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

SeeSax

Headphoneus Supremus
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 ?

Aornic

Member of the Trade: Acorn Audio
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
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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?

Midgetguy

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Clarity, detail, fit
Cons: Stiff cable, bass-shy for some
About Me:
I'm just your average guy making his way through college with a passing interest in audio fidelity. I'm NOT an audiophile, but I've got a little experience ranging from lower-end products to flagship designs. I don’t make professional reviews and by my own account, I’m not much good at describing what I hear either. But I’ll do my best and we'll just have to see how that goes.
 
Introduction:
MeeAudio has gone through a lot of changes in the past few years. It first started as MEElectronics and it offered budget IEMs with decent build quality. In the past year, it’s gone a bit more upmarket relative to what it used to be, though that doesn’t mean it’s completely deviated from its past self. Now operating under the name MEEAudio, they still offer the same, albeit upgraded, budget options that they used to, but they’re starting to truly focus on better audio quality while still maintaining the value proposition at the core of its products. This started first when they revealed the M6 Pro, a better-tuned version of the their popular M6 IEM with removable cables for only $50. In fact, just about all of their IEM offerings are $50 or less….with one exception. While one usually expects companies with similar roots to gradually build their lineup and work their way into the higher end, MEEAudio figured it had spent enough time in the kiddy pool and wanted to give the big boys a run for their money. Enter the MEEAudio Pinnacle P1: a $200 beautifully-crafted single dynamic driver flagship product.
DSC_2341.jpg
Disclaimer:
I’m not the most eloquent or well versed in describing what I hear, so take my words with a grain of salt. Also keep in mind that everyone hears differently; it’s not bad, it’s not wrong, it’s just different.
I bought the P1 about 4 months ago and have been putting it through the IEM rotation since then.
For this review, the P1 is connected to my iPod Touch 5th gen supplying lossless and 320kbps .mp3 audio files.
 
Packaging and Accessories:
I’ve dealt with MEEAudio a couple times in the past back when they were MEElectronics. My first good IEM was in fact a MEEAudio M11+. I briefly tried an M9 at one point and also have tried the M6. As those were low-end and very budget-friendly, their packaging reflected it. With the P1’s price tag and flagship status, I expected more and MEEAudio did not disappoint.
DSC_2343.jpg
The P1 comes in a beautiful box with the IEM shells set in the foam insert above the very nice magnetic-flapped leather carrying case. Each case has a metal plate on it with the serial number embedded on the front. Classy.
DSC_2346.jpg
In the separate packages are a generous batch of eartips in both silicone and foam, accessories like a ¼” adapter and shirt clip, and 2 braided cables, one with a mic and one without. MEEAudio shot for a flagship IEM and they packaged it like one. The big question would be, can it play with the big boys?
 
Build Quality and Comfort:
I consider myself to have smaller-than-average ears and the P1 sits very comfortably in them. The metal shells are crafted to sit comfortably in the concha of your ear and while the ideal position is to wear it over-ear, it actually does still work to wear it straight down. They do not feel shallow-fit and are most comfortable for me with the included silicone tips as I prefer silicone tips over foam tips. I’ve worn them for hours at a time and had no comfort problems whatsoever. Isolation is above average for a vented dynamic driver IEM due to the ergonomic fit of the shell and the fact that the vent faces inwards towards the ear instead of being exposed to the sounds and passing air of the outside world.
DSC_2349.jpg
The shells are made of zinc alloy and have a lovely polished brushed finish. There is a very obvious seam where the two halves join and while some can count that as a negative point on the build, it really doesn’t bother me at all. The P1’s build is incredibly good compared to other similarly priced IEMs, but it’s even more impressive to me because I personally know the rest of the MEEAudio lineup is made of cheap plastic. Nothing else in their lineup, no matter how sturdy it is, feels even close to the P1 in build quality; it’s amazing to see a company that usually makes plastic budget-oriented models build something that looks and feels like a proper flagship model. The braided cable comes in both mic and non-mic flavors, both included in the box. Microphonics are nearly non-existent with either cable. The non-mic cable has a cinch above the y-split for those who want to keep the IEMs more securely on their head. It’s also useful seeing that neither of the P1’s cables have memory wire. Memory wire works for a lot of people, but it really doesn’t work for me and my glasses. This is one thing that I was very happy about. The detachable cables use 3.5mm plugs and MMCX connectors which aren’t proprietary as far as I can tell so you can use whatever MMCX cable you feel like. Overall, the fit and finish of the P1 is nothing less than top-notch in my mind.
 
Sound Quality:
Let’s be honest, this section is gonna be kind of a mess so I’ll keep it short, but hopefully informative. I’m not able to describe sound very well and what I can describe is only going to make sense if your mental references of all the terms are similar to what I’ve got going on in my head. Nevertheless, let’s give it a shot anyway.
DSC_2638.jpg
To my ears, the P1 has a very neutral tuning, very much in line with their marketing actually. Is it stark flat neutral? Nope. I don’t personally think that anything can be objectively flat neutral and sound right to our ears. So for my definition of neutral, I prefer the idea of realistic neutral. The P1 falls in line with this and brings to the table impressive soundstage, excellent detail, and clarity. What MEEAudio has done a good job of is making a neutral-tuned IEM that’s still musical rather than analytical.
 
The highs of these are incredibly good. They’re crisp, clear, and extend well, but still avoid sibilance. Tonal balance is excellent and notes are precise and accurate. Acoustic tracks are very good with the P1 as are band pieces. Tank! by The Seatbelts from the Cowboy Bebop OST is punchy and involving. Instruments are clearly differentiated but mix together well and imaging is fantastic.
 
The story is much the same with the mids in my opinion. Resolving, not recessed, musical. Presentation here with string-based instruments is top-notch and has the same air of clarity present in the highs.
 
Bass response is very important to me not only because much of the music I listen to depends on it to be interesting and engaging, but because the lower registers serve to keep other frequencies in a sort of check, balancing presentation and adding a certain cohesiveness. The P1 is a dynamic driver IEM and in my mind, dynamic driver IEMs are often associated with high bass response. That’s not the case with the P1. It has a very neutral helping of bass. This is where my own definition relating to neutral comes in. I’m fairly certain that the P1’s bass would measure as higher than neutral, but as I said, that would probably sound wrong to our ears, hence the idea of realistic neutral which I think applies to the P1. The bass isn’t elevated, it isn’t bloated, and it’s very well controlled. It reminds me of the speed of balanced armature bass, but it doesn’t have the analytical feel of it. While it feels quick like BA bass, it has the texture and tone of dynamic driver bass. Quantity-wise, it’s very polite and for me, that’s not quite enough. That doesn’t take anything away from the P1’s ability to create quality bass, just that it doesn’t create it in high enough quantities for the music I mostly listen to.
 
Music/songs used during the review:
Rumours (feat. Mark Johns) by Gnash
Halo 3 OST by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori
Clear (feat. Mothica) by Pusher
Cowboy Bebop OST by The Seatbelts
Sunday Morning by Maroon 5
Neon Cathedral (feat. Allen Stone) by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Ants by edIT
25 to Life by Eminem
Kick, Push by Lupe Fiasco
Freaks and Geeks by Childish Gambino
Flynn Lives by Daft Punk
Stop and Stare by OneRepublic
Shoot to Thrill by AC/DC
Lost Stars by Adam Levine
Beyond Monday by The Glitch Mob
Darling VIP (feat. Missio) by Said the Sky
 
Conclusion:
MEEAudio has created an IEM they can be proud to call their flagship model. It’s packaged like one and it certainly looks the part. With its clear and realistically neutral presentation in addition to the excellent imaging and one of the largest soundstages I’ve heard in an IEM, the P1 impresses enough to easily justify its $200 price tag. It may not be a complete winner for me as it’s a little weak for my musical tastes in terms of bass quantity, but the detail and clarity coming out of MEEAudio’s single dynamic driver Pinnacle P1 easily makes it worthy of its flagship status. Thumbs up from this guy.
M
MarioSalvado
Nice casual review!
Can you help me. I’m looking for a pair of IEMs, can you help me choose between the Pinnacle p1 and the Fidue A83. I listen mainly rock, hard rock, heavy metal. My current setup is ibasso DX80 and Senn HD600.
Midgetguy
Midgetguy
@MarioSalvado, really sorry I didn't see this a month ago. If you're still looking at those options, are you more for treble and clarity? While the A83 gave me good vibes for acoustic and vocals, I feel that the P1 would do a better job handling those genres.
Focux
Focux
Managed to find this for abt USD140, worth it? Was contemplating the FiiO F9 as well for this price range but I’ve just picked up the AK Billie Jean lolol =S
Pros: Sound Excellent. Acoustically very multi-talented. Look great.
Cons: That treble takes no prisoners if you feed it crap. It’s power hungry.
MEE audio Pinnacle P1 Earphone Quick Review by mark2410
 
Thanks to MEE audio for the sample
 
Full review here http://www.head-fi.org/t/816397/mee-audio-pinnacle-p1-earphone-review-by-mark2410
 
Brief:  MEE takes aim at the big boys.
 
Price :  US$200 or £180 (though I did also spot for £155)
 
Specifications:  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 Specifications, 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)
 
Accessories:  stereo audio cable, headset cable, shirt clip, silicone ear tips (6 pairs), Comply foam ear tips (3 pairs), ¼” adapter, carrying case
 
Build Quality:  It would appear to be rather excellent.  The buds look are feel very nice as do the cables.  Notable that the cables are all user replaceable so if you do manage to kill them, new cable and your away again.
 
Isolation:  Excellent.  For a dynamic, these isolate like a good BA does which is very, very rare in a dynamic based IEM.  You could easily use these for out and about, on a bus, a Tube commute or long flight.  Naturally that means you won’t hear the instrument of your death until its by bone conduction.  Remember people, you need to watch where you’re going near traffic.
 
Comfort/Fit:  Great.  Despite being sealed dynamics I had no driver flex, no air pressure issues, nothing.  In they went and I was done.  Happy to wear all day long.
 
Aesthetics:  They look pretty damn lush if you ask me.  Now I have seen prettier earphones but not many.  These look as good as they feel in your hard.
 
Sound:  Wonderful.  They are really rather generalist in their nature being able to turn their hand instantly, and with equal skill to anything.  They are very natural sounding in their balance, so that means they are boosted to compensate for human perceptions.  Never bass dominant though.  The mids are a little back a way but their clarity is outstanding, faintly dry, but their instrument separation makes them stand alone, so much direct clarity.  The space to breathe properly too, give such an open feel to vocals.  The treble, oh they do rather shine a bit here.  Not just because they like to be a smidge bright, they have that metallic enclosure and there is a highly crisp metallic bight to the initial note impact.  For me these while most impressive, was a little edgy, a little hard on my delicate ears.  So I felt the need to stick to slightly warmer sources and only to tracks with high bit rates and well mastered treble.  A bright source and low bit rate crap, yeah you really don’t want to do that.  However given their price you will want to be feeding them well anyway.  On that subject, you’ll also want to feed them lots of power.  These are high impedance for an IEM and relatively insensitive.  They still sound good out of your crappy phone but seriously, feed them well and you’ll be generously rewarded.
 
Value:  Lovely.  Sure they aren’t super cheap but you get a great bundle, a great product not just in its physical build quality but in its acoustic talents.  It is a very talented little thing and it can play on the same field with other earphones that cost considerably more.
 
Pro’s:  Sound Excellent.  Acoustically very multi-talented.  Look great.
 
Con’s:  That treble takes no prisoners if you feed it crap.  It’s power hungry.
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thatBeatsguy

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Amazing look. Amazing feel. Amazing sound. Amazing everything.
Cons: None that can be considered.


Intro​



TL;DR: They’re no Noble Kaiser 10s, but at this price, they might as well be. They’re the absolute greatest earphones I’ve ever heard so far.

Before I begin, I would like to sincerely thank Mike at for sending me the Pinnacle P1 in exchange for my honest opinion. Please note that I am neither affiliated with or any of its staff, nor am I being paid to write this review. All opinions and photos shown in this review are my own unless otherwise specified. Finally, please take the opinions expressed here with a grain of salt. Thanks!

The MEE Pinnacle P1 is ’s first flagship IEM, born after two and a half years of development. The P1 is the culmination of all the experience has gained over the past several years, and serves as their obra maestra – their masterpiece. I have been chosen as one of the lucky few to be given a sample of said masterpiece, and I will say from the get go that they are truly worth their weight in gold. Yes, they are amazing, but if that's the case, a question arises which I will answer today: just how good is the P1? Read on and find out.



== Aesthetics ==​


Packaging, Accessories​



Like a lot of things in life, an earphone’s first impressions often make lasting impressions. And what better way to make a powerful first impression than to make the very packaging look and feel as luxurious as the earphones themselves?



You don't need to open the package to know just how amazing it's going to be. All the marketing pitches laid over the box will tell you everything you need to know about what you're going to be dealing with. I mean, just look at it. Slide out the cardboard sheath and you're greeted by an all-black inner box that looks expensive and feels expensive. Open the two magnetically-locked doors and out comes a choir of angels announcing the arrival of the Pinnacle P1 to its new owner. (Okay, no, there won’t be a choir of angels, but you get the idea).

Past the doors are the P1 housings set in a foam cut-out, with smaller boxes housing the eartips and the two braided SPC cables (more on this in the next section). Under the foam cut-out is the 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter and the instruction manual. Oh yeah, and they come with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty in case something goes wrong.


Design, Build, Microphonics​

I'm pretty sure that only very few people in this world – if any – will look at the P1 and say it looks unattractive. Because by God, the P1 is by far the most beautiful piece of audio gear I've seen in the flesh. Their die-cast zinc alloy housings are coated with a brushed metallic finish, creating a lustre I more often see in jewellery than in earphones (although in fairness they do look and feel like jewellery for the ears). I could ramble on forever about just how beautiful these IEMs are. My pictures don't do them justice. Not even close.




And if you thought these beauties would break like a sterling silver mirror, that's where you'd be wrong. The Pinnacle P1 is incredibly durable – arguably the most durable IEM I have in my entire collection. From their zinc alloy housings to their heavy-duty Y-split and connectors to their bafflingly tough braided SPC (silver-plated copper cables, they can take on falls, impacts, and cable yanks and come out in better condition than any of the components of your portable rig combined. Oh, and don't get me started on this cable. Not only is it incredibly tough, it also lacks any inclination to tangle and makes near zero cable noise. They're so good that I feel the only IEM cables I've seen that are built better are those from CIEMs and ludicrously-priced cables from companies like Moon Audio or AudioQuest.








Fit, Comfort, Isolation​



One of the key selling points of the P1 that was revealed when the P1 was first announced sometime last year was the IEMs’ capability to be worn comfortably and securely in two different ways. So unlike most IEMs which are designed be worn specifically around the ear or straight down, the P1 is designed to be worn either way and still fit comfortably (bringing a fresh spin to the term “universal fit” if I might add). Until release I mostly wondered how MEE would pull it off, but now that I do have it here, let me just say that I’m blown away by the results.



Yes, you can wear them straight down or around the ear. Even now I'm still amazed at how flawlessly they fit however way you wear them. Secure, snug, and comfortable – you really can't have it any other way.



== Sound ==​


Specs​


Headphone Type
Closed-back in-ear monitor
Driver Type
10mm dynamic, CCAW voice coil
Frequency Response
20 – 20,000 Hz
Max. Input Power
N/A
Sensitivity
96 ± 3 dB (1 mW at 1,000 Hz)
Impedance
50 Ω at 1,000 Hz
Weight
N/A
Cable
1.3m (51”) braided silver-plated copper (SPC) cables
Connectors
MMCX to 3.5mm (1/8”) gold-plated male-to-male connectors
Accessories
1x MMCX-to-3.5mm (1/8") silver-plated copper cable
1x MMCX-to-3.5mm (1/8") headset cable
1x 3.5mm to 6.3mm (1/8" to 1/4") adapter
3x sets single-flange silicone eartips (S/M/L)
2x sets double-flange silicone eartips (S/M)
1x set triple-flage silicone eartips (M)
3x sets Comply T-400 foam eartips (S/M/L)
Shirt clip
Leather carrying case





Equipment, Burn-in​

The source equipment used for the majority of this review is my 5th-generation iPod Touch, and a Schiit Fulla hooked up to a laptop for the amp test. The EQ software used in its respective test is TuneShell on iOS and Viper4Windows on PC. As always, my test tracks are available here, although I will link specific songs in the assessment for a more direct point of reference. I've clocked in at least 50 hours of listening time on the P1 to test for any changes through burn-in. No noticeable changes were found.






Sound Quality​

Bass:

The Pinnacle P1 is the first IEM I've reviewed in a long time that didn't blow me away. And by “blow me away” I mean make a first impression that consists solely of bass. Instead, what it does leave is a unique combination of smoothness, coherency, and balance that sounds absolutely beautiful. The P1 doesn’t boast incredibly deep extension or incredibly fast decay, but it just presents the low-end so plainly and smoothly that everything simply sounds just as it should be, reproduced to the finest detail. Whether it be the smooth, sublime upright bass of John Robert Matz’s “Electric Fedora” or Haywyre’s fierce, aggressive bass synth in “Sculpted,” the Pinnacle P1 makes short work of both of them, sounding beautifully along the way.





Midrange:

I have reviewed quite a few earphones over the years with exceptional midrange performance, but few were able to reproduce tone and timbre like the Pinnacle P1. I don’t think I’ve heard Sungha Jung’s “Fanoe” played with a tone so delicately precise and detailed until the P1. From the fingers’ contact with the strings to the resonance of each beautiful note – the only experience more realistic and emotionally expressive than this would practically be listening to the song played live right in front of you. The same goes for pianos, synthesisers, vocals, strings, and everything else in the book. Trust me, I took the time to listen to my entire test tracks list, and not one song sounded short of great. Not one. WRLD’s Chase It EP? Amazing. Coeur de Pirate’s Child of Light soundtrack? Fantastic. The Carpenters’ The Ultimate Collection? Absolutely spectacular.





Treble:

I’ll admit, I’ve never really appreciated an IEM for its treble until the Pinnacle P1 arrived. I guess that’s because I’ve never heard treble that extends so smoothly and rings so true until the P1. I don’t think I’ve ever heard cymbals sound so vibrant and crisp while having nary a tinge of sharpness. I’ve seen some users report some sharpness straight out of the box – this is usually because the ears aren’t used to such a treble response. I found the included Comply foam tips to do the trick – that and some time to actually get used to the sound.







Soundstage/Presentation:
The DUNU Titan 1 has the largest soundstage in an IEM that I’ve ever heard – and to this day, it kinda still does. The Pinnacle P1 is more than capable of coming really close in terms of size, though. However, the P1 does take the title of having one of the most realistic presentations of any IEM I’ve ever heard in my entire life, so much that even Daft Punk’s studio-recorded Random Access Memories sound like it was played live.




Genre Proficiency:

It takes skill to make music, but it takes true talent to move someone with it. The same goes for IEMs with balanced signatures – it’s one thing to simply be able to play everything, but making everything sound amazing at the same time is a whole different ball game. What the Pinnacle P1 can do truly is a whole different ball game. I couldn’t really believe my ears when I found myself listening for the fifth straight hour in the middle of the night. I thought the P1 would simply lull me to sleep with its meticulously reproduced melodies, but instead I was captivated more by just how amazing it sounded.




Summary:

Simply put, the Pinnacle P1 is a spectacular IEM. Even with raised expectations, these single 10mm dynamic drivers were more than able to exceed those expectations and then some. I’ve reviewed a few other IEMs that left a similar impression (we’ll cover those in the Comparison section), but when the P1 plays, it performs. When it performs, it impresses. And when it impresses, it blows away.






Other Media​

Games:

For gaming performance in audio gear, there are two common sides to the performance scale: fun and competitive, which should be self-descriptive enough. Surprisingly, though, the P1 seems to sit somewhere right in the very middle. Their smooth, natural tonal balance gives them a relaxed yet engagingly fun experience, while their excellent separation and spatial rendering provides the gamer with quite a bit of an edge in the game if used correctly.





Movies:

The cinematic experience is something a lot of IEMs fall short trying to achieve. Most IEMs would usually lack the ability to render a large space or lack bass power. The P1 does neither. I'll admit, it's the second IEM that has truly impressed me in terms of movie experience.






Amp & EQ Response​

Despite having a relatively high impedance figure of 50 ohms, the P1 can be driven to high volumes even with low-power sources such as an iPod. Heck, I was even able to use the radio from a Nokia 105 and it sounded just fine. But even so, the P1 does scale up with better source components. I found hooking them up to the Schiit Fulla improved their midrange clarity, refined the bass further, and gave it an overall leaner sound.



The P1 is surprisingly responsive to some EQ tweaks, and will easily handle a bass boost to most software EQs’ distortion limits. And given their already balanced tuning, this allows the P1 to be much more flexible sonically.






Value​

The Pinnacle P1 retails for $199 at their official website. Considering the fact that most of my reviews involve IEMs priced equal to or below 100 dollars, doubling that amount is quite a bit of a tall order for anyone looking to buy such an IEM. But let's think about it for a second: is 200 dollars too much for a single-driver masterpiece with silver-plated copper cables, die-cast zinc alloy housings, and a sound so beautiful that it has moved me to complete and utter speechlessness? I don’t think so; in fact, I think it’s an outright bargain.



Comparison​

Versus Master & Dynamic ME03 ($160):


The ME03 has remained one of my favourites for a very long time – until now, they have maintained their place in my collection as the one earphone with the perfect balance of form and function. Of course, the key words here are “until now.” Yes, the Pinnacle P1 makes short work of them – I would gladly pay the extra $40 for the luxury, the fit, the sound, and everything that comes with it. Genuine leather case? Machined metal housings? Luxurious presentation? Both earphones have them all, but what about the sound? Both earphones share a similar sound signature, with balanced emphasis throughout the frequency range. But where the ME03 excels in its smoother, more neutral sound, the P1 edges out with better extension on both ends, a crystal-clear midrange, and more detail throughout.




Versus DUNU Titan 1 ($130):

So at this point it's obvious that the P1 is by far the best I've ever heard, but we've one more earphone left that can challenge the P1 and leave a few marks, and this earphone is the DUNU Titan 1. This titanium-armed beast looks good, feels good, and sounds amazing. Where the P1 digs low, the Titan digs lower; where the P1 claps high, the Titan claps higher; but where the Titan’s titanium-coated drivers sound tonally metallic, the P1 just sounds incredibly realistic.




== Conclusion ==​





The Pinnacle P1 is like a master symphony – one composed by the likes of Beethoven and played by the greatest orchestra around. Everything about it is just executed so incredibly well. Its design is impeccable; its form luxuriously exquisite; and its sound absolutely fantastic. As I said in the TL;DR, they’re the best earphones I’ve ever heard in my life, and no amount of praise will be able to measure up to its true beauty. They’re an earphone that you have to hear at least once in your life, and an earphone that sounds good enough and lasts long enough to keep for life.



Category
Score
Comment
Packaging, Accessories

10/10​
Luxurious packaging and a comprehensive set of accessories make for a perfect complement to an excellent earphone.
Design, Build, Microphonics

10/10​
The P1 screams luxury from every angle. Exquisite materials, top-notch construction, and an amazingly-built removable cable make for a stunningly functional package.
Fit, Comfort, Isolation

8.5/10​
MEE’s uniquely crafted housings are designed to be worn two different ways – and they pull it off with excellent comfort and monitor-like isolation.
Microphone

N/A​

Bass

9/10​
The P1’s low end response is like water – free-flowing and flexible, able to be as aggressive or as delicate as the recording demands.
Midrange

10/10​
Their midrange is absolutely heavenly – in my almost four years of reviewing, this has got to be one of the best, if not the best, I've ever heard so far.
Treble

9/10​
With impeccable extension and a sublime crispness, it's definitely one of the best I've heard from my entire collection.
Presentation

9/10​
An expansive soundstage and precise positioning makes for an impressively realistic reproduction that just blows me away.
Gaming, Movies

9/10​
I can't have it any better, really. All the ingredients in the P1’s sonic mixture just works so well for everything.
Amp & EQ Response

9/10​
The P1 in this regard is like a fine tenderloin steak with all the right flavours – but if you want it, they’ll still taste great with a bit extra spice.
Value

9.5/10​
Yes, they cost 200 dollars. But yes, they sound like 200 dollars. Or even more, depending on your expectations.
Total

9.3/10​
They’re not the end-all, be-all of my audio journey, but considering that it’ll be a while before I get to hear any better, the Pinnacle P1 might as well be.


Suggestions for Improvement

One does not simply improve upon perfection.



Shout-Outs, Gallery

Again, huge thank-you to Mike and the MEE team for allowing me to review such a beauty. It’s been a crazy past couple of months, and with school in full swing, I wasn’t able to post this review back in June as it should’ve been.






Changelog

B9Scrambler
B9Scrambler
Amazing review! What an enjoyable and informative read.

Deftone

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: 3D soundstage, exceptional clarity, resolution, detail.
Cons: Can sound slighty congested playing very fast music without an amp.
Pakaging and accessories
The pinnacle comes in a luxury presentation box that opens outwards from the middle, upon opening the box you are greeted with the housing themselfs nestled in a good quality foam. Underneath there is leather carry pouch with a soft lined inside and a serial numbered metal badge (one of the better cases i have seen at this price) 2 cables are included, 1 with and 1 without a microphone and a medium sized selection of tips.

01.jpg
 

 
Sound
Using a scale format, this is the results from using the P1 straight from a Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone 
 
LL1.jpg
Treble
Harsh |------|----o-| Smooth
 
Mids
Forward |------|o-----| Recessed
 
Bass
Boomy |------|---o--| Controlled
 
Dynamics
Compressed |------|--o---| Natural                                                                   
 
Detail/Resolution
Dull |------|---o--| Vivid
 
Transparency
Veiled |------|--o---| Clear
 
Soundstage 
Small |------|---o--| Large
 
Speed
Slow |------|o----| Fast
 
Cohesion
Poor |------|---o--| Excellent
 

 
Soundstage - its the first thing that stood out on the p1. its huge in all three directions, height, width and depth. I have not heard this kind of soundstage expansion in an iem at this price level before only on the £660 Sennheiser IE800, its rivaling or beating full sized open back headphones.
 
Treble - i would describe it as crispy but smooth treble, very clear and free of grain. Meeaudio have performed some audio magic here inside the housings because the way the treble is filtered before it hits your ears means you get a vibrant extended high end without the harshness. cymbal hits really do sound excellent with natural decay and high levels of details and clarity all throughout this area.
 
Mids - with slower more simple music with less instruments the mids are open, clear and spacious but when you put on some death metal with double bass, 3 guitars etc it starts to sound a bit congested like a veil was suddenly added. This is where i knew some power was needed, it was time to plug in the fiio E12A, the electric guitars started to cut through the veil in the lower midrange with their own space now becoming detailed layers instead of fuzz. Guitar bite and agression is excellent.
 
Bass -  not a lot to say here as my preferences tend to be towards bass lean headphones, with that said thoughnthe bass is tight and punchy with good weight and texture, sub bass is there just dont expect bottomless sub bass extension here like ie800 the p1 keeps everything well under control, no flab here!
 
