The UM Miracle is my first custom-iem, and I ordered it during the launching promotion in Malaysia. By the courtesy of UM Malaysia, I was loaned a pair of demo set Miracle to compare it with my custom set Miracle so I’ll include that in the review.
Based on my experiences in the audio enthusiast community, people do have different level of listening experience and also different perception in perceiving sound, as such please take this personal review with a grain of salt.
I will skip the part about ordering process, built quality, and artwork since they’re pretty much covered by a few reviews and my experience doesn't deviate much from those. First of all, though Miracle is my own first custom-iem and my first high end audio device at that, I did have prior listening experiences with high end headphones like HD800, T1, HE500, LCD-3, and JH13 (mostly from meets), also having owned a pretty diverse IEMs like the Turbine, UM2, DBA-02, IE7, and T15 definitely help to enrich my sound appreciation and listening experience.
Upon listening to UM Miracle demo set for the first time, the sound signature is not the typical sound that gives out the ‘wow’ factor on the first listen, unlike the more exciting and aggressive sounding JH13 demo I’ve tried the Miracle sounds kinda bland albeit very balanced. After spending sometime with the demo (loaned from UM Malaysia), it still does not convince me to order it until |joker| posted the thread about his take on his Miracle and the demo set during the demo program in the US. My decision was made soon after that when UM Malaysia launch their promo program, the deal was sweet enough that I’m willing to take the plunge and I’m also a long time follower of |joker| review thread to trust his judgment, and I guess I made the right call, the full-custom sounds just like how I hope it would be (details on the comparison vs demo set will be covered later).
Starting from the bottom, the Miracle has a visceral and versatile bass characteristic, it runs deep and has a great dynamics, pace, and resolution, albeit the impact will not throw you into party mode with the club bangers. Don’t get the wrong idea here, the impact is still very decent overall, just not as punchy and overwhelming as the red b. If I want more bass, its easily fixed with the decent ‘bass boast’ in the amp.
Moving up to the treble, I guess finding the perfect treble presentation has been quite a strife for me. A sparkly and bright treble gives the music excitement and liveliness, but fatiguing after a while. On the other hand, dark and smooth treble provides a relaxing listening experience, but kills the excitement of a live music. The treble presented by the Miracle is by far one of the best I’ve heard, it has just the right amount of sparkle but is neither bright or dark, and yet overall smooth and revealing, sibilance will present if it’s in the recording but is never accentuated to sound harsh, which is a remarkable trait that even the uber level headphone like HD800 lacks in my opinion.
Now for the best part, this is the great part where I think it's unmatched by any universal IEMs I’ve tried, namely the SE535, SM3, and W4, though those possess among the best midrange in its class the Miracle just bring it to the next level. The midrange is neither thick nor thin, and tone wise is just about right, it possesses the natural clarity (details are not forced into the listener) that able to present subtle nuance in the music and excellent vocal texture and purity (free from coloration) that seems lacking in other top tier universal IEMs, this presented in an impressive soundstage (width, depth, and height represent the recording space properly), giving out a great musical and immersive experience that gives me that cloud nine experience I’ve always hoped for in my listening session.
Overall the Miracle is all about its poised sound signature. It might not have the most intimate and engaging sound a la LCD-3 or the uber realistic presentation of live music a la STAX, but what the Miracle has done right is the ability to precisely render the sound frequency from top to bottom in its full resolution, and present it in a very musical and poised manner without sounding harsh or analytical. This combination provides me the pleasure of listening to wide genre of music without feeling something’s off or overly done, just the way I like it.
Comparison of 2 Miracles: demo vs full custom
Soon after receiving my own custom set Miracle, I was loaned the universal demo set of the Miracle by UM Malaysia to do some comparison between both set. First of all, my listening experience with the demo set might be different from others since this depends on how well is the seal we can get with universal tips, I’m using the single flange silicon which allow me to get consistent and deep seal. Here are my conclusions after an extended period of switching between the two:
- Treble sounds slightly harsher and rather metallic
- Slightly more mid-bass impact but less sub-bass extension
- Midrange and overall presentation sounds bland
To further clarify, I’m positive with my conclusion of the comparison as it did not take long for me to notice the differences with each switch. The differences in the bass and treble might have been subtle, but the difference in the midrange is the one I notice almost immediately. As I described above, the midrange of the full custom Miracle is one of the best I’ve heard, but it is definitely not the case with the demo set, the vocal just doesn’t have the same glow and overall presentation just sounds bland, just like how I heard it first time around.
I don’t really know how this can be the case with UM Miracle since I don’t seem to hear anything wrong (compared to the online review) with the JH13 demo that I tried, but then again others might have slightly different experience in a good way like project86. Honestly if my full custom Miracle sounds like the demo, I would not be happy with it at all, overall it doesn’t sounds bad, but rate it along the current top tier universal IEM then it’s clear that it doesn’t have any special place.
If I could use one word to describe the sound of UM Miracle it would be Poised. Feed any genre of music to it, and the Miracle will present it with an admirably poised manners. The balance of the frequency from top to bottom, the natural tone and clarity presented in an immersive soundstage really gives me the cloud nine listening experience, and the fact that this is an IEM means I can have this listening experience with me everywhere I go. Overall this is one of the best sounding audio gear that I’ve experienced to date and will definitely remain so for years to come.
To summarize, here are the list of what I think the Miracle might and might not be preferable.
- Balanced frequency response and natural tone
- Versatile and visceral bass presentation
- Sparkly yet smooth and refined treble
- Midrange presented with extremely good resolution and texture, and excellent vocal presentation
- Overall poised presentation and grand soundstage that rivals high-end full size headphones
- Sounds great with wide genre of music and just about any audio source
Might not be preferable:
- Depend on budget, it might be pricey for some
- Full acrylic shell might need sometime to get use to, some might not like the feeling of it
- Not for basshead, not tuned for typical club banger
- Not for vocal junkie, doesn’t have that thick, warm, and forward vocal presentation
- Not for people that seek absolute flat frequency response or uber detailed presentation
At the end of the day, how does one justifies the purchase of this kind of extravagant audio device? Is the sound quality really justifies the price or owning this is more of a symbolic status like owning a $50k watch?
Well for me it certainly not the latter, though I can’t really say that it is worth 5 times the cost I paid for the DBA-02 (which is remarkable for its price), so I guess it boils down to what really matters to me. This custom-iem gives me the cloud nine listening experience and convenient factors (portability and noise isolation) that I couldn’t really expect from any other audio device, and because at the end of the day…sound matters!
Well, that’s the end of my review and with this, I would like to personally thank Unique Melody for this great product and I would also like to thank |joker| and project86 for their reviews that influence me to get the Miracle. Last but not least, long live the audio community!