MEE audio Pinnacle P1 High Fidelity Audiophile In-Ear Headphones with Detachable Cables

General Information

THE TRUE EXPRESSION OF MUSIC Pinnacle is more than a name - it is a statement that identifies the P1 in-ear headphones as the result of two years of design, engineering, and refinement, the flagship of our critically acclaimed product line, and our highest-performing headphone ever. For years headphone fans all around the world have recognized MEE audio as one of the go-to brands for getting the most bang for your buck, and the Pinnacle stays true to the MEE brand by bringing serious value for money to high-end in-ear headphones.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
Pinnacle P1 Audiophile In-Ear Headphones High-fidelity silver-plated OFC audio cable Headset cable with microphone and remote Comply T-200 memory foam eartips (3 pairs) Silicone eartips (6 pairs) ¼" (6.3mm) stereo adapter Premium carrying case with laser-etched serial number Shirt clip User manual
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Pros: Detail retrieval, comfort, soundstage, neutral sound signature
Cons: A tad more bass would be welcome
About Me:   

I came into the world of audio from a guitar background, buying up tube amps from when I was a kid and was always fascinated with them. Then I ended up buying my first decent pair of IEMs one day for a long flight (Yamaha EPH-100) and it was downhill from there. For a year or two, my only source were cell phones + a DAC/amp combo. Recently, I've invested in a desktop setup consisting of an Audio-GD Master 11 (which I absolutely love). I'm still no professional, I don't know all the right terms and I can really only offer an opinion of what I like. I don't have golden ears and I would not be considered a sommelier of the audio world. But what I do have to offer is the fact that I buy pretty much every IEM that looks interesting and give it some good listening time. As for preference of music, as cliché as it sounds, I love everything with a definite nod toward pop, country, electronic, rock and blues.   

  

Test Equipment:   

I used a few different setups for this review, but I will note that I primarily use IEMs with “mobile” setups, meaning I do not typically test them with either of my desktop setups. This time around, however, I did play the Pinnacle P1s through my Audio-GD NFB-1 DAC and amp before I sold them. I did this because the P1s are quite difficult to drive from mobile phones and I’ll expand on that later. Most of the testing was done, however, with my Chord Mojo and my LG V20 playing Tidal HiFi streaming. I used Tidal via USB Audio Player Pro when using the Mojo to avoid the Android upsampling.  

  

The IEMs  

Physical presentation when you open the box is first rate and I have not seen this on a $199 IEM before (well, maybe I did on the RE-600 but that was originally $399). The IEMs have a very classy metal housing and they come with a large assortment of tips and two different cables. One has smartphone controls and is your average cheap MMCX cable, but the other is silver-plated copper ($50 on Amazon) and I stuck with that from the get-go. I don’t like the feel of the other cable with smartphone controls as it is thicker and heaver and overall feels cheaper. I liked the silver-plated copper cable so much that I bought an extra to use with my Sony XBA-Z5s. I also love the leather carrying case with a folding magnetic flap. They IEMs are a bit of a tight squeeze into it, but it’s a great case that isn’t bulky and overall has a classy and quality feel.  
 
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Comfort:  

This one is easy: these are the most comfortable IEMs I have ever worn. You simply forget they are in your ear and I can easily listen to them for hours upon hours without any pain points or annoyances. The cable does not have memory wire, though these are still worn over-ear and I absolutely love them. They fit right into my ear canal and never come loose, never need fiddling and the shape is incredibly well thought out.  

  

Tips: 

Tips are a very personal thing and while the Pinnacle P1s come with plenty, I had the best success with Sony’s foam-filled hybrid tips. These are somewhat hard to find, but you can get them from the usual places like eBay and Amazon if you are okay waiting for shipping from Japan. These fit the P1s perfectly and I enjoy them because they hold the P1 firmly in my ear given the somewhat firmer feel than the non-foam stuffed ones. I also had success with JVC’s Spiral Dots, but they did not sound as good to me as the Sonys.  

  

Sound: 

The Pinnacle P1 IEMs are what I consider to be the most neutral IEMs I have. They are not bright, they are not bass-heavy, they are not mid-forward. They have no offensive characteristics and I do not believe many people would find any fault whatsoever in any of their range. Would I like more of certain things? Sure, but that is personal preference. What I mean is that anyone who puts these on will be very unlikely to find something to complain about such as sibilance or anything of that nature. What the P1s trade in bass impact or sharp treble is an overall sound signature that is incredibly neutral, detailed, enjoyable and polite. I love this about them.  

  

Bass: If these had just a bit more bass slam from their dynamic driver, I would give them five out of five. That is literally the only thing I would ask for out of these is a bit more bass quantity. The bass is very accurate, it can reach very low when the music calls for it and it will likely satisfy non-bass heads or people who love a very neutral IEM. Me, well, I want just a tad more please. The bass they do have is punchy, but not as punchy as something like a triple-BA IEM like the Sony XBA-300. It is not muddy or loose like some other dynamic driver IEMs. I honestly think it will be “just right” for quite a few folks, but I love my bass!  

  

Mids: The mids on this IEM are the star of the show for me and it’s not because they’re forward or in your face, it’s just because they’re incredibly detailed. Vocals through these IEMs rival some of my IEMs that cost three times as much and outperform others of the same cost (vocals on these sound better than on my XBA-Z5). There is no bass bleeding into the mids and overall, this tuning is extremely well-done by MEE Audio. They give such a clear presentation of how I think vocals should sound (both male and female).  

