1. jbr1971
    My Mason V3 Demo Tour Experience...
    Written by jbr1971
    Published Mar 13, 2018 at 9:14 PM
    Pros - Excellent build quality, balance, dynamics, and presence
    Cons - Pricey; DB-GO modules could be reworked; no "Single-Tone" cable options
    Lucky me, I was the first to receive the Mason V3 on the demo tour Lawrance at Unique Melody generously put together. His only ask in return was for me to post a review about my experience.

    As this is my first attempt at a review please bear with me as I do not have a lot of gear for comparisons, etc. However, I will do my best to hopefully provide something useful for you.

    When I received the Mason V3 I was impressed by the packaging, as well as the contents. Plenty of variously sized silicone and Comply tips; 3 different cables accommodating various single-ended and balanced connectors; and a heavy metal “puck” (this thing could do some damage) storing the Masons.

    My portable rig consists of a LG X-Power smartphone (all services and antennae possible turned off) running USB Audio Player Pro, connected to a LH Labs GO2Pro Signature Edition via a custom silver OTG cable. The phone is only used as a music transport.

    I also have a Galaxy S8+ work phone with UAPP installed for commuting, or when I do not want to carry the rig around.

    My head/earphones consist of Fostex T50rp’s that I modded, including new connectors to accept XLR terminated cables, as well as custom IEM’s that I built myself. I am hoping to replace both sometime this year.

    The Masons are beautifully built, and the Dreamweaver finish really complimented the look (they also nicely matched the color of my phone case and the GO2Pro). While they stick out of my ears quite a bit compared to my CIEM’s (3 times as many drivers will do that), after a few days I had gotten used to the different fit.

    While there are plenty of ear tips included with the Masons, I had to use large SpinFit CP240’s to get a good seal. My ear canals are big, and I have to fight with normal large ear tips to hope for a decent seal. Given that, I cannot provide any info/comparisons for the included tips.

    MasonV3Rev-01.jpg MasonV3Rev-02.jpg
    When I first switched from my CIEM’s to the Masons I was hearing a pronounced mid bump that I was not used to. After a few days of listening to allow for brain burn-in that mid bump mostly disappeared. I had the DB-GO modules fully engaged, with EQ dropping the mids slightly with most albums.

    The DB-GO modules are a great feature which bring the sub-bass to a level which is perfect for my listening preferences. My only issues with the modules is that they have very little resistance to them, so they turn easily when stored away (I quickly got into the habit of checking/adjusting them upon every insertion); and the markers on the posts are not consistent on both sides, so I was not able to match them with a satisfactory level of confidence. Luckily, having them fully engaged 99% of the time worked well for me.

    While multiple cables are included, unfortunately none of them is a 3.5mm balanced, so I was not able to test the Masons balanced from my GO2Pro. However, they still sounded great single-ended, with a black background no matter the volume of the amp.

    When I first saw the announcement about the Dual-Tone cable I thought it was a great idea (and still do). In the limited time I had to listen at RMAF I settled in on the silver side as I found the copper side colored the sound too much for my preference. The silver had a nice clear tone which I like, without being overly “bright”, while the copper had an overly mid-centric/warm sound to my ears.

    All of my evaluation listening was done with the silver side after a quick listen to the copper to confirm my RMAF listening.

    The cables are very well made with just enough heft to them to keep from being microphonic. However, given the extra wires and braiding required for the Dual-Tone functionality, I found them difficult to wear for extended listening sessions. It took a few days to really get used to the extra size and weight over the top of my ears.

    MasonV3Rev-04.jpg MasonV3Rev-05.jpg

    If UM were to offer options for silver-only and copper-only cables for people that know they would not switch the Dual-Tone at all, I think that would really help round out their cable offerings. I would definitely grab a silver-only as I believe it would make longer listening sessions much easier/more enjoyable.

    With regard to sound, UM have done an incredible job of tuning all of those drivers to work together with amazing balance.

    The low-end/sub-bass are clear and articulate without being overpowering or muddy sounding. There were a few tracks where I heard sub-bass elements I have not heard before. Again, the DB-GO modules do a great job of helping tune to individual preference in that regard.

