Back in June 2010 I reviewed the Klipsch Image S4i headphones. These were, arguably, the best-sounding and most comfortable in-ear headphones I have ever used. At the time I commented that some people would probably be turned off by their $100 price tag. After less than a year of heavy use—including regular gym use—the wiring has started separating from the plug. No doubt this is because I am constantly wrapping the cord around my iPod touch. All the same, the time came for replacements. At $100 a pop, replacing such expensive headphones on a regular basis is not realistic. While I was at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last month, I came across California-based MEElectronics, which makes several lines of headphones. The company is known for value headphones that offer extraordinary sound quality. For the last month I have been using their “budget” headphone model, the MEElectronics M9-SL Hi-Fi Sound Isolating In-Ear Headphones, which were given to me.
I have been using the MEElectronics M9-SL headphones without any issues, primarily with my iPod touch. According to the MEElectronics website, the headphones are compatible with iPods, iPhones and other MP3 devices with a 3.5mm jack. The headphones also work with my iPad, although this is not explicitly stated on the website.
Impressive Sound, Amazing Value
With a list price of $30, it is easy to have lowered expectations of the M9-SL headphones. However, within moments of using them for the first time, my expectations were blown away. The sound was definitely “full” and did not become distorted at higher volumes. The bass was solid yet, again, did not become distorted when I was listening to bass-heavy tracks.
The in-ear noise isolation does an excellent job of blocking out ambient background noise. On my flight back from Las Vegas, the M9-SLs were able to block out the sound of the jet engines without the need for me to turn up the volume and punish my eardrums.
In order to achieve the best sound, it is important to have a clean “seal” when placing the headphones in your ears. To help achieve this, the headphones come with four sets of eartips—small, medium, large and double-flange. The double-flange eartips, for me, provide an excellent seal, yet are also easy to wear for long periods of time without causing ear “fatigue.” They also provide a snug fit, which is especially useful when wearing the headphones while working out.
Given my experience with the Klipsch Image S4i headphones, I have been paying closer attention to the construction of headphones I look at. Several other reviewers have commented on the solid construction of the M9-SL’s cord. Specifically, the connector is at a 45-degree angle, which cuts down on the wear and tear it is subjected to. In addition, the cable is properly relieved at the connector (more so than many other headphone models I have seen). While only time will tell if the M9-SLs can withstand the rigors of daily use, I am confident that these are headphones I will be using for more than several months.
My only real “complaint” about the M9-SL headphones is the four-foot cord. While the headphones come with a shirt clip to help keep the cord from getting caught on things, the cord length does make it prone to snagging.
MEElectronics has done a good job of dispelling the saying “you get what you pay for.” The company has managed to combine solid quality and seemingly solid construction in a highly affordable package. If you are looking for a set of sound-isolating in-ear headphones and don’t need an in-line remote or microphone, you would be hard pressed to find any better than MEElectronics’ M9-SL headphones.
MEElectronics M9-SL Hi-Fi Sound-Isolating In-Ear Headphones
Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of "Gadget Corner." All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.