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Review by Spekkio: Unique Melody Miracle

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 

 

DISCLAIMER: Some people tell me my set has a ‘quality control issue’ because UM has recently been flooded with orders. Whether that is true or not, I do not know. What I do know is that I do not have the patience to send these back and thus will be conducting the review as-is. When the group buy orders begin to be delivered, you will be able to hear from other owners what they think. So don’t take my review as definitive, it is only definitive for what I heard.

 

 

My listening setup:

Listening was done with mostly 320kbps / FLAC files, ranging from jpop to classical and jazz / progressive metal. Testing was done on my computer to Audinst HUD-MX1. I have on reference a Stax SR-507 which is my current benchmark as far as how ‘right’ a song should sound on any headphone.

 

 

Accessories:

The set came with a fake leather box which provides rather sturdy protection from shipping dangers. It had a brush / wax loop and a red UM small hard carry case which I found convenient, alas it is a little small and one may have difficulty fitting the customs inside. It is a new feature compared to old though.

 

P1040445.JPGThe accessories. Warranty card made of actual metal.

 

P1040446.JPGThe Case. Some inspiration from Beats By Dre maybe?

 

Build quality:

Clear looked very good, some minor (very minor!) bubbles inside the ear tip area. The faceplate was done in a translucent wine red with metal ‘Unique Melody’ inserts. Good enough for me. Nothing to complain about here, it is standard great UM molding.

 

 

The sound in general:

How I would describe these would be bass-mid centric earphones. I know the Miracle is known to have a neutral sound signature, but after extended listening with my set, I just cannot apply this label to them. Neutral to me is without colouration, without emphasis on any particular frequency such that the music comes through to you and the earphone becomes less of a factor in the listening. It may be easier to describe each segment of the frequency response to elaborate.

 

 

Bass:

The Miracles struck me as having very strong bass for a BA IEM. Make no mistake about it, it is still BA bass (the drum beats will not have the correct ‘beat’ and ‘feel’ to it, but it is very good BA bass). What I mean is, sub-bass extension is excellent. There is sufficient rumble down low such that the basslines of songs are made explicit. I don’t have to ‘hunt’ for the bass notes when I listen to the music.

 

For the bass around 120Hz or so – the midbass or drum beats portion, this was where it became more problematic. The bass, although retaining that ‘BA’ sound to it, which is the ‘clippy’ etymotic low decay bass sound, is more round in texture and not as well defined. The notes hit but one cannot point to the exact instant where the note hit. It is more of an approximate guess. The Westone 4 gave me a better gauge of where the bass began and when it ended. But, that said, the Miracles still keep up beats very well and has very high rhythm and pacing. It is just that on my source (Audinst HUD-MX1), the bass is probably a bit too much for me. On my Samsung Galaxy S2 (which is known to be bass light), it was just right.

 

Is there bass bleed into the mids? No. That is definitely not present. The bass has a lot of power behind it and there is a lot of headroom to be had for dynamics in a song to be shown. When it is supposed to hit hard, it will.

 

 

Mids:

The strong suit of the Miracles, the mids were the first thing that caught my attention when I listened to them. Voices, esp female voices, sounded extremely lifelike and had the exact amount of thickness required to convey emotion and space without sounding overly ‘creamy’. The mids were not exactly forward, but probably only slightly forward, in comparison to the ER4S which is noticeably more forward. Compared to the 1964Q, the mids are more full and take an ethereal quality to them. They float in front of you and allow you to imagine that the singer is just in front of you.

 

On this section of the frequency spectrum I agree with other reviewers on what they have said.

 

 

Treble:

This is where I fail to see eye to eye with most reviews of the Miracle. From all that I’ve read, they describe the treble as ‘cymbals which have the perfect amount of decay’, ‘excellent definition and air’ etc. I was expecting cymbals to sound just like cymbals in real life: ‘shining, shimmering, splendid’, with enough air to get the correct timbre. I was disappointed.

 

On first listen, the bass and mids overpower one’s perception of the music such that the entire tonal range shifts – the focus is on those two. But when I listened further, what I found was that the cymbals were problematic. The problem was this: they all sounded the same past a certain point. What do I mean? For cymbals, there are a few types, some lie lower on the frequency range e.g. a ride cymbal has a distinct ‘click’ish sound which is easy to reproduce. Others like the crash cymbal require accuracy in the upper highs particularly from 7k onwards in order to sound correct and have enough air to let the cymbal note decay.

