Pros: Powerful sound with great resolution, Very comfortable fit, Sounds great with all genres of music
Cons: Driver flex, No case or pouch for storage
At the time this review was written, the MKLL M-1 was on sale for $79.00 USD on Penon Audio’s website. Here is a link to a listing of their product at the time of the review: View attachment
With all of the options out there, it can become a crapshoot trying to find the perfect earphone. Often times new companies will release earphones, and buyers will be hesitant to take the plunge. With limited exposure, and little or no reviews or impressions, it's a risk to drop hard earned money on something we know almost nothing about. Purchasing new brands with minimal information can be a bust, but it can also be a very refreshing and rewarding experience. Today I will review a success in the MKLL M-1.
My pair of MKLL M-1 was purchased on Penon Audio after getting a recommendation from one of their associates. I am not affiliated with MKLL or Penon Audio in any way.
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 have a variety of different gears with varying builds and sound to tinker with. 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 are ergonomic, and the sound is pleasing to the ear. It is my pleasure to share my experiences with audio products and make recommendations based gear I have owned and used.
On the bottom of the box there is a website URL that when searched showed MKLL is an side brand of a commercial cable manufacturer. Here is the link: www.mkllwp.com
Frequency response: 20 Hz-20 kHz
Rated power: 2mw
Power capability; 10mw
Cable length: 1.2m
Plug: 3.5mm gold painted
MKLL M-1 earphone
6 pairs of eartips
~Three sets of red/gray silicone tips (S,M,L)
~Three sets of gray silicone tips (S,M,L)
Note: I also received two sets of silicone triple flange tips (M,L), and a pair of silicone double flange tips (M). I assume this is a bonus gift from Penon. If you aren’t familiar with Penon Audio, they are a fantastic seller that aims to please their customers with extras like this. View attachment
There are plenty of tips for just about everyone to get a secure fit and seal.
The Housings appear to be made of a gold polished metal and plastic, and are in a bullet shape. Everything seems well built and very sharp looking. There are venting holes on the top of each housing. The MKLL logo is on the outside of the shell, with left and right markings on the inside. View attachment
Cable, Y-Split & Strain Reliefs, Cable Jack
The cable is made of silver coated oxygen free copper and is covered in a slightly rubbery and springy black and gold coating that is similar to the VSONIC GR07 series. It has very nice strain reliefs where the cable meets the housing. The Y split is a combination of rubber for strain relief and a metal tube casing. The cable jack is a straight plug, made of the same metal as the housings and Y split. The strain relief at the jack is short and doesn’t seem to be the most durable plug I’ve seen. There is no chin slider.
Ergonomics, Fit and Microphonics
The hozzle of the M-1 angles inward from the housing shape, helping to create an ergonomic fit. They can be worn with the cable down or over the ear. They are very comfortable to wear and once seated in my ears there were no issues with maintaining a good fit and seal. If you go cable down, you will get microphonics. If you wear them over the ear, microphonics is pretty much eliminated.
Note: I did get a considerable amount of driver flex in the left ear of the M-1. After finding this, I am now careful when inserting them. By lifting my ear with the opposite side hand, and then inserting them, I don’t have driver flex issues anymore.
Sound Review Materials
I primarily did my demo with my usual gear. I used an LG-G3 with the latest firmware, and Sony Walkman F806/Cayin C5 amplifier for portable use. For desktop I used my Toshiba Satellite Laptop in combination with a HIFIMEDIY Sabre ES9023 USB DAC/Bravo Audio Ocean Tube amplifier with a Mullard 12AU7 tube for higher impedance, and a Fiio E18 USB DAC & Amplifier for lower impedance products. Both were run at 24 bit, 96000 Hz. I also tested them with other DAPs/DACs and amplifiers as well. I used Google Music downloaded in its highest download quality (320 KBPS) and I also streamed FLAC via Tidal streaming service. I make sure that any gear I tested has has enough time play time for me to be able to confidently describe their sound.
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 asses and break down the gear’s response.
The M-1 is a pretty impressive sounding IEM. The tuning is bass forward with a thick note presentation, all while maintaining great resolution and detail across the entire sound spectrum. The M-1 has a high resolution and textured sound that is very pleasing to the ear. They work well with every genre of music.
Bass on the M-1 is great. During test sweeps I could sense the frequency as low as 10Hz. They were really balanced from 20-200Hz. It has a bouncy and fast feel and sound, and extends really low. Tone was decent, and although the bass could have been tighter and more controlled, there wasn’t any bass tones that the M-1 couldn’t handle. During Daft Punk’s “Doin it right” the bass was flat out awesome, and played the lowest of lows with authority. Because of the bouncy nature, it can get ever so slightly boomy depending on what you’re listening to. Although it is very forward in the mix, I never found it to be over the top and to the point that I was turned away from it. Mid bass was very controlled and bass guitars sound really good and carry a good tone. If you liked the bass presentation of the DN-1000 or Fidue A83, you probably will like the bass of the M-1 as well.
The M-1 midrange is warm, textured and with solid resolution. I wouldn’t say that it has mid bass bleed, but more like the sub bass of the M-1 is capable of jumping out in front of the mix. Deeper male vocals can carry a bit too much weight to sound natural, but all other vocals sound very organic and natural. Guitar plucks could be felt as well as heard. It is a very enjoyable sound that is engaging and energetic. Bass and mid range tuning works together to create really powerful sound.
The M-1 has fantastic treble. It is very high resolution and with great separation. You get almost all of the micro details the track presents. It achieves that sweet spot where it sounds very crisp without being sibilant. Cymbal crashes sound really good. I caught myself toe tapping and drumming on my desk while listening to them on several occasions. The treble energy is spot on and makes this IEM a real treat to listen to.
Soundstage and Imaging
Bass extension gives the M-1 superb soundstage depth. The textured mids and nicely tuned treble makes the sound big to my ears. Imaging is better than average, but the forward bass gets in the way of getting a good sense of instrument placement. An equalizer adjustment to lower the bass helps with this and makes them sound more airy and open.
Dunu Titan ($X90 to $125 USD on many sites)
The Dunu Titan is a leaner and more aggressive sound. The M-1 has more sub bass extension and less mid bass than the Titan. M-1 has better textured mid range and thicker note presentation. Titan has better resolution and separation on a whole. Treble on the Titan has more extension and shimmer. I actually prefer the smoother sounding treble of the M-1. It’s really a toss up as far as what is “better” and it comes down to signature preference.
I prefer the build quality and accessories of the Titan. The lack of a clamshell case leaves more to be desired for the M-1. The Sony like hybrid tips that come with the Titan are also a big plus.
TTPOD T1E ($30 to $50 USD on many sites)
The TTPOD bass is less forward and less bouncy compared to the M-1. I prefer the T1E bass, but the buck stops there. The rich, warm and energetic midrange and crisp treble puts the M-1 out in front in terms of sound quality. Resolution from midrange to treble is superior on the M-1
Build quality of the IEM is about equal in my opinion. The T1E offers a few more tips and a velvet pouch.
The M-1 is in that sweet spot for tuning. Bassheads and audiophiles will both have something to appreciate in this offering. It is a powerful and high resolution sound that works with just about every genre. If you are looking for an IEM that can bring a great combination of power, finesse and refinement to your music collection, the MKLL M-1 might be the one for you.