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Universal Fit item created by nightmancometh, Mar 28, 2011
Pros - Great All Rounder, Cable, Nice Case, Extremely Comfortable
Cons - Rubber Strain Relief, Box
First of all, I’d like to say a big thanks to Mike of Meelectronics for sending me an A151P for me to review.
Meelectronics is a company created in 2005, at which time they made MP3 players. Further down the line in 2010, they started to make their own earphones and headphones and they have further developed their product line. The A151P that I am reviewing now is a revision of the older A151 with an added microphone and one button remote. This is one of their more mid range IEMs and has a RRP of $79.99 but the street price is somewhere around $50. One thing I feel like I have to mention up front is how impressed I’ve been at Mike’s quick responses to emails and my questions.
**Disclaimer** I am in no way affiliated or against Meelectronics in any way. I was given these as a review sample and was told to give my unbiased impressions.
I listened to these through my Sansa Clip+ and Fiio E6 during the review. I found that the difference between various sources was rather minimal compared to other IEMs but going up to a better source like the DX50 did improve the SQ. It sounded great through my Samsung Galaxy S3 as well, which is what I’ll be using it the most on because of the remote, and the mic and remote worked great on my SGS3. Overall, the A151P isn’t source dependant at all and sounds right through everything.
Unboxing & Accessories
The box was pretty plain and you just open the flap, slide out the clear plastic thing and there are your earphones. Simple and easy.
The box that I got wasn’t sealed, so I’m not sure if I got all the accessories, but I just got the IEMs, clamshell carrying case and some tips. There wasn’t a cable clip, but personally I don’t really care because these are worn over the ear and have no microphonics.
Design, Isolation & Cable
The A151P does look a bit weird and different from other IEMs, but I don’t mind because I’m not looking at it, but instead putting them in my ears. Personally I’m not a huge fan of mics, remotes and 4-pole connectors, but since I’m going to be using this with my phone, this is good. There is a non mic/remote version available as well. One thing I am not sure of is the rubber strain relief on the housing, which always look like they are about to come off. Oh, and I forgot to mention that these are extremely comfortable, I forget that they are there at all, but obviously, YMMV.
The isolation is about average and around other vented IEMs like the GR07 and BA-100.
I actually really like the cable. It is braided tightly, flexible and easy to use with no microphonics. One of the best stock cables I have come across and IMO is better than the stock CIEM cables, which come apart after a bit of usage.
I have never heard a Meelectronics product before this, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I felt they were very good for $50. As per all my reviews, the sound section will be divided into 3 main sections: the bass, midrange and the treble.
Just like what the frequency graph would suggest, the bass is very flat with an extremely slight emphasis in the mid-bass. People get the impression that BA drivers always lose to dynamic drivers in terms of bass, but I disagree. Yes, dynamic drivers usually offer more slam, but I feel like BAs have more control and their detail levels are at least on par with dynamics. Even though the bass doesn’t have a lot of impact, it has nice detail and it has a good impact when it is called upon. I actually really like the bass guitars on these and feel like they have a rather realistic tone to them. There is great speed and control, which is better than anything I’ve heard in it’s price range. Personally, I would have loved to have a tiny bit more bass, but that’s just my preference.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure whether I like the midrange or not. The A151P has a peak in the upper midrange and when I first heard it, my first impression was that it made vocals sound nasally at times. However, after spending some time with them, I feel like it has gone, so maybe it is my ears adjusting or the IEMs burning in, whatever you believe. On some songs, the midrange can sound great, but on other songs it just sound just a tiny bit off. I loved the vocal clarity and the vocal separation. Instruments also sounded very nice. Overall, I did enjoy the midrange on most songs, but I felt like it could be EQed to become better and after trying some custom EQs on Poweramp, I felt like the sound really did benefit from that. The midrange is still very pleasant with no EQ.
Looking at the graph, the treble is rather rolled off starting from 3K and when I saw the graph, I was expecting another veiled IEM, but surprisingly, the treble is not nearly as rolled off as the graph suggests, probably due to the spike at 7-8K, which makes the sound lively and interesting. I find that rolled off treble can make an IEM very dull, boring sounding and just lifeless, but rest assured that the A151P is not like that at all. Cymbals have a nice sparkle to it, but it never gets sibilant at any point. I love the detail of these single BA IEMs. Usually, I prefer a more sparklier treble such as the treble that my UM Miracle presents, but the rolled off treble does have a very relaxing sound and there is no listening fatigue whatsoever.
