Made in collaboration with MEE Audio, the Pinnacle PX is the comfortable, versatile, and incredibly engaging IEM you’ll want to listen to all day long. It has the same tuning and detailed, enjoyable sound signature as the Pinnacle P1, with updates to the build quality and a significantly lower price. The zinc alloy housing has a scratch-resistant PVD finish in a custom dark blue, and the robust, detachable MMCX cable is complete with an inline microphone and remote. The 10-millimeter copper-clad dynamic moving-coil driver delivers a musical sound with crystal-clear mids and a realistic bass note, while the proprietary acoustic diffuser creates the ideal balance of treble extension and smooth in-ear response.
Massdrop has released several headphone and IEM MEE Audio products over the course of time. I purchased two of Massdrop’s Bluebox MEE Audio IEMs, which gives you a chance to get different MEE Audio IEMs, some worth more than others. I wound up getting the MEE Audio M9 Classic and RX18P - two bargain-priced IEMs that were satisfactory in build and sound. Now, Massdrop has collaborated with MEE Audio to create a value-priced Pinnacle P1 called the Massdrop x MEE Audio Pinnacle PX IEMs (hereby called the PX). I’ve had a chance to listen to both the P1 and PX, and will have my thoughts on both a little later. Let’s learn more about the PX!
An avid wrestler, coach, teacher, father and mentor, I like to immerse music lovers in headphones, earphones and sources that do nothing but make the listeners smile.
Ringing in my ears? Oh, tinnitus? I get that about 2 times a year, for about 10 seconds each time. Other than that, I’m currently good to go with regards to my hearing. Even if my hearing is perfect or not so perfect, what I hear may or may not match what you hear, for a multitude of reasons (genetic, physical, psychological, age, etcetera).
My music preferences are anything that has a great beat to it, not too vulgar in nature and anything that can induce head-bobbing, toe-tapping and maybe even dancing if the mood is right. I normally listen to (alphabetically): Alternative, Classical, Hip-Hop, Indie, Popular/Top Hits, Rock, and R&B/Soul. I will even from time to time listen to Blues, Jazz, Modern Electronic, Retro/Classics, and World.
Measurements - I measure headphone output dB with my decibel measure app that anyone can download, replicate and have an instant reference with what I use to test. Frequency spectrum measurements are seldom posted, as the manufacturer’s measurements are usually the best guidelines to go by. Why? They use them to tune their equipment, and the measurements are from their own specific parameters. I agree with Ken Ball from ALO’s overall statement/post when it comes to frequency response measurements (verbatim):
“…I thought it might be good to post some frequency response measurements first before we see a lot of variations posted by people. Without going into a long drawn out thesis / debate on measurements I just want to say that I have not seen any reviewers measurements that are accurate and it can be difficult to interpret a freq measurement. I don't use HRTF compensation curve on my measurements because I am familiar with the raw freq curve so when I see a curve I know what it sounds like and am comfortable with what I am seeing. So to state my measurement so I can be happy that this is the official freq I am posting it here now. I do not really want to get into any debates on what the freq means or read into it too much as a freq measurement is only a very small part of the over all picture of the product. I would MUCH rather listen to the IEM than read a freq.
In addition, I dont want to sound like I dont welcome people to also have fun and measure, but just want to say that taking a accurate measurement is tricky, also tricky to read into the measurement. I spent over $15,000 on on measurement system and it took me almost a year with professional help to calibrate and set it up 100%. So in doing so it is expensive and can be difficult to set up and calibrate. I know my set up is accurate because I send my IEMs to independent labs to double check everything.”
I also had the chance to talk with Dan Wiggins from perodic audio at various audio events and has been very enlightening to talk audio with him. Here are Mr. Wiggins’ thoughts on measurements (verbatim):
Wanted to toss my $0.02 into the mix...
For those that know who I am, then you know I have a bit of a reputation in the industry (good). For those that don't, I can guarantee you've heard my work if you've ever listened to live or recorded music. From recording microphones to studio monitors to PA systems to consumer systems, I've designed audio systems and transducers for pretty much all the big players - and done so many, many times (not to mention lots of headphones and IEMs along the way).
In my experience, measurement correlation between systems is hard to first establish and even more difficult to maintain. Datasets within a measurement system/location/team can be fairly consistent over time as long as the equipment is rigorously maintained, processes are slavishly followed, and the team cares greatly about consistency. Otherwise - all bets are off.
In production of audio systems, we use "golden samples" - we use a very small number of selected reference units that are deemed as "ideal". A day's production usually starts with the online production test systems measuring the golden sample, then tolerances are set accordingly to that measurement. All production must pass within the tolerance window, and the few (typically one or two a week) that essentially have no deviation from the golden sample are culled out and reserved as future, replacement "golden samples" (the tolerance can be discussed later, but suffice to say it is probably an order of magnitude larger than most HeadFi'ers would expect).
