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Old 04-15-2011, 10:39 AM
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Default MEElectronics M31 IEM Review


I’ve been racking my brains trying to come up with a decent start to this review, in the past I’ve told a short story that tied into the review in one way or another. Hmm, should I start writing about all the rebranded IEMs coming from China, should I talk about MEElectronics strong marketing approach via social networking media by providing free IEMs for posted reviews or should I just talk about these for what they are and how they perform?

I decided on the latter and you may be surprised to read that for a low-end (sub-$50) product the M31’s could be a miser’s dream for bassheads, yet they are enjoyable across the whole audible sound spectrum. You heard me right they provide plenty of roar and thunder in the low end, enough clarity with detail in the midrange and ample shimmer in the highs.

So read on if you’re interested in why I think these IEMs are worth a listen.

Specs
  • 9.0 mm dynamic driver
  • Frequency Response: 15Hz - 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 96 dB
  • Impedance: 16 Ohms
  • Cable: 51 ¾ inches (131.4 cm)
  • 3.5mm right angle plug
  • Nozzle Size: 5mm
  • Accessories: carry case, shirt clip, S, M, L silicone ear tips and one bi-flange tip











Design, Build & Specs
When looking at them from their rear the M31 housing reminds you of a hollow point bullet shape. The housing is made from metal and sports a rear vent/baffle with two toned aluminum available in various colors: black, red, purple, gold and blue. The nozzle size is 0.197 inches (5mm) and is fitted with a paper filter. While the housing is 1 inch (2.5 cm) without an ear tip and 1.13 inches (2.9 cm) with a standard silicon ear tip. This is too long for me as the housing extends out from my ear not allowing me to wear the cable over my ear and creating a wind noise.

Speaking of this, they’re not good for sports or use in windy weather unless you like noise. I believe this is also a byproduct of the rear vent, as I stood outside this morning a breeze blew by before turning on the music and I noted it from the vent as well. Knowing this I have been wearing them down behind my neck under my shirt which helps reduce cable microphonics. None of this is important if you’re walking in a low wind environment, shopping in a mall or just hanging out.

The cable is coated in a clear plastic allowing you to see what seems to be the braided wire inside. Measuring 35 ¾ inches (90.8 cm) to the Y-splitter and 16 ¼ inches (41.3 cm) to the IEM stress relief, with an overall length of 51 ¾ inches (131.4 cm) they’re just the right length. The Y-splitter is sturdy and slim which doesn’t get caught on shirts. The stress relief at the right angled plug and at the housing are more than adequate, although if the cable breaches near the housing it may prove very difficult to re-cable as the housing build quality is tuff as steal and most likely impossible to open successfully without damage.

They’re easy to insert/seal and when engaged into a conversation with someone just as easy to remove. They’re fine to wear without any discomfort for the few hours a day while I’ve been testing them and I would say the isolation is about medium. Although your mileage may vary as you know isolation can also depend on the tips you use and seal you achieve. Overall the cable does not produce microphonics if worn correctly. I would say at least 3 on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the worst and certainly not near the bad microphonics the CX300s rubber cable produces. At any rate the cable is flexible and its design does minimize tangles to some extent.

Wrapping up the cable dissection the 3.5mm right angled plug is gold plated and made with a low profile which I find extremely nice if you run with your digital audio player inside your pocket. Currently I only have around 50+ hours on these and regardless of what I state here I’ll follow up within the abi forums as to how the cable holds out over the long haul.

Sound
Now what we’ve been waiting for, “so how do they sound?” Let me start out by saying if you don’t like bass and you are looking for an accurate balanced sound signature you can stop reading here. But if you want some fun IEMs with good bass quantity and an acceptable overall sound signature at an affordable price read on.

To test the M31s I used a combination of tracks from FLAC to 192 VBR rips on a Cowon iAudio 7, iAudio 9 and a Rockboxed Sansa Clip. I also used my laptop with the same combination of rips out via DAC to the M31s. The IEMs currently have around 50 hours on them and as far as I can tell they haven’t changed much from out of the box or I just got use to their sound signature right away and they haven’t changed yet.

They seem to have all the bass the CX300s or the CrossRoads XB have or had in the latter case, but with better definition and none of the muddy extension the CX300s have. For me the M31s are laid-back with a serious seismic bass, decent sub-bass extension that doesn’t come across overbearing and although the upper bass does bleed into the midrange a little, it doesn’t kill it or damage it. The M31s bass bleed only warms up the mids a tad without any major interference to the vocals. I would say that they are not accurate to life but do provide decent detail and spark in the upper mids and treble range. Although they do show signs of a slight bit of sibilance in the upper highs depending on the track but overall they’re engaging and fun to hear so that can be easily overlooked.

Keep in mind that all I’m saying changes with different tips and it’s important to note that the lower the volume the less pronounced the bass comes across, allowing for a bit more of a balanced sound. But depending on the volume they do come across as transparent and although the imaging is fairly accurate the soundstage is a little tight for dynamic drivers.

