JUST A HEADS UP. This is my own personal review of MY own customized monitors. Many will find this review to be non-beneficial because for obvious reasons... Just doing this to appreciate how well my Re-mold went with Unique Melody and to share my experiences with the SCL3X.
Unique Melody "Shure Ears" SCL3X Triple Driver 3-way Crossover Single Bore Custom IEM.
Impedance: From what I remember it was 30 something ohms.
Gear used regularly: iPhone 4 (MP3 320, ALAC)-> L9 LOD-> Fiio E7 (bass lvl1) -> UM SCL3X, Cowon O2 (FLAC)->Fiio E7/E9->UM SCL3X, Asus UL30A->Fiio E7&E9 DAC/AMP-> UM SCL3X
Well... This is a bit awkward... At this point, I should be giving you some specifications about the SCL3X… Unfortunately I have lost the Frequency Response sheet and along with the Freq Response sheet was the Sensitivity, Impedance, and etc… -1 point for re-molds here... Once you lose your info, say goodbye unless you send them back to UM for some tests again. Other than that, the only information I am able to give you is my own opinions and the Driver Configuration. The SCL3X (as the name points out) uses a Shure SCL3 (E3) driver as the Mid driver, Sonion 2028 driver as the Bass driver and a UE Triple Fi 10 Hi driver as the Tweeter. The reason why I choose the Shure SCL3 as my Mid driver was because I adored the Mids on many Shure products. I loved how the warmth brought out the detail and I loved how rich and smooth the delivery was. Neither was it laid back nor up front. It really grew on me. It's sort of that predictable "Shure" sound you get from other Shure products like the SE310, SE425, SE530 and the SE535 just to name a few. I chose the Sonion driver because Felix (Mao Di) told me to.
Not trying to get off topic here but a HUGE thanks to him for supplying the Sonion and TF10 drivers for me and doing all the paper work from UM (He had good connections with UM and he also is my school friend). He said the Sonion would be ideal for my configuration because 1. He had a pair handy and 2. It would deliver nice bass with good extension. Now the TF10, I had the choice of using the SCL3 as the Mid/High driver making the SCL3X into a 2 driver crossover but luckily, Felix had a pair of TF10 Hi drivers handy from his previous re-shell that he didn't use. I was convinced that the TF10 Hi driver would blend well with my SCL3 and Sonion because I believed the TF10 would blend nicely with the warm Mids of the SCL3. So there you have it. 3 different drivers from very different sources, combined into one for a very ambitious project.
Once I received both the Sonion and TF10 drivers from Felix, I immediately went to my Audiologist for an impression. Sent them off and yadda yadda the wait begins. It took roughly 3 months to get them back (yes, it was a VERY busy period for UM) and during the entire wait, I was very anxious to get them back... All that went through my mind was "what if my impressions shrunk?", "what if I don't like the sound?", "what if the fit is bad?" and on and on... Yes, I worry too much but I find this acceptable because this was to be my FIRST real Audiophile product ever. The moment I received my new Custom Monitors, I immediately listened to them on my Cowon O2 un-amped. The first song was "Runnin'" by 2pac ft.Biggie Smalls. After the intro, everything came together at once. The beat, the vocals, the background, everything and oh boy did the SCL3X perform all of this miraculously. The bass, the mid, the treble... Oh boy where do I start?
BASS: The bass is quick and very responsive. Not a lot of power, but great mid-bass.The mid-bass is really powerful. Hits hard, stays hard all the way until the beat ended; quick without losing energy. On some Dubstep, it's really fun to listen to because the Mid bass sounds really strong in this genre of music. Sub bass is minimal, doesn't really cut it for a lot of bass demanding genres, but it does manage to get the job done. With that said, not the most bass heavy IEM I have heard. I would be shot if I said the bass was realistic, but it does blend really nicely with different genres. With classical music, the bass is very accurate and articulate. Sometimes there's a tiny bit too much Cello and Double Bass, but other than that, really blends nicely. Makes a nice foundation for the Mid and High frequencies. Not too shouty or too recessed. Perfect for my liking and blends very nicely with the SCL3 and TF10 drivers.
