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!