Cons: -Some may not like the Analytical Sound -Lacks any bass impact/very light bass
These are my go to portable IEM's/Headphones, They have the classic neutral slightly warm balanced armature sound.
I will start with what i like.
-Highs -The high end on these is quite amazing for the price, they are very accurate! the highs are never fatiguing though because they are fairly rolled off but you don't notice it much because of the lack of bass.
-Mids -The mid range is quite accurate and i am particularly impressed by the vocals and electric guitars, they are as i said neutral and slightly warm so they don't sound overly analytical.
-Bass -This is where people have issues with these iems, the bass. they have barely any at all. for me personally it brings out the highs and mid range of a song very well, but if you listen to anything that requires bass to sound proper i.e. edm rap or hip-hop you might want to look else where, despite the issues with quantity of bass, the quality is still good but it is hard to appreciate it if you can hardly hear it, that being said i would still recommend these for any other genre other than those that i mentioned.
-Soundstage - the soundstage is fine nothing to write home about just good enough that it sounds nice and not to forward.
-Build Quality - The build will not amaze you but you wont be breaking them anytime soon they will last if you take care of them. the cable is particularly nice and reminds me of cables used on much higher end iems but not detachable.The isolation is also very nice and i can use them even at low volumes on a bus or in a noisy room.
-Accessories -They come with a nice travel pouch, and a nice set of eartips but no foam tips, i plan on ordering some to see if i prefer them.Edit- The comply foam tips work great and make these isolate even better also slightly improve bass
-Microphone - I don't use it often but I can tell you that it works perfect for what it is meant to do take calls.
Overall these do well in most categories, i would strongly recommend them. I purchased mine off massdrop in a mystery bag. These are a fantastic budget iem!
testing tracks: Teardrop by Massive Attack, Take the power back by rage against the machine, Paradise by magic!,Suelta by Alfonso Andre
Pros: Detailed and clear SQ, nice cable. Above average MIC clarity.
Cons: Lacks some bass depth, air and rumble.
I am one of those people, who like balance, the flatter the better, and I am really excited about this review!! I love balanced armatures. They are not meaty or full bodied but they are precise.
A151/P is one of them, launched a few years ago along with CC51p and was well received by both consumers and reviewers too. It housed a balanced armature and even though it was good, there was something missing, a bit of top end extension to be precise.
So Meelectronics, now MeeAudio released a newer version of the original A151p, with better internals and useability, named it A151 2nd gen priced $50, it houses a Knowles SR-31843 BA driver and according to MEE it has more linear bass, better treble energy and extension while maintaining the excellent clarity of the first generation.
Most of us are aware of this brand. They stormed bass head community with M9 and M6 and then CC51/p and A151/p did their magic over consumers and reviewers. I too own a few MEE products e.g. CC51p, CW31, M9 and M6.
I will compare this earphone with CC51p, Ultimate ears UE600 and VSD2S.
About me, I like balance, no problem with V-shaped sound till the earphone has enough details, a bigger stage and good layering will do wonders, and I am not much bothered about bass till it is fast, but prefer more sub bass, I will forgive everything if it’s got pace with good mids and top end presence. I love spark with my highs, I won’t kill for spark but spark is what makes a phone feel alive, too much will kill the cat and too less will kill the cat too, I don’t like to play around EQs but I have mine applied.
Accessories Ergonomics and Miscellaneous:-
These are the days where earphones are seriously accessorized with plenty of ear tips and many other things with fancy packaging. But here, things are slightly simple, nothing fancy, nice simple looking box with information about the earphone around it, unboxing is simple too, inside you will find the same old MEE branded carry pouch, but the material has changed from rubberized to cloth type, I find this material to be more prone to attracting dust, it’s not bad but I liked the older one. 3 pairs of basic single flange tips, a pair of Bi and Tri flange tips are included too. Nothing else, it would have been nice if they had included a pair of comply tips and a cable clip, still this is not bad.
Its cable is rubberized but its soft rubber, not bouncy and microphonics is not bothering even when you wear it cable down. Ergonomically its good, you can wear it both ways easily, without much trouble. Sadly stress reliever at the earphone end feels slightly weaker still does its job nicely. Cable length is 135cm, more than enough for me.
