MEElectronics M16 Review
I recently reviewed the MEElectronics M31 and now I’ve had the opportunity to audition and test the M16s. The M16s are two price tiers below the M31s in their “M” series of IEMs and similarly priced to the M9s. The M16s are targeted towards a budget conscious group as the MSRP runs just under $25.00 and they are similarly marketed by MEE as having a “fun” sound signature. Aside from their aluminum housing, marketing and identical cable that’s where their similarities end. Enough about similarities, let’s discuss the M16s.
Design, Build & Specs
The M16 housing has a very solid build quality as it’s made from aluminum similar to the M31s but the finish is not as smooth. It’s worthy to note that all the M-series models and the SP51 housings are made from aluminum. While the SX31, RX11, A151 and CX21 are plastic, the R1 is wood, the CW31 is plastic + wood and the CC51 are ceramic. That said the M16s are lighter weight and shorter than the M31s allowing them to seat deeper and perform better for outdoor sporting activities. They still suffer from minor wind noise but nothing compared to the M31s, making them more than acceptable for biking or other outdoor activities.
While the M16 housing does sport a little rear baffle/vent, it’s a minor pin hole compared to the M31s and does not add any wind noise or isolation issues. Also standard tips allow them to seat a little deeper into your ear canal thus minimizing any wind issue further. The M16 nozzle size is 0.197 inches (5mm) and is fitted with a paper filter which is recessed about 0.4” (1 cm). This reassess is probably why most other reviews I’ve read state it does not have a filter but I confirmed it does with my contact at MEE. This little recessed pocket might lend itself to some interesting modifications with foam versus paper or other materials, something I have not tried yet but soon will.
Just below the paper filter they are housed with 6.8 mm dynamic driver rated with the above specs. Without tips the housing measures .75” (1.9 cm), with standard medium size ear tips its .88” (2.2 cm) and 1” (2.5 cm) with bi-flange tips. Without going to third party tips the bi-flanges sealed and preformed best for me, they seam a little more rigged than the standard tips, easier to attain a seal and better for isolation but your mileage may vary.
The M16s are fitted with the same clear coated cable and 3.5mm gold plated right angled plug that’s included with the M31s so I won’t go as deep into the cable here as I did on the M31 review. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the cables but my only area of concern is the stress relief that meets the housing seems a little weak but only time will tell if this is an issue. Also the stress relief is angled outward away from the ear, although they can still be worn over the ear comfortably it’s my opinion that it should have a 45 degree angle or slightly inward which would allow a more streamlined over ear fit.
The only other issue that I noted with the cables on the M16s was that once I opened the retail packaging they had a chemical-emitting plastic smell coming from them which was not an issue with the M31s. Possibly in the curing process of the clear coat which you may have experienced this with certain other plastic products coming from China. It’s praiseworthy to note how responsive MEE’s customer service preformed, offering to quickly replace them. They went on to say “We love customer feedback; our product batches are fairly small as we are still a growing company, therefore we can often implement improvements quicker than larger brands.” So it might be pointless for me to state again that I am impressed with their follow up and responsiveness, this issue was quickly resolved.
Microphonics on the M16s is not an issue when the cable is worn over the ear and if worn straight down it’s about medium. I would label their isolation on par with most universal earphones on the market and state it medium as well. Although, this does depend to some extent on the ear tips one uses and the seal you achieve. As most know after market tips are less flimsy than included tips and do isolate much better but as stated above I found the included bi-flange tips sealed best for me and provided the most isolation.
With their light weight the M16s are comfortable enough to wear several hours without discomfort but not comfortable enough to sleep with. Similar to the M31s they’re easy to insert or remove quickly if need be. Regardless of what I state here I’ll follow up within the abi forums as to how they perform over the long haul, remember the follow up I gave on the UE11s a year later. Unlike high end custom monitors in this price range all products have a limited life span and if you get a year or two out of the M16s they’re worth the price of admission.
Testing the M16s I used the same combination of tracks and rips that I used on the M31s without any EQ or tweaks. From FLAC to 192 VBR rips on my laptop, Cowon iAudio 7, iAudio 9 and a Rockboxed Sansa Clip. The IEMs currently have around 50 hours on them but with these I’ve noticed a change along the way versus the M31s. So either they have improvement over time due to burn in or my brain has just become more accustom to their slight v-shaped sound signature.
So how do they sound? First impressions are a little unusual as the bass and treble come across more prominent than the midrange. This is most likely due because the midrange is recessed or slightly veiled, thus giving the appearance of more impactful highs and lows (slight v-shape).
The bass is well defined with impact, body and detail but lacks a little depth, thus the quantity is there but not fully extending to the lowest octaves. Still it does come across prominent with good quality due to the recessed midrange. Although unlike the M31s it does not bleed into the M16s midrange, in this case who knows, it might help.
Midrange while lacking is still there and does have some texture and warmth, it’s just not striking enough for my taste. Because of this recession the treble shows the most sign of prominence on the M16s. While it has good sparkle with decent detail, for example on high notes trumpets come across as penetrating, incisive and sharp without losing sensitivity. Crashing cymbals sound alive and piercing but giving so much focus to the highs one can note a roll-off in the upper highs and they can become tiring.
Soundstage is a little below average and makes the M31s come across as more spacious and wider but while somewhat tight the soundstage is still acceptable. They do provide satisfactory instrument separation but not as good as the M31s. All this said, the M16 seem to like BBE sound enhancements well and it’s not hard to improve their performance once tweaked to your liking. Left alone with all this treble they can become fatiguing so for my taste they perform best tweaked.
Are the M16 the best IEM to come along and top all other IEMs on the market, absolutely not. But if you compare them within the same price range to other OEM rebrands: Maximo iM, CrossRoads, Hippo, Rosewill, Ifrogz EarPollution, Radius, etc. Considering their build quality, accessories, clarity of sound and level of customer support for the price that MEE is asking these are good entry level IEMs for a portable audio enthusiast.
The M16s can be purchased direct from MEElectronics with a MSRP of $24.99 although they’re also available at various web sites from 19.99 to $27.49 from what I have seen.
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