MEE Audio M6 Pro Generation 2

Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. thatBeatsguy
    Best Foot Forward for MEE Audio
    Written by thatBeatsguy
    Published Jun 4, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - A massive improvement over its predecessor. Sounds better, looks better, feels better, all at the same price.
    Cons - Can sound a bit sterile.
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    The MEE Audio M6 has grown quite a bit over the years. It started out as an affordable, sport-oriented earphone dubbed the Sport-Fi M6, which was later retooled and released as the M6 PRO, marketed for performers and musicians. The success of the M6 PRO eventually led to the release of the M7 PRO, a higher-end pro audio model with a hybrid two-driver design. That's quite a legacy for a 30 dollar earphone.

    Earlier this year, MEE Audio made some tweaks to both variations of the M6 and released them as second-generation models, effectively extending the M6 legacy even further. In this review, we'll be taking a look specifically at the new M6 PRO. How will it stack up to its predecessor? Find out after the jump.

    TL;DR
    : No sophomore slump here – the new M6 PRO sands down all of the rough edges of the previous model, leaving behind all of the ingredients of a formidable $50 earphone. A must-have.

    (Full disclosure: Mike from MEE Audio sent me a non-loaner unit of the new M6 PROs for no charge in exchange for this review. The earphones were tested for about two weeks before the publishing date of this review.)

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    What's in the box. The laser-engraved plates (bottom-right) are an optional purchase.

    So, what's changed?

    Quite a bit, actually; but before that, let's look at what they didn't change: the packaging. In my review of the previous version, I thought quite highly of the unboxing experience, although I feel like I downplayed their value a bit at the time. I am happy to report that that hasn't changed. You still get a large carrying case, a bunch of eartips (among which are a pair of Comply foam ones), a shirt clip, and two cables. Still impressive value.

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    A comparison between the old (left side) and new (right side) versions of the M6 PRO.

    Beyond that, however, the M6 PRO was thoroughly reworked. The most drastic revisions were made to the housing. In my old review, I noted their rather finicky fit, which forced me into using very large silicone eartips (which were uncomfortable) or the included Comply foam eartips (which wore out quickly, were expensive, and hard to come by). With the new housing design, that was no longer an issue – medium-size eartips now fit my ears just fine. The new housing shape also allows it to sit flush in the ear, making them a bit easier to put on.

    MEE also took the time to throw in additional features while they were at it. These new housings now have room for laser-engraved faceplates, which are attached onto the slot on the external side of the housings. These faceplates can be bought along with the earphones for $10 on top of the standard $50, but the $10 plates are only for their "standard artwork" which come in a few varieties. If you want to buy them separately, MEE Audio also sells them at prices ranging from $15 for standard artwork, to $25 for custom text, to $30 for custom artwork. If, however, you think that the prices for these little plates are a bit expensive, know that most customisable earphones usually have prices that start at the hundreds of dollars, so to see such an option in a $50 IEM is both absurd and awesome. Just look at them!

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    The cables were also tweaked as well, albeit less dramatically. Both cables still seem to use the same wire and insulation as those on the previous generation. This time around, though, the connectors, Y split, and strain reliefs are reinforced with a strong, textured plastic. This no doubt makes the earphones feel bulkier than they used to, but on the plus side they add more protection to likely points of failure on the cable.

    Either way, it's hard to find fault in the build quality of the M6 PRO – even in the old version. But in case you accidentally break or lose your M6 PRO outside of its 1-year warranty, MEE Audio has you covered with their Lifetime Replacement Program. This program carries over from the old M6 PRO, and allows you to (under a few conditions) purchase a replacement M6 PRO at half price. It's a sweet cherry on top of an already impressive IEM, and ensures patrons will come back for more.

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    So it's a good IEM on the outside. How does it do on the inside?

    It's hard for me to explain. I've been listening to these earphones for the past couple of weeks, and I can say the "brain burn-in" has done a lot. For those who don't know, brain burn-in is the process of listening to an audio system enough that its sound becomes your "base" or "default" sound. And as I was listening to the M6 PRO, without any comparisons, it started to sound a bit stale to me. That was my mistake. No earphone, headphone, or speaker system can shine on its own. Nothing can be comparatively "better" if there's nothing to compare it to in the first place.

    So I compared the M6 PRO. And I understood. This was a properly good IEM.

    By far the most impressive characteristic of its sound is its clarity, carried over from the previous model. Thanks to a very effective blend of fast, tight bass and accentuated upper frequencies, the M6 PRO has impressive resolution for an IEM at this price. The aggressive bass lines in Haywyre's Sculpted and Dichotomy are handled with finesse, never lingering on any of the notes for longer than is necessary. In M2U's Magnolia, Myosotis, and Marigold, a trio of powerful symphonic dubstep tracks, the M6 PRO deftly balances between the orchestral and electronic, keeping each one from overpowering the other.