You will find left/right side earpieces marked with an “L” and “R” and should be easier to locate. Let me give you another advice, the side with MIC in between is the left side.
Earphone’s ergonomics is awesome, you can wear it cable up and cable down without any trouble, easy on ears, no pressure of any kind on any part of the ear, unlike Piston-3 this earphone gives me no trouble at all. Differences between 2nd and 1st gen appearance: - all of us have this question, and even when I don’t have the 1st gen, let me help you with this. First of all the box declares it to be the 2nd gen, 2ndly 3.5mm jack is not straight anymore but right angled, if you bought the mic version you will find the newer model’s mic unit has stress relievers too, which was lacking with the first gen. and that is it, no other differences visually.
Purple one is from CW31. Microphone unit:-
This earphone comes with a universal one button MIC unit which works with apple and android phones flawlessly. Thankfully its button is protruding enough and easier to operate unlike Piston 3, whose remote unit is difficult to get a hold of. A151 2nd has nice clarity. Person on the other end had no problem hearing me. In comparison MIC clarity is better than XBA-C10.
Operating it is easy, single press picks and ends calls. If not on a call, single press will play music and another press will pause it, double and triple press results into skipping tracks forward and backward respectively. Easy and simple to operate, sadly you can’t control the volume from remote.
This single BA is one of the finest sounding earphones in its price range. Sound sig is slightly warm and ever so slightly bright, the best thing is its balance!! Killer balance, Highs do have some elevation and there is a hump around vocal region which makes both male and female vocals and some instruments shine, some instruments do sound a bit pale too when compared to UE600. I do find its highs engaging and unlike E50 which lacked some spark, A151 2nd gen has enough to keep me interested. You can throw any kind of music at it and you will experience no lag of any kind, doesn’t matter how fast the music is.
And for your information, I am happily using Westone tips in these!! Isolation is awesome!! AWWWSSSOOOMMMEEEEE!! Nothing changes much when I switch to bi flange silicon tips everything sounds a bit more forward, notes get slightly sharper but isolation gets worse and stage gets smaller as it loses some depth. Everything else like details, resolution, imaging, layering and clarity remains more or less the same.
Here are some of the tracks that I used for listening,
James blunt – 1973(my fav track),
Adele - set fire to the rain,
Paul lindford and Chris vrenna – most wanted mash up.
Plan-B – playing with fire.
Jessie J- sweet talker,
Tinie Tempah- wonderman feat Ellie Goulding,
George Barnett- super hero in a ball and Down on me (this guy knows what he is doing).
Breaking Benjamin- Who wants to live forever (Queens Cover, new mix).
Lupe Fiasco- Adoration of the magi Feat. Crystal Torres
John Newman and Calvin Harris – blame.
Let’s start with lows:-
First thing first, bass heads need not to apply, don’t even need to look at this earphone, turn around and go for M-duo. As far as I am concerned, this kind of bass suits me, I do like some rumble and air and this has some.
A151 2nd gen has seriously flatter bass response, similar to my ER-4P, keeping most of the details clarity, has tremendous control and no coloration. It’s the precision that makes up for the lack of air for me. You will hear every bass note, drums, bass guitars, its there but it won’t grab your attention instantly but on bassy tracks, it will move some air, will do what it can but unlike other bassy earphones. Its decay is super fast, I like this, not much air or slam. Extension is good but lacks energy as its goes lower, so sub bass feels lacking a bit, I won’t call its bass thin but lean will be a word for it.
Ask me about its mid bass hump? Haan haan? No mid bass hump here, thank God. It just keeps in line with sub bass and mids, no bleeding what so ever, this is what bass should be like. Just a bit more air and slam with this speed will do wonders.
Analytical listeners and serious audiophiles will find this bass enough and engaging.
Magic happens here!! I love crispy vocals with tingling instruments, and this earphone has it, slightly warm and lean with plenty of details with precision , I don’t need to say balanced do i? If you love vocals, let it be male or female, if you like it slightly warm and crystal clear, this earphone will serve you like nothing else in its price range. Ask me, I have close to 40-50 earphones in this price range and I can tell you none of them are as good as this, UE600 and SHE9850 come close but that’s it, its not as lively or vivid as this beauty. Female do sound sharper and slightly more vivid but males are nothing you can complain about. Splendid, I am running out of adjectives. For those who have it, did you hear those guitar violins and cello? Spectacular isn’t it? Let it be separation or layering, its there.
