Unique Melody, a relatively newer company in the custom in-ear monitor world, has brought us a handful of monitors since their arrival. Products range from their dual driver, the Marvel, to their quadruple driver monitor,the Mage. In 2010, the company has introduced a brand new, sextuple driver monitor - the Miracle. Unique Melody says this new model will solve the flaws with their previous flagship, the Mage. At $930 USD, the Miracle is priced $330 up from its predecessor, and we are glad to have it with us today.
Variation: $40 Charge-Any colour, Any artwork.
Transducers: Six Proprietary Balanced Armature Drivers
Configuration: Passive 3-Way crossover (Dual High, Mid, and Low)
Frequency Range: 18 Hz-19 kHz
Impedance: 15.9 ohm
Sensitivity (1mW): 114 dB SPL
Accessories: Faux Leather Chest Case, Warranty Registration Card, Replaceable braided cable, Cleaning Tool, Frequency Response Graph, Manual
Price: $970 USD including shipping + ear impressions
Packaging and Accessories (8/10)
As with our previous experience, Unique Melody ships their monitors typically through a 2-day service worldwide as they offer it at a mere $36 USD. While the monitors don't arrive in the most pleasant packaging, which is simply a shipping bag, we thought it was well worth the price as we knew Unique Melody did a fine job packing their monitors.
This time around, as the sales price went up, so did the cost in packaging. The Miracle doesn't come in the stiff cardboard box that the Mage comes in. Rather, it comes in a ruby faux leather chest that you might see with the three hundred dollar make-up set that your wife just bought. The chest is relatively large for a carrying case. In fact, this is the largest on the market today with the exception of the carbon fibre box offered by JH Audio. The chest is not just some random case that Unique Melody ran out and bought, because the innards has a soft foam cut out to hold your monitors as well as Unique Melody's logo stitched right into it. There's a small compartment within the chest that is capable of holding all the accessories that come with the Miracle.
One neat addition to the case is the monitor registration card that notes the manufacturing date, as well as warranty period of your pair of monitors. Typically, Unique Melody offers a one-year warranty for defects in materials and craftsmanship. However, the company often gives their clients a free, and surprising, one-year extension to the period. Overall, a nice addition to have just in case you forget when your monitors run out of coverage.
During our first experience with Unique Melody, we were absolutely astonished by the build quality that it had to offer. Whether it be the spotless shell, the flawless closing of the faceplate, or the scratch-free shiny coat, the Miracle didn't lack any of the quality that has made Unique Melody famous for their craftsmanship.
Despite offering two options for your shell, Unique Melody encourages the full hard acrylic shell over the half acrylic with silicone canal tips as it's got a longer life in comparison. As you can see, our test model of the Miracle arrived in full acrylic suit. We have yet to find a flaw with the craftsmanship of these shells. Whether it be the smoothness or the molding consistency, Unique Melody has hit the target every time.
Artwork wise, Unique Melody has taken a big step to getting their artwork right for all their clients. Unique Melody has invested in a photo quality artwork printer for their monitors that's capable of producing much higher resolution artwork compared to past. Unfortunately, we aren't able to demonstrate the new printing system for our test model. However, with the laser engraving and silver confetti artwork that we received identical to the previous Mage, we were thoroughly convinced they have the quality of their artwork under control.
Previously, Unique Melody used cables that were manufactured for other companies. For example, at the time we ordered our Mage back in 2009, the company offered the choice of Westone's or Ultimate Ears' braided cable, in addition to their own in-house handmade wires. However, for 2010, they have gotten their hands on some self-designed, professionally manufactured cables.
Sadly, for the time being, Unique Melody is only manufacturing their cables in black. The good news is, however, that this cable is probably the best cable that is provided with any monitor on the market today. Previously on Compudio, we've had multiple cables from large companies like Westone, Ultimate Ears and Starkey. Unique Melody has managed to produce a cable that is even better than the nearly perfect cables we've tested. Similar to Westone's cable, the difference lies in the termination, the adjusting bead, and most importantly, the weight and softness of the cable. We've mentioned before that we've noticed clear cables tend to be softer than black cables, but clear cables oxidize and turn green after a short period. UM's cable combines the best of both worlds by combining the softness that everyone seeks for and the anti-oxidizing capability that no owner can live without. Overall, we're extremely impressed with the cable. The only shortcoming that we can find is the fact that the memory wire could a 3/4 inch shorter.
With the flawless craftsmanship of the shell, we had a high expectation for the fit and comfort of the monitor. We weren't disappointed. The monitors fit snugly in the ear and flushed perfectly. We found ourselves being able to wear the monitor for hours and hours without having the fatigue and pain we've had with universal monitors. Interestingly, Unique Melody tends to mold slightly shorter canals than other manufacturers, which in result produces a relatively less intense isolation experience. So, if you believe you need the full 36 decibels of isolation that we received from JH Audio's monitor, we'd advise to let Unique Melody know you'd like your canals to be molded slightly longer and wider.
With some brand new crossover drivers, not only has Unique Melody, once again, introduced a new flagship that keeps the tingly high notes and breath taking mids, but this new product has gone beyond and above to give you that extra step in sound quality.