In other words, we use physical representations to calibrate against, rather than abstract numbers and concepts. It all comes down to how measurements can change from not just system to system or operator to operator but day to day. Temperature and humidity can affect measurements in significant manners. Environmental noise can - and definitely will! - corrupt measurements. Different mountings of DUTs (Device Under Test) by operators will affect measurements.
In essence, after installing literally hundreds (perhaps over a thousand) acoustic test systems, at dozens of factories in dozens of countries, I can confidently say that expecting consistency between two or more systems is a fool's errand. Won't happen.
Measurements are a great way to confirm you are getting what you expect, and to document where you are. And they are relevant within the same local world (equipment, team, environment). They can be used to guide design of product by a team, a team that is familiar and experienced with what measurement X really means in terms of what they are designing.
So with that, measurement correlation between different teams is never really expected, nor should it be. In fact, I start to get nervous if things line up too well! Great consistency tells me either the wrong settings are being used (we're not looking at a fine enough level of detail - we're oversmoothing/over-interpolating), or some fudging is going on to make things look closer than they really are.
All that said - don't expect measurements from one person to closely track that of another. Look at how products vary inside each measurement set, and assume the variances are at least relative - that is much more instructive. If one system is hot or cold in the treble, it will be consistently hot or cold, and you'll see that as you compare larger datasets between different systems. That is what we should pay attention to, rather than a few cherry-picked comparisons.”
Measurements are possibly valid to obtain a glimpse or gist of what we are hearing, but measurements are not the end all be all. Various manufacturers have told me privately that even though it may measure flat, it may not sound flat. Also, measurement devices do not equal our brain and cannot measure with absolute 100 percent certainty with regards to what we hear and feel. I listen with my ears, and write based on my interpretations of the music that is being presented to me.
A wise man once told me: "Music is the only thing that doesn't have war, pestilence, garbage, crap - music is so general, it's such a beautiful canopy of peace."
Inside the box
Open the box, and you’ll see:
1 Massdrop x MEE Audio Pinnacle PX IEMs
1 Detachable headset cable with inline microphone and remote
6 pairs of silicone ear tips in different sizes
3 pairs of Comply T-200 memory foam ear tips in different sizes
1 Carrying case
1 Shirt clip
Build and aesthetics
Beautifully created case
Many varieties of universal eartips and uber thick stock cable
Sturdy L-shaped plug
One of the most interesting aspects of the PX is the build. What do I mean? Well, for starters there aren’t a lot of earphones out on the market that have similar internals (in this case it’s a 10 mm dynamic moving coil with copper-clad aluminum voice coil) but have variations of the outside of their housings. With the P1, it has a Zinc material housing. In the PX’s case, it also has a Zinc material housing, but additionally has a Physical Vapor Deposition (otherwise known as PVD) coating over the Zinc, as well. PVD coatings can be harder and also more corrosion resistant than other types of coating applied by the electroplating process. PVD coatings have high temperature and good impact strength with abrasion resistance and durability that doesn’t usually necessitate a protective topcoat. More information with regards to PVD can be found on sites like PVDcoatings and Wikipedia. The PVD coating feels soft, yet hard to the touch against the Zinc housing.
The weight without the cable is 13 g, but with it, the weight is 29 g - not the lightest in-ear, but you really feel the quality due to the fantastic build and weight. For a universal, it has one of the best build qualities that I’ve experienced. The housing has a solid weight to it, and the stock cable is one of the beefiest and thickest cable that I’ve seen or own! The four-braid cable is sturdy, and even the two-braid on one side is about as thick as a lot of earphones’ overall cable thickness! The cable doesn’t utilize memory wires, and uses a remote with an omnidirectional microphone.
The PX uses an MMCX connection and offer a solid click when attaching with the stock cables’ connectors.
The stock cable uses an L-shaped plug, which helps thwart against accidental cable pulls from device ports. The remote/mic cable has strain relief at the end of the plug, and the cable utilizes no strain relief.
Overall the PX is quality, with subtle and beefy construction, inside and out.
Fit and comfort
What’s great about the PX is the construction is such as you can choose around the ear or hanging down to wear it. I’m used to wearing most earphones where the housing connectors are pointing a certain direction around the ears, but these, I can wear both ways with good comfort. I’ve had friends try out the PX, and one who owns a lot of earphones said he really enjoyed how the PX felt in his ears. The PVD coating really attributes to the cool feeling against the ears, with just a slight bit of softness as well. I didn’t notice an abnormal amount of microphonics with the stock cable, but is constructed nicely - and as a result feels nice against the ears and sides of the face.
