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Meizu EP-51 Bluetooth 4.1 aptX Sport In-ear Earbuds

Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. bhazard
    A high quality Bluetooth aptX earphone at budget pricing
    Written by bhazard
    Published Jun 8, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Sound, Build quality, Sweat resistant
    Cons - Non standard, earbud sized nozzles.
    Meizu EP-51
     
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    Introduction
     
    The technology behind Bluetooth earphones can be pretty amazing to think about, even though many can be had for very cheap nowadays. Teenage me in the late 90’s would have had some great times with a Bluetooth earphone. Adult me appreciates their convenience in the gym and on a good run.
     
    Meizu is no stranger to high quality at value pricing. The Meizu HD 50 I reviewed previously is one of my favorite headphone purchases that you can find under $100 (especially now that the Takstar Pro 80 is discontinued).  The EP-51 is Meizu’s entry into the sport Bluetooth earphone market, and I feel they have something special here that could make those budget conscious, active, casual listeners want to choose these EP-51’s over many other similarly priced Bluetooth earphones out there.
     
    I’d like to thank George at Gearbest (A new Head-Fi sponsor) for providing me the EP-51 for review. Gearbest is one of the easiest and top shops to import some great audio equipment from China, yet they have quite a diverse offering of many other items. I bought my Xiaomi Hybrids and my Mi Band from Gearbest, and I just bought my iLife A4 robot vacuum from there!
     
    About me
     
    I’m a price/performance value shopper in everything I purchase. I spend an extensive amount of time researching purchases and always look for a good value.
     
    I have also spent many years as an A/V and music enthusiast. I have owned some high end audio equipment, from amps, speakers, subs, to just about anything audio related you can think of. I eventually moved on into building my own DIY custom speakers, as I felt the value and performance of most commercial speakers were lacking. I found out through this process that you could create high end setups from equipment costing thousands less than most branded commercial setups.
     
    Since I cannot play music at 100+ decibels all day and night in an apartment complex, I started looking for similar values in the Headphone/Earphone/IEM world. In a Beats dominated setting, I was very disappointed.
     
    I then found out about some excellent headphones/IEMs at great prices being made by Asian companies that are not known of here in the US. It renewed my interest in headphones and became the basis of the Asian audio thread.
     
    My love of quality audio continues to this day, and I enjoy sharing my opinion of the gear I listen to. I have been guided toward purchasing some life altering, fantastic gear from great reviewers, and I feel if I can guide someone in the same way in which they truly appreciate what they have found, I’ve done what I wanted to accomplish.
     
    REVIEW
     
     
    Specifications
    Details
    Connectivity : Wireless 
    Connecting interface: Micro USB 
    Application: Mobile Phone,Sport 
    Frequency response: 20-20000Hz 
    Impedance: 16ohms 
    Sensitivity: 87dB±3dB 
    Input Power: 10mW 
    Talk time: 6h 
    Music Time: 6h 
    Standby time: 400h 
    Charging Time (h): 2h 
    Microphone Sensitivity: -42db±3db
    Extended Function
    Bluetooth: Yes 
    Bluetooth version: V4.0 
    Bluetooth distance: W/O obstacles 10m 
    Bluetooth protocol: A2DP,AVRCP,HFP, aptX 
    Bluetooth mode: Hands free
    Battery Information
    Battery Capacity(mAh): 60mAh
    Dimension and Weight
    Product weight: 0.015 kg 
    Package weight: 0.140 kg 
    Package size (L x W x H): 5.00 x 10.00 x 15.00 cm / 1.97 x 3.94 x 5.91 inches
    Package Contents
    Package Contents: 1 x Sport Earbuds, 6 x Earbud Tips, 1 x Storage Case

     
    Accessories
     
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    The EP-51 comes in an attractive packaging containing the earphones, special tips, and a storage case. The tips are important to keep around, as they are specifically made to fit the EP-51 and not much else. The nozzles are absolutely huge, practically earbud sized, making tip swapping very difficult.
     
    I like the approach here, as I don’t feel as if I’m missing anything. The basics are here and they are presented well, especially for the price.
     
     
    Housing/Fit/Isolation
     
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    Much like the HD50, Meizu uses a strong aluminum metal alloy on the housing of the EP-51 that also happens to be magnetic. I really like the extra nuance of the magnets. They aren’t overpowering, and they make organization a “snap” (pun intended).
     
    The housing feels like they could survive an accidental stomp or mishap, which works in my favor at the gym or running the track. I don’t feel the need to baby these at all, as they are sturdy, yet lightweight.
     
    The water resistant, anti-sweat coating is another nice touch. I sweat like an animal during a workout, and you can barely tell when I remove them after the workouts.
     
    The fit is a mixed bag. The housing and tips do a wonderful job of staying in-ear, which is one of the things I require in a sport earphone. They can be a bit uncomfortable to insert or wear at times though, as the housing and fit is a bit big (for me) and doesn’t naturally sit in/on the ear as well as I’d like.
     