High Frequencies (9/10)
Unlike the previous flagship, the Mage, the Miracle uses a dual tweeter design. Despite using the same drivers, there are now two of them so the load or work that needs to be done by each driver is lowered. Therefore, sounds are produced more accurately. The Miracle offers the same signature high frequency response that made UM famous. Compared to the Mage, the Miracle has a much more refined and well toned high frequency reproduction. Notes still come through crystal clear, with lots of detail and liveliness. However, it's much more controlled and you won't feel like it's as overwhelming as some may find in the Mage. One lovely improvement is the instrumental separation. As impressed as we were with the Mage's instrumental separation, the Miracle manages to crank out even more realism and more distinct parts. Every note hit on the piano or stroke by a higher pitch string instrument is produced precisely and emotionally. The frequency extension is broader than before, so higher notes are heard and actually produced without being held back. Decay, or how quick a sound deteriorates after the signal has been gone, is one of the most stunning characteristics of the Miracles high frequency presentation. Cymbals are especially noticed as they don't ring on excessively, but to perfection. Overall, the presentation is now less bright with a smoother flow to it. Hip hop and classical doesn't sound as exaggerated and has a richer tone to it. All in all, highs are sparkling and transparent without being overwhelming and fatiguing.
Mid-Range Frequencies (9.5/10)
A brand new driver in the monitor means a brand new way of sound reproduction. During our last review, the Mage presented an amazingly crisp high-mid range that is hands down the best at bringing out vocals. Occasionally, however, the high-mids became overwhelming and too fatiguing for many individuals craving for a long listening period. The Miracle offers a much easier-to-swallow presentation. The mid-range is more balanced, without spikes and peaks throughout the presentation. Tone of the mid-range is not too bright or too warm, giving you a nice balanced tone that sounds very natural and real. Vocals sound especially rich and deep with the Miracle. There's a great sense of detail and emotion heard with the Miracle that you don't get with its younger siblings. Instruments like the french horn, and drums are vivid and solid, with a roaring deep end that gives them a full body sound very similar to if they were played in person. Instrumental separation is distinctively clean. Decay is equally impressive in the mid-range as it is in the high. In fact, I would without a doubt say that the Miracle can be crowned as the new DK (Decay King) of Compudio. Overall, if clarity and clean mid-range with a mind-bobbling vocal presentation are what you're looking for, then the Miracle should become your new partner for your music experience or on-stage performance.
Low Frequencies (9/10)
The Miracle's low-end is bigger, better, deeper, and punchier, all in a smaller package. Recently listening to the JH Audio JH11 for extended hours has really taken a place in our minds, where lows are suppose to hit hard. Therefore the first time listening to the Miracle, it just didn't seem right as our minds and ears weren't used to it. However, after some long listening periods with the Miracle, we discovered that the Miracle has a lot of speciality and characteristic that we haven't really heard in a long time. Similar to the Mage, the Miracle houses a lot of precision and control in the low-end. Each bass note from a drum, a bass guitar, a voice or anything you can name the Miracle will tame it and present it to you in an orderly fashion. However, this time around, Unique Melody has given the Miracle a more forgiving low-end presentation. The Miracle gladly accepts hip hop, rock, heavy metal and anything that requires that heart throbbing low-end. The Miracle offers quick, clean and strong punches. It's not as boomy as our recently Editor's Choice awarded JH11, but rather a solid sound that's more refined. A quick frequency test shows that the lows on the Miracle go deep down to the 20Hz without a problem, and that's the lowest humans can hear on average! Compared to the Mage, the Miracle offers a much more satisfying low-end that will capture many audiophiles and musicians.
The Miracle not only offers an astounding performance from high to low, but the soundstage is very well defined. Instruments are neatly positioned from direction and distance. Drum cymbals are located left and right while snare, tom, and bass drums are right in front--every time. The first time I listened to the Miracle, instruments in the song were just so well positioned and defined that it was as if I was standing right inside the recording space. Depth perception is well portrayed, easily heard and noticed when watching movies. During Avatar, rockets just fly right by you and helicopters sound like they're landing just beside you or flying above. The height and width of the soundstage that the Miracle houses is, without a doubt, one of the best on the market today. It is certainly the best in IEMs that we've had on Compudio.
Detailed Score Breakdown:
Stereo Imaging - 9
Frequency Extension - 9
Transparency - 9
Decay - 9.5
Impact - 9
Speed - 9
Clarity - 8.5
Conclusion ( 9.5 /10)
Being the new flagship of Unique Melody, the Miracle needed to deliver the best and most impressive sound there was...and it did! At first, we noticed the massive $300 price jump from the original $600 for the old flagship, the Mage to the now $930 (before shipping) Miracle for which seems to be just a couple more drivers. However, when we received our set of Miracle, we understood why it costs so much more. You get a premium, faux leather chest rather than a stiff cardboard box. You now get a cable made by Unique Melody themselves, which we found to be even better than leading manufacturers' cable as it's softer and more quiet. The balanced sound of the Miracle left us with our jaws open as it easily handled any genre we threw at it. Moreover, watching movies on them was just a pleasure! The Miracle gave us a sound that just raised the standards of the market. At a competitive $880, it goes head to head with the JH11, ES3X, and UE10, which are some of the most competitive leading top-performers on the market today. With a flawless build, a sound that we craved more for, and an exceptionally reasonable price, we just had to hand out another Editor's Award to this "miracle" combination!
Edited by MaoDi - 11/21/10 at 6:07pm