CNET, deigning to review the crazy cheap buds, gave the M9s a “very good” overall rating, deeming them an “exceptional value” with “solid audio, a good design, and nice extras for an ultralow price.” They’re ugly, I know. But they’re also the cost of a pizza.
Head-Fi forum user Joker, who has been maintaining a running and mind-bogglingly thorough mega-review of earphones since March of last year, gave the M9s a 9/10 rating for value, noting, “The sound of these is easily worth the price of admission. Clarity and detail are superb…It’s very hard to compete with the detail these are capable of producing at such a low price point.”
Another Head-Fi forum user, mvw2–and these people, as much as and sometimes even moreso than the professional reviewers, are serious headphone experts–sums up the appeal of the M9s nicely: “Could it be better? Sure. Could it be better at its $30 price point? Probably not. Frankly, there’s a number of $60-$80 earphones I’ve used that I would less prefer than the M9.”
Clarity? Detail? Not words you see bandied around a lot when you’re looking at reviews of $15 earphones.
User reviews across forums and retailers like Amazon basically offer the same praise: these earphones sound incredible for the price. Reviewers note the buds’ bass, too, which is perfect for most modern fare (though not great for classical music, oh well).
Obviously, more expensive models–like the Shure SE215S, our favorite $100 pair–are going to deliver crisper highs and more balanced sound all around, no surprise. The real side story of all this is that almost everything MeElectronics makes is lauded for being a great value. There are the M31 earbuds which have a ton of bass if that’s your thing, for a few bucks more. And Steve Guttenberg, CNET’s resident audiophile, calls the MeElectronics A151 headphones the best sounding in-ears for less than $100, although they aim for accuracy and are light on the low end. You can get them for $50 on Amazon.
But after looking throughly at the other sets in the lineup, none are as highly appreciated as the M9s for their value, nor balanced in sound between the extremes of mega bass and the clinical sound that accurate headphones are often burdened with. Plus, if you’re going to get cheap earbuds, it doesn’t make much sense to start climbing up that upgrade ladder. Stick to your plan and get the dirtiest, cheapest, ugliest, but best sounding buds you can. That would be these.