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on March 3, 2011
I received the HT-21s as a gift, not expecting much. But at this price, all I can say is they are pretty amazing. I haven't owned many on-ear phones (Grado SR-80, Senn PX-100, AT-EV5, Koss Ksc35/75), but the HT-21s can hold their own with any of them. They are a bit bassy, though I haven't broken them in much at all yet. But the mids and highs are crisp and clear, and the comfort-wise, these phones are much better than the Senns and also do a decent job of noise canceling for passive phones (they are closed, not open like the Koss or Grados).

Another nice feature is the single cable, better for moving about. And they fold as well. I tested them with several tracks from my headphone test playlist (Buena by Morphine, Hotel California from Eagles' Hell Freezes Over Tour, Cassandra Wilson vocals, etc.), and the HT-21s can handle it all with aplomb. What's most impressive is the price-to-performance ratio. Hard to believe these phones can be found for as low as $30 on sale. That's really a no-brainer, if you need a pair of on-the-go phones and don't want to drop too much cash. Of course, you can use them at home as well. I only wish they made an HT-21P version, with controls for an iPhone/smartphone. Is that coming MEE?

The 5-star rating is a context rating. Are they on par with the Grados? Not for at-home listening. But for the price (and maybe even high, in the $60-70 range), the HT-21s are tough to beat.
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on April 22, 2011
Introduction

First, I'd like to thank the folks at MEElectronics for sending me an HT-21 sample for review.

MEElectronics is one of my favorite manufacturers of IEMs. Seeing how far they've come in such a short time (it was only a year ago when I was reviewing their M9P, which I bought on a whim after reading a bit about them) is rather inspiring. This is a company that has gone from one with only a few truly compelling products to one with many, catering to just about any budget. MEElectronics has previously limited their product line to in ear monitors but now, they have taken their first step into the portable headphone market with the HT-21.

So, does their first portable headphone perform well enough to be worth note or does it simply trip up right out of the gate? Read on to find out.

Packaging and Accessories

The HT-21 arrives in a fairly standard cardboard box with a plastic window, allowing buyers to see the headphones. Inside, a plastic insert holds the headphones in place and underneath it lies a black carrying pouch, a welcome addition given their portable nature.
Design and Build Quality

The HT-21s are a good deal smaller than I was expecting. The earphones fold flat and the earcups fold in, toward the headband, to make them easier to carry. Their diminutive size does mean that they give up a bit in terms of build quality for the sake of being so easily portable. My review sample actually arrived slightly damaged, as you can see in the picture below, with part of the headband leading into the right earcup missing. I imagine this is a rare manufacturing defect though, and doesn't impact their performance or wearability, at least in my case. The cable is thick and flexible and is well relieved with a hockey stick shaped L-plug, similar to those featured on older M-series models like the M9.

Comfort and isolation

Being supraaural headphones, these never truly disappeared on my ears the way certain circumaural sets can but their clamping force is minimal, but adequate, so they won't slip off during regular usage but are light enough that they don't feel painful to wear over a long period of time. The light padding on the headband is almost a bit too light but considering the lightness of the headphones, this is really a non-issue.

Isolation is below average for me, and I found I needed to turn my music up louder than I would've liked in order to defeat the ambient noise of the cafeteria in the student center of my University in my testing. Compared with the Sennheiser HD-228s, my go-to portable headphones for quite a while now, the HT-21s lose some points in terms of comfort (but not much) and more so in terms of isolation.

Sound Quality

Burn in: Naturally, these headphones were given upwards of 50 hours of burn-in time prior to evaluation.

The HT-21s surprised me at first, as their sound signature was far from what I was expecting, given my experience with previous MEElectronics products. To elaborate on this, I'll start at the bottom. Bass is tight and carries a good deal of impact but doesn't have that weighty resonance I've experienced from previous MEElectronics IEMs such as the M6 or M11+ but that's not necessarily a bad thing. What there is appropriately detailed and has a nice bit of rumble, albeit there is some roll-off in the lower registers.

The midrange is the most surprising aspect of the sound signature in that it is surprisingly forward, lively and aggressive. It doesn't hesitate in the slightest to throw things in your face. Treble tonality is similar in that it can be a bit peaky and occasionally sibilant but doesn't sound as forward or aggressive. The HT-21 is no slouch in terms of detail in either frequency range but I do get the sense that some of the finer details of a piece are sometimes glossed over.

