great flagship with some minor qualms, depending on views and if you like the highs

A Review On: Unique Melody Mentor acrylic universal/custom

Unique Melody Mentor acrylic universal/custom

Rated # 165 in In-Ear
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Purchased on:
Price paid: $1,300.00
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Pros: mids amount and resolution, sub-bass (especially with EQ), Cable (yes, with a C), comfort and fit, EQability for the lows. Soundstage. coherent

Cons: some build and finish qualms,highs tuning to some 'enhanced/refined' feel, no huge foam tips, maybe the default mid-bass quantity,$$$$,maybe isolation

I've had Mentor for nearly a month before selling it and JH16fp (first deciding to sell Mentor, then putting it on hold, then selling JH, then finally selling Mentor) and thought I'd share my experience(s) with the Mentor with you. (more or less a summary of the previous impressions, invalidating the initial ones)

Many photos can be found here:

primary reference point for the pics about build.

There are pics of it here - small one solid-ish black with UM logo side by side with other IEMs

Specs, buying, FR, etc:

Fr chart
and buy them from Stephen Guo here . Like others - I can indeed recommend his services. (but think he can push UMLab on QC a bit more wink.gif )

For universals, there's no refit, and FS is your second chance option (it's now clearly stated in the returns section of ciem com which is good).
I think UM let you make them into customs for the price difference which is nice if you like customs.
They were shipped quickly as promised.
Please consult UM as above for the current delivery times
just in case smily_headphones1.gif

Warranty is 2 years, which is pretty great compared even to some other top tier acrylic IEMs or universals.
I do also like the slightly recessed sockets. To me slightly recessed still means - less likely to short outside (from a stray raindrop, vs a not quite flush, flush socket. This reason may be absurd), or say damage the pins when inserting/removing the cable.

Build quality:

The shell is nice and has very few imperfections and extremely slick buffing.

It's pretty amazing how small Mentor is given the # drivers inside.

I think the semi-recessed sockets are a nice touch.

For the qualms below, I'm sure most people won't care smily_headphones1.gif
I didn't like the milling marks on the nozzle (e.g. if you ever get Dita the Answer you'll see what good milling and finishing looks like.
This was not good milling and visible defects on my mentor nozzles) - see the gallery. I don't like the nozzle being smooth either (slipping)

Likewise , I did not at all like my faceplates being semi-transparent instead of fully opaque black and showing the drivers
(on plus side if you tell UM not to do that they'll probably listen.). you can go into the OCD level rant here

I think it's lovely. Thick, woven and has hardly any cable sound, long memory wire. Nicer plug than before People say it sounds great, and I didn't hear much of a difference to a $200+ TWSPC from stock. I wish the memory wire wasn't slightly rusted wink.gif and the plug fit phone sockets. Importantly the cable doesn't interact with touchscreens like the ones before it.

Fit, tips, isolation:

Tips wise Comply Tx/T/S400 and 500 fit.

I couldn't get a deep enough seal with complys, but the same nozzle size silicons from audiozones slipped off. A lot of the time.
I'm fairly sure even the included tips did on occasion frown.gif
I don't think the nozzle is long enough. particularly when you've worn them for a few hours or if it's warm or you were walking briskly for a while or if it's humid.

I probably would have preferred a few more to be included of various shapes and sizes and types given it's a flagship.
Granted they've started including foamies since but I think they can still do better.

Unfortunately I have no idea where to get larger memory foam tips. I did ask a few times, and even in the 'general portables' forums before :|
Tx500/T400 are a bit small for me with these. I wouldn't mind if they had a replaceable nozzle on the mentor biggrin.gif (filter or longer size) or
if comply made larger 4/500 series tips.