  

Highs: I’m going to categorize the highs into the same camp as I did with the bass: they’re wonderful, but I would love a bit more. Like I mentioned, I do not think anyone will find these sibilant if you have a proper source and get a good fit. The highs are sparkly, detailed, non-offensive in any way and very smooth. While I love my bass, I love my treble too and I could stand a bit more treble presence in these. Not a lot, but a tad more might give them even more perceived clarity than they already have (which would be an insane amount of clarity!). Everything sounds good on these from cymbals, electronic beats and instruments.  

  

Detail and Clarity: 

I have not heard detail like this in a $200 IEM (or, perhaps, even a $400 IEM). The instrument separation on these is among the best I have heard and it’s very noticeable on first listen. They just sound crystal clear. You’ll hear strings being plucked, you’ll hear small sounds that you may have missed before and I’m quite impressed that this was achieved with a single dynamic driver. I’m not an audio engineer and I couldn’t begin to design an earphone, but this greatly impresses me. This is my favorite part about these IEMs – the clarity and detail. Well done, MEE Audio, well done.  

  

Comparisons: 

For my comparisons, I try to compare against similarly priced IEMs and avoid apples to oranges comparisons. So, below are some of the IEMs I have that I think are a good match against the P1 that cost similar amounts.  

  

HiFiMan RE-600: The RE-600 was my go-to IEM for a neutral, detailed and comfortable IEM. The Pinnacle P1, in my eyes, has beat the RE-600 on all three counts. The bass presence is stronger on the P1, the comfort is even better despite them weighing much more and the detail retrieval is superior on the P1. Don’t even get me started on the cable on the RE-600 vs. the P1 as I’m sure you’ve read all of the cable failures on the RE-600. Not acceptable for a $400 IEM at launch (and still not acceptable on a $200 IEM). Sound-wise, I don’t find any real faults with the RE-600, but I found the P1 to just sound bigger, fuller and more detailed. Given that these are now the same price, I’d choose the P1 every time.  

  

Sony XBA-300: This IEM couldn’t be more different technically speaking from the P1, but since they’re around the same price and both are considered to be pretty neutral IEMs, I wanted to compare them. For this comparison, I will not declare the P1 a winner per se, but a different IEM altogether. Where the P1 sounds neutral, polite and musical, the XBA-300 can get harsh in the treble and has light but very punchy bass. Something like a kick drum will really slam your ear in the XBA-300 whereas on the P1, it’s a less controlled boom. The P1 is not boomy at all, but in comparison to the XBA-300’s triple-BA design it does not offer the tight and controlled bass that the XBA-300 does. The XBA-300 has that extra treble that I asked for from the P1, but it might be a bit too bright for some people. Both IEMs are very neutral to me, but the XBA-300 may give people a bit more trouble if you’re listening at louder volumes and the track has anything that can be perceived as “piercing” highs. I would say that detail retrieval is similar on both IEMs, but soundstage and separation are still a bit better on the P1 for me.  

  

LZ A4: I debated on including this IEM because I have only had it for about five days, but given that it’s a $200 triple-hybrid design and my initial impressions are through the roof, it seemed appropriate. I’ll keep the specifics light as I need more time with the approximate 6,745 filter combinations, but overall the LZ A4 to me is a superior IEM. It offers slamming, deep bass, clear and detailed mids and highs that can be tuned to the user’s liking. It has everything I have asked for extra from the P1 and for that reason, for now, this would be the IEM of my choice in the $200 range without question. I would say the only area the A4 falls short of the P1 is in comfort. It is comfortable, but it is a MASSIVE plastic housing designed to be worn down and for the first time in a while, I’m almost embarrassed to wear them in public. The last time that happened was when I wore my Sony Z5s outside.  

  

MusicMaker Shockwave III: This IEM is a bit more pricey at around $240, but it’s not so far off that it should be excluded. Where I thought the XBA-300 couldn’t get more different them the P1, the SW3 does. This is a 5-driver IEM with four balanced armature drivers and one dynamic driver. The bass on this is similar to the LZ A4 and I find it superior to the P1 in its reach and impact. The mids on the SW3 are slightly recessed and that is exaggerated with the very bright treble. The SW3 is definitely a V-shaped IEM and I think the P1 wins in overall listening pleasure to be totally honest. I love the SW3, but it is not an “every day” IEM for me that can fit every musical taste like the P1 can. Sure it has that deep bass I am craving, crisp and bright treble, but it does not have what the P1 has: the ability to sit in my ear for hours and put a smile on my face with ANY kind of music I put through it. If I tried that, I might end up deaf. It’s also huge and nowhere near as comfortable as the P1.  

  

Conclusion:  

  

The Pinnacle P1 IEMs came dangerously close to being a perfect IEM for me. They might be perfect for most people who do not require “basshead” levels of bass. They do everything well, they’re polite, they’re comfortable and for a first stab at a flagship IEM I think MEE Audio knocked this one out of the park. Their customer service is first rate and their packaging and attention to detail are wonderful. I love these IEMs and am hugely impressed with them for $200. The detail and clarity alone is worth the price of entry and I can literally wear them all day. They miss out barely on a few things that I want a little more of, so I’m going to go with 4.5 stars with the confidence that these will be 5-star IEMs for a lot of people. They’re that good.  

  

Note: These are some of the most difficult to drive IEMs I have had. They absolutely require more power than most smartphones can produce (sans for maybe the V10, V20, HTC 10 or iPhones). Sure they will work, but in my experience they need to be properly driven with a proper headphone amp of some sort. I would NOT choose the P1 if you are going to be driving them straight from an average smartphone. 

  

  

  

 

Ting Tiew Yik
Ting Tiew Yik
I owned xba 300 and p1 and I would say p1's bass is more punchy and xba is more detail.
 
