asifur

100+ Head-Fier
Unique Melody MEST MKII : Awesome Performer
Pros: + Great design & build
+ Very Comfortable
+ Superb bass performance
+ Great Mids & Treble
+ Stellar Soundstage & Imaging
+ Great Accessories
+ Worth every penny
Cons: - The Nozzle is quite big and not all ear-tips fit nicely
Unique Melody MEST MKII : Awesome Performer

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Disclaimer:

This review unit was sent by @UniqueMelody for the purpose of an honest review.
Everything mentioned in this review are purely my own based on my experiences with the IEM.

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Introduction:

In March 2021, Unique Melody launched their MEST MKII - based on same driver set up of their 2020 flagship the MEST. MEST MK2 like MEST comes with Quadbrid architecture. The MEST had become favorites of many in 2020 due to it’s unique driver set up and tuning. The MEST MKII comes with improved bone conduction driver and better airflow management. Hence, the MEST MKII is an upgrade of MEST in terms of technical capabilities. We hope that the sound is significant upgrade over the original MEST also.

The MEST MKII is priced at $1499 (UIEM) and $1799 (CIEM)

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Tech Features:


MEST MKII utilizes a quadbrid design. It uses a dynamic driver for the bass, which usually has a more natural-sounding bass than the BA based bass. However, BA drivers have the advantages in resolutions, especially for Mids and Treble.

Based on the DD plus BA hybrid design, it comes with 2 electrostatics drivers for Ultra-High Treble extension. Finally, the freshly upgraded dBC-S Dual Sides Bone Conduction System carries out a full-range refinement.

The MEST MKII comes in a Single Piece Carbon Fiber Shell— as the Bone Conduction Driver's effectiveness depends on the fitting coherence and skin contact. MEST MKII utilized an ergonomic shell design for universal shells, improved the compactness significantly. The shell itself is also slightly smaller and lighter than the original MEST.

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Specifications:

Specifications are as below :

https://www.uniquemelody.org/products/mest-mkii

ProductMEST MKII
Driver TypesDynamic + Balanced Armature + Electrostatics (EST) +Bone Conduction (Dual Sides Bone Conduction), 4-Way Quadbrid
Driver Counts7+1(7 Traditional Drivers + Dual Sides Bone Conduction System)
Sensitivity@1KHz 112 DBs
Frequency Response20Hz-70KHz
Cable Sockets2-Pin Flat
ShellsOne Piece Carbon Fiber + Gold Foil
Crossover5-Way Crossover
Resistance12.3Ω
Driver Configuration1 Dynamic Bass Driver + 2 BA Mid Drivers+ 2 BA Treble Drivers +2 EST Ultra High Drivers + 1 Full Range B2 Bone Conduction Driver
CableUM Copper M2 Cable Custom Cable
Ear TipsAZLA SednaEarfit Xelastec SS | MS | M

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Design & Build Quality:

The MEST MKII comes in nicely made shells, the clear acrylic mixed with carbon fiber and pieces of gold gives the faceplate a bit of depth and makes it more interesting to look at. The MEST MKII shells comes with great finish, no sharp or rough edges, the pins are flush with the shell. The IEMs just look stunning in the above combination and are very lightweight and comfortable. Very comfortable throughout long listening sessions also.

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Packaging & Accessories:

The MEST MKII comes in a nice storage box with UM logo on top. Once a magnetic top cover is lifted, you can see the blue leather case. The box has a drawer at the bottom which slides out from the side to give easier access to the rest of the included goodies.

  • Headphones: One pair of MEST MKII
  • Cable: UM Copper M2 custom cable
  • Case: UM “ESP" Double Drawer Black Gift Box
  • Carrying Case: Dignis Premium Blue Leather Case.
  • Warranty Card: Flash Drive Digital Warranty Card
  • Others: Premium Grey Cleaning Pad
  • Eartips:
    • AZLA SednaEarfit Xelastec SS/MS/M
    • COMPLY SM/MG/LG
    • Silicone S/M/L
  • Storage clip: Storage device
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The Stock Cable:

The cable is the PW Audio – UM Copper M2 Cable. Made in copper, Excellent flexibility, Metal Y-splitter and chin-slider. Added 4.4mm termination to the options. The cable is made of 4 cores 24AWG OCC copper. Sound- wise the cable seemed quite good and much better than a lot of other cables.

