Firstly I would like to thank Musicteck for arranging this loan unit. These have had well over 100hrs of burn-in.
*disclaimer: This sample was provided on loan for the purpose of writing a review, no incentive was given to write a favourable review. All opinions expressed are my own subjective findings.
Gear Used: Audio Opus #2 > ME-1
HP Laptop > JDS Labs OL-DAC > Head “n” HiFi Desktop O2 > ME-1
Impedance: 23.1 Ω
Diaphragm Diameter: 18.5 mm
Magnet Type: Dual-Layer High Strength Neodymium
Shell: 3D Printed Medical Grade Acrylic with CNC Finish Connector Type: 2-Pin Protruding Connector
Cable: 6N Single Crystal Copper
Cable Termination: 3.5 mm Headphone Jack
Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
The ME-1 come in a premium wood box, there is a black card sleeve around this wooden box that has the brand name embossed on it. Open the wood box and you are greeted by the silicone case, inside this you will find the IEM's. Underneath the top layer of foam you will find the other case filled with the rest of the accessories. The box looks great and is fitting of this kind of product.
The build quality is superb, no visual flaws with the main shell seamlessly flowing into the larger faceplate. The grill on the faceplate does flax a little so when inserting it is best to only use pressure around the edges of the faceplate. The nozzle is plastic and quite wide, the cable is soft and supple with memory wire around the ear. All connectors have good strain relief and that cable is a mix of copper and silver. The connectors for the cable are 2-pin, but they are the type that protrudes a little, rather than being recessed or flush. Most 2-pin cables will still work well but do stick out a little farther. Overall the ME-1 are superbly finished and well made.
Accessory wise you get a good selection, first off you get foam tips in S, M and L sizes, along with silicone tips in XS, S, M and L. You get two carry cases, one is a soft neoprene type case with various compartments, and the other is a silicone case which has an integrated cable tidy. There is a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adaptor included along with an airplane adaptor. So a great array of accessories and most people should be able to get a good fit (wide bore means Symbio W hybrid tips fit well).
Comfort and Isolation:
The ME-1 are quite a large and heavy IEM, however the ergonomics are excellent. The fit inside the ear is the right depth for me anyway, yes they do stick out a little with their large faceplate however once you find the right tips you can get a secure fit that is comfortable over long periods of time.
One bit I personally don't like is the memory wire, however I have never been much of a fan of stiff memory wire. I find it doesn't help keep IEM's in place for me and is just a little awkward to get the right shape.
These are not built to isolate, they are fully open back, which means they leak sound in and out, they are not designed to be the perfect commuting IEM, however use in quiet environments allows these to shine.
Split into the usual categories with a conclusion at the end. The below is based on using silicone tips.
Lows: Let’s start off with the sub-bass, which is wonderfully extended and present but without adding too much body. The mid-bass has a slight dip meaning they don't punch the hardest or with a lot of authority but it makes them sound very well controlled. The bass blends nicely to the track playing, but always retains good quality and a full body without affecting the midrange. Those looking for bass head IEM's should shy away, but those that want a tighter more accurate sound with sub-bass presence over mid-bass punch will be satisfied.
Mids: The midrange is smooth and detailed, with excellent space and air around vocal tracks and guitars. There is a slight recess in the upper midrange which makes some vocals sound a bit unnatural, yet certain guitar notes really stand out (Dance Gavin Dance – I’m Down with Brown Tone). The lower midrange is slightly up front and quite aggressive presenting good detail but layering is where they are superb. There are parts of the midrange that are excellent, but others that just don’t sound tonally correct.
Highs: The highs have good impact and clarity maintaining energy and sparkle even when tracks get a bit busier. They are well separated and also positioned spatially; imaging in the treble is very accurate however the midrange focus is not as good. The highs don’t suffer from sibilance, are not strident and very well presented. They are just right in terms of presence but don’t become fatiguing and have excellent tonality and clarity.
The soundstage is open and wide, with excellent layering and separation, the width is more impressive than the depth (sometimes you forget they are IEM’s and sound more like full size headphones). Separation is very good yet they have a fuller sound, they don’t become congested through faster tracks.
Pairing: Now the ME-1 sounded superb out of the Opus #2 but had excellent synergy with my Objective 2 amplifier, they do benefit from good amplification even though they are relatively easy to drive.
Comparison vs 64 Audio U6 (M20 module):
The U6 is smoother overall and has excellent sub-bass extension like the ME-1, however the U6 has a thicker bass presentation with a bit more punch to it. The ME-1 sound more detailed and better separated in the midrange, but the U6 is smoother and more tonally accurate. The treble is where these differ the most, with the ME-1 having excellent air and presence, the U6 are a bit too polite, lack the impact and sparkle of the ME-1 and take a slight backseat in the mix. It is hard for me to say which I personally prefer, as both are superb IEM’s that are quite different, but ultimately I really enjoy the sound of the U6 and do not need to EQ them.
Vs HiFiMan RE800:
The RE800 are more dynamic in the bass regarding punch but both have a similar tuning down low with good sub-bass presence, control and articulation. The midrange on the RE800 is more linear with a slight tilt towards the upper midrange, but with a similar amount of detail as the ME-1 (both crystal clear). Both have airy treble and good presentation, the RE800 has quite a big peak around 7 kHz that can cause some fatigue to some users. Both have good soundstage but the ME-1 wins here being more open and airy (at the expense of isolation). Both benefit from EQ so this comparison is more down to preference rather than there being a straight winner.
Conclusion: The ME-1 is certainly a competent planar IEM, the sub-bass presence is excellent but the mid-bass is lacking a bit of dynamic punch. The lower midrange is slightly boosted giving certain male vocals the edge; however the upper midrange is a little recessed and leaves some female vocals sounding a bit unnatural. The highs are detailed and well presented and as a whole are a good IEM. Some small EQ tweaks can improve these, and if you get the chance to audition them I suggest you do so.
There is plenty of detail on offer with a nice wide soundstage and I can see these becoming quite popular, as a little EQ really goes miles with these, and they do a lot right.
Sound Perfection Rating: 8/10 (upper midrange needs a little improvement, but plenty of detail and a wide soundstage makes these a good buy)