The Mee/Massdrop planamic was provided to me by B9Scrambler as part of a mini review tour. If you are not already familiar with the Contraptionist’s blog, I highly recommend it.
Unboxing / Packaging:
I received the Mee planamics in a small softcase with the Massdrop name printed in white on the exterior near the hinge. Seeing as this is a review tour sample, I cannot comment on the retail packaging or kit as I am not sure what all was contained in it. What arrived at my door was earphones, a 3.5mm TRRS cable with microphone and remote, and 4 pairs of eartips. The eartips are 3 sizes of standard silicone tips and a single pair of large sized double flanged tips.
The shells are extremely well made and my brain tells me they have to have a seam somewhere as the shell has to have space for the driver to move inside and couldn’t be cast as a single piece. Having said that, I cannot even with a magnifying glass find the seam where the parts of the shell come together. That is impressive fit and polish for a product at this price level. The nozzles have a forward rake and are longer than usual and provide a bit deeper fit than average. A pronounced lip on the nozzle helps hold tips firmly in place. A single vent is visible immediately ahead of the bi-pin connector. The connector also deserves comment as it is recessed into the shell and provides roughly 3mm of the cable to be inserted into the shell along with the pins. The connections are indexed so the cables cannot be misaligned. The drawback to this design is that standard replacement cables wont work so if you need a spare, you’ll want to purchase it from MEE.
The heart of the Planamic is an MEE designed driver that draws from both Dynamics and Planars to create a new kind of driver. the driver is 10mm in diameter and lists a 16Ω impedance that according to MEE is retained through the full range. Sensitivity is relatively low at 91dB and the Planamics due benefit from a higher powered source than a cell phone or the use of an external amp if using a phone or tablet as your source.
The cable starts with a 90º low profile TRRS 3.5mm jack with a good strain relief. The cable is 4 strand braid as it exits the strain relief and runs to the splitter which is also matching black plastic. A chin slider is perched immediately above the splitter and works well as the mic is placed high enough up the cable to allow cinching the cable without hitting the mic as was the case on the Campfire Comet. The microphone / remote is of the single button design. The Housing is plastic on the ends with a square tube metal body. The mic itself is tough to spot between the r and o in the name massdrop (their lack of capitalization, not mine) and the button residing on the lower 1/3rd of the remote on the side opposite the mic. The mic is susceptible to wind noise but is high enough up the cable it is not likely to rub on clothing. Preformed earhooks are a contrasting flat black while the cable and furniture are a more gloss black. Connectors are well marked L and R on the inner surface. I was unable to find any information on the cables composition on Massdrop and MEE has no information on the Planamic at all on their current website.
I used the Auvio Wide bore tips for my listening. Since this was a tour earphone, I didn’t want to use the provided tips but should note the Auvio tips do have a wider bore than those provided and sound notes may be impacted by that.
The first thing you’ll notice on the planamic is the bass is well controlled but has a very visceral slam to it. Attack and decay are fast with planar like speed which yields a very clean bass. Sub-bass rolls off below 40Hz but delivers impressively above that point. Mid-bass is very well defined and tonality is good. I heard no perceptible bleed into the mids but the bass still gives the Planamic a mildly warm feel.
Again the speed of the driver is notable and gives the mids an exceptionally clean nature. Mids are slightly recessed compared to the mid-bass but detail is still well rendered and tonality is very good.
The lower treble of the planamic is quite forward and lifts vocals to the front of the mix. Unfortunately, this is where the planamic has its difficulties. Treble is pronouncedly rolled off and it limits air and sparkle considerably. Some tracks don’t seem to be impacted as much as others but I consistently found cymbals to be poorly rendered and strings suffered. Violins sound un-natural at times as does the piccolo part on Shostakovich #6 (first movement). Most of the time the roll-off is detected as a veil over the sound. At times the veil is thin enough to be ignored, at other times it thickens to a near fog and clouds the entire picture.
Soundstage / Imaging:
Soundstage is a bit wider than deep but does give the feeling of some space and has considerable height. Imaging is good and placement of instruments on stage is well defined. The attack speed of the driver helps as I found little congestion even with the busiest passages and layering was better than expected for a single driver design.
Thoughts / Conclusion:
This is a case of an earphone doing everything well right up to a certain point at which the wheels fall off. The Planamic has great bass punch with good sub-bass extension. Mids are well rendered and vocals are presented nicely but the lack of treble extension causes some instruments to sound unnatural. For those that are treble shy, the planamic may be a very good option. I can say that at times I had trouble detecting just how rolled-off the treble was because the planamic still managed to sound very good. With the right song choices, you’d be hard pressed to tell that it is missing anything. Unfortunately, with the wrong song choices it was very evident and gave the feeling of being very veiled. For those that like a bit of extra treble sparkle, the planamic would make a great bass driver in a new hybrid when paired with a BA to handle the upper range duties. If MEE is listening, please consider doing just that when you release the Planamic2.