Nice review!
mikek200
mikek200
Great review Collin
I also used the P1 for a while,& liked them a lot
Your reviews is very precise,and really explains the thinks are most important on the P1's.,
as I am not a basshead either,I search for the musicality of ,every IEM,& headphone,I own.
I did have an issue, with the fit on these,,and it caused me to sell them.
Thank you ,for taking the time to write this review...it is good reading.
killz4gold
killz4gold
can you compare to VSD5 or GR07 ?
Pros: Detail and texture in the midrange, good amount of air in the treble, two detachable cables, comfortable, sturdy build quality, all-rounder
Cons: Overall bass a bit muted, needs to be driven with an amp, slight microphonics in the cables, silicon tips might reveal slight treble peaks

 
Introduction
 
It’s 1:35 AM and I’m listening to “Wicked Games” by The Weeknd on the Mee Audio Pinnacle P1 in-ear monitors. Although not the sound signature that I find myself drawn to in general, I find the experience enjoyable – as the vocal layering is presented in a satisfying and full manner. As the soulful, and rather pained, vocal carries the song – I find that the earphones hit the right notes when it comes to how the tenor voice comes through.
 
I have not covered many IEMs before, and I fully admit that I am not quite familiar with what enthusiasts of them seek. As I’ve mostly focused on full-sized over-the-ear headphones, reviewing an IEM with a shell is new territory for me. I know that custom IEMs are a big business for a reason, but I appreciate that the universal-fit nature of the Pinnacle fits just right in my ear.
The thing, as always, that I focus on however is the sound – and with that in mind I will unravel my thoughts of this product now.
 
The Mee Audio Pinnacle was loaned to me for the purpose of a review by a representative of the company. I thank them for the opportunity, as I have mostly had to purchase the products I review in the past on a limited budget.
 
 
 
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In the Box
 
Pinnacle P1 Audiophile In-Ear Headphones
 
High-fidelity silver-plated OFC audio cable
 
Headset cable with microphone and remote
 
Comply T-200 memory foam eartips (3 pairs)
 
Silicone eartips (6 pairs)
 
¼" (6.3mm) stereo adapter
 
Premium carrying case with laser-etched serial number
 
Shirt clip
 
User manual
 
Specifications
 
Driver
Driver type                          moving coil (dynamic) with copper-clad aluminum voice coil
 
Driver size                            10 mm
 
Frequency response        20 Hz to 20 kHz
 
Impedance                         50 Ohms at 1 kHz
 
Sensitivity                            96±3 dB (1mW at 1 kHz)
 
Microphone
 
Directivity                            omnidirectional
 
Frequency response        100 Hz to 5 kHz
 
Sensitivity                            -40dB± 3dB
 
Product Details
 
Ear coupling                       intraaural (in-ear)
 
Cable length                       51 inches (130 cm), detachable
 
Cable connectors             MMCX
 
Cable plug                           3.5 mm, right angle
 
Weight (without cable) 0.4 oz (13 g)
 
Weight                                 1 oz (29 g)
 
Included accessories       stereo audio cable, headset cable, shirt clip, silicone eartips (6 pairs), Comply foam eartips (3 pairs), ¼” adapter, carrying case
 
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Build quality, comfort & features
 
When I removed the Pinnacle from its box, I was immediately struck with how much heavier they seemed compared to other earphones I had experienced in the past. I also saw that they were made of metal, however this wasn’t much of a problem ultimately as I do not feel weighed down with them inserted, especially in the manner they were meant to be (over the ear, angled upwards). The comfort is a standout for me, with hours-upon-hours of listening not producing any sort of fatigue.
 
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For an IEM noob like myself, it was fun to try out the various eartips provided with the Pinnacle. I found it amusing just how deep the triple-silicone tips could go inside the ear, but I did not prefer it due to how foreign it seemed – and also that it muted the bass a tad. After trying them all, I found the largest Comply tips to be most preferable to my tastes – with the highs extending comfortably while the sub-bass having a bit more control and depth.
 
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The two provided braided cables are pretty robust, to say the least - and a little heavy as far as earphone cables go. One is silver-plated, while the other has a microphone and remote button attached. This struck me as strange later on, as I can’t imagine these being driven effortlessly from a smartphone. Upon testing, I didn’t hear any audible differences between the two – but both shared some slight microphonics. I defaulted on using the silver plated one as it felt more durable and, to my eyes, looked nicer too. I dig the notion of removable cables on an IEM, just like I dig it on full-sized headphones.
 
I must commend the packaging. It may seem like a basic thing, but a nice and well-thought layout and wrapping can do wonders for first impressions. Inside the box was a little carrying case with a leather/pleather exterior, shaped a lot like a smaller version of some eyeglass holders. Also provided is a 1/8 to ¼ adapter, which proved useful for the needed amplification.
 
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Sound
 
From my limited experience with IEMs over the price of a few hundred bucks, the ultimate emphasis seems to be on audio resolution. Because of this, I’ve noticed that several that I’ve tried don’t share my own preferences of a warmer sound, but I can’t deny their precision in reproduction. That being said, I enjoyed the Nobel Audio Katana for this quality when I tried it at the London Can Jam – but I wouldn’t have been able to use it for long periods of time like I can the Pinnacle (or even the Nobel Kaiser 10U that I also tried, which had a more musical sound to it).
 
While the soundstage is not vast, it is not lacking either. I would compare it to the Focal Elear in this regard, a sound-leaking and full-sized open headphone. Due to the sound signature of the earphones, you can sometimes get quite an expansive and clean sound that doesn’t feel betrayed by any frequency bloat – depending on the mixing and mastering (and bitrate quality) of the track being listened to.
 
