Unique Melody Mason V3

General Information

The Mentor V3 and Mason V3 are 4-way, 5-bore design with 4 sound tubes and 1 bore designed for tuning module. The Module provides acoustic dampening, pressure attenuation, and real-time low frequency adjustment. Each bore is reinforced with a rigid metal tube to ensure structural stability and faithful sound reproduction.

With a newly designed acrylic shell, the shell is not only sturdier and more comfortable than ever, but also features our beautiful, handcrafted "Dreamweaver" fiber design.

The brand new and unique "Dual-Tone" cable design also allows you to achieve two distinct sound signatures from the same cable - A pure copper sound or a pure silver sound gives you even more control and customization over the sound signature.
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Latest reviews

Barra

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Sound Quality, Unique Signature, Best Vocal CIEM
Cons: Price, Lack of Custom Version
My Brief Impressions
Having hosted a number of TOP TIER CIEM tours and having access to others through HeadFi and the RMAF events, I have a pretty good understanding of what is out there in the CIEM options. Some impress immediately as different such as the EE LX with its dual subwoofers, and some others like the 64 Audio A18 grow on you over time sounding good at first, but then bringing tears to your eyes after you listen to it long enough to "get it". The Mason falls into the latter category as it took some listening through my library and playing with my DAP collection before I "got it". Now that I "GET IT" I am in love with its capabilities.

The King of Vocals
What impresses me most about the Mason is its unique ability to provide clarity - front and center - to vocals.... both male and female. Going through my library of music, I am understanding words that I thought previously were mumbled. I am also hearing why the words are illegible by some singers hearing clearly that they are singing in vowels... a vocal trick to sound better. This has been an interesting exercise in just relearning my library for vocals, but there is more. The bass is unique as well. The sounds are well integrated adding bass - as well as treble - to each element offering a thicker texturing for more interesting timbre. Finally, the sound stage is big with lots of space between the elements to allow for maximum detail flow.

The best comparable is the HD800 with enhanced bass through the SonarWorks True-Fi. Although the HD800 is not known for its bass, it has incredible bass when set up right. So does the Mason. Both are highly textured and transparent in a quality sense without being elevated. The bass is not hidden as in bass light equipment either providing full-sized sound. It is, however, right-sized and big in stature without stepping on anything else. The comparison to the HD800 more so is the gobs detail and sound stage. While I have better HPs than the 800, I keep coming back to it as it is the most fun to listen to for the long term. There is just something special about the 800 that has made it an audiophile favorite for so so so long. This is the same with the Mason.

Where I am Unsure
With all this positive, there needs to be some disclosures and balance. As I have mentioned many times, my ears do not play well with universal CIEMs. A weird bend keeps me from getting a good seal so I have to improvise to audition any CIEM before buying a custom version. Therefore, here are some particulars that I cannot make any conclusions until I hear the Mason as a custom if this opportunity ever come around:
  • Bass: To get proper bass from the Mason, I have to press my ears against my head to approximate a good seal. This makes the outcome somewhat variable depending on my hold. What I can tell you is that I am getting some incredible bass that ramps up quickly with a better seal. A reasonable seal that i can get if I hold perfectly still is pretty darn good. However, a bad seal and all the bass and texturing go away and it sounds very bright. My guess is that a custom version would be outstanding.
  • Detail: While I am impressed with the detail as is, I think there is more to give with a perfected seal.
  • Staging: With a better seal, the performance becomes more intimate and the staging improves leaving me to believe that there is more on the table with a custom version.
  • Copper/Silver Cable: Switching back and forth there is a slight perception difference, but not enough to care. This again may change with a custom seal. An interesting option that I would love to hear again in custom. Even more impressive was that they include all three cable types for easy switching - 2.5mm, 3.5mm, 4.4mm.
  • Knob: While the bass knob on the faceplate is an interesting idea, I couldn't hear the difference wiht a less than perfect seal. Would like to hear again in custom. However, I found it very useful as a grabber for working on my seal in the universal format.
Pairing
Having a nice arsenal of DAPs/sources, I played around with many to see what the best pairing was. Here is what I found:
  • iPhone: Sounds nice, but nothing special. Loses staging and textures.
  • AK100ii: Ok, but too bright with diminished detail.... which sounds odd.
  • Calyx M: Wow, really, really good, but bright at first until I get used to the sound. Then it becomes the most detailed of my options. The dynamics work really well with the M and I could listen to this for hours.
  • Sony WM1a: Sounds good, but kind of dull..... lack of dynamics and a little less sound stage.
  • Sony WM1a > C&C BH2 amp: WOW!!! Hands down the best pairing. Once I heard this I lost interest in trying other options. Huge dynamics and texturing that offers full-sized sound. This is the way portable music is supposed to sound. Unfortunately, this stack while small is still a stack.
  • Hugo2: TBD
  • Hugo2 > Eddie Current ZDs: TBD
Conclusion
This Mason v3 is one that I would love to own. However, at its price tag, it would need to be custom for me to make the most of it. This audition was an eye opener given that I have been completely satisfied with my current stable of CIEMs feeling that I have covered the signature spectrum. Now I know better. Will be looking to see how I can get an opportunity to hear a custom version to update the post with a full review.