Soundstage & Imaging
The soundstage isn’t huge, but it is good for it’s budget-minded price point. I mean the soundstage isn’t non-existent like stock IEMs that come with your phone, but it isn’t big. I think that it is a bit above average in its price range.
I think that imaging is one of its strong suits. With multiple instruments and singers, it is still relatively easy to tell what is where, which is rather impressive considering its price range and quite average soundstage.
Separation & Detail
One of the highlights was the separation. Being a $50 single BA driver IEM, I wasn’t expecting too much from it in terms of separation, but once again, I was proven wrong. On the track “Some Nights” by Fun. The vocal separation was what you’d expect from a much pricier IEM. Instrument separation was great as well.
The detail was actually very good with these, much more detailed than anything that I have heard in it’s price range and even better than some $100 IEMs like the SE215 and H-100. Small details were there, but obviously, there were no microdetails that I can hear on something like a GR07.
Personally, I don’t feel like the A151P excelled in one particular area, but was very good across the entire spectrum, which is an extremely rare thing for an IEM of this price range to do. I feel like this beats anything in the $50 range hands down, including the E212, PAA-1 Pro (earbud) and even quite a few $100 ones like the SE215 and H-100 as mentioned above.
Meelectronics has really impressed me with their A151P and I wait for the day when they join the $200 area . Well done if you read the entire 1250 word review and I hope that it helped you.
BTW, all the pictures are from Google Images, I didn't take them. I didn't post my own pics because all my pics are crap.
Pros - durable, comfort, economic,
Cons - not warm !
I bought this stuff in online market.
And seller emphasized "WARM SOUND".
But my opinion is different. Warm? no, it's cold.
Compare with UE600 and this, you will know what I mean.
A151 has not enough bass to make sound going to warmmy
twisted cable and durable housing is good for price.
design is not a sense.
housing is little bit bigger than other BA transducer IEMs.
Pros - Great mids and highs, good isolation
Cons - No bass
Ok so I am new to all off this. I have always been into music but never had anything quality to listen to. This is my first pair of decently priced headphone and being use to cheap stuff these are like day and night. They have some great mids and highs but they are really lacking in bass. I use these almost every day but for some types of music it leaves me wanting more.
These do have a break in period, and from what I understand most good ones do. Before this the highs could hurt sometimes but after letting them run for about 100 hours that sound great.
I have a proposition for you. I’ll tell you all about the first balanced armature MEElectronics has made if you agree to think about buying them. Deal? Deal.
The A151 is MEElectronics’ first balanced armature IEM, and I must say, it’s a valiant first try indeed in a market saturated with <$100 IEM’s, and we all know MEE’s specialty is dynamic IEM’s right? So are these A151’s subpar? Far from it! Read on!
Packaging: The packaging of the SP51 is noticeably more upscale-looking than the previous line’s plastic box. Instead of the clear plastic boxes of yore, the current box is a dark and mysterious paper box with a mirrored inside. Inside, there is a “safety and tips” piece of paper that most people reading this have no need to read, the traditional MEElectronics case, and inside the case are extra tips. I’ve been trying to figger out what size the tips are, but I’ve lost my TX100’s to use as a reference.
Build: The A151’s are not made of any type of esoteric material like ceramic (CC51) or even metal, but they are, in fact, plastic. It’s really not a big deal though. The housings are very sturdy and as a bonus, I can sleep with these on! The cable on these is probably my favorite of all time on a <$100 IEM. It’s an incredibly flexible twisted cable a la Westone, and one of the few over ear IEM’s that work with my ears. If I do have any gripes about the A151 it’d have to be the strain relief on the plug. It doesn’t really do much to protect from strain. It doesn’t really bend much, which is a bit of a problem.
First Impressions: I really didn’t know what the first album to test the A151’s on, but I figured they’d err on the warm side of things seeing as how that’s how MEElectronic’s always done things. I decided to start with Emily Haines’ Cut in Half and Double. My first listen of the A151 showed a somewhat detailed warm IEM. The treble is smooth, even a bit toned down. The midrange is a bit romantic and the slightest bit veiled. Bass was surprisingly full for a balanced armature IEM, but for electronic with low beats, they struggled, which is acceptable for a single balanced armature.