    With such impressive control over complex, sonically rich tracks, one would think that they would make short work of simpler orchestrations. Well, you'd be right. The M6 PRO smoothly accentuates the rim shot over the pared-back layers of Elijah Who's I'm not as lonely anymore, and presents the piano and nylon guitar on Yiruma's Indigo with stunning detail. The M6 PRO also separates instruments quite well, as seen in the relatively small but layered instrumentation of Meine Meinung's Colorful.

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    Is this the perfect $50 IEM, then?

    Well, I wouldn't say that – no earphone or headphone is perfect. There are just way too many factors at play, chief among which is personal preference. And no, the M6 PRO is not immune to the "I just don't like it" argument, and I might have a couple ideas as to why.

    First off, their sound signature is not exactly what I would call reference-grade. Yes, it's very clear and clean. Yes, it makes small details a lot more noticeable than other earphones at its price point. However, it's not a perfectly neutral earphone; in fact, its strong bass impact and accented high frequencies suggest a V-shaped earphone, although it's more treble-focused than most other earphones under this label.

    The M6 PRO, with all the clarity and transparency of a newly-washed greenhouse, also tends to sound rather sterile at times. And I don't mean that in the sense that the sound is not engaging enough (it's actually quite focused); rather, I feel like sometimes, when listening to music through the M6 PRO, my mindset shifts from "enjoying" to "analysing". For some – myself included – that might actually be a plus point, but other listeners might want to take music immersion and 'feel' first and foremost, and the M6 PRO's pseudo-reference sound quality might detract from that.

    But that's okay. The M6 PRO, for all intents and purposes, is an excellent IEM. Sure, it might sound a bit bland and lacking in "character", but its clarity presents music with impressive attention to detail, keeping you engaged and involved. If there was an earphone that made you "hear the music as it was in the studio", this is probably the closest you can get at $50.

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    So how does it hold up to the old one?

    Have you heard of the term "sophomore slump"? It's a phenomenon where the second iteration of something fails to live up to the first.

    Well, that doesn't happen here. The people at MEE Audio have taken all the right steps to distill and refine the already-great M6 PRO formula. They improved the fit through redesigned housings. They improved durability through reinforced cables. They improved the sound through a toned-down treble. And they did all this while still retaining all of the things that made the old model great.

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    The M6 has had quite a legacy. From budget sport model to high-end pro audio model, and now a second generation, it's done quite a bit. MEE Audio has proved, with the new M6 PRO, that you don't need to deviate from the formula to improve it, and that even small changes can make big differences.

    SCORES:

    Packaging, Accessories: 8/10
    Practically identical to the previous version. It has everything you need and nothing you don’t, just as it should be.

    Design, Build, Microphonics: 10/10
    It’s even more durable than the previous model, yet it’s priced the same. And you still have MEE’s awesome replacement policy.

    Fit, Comfort, Isolation: 8/10
    New housings make them easier to put on and a lot more comfortable.

    Bass: 8.5/10
    Packs a punch, but is fast, responsive, and very well controlled.

    Midrange: 8.5/10
    Clean, refined, and detailed. Sounds a bit sterile at times, though.

    Treble: 8.5/10
    Doesn’t stab your ears out anymore, but still has impressive resolution.

    Presentation: 8.5/10
    Soundstage is very recording-dependent – an important component of a good mastering-quality IEM.

    Other Media: 8/10
    They take anything you throw at it very well, in an almost-but-not-really analytical manner.

    EQ Response: 8/10
    They respond well to EQ, but if it sounds this good, why bother?

    Value: 10/10
    All this at a price point of $50. Incredible value.

    Total: 8.6/10
    No sophomore slump here – the new M6 PRO sands down all of the rough edges of the previous model, leaving behind all of the ingredients of a formidable $50 earphone.

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    Thanks for taking the time to read another of my reviews. Before I end, I want to express my gratitude to Mike from MEE Audio for the opportunity to review another of their fantastic products. If you're interested in getting them, you can do so now at http://www.meeaudio.com/all-products/signature/M6PROG2/.

    Until next time, that’s all from me. This has been thatBeatsguy of DB Headphones; thanks for reading!
    1. monitoringsound70
      Excellent review. Thanks.
      I have the first generation of these and using the triple flange they are absolutely brilliant. With a very stage like sound.
      Will definitely be picking up a pair of these at some point in the near future.
      monitoringsound70, Jun 14, 2018