The bass is something that I have heard others who have tried these earphones have rather strong opinions of. I just read another review that claimed that it delved into the deep sub-bass region, and I can’t replicate that with any source that I own – and amped with either the warm Cavalli Liquid Carbon or the neutral Schiit Magni 2. As someone who enjoys bass, but not basshead quantity as a daily driver, I can appreciate the Pinnacle’s low-end – but it won’t wow listeners for certain. Both the mid and sub bass are not the stars of the show, but rather role-players who take a backseat to the other frequencies. However, unless you are often listening to very bass-dependent music (EDM and whatnot), you won’t find the experience a deal-breaker.
 
The one word I’d use to describe the midrange is clean. The bass’ subdued nature means that I can’t hear it even think of advancing on the territory of the mids. Vocals sound clear and pronounced usually, but can be slightly drowned out by instrumentals in more layered or hectic songs. This gives a slightly recessed feeling that is quite similar to the Sennheiser HD800, with mids being slightly laid back and not forwarded at all. However, sharing another quality with the Sennheiser flagship, the detail is quite incredible and well-separated.
 
The acoustic guitar is an instrument that I always like to hear a natural-sounding reproduction of in headphones, and the Pinnacle did a great job at that without relying on emphasized lower-mids to achieve it. With harder hitting genres like hard rock and metal, there was detail in the electric guitars that gave it a live sound that any guitar players reading this would know about. Basically, distorted guitar tones can sound overly processed on some headphones that remove any bite you would hear in good live amplification and give it an overly processed and unnaturally smooth texture. The Pinnacle handles midrange texture like a champ, with classical and jazz recordings benefitting tremendously from this as well.
 
The treble is also quite detailed, an aspect that gels with the midrange to give the Pinnacle its overall sound characteristic, without veering into problematic and peaky territories. That being said, your mileage may vary depending on which of the tips you use, as I found that some did indeed let the top end run amok on music and get a little painful. I use the largest of the Comply Foam tips, as I find it brings the treble to the exact amount where it’s both airy and manageable. Ear-tip rolling is a useful endeavour as it can let you customize both fit and sound to a degree that just isn’t all that effortless or possible with full-sized headphones.
 
What the Pinnacle does, with my preferred tips, is provide a high resolution sound that is expected of IEMs far higher in price without any kind of harshness in any of its frequency ranges. It really is something that I can hear a clear cymbal or snare hit without it being either drowned out by another instrument, as is the case with some warmer or darker headphones and earphones, nor being over-emphasized – like in the case of the HD800 at times.
 
And, while I believe the slightly-recessed quality of the mids lowers the volume of vocals in the overall mix, they are indeed clear – with male vocals having a certain grit and female vocals being able to soar. That being said, instrumental music would be the absolute best listen on the Pinnacle because of the strength of its separation, detail and midrange texture.
 
Amping
 
Don’t run these from your phone. A few years ago, I would have found the notion of portable earphones and earbuds being amped ludicrous, but recent experiences such as this one proves to me that there are some offerings where you just can’t not do so. A friend of mine tried these earphones from the phone-out jack of his Ibasso DX90 and found it sufficient, but I can’t say the same. Its impedance is only 50 ohms, but the sensitivity is quite low. That being said, you won’t have to crank the volume dial on your amp to get these nicely driven.
 
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Conclusion
 
While focusing primarily on full-sized headphones, I forgot some of the benefits that IEMs can offer. You can lounge around in them quite easily with no concern for them falling off your head or getting in the way of whatever you choose to lean on. While, in the past, I equated such freedom with slightly compromised sound quality - I don’t get that from the Pinnacle.
 
What I get is an easily listenable and balanced experience that provides stellar detail for a price that is reasonable for its market. I look forward to what Mee Audio come out with next, as this is an impressive first foray into high-end audio.
 
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Ting Tiew Yik
Ting Tiew Yik
subscribed to your youtube channel.Hope you will have a regular update 
Aornic
Aornic
I
Idk who cares
The part that was most useful to me was when you said this would be best for instrumental music, something I've been trying to find for ages. Also was a very detailed yet not very complicated review. Thank you
Pros: Value, build quality, sound quality, fit / comfort, clarity, accessories
Cons: May need additional amplification (hard to drive)
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For larger views of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images

INTRODUCTION

 
I'd watched the growth of MEE Audio over the years, first as Meelectronics, and then more recently as MEE Audio. In that time they've released a lot of “budget” products , and I've read the various reviews with passing interest. But it wasn't until MEE released the P1 Pinnacle (their flagship), and I read some of the reviews that they were getting that I began to take real interest in the company. My friend Alex (Twister6) has had a long term relationship with MEE, and it was during one of our many PMs that he told me I needed to try the P1. But Alex went further, and actually got in touch with Mike to suggest that he contact me. Mike duly did so and I've had the MEE P1 now since April.
 
ABOUT MEE AUDIO
I actually found it pretty hard to get a lot of information online about Meelectronics or MEE Audio. They were founded in 2005 as Meelectronics, and in 2009 decided to focus on headphones, earphones and accessories – both wired and wireless. As their legacy name no longer described the direction of the company, in 2015 it was shortened to simply MEE Audio – or Music Enjoyment for Everyone. MEE Audio are based in California, and already have an extensive product range including both full sized and in-ear audio products, both wired and wireless. Their Company Overview section gives an insight into how they see themselves:
 
MEE is home to a group of audio enthusiasts who enjoy hearing music at its absolute best. We spread our passion by crafting innovative high-performance audio gear in order to let music inspire everyone as it inspires us. Where others see a pair of headphones, we see the final step in experiencing music as it was meant to be. This is why we obsess over every detail of how our products look, feel, and sound, bringing you the ultimate listening experience.
 
Today I'll be looking at the Pinnacle P1 – their flagship IEM. MEE Audio can be found on the web (http://www.meeaudio.com/pinnacle) or on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MEEaudio/)
 
DISCLAIMER
The MEE Pinnacle P1 that I’m reviewing today was provided to me gratis as a review sample. I have made it clear to Mike that I still regard any product they send me as their sole property and available for return any time at their request. Mike told me to keep them though (he wouldn't want them back) – so they are a freely given sample for the purpose of reviewing.
 