    I have mixed feelings about the nozzle size as well, which is earbud sized. The nozzle sits outside of the ear though, with the tips acting as a chamber directing the sound into the ear. One of the Pros of this is that the sound quality is a step above most other Bluetooth earphones in the same price range, but it also can limit isolation and severely limit tip preferences. Isolation is very good however when you get a good seal, and you should be able to with the 3 different sized pair of tips included.
     
     
    Cable/Mic
     
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    A tangle free flat cable runs about a foot wide, large enough to wrap around most necks with ease. The volume/mic unit sits very close to the right ear, and it is also where you can find the Micro USB charging insert. The cap over the usb removes easily and conveniently, unlike the QCY QY8 earphone which I can barely get open without resorting to finding a bent paper clip. Volume, pause, and skip controls worked perfectly on my HTC 10, and the mic performed admirably with no call distortion.
     
    The battery lasts about 6 hours, or 3 days of commuting and workouts for me. This may be a bit less than other sets, but standby time seems to be as good or better than the competition to help make up for it.
     
    Bluetooth range is standard and can get up to 10 meters, but it will usually cut off before that. The HTC 10 also cut out at times while walking with the phone in my left hand, but this did not seem to happen with a dongle via the PC. I’ll leave that as a possible firmware fix that HTC might upgrade in the future.
     
     
    Sound Review
     
    Equipment used
    HTC 10
     
    Music used for testing
    Random songs from random genres. I favor hard rock/metal for accuracy testing, EDM and Rap for bass, and Pop for vocals.
     
    Amplifier Needed?
     
    Not Applicable. The EP-51’s built in DSP gets loud.
     
     
    Sound Signature
     
    The EP-51 is bassy, but not quite V shaped. Mids are slightly recessed, but less recessed than many of its competitors. Vocals are actually quite clear and prominent. Treble rolls off a bit, which is expected.
     
    Bass
     
    There is some nice midbass and decent extension here. While not quite at basshead levels, bass lovers like myself will be more than satisfied with these compared to such sets as the Mpow Megneto, which somewhat lacks in this area. There is a slight amount of bleed into the mids, but at a much lower rate than a lot of other sets I’ve heard. Bass is actually controlled better than average for this price range, making the rest of the music come across much clearer than expected.
     
    Midrange
     
    A big surprise with the EP-51 is the vocal clarity and coherency. Vocals absolutely shine here, and are very clear for a Bluetooth earphone. This is where I feel aptX starts to show its superiority over sets that don’t have it. The rest of the mids, while still good, aren’t the EP-51’s strong suit. They feel tuned for bass and vocals, but they still can give a great guitar crunch sound when called upon. Joe Satriani’s Crystal Planet was well represented, and the Lamb of God/Slayer gauntlet I put the EP-51 through passed with approval… a rarity for a Bluetooth earphone.
     
    Treble
     
    Another advantage of aptX is treble extension. The EP-51 has better treble extension than most non aptX sets, and it matches or exceeds similar sets that do have it. There is still a roll off, but the extension matches some wired IEMs in its price range and a bit above it, which is impressive. There is little to no fatigue, and everything up high is still audible. Cymbals and highs can still be heard, just not at the level and clarity that you would find wired and above $100, which is asking too much for a $30 sport earphone.
     
     
    Soundstage, Imaging, Resolution
     
    This is an area in which the $30 price range and Bluetooth just won’t provide the experience that higher priced wired equipment would. Even against those odds, instrument separation is very good, and there is a decent amount of a soundstage and ambience. Detail, resolution, and imaging are average, but above average for a sport Bluetooth earphone. I had no issues with using these as my daily driver for the review, and I could easily see these becoming a studying/reading pair. You get a good sound and the convenience to walk around untethered at bargain pricing.
     
     
    Comparisons
     
    I’ve used a bunch of previous gen ~$20 Bluetooth earphones, and the QCY QY8 was my previous favorite. It goes under various different names, and it can be found for $15. If you’re very price conscious, the QY8 is perfectly acceptable, but the Meizu EP-51 is better than it in every way, from build quality to sound quality, and is worth the extra cost.
     
    The Moxpad X90 looks to be a good competitor at around the same price. The X90 features Dual Dynamic drivers, but does not have the metal build of the EP-51. I do not have the X90 on hand to compare however.
     
     
    Conclusion
     
    Meizu is quickly becoming a company that I pay attention to. The HD50 and EP-51 are budget kings, offering excellent sound quality for the prices they are going for. The EP-51 has become my new favorite workout pair, and I highly recommend them for this use.
     
    I’d also love if Meizu were to offer their phones with US LTE bands. It would be great to pair their audio equipment with their phones here in the US. Meizu has used some good DACs and amps in their phones, and it would translate well for us audio lovers in the US and Europe.
     
    You can purchase the Meizu EP-51 from Gearbest here:
     
    http://www.gearbest.com/sports-fitness-headphones/pp_356162.html
    1. xsi69
      Already ordered one piece for further investigation :)
      Thanks George
      xsi69, Jun 12, 2016
    2. George-gearbest
      Use the Coupon code: LHYD  will reduce the price to $26.
      George-gearbest, Jun 16, 2016
    3. limafranco
      Ordered mine yesterday, let's see if its better than the SBH80 :)
      limafranco, Jan 3, 2017