MEElectronics are hit makers. The M6 and M9 earph0nes defined perfection within their price points, sporting great build quality, good sound, and an impressive array of accessories. With the introduction of the A151, MEEl have outdone themselves in a number of areas, making on of the truly must-have earphones. Caveats aside (and yes, there are a few), this new single armature earphone is a must have for every music lover with a medium-sized budget.
[Bef0re y0u ask: my little 0h and bracket keys have been damaged by a stray glass 0f water. Please bear with me till I can aff0rd a new c0mputer!]
Driver: Single micro balanced armature
Housing: High impact deco housing with angled fit
Frequency Response: 15Hz – 20KHz
Sensitivity: 111 dB
Impedance: 27 ohms
Maximum Power Input: 25 mW
Connector: 3 pin stereo 3.5mm gold plated straight plug
Cable: Twisted black 120 cm cable (47 in)
Accessories: 5 sets of silicone ear tips (small/medium/large; double-flange; large triple flange), clamshell zipper case
Warranty: 1 year
Dimension: 0.25 in. H x 0.3 in. W x 0.7 in. L
Ship Weight: 0.75 lb
Y0u can find the A151 here f0r 74,99$.
Accessory and Package
Sadly, we start with the caveats (or, if you’re like me and prefer fewer syllables, the bad news). The A151 is a mid-high priced upgrade earphone; sure you can buy from Westone, Sensaphonics, Audio Technica, Sennheiser, etc., for much more, but if you’ve got fewer than a hundred bones in your yard, the A151 qualifies as a premium upgrade. What it doesn’t pack is a premium-grade accessory package. There is a cable winder, a few comfortable flanges, and a nice carrying case. Rather than screaming ‘great’, the accessory package mumbles ‘ho hum’ especially next to Jays’ a-Jays and t-Jays models.
This ain’t 2009 anymore; pretty much everyone packs nice carrying cases and flange options with their earphones. For earphones in the the 70-80$ mark, the A151 feels poorly covered.
You’ll have to pardon me here for not attaching pictures of the A151 box. The truth is that in the midst of a move from Korea to Japan, I lost it. It wasn’t much to chat about anyway (just a bit of serviceable cardboard), but my apologies are sincere.
From here on out, the news is mixed between good, great, and ho hum.
Fit and isolation
The A151′s body is a little awkward: it doesn’t sit flat or flush anywhere in any ear. It even sticks out a little when w0rn pr0perly [0ver the ear]. But, just about anyone should be able to find the right fit. If you can’t, you can slip Comply tips from your more expensive Westone and Sensaphonics right on. Kudos to MEElectronics for going with a standard sized sound tube on the A151.
Because the body doesn’t sit flush, though, you may have some trouble using these for working out, especially with rubber flanges that will get slick with sweat and grease. The earphone body is built from light plastic, so the A151 won’t weigh your ears down. They feel ultra good.
They also manage to block out a lot of noise, about parallel with the Audio Technica CK100 when used with silicon flanges. In other words, don’t expect the bus and train and annoying flock of vacationers next to you unless you employ dangerous sound levels. In noisy places, I get on fine with four clicks from the bottom on my iPod touch, or about -35 decibels on my Sansa Clip+.
Build and cable
The A151 is the first MEELectronics earphone I’ve seen use a triple twisted cable. It mimics the excellent Westone single ground, single left, single right design that has pretty much eaten up the professional market. But, looks are only skin deep. The Westone cable is in another league, vying with Sensaphonics and Audio Technica for strongest cable on the Market awards. The MEEl cable just l00ks like the king.
The A151 cable is wound loosely. If you play with cables, you will unwind this thing, leaving a tangled, prone mess. And if you are careless, you can probably cut it. It isn’t weak, but the older, clear plastic sheaths are more durable.
The plus side to the cable is that it is dead silent like the Westone cables and lacks memory cable. Glasses wears, the A151 is so damn comfortable. Pleasure, little treasure. Just be careful slipping your ProDesigns off and on as I’m serious: this cable ain’t that strong.
It is terminated in a straight plug with an eye-catching model stencil. Looks great. The strain relief is so so; it could do with a longer lead, and maybe a clamp before the wiggle protection cuts in. Again, i-plugs are weaker for both the player and the earphone. Ho hum.