I do not make any financial gain from this review – it is has been written simply as my way of providing feedback both to the Head-Fi community and also MEE themselves.
 
I have now had the MEE P1 since April 2016. They are currently available from Amazon for USD 180.00 (https://www.amazon.com/MEE-audio-Audiophile-Headphones-Detachable/dp/B01A60I4P6)
 
PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.
I'm a 49 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (including the FiiO X5ii, X3ii, X7, LP5 Pro and L3, and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). I also use a portable set-up at work – usually either X3ii/X7/L3 > HP, or PC > E17K > HP. My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyerdynamic T1, Sennheiser HD600 & HD630VB, and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and lately it has mainly been with the Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2 and Adel U6. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).
 
I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880. I have a specific sensitivity to the 2-3 kHz frequency area (most humans do) but my sensitivity is particularly strong, and I tend to like a relatively flat mid-range with slight elevation in the upper-mids around this area.
 
I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively red-book 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 49, my hearing is less than perfect (it only extends to around 14 kHz nowadays).
 
Over the last few months – I’ve used the MEE P1 from a variety of sources, but for this review, I’ve mainly used it with my FiiO X3ii and E17K, FiiO X7, and L&P L3.
 
This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.
 

THE REVIEW

 
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
The MEE Pinnacle P1 arrived in a relatively large 163 x 210 x 66mm retail box. The box has a white, black and grey outer sleeve which has a photograph of the P1 on the front, list of specs and accessories on the side, and description of the main features of build and design on the rear.
 
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Front of retail sleeve
Rear of retail sleeve
Inner box (foldout)
 
Removing the sleeve reveals a black matt box with the two sides pivoting to reveal the actual contents. The whole experience screams “flagship” to me, and I had to keep reminding myself that this was a sub $200 ear phone I was reviewing.
 
Inside the box safely nestled in a foam insert are the P1 earpieces. In the center is the P1 carry case, and in two secondary boxes sits the cables and tip range. Below the foam insert there is also a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adaptor.
 
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Inside inner box
Accessories
Tips and cables
 
Full list of accessories:
 
  1. The MEE Pinnacle P1 earphones
  2. Magnetically sealed leather carry case
  3. 2 pairs of dual flange and 1 pair triple flange silicone ear tips
  4. 3 pairs of single flange silicone ear tips (S,M,L)
  5. 3 pairs of genuine comply foam tips (S,M,L)
  6. 3.5 to 6.3mm adaptor
  7. shirt clip
  8. One four conductor braided cable with in-line mic and remote
  9. One four conductor silver plater copper braided cable
  10. Comprehensive product manual

Considering the value price of the MEE Pinnacle P1 – the accessory package is more than simply good value IMO. The including of two quality cables and also the quality of the carry case represents superb overall value.
 
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The carry case with magnetic clasp
SPC cable left, and OFC cable right (in-line controls)
The MEE P1
 
The carry case is a rectangular 80 x 80 x 30 mm leather case with a lift up flap and magnetic closing tab. The serial number is printed on a stainless badge on the front. The inside is lined with a soft velvet like inner material. While the case isn't 100% rigid, it offers more than enough general protection, and is amply sized to house the MEE P1 and cable (which can be a little bulky).
 
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
(From MEE Audio)
 
Drivers
Dynamic 10mm (copper clad aluminium voice coil)
Shell
Die cast zinc alloy
Rated Impedance
50 ohm @ 1 kHz
Frequency Range
20 Hz – 20 kHz
Sensitivity
96 dB +/- 3 dB / mW @ 1 kHz
Cable type/connectors
Removable - MMCX
Cable (headset)
1.3m OCC with mic and single button control
Cable (premium)
1.3m SPC
Jack
3.5mm, right angled, gold plated
Weight
13g (earpiece only), 29g (earpiece and cable)
Fitting
Ergonomic, over ear.
 
FREQUENCY GRAPH
The graphs below are generated using the Vibro Veritas coupler and ARTA software. I must stress that they aren’t calibrated to IEC measurement standards, but the raw data I’m getting has been very consistent, and is actually not too far away from the raw data measured by other systems except for above 4-5 kHz where it shows significantly lower than measurements performed on a properly calibrated rig. So when reading the graphs, don’t take them as gospel – or at least remember that the area above 4-5 kHz will likely be significantly higher. It is my aim to get this system calibrated at some stage in the future.
 
I measured both channels, and driver matching is extremely good – well done MEE.
 
meep1channel.png
 
What I’m hearing:
  1. Natural bass response – slight mid-bass hump, and normal dynamic slow roll-off at sub-bass
  2. Some distance on the lower mids – indicating a slight recession in the 1-2 kHz area
  3. Elevation in the upper mid-range providing a little sweetness to female vocals (harmonics)
  4. Smooth lower treble (maybe a little hint of recession / roll-off) which remains quite detailed but also very easy to listen to and non fatiguing
  5. Overall it is a slightly V shaped signature with some slight warmth in the mid-bass, clean and clear vocals, and just the tiniest hint of brightness in the upper mid-range.
     
BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN
The Shell
The MEE Pinnacle P1 are a great example of how a stellar build does not need to be expensive. The shells are a 3 piece affair – 2 halves are polished zinc alloy, and then there is a stainless nozzle. And for an ergonomically designed shell, these are pretty small. Just 18mm in length, and about the same in height with a total depth of about 15mm (the nozzle extends a further 7mm). The shell itself is jelly bean shaped, and because it is so small, can be worn up or down, simply by swapping the cable sides.
 
