When it comes to in-ear headphones or earphones, it's likely that people have gone through a number of pairs in the last couple of years. Depending on what sort of listener you are, of course. One of the biggest problems with everyday earphones however, is that they're not all that great for sports use. They can often be heavier than we'd like, not very comfortable or just a hassle overall. Bluetooth appears to be the answer to many of these problems, which might be true for a lot of people, but with added weight and one more thing to charge, Bluetooth earphones have their downsides, too. MEE Audio seems to have created a compromise in not only price - at just $40 - but also in design, comfort and yes, sound quality. The M7P are marketed as a "secure-fit" and having a "rugged, sweat-resistant construction". With detachable cables, lightweight design and a range of colors available, have MEE Audio made the perfect set of sports earphones that don't break the bank? Let's find out.
Features and Specifications
One thing that's become a hallmark for MEE Audio is the amount of included accessories in the box. At $40, you might not expect much, but here's a rundown of what you get:
- Hard carrying case
- 4 pairs of dual-density silicon ear tips
- Clothes clip
- Instruction manual
Specification wise, the M7P is a set of earphones much like other models on the market, but there are some interesting differences in the hardware itself.
- 8mm moving coil dynamic driver
- 16 Ohm impedance
- 98±3 dB sensitivity
- Inline volume control
- Detachable cable
- Inline omnidirectional microphone
- Moving ear tip nozzle for precise fit
- Liquipel Watersafe nano-coating for IPX5 water-resistance
- 1.3 meter long cable
- 140g weight with cable
Design and Comfort
You only have to take one look at these to realize that these are sports headphones, and depending on your outlook that's either a good or bad thing. One thing to note however, is that these don't just come in the black and green version I have here. They're available in all black, blue and red as well. With a bright green cable and fairly obvious ear hooks it's perhaps easy to dismiss these as just more fodder for the health and fitness market, but their fairly obvious appearance is functional, too. If someone sees these appearing out of your ears, it's pretty easy to figure out that you're listening to music, avoiding bizarre situations at the gym wear people are talking to you when you have no hope of hearing them. Small touches elsewhere like the Y-split - which also features the volume control and microphone - feel rugged and it's far enough down to not choke me around the neck, but not too low to catch on your clothes or whatever. The cable itself is perhaps a little thin, but the aim of the game here is to create something that's lightweight above all, so I can't complain about that too much. It is however, a little grippy which means that dirt and grime might end up building up over time. The M7P is IPX5 water-resistant though, so there's nothing stopping you running a damp cloth over them to give them a wipe down of their own after a good long session.
Comfort wise, these are, without doubt one of the better pairs of sports earphones in this price range. In fact, I'd go so far as to say these compete with other, much more expensive brands in terms of comfort, but at $40 these are excellent. The ear hooks aren't stiff in any way, and can be moved around to suit your own ear, but no matter what they end up resting over your ear gently without any rubbing or any pressure applied to the outer-ear. The negative profile of the M7P is where much of the success story lies. This sort of design isn't original, but for a sports earphone it's a must. The whole ear bud and hook system ends up fitting snugly in your ear, flush with the rest of your ear. There's no weight pulling out of your ear as with traditional ear buds, and they're so light that aside from the feeling of your ear being full, you might forget you're even wearing these.
It's the M7P's party trick that really impressed me though, and will be a highlight for some. The nozzle that the silicon ear bud sits on, and the thing that pipes sound into your ears, pivots on a sort of ball joint, make it nice and easy to suit all sorts of different ear shapes and ear canals. I would have liked to see a set of Comply ear tips to go with this for ultimate comfort, but I can see lots of sweat taking their toll on foam ear tips, and the 4 sets of silicon supplied with the M7P are fairly comfortable.
Speaking of party tricks, the M7P features a detachable cable, which makes a lot more sense for a set of sports earphones than you might realize. Despite their IPX5 water-resistance rating, I can see people coming into problems with these. I mostly tested these when playing Basketball at my local court, and while I didn't have any issues with the cable around my ears or under my tee, I noticed that I was catching the cable as it was coming out of my pocket. This is more user error than anything else, but this is a good example of why a replaceable cable is a good option. If I were to snag them and break something, I could purchase a set of cables, or even the ear buds themselves from MEE Audio.
Music can be incredibly important when working out and for a lot of people is their number one motivation, so while comfort and durability are two major boxes that need ticking, so too is overall sound quality. I've been wary of sports earphones for a long time now, as they pretty much sound less than good or just don't get loud enough. With the M7P however, I feel that MEE Audio have struck the right balance. These will definitely appeal to the modern listener, but MEE Audio haven't gone crazy in chasing such an audience. As such, there's never too much bass in the low end and the treble and high-end, while detailed and precise is never sibilant or too "in your face"
When playing ball or lifting weights, I often listen to music I perhaps wouldn't normally, but the M7P performed well, regardless. Listening to Iggy Azalea's "100" and "Black Widow" the bass line is tight and well-represented without taking my ear drums off, and Iggy's vocals are clear and have a good amount of texture to them. A guilty pleasure of mine when working out is anything by 3OH3! and here, the M7P were excellent, again the bass line is nice and tight, but as these are a detailed set of earphones, I can hear all the different layers going on in tracks like "Chokechain" and "We Are Young". I did find that at times, the M7P seemed a tad limited in presenting absolutely everything going on in a track, but at $40 - and aimed towards an audience not focused outright on sound quality - the M7P perform admirably. Sometimes, the different instruments and such can end up crashing into each other, but generally these are a set of earphones that sound fairly decent, and sound very good in the world of sports earphones.
I don't know about our readers, but I like to listen to podcasts when lifting weights or going for a longer walk or hike, and the M7P really excelled here. Voices are crisp, detailed and well-represented. Thankfully, these also get loud enough for me to here the latest episode of Serial over whatever else is going on without hurting my ears or ever distorting from how loud they become.
Sports earphones are difficult to get right. It's fairly common for a company to create a comfortable pair of earphones, or a convenient pair of earphones with Bluetooth, but it's difficult to find a product that has everything in the right quantities, and at the right price. With the M7P though, I feel that MEE Audio have done just that. These are super-comfy and certainly feel durable after the month or so I've been using these for. They sound good too, not great or as good as a pair of in-ear headphones designed primarily for music use, but good nonetheless. Are these perfect? No, they're some niggles with the volume control, which caused me more issues than anything else, and the carrying case is a little small. For $40, there's little competition holding the M7P back, and if you want a pair of sports earphones that don't break the bank, but also have a lot to offer, then these are an excellent choice for runners, gym rats and athletes.