Early last week as I was browsing the forums at Head-Fi, I was alerted to a discount special by MEElectronics, a small California-based manufacturer of various gadgets such as DAPs and IEMs. Having read a few reviews on their more popular IEMs, the $40 M6 and the M9, which apparently uses the same dynamic driver and retails for about $20, I looked over their product lineup and settled on the slightly more expensive M9P, which comes with a built-in inline microphone which I figured I could use for making Skype calls with my iPod Touch. Yesterday (after a few shipping gaffes by USPS), I received my M9Ps and immediately gave them a listen straight out of the box.
When listening to these for the first time, you can’t help but notice the bass-centric presentation of the M9P because it practically reaches out and smacks you with it. The sound signature is dark, warm and dominated by the low end. The deep, punchy and decently textured bass is easily the biggest strength and biggest weakness of the M9Ps. On one hand the increased bass response is great for Hip-Hop and Rap as well as Techno, some Jazz and Electronica. On the other hand, the bass may be too boomy and “flabby” to some listeners. I’ve found that it does bleed into the midrange a bit and as a result, the mids are slightly recessed. To my surprise, the treble has a decent amount of sparkle and is pretty well extended, which rounds out the sound signature nicely.
One thing that’s missing from the experience is clarity in the sound signature. These are not the most detail-oriented IEMs out there and due to that pronounced low end, there’s a lot to be desired in terms of transparency. Accuracy lovers probably aren’t going to be pleased with these overall. Then again, it’s highly unlikely that detail freaks would be looking at a $20 pair of IEMs to suit their needs.
What’s really surprising about the M9Ps is their airiness and the depth and width of their soundstage. Instrument separation is excellent for the price and imaging is fairly decent as well. I’d even go as far as to say that the soundstage is wider than that of my RE0s which, for a $20 pair of IEMs, is pretty impressive.
As I said before, the M9P IEMs feature a built-in inline microphone which is designed to work with current generation iPhones and second and third generation iPod Touch devices as well as other media devices that accept microphone input through their 3.5mm jack. I’ve tested the inline mic of the M9P on my second generation iPod Touch and it works pretty well. It’s very clear and picks up voices very well while doing a decent enough job of filtering out ambient noise. I would’ve liked to see some volume/playback controls but considering the low price, I think that’s asking a tad too much.
You may have noticed how often I mention that these IEMs are only $20, almost to the point of total redundancy. Well, that was intentional. Try as I might to find something to criticize, that’s all for naught the instant I remember that I paid $23 (including shipping) for these.
All things considered, I’m very impressed with the out-of-the-box performance of the M9P IEMs. They are well extended at both ends of the sound spectrum (particularly in the low end) and work well with a wide array of music. Overall, the sound signature is definitely on the dark end of the spectrum which will definitely appeal to fans of most modern music. Because of their lack of neutrality and transparency, these are definitely not for accuracy freaks or those interested in neutral tonal balance from their IEMs. These definitely aren’t going to replace my RE0s as my primary IEMs but they make competent backups when I want to listen to something with a little more kick in the low end.
For the price, these are definitely worth checking out. They make great gifts for folks still using stock iBuds, serve as nice backup IEMs and even function as a nice headphone/microphone combo for folks with iPhones and second gen iPod Touches. All in all, I think the MEElectronics M9P IEMs are a great product and I’m very interested in seeing where MEElectronics goes from here.