The new y-split looks like a centipede and deserves as much praise as I can heap up in a single sentence. It is flexible, thick, non-abrasive, and light. For an earphone of this price, it is perfect. The earphone-side stress relief is just so-so, but I think it is well-sunk and should stay together for the length of the earphone.
Here’s where your investment really starts to pay off. The A151 is an ear pleaser. From first listen, I was smiling. I starts off with a good low, thump, but maintains control. Bass here is smooth, strong, controlled. It doesn’t bleed into the mids or highs. It retains perfect speed, and very good timbre.
It’s the sort of bass you hope for at it’s price point, the sort that doesn’t often come. Of course if you are a real basshead, it simply won’t do. It’s got more punch than Apple’s dainty Inner earphones and simply embarrasses the hell out of Sleek Audio’s SA1 (which tends to boom more), but it probably won’t satisfy American hip hop lovers.
Hip hoppers, still want the A151? It responds fairly well to good equalisation apps such as Equaliser and EQu, so pump up the low end jam and relax. The A151 has a lot of oomph way down low when pushed properly.
Its bass speed and depth are good for trance, and work work well for rock. There is enough detail that you will hit repeat on your favourite bass solos, but not enough to drown you in 3D details.
Bass-wise, there simply isn’t a better combination that I’ve heard for less than 80$.
The midrange has a few issues. Those are: there is a semi-suckout, and it isn’t because the A151 is hard to drive. No, it’s a proper psychoacoustic suckout that bothers some vocals in the ~1,5k – 2,5k range. Male vocals have great fronts, but lack the crispness they can have with better tuned earphones. Female vocals suffer less, but still sound a little tired. The culprit is a boom low midrange that bleeds into vocals and percusssions.
If you partularly favour non-vocal music, this is a non-issue. For everyone else, it is a small annoyance. After a few hours with these in my ears, I simply forget this slight vocal veil. Rock is pretty good. Guitars roar forward, along with bass, but lose a bit of their edge because of the veil. Still, the A151 sports a very nice sound. More subdued genres sound good enough but might be better with a bump around 1,5k with EQu or Eualizer.
As for high midrange and treble, it is a similar story, but with a much thinner veil. High hats decay a bit too fast, but everything else is good. Think of this as a tiny, budget Sennheiser HD650 with a strange suckout in the vocals and slight boom in the lower midrange. Overall, I am very impressed. For the price, there is so much to praise. No sticky, plasticky echo, no piercing treble, no sibilance. These things sound great.
And, the A151 is pretty sensitive. You can get loads of volume from your iPod touch or iPhone. I’d say it’s fair that you shouldn’t turn the volume past half on either as these earphones really get loud. They are also easy to drive for any modern Apple iDevice. You’ll suffer no roll off in the upper or lowers going straight from your player.
In other words, I’d not worry about an amp. There is also very little hiss, which is strange considering how loud these get. I can plug the A151 into my 2007 MacBook Pro and watch an entire movie without wanting to change to a dedicated DAC/Amp. Very very nice.
The stage and left to right separation are in a word, controlled. You won’t be looking behind you all the time wondering where Billy Joel jumped out from, but when recordings are really binaural, you’ll get a right headache. Trance lovers, yep, the A151 will do the things you want.
Out and about
Thanks to a nice carrying case, you can keep these batboys safe and sound. Just remember to use the case as the cable isn’t a wonder of mechanical engineering. If you’re are tall 185 cm like me, the A151 will fall from your ears to well below your knees. It is a lot of cable to toss into your pocket or purse, and since the cable is very light, you can wrap it up short without bugging your ears with too much weight. Good. And the cable, while built mote like Kickass than the Chuck Norris, is dead silent. Walk around, jump, sleep – you won’t be bothered by microphonic noises. Wonderful.
Remember, too, that the A151 blocks a LOT of noise. You can keep the volume down and take care of your ears!
The A151 sounds like a jackpot. Sure, it’s got a few issues such as its so-so cable and mild midrange suck-out and mediocre access0ry [my 0h key died] kit. But s0undwise and happy-wise, this earph0ne is great, and well w0rth a GRAB.
MEEl, work a little more on your cable and y0u’ve g0t a KISS!
incredible bass and g00d treble
nice carrying case
s0-s0 cable quality
access0ry package is 0utclassed in its pricerange