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IEM decision: Meelectronics A151, A161, or something else?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I'm trying to decide whether to keep my Meelectronics A151 IEM's or change/upgrade to something else.  Let me discuss what earphones I've had in the recent past and what I'm looking for.

 

Over the past several years, I've gone through several sets of Brainwavz IEM's: M2's and ProAlpha's.  The M2's ultimately failed on me, but the ProAlpha's are still going.  I use them once in a while.  Both Brainwavz pairs are/were both OK, but something about them never completely sat right with me.  For lack of a better term, the sound always seemed slightly artificial to me.  I think this may have something to do with the impact being less than desirable for me.  They also seemed to try and occupy the halfway point between the sound of an armature and a dynamic driver.  It's an admirable combination, and ultimately one that I think I desire.  But I don't think Brainwavz quite the combo right, at least with these two IEMs.

 

After going with Brainwavz for a while, I moved onto two pairs of Meelectronics IEMs: CC51 and A151.  The CC51's really impressed me out of the gate.  They seemed light years ahead of the Brainwavz IEMs in terms of clarity.  The music seemed much more realistic and clear with the CC51's, and I think this is still the case.  The bass impact was also impressive and dynamic, and I thought the highs were generally pretty good.  Despite these positives, though, the CC51's ultimately wore out their welcome.  And the reason was a combination of having less than desirable midrange clarity and a soundstage that was not very intimate.  It made the most energetic parts of most music--located in the midrange--feel colder, a bit too dull, and further away.  I felt like I had to strain my ears to concentrate on the recessed and far-way mids, and it ultimately caused listener fatigue.

 

I then tried the Meelectronics A151, and I still currently have these.  They do a lot of good things that put them above the other IEMs listed above: midrange is clear and full, soundstage is intimate, and the sound is generally fast and exciting.  I also think that the fit of the A151s is better than any of the above.  But I still have some complaints.  The biggest complaint is resolution.  With busy and dynamic music...which I listen to often...things seem to get cluttered pretty quickly with these earphones.   In addition, sometimes the sound is too AM radio-like, and it bothers me.  This especially seems to detract from the sound of many a punk and indie rock recording, and those are two of my favorite genres.  Also, I wish the earphones had a bit more bass impact like the CC51's, although I realize that an armature is not going to have the same impact as a dynamic driver and I can sacrifice that quality to some degree.  Lastly, on some recordings the sound is a bit too forward in the midrange, but that's something I can usually look past.  Although keeping in mind the last two complaints, it would be nice if the IEM was a bit more flat through the bass and midrange so that the two were equals. Though if one of these is going to be recessed, I would prefer the bass to be more recessed than the mids.  In general, I don't mind having the rolled-off highs...the highs are least important to me, as long as the IEM delivers good energy in the mids and/or lows.

 

So, with all of that in mind, does anyone here have a recommendation of what they think I should do?  Stick with A151's or try something else?  Is there something in or near the price range of the A151 that has a few more of the characteristics that I am looking for?  I see that Meelectronics have released the A161 as an upgrade to the A151.  Perhaps that is a better option?  I'm not sure that I want to go back to Brainwavz, but I did get an email from them the other day announcing the dual-driver R1, and it intrigued me.  Are there another pair of earphones by another manufacturer in the $50-60 range, or perhaps even going up to the $100 range, that folks here think meets more of my desired characteristics? 

 

Thanks in advance for any input!      

post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 

Having looked at my original post again, I realized that it was a bit winding.  Let me summarize more succintly.

 

I like the Meelectronics A151's for their clear and full midrange, intimate soundstage with a surprising bit of airiness, fast and exciting sound, and good fit.  But I wish they had more resolution and instrument separation, so that they don't sound as cluttered with busy and dynamic music (which I listen to often)...things seem to get cluttered pretty quickly with these earphones.  I also wish they weren't as mono/AM radio-like, which detracts from the heavier rock/punk that I listen to often.  Two other qualities that would be nice but aren't as important as the above two: 1.) A bit more bass impact (though I realize that might not be possible with an armature), and 2.) Something a little more flat through bass and midrange, as the mids are sometimes a bit too forward.  I'm fine with rolled-off highs, as long as the IEM delivers good energy in the mids and/or lows.

 

Other things I'd like to avoid: the artificiality of the Brainwavz models that I've had (M2 and ProAlpha).  The combo of a narrow soundstage and the instruments sounding/imaging in a two-dimensional manner were difficult to get past.  Also, I'd like to avoid the non-intimate soundstage and recessed midrange of Meelectronics CC51's, which really caused me to have listener fatigue and sapped the energy, warmth, and intimacy out of the music.