Isolation when seal is ok, is fine, but not amazing, and a deeper and more secure fit would be nicer
(e.g.their former Merline mold with a helix lock. but it's 'less universal'). I could comfortably assist fit with the memory wise on the cable.
(you anchor the IEM inward with the memory wire)

I think in the end- if you get a seal by finding the right tips and it also does the right things to the treble (see below) these are rather comfortable
(especially given they've crammed 10 drivers into one, despite most being dual smily_headphones1.gif it is surprisingly small for that)

I do like the new 'spin to open and close' black metal case. In principle. It was a bit small for a custom cable and or dessicant pod though. Not sure how water proof it might be (never needed, until it is), I think someone mentioned it had a rubber seal and some people found it lints (didn't for me, but I didn't use it much)

Sound: (I suspect it would be closer to JH13fp not 16).

extension was probably a bit more on Mentor, but JH16FP maybe had a bit of a peak on some songs that occasionally 'flared up' but it sounded more natural overall in the treble.

The Mentor treble at first sounded harsh to me.
Probably around 6-8k . you can find my first impressions here, they weren't pretty) then I must've figure out how to get proper insertion or the right width silicon tips, (I strongly suspect that was the case for D1000 and Mentor for me)
at which point it sounded 'enhanced and tuned to sound refined' (but not painful). I wouldn't necessarily say with the right insertion that you get a huge amount of 'extra sparkle' along the fun treble bits. (there are bits where it sound relatively tame. which is again why i say 'bands' and 'banded'

I've talked to two other senior members who said they never got over the hot treble or treble peak bits. Some will say, you need an extra 6-8k kick for some instruments.
For me it ended up just occasionally hot on some tracks that have sibilance or hot treble tuning but not that bad.
I don't really adore the treble with either JH16FP or Mentor at the end of it. While I think the extra 6-8k may have added to the perceived sense of space and 'enhanced detail'. I'm fairly sure in the end it was the reason why I sold them. (for the 'banded' feeling, I likened them to a guy in a monocle, perhaps inappropriately).

The amount of 1-2k and 3-5k was done very well, they're maybe a touch less shouty and warm in the mids than some like, but very slightly.
The mids detail are very very good for both lower and upper mids.
Piano, violin, guitar, and vocals- male or female all sound great. There's a bit of a 'refined' mids feeling as well (vs say UM Merlin) but I absolutely loved it.
JH16FP overall sounded slow and honky compared to Mentor when I switched back after a few days.
Interestingly enough sometimes it seems like the overall perception of detail comes from a bit of a treble boost (to me D1000 does that a bit), I think the mids on Mentor can stand very well on their own in this regard.

out of the box without EQ Mentor is definitely less enchanced and more natural (not flat) - but I EQed both JH and UM anyway.
UM seems to be faster and harder hitting with much less fine tuning and bleeds much less into the sound. I think mid-bass amount was somewhat less than I liked, and UM went more for a sub-bass boost.
In any case, the low end was ample (to most) and fast (if you owned multi-CI driver IEMs before you'll feel at home) and nicely textured.
Some would say it's not quite there on impact, VS large DDs in Hybrid IEMs, but I think with a bit of EQ it did an admirable job (a touch more mid bass could be in order, but that's fixable too and a matter of preference). Unlike JH16Fp, I didn't find any tracks when too much bass physicall hurt when switching tracks if you eqed it a tiny bit for particular track and it switched to a bass heavy track wink.gif . Cello, drums, bass are all good.

Stereo-width/sound stage:It's not really a 'mids shouty' or intimate IEM and it sounded wide, wider than many of my BA IEMs and say T-PEOS H200. I don't think it was excessive to the point of sounding to diffuse at any point. Maybe not as wide as Merlin or Lear BD4.2 or full-size headphones but none-the-less.

What music did I love it with?
classical orchestra + soloist, metal , pop and hip-hop (aside from several too hot track issues, and with EQed up bass). I think Treble feel aside, the overall coherency of the package was very good compared to even JH16fp

Did it change much with sources.Not much for me between Clip Zip, O2 amp and Note3. probably all being low output impedance? I probably preferred it from the note 3 - re soundstage and ease of EQing low-end via the PowerAmp EQ, but I think it wasn't that much of an improvement over the clip. Speaking of cables and Android - I wonder if UM make cables with remotes...

and that is all.


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