The market for $100 headphones is very tricky. To introduce a brand new product in that category you really have to cut some corners focusing either on a unique design or compatibility with mobile devices or an acceptable sound quality. I have reviewed a lot of headphones, and have never seen one where a company was able to accomplish all these goals at a full price under $100. I'm pointing out a price of brand new product because often older products get discounted to make their price more attractive to clear up the stock. Being quite familiar with Meelectronics from my previous reviews and reading about their headphones in some of the top audiophile forums, I was very pleased to get an opportunity to review their brand new line of on-ear headphones - ATLAS, the NEXT headphone as they state in the title of this product line. So let's take a closer look to see if Meelectronics hit a jackpot with this release.
Starting with a package, you know right away this is a premium product. Beside having a very detailed walk through of the main features, once you open the magnetic flip cover you are faced with a very unique presentation of headphone display and a very detailed info about IML printing technology used in headphone finish. It has been awhile since I reviewed something where a company introduced a new ground breaking technology, or at least something I have never seen or heard of. IML printing stands for in-mold labeling process where in case of ATLAS a multi-layer graphics was used in printing of headphone finish. It creates a stunning 3D effect which is resistant to any scratches and should not fade over time. ATLAS series comes in 5 different models, each one with a unique name and finish which also accompanied by matching detachable cable with a same color scheme. In addition, you also get a nice drawstring storage pouch. ATLAS headphones fold nicely, and stored inside of that pouch make a very compact form factor for traveling.
Headphones itself are super lightweight, at only 4.8 oz, and feel very comfortable on your head. With a nice soft foam padding covered in pleather on the inner side of the headband and soft ergonomic ComfortZone vented earpads to keep your ears from sweating - after a while you hardly even notice these are on. The clamping force is not too strong, though enough to keep them from falling off your head, and the floating design of inner earphone cups make them adjust naturally to the shape of your head. Also, headband adjusts/expands with a precise click action to fit any head size. The lightweight of the design is due to composite plastic which is made out of durable material with flexible characteristics, also appropriate for IML printing process. As a mentioned before, these headphones have a detachable cable which is a huge plus in extending the lifetime of headphone use. Damaged cables are typically the most common problem with a lot of headphones, that's why all expensive models have detachable cable. Here we are talking about sub $100 pair with premium option of detachable cable!!! The cable itself is another amazing piece of technology. It's flat and terminated by 3.5mm gold plated connectors on each side, one straight going into headphone jack and another 90 degree angled going into your audio source. Both have a decent strain relief, and 90 degree connector is raised up so it should work with most phone cases. Furthermore, there is in-line remote with mic. It has a multifunction button which I tested to work perfectly with play/pause/call, multi-click for transport control, and long press to start Google NOW on my Galaxy Note 2. Mic works great for the calls, no complaints there. But Meelec guys didn't stop there. Since typical button volume controls are common for iDevices only, they included a universal sliding volume control with a VERY precise movement and full attenuation of volume down to 0 from max setting. I have seen other companies implementing sliding volume controls, and those always required use of two hands for precision movement. This one works perfectly with one hand, and as a matter of fact I would highly recommend it to anybody who has headphones with detachable 3.5mm cable (Meelec sells it on their website as a separate accessory for $9.99: http://www.meelec.com/Headset_Cable_...ble-mic-bk.htm).
With all these features and design details, for any other headphone I would probably end my review with "and the sound is appropriate for this price range, you shouldn't expect much for this price". But in case of ATLAS, that is a different story. First of all 32 ohm impedance of their 40mm dynamic drivers makes them perfect for use with any portable audio device, such as smartphone. Obviously they were intended to be used with smartphones utilizing in-line remote control of the cable. The sound itself was actually very good!!! It's not very common for headphones in this price range to have bass with both quality and quantity, but ATLAS delivered it with a punch. Don't expect an ear rattling sub-bass since these drivers response does extend there, but they definitely deliver a clear bass punch. After a burn in, I was able to evaluate mids and treble better, and can say that mids are recessed in a typical v-shape fashion while still delivering a clear sound. Typically, v-shaped sound dips mids where sometime vocals get drowned, but in this case both male/female vocals came through clear. Treble sounds crystal clear without being too harsh, so its great for extended listening. The soundstage is narrower than average, but you can still place sounds in space. Overall, it has a "fun" sound signature. I do hear some coloring in upper mids but I think it will be unfair to reference them against audiophile headphones that cost 3x-4x as much.
Overall, I was VERY IMPRESSED with these new headphones from Meelectronics. Everything from design details to a comfortable fit and "fun" sound signature for under $100 represents one of the best values I have seen in this category. I can tell you with certainty, if you are even considering Beats Solo HD (2x the price of these) or any other pair of headphones in $100-$200 category for a portable use - I would give ATLAS a VERY serious consideration. These don't try to imitate anybody. They firmly stand on the ground as the NEXT headphone with its own unique design and sound.
Here are the pictures.