Detail - the amount of fine detail the p1 puts out is astonishing, resolution and micro detail is on the level of good balanced armatures.
 

 
And again these are my results when paired with the Chord Mojo 
LL.jpg  
 
Treble
Harsh |------|-----o| Smooth
 
Mids
Forward |-----o|------| Recessed
 
Bass
Boomy |------|-----o-| Controlled                                                              
                               
Dynamics
Compressed |------|-----o| Natural
 
Detail/Resolution
Dull |------|----o-| Vivid
 
Transparency
Veiled |------|----o-| Clear
 
Soundstage 
Small |------|---o--| Large 
 ​
 
 
Conclusion - this is the best single dynamic driver iem i have heard under £500, very well built and worth every penny. Premium sound for a fair price.

 

 

Pros: Clear, transparent sound, detailed, tight measured bass, sveldt and sexy metal shell, top tier price to performance ratio, brilliant accessories
Cons: Power hungry to get full performance, can be a touch bright

Acknowledgment   

Thanks @Tony-Hifi at HiFi Headphones for letting me participate in the UK tour. It was fun as always. The Pinnacle is available from HiFi Headphones for £179 (no guess what that is in dollars, Brexit, after all).

 

Introduction

I’ve been hearing about MEE products for years! I don’t know why it has taken me so long to hear one in these ears of mine. I’ve recommended them to neophytes based on @ljokerl’s IEM thread—the place where my audio journey kicked off on HeadFi—and in other recommendations. In the past I’ve recommended some MEE headphones to friends who’ve been buying crappy $10 fashion headphones found next to dental rot sugar bombs from abusive multinational corporations, and then replacing them with similarly devoid of value offerings from other grocery and corner store counters. I’ve made these recommendations without hearing them, which is stupid, and the people I’ve advised haven’t listened, which is fitting given that they must have an unmitigated wax disaster in their ears if they think ‘fashion’ buds sound OK. Friends don’t let friends buy their headphones at a Tesco-Express counter.
 
Now I’ve gotten to finally hear a MEE product, and boy am I glad. I feel like slapping high-fives round the neighbourhood. I didn’t expect this Chinese company I’d never heard before to metaphorically palm the basketball that is my little melon head and ears, much less put up a Nate Robinson-esque 360 windmill slam-dunk of a pair of headphones—from Seattle to Shenzen, high fives all around. I came into this review expecting competence. What I got was a set of IEMs that ended up being my favourite among IEMs that I have on hand and view very favourably, and among my favourites that I've listened to this year. I’m stunned and overjoyed.
 
0.jpg

 
Like most sensible people I started falling in love with music as a child. My first portable audio device was a Sony Walkman (the cassette kind) that I got when I was 10 years old (24 years ago).  I listened with the cheap Sony on ears that came with the Walkman until I bought a Koss CD boombox and started listening to UAF College Radio and 103.9 (alternative rock at the time) in Fairbanks, Alaska. I once listened to Louie Louie for 3 days straight, and I’m not insane. My musical tastes started out with listening to what my friends liked (Dr. Dre and Green Day) and what my parents liked (The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan) and I only really discovered my own musical tastes and sonic preferences in my late teens to early 20s. What I discovered is that I have very eclectic and some would say weird tastes. I could be listening to gay punk rock, Japanese dream garble pop, 8-bit chiptune, Scandinavian black metal, Latin guitar, the Mariinsky Orchestra, or Miles Davis, but I mostly listen to Classic Rock and Indie/Alternative. I’m a big fan of intelligent hip-hop like Metermaids, Kendrick Lamar and Aesop Rock, also.
 
I tend to like headphones and gear that are all-around performers, this generally means a balanced or neutral sound. If I have to choose between warm and bright, I’ll choose bright almost every time. A few screechy high notes are preferable to me than a foggy unfocused bass guitar. I somehow never manage to have much money, so I don’t want to buy infinity headphones to switch between my myriad genres that I play. I can hear all the way down to 10hz and all the way up to 23Khz—these are what I’ve heard doing test tones on headphones. It has been a long time since I had a test with an audiologist. I’m sensitive to peaky treble but do enjoy smooth extended treble. I like deep rich tight bass and impactful drums, and dislike upper midbass emphasis.  I like my vocals crisp, so stay away from Josh Tillman’s voice you nasty upper midbass hump.  I hear soundstage better than just about anything I identify in music, but my words haven’t caught up to my ears. I listen at volume levels that others consider loud (72 to 75 dB), but I just set it to where the dynamics peak. I’m not here to shatter my eardrums. I like them just how they are.
 
I generally don’t believe in using EQ, not even for inexpensive headphones, especially in reviews. I won’t claim that I haven’t done it, but I generally try to avoid it.
 
I’m a firm believer that cables can make a difference, but I don’t think they always do. When I tried out Toxic Cables line, none of them had labels and the cheapest looking one was the one I liked the best. I was excited that I wouldn’t have to spend much to improve my sound. It turned out that the cheapest looking one was the Silver/Gold top of the line cable. I’ve heard the difference that USB cables can make, from upgrading from the crappy cable that came with my Geek Out 1000 to a Supra USB, and then again when upgrading to the LH Labs Lightspeed 2G with the iUSB3.0. When I picked up a cheap shielded power lead from Mains Cables R Us (who also sell iFi gear) to replace my standard kettle lead on my amplifier, I heard more crunchy and clearer treble. I switched the leads with my wife blinded and she heard the same difference. I didn’t tell her what I heard and let her describe it herself. But cables don’t always make a difference. When I switched from my standard HD650 cable to a custom balanced cable (Custom Cans UK, very affordable), the sound stayed exactly the same when hooked up via a top tier (custom made by @dill3000 silver/gold) 4-pin XLR to 6.3mm converter. Balanced mode made a difference in clarity and blackness of background. Your mileage may vary and you may not hear a difference, but I have.

 

Vital Statistics (specs from manufacturers and distributors)

In this section of my reviews I try to let the manufacturer’s story about their product be told. For the MEE Pinnacle, I’ve taken the information from HiFi Headphones and MEE Audio’s site. HiFi Headphones often does as well or better than the manufacturer in telling the story of a product. HiFi Headphones has this to say about the Pinnacle:
 
Pinnacle is more than a name - it is a statement that identifies the P1 in-ear earphones as the result of two years of design, engineering, and refinement. With its proprietary acoustic design and innovative zinc-alloy construction, the MEE Audio Pinnacle P1 delivers a timeless combination of beauty and performance.
 
To improve performance at the extremes of the frequency range the Pinnacle P1 utilises a proprietary 10mm moving coil driver with 50Ω impedance. The dynamic driver delivers a full-bodied bass note and slightly warm tonal character while retaining high levels of resolution and refinement. Using a dedicated audio source or amplifier designed for higher-impedance headphones can further improve the listening experience of the Pinnacle P1 heapdhones.
 
Built to last, the Pinnacle P1 is made of a zinc alloy that is stronger than aluminium and lighter than stainless steel and features interchangeable, replaceable cables with MMCX connectors. The unique ergonomic design can be worn one of two different ways and fits all ears comfortably.
The snug in ear fit blocks outside noise, preventing interruptions and protecting your hearing by allowing lower-volume listening. Comply T-Series memory foam eartips are included to further increase noise isolation for a superior audio experience.
 
On Mee Audio’s website they also note that the Pinnacle will sound best with CD quality or better audio and that they designed the driver to reduce moving mass. If you’ve watched Jude’s video on the new Focal line-up (well worth a watch), you know that lower moving mass allows for faster full frequency range response. Further, Mee Audio had this to say about the shell:
 
ACOUSTIC DIFFUSER
A proprietary sound chamber and damping scheme provide the best balance of treble extension and smooth-in-the-ear response. The P1’s patented acoustic diffuser takes advantage of the directional nature of treble (high frequency) sound waves, forcing select frequencies to resonate before reaching the ear to ensure coherency and smoothness. This effectively improves the detailing and high-frequency extension of the P1 without adding harshness, resulting in treble that is extended and energetic, but also smooth for a more realistic sound with improved detail resolution and handling of spatial cues.
 
 
Insidethediffuser.jpg
 
 
Specifications
 
Driver
10mm dynamic, with copper clad aluminum voice coil
Frequency response
20Hz - 20kHz
Impedance
50Ω
Sensitivity
96dB
Cable length
1.3m
Cable Connector
MMCX, 3.5mm, right angle plugs
Max input power
5mW
Microphone frequency response
100Hz - 5kHz
Microphone sensitivity
-40dB
Accessories
Detachable braided silver plated copper cable, detachable microphone cable, 3 sets Comply T-200 memory foam eartips, 6 sets of silicone eartips, shirt clip, 6.35mm stereo jack adapter, premium carrying case with laser-etched serial number
Warranty
2 year manufacturer warranty
 

 

Form & Function

First, I’d like to say that the Pinnacle came with serious presentation quality packaging. If you want to impress someone with a gift and are flush enough to just give away $200 pairs of headphones, MEE will make you look like a savant of gift-giving. Chris Kringle ain’t got nothing on you—he better put that red two-piece away. The box has a white outer sleeve with photos, text, specs and all that jazz. Lift the wrapper off and inside is illicit unboxing video porn, NSFW.  You are greeted by a high quality heavy linen finish card box that opens like a DeLorean that’s upside down, but meant to be that way. Like it’s barrel rolling in James Bond stunt at the apex, freeze-framed on the silver screen. Suffice to say I was impressed. I’ve opened up cases to much more expensive IEMs that weren’t as impressive.
 
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Inside the box, there are two further boxes, each labelled with their contents and some thoughtfully organised compartments, with the obligatory IEM showcase insertion points. The leather magnetic clasp case looks up at you, announcing with a shiny metal placard your Pinnacle’s serial number and crying “hear ye, hear ye, here there quality be.” The two labelled boxes contain the MMCX cables in one, including one with microphone; and eartips in the other. A good assortment of eartips was included, including three sizes of comply foamies. I didn’t use the microphone cable as I don’t listen on my phone and hate interruptions in my music. Music time is me time, or MEE time in this case. The selection of tips was good, but I found that I liked the Pinnacle best with Spinfits—I’m finding that I like almost all of my headphones best with Spinfits, my second favourite tips were the stock single flange silicone tips. Can someone send me a bucket of medium Spinfits? It would be much appreciated. So little time to review, and switching tips is such a hassle—I need to satisfy my inner Garfield while growing into my outer Garfield. The Spinfits firm up the low end a little bit and make the treble crisper, which I like. I took observations with various tips, I’ll try to reference which tips are being used along the way.
 
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The Pinnacle is lightweight with an easy nozzle angle for wearing the cable up. The product info advertises that it can be worn down, but this felt really awkward when I tried it. The cable has a premium feel and good weight. The braiding effectively prevents tangles, and the weight of the cable helped stop it from bouncing around too much. I didn’t notice microphonics when walking, but I also didn’t do any vigourous action with the Pinnacle in my ears—inner and outer Garfield intact. While the fit is good, it is no match for my best fitting IEM, the Trinity Audio Atlas. It is no shame to be second to the Atlas in fit as the Atlas fit like a pair of handmade sheepskin moccasins fit your December feet when the cabin fire has long since died out and the slate floor might as well be an ice-hockey rink. The Trinity Atlas are that friggin' comfortable—you just want to snuggle up with them in the cold winter night.
 
When inspecting the IEMs, the screens covering the bores appear to be glued on and are a fine mesh with a small lip. I’d be careful when doing tip switches and cleaning the screens.
 
Now the moment you've been waiting for, illicit unbox photos!
 
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Audio quality

I had nothing but impressive experiences with these, the packaging was prophesy of my listening experience. For this review I used the following gear: iBasso DX50, LH Labs Geek Out V2, Spinfit tips, Comply foamies, stock tips. I listened to a lot of music, staying up till 3am with these beauties on one night. My wife asked me if I was coming to bed at about 1AM and I told her I’d sleep in the office—I should note there is a bed in the office. That is how much I was liking these.
 
First things first, I tried these with several tips, and found that Spinfits worked the best. Comply was a bit soft and not as well defined as the stock tips or Spinfits. The stock tips were a little bright in the treble and not as good on the bass as the Spinfits. I love Spinfits, and they had the clearest crispiest treble and best bass definition of the tips I tried, so most of my impressions will be with Spinfits mated to the pinnacle nozzle.
 
Second things second—has anyone ever said that? I think I’ll claim it; these demand a lot of power. When I played them through the DX50, they needed high gain and high volume to reach full performance capabilities. On the Geek Out V2, I was driving the Pinnacle at 50% volume in the 1000mW setting. For reference, I listen to the HD600 at about 65%, and most IEMs I listen on the 100mW (low gain) setting. Don’t try to drive these out of your cellular or a weak-sauce amplifier, it’s a waste of a good audio meal. It’s like asking for ketchup with your bistecca alla fiorentina (best darn steak in the world, sorry Brazil, Argentina, New York)—don’t be a heathen.
 
For my listening tracks I whipped out old review catalogue favourites and a couple tracks I love but haven’t been review tracks. On the beaten path, so to speak, were:
  1. Eagles – Hotel California (DCC Gold),
  2. Father John Misty – The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apartment,
  3. Keith Greeninger – The Harder That We Love (DSD128, off Live at the Fenix),
  4. Unleash the Archers – General of the Dark Army
  5. Dragonforce – Heroes of Our Time
  6. Charles Mingus – Eat that Chicken
 
On the other road in a yellow wood:
  1. Beck – Satan Gave Me a Taco
  2. Boys Age – I am a Jester (album can be downloaded for free here – why have you not downloaded this yet!?)
 
The list of tracks above were what I used for comparative listening, but I also listened to many more, including: Belle & Sebastian’s Dear Catastrophe Waitress album; some ELO, Tool, Tori Amos, Norah Jones, City of the Sun, Daft Punk; my treble torture test: Kraftwerk – Kometenmelodie 2; and Roger Waters – Late Home Tonight, Part One whilst calibrating which tips I should be using. Initial listens for tips were done on medium gain on the DX50 and it wasn’t enough power for the Pinnacle. On the DX50 with medium gain I felt a little bit of treble fatigue and a lack of bass emphasis with the stock tips. Switching to the Comply foamies tamed the little bit of extra treble and warmed up the bass a bit, but didn’t do anything for impact. A few of my albums were vinyl rips, and on each one the Pinnacle was very revealing of vinyl noise. Very clear headphones often expose the limitations of vinyl, and the Pinnacle are very clear headphones, indeed.
 
Throughout the listen on medium gain out of the DX50 there was excellent clarity with great detail in the mids and treble. On Step Into My Office Baby, there was a very airy quality to the vocals. On Roy Roger there was great reverb and sparkle on the xylophone. Telephone Line gave me some great drum response. I switched to high gain, and chucked the volume up to 237 (out of 255) on the DX50 for listening to Aenima, and it didn’t have enough oomph for me. Vocals sounded a little recessed and drum sounded a touch distant. Bass texture was excellent, though. I’m also happy to note that the Pinnacle passed the treble torture test with flying colours. It never went too bright on Kometenmelodie.
 
On Tori Amos – Hey Jupiter, the instrumentation has excellent depth. With Norah Jones I was hearing tiny details like a miniscule guitar pluck deep on the right of the stage in Cold Cold Heart. Whilst many IEMs will give you clues and markers to where instruments are located in the soundstage, like a set of ‘X’s on a alpine map denoting the route, not every IEM lets you fully sense and feel the way of the ski trail. The Pinnacle doesn’t just have you see the trail pencilled on a map, your skis are in the grooves left by alpinists before you, your eyes are watching for fluorescent tags on white birch bark denoting your path. I feel the sound stage with the Pinnacle, I don’t just hear cues to locations—there is crystalline mountain air around the instruments. With that said, the soundstage is only a bit above average in size—it just maximises the impact it gives in the space it has with excellent separation, detail and tactility.
 
Strolling through City of the Sun and Daft Punk, I noted excellent kick in drums and percussion with real air moving through the bass drum kicks, great tone on plucked instruments, and excellent imaging, but I also noted that bass quantity may not satisfy everyone. On Giorgio by Moroder, the Pinnacle’s imaging definitely stood out.
 
Now that I’ve established a baseline, I’ll proceed to the comparative listens. For each headphone, I attempted to do a crude volume matching by writing down volume levels and gain settings for each IEM at 78dB using an SPL meter. My methods weren’t perfect, but they were definitely better than not volume matching at all. I initially had the Pinnacle (with Spinfits), the Echobox Finder X1 (Black Filter, Spinfits), 64 Audio X2 (Comply, Spinfits), Shozy Zero (Spinfits), and Trinity Audio Atlas (Sony Isolation Tips). I’ll present comparisons on a song by song basis.
 
Eagles – Hotel California (played through iBasso DX50)
The Pinnacle has excellent clarity and imaging, and drums have good impact. The best in the group for the thump thump bass drum at the end of the intro are the 64 Audio X2. Mids were most recessed on the Finder X1. The 64 Audio X2 is the smoothest, but is sometimes soft and doesn’t have the treble extension and detail that the Pinnacle has. The Shozy Zero is bassier than the Pinnacle and has a larger soundstage.
 
Father John Misty – The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apartment (iBasso DX50)
The production on the album tends towards warmth, such that headphones that add warmth often make the album sound musty and congested. The Pinnacle doesn’t add any warmth, and to my ear lets the album sound natural and inviting. The Shozy Zero has a taller and wider soundstage with a romantic quality to the sound, detail is still there, but in less quantity due to smoothed treble on the Zero. Luckily for the Zero, the warmth in the sound doesn’t impact Josh Tillman’s voice. The Trinity Audio Atlas has slower bass but a nicer presentation of the glockenspiel on the track. The Echobox Finder X1 is bassy, and not as tight bass as it’s competitors, and has recessed vocals.
 
At this point I switched to the Geek Out V2 and popped the gain up to high, and proceeded to listen till three in the morning. The instrument separation when listening to Smoke & Mirrors Percussion Ensemble is fantastic with details just popping all over. The Pinnacle definitely likes the power to soar.
 
The Geek Out V2’s amplification is also more revealing of the other IEMs. On Keith Greeninger – Harder That We Love, the presentation is a little artificial sounding with the Trinity Audio Atlas, with bass colouring the vocals. It sounds wrong after the Pinnacle. The 64 Audio X2 is warmer, but less detailed, with a sleight veil, and more forward mids. The Pinnacle doesn’t over-emphasize any frequency, it is just beautifully balanced.
 
Brittney Slayes and Co. really rock it on General of the Dark Army, and the Pinnacle does not disappoint, the attack is crisp, with sharp well defined edges. It is metal and feels metal, with sharp guitars and machine gun drums. I just want to crank it up with the Pinnacle hooked into the GO V2. The 64 Audio X2 is smoother with a more immediate presentation (those forward mids at play).
At this point the Pinnacle has won me over compared to my other headphones on hand. Through the rest of the night it keeps up with Dragonforce, gives Charles Mingus – Eat That Chicken a fun live feel with horns dancing round the stage and hoots of ‘Oh yeah’ grounding the atmosphere. On Boys Age – I am a Jester a soft bassline under lying the tune is clearly heard and guitar is well defined. Beck – Satan Gave Me a Taco has an organic sound. The Pinnacle reveals the tape noise of the recording, but doesn’t make it sound as gnarly as some other headphones can. It also holds onto tiny details, like faint tapping and scratching on the guitar body. After listening to the Pinnacle on this track, the Trinity Atlas makes me feel yucky, it just sounds stale and muddy in comparison.

 

Conclusions

The Pinnacle is an absolute joy. It sings quality from the moment you meet it's unique packaging contours and continues in dulcet tones when the visual experience moves to your ears. It is sheer aural pleasure, the best sounding single dynamic driver embedded strongly in my memory (I have poor recall of IE800 listens). It is expertly tuned with great detail, an articulate soundstage with real air imported from the path less travelled by, and a balanced overall signature that is immensely pleasurable. At $199, the Pinnacle is a strong competitor for best price to performance ratio of the year.
 
The Pinnacle won’t be for everyone. It needs loads of power for the bass to be fully realised and the mids can sound recessed when they aren’t driven hard enough. If you drive them well, you’ll enjoy them. On the DX50 the Pinnacle needed high gain, and high volume. On the GO V2 it took high gain and 50% volume. Most IEMs are fine on low gain, and ones that like more power tend to be at about 20% on high gain. This is a stellar effort from MEE Audio and fully deserving of 5 enthusiastic thumbs-ups, but since I don’t have a strange form of polydactyly granting me five thumbs, I’ll give it 5 stars instead.
niron
niron
Awesome review. Thanks for the detailed and most informative comparisons. I have ordered the JVC Spiral Dot and hope to achieve better results. 
drbluenewmexico
drbluenewmexico
great review @glassmonkey!  thanks for your detailed listening notes and comparisons.
im glad a have a set of P1s!  going to try them balanced out of PONO soon when my replacement Trinity Audio cable comes soon...
canali
canali
while i'm sure the chord mojo would drive them well, what of the dragonfly red?
i'm leaning to try these...just a bit worried about lack of sub bass.
(also looking at UERR or 11pro with more bass)...some great iems coming out: tyll liked the radius line (alot, and he asked for the company to send him their entire lineup, when he tried them at the rocky mtn audio show)

HiFiChris

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: addictive soundstage, perfect build/design/accessories rarely seen at this price point, good overall package, enjoyable sound, bass decay & control
Cons: lows soften towards sub-bass, attack could be more arid (decay and control are excellent though), slightly skewed vocals
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Preamble:

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MEEaudio, formerly known as MEElectronics, was founded in 2005. The American company that has specialised in making audio products has released various decent products in the past years, of these mainly headphones. My personal favourite model is probably the smooth, slightly warm and gentle yet quite natural A151, a single-BA in-ear. However, what all models had in common, no matter if in-ears or full-sized headphones, was that they were rather aimed at the lower price range – until now, there was no higher-priced, higher-end model. But as I said, that was until now.
Some time has passed since MEE has formally introduced the Pinnacle P1 (http://www.meeaudio.com/pinnacle), a dynamic single-driver in-ear with an MSRP of $199.99. Well, about one year has passed and the in-ears are finally available.
Pinnacle – this name already states where MEE is intending to go: high(er) end. Let’s find out together in the course of this review what the P1 sounds like and how it compares to other dynamic driver in-ears in the same price range.

Before I go on, I would like to take the time to thank Mike from MEEaudio for sending me a sample of the in-ears free of charge in exchange for my honest, unbiased evaluation.


Technical Specifications:

Driver Type: 10 mm dynamic
Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Impedance: 50 Ohms at 1 kHz
Sensitivity: 96 ± 3 dB (1 mW at 1 kHz)
 
 
Delivery Content:
 
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“Pinnacle is more than a name – it is a statement […]” is what the rear of the package say – and it is definitely no lie. Arriving in a black cardboard box with a cardboard sleeve with the typical MEE design, the exterior provides you with all of the information you need.
The black cardboard box opens up in a very unique way with a split lid – very nice!
I have to honestly admit that this kind of how to open the package is entirely new for me and I haven’t seen it on any other audio product in the past. Therefore, the Pinnacle P1 somewhat sets itself apart from other manufacturers’ products and offers something unique, which I quite like, because it shows the customer that the people at MEE put their thoughts into the product to provide them with a great experience right from the start, beginning with the unboxing.

Inside, we will then find the in-ear bodies, a leather carrying case, 6.3 to 3.5 mm adaptor, a shirt clip, two cables (one with remote control plus microphone and the other one with silver plating) and 9 pairs of ear tips (3x single-flange silicone, 3x Comply Foam, 2x double-flange and 1x triple-flange).
That is a really ample amount of included accessories and the unboxing experience is very valuable.
 
 
 
 

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Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

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The in-ears look and feel very premium and are made of zinc alloy housings. Their design is pretty unique and again nothing I have ever seen before.
The in-ears and cables feature MMCX connectors that have been tightened up since earlier batches.

The carrying case is made of black leather and bolstered with suede on the inside. The outside features a badge that shows the serial number. Although the carrying case looks and feels very premium, I think a sturdier zippered case would have been more practical.

The cables are a real highlight and really superb. They are made of single litzes and then twisted, which is CIEM-quality standard and again something that is rarely found at the price (especially as two of these cables come included). Needless to say, they are super flexible.
 
 
 
 

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Comfort, Isolation:

The in-ears’ design allows the Pinnacle P1 to be worn both “cable down” as well as “over the ears” by changing the ear-pieces (though, the more professional over-the-ear fit is probably even MEE’s first choice, given their other models and the logo’s orientation).
I am personally wearing the MEE with the cables over the ears. There are no microphonics then and the fit is superb – after a short time, I don’t even notice the in-ears anymore. Because of the rather small footprint and ergonomic shape, there will likely be no fit issues even for people with small ears.

Exterior noise isolation is somewhat better than average for vented dynamic in-ears and can be even quite a bit improved by using the included multi-flange or foam tips.


Sound:

I don’t really believe in burn-in with headphones and in-ears, nonetheless the P1 was burnt in with noise and sine signals for 200 hours before even casual listening started.
My main sources for critical listening were my iBasso DX90 and Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII as well as the LH Labs Geek Out IEM 100.
I also used the Luxury & Precision L3 together with the Elekit TU-HP02 for casual listening.

For listening, I used the largest single-flange silicone tips.

On a side-note, the P1 is a rather inefficient in-ear and needs noticeably more power than most other similar models to reach similar volume levels.

Tonality:

So, how does MEEaudio’s first take on an in-ear in a price range leaving the entry-level sector sound?

In short, I would describe the P1’s sound as having a rather safe yet relatively smooth, mostly coherent tuning that leans a more to a v-shaped character without really being too strongly sounded though – bass and root are quite full but don’t have the typical impact some other dynamic drivers often tend to have. The quantity won’t appeal to someone searching for a pretty bassy, impactful in-ear but might also be a bit much for those who want a flat bottom end. Mids are on the warmer, full and darker side because of the full-bodied root. Lower treble takes a step back and what follows then is an emphasised, somewhat Sennheiser IE 800-esque upper treble around 10 kHz despite the MEE sounding overall warmer and less bright than the Sennheiser does. So yeah, overall tonally, the P1 reminds me quite a bit of a warmer IE 800 with fuller vocals, somewhat less sub-bass impact and a little less sparkling upper treble – but more about that further below in the comparison section.

Listening to noise signals in addition to music and the now following sine sweeps, the impression of a full lower frequency end and midrange gets reinforced and the P1 is an in-ear with quite lush yet not overdone lower vocals. It is somewhere between being lush and full in the root/lower mids and sounding coloured, yet it neither has just a little warmth down there, nor is it really overshadowing warm sounding. However, it could use a little more energy in the lower treble between 1 and 3 kHz to sound a bit more balanced through the mids.

