MEElectronics Original M Series Review and Comparison (M2, M9, M6 & M11+)
With MEElectronics' new M Series out the older M6 has got a new MSRP of $29.99 placing it in direct competition with the budget oriented M9 (MSRP: $19.99). And with street prices narrowing the gap to only a few bucks, the question of M9 or M6 has become a popular on the forums. I have written many replies to this question to help buyers make a choice and finally decided it was time to write a comparison and review rather than just answer the question over and over again. And while I am at it, I might as well included the M2 (MSRP: $11.99) and M11+ (MSRP: $44.99) and make it the whole original M Series.
The M2 is the cheapest of all the M Series models and it's accessories reflect that. It comes in a tube rather than the normal MEElectonics box and includes your standard small, medium, and large single flanges and recently MEElectonics has also started including a pair of double-flanges--another sign that MEElectronics listens to their customers. That is all for for the accessories though.
Build quality is good for an IEM in the M2's price range. Housing are made of metal, something not commonly found amongst similarly priced IEM's. Their weakness lies in the glue holding the housing to the nozzle. I had my first pair of M2 break here while trying to change the tips. MEElectronics promptly replaced them though and the second pair is still going strong--a nod to MEElectonics customer service. The M2 uses the same cable as all M Series earphones making it easily the best cable I have seen on an IEM at this price. My only complaint about the cable is that it has bad memory. I suspect this is due to the cable tie it came wrapped in was too tight and left kinks in the cable. The cable is a little shorter than the other M Series cables at 4 feet--still plenty long enough for me despite being rather tall at 6'3. Cable reliefs are nothing more than clear PVC, but they seem to do their job as I have had no problems yet. On the other end of the cable my M2P (mic'd version) terminates in a 45 degree plug, I believe the M2 may have 90 degree plug though.
Comfort is a little awkward due to the cone shape design. The large nozzle causes minor discomfort for my small ears. However, using a tip that inserts deeper in the ear like Sony Hybrids or the double-flange helps greatly (and improves the seal). Otherwise, the M2 is very light and very comfortable.
I am a poor judge of isolation since I mostly listen in quiet environments, but the M2 is probably not the best at blocking out noise due to the large vent.
Sound-wise, the M2 is very impressive for such a cheap IEM. No, it is not even going challenge IEM's three times its price, but it will out do other IEM's like the JVC Marshmallows and Skullcandy Ink'd. Bass is dominate, but all in all the M2 is one of the most balanced budget IEM's I have heard. The bass is punchy and far better controlled and less muddy than the Marshmallows. Unlike the other M Series IEM's, the M2 is not V shaped and the mids are not recessed. The highs are not quite as prominent as the highs of the other M Series models, but they are still very much there and have a nice sparkle. Sound stage is about what you would expect from IEM this price, nothing special, but nothing terrible either. Clarity may be the biggest strength of the M2 boasting more than I would have though possible from IEM of it's price.
Really, the M2 is a great deal. The only problem is that the M9 can be had for only a few dollars more when on sale. Because of that I have a hard time recommending the M2. Probably only reason I would get the M2 over the M9 is the mids of the M9 are just too recessed for some music whereas the mids of the M2 are fine. That or when you just need a disposable headset for your phone.
The M9 is big step up from the M2 in accessories--another reason it is probably worth forking out the extra dollar or two. The M9 comes in the normal MEElectonics packaging and includes a case, cable wrap, and airplane adapter, small, medium, and large single flanges, and double-flange. (Older M9 came with a gray "balanced" double-flange, but I am not sure if the current ones do or not.)
Build quality is great for a budget IEM. The housings are made of metal just like the M2, but seem sturdier as the the housing is one piece not two. The cable is the same as the M2 but longer at 4.6 feet. Strain reliefs are present and do their job. The plug is the same as the 45 degree one used on the M2P.
Comfort is good for the most part. The only time I notice any discomfort is when wearing the M9 inserted deeply the housing puts a little pressure on the outer ear canal. Of course, this is solved by wearing the M9 with different set of tips. The only complaint then is that the M9 may be a little big for small ears.
Isolation, again, I am a poor judge of this, but the M9 is vented like the M2 so isolation is not the best. The fact that the M9 can be worn deeper in the ear though does improve isolation.
Sound quality is a step up from the M2 which is why I recommend spending the extra to get the M9. A note on the sound of the M9 though: it changes dramatically depending on the tips you use. I generally use small Sony Hybrids and a deep insertion, so keep that in mind when reading my comments on the sound. Bass is has decent extension, probably the best of all the models in this review. The bass is very hard hitting and be brain jarring when worn with deep insertion--yes, that is why I do it . The biggest problem with the bass is it creeps up and over powers the mids. Speaking of he mids, they are recessed, the most recess of all the original M Series. Depending on the music, it is a enough to drive to crazy. Apart from being recessed though the mids are actually quite good. They lack a lot of energy and a bit dry, but they to have decent clarity. The highs like the rest of the M Series have a good deal of sparkle and extension. Again though, the prominence of the highs is largely depend on the tips used. Basically, the deeper the insertion the more bass oriented the M9 will be. Using the double-flange has the opposite effect bring better balance and more treble. Where the M9 excels is airiness. The M9 is the best budget IEM I have heard in this regard. This is the one place the M9 beats the M6.