    Mids are very well balanced without stomping over the lows or highs, but as I said, I did find them to have a bit of extra presence that needed to be toned down just a bit.

    The highs extend very nicely with a great airy/shimmering quality, without being sibilant. I heard quite a few tracks with a lot of cymbals, and while they could be very bright, they were never out of control.

    Overall, I very much enjoyed listening to the Masons. They have a great, wide soundstage, and instruments were separated quite nicely. I was also hearing background details in tracks I had not heard before.

    Compared to my CIEM’s, there was an increased presence to the instruments. They were not just louder overall, I found them to be more dynamic and natural sounding. Male and female vocals were excellent and natural sounding; and acoustic guitar, piano, and drums had a great natural ringing quality in addition to great decay.

    The Masons respond very well to a good amp. While their impedance allows them to be driven loud enough by the Galaxy S8+ and sound pretty good (very good I think for commuting standards), the GO2Pro took them to an entirely different level for presence and dynamics.

    I listened to a lot of music in the 2 weeks I had the Masons, and tried to include a large variety of artists and types to really get a good feel for the Masons capabilities. I was very impressed by the musical presentation no matter what I decided to throw at them.

    I highly recommend the Mason V3’s if you have the money to put out, with just a few nit picks mentioned earlier. Those nit picks are definitely not enough to keep me from wanting a pair. It was very difficult to have to pack them up and send to the next person in line, and I am already trying to figure out when I will be able to pick up a pair of customs.