Continuing to the sine sweeps:
As mentioned, the lower frequency spectrum is more on the smoother side, with the emphasis starting quite high around 750 Hz, then climbing up, down to about 170 Hz, where the climax is being reached with about 7.5 dB north of a flat in-ear like the Etymotic ER-4S. Below 50 Hz, quantity starts decreasing to some degree but not too much – listening to sine sweeps and music, the sub-bass is still slightly north of neutral and distinguishable, however it softens up to some degree (more on that in the “Resolution” section).
The mids are, as I mentioned, on the somewhat warmer and smoother side. Listening to the sine sweeps, it turns out that between 1 and 3 kHz, there is a dip that makes male vocals a little lack overtones and averagely-pitched female vocals appear slightly muffled and blunt. Surprisingly though, higher female vocals sound normal again, which is because above 3 kHz, treble is at a normal level again. Sometimes, this attribute makes the vocal range appear a little confusing, as male vocals appear a little intimate whereas normal female vocals sound a bit distant but higher-pitched female vocals appear less distant again. If you have a sine generator and equalizer or at least only an equalizer, try somewhat boosting the area between 1 and 3 kHz – voilà, that anomaly disappears and the whole vocal range sounds correct again, with the slight veil being lifted and a flat area appearing here when doing sine swipes or listening to noise signals (and of course music). But I am here to evaluate the sound without EQ, so I have to subtracts some points for the to my ears slightly strange upper midrange behaviour.
From 3 kHz on, level starts evenly increasing and forms a broad-banded emphasis between 9 and 11 kHz, making cymbal crashes appear a little splashy and sizzling, being somewhat akin to the Sennheiser IE 800’s upper end but to a lesser extent. Above, extension is pretty solid, but there is less level than in the upper treble below 10 kHz.

Resolution:

Overall, the MEE P1 does a quite solid job when it comes to detail retrieval/resolution, however it does not have class-leading performance.
While I would rate the resolution somewhat higher than the RHA T20 and Sennheiser IE 80, there is some other steep dynamic driver competition in this price range that I feel to be somewhat better in some areas, and at the price point, we aren’t far away from some Balanced Armature based models or alternatively hybrid in-ears if one wants a comparable bass impact and warmth.

The bass appears pretty arid for a dynamic driver and decays pretty fast, avoiding unnecessary bloom, however attack could and should be a little faster while decay is really good. Because of the attack that is somewhat softer and slower than its decay, the P1 appears not as quick as it could be when fed with fast Rock, Metal or Electronical music. Don’t get me wrong, the bass has got better speed than in-ears like the Sennheiser IE 80 and is less rumbling and better controlled than the RHA T20’s lower end, but it does not have the speed or details of the DUNU Titan 5 and is not as resolving as the LEAR LHF-AE1d’ bottom end (however a little faster).
Overall, I have a slight feeling that there is a little veil on the fundamental range, but as my sine sweeps above showed, this is only caused by the dip between 1 and 3 kHz (adding level there, the veil gets lifted). However, although the bass is quite arid in the upper bass, it softens towards the sub-bass to some degree and although it does not become muddy, it could maintain somewhat better control down there in the sub-bass.

In the mids and especially treble, detail retrieval is quite good but surely won’t reach some more expensive in-ears’ levels.

Overall, the P1 does a really solid job but I feel like it could be done somewhat better. While the accessories, cables, features and build are definitely and easily worth the asked $199.99, I am not 100% sure if I would pay that price for sound alone based on some competitors’ models (see my comparisons below).

Soundstage:

The soundstage of this in-ear is quite addictive: the generated room is pretty three-dimensional and spacious, with really nice width and a great forward-projection. It kind of creates a sphere around the head and lets you forget everything around you and just sink in. On a different note, there could be a wee bit more air around instruments.
With complex music and larger orchestras nonetheless, the stage does not really collapse and remains really steady – nice!

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In Comparison with other dynamic In-Ears:

So while I would say the MEE Pinnacle P1 outperforms the Sennheiser IE 80 and RHA T20 to some degree, let’s see how it stands up against some much steeper competition in the range below/around $200 as well as the Sennheiser IE 800:

Sennheiser IE 80 (Bass Screw fully closed):
The Sennheiser has got the fuller, warmer sound with more root quantity. The Pinnacle P1 has got the better sub-bass extension when the Sennheiser’s screw is closed (opening the screw, the sub-bass extends linearly but the Sennheiser’s bass becomes even muddier and softer with fast music). In the mids, both are about comparably slightly warm. In the treble, the IE 80 is more relaxed overall.
When it comes to detail retrieval, the MEE is ahead, rendering fine detailed with more authority. Especially with more complex and faster music, the Sennheiser collapses to some extent whereas the MEE remains very solid.
In the lows, the Sennheiser is quite slow, spongy and muddy in comparison and lacks some control and aridness with fast bass punches. The Pinnacle P1 has got the much quicker, better controlled bass.
The IE 80’s soundstage is somewhat wider and also deeper and definitely belongs to the most spacious around. The MEE’s is not as large but separates instruments sharper (especially audible with orchestral music where the P1 is better at generating air around and between instruments).

RHA T20 (Reference Filters):
The T20 is the bassier in-ear with a more present, more hammering upper bass and the very slightly inferior sub-bass extension. In the mids, the RHA is more neutral compared to the MEE’s slightly warmed-up vocals. Moving on to the treble, the MEE is more relaxed in the lower and middle highs and has got a more pronounced upper treble.
When it comes down to overall resolution, both aren’t far apart at all though if I had to decide, I would say that the P1 is probably a slight bit ahead – but it is extremely close. In the bass however, I would surely pick the MEE as the winner: while the RHA’s bass is somewhat rumbling, the MEE’s is audibly better controlled. The T20’s lows don’t really lack much speed but some control at times – the P1’s lower end is not only quicker but also quite a bit better controlled.
The MEE’s soundstage is larger in both directions and slightly better separated.

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DUNU Titan 5:
The MEE has got the more impressive amount of features and accessories as well as the more flagship-like build quality. Both have removable cables (MMCX) and both are quite comfortable, however it is easier with the P1 to achieve a comfortable and continuous fit. And while the DUNU’s bottom end quantity depends on one’s ear anatomy (more proximity to the conchas results in more bass), the MEE is not affected by this effect.
The DUNU has got the slightly more present bass in my ears and reaches into the deepest sub-bass without softening or rolling off. The Titan 5 concentrates more on the sub-bass and has less fundamental range emphasis. In the mids, the P1 is warmer whereas the DUNU is pretty much uncoloured here. In the treble however, the MEE is more even and realistic as well as less bright until it comes into the upper treble around 10 kHz where Pinnacle P1 is emphasised and the DUNU less present.
In the mids, the Pinnacle P1 appears a little better resolving to me whereas the DUNU has got the slightly quicker bass attack and better control while being similar in terms of decay. In the treble, the Titan sounds more differentiated to me but the MEE is more even.
Soundstage on the Pinnacle’s side is somewhat larger while having slightly less sharp separation between single instruments.

Echobox Audio Finder X1 (least bright filters):
The Finder X1 does not have removable cables but three tuning filters. The Pinnacle’s range of includes accessories is much more impressive. Regarding fit, with the MEE, it is a little easier to get a secure and lasting seal and fit.
While both head into the v-shaped direction, they are still quite different and the Finder X1 is kind of like the P1 on steroids with a heftier bottom end that however concentrates much more on the sub-bass and a bright and forward treble that is evenly increasing from the lower towards the upper treble – in short, the Finder is much more of an in-ear for fun and non-mature listening. However, the X1 has got the somewhat more realistic midrange timbre.
The Echobox’ lows don’t soften towards sub-bass and the overall control is somewhat higher while both have got about similarly fast decay (the Finder’s attack is a bit faster though). In the mids and treble, both are about comparatively resolving but the MEE’s upper end is more even.
The Pinnacle P1’s soundstage is somewhat wider while both have got comparable depth. Though, the MEE is soaking me a little more into its addictive stage than the X1.

LEAR LHF-AE1d (Upgrade Nozzles):
Both have got removable cables (the LEAR’s are equipped with 2-pin connectors which personally I prefer), though the AE-1d offers an adjustable bass that lets you choose between anything from “neutral” to “excessively bassy”. And overall, it is an impressively resolving and authentic in-ear despite having just a dynamic driver (its only shortcoming is that its bass is on the somewhat softer side). In terms of fit and comfort, both are equally good but seal is easier to achieve with the MEE when the short upgrade nozzles are used for the LEAR.
As I said, bass quantity depends on the pot’s position. In the mids, the AE1d has got the much more realistic timbre and is only more or less comparatively warm when using the longer stock nozzles. In the treble, the LEAR is more even and neutral as well as natural.
The AE1d is a hell of a hard to beat in-ear at its price point and makes it quite clear compared to the Pinnacle. The LEAR has got the superior detail retrieval in the midrange and treble and its only shortcoming is that its bass decays a little slower and is a bit less controlled with fast music (but still more detailed down there). Its superior authenticity, detail retrieval and evenness however easily make up for that.
The MEE has got the somewhat wider stage whereas the LEAR’s is deeper and appears overall more authentic.
I have yet to find an in-ear at the LEAR’s price point that is able to stand up against it well – the MEE is not, however is also tuned for a different tonal approach.

Sennheiser IE 800:
The IE 800 does not have removable cables. Personally, I don’t mind as long as the cable quality is good; however I kind of find the Sennheiser’s cables to be pretty bad at its price point, compared to the (much) cheaper competition.  So regarding appearance, build and accessories and especially cable, I easily see the MEE above.
As mentioned earlier, both show tonal similarities in some areas. Nonetheless, the IE 800 concentrates more on the sub-bass (without softening down there) and has got less warmth in the fundamental range, along with having the tonally correct mids and a brighter, splashier upper end while both have got that “IE 800-esque” upper treble character.
The Sennheiser has got the better bass control and quicker attack and overall better detail retrieval – it is not 3+ times better than the MEE on the sound side but nonetheless in a higher class.
The Sennheiser’s stage is wider and better scaled but has got less spatial depth (so regarding soundstage, I personally still prefer the Pinnacle P1).


Conclusion:

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Build quality, accessories and features are really rarely seen at this price point and are definitely worthy of a flagship product named “Pinnacle” that also features sublime build quality, fit and comfort.
The sound signature is easy-going and smooth with a somewhat splashy upper treble and a large, addictive soundstage that lets you sink into the music.

However, while the Pinnacle P1 outperforms some dynamic driver in-ears at its respective price point and sounds pretty solid, it is not perfect and has still some room for improvement here and there and has got some really steep competition on the sound side in its respective price range.
Nonetheless, as an overall package, it is still pretty nice (even more especially if you know how to properly operate an EQ) and then still well worth the asked price (in my opinion).


All in all with my usual 70% sound (74/100) to 30% build/comfort/fit/accessories (99/100) weighting, I come to a conclusion of solid 4.075 out of 5 possible stars.

I am definitely looking forward to see what MEE has got in the pipeline next.
HiFiChris
HiFiChris
@yangian
 
In the $200 range (also for Orchestral), I really like the LEAR LHF-AE1d and Pai Audio MR3.

The LEAR is highly natural sounding and has got a really authentic soundstage with a good detail retrieval. Its soundstage is not as large as the Sennheiser's though and its bass is soft (it's tighter than the Sennheiser's though).

The MR3 has got a really large and precise soundstage and high level of details that are usually not found in this price range. Its only flaw is that it is a little uneven in the 5 kHz range. If you have ever heard the UERM, imagine the MR3 as a "mini-version" of it with just slightly more bass (2 dB more) and a slightly less even middle treble.

I highly like the DUNU Titan 5 and Titan 3 as well, just as the Echobox Finder X1, however those three not so much for Orchestral recordings (I like the Titan 3 for smaller ensembles though - not because it isn't capable of rendering big orchestras (imho it is a technically excellent dynamic driver in-ear), it's just my preference for it).

I also bought a new Etymotic ER•4S for a little over €200 new on Amazon (sold and fulfilled by Amazon), which was a great deal, too. I love it for every kind of music, however it only suits those who want a sound signature that is as flat and lifeless/uncoloured/sterile as possible.
yangian
yangian
Ok, I'll pay more attention of MR3. I may need to try a multi BAs. Thanks!
BTW, did you hear KEF M200? That's my most favorite sound, I like it better than IE800.
HiFiChris
HiFiChris
@yangian
 
I haven't heard any KEF headphone, in-ear or earphone, sorry. 

shotgunshane

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Spacious, Warm and Smooth Presentation
Cons: MMCX connectors
Note: Mee Audio graciously provided the Pinnacle P1 free for review

MEE Audio has been without a flagship for a couple of years, since the discontinuation of the very well received A161p. The A161p was single armature design with a balanced signature leaning to the slightly warm side. The A161p, along with the venerable Audio Technica CK10, were my gateway in-ears into a more neutral frequency response, and accordingly preserve fond memory in my portable audio journey. Consequently, I’ve been looking forward to the day MEE Audio found a worthy replacement at the top of their line-up. The Pinnacle P1 has been over two years in the making, and at $199 msrp, is $100 more than their previous flagship. Can MEE Audio still still remain true to their reputation as one of the better bang for buck manufacturers out there?

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DESIGN

The P1 features a proprietary 10mm dynamic driver of higher impedance (50 Ohms) and less sensitivity (96 dB) than your average in-ears. It’s constructed with a copper-clad aluminum voice coil for lower mass and faster driver control. In addition to this new custom driver, the P1 also utilizes a new proprietary acoustic diffuser and sound chamber. The acoustic diffuser is claimed to force high frequencies to resonate before reaching the ear, with a resulting effect that offers a smoother, yet more extended treble, that still maintains plenty of energy without the typical associated peaks and harshness. The most interesting aspect of this delivery system is that the driver and diffuser are not visible in the nozzle. If one were to remove the protective mesh from the top of the nozzle, you would see nothing but a clear path leading to the open of the housing chamber. In other words, the driver is mounted at an offset angle inside the chamber.

BUILD & ACCESSORIES

The build quality of the P1 is very robust. The housings are die-cast from a zinc alloy with a polished, shiny appearance. The zinc alloy is said to be more rigid than aluminum and more impact resistant as well. While perhaps not quite as light weight as aluminum, it is lighter than stainless steel. The polished zinc alloy has an aged brass appearance. The housings are put together from two pieces, with the nozzles made from a separate metal. There appears to be a very small pinhole pressure equalizing vent on the underside of the housings, where the backside of the driver should be facing.

The P1 comes with two cables: a high grade audio cable made of silver-plated copper and an Android/iOS compatible microphone cable. Both cables utilize the mmcx connection. The cables feel more robust than your average stock cable; they are thicker, yet very pliable. They feature a twisted cable design that features a case friendly right angle plug and sturdy Y-split with neck cinch. The high grade audio cable is the same aged brass color of the P1 zinc alloy housings. Using this cable gives the overall appearance a kind of ‘mid-century modern’ design aesthetic.

The rest of the accessories round out as follows: shirt clip, 6 pair of silicone tips, 3 pair of Comply tips, 1/4” adapter and carrying case. The carrying case is an elegant, leather style case with a magnetic closure flap. The flap is topped off with a “Pinnacle” metal badge in the same aged brass look with inscribed serial number.

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SOUND

At the onset of my listening experience, I utilized the Comply tips but as I continued to listen over the coming weeks, I ended up reverting to the stock silicone single flange tips. Listening was conducted on an iPhone 6S+, Mezzo Soprano modded AK120, and AK100 feeding a Chord Mojo.

The overall sound signature of the P1 is that of a slightly downward slopping frequency response. The P1 is warm and smooth with good clarity. It delivers high levels of resolution with impressive driver control. The most notable feature of performance is its staging properties, which stand head and shoulders above most closed in-ears and rival, if not surpass, many back vented designs.

Bass is moderately boosted- bassheads will find it too light and your most ardent neutrality seekers will find it too boosted. The boost is centered around 150 Hz and remains strong until about 40 Hz before starting to significantly roll off. The P1 driver sounds pretty quick, especially when compared to other dynamic driver models which tend to extend decay much longer. Texturing is excellent with high levels of bass resolution. Notes are on the thicker side with a naturally rich and reverberant tone.

The lower midrange is full and delivers a very engaging and evocative male vocal. While there is a dip in the middle/upper midrange that gives some distance to the listener, the P1is still able to convey very good vocal intimacy. This dip also gives a slightly laid back and fuller nature to female vocals for less energy than in-ears with a more forward upper midrange. However, the upper midrange is rising by the time lower treble kicks in, so rock guitars still have pleasing bite and crunch but with a fuller, more rounded presentation.

The P1 treble is best described as smooth yet crisp. After a rise in lower treble, it is quite laid back from about 6k to 8K, where it peaks again in middle treble and stays pretty present through upper treble with very good extension. This treble response seems to correlate fairly well with the manufacturer’s claims. Treble weight and tonality are slightly on the thin side due to the greater upper treble presence, however resolution and low level detail are very good without harness or being overly forward in the mix.

Staging properties of the P1 are simply fantastic. It is not an ‘airy’ in-ear, yet it’s able to present a class leading spaciousness with strong ambient cues within the stage. There is a great sense of blackness around instruments, giving everything room to stretch and breathe. You really do get a strong sense of instrument placement and room size in proportion to the instruments. Height, width and depth are all really very good with one of the best three dimensional presentations on the market for in-ears. I really have to think the offset angle of the driver to the nozzle and the acoustic diffuser play a significant role in the perception of stage, especially in a closed design. It’s not something you have to concentrate on but is readily noticeable upon first listen.

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SELECT COMPARISONS
 
P1 vs Etymotic ER-4S

The ER-4S bass sounds quite light and tails off several decibels as it descends into sub bass. However, it is excellently textured despite being low level in the presentation. Bass speed doesn’t seem overly fast like some balanced armatures, and can sound surprisingly natural during bass heavier masterings. Surprisingly the P1 is more difficult to drive than the ER-4S, requiring quite a bit more volume to reach the same SPL. In comparison, the P1 bass is more visceral, carrying a stronger bass line with more rumble and extension in deep bass. While the P1 isn’t drastically bassier, the difference is certainly palpable when the recording calls for it. The other significant difference is in the longer decay of the P1. While the P1may be considered quick for a dynamic, it does linger noticeably longer than the ER-4S.

The Ety midrange is quite clear with a noticeable tilt towards the upper midrange. Male vocals, while very resolving, are a bit on the thin side and slightly under weighted. The upper midrange tilt makes for very transparent female vocals full of raw energy and power. The ER-4S neither emphasizes, nor glosses over sibilance; you really feel like you’re getting what the recording is delivering. The ER-4S is forward in nature, providing an intimate vocal performance that’s very engaging. On the flip side the Ety can sound overly forward in guitar driven rock, taking the listener to the brink with thin and edgy distortion rock guitars.

The P1 midrange eschews some clarity for fullness and richness. Male vocals are clearly weightier and more powerful, without sacrificing resolution, and exhibiting wonderful texture and emotion. The P1 is nowhere as forward in the upper midrange and female vocals exhibit less energy and more weight. Rock guitars have good bite and crunch but don’t quite soar, as they are grounded with a fairly full lower midrange. The end result is a much more forgiving presentation than the Ety.

The ER-4S treble is one of my favorite. Unlike it’s upper midrange, it’s treble is neither hot nor laid back. It has excellent balance, timbre and sparkle, yet remains effortlessly smooth. Extension is also top notch as well. In companion, the P1 treble is not quite as evenly presented. There is more lower treble presence before a similar Ety dip in the transition from lower to middle treble. The P1 treble sounds crisper and not quite as smooth as the Ety. Extension seems fairly comparable between the two, which is to say, very good.

The ER-4S is not really known for its spacial qualities and as such sounds a bit flat in depth and height but has acceptable width. The presentation is very forward and close to the listener. As such, while imaging is excellent form left to right, there’s not much to speak of front to back. Even though the top end sounds open, the single driver delivers a more organic stage and doesn’t have the instrument separation that many multi-balanced armature designs portray.

The P1, while fuller sounding, presents things further back from the listener compared to the Ety. It sounds much larger in all directions, particularly in depth. It’s more reverberant and spacious sounding with strong ambient queues reminiscent of a concert hall type presentation. While similar to the Ety’s organic presentation, the P1 injects more space/blackness between instruments for much more lifelike proportions.

P1 vs FLC Technology FLC8S

FLC8S with the following filter choices: Clear ULF, Clear LF and Gold MF/HF
This set up was chosen to give the FLC8 the most linear and neutral frequency response possible with the filter choices available. 


The FLC8S bass extends very deep and is still strong at 30 Hz in this set up. It has very satisfying rumble and impact. Bass feels linear between mid and upper bass and finishes with a rise in sub bass. As a whole it feels a little enhanced over neutral. Bass texturing is very good and decay sounds natural. Overall the FLC8S bass presence is pleasing with a healthy sprinkle of fun. At first blush, overall bass levels of the P1 sound fairly similar to the FLC8S but upon closer inspection, the FLC8S has a good bit more rumble, while the P1bass feels fuller and richer. In overall bass speed, I’d give the nod to the P1 as it feels just a bit snappier.

Both have fairly full bodied male vocals with the P1 being overall richer and fuller. The FLC8S is more pronounced in upper midrange presence, producing more energy for female vocals and, at times, can accentuate sibilance compared to the smoother P1. Where the FLC8 leans a bit more analytical, pushing details forward, the P1 produces more depth and vocal emotion. This same difference translates to the presentation of distortion guitars- the P1 has a thicker more robust guitar tone, and the FLC8S is slightly lighter and thinner but with cleaner overall note for more palpable rock guitar bite and crunch.

While both treble presentations are crisp, the FLC8S produces more sparkle and air with greater presence in the mix. For the most, part the FLC8S treble remains fatigue free with the exception of some accentuated sibilance mentioned before. While the P1 can’t match this more open and airy sound, it remains smoother for a more laid back listen.

The open and airy presentation of the FLC8S is above average in all directions with a very pleasing and open presentation. Even without the FLC8S sense of air, the P1 still sounds somehow larger. The sense of depth is more tangible, more three dimensional. The P1 puts more blackness between instruments, allowing the mind to expand the dimensions of the stage, giving more precise placement in space from front to back.

P1 vs Jays Q-Jays (v2)

The Q-Jays have a pretty large rise in deep bass with less mid and upper bass presence. In direct comparison, the Q-Jays bass sounds thinner in the upper end with less impact, but rumble is much more readily apparent. The dynamic driver of the P1 is more overt in texturing, displaying a more nuanced detailing in bass. It also has a more natural timbre and decay next to the slightly speedier dual balanced armatures of the Q-Jays.

Male vocals on the Q-Jays sound thinner and recessed next to the P1 but they aren’t necessarily thin on their own. The Q-Jays contain good heft but overall just fall short in richness and intimacy when compared to the P1.  Female vocals also sound a bit thinner and more recessed next to the P1. The Q-Jays definitely sounds V shaped with a greater perception of clarity next to the meatier P1. If not worn deep enough, the Q-Jays can accentuate sibilance pretty strongly. With deeper fit it falls to more tolerable levels, although recordings with heavy sibilance are still a bit tough.

The Q-Jays have quite a bit of treble presence. After it’s dip in the upper midrange, it begins a steady climb from about 5k all the way through a fairly large peak around 9k. Deeper fit helps to somewhat control the peaks but one needs to appreciate a brighter signature. Next to the P1, the Q-Jays treble is thinner and lighter in weight with the P1 sounding more balanced and even across it’s upper frequency response. Where the P1 is built for longer listening sessions the Q-Jays are built for excitement.

The Q-Jays much brighter presentation, while airier and plenty wide, sounds overall flatter and smaller next to the P1. The P1 has much more space between instruments with a much greater and obvious sense of depth and height. While the Q-Jays are faster and more precise in stoping and starting, the P1’s reverberation and sense of ambiance is just simply more realistic in staging and imaging properties.

P1 vs AKG N20

The N20 has a slightly thinner bass presentation but with a sizable rise in sub bass. While mid bass is pretty quick, sub bass has extended decay and sounds a bit bloomier. This elevation and extended decay in sub bass make bass texturing a little less precise compared to the more even handed P1.

N20 male vocals are very clear and very detailed, if perhaps just a hair on the thinner side. By comparison the P1 is slightly richer and weightier without sounding chesty or too deep. Despite sounding a little thinner, N20 male vocals are placed pretty similarly to the P1. Female vocals sound a little more forward on the N20 with more upper midrange attack for a lighter, more energetic presentation. The upper midrange energy is excellent with distortion rock guitars, and N20 forte, allowing them to soar and sizzle. In comparison female vocals on the P1 sound a weightier and less demanding; distortion rock guitars sound fuller, weightier and more grounded.

The N20 has very good treble sparkle and energy without sounding piercing or sharp, injecting a sense of openness and air. While the N20 sounds brighter than the P1, the P1can sound crisper and sharper with some recordings. However, for most recordings, the P1sounds more laid back and relaxed in treble energy.

While the N20 is in the realm of neutrality, it comes across as slightly U shaped next to the warmer and more even handed P1. This open and airy response gives the N20 a much wider presentation than it does in height and depth. By comparison, the P1 sounds more realistically proportioned and noticeably deeper with more space around instruments- the effect is a more overt holographic image.

P1 vs PSB M4U-4

The PSB is a more deep bass forward presentation with a steep rise below 100 dB. Overall bass quantity is somewhat similar with the P1 but is distributed quite differently. The bass of the P1 is more balanced and even between high, mid and low bass, whereas the PSB can sound lacking in mid bass punch next to it’s plentiful and extended deep rumble. The PSB bass is also bloomier and lingers a good bit longer than the more nimble P1. By comparison, bass texture is more revealing in the P1 and a bit more soft, yet more forward in the PSB.

Male vocals on the PSB sound more forward than they do on the P1, however note weight is thinner. This difference in richness gives the P1 a more evocative performance, even if not quite as inmate sounding. Female vocals are also more forward on the PSB with greater upper midrange emphasis and energy. However, with this greater energy, there is also a hint of a metallic edge in the PSB, which can be heard in Lzzy Hale’s voice on Here’s To Us. Rock guitars are thinner and airier sounding with greater bite and crunch with the PSB, whereas the P1 presents those same guitars with as weightier, smoother and more grounded.

The PSB gives plenty of treble sparkle, much more-so than the P1, yet remains fatigue free. An even bigger difference is in treble timbre and realism. The PSB can sound fairly metallic and tinny at times, especially with silicone tips. By comparison, the P1 treble is smoother and more natural sounding, if a bit subdued next to the livelier PSB.

The PSB sounds wider left to right that it does in height and depth, with a slightly airy presentation. In contrast, the P1, while not as wide, sounds more evenly proportioned for a more life-like presentation. The difference in depth gives the P1 more precise placement in stage, as well as more separation between instruments.

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CONCLUSION

MEE Audio has brought a worthy replacement to the flagship spot in their line-up. While perhaps deviating a little further from a neutral frequency response, for a warmer, fuller, more commercially acceptable sound, the P1 brings substantial and impressive improvements to spacial and staging performance. The P1 is both a joy to use and listen to, as well as provide all the visual aesthetics a flagship should have. I believe MEE Audio has been successful in providing great bang for buck performance and value in a $199 in-ear and the Pinnacle P1 is something I can easily recommend.

*Originally posted on CYMBACAVUM.