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Nozzles and front of shell
Rear of shell
Inner port, inner face (smooth), and nozzles
 
The internal surface is beautifully polished and the edges are wonderfully rounded – which makes the fit very comfortable. There is a single port on each internal side – for venting the driver. The nozzle is approximately 5mm in diameter, with a generous lip, and although the nozzle length is relatively short (promoting a more shallow fit), the way the body is shaped allows you to push the nozzle end into the ear a little more, thereby promoting a better seal and deeper insertion depth. The nozzle is also slightly angled forward which also helps with overall fit. Its a clever design.
 
The outer body is the same polished zinc, but this time with a few subtle angles and the MEE logo printed on both earpieces. The reason MEE used the zinc alloy is because it is more rigid and has better impact resistance than aluminium, but is a lot lighter than stainless steel.
 
P116.jpgP117.jpg
MMCX connectors
SPC cable attached
 
Each earpiece uses a standard MMCX connector, and I've had no problems swapping in cables from ALO or FiiO as alternatives. The connection points do rotate but (so far) seem to be reasonably stable (I'm always just a little wary about the longevity of MMCX connectors).
 
Internals
MEE used their own proprietary 10mm moving coil dynamic driver – which has a reasonably high 50 ohm impedance. The reason for the higher impedance was to allow more controlled driver movement - especially at the extremes of the frequency range. In combination with the driver choice, MEE also utilises what they term an “acoustic diffuser” - which uses a series of micro chambers and baffles to control the high frequency sound waves. This is supposed to allow the higher frequencies to resonate before they reach the ear, which leads to detail and clarity, but without the cost of brittleness or harshness. This tech is patented by MEE, and the overall signature (to me anyway) is detailed but smooth – so it does seem to be working.
 
Cables
The cable tech for both included cables (OFC with controls and SPC without) is 4 separate conductors. Twisted pairs to each ear pieces, and combined to a twisted quad below the Y split. The connectors have a rigid rubberised plastic sheathing with L/R embossed appropriately. There is approximately 47 cm from the ear-piece to the Y-split, which is reasonably long (for me hangs just below my sternum). There is not a lot of strain relief at the connectors, and the rest of the cable has a measure of relief (semi rigid rubber at both ends of the Y-split and also the jack). The braid is nice and tight, and when worn over ear the weight of the cable is enough to hold it in place. There is a cinch which is very effective on the premium cable – a little less so on the the remote cable (does not cinch tight).
 
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The OFC cable with remote and in-line mic
The SPC cable
Both cables are brilliantly braided and excellent quality
 
The remote cable with mic has a single push button control which works pretty well with my iPhone 5S, allowing play/pause (one push), next track (two pushes), and previous track (three pushes). A single long push also activates Siri which is really handy. I also tried them with my Wife's Galaxy, and everything worked perfectly except for the previous track (3 pushes) – it simply advanced the track and either paused or played (depending what was active). I also tested the MEE Pinnacle P1 with taking a call (with my wife), and it was reasonably clear at both ends. There was the usual hollow sound on my end due to the isolation and slight bone conduction.
 
The Jack is a right angled gold plated 3.5mm which is very smart-phone case friendly and has good strain relief. Both cables are superbly well built, and exhibit pretty low microphonics when worn over ear.
 
FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION
I have one ear canal slightly different to the other one (my right is very slightly smaller) - so I tend to find that usually single silicon flanges don't fit overly well. I initially tried the large silicone tips included, and they were surprisingly good. I did have some vacuum issues though (too much of a seal). I had more success with Ostry tuning tips, and the nozzle lip easily also allowed use of Spin-fits, Sony Hybrids, Sony Isolation tips (or Trinity Kombis), and both Crystal foams or Comply foams. In the end I used Crystal foams as they gave me the best combo of consistent fit, consistent seal, and no vacuum issues.
 
P119.jpgP120.jpg[size=inherit]P118.jpg[/size]
Ostry tuning tip and Trinity Kombi
Spin-fit and Spiral Dot
My favourite - Crystal foams
 
Isolation is better than average for a dynamic driver (YMMV depending on tips you use), and I've used these in public transport with pretty good success. Comfort for me is absolutely excellent. The MEE Pinnacle P1 are nicely rounded internally, and there are no sharp protruding edges, so after a while they quite literally disappear for me. They sit inside my outer ear, so it is easy to lie on my side with them, and I have no issues sleeping with them intact.
 
ERRATA (BURN IN / CABLE IMPROVEMENTS)
I noticed that when these were first released, there were some comments regarding improvement with burn in, and also with changing the cable. Being the stubborn objectivist, this gave me an ideal opportunity to measure both claims.
 
Burn-in
This was a simple one. Record the frequency response OOTB with my usual measuring equipment, and then take the same measurements 3 months later (after 100 + hours use). The graph is shown below (right channel). There will be some minor variations due to seating on the coupler – but as you can see, any changes are extremely tiny and will be more to do with seating on the measuring equipment. And likewise, you'll get more change from differing insertion depths in your own ears, or use of different tips, than any perceived effects from burn in. So when someone suggests the MEE P1 need burn in – simply smile politely and ignore them :)
 
meep1burnin.png
 
Cable Changes
I suspected that MEEs custom dynamic driver would be pretty stable – especially as far as impedance goes. While I couldn't measure this, I could measure the effect of different cables to see what if any changes there would be. So for this exercise I measured the included OFC and SPC cables, the FiiO RC-SE1B cable (with a balanced to SE adaptor), the ALO Tinsel, and also an OFC Trinity cable. As you can see from the graph below, there were very slight changes in actual volume (which indicates slight changes in impedance of the cables). But when volume matched, the cables all show the same frequency response. So again – if anyone indicates a more expensive cable as giving better sound-stage, vibrancy, bass/mids/treble etc – simply smile, ignore them, and adjust the volume. It should net the same results.
 
