On 2009-05-14 Roger Mills wrote:
> Span /e/ is IPA [e] "close" in most cases 

I hear it as mean-mid, i.e. [e_o] or [E_r].

Sp. _mesa_ definitely falls right inbetween
Swedish _messa_ /'mes:a/ 'send SMSs' and _mässa_
/'mEs:a/ 'fair, mass', and lengthwise inbetween
Sw. _mesar_ 'titmouses, cowards' and _messa_.

Finnish _e_ and _ä_ are famous for being lower
than the Swedish vowels spelled with the same
letters, so that Swedish learners of Finnish must
train ourself not to hear a Finnish /e/ as /&/, so
I daresay I'm pretty well conditioned to identify
a mean-mid front unrounded vowel. I'm also pretty
trained at listening to Danish where one has to
get used to [e_r] corresponding to Swedish [e],
[E_r] corresponding to Swedish [E] and [E]
corresponding to Swedish [a] -- except next to /R/
which triggers allophones closer to the Swedish

/BP 8^)>
Benct Philip Jonsson -- melroch atte melroch dotte se
  "C'est en vain que nos Josués littéraires crient
  à la langue de s'arrêter; les langues ni le soleil
  ne s'arrêtent plus. Le jour où elles se *fixent*,
  c'est qu'elles meurent."           (Victor Hugo)