MEElec M9 Earphones
(3.5 star rating)
MEElec has targeted the budget conscious crowd looking to take a step up from their stock earbuds with their latest set of earphones – the MEElec M9. It is the “little brother” of the M6, sharing the same 9mm drivers, and is priced aggressively at around $20 online. Today we take a look at M9 to see if it can deliver clear, accurate sound in an inexpensive package. Read on for our full evaluation.
The M9 earphones offer the flexibility to be worn either under-the-ear or over-the-ear, with the ears tips at slightly angled degree either up or down depending on the wear style . The angled ear tip is designed to seal tightly into your ear canal, with the main benefit of blocking out external noise. Included with the M9 are 4 sets of rubber ear tips – Small/Med/Large/Bi-flange.
The M9 utilizes 9mm drivers with neodymium magnets, and are available in two color choices (black or silver). Our review unit featured the black color scheme, which made the white lettering of the ‘L’ and ‘R’ quite easy to read. The M9 looks sleek in black color and the design certainly does not reveal that they fit into the under-$20 budget category.
The 1.2m (4 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 M9 is a sliding cable fastener, an airplane audio adapter and a wire organizer tool.
- Drivers: 9mm drivers with neodymium magnets
- Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz
- Impedance: 16 ohms
- Cable Length: 1.2m
- Warranty: 1 year manufacture
- Color(s): Black, silver
- Dimension: 1.0 in. H x 0.5 in. W x 0.5 in. L
- Weight: 0.5 lb.
|MEElec M9 Box||Box Contents||Overhead View|
In the Box
The test unit came in the black color and included the following:
- M9 earphones
- Hard-cover Clamshell Pouch
- 4 sets of rubber silicon ear tips (Bi-flange/S/M/L sizes)
- User guide
- Airplane adapter
- Wire organizer
Sound Quality Performance Testing
The sound quality performance evaluation of the MEElec M9 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.
Initial listening sessions with the M9 out-of-the-box were quite enjoyable, and using the bi-flange ear tips provided a nice, tight seal. Given their low price point, I was very happily surprised by sound quality produced by the M9s. The low-end extension is deep without sounding boomy, and mids were clear and unimpeded by the strong bass. The low-end is a strong point and I felt the bass sounded as tight and punchy as the M6.
Vocals were smooth up to a point, but sounded harsh as the music reached into the upper frequencies. I was not as pleased with the highs as I was when listening with other earphones. With the highs being overstated, I felt that the mids sounded recessed. Listening for about 30 minutes, the highs continued to sound too severe for my taste and my ears felt fatigued after listening for that long.
While I would not describe the M9s as “airy”, they do provide an open soundstage that is quite similar to the M6. The nuances of complex tracks are not lost on the M9s, which is a real plus point for any set of earphones in the sub-$20 category. They provide clear instrumentation and separation with almost all types of music. I did note, though, that fast-paced music loses a bit of detail and is not as clearly articulated as other earphones.
After a burn-in period of around 20 hours, I continued to be impressed by the M9’s for the most part. I did not notice any improvement in the upper frequencies, but I still enjoyed the listening experience. My overall impression did not change – these are enjoyable earphones that provide good levels of detail, good low-end extension and struggle a bit with complex / fast-paced music.
|Eartip Closeup||Eartip Removed|
The M9 earbuds are lightweight and can easily be carried in the hard clamshell pouch along with an MP3 player. I much prefer a hard-cover carrying case, instead of a soft cover case, to protect the earphones during transport. I stored these in my gym bag while on the way to exercising and I see no signs whatsoever of wear-and-tear after many weeks of use.
In terms of comfort, the M9 earphones do a fine job. The four included sets of ear tips provide a wide variety of choices to try out in order to find the best fit for your ears. I was particularly happy with the seal provided by the bi-flange eartips, and think they provided the best fit for my ears.
During a few hours of testing while exercising, however, they proved to be troublesome in terms of keeping a tight seal in my ear canals. I first tried wearing them under-the-ear, but sweat and constant movement dislodged them and they lost their tight seal – although they did not actually move around in my ears. Trying to wear them over-the-ear was quite cumbersome, as the cord did simply did not stay folded behind my ears while I was moving around.
Cable Noise / Cord Noise
I normally don’t devote an entire paragraph to cord noise, but this was a real sticking point in my testing of the M9 earphones. Idle listening without much movement (e.g. listening while typing, browsing the web, etc.) does not reveal a problem with cord noise, but exercise sure does. Trying to use the M9s while exercising produced a constant barrage of cord noise that really ruined the listening experience. Even with the sliding cable fastener set to keep the cord as stationary as possible, I still heard a lot of cord noise while moving around.
MEElectronics M9 Earphones
At an extremely budget-friendly price of around $20 online, the MEElec M9 is an exceptional value. The included set of accessories is also impressive for a set in the sub-$20 category. While the sound quality is not quite at the same level as other earphones in the sub-$50 category, you get a lot of detail, impressive bass and an expansive soundstage with the M9s. This set of earphones provides a quantum-leap of sound quality performance improvement over stock ear buds.
They would not be my first choice for use while exercising, due to the cord noise issues and the difficulty with keeping a tight seal, but for day-to-day listening they are a solid choice for anyone looking for an inexpensive set of replacement IEMs.
Pros: Inexpensive price, great detail and bass extension, included accessories are a nice bonus.
Cons: Lots of cord noise, high-end can sound harsh.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5