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NOW LET'S TALK ABOUT THE SOUND....
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used for this review:

DAC/AMP:
@iFi audio Micro iDSD Signature,
DAP/Source : Cayin N6 Mk2 with T01 motherboard, @Shanling M6 PRO (Ver 21)
Streaming Source: QOBUZ

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Ear Tips:
I've tried tip-rolling with a variety of tips including Final Audio E Series (both Transparent Red & Black ones), @SpinFit Eartip CP360 and JVC Spiral.
I've found JVC spiral to suit me preferences best and have used that mostly.
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Tracks Used:
The tracks I have used can be found from the below playlist that I have used and generally use for most reviews... I would like to thank @Otto Motor for his contribution here.

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Let's now talk about the quality of Sound....



The BASS:



The Bass on the Unique Melody MEST MK2 is just great. It comes with ample clarity and micro-nuances from the sub-bass region. It is well defined and natural sounding. There's ample layering and texture all across. There is good density in the bass also.
The track “Dreams - Fleetwood Mac” sounds just awesome with good bass quantity, attack & decay.
Another track “Star of the County Down – Bela Fleck” which is an amazing track with many different drums just sounded great. The drum percussions were clear and there was great instrument separation also. You could identify each drum percussion individually.
There is good amount of depth & density in the bass which makes the music more enjoyable.


The MIDS:

The Midrange is amongst the stronger traits of the Unique Melody MEST MK2. It comes with excellent details with slight forwardness in the upper mids. The transient attacks are sharp and decays seem slightly lagging behind thus eliminating the “BA timbre”. Every instrument can be identified individually and the sound is very coherent also - which is a rare case in a multi-driver architecture. Guitar plucking sounds in tracks such as: “ Jano Mori - Vlatko Stefanovski” or “Porch Swing – Trace Bundy” or “Rickover’s dream – Michael Hedges” just sounded amazing with great transients & decay. The vocals are very immersive and both male and female vocals come with ample density and layering. There was great texture and separation also and these could be found in tracks like: “ A dog named freedom – Kinky Friedman” or “Falling In Love Again - John Prine & Allison Krauss”


The TREBLE:

Treble is no exception either and full of micro-nuances and details. there's ample clarity and layering and while there are peaks - they just make the treble more enjoyable. Cymbals sound very natural with the right amount of decay & air and tracks like “Chocolate Chip Trip – Tool” just sounds awesome.


The SOUNDSTAGE:

The MEST MK2 has a great holographic Soundstage with a good width & height emphasis and also depth. It is well defined and just as much as the track requires. The extent of the staging capabilities & imaging can be felt in tacks like: “ The Secret Drawer – Bela Fleck and the Flecktones” or “Bohemian Rhapsody (live aid) – Queen” or “Seven seas – Tahiti 80


Imaging & Timbre:

The MEST MK2 comes with just stellar Imaging & timbre performances. Tracks like: “Rotterdam (Or Anywhere) - The Beautiful South “ or “Goldberg Variations, Var. 1 - Trio Zimmermann” or “Hello Again - Howard Carpendale & The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” Just shine through due to the stellar separation, sense of positioning and timbre. There is a beautiful solidity and balance in the timbre and how instruments are presented. Notes exhibit excellent defusal, which are evident from tracks like: “Liebesleid – Daniel Hope”.

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Comparisons :

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UM MEST MKII vs CA Ara:

The Campfire Audio Ara comes at slightly lower price of $1299 and is also an ALL BA IEM. It is a great all-rounder IEM and very balanced performance in all departments and neutral tuning. However, not to forget that the MEST MKII is a quadbrid with superb technicalities.

Bass:

The MEST MKII has depth and density in the bass coming from it’s DD - while the Ara comes with a lot of details and micro nuances and textured Bass performance.
Despite the amount of details, the Ara has in bass, it’s BA timbre is not as great as the MESTMKII DD based bass experience. The MEST MKII wins here hands down.

Mids & Treble:

Owing to its neutral tuning the Ara comes with a rich and texture-full midrange. It is amongst the greatest strengths of the Ara and amount of details that it brings in with the great intensity of the vocals and the richness is just superb. The MEST MKII also comes with equally great midrange however ever so slight recessed in the lower mids. Hence, in terms of midrange the Ara may get slight edge over MEST MKII. The Treble in equally great in both IEMs but I just prefer the more sparkly MEST MKII EST based treble .

