For what we would call budget in-ear headphones, the ME6s are decent performers. Naturally, they aren't perfect—being geared towards outdoor/exercise use, and being at a sub $50 price point, that's to be expected. Their few flaws are worth documentation and further inspection, however, particularly some quirks within their frequency response and total harmonic distortion.
Meet the M6 (MSRP $49), budget in-ears from MEElectronics. While they don’t have the best audio performance, these resilient little in-ears are actually quite good for running or outdoor exercise, as they have impressive noise attenuation and stay in your ears well.
Everything starts out fine, but the high end frequencies are reproduced erratically.
A speaker's frequency response is ideally flat, giving equal volume emphasis from the deepest bass pitches to the highest trebles. These budget in-ears struggled to produce a flat frequency response, however. They emphasize bass tones from 90Hz to mids around 1kHz, leveling out for the upper mid range, and this is fine for most types of listening—unless you, for whatever reason, really want a flat bass response. At about 2-3kHz, however, the M6s start to erratically shift the volume of the reproduced frequencies, jumping above ideal volume, then dipping below, like a seismograph charting an earthquake. The highest end then drops off drastically, meaning that your high mids—mostly harmonic overtones—are going to be all over the place in volume. This isn't hugely distracting during playback, but it's worth keeping in mind if you're considering purchase.
As usual for in-ears, the M6s are very portable but not too comfy by design.
Despite the fact that there are no obvious points of discomfort, at the end of the day you’re still jamming bits of plastic and rubber into your ear canal, which was never meant to have anything inserted into it. Consequently, even after finding the correct size sleeve for you, the in-ears may still feel uncomfortable. Over an extended period of time, the fit does not change all that much, even if you are running.
The MEElectronics M6s can be used with just about any MP3 player or smartphone, though they do not have a remote or mic.
Aside from buying the color you want and having the ability to swap sleeve sizes and types, there isn’t a whole lot one can do to customize their MEElectronics M6s. That’s not inherently a bad thing, just something to note before buying. Perhaps you wanted to use these with a smartphone? Without a mic, these are not the best choice.
Sporting a rather generic 1/8th inch plug, the MEElectronics M6s can be used with just about any MP3 player or smartphone, though again, they do not have a remote or mic, meaning you will not be able to use these as a headset. While it’s very easy to carry the MEElectronics M6s around on their own, for your convenience MEElectronics included a carrying case for users of their headphones to carry around their in-ears and extra sleeves in. While it’s not that thin, it should fit into most large pockets or bags.
Because these are a relatively inexpensive pair of in-ears, there really wasn’t much put into the MEElectronics M6s in the way of maintenance. That’s okay though, because even if these don’t last all that long, they’re pretty easy to replace financially speaking. Still, take care to not yank these out by the cables, and also be wary of the amount of earwax that makes it into the nozzle, as these will cause issues for you that most likely cannot be fixed.
Despite the wildly erratic nature of the higher notes, the frequency response we measured is among some of the better results for sub-$50 headphones we’ve seen.
You may notice that the headphones are a bit louder than you initially expect—especially among the higher notes—but you may or may not mind this so much. Definitely not for dubstep listeners though, as the sirens and glitches will be a lot louder than the rest of your music.
The distortion with the MEElectronics M6s is not only very high, but audible even at low volumes in the mid-range of frequencies.
Things aren't looking so good in another area: Distortion. Yikes. The distortion with the MEElectronics M6s is not only fairly high, but just barely audible even at low volumes in the mid-range of frequencies. While this may not be as objectionable if you’re listening to podcasts or the radio, audio nerds will recoil in horror at this measure, though that can be said about a lot of things.
Using the triple-flange sleeves included in the packaging, you can expect the MEElectronics M6s to make the world around you all but disappear. While this is a great thing for joggers and gym rats, we caution you to maintain awareness of your surroundings, lest you end up the subject of a news article when headphones attack.
An alarmingly high amount of distortion
For whatever reason, the M6s were plagued with a much higher level of distortion than is normal. At around 1kHz it gets especially bad, jumping to about 4% of your total audible sound. Most people won't notice this, but audiophiles and trained musicians might find it to be distracting, annoying, or make the M6s downright untenable as headphones. While it’s theoretically possible to listen to your tunes at a level of 114dB without hitting a 3% total distortion mark, we advise anybody reading this article not to test the limits of these headphones, as you will undoubtedly damage your hearing.
Sometimes, you just need a set of cheap headphones.
If you’re looking for a set of headphones to take with you exercising, you’re probably going to want a pair that doesn’t cost much, sounds relatively okay, and blocks out a good amount of outside noise. While they definitely don’t score the best, the MEElectronics M6s fit this bill to a T, and should satisfy most people looking to grab a pair of in-ears that they can abuse while they get swole.
Given that they’re relatively inexpensive, it’s not surprising that there are a few performance points that are a bit lacking: the distortion is relatively high, the highest frequency notes are overemphasized, and there are some very mild channel preference errors. Any one of these issues would deter an audiophile, but for most others looking to save some money, it’s acceptable.
Due to the fact that these isolate the user from outside noise very well, they’re ideal for the casual user who doesn’t want to invest a lot of effort into their in-ears, and just need something to use while exercising or commuting. Considering their price point, these are a solid choice if you don’t want to shell out a bunch of money on something you might break soon anyways, so the MEElectronics M6s will probably suit this role well.
Meet the tester
Staff Writer, Imaging
A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.
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