Yethal

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Realistic vocals, great tonal balance, pretty good detail retrieval, rich accessory set
Cons: Poor price/performance ratio, uncomfortable to use
Introduction
I received the Masons V3 as part of the European Review tour. I did not get to keep them and I did not receive any compensation for writing this. My main point of reference for this review were Focal Clears driven by either iFi iDSD Black Label or Schiit Ragnarok. All music was lossless from Tidal. Sorry in advance for the poor picture quality.

Package contents
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Unique Melody definitely wants you to feel pampered as soon as you open the box. THe amount of accessories included with the Mason V3 is seriously impressive. Aside from the IEMs themselves we get:

  • Three cables

  • Six pairs of ear tips

  • Cleaning cloth

  • A USB drive (which I haven’t plugged into so I have no idea what’s on it)

  • a metal storage jar

  • A keychain
The jar is rather heavy and has sharp edges so it’s only ever going to be useful as a stationary case. For throwing into the bag and carrying around town a smaller (and lighter) case would be more appropriate and I wish Unique Melody included one (even something cheap like the cases Brainwavz uses). Aside from that, no complaints.
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Pretty much everybody will be able to use the Masons out of the box without first going to a store and buying iems that fit given how many of them are included. Same thing with the cable, UM not only included a regular 3.5mm unbalanced cable and a 2.5mm balanced one, they even threw in a Pentaconn cable in case one of ten people in the world who use this standard buys their IEM.

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Speaking of the cable, just look at this thing. It’s beautiful. Silver and copper strands interwoven together to form the most beautiful stock cable I’ve ever seen. Unlike most IEMs the Masons don’t use the 2-Pin connector or the MMCX, rather they use a four pin threaded connector (not unlike the one used Dita Audio Truth cable). This makes ordering custom cables a bit of a hassle as cable makers usually don’t have such connectors in stock. On the other hand though, the cables included with the Masons are so good that you shouldn’t have to order custom ones anyway.


Appearance
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The pictures I took with my phone don’t fully capture the beauty of the Masons so you’ll have to just trust me that Masons are a beautiful pair of IEMs. Design is subtle and not at all flashy with discreet Unique Melody logo on the sides. If I could change just one thing about them I’d make the shells opaque and not transparent but that’s just a preference. Overall I really dig them.


Comfort

This is one of few gripes I have with these IEMs (we’ll get to the rest soon). Unfortunately the Masons turned out to be one of the most uncomfortable IEMs I have ever used. When fully inserted into my ears Masons press very firmly against the outer walls of my ear canals causing severe discomfort. At first I thought this was just a personal incompatibility but I asked several other people to try them out and four other people confirmed my findings. After about ten days of daily use the pain stopped. I don’t know whether my ear canals got accustomed to the shape of the Masons or I just became dull to the pain but yeah, not a great first impression as far as comfort goes.


Sound

Here’s the most important part of any audio review. How do the Masons sound? Well, if I had to describe them in one word, I’d say they sound realistic. The vocals are very natural and accurate sounding, even badly recorded ones (looking at you Jeff Mangum). Soundstage is moderate in size, with great sense of depth. Masons easily beat my Focal Clears when it comes to soundstage. It’s not as big as say, HD800 but it’s still pretty large. Overall tonal balance is rather neutral with a small tilt towards darkness. Bass has a lot of detail (when the seal is perfect, otherwise it’s rather thin) but isn’t bloated and doesn’t overpower the mids (despite the darker tilt). I’d say it makes both Ron Carver and Gessafelstein sound pleasant. Detail retrieval is pretty good too but not as good as the Clears. In Leonard Cohen’s Avalanche I can clearly hear the small ripples in the vocals but they are not as big as on the Clears. Similar story with Steely Dan’s Babylon Sisters, the female vocals in the chorus aren’t as clearly (pun unintended) separated but I can still hear that it’s not a single voice. Overall I found the listening experience very satisfying once comfort stopped being an issue for me.

