A Headphones Reviews Blog
Prior to the review, I’d like to thank Mike for the review sample.
MEElectronics is a name which most of the people interested in IEMs are already quite familiar with because of their great bang for the buck IEMs range. A few months back, in January, the company had announced their newest flagship model, the A161P, the successor to their wonderful A151 (which I had already reviewed and liked a lot), which was their first IEM that utilized a Balanced Armature driver. The A161P was said to have a better clarity, better bass and treble extension and a better overall balance through the frequency than the A151. Also, an inline microphone was included, in order to appeal to the smartphone users which are looking for a good sounding headset.
Before we’ll move on to the review itself, here are the technical specifications of MEElectronics’ A161P:
Packaging: MEElectronics’ previous IEM offerings were packaged in a rather plain cardboard packaging. This time, their new flagship model had received a more proper packaging treatment. The packaging consists of a few parts, the first of them being a paper sleeve in a black and gold color scheme, which covers the box itself. It has a picture of the IEMs in its front, while in its side there’s a list of the included accessories, and in its rare there’s some technical info such as a frequency response graph and the technical specifications. An elegant black cardboard box is revealed after pulling off the paper sleeve. The box has a magnetic door in its right, which when opened, reveals the IEMs and the included case seated on a black velvet-like surface, while the words “Detail”, “Accuracy” & “Clarity” are printed there accompanied by their dictionary meanings are printed on the door’s inner side; these three words were chosen by MEE to describe the A161Ps’ sound-signature. Finally, a user-manual is placed behind the velvet-surface. It appears that MEE had changed their whole packaging design philosophy since their last models; from plain looking packaging’s to classy and good looking ones. This kind of packaging would definitely attract some customers only due to its look.
Accessories: MEE provides a wide range of accessories with the A161Ps in order to assure that every customer would be able to use them without any problems. Starting from the ear-tips, there are 6 pairs of them supplied; 3 pairs of single flanged tips (Small/Medium/Large), a pair of MEE’s new Bi-Flanges (Medium) and 2 pairs of triple-flanged tips (Small/Large). Moving on, a pair of silicone ear-guides is included too. The A161P utilizes an iPhone compatible inline microphone, which may cause users of other Cell-Phones some compatibility issues, but there’s nothing to worry about in these case; MEE provides TRRS adapter cable, which makes the microphone compatible with a wider range of phones. MEE also includes another adapter, this time a headset to pc adapter, which makes it possible to use the A161Ps as a Skype microphone too. Last but not least, there’s also a MEE branded clamshell zippered carrying case, which looks and feels way better than the generic leather-like old case. In the bottom line, the included accessories are very generous for the A161P’s price and they virtually make it useable for every user. The rating is 9.5/10.
Building Quality & Design: The A161Ps’ housings are made of plastic with a shiny metal like finish, which feels very strong, solid and sturdy. The rear half of the housings is silver colored, while the front half, including the nozzle, is golden colored. The sound tube is covered with a metal mesh, to protect the drivers from ear-wax. The flexible silicone made strain reliefs are one of the largest that I had ever seen in an IEM. Left and Right markings are placed on them, as well as a plastic dot on the left strain relief. Moving on, the cable isn’t one of the best that I had seen. Actually, it is very thin, and it feels very cheap and fragile, a thing which was confirmed to me when after a bit more than a week of usage, the cable (in both sides) started to get torn near to the strain relief. Honestly, this is not a kind of cable that I’d expect from a set of IEMs that costs as much as this one. The inline microphone, which is placed only a few centimeters away from the right earpiece is tiny, yet quite solid and strong. Further on, the Y-split is made of a small piece of plastic, which doesn’t appear to be an Achilles point. The cable ends with a 45 degrees angled gold-plated 3.5mm jack, which feels a bit weird, and I would have preferred if a regular 90 degrees jack would have been utilized instead. In summary, the building quality, or should I say the cable quality left me a bit disappointed. The rating is 7/10.