    Going back to my CIEM's was a bit "painful" in that what I thought sounded pretty good beforehand, now sounds anemic and leaving me wanting for more. Time to start saving.
  2. Mimouille
    The exciting Mason V3
    Written by Mimouille
    Published Feb 5, 2018
    Pros - Resolving, detailed, exciting
    Cons - Super tip dependent in the universal version
    My relationship with Unique Melody dates back to 2012.
    I would say they are partially guilty (at least Stephen Guo) for getting me deeper into the game. I had been lurking around custom threads on headfi for a while, and when my pair of Shure SE530 broke, I decided to try to have it reshelled…and while I was at it, I decided to add 3 drivers. And then Stephen told me something that was one of the triggers of my audio addiction, i.e. the anguish of missing on something: “of course the reshelled 530 sounds great, but the Miracles are much better. How much better…well you have to try”. He was right, they WERE better and I HAD to try.
    After trying that, I was hooked…and tried several of their products, both amazing (UM Miracles), less to my taste (UM Mentor V1) or outright bad (UM 3DD). In any case, they have always had impeccable service where I was concerned and good build quality (which more recently became great, let’s get back to that later).
    When I saw they were upgrading their line-up with a bunch of super cool features, I contacted them for a demo unit, which they accepted. I am reviewing here the Mason V3 universal version, with both single ended cable and balanced 4.4mm cable.
    It is a loaner that I will return after the review.
    The UM Mason V3 is the current flagship of Unique Melody, boasting 16 balanced armature drivers with a 4-way crossover, 5-bore design with 4 sound tubes and 1 bore designated for the tuning module.
    Driver Count 16 balanced armature
    Frequency Response 20Hz - 25KHz
    Impedance 24Ω
    Sensitivity @1KHz 104dB
    THD 0.30%
    Driver Configuration 4 Low + 4 Lower Midrange + 4 Upper Midrange + 4 High
    Socket Style 4 Pin Metal Socket with Securing Bolt
    Cable 8 Core 6N High-Purity Single Crystal Copper and Silver "Dual-Tone"
    Price 2699$ US
    Build, accessories, fit and features:
    The Mason V3 comes with a full set of accessories, the overall package is much better than for several TOTL CIEMs I have tested :
    1. Many tips including several comply tips
    2. Great dual tone cable (to be explained later)
    3. Very good metal box
    4. USB card with all documents and explanations
    5. Build etc.
    The build quality of this universal demo is absolutely stunning. It looks great, has as perfect finish and feels very sturdy. UM has really upped their game since the beginning (and they were quite good to begin with). The universal version has a metal bore while the custom version is acrylic reinforced with metal tubes.
    I will not get into the details of design options as I have a universal, but the Dreamweaver design looks really nice. You have the option to choose materials that change color based on temperature, but for the life of me I am not sure what to think of this option, especially given the fact that I haven’t seen it.
    The fit of the Unique Melody Mason V3 is good. I don’t like to comment extensively on this because it heavily depends on each person’s anatomy, but let’s say they are more or less the same size as the Empire Ears Zeus, which is quite a feature when you have to fit 16 drivers.
    Now for the CRITICAL part : tips. I think that I have tried at least 20 sets of tips with these. As often for this kind of custom with a universal version, I recommend to invest in the custom, because the fit will be better, and you don’t have to play around forever to get the intended sound. But if you do get the universals, expect to spend quite some time fiddling with tips.
    First of all, these are large bores, but since there is no standard, let me put it this way:
    - Shure SE846 : thin bores (Shure tips / Spinfit CP800)
    - Earsonics S-EM9 : medium bores (Spinfit CP800 and some larger
    - UM Mason V3 : large bores (JVC Spiral dots, Spinfit CP100, Spinfit CP155 (I guess), Ortofon Silicon Tips, Mandarins wide bore, etc,)
    - Audeze Isine : extra large bores
    Being in the middle gives you many options, and these options change sound dramatically.
    The first thing is to ensure you have a good seal, otherwise you get no bass and screechy highs, which was the case for me with the Spinfit CP100. Afterwards, you have to play with material and width of opening of the tip to find the “intended” tonality.
    Since everything has plus and minuses, it is often difficult to judge what is “the best”. Overall, full silicone will tend to sound a bit thin, and depending on the bores, will sometimes have a bit hot treble. I recommend to try foam or hybrid tips.
    My conclusions are :
    - Ortofon silicon : most comfortable, but a bit thin sounding
    - JVC Spiral Dots : mids sounds a bit diffuse
    - Mandarin tips : best sounding or close to, but painful after a while
    - Best compromise : Comply Comfort 500, a bit fuller and warmer, but the best balance to my ears
    Now let us get to the features.
    a. Dual-tone cable
    First let me say that this cable is very well built. Not too tangly, not too stiff, beautiful. I would have preferred to avoid the plastic ear guides, but maybe that is just me.
    Second note of importance, to implement dual-tone, UM is using a proprietary socket for their new line-up. The socket is similar physically to the JH sockets, but the polarity is different, so they are not compatible. While I salute their will to innovate, I usually like brands to avoid creating new proprietary formats, making us by whole new cables again. On the other hand the stock cable is self sufficient (until you need a balanced cable).
    Another issue I have is that when you manipulate the earpieces, the screw on these cables tend to get loose so you have to tighten it again from time to time…a bit annoying.
    The principle of this cable is that you have a silver and copper cable all in one. You just have to reverse the connection of the sockets to the IEM to use or other. Let me explain : one of the cable sockets has two little plastic dots on it, the other cable socket has one little plastic dot. If you connect the one with two dots to the right earpiece, you are using the silver cable, and vice versa.
    These dots are not very visible (especially for audiophiles we tend to compensate incredible hearing by very poor eyesight), so you will have to do it by touch.
    The result is what people tend to expect from silver and copper (which makes me question the part of placebo in this judgment). Copper will sound slightly fuller and smoother, silver slightly crisper. These are obviously not night and day, but I think they are noticeable.

