MEE Matrix 3 Around-Ear Bluetooth Stereo Headphone review

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, Nov 22, 2016.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Jul 3, 2011
    Charleston South Carolina
    Youtube review:


    Sources: iPhone7+ with Oppo HA-2/AudioQuest DragonFly Black DAC/amps, various computers using the AudioQuest DragonFly v1.2/Lehmann Traveller DAC/amps.

    Review notes:

    [1] My first impressions of the sound of the Matrix3 are based on direct comparisons to other headphones, particularly Bluetooth types, but also to a few premium headphones for reference. I'll describe how I relate to the Matrix3 (i.e., my personal tastes and how I use the headphone) only after covering all of the objective issues.

    [2] This review describes the Matrix3 sound in Bluetooth mode only, and while this headphone sounds nearly the same with the power off, using the included cable, I didn't make a critical analysis of the sound in wired mode due to the amount of time that would require.

    [3] In long-term use, I've experienced an occasional 'glitch' or hesitation in the music playback, but not often enough to be a bother, and in any case the glitches are more-or-less silent. There may be a small amount of high-frequency noise in the sound due to the Bluetooth DSP, but since the overall treble is recessed, it's not likely anyone would hear it unless they boost the recessed treble with EQ. If you do EQ the treble, I suggest keeping any boost to the minimum necessary that will achieve a near-hi-fi sound.

    The MEE Matrix3 Bluetooth headphone out of the box sounds a bit muffled on one hand, yet has some harshness on the high end on the other hand. After burn-in, the somewhat muffled sound remains but the harshness is subdued. While some users may find this sound satisfactory for portable use, the large recess at ~3 khz needs equalization in my view, to bring out necessary musical details. And the details do come through fine, although the EQ was quite a chore, as can be seen in the graph linked above, or on my website under Photos and Audioforge. The default sound sans EQ is weak in the lower bass, emphasized slightly in the midrange between approximately 500 to 900 hz, very recessed (12 db) at 3 khz, and moderately recessed from approximately 1.5 to 6 khz. There is also a peak around 9 khz, which is common even with premium headphones. The EQ'd sound is satisfactory for hi-fi listening, although it won't be as smooth as headphones whose response is much less bumpy to begin with.

    Isolation is very good - above average for a closed-back headphone. Leakage is extremely low, so that in quiet offices and libraries, a person would have to be sitting right next to the headphone to hear anything, even at audiophile volume levels. The Matrix3 seems to be all plastic except for the steel part of the headband. It appears to be well-made, with operation buttons that are positive and tight. It feels lighter than the Bose QC35, yet is about the same size and a similar design. The earcups fold flat and also into the headband for small carry size, and the headband range of adjustment is 17/16 inch on each side, where my average-size head fits in the middle of that range. The plastic earpads appear to be very high quality, and are very soft and squishy for great comfort. The headband padding is minimal, but it's easy to adjust the earcups so they carry most of the light weight, to keep the headband from pressing on the head.

    The Matrix3 comes with a really nice semi-hard zippered case that's small enough for carry-on luggage, but will take up a bit of room in an average backpack. A thin 4.5 ft headphone cable is supplied for wired use, and is terminated on each end with standard miniplugs. A common 3 ft USB-A to MicroUSB cable is also supplied. The Matrix3 is an ideal portable headphone in that it can be pulled off the head when not in use, and worn around the neck with the earcups pulled out and folded flat - no need for a carry case unless the user has to stow it away. In previous reviews I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to those other reviews and see how the Matrix3 compares with each individual track.

    NOTE: All comments below apply to using the Matrix3 with the EQ as shown in the graph linked above, or on my website under Photos and Audioforge.
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Jul 3, 2011
    Charleston South Carolina
    Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth has good detail and tone, and both male and female vocals sound natural without favoring either. The Matrix3 plays this very well.

    Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled extremely well by the Matrix3.

    Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound. Of special note here are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts are soft and well in the background, but you can really feel the weight they carry with the Matrix3.

    Black Sabbath - Iron Man (Classic Rock): Very good instrumental detail and the vocal sounds very natural. As with most classic rock tracks, there is very little or no deep bass. The Matrix3 plays this music very smoothly, and the lack of deep bass doesn't unbalance the treble.

    Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Great sound quality - this is a good test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled perfectly by the Matrix3.

    Cantus - Danny Boy (Traditional/Male Choral/Acapella): The Matrix3 plays the voices with enough low end warmth and weight to sound very natural, yet there is no added emphasis of the lower register of the male voices on this track.

    Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice are crisp and well-balanced, and there's a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The Matrix3 reproduces the space and detail very well.

    Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the Matrix3 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

    Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (Pop/Rock): The Matrix3 plays this high treble energy recording very smoothly - the voice and instruments are very detailed but not edgy - very musical in fact.

    Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): This track has a good amount of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice is excellent, and the tambourine sound is clearly identifiable.

