MEElectronics In-Ears has entered our lab for the fourth time. But this time it's a unique set of In-Ears, the MEElectronics SP51 Sound Preference In-Ear Headphone with Sound Tuning is what we have for review. The SP51 with it three tuning ports promises to bring different sounds - whether you are bass-heads or craving for more balanced sound.
Features and Specs
The MEElectronisc SP51 is a set of In-ear headphones that offers sound customization using three sets of tuning ports. It offers three different sound signatures using those tuning ports - black for extreme bass, metallic for enhanced bass and silver for neutral bass. We will soon find out how these ports affect the sound and how helpful they are. Nevertheless, let's see more about the product first.
The SP51 is powered by 10mm dynamic drivers on both left and right earphones and the In-Ears offer metallic housing with swappable rear tuning ports. The frequency response ranges from 20Hz to 20 KHz, and its sensitivity is rated at 100dB against the 110dB on the armature driven A151 which I recently reviewed. The rated impedance and maximum power output are 16 Ohms and 40mW respectively. The dark transparent cable is similar to the M9/M6's, and it's 130cm long, which has a 3.5mm stereo gold plated L-shape jack plug at the end.
As usual, the package bundled four pairs of silicon eartips (small, medium, large and one bi-flange), clamshell zipper case and the said three pairs of tuning ports.
Design, Comfort and Isolation
The MEElectronics SP51's in-ear design is a simple plug-in design that is similar to M9's in many ways. However, the SP51 has slightly larger housing but fitting is good and comfortable even after prolong use. The metallic housing also guarantees lasting build quality. The Y-slider with the shirt clip ensures minimal microphonics, and the tangle-free cable is admirable for a pair of In-ear headphones in this price range.
I found the single-flange medium size tip and the bi-flange offered the best isolation and fitting for my ears, and the SP51 did not cause any ear-fatigue or discomfort even after I used it for 9 straight hours. Speaking of the isolation, the bi-flange worked great outdoors, and it saved me from cranking up the volume to ear-drums damaging level on a busy traffic day.
The MEElectronics SP51 In-Ears are easy to drive, and I found the armature-based A151 slightly louder at the same volume level setting on the audio sources (Cowon D2+, iPod Touch 4G ) I tested with. Using the M-audio Audio Interface on a desktop PC, the SP51 sounded loud enough and did well without using a headphones amplifier. However, I found the sound much warmer and more prominent when I plugged in portable headphones amp like FiiO E5 on the Cowon D2+ or the iPod Touch. Being a dynamic type, the SP51 was burn-in for over 150 hours.
The overall sound quality is warm and exciting with good extensions on the highs and the upper mids. The bass reproduction based on different ports varies as advertised and all in all, the SP51 offers good details for its asking price.
Bass: Starting with the silver port, the bass on the SP15 sounded with a sufficient amount of depth and personally, I found it more than adequate. It has slightly delicate punch, good extension and a bit less articulate than what I heard with the costlier and armature driven A151. With the metallic port (tagged as enhance bass), the bass became larger and fuller, it is a definite upgrade for bass-heads especially for Hip Hop or Trance. The metallic ports also made the sound warmer and the upper mids and highs were slightly overpowered by the warm and rounded bass as well. Now, for the extreme bass ports (the black ports), the bass is too overwhelming for our liking, which made the overall sound boomy, but details across the frequency ranges weren't badly overshadowed. With these black ports, even though the highs and mids are still reproduced faithfully, the overwhelming bass and the extra warmth made the sound strictly for those who want to hear more of the bass than any other frequency range.
Mids: The mids with the extreme bass sounded full and clear but could have sounded crispier. The enhanced bass ports (metallic) offered more prominent mids and sharper upper mids than what I heard with the black ports (extreme bass). Vocals sounded crisp and articulate for dynamic In-ears in this price range. With the neutral ports (silver color), the mids still sounded as good as it was with the enhanced bass metallic ports, but it is slightly inclined towards theupper mids and this made the vocals sounded a bit shrieky in the upper mids region. Compared to the more expensive A151, the mid-range sounded less articulate and natural. However, the overall mids reproduction for a dynamic pair of In-ears sounded good for its price range, and it is a definite improvement over the cheaper models M9 an M6.
Highs: The higher frequency ranges showed the good presence with all the ports, and even though it was not the sweetest and most detailed we heard, the SP51 delivered them with good extension that sounded airy even with the overwhelming bass response while using the black ports. You can still make out the type of instruments being played while listening to our lossless files but there was slight sibilance, which at times could become a bit annoying. The detail and smooth highs were missed here as the A151 spoiled us with its sparkling natural highs, but again, at their price, the SP51 still offered above average highs in its price range.
Soundstage was good but not spectacular. Instrument separation was good but not that precise. However, the spaciousness made the sound more exciting and more involving.
The MEEElectronics SP51 offers a unique customizable sound based on changeable bass ports. It is an affordable solution to let you tweak your sound based on the amount of bass you prefer. The overall sound quality is pleasant, exciting and warm but for those who want accurate sounding In-ears, we suggest you go for the more expensive MEElectronics A151.