Conclusion

Okay, so we’ve talked about how beautiful those IEMs are, how satisfying and natural the sound is and how rich the accessory set is. If you were to stop reading this review at this point you might leave under the impression that the Masons are a flawless, perfect product worth eating ramen for a year. I wish I could tell you that. Unfortunately there is one glaring flaw with the Masons which in my eyes make them non recommendable and that is their price to performance ratio.

Don’t get me wrong these do sound fantastic, that’s not the issue here. The issue here is they don’t sound fantastic enough to justify $2499 price point. When I compared them (albeit briefly) against Campfire Audio Andromeda I found them trading blows with each other with neither being a clear winner. And Andromedas cost less than half the price of the Masons. At around $1200 I’d recommend them in a heartbeat, hell even at $1500 considering all the swag you get when you buy those. But at $2500 the only thing I can recommend is for you to buy Andromedas instead.
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narco dacunzolo

New Head-Fier
Pros: A lot of tips and cables provided
Build quality
Soundstage and imaging
Clarity
Punchiness
Cons: Slightly recessed mids
Fit (by wearing the universal model)
Price
Once I said that you don’t generally love In-Ear Headphones until you heard a really good one. I meant that you can generally dislike this kind of products, but a really good sound could make you forget the eventual issues regarding, for example, the ear fit. Well, these IEMs by Unique Melody are that good, under some points of view. And, luckily for me, they also don’t have any enormous fit issue.

I want to start with some useful information. First, these are 2700$ monitors; that means two things: they aren’t, obviously, a popular product, and they are meant for professional users. It’s a role – the pro – that I don’t exactly embody, because even though I’ve been a musician and I’m constantly “around” music, I don’t actually perform live nor professionally record. But I do something concerning records on my own, and I’ve tried the V3s – as far as possible – with some more stressful works than merely reproducing music.

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Unboxing

Usually, when you climb the price range hill, there’s a point where the quality stops going up with the price. That is a difficult step to predict nowadays, but I push a button: I’m not sure that over 1000/1500$ what you get is what you really pay for. But here comes the real deal: what makes the Mason premium isn’t just the product, but the overall experience you get. Starting from the elegant black box, in which they put a lot of useful accessories.

First, I got impressed by the carrying metal box (actually made of titanium) that’s inside: it’s way heavier than expected. That prevents any possible damage to the earphones, but it’s not very handy.

There are a lot of ear tips, which comes from one of the best manufacturers out there (COMPLY); a pair of them is a foam one, really comfortable and sealing by my ears.

They actually include three cables to adapt the M3s to a SE (3.5mm) or balanced (2.5mm/4.4mm) output on your source. I believe these are very expensive cables, and they make a great piece of the price. Besides the price, they are amazing hand-made braided cables (actually, they braid other cables together, cable-ception!editor’s note). They use a 4-pin proprietary standard, secured by a screw, sort of, to help it not to detach. Replacing it is pretty easy.

Inside the box there’s also minor UM branded stuff: the cure is impressive, and as we’ll see this is something concerning every area of these IEMs. You also find a funny USB stick with some pictures and info about the V3 inside.

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Design and Fit

As I said before, I didn’t have fit issues with the Mason. But there’s a matter regarding my ears that’s worth a mention: I can’t wear them for a long time. Like most of the monitors out there, they are just too big for me not to hurt, and this might be an issue if I were a live performer. I’m not, and I have to say they really stay in place like they’re meant to. Obviously, a custom version would fit better and avoid the pain – which I have, but you may not.

The design is classic for an IEM, but gets some interesting and unique features. First, their translucent blue finish let you see through the shell, revealing the insane number of balanced armatures crammed inside (13 or 16 depending on the version). The shell itself is made of acrylic and gives a solid and good-looking impression.

Another thing that’s worth mentioning is how easily you can change the ear tips: it may sound stupid, but some IEMs that I’ve tried in the past were so hardly attached to the monitor’s body to make it difficult to exchange one another.

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Sound

I don’t want to result too critical in this review, but this is the most important part of it and I want to be honest: I didn’t love these IEMs, even though I liked them very much in many ways.

Here are my reasons.