The whole of its presentation centers around the midrange being as forward as it is and thus, vocals and certain instruments are often perceived as very close to the listener while others are firmly in the background. For that reason, imaging isn't the best but the soundstage is nicely deep sufficiently wide enough that the presentation isn't hampered too much by it.

The HT-21 is interesting in that its biggest strength, the forwardness of its midrange is also its biggest weakness. At the higher volumes I found myself listening to the HT-21s at in order to drown out the noise of the cafeteria, some songs were downright painful to listen to. Songs with powerful, cracking snare drums and sparkle of chimes actually caused me to wince on several occasions. Compared to my HD-228s which feature a laid-back, dark and bass driven sound signature, the HT-21s and their forward, aggressive sound signature are their polar opposites. The HT-21 are rather good when it comes to technical proficiency but whether or not you'll enjoy them will be entirely based on personal preference.

Conclusion

While the HT-21 is not really in line with my personal listening preferences, these are still a capable pair of portable headphones that don't slouch in technical capability, portability or comfort. I imagine the bright(ish), forward sound signature will appeal to many users and the $40 asking price is certainly appealing, as they compare favorably with Sennheiser's HD-228s on a technical level, a headphone that retails for $100 and has a street price around $60. I'd like to see MEElectronics explore creating other portable headphones in the future, as the HT-21 proves that they have a solid understanding of how a good set is made.
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on March 12, 2011
I received these HT-21 Portable Headphones today, and still in the break in process. But so far I'm VERY impressed!!! Their Light Weight, Comfortable, and Pack Excellent Lows/Mids/Highs!!! For a Headphone for under a $40 price they are well worth EVERY PENNY!!! Unbelievably Clear Clean Sound & Deep Bass either using them on my Desktop Computer, Laptop, Home Stereo, or play my favorite XBOX 360 Games!!! What I Love the most is I can sink right into my own world of music and tune out all the other noises around me, one other thing is you don't even though that you even have them on they are so adjustable to fit perfectly to you head!!! Thank You MEE for a EXCELLENT Product!!! As I Break these Suckers in more, I'll add even more of a detailed review...but for right now, I wanna ROCK!!!!
0Comment14 of 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
The HT 21 is a compact folding headphone that sits on the ears. It provides a modest amount of sound isolation, but in-ear headphones, or those that totally enclose the ear will give better isolation. However, they are quite comfortable and easily adjusted to fit well.

Sound quality is a subjective thing. Reviews of headphones should be treated with some suspicion, but it is safe to say here that I agree with other reviews - these are a great pair of headphones for their price. They have a clear, open sound that mimics more expensive headphones. I own both Sennheiser PX 100's and iGrado's, and these are the ones I use everyday. If you are looking for an emphasized low end (aka "Beats") these are not the headphones for you. Given their modest cost, they do a good job of reproducing music well.

Both the SennHeiser and iGrado headphones are open back, versus the HT-21's closed back design. The open back design lets in more ambient sound, and have more sound leakage (people can hear what you are listening to). From a comfort standpoint, the iGrado's feel like one is wearing a vise grip on their head compared to these, which fit well but stay in place fairly well - not necessarily the best headphones for a workout, but certainly good enough for walking to work.

These come with a vinyl bag that in my case was quickly lost. They have survived well in my laptop bag with a minimum of care; I fold them up and they are ready to go. Everything is nicely made and doesn't have a flimsy feel that belies their ultimately inexpensive price.
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on May 25, 2011
I have less than 4 hours burn in but so far am really enjoying these HT-21 Headphones! Currently selling most places for forty bucks and under I found mine on sale for twenty but wouldn't feel ripped off if I had paid fifty.
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on May 1, 2012
I cannot see the point of dropping $300 on headphones for high fidelity headphones. Beats by Dr. Dre are impressive...but after trying "in this price range" brands like Pyle, Jvc, etc and sending them back, I did a search of reviews, and came across this company, MEElectronics and these HT-21's. As a lover of music of all forms, from hip hop, country, to classical, fidelity in the highs and midrange were key, with just enough bottom end to fill out the sound.

When I got these, I was impressed by the build quality and the look. Then I started to burn these in over the next several days (some examples of musical choices include the Purple Rain Soundtrack, Public Enemy's It takes a nation of millions to hold us back, and some Bach).

Wow.

