Shanling’s reflective, chrome ME500 IEMs are a high-tech, modern vision as I take them out of the box. I’ve heard some buzz around these, but am not too sure what to expect, as my experience with Shanling IEMs has been limited thus far. I’ve had a few listens to some of their other IEMs like the ME80 and AE3, but haven’t gone in depth. Let’s see how these perform for $269 a pair.
What’s in the Box
- ME500 Earbuds
- Leather carrying case
- Ear tips: 3 sets vocal, 3 sets sound stage, 3 sets bass, 3 sets balanced, 4 sets memory foam
- Cleaning brush
Look and Feel
These feel extremely sturdy with their shiny brass shell. The reflective look of the ME500 makes them feel very futuristic, high end, and fashionable. Their fit was a tad finicky for me at first, but once I got them in their place they settled in quickly. The shape of these could use some fine tuning, but should be more than fine for most ear shapes.
Each ME500 contains a dual-magnet 10mm dynamic driver and a Knowles dual balanced armature driver. Shanling says the dynamic driver has “magnetic flux density exceeding 1 tesla thanks to dual-magnet construction,” so do with that what you will. The included 1.3m cable is an octa-core cable with 18 conductors per wire, using MMCX connectors and a 3.5mm termination.
These have a frequency response of 20Hz-40kHz and an impedance of 18Ohms
The soundstage on the ME500 may be my favorite part of them. Especially for the price point, their sound is extremely expansive. Listening to Kimbra’s intricate “Something in the Way You Are,” the stereo mallet drums have distinct separation from the rest of the mix. Theres a good sense of space and distance about the vocal placement and the surrounding instruments. These do have some blend to them, and already-crowded mixes may remain a bit melded, but more minimal productions feel very spread out and satisfying.
These have a fairly standard bass response, not significantly boosted or cut. This more neutral bass response is very punchy and clean, but definitely ignores the sub range for the most part. Some depth is still present from the bass, peaking out from under the mix in some songs. If you want a more balanced bass sound without too much of a flare but still plenty of attack, these could very well float your boat.
The ME500’s mid range adds substantial presence and impact to many songs that gives you that head bopping urge. Listening through the Avalanches’ album We Will Always Love You, full of attack-heavy percussion, acoustic and electronic samples, and crisp vocals, the ME500 sharpens each song’s sonic core. There’s a warm but boosted high mid range that extenuates any ear candy and makes you want to keep pumping the volume. The low mids are very purified to avoid any sense of stuffiness, making for a clean, clear, and snappy mid range. If you are mid sensitive these could feel slightly resonant at higher volumes, but at large should be very kind to your ears.
The highs on the ME500 are very bright in particular pockets, and definitely lean into the “low highs” more than the sparkling highest audible frequencies. This makes for a somewhat segmented high end response, dark in some areas and bright in others, that still retains an overall crispness. If you want that wispy, breathy sound to vocals and other recordings, these tend to tame those textures more and lean into a sense of smoothness and warmth in their high end. My only complaint would be that these boost more sibilant areas of the frequency spectrum, making vocals a tad harsh at times.
These feel to meet their price point in terms of quality, but perhaps not exceed it highly, which they’re of course not required to. While their more pointed high end will not be for everyone, their bass and mid response have pretty universal likability to them. I’m impressed by the ME500s ability to engage the listener, and they’ve certainly made me excited to hear more from Shanling.
• Detailed mids
• Impressive punch
• Extremely sturdy build
• Soundstage not super holographic
• High end may feel harsh to some
• Semi-awkward fit
You can purchase the Shanling ME500 at Audio46.