Reviewed Feb 2011
Details: First model in Meelec’s Rhythm series
Current Price: N/A (discontinued) (MSRP: $24.99)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 99 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 4’ 45°-plug
Nozzle Size: 4mm | Preferred tips: stock single flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (2/5) – Single-flange (3 sizes) and bi-flange silicone tips and shirt clip
Build Quality (3/5) – The housings are made entirely of plastic and the short nozzles are protected by metal mesh filters. Sadly, the hard plastic stems of the earphones lack proper strain relief and the cable cinch is a bit too loose on the smooth, plastic-sheathed cord
Isolation (2.5/5) – The fat housings and wide nozzles limit the insertion depth of the RX11 and the rear vents keep the isolation average
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Very low when worn cable-down, nonexistent when worn cord-up
Comfort (4/5) – The housings are small and light and the nozzles are angled for increased comfort (though not nearly steeply enough to be called ‘ergonomic’)
Sound (4.7/10) – As the ‘Rhythm series’ moniker implies, the RX11 is a bass-heavy earphone but the nature of its bass is different from that of the classic M9 model. Whereas the bass of the M9 is deep and hard-hitting, the RX11 is conventionally bassy, with gobs of mid-bass and moderate bottom end extension. It is competition for the likes of the Sennheiser CX300 and JVC Marshmallows – mainstream earphones with decent presence across the range and boosted bass.
The mids of the RX11 are slightly laid-back next to the aggressive mid-bass but the overall balance isn’t bad for a budget product. The budget nature of the drivers does show in the more minute aspects of the sound, such as with clarity and detail that don’t quite keep up the aging Meelec M9. There is also some unevenness in the lower treble response, most likely added to balance out with the bass of the earphones. The treble of the earphones is not offensive but it does make them sound a bit sharp on some notes. Truth is, the RX11 is less shrill than the M16, less of the time but still has moments of slight treble sharpness on occasion. Top-end extension is moderate, as it is with the older M9 and M2 models.
The budget nature of the earphones shows through again in the presentation, which is quite intimate next to the M9, M16, and M21. Indeed, the RX11 is not only more forward-sounding than the other earphones but also tends to cluster instruments together for a somewhat less layered presentation. On the upside, this makes the soundstage of the RX11 seem less tubular and more spherical compared to that of the M16 and the bassy signature works reasonably well with this sort of presentation. On the whole, it is pretty clear that the RX11 targets the mainstream consumer and not the audiophile, which makes me all the more glad that the M9 was kept in the lineup.
Value (7/10) – As part of Meelec’s new Rhythm series, the RX11 was designed to focus in equal measure on sound and style – and to an extent it is successful. However, while the smooth red cable is indeed quite pleasant in everyday use, the overall build quality of the earphones lags behind Meelec’s M-series models. The sound, too, is more in line with budget-level mainstream offerings from brands such as JVC and Sony than the technically impressive, though not always likeable, performance of Meelec’s M-series models. Still, for those in search of something aesthetically ‘different’, the RX11 is still at least as good as most <$30 earphones. It just isn’t as clear-cut an alternative to the M9 as I was hoping for.
Pros: Lightweight & comfortable; low microphonics
Cons: Not as well-built or well-accessorized as most of Meelec’s other models