In February of this year I reviewed a set of sound-isolating headphones from MEElectronics—the M9-SL. These “budget” headphones are ideal for those looking for quality sound that doesn’t break the bank. For the last couple of months I have been testing another set of headphones given to me by MEElectronics, the SP51P. SP stands for “sound preference,” and the name underscores a unique feature of these headphones. The headphones come with interchangeable tuning ports, which allow users to adjust the sound to fit their tastes. In addition, the SP51P model sports an in-line microphone and remote for hands-free talking for iPhones and many other mobile phones.
The MEElectronics SP51P headphones come with four sets of different-sized ear tips to help you customize the fit. A carrying pouch is included, which is nice since the cord is 51 inches long and can get tangled when you are trying to stow the headphones in a bag. Another handy cord management device is the clip you can use to secure the cord to your clothing. Lastly, there are three sets of interchangeable sound preference ports, which I will discuss in detail a little later.
The SP51P headphones are compatible with a variety of smartphones (thus the “P” for phones moniker) and devices with a standard 3.5 mm jack. The SP51P model, with its in-line microphone and remote, allows for hands-free talking on a number of different mobile phones, along with answering and disconnecting calls and control of your music on a number of audio devices. MEElectronics also offers the SP51 model, which doesn’t have the built-in microphone for phones, for $10 less.
According to the MEElectronics website, you can use the SP51P headphones with the iPhone, iPod and iPad, as well as Blackberry, Android and other mobile phones (check with the company for compatibility with your specific phone). I primarily used the headphones with my iPod Touch and was able to advance, pause and rewind songs. The remote control button is a little stiff, so I found myself often pausing my music instead of changing tracks. One feature that is missing from the remote is volume control; you still must adjust the volume on the device itself.
My experience using the microphone on Skype calls was very good. The people I was talking to didn’t have a problem hearing me. I didn’t test the microphone making calls on a mobile phone.
As mentioned, a unique feature of the SP51P headphones is the ability to change the sound ports in order to adjust the bass level. You do this by switching out the different sound preference ports in the back of each ear bud. The headphones come with three pairs of sound ports—silver for balanced sound, metallic for enhanced bass and black for extreme bass. I prefer strong bass to get me through my workouts, so I primarily used the extreme bass sound ports. Even though the bass was “extreme,” the sound was never distorted. However, there is a significant difference in the sound, depending on which tuning port you are using. Using the balanced sound tuning ports, I found the mids and highs to be clearer, although they were not overpowered when I used the other ports with more bass.
The in-ear design provides passive noise cancellation, which I found to work reasonably well while I was using the headphones on public transportation and airplanes. You are able to drown out a good deal of background noise without ruining your hearing.
Overall I found the sound quality to be noticeably better than that of the MEElectronics M9-SL headphones I reviewed previously.
As was the case with the M9-SL headphones I reviewed in February, the SP51P’s long cord is a benefit and a burden. I like the length, which allows you to put your phone or audio device in a coat or bag pocket and still have range of motion. However, having 51 inches of cord also means that you can find yourself getting tangled up rather easily. The clip does reduce this risk.
The overall construction of the SP51P headphones is very good. I wrap the cord around my iPod when I wear it at the gym or when I am transporting it in a bag or pocket. After two months of near-daily use, I don’t see any evidence of the cord coming apart.
The SP51P headphones are a definite step up from the M9-SL headphones I reviewed in February, and they are among the best-sounding and most durable headphones I have used. The ability to customize the sound by changing the tuning ports is a unique and compelling feature. The ability to make hands-free phones calls and control your music with the in-line remote and microphone is an added benefit, although it would be nice if you were also able to control the volume from the remote. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, at $69.99, the SP51P headphones offer an excellent value for their functionality and sound quality.
MEElectronics SP51P Sound Preference In-Ear Headphones With Microphone
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.