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Jackpot77

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Neutral but musical tuning, soundstage, expceptional clarity and detail for the price, high class metal build, accessories package
Cons: Can lack bass for some
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MEE Audio Pinnacle P1 – initial impressions
Many thanks to @Tony-Hifi from HiFiHeadphones.co.uk for adding me to the UK tour for these earphones – the impressions below are based on the time I got to spend with the tour pair and also some previous experience I had with these a few months back (I used to own a pair I subsequently traded on but unfortunately lost my notes prior to putting up any impressions, so I am very grateful to Tony for enabling me to spend more time with the IEMs and rewrite my ramblings!).
About me: newly minted audiophile, late 30s, long time music fan and aspiring to be a reasonably inept drummer. Listen to at least 2 hours of music a day on my commute to work – prefer IEMs for out and about, and a large pair of headphones when I have the house to myself and a glass in my hand. Recently started converting my library to FLAC and 320kbps MP3, and do most of my other listening through Spotify or Tidal HiFi. I am a fan of rock, acoustic (apart from folk) and sarcasm. Oh yeah, and a small amount of electronica. Not a basshead, but I do love a sound with some body to it. My ideal tuning for most IEMs and headphones tends towards a musical and slightly dark presentation, although I am not treble sensitive in general. Please take all views expressed below with a pinch of salt – all my reviews are a work in progress based on my own perceptions and personal preferences, and your own ears may tell you a different story.
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Tech specs
Driver: 10mm dynamic with copper-clad aluminium voice coil
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
Impedance: 50 Ohms at 1 kHz
Sensitivity: 96dB +/- 3dB (1mW at 1kHz)
Cable length: 1.3 m
Connector type: MMCX
Plug type: 3.5mm right angle
Weight (earbuds): 13 grams
Weight (including cables): 29 grams
 
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Unboxing
As a brand, MEE Audio have previously been known for their “bang for buck” audio equipment, concentrating mainly on the budget and sports headphones markets. The Pinnacle P1 is the company’s first entry into the mainstream audiophile bracket, and it is obviously a well-considered one as it has taken almost two years to come to fruition. The packaging is definitely a step into the luxury end of the market, with a glossy sleeve adorned with the product logo and hi-res pictures of the earbuds concealing a thick black cardboard box which opens from the centre like a children’s reading book to expose the contents within. The first things you see are a nice faux-leather carry case with an embossed metal logo and unique serial number, the two solid zinc earbuds sat above it in their own moulded foam cutout and two slim cardboard boxed containing eartips and cables (nicely labelled as such). The packaging is certainly on a par with some of the quality presentation employer by the mainstream “high end” consumer brands, and sets the tone nicely that these are a quality piece of merchandise.
The accessories provided reinforce the impression of quality, with MEE Audio including two detachable cables, one thickly braided “audiophile grade” silver-plated OFC copper effort, and one thinner cable offering a microphone and standard cable controls. The audiophile cable is a magnificent effort, with a thick quad-braided cable which screams quality, and practically no cable memory or microphonics. The microphone cable is nothing to be ashamed of either, but fades into the background in both aesthetics and audio quality when compared to the “main” cable. I am not a massive cable believer, but there does appear to be a small but noticeable difference in the quality of the sound between the two cables (which may in part be due to the microphone and controls in the signal path of the audio on the thinner cable), and the fact that two are included as standard puts MEE Audio in the same bracket as firms like Trinity Audio and Nuforce in terms of the quality and quantity of accessories provided for their IEM packages.
Completing the accessory “load-out”, there is a shirt clip (standard), a nice gold plated 6.3mm adaptor and a pretty comprehensive selection of flanged tips (single to triple) and three different sizes of Comply foam earbuds. It is an old adage that you don’t listen to the box, but when it is as nicely put together as this one, it does give you something pretty to look at while you are stuffing the contents into your ears.
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Build quality and ergonomics
As mentioned above, the cable provided is a high quality and thoughtfully designed piece of gear, so how does the rest of the package fare? Pretty well, in my opinion. The earbuds themselves are made of a solid zinc alloy, which the manufacturer claim has a higher impact resistance than aluminium but less weight than stainless steel, providing something that is tough enough to stand up to daily wear and tear without being uncomfortably heavy in the ear. The shape of the earbuds is also unusual, with a semi-teardrop design allowing for very snug fit in the bowl of the ear when worn with the cable up. The design also allows the Pinnacles to be worn with cable down as well (an intentional design feature, and an option that is all too often missing in higher-end in ear monitoring solutions). This will mean that the left and right cables will need to be switched, but as MEE Audio opted for a standard MMCX connection, this is easy enough to do on the move. When worn over the ear, the comfort level is excellent, with a reasonably deep fitting and the solid metal housing allowing the IEMs to block out a high amount of outside noise. In fact, isolation is easily on par with the Aurisonics “hybrid fit” 3D printed shells on their ASG and Bravo series, which claim to block out around 25 dBs of ambient noise, easily enough to sit in comfort on public transport or in a room with someone else’s choice of music playing without being distracted from the wonderful sounds being produced. Wearing the buds in “straight down” configuration makes the fit a little more shallow in the ear, with the stem running straight down and stopping the bud completely blocking the concha. With Comply tips (my preferred choice on these for both sound and comfort), they still offer plenty of isolation, and do allow those who aren’t fans of brain-violating insertion depth to wear these in a less invasive manner.
The cable responds well to being worn in either manner, with zero in the way of microphonics when worn over-ear, and only a small amount of cable noise (easily removed by use of the attached shirt clip) when wearing straight. The Y-split and the 3.5mm plug are both made from sturdy plastic and look built to last, and the cable-cinch is also a robust plastic effort, adding to the classy overall look of the package. In terms of wearing comfort, I have been able to wear these for multiple hours with no irritation or discomfort, the secure fit and solid weight of the buds keeping the Pinnacles anchored through general day to day wear and also more energetic pursuits. Overall, these are a very well thought out set of in-ear monitors, showing as much detail in the design and usability of the product as in the sound itself.
Sound quality
Test gear:
LG G Flex 2 (via Neutron Player)
Xperia Z3 Compact (via Neutron Player)
Cayin C5 amp
Sansa Clip+ (Rockboxed)
Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (straight from the output jack)
Main test tracks (mainly 320kbps MP3 or FLAC/Tidal HiFi):
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – S.O.B. / Wasting Time
Blackberry Smoke – The Whipporwill (album)
Slash – Shadow Life / Bad Rain (my reference tracks for bass impact and attack, guitar “crunch”)
Slash & Beth Hart – Mother Maria (vocal tone)
Richie Kotzen – Come On Free (bass tone)
Elvis – various
Leon Bridges – Coming Home (album)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (album)
Rudimental – various
Rodrigo y Gabriela – various
Mavis Staples – Livin’ On A High Note
Foy Vance – The Wild Swan
ZZ Top – La Futura
Chris Stapleton – Chris Stapleton
Maroon 5 – Songs About Jane
The Winery Dogs – The Winery Dogs
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General impressions on the sound signature
As a single dynamic driver in the $200 price bracket, I was expecting quite a cohesive presentation and musical rather than analytical sound, and the Pinnacle delivers this in spades, utilising some unusual technological tricks in the process. The driver used is a proprietary design, with a copper clad voice coil being used to decrease the overall mass of the driver and increase the speed of the driver response. The housing itself has also been designed to shape the sound, with an acoustic diffuser being used inside the shell to enhance the accuracy and detail of the treble without increasing the overall sharpness of the sound. This all leads to a sound that is richer and more balanced than you would expect from a single dynamic driver, with a nice fullness to the bass and great extension to the higher range without any undue bias at either end. Musical neutrality is probably the best way I can think to describe it, with a delicacy of note and detail to the presentation that puts many multi-BA designs in higher price brackets to shame. The tone is quite smooth throughout the frequencies without losing any detail, and is firmly in the “non-fatiguing” bracket when put through extended listening sessions. Overall width and depth of the soundstage are impressive as well, with MEE’s claims of enhanced spatial cues (due to the acoustic diffuser) also holding true with more complex passages of music. Overall, a very smooth and sophisticated sound, and thoroughly enjoyable as well.
Highs
The highs on the Pinnacle are an interesting mix of extension and smoothness, with plenty of detail thrown in just for good measure. There is a natural feeling to the presentation that manages to keep the detail and sparkle as it rises through the frequency spectrum, but smooths off just before you hit any screeching or sibilance with most sources. There is a good sense of space and air around the high notes, with cymbals crashing in a very organic manner and lingering just long enough in the back of the ear to sound real. Putting my usual high end testers through their paces, Slash and Myles Kennedy both came out with reputations enhanced, the Pinnacles retaining the soaring majesty of Mr Kennedy’s voice and Mr Hudson’s wailing guitar solos on tracks like “Starlight” without causing either to grate on the listener. Playing some Maroon 5, the silky smoothness of Adam Levine’s voice is well represented, gliding above the music with ease. Despite the smoothness, the detail levels for a single dynamic driver are very impressive, giving the sort of insight into some tracks that you would only expect from something a fair bit higher up the audiophile food chain, throwing micro-details and nuances into the air around some of my higher resolution like a very enthusiastic aunt tossing confetti at a family wedding.  The detailed treble provides an excellent sense of openness to the sound, giving it the feel of playing inside a room with higher than normal ceilings (in my head, anyway).
Mids
In keeping with the neutral overall tone, the mid range on the Pinnacle P1s is neither overly forward or recessed, with just a little bit of bite in the upper-midrange to add a little flavour to an otherwise flat sound. To say it is flat is not to say the mids are boring or lifeless, however – guitars and snare drums sound excellent on the Pinnacle, with plenty of energy and crunch when required, and more silky smoothness when a laid back tone is required. Listening to “Shadow Life” by Slash, the guitar takes on a life of its own, the fast paced riffing chopping the song into a constant rhythm of punch and counter-punch and emphasising the dynamics of the track excellently. The “bite” I talked about is most apparent in the vocal presentation, which seems to lean just a little further forward than the rest of the sound, as if the singer was a little closer on-stage than the backing band. I am a fan of mid-centric sounds like the Aurisonics ASG range so this tuning personally works well for me – as mentioned, the overall tuning is close enough to neutral not to alienate the vast majority of listeners out there, though. Another memorable aspect of the mid-range is the amount of detail the P1s retain, with guitars again one of the main beneficiaries. Complex guitar passages (both acoustic a la Rodrigo y Gabriela and electric a la Metallica) allow the listener to follow each thread with ease, and retain the small sounds of fingers sliding between frets and the deadened harmonics on the guitar strings to flesh out the main riffs very nicely. Electronic music also fares well with these IEMs, with the out of head presentation helping the pulsating synths and trumpet of Rudimental’s “Feel The Love” fill the listeners brain with the music, placing you right in the middele of the performance. The excellent separation of the P1 driver comes to the fore here, with the stage remaining uncongested no matter how many instruments are added. The overall sound feels tilted ever so slightly towards “warm” in my ears, but this is just an after-impression I get when listening to these rather than anything massively noticeable when they are actually in my ears.
Bass
The bass on the Pinnacle is the area that some people on the forums here find most contentious, with some bemoaning the lack of sub-bass and extension and others commenting that there is a little too much low end to be considered truly neutral. In my personal opinion, both of those statements carry an element of truth – the Pinnacle does have a bass presence that feels on the full side of neutral, and never lacking to my ears. In terms of extension, it doesn’t extend quite as deep as some IEMs I have heard in this price bracket, and would never be described (by me at least) as a sub-bass monster. There is a nice mid-bass thump to proceedings that is more than enough to get most tracks kicking along nicely, with plenty of detail and tone to flesh out the notes. Listening to “Bad Rain” by Slash, the textured bass line that holds the song together can still get my toes tapping, even if this is more of a musically neutral take on it than something more bass heavy like the Aurisonics ASG 2.5 is able to provide. Switching to Sister Hazel, the oozing bassline of “Hello, It’s Me” still retains enough liquidity and thickness to coat the lower reaches of the song properly, filling around the snap of the snare drums and crunch of the guitars nicely. Drums are particularly well represented on this track, with the bass drum pounding along with a good sense of impact and speed, working as a good counterpoint to the smoother bass. The general speed of the notes in the lower ranges are excellent for a dynamic driver, with an excellent sense of liveliness and energy running throughout. “Elevate” by The Winery Dogs is handled with aplomb, Mike Portnoy’s (not he of Head-Fi fame, the other guy) pulsating drum fills rolling around the back of the soundstage behind your ears with precision, keeping each drum head impact separate and distinct in the barrage of notes. This IEM could never be described as a basshead’s dream, and may be lacking enough sub-bass to be truly satisfying if all you listen to is EDM, but there is more than enough presence in the lower end of the spectrum to stop the P1s from sounding lean, pushing them more into the natural / musical bracket for bass presentation without getting too warm or sloppy, so this works perfectly well for me.
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Soundstage/separation
Soundstage is definitely larger than normal for an IEM in this price bracket, with the overall resolution of the sound helping drive the staging out from your head in all directions. Separation and layering are also top-notch, with the single dynamic driver able to keep multiple layers of music separate and distinct from each other, both in location and clarity. Listening to “Magnify” by The Temperance Movement, the track has two duelling guitars on either side of the soundstage which trail each other slightly throughout the first section of the song, which is captured perfectly by the Pinnacles. Each guitar is distinct and placed at the periphery of your head, bringing the simulated echo into focus sharply and allowing your brain to pick out the slight (and intentional) differences between the guitar licks on each side. This track also has some dense harmonies in the chorus, which the P1 does a good job of pulling apart just far enough to register as well as the guitar work. With some IEMs that have such excellent separation, some of the musicality of the song can be lost as the instruments are dissected and analysed – the Pinnacle does a good job of stopping short of that, staying just inside the musical side of the border.
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Isolation
The all-metal construction and ear-filling fit both combine to give these IEMs a higher than normal isolation compared to a “normal” dynamic driver IEM. Even with the mandatory venting in the shell that usually compromises a dynamic driver earphone compared to the fully sealed shells of most balanced armature IEMs, the Pinnacle are up in my top 3 best isolators out of all universal in-ear ‘phones that I have tried. Adding Comply foam tips on top (my preferred tip for these due to comfort and the slightly warmer tonality) and these are IEMs that could quite easily get you run over by a dump truck full of cackling hyenas without giving you the slightest hint they were nearby, so please bear that in mind if you intend to use these for running or cycling (or around cackling hyenas with access to large transport machinery).
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Amping
Unusually for an IEM in this bracket, the impedance is set at a whopping 50 Ohms. Allied to the lower than average sensitivity, this means that these earphones were designed to take more power than average (it even suggests this on MEE Audio’s website). It is possible to run these perfectly well out of a smartphone, but please be aware that to get decent listening volumes (even factoring in the excellent isolation), you are likely to need to run these far closer to maximum volume than other earphones you may be used to using. With amping through smaller solutions like the Fiio E6 or more punchy options like the Cayin C5, the Pinnacle does respond very well to the extra juice, bringing slightly more detail and depth to the presentation and taking on any sound characteristics of the amp very well. These are IEMs that don’t strictly need to be amped, but will respond in kind if you do have the equipment to really pour some power through them.
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Comparisons
Lear NS-U1 Natrosound – this is a dual-dynamic setup which plays in a roughly similar price bracket so I have included it for reference. The tonality of the NS-U1 in either of the sound modes it offers (normal or “Natrosound”) provides a slightly warmer and more bass-driven sound, with a very wide soundstage and more extreme L/R separation of the individual instruments in the default mode. In terms of highs, the Pinnacle wins on smoothness and extension, with a greater impression of clarity than the NS-U1, but certainly not totally outclassing the very capable dynamic drivers in the Lear product. In the mid-range, the NS-U1 provides a warmer and slightly thicker sound with the Natrosound engaged, as compared to the more neutral and detailed soundscape of the P1 – neither are markedly superior, but the P1 pulls slightly ahead for me for my personal preferences with the excellent tone and separation, and the “crunchiness” of guitar based music. In terms of soundstage, the NS-U1 can feel a little bit laterally stretched sometimes when not playing in Natrosound mode, compared to the similarly wide but more real sounding stage presented by the P1. In Natrosound mode, the NS-U1 brings the music more in front of the user (attempting to mimic the sound field of a set of speakers set in front of the listener) – this provides a more “live gig” feel than the P1 for certain music, with the Pinnacles presenting a more classically IEM-sounding musical presentation centred around the confines of your head. Comfort is easily won by the very ergonomic P1 shells, as the NS-U1 share the same shell size as some 12-driver custom IEMs, without the accompanying custom fit. Overall, unless you are looking for the Natrosound feature, the P1s represent a more classical (and better executed) take on the dynamic driver sound for this price range.
Echobox Finder X1 – This IEM is another filter based contender to the sub-$200 crown, with excellent build quality and a sharp “audiophile” U-shaped tuning across all three filters. Using the “bass” filter as my preferred reference, the overall character of the Finders is thinner and edgier than the smooth and fuller tuning of the P1, with the Finders having more bass slam but a more textured and colder lower end compared to the smoother and slightly fuller sounding P1. The P1 has a more neutral shape, with more fullness through the midrange and less sharpness up top – if you are a fan of crystal clear treble then the Finders will offer a more “treble-head” tuning in any of the filter configurations compared to the smooth and clear take of the P1s. Neither IEM exhibit any pronounced sibilance, so this will be purely down to personal preference, to be fair. The warmth of the sound on the P1 does make vocal harmonies and guitar parts seem a little fuller than on the Finder, with a larger soundstage as well. Even though the Finders have a slightly smaller soundstage, spatial cues are actually slightly more pronounced due to the thinner body of the mid-range, with both IEMs excellent at providing a sense of where each note is coming from. Detail is similar across both, with neither lacking in terms of micro-details. One point of difference is the percussion presentation, with the Finders providing more “boom” at the expense of some of the spatial positioning (soundstage coming very much into play here), with the P1s providing a more spread out and less thudding take on the backing beat. Cymbals are also more pronounced on the Finder, with the sharper treble tuning making these sizzle and splash with more energy than the more muted take of the P1. Ergonomics and build quality are a draw – the Finders are made of solid titanium and come with a cable (non removable) that would put the Linum BaX into a Weightwatchers program while still feeling strong enough to pull a truck, so no easy win for the P1s on that score. Overall, another close call – if you are after a sharper U shaped tuning with some laser-etched high notes, the Finder will pull ahead, losing out to the P1s if you are after a warmer and more neutral offering.
Trinity Phantom Sabre – The latest offering from the growing stable of IEMs being produced by British manufacturer Trinity Audio, the Phantom Sabres are another dual dynamic driver setup, but this time set up in a push/pull configuration. The Sabres are a tuneable IEM, with multiple filters providing “manual EQ” options to control the frequency response. Using the orange and gold filters (orange being slightly V shaped and gold being more neutral), the Sabres have a bigger bass presence than the P1, with more slam to kick drums and more sub-bass extension, and using the gold filter (the neutral tuning most similar to the P1) there is still a nice bump in bass impact compared to the P1. The soundstage is similar in size, with the P1s offering the larger of the two, and giving a little more of an “out of head” feeling overall. The spatial cues on both IEMs are excellent, with the slightly larger soundstage of the P1 being noticeable here, but overall direction and “feel” are very similar. One area where the Sabre surprised me vs the P1 was separation of vocal harmonies, giving a slightly better feel of multiple voices in the same range working together compared to the P1, which seems to “blend” things a little closer together. Detail wise, both are excellent, with the push/pull dynamic drivers on the Sabre extracting a similar detail level to the single DD of the P1. The Sabres are considerably easier to drive, requiring approximately 25% less power through my usual sources to attain the same volume levels. Build quality and ergonomics are similar, with the Sabres offering an all-aluminium build compared to the zinc of the P1s, with similar quality detachable cabling and tip layouts. These are two pretty evenly matched IEMs – the Sabre offers more sound tweaking options and a slightly more aggressive “base” tuning compared to the smoother P1 (and different insertion lengths on the filters for those who need a shallower or deeper fit), and is also slightly cheaper overall at current exchange rates. The P1 offers a smoother and more spacious and refined sounding basic tuning, but neither would be a poor choice in this price bracket so again, this will be down to tuning preference as to which will work best for each listener.
FLC8S – These are technically in the next pricing bracket up at c. $350 new, but can be picked up second hand for a close enough price to be worth comparing. The FLC8S has 36 different tuning configurations, so for clarity I am comparing them using my preferred tuning of red-black-gold with Comply comfort tips. As a starting point, the FLC8S is considerably easier to drive from a mobile source than the more power hungry P1, although it can scale in a similar way if given more juice. The filter choice I use allows for more sub-bass and mid-bass presence, giving a slightly deeper “feel” to some music due to the rounding out of the low frequencies. The gold filter on the FLC8S has a slightly more liquid midrange presentation with vocals than the P1, although the P1 comes close enough to make it purely a preference call over which presentation you prefer. The mid range is also slightly thicker and less airy sounding on the P1s, with less air and a little more substance. In the high frequencies, there is a less “crystalline” sound up top for the Pinnacle P1, sounding more laid back and diffuse than the sharper and airier sound coming from the FLC8S. The FLC is overall a slightly more forward sounding IEM than the Pinnacle, pushing the music closer to the listener for a “larger than life” presentation compared to the Pinnacle’s more laid back and neutral positioning. Build quality is won by the solid zinc shells and rope-like cable of the P1s – the plastic shells of the FLC (while very ergonomic) don’t give off the same feel of durability or class, and the cable is an order of magnitude lower in terms of quality. Overall, the FLC8S wins out for my personal preferences, but on a technical level, both are very well matched, with neither having a massive advantage over the other in everything apart from sub-bass capability/overall tuning flexibility.
Campfire Audio Nova – these are in a higher price bracket again (RRP is currently $500), so not really a like for like comparison. The reason I include these is for the tuning of the Nova, which is intentionally more “real” than technical or analytical, so it shares enough similarity in design philosophy for me to include here. The Nova has a much darker tuning, with less air in the treble and a thicker overall sound. Once you have adjusted to the darker tuning of the Nova, the detail level is similar, with a great feel of substance and clarity through the midrange down into the bass. The Nova has a thicker bass fundament than the P1, but rolls off only a little further down than the P1 when reaching down into the sub-bass registers. In terms of source, the Nova is much easier to drive, reaching the same volume as the P1 with less than half the output of any source I have hitcvhed it up to. The whole sound of the Nova is thicker and more rooted in a real/live presentation sound, compared to the P1’s neutral and spacious presentation, which will appeal more to fans of a lighter and more neutral sound. Soundstage has similar width in my head, with the P1 winning slightly on overall size. The midrange tuning of the Nova (reminiscent in some ways of the Audioquest Nighthawk) can sound “veiled” when switching directly between the Nova and the P1 until your brain readjusts. Overall, the P1 sounds cleaner, with a less thick and more refined sound. Build quality is won by the Novas, with the solid aluminium shells and high end cabling and case just pulling ahead of the P1s in terms of design and feel, as you would expect from an IEM costing 2.5x as much. The signatures are far more different than they are similar, so lovers of one would not necessarily love the other, but the easiest way to describe them is to say that the Nova has a dash of realism you get used to over time and come to admire, whereas with the P1 enjoyment is instant as it is more of a conventional “audiophile” tuning. In that regard, I would feel comfortable saying that a fan of the Nova would probably appreciate the Pinnacle, but a fan of the Pinnacle may not necessarily like the tuning of the Nova.
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Overall conclusion
This was an interesting review to write for me, as this is my second “bite” at the Pinnacle. Being honest, my thoughts on the IEM the first time around were mixed between admiration of the technical prowess and a little indifference towards the overall neutrality of the sound. A few months (and multiple IEMs) down the road, and the technical admiration remains, but the  apathy I felt towards the tuning has been replaced with an appreciation for just how enjoyable it can be with certain types of music, and just how many genres of music can sound good when these are the gateway. Those looking for a more aggressive tuning in either bass or treble can find other IEMs more fitting to their preferences in the same price bracket, but if a technically excellent and smooth sound with just enough warmth in the mid-range and mid-bass substance to get it kicked out of the “true neutral” members club is what you are after, you will have to spend considerably more cash to get something that gives you the same experience as the P1. At this price point, this truly is a prince amongst in-ear monitors, and MEE Audio should be applauded for bringing something this good to the masses at a price this low. One final point on the rating – I have given this IEM 5 stars, but if someone asked me to rate this based on my personal preferences, it would probably come in at a 4 or 4.5 in my own internal scorechart – my preference for slightly warmer and darker tuning stops this from being 100% endgame material for me personally, but I can’t fault what MEE have achieved here (let alone for the price), so 5 stars is the appropriate rating to give.
Deftone
Deftone
Good read, nice work!
pedronet
pedronet
Great review :D
flognarde
flognarde
Thank you for the review. When I hear "Can lack bass for some" I know it's the proper amount, at least for non electronic musics !

avitron142

500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Soundstage, Overall SQ, Impressive Packaging, Premium Cables, Great Fit/Comfort, Build Quality, Genre Versatility, Zero Hiss.
Cons: Not extremely easy to drive at 50 Ohms, No memory wire sometimes makes over-ear fit less than ideal.
Introduction:

There’s a certain thrill I get when I see the term “flagship”. The best a company has to offer, its very own premium, crème de la crème product. When it comes to sound quality, it’s the place we want to go to satisfy the perfectionist side of us all.

…But there’s also the feeling of “I can’t possibly afford this.” For some, that isn’t an issue – they have the finances to buy whatever they want. But what about the rest of us though?

Luckily, in recent years, there have been some outstanding products that joined the audio market, and those enabled us to get good (very good, IMO) sound for an affordable amount. You’re able to get a very decent open-back headphone home setup for under $200, fantastic portable amps for ~$100, and even DAPs have come a long way to show us that price isn’t always an indicator of sound quality – the Shozy Alien and Aune M2 are good examples of this.

But none of those are flagships. They are very good products, and well worth their price in my eyes, but they aren’t “the very best”. That’s a trade-off I think most of us have gotten used to though.

Then I saw the Pinnacle P1. I thought the price was a mistake – I mean, when do flagship models cost $200? Looking at some of the specs, impressions, and accessories, it all seemed to check out. I was a bit puzzled about that price tag though - So I asked MEE for a pair to review, to see what all the hype’s about. Is it another giant killer? I wanted to know. Here’s the rundown.

By the time you get to the end of this review, it should be pretty obvious that MEE Audio did a fantastic job engineering their first high-end headphone - really, I don't know how they could have done a better job.
I'd like to thank Mike Jones, the marketing director from MEE Audio for providing me with a sample of the Pinnacle P1, and for bearing with me during all the delays. I truly enjoyed writing this review (all three times, hard drive failure is a wonderful thing), and am eager to see what they do next.

Packaging:

Unboxing the P1 was quite interesting - more so than other products I've reviewed. The front cover shows a great shot of the headphone, and the sides and back filled with useful information about the P1 itself, including impedance, sensitivity, length, included accessories, and more. So many times I’ve found specifications to be shoddy or hard to find; it’s good to see MEE Audio print it out neatly on the cover sleeve for it to be easily found.