This ties into fit, for me, because if the fit of an earphone is good, then isolation should be good as well. In this case, isolation is good, mostly when you find the right angle of the housing, when wearing the cable over the ears. When the cables are hanging down, the fit and angle is easier to obtain, based on my experience. For those that have read my reviews in the past, you know that I usually only use silicone eartips. Using the supplied silicone tips are enough for me to obtain a satisfying, isolated feel. If you use foam tips, expect there to be even more isolation from the outside world, if that’s what you are attempting to obtain.
Eyeglass and sunglass wearers
Since the PX’s stock cable doesn’t utilize memory wire, eyeglasses and sunglasses shouldn’t be hindered very much when wearing the stock cable around your ears. You can choose to wear the PX hanging-straight-down, and this won’t affect eyeglass or sunglasses at all.
I would personally use another pair of earphones to work out with, because the earphones don’t stay in my ears absolutely perfectly when there is a lot of physical movement. If you want to try to workout with these earphones, the hanging-straight-down position would probably be best for the best angle with regards to fit.
Disclaimer and hearing factors
The Massdrop x MEE Audio Pinnacle PX IEMs sound impressions are mainly for anyone wanting a point of reference regarding how they more or less pair with the iPhone 6, QP1R and Surface Book. Other sources may vary slightly or greatly, as the PX sounds different enough with these three sources to warrant mentioning. The PX will have a warmer, less resolute and pronounced effect in the overall frequency spectrum when pairing with the iPhone 6. The PX will have a detailed with more treble and bass perception with extended detail when paired with the QP1R. The PX will have a balanced, yet leaner approach to its presentation when paired with the Surface Book. For reference, the PX is not difficult, but not the easiest to drive, as a smartphone such as the iPhone does not take full volume for the PX to emit levels that can damage hearing quickly. 13-14 out of 16 volume is when the PX starts to sound very loud to my ears.
We all hear differently, and our experiences about how our interpretation of what we hear vary greatly. Some factors that come to mind (and not limited), are:
Heredity, noise trauma, dietary habits, smoking, hypertension, atherosclerosis, are other factors that affect people’s overall hearing ability.
Analyze this and that
The test tracks that I use in my reviews are located in these albums (album alphabetical order)
1989 (Deluxe Edition) by Taylor Swift (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit) 21 by Adele (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit) Bad (2001 Special Edition) by Michael Jackson (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit) Bangerz by Miley Cyrus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit) Beyoncé by Beyoncé (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit) good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit) Heart Blanche by Ceelo Green (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit) Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit) Make Yourself by Incubus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit) No. 5 Collaborations Project (EP) by Ed Sheeran (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit) One by One by Foo Fighters (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit) Random Access Memories by Daft Punk (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit) Schubert – Berliner Philharmoniker by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit) Shades of Marmalade by Jackson Breit (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit) The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit) Thriller by Michael Jackson (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit) X (Wembley Edition) by Ed Sheeran (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Several standalone tracks (track alphabetical order)
Dock of the Bay by The Persuations–A Cappella Dreams (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit) M.O.R. by Blur – Blur 21, Blur (2012 Remaster– Special Edition) (MP3 320kbps 44.1kHz/16bit) Schubert String Quartet No. 14 in D minor D. 810, Death and the Maiden: III. Scherzo. Allegro molto by Oslo String Quartet – The Schubert Connection (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit) Serenade (Spanish Dance), Op. 54, No. 2 by Jano Starker and David Popper –Wilson Audio Ultimate Reference (APE 44.1kHz/16bit) The Peppery Man by Natalie Merchant– Leave Your Sleep (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit) These Bones by The Fairfield Four– I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)
If I am listening to a product that is not able to be listened with the highest resolution tracks that I have mentioned, I will listen to the TIDAL versions (FLAC).
The PX has a signature that is like the P1s that I’ve listened to, based on memory; which is a very good balanced sound that is competent and doesn’t have very many faults. There is a crispness to the audio that you hear. You hear and feel the bass, but it isn’t overwhelming. The midrange is accentuated just slightly, but that attributes to the crisper balanced sound. Treble, depending on the type of music you listen to, can be quite prevalent, but as a whole, it’s just a little bit below sibilant. Spatial capabilities are in the range of above average to excellent. Pair with a competent DAP or DAC/Amp, and you’ll feel the music flowing all around your head, with amazing aplomb. The frequency representation extends pretty far to my ears, but is great if I want a winsome representation of the music that I’m listening to. Just think of an in-ear that has a vivacious sound, slightly leaning towards the lower upper midrange, yet manages to sound blissfully balanced at the same time. For those that are looking for a basshead earphone, look elsewhere, but those that want a fantastic-sounding balanced earphone with a bit of brighter soul, this earphone will take care of your wants and needs, in spades!