Soundstage & Timbre:

Both of the IEMs have great soundstage & imaging capabilities and perform superbly in this department. Very difficult to identify a winner here. The timbre is where the Ara loses slightly owing to its BA timbre – which the MEST MKII has successfully overcome.

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UM MEST MKII vs CA Dorado 2020:

The Campfire Audio Dorado comes at slightly lower price of $1099 and is also a hybrid IEM. It is a great performer with Bass focused V shaped tuning. However, not to forget that the MEST MKII is a quadbrid with superb technicalities.

Bass:

The MEST MKII has depth and density in the bass coming from it’s DD - while the Dorado comes with a much deeper & dense bass response with more intensive attack & slam.
The amount of bass in the Dorado 2020 is slightly more than what I prefer and I just love the MEST MKII bass experience.

Mids & Treble:

The Dorado 2020 comes with a much-recessed midrange. Nothing much of a competition here and the MEST MKII wins hands down.

Soundstage & Timbre:

The soundstage & timbre are the areas where both of these IEMs show stellar performances. The Dorado shows a much deeper soundstage due to it’s bass focused tuning which can be quite enjoyable in some tracks. But in terms of overall performances I would say the MEST MKII shines equally.

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Conclusion :

owing to it's unique architecture and tuning and also it's stellar overall performance, the MEST MKII is easily recommendable for the price and is worth every penny of it. I had enjoyed every moment with it and just loved it's performance overall. The amount of details an finesse in its performance makes it worthy of praise. I would highly recommend it to others.
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N
nickdhrubo
This was an excellent review, loved the details and how you compared it with contemporary IEMS. If I had the budget, I think I would definitely grab this IEM. Btw, did you like it more with the Shanling M6 or the Cayin N6II?
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twister6

twister6 Reviews
Headphoneus Supremus
A Mest have?
Pros: quadbrid driver design (DD/4BA/2EST/dBC), powerful dynamic bass impact, natural-revealing hi-res tonality, updated universal shell design with a more comfortable fit, new PWA stock cable, new AZLA Xelastec eartips, other quality accessories including Dignis leather storage case.
Cons: the sound is VERY eartips dependent, bigger diameter of the nozzle might force some to switch to custom version.


The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion. The review was originally posted on my site, and now I would like to share it with my readers on Head-fi.

Manufacturer website: Unique Melody. Available for sale on Musicteck.


Intro.

Unlike DAPs, it is less common to see MKII versions of IEMs because a lot of manufacturers prefer to release new models instead of updates. That is why a recent Mest MKII announcement caught me by surprise, especially when you consider how popular and well received the original Mest (OG) was last year. Even today I continue to get questions after my reviews, with people asking me why I never featured it as part of pair ups or comparisons. The reason is because I never reviewed OG and only now had a chance to spend time with OG and MKII versions of Mest, to get to know both.

Actually, if you rewind back to my CanJam NYC ’20 overview, last year in February I had a brief chance to audition OG at the show and mentioned about it in my report. But as I found out later, after trying them with provided stock silicone tips in a crowded loud space, Mest sound was very eartips dependent and my initial impressions were skewed. Maybe the seal wasn’t good or the fit wasn’t right, but I felt the sound was a bit too revealing for my taste. After all, everybody has their own personal sound preference. But I continued to read one after the other positive reviews, and questioned my initial impressions.

Especially now, after reading that one of the MKII changes was a redesign of universal Mest shell, I figured the comparison to OG version will be essential in this review and requested OG loaner in addition to MKII review sample. There were quite a few interesting things I discovered which I’m sure will be helpful for the first time Mest buyers as well as those who already own the OG and trying to decide if they should upgrade. Now, let’s take a closer look at what I found after spending every day of the last week with a new Unique Melody Mest MKII model.

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Unboxing and Accessories.

MKII arrived in a giftbox quality storage box with UM logo on top. Once a magnetic top cover is lifted, you are presented with a blue leather case, also labeled with UN logo. In the original Mest you had to remove the case to get to the bottom of the box to access the remaining accessories. In MKII, Unique Melody added a drawer at the bottom which slides out from the side to give you an easier access to the rest of the included goodies.

