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MaiKe MK-EL5031 Review

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Reviewed Mar 2011

Details: Entry-level earphone from China-based electronics firm MaiKe Current Price: N/A (discontinued) (MSRP: $29.95) Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 32Ω | Sens: 112 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 4’ 45°-plug Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Generic bi-flanges, Sony Hybrid Wear Style: Straight down Accessories (1/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes) Build Quality (2/5) – The all-plastic shells of the EL5031 don’t inspire a whole lot of confidence – while the plastic itself should hold out, the same cannot be said for the glue that holds the shell together. I do quite like the cable, though – it’s soft, flexible, and well-relieved all around Isolation (2/5) – Not only is the MaiKe vented, but the vertical-driver form factor prevents deep insertion (a-la Radius DDM) Microphonics (4.5/5) – The cable noise itself s very low due to the shallow fit but the cable anchors make some noise when the cord is tugged Comfort (2.5/5) – The fit is similar to that of the Radius DDM but the MaiKe is a bit larger and the driver bulge constantly presses against my ears. As with the DDM, the fit of the EL5031 never feels particularly secure to me and will require some experimentation to figure out Sound (3.5/10) – The sound of the MK-EL5031 is big, bottom-heavy, and very smooth. The bass is deep and powerful but sounds a bit sluggish, lingering longer than with all of my pricier earphones – a common issue with cheap, bass-heavy in-ears. There’s a characteristic mid-bass lift, which gives the low end extra weight and warmth. The midrange, too, is warm, thick, and smooth. Clarity trails Meelec’s pricier M9 quite badly and even falls slightly behind my similarly-priced Sentry HO642. On the positive side, the generally smooth response and gentle treble roll-off make the sound very inoffensive and easy-going for long listening sessions. The most surprising aspect of the EL5031 is the sense of space it provides. Both the soundstage and headstage are above-average in size and give the sound a convincingly ‘open’ feel. The thick, viscous sound does not allow for great instrumental separation or imaging but the sheer volume of the soundstage is impressive for an entry-level product. There is some reverb in the housings, which may or may not appeal to everyone but, considering that the EL5031 is not exactly a paragon of accuracy in the first place, I find its reverberant nature quite fun, especially with kick drums and the like. Value (6.5/10) – Though the sound signature of the MaiKe MK-EL5031 is decidedly mainstream and the large housings don’t exactly shine when it comes to fit and isolation, the $7 earphone does surprise with the vastness of its presentation and the reverberant nature of its sound. Not a stellar performer by any means but it gets the job done. Pros: Big bass, smooth sound, spacious soundstage; low microphonics Cons: Large housings limit comfort and isolation; plasticky build; clarity could be better


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

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