Thursday, October 19, 2017

MEElectronics SP51P, M31, M9P, and RX11 Headphone review

June 20, 2011 by · 111 Comments 

Image representing MEElectronics as depicted i...

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Every once in a while you discover a new brand that leaves you pleasantly surprised. I was recently able to test out a few headphones by MEElectronics (http://www.meelec.com ) and came away with a preference for sure, but quite surprised in how fun they were.

As you know, there are a few things that I need in my headphones even before I start listening to music:

  • Non-Sticky cables
  • Rugged construction
  • Pain-free fitting of ear-buds
  • Ideally with a good quality microphone (if used for calls)
  • Cheap: these things are too easy to lose or break
  • Efficient: that it doesn’t take too much volume to get the sound out

Ok, onto the sound quality of the headphones first then onto how do all four of these stack up against the six points above…

First of all, you need to keep in mind that I do not seek to find a ‘neutral’ headphone. I want one that will ‘color’ my music to sound better. I know this goes against what many audiophiles want, but call me a rose-colored glasses kind of person.

Secondly, the music I listen to tends to be electronica which is quite bass heavy, with lots of musical subtleties. I therefore like a strong and rich bass but appreciate some refinement.

Without Microphone

Of the two headphones without microphones, the RX11 was may favorite sound-wise. Whilst it was a less bit ‘refined’ than the M31 across its range, its raw sound was quite fun to listen to.

RX11 ($24.99) –

The sound was raw and had a bassy punch. Hard to describe, but it just felt ‘right’. Mids and High’s weren’t as polished as those of the RX11’s siblings below, but they weren’t bad at all.. again, for the kind of music I listen to, they were quite fun and still gravitate to their sound.

M31 ($44.99) –

The first thing I noticed on these after having had the RX11’s on for a while was the volume drop after plugging them in. However, once adjusted, the sound quality was a bit more refined than the RX11’s but ironically, less ‘raw’ and ‘punchy’. Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoyed these and would recommend them as much as the RX11 particularly if you want a more balanced sound.
With Microphone

SP51P ($64.99) –

When I first put these headphones on and put my favorite test track: “A Nomad’s Retreat” by Pantha du Prince, my head almost exploded. The bass on these headphones made my head bounce side to side literally. It felt the the same way as when Marty McFly turned on his amplifier in the beginning of Back to Future and plays a note on his guitar only to be blown away across the room. Power.. Raw Bass. Maybe too much for some, but thankfully the headphones come with interchangeable rear ports to tone it down if you need to do that sort of thing, but boy were these fun. Overall, the quality of these headphones were a notch above. The microphone quaky was pretty good too with no major complaints.

M9P ($24.99) –

The quality of the music was very similar to the M31 above. Clean, with a good bass, but also lacking some of the raw edge that the RX11 had. These headphones also felt like the least efficient of the four. However, the weakest link on these headphones was the microphone. I consistently received comments from callers that I couldn’t be heard unless I held the microphone close (really close) to my mouth.
In Summary

Overall, in terms of listening enjoyment overall, the RX11 came away as my favorite with the SP51P coming a close second when adjusted for price, particularly since you can ‘tune’ the sound on the SP51P. They were all strong on the bass-end of things, and while others were more refined (probably a better thing for music with a wider dynamic range) for fun sounds in an urban setting, the RX11’s were my favorite.

All four headphones were comfortable to fit as they all came with three sizes of buds + the swimmer-type buds. I find that I always fit the ‘medium’ size, but the swimmer buds are unbearable, so I’m glad they didn’t force you into that format. Do keep in mind that all four of them use in-ear buds.. which is a format which some prefer and others do not. I prefer the in-ear buds because of their inherent external noise-blocking capabilities. Another thing to note is that the M31 and the SP51P had the longest ear piece length.. While this probably is partially how the music is tuned, the downside is the amount the headphone itself sticks out of your ear, which can, at times, make them ‘droop’ due to the weight and perhaps fall out or require readjustment. They weren’t that bad though.

All four headphones had AWESOME cables. Not only did all the cables look cool (in particular the M9P and the RX11), but they were all non-stick, or as non-stick as headphone cables can be without being wrapped in cloth. This features ranks really high in my list for portable headphones because frankly, it prevents really nasty accidents. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had sticky-cabled headphones ripped out of my ear canal just by rubbing up against something. It is painful.

All four headphones are relatively cheap and therefore won’t hurt the wallet as much should you lose them on a trip to visit the parents… No matter how hard mom looks for them later.

All the headphones except the RX11 were made out of metal (Alu I think). This of course leads to higher durability (in principle) as they are less likely to crack or break. However, in my experience it is hard to guess where the headphones will fail. Sometimes it is where the cable joins the bud-unit, other times it is as the connection to the phone. Overall though, the headphones didn’t feel cheap. I will say that I am a more ‘prudent’ user of equipment though… I do have them fail over time, but am not like some that can make equipment fail just by looking at it.

In terms of efficiency, I’d say that the RX11 was clearly the winner, with the rest clearly a step behind requiring at least one to three more clicks of the volume button to get the comparable volume level. This is important particularly if your phone/mp3 player doesn’t have a very high volume output or if you are in a loud setting (like the London Underground).

In conclusion, the RX11’s in spite of their plastic construction, came out as a very strong contender to the overall throne. They have a cool looking and non-stick cable, are cheap, comfortable, lightweight, efficient, and sound fun. What more can you ask? Well, a microphone… Being that I receive or make calls throughout the day, it is a pain to have to take out the phone from my pocket to take the call. Particularly in the winter with cold hands… However, if you listen to music from something other than a phone, the RX11’s are fun. Otherwise, go for the SP51P with their microphone and sound tuning are an excellent bet. In general, however, I felt all of these headphones punched above their weight…

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