Pros: Huge soundstage with airy sound, controlled and detailed bass, great balance overall
Cons: Mids could be more engaging, but are still very good.
As promised, this is my modest review / take on the Unique Melody Miracle. I am by no means a professional reviewer, nor do I know how to use the precise terms to qualify sound, so I will just describe what I hear. I have strictly no technical background, I just love music and iems.
First of all, a little reminder of how pretty they are :)
Equipement used for the review:
I have listened to over 30-40 albums in all genres, encoded in 16/44 and 24/44 flac over the past four month on my rig, and a few hours more to conduct this review. The rig is the following: DX100 > ALO Audio SXC22 mini to mini > Tralucent T1 amp > Tralucent silver / gold cable > UM Miracles.
I began using the Beat Audio Cronus Cable, but the silver gold from Tralucent opened the sound a bit more, so I used these instead, and will not be switching / comparing cables as I already broke my sockets doing so.
Ordering process and customer service
All my dealings with UM were conducted directly through Stephen Guo. As there are various sites, I was working with this one: http://www.custom-iem.com/. I should remind that I am located in China. These dealings began with my reshelling my Shure SE530x6, then on to the Miracles. During these processes, I have been communicating almost daily with Stephen, which was the best customer service experience I have ever had, apart from my dealings with Gavin at Tralucent. Stephen explained everything very clearly, even things I could have found on the website. He even assisted me in defining the design of my Miracles (the nice font of characters you see what provided by him).
I took my prints at a local audiologist here in Shanghai, but the guys are actually from Europe and knew about ciems (they actually new Heir Audio). The prints were taken with me biting two fingers.
The fact that I was in China helped a lot. There was no jet lag so Stephen could answer quite quickly. Besides, any shipping was quite fast (1 to 2 days between UM and me). From the moment I sent my prints, it took less than 3 weeks to receive my Miracles. I was quite lucky, because I was the last in the latest production batch. I ordered the Beat Audio Cronus at the same time and they arrived maybe 3 days after I ordered.
Even further customer service was very good. I had an issue as the sockets on the left side collapsed inside the iem because I apparently was not careful enough switching cables. I sent them back with a note explaining what was wrong and they were returned in perfect shape 2 weeks later. I had asked them if they could remove a couple of small bubbles and they actually did.
The pics say all there is to say here. The build quality is excellent. The socket issue is possible with any ciem that has the Westone type pin. You just have to be careful and not change cables all the time. There were two small bubbles in the shell, which were visible because the shell was black, but they were subsequently removed. I was lucky, but otherwise I might have needed to live with them. Be advised that bubbles will be less visible in transparent colors than in full color shells.
The only niggle I have, but it is true of other mostly all IEM manufacturers I know of (with the exception of Tralucent), is that the stock cable really looks like dental floss. On the other hand, the Beat Audio Cables have the best build quality and ergonomics I've encountered in aftermarket cables by far.
Presentation and soundstage:
This is to me the key trademark of the Miracles, huge soundstage with airy surrounding presentation. I have no clue how they achieve this effect. You really have the feeling that you are in a huge bubble full of air and sounds just pop around you, out of thin air. This unique presentation has an addictive effect, and I always go back to the Miracles after some time.
The sound is to my ears very slightly v-shaped. There is a slight bass boost, and a less pronounced treble boost, the mids being slightly recessed.
The bass is the other selling point of the Miracles to me. The boost is mainly in mid bass, not lower bass, so you do not have that boomy effect I had on the Shure SE530x6 that bleeds into other frequency. The bass is very tight, detailed and texture. I can actually listen to the bass as music, not just as sound. Combined to the airy soundstage, it is just wonderful in some minimalist modern bassy music.
Fans of warm and lush vocals will not be satisfied with the Miracles. In my opinion, one of the reasons for their airiness is that the mids are slightly on the thin side. I do find them very nice to my ears, clear and transparent, even if they are sometimes slightly recessed. At this level of performance, one can be slightly demanding, so you can say that the mids could be more engaging ON CERTAIN TRACKS.
Nothing much to say in that respect. The high are clear, well detailed. They are absolutely non fatiguing to me. They could be more sparkly if you are a trebble head. But this is really being picky.
Comparison with the 1plus2:
I think customs have an advantage in terms of immersion into the music, all other things being equal. Indeed, they go deeper in your ear, and have a larger area of contact with you ear and better isolation, puting you in contact with the Music. However, that is only true if the iem has an immersive presentation, which is the case for the Miracles.
The overall presentation of the 1plus2, though very immersive, is quite different, the stage is in front of you instead of surrounding you. Some people will prefer this as being more realistic, some will prefer the surround feeling. Sometimes this can make the Miracles more immersive. However, some can find the 1Plus2 more engaging, with punchier sound (the bass is just as detailed as the Miracles, but has more kick thanks to the dynamic driver, giving the 1Plus2 more dynamism overall), and slightly more transparent mids. The highs of the 1plus2 are very slightly sparklier too, with slightly better detail. Bear in mind that these are small differences.
What the 1Plus2 and Miracle do share is the "immediacy" of sound. There is no distance, no veil between you and the sound. The sound is in you face, straight. However, the Miracles does it in a slightly (I know I use that word all the time, but differences are indeed minute) more polite way. The Miracles still have much more immediacy than the the Heir 5.0 which are more relaxed and non fatiguing, but not as much as the 1plus2. This seems contradictory with what I said about presentation, but I do not how to explain it better. I suppose it is because the 1plus2 have a very sharp attack, more than the Miracles, whereas the Heir 5.0 have a smooth attack.
Overall, the sound signatures are quite close, slightly u shaped, but with different presentations. The U in the 1plus is a bit different to my ears as the mids and trebble are a bit more forward than on the Miracles. The 1plus2 is overall slightly better technically, but the Miracle makes up for it by being airier and having the advantages of a custom. I switched between the two a lot, and neither ever disapoints me as they both have their own personality.
As you may well know, I have recently listened extensively to many recent high end iems (which I still have, but do not have time to compare in detail with the Miracles): 1Plus2, Flat-4 Kaede, Sennheiser IE800, Fitear Togo 334. The Miracles came out in 2010, nearly 3 years ago, and even if some newcomers do certain things better, well the Miracle still stands its ground as one of the top iem out there, because no iem I have listened to is clearly better overall. The Miracles are an elegant iem, one of the best all rounders out there, and unless you are crazy about warm and thick vocals, you will love them more and more each day once you discover them.