Review: The gear that shall be used in this review are the Nationite NaNite N2, Sony A726, Blackberry Tour, and EMU 0204. Music is 320kbps. They’ve been used about 50 hours, and balanced armatures don’t technically need burn in.
I feel that the treble the A151’s have is pretty much ideal for my preferences. As a reformed treblehead, I prefer smooth treble to Grado levels of treble for almost any type of music, and smooth is definitely a word I’d describe the treble of the A151’s. Now, they aren’t exactly smooth a silk, there are a few dips here and there, mostly in the upper range and extension isn’t great, but pretty decent all in all.
The lower midrange is nice and meaty, erring on the warm side of things. The 1k-3k region is the slightest bit recessed though. Electric guitars and vocals can sound the slightest bit flat at times because of this. Regardless, it's ridiculously smooth sounding throughout, making these my ideal relaxation IEM's.
The bass is surprisingly punchy for a balanced armature, even moreso than a few dynamics I have. Sub bass however, is lacking in weight, which is to be expected from a <$100 single balanced armature design. However, what’s there is very formidable indeed.
Soundstage is very average. It’s a tiny bit out of my head though.
Detail retrieval is very good with the A151. It captures a bit more microdetails than the CC51 and M3. Tone is a bit off due to the softness of the sound though.
Conclusion: The MEElectronics A151 is a very competitive sub $100 IEM for those looking for a non-fatiguing sound signature. So how has MEElectronics done with their first balanced armature IEM? I’d say pretty dang good. Comparisons to its sister, the CC51 are inevitable, and I have to say that the choice is pretty hard. They sound rather similar—the CC51 having a more exciting sound, while the A151 falls on the gentler side, but if I had to pick one for all around listening, the A151 has my heart.
Pros - Clean pleasing musical sound. Great build quality.
Cons - Slightly artificial sounding instruments at times.
This review is written from the perspective of the A151 stock, no external amp or DAC, to give readers an idea of what to expect if they buy these without an amp/DAC. I would like to thanks Meelectronic's for the review sample of the A151 as well! They are wonderful people and they make fantastic products.
The A151 came packaged in a black cardboard box with a small window displaying the IEMs. The model is clearly shown in a silver font and the company logo is sitting at the top of the box. On one side of the box the specifications of the A151 are shown such as sensitivity, impedance, cable length and frequency response. On the back some information is told about the IEMs, such as "over ear design" and accessories included. Inside the IEMs are secure in the clear plastic housing used to display them while the rest of the cord is carefully wrapped in a semi-hard clamshell case that contains all of the tips and has the company's logo and website on it.
Inside the clamshell are 5 included black silicon tips. One tri-flange pair, one bi-flange, and 3 pairs of mushroom tips. There is a little mesh section in the clamshell with an elastic opening to hold the tips. The case seems rather durable and won't take up a huge amount of pocket space. I definitely will be carefully wrapping up my IEMs and using this to keep them safe during travel.
Overall the packaging is something I would expect from a more expensive IEM, I'm impressed.
Design and Build Quality:
The first thought that came to mind when I opened these was, "High quality." From the flexible braided cord to the A151 lettering on the straight 3.5mm jack these IEMs feel durable. The IEMs are made of high quality plastic with chrome accents that neither look tacky or cheap. They definitely feel better quality in every way to my HiFi Man RE0 which are made of metal. These are clean looking and look well made. The braided cord feels nice to the touch and very flexible, I have no worries about its durability at all.
These are the first over ear design IEMs I've ever owned so I was concerned with comfort and fit. It took me an attempt or two to get them in properly, once I did they stayed. There are absolutely no microphonics or comfort concerns after 3 hours of wear. This is a very good thing. Every other IEM I've owned has been with the cable hanging down and after a while the cord pressure has made them uncomfortable, even if very slightly. Definitely a hats off to Meelectronics on the build design and quality of these.
As for isolation, these thing do a great job of keeping outside noise out. Using these on a walk and drive I was unable to hear outside noise at a reasonable listening level.
This is something I'm still delving into and by that I mean I'm still listening to a huge variety of music to see how the frequencies play with each other. Overall the sound is a warm, smooth and clear. At times I feel as if I'm in a room with the band and the instruments are being played live in front of me, while other times they have a tendency to sound slightly artificial and flat, though I feel that is more of a problem with the recording itself.
