Unique Melody UM MEST MKII

Comparison.

The comparison was done using MKII with a stock cable, Xelastec stock eartips, and LPGT source; volume matched in every comparison.

Mest OG vs MKII Sound Analysis.

I can hear from OG to MKII the tuning to be updated, but in a very precise and controlled way.  MKII has a wider soundstage, both have the same soundstage depth/height, but the width perception spreads wider in MKII, which could be due to its new stock cable as one of the contributing factors.

MKII has more sub-bass rumble.  Both have a similar mid-bass impact, but it is quite noticeable to hear MKII digging in deeper and with more elevated velvety sub-bass rumble.  Mids are slightly recessed in both IEMs, creating a more U-shaped sound sig, but in MKII lower mids have more body which gives instruments and vocals more texture and more organic tonality.  Another big change is in lower treble where the original 6.5kHz peak has been attenuated down.  The treble is still quite energetic and crisp; its revealing tonality didn’t change but with a peak being slightly attenuated, the treble sounds more under control and less harsh.

Other comparisons.

MKII vs FiR Audio M4 – MKII soundstage is wider and to my ears it is probably due to these new Mest iems having more air in upper frequencies, giving its soundstage a more open and expanded width.  Their bass, from sub-bass rumble to mid-bass impact, has a lot of similarities, I can’t say it is identical, but it is very close in weight and presence.  Upper mids are very similar as well, making vocals sound very natural and detailed, but lower mids are a little less colored in MKII, giving mids more transparency while M4 gives mids even more body.  But aside from that, the actual mids quantity is a little more recessed (scooped out) in M4 while has slightly more presence in MKII. With treble, MKII has more sparkle and air.  Both have energetic highs, but MKII adds more air.

MKII vs 64 Audio Trio – Another interesting comparison due to how close these come in tuning, but still with some noticeable variations.  First thing you’ll notice is that MKII is more U-shaped while Trio is V-shaped, with mids being more recessed.  Soundstage expansion is very close, maybe with MKII being just a little bit wider.  Both have elevated DD bass with a deep sub-bass rumble and healthy mid-bass impact, but Trio scales up in quantity just a little higher, which could also be a part of the perception due to a more V-shaped sound sig.  Mids are very similar in quality, but more recessed in Trio, while MKII mids/vocals are more forward, more present, and as a result of that – more detailed.  Both have energetic treble with plenty of sparkle and airiness, but Trio’s tia sounds splashier in comparison to more controlled MKII treble.

MKII vs Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 – Also an interesting comparison to another popular hybrid.  Here I found Solaris being just a touch wider in soundstage while both have the same depth/height. The signature variation here is due to difference in bass impact: MKII is a little U-shaped while Solaris is more balanced.  And all comes down to the bass impact where while Solaris has a deeper sub-bass extension and a good punch, in comparison to MKII its bass has a lot less weight and presence.  MKII bass scales up in quantity to give you more sub-bass rumble and stronger mid-bass punch.  Mids/vocals are very similar in quality, being more natural and detailed, but the quantity and presentation is higher in Solaris, bringing mids more forward.  Both have a clear and sparkly treble, with plenty of energy, but MKII has a little more treble presence and also better extension with a little more air.

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Source pair up.

In each source pair up I was using a stock premium cable.  MKII is easy to drive considering its 112dB sensitivity and 12.3ohm impedance.  No hissing was detected.  For your reference, here are my brief pair up notes.  And by brief, I just focus on any changes related to signature and general tonality, without going into too many details of technical performance difference.

Lotoo LPGT – the baseline sound with wide soundstage, mildly U-shaped sound sig; deep extended sub-bass with an elevated mid-bass slam, natural revealing mids/vocals, revealing extended treble.

Cayin N6ii w/E02 – wide soundstage, more balanced sound sig; surprisingly bass notes are a little softer and bass is less elevated due to mids/vocals being more forward, still tuned to be natural-revealing, and treble being quite energetic, brighter, extended, but not harsh.

Sony WM1Z – wide soundstage, mildly U-shaped sound sig; deep extended sub-bass and powerful mid-bass slam, with overall bass being more elevated from sub-bass to mid-bass, natural soulful mids/vocals, and crisp airy extended treble, but not harsh.