The selected comparisons to the PX, below, are with earphones that are around the price range of the PX. If you’d like a comparison of an earphone that is not mentioned in the review or is not located in my profile, feel free to message me and send me anything you’d like that can then be added to the review. Without further ado…
1MORE Triple Driver
Variability with regards to fit will favor the PX, as the Triple Driver can only be worn hanging-straight-down, however some may feel the Triple Driver has a slightly snugger fit. The Triple Driver has more pronounced mid and subbass, and the PX has a more smoothed-out texture in comparison. The midrange is smoother with the PX, but the Triple Driver jumps out at you with more forwardness. Treble is more pinpoint in sound with the Triple Driver, and is smoother and extended just a bit farther with the PX. Spatial qualities favor both, and aren’t too different to pick a clear victor. However, the Triple Driver is slightly clearer in sound, but the PX is more broad with the frequency range it’s able to convey, most notably its treble.
Atomic Floyd Hi-Def Drum
Where the Hi-Def Drum shines in isolation compared to the PX, the overall fit options favor the PX compared to the Hi-Def Drum. Bass is more prevalent with the PX and the bass isn’t very prevalent with the Hi-Def Drum. Midrange is also more forward and smoother with the PX. The Hi-Def Drum’s midrange is slightly laid back, as other frequencies take more prevalence like the treble. Speaking of the treble, both the PX and Hi-Def Drum exhibit extended treble, but the PX has the slightest bit higher highs. S’ have a bit more bite to the PX, even though the Hi-Def Drum is not a slouch in this area, as the Hi-Def Drum is known for its noticeable treble presence.
Meze Audio 12 Classics
The 12 Classics are very light compared to the PX and offers the most comfortable fit of the compared earphones, in my opinion. Bass and especially subbass is going to heavily favor the 12 Classics. Boomier, with more weight, the 12 Classics as a whole has a warmer sound as a result compared to the PX. Midrange is richer and holds more heft than the PX. Treble heavily favors the PX, as high-hats, female vocals are accentuated and are perceived greater in quantity than the 12 Classics. You’re going to get the 12 Classics if you want a warm and smooth sound signature with a good amount of mid and subbass, and you’re going to get the PX if you want a more balanced and reference sound in comparison.
Cultivate a fresh sound™
What does this mean? Too often we focus on only the music we are accustomed to. I am usually this way as well. Here’s an opportunity to listen to something you either may not normally listen to, or haven’t heard of. As I publish reviews in the future, I will have new and older tracks from various genres that I’ve listened to in this section, and will be largely based on what songs really moved me in particular to the reviewed product I’ve listened to on it. Even though the tracks will be linked to YouTube videos or audio-only versions, the tracks will either be listened solely from the iPhone 6 and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless, or from my Microsoft Surface Book and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless. Instead of describing each track in immense detail, you can simply listen for yourself and bask in the beautiful music you may have just found for the first time right now! What’s also great is that you can come back here just to listen to the tracks mentioned! If you have any personal issues with any tracks posted, please PM me and I'll replace it with another track. It's all about positivity in our musical journey. With those kind words of encouragement, here we go…
Silence by Marshmello ft. Khalid
Evil In The Night by Adam Lambert
If You're Hearing This (Lyric Video) by Hook N Sling x Parson James x Betty Who
New Rules by Dua Lipa
Is the Massdrop x MEE Audio Pinnacle PX IEMs worth it?
If you wanted the P1 at a great price, the PX is a very smart choice, clear and simple. You’ve got the PVD coating which should be more resilient than the standard Zinc housing of the P1. You’ve got in all intents and purposes, quite nearly the same sound from both the P1 and PX. And again, you’ve got the lower price for the PX in relation to the P1. Everything to like and enjoy, with a heavier wallet when purchasing the PX compared to the P1.
The PX sounds lovely and should be a part of your collection whether starting out on your audiophile journey, or for a low-price mid-level end-game in-ear.
Get yours when you can, and enjoy in delight!
Massdrop x MEE Audio
Ear coupling: Intraaural
Housing: Zinc alloy with dark blue PVD finish
Driver: 10 mm dynamic moving coil with copper-clad aluminum voice coil
Frequency response: 20 Hz–20 kHz
Impedance: 50 ohms at 1 kHz
Sensitivity: 96 dB +/- 3 dB (1 mW at 1 kHz)
Microphone directivity: Omnidirectional
Microphone frequency response: 100 Hz–5 kHz
Microphone sensitivity: -40 dB +/- 3 dB
Cable: 51 in (130 cm), detachable
Cable connectors: MMCX
Cable plug: 3.5 mm, right angle
Wear styles: Over the ear or down from the ear
Weight without cable: 0.4 oz (13 g)
Weight with cable: 1 oz (29 g)
Detachable headset cable with inline microphone and remote
6 pairs of silicone ear tips in different sizes
3 pairs of Comply T-200 memory foam ear tips in different sizes