Reviews
Master & Dynamic
ME03 Headphones

By Jorge Figueiredo - January 29th, 2015

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There are really two choices when considering the purchase of headphones: go big or go home. This may not sound like the most sage advice, seeing as most of us are not fabulously wealthy; but it does carry some merit. Skimping usually results in headphones that break too easily, usually due to cheap build quality‎ – it also tends to mean robbing yourself of a better audio experience. Now, if you are super-careful and you don’t really care about audio quality, then there probably is no lower limit to your headphone budget. However, if you are someone who doesn’t mind spending more to get more, then you might want to consider a pair of ME03 in-ear headphones. Once again, New York’s Master & Dynamic (makers of the MH40) have merged form and function to create something truly special.

The ME03 that were sent to us came securely packed in a box alongside a leather box (containing 3 extra pairs of silicone earbud covers) and a canvas carrying bag. ‎From first sight it is apparent that the build quality of the ME03 is excellent. The metallic (machined aluminum body – Gunmetal in this case) and silicone finish both look good and feel very solid. These earphones have a little bit of heft to them, and boast an interesting refined design with a touch of the industrial. Simple lines with interesting metallic mesh accents on the outside of each earbud gives them a unique and sleek look, yet ties them -aesthetically- to their sibling the MH40.

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Box contents.

The rubber ribbon cable is durable and tangle-resistant, surviving many a trip in and out of my backpack without incident. While I normally prefer braided cables, I have to tip my cap to Master & Dynamic (as well as a few other manufacturers) for making the flat cable work so well. The black rubber cable offers a nice compliment to both the Gunmetal or the Black casings, and also provides a nice contrast to the microphone and the remote. The remote is relatively large (though it looks quite nice), with a ridged backing and a rubbery surface for the two volume buttons. The third button (which functions as the play, pause, skip, and call button) is located on the side of the remote.One of my favourite features that Master & Dynamic employs is the separation of the inline microphone and the inline remote. Many headphone companies create the microphone and remote as a single unit, which is convenient in terms of manufacturing; however, it also means that when you fumble with the remote during a call that you run the risk of causing incidental noise for your conversation partner.

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Gorgeous detailing here. Simple and sleek.

The silicone ear tips make for a comfortable fit when the correct size is selected (there are 4 sizes to choose from). Once snugly inserted in each ear, the seal that is formed creates a decent amount of noise isolation – enough so that you can listen to audio comfortably in a crowded space without compromising your safety (namely, you can still hear the surrounding environment). Even though they fit well and stay in place, it is important to note that they won’t stay in effectively if your ear is sweaty or if you are jostling around a lot. I find that these earphones are made more for commuting and more passive activities, rather than running or aggressively working out. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’d want to wear these working out anyway – they’re too nice.

The ME03 earphones are nice to gaze upon and are solidly built – but how do they sound? Fantastic, actually. Out of all of the in-ear headphones that I have listened to, the ME03 are extremely well-balanced, and surprisingly versatile. The low end of the sound spectrum actually feels like it thrums at levels approaching those of on-ear headphones; and the full mids and bright highs accompany the bass, marching in-step without any single element overpowering the others. Whether listening to acoustic jazz, electronica, rap, rock, or even gaming audio, the ME03 earphones take them all in stride. Regardless of genre, clarity is present and accounted for, and as I pushed the volume up to the high end to hear what kind of distortion was present, I found that there was very little to speak of. The oddest thing about the ME03 is that the sound feels “warm” – an odd descriptor for in-ear headphones, I know.

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The chunky remote is easy to use – and responsive.

Call quality was good, but I was particularly impressed with the microphone’s responsiveness. In a quiet room, the microphone did a great job picking up my voice; on a crowded street, it was a little less effective, but I was still easy to understand. And because I didn’t have to worry about touching the microphone (like I would if it was part of the remote assembly), there was an absence of loud noises on the other end. Finally, the remote itself was very responsive and felt very comfortable to use, thanks to the large buttons.

Of course, in the grand scheme of all headphone types, these will not provide you with the same sound quality as their larger sibling, the MH40. It is certainly true that a well-designed set of headphones with a 45mm driver can sound better than another pair with larger drivers – but the ME03 has 8mm Neodymium drivers, and lacks the space and materials to create the delicious bass resonance and full sound of an over-ear set. Of course, they are also less than half the price of the MH40, and are built for a different purpose – and this is where the value of these become all the more apparent when you listen to them.

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The separate microphone is as stylish as the rest – and practical.

When it comes to audio, these are practically in a league of their own – especially at what might seem like a heftier-than-usual price point ($159 USD). Consider, though, that in today’s overly-saturated headphone market there are many lesser-quality in-ear headphones that sell for more – but none that I can think of that are of greater quality for as competitive a price. Well designed, well-balanced, well done!

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