Mids: I really enjoyed the Mids on my original SCL3, especially with female voices. It felt rich and smooth. From what I remember, the SCL3 was a fairly neutral IEM with a bit of warmth. Now with the transformation from a Single IEM to a 3-Driver, 3-way crossover Custom monitor I was really hoping to keep some of those attributes. I was wrong, it changed it very dramatically. I’m not a sound engineer or anything so I find it rather difficult to explain what happened here scientifically. The only logical solution I can think of is by eliminating the Bass and High frequencies from the SCL3 driver, the Mid frequencies changed its sonic signature altogether. By removing both the Bass and High frequencies, the SCL3 driver now has all the room to spread its legs with the Mids because it’s responsible for the Mids and Mids only. This for me changed the way the driver behaves very dramatically. I still recognize the familiar smooth and rich delivery and it still performs female vocals very well, but there’s more to it now. It sounds less colored and more detailed. It lost some of its warmth for precise detail and clarity. I like this, I like this a lot. Also as you may have noticed, I only mentioned female voices. This was because I really enjoyed them with female voices but now with the transformation, male vocals sound magnificent. Before, I didn’t exactly “love” the male voices as much as I did with the females. Just didn’t sound as engaging as the females. But now, they are on more equal terms. Great example is through the song “Lucky” by Colbie Calliat and Jason Mraz. Throughout the song they sing together and sing separately. Both voices are different (obviously) and both of them are a joy to listen to through the SCL3X. Still a little bit warm, but much more detailed than before. Extreme high fidelity like with some Etymotic products (minus the cold signature). That’s what the new design caused it to. It allowed the female vocals to be mildly improved and also brought out the lower toned male vocals much more significantly. Feels like ear nectar to me (weird?). Also on some other elements like musical instruments, I found the same story as I did with vocals. Me being a High School Clarinetist, I find the SCL3X to be really accurate in terms of accuracy and minor details. Of course I am really familiar with the Clarinet and when I hear recording of myself and others recordings, it’s really that precise. Never have I heard an IEM that came this close to a real instrument. Really impressed by how well a mid-priced SCL3 driver reproduces music. Hahaha almost forgot! Just last year when Adele first debuted in North America (was it last year? 2011? Forgot) I turned on the radio and I heard her singing “Someone like you”, I wasn’t exactly impressed. Being the subjective person I am, I thought she was just an overrated artist trying to be “original” in todays corrupted mainstream music industry. This all changed when I listened to her through my SCL3X once more (this was a Youtube video). Really touched my heart and I find it very rare for a single song to touch my heart on the first REAL attempt. She sounded real and I was able to feel her soul through the SCL3X. That was quite an enjoyable moment for both me and the SCL3X. Now because of the SCL3X, Adele is on my top playlist. That’s what some special Headphones and IEMs are able to do to me. It influences what I listen to on a regular basis.
Highs: Crisp, accurate, detailed, realistic, and bright. Just the way I like my Highs. Besides the SCL3X, the only real IEMs that I fell in love with the Highs with have to be the Etymotic HF5 and Etymotic ER4S. I absolutely loved the cold precision portrayed in both Etymotic products. To be honest, I’m not really a “high” kind of guy (no pun intended). I like my treble to be audible. I’m not entirely obsessed with every fine grain-like detail like I am with the Bass and Mids, but with that put aside, they only things I can say about the Highs on the SCL3X are that it blends, and it blends well. Like I said earlier, I’m not a sound engineer or anything so putting together this collage of drivers felt like it was being done blindly. I really didn’t know what to expect. Many of you might find that to be utterly stupid. Yes, I agree with you completely for many obvious reasons. I wasn’t entirely sure of what I was doing, which is understandable, but in a way I sort of knew. I generally knew how the TF10 highs sounded like, I knew exactly how my SCL3 sounded like, and the Sonion… Let’s forget about that for now shall we? But let me have my word here! I was being very ambitious and very optimistic. I knew what I wanted and I aimed at that. With a little optimism and ambition, I got exactly what I wanted. And with the Highs I got exactly that. I wanted good sounding highs, and by good sounding I wanted very articulate and precise highs. I didn’t want it too bright or too dull in any way possible, I was trying to aim for realistic and neutral sounding treble. And I got just that. Cymbals are no where too excessive and sound very accurate. At times, I admit, it’s a TAD bit too bright. But disregarding that tiny flaw, I love it. I love how well it blends with the Mids and Bass.
Soundstage: For an IEM I find the soundstage to be a little bit above average. It’s not as wide as some IEMs like the Sennheiser IE8 or the Westone UM2, but it’s definitely there. I have to say the soundstage opened up after making it into a 3 driver crossover when comparing it to the SCL3. I always found the SCL3’s soundstage to be a bit too narrow for my liking, but with adding 2 more drivers the soundstage opened up a lot more. Also Instrument separation is just magical. Really detailed placement of the instruments.
Fit: Fit is still very good, even after 2 years. It definitely goes deep enough, but too deep to cause irritation. Perfect fitting IEMs. Only problem I had was my ears grew a bit so made a quick fix by applying clear nail polish onto the monitors to increase the size a little. Now the fit feels new again!
Isolation: Personally speaking, I think my Etymotic HF5 with Tri-Flanges isolate more. But with that said, they are Etymotics. If I was to make a realistic comparison, it’s in between my Shure SE215 and Etymotic HF5. Very minimal differences.
There you have it! There’s my attempt at explaining what I was hearing through the SCL3X. Again, this review wasn’t exactly a purpose made review for other Head Fi-ers to read and to help them on a future purchase; it was more of my tribute towards his beloved SCL3X. And for the people who are still wondering how Custom Re-Shelling works, maybe this will convince you to show a little ambition? Definitely recommend Unique Melody for their expertise and very fair pricing. I’m not aware if UM still does combining like I did with my SCL3X, but I’ve heard that others had many success stories just like mine with other companies like Fisher Hearing. Re-shelling is also a very affordable way to extend the life of some IEMs by putting them in a Custom monitor and most likely will improve it in every way possible. And also the UM monitors feel REALLY strong, like REALLY strong. I admit they are a bit heavy so they dangle furiously around my neck when they are not in use, but other than that I have banged them on surfaces countless times (I really should take better care of them) and they are still perfectly fine. Some people had cases where the drivers actually came loose or when the Acrylic shell actually cracked, but those are very rare occurrences (unless you literally play baseball with them). That’s my take with UM’s Re-shelling service and as always, enjoy your music! Hope you enjoyed a bit of my writing!
Edited by planx - 12/27/12 at 12:18am