The ME100 is Shanling’s first foray into the IEM market after primarily dealing with digital audio players. Sporting a single dynamic driver and retailing at $120 MSRP, it plays at a highly competitive area of the industry.
This unit was kindly provided by Shanling for a full review.
The ME100 has a somewhat unique tuning in that its “base signature” seems to be that of a typical “V-shaped chifi dynamic” IEM, having the classic 2-5k peak that these types of IEMs exhibit. The sub-bass is then rolled off but the lower midrange and midbass are retained, which balances out the midrange/upper-mid boost but is also a tuning that I’ve never really heard before.
It’s kind of tuned in a neutral way, or at least I’d regard it as a “balanced” tuning where each individual peak and dip sort of balance themselves out in subjective listening.
An Average Performer
I’ll say it first: there isn’t much to talk about the ME100 without exaggerating its positives or nitpicking on its shortcomings. The ME100 is pretty much the textbook definition of average within the $100 price bracket and doesn’t have any particular outstanding quality, though I’d struggle to call it an all-rounder as well.
In terms of tone, it’s not wrong but it also doesn’t invoke any sense of it being natural or anything similar. It’s somewhat coloured, skewed in about two or three directions (lower midrange, upper midrange for example) and while they do cancel themselves out a little bit, it’s not exactly an elegant solution in the end. Cymbals and snares have ample energy and sparkle whilst remaining controlled enough to not be muted. Overall resolution seems to be rather middling, scraping above the “bare minimum” for what I consider a $100 IEM should be performing at. Treble is appropriately rolled off where it matters so it shouldn’t be a fatiguing listen for most, though the upper midrange boost could be too intense for some still.
Imaging, unsurprisingly, is average. Soundstage width doesn’t extend very far but it’s not like it’s congested either. Positioning is there though it’s nothing that really comes up as exceptional. They sound like they’re a pair of earphones, neither performing below nor above expectations.
The ME100 is one of those IEMs where I have no strong feelings for, which is kind of a bad thing in itself. The threat of obscurity is very real within the audiophile scene considering how fast each hype train comes and goes. For the ME100, I don’t think the train ever came.
It’s an inevitability that after sampling most of what the IEM industry has to offer, there’s bound to be some things that leave me a little jaded. I’d still say the ME100 is “competitive”, just that current audiophiles would probably expect just a little more for what they’ve paid. The industry is only getting more saturated and being “average” just doesn’t cut it anymore.