After taking off the sleeve, you are met with a hard, black rectangular box. One thing that sticks out about this is that the split, or break, is not at the side of the box, but smack in the middle of it. My initial reaction was that it might be complicated to open up the box, but I was wrong – just flip both sides up, and you’re good to go. This sophisticated packaging impressed me: usually it’s the same old “open the box up”. This time it was a new take on the principle - call me superficial, but it's a nice box. Would be a shame if the product didn't measure up, eh?

After opening up the box, you are greeted by the P1’s in a foam cutout, a leather case, and two small boxes on the bottom; one for the cables, and the other for eartips. These are clearly labeled, and are arranged in a very neat fashion.

Underneath the foam cutout is a ¼ inch adapter, shirt clip, and manual.

Overall? A thrilling experience. I’m not one to get excited for packaging, but this is truly a flagship-status unboxing. Professional, unique, neat… honestly, I don’t think I could fault the presentation in any way. Well done.

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Accessories:

Quite a few to speak of, actually. Starting with the leather case I mentioned earlier, it feels well made, premium, and one of the nicest looking cases I’ve seen, period. It flips open via a magnetic cover, and has a velvety interior. On the front is a polished metal piece with the serial number and “Pinnacle” name etched in. It’s a fantastic looking case, and has enough room to comfortably fit both the P1 and its cable. They also fit well in dress pants pockets – in other words, they’re “pocketable” as long as you aren’t wearing jeans. It isn’t a hard case though, so don’t go around stomping on it.

Moving on to the eartips - there’s a large assortment of them. They are arranged in its box by size, so there’s no concerns over mixing them up and the like. There’s small/medium/large pairs of regular silicone, two sets of bi-flange, one set of tri-flange, and three sets of Comply foam tips.

I’m surprised that MEE Audio got this one right – usually, I have to recommend a more diverse set of tips. Here though, they spared no effort to provide tips that are perfect for the consumer. Bi-flange? Check. Different sizes? Check. It’s rare enough to see one pair of Comply with headphones at this price, but three? That’s above and beyond what MEE had to do, and it’s well appreciated. I’m also always lamenting the lack of bi-flange and tri-flange tips, and these were provided as well. Well done – tips are quite important, and getting this right is essential to everyone having a good time with these earphones.

The ¼ inch adapter and shirt clip is quite welcome; these are standard in most headphones nowadays and seeing them here is a good sign.

The cables are the last sign of accessories, and the biggest surprise as well. Out of the box you get two cables, one black and the other silver. That isn’t the end of it, though – these cables are PREMIUM. The longer one is a 4-conductor copper cable with an in-line remote and mic, and the shorter one a silver plated pure copper audio cable. I found the in-line mic cable to be quite useful, despite the P1’s high impedance. Since the P1 still performs reasonably well with smartphones and other low-power options (more on that later), I feel the mic was a good addition.

On to premium – silver plated cables are considered quite prestigious, and run for quite a bit of money – many cost more than the P1 itself. Getting such a high-quality cable in (what audiophiles would call) a ‘mere’ $200 headphone is absolutely amazing. Companies rarely dare to include a silver-plated cable, because it will definitely raise costs.

Here though, once again, we see that MEE hasn’t spared any time or materials because of raised costs – and they managed to keep their flagship headphone at a very attractive price. Build quality and looks are fantastic, but I’ll hold myself back and save it for the next section. Suffice it to say that these look 100% boss, and I’ve rarely seen cables such as these that are such eye candy. Sound quality of both are excellent, with the silver-plated cable being a bit better, if placebo didn't get the better of me. I’m surprised to see that the first premium cable I’ve encountered wasn’t from an $800 or even $500 headphone; it was from the $200 package – the type that most entitled audiophiles would brush aside as ‘budget’ priced.

The accessories here should be a reference point for most companies. There aren’t any unneeded parts or pieces, and the choice of tips and cables make it easy to discard searching for aftermarket versions of either. While I didn’t see ear fins, hooks, or tuning rings, I personally think it doesn’t need any of them, as the comfort, stability, and sound quality are more than enough on their own.

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Build Quality, Design, & Weight:

The housing of the P1 seems to be brushed zinc alloy. What does this mean? Well, from appearances alone, it looks almost as if it was polished and brushed; a non-reflective shade of metal that is appealing to the eyes. The "brushing" effect is equal throughout the entire housing, and there are no weak or unattended spots. In the middle of each housing, there is a clear "M" (or 'w' if you're looking at it upside down) for MEE audio. Normally I would say that the housing space would better go to L/R markings, but as the ergonomics of the P1 make it easy to tell which side is which, there is no need for that.

The housing shape is somewhat bean-shaped, not too unlike those of Westone, but with a few shape differences. The nozzle portrudes from the housing, but doesn't take much space, and looks completely natural with the tips on. The shells have a good heft to them, but aren't heavy - there's just enough weight to them to know they are solid materials.

The housing connects to the cable via standard MMCX, which means any cable of the type should fit without any issue. I don't see why you would want to though, short of breaking - the included cables, as mentioned before, are one of the best included ones I've seen, regardless of price. However, it is good to know that if both of them break (unlikely scenario), or you have a specific cable you'd like to use instead, that is a welcome option.

The connection itself is very durable - no wiggling at all. It isn't hard to remove the cable though - I was able to remove it with a bit of effort, and I've had trouble removing other manufacturer's cables. It was not, however, "easy" in the sense that it is flimsy. It is a solid connection, and I think they've made just the right amount of pressure able to remove the cable.

Both cables are thick, yet flexible. I don't have much patience for stiff cables, and I'm glad to say the P1 has none. It does not have memory wire near the connector, as it can be worn both wire up and wire down. Both are very comfortable as I'll mention later, but it's enough to say here that memory wire is not needed in wire up position when sitting or regular walking. When jogging or fast walking, I found the silver plated cable to be a bit difficult to keep behind my ear. But even the "thick" cables cause no issues with my glasses, nor the back of my ears - despite hours of wearing.

The L/R markings on the connector is a bit hard to see, and I don't pity those that like to switch between wire-down and wire-down; connecting it again correctly can be a chore. The wire is thinner above the Y-split, but is still twisted all the way down to the Y-split, and is braided quite nicely. The P1 has a nice weight to them, showing some heft but not enough to be “heavy”. I’ve had no issues with the P1 being too heavy or anything of that sort, so I’d say it’s a job well done in this regard.

Overall, the build quality is solid, and the brushed metal looks great as well. Unlike some other IEM's, the P1 looks its price, if not more so.

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Comfort, Fit, & Isolation:

I’ll get straight to it; the comfort of this IEM is phenomenal. I’ve worn IEMs that are designed to be unobtrusive, and supposed to disappear when worn. The P1 has all that in spades – I usually wear it wire-down, and after 10 hours of continuous wearing, I never once needed to adjust it, to move it around, or anything of that sort to get a good fit. On top of that, after all that time, my ears didn’t even feel sore or tired – the most common symptoms even comfortable earphones cause.

Fit is the same – excellent; not shallow or deep, but easy enough to remove when necessary, unlike the Westone W40 which was a hassle to insert and remove. Even so, it stays in your ears despite vigorous shaking, head-tilting, or anything else which would indicate the fit is too loose. Isolation is also above average with a quiet background; with music playing, it isolates quite well.

Sound:

When I first listened to the P1, my first reaction was surprise - I was taken aback by how expansive and large the soundstage was. My primary complaint in IEM's are usually about how claustrophobic they feel, seriously limiting the enjoyment I can get compared to a roomy feel that an open-back can supply. The P1 remedies all that.

Many called the P1 "bright", but I haven't heard any of that. In a nutshell, the P1 isn't analytical, yet isn't sloppy like other IEM's which call their sound signature "fun" and "tuned for ___". The P1 has a very slightly warm feel, good detail, and a soundstage that is large enough to make you forget you're listening to an IEM. These aren't the end of the P1's strength’s, however.

Bass: The bass is rich and musical, and is quite enjoyable actually. Quantity-wise, it's only slightly above neutral - I don't like a bass boost, and the P1 doesn't give you that. However, what they do give is quality - there's a richness and fullness about it that is hard to explain, but easy to appreciate.

The levels between the lower, mid, and upper bass seem to be both consistent and natural - I haven't noticed any significant roll-off in the sub-bass, but I've said the same about the HE400S as well, so I may not be the greatest judge of that. What I can assure you though is that there is no mid-bass "bump" that too many other IEM's are famous for.

Despite its rich and 'full' feeling, it is quite clear, and doesn't bleed into the rest of the spectrum in any way. Texture is great, and detail is good as well. It isn't as quick as the bass in IEM's three times the asking price, but honestly, I only realized that after A/B comparisons, and it isn't evident from the P1 alone in any way.

Comparisons will come later, but with regards to this section, the Titan 5 is DUNU's shot at perfecting the bass department. While the Titan 5 has much more bass quantity, and is quite enjoyable as well, the P1 with its rich bass is much more preferable to me, despite it having less bass overall. This should show how you don't need an extremely elevated bass to enjoy it - even slightly above neutral, when done well, can give fantastic results.

Midrange: The mids sit in a nice spot. Female vocals are extremely clear with a good source… and I mean clear. It’s not the best IEM I’ve heard for vocals, since the insane amount of detail and clarity is just short of the full emotion and heart female vocals should ultimately have. They’re bloody good though, and whether I listen to Diana Krall, Celine Dion, Rebecca Pidgeon, or even Beyonce, I’m amazed by the amount of clarity the P1 can produce. Male vocals are quite nice as well, sounding natural and detailed too. Upper registers can sound fatiguing with music not recorded very well, so it’s best to feed it tracks mastered well.

Guitars sound great, detailed and accurate. Pianos too – except that with a brighter source, it leans towards the brighter side of things. Cellos sound smooth and detailed, and overall, instruments sound fantastic with the P1. In general, I found instrumental tracks to be excellent with the P1.

Highs: Honestly, I expected after burn-in that this would be bright. I'm just not hearing any of that though - the highs are present, there, but not any more so than the bass and mids. If anything, the highs are presented in such a way that it isn't the star of the show, but a coherent part of the spectrum. Listening to violin concertos, drum solos, and even Lindsey Sterling, the highs remained present. Detailed enough, airy enough, but not overflowing with either one, perhaps with the exception of some very satisfying drum tracks.

And that's the way it probably should be. Some people like bright signatures, sure. But to divide each part of the spectrum equally, without too much of a push towards a specific category, that allows you to appreciate the music in its entirety, without feeling fatigued or the need to take a break. Paired with even a bright source, the P1 remains very listenable.

Clarity: The P1 is great in this category. It isn't either warm or cold, but if I had to pick a side it's closer too, it leans towards the warmer, rich side of things. Despite this, it definitely doesn't lack in clarity, but it probably won't wow you on first glance either – with the exception of the mids with a more analytical source. Clarity takes a big leap forward with a good source.

Detail & Extension: Both are excellent in this IEM. These also take the biggest hit when listening to a source that doesn't drive these well - straight out of a lower-end smartphone these will sound good, but not fantastic when it comes to details. When listening through even a portable DAC/amp, it's raised to another level. Paired with the very detailed and semi-bright DacAmp One, the level of details were mind-boggling - directly contesting against even TOTL IEMs.

Soundstage: Tremendous. Absolutely tremendous. The roomy feeling you get from these is not like an IEM at all – until a few days ago, I would have said this scale was only possible in open-backs. Using the P1 to watch a movie is like upgrading to a full 7 channel surround speaker system – the sense of space you get makes the experience ten times more realistic.

And that’s from a smartphone, without the P1 even being driven properly. With a proper DAC/amp, the difference is then compounded. Music becomes a lot more enjoyable when you have a lot of “legroom,” so to speak, a lot like flying first class. One of the biggest complaints against IEMs is the lack of soundstage, or the claustrophobic feeling you get in comparison to an open-back. This resolves that complaint single handedly – I don’t know what they did here, but well done. Well done indeed.

These are in another league compared to most other IEM’s. ‘Nuff said.

Imaging: So if the soundstage is the crowning glory of the P1, what about the imaging? The imaging is spot on, provided that you have a good source and source files. I am easily able to tell where each instrument or voice is coming from, and in many cases it makes for a surreal experience.

Instrument Separation: I’m able to pick apart each part of the track, and focus on it quite easily. While it may not be as good as the DN-2000J in this regard, it’s certainly not lacking in any way, and for the vast majority of even audiophiles, the separation it provides should be more than enough.

Coherency & Flow: Despite having an excellent amount of detail, and fantastic soundstage, the P1 is quite the musical IEM. As such, the coherency is excellent, with every part of the frequency flowing together, and it’s actually extremely easy to get lost in the music. PraT is very good, and even as I’m writing this I’m having trouble – I keep on getting distracted by the P1 and how great the music sounds.

Immersion Factor: As I mentioned before, excellent, and quite a surprise for what is a resolving IEM. It’s easy to get lost in the music, yet at the same time I’m appreciating every part of the song. The soundstage makes everything sound that much better, and overall listening to music on the P1 is an immersive experience, provided that you have a good source.

Transparency: Despite having its own signature, I’ve found the P1 to take on many of the characteristics of its source. If you have a warm source, the P1 will sound quite warm. If you have an analytical source, the P1 will be loaded with details. It will also not mask a bright source, but it does make it a bit more tame.

Genre Recommendation: I’m sure the P1 is here to ruin my job – despite weeks of testing, I haven’t found anything the P1 isn’t good with. I’ve gone from hardcore EDM to Jazz, Electric Swing to Rock, anything with male vocals to anything with female vocals to solo piano, guitar to game soundtracks to anime soundtracks to violin to heavy rock to classical – and it handled every single one without a hitch.

Everything I tried with it, everything, sounded great with the P1. I literally went from Scorpions to Bach and it sounded great with both. The versatility the P1 with music is rarely present in any IEM. If I had to pick a best and a worst, I would say that Jazz sounded sublime on the Pinnacle, while heavy rock that had an absolute ton going on made the P1 slip a little. Other than that, it all sounds natural and accurate.

Source & Amplification: This is the only catch of the P1; it has an ohm load of 50 ohms, and without a DAC/amp it kind of shows. Most audiophiles already have a DAC/amp, which eliminates this issue, but for those with only a laptop, low-end phone, or a not-so-powerful DAP, those will limit the P1 in some way.

To be fair, smartphones almost always are a limiting factor, and the P1 actually sounded very good on mine (LG G3). However, it will only go up from there, and to really get the best from this IEM – and it’s worth it to do so in this case - a good source with a bit of power is needed. The difference is between sounding great and sounding phenomenal.

It would have been fantastic for the P1 to be efficient enough for all phones and sources, but there’s a positive side too – no hiss. Since most IEM users had to deal with hiss at one point or another, we’ve considered it inevitable. But with the P1, even my hiss-faulty LG G3 sounds dead quiet.

At 50 ohms, it’s at the threshold where it doesn’t sound horrible without an amp; on the contrary, I was quite happy how it sounded with my phone alone. But again, to really show what it’s capable of, feed it some juice.

When it’s not being driven properly, it retains a large amount of its soundstage, but loses some detail, clarity, and imaging, as well as some bass texture. Paired directly with the Aune M2, it sounded nice, but not spectacular. When I added the amp portion of the DacAmp One to the mix, even though it’s not a great one, I noticed an obvious improvement.

Pairings:

Individual Traits:

Pianos – slightly colored, a bit bright, lacking impact in a few pieces. Overall, not the best I’ve heard from this headphone.

Guitars – sound great, more musical than analytical, but still have a great amount of detail.

Heavy guitar/Heavy Rock – Excellent - dealt with both very well. Sounded accurate, realistic, and very enjoyable. Excellent speed even through complicated songs.

Vocals – both male and female were clear and musical. Sounds slightly thin on certain tracks.

Drums – slightly forward, but retain a very nice amount of detail.

Electronica – Slightly smooth, but quite clear and overall quite enjoyable.

Soundstage – takes a hit.

Detail – takes a hit.

Bottom Line: I have a feeling that the P1 isn’t being driven well from the Opus #11. It has a buttery, smoother take on things, and doesn’t have the insane amount of detail or soundstage room I’ve come to expect from the P1. In addition, I find myself raising the volume a lot, a sign that it doesn’t sound as “full” as it should. It’ll still sound better than most IEM’s in its price range, but not as good as it can be

Individual Traits:

Bass – tight, textured, and detailed. Has a very nice rumble, and is quite enjoyable. No problems here.

Mids – Vocals are extremely clear, very good for analytical listening. Isn’t as seductive or musical as I would have liked, but it’s a minor hit to take considering how clear and detailed both male and female vocals are.

Highs – Very slightly bright, as the DacAmp One is the same. Detailed, airy, you name it. Also loaded with detail.

Detail – as you probably guessed by now, the P1 is loaded with it. There weren’t only details, there were microdetails and then some.

Clarity – freakishly clear, every track I’ve tried. The P1 rivals some of the

Soundstage – slightly smaller than what the P1 is capable of, the DacAmp One is definitely limiting in this regard.

Bottom Line: the DacAmp One pairs excellently with the P1 – it really shows why this headphone is called the “Pinnacle”. Is it an endgame pairing? Maybe, I’d still want to have that soundstage back. But in every other regard, I’d considered it made

Bottom Line: I’m not going to go into the details here, but it wasn’t the best pairing I’ve heard. It sounded restrained, and held back compared to other pairings I’ve tried. I was a bit surprised by this; the S6 is supposed to be able to drive even demanding headphones. And maybe it does, who knows. But it didn’t sound fantastic with the P1, almost like the P1 was “tame” in comparison to what it could have done.

Comparisons:

The Savant, even without the design costs, is still three times the price of the P1. Let’s see how they add up:

Bass – this is a focal difference between the two. The Savant’s is tighter, more textured, but much less in quantity, and not very enjoyable. The P1’s in contrast has a nice rumble, is very musical, and has a less detail. Again, this is on the Studio 6.

Mids: I’d hand this to the P1. Vocals are more or less on par between the two, instruments flat out sound better on the P1. The Savant has slightly more detail, but it’s not a noticeable difference.

Highs: I’d hand this to the P1, although this is more a matter of preference than anything. The Savant’s highs seem to be rolled-off, or at least less in quantity than the P1’s, which is present and quite noticable.

Soundstage: The P1 is the winner here, with a larger soundstage than the Savant, which sounds slightly claustrophobic in comparison.

Clarity: goes to the Savant, it has a much clearer presentation than the P1, which sounds warm and less clear in comparison.

Overall – It depends what parts you value more. The P1 has a few winning attributes, so does the Savant. At a third of the price of the Savant, I’m quite impressed.

However, I found the P1/Studio 6 combo not to have very good synergy. I think it’s a bit unfair to judge the P1 on a source that it doesn’t pair very well with. Let’s move over to the other combo, shall we?
The DacAmp is known for being very good in detail, being brutally analytical. Think of the Beyer T90 in a DAC/Amp for, you’ll get the DacAmp One. Overall known to be a very good source, with the only downside being its soundstage.

I’ll be quick here: the P1 wrecks the Savant. I mean wrecks it. It didn’t matter if the Savant was on the Studio 6 or the DacAmp One (I volume matched and put the same source files by the way), the P1 with the DacAmp One absolutely destroyed no matter what source I paired the Savant with.

Bass, Mids, Highs, Details, you name it. The P1 completely pulled through. The only aspect in which I found them similar was in terms of clarity, the Savant’s strongest point – which the P1 was still better in this pairing, by the way. If I had a good, analytical source, I would grab the P1 and never look back at the Savant.

The DUNU Titan 3 is a mid-centric IEM from DUNU, a massive contender in their own right. I’m using this comparison to test mainly for vocals, as that’s the T3’s strongest point, and trump card. Testing for anything else here would be kind of… pointless, as the Titan 3 was meant to be used with vocals, and everything else is kind of average on it.

The Titan 3 still comes out on top when it comes to vocals – vocals on the T3 are just crispier, clearer, and (most importantly) more musical compared to the P1. Before you read on though, it is important to note that I've never heard better vocals than on the Titan 3. The P1 isn’t lacking in any way – it’s just that DUNU really made a winner when it comes to vocals, and even the Savant couldn’t come close. The P1 is analytical, and more technical in comparison in this regard. The P1 was slightly more detailed in this area, but overall I found myself going the Titan 3 for music where voices are the main priority. The P1 wasn’t lagging far behind though, and I mean that.

With that said, if you listen to more than vocals, the P1 is the better choice by far, due to its versatility in so many genres (and the rest of the spectrum), and great performance with the mids as well. The only thing I found the Titan 3 really was good with was with vocals – if that’s what makes up most of your collection, I suggest you go for the T3.

I can guess what you’re thinking.

“What the heck?”

The K7XX is an open-back headphone – not only that, it’s the undisputed “giant killer” of open-backs as well. I’m fully aware of that, and here’s another thing: the K7XX (or specifically, AKG’s K702 line) has one of the largest soundstages of any headphone. I’m also of the opinion that open-backs are vastly superior to IEMs, and I haven’t found an IEM that didn’t need artificial “tuning” to sound good.

With all that skepticism in mind, I decided to compare the two.

Although the P1 had a great run, the K7XX had a slightly larger soundstage, better separation, and the clarity of an open-back. The bass was slightly elevated in comparison and more textured as well.

But, the P1 is… actually a contender. Yes, the K7XX is better, but honestly, what could we expect coming into this? We’re comparing a headphone that is tiny and goes in your ear for crying out loud, against one that not only has much more space between your ear and the driver, but also is open-back for accurate imaging and soundstage.

Comparing the 2 side by side, the P1 actually stands its own, and isn’t vastly different than the K7XX. It may not be exactly the K7XX in 1/20 of the size, but what about a HD600? Fidelio X2? HE350? Like I said before, the K7XX has the largest soundstage of the lot, and with that comes separation and (hopefully) imaging. Imagine any of the other open-back headphones I mentioned, in an IEM shell. Can I guarantee that’s the P1? Nope.

...But what I can tell you is that it’s a likely possibility. The P1 doesn’t “sound like an IEM” very much, and isn’t too far off from the “open-back” type of sound – the tonality is extremely similar to the K7XX, and the soundstage is in reach too.

Conclusion:

The P1 is an absolute steal – let me make that clear. I’m a very frugal spender, and the Pinnacle P1 is worth every penny. It competes against higher-end offerings without any effort, sounds closer to an open-back headphone than almost any other, and is polished not only in the sound department, but in every aspect I can think of – presentation, accessories, fit/comfort, genre versatility, cables, etc.

In an absolute sea of IEM’s, the P1 stands out as one of the best price/performance headphones I’ve seen. Is it a giant killer? That’s up to you to decide, but one thing is sure: the Pinnacle P1 is no joke.

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- Avishai Zitron
alex atPaiaudio
alex atPaiaudio
Great review with pro details.:)
avitron142
avitron142
Thanks Alex! I try :)
Ahmad313
Ahmad313
A very nice and honest review specially when i read that comparison with T3 i said to myself that you are the reviewer i can trust,  i heartily appreciate you. 

Takeanidea

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Smooth sound signature , isolation comfort
Cons: 50 Ohms impedance rather low on volume through a smartphone

This is a good IEM -for under £200 it is a great IEM.

There, I've said it. But fear not reader, there is a great deal more rambling insight ahead. I shall tell all about this IEM and give you my opinion, warts and all, for you to digest and contrast against my fellow headphone fanatics out there. I have 2 people to thank before we dive any deeper into the mists of sound and word - grettings to @Tony-Hifi of HiFiHeadphones fame for being the loaner of the Pinnacles and for embracing the HeadFi community in such a worthy fashion. And not to forget @glassmonkey for putting my name out there for a listen to these for a week.
 

Introduction

The MEE audio Pinnacle P1
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is a single dynamic driver IEM. It is their flagship model and retails in the UK for £179.99
http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk/mee-audio-pinnacle-p1-in-ear-isolating-earphones-with-replaceable-cable-and-universal-controls-mic.html
It has 50 Ohms impedance , and a 20hz - 20 khz frequency response. It is a closed ear canal over the ear IEM with detachable cables. 2 are supplied-  1 with a mic for hands free phone calls 1 mic free longer cable for everything else. Both cables are extremely posh and beautiful looking.
IEMs are in a separate field to full size headphones. I use an IEM over a full size when I'm wearing sunglasses - I don't like the way the headband on a full size squeezes my head. For working out/running the smaller the better in my opinion. When space is at a premium , when only a pocket is available for stowaway purposes, only an IEM will doodle do.
I shan't be comparing the Pinnacle P1 to full size headphones - they are opposites. Only IEMs will be used for this piece, but some interesting ones will come up along the way.
 

The Sound

For comparison purposes I had a few IEMs to choose from. The first 2 of a similar price level and the next 2 of a much higher price. First up is the Sony XBA4ip.
 
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Dynamic 4 driver design - Superwoofer, woofer.mid range and tweeter. 8 Ohms impedance. Frequency response 3hz-28 khz Sensitivity 108 db Noise isolation -unknown(not great though) £275
Rave reviews fror these when they came out - WhatHiFi tested them in September 2012 at £275 and gave them 5 stars, It appears that at £100 less than the XBAs for the MEEs things have moved on somewhat since then... The MEE Pinnacle had more bass more presence in the mids and a silkier high than the Sony XBA4ip. It took all of 5 seconds to confirm this to my ears , but a 15 minute further audition pulled the Pinnacles away even further.
 
Next up - The Klipsch X11i
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A single full range armature driver design 50 Ohms impedance frequency response 5hz-19 khz 110 db sensitivity -26 db noise isolation £248
 
A match in the impedance , but not not in the sound signature. The 11is had a punchier more exciting sub and bass but was muddier across the rest of the spectrum. To my ears I would go for the MEEs sound. The X11i is certainly no slouch and is close to the sound quality of the MEEs.
 
As a bit of fun or perhaps just because I can , let's now have a look at what a whole chunk of more cash will get you in the miniature world of the IEM.
Cheapest first. But cheap? No. Definetrely not. The Erib-2a from oBravo
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Hybrid Dynamic and Planar Magnetic NDD full range and Planar Magetic Tweeter Dual Driver IEMs. Impedance 16 Ohms Frequency Response 20 hz-35 khz Sensitiviity 102 db Noise Isolation-unknown(poor though) £549
The frequency response at the lower end suggests the MEE may have an advantage in the low end dynamics of the sound v these. This is quite correct , the Pinnacle has a lot more bass and punch. The mid bass and above is where the ERIBs excfel and they have a wider airier crisper sound.
 
Finally let us go the whole way - to the world of the Custom IEM
 
The ACS Encore Pro Studio
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5 Driver 3 way crossover custom IEMs. 20 hz-21 hz 85 Ohm Impedance 120.5 db sensitivity -26 db Noise Isolation £749
Despite the specs the ACS has punch and drive to the low end that surpasses the bass I've heard from any IEMs. The sound stage is wider , the mids and highs are neutral than the MEEs. This is what I would expect when you are paying 3x the price of the MEE Pinnacle.
 

Sound Quality Conclusion

The Pinnacles sound lovely there is nothing to criticise here for the price , sure they don't have the clarity and depth of stuff 2 or 3x the price, but they trounce any of the similar priced opposition I have.
 