 

On the Miracles, the cymbals stopped at 6k. There was a peak there which ‘brickwalled’ the entire music’s cymbal reproduction, such that all cymbals sounded the same, like ‘noise’. Also, because the decay of the Miracles’ highs are longer than usual (at least from comparison with the ‘tick tick’ nature of the ER4S), the cymbal notes join with each other. On fast paced rock, what I hear is a continuous ‘tssssssssh’ instead of the proper cymbals. I was not able to pinpoint exactly where each cymbal note started. Compared to the Stax, which has a peak at around 10k, the Stax’s cymbals ring on naturally and have enough air to shimmer such that they maintain their individuality. Such was the problem with the Miracle.

 

In addition, the highs’ quantitative volume is not very high. On a track like Hiromi’s ‘Caravan’, which has a complex cymbal pattern at the beginning, which only a few phones have been able to explicitly reproduce (ER6i), I was struggling to make out what was being played. I could not hear what the cymbals were. In comparison to the ER4S, this was easily done, and on the Brainwavz B2, even more easily done. It may be because the bass and mids have a higher volume as compared to the highs, but I didn’t find this aspect of the headphone very rewarding.

 

P1040450.JPGMy frequency chart. The peak at 5.5k is not so bad as it looks, but it brickwalls the treble.

 

 

Soundstaging:

People would have you believe that the Miracle can do 5.1 surround sound and ‘throw details all over the place’ in a virtual headstage. This is only true to a partial extent. I did hear the soundstage being wider than most earphones I have heard, but width wise the ER4S is better, depth wise the Miracle wins by a large margin. Notes are just layered better and I could make out a few details I never heard at that particular spatial point in the headstage before.

 

 

My personal thoughts:

The objective parts aside, here are the subjective parts. I bought the Miracle based on an extensive audition with the demo unit. To my ears, the demo unit had less sub-bass, less mid bass, and more extension at the highs. That was what I was looking for. The most neutral and ‘accurate’ earphone per se. Obviously I am left disappointed, in that the Miracle is only a ‘good’ headphone. I have not heard the JH series (customs), only the demos, but what I recall is that their highs were more strident than the UM series. Thus I went with them. If you want excellent focus on bass and mids, the Miracle is for you, however, if you are seeking absolute neutrality with perfect tonal accuracy and timbre, look elsewhere.

 

I would like to hear what others have to say about their pairs. Perhaps when they receive them they can post here so that my impressions are either rebuked as ‘quality control issues’ or affirmed as the general opinion.

 

Some pictures of the IEM itself:

P1040449.JPGNice looking wine red.

 

P1040447.JPGWires are very soft and easy to use.

 


Edited by spekkio - 11/29/11 at 8:10am
post #2 of 49

Thanks for the review, Spekkio - I'm sorry to hear you aren't satisfied with your Miracles. I'm currently awaiting delivery of a pair, myself.

post #3 of 49

Sounds like a fair review.  I'm wondering if the 5 Ohm output impedance of the Audinst isn't throwing off the FR somewhat.  I had my DACPort modded for 1 ohm in anticipation of these.  I was very excited when I ordered my pair based on the reviews and now I'm nervously waiting to see if they are right for me or if I should have ordered the UERMs.

post #4 of 49

Great review, yet i don't get how the demo unit can sound better than the finished customs , also considering that all the other reviews are hyping the mids

 

iam not a soundexpert or something but would it be possible to feed the miracles with a mono signal and check the left and the right IEM if everything is allright and sounding equal ?

post #5 of 49

Thanks for the review, very enlightening.  

 

Having only spent time with the universal version (which I loved) I do wonder how much difference there would be with the real thing. I suppose it is possible that there is a difference, and some of us happen to like the sound of the universal demo more than the molded version.

 

I don't want to sound like I'm trying to explain away your complaints by saying "you just don't have the right amp". That sort of thing is often done around here, and I dislike the practice. But the poster above raises an interesting point: the 5ohm output of the Audinst may in fact be interacting with the 16ohm Miracles. That only makes for a damping factor of 3. It is generally desirable to have a damping factor of 8 or higher. It's just a possibility, but may be worth looking into if you get a chance. 

post #6 of 49

How much did they cost?

post #7 of 49

Great review! Honest and insightful. Just goes to show, there are ALWAYS two sides to every coin. However, I too am sorry to hear the Miracles did not live up to your expectations, but it sounds to me as though the UERM may have been a better choice for you, my friend, if it's absolute neutrality you're after. In any case, do keep us posted, as to whether or not your perception of the Miracle changes after further use. I still can't wait for mine to arrive hopefully within a few weeks time. smile.gif

post #8 of 49
post #9 of 49

Spekkio, Finally i thought i was going crazy in that i find the miracle to be disappointing as well.