    My conclusion on dual tone is that the main benefit is to have both flavors included in the same package, so better value for money.
    I do not find it easier to switch between the two than when you have two different cables, as you have to plug / unplug all the same.
    To truly A/B easily, I would have recommended a switch (even though the durability of switches often leaves to be desired).
    b. DB-GO bass enhancement module
    The principle is that you can move the bass port forward to get up to 4db of boost from 20HZ to 100HZ
    I felt quite stupid for a while testing this module, because I thought it affected the mid-bass impact (because my lazy butt had not read the manual) and could not hear a difference, but actually it only has a slight effect on the sub bass. The effect is very slight in my opinion, but still there. I prefer the sound with the port full forward, so with sub bass boost.
    From and ergonomics point of view, I have two issues:
    - When you put the earpieces in, you find yourself pushing on the ports, which scares me a bit, it could break.
    - One of the dials was a bit looser than the others, it could be an issue on the first demos, it is better if it really firm so it doesn’t move when you put them in.
    I am not as enthusiastic as Headfonics on these features. While they are very well implemented, I generally dislike tuning gimmicks on IEMs. My philosophy is : chose you tuning and stick to it. However since they are well made and practical, some people may value them.
    Sources and sensitivity:
    The UM Mason V3 is significantly less sensitive than most TOTL custom IEMs I have tested (such as Vision Ears V8 or the like). Therefore, they need a bit of volume and will work well with powerful DAPs and DAC amps. It just so happens that it is all I have, so no issue for me.
    The plus
    side is that these will have quite a silent background with most sources, not unlike the SE5 Ultimate. The volume is comparable to SE5 Ultimate on a similar source.
    I have tested mostly the Lotoo Paw Gold and WM1Z balanced, tried the Mojo a bit. The V3 sounds super raw and resolving with the LPG, but tends to be harsh and fatiguing, and a bit narrow and congested on some tracks (relatively of course). The WM1Z makes it sound smoother and more open so I opted for this source in the end. The Mojo works well too, will be less wide and full-bodied than the WM1Z, but good too.
    Sound impressions:
    - Sony WM1Z balanced
    - Comply Comfort 500 tips
    - Silver cable
    - Bass port fully engaged
    My philosophy when testing higher end IEMs from now on is to judge only in reference to other IEMs, because I realize describing sound in absolute terms doesn’t tell me much when I read reviews.
    a. General attributes
    If I should give a general impression of the UM V3, I would say it sounds deep, detailed, resolving, energetic, quite coherent for 16 drivers, and quite full. It sounds deeper and fuller than then SE5U, but not as wide. It is more energetic and quick than the SE5U, but it is not a key feature as the SEU is not the fastest out there. Notes will have better bite and definition. Strings are more fleshed out than on the SEU, but someone at the expense of coherence, the SEU sounds more coherent and seamless. Fullness on the V3 comes at the expense of some air, mostly in the mids, but we will come back to that.
    b. Bass
    The bass on the V3 is not neutral by any means, and there is slightly more mid-bass boost than on the SE5U, where sub to mid is very well integrated. Quality and texture are comparable, with a slight edge for the SE5U. The kick on the V3 is more palpable and will satisfy bass heads without being overbearing for others. The sub-bass has a nice rumble if you activate the dial, comparable to the SE5U.
    a. trouble get the right tips. And in any case, the V3 is playing with the big guys here
    . Mids
    The mids are more forward than on the SE5U making the overall sound more W than slight V. The mids are similarly transparent on both, but the fullness on the V3 makes them also slightly less airy. That is the point I could not completely solve despite all my tip rolling. Either too thin or slightly not airy enough...I guess some more tip rolling or having a custom version or another source could solve this as the V3 is very polymorph sound wise.
    b. Highs
    High are smoother on the SE5U without a doubt, despite comparable extension. They have better weight and definition on the Mason V3, and more sparkle, but are clearly prone to edginess / harshness if you mix of tip and source is not optimal. If found myself finding the right pairing mostly based on this, as with many tips, the highs where unlistenable, which maybe came at the expense of some air in the mids.
    The UM Mason V3 is a top performer with excellent build and high performance. The incredible amount of options and included features make it quite competitive. However, if you opt for the universal version, expect to spend quite some time tip and source rolling to find the optimal sound, as it is heavily dependent on these, particularly tips.
    If you can handle the mandarin in general, the V3 sound wonderful with these. I still prefer the tuning of the SE5 Ultimate for my personal tastes, but I think it would be a very close call if I had the custom version.
      tomscy2000, lafeuill, Deftone and 3 others like this.