    David Hazeltine - Fur Elise (Jazz): A very high-quality recording from HDTracks. The Matrix3 reproduces the instruments smoothly with a spacious ambiance. The wire-brush-on-cymbal harmonics are extended and detailed.

    Grieg (Beecham-Royal Philharmonic) - Peer Gynt-Solveig's Lullaby (Classical): This very old (late 1950's) stereo recording must have been made on the most expensive gear in the world, since the overall sound quality and especially Ilse Hollweg's amazing voice are as close to "being there" as I've heard with some of the better classical recordings made since the year 2000. The Matrix3 plays this music perfectly.

    Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion in this track hits really hard, and the bass tones beginning around 0:45 have the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind of sound that indicates a solid deep-bass response. Overall, the Matrix3 plays this music very well.

    Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (1980's New Wave/Techno): The bass instrument (guitar?) has excellent detail, and the voices and ambiance have a "you are there" quality that's uncommon in early 1980's pop music. The Matrix3 plays this music well.

    Hugo Audiophile - 15-16 (Electronic): I'm not sure what the 15-16 stands for - perhaps track numbers from a CD album. The deep-bass tones that start around 33-34 seconds into the track reproduce nicely with the Matrix3. This is a great recording for evaluating whether a headphone's bass will be sufficient for most environments, since for many headphones that have a weaker bass, the deep bass gets absorbed and mostly lost when the environment contains a lot of low-frequency energy.

    Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has several loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical with some headphones. The Matrix3 provides excellent reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in for best-case detail. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrument separation and detail, and the Matrix3 does those very well.

    Kellogg Auditorium, Battle Creek Michigan, Aeolian-Skinner Organ (1933) - Pedal, 32', Resultant, Arpeggio: This 16 hz organ pedal tone differs from other music tones in that you won't "hear" the tone - you'll only feel it. Although most music tones have harmonics (including this one), the harmonics from this tone will be too weak to provide any "feel", so whatever you actually hear would not be part of the fundamental 16 hz tone. There are ~30 hz sounds in the outdoor environment in big cities, generated by large trucks, buses, and subway trains, and they have a quality of "rumble" that's similar to some deep-bass tones found in music. This 16 hz organ tone is easily distinguished from those sounds when compared on a headphone that has good undistorted response at 16 hz. The Matrix3 plays the fundamental with a decent weight and good detail, so that you can hear/feel some of the 16 cycle per second "beats" of the fundamental tone.

    Mantovani - Sunrise Sunset (Easy Listening, ca. 1972): A master musician and conductor** who specialized in light classics and orchestral pop music, Mantovani's accomplishments were overshadowed by music critics who couldn't tolerate the notion of "light classics" or "semi-classical" music, even when those recordings were no threat to the classical music genres. In any case the later Mantovani recordings from the mid-1960's through mid-1970's had the advantage of being mixed for much better hi-fi systems than those which the music critics possessed at the start of the Long Playing (LP) record cycle. Here in 2015, at least some of those digital remasters have improved the sound further, although it's not always the case. This track as played on the Matrix3 is a perfect example of the sheer musicality lurking in those later recordings, and is highly recommended for soundstage, instrumental tone, and musical balance.

    **Mantovani developed the "Cascading Strings" sonic effect circa 1950, a famous "Wall of Sound" effect for mono hi-fi systems that predated Phil Spector's own famous Wall of Sound effect by 10 years or so.

    Michael Tilson Thomas - Rhapsody In Blue (20th Century Classic): Great sound and soundstage, and terrific piano playing and tone. There are some very deep bass impacts starting around 38 seconds into the 17:24 length track, and the weight of those impacts is impressive with the Matrix3.

    Pinback - Non Photo Blue (Pop-Rock): Crispy sound with "crunchy guitars and bashing drums" - the Matrix3 renders this music as perfectly as I've heard an energetic pop-rock recording played with any headphone.

    Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some nicely-detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are a series of "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The Matrix3 reproduces the 'clop' portion of that sound with reasonable accuracy.

    Richard Strauss (Mester-Pasadena) - Also Sprach Zarathustra (opening) (Classical): The granddaddy of bass is in the opening 1:50 of this recording, and I've heard it only once on a large and expensive loudspeaker system in Cleveland. For most people, that experience would be indistinguishable from being in a fairly strong earthquake. The Matrix3 conveys that drama about as well as any good mid-fi closed-back headphone that I've heard.

    Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and highly detailed, and the Matrix3 renders the tones and transients enjoyably, but somewhat softly.

    Tiger Okoshi - Bootsman's Little House (Jazz): The trumpet here is recorded fairly close up and is somewhat bright with a significant "bite". The Matrix3's reproduction is near-perfect, and the close-miked piano is also a treat. For comparison, I have several Maynard Ferguson tracks that feature a similarly strong trumpet with lots of brassy bite.

    Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are strong, and work extremely well with the horns and other instruments. The Matrix3 delivers the impacts with great weight and detail, and the horns have the kind of bite that gives them a wonderfully realistic sound.

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