by Glenn W. for webBikeWorld.com
▪ Audio-Technica Noise Cancelling Earbuds
▪ Bose QC 20 Noise Cancelling Headphones
▪ MEElectronics M6 Earbuds
▪ Blockade Noise Reducing Earbuds
▪ Comply Noise Canceling Ear Plug Speakers
▪ Philips Active Noise Canceling Earphones
The MEElectronics M6 earbuds have excellent sound quality at a double-take price.
The over-the-ear loop helps to make them easier to wear with a helmet.
But should you?
The first thing I should mention is that wearing earbuds or even ear plugs is illegal in many U.S. states and in other countries.
While I don't agree with laws that prohibit wearing ear plugs while riding a motorcycle, because ear plugs help prevent hearing loss, I can understand why earbuds or in-ear speakers would be illegal.
Nevertheless, many motorcycle riders use them to listen to music while riding.
If you do, at least make sure the volume is low enough that you will hear what's going on around you.
Personally, I don't listen to music when riding a motorcycle because I find it too distracting. But if I did, I certainly would not use earbuds as a substitute for noise-reducing ear plugs.
Ear plugs do not completely block all sound; in fact, the best ear plugs will block only the most damaging noise frequencies, while still allowing enough background sound to pass through for the rider to maintain situational awareness.
It is possible, however -- at least with the M6 earbuds -- to turn up the volume loud enough to block nearly everything in the surrounding environment, which could be very dangerous whether you're on a motorcycle or not.
I originally purchased these MEElectronics M6 earbuds not for use on my motorcycle, but for listening to music at home or when relaxing and for use when I'm flying in a commercial airplane.
I've owned probably around two dozen earbuds and in-ear speakers over the years, but none of them were satisfactory because they just don't seem to stay in place in my ear and they're generally uncomfortable.
So I thought perhaps I needed to find a pair with an over-the-ear capability. After reading the glowing reviews of the MEElectronics M6 earbuds, I gave them a try.
MEElectronics makes many different types of earbuds and in-ear speakers, but the M6 version has a special built-in loop that hooks over the ear, designed to keep the earbuds in place.
The overall shape of the M6 is also different; it's a flatter, low-profile type that also helps to keep them from falling out of the ear.
Besides the general problems with earbuds not fitting correctly and falling out of the ear at the most inopportune times, earbuds generally don't work very well with a motorcycle helmet either.
It's difficult to put the helmet on with the earbuds in place and the wires can get stretched and pulled when the helmet is removed. In fact, I actually broke a set of brand-new and very expensive earbuds this way during a webBikeWorld review (sorry Editor!).
The loop on the M6 earbuds is designed to keep the speakers in place. It is a flexible but semi-hard material that looks like wire, and it's covered with a soft type of plastic material for comfort. The loop must be shaped to fit over the individual's ear.
Inserting the M6 earbuds is a bit tricky, because the left and right sides are different and they have an angular shape; that is, the speaker tip is offset at an angle from the low-profile driver.
So it takes a few seconds to get the earbuds situated correctly in the ears and then to adjust the loop so it is also correctly situated around the ear.
But once they're in, they are very comfortable and they have a low profile -- they barely stick out of the ears and they look more like hearing aids than anything else.
Normal earbuds can stick out too far for use in a motorcycle helmet and the weight of the earbud and the wire is usually enough to make them drop out of my ears.
None of that with the M6 earbuds; once they're in, they're pretty much in for good until you remove them.
What's amazing is that I can wear the M6 earbuds while waking, jogging, on the treadmill or working in the yard and they always stay right in place. First time that's ever happened with a set of earbuds.
Also, the speaker tip is shaped to fit in my ears with excellent sealing, again unlike normal earbuds which almost never seal properly in my ears.
Of course, all that isn't enough -- the earbuds must have good sound quality, or what's the point? Well, I'm not an audiophile, but I'm pretty sure I know good sound when I hear it.
I've spent more money than I care to count over the years on stereo systems, speakers, MP3 players, CD-ROM's and earbuds.
I can say this: I was amazed at the sound quality of the M6 speakers.
They are way different than any other earbud I've ever used -- some costing as much as 5x more than the street price of the M6 'buds.
I've used them with cheap MP3 players and expensive MP3 players; with stereo systems, the computer and boom boxes.
I find the sound quality to be superb, although like most earbuds, they aren't going to give you the same bass response as a big set of component stereo speakers, of course.
One of the things that really helps here is the way the M6 earbuds fit in the ear.
Because of their unique shape, they fill the ear and block a lot of ambient sound. In fact, I think these probably do a better job at blocking surrounding noises than any of the sound-reducing earbuds I've tried.
This is where you have to be careful -- the volume doesn't have to be as high to get the same or better sound when wearing the M6 earbuds, and you can easily turn the volume up enough when riding to block almost all other ambient sounds.
You'll always have some sound that is audible from vibrations through your bones, mouth, etc., but the M6 earbuds definitely do a better job at delivering the sound from your MP3 player than anything else you can stick in your ear.
So I give them an outstanding rating for that.
I usually listen to my tiny 8GB Sansa Clip, which I think is one of the coolest little MP3 players around and a great value. It's tiny, it can be clipped on to a jacket collar and it's virtually weightless. It's easy to synch music from the computer and I also save audio books and podcasts for listening in the airplane.
