Pros: Comfortable to wear for long periods of time, works without batteries, modern fashion look will appeal to youths.
Cons: Active noise cancelling introduces distortion, sound quality to price ratio just isn’t here.
Style: Full-sized closed over ear
Tonal Balance: Slightly warm, but overall balanced
Preferred Genres: Nothing, these sound decent with most genres, but it excels with nothing.
Amp: Not necessary, though recommended.
Listening Set-Up: Musicbee -> Schiit Modi/Magni
Design and Build Quality
It seems pretty obvious to me that Meelectronics designed these with today’s popular headphones in mind, the Beats Solo HD and the Logitech UE series being prime examples. The NS63 are made of glossy plastic with an active noise cancelling feature. Nothing about the looks of these inspires me, in-fact it makes me question whether these will sound good and hold up to heavy use. Regardless, this is the style now, at least that’s what I see most while travelling so I can’t really fault Meelectronics for following suit.
As I said the NS63 are made primarily of glossy plastic, this makes them very lightweight, but doesn’t inspire confidence in them holding up, especially if dropped. The left ear cup has a jack to use one of the two included removable cables with and a switch labeled “mute” which activates the noise cancelling, or mutes the sound if no batteries are inserted. The right ear cup opens up to insert batteries for the noise cancelling. I should note now, that the headphones operate perfectly without batteries. The pads are made of soft pleather and completely cover my ear without becoming very hot or uncomfortable through hours of wear.
The ear cups slide down from the headband to improve fit, which exposes aluminum. At the same joint, the headphone fold inwards with a click each way. On the inside of the headband a small section has padding, which does it’s job. I feel little pressure on top of my head. Nothing that bothers me even with hours of use. The fit is good with mild clamp, but the NS63 don’t do much in the way of isolation. Isolation is weak, thus making these a poor choice for portable use to me.
I gave the NS63 over 50 hours of listening time before commenting on the sound. I feel that the NS63 benefit from burn-in and I also feel that they benefit, slightly, from an amp.
The lows really took some time to open up and become enjoyable. At first the bass seemed very shy and harsh in quality, distortion was notably present. After the burn-in phase I can safely say that the NS63 have a more than acceptable amount of bass with good quality. I find myself enjoying electronic music the most on this, from Four Tet to James Blake. The bass isn’t overbearing, nor is it shy. It almost hits that perfect stride, though it comes off a bit artificial at times.
Looking only at the sub-bass, the NS63 certainly are able to output an amount that hits the lows in James Blake’s Limit to Your Love, slightly pushy, but mostly a complimentary amount to the vocals. The drivers give a slight rumbling sensation, but the sub-bass can not keep up with the fast quavers of the sub-bass line. The sub-bass comes off as muddy and trying to keep up. I switched to The xx’s Fantasy which has a slower, brooding, sub-bass line and while it sounds decent, it still comes off a bit muddy.
The mid-bass doesn’t have the presence that the sub-bass does, but I think that is a good thing. Many headphones put me off instantly with far too pushy mid-bass that bleeds into the mids. The NS63 have a near perfect amount of mid-bass with a more natural tone than the sub-bass presents. Even so, I find the bass guitar to come off a bit artificial, more so than the kick drum. I do enjoy the presence of the kick drum though, it’s soft but punchy with good presence while acting to compliment the music, not become it.
The quality of the bass does scale with the quality of the recording though, songs like Pink Floyd’s Money show off what the NS63 are capable of in terms of clarity, but the overall experience of the bass has leaned artificial and muddy with good qualities shining through at times.
The mids are a mixed bag, much like the lows. On one hand vocals come off very clear and intimate, but guitars and other instruments can come off very artificial. Even while listening to the aforementioned Money I feel that the guitars come off flat and a bit plasticy. The vocals seem to be the shining point here, but at times they come off plasticy as well. I feel as if the vocals are the focus though as they seem to be front and center in almost every recording I’ve put these through. The problem, though, is that sibilant heavy recordings like Sara Bareilles album Little Voice become hard to listen to. The NS63 do nothing to dull the sibilance and give a harsh edge to these recordings.
As we move upwards in the frequency range I find that the highs are a bit warm. They seem tamed and the horns on Pink Floyd’s Money don’t have the usual sparkle to them. On the other hand the horns are still present without coming off as harsh. The harshness of the sibilance seems focused on the upper range of the vocals. Horns and guitars, among other high frequency instruments tend to sound pretty decent, though certainly not the spotlight even when they’re supposed to be. The instruments actually have a decent natural tone to them though.
It appears that the upper mids have a peak, while the highs are toned down. Overall the balance is decent though as is the level of detail. I find myself turned off by the artificial qualities present throughout though.
There’s not much to brag about here, but not too much to complain about. Imaging is mediocre, at best, the sound is presented in a flat manner with little depth, instruments just placed among a moderately wide canvas. Even though the soundstage is rather wide for a close headphone, I feel the instrument separation is poor and they blend into each other at times. It’s a ~$100 closed headphone though, there’s not many that do this part well.
With Active Noise Cancelling
With ANC activated there’s certainly distortion present. The distortion isn’t unbearable, but I don’t find it acceptable for anyone who cares about the music quality. As to how well it works, I haven’t encountered a situation where it was necessary. The NS63 have good enough passive isolation.
If you’ve read my reviews then you would know that I tend to recommend Meelectronics products. I find that they tend to hit a sweet spot for price to quality when looking at the entire package. I often recommend the M6 as the go-to for quality exercise IEMs and I think the A161p perform very nicely. Unfortunately the NS63 have not won me over. I can say that I am not a fan of the aesthetics, I feel they look cheap and with daily use their glossiness will show many scratches. I find the sound quality to price ratio to be poor here also, I assume this is because a portion of the budget was allocated to the implementation of the active noise cancelling. Speaking of the active noise cancelling, I find that it distorts the music enough to be noticeable and unpleasant. As for the sound, I don’t find myself engaged. The NS63 don’t particularly sound bad, but there are many other choices I would make before I would even consider these.
I love Meelectronics, but I do not like the NS63. If you decide these are for you, then they are currently on Amazon for $97.
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