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OG Mest accessories were great, but MKII steps it up to the next level. You will still find a blue leather brand name Dignis case with a zipper top, roomy enough for your IEMs and the cable and other extra accessories. Inside, it has a flexible velcro partition so you can separate shells and the cable. This is a premium brand name product, not some filler.

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Furthermore, you will find a new PWA (Peter Wong Audio) brand name copper cable, which I’m going to talk about later. Next, a plastic warranty card (the size of a credit card), with a printed S/N, website address, and a service email. This card also includes a hidden flat usb stick (16GB) that flips open. The stick had nothing on it, but in the past, I found some other UM models to include additional info about the product. Either way, it is a free usb storage you can carry with you in the wallet.

There is a grey cleaning clothe/pad to keep those shells fingerprint free. Then, you have a complete set of eartips with blue-heart silicone S/M/L, brand name Comply TSX series SM/MG/LG, and a new addition to MKII – a popular brand name AZLA Xelastec SS/MS/M eartips. Those provide a superior isolation and a very secure fit. I was surprised the largest Xelastec was only medium size, since I typically use their large size tips, but due to a bigger nozzle diameter of MKII, M-size was just perfect in this case.

Last, but not least, UM’s custom Magnetic Earphone Clip (MEC) which you can use both for cable storage and as a shirt clip. Made from of soft leather material, there is a strong magnet to hold it together, and you can use it magnetically "clipped" to a shirt (sideways) or secured at the neckline of a t-shirt (pointing down). A little metal loop attached to MEC is where you put the cable through to secure its attachment to a shirt or a t-shirt. You can also use it around a wrapped cable to organize it for storage. Maybe not a big deal for some, but it is different and unique (no pun intended), compared to other shirt-clips I have seen.

To summarize, there are a lot of brand name popular accessories here, Dignis leather case, PWA copper cable, AZLA Xelastec and Comply eartips, and some other unique accessories such as warranty card with a built-in 16GB storage flash drive and custom Magnetic Earphone Clip which can be used for cable storage and as a shirt clip. Very impressive!

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Cable.

Looks like Peter (Peter Wong Audio – PWA) has been on a roll lately, collaborating with many IEM companies! While we saw his popular 1960 2wire and 4wire being included recently with other IEM releases, MKII features their new copper cable. Labeled as UM Copper M2 this is 24awg gauge high grade OCC copper wire cable with 4 conductors, braided between the plug and y-split, and twisted in pairs going up above to IEM connectors.

The cable is referred to as a pure black addition, very flexible and soft, and features PVC coating. As many are aware, 1960 and other of their wires feature a tightly braided black carbon fiber sleeving which is microphonics when you move around. The new PVC coating reduces microphonics down to a minimum.

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Furthermore, it features an all-new hardware with a uniquely shaped metal plug with UM logo and gold screws, a matching design with a metal y-split, also with logo and gold screws, a retractable matching metal chin-slider, and a matching metal 2pin connector housing with UM logo which is facing outside. You will also find a pre-shaped heat-shrink earhook.

A noticeable change here is a regular straight short-cylinder connector housing, unlike angled one in OG version that also had wrap-around design. Of course, it will depend on your ear anatomy, but the combination of a fixed connector angle and OG shell nozzle angle (different from MKII) caused some discomfort with my ears. MKII with a new cable and new shell design fixed that problem for me.

When ordering MKII, you have the option of single ended 3.5mm or balanced 2.5mm or 4.4mm. Try to futureproof your purchase by choose the right termination, and also keep in mind that you can use adapter to go from balanced to single ended. Otherwise, you will have to buy a replacement cable or another PWA x UM Copper M2 which I heard might be going for over $500.

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Design.

While hybrids and tribrids been dominating IEM market for a while now, Mest made its mark as one of the first quadbrids (maybe not the first since I can’t keep a track of every single worldwide release, but definitely one of the first), featuring a total of 8 drivers grouped in 4 types: DD, BA, EST, and Bone Conduction. Just like the OG, MKII features 4way quadbrid design with a 5-way crossover, including DD bass driver, 2BA mid drivers, 2BA treble drivers, 2EST ultra high drivers, and one full range dBC dual sides Bone Conduction driver.

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In contrast to a single side BC driver in OG, MKII now uses double sided piezoelectric bone conduction driver which is placed in between two supporting plates. At the center of that BC driver is the vibration board covered by ceramic coating on both the front and the back. Also, this dBC bone conduction driver now has a larger contacting area with the shell and has a wider effective frequency response range from 500Hz to 20kHz, in comparison to OG with BC that covered 1kHz to 16kHz.