The MEElectronics M6 earbuds work great with the Clip; much better than the Comply Noise Reduction Earphones (review) I was using previously.
The M6 earbuds are way more comfortable; they feel like they're glued to my ear compared to the Comply earphones and they have much better sound quality. It's basically no contest as far as I'm concerned.
The overall build quality of the M6 earbuds is also outstanding. The wiring is soft and much less prone to tangling than the Comply earphones.
The M6 wiring is entirely covered with a soft plastic or vinyl and the wires just seem more more sturdy and comfortable and easy to use.
The system comes with a set of silicone tips and a whole pack of four other different tips if you feel like changing them (I didn't).
It even comes with a nice carrying case with an internal pocket. The case is better quality than most of the junk you get with other earphones.
Mine also came with a dual-tip to single-tip electronic plug converter, and I have no idea why or what it is used for, because I don't own any electronic gear with a dual tip female plug?
[UPDATE: From "G.H": It's an adapter for connecting to in-flight seat communications systems on commercial airplanes.]
Just for, uh, experimental purposes, I have worn the M6 earbuds while riding my motorcycle. It still takes a bit of fiddling to get a helmet on with the M6 earbuds in place; I have to sort of hold the top of my ears to get them to slide into the helmet.
Obviously, this will vary quite a bit, depending on your head shape, the helmet shape and fit.
Some helmets have tighter fitting sides or a smaller shell opening, making it more difficult. Some helmets have deeper ear pockets or thicker lining at the bottom.
It all depends, but in general, it's much easier to put on a helmet once the M6 earbuds are in place and hooked around the ears than with any other type of earbuds I've tried.
The snug and correct fit of the M6 earbuds means that a lot of surrounding noise can be blocked, especially as the volume is raised. You need to be really careful when wearing these and don't overdo the volume, on or off the bike.
Of course, this also depends on the sound capabilities of your MP3 or other music player.
The MEElectronics M6 earbuds are definitely my overwhelming favorite, after using and trying many different types of earbuds, in-ear speakers and earphones for many years.
The sound quality is noticeably better than anything else I've ever tried.
The volume can be kept lower because the M6 earbuds fit so well, resulting in higher quality overall sound. They're comfortable and they don't fall out.
They also block more ambient noise than just about anything else (when the volume is raised).
I've paid way more than this for earbuds, so at the price they're charging, these are a certified steal.
More wBW Noise Cancelling Earbud Reviews
From "G.M." (06/2011): "After reading the review I opted for a pair of these headphones (see, it's working). They do require some experimentation with the various ear plug adapters, I had some great listening but sore ears for the first few tries.
I think I have settled on a "one blob" set of inserts, I started off with the three blob sets, but had problems with soreness in my ear canals, and ear popping from the strength of the seal.
Sound-wise these earphones are very good. They may have the tightest, best defined bass response I have heard from any speaker or headphone. I ended up using "bass reducer" setting on my I phone, that is truly a first."
From "R.H.S." (05/11): "Thanks for the heads-up on these fine earbuds. Read the review, ordered a pair, and they're great! Arrived quickly, excellent sound quality, fit, and comfort."
From "E.R." (05/11): "To make it easy to keep them in place when putting on the helmet and to facilitate the removal of the helmet, simply put the do-rag over the ear and earbud. Works for me."
From "D.L.W." (04/11): "I have a set in black for about the same price range. I agree whole-heartedly about the sound quality, and love the large selection of tips that they gave in the little pouch.
After a rough winter of riding through storms I have hurt them a bit- if you twist the rubber strain relief the casing can pop open. I would call this a good thing, it means you can repair them.
I have to admit, I have been eyeing 'S-plugs' for a while, anyone here at 'the World' try them?"
From "D.W." (04/11): "I have been using the Westone 1 for about 3 years. The design is similar to the M6, but the version I own uses the cylindrical foam to hold the speaker in the ear canal and the entire unit fits comfortably. It looks like the monitors musicians use. As there is no portion of the earbud that protrudes beyond the ear, they are very comfortable, even for very long rides.
I have not had any problems with the cords becoming damaged from my full face helmets. The sound is great, although the bass is not very strong. And they do a very good job of reducing the motorcycle noises while still enabling me to hear the action around me. However, they cost about $100 (USD). For $20, the M6 might be a good back up pair."
From "D.N." (04/11): "Iíve used earbuds like this for 3 years now. I was looking for very high quality sound with good bass, which is hard to find. That drove me to very expensive "audiophile" type earbuds from Westone or Shure. Both use the Shure triple flange sleeve which is similar to what you show on the M6 pictures.
I currently use the Westone 3 earbuds and I am very happy with them. There are multiple sleeve options, but only the triple flange is the one that stays in place and blocks the most noise. I can still hear the sirens of emergency vehicles, even with music. They are also comfortable for long rides.
When I need to talk to someone, I donít have to remove the helmet or the buds because I also use the Shure Push-To-Hear control, which allows you to select between your music device, and a microphone.
I had issues with the over-the-ear wires to stay in place when putting my helmet, especially when hot and sweating. Recently I started using a summer balaclava from Dainese, and that keeps the wires in place, and save me of the frustration of putting and removing the helmet many times.
Please keep doing your great reviews. I always check webBikeWorld for valuable information and to help me find the best for me and my bike."