Yeah it does lack some body that other earphones like IM-70 or say E50 have, and some organic touch too, but their mids are not as vivid or clear like this. Thankfully notes presentation is really nice, deep and snappy. But when you up the ante you will find these lacking some texture and slightly less resolving, but imaging and presentation remains top class.
Sound stage is better when compared to E50 and would you believe when I will say UE600? Yeah, its deeper, might be lacking some height and width but it is more even and the depth helps with layering and separation.
If you know me, you know that I love highs. Some spark is all I want and this earphone has it in it, nothing as shimmery or sparky as Titan-1 but not as pale as E50. It keeps up with mid range and don’t let it run away with all the attention, I don’t feel any dip while transecting from mids to highs, it has plenty of energy too. You can hear everything but slightly lacks some resolving details when compared to more expensive earphone. It’s crisp and crunchy without any signs of fatigue or sibilance. Synthesizers and cymbals sound vivid. Extension is good, nothing to write home about, it does lack highest extensions but it is not a deal breaker.
These highs are easy on ears, void of harshness, not like Vsonic highs which can annoy and this earphone can be ideal for long listening sessions.
Only improvements I will bring are some more extension and slightly better upper high end energy.
First thing first let me put it against one of my fav UE600.
UE600 vs A151p 2nd gen:-
600 are similarly balanced, both use BA drives, UE600 sounds more mid centric, have slightly bigger bass and decay is worse, similar extension but has more sub bass presence. Mids or say vocals are not as energetic or as vivid as 151, sounds less forward too but both are similarly detailed and clear. Notes lack depth, lacks some resolving details, stage has less depth but has better height and width though. Highs lack some energy but are not bad by any means, have better energy than E50 but bows down in front of A151 2nd.
A151 has slightly better layering and imaging but UE600 has better sonic abilities.
I ain’t picking one, I can’t, I love my UE600 too much.
When a151 2nd gen is pitted against vsd2s, its clearly evident that vsd2 is less detailed, has inferior imaging and presentation, vsd2s has more bass, more spark but lacks mids and vocal energy, it still sounds good but not as good as or as precise as a151, sound stage too is smaller and top end extension feels lacking in front of a151.
If you can deal with lesser bass quantity and want more details with better presentation, a151 2nd gen will do awesome.
This one simply has bigger bass and can’t qualify as a balanced earphone. Moves plenty of air and has more rumble, no need to say that its bass has worse decay, details is good but lacks precision, mids lack much energy and details too, ahh, sounds so much boring and V shaped. Stage lacks depth. Layering and separation is good but imaging is not up to the mark. Highs do have some life but lacks extension, still not as detailed.
Need not to say that this earphone just can’t hold its own against A151 2nd gen, lacks any kind of serious detail and presentation.
Now this is a tougher one for A151 2nd gen. Both have similar details clarity and sharpness, VSD5 is noticeably V shaped but still superbly detailed and cohesive. VSD5 has more bass more, move more air, has rumble and thump to keep a bass lover seated. Sub bass are slightly lacking energy still has more presence than 2nd but mid bass makes it sound bassy and slightly loose. Mids are slightly less emphasized, some instruments don’t shine like they do with 2nd, highs are similar but VSD5 lacks sharpness and energy, yeah lacks!! Similar details and it sounds more effortless, no need to say that it sounds more organic and dynamic, has better imaging and presentation too. Sound stage has lesser depth but it has better width and height.
I have to admit, after listening to A151 2nd one will crave for details and energy from VSD5 but it delivers thicker and more energetic vocals that sound sweeter.
Isolation is a bit lacking, no microphonics, have to be worn cable down, slightly heavy.
If you ask me, I will pick both. VSD5 is not as analytical as 151 and 151 is not as dynamic or cohesive as VSD5.
