Details: Bass-heavy earphone from Meelec’s M-series available in a variety of colors
MSRP: $34.99 (manufacturer’s page); $39.99 for M31P w/mic & 1-button remote (manufacturer’s page) (discontinued)
Current Price: $25 from amazon.com; N/A for M31P (discontinued)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 96 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 4.3’ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Stock single flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (4/5) – Single-flange (3 sizes) and bi-flange silicone tips, shirt clip, and clamshell carrying case
Build Quality (4.5/5) – The build is similar to the older M11/M11+ models although the M31 is quite large in comparison. The housings are all-metal, the cabling is sturdy and well-relieved, and paper filters protect the nozzles. The low-profile L-plug is a welcome change from the 45-degree plug of the M11
Isolation (3/5) – Fairly average due to large rear-facing vent
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Very low when worn cord-down; nonexistent otherwise
Comfort (3.5/5) – The M31 is a large earphone and is best worn with a shallower seal despite being tapered at the front for deeper insertion. It’s fairly light and the fit is quite inoffensive but doesn’t quite disappear the way the smaller M11 and M21 models do
Sound (5.7/10) – If the M21 is the most balanced M-series earphone I’ve heard so far, the M31 is the bassiest. It delivers gobs of head-pounding impact at the slightest indication of bass on a track. As one might guess, the bass boost does bring with it great sub-bass extension. However, that’s a bit of a hollow victory as the drivers don’t do a great job of texturing sub-bass response. More often than not, the bass is felt rather than heard. As with the M21, the low end of the M31 tends towards ‘boomy’. Expectedly, there’s a fair bit of midrange bleed and the mids of the M31 are slightly warmer than those of the M21 as a result. Aside from the differences brought about by the bass balance, however, the two earphones are fairly similar – the midrange of the M31 is not as clear or detailed as that of the CX21 and not as recessed as that of the M6. The heavy bass does make the mids sound a bit less emphasized than with the M21 but those seeking perfect balance probably won’t be looking a the M31 in the first place.
The treble transition seems a touch smoother with the M31, mostly because the bass is far more dominant, but the clarity, detail, and extension are all fairly similar to the M21. One major difference is in the presentation – while the M21 sounds spacious, well-rounded, and sometimes downright open, the boomier nature and more bass-heavy balance of the M31 reduces the airiness of the earphones. The presentation of the M31 is by no means offensive but it’s definitely closer in size to the M11+ than the M21 or M6. The peculiar balance of the earphones also gives them a darker overall tonality compared to the (fairly neutral) M21. Though none of these differences are particularly noticeable individually, they do add up to a different sort of sound en masse. It should be noted that at lower volumes the bass of the M31 isn’t as intrusive and they sound more balanced and natural. However, I still think that those who are not bass-obsessed need not apply as the M31 really isn’t better than the M21 from a technical standpoint – just bassier.
Value (7.5/10) – Yet another well-built and user-friendly design from Meelectronics, the M31 is an earphone with many strengths. At the same time, it is an unrelentingly bass-heavy take on the M-series sound signature and will not appeal to those looking for balance or accuracy. Its mainstream sound signature is competition for the likes of the Sony XB40EX and TDK EB900, and that’s how it should be viewed. For those looking for the most bass to be had under $50 with minimal sacrifices elsewhere, the M31 is a good option. For overall sound quality, I just don’t see myself picking it over the M21.
Pros: Huge bass response; solid build quality
Cons: Huge bass response; physically larger than M21 and M11+