Sensitivity

The listening environment is the key to understanding what the MEE Pinaccles can and can't do here. In a quiet environment , sat down in the front room on your own , through a smartphone the MEEs are fine at just near top volume . Go running with them top volume is a must and some may want even more dependent on taste and traffic noise. I am not one for weighing myself down with stacks when every ounce counts on the move, so amping the MEEs is not an option for me on the roads. I found I could run and enjoy these through my smartphone so just be aware as a note of caution , you will not be needing to reach for the volume down button.
 

Isolation

And this is reason no.1 as to why you'll want to take up running once you've listened to the Pinnacle's. They sieve out all but the most outrageously loud noises when worn over the ear and make running a musical experience. Of course, when you're near collapse half a mile into your jog as I normally am some of the subtler nuances of the engineer's mix may get lost on you, but these will want to get you out there. Hopefully.
Sat in the front room with the rest of the family - nothing gets through - rows, slanging matches , sword fights , sneezes , coughing fits , Dolby Surround on the TV. All blanked out. Bliss.
 

Comfort

The ultimate test for the comfort of an IEM is to take it out on a long run. This I did a few times.  Comfort gets top marks. Worn over the ears with the cable behind the neck and threaded round the back , no adjustments are needed to the fit whilst on the run, leaving no excuse but to just keep on running. The cable's weight is just not present because of the cleverness of the over the design and the shape of the driver which is pretty much as close as you can get to a custom fit. In contrast, my £749 Customs even need the odd bit of adjustment around the bottom of the driver and because they are so much larger they can put more pressure around the earlobe. 
 

Microphonics

No cable noise present on the MEE Pinnacles I'm pleased to report. Ever the negative feature of IEMs where the cable noise can be heard through the drivers , MEEs eradicated the issue with good thick shielded cable,  a nice heavy driver balanced through that great shape and the over the ear design. Both the XBA4 and Klipsch X11 display noticeable cable noise- the down from the ear designs do nothing to help reduce this effect.
 

Accessories

A really nice bonus of a non mic cable and a hands free cable both of which are great quality are included.
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Box of tips with 3 comply sizes and 6 normal tips.
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A neat little carry case pocket sized
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A cable clip
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A decent full size adapter
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A booklet that even gives hints on wearing around the ear
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All of which go to show MEE have cut no corners in this department
 
 

Conclusion

The MEE Pinnacle shows us jusat how much quality can be achieved in the |EM world for under £200. If you're on the move and want some escape from the realities of the tube or the bus or the loneliness of the long distance runner, give them a try. You won't be disappointed. Or bankrupt

harry501501

1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: Smooth but very detailed, very musical. Great for all genres.
Cons: Long cable a bit of a pain on the go. Wax guard keeps falling out.
I'm not qualified enough to go into a big review so I'll keep it simples 
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Build - Solid housing. Trendy looking. Can be over ear comfortably. They are big but I've never had any problem or discomfort, the only buds that came with it that I couldn't wear was their triple flange... which is far too long and badly effects the sound IMO. These must be for someone with giant ears! The music sounds tinny and thin with it, but with every other tip I've tried this isn't a problem. I prefer the medium foam they come with. I also liked the double flange. Isolation is great. The cable though is very long and difficult to hide, Very minimum to no noise from it though.
 
Sound - It has a very smooth and detailed sound. It gets addictive very quickly and has kept me up into the small hours of the night going through my catalogue. It needs say 6-10 hours burn in. It sounds good out of the box, but nowhere near what it is capable of. You notice a big difference afterwards. You can use these to marvel at microdetails in your music, or to just sit back and enjoy listening to.
 
Bass, mids and treble... nothing stands out more than the other. They compliment each other for a wonderful listening experience.
 
BASS - Punchy and accurate, the way I like it. Anyone who says they are bass light must be bassheads, if so maybe these aren't for you... although they do respond to EQ very well so maybe even a slight boost might suit you if you love big bass. There is no bloat and it extends nicely through sub bass and up.
 
MIDS - Addictive. Vocals are great, creamy and natural. Both male and female vocals come out just beautifully. Instruments can all be heard as if you are there in the studio. They are neither forward or recessed. Great resolution, and vocals are very articulate. For the first time I can hear lyrics clearly in even the fastest of songs.
 
HIGHS - I'm not big on piercing hot treble. The treble on these is accurate and with no sibilance or fatigue (very occasionally you do get some sibilance but that's on songs that are naturally sibilant, but it's not sore sounding) and . Strings sound great. For the first time I can hear cymbals the way they should be heard.
 
SOUNDSTAGE - Spectacular. Nice and wide, and never artificial. Harmonies are great, different vocalists can be picked out, the same goes for different instruments. Great stereo imaging.
 
The best thing about these is they make songs that you thought were just alright... sound great! Songs that you may have thought were overrated you can now see just why they are so acclaimed. This is down to the details they bring out, vocals and instruments you've never heard before now come out clearly. Everything is now coherent and makes songs sound magical. Live music is great.
 
These cost me £180 and that's the most I've paid yet so I was very apprehensive but I've no regrets whatsoever. You get what you pay for here.
 
My other decent IEMS are Dunu Titan 1s, re400s, TA Deltas. These blow each of them away.
 
Titan 1s - These have a great soundstage, very 3d and impressive. The P1s is much more accurate, just a tad narrower... but everything sits better and actually makes the Titan sound a bit forced. Ps are MUCH more detailed and beats them in every way.
 
re400s - Known for their resolution and clear forward mids. P1s are again far more detailed, far more musical and much better bass and treble. Makes the re400s sound thin and boring.
 
Deltas - I love my Deltas, I didn't think I'd beat them for the type of sound I enjoy. I was very wrong. The p1s make them sound a little congested and bloaty. Deltas are extremely musical, but have a mid bass that can be a bit fatiguing... although once your ears adjust to it they sound great. Feet tappingly so. The P1s are again smoother, more detailed, more articulate and have better musicality. Vocals sound more natural with the P1s, and the imaging and placement of music is better. The SS is also better. I feel the P1s are a great upgrade to the Deltas. Their sound signatures are quite similar, but the P1s do top them all over. (I use my Deltas for out running as they are still an enjoyable listen).
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Pros: Excellent build quality; Excellent accessory bundle; MMCX Removable cables; Treble extension; Midrange resolution.
Cons: Sibilance highlighting; Sub-bass presence

 
The Good: Excellent build quality; Excellent accessory bundle; MMCX Removable cables; Treble extension; Midrange resolution.
The Okay: Comfort; Bass quality and presence; Treble resolution; Soundstage.
The Bad: Sibilance highlighting; Sub-bass presence.
Tonal Balance: Warm leaning despite lacking bass presence.
Style: Over-Ear/Worn Down IEM
Cost: $200
 

Reviewing Process

The Pinnacle P1, now forth referred to as the P1, have been my primary IEM for a month now. Primarily used during school hours plugged into an iBasso DX80, but they’ve also received desktop play through the FiiO E17k and the Matrix M-Stage HPA-3U. I’ve tested them with a variety of genres and spent a good amount of time with them, enough to feel comfortable sharing my opinions with you.
 
With that said a review will always be subjective and your experience may vary from mine. Personal experience trumps any review, so demo when you can!
 
Thanks to MeeAudio for the review sample.
 

Build & Fit

Build
Astonishingly durable feeling in absolutely every aspect. The housing is constructed of hefty feeling zinc-alloy and finely machined with a brushed look. The housing connects to the cables via MMCX connectors that are easy to insert and remove with replacement cables available at a very fair price through MeeAudio’s website; $30-$50. The P1 comes with a copper stranded cable with a remote/mic attached and a thicker silver stranded cable that’s got the feel of a thick rope chain. The cables feel hugely durable, I’d wager they’d be $100+ from a boutique cable maker. Both of the included cables terminate with 3.5mm plugs at a right angle.
 
Fit
I’ve worn the IEMs over-ear only, I’m not a fan of worn-down IEMs and quite frankly I see no benefit to doing so. All in all I’ve used the P1 with their single flanged, double flanged, and tri-flanged tips. My preference was for the double flanged though that was a personal preference thing with comfort and isolation. With that said, I don’t find any of the provided tips to be comfortable. I get mild discomfort within an hour or so of use without it ever growing past mild discomfort when worn for longer durations. The P1 do seal well and sit securely in my ear. The P1 are pretty picky about fit though, you’re going to need to ensure a good seal and proper positioning in order to achieve the best sound.
 

Sound Quality

Bass
The P1 extends nicely down to 20hz, though exhibiting a pretty noticeable rainbow effect when using the Bass Shaker Test which indicates a preference towards the midbass over the sub-bass. Unfortunately the bass is somewhat shy, taking a backseat to the midrange and treble when push comes to shove. The bass has some bloat, and a nearing generic texture to it, a few steps away from being one-note but not nearly as detailed as the bass on the Vibro Labs Aria, for instance.
 
Midbass bloats a little bit, sub-bass has a bit of a loose sound to it, but overall the bass is done decently for the price considering the strengths in the midrange and treble. A little bass boost goes a long way with the P1, but be careful as the bass could spill into the beautiful midrange.
 
Mids & Highs
The midrange has a warm tone to it, and does so cleanly with good resolution, in-fact classic rock guitars sound phenomenal on it. Seriously, put these in your ears and listen to David Bowie’s Moonage Daydream. Male vocals and lower ranged female vocals also sound fantastic, I love focusing on the vocals of Lana Del Rey and Bright Eyes with the P1. I find myself often engaged into the midrange, it’s very pleasant and laid-back without sounding dull. Oddly though sibilance isn’t shy with the P1. I find that the P1 picks out sibilance whenever it can, but rather than razor blade brightness it sounds as if the driver is clipping.
 
The treble is extended nicely, I never have to focus on listening to hear the various cymbals or brass instruments. If they’re meant to be prominent the P1 allows them to be prominent. It’s not entirely smooth up top, there seems to be a few dips up there, but nothing that sounds alarming to my ears. Treble resolution is just okay though, instruments tend to sound a bit splashy up here, though in a non-fatiguing way. I’m never convinced that I’m hearing a real crash cymbal, for instance.
 
Soundstage
There’s decent left/right width, good enough for an IEM, with similar thoughts in terms of depth. Instrument separation is a bit above average though, with a decent sense of space, rarely sounding congested, like a small music venue with a good sound engineer. Somewhat of a cozy presentation, but not congested. Imaging is also just okay, I get a good left, right, and center imaging, though they tend to bleed into each other, focusing moreso towards the center.
 

Conclusion

The MeeAudio Pinnacle has been in development for years and they’ve put a lot of love and hard work into it - it shows. The packaging is elegant, the accessory spread is fantastic, and the IEMs feel very high quality. All of that wouldn’t matter if they didn’t sound good though, and they sound pretty damn good. When I first put them in my ears they reminded me of the big brother of the A151p, but better in dang near every way. The laid-back tone makes it non-fatiguing for long listening sessions if you can get a comfortable fit, and the midrange is phenomenal in a few aspects. They’re not without fault, but that can be said with every headphone.
 
These get a definite buy from me, unless you listen to a lot of bass focused music. The included cables are enough to make the purchase worth it if you don’t end up liking the sound. MeeAudio has made this IEM well worth every penny you’re going to spend on these.
Pros: Exquisite design and build quality, Phenomenal cables and accessories package, End game sound Quality (with the right source)
Cons: Sound is very dependent on the source you use, MMCX cable connections are always questionable
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At the time of the review, the MEE audio Pinnacle was on sale on their website and also on Amazon. Here are links to their listings of the product:
 
http://www.meeaudio.com/pinnacle
 
http://www.amazon.com/MEE-audio-Audiophile-Headphones-Detachable/dp/B01A60I4P6?ie=UTF8&keywords=pinnacle%20earphone&qid=1460079506&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1
 
Introduction
The first earphone review I ever wrote on Head-Fi was in February of 2015. I was given a chance to cover the nine dollar Meelectronics M9 classic. This opportunity came after being heavily involved in Head-Fi threads, making recommendations and doing comparisons for almost two years. After spending a lot of time and money on multiple pairs of earphones, my passion for budget audio had finally culminated into a company asking me to share my opinion of their product with the Head-Fi community. To this day I consider it a crowning achievement.
 
The whole thing came about as a part of a complaint to Meelectronics (now known as MEE audio). I had just recently purchased a pair of their A161P balanced armature earphones and was not happy with how flimsy the cable was. Having owned the M6, and A151P, I had taken it on as my personal duty to reach out to them and express my concern with the build quality of this cable and ask that they don’t use it again in future models. This complaint sparked a conversation with Mike over at Meelectronics. Mike’s response was quick and very thoughtful. We chatted about earphones and the direction MEE audio was headed. After a few back and forth emails, Mike agreed to offer a review sample of the M9 classic in exchange for my opinion and review. Just for the record, the cable of the A161P is still in tact and more sturdy than I initially thought.
 
When the review sample arrived I took this opportunity as a personal challenge. I wanted to prove that I was versed enough and capable of writing a complete and comprehensive review. The review received positive feedback from my peers, and opened up doors for future opportunities. Fast forward to present day I am going to audio shows in my area, rubbing elbows with some of the guys I used to read about on Head-Fi, receiving unreleased beta samples and also getting opportunities to sample and review products I NEVER thought I would have a chance to experience in the past. Head-Fi is awesome!
 
I’m not telling you this story to get the spotlight or make this review about me. I’m saying it more to show how this hobby and community works. The point of Head-Fi is to not only help manufacturers advertise their products, it’s also an opportunity for people with a passion for headphone related gear to help others. We all want to maximize what we get for our hard earned dollars, and I feel blessed to be able to use my experience with headphone related gear to help people find exactly what they’re looking for that’s within their budgets. A big thank you goes to Mike at MEE audio for giving me the opportunity!
 
My relationship and loyalty to MEE audio has remained strong. Not only have I purchased several of their products, I have also had a chance to review some more of their products. One thing almost always remains consistent with MEE audio, they offer a products that punch well beyond their asking price.
 
The whole time I’ve known Mike, he has dropped bits and pieces about his “undercover flagship earphone”, the Pinnacle. Knowing how well his budget model earphones and headphones performed, the Pinnacle had peaked my interest from the first time he mentioned it. To be honest for the last six months the Pinnacle has probably been the most anticipated and intriguing earphone I’ve known about. After sharing my invested interest in hearing them, I was able to secure a review sample. Just as I had hoped, the Pinnacle is an incredible product. Let’s go over them with a comprehensive review.
 
Disclaimer
I was given an opportunity to review the Pinnacle in exchange for my honest opinion and review. I am in no way affiliated with MEE audio. I would like to take this time to personally thank Mike for the opportunity.
 
My Background
I AM NOT a numbers and graphs audiophile or sound engineer. Personal audio enthusiast? Absolutely! Headphone junkie? Possibly…
 
There’s something about quality DAPs, DACs, Amplifiers and Earphones that intrigues me, especially if they can be had for low prices. I will buy the $5 to $500 earphone that looks promising, in hopes that I will discover that one new gem that can compete with the big names in this industry. If you look at my Head-Fi profile you will see that I have purchased MANY different headphones and earphones, ranging from from dirt cheap to higher end products. For me, this hobby is more about getting great price to performance ratio from a product, and having a variety of different gears with varying builds and sound to mix and match. With personal audio gear, we tend to pay a lot of money for minor upgrades. One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that just because a headphone has a higher price tag, it doesn’t mean that it has superior build and sound quality.
 
I’m always looking for great audio at a great price. I’m after headphones and IEMs that give me the “WOW” factor. I can appreciate different builds and sound signatures as long as they have good ergonomics, and the sound is pleasing to my ears. It is my pleasure to share my experiences with audio products and make recommendations based on gear I have owned and used.
 
REVIEW
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The Pinnacle comes in a black box that is wrapped in a white cardboard sleeve with black and silver accents. The front of the sleeve displays the Pinnacle name in silver leaf along with a brief description in black print. A very sharp high definition picture of the earphones are printed in a gloss finish as well.
 
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The Back of the sleeve displays another picture and further elaborates on the product with a description of key features that cover the premium features of the Pinnacle. This information is printed also in French, Spanish, German and Chinese.  The left side of the box lists the Pinnacle specifications and accessories. The right side of the sleeve has a barcode and individualized serial number, notification of MEE audio’s two year warranty and warning about unsafe listening volumes.
 
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Removing the sleeve reveals a premium black box that opens from the middle to reveal the Earphone housings, a serial numbered leather case, and two boxes labeled with its contents. Of all the earphones I’ve had the pleasure of covering, this might be the most premium packaging and displays I’ve come across.
 
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Removing the carrying case and top foam layer that holds the earphone housings, I’m greeted with a quarter inch adapter and Pinnacle owner’s manual. Opening each of the marked boxes revealed the high quality accessories.
 
Specifications and Accessories
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Speaker Specifications

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)

 
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Accessories:

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  1. Pinnacle P1 Audiophile In-Ear Headphones
  2. High-fidelity silver-plated OFC audio cable
  3. Headset cable with microphone and remote
  4. Comply T-200 memory foam eartips (3 pairs)
  5. Silicone eartips (6 pairs)
  6. ¼" (6.3mm) stereo adapter
  7. Premium carrying case with laser-etched serial number
  8. Shirt clip
  9. User manual

 
Housings
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The Pinnacle housings are constructed of ergonomically shaped, molded and polished zinc alloy. They are heavy enough to feel incredibly high end, but light enough for me to say that their weight isn’t an issue. They have somewhat of a bean shape, and feature the MEE audio M (upside down it could be mistaken for the Westone W). To be completely honest, the polished finish gives the impression that they were handmade by a blacksmith.
 
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An MMCX connection is located at the top of the housing. A Stainless steel nozzle comes out from the zinc alloy housing and is of a pretty standard length and width. I had no problem tip rolling with the PInnacle, and found several different tips that worked well.
 
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The Pinnacle design is premium and sophisticated. It gives the owner a feeling of quality without any flashy gimmicks.
 
Cable, Y-Split, Cable Jack, Strain Reliefs
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The Pinnacle comes with two cables. One is a braided silver plated copper cable that is extraordinary. I used to think that the Fidue A83 cable was the best stock earphone cable I’ve ever seen, but Mee audio now holds that title. To top it off, they also offer black braided version of this cable with a microphone and remote for headset use. Both cables are slightly longer than the average in-ear monitor cable. The cable is a bit on the stiff side, but I think that has more to do with the braiding and how well it's constructed.
 
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Both cables feature MMCX connectors. After a few early complaints about the cables having a bit too much play, MEE audio has tightened things up. Although I’m not a huge fan of MMCX connectors, the revised connection seems flawless. The cable has a pretty seamless connection with the Pinnacle housing. The cable jack and Y-split are top notch.
 
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The Y-split is made of a firm rubber material and offers plenty of strain relief. A chin/neck slider is included and works well to secure the fit. The cable Jack is a ninety degree design with gold plated ⅛ inch jack. The housing of the jack is constructed of the same firm rubber material as the Y-split.
 
Functionality
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One of the two cables has a single button microphone and remote that works with both Android and Iphone. When using it for phone calls, friends and family said my voice came through at a four on a scale from one to five.
 
Ergonomics, Fit and Microphonics, Isolation
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Pinnacle can be worn cable up or cable down. Both methods are very comfortable and it’s very easy to get a secure fit either way. Worn cable down, the cable had a considerable amount of microphonics.
 
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Worn over the ear, microphonics were more under controlled but still somewhat noticeable. Isolation is better than the average universal in-ear monitor.
 
Sound Review
I did my demo with my usual gear. I used an LG-G3 with the latest firmware for portable and smartphone use, and either my Shanling H3 or iBasso DX80 DAP for high fidelity portable use. For desktop use I used my Toshiba Satellite Laptop in combination with a ifi micro iDSD playing at 32/192k Hz. I tested them with several other sources as well. I used Google Music in its highest download quality (320 KBPS) and I also streamed FLAC via Tidal streaming service. I also used purchased and downloaded tracks in MP3, FLAC, WAV and DSD. I make sure that any gear I test has sufficient playtime before writing a review.
 
I used my usual same songs for testing gear:
“Limit to your love” by James Blake (bass speed, punch, response)
“Doin’ it Right” by Daft Punk (sub bass)
“Get lucky” by Daft Punk (bass to midrange transition resolution, male vocals)
“Madness” by Muse (soundstage, separation)
“Some nights” by Fun (soundstage and male vocals)
“The soundmaker” by Rodrigo y Gabriela (texture and imaging)
“Bassically” by Tei Shi (bass to midrange resolution, female vocals)
“Skinny Love” performed by Birdie (female vocals, acoustic playback)
“One” by Ed Sheeran (male vocals, acoustic playback)
“Outlands” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack (symphonic presentation, imaging)
“Sultans of swing” by Dire Straits (detail, separation, balance)
“And Justic for All” by Metallica (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
“Ten thousand fists” by Disturbed (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
 
Note: Other tracks were used, but the listed songs were primarily used to assess and break down the gear’s response.
 
Source Selection
At fifty ohms the Pinnacle needs more power than the average smartphone to sound its best. Although the Pinnacle will sound good through your cellular device, you won’t maximize their potential if you don’t use the right DAP or desktop rig. The Pinnacle scales up well. The better the recording you play, the better your Pinnacle will sound.
 
The Pinnacle is a source dependent earphone. Through a more neutral sounding DAP will sound bright and bordering on sibilant. Listening to the Pinnacle through my LG V10, upper frequencies sounded slightly emphasized. With a warmer and more powerful DAP they will sound pretty incredible. Through my Luxury and Precision LP5 they sounded awesome.
 
Pinnacle and DX80
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The MEE audio Pinnacle and iBasso DX80 are a match made in audio Heaven. They synergize so incredibly well, I can say in all honesty that these two together makes for some of the best portable sound I’ve ever heard. The dual Cirrus Logic chips of the DX80 does something magical to the Pinnacle that must be heard to understand. It rocks all genres of music incredibly well with dynamics and transients that are addictive to my ears.
 
Sound Signature
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*These measurements were taken using my Vibro Veritas and Arta Software. Although this is not a measurement done with industry standard testing equipment,it should give you an idea of how the Pinnacle sounds.
 
The source you use with the Pinnacle will dictate the answer to this criteria and determine your impression. For the most part the Pinnacle is an earphone that takes neutral and adds a touch of added midbass and upper midrange, reduces the sibilant ranges and still retains a level of sparkle and extension in treble regions. This is all done while maintaining a level of resolution and detail that is world class. If you think dynamic earphones can’t offer a level of detail at every frequency like a multiple armature set up, you should listen to the Pinnacle. In fact, you might turn that argument around and say that multiple driver earphones can’t sound as cohesive as a well tuned single dynamic transducer earphone like the Pinnacle.
 
Bass
Bass on the Pinnacle is a bit of a mystery. To be completely honest the sub bass isn’t that great, but adequate enough to say that it doesn’t take away from their overall listening experience. The sub bass is a bit back in the mix and to my ears it sounds just a touch loose. I think the way it is set up, it is more to compliment a slightly forward and very responsive mid bass. The responsive midbass has very natural feel in combination with the sub bass, and in some ways the tuning reminds me slightly of the Havi B3 Pro1. Rather than there being a boosted sub layer, the Pinnacle bass rolls off into a limitless amount of space.
 
Midrange
Midrange is the best aspect of the Pinnacle tuning in my opinion. A very slight warm tilt tapers off then lifts at around 3k, giving all vocals a very nice and natural bite. The incredible amount of resolution and separation makes it easy to pick out a particular instrument or vocal and follow it. With the right source I was taken back at how good guitars and bass guitars sounded. Vocals often times tend to take the front of the stage, which is how I prefer to listen to my earphones.  
 
Treble
This is the one part of the frequency response that depends greatly on what source you’re using. With a more neutral source I’ll say that treble is crisp and extended. I could see some people saying that it can become slightly fatiguing with louder volumes and extended listening sessions.
 
Just the opposite, with a warmer sounding DAP, the Pinnacle treble is darn near perfect and I didn’t find it fatiguing. Even at louder volumes it was very natural and enjoyable. Cymbal crashes and pronunciations of the letter T and S were accurate and not overdone whatsoever.
 
Soundstage and Imaging
The Pinnacle manages to pull off some of the same magic as the Havi B3 Pro1 when it comes to soundstage. A detailed and high resolution mid range is complimented by some very nicely layered and textured supporting frequencies, making the soundstage seem fairly large. Combine this with some of the best imaging I’ve heard from an in-ear monitor, and the Pinnacle scores a very high rating in this criteria.
 
Comparisons
 
Dunu DN2000J (with bass rings) ($275 to $350 USD on many sites)
The DN200J has been labeled as a “baby K3003” offering what some say is ninety percent of the thousand dollar hybrid. It’s a hybrid design, utilizing two Knowles drivers and a titanium dynamic driver for bass frequencies.
 
Comparing the two, I can see why the DN2000J has the price tag it does. They have an incredibly extended and detailed sound signature. With the bass rings installed the DN2000J has superior sub bass extension and response. The Pinnacle has a more natural and spacious sounding midrange. The DN2000J seems to be more sonically capable of producing any frequency and with a slightly higher level of detail retrieval.  Although the DN200J treble is more extended, the Pinnacle treble is more relaxed and enjoyable to my ears, especially at louder volumes. Also, there was something about the DN2000J upper midrange that made them seem shouty with certain tracks when comparing the two.
 
Build quality goes to the Pinnacle. Their zinc alloy housing are built like a tank, and their removable cables with diverse applications make the Pinnacle my pick. Accessories goes to the DN2000J. It’s been a year and I’m still tinkering with the various accessories that they came with.

 
VSONIC GR07BE ($100 to $150 USD on many sites)
The GR07BE was a personal favorite for a long time. They are single dynamic biocellulose driver that has won the approval of many reviewers. For a long time they were a premier pair of earphones.
 
As much as I have loved my GR07BE, it’s bittersweet to have to say that many the new mid tier releases are just as good or better sounding to my ears. Comparing the two, the GR07BE has a more responsive and extended sub and midbass response. The Pinnacle midrange more forward and with superior micro details and clarity. The Pinnacle treble is less sibilant and more natural to my ears as well.
 
Build quality and accessories goes to the Pinnacle. Their detachable cables and metal housings trump the VSONIC offering. The leather snap pouch of the Pinnacle is better than the leather sack that comes with the GR07BE. Although the Pinnacle offers less tips, I find them to be higher quality and better fitting.

 
Conclusion
If I took the the letter M off of the housing and replaced it with the logo of a more premium brand earphone, it would sell for a lot more than the Mee audio asking price. I don’t say that to discredit more established manufacturers, but more for the purpose of making you understand how good the Pinnacle is. MEE audio has raised to bar on in terms of mid-fi price to performance ratios. The Pinnacle has awesome packaging, build quality, sound quality and a phenomenal accessories package to go along with it. And just when you thought that was enough, they also have a two year warranty to top it all off.
 
MEE audio made an incredible earphone that is definitely worthy of flagship status. Combined with a warmer sounding DAP, they are one of the best in-ears I’ve heard regardless of price. Upon the conclusion of this review I consider them to be the best two hundred dollar in-ear I’ve heard thus far.  
 
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Thanks for reading and happy listening!
Hisoundfi
Hisoundfi
The Pinnacle was designed to be listened to through a dedicated DAP like the X5. It should be a great match.
 
