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.
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.
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.
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.