listening spree for hours with it at first listen itself.

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