The lows are strong and extend well. They have a warm pleasant sound to them that slightly extends into the mids. The mids I feel are slightly recessed, but not much. There are times where I feel vocals are pushed back slightly in favor of the highs and lows, though only slightly. The mids are definitely smooth though and very clear. The highs extend well and definitely shine, never once did I feel them to be too bright or fatiguing though. The soundstage is typical of an IEM, I don't feel it cluttered, but it's certainly not as spacious as a typical open headphone provides. The instrument separation is great though, I can pick out instruments without a problem.
I feel that fans of the Sennheiser HD555, 595, 558, and 598 series will find these IEMs to be right at home.
I decided to take some tracks to test these on a per track basis:
Brazil - Aventine
I chose this song because of it's excellent instrument separation, range of frequencies and due to the "attack" of the song. Right away the attack of the guitar hits me, the vocals are very present and forward. Once the song kicks in the bass is easily discerned from the guitar, which is easily discerned from the piano, which is easily discerned from the drums. There's a lot going on in this song and these headphones are able to keep up no problem. No frequency seems more prominent than the other and they are able to keep up with the quick pace of this song and able to give the guitars the crunch they have.
James Blake - Limit To Your Love
I chose this song because of the deep head-shaking bass. The A151 definitely reproduce the bass to very low frequencies, but I never felt the bass. I hear the bass, but it's not shaking my head. The A151 definitely can handle low frequencies, but it doesn't make me feel them.
Sufjan Stevens - Size Too Small
I chose this to see how the A151 would handle acoustic singer/songwriter music. Overall it plays back well. The acoustic guitar sounds warm, though slightly "muffled," which may be the recordings fault though. The vocals sound perfect, smooth and hushed as Sufjan sings. The banjo is on perfect level with the guitar and sounds great.
Radiohead - Where I End and You Begin
I chose this because Radiohead uses a lot of background noises in conjunction with its instruments and because of the prominent bass line. The bass sounds wonderful and all of the nuances are easily heard throughout. The vocals sound wonderful and the drums are perfectly balanced in the mix. The little guitar break is clear and sounds wonderful as well.
Kanye West - Dark Fantasy
I chose this not because of its audio fidelity, but mostly to see how these handled hip-hip on a track I'm very familiar with. Right off the bat all of the vocals are completely clear and able to be picked apart from the next. I've honestly never heard them so clear, even over my Ad900. The bass comes in clear, though lacking some impact, the samples in the background are clear and easily heard, but they don't interfere with Kanye's vocals. Overall I have to say, this track sounds pretty killer with these.
For $75 I feel these are a great value. They are comfortable and have a fantastic design. The braided cord is wonderful and something I definitely am a huge fan of now. The sound is warm, without being overly laid back like I found in the HD558. The highs are definitely present, and the mids are smooth. I definitely recommend these for their build quality and sound quality. Fans of the Sennheiser HD5XX line will be right at home. Meelectronic's customer service is one of the best I've ever experienced which should assure anyone of their purchase.
Pros - Accurate sound, great value and good cable/accessories
Cons - Lack of bass quantity
I recently got interested in IEMs and was previously content with my EP-630 and Sennheiser HD428.
I was getting tired of my EP-630 and decided I wanted to try a new pair of IEMs as the EP-630 had muddy sound but was a bang for the buck back then.
I ended up with ordering two pairs Meelectronics A151 and Hippo VB, I had a friend who wanted a new pair as well, so we bought these two knowing virtually nothing about sound at the time. This will be compared to the EP-630 as my only reference point.
Coming from the EP-630 I was amazed with the clarity these had. They had much better separation of the different instruments. It's not sibilant to any degree I can hear and it isn't harsh. The lows are detailed enough to hear the various instruments but the quantity of bass is really lacking. The sound seems more or less neutral across the spectrum.
It comes with a great variety of accesories including a case, which can be used when you don't use it. It's not large enough to also have my clip+ in it. It comes with three sizes of single-flanges and bi- and triflanges.
It's build quality is great for the price. It is made of plastic but seems rather sturdy and robust. The Y-split is solid and the twisted cable feels really strong compared to that of the EP-630 and Hippo VB.
It comes with a straight plug which I personally don't like.
The included single-flanges provide mediocre isolation the bi-flange and the tri-flange greatly impoves this though. Microphonics are close to nonexistent when worn over the ear.