Hiby R8 – wide soundstage, mildly U-shaped sound sig; extended sub-bass with a fast and elevated mid-bass impact, but the sub-bass is not as elevated as in some other pair up, it goes deep, but not as elevated in quantity; mids are natural and detailed, a bit less revealing because they sound more natural, and treble is airy and with plenty of sparkle but a bit smoother in comparison to other pair ups.

iBasso DX300 – wide soundstage expansion, more W-shaped balanced signature with a deep sub-bass rumble and stronger mid-bass impact, natural revealing mids/vocals, and extra energetic extended airy treble. Treble in this pair up had extra sparkle, but it wasn’t fatigue.

A&K SP2000 SS – wide soundstage expansion, more U-shaped sound signature with an elevated bass impact and sub-bass rumble, sub-bass was very deep and textured.  Mids were natural and very detailed, highly resolving for sure; treble was extended, airy, sparkly, but not as aggressive, more controlled.

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Conclusion.

The reunion with the original Mest felt very similar to my experience with V3+ models of Mentor and Mason which I coincidentally misjudged as well during last year CanJam NYC show until I had a chance to hear them again when I borrowed it for review from MusicTeck last year.  A proper eartips selection can make a big difference with these IEMs, as well as being able to hear them in a quiet comfort of your home.  The same happened with OG version of Mest, but it also helped me to appreciate even more the new MKII shell design which I found to have a much better fit with my ears.  And it wasn’t just the shell, but also the sound finetuning, the new PWA copper cable, and the bonus AZLA Xelastec eartips.

IMHO, bass is the star of MKII tuning, and it can please as equally a picky audiophile and a regular consumer.  The quality of the bass can even put a smile on some audiophile bassheads.  But when it comes to mids and lower treble, I noticed OG version to have a bit of a polarizing effect.  MKII took care of that by adding more body to the sound and attenuating down the lower treble peak while still keeping the revealing and energetic nature of the original tuning, making it less fatigue and more tolerable during long listening sessions.  This is still Mest IEM with its unique quadbrid driver config and fun tuning.  But now UM took it to the next level with a more refined natural revealing tuning and more premium accessories such as PWA cable and AZLA tips in addition to Dignis leather case.  Very impressive for an IEM under $1.5k.

7 thoughts on “Unique Melody UM MEST MKII

  1. Since you recently reviewed FiR 5×5, what is your impression of each as a choice for EDC iems? There is a $400 price tag difference so I’m trying to make up my mind and these two units both suit my sound profile preference. Thanks!

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    1. well, part of the price difference is that MKII comes with $560 PWA cable (apparently, will be sold later as standalone), $50 Dignis leather case, and $30 AZLA Xelastec eartips. But in terms of sound performance, apples and oranges. 5×5 will be more balanced and more neutral while MKII has more bass and more treble, creating U-shaped sound sig. Actually, 5×5 soundstage is a little wider, but technical performance of the sound layering and separation in MKII is by far superior. 5×5 is great EDC and you can definitely save money, but MKII is more audiophile tuned with higher resolution and comes with a superior set of brand name accessories.

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      1. Thank you very much for your reply. I rarely listen to iems at home (vs over-ear fulls) where UM Mest MKll’s superior technical superiority, cable, and kit over FiR 5×5 would be realized, so I’m now leaning rabbit! Cheers!

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  2. Thanks again for helping me clarify the next step I really wanted/more practically should to take purchasing an iem. Without going into naming my brands of my open over ears, I’m very satisfied with one top dynamic and one top planar with a respectable chain- at the moment – LOL. So even tho I would like to have both MKII AND Firry 5×5 if I could afford it simultaneously, the actual step I know now to take, is to get a superior EDC. That would be 5×5. Not that I wouldn’t appreciate the MKII at home and away, mind you. Next time, maybe. Another thing is that I read preceding 5×5 (Erik?) review, and it stuck out to me that I, too, like DAPs that have a good analogue sound. I own a an early gen Bur Brown 1792 -based DAP from a top co. that I like a lot and so, done! Sorry this was long but thank you for helping me decide! Best, -Mark

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  3. Thanks Twister for another excellent review.

    Do you think that will be big difference between the CFA Solaris 2020 and the UM MEST Mark II?

    I am looking a bit more bass (quantity and quality) and better dynamic for classical music.

    Appreciate for your input.

    Vince

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