MEElec M16 Earphones
(3.5 star rating)
Building on the success of their “M” series earphones, MEElec has revamped their lineup in 2011 and released three new “M” earphones – the M16, M21 and M31. Today we’ll take a close look at the M16 – the $25 USD priced entry level offering that is targeted toward the budget conscious crowd. It is marketed as featuring clear, detailed sound with enhanced bass and an ergonomic design – let’s see how well it delivers.
The M16 earphones are designed with nozzles that are at a straight angle to the housings, and offer the flexibility to be worn either under-the-ear or over-the-ear. The strain relief is angled slightly toward the front of the nozzle, presumably to help keep a tight seal in your ears when worn under-the-ear. Included with the M16 are 4 sets of silicone ear tips – Small/Med/Large/Bi-flange.
The M16 utilizes 6.8mm drivers and a small rear vent hole is visible under the ‘L’ or ‘R’ lettering on each housing. The M16 is available in two color choices (black or silver). Our review unit featured the two-toned silver color scheme, which made the black lettering of the ‘L’ and ‘R’ quite easy to read. The metallic silver design is certainly a step up from the typical low-end plastics that you will generally find in the budget category.
The 1.3m (4.3 ft.) cord length is sufficient for using the earphones with any portable music player, but is a tad too short to use as headphones for listening to music on a PC. Also included with the M16 is a sliding cable fastener and a shirt clip.
|Overhead view with cable||Overhead view|
- Driver: 6.8 mm dynamic drivers
- Housing: Metal with two-tone color scheme
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20KHz
- Sensitivity: 92 dB
- Impedance: 16 ohms
- Maximum Power Input: 20 mW
- Connector: 3 pin stereo 3.5mm gold plated 90° plug
- Cable: Designer black (metallic) or clear (chrome) 130 cm cable (51 in) with attached shirt clip
- Accessories: 4 sets of eartips (small/medium/large silicon; bi-flange), clamshell zipper case
- Warranty: 1 year
|Nozzle||Rear view of vent|
Sound Quality Performance Testing
The sound quality performance evaluation of the M16 earphones was performed exclusively by listening to MP3s and FLAC music stored on my Sansa Fuze MP3 player. I listened to a number MP3s with bit rates of 128kbps and 320kbps, as well as lossless audio tracks in FLAC format. A wide selection of classical, rock, alternative and hip-hop music was used in the evaluation.
After a burn-in period of around 25 hours, the M16 revealed an enjoyable sound signature that is similar to other MEElec earphones we have tested. The main sound characteristics that jumped out at me right away were impactful bass and slightly over-pronounced treble. But given their low price point, I was happily surprised by the sound quality produced by the M16s.
The low-end extension is fairly deep, but these will not be mistaken for “bass monsters” by anyone. The bass sounds punchy and has solid impact, but not quite as much as the M9 or M6 that we previously reviewed. The mid frequencies were mostly clear and I was happy to find that the mids were unimpeded by any mid-bass bleed that is commonly found in budget earphones. I did find that in some tracks the mids sounded slightly recessed.
Moving up in the frequency range, the highs come across with a good amount of energy and sparkle. This was fine for moderate volume levels, and I actually enjoyed the highs for the most part. I did find that as you turn up the volume the highs sounded gradually more harsh and severe. Listening for about 30 minutes at a moderate level, the highs were just too severe for my taste and I felt fatigued after listening for that long.
In terms of detail, the M16 are not particularly impressive and do not compare favorably to the M9 or the M6. Spending a few more dollars to move up to another sub-$50 set of IEMs will certainly net you a much more detailed sound signature.
The soundstage of the M16s is not quite as open and “airy” as more costly earphone models such as the Ankit Stay True or Phiaton PS 20, but they do provide a fairly open soundstage that is an improvement over most other budget earphones. Instruments and vocals sounded well spaced and pleasing to my ears.
|Ear tips||Front view|
The M16 earphones do very well in terms of comfort. The small/med/large ear tip sizes, as well as the bi-flange ear tips, provide a wide variety of choices to try out in order to find the best fit for your ears. I was happy with the seal provided by both the medium size single flange tips and the bi-flange eartips.
Cable / Cord Noise
Cable and cord noise were essentially non-existent with the M16, which is a welcome improvement over the previous generation M9 earphones. I used the M16 while walking outdoors, and even in a windy environment the cable kept silent and was not a distraction to the music. Using the cable slider and the shirt clip resulted in an undisturbed listening session even while moving around.
MEElec M16 Earphones
At a quite budget-friendly price of around $25 online, the M16 is another solid value offering from MEElec. While I personally would not prefer their sound signature over the M9 or M6, there is no arguing that they offer a lot of bang-for-your buck when compared to earphones in the $25-$30 price range. Punchy bass and a very comfortable fit are the highlights that make them worth consideration for anyone looking for a new set of earphones. However, if you are looking for a lot of detail in your music or a smoother sounding high-end, I would recommend to spend a few more dollars to step up to another “M” series model.
Pros: Punchy bass; comfortable fit; minimal cord noise.
Cons: High-end can at times sound harsh and fatiguing; not as detailed as competing earphones.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5