With the recent sale prices of the M9, it is one of the best sub-$20 IEM's on the market. It's biggest competition is probably the M6 which has fallen in price to the point it is only a few dollars more--the M9 is a few dollars more than the M2 and M6 is a few dollars more than the M9, are you noticing a trend here? Well where the M9 differs from the M2 is I sound not necessarily recommend the M9 over the M6. M6 is better in sound quality, but it is not a big enough improvement in my opinion to justify getting it if you dislike the over ear design.
Accessories-wise, the M6 differs only from the M9 in tips. The M6 includes a bunch, small, medium, and large single-flanges, double-flanges, and small and large triple-flanges.
Build quality of the M6 is just slightly lower than that of the M9 due to the plastic housings. Despite being plastic though the M6 is very sturdy and should withstand normal abuse. The cable is the same as the rest of the M Series and same as the M9 in length. Strain reliefs are the same as the M9 except position to be worn over the ear. The M6 has a right-angle plug, while the M6P has a 45-degree plug.
Comfort is debatable. Some people prefer wearing IEM's over the ear while other cannot stand it. If you are the latter just get the M9. If you are the former get the M6. It is as simple as that. The M6 unique design lets in sit flat on your ear much like a earbud. This along with the memory wire make it a good choice for a IEM to sleep in. The memory wire also keeps it in place while running. The down side is that the memory wire can be difficult to get fit right. (It can be removed fairly easily though as IDvsEGO has shown and I can confirm having attempted it myself.)
Isolation varies greatly depending on tip. With triple and double-flange the M6 is decent. But I generally use the smallest tips for comfort and isolation is mediocre at best.
Sound quality is better than the M9. Not leaps and bounds better, but it is better. The M6 is better balanced than the M9 with the bass being a little lighter and not creeping up on the mids has bad. There is still a lot of bass though. However the bass is not as hard hitting as the M9 and lacks the low-end extension of the M9. The mids are recessed, but not nearly as bad as the M9. The biggest problem with the mids is vocals sound hollow. But like the M9 they are they are actually pretty good if you can get past that. The highs are bright and sparkly. Where the M9 may a little more bass the M6 has a little more treble. Sound stage is average and fails to compare with the impressive airiness of the M9. Detail and clarity is where the M6 bests the M9.
So is it is worth the extra money to get the M6? I say it comes down to design first. Do you want over the ear or straight down? If that is not important to you then the choice is between airiness of the M9 and the detail of the M6. Lastly, it comes down to the low-end extension of the M9 and the balance of the M6. Take those three things along with price into consideration and make a choice.
Accessories are the same for the M11+ as the M9 and M6, but the amount tips included is crazy! Small, medium, large, extra-large single-flange, medium and large extra-long single-flange, standard double-flange, and small, medium, and large double-flange. In case you lost count that is 11 sets of tips! I do believe that is the most tips I have ever see with any IEM.
Build quality is above the M6 and equal to the M9. Housing are metal and strong. If they have a weak point it is that the ring on the back where the strain relief is can become loose. Nothing a little glue cannot solve though. The cable is the same as the one found on the M6 and M9. Strain reliefs are hard rubber and work well. Both the M11+ and M11P+ terminate in a 45-degree plug.
Comfort is where the M11+ excels. The M11+ is the smallest IEM I have ever seen. I have swallowed pills bigger than the M11+. Needless to say it's size makes it super comfortable. It disappears even into my small ear canals--this might actually prove a problem for someone with large ears. If you have small ears though I cannot recommend the M11+ enough. And there light weight makes it very easy to forget you are wearing them.
Isolation is decent due the small size of the M11+ allowing a deep insertion. However, I could see how the small size of the M11+ might have the opposite effect for someone with large ears.
Sound quality is very close to the M6. The M11+ probably has the most bass of the original M Series. To me though, it lacks the impact of the M9. The mids are where the M11+ differ greatly from the M6 and M9 moving away from the recessed midrange. The mids are not forward, but they are no longer recessed either. The treble is less harsh than the M6, but remains very bright and sparkly. Detail and clarity are similar to the M6 as is the sound stage.
All in all, the sound signature of the M11+ reminds me of the M6 without many of its flaws like the recessed mids and sibilant treble plus a little boost in the bass. But with the M11+ costing twice as much as the M6, it is hard to justify for me. If you are looking a super comfortable IEM then it might be worth it. But otherwise I would probably save my money and get the M6.
Back to the question, M9 or M6? With the street price of both being roughly the same these days, I would say the choice should be based on comfort first. Over ear or straight down? Next I would say sound signature. If you prefer airiness and low-end extension the M9 is for you. If you prefer balance and detail the M6 is the way to go.
Regarding the M2 and M11+, both are over shadowed by the great prices of the M9 and M6. The M2 might be good choice if you are looking for the absolute cheapest headset for your phone or you cannot stand recessed mids, other wise spend a few bucks more and get the M9. The M11+ is one of the most comfortable IEM's I own and does fix some of the flaws of the M6, but the higher price makes it a tougher choice with the M6 being almost as good at half the price--not to mention there are many other good choices from MEElectonics and other brands in the M11+ price range.
Players: 4 GB Sansa Clip | 32 GB iPod touch (4th generation)
Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M50 IEM: MEElectronics A151, M6 and M9P
Last edited by cnhardwick; 04-23-2011 at 10:36 PM.
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