Conclusion
So are the M31s a miser’s dream for bass lovers?

I would say yes to those looking for good bass response, plenty of punch, roar and thunder in the low end without losing any serious pace in the other frequencies. They come across as lively and fun to use beating out many other contenders in the sub $50 dollar price range bringing out the miser in all bass lovers …

Pros
  • Solid build quality
  • Strong bass response
  • Good spark in the upper midrange and treble region
  • Good bang for the buck within its price range

Cons
  • Wind noise
  • Housing length (extends out from my ears too far)
  • Slight sibilance in the upper highs
  • Flimsy ear tips

Purchase
The M31s can be purchased direct from MEElectronics with a MSRP of $44.99 although they’re also available at Amazon and various other websites.
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Last edited by WalkGood; 04-28-2011 at 04:19 AM.
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  #2  
Old 04-15-2011, 10:48 AM
musichound musichound is offline
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Very nice review. I am wondering how these stack up to the Hippo VBs.
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Old 04-15-2011, 10:51 AM
nodirectionhome nodirectionhome is offline
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Nice review with plenty of detail, and interesting too.

I'd like to be able to take photos that good.
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Old 04-15-2011, 10:58 AM
musichound musichound is offline
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WG, how do these compare to your UE11s. I know that's a stretch, but how much better do the UE11s sound?
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Old 04-15-2011, 12:18 PM
cnhardwick cnhardwick is offline
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Nice review and amazing photos. I was wondering how the size of the M31 would fair, in the photos they look so long.
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Old 04-15-2011, 01:05 PM
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Metal housing, bullet shape, and massive bass, these seem like the update of the M9. Thanks for your review.
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Old 04-15-2011, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musichound View Post
Very nice review. I am wondering how these stack up to the Hippo VBs.
Thank you for the feedback. I don’t know as I haven’t had the pleasure to try the VBs but I’d certainly love to compare them. *did you read that uncle wilson*

Quote:
Originally Posted by nodirectionhome View Post
Nice review with plenty of detail, and interesting too. I'd like to be able to take photos that good.
Thank you for the feedback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by musichound View Post
WG, how do these compare to your UE11s. I know that's a stretch, but how much better do the UE11s sound?
I wouldn’t compare a custom monitor to an IEM, apples to coconuts IMO, you can read my initial UE11 review and the one year follow up to draw your own conclusions. At many portable audio shows you can also test universal UE11s but IMO the custom fit is better for isolation and sq.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Larch View Post
Metal housing, bullet shape, and massive bass, these seem like the update of the M9. Thanks for your review.
Thanks for the feedback. I have not tried the M9 but if I were to believe what I’ve read they don’t have the midrange warmth of the M31s. Not saying I don’t believe the other reviewer but it’s impossible for me to know as I don’t know him and like I said, I haven’t tried them out. Not sure if I’ll have the opportunity to try any others out but I would be interested in this order A151, SP51, M6 and M9. I'm not asking much am I
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Last edited by WalkGood; 04-19-2011 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 04-15-2011, 09:04 PM
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esanthosh esanthosh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Larch View Post
Metal housing, bullet shape, and massive bass, these seem like the update of the M9. Thanks for your review.
If M9 is anything like M6, then I'd say this is not an upgrade, but a whole different thing. M6 has bass and M31 has BASS. Same thing applies when it comes to midrange warmth.
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Old 04-19-2011, 09:26 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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All of your reviews are good. But some of them take that extra step up in quality to become outstanding. This is one of those IMHO.

The blend of pro level photography and clear, no nonsense writing makes for a pleasurable and informative read. It's possible for anyone who reads this later to know just what you hear when you listen to these headphones.

As it turns out these aren't the headphones for me. I'm not a bass head and I'm looking something more balanced. But instead of buying a set and being surprised or disappointed by the sound signature or build quality I can make a reasoned judgment from both your word pictures and excellent photography. Very nice work and a textbook example of how to present a review.
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Old 04-20-2011, 04:30 AM
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+1 with skip252 [no surprise there...]

GREAT review WG...very sorry I missed it originally. Nice to see you got some good experience with these MEE stuff. They do seem to be a company on the move and these seem to be quite nice for the cash, maybe even a match for my beloved Maximo i590s [gasp!]. I like the looks of these things as well - nice and shiny.

And also nice to see you slumming a bit on the IEM front WG

Pictures were amazing!
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:16 AM
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Thanks for the kind words skip252 & lestatar as you both know they are rebranded IEMs and as you know the list of companies grows longer. Even some of the big boys use rebranded. What I think is most important is sound quality, build quality, value for the price and will they hold up for the long haul, only time will tell for the latter but be assured that I'll let you know
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Old 05-07-2011, 03:24 PM
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how do these stack up against the maximo imetal im590? as in bass quantity/quality, and the rest of the spectrum
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