Toying with the MEElectronics sound preference earphones

Prior to CES 2011, MEElectronics announced a unique twist on the standard in-ear earbud with a model that offers interchangeable backplates, which let users adjust bass response to their liking.

MEElectronics SP51 sound preference in-ear headphone
Josh Miller/CBS Interactive

When newcomer MEElectronics first pitched its earphones to me last year, I was skeptical simply because it seems like just about anyone can get his fingers in the headphone business these days. But MEElectronics won me over with its durably built earbuds and value pricing--not to mention the fact that the teeny, tiny M11P+ fits in my weird ears comfortably and securely. Recently, the company managed to command even more of my attention with the new SP51 "sound preference" earphones .

The key feature with these headphones is the adjustability of the earpieces; the backplates are removable, and MEElectronics includes three sets that allow for various audio responses. While not a completely new idea, the SP51s are the first such pair to reach my ears at CNET. It's certainly an interesting concept, given the fact that listening tastes vary so much across consumers. Thus, producing a single pair of earphones that can change its tune based upon the individual using them is a smart idea.

Better yet, it actually works. In addition to four sets of silicone eartips, the SP51 earphones came packaged with a pair of silver backplates for neutral bass, a slightly darker metallic set for enhanced bass, and a pair of black attachments for extreme bass. Switching between the three, I heard a noticeable difference in the low-end response, consistent with the specs for each set.

However, there is a drawback: the metal backplates are tiny, and I quickly managed to (briefly) lose one within about 30 minutes. Of course, you probably won't be switching back and forth much, especially since unscrewing and attaching the pieces is a bit more labor intensive than swapping out, say, eartips. But it's nice to have them all available, and keeping track of these suckers will be a challenge.

Of course, overall audio quality matters as well, and the SP51 earphones aren't disappointing considering the price point. There's not much in terms of high-end sparkle, and music could stand some warmth and richness, but the overall sound is good in terms of clarity and--for the neutral bass plates--balance.

Further, the overall design is nice. The earpieces are very compact and constructed of durable metal, and the cable is coated with a flexible clear coat. The solid design and audio combined with the unique sound tweaking capability certainly makes these earphones worth their $59.99 price tag, and for $10 more you can even add an inline mic with iPhone controls.

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