The vocals were sick, a perfect balance of tone. Hip hop worked without being ridiculous, and the headphones didn't wear on me after hours of use. Not the kind of headphones that won't bleed out what you are listening to, but all around, for what i paid for thEm, best money I've spent on headphones.
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on March 30, 2011
These little babies pack a punch. For a pair of portables under $40, they are amazingly good at anything I throw at it. They are easily driven by a DAP or any portable source. They are comfortable, light, small, and sound great playing any sort of music. If you're looking for a pair of portables around $40, look no further. MEElectronics does not disappoint with its amazing sound quality/price ratio with all of their products while keeping up with build quality.
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on June 5, 2013
I am no audiophile. I'm just a guy who likes to listen to progressive rock/metal and a few podcasts on good headsets without breaking the bank. My limit when buying headphones is anything between 25-50% of what I paid for my mp3/media player. I see no point in buying $100 headphone for a $100 media player when the headphones might break in the middle of the street.

When I first plugged in the headphones on my Sony Walkman NWZ-E354BLK Series 8GB Video Mp3 Player (Black) mp3 player they sounded like crap, same thing on my laptop running winamp. I just could not find a proper setting on the EQ to have a decent listening experience. Now this is where some people might throw the headphones away and write in a bad review. The advice here is to submit your brand new headphones to a process called "burn in" which means to play either music or white noise continuously for anything between 30 to 100 hours at a little over your normal listening level. Well, after burning in the Meelec headphones for 50+ hours with white noise courtesy of my broken weather radio made a huge difference. Music and movies played on my laptop just sounds great without having to tweak the EQ. No overwhelming bass nor dull highs, just a pleasant flat response.
Finding a good EQ in winamp was a breeze, although I'm not a "bass heavy" person I pumped the bass a bit and the headsets responded perfectly (ouch). Same thing on my mp3 player I had no problem setting up a good EQ, just added more highs to balance the mids.

Hardware wise headsets are very light, so they're not uncomfortable when you carry them around your neck when not in use. I felt the padded cups are very comfortable for extended listening and did not hurt or press too hard on my ears in any way, besides they aren't as large as to make them sweat. Downside is that they do not isolate that much from external noise. I like the fact that the cable cord is on just one side, thus preventing from getting twisted on itself. BTW, the cord is very sturdy but it is a good idea if you wrap it in an 8 figure then fold and secure it with a clip before putting your headset away in the included pouch. Nothing special about it, it's just a plastic pouch with a cord to secure it but no printed Meelec logo. I wish the pouch was more like a cloth type which I've seen in other brands but then
again this always ads to the price.

I hate writing reviews of items that I just purchased considering that new unpacked items will not always tell you of the quality of the product, usually I wait some time to see how it performs. That's why I waited 6+ months after opening the product to write a review, will update if anything changes after this. I bought this item
as a gift for Christmas but had second thoughts about it so I kept it for myself (yeah like you've never done that) and let me tell you I am happy I did this.
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on November 12, 2011
I am somewhat of an Audiophile. I have modded headphones of various types over the past year or so and have learned tons about audio since then. I like these cheap sets though because they suprise me how much value they really are worth compared to very high end headphones. These right here are worth probably around 100.00 dollars in the audiophile world with the sound they produce.

Pros:
Nice Soundstage
Detailed and well-rounded mids/highs
Good Bass
Very comfortable
Lightweight
Price
Moddable ;)

Cons:
Ear cushions could be larger
Feels too cheap

The pros far outweigh any cons I could think of for these. They are a very nice value portable headphones for the full-size group. I'd pick these over IEMs anyday because they are more comfortable and easier to put on. They sound just as good and have a bigger soundstage as well. You can't go wrong with these. I am going to re-cable them and put them inside custom wooden cups and that should make the bass better as well as make them sound more defined. Can't wait to do that. Get these!
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on February 23, 2012
These headphones were smaller and lighter than expected from the pictures posted online. For the money, it is hard to offer much criticism of this product. Yes, they could be more solidly constructed and comfortable, but less than $20 for a pair of headphones is pretty much a throw-away price. The sound quality is where these headphone far exceed their price point. They sound as good or better than many headphones that come in at ten times the price. I did a 24 hour break in as soon as I got them in the delivery. The next day, I used them on planes and in airports for about 10 hours. They didn't really cause too much fatigue for that amount of time due to the light weight. I highly recommend these headphone for travelers who want something more solid and better sounding than a set of discount store headphones or earbuds at about the same price.
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