Cheers
originalsnuffy
originalsnuffy
Nice review.  I have been able to borrow a pair of these and would agree with your observations.  I wish I had a pair of the FLC8S around for comparison purposes.  My only beef is that the sub bass is rolled off as you noted.
emilsoft
emilsoft
Nice review, thanks! I'm please with the P1, I'm wondering how they compare to much more expensive TOTL iems like Campfire Andromeda and Fidue Sirius - did you have a chance to compare? 

ngoshawk

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Zinc-Alloy, zinc alloy!; Premium build quality, cables to die for, ability to wear up or down, excellent sound quality, broad soundstage, accessories
Cons: Long burn in (not bad), cables can tangle, silver cable coming unwound, lows lacking a bit, somewhat treble-sensitive
Introduction:
 
I lost my Klipsch s4ii's....I was despondent. I had no good headphones as a result. Through a search of the internet, I was led to Head-Fi, and my "reentry" into the personal-portable music world began. Through much reading and research, I was led first to the MEElectronic (now MEE Audio) m6 Pro's. I followed those with the excellent Dunu Titan 1's (excellent fresh sound). I then jumped on the VE Monk train (excellent little wonders they are!), followed by the intriguing RHA ma750's (which up until this pair were my favorites, and are still quite good). I waited, I hemmed, I hawed, I procrastinated, I debated, I read everything in sight, I read everything again, I went through three rounds of "out of stock" exasperation.....then finally when MEE Audio had the P1's back in stock this last time, I bit. I ordered them...not without much consternation....and I anxiously awaited their arrival. In the mean time, I kept reading & researching, delving deeper into the Head-Fi world, leading to the findings which will be reviewed here and with the other phones in my possession...in due time...
 
I have no affiliation with MEE Audio, nor any of their affiliates, even though I would love to! My listening style varies from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Lyle Lovett, to Dave Matthews, to Bob Marley to Magic Slim & the Teardrops, to Coldplay, and everything in between. As a result of too much loud rock and roll as a kid with $ and a car stereo of envy I now have hearing loss, mostly in the upper end. Anything sibilant or overly bright can and does bother me. That said, I am also a Wildlife Biologist/Earth Science teacher who studied songbirds in a different life...This allows me the ability to pick out a sound which should not be in that environment or is new to that environment...such as hearing a songbird on our surveys which had not been heard yet on our routes. I prided myself in that ability to pick out the sounds of what was not there upon our initial arrival. I like to think that this will help with my reviews, but I cannot guarantee it. I am post 50, but love good music and good sound quality. All opinions are mine and mine alone. I may reference others fine reviews, but only to draw a point of comparison. I do not own any sound testing equipment, nor am I a Sound Engineer. I am simply going off of my own interpretations and listenings. I do love going over the analytics of graphs and tone diagrams, etc, but my own seat-of-the-pants interpretations are what I have. YMMV.
 
Unpackaging:
 
Incredibly the package which came direct from MEE Audio (http://www.meeaudio.com/pinnacle) arrived after two VERY short days. Luck would not have it, and I had to briefly admire the package before taking out the buds, the silver-plated cable and off to my daughter's soccer practice we went. This did afford me an immediate listen upon arrival, which will be covered below. The package was absolutely stellar. Top quality from the outer slide-on sleeve which was covered with excellent information in gold, silver, gray and black, to the middle-two-door-opening box. The black box opens in the middle, like a fine theater opening to the finest velour-covered seats for the main entertainment of the eve. I felt as if I should be wearing tails, and a top hat. Extremely impressed I was. The best of what I have owned (which albeit isn't much), but this presentation showcased the buds-top center, as it should be, cushioned in all black foam; mimicking the fine velour seats, while "hiding" the other "support" items below, almost bowing to the buds like two footmen or ushers. The two support boxes hold the ear tips (Comply T-200 memory foam eartips (3 pairs) and Silicone eartips (6 pairs) in one; while the other holds the outstanding cables both of which are braided, one is for use with a Smartphone complete with inline mic and the other a Silver-plated and 99.99% pure copper cable which alone goes for $50 on the above listed MEE Audio site). The "silver-plated" reference comes from @BloodyPenguin's excellent review, and I must give credit to that here: http://www.head-fi.org/products/mee-audio-pinnacle-p1-high-fidelity-audiophile-in-ear-headphones-with-detachable-cables/reviews/15225​
 
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Also included is a small shirt clip, a 1/4" headphone adapter which looks like a million dollars, the ubiquitous owners manual, and an excellent outer leather-velour lined (see! like a theater!) carrying case which uses a clever magnet to close. At first, I did not like the case, I really didn't, and felt this was far behind MEE Audio's excellent zippered pouch of the m6 Pro variety. After over two weeks of use, I have come to respect and like the case...it cradles the buds and quality cord, inviting them to be held in safe comfort kind of like being tucked under a bed of goose-down covers on a cold winters night. For some, that is heaven (me included), for others it is a utilitarian case which looks good and does its job. I have come to expect a plethora of accessories from MEE Audio, and this pair did not disappoint. As I stated in my m6 Pro review (http://www.head-fi.org/products/meelectronics-m6-pro-universal-fit-noise-isolating-musician-s-in-ear-monitors-with-detachable-cables/reviews/15554), it seems that MEE raised the bar when it comes to included accessories and the outstanding cables which are included are a true bonus to boot. Again, I am impressed.
 
Technical Specs:
 
As shown on the box, the impedance of 50 Ohms at 1 kHz is rather high for this type of headphone, and the sensitivity of 96 +/- 3 dB (1mW at 1 kHz) on the lower side. To me, and from my interpretation of other readings, this lends to a "taming of the highs" while allowing for a full sound. What I do know is that with my gear it is a harder-to-drive unit. I regularly have to turn the volume up 2-3 notches for the same "loudness" as my other headphones. Not bad, but while burning in the pair, and on certain tracks, I have my iPhone 6+ one notch shy of full.
 
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Sources:
 
I have limited sources, accumulated since my "induction" into Head-Fi, and my Smartphone. All have been used mixed together in all ways possible and are still used that way. That said, I settled into using my X3ii and A3 together, and my iPhone 6+ alone or with the excellent little E06. I am happy with all choices, and do not see myself upgrading in the future (unless something fantastic falls into my lap!).
 
-iPhone 6+
-Fiio x3ii
-Fiio E06
-Fiio A3 (E17k)
 
Comparison headphones (it's what I have...and I really like all):
 
RHA MA750's
Dunu Titan 1's
MEElectronics M6 Pro's
 
Design/Build:
 
To say the Pinnacles are excellent is almost an insult to their shape. They are quite exquisite in shape, with a sensual curvaceous body They are beautiful. The hand-polished Zinc Alloy is something to behold. I have never liked "shout-at-me" designs or colors, and the P1's knock those said shouts to the curb. This would be a knockout in the first round, if it were a fight. To which the P1's would then James Bondishly walk off the stage and into the fog, as if nothing had happened, and it really was no bother. I really like the shape if you cannot tell. Some say that the build is outstanding too. I would disagree to a point. Please let me explain:
 
When you purchase something that is handmade, your expectations are that fit-n-finish would outweigh the known quantity that it IS hand built...take the curvaceous hand hammered fenders of a Ferrari 350GT California. They are impeccable, without flaw, and perfectly matched to the other. This is a truly heavenly-high standard, and with something the size of the P1's hard to match. Non-the-less, that is my expectation when placing my hard earned cabbage down on a Flagship. I expected the two halves to match perfectly at the seams, even if they are hand polished (exquisitely I might add). They do not. My expectation is that each half is polished and finished together for a perfect fit (again MY expectation). This harkens back to the Ferrari...they are damn-near perfect. The P1's are by no means bad, and I will CERTAINLY not return these as a result, but my hope was for perfectly matched seams, and a matching of the polish job. Again, this does not hinder the overall quality, nor the sound; but it is something I noticed. Eyecatching as @BloodyPenguin would say, and I completely agree. These are beautiful to behold and handle.
 
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The cables are top notch as mentioned above and in other reviews; the two of which alone cost $39-$49 each on the MEE site. This says something regarding the quality offered in the product. Both are fantastic I might add. But....again, there is a small problem. The inline mic version is a tightly wound/braided black cable which sticks together nicely. The Silver-plated beauty, which I use more than the other, has started to come unwound at the plastic sheath, below the MMCX connection. It really is no big deal, but another blemish on the overall quality. A spot of Superglue is holding the offending "unwinding" in place nicely. This has slightly hindered the over-the-ear use of that bud, but I can certainly live with it. Again, not a deal breaker. A positive of both cables is the right angle jack. I really love this type. On my m6 Pro's, the jack fits into my XDoria Defense case without problem, none. The L-jack of the Pinnacles is SLIGHTLY shorter, and does not make a constant connection. I have to use an adaptor on the XDoria, but not on my X3ii. Again, no big deal, and MEE states that they design their plugs for use with Smartphone cases. Those with DAP's need not worry.
 
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Overall, I am very happy with the look and feel of the cables and the buds themselves, they are top notch. Just what I would expect from a Premium product. A definite Flagship, the P1's are.
 
FeaturesUse:
 
The included accessories are like the proverbial icing on the cake. Two top quality cables, 9 sets of tips (3 sizes of Comply's alone, plus 3 types of silicones: single, double & triple flange), a fantastic looking 1/4" adaptor (best I have seen), and the ever present shirt clip. The leather case has the nice touch of a laser-etched serial number giving the owner a sense of exclusivity so to speak. It is pretty cool knowing what number you have, and on the Pinnacle page, my "serial-neighbor" @kylezo and I were equally excited when ours arrived. 
 
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The braided cables are something to behold. The black inline-mic cable is tightly wound, and works very well. An exquisite addition to the stable. The Silver-plated cable, even with the unwinding "issue" is a sight to feast your eyes upon. Knowing this cable alone cost $50, just means that MEE takes their audio seriously, and want the best. I am lucky enough to have production run #2, so I do not have the MMCX connector issues. I have not had any problems what-so-ever with the connection. Since I am new to that type of connection, it was a bit disconcerting to note that once the cable was attached to the bud, it did swivel. I quickly came to realize that this was the norm, and quit worrying.
 
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My use of these will be all-inclusive to be honest. I use these at home, at school during my plan, while I walk at my daughters soccer practice, and pretty much every where. I will NOT use these while I mow...I have the m6 Pro's for that! I currently use them with my iPhone 6+ and X3ii, and will separate the sound qualities below. 
 
Sonics/Impressions:
 
I will state again, I am no expert. I appreciate good sound, and own a good Arcam/ProAc/Linn mid-fi home system which I pretty much feel will be my end-all in that regard. I am less than three months back into the Head-Fi "zone" and with my high-end hearing loss am trying to reacquaint myself with top quality gear. What I can say with a degree of certainty is that this pair will be my last "Hi-Fi" pair of IEM's. I am over the top satisfied. I ran the 6+ either naked or coupled with the E06, and the x3ii + A3 together.
 
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Initial Impressions:
 
Well....initially we did not get along, not at all. My first hours, were a story in abject disfunction. All of my debating listed above, rose up in me, flooding my emotions to the point, where I was ready to return these beauties and live happily and comfortably with my MA750's. I was that dissatisfied. I am not sure what the problem was either. I tried different tips (this is the only pair I own where I tried ALL of the included tips trying to get the best fit and sound), I tried different fit in my ears...deep, angled, shallow, everything. For the first several hours, these sounded weak, and shallow, almost anemic. As noted briefly above this is a harder to drive set of IEM's. I was a full 3-4 notches above my RHA's on my iPhone, and one notch shy of full bore volume during burn in. Leaving the volume on the x3ii at 90/120, I raised the A3 to between 4-5, when I normally run it at 3/10. It is my understanding that Dynamic Drivers do benefit from long burn ins, and these are just shy of 50 hours total. Since these were hard to come by, and giving up on them so quickly would be a tremendous mistake and disservice due to what I have read here, I waited. And I waited. 
 
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And...well, of course it was worth it! By approximately the 20 hour mark, the buds were opening up nicely. Midway through the burn in I changed Comply's from the large supplied T-200's, to another set I had, the T-200 Comforts. This alone opened the highs up nicely. This is also the first pair, which I run almost exclusively without an EQ, running them naked. On all of my other pairs, I have had to modify the sound to meet my tastes. I consider this a tremendous advantage in the initial process, and the stage at which I currently enjoy. There is no hiding without the EQ. They are running free on the beach and I am enjoying every minute.
 
Highs:
 
While the RHA's can be bright almost to the point of being sibilant, there is no such sense with the P1's. They are not bright and forward like my Titan 1's (quite good in their own regard), the highs are fulfilling and satisfying. They fill in when needed, and fade when not wanted. One reviewer who is returning his pair, made the point of the highs sounding thin and veiled. I can appreciate that sentiment, and understand, because sometimes I too, hear that. IMO though it is a signature of the song. When I compare that treble note to the RHA's, I see little difference in the faded highs. The 750's are brighter by nature to me, and hide this "fault" better than the P1's. I consider the highs complex and thorough as opposed to thin. They are there when called upon, in the back when not. It is said, that this pair is very source-sound dependent, and I would agree. These suffer from poor recordings. The overall sound is better on my x3ii's as it should be over the 6+. So the tendency for faulty highs are less prevalent to me on that source. The sound quality is better, and you would think that any deficiencies would come out more so, but to me this is not the case, because all of the recordings are of equal quality.
 
Mids: 
 
The mids are the highlight of this phone to me. Vocals are almost magical. Hearing Lyle Lovett sing Penguins on his live album is something to behold. As is his duo with Francine Reed What Do You Do which is something that draws you in, placing you front and center right between them with both singing ever so sweetly into your ear. Natural, deep and responsive would be my three "non-expert" words of choice. They resonate well and pull the whole sound signature together. No small feat, but especially welcome with the quality the mids provide. Completely opposite of this, but an equal revaluation would be Los Lonely Boys Señorita or Heaven. Both have a depth of soundstage which can be staggering. It's as if I am at the back of the bar in the old Grand Emporium in downtown Kansas City, and the sound just FILLS the place. Hopefully you know the sound, not overly loud, full-on crowd involved, enveloping mids. Just marvelous.
 
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Bass:
 
Peter Gabriel's wonderful album So is an excellent mix of low and mid bass with which to gauge the aurals of those tones. While the song Red Rein comes through with brilliant bass depth on my m6 Pro's the bass is not as deep on the Pinnacles. I do regret that. To me, a solid far reaching bass is an excellent sign of representing that song accurately. A minor quibble, but one anyway. The bass is quite responsive, and can drop to near sub-bass levels, which can cover the lack of very deep bass heard in other headphones. Mind you this is not bad bass, my Titan's have FAR less bass and I still like them. The bass present is simply not thundering and headphone shaking. This is a good thing, and the P1's were not meant to be of the basshead-type. I appreciate that the bass is there when needed, and not overpowering, but I long for a bit more deep bass.
 
Soundstage/Separation:
 
Until I owned quality pairs of headphones such as my Dunu Titan 1's and the excellent RHA MA750's, soundstage and separation were simply not in my auditory repertoire outside of my home system. After hearing those fine examples, I "relearned" what it meant to have sound extend beyond my cranial matter. Now don't get me wrong, my home speakers have soundstage which mimics the distance between New York and Boston, but intimate soundstage was revisited, and well worth the wait. To say the soundstage of the P1's is wide is very accurate. I won't say that they are like visiting the Grand Canyon, but they are very very good. Stevie Ray Vaughan's Ain't Gone 'n' Give Up On Love is a great example. Central guitar strings together with deep and wide bass guitar to form an inviting open armed melody which defines the qualities of these wonderful IEM's. You are drawn in to just admire the width and appreciate that it is a quality width with wonderful instrument separation. Each instrument is where it should be...on stage left, or stage right, or front and center, they are all where the engineers, and musicians intended.   
 
Using the 6+ gave me a good impression of what I would run into when I am on the go and can only grab my Smartphone and these headphones. Running TuneShell almost exclusively, I am very satisfied with the overall sound. All sections, high/mid/low come through nicely. Broad soundstage is such that I almost turn to the side when another walker goes by, because I am afraid the instruments will strike them! I am subject to more sound-source variation, due to the different CD qualities I drew from on iTunes, but it is certainly acceptable. Using the x3ii + A3 yielded a crystal clear sound by comparison. Since I used VOX to convert the CD's, all were FLAC files (I'm still trying to figure out how to import the album/artist/cover art...). There was no variation (to my ear) in quality, all were transferred at the same bit rate (44.1 kHz/16bit). The P1's just sounded darn good. Deep, inviting, breadth of sound wider than with the 6+ (watch out walkers!
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), no hidden highs/mids/lows what-so-ever. Bared naked to the world with no EQ, the sound came through in clarity I have only heard from my home system. It was as if I was reborn with full-sounding ears, and I really came to appreciate that "trio" of electronics. In a word, WOW.
 
Comparison:
 
My three main competitors are the only other "quality" headphones I own, so I apologize for that in advance. Those would be:
 
Dunu Titan 1's
RHA Ma750's
MEElectronics M6 Pro's
 
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The M6 Pro's were my first foray back into the Head-Fi world, and I was quite happy with them. They are full, have better bass reach, wide of stage and fit quite well. The memory cable works very well once you have it set. It can pinch if not properly fit, but take the time and they are marvelous. My big problem with the M6's is the VERY aggressive highs. They can become wearing quite early in your session, and I find that I cannot turn them up volume-wise like my others. The highs can be sibilant and harsh. These are very good headphones, but can become tedious to listen to after awhile. I still really like them.
 
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The Dunu's are simply put, spectacular. So open, they are like that first open-window of Spring. A welcome change from the dark cold days of Winter. With this Spring-feel comes a light and airy presentation, with excellent detail and as spacious a soundstage as anything I have heard. The detail is incredible. Hearing the musician take a breath, and the pluck of guitar string is worth the price of admission. But that admission comes with a cost. All of the light and airiness means that there is a lack of bass. As crystal clear as the Dunu's sound, the lack of bass downgrades these to me. I really like these and reach for them when I want something fun and inviting. The sound is like being invited to a wonderful beach party in Miami, on the ocean...fantastic, but eventually the party must end. Clarity rules with these, and that is a testament to the detail with which Dunu instills that into their products. Well done.
 
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Lastly the RHA's are my most recent purchase prior to the P1's. These are the best built headphones I have ever owned, period. Yes limited data base, but still solid. Warm, dark and inviting the 750's are like that late night after party off the beach, and only the most hip and respected are invited to the after party. These are the after party. This is the pair you grab when you want to enjoy that fine single malt Scotch (pun intended since they are Scottish) deep into the night as the cool ocean breeze waifs over you. This is the pair, that not only represents the finest single-malt, they are held by the big log-throwing full bearded gent in the kilt. They do not hide their true identity. Warm, robust, slightly dark, and full. Spacious in stage, separate and complex in instrumentation, this is one heckuva pair. If there is a downside, and this is slight, they are a bit forward and bright for some music. Loud piercing vocals or rock can be a smidge, and I say smidge too much for long periods. Thankfully this is few and far between tracks I own. Until the P1's came along, this was my favorite pair.
 
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Sources used:
 
Iphone 6+
Fiio x3ii
Fiio A3
Fiio E06, Kilimanjaro
 
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Music used:
 
Most is listed above, but I must give credit to my all time favorite Stevie Ray Vaughan for helping me through the initial denial of these. Without his sweet guitar licks and inviting voice, this pair might have been different. I was lucky enough to see SRV three times when he was alive, and through his music, I come closest to my musical philosophy...a deep appreciation for ANY good music. An understanding of variety that still hold true today. I thank his music for that.
 
Overall Impressions:
 
From my initial listen, I was extremely excited and held trepidation at the same time. Almost everything I had read, was very positive; but I just was not hearing that. Maybe I was tinted by the overall excellence of the 750's. Maybe the initial excitement of the quality M6 Pro's tainted my judgement. Maybe the liveliness of the Titan 1's told me that you had made a wrong decision. But the more I listened, the more I understood and still understand. The P1's are an incredible piece of kit. From their subtle, dark, mysterious, strong beauty through the dark color of the IEM's themselves (which I REALLY like), to the including of not one but TWO excellent cables I delved deeper into the understanding of this Flagship. I am no expert, and came to rely upon the opinions of those here, on Head-Fi. those who had been around quality sound much longer than I. Those who had experience with phones I would never think of owning due to multiple aspects (not a knock, just the truth). Those who were and are lucky enough to have experienced CIEM's which cost 10x the Pinnacles. And it was through their previous experiences (as a Scientist we call that Prior Knowledge) with those wonderful pieces of kit, that I became patient with this pair. I began to understand, that just like the single-malt Scotch I cherish, it takes time to develop a relationship with your buds. It takes time for those same buds to develop into what they are today, in my ear as I write this gibberish....a wonderful testament to a company that values VALUE as much as sound. From my initial offering of the M6 Pro's to the Pinnacles, it became clear that MEE Audio did in fact care about our wallets, besides our ears.
 
If I can call these a "bargain" at $199, I will. I am extremely lucky to own a pair of these, and will forever be thankful that I did lose my Klipsch's to start this journey (those have since been found and given to a colleague who cherishes them greatly). This journey back to my musical roots....sometimes loud, sometimes soft, but ever expanding. For that I am thankful, and will be satisfied for years to come with the view from the top of MY mountain, my peak, my Pinnacle. The view is grand, and I am thankful the P1's drew me in and are taking care of me.
HiFiDJ
HiFiDJ
Thanks! That was pretty helpful. And nice review! Did any of the pictures show what you did to the bud? I can't really tell.
ngoshawk
ngoshawk
Thank you for the kind words, and no none of the pictures show the mod. I wanted to keep that out since I was reviewing the unit. I may go back when I finalize the review, possibly with the head shrunk sheath. I'm just worried about the cable where it comes out of the connector. I know I probably shouldn't worry, but with the small but nice case, that might be a stress area. Cheers.
HiFiDJ
HiFiDJ
Oh, ok. I see. Thanks again.

cleg

1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: build quality, accessories, price, sound signature, resolution
Cons: not for treble-sensitive
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To begin, I want to say that MEE Audio really managed to impress me, I really liked P1. I'm familiar with MEE Audio products for quite a long time. Actually, they were the company, who led me to world of hi-end personal audio. So, I was always looking at their new products with interest. Last year, on CES they've presented first prototype of their future flagship P1, but fine-tuning took about a year of time. Anyway, P1 is out, and I've spent 2 beautiful weeks with them. Now I'll try to get all my poor english skills together and try to share my impressions.

Last years, vast majority of headphones are built on big OEM plants in China/Malaysia/etc. It's pretty easy to release your own headphones (but relatively expensive), select OEM producer, select model, customise package, logo and accessories set, and you're done. It's pretty funny to see models, made by ESMOOTH, sold under different brands with prices that sometimes varies by 2 times. So, it's always a pleasure to see model, designed by company from ground up. Such models usually can be distinguished by the thousands of small nuances: packaging, accessories, polygraphy, interesting tuning options, etc.

So, as you can easily understand, P1 is one of those models, and it's pretty great feeling, to see those small things, done by their product designers.

Packaging and accessories
Pinnacle P1 is definitely beloved child of MEE Audio. It's clear after the first look to the box. Stylish cover uses almost all modern polygraphic technologies — silver print, embossing, combination of gloss and mate paper, it's all present. After removing of this cover, you'll see internal box, made of black thick cardboard. This box opened symmetrically from the middle, really unusual. Inside, you'll find earpieces themselves, great leather case for carrying and two cardboard boxes with accessories. One contains cables and shirt clip, second — tips. Also, in box you'll find 1/4" adapter and useful manual, covering all topics.
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With P1 you'll get 6 pairs of silicon tips (3 pairs of single flanged of different sizes, 2 pairs of double flanged and 1 pair of triple flanged). Also you'll get 3 pairs of assorted COMPLY foams.

But main treasure besides earpohnes are cables. First cable is black, it's made of copper and features single-button talk control. It's soft, pretty thick, sturdy and looks good. But second one, is a real masterpiece. It's made from silver-plated copper, have semitransparent isolation with color, matching earphones and looks gorgeous. MEE is planning to sell it for $50, and I'm going to buy at least one more to use with other IEMs. Cable is using standard MMCX, so it will be a worth purchase.

As you can see, packaging and accessories are really on par with ultra-expensive hi-end models.

Design and comfort
MEE Audio decided to use unusual material, P1 is cast of zinc alloy with hand-polished finish. This gave them really unusual color, something between graphite and bronze with interesting metal texture. Also, this model got unusual form, combining rounded shapes with soft edges. This gives P1 a little retro look, but I think it's stylish. Of course, build quality is perfect.
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P1 can be worn cable down and over the ear. I prefer second option, as it gives me more convenience. In both cases, earphones sits in ear with good comfort and gives nice sound isolation.

Sound
I've used following equipment for auditioning
- NuPrime DAC-10H and Resonessence Labs Concero HP as DAC/amp
- Apple MacBook Pro Retina 2013 as a source
- Fidelia as player
- Fiio X7 and Luxury&Precission L5Pro as DAPs

I've burned in P1 for 48 hours before auditioning.
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MEE Audio invested lots of work into sound tuning too. They've used special resonator for treble, allowing P1 deliver high frequencies with unusual resolution and energy. As many hi-end models, P1 is really fit dependent, also different tips changes sound representation. For example, COMPLY's foams tames treble a bit, and dual-flange tips gives a little more bass, but slightly reduces resolution. After some experiments, I've stopped on big single flange tips, as they allows P1 to show their best sides.
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Bass is fast and have good amount of details. Main accent is made on midbass. Low bass is present, but is reduced in quantity. I think this is done on purpose, as P1 is tuned for serious genres like classics, and there quality is more important then quantity. Anyway, P1's subbass is enough to give a feeling of presence.

Mids are really, really good. OF course, they are detailed, emotional, etc. But P1 managed also to build a really great scene, both in width and in depth. It's one of the few headphones that gives me three-dimensional perception of music. Instruments have good separation, and vocals does really shine on P1.
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Treble is the most controversial part in P1's sound. Earphones was tuned to deliver great treble resolution, so there is no attempts to masque highs and make them "comfortable". If you're treble sensitive, this earphones aren't for you. Personally I like treble, so great amount of details that Pinnacles has in this range is suiting my tastes good. P1 has one of the most resolving highs in IEM world, so percussion and other treble instruments sounds with unbelievable level of details. From other hand, P1 requires really superb source and good mastered records. DAPs having problems with treble control will give P1 metal ringing due to distortion. But it's not a Pinnacle's fault actually.

Compatibility
I don't know why, MEE Audio included cable with talk control to accessories set. P1 is really not a good companion for a smartphones and tablets. They require nice DAP. Only option I see, to use this cable with Fiio DAPs, they can understand talk control button, in this case it'll be convenient. P1 is really picky for source, out of all my DAPs they've sounded best with L&P L5Pro. Fiio X7 was also good.
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Style-wise, I think this IEMs are for "serious" genres: classics, instrumental music, vocal, good recorded jazz. They aren't the best option for hard and heavy, as may of this music is recorded poorly, but I've enjoyed Iron Maiden in remastered version, released by Onkyo.