Comfort & Fit: When I reviewed the A151s a few months ago, I found them very comfortable (Actually, I gave them 9/10 for their comfort). The A161Ps heirs the great comfort from the A151s. The A161P’s housings are barrel shaped with a slightly left angled nozzle. The angled nozzle causes the insertion to the ear-canal to be a bit complicated though; I had to rotate the A161Ps quite a bit before I had managed to get a good comfort. Other than that, I got to say that the comfort is very good. The included single-flanged tips are quite soft, which is good comfort-wise, but bad for their poor sealing ability. The A61Ps were designed in order to be worn straight-down but MEE includes a pair of silicone ear-guides in order to make it easier to wear the A161Ps over-the-ears too, though, personally, I preferred to wear the A161Ps without them when I chose to wear them over-the-ear, as using the chin-slider was good enough in my opinion. The rating is 9/10.
Isolation & Microphonics: Even though the barrel shaped earpieces cover most of the external ear-canal, the isolation is only a bit above average with the triple-flanges attached to the nozzle. The provided ear-tips are too soft and really thin, most noticeable in the single flanges. Due to this, I didn’t manage to get a good enough seal while using, so I used the medium single-flanges that are included with the A151s, which are a bit thicker and have a better sealing ability. The cable is less microphonic than your regular IEM cable, though, there are still some microphonics, in a quite smaller amount than the average one. As always, over the ear wearing method is recommended in order to eliminate the microphonics to a minor amount. The ratings are 3.5/5 for the isolation and 4/5 for the microphonics, which makes an 8/10.
Sound Quality: The A161Ps utilize a single balanced armature (apparently a driver from Knowles’ ED series), which produces a balanced, accurate, transparent and musical sound-signature. Some people link a “clinical” feeling to balanced-armature utilizing IEMs; it may be true in some of the cases, but in the A161Ps’ case, it is definitely not a fitting description.
Bass: The first thing that I had noticed regarding to the A161Ps’ bass is that it goes very deep into the spectrum, it has a great extension. It is very fast and clear, as expected from a balanced armature transducer. It is very well controlled and accurate, which makes it sound quite true to the source. The bass impact is there when needed, though, at times, it may feel a bit laid-back and recessed. Quantity-wise, it would be enough for most of the listeners. The punch is natural and real, it doesn’t feel exaggerated or unnatural.
Mids: The A161Ps’ mids are full, lush, smooth and rich, and a bit forward. Detail retrieval is quite impressive, and it is quite better than the A151s. The timbre is surprisingly good; it feels very realistic, natural and precise. The clarity level is amazing for the A161Ps’ price, and it can be to several higher priced IEMs.
Treble: As the midrange, the treble’s clarity and cleanness are great. Also, it contains a satisfying sparkle amount. Talking about its speed, it is quite fast, fast enough to present guitar-solos in more than a pleasing way. Detailing is great, though, I felt that the midrange was a bit more detailed.
Sound-Stage: I find the A161Ps’ sound-stage to be quite small, smaller than average. On the other hand, the imaging feels pretty real and elaborate. Instruments separation is great.
The rating for the “Sound Quality” section is 9.5/10. It is rated in ratio to the price tag of the reviewed product.
Final Conclusion: After reviewing MEElectronics’ A151s and liking them a lot, I expected to enjoy their successors at least as I had enjoyed them; Well, I absolutely did! Their sound-quality is amazing for their $100 price-tag. Other than that, these IEMs offer a very good comfort, and I doubt that many will find them uncomfortable. The included inline microphone is a huge plus for the people which choose to use their IEMs as a headset too. On the other hand, building-quality wise, I would expect more from MEE; the A151s’ building-quality was amazing, mainly due to the twisted-cable which was utilized. Too bad, but at this time, it was neglected, and was replaced by a disappointing cheap-looking cable, which isn’t really a proper cable for a flagship model. The A161Ps keep the amazing bang for the buck value that the A151s had; I may even say that the A161Ps offer a better value. The final score is 9/10.
Pros: Generous accessories set, great comfort, stunning sound-quality for the price.
Cons: Weak cable, mediocre isolation, the included tips are too soft, weird 45 degrees angled plug.