P1cablesraw.pngP121.jpg[size=inherit]P1cablesvoladj.png[/size]
Raw data 5 cables
Left to right - FiiO SPC, Trinity OFC, ALO Tinsel SPC, MEE SPC
All cables after volume matching
 
 
SOUND QUALITY
The following is what I hear from the MEE Pinnacle P1. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my X3ii and E17K.
P123.jpg
Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.
 
Thoughts on General Signature
As I outlined above in my comments in the frequency section, the MEE Pinnacle P1 has a mild V or U shaped signature with the main frequency boosts in the mid-bass, and also in the upper mid-range. As such it tends to sound (for me anyway) a little distant through the mid-range, but with a warmish bottom end, and also some sweetness particularly with female vocalists. The comparative dip in the vocal range gives a sense of space or distance, and the relative dip in lower treble ensures there is no excessive sibilance. Overall the MEE P1 is quite natural sounding to me – with a hint of warmth and smoothness.
 
Overall Detail / Clarity
Tracks used: Gaucho, Sultans of Swing, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
 
  1. Good sense of overall tonal balance. Bass is not obtrusive
  2. Good detail retrieval, high level details are there but not overly highlighted
  3. Cymbals have reasonable presence (perhaps slightly muted) but good sense of decay
  4. Guitar is very good with just the right amount of fundamentals and nice edge to notes
  5. Resolution is good but overall the upper end is smooth
 
Sound-stage & Imaging (+ Sibilance)
Tracks used: Tundra, Dante’s Prayer, Let it Rain
 
  1. Spacious sound which gives impression of being slightly projected out of head
  2. Good sense of width and depth. This could be the added sense of note decay at work.
  3. Imaging is very precise and overall separation of instruments is clean
  4. Immersion is excellent (applause section of Dante's Prayer) with impression that crowd is right around you – width is slightly stronger than depth
  5. Some sibilance is revealed in “Let It Rain” - but not overly magnified. It is present in the track anyway, and the MEE P1 does a reasonable job of softening or masking it. The overall holographic nature of the track “Let it Rain” is very well portrayed though – really enjoyable.
 
Bass Quality and Quantity
Tracks used: Bleeding Muddy Water, Royals
 
  1. Mid-bass has good impact without going into excess
  2. Sub-bass slam is just a little flat and not really boomy at all. No signs of bleed into the mid-range of either sub or mid-bass.
  3. Good projection of bass timbre and texture (Mark's vocals in “Muddy Waters”). Mark's vocals have great overall presentation, and I this present well (the dark and broody nature of this blues track) on the MEE P1.
  4. Enough sub-bass for rumble to be audible, but slightly subdued (“Royals”)
  5. Again good separation between mid-bass thump and vocals (“Royals”). Ella's vocals are very clear and slightly euphonic.
 
Female Vocals
Tracks used : Aventine, Strong, For You, Human, The Bad In Each Other, Howl, Safer, Light as a Feather, Don’t Wake me Up, Ship To Wreck.
 
  1. Very good transition from lower-mids to upper-mids (although I would prefer the rise into the upper mids to occur slightly earlier). Aventine was good with sweet vocal presentation and this is often a hard track to get right.
  2. Really nice contrast between vocals and lower pitch of instruments like cello (Aventine).
  3. No signs of stridency, and presented all of my female vocalists extremely well. MEE P1 strikes a good balance between a natural overall sound, with just a touch of upper mid-range colouration.
  4. Very good contrast with rock tracks (Feist, FaTM) with a bit of bass slam.
  5. Particularly good with slower, more soulful vocals (Cilmi - “Safer”)
 
Male Vocals
Track used: Away From the Sun, Art for Art’s Sake, Broken Wings, Hotel California, Keith Don’t Go, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town.
 
  1. Good dynamic slam from the bass
  2. Male vocals have plenty of body and good timbre/texture – and just the perception of a little distance
  3. Seems to be very good with all forms of Rock – and extremely good with acoustic guitar
  4. Portrayed Vedder (Pearl Jam) well. Excellent texture and tonality. Good clarity on cymbals – although again not quite as bright as I am used to.
 
Other Genres
  1. The MEE P1 was good with Alt Rock (Floyd and Porcupine Tree) with good overall balance. The one thing I personally would prefer is just a little more brightness – but this is personal preference only.
  2. Great with both Blues and Jazz and again I'm struck by the overall tonal balance. Again I find the bass practically perfect (very natural sounding), but would prefer just a little more presence up top – but there is still great detail overall. Sax is really smooth (Portico Quartet), and I'm loving the contrast with double bass and cymbals.
  3. Really good with both Hip-hop and Electronic, and very enjoyable with trance (bass is not visceral but it doesn't need to be IMO). Some may prefer more bass impact (particularly sub-bass) with these genres, but to me it doesn't sound the slightest thin or anaemic. Lighter electronic (the Flashbulb) was incredibly good.
  4. Pop was well presented – Adele live at the Albert Hall was very enjoyable and the smoothness even helped a little. Likewise the MEE P1 seems to present Indie brilliantly. The smooth top end seems to really suit some of the hotter recorded Indie artists I like – just toning down some of the recordings while still retaining the overall essence of the recording.
  5. Classical was brilliant with the MEE P1 and I really would recommend them for this genre. The sense of space and both width and depth really captivates larger orchestral pieces. Solo cello (Zoe Keating) was fantastic, and again the overall tonality and sense of balance make listening really easy. My one minor critique is that once again I would personally prefer a little more lower treble (air/presence with violins).
 
AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
The MEE Pinnacle P1 is not an easy load to drive with 50 ohm impedance and 96 dB sensitivity (1 mW at 1 kHz). With normal pop or rock, it is very listenable straight out of my iPhone 5S, but does require about 50% volume to reach my normal listening level (about 65-70 dB). With more dynamic and quietly recorded tracks, it needs a lot more volume, and you could find yourself running out of headroom.
P122.jpg
The MEE P1 is one IEM I would definitely recommend considering the use of additional amplification, or at least a DAP with reasonable output power. All of my dedicated DAPs have no problems driving the P1 though – and it sounded especially good with both the FiiOs and L&P range.
 
COMPARISONS
Please note that these are all very subjective, so please take my personal bias into account (see the “about me” section). When testing, I volume matched first at 1 kHz using an SPL meter and test tones. The MEE Pinnacle P1 was unequalised.
 
MEE Pinnacle P1 $180 vs DUNU Titan 5 $139
P129.jpgmeep1vsTitan5.png
MEE P1 and DUNU Titan 5
Comparative measurements
 
Both are built very well – but the P1 has better overall build quality, fit and isolation. They have similar balance in terms of bass quantity relative to mid-range, and both have an upper mid-range emphasis. The main difference is in terms of lower treble and overall tonality where the Titan5 is a little brighter and cleaner sounding, vs the P1 being warmer and smoother. The Titan5 is obviously quite a bit cheaper, and this will come down to preference.
 
MEE Pinnacle P1 $180 vs Trinity Delta V2 $130
P128.jpgmeep1vsDelta2.png
MEE P1 and Trinity Delta V2
Comparative measurements
 
Again both are built extremely well – but again the P1 has better overall build quality, fit and isolation. For this test I used the gun-metal filters on the Delta, and the two IEMs actually sound incredibly similar. The difference would be that the Delta V2 has a very slightly brighter upper treble (sounds slightly cleaner), but does not sound quite as spacious overall. The main debate here would be the ergonomic fit of the P1 vs the cheaper price and configurable tunability of the Delta V2. For those with larger / wider ears, I do think the Delta V2 is probably the better value – but for those with smaller ears or canals – the P1 is probably the safer option.
 
MEE Pinnacle P1 $180 vs Trinity Sabre $165
P124.jpg
meep1vsSabre.png
MEE P1 and Trinity Sabre
Comparative measurements
 
This one was really interesting because again the MEE P1 sounds very similar to the Sabre in terms of overall tonality – but with the Sabre sounding brighter overall and more vivid. Both have very good build quality, fit and comfort. You get tunability with the Sabre filters vs the slightly better build quality of the P1. Preference for this one comes down to how you prefer your mid-range.
 
MEE Pinnacle P1 $180 vs Alclair Curve2 $249
P126.jpgmeep1vsCurve.png
MEE P1 and Alclair Curve 2
Comparative measurements
 
Moving up the value chain and this time the P1 is up against Alclair's Curve (dual BA). Build quality and overall accessory package goes to the P1 once again – but this time the fit goes to the extremely ergonomic Curve. Sonically both have a smooth and well balanced signature. The difference is mainly in the upper mid-range where the P1 has more emphasis and brings a little more upper end detail. I often EQ my Curve to boost this area, so the added emphasis of the P1 is appreciated.
 
MEE Pinnacle P1 $180 vs DUNU DN2000J $280
 
P127.jpgmeep1vs2000J.png
MEE P1 and DUNU DN-2000J
Comparative measurements
 
So how does the P1 fare against DUNU's 2000J – a triple hybrid (and one of my favourite IEMs sonically). Overall build materials are evenly matched, as is the accessory range provided. The P1 does have the replaceable cables which are of better quality. As far as fit goes, I would take the P1 in a heart-beat. Much more comfortable than the 2000J's cartridge type shells. Sonically the two IEMs are quite different. The P1 appears reasonably balanced but smooth, whereas the 2000J is reasonably balanced but bright. For my tastes, I find the 2000J's bass is faster and cleaner, and I like the transition from lower to upper mids better. The P1 has the better perception of space (sound-stage). Ultimately I prefer the 2000J's overall sonics and brighter signature, but the P1 does sit comfortably at least at the level of its higher priced counterparts – and this is quite an achievement.

MEE PINNACLE P1 – VALUE & SUMMARY

The MEE Pinnacle P1 was a revelation to me, and the thing I find hardest to reconcile is the overall package you get (accessories, build quality, sound signature etc) for such a relatively small outlay.
 
The MEE Pinnacle P1 is extremely well built with an ergonomic over-ear design. The P1 comes with a very good accessory package including a quality case and two cable choices.
 
Sonically the P1 is slightly V shaped but still relatively balanced and quite natural sounding – but on the smooth side of things. It has very good sense of both width and depth and for my tastes was suitable for most genres of music.
 
If I had not known the price, and was judging purely on sonics and overall package, I would have guessed the Pinnacle P1 to be in the $300-$350 bracket. For it to retail at $180-$200 makes it an easy IEM to recommend, and I would have no issues suggesting it as an option to friends or family. For me, the P1 is easily one of the best IEMs (for sonic performance and overall value) I have tried this year.
 
My thanks once again to Mike at MEE and also Alex (Twister6) for recommending that Mike send me a sample.
 
Cmahesh
Cmahesh
If I upgraded to this from my present Sennheiser CX 5.00 will I get a very significant improvement (provided it is driven properly)? 
Brooko
Brooko
Cmahesh - its difficult for me to say, as I haven't heard the CX5.  I would be surprised if there wasn't an improvement though. 
P
Prabin
Can a LG phone drive them? LG g7 to be exact. They're on sale for 110 dollars on massdrop. Would they still be a worthwhile purchase? Or are the newer iems around 100 dollars better?

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