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This article was originally published in issue #42
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An In Ear Monitor (IEM) system is fast becoming as ubiquitous and essential on large and small stages as floor monitors once were only a few years ago. The savings in van space, on wear and tear on sound engineers, in the number of arguments about whose monitor was so loud that no-one else could hear theirs and the plummeting cost of ownership have made the IEM a value proposition that is proving to be almost irresistible.
As the costs of hard-wired and wireless IEM systems are rapidly approaching the point where owning one is less a matter of budget and more a matter of choice, more attention is being paid to the noise-isolating in-ear headphones that make up the interface between musician and the IEM system itself.
More and more manufacturers are appearing to fill this niche, and one such is MEE Audio (formerly MEE Electronics) whose M6 Pro Universal-Fit Noise-Isolating IEM headphones appear to be an attractively-priced option for the musician who wants an IEM that can also be used for day-to-day music listening either when travelling to a gig or when 'resting' between gigs.
Presented in an attractive box with a clear plastic side panel through which the earphones - which are themselves transparent - can be seen, the M6 Pro package consists of the earphones, a stereo mini-to-1/4” jack adapter, a protective carrying case and two detachable cables - one with memory-wire loops that can be fitted round your ears for on-stage use and the other with a microphone, remote and volume control for use with smartphones and tablets. Also included are six pairs of silicone isolating tips for both on-stage and general use and a pair of premium Comply tips for on-stage use.
Comply tips are made from heat-activated memory foam and they are not only softer than the silicone tips, but also expand to fit the user’s ear canal, thus offering high levels of both comfort and noise-isolation.
Once the cables are fitted to the earphones - a bit tricky at first, but easy once you get the knack of it - you’ve fitted the tips and you’ve finished peering at the interiors, you’ll find yourself listening to a good-sounding pair of in-ear headphones. The 10mm driver has a 5μm diaphragm that delivers a deep, balanced bass with good clarity and detail in the upper registers across a specified frequency range of 100Hz-10kHz.
The basic silicone tips are comfortable enough, however the Comply tips felt much, much better and, although they are more expensive to buy, they are (in my view) definitely worth the extra investment and I’ll be fitting them to my own IEM for my next gig.
You can pay a lot of money for a pair of IEM earphones (and I have) but I have to say that, given their price and performance, MEE Audio’s M6 Pro Noise-isolating In-Ear Monitors deliver exceptional value for money and won’t cause great heartache when (as I do) you lose them after the gig.