Piston 3 dosent has the caliber to stand in front of this detail monster. Bass lacks speed when compared and it lacks top end spark or energy, has better sonic abilities though. Conclusion:-
Let me tell you, I clearly was not expecting it to compete with UE600, if I have to be unbiased, 151 2nd is more detailed, has better precision and clearer when compared UE600, in other words is a better sounding earphone, slightly lacking air and rumble but that can be ignored sighting that it’s not for bass seekers. For its price it’s a no brainer for analytical listeners and those who like top end energy with sharp notes, shining instruments and engaging vocals.
I am exceptionally impressed with this piece of earphone, didn’t fell in love instantly like VSD5 but after A-Bing I realize this earphone has serious potential, I will still pick VSD5 over it but I have to admit VSD5 sounds dull in front of A151 2nd and more prone to sibilance, even though 2nd has more overall energy it never crosses the line, no need to amp or anything too, sounds fantastic right out of my Zenfone 2 or even Redmi 2.
All I would like to add to this SQ is a bit more bass, 20% more air and rumble will do, everything else is nicely done, I love this earphone.
It will be interesting if MeeAudio will come up with A151 3rd gen!! I think they should come out with A151 Pro with dual BA running the show, if a single BA can do things this, I wonder what two BA drivers will bring to the table.
Before I finish, I would like to thank Mike from MEE audio and MEE audio for giving me this opportunity.
Firstly, Like to thank Mike from MEE Audio, formally known as MEElectronics for supplying the 2nd generation A151P in ear earphones.
Having reviewed the 1st generation A151P, I was looking forward to the updated version. MEE Audio has replaced the balanced armature drivers with the new Knowles SR-31843, which claims to offer more linear bass and greater treble extension then the 1st generation A151P. The 1st generation was an excellent IEM, with a very smooth sound that had great extension with bass and treble, especially for a single balanced armature earphone, so my expectations are higher than before. Features
The A151p comes in a standard retail box, they changed from black to white, but all looks very similar to the 1st gen A151P. With the IEM, you get 5 pairs of silicon ear tips, (S,M,L) rounded tips, a double flanged tip and a triple flanged tip, all with a zipper carry case, with MEElectronics logo on the front, as per the 1st gen.
The housing for the drivers look identical, with black and chrome accents, the cable is also identical, being a twisted pair cable. They have updated the 3.5mm jack from straight to a L-shaped plug which helps with cable strain. Also on the updated is the in-line microphone and control remote. I do wish they included a volume remote on the in-line controls, which is a great feature to have.
Remembering that these are under $50 USD and a single balanced armature, they sound that comes is simply beautiful. Nothing harsh or fatiguing at all. I smiled with the first gen A151P and I smiled with this one.
The sound can be best described as silky and warm, with a nice balance between bass, mids and treble.The sound does focus more on the mids, which is well suited for vocals, but can also handle any music you through at it. Listening to artist such as Diane Krall and Meghan Trainor, both beautiful vocal artist, they really show how smooth these earphones sound. They can also handle more modern music from Robin Schultz or Walk the Moon, with thumping bass lines coming through nicely, although there is low end sub bass missing, but you can’t get everything from single BA. The prominent mid-bass tends to overshadow the rest of the bass frequency in a good way. Nevertheless, the bass performance is still impressive and commendable for a single BA.
The mids are not laid back or forwarded and just sit nicely in the middle.
They are really smooth and feel so right. There is a well-bodied full textured depth to them that most would not expect from a single BA. There is great detail and clarity that make the sound very clean. The vocals are smooth and nicely positioned in accordance to the instruments that feels very natural. There is very little to no sibilance with these, which is great. Treble has a bit of roll off , but the smoothness and tone is wonderful. There is a little lack of sparkle and fine detail at the top end, but all in all a great sound and an enjoyable sound.
Using the 2nd gen A151P on the Roland TD-30 V Drums, I found they performed identical to the 1st gen. Isolation was just as good, as was the sound. Cymbals cut through nicely, but again the lower end was a little distant. They would work well as a vocal IEM, but they are more suited for everyday use, rather that an in ear monitor for musicians or for critical listening.
The 2nd generation A151P has taken the best of the 1st gen and add to it. With greater extension and a overall improvement in sound, the 2nd gen is a winning IEM. The sound is inviting and warm, and with a price tag under $50 USD, you wont find a better sounding IEM in that price range.