Details: MEElectronics first “woody” IEM
Current Price: N/A (discontinued) (MSRP: $39.99)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16 Ω | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cord: 4.6’ L- plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Stock Single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (4.5/5) – Single-flange (3-sizes) and bi-flange silicone tips, cord wrap, airplane adapter, shirt clip, and hard clamshell carrying case
Build Quality (3.5/5) – Housing is made of a light-colored wood and sealed with a clear lacquer. The cable is similar to the new M6 and M11 cables but in a dark grey color. L/R markings rub off way too easily.
Isolation (2.5/5) – The bulge on the housing which holds the driver prevents deep insertion with single-flange tips. Bi-flange tips just don’t sound quite right.
Microphonics (3/5) – Surprisingly bad considering the cable is similar to the (stellar) one on the M11. Wearing them over-the-ear with the shirt clip helps
Comfort (3/5) – The driver bulge on the housing prevents these from being truly comfortable the way the M11s are. Also makes it more difficult than I would like to wear the cables over the ear.
Sound (4.2/10) – Warm. Very warm. These can almost make the RadioPaq Jazz sound cold in comparison. While the warmth makes them feel full and intimate, it really gets in the way of hearing detail, especially at the low end. There is very little texture to the bass, but a whole lot of power. As a result, it sounds poorly controlled, albeit rather smooth. The same warm intimacy really messes with the soundstage and positioning as well, which these severely lack. The treble extension is also harmed by the warmth – they just have too much low-end bias. The mids are definitely there, but they sound a little hollow. If the JVC HA-FX300 “BiMetals” sound metallic, these definitely sound “woody”.
Value (5/10) – The R1 is an earphone to be considered only by true lovers of warm and bassy sound. While still providing good value for money, it just isn’t good enough otherwise to compete against Meelec’s other offerings. It should be noted that there are variances between individual production units of Meelectronics earphones in my experience. The fact that my R1 cables are very microphonic is a testament to this.
Update (01/11): An updated version of the R1 was released several months ago, with the ambient vent relocated from the side of the housings to the rear. While the original R1 was nauseatingly warm and slightly de-emphasized at the top, the new version is a bit more balanced, with prominent lower treble and more neutral overall tonality. The sound signature of the still hinges on the huge bass – though slightly less controlled than that of the M9, the bass of the R1 is softer in character and more pleasant on the whole. The depth and power of the bass are quite good for an entry-level in-ear and give music a characteristic underlying rumble. There is still not a whole lot of texture to the low end and the bass is felt more than it is heard but on the whole the relaxed low end is a welcome change from the explosive aggressiveness of the Meelec M9 or the tight-and-controlled presentation of something like the Sennheiser CX200.
The midrange is slightly recessed but not as much as that of the M9. It is, however, less clear and detailed than the dryer, thinner-sounding mids of the M9. There’s a bit of a veil present and the sub-bass rumble additionally blankets the midrange on some tracks. On the upside the lower mids are smooth, full, and liquid. The upper midrange, on the other hand, is quite strident. There are noticeable response spikes, resulting in mild harshness and sibilance on certain tracks. Lower treble response is hard-edged – even more so than that of the M9 – but becomes softer and more smooth towards the top and extends higher than that of the 1st-gen R1. Presentation-wise the R1 is fairly airy but not as wide-sounding as the M9. The omnipresent bass leads to issues with positioning but on the whole the new R1 sounds less confined than the old one. Combined with the somewhat harsh treble, this makes the R1 a better earphone for movies and games than it is for music but it is an improvement over the old model either way.
Pros: Interesting design, good build quality
Cons: L/R identifiers come off too easily, disappointing microphonics, not particularly comfortable, sound is too warm