There are a lot of positive things about them. Their precision is insane, and the sound resolution really amazed me. But here’s the problem for me: the sound changes too much depending on the source. I listened to the same track in FLAC on my DAP (FiiO M7) and in MP3 on my iPhone and again in FLAC with my Scarlett 2i2 attached to my 2012 MacBook Pro and with the Audirect Beam attached to my Xiaomi Mi Mix 2. I’ll list the experience I’ve had with all of them:

  • FiiO M7: at first approach, I got caught by the incredible imaging created by the Mason. The very first impression was of a great monitor for the voices and the drums, while not for the bass, that I felt undertone. Also, the treble was clear and pleasant. By listening carefully, I noticed that while the voices tend to emerge, some harmonics get cut. At first, I believed this was a sort of tuning to make the voice standing out, but then I tried to listen to that track on my iPhone;
  • iPhone SE: believe me or not, the MP3 of that track sounded better here than the FLAC there. You may think it’s a question of DAC – obviously – but don’t you think that a dedicated instrument like a Hi-Res certified DAP should sound better than an average phone with lossy files? Well, here I started to search for the problem. The iPhone sourced (can I say that?) MP3 had many more harmonics in the treble area of the voice than the FLAC on my DAP, and this is strange because it’s not hard to know that the situation should be the opposite. I obviously didn’t use MP3s to test the Mason, I just knew that song very well so I did sort of a blind trial.
  • Scarlett 2i2: this entry level audio interface is well-known and, given his nature, you can imagine that the sound is pretty accurate. It is: I understood the frequency response of the V3 better by listening to them through this source. They appear to have a little V-shaped graph, with a little cut-out in the lower mids. They actually provide a sound that I’d describe as funny, certainly not a reference one but they are not meant to. There is a great detail, impressive every time I listen to them. The soundstage is wide: mainly expanded on the lower side, also very good on the treble area. I hear a little bit of a hiss with higher female voices, but it may be a source’s fault.
  • Audirect Beam x Mi MIX 2: good combo, because of the pretty neutral sound provided by the Beam. You hear well the V-shaped signature with albums like “My iron lung” by Radiohead: good bass, good highs, decent male voice on the higher mids but some harmonic cuts. It appears to me to be the sound signature of the Mason V3, and thinking of how they are meant to be used I understand it. You sacrifice a little bit of resonance to hear better the main frequencies you need to hear.
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There’s sort of a valve on each monitor I believe to tune the bass level. I found the sound to be airier by spinning clockwise the right one – and, mirrored, the left one. Not so much a matter of bass, but the difference is audible mainly with male voices.

I must underline that the bass, while punchy, hasn’t a great pressure; the sub-bass is certainly more effective – these are surely features of the tuning which can be changed a bit by switching the cable.

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If you want to know what they sound with higher level DAPs, the general experience with OPUS 2 and AK SE100 was similar: enjoyable sound, pretty bass and treble, I’d say a classic multi-balance high-end experience. You may buy these IEMs with those kinds of players, but who knows; I reported my 360° experience, made of lower level hardware too.

Recording test (monitoring)

As I previously mentioned, I tried to “stress” the Mason with some recording: nothing heavy and with absolutely less stress than they can really carry, but something more suitable for their purpose than music listening.

I summarize the entire experience with one word: detail. It’s stunning how these work in a recording way: while with music they could leave perplexed the ones with reference expectations, the recording experience is amazing. Whether if you search for bass speed, voice response, or even clean separation of instruments, there you find the real quality of the V3. You hear the real power of these IEMs by exploiting them in all the possible ways.

Conclusions

I extend my positive thoughts about the detail in the overall experience with the Mason V3: if that’s the most important thing in your list (and if you’re a live performer I believe it’s a concrete possibility), then these could be for you.

The second amazing feature for me was the imaging: (fun fact) I got scared when, listening to a live concert with them, applause began; I wasn’t expecting that, and I really heard the people behind me.

The soundstage too appeared true: it’s not that simple with IEMs to obtain such an exact reproduction, because of the driver dimensions. These are convincing. It’s like sitting a few rows in front of the stage.

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If you are instead a music enthusiast, there are two possibilities: you want a fun IEM or you want a reference one. These are more fun than reference: with a little V-shaped signature and all the features that I previously described, I recommend them to those who like this tuning. Not a basshead monitor, nor the higher-fidelity one, but a really capable and fun IEM. They are transparent and airy, not difficult to listen to nor to drive, given their low impedance.

The listening experience could be for everyone… the price obviously not. But if you are a professional, then it’s not the priciest alternative, but may be the best for you.

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