So, if you're looking for a serious earphones for serious music, have nice DAP and prefer spacious and three-dimensional soundstage, MEE Audio P1 is a great option for you. Luckily, they cost only $200, which is really inexpensive for earphones of this level.
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I want to thank to MEE Audio for providing me a sample for review in exchange to my honest opinion.

Here is my unboxing and impressions video.

[VIDEO]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zS6-Nb6JNlk[/VIDEO]
DeeGuy310
DeeGuy310
thanks for your review, I got the P1 about a month ago, and I really enjoy these earphones when listening classical music
cleg
cleg

BloodyPenguin

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Premium Sound Signature, Multiple Detachable Cables, Fantastic Solid Metal Housings, Premium Looks, Value WELL Beyond Its Price Range
Cons: Lows Ever So Slightly Lacking, Detachable Cords Tangle a Bit
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Meet the Pinnacle P1[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)], [/color]Mee Audio[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]'s first true Flagship IEM:[/color]
 
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                           - All Photos Presented and Taken By Me -
 
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]**Disclaimer: A sample of the Pinnacle P1 was provided by Mee Audio [[/color]www.meeaudio.com[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]] in return for an honest review** [/color]
 
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]*Specifications*[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Driver Type : Moving coil (dynamic) with copper-clad aluminum voice coil [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Driver Size: 10 mm [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Impedance: 50 Ohms at 1 kHz [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Sensitivity: 96±3 dB (1mW at 1 kHz) [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Microphone Specifications[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Directivity: Omnidirectional [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Frequency Response: 100 Hz to 5 kHz [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Sensitivity: -40dB± 3dB [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Product Details[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Ear Coupling: Intraaural (in-ear) [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Cable Length: 51 inches (130 cm), detachable [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Cable Connectors: MMCX [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Cable plug: 3.5 mm, right angle [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Weight (without cable): 0.4 oz (13 g) [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Weight: 1 oz (29 g) [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]*Contents*[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]- Pinnacle P1 Audiophile In-Ear Headphones[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]- High-fidelity silver-plated OFC audio cable[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]- Headset cable with microphone and remote[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]- Comply T-200 memory foam eartips (3 pairs)[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]- Silicone eartips (6 pairs)[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]- ¼" (6.3mm) stereo adapter[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]- Premium carrying case with laser-etched serial number[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]- Shirt clip[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]- User manual[/color]
 
The Pinnacle P1 presents itself, tucked away in a rather fascinating box, with each layer taken off adding to the excitement of the final reveal.  
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Mee Audio wants you to find the perfect fit, thus why they include 9 sets of eartips, both silicone and Comply foam. [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Also included is a quite nice looking hard case to protect your P1 with. The laser-etched serial number displayed front and center explains a lot about this product, it is personal and an exceptional piece of kit.[/color]
 
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]*Build/Design*[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Let me just throw out a few words for you; "[/color]Die-cast Zinc Alloy[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]". That is the material that the very appropriately named Pinnacle are made out of. The P1 is literally built like nothing else as no other earphone is made of the same composites. The housings do borderline on heavy and feel quite substantial in the hand. If these had an attached cable, they could be easily turned into a deadly weapon.[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]The exotic metals have a nice side effect of also creating a very exclusive and handsome earphone. The P1 is easily one of the most eye catching IEMs I have had the pleasure of coming across. The extreme design brought me to wear vinyl gloves when I did my photoshoot, as I wanted to avoid any blemishes on the unique Pinnacle. Though, my extra precaution was not exactly warranted, as I came to find out, they really don't draw much attention to finger prints. [/color]
 
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Next we have the fantastic detachable cables (Using a MMCX Connection);[/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]- HIGH-GRADE AUDIO CABLE: Silver-plated and 99.99% pure copper. This High-Fidelity cable is just plain awesome. Another example of why the P1 pushes WAY past its price range. This is the kind of cable one would normally find with an item costing 3x more. [/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]- HEADSET CABLE WITH MIC & REMOTE: While not built using the same materials as the High-Grade Cable, this extra included cable is a wonderful addition and still of a very good quality. Even with an IEM of this level, it is nice to have the option to use it with a Tablet/Phone. For use, I found sound quality to still be at a decent output, even using my old Samsung S4 (more on that later). [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]I'm really nitpicking here, these cables are so wonderful, though I did find they can tangle a bit when attached to the heavy P1 housing from time to time, but really, they are just great. Each cable also displays no signs of any microphonics, they are as quiet as a church mouse.[/color]
 
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]*Fit/Comfort*[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]The P1 can be worn either over ear or under ear, which is a great option to have as some users swear buy one or the other. Personally, I like it worn either way, depending on my mood or needed use.[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Whichever way you end up wearing the Pinnacle, you will notice that the P1 carries a lot of weight. That said, I never had any issues with the P1 falling out, the sleek universal design sees to the P1 staying firmly in the ear. Once in the ear, I found the Pinnacle to be comfortable and easy to wear for extended use.[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Worn Around the Ear - Due to the weight of the P1, I found this to be the best way to anchor them as not to fall out do to an accidental tug. I also found it to be quite comfortable as well, as the cables are soft and easily wrap around the ear.[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Worn Straight Down - This is a quick, easy and standard way to wear the P1. While I mentioned that I did not mind wearing them either way, I found myself using this method as in my home, I am getting up and down a lot to check on the family. Wrapping the cord around the ear is easy, but takes an extra second or two which is valuable to my reviews. :wink: [/color]
 
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]*Sound*[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Lows - I like sub-bass. I like controlled sub-bass. The P1 has controlled sub-bass, I just wish there was just a tad more to give these IEMs a little more presence in the lows. Now I will say this is more of a personal preference. In reality the Pinnacle is not bass light, but bass neutral. There is no emphasis down low, instead, there is the perfect amount of bass to maintain Mee Audio's design of a Flagship sound signature. [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Mids - The middle frequencies are displayed at an extremely high and accurate level. Listening to them now, they are musical, detailed, natural and revealing. Vocals come through with such a smoothness and presence. Mee Audio did a fantastic job tuning and it really shows in the mids.[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Highs - Bright? Well.. not really, the P1 go up the range quite a bit, but seem to dissipate right before they become harsh or sibilant. What you will find a lot in the highs is detail, glorious detail. This is where the Pinnacle really impressed me. [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Isolation - With a thick slab of die-cast zinc alloy between your ear canals and the rest of the world, you will find that the P1 isolates extremely well. You are not going to find any sound leak hear either. Your music stays your music, so let that Katie Perry blast, no one is going to know.[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Soundstage - I'm not sure what exactly is going on inside that extremely though metal housing, but it is something magical. IEMs should not have this depth, while maintaining such great expansive instrument separation. [/color]
 
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]*Sources Used*[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]TEAC HA-P90SD - Analytical Use: These two are just plan awesome together. Silent from the floor up, music is represented in its purest form with amazing reproduction. If I wanted to show off the P1, I would pair it with this. From the crisp highs to the controlled (light) sub-bass, this DAP really had a ha[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Marantz HD DAC1 - Analytical Power Use: While the Marantz is close to par with the TEAC, I found there to be a few little differences. The HD DAC1 allowed a bit wider soundstage and power. Though, playback on the other hand is not as controlled or as natural as the HA-P90SD.[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]FiiO E07K - Fun Use: The FiiO E07K has a slight darker signature that actually works very well with the P1 at times. The E07K has decent power to push the Pinnacle, but holds it back just enough in the highs to give it a "fun" sound. Keeping any chance at upper range becoming fatiguing well at bay. [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]FiiO M3 - Random Use (Headset Cable): It was laying in front of me and I thought, what the heck, lets give it a try. While far from my top choice, I found that the Pinnacle did its best to play nice with the little DAP. Producing a slightly darker color than the P1 is accustom to. While no where as detailed as some others on this list, the M3 still was able to push the P1 to present a pleasant sound. My issue was that while the FiiO M3 did its best, I just knew that P1 had so much more left to show.[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Samsung S4 - Cellphone Use (Headset Cable): Being an older model, I was worried that the S4 would really struggle with the P1. I was mostly wrong. While the Pinnacle can be pushed much better by dedicated audio products, Mee Audio purposely includes a headset cable for use with a phone/tablet. While power is always going to be an issue with most of these types, it basically just means you are going to have to turn the volume way up and kind of works inadvertently to protect your ears a bit. I was so ready to be unimpressed by this pairing of the S4 and P1 that when I listened to them the first time together, I thought, "Well, not that bad". With the Pinnacle's great isolation and comfort along with the Samsung's portability make it a smart match for travel or on the go.[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]- [More to come as I have a few new sources on the way and I will update this section as they arrive] -[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]*Value*[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]This is a section I am adding expectantly for the P1. Normally you can just read a review, look at the price and basically figure the value out for yourself. With the Pinnacle, it must be shouted out. Shouted from the roof tops about how an amazing value the P1 represents. Is $200 a budget IEM? For some yes, for some no, but you get so much for this price. [Mee Audio, look away at this point and don't read this next few sentences]. Mee Audio dropped the ball, they could have charged at least twice, if not 3 times more for the P1. I'm not kidding. I see a lot of earphones build like this and are meant to sound like this, for example the Cypher Labs C6iem v2, which can't hold a candle to the Pinnacle. The P1 beats the C6iem V2 in every category and leaves an extra $400 in your pocket. [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]At the time of finishing this review [02/10/16] the Pinnacle P1 was out of stock on Mee Audio's website: [/color]http://www.meeaudio.com/pinnacle[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Though, I see that there are some on sale directly from Mee Audio's eBay Store for $200: [/color]http://www.ebay.com/itm/131718040815[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]I also see them in limited numbers on Amazon for the same price: [/color]http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01A60I4P6/
 
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]*Overall Thoughts*[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Value, sound, build, design and accessories all scream high end, but without the premium price. Mee Audio hit a home run with the P1. This has to be on of the best valued products I have ever tested. It is the Budget Flagship.[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]From the minute I opened up the box, until the second I put the the P1 into my ear, the Pinnacle impressed me the whole way. I kept shaking my head in dis-belief about how wonderful Mee Audio had done with this product.[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Way to go Mee Audio, the Pinnacle P1 is a heck of a Flagship and a great gift to the Audiophile world.[/color]
 
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]--[/color]
L
Luis Luquis
Nice review, I have the MEE m6 pro and i was thinking about upgrading to these.
bmichels
bmichels
Good review.   Please could you tell us where you got those triple flange eartips from ? 
 
thanks
BloodyPenguin
BloodyPenguin

twister6

twister6 Reviews
Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: excellent balanced signature and revealing/expanded sound, solid zn-alloy build, silver plated removable cable, leather case, wire up/down fitment.
Cons: not as forgiving when it comes to poorly recorded tracks, not a very clear L/R cable labeling, lacking a bit in sub-bass.

I would like to Thank MEEaudio for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.
 
Manufacturer website: http://www.meeaudio.com/pinnacle

 
The flagship headphones are not born overnight.  It takes a lot of hard work, genuine passion, and accumulated experience to reach that level.  Armed with these skills, MEEaudio spent nearly 2 years crafting their next big release.  I actually had a number of discussions with Mike of MEEaudio (PR face of the company) over the course of last year about the progress of Pinnacle development and manufacturing, and know with certainty how much effort went into these headphones.  As a matter of fact, they could have been released half a year ago, but MEEaudio continued tweaking minor details until everything was done to perfection.
 
MEEaudio, formerly MEElec, is well known and respected in audiophile community, even though some of their headphones fall into a general consumer oriented budget category.  If you focus on sound quality, “budget” doesn’t always mean a bad thing, where just recently I reviewed their RX18 IEMs (on Amazon for under $8 shipped) and found it to be worthy of “Giant Killer” level.  Now, I got my hands on their new flagship model which again pushes the Giant Killer envelope, even at $199.  MEEaudio named their new model “Pinnacle 1”, so let’s take a closer look to find out if they were able to reach the pinnacle level with their new P1 release.
 
Unboxing.
 
Starting with an outside sleeve, you are greeted with a glossy high def image of P1 that visually pops out of the cover.  While taking a tour around the box to read the back and the sides, you can find a lot of interesting details about the design, the spec, and the included accessories.  I personally enjoy analyzing the packaging while reminiscing a good old brick’n’mortar days when we were able to walk down the isle of a local electronics store, pick up a box, and indulge ourselves in reading about the product.  But words are just words, so off goes the sleeve to reveal a gift-box quality storage box.
 
After a brief moment while looking at the split in the middle of the top cover, I opened the box by flipping both sides up – quite an original cover design which I haven’t seen before.  With the cover sides up, you’re greeted with a view of a beautiful leather case, a pair of P1 shells above it in a foam cutout, and two neatly stacked boxes below it with a proper labeling of the content.  Even before starting to analyze the ergonomics of the shell design, I was still analyzing the ergonomics of the box by itself with a small pocket for 1/4” adapter underneath of the main foam insert and another indented opening for user manual under the leather case, and both accessory boxes.  I often mention about the rewarding nature of unboxing experience, and here it was definitely worthy of the flagship status.
 
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Accessories.
 
Starting with eartips, you get a neat plastic tray with every tip in its own individual storage pocket.  A total of 6 silicone eartip pairs were included: 3 pairs of S/M/L with a traditional single flange semi-springy cap, 2 pairs of M/L double flange, and a pair of M triple-flange tips.  Also, included were 3 pairs of S/M/L genuine Comply foam tips, as well as 1/4” adapter and a smart shirt clip where one of the handles had a cleverly designed spring-loaded hook to attach to the cable.  Not that you have to worry about microphonics, but considering you are dealing with a premium multi-conductor twisted cable – this was a nice custom accessory like I haven’t seen before.
 
But my favorite accessory has to be a leather case with a magnetic flip cover.  Everything about this case screams premium, from a quality of the leather to a neat stitching, from a polished metal tab with Pinnacle name and engraved serial number to a soft felt roomy interior to accommodate P1 with its thick cable.  The size of the case was just perfect, not too big or too small, and the shape was slick and comfortable to slide in your pocket.
 
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Cables.
 
It's very rare to see a premium cable included with stock accessories.  The reason is very simple – it adds to the cost.  P1 was designed with a removable cable using industry standard mmcx connector, and it would have been enough to include just a basic audio cable and maybe a smart cable with in-line remote, leaving it up to a user to upgrade later.  I have no idea how they managed to pull this off with $199 price tag, but they did include a nice 4-conductor copper headset cable with in-line remote and mic AND a premium silver plated pure copper audio cable.
 
Headset cable is soft with a black shielding, a solid L-shaped molded headphone jack, a molded durable y-splitter, even a cable cinch despite in-line remote on the right side, and a durable universal in-line remote with mic and a single multi-function button for Play/Pause/Call and multi-press for track skip (I confirmed double click to skip next with my Note 4).  Each wire connected to mmcx connector housing is twisted (two separate isolated conductors), and the connector housing itself has a nice rubbery grip and a proper “hard to see” labeling with ID bump on the right side.  Y-splitter doesn’t combine L/R ground wires and continuous twisted with 4 separate isolated conductors down to a headphone jack.
 
The silver-plated wire looks pure class.  Featuring the same L-shaped 90deg jack, which btw in both cases has a slimmed down collar to work with heavy duty smartphone cases, and the same rubbery molded y-splitter which just passes a pair of conductors from each side and continuous twisted with all 4 isolated conductors down to headphone jack.  You get a nice easy to slide cable cinch, and a solid rubbery grip mmcx connector housing with a proper L/R side labeling and ID bump on the right side.  I did say “proper” labeling, but it wasn’t easy to read, thus I do appreciate the bump to feel the right cable connector, on both audio and headset cables.
 
Labeling of the cable connector is very important here.  The ergonomics of the design was crafted to accommodate either wire-up or wire down fitment of these IEMs.  While in so many cases we try to adapt to wearing non-symmetric IEMs with wire down where shells are angled and sticking out of your ears, here MEEaudio intentionally designed the shape to work both ways.  Since cable is detachable, you just unplug and swap the shells while keeping the same L/R orientation of the cable.  That is also a reason why the shells don’t have any L/R marking on them, to eliminate confusion if you are going to swap them.
 
The design of the cables, both the shielding material and the way how cables are twisted, yielded a microphonics free experience.  But if you want to, you can always use the included smart clip which fits the cable snuggly.  I also really like how the color of the audio cable had a matching color tone to go along with P1 shells.  Furthermore, I took advantage of mmcx connector removable functionality to test P1 with my other pure silver and silver-plated cables – none of which yielded any significant improvement over the stock silver-plated cable.  I’m a cable believer for sure, but in this case I found myself a little bit biased because I really liked the feel, the look, and the sound improvement of this cable - noticeable when you compare it to the other included headset copper cable.
 
Silver-plated audio cable.
 
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Headset cable.
 
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Fitment (wire up/down).
 
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Design.
 
The housing of P1 shell is die-cast from a solid zinc alloy material with a hand polished surface and a clear coat finish.  With a weight of about 6g including eartip, they feel like solid nuggets in your hand when you first pick them up, but the weight disappears when you put them in your ears.  I think a lot of it has to do with ergonomics of the design and distribution of the weight.  The shell has a classic bean shape outline with nice design details, kind of reminding me of a golf club head.  Worn with wire up, P1 goes flush in my ear to the point where I can put my head down comfortably on the pillow and fall asleep wearing them.  But as I mentioned before, if you flip L/R sides – you can also wear them comfortably wire down where it doesn’t look or feel out of place.  Furthermore, nozzle appears to be stainless steel and notched at the tip to keep eartips from sliding off.
 
For a more secure fitment and a better sound isolation, I recommend a wire up fitment, especially when you are in the middle of your active lifestyle routine.  But for a quick listening session where you get constantly interrupted and have to remove earpieces – wire down could be a lifesaver!  Also for those who switch between glasses and contact lenses, you have an option to switch the fitment.  The passive noise isolation is very good, even with silicone eartips, and it scales up when using Comply foam tips.  The venting pinhole is strategically positioned facing in on the angled side of the shell, so it’s not obstructed, and at the same time doesn’t leak sound or introduces outside noise.
 
When it comes to the internal design of the shell, MEEaudio sound engineers came up with a proprietary sound chamber and damping scheme that uses a patented acoustic diffuser to shape the sound.  I would recommend visiting their website (http://www.meeaudio.com/pinnacle) to read more details with picture illustrations.  Personally, I found it fascinating because we are talking about higher impedance (50 ohm), lower sensitivity (93dB), 10mm SINGLE dynamic driver which thanks to this clever engineering was tuned to perform at its full wide bandwidth potential with a performance typical of multi-driver IEMs.
 
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Sound Analysis.
 
It has been awhile since I had the opportunity to test and to review a purebred dynamic driver IEM without any BA sidekicks.  Because of that, I forgot how much change a dynamic driver can undergo during the burn in.  P1 will need at least 50hrs of burn in for lows and highs to settle in before you get to its true color.  While I was going through burn in, I went back'n'forth between silicone and foam tips because at first they sounded a bit warm, then brighter, and finally cooked to perfection where I went back to large pair of silicone tips that works the best for me.  To get a better idea of tonality and soundstage expansion, I used a few of my favorite summit-if DAPs, such as PAW Gold, FiiO X7, and L&P L5 Pro.
 
I found P1 overall tonality to be neutral with a noticeable tilt toward the brighter side of a balanced signature. The sound is dynamic, with excellent resolution and transparency, and good layering and separation of instruments and vocals.  Paired up with neutral-bright sources, the retrieval of details gets closer to micro-detail level without being too harsh or analytical, while with more neutral-warmish sources – sound was smoother yet still very detailed.
 
One thing that impressed me right from the start was a soundstage expansion which I found to punch way above the average in all 3 directions of width/depth/height.  Of course, this is true as long as you are not limited by your source where you can’t expect your smartphone or a budget DAP to yield the same results as some more advance reference quality DAPs.  But one thing for sure, P1 is not going to be a limiting factor in that equation.  Along with impressive staging, I found imaging to have a holographic quality 3D placement of instruments/vocals with a convincing positioning.
 
In more details, starting with low end, you get a nice extension down to a smooth sub-bass layer where the emphasis is more on quality rather than quantity.  You can still hear the presence of sub-bass, but more on a lower slightly rolled off level, just enough to build a foundation under the mid-bass which has an articulate punch.  At the same time in tracks where the song calls for more sub-bass, I was surprised how P1 responded with extra rumble.  It's not quite BA-driver fast, but definitely faster than average dynamic driver and also with a smooth analog feeling.  Bass is well controlled, not even a hint of spilling into lower mids or adding muddiness.
 
Lower mids have a good balanced body which gives sound a more natural feeling.  Going into upper mids you are faced with a resolving and detailed sound which can reach micro-detail level, but doesn't sound too bright or sibilant.  The performance of male and female vocals is excellent where you can hear every little nuance without going into analytical level of detail retrieval.  P1 especially shines with instrumental vocal tracks.
 
Treble is extended, bright, crisp, with a great definition and delicate airiness that adds expanded dimension to a sound.  I usually don't get much into analyzing high frequencies or instruments that take advantage of it, but I couldn't stop admiring resonating details of cymbal crashes and snare hit.  At the same time, P1 is not forgiving when it comes to a poorly recorded tracks with brighter upper mids/treble content.  P1 is not going to mask or smooth out anything, but rather transparently point out all the faults especially in high frequencies.
 
Those who want more bass or prefer a smooth warm organic sound with rolled off treble might not be entirely satisfied with P1, but for others who are craving a revealing detailed sound enjoyable during extended non-fatigue listening sessions - this is a golden gem!
 
Comparison to other IEMs.
 
It gets very interesting when you start comparing P1 to other headphones, since all the previous typical dynamic driver expectations are out of the window.  After listening to P1 exclusively for the entire week, I was no longer able to box my listening opinion into one particular headphone category since they came close to matching various headphones from single dynamic driver to multi-BA drivers and even hybrids.
 
P1 vs DN2kJ - very similar low end where P1 has slightly better sub-bass extension while DN has a little faster mid-bass punch; P1 lower mids have more body and upper mids are more balanced and a little smoother. DN upper mids are more up front, brighter, and a little harsher.  DN treble is a touch more crispy but otherwise very similar to P1.  P1 is an excellent alternative for those who enjoy revealing detailed signature of DN2kJ but want a more balanced smoother sound with more body and without compromising retrieval of details.  The soundstage was similar, though P1 is a touch wider.
 
P1 vs RE600 – Right away you can hear RE soundstage being narrower and with less depth, also with a warmer smoother sound, less transparency, and a little flatter in comparison where P1 sounds more dynamic.  RE upper mids are smoother, treble is not as extended and not as bright, and mid-bass speed is a little slower.  RE takes a little step back from P1 in a more neutral, warmer, smoother, and less revealing direction.
 
P1 vs Savant – Savant has a more intimate soundstage (narrower and closer), similar sub-bass extension though Savant is a little more articulate in that area.  Also Savant has a little faster mid-bass punch and overall tighter low end – typical of BA performance; very similar lower mids, while upper mids in Savant are a little smoother and warmer; upper treble is what sets them really apart where P1 is brighter and splashier while Savant is smooth and rolled off.  But overall, I couldn’t help but notice how close these sound throughout low end and mids.
 
P1 vs DITA – I don’t have IE800, but DITA is the next iconic single dynamic driver wide-bandwidth IEM which begs to be compared to P1.  Unfortunately, I updated The Answer with a replacement gold-plated silver cable which changed the sound signature, making it bassy.  As a result DITA’s sub-bass and mid-bass are tilting the balance, sounds warmer, but the speed is similar in comparison.  When it comes to mids, they sound very similar, but P1 treble is brighter and a little splashier in comparison.  With soundstage, DITA has the same depth and height, while width is a little narrower.
 
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I already mentioned that a sound signature of the source will have a noticeable effect on P1 sound since Pinnacle doesn’t mask anything.  This makes P1 a great pair of IEMs for critical listening.  Also, slightly higher impedance (50 ohm) reassures that you don’t have to worry about background hissing and you are still in a friendly zone with portable mobile or less powerful sources.   But you do have to realize that lower sensitivity will require pushing your volume higher to get to a more comfortable listening level.
 
A brief rundown how P1 pairs up with some of my sources.
 
PAW Gold - very transparent and detailed sound, excellent extension of the low end and the top end, yielding the widest staging in comparison to all of my other sources.
 
X7 – it has a little less low end impact (softer in comparison), but the same top end extension; very transparent and detailed with a wide staging.
 
L5 Pro - transparent and detailed, a little more body in lower end, and the best sub-bass extension and texture, a little smoother top end, and wide staging.
 
X5ii – still transparent and detailed but not exactly on the same level as other summit-fi daps (but close), fast mid-bass speed, revealing bright top, though a little smoother then X7, and a nice above the average staging.
 
X3ii – still with plenty of details but less transparent, overall smoother/warmer, and also narrower staging.
 
DX80 – holographic 3D staging, detailed, a bit less transparent, excellent extension of low/top end, and overall smooth sound.
 
Galaxy Note 4 - smooth detailed sound, average soundstage (limited by HO of N4), less transparency.  Due to higher impedance and lower sensitivity I had to push the volume closer to the max.
 
Galaxy Note 4 + Oppo HA-2 - had to switch HA-2 to high gain while pushing the volume to the max.  Surprisingly didn’t find this pair up any better than Note 4 by itself.
 
Thinkpad laptop – probably my worst audio source straight out of the motherboard HO where a sound is smooth and warm, but loses a lot of details.  This is another example of how well P1 tracks the sound of the original source.
 
Conclusion.
 
In my opinion, MEEaudio completed their design mission with a success, and definitely have a flagship product worthy of Pinnacle name.  They didn’t just push the envelope of the price to deliver a premium pair of headphones for under $200, but also pushed the envelope of a single dynamic driver performance.  If you are looking for a sound with more bass or craving a more sterile analytical revealing performance, P1 might not satisfy you.  The same if you are used to dealing with forgiving headphones, relying on them to mask poorly recorded tracks, especially with harsh upper frequencies.  But if you are looking for a neutral-bright tonality, a balanced sound signature, a natural revealing sound, and an expanded 3D soundstage – P1 will be a pinnacle of your search.  Adding to that a solid build with zinc alloy material, unique design with either over ear or down wire fitment, variety of quality eartips, premium leather case, two sets of removable cables including one with headset control and another with a premium silver-plated wire, and 2 year warranty - $199 price tag is a bargain, and in comparison to other headphones MEEaudio added another Giant Killer to their product portfolio.
modjo
modjo
Hi @twister6
 
May I ask you to give a short comparison between Pinnacle P1 and Zero Audio Doppio? And if they both priced at the similar price, which one do you prefer? 
A
Abdullah123
Hi,
 
i want to ask question, im getting caught in between in these two great iem (Mee p1 and earsonic sm64). I have a great deal on both offer, in fact they offer exactly similar price. what do you think is better in terms of full SQ and technicality, please let me know your opinion about which is which
archy121
archy121
“Those who want more bass or prefer a smooth warm organic sound with rolled off treble might not be entirely satisfied with P1”

That’s me. What would fit that sound signature and similar budget ? Massdrop Plus ?others ?
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