Thanks to Meze for providing a review sample!
Pros: Great fit, great seal, cable feels solid
Cons: Lack of tips, driver flex, potential build quality concerns, 45 degree angle termination, overexaggerated bass, fuzzy one note bass, rolled off treble.
Style: Worn down IEM
Tonal Balance: Bass heavy
Listening Set-Up: Sansa Clip+
During my review of the 11 Deco I have put at least 50 hours of use while at home, on walks around the neighborhood, and at the gym. I have put these through their paces with all sorts of genres and feel that I have fully developed a good feel for the sound of them before sharing my opinions. My review comes from that as a headphone enthusiast and any views expressed are just my opinion.
Meze provides a white clamshell carrying case, an attachment clip, and S/M/L silicon mushroom tips.
Build Quality and Fit
The 11 Deco are lightweight IEMs that provide a great seal despite the lack of tips and an inline remote/microphone. The white cable is prone to showing wear and tear though and the oddly angled 45 degree plug offers no benefits over straight or 90 degree from my experiences.
Meze aren’t changing the world for build quality in a budget IEM, in-fact these feel a bit cheaper than other cheaper IEMs that I’ve used. The housing is lightweight and made from three parts, wood sandwiched between two pieces of silver brushed aluminum. I have concerns that the aluminum pieces may not be entirely secure, I would not be surprised if a year down the road the back end falls off or the inner aluminum will stay in the ear when being pulled out. In-fact on the right earpiece just a tiny smidge of glue is showing on the inner tip. The wood feels rather smooth though and the stress relief seems decent enough to take care of the cable.
I haven’t actually used the remote or microphone, but the remote is one button and feels a bit sturdier than others that I’ve used under $100. The cable meets at a y-split that feels very sturdy with no signs of wear or tear yet. The cable finally terminates into a long 45 degree angled 3.5mm jack that seemingly has adequate flex to relieve stress from the cable.
Meze seems to have put thought into keeping the cable safe, it seems like a solidly built cable with a nice amount of flex, neither too stiff or too flexible, with adequate stress relief. The housings are my concern though, only time will tell though.
Despite the lack of tip options I was able to get a solid seal with good comfort immediately without any effort. I was very impressed by that. Unfortunately driver flex is a real problem with these. Big crinkling noises when they are inserted and one time the driver was stuck flexed and refused to play music until I wiggled it and unflex it. This seems to be a constant struggle of mine with these, to find a way to get a seal while not creating driver flex.
When worn microphonics are a mild issue. The lack of a cinch due to the remote and the inability to comfortably wear these over ear leaves me with no options but to deal with the microphonics.
The sound of these is overly bassy, making most music sound incredibly cramped, fuzzy and lacking any detail. The rolled off highs amplify this problem. The sound of these might be acceptable for $20 IEMs, but certainly not acceptable for $80 IEMs.
The 11 Deco focus on the bass, but unfortunately the bass has less control than a car with bald tires racing through a hairpin turn. The bass completely overpowers any sort of music that clamors for detail, in-fact it makes Steely Dan’s Deacon Dan sound as muffled as putting pillows in front of your speakers. This is not acceptable in an IEM that retails for $50, so why should it be acceptable here? The bass doesn’t have punch, it lingers far too long and lacks any definition. Okay so Steely Dan isn’t music that focuses on bass and these IEMs focus on bass, let’s see how bass heavy music sounds:
James Blake - Limit to Your Love: Nope. Not appealing at all. The quickly quavering bass overreaches the channels and lingers far too long, taking away the pulsating back and forth effect. The notes linger until the next and have no definition. Fuzz.
Jay-Z - Holy Grail: The bass in this song is nothing more than a big powerful rumble and I admit the 11 Deco provide rather large bass that can be pleasurable, but it still comes off as fuzzy. The bass reaches rather deep though and would provide those who love bass heavy hip-hop a good experience based on this song.
Duo Infernale - Lost in the World: This song has a satisfying lower bass rumble that drives the song normally, with the 11 Deco the bass doesn’t do this at all. In-fact it sounds like a cheap sub-woofer in the back of someone’s car from 15 feet away with the trunk closed. Yeah it’s that bad.
Well hey what about other music? Okay then:
Bruno Mars - Treasure: The sound would probably satisfy someone coming from Apple earbuds, or Skullcandy. The bass is distorted and fuzzy, no fun here at all. The song has no energy. The bass is center stage and the vocals are nearly drowned out. The guitar and little nuances can be surprisingly heard but this is all bass.
David Bowie - Moonage Daydream: Vocals are recessed, bass is the focus. Kick drum sound like it’s packed with pillows. The tom drums sound the same. The guitar has no edge to it. This song does not sound good on these.
New York Musicians - Diggin My Potato: This song is almost primarily harmonica with a deep hand drum of some sort. The harmonica has a slight veil over it. The hand drum is overly exaggerated. The song doesn’t sound awful, but knowing how good it can sound, I am disappointed.
Normally I would give a review of the mids, highs, and soundstage, but these headphones don’t deserve it. The sound is not something that anyone who is on Head-Fi should ever want, especially at this price. The lack of any accessories, sound quality equivalent to a no-name $10 Kmart IEM, and build quality concerns make this a definite pass for me.
See the rest of the pictures here.