I am actually in the same boat as you in that i audition the demo unit during a meet and i find the demo unit to be more airy and brighter than the custom unit which i find it to be dissapointing.

I suspect that for the demo unit i am hearing the added air and brightnesss simply due to less isolation and noisy environment of the meet which actually colors the sound to be different.

Oh well i should've known better to actually borrow the demo unit for in-home demo first before plunging on it.

 

The custom Miracle to me resembles more to my impression of the demo unit for Merlin (with less bass) which i actually dislike due to its even more laidback vocal and darker treble.

I did also managed to listen to someone else's JH13 unit that day and i might actually go get one next year but afraid i might end up dissapointed again just like Miracle :(

 

I actually believe the treble is toned down deliberately to counter the effect of treble prone modern recordings.

post #10 of 49


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post


Yeah I've always prefered my 602 amped.  Just measured the output impedance on the HO at 11.4 ohms.  Pass.  

 



Oh crap.

post #11 of 49

Hmmm. I can't possibly imagine how a pair of customs would sound too different form its original demo set.

 

I too spent about 2 weeks auditioning the demo set and found that the Miracles sounded terrific.

 

This may sound stupid, but perhaps more run in time may change the sound.

 

How much of the 'sounding better' would you attribute to the demo set being particularly away from your ear canal or perhaps any other factors which would make it sound different from your particular customs? I assume that the graphs for the demo set and your customs would be about the same, which makes me wonder why there is such a huge difference in sound. (Do all customs have different graphs?)

 

 

post #12 of 49

i am very hesitant to say anything at all yet, as i have not had enough time to get clear, but i will try to make a few comments.

 

first please ready my signature, as it will inform you as to what gear i am working with.  that said -

 

the miracles without eq sound quite good.  better than the best universal's i've heard, but i wonder, and i mean no disrespect by this, that if some miracle owners are finding them to be fantastic only because they have not compared them to other high end headphones, or because they happen to like their sound signature, or because they simply dont recognize the imbalances they posess.  maybe they are balanced, and maybe those of us who find them imbalanced are simply used to another signature that we prefer but in my opinion that is not the case. 

 

there could be so many other reasons for us finding the miracles to be only "good",  but the bottom line for me is that the miracles sound like they have laid back mids and treble, and sound a bit dull and "muffled" in that regard.  they also seem to have a muddy low end due to too much 120hz bass, but again, others who are not used to a sound signature like the lCD-2 may not notice this, or may not find it to be an issue.  it may simply be a matter of preference or opinion rather than a true "imbalance"  but again, in my humble opinion this is not the case

 

i get the feeling that our units are not defective, but rather those of us that are criticizing their sound are simply used to a different standard of sound but i dont know for sure.

i do wonder however, if the fact that the ports are so close to the ear drum, that the sound waves simply dont have enough room to breathe so to speak.. pure speculation, but a thought.  my shells seem to go very far into my ear

 

i should say though, that while the miracles dont sound as amazing with no eq as the lCD-2's do with no eq, like the LCD-2's it seems the miracles are capable of outstanding performance when properly eq'd and i will hazard a guess and say - that is probably all that will matter to me in the end..

 

 

 


Edited by Br777 - 11/29/11 at 10:51pm
post #13 of 49
Thread Starter 

Yeah, as much as I want to say it is a quality control issue or an exception to the case, I doubt it is. But do not worry. If you speak to UM / Stephen Guo, they will take good care of you. Their service level and commitment to the product is great. That much I am certain. 


Edited by spekkio - 11/29/11 at 10:59pm
post #14 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by spekkio View Post

Yeah, as much as I want to say it is a quality control issue or an exception to the case, I doubt it is. But do not worry. If you speak to UM / Stephen Guo, they will take good care of you. Their service level and commitment to the product is great. That much I am certain. 



 

yeah, i agree with everything you said.  someone in another thread is mentioning the possibility of possibly something being miswired causing improper phasing or crossover.

 

i suppose this is a possibility... i sure wish there was a way to test this without sending them back in.. hmmm  maybe there is??

 

 

post #15 of 49

Thanks for the review Spekkio! A truly honest review!

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