 

So, do you think the A151's are about as good as it's going to get for a $50-60 IEM, given what I'm looking for?  I could perhaps push the budget a bit higher, though not over $100.  Or is there something close to the A151 in price that you think would be a better option for me?  The Meelectronics A161 and Brainwavz R1 seem interesting, but having never heard them, I'm not sure whether or not they repeat some of the same problems that I had with the other models, as I discussed above.  I'm not wedded to Meelectronics or Brainwavz.

 

Thanks for any insight that you may have.


Edited by steelglam - 10/13/12 at 7:50am
post #3 of 10

Have you considered the HF5 and PFE022? Solid BA performers with balanced sound. I'd lean towards the Audeos for less of a 2D presentation.

post #4 of 10

If your aching to try the A161, the rockitsounds R-30 are pretty much the same(same drivers) at an only 69.99 price point compared to meelecs $120.

 

While stepping it up, the R-50(119.99) = GR01($200+) iem.

 

 

http://rockitsounds.com/shop/ <-online website

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/600093/rockit-sounds-r-50-review-impressions-appreciation/570 <- reviews and impressions thread

 

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/478568/multi-iem-review-257-iems-compared-hisoundaudio-wooduo-2-added-10-10-12 <-Jokers review thread,  reviews on GR01 if your thinking of heading up the hierarchy.

post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by phantompersona View Post

If your aching to try the A161, the rockitsounds R-30 are pretty much the same(same drivers) at an only 69.99 price point compared to meelecs $120.

 

While stepping it up, the R-50(119.99) = GR01($200+) iem.

 

 

Maybe not:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/478568/multi-iem-review-257-iems-compared-hisoundaudio-wooduo-2-added-10-10-12/8355#post_8777068

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks, folks.  Perhaps I will try the Rock-It Sounds R-30.  I hadn't heard of those yet, and the reviews seem pretty good.

 

As for the Etymotics HF5, I'm not sure that those have the sound signature that I am searching for, given what I've heard about them (analytical and dry).  

 

If I decide to move up in price at some point and I like the R-30, I will consider the R-50, or alternatively perhaps the Audeo PFE022 that TwinQY suggests.

post #7 of 10

I would recommend you don't get the A151 or the CC51 because they are respectively too limited in freq response and prone to breaking. i haven't heard the A161 yet

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaqueh View Post

I would recommend you don't get the A151 or the CC51 because they are respectively too limited in freq response and prone to breaking. i haven't heard the A161 yet

 



I noticed some of the other headphones that you have listed in your signature.  Can I ask: how do you think the Soundmagic PL-30 and/or Sennheiser CX200 fit in terms of what I'm looking for?

 

In addition to what I describe above, maybe it would help to list the two over-the-ear headphones that I enjoy a lot: Koss SportaPro (similar sound to PortaPro) and JVC HA-S160.  Both have a warmish signature with slightly rolled-off highs (more on the Koss than the JVC...the JVC are a bit more neutral), but neither are too bass heavy...there is a strong low-end but it doesn't bleed into the mids (the mids do not appear recessed to my ears).  My problem with the Meelec CC51's were that the mids just seemed so far away, and I found my ears straining to focus on them (I liked everything else about the CC51's, but I couldn't get past that flaw.)  Furthermore the soundstage is nice and intimate on both of these, and instrument separation is good.

post #9 of 10
I have the A151, A161 and HF5 and the A161 is my favorite of the three. It's an excellent value.
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by steelglam View Post

 



I noticed some of the other headphones that you have listed in your signature.  Can I ask: how do you think the Soundmagic PL-30 and/or Sennheiser CX200 fit in terms of what I'm looking for?

 

In addition to what I describe above, maybe it would help to list the two over-the-ear headphones that I enjoy a lot: Koss SportaPro (similar sound to PortaPro) and JVC HA-S160.  Both have a warmish signature with slightly rolled-off highs (more on the Koss than the JVC...the JVC are a bit more neutral), but neither are too bass heavy...there is a strong low-end but it doesn't bleed into the mids (the mids do not appear recessed to my ears).  My problem with the Meelec CC51's were that the mids just seemed so far away, and I found my ears straining to focus on them (I liked everything else about the CC51's, but I couldn't get past that flaw.)  Furthermore the soundstage is nice and intimate on both of these, and instrument separation is good.Have you considered getting the VSonic GR06s?

 

Have you considered getting the Vsonic GR06s?

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