I know many will be asking, can you “feel” the effect of dBC driver? It is hard to tell because based on the fit with my ears, I didn’t feel anything different, and to me this is just another sound contributing driver. BUT, when you are comparing tuning of OG vs MKII, there is a distinct presence of more body in lower mids and this could be a direct contribution of dBC driver extension down to 500Hz from the original 1kHz. Would have been cool if they added a switch to enable/disable dBC, to be able to hear the effect of this driver. But either way, it is unique, no pun intended, again.

Just like in OG design, the shell is lightweight, durable, and made from one piece carbon fiber. This is important because it improves the effectiveness of dBC driver due to its contact with a shell. The carbon fiber finish is infused with gold foils, a very nice look that goes really well with PWA all black cable with its hardware that has gold screws accents. And you will notice upgraded faceplate metal vent which controls the air flow going into the DD driver. OG vent wasn’t metal plated.

Another improvement is 2pin socket which is flush with the shell, better for aftermarket cables in comparison to 2pin convex socket which sticks out in OG design where they used cable connectors that wrap around it. Those convex sockets could be used with regular 2pin cables as well, but the cable connector will be sticking out too far out which could affect the fit of the cable over your ears.

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But the biggest improvement was a smaller and more compact shell design with improved fit. While it was nice to see the inner side of the shell in MKII to be more custom-sculptured, the change in the angle of the nozzle from OG to MKII was a noticeable improvement for me. With OG I felt a little pressure while MKII was just perfect. Of course, it will depend on your earcanal anatomy, but in my case, it made a noticeable difference.

And last, but not least, the top of the metal nozzle, which is covered by a protective mesh, in MKII has a little bigger diameter. The difference is not huge, but it is bigger when you look closer. I think if you were OK with OG Mest, MKII will not be a problem. But if your earcanal is small, Mest offers both Universal and Custom versions of their IEMs. And for me personally, while I typically use large size eartips, I end up using medium size eartips with MKII due to a bigger diameter of the nozzle.

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The fit.

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Sound Analysis.

I analyzed MKII sound performance paired up with LPGT while playing a variety of test tracks, such as Agnes Obel “The curse”, Sandro Cavazza “So much better” (Avicii remix), C-Bool “Never go away”, Ed Sheeran “Shape of you”, Alan Walker “Darkside”, Galantis “Hunter”, Iggy Azalea “Black widow”, Indila “Boite en argent”, Dua Lipa “Love again”, Counting Crows “Big yellow taxi”, David Elias “Vision of her”, and Michael Jackson “Dirty Diana”. I let MKII play for about 2 days in a loop before I started analyzing the sound. I used stock Xelastec eartips and stock premium cable in my analysis.

I found MKII to have a mildly U-shaped signature with a natural-revealing tonality that has quite a resolving sound characteristic. Also, right off the bat, I found its sound to be VERY eartips dependent where the sound signature could go from a more pronounced to a mild U-shaped and even balanced W-shaped. The seal, material, and bore opening diameter of eartips could change the sound sig and tonality in a big way here. But if I would to characterize the overall common signature, it would be U-shaped with an elevated deep bass impact, natural-revealing mids/vocals, and extended, airy, energetic, non-harsh treble.

The retrieval of details is high, not on an analytical level, but the extra treble energy gives the sound higher resolution with a better layering and separation of the sounds. The sound is non-fatigue or harsh, but due to its more forward revealing nature, those who like a smoother and more natural tonality will have to spend time experimenting with different eartips in order to tame down lower treble energy. Furthermore, considering 4 different drivers, their overall interaction is actually quite coherent, to my ears even better than in OG due to a fuller body of lower mids and less fatigue lower treble. I wouldn’t go as far as saying all 4 drivers work in a perfect unison, but with the right set of eartips I hear MKII to be more coherent than OG.

The soundstage is wide, way above the average, and I would even go as far as saying its imaging approaches holographic level when it comes to placing instruments and vocals. But I felt that it was stretching wider left/right, creating a more of an oval soundstage shape where there was more width than depth/height in its expansion. Overall, to my ears and considering not a very deep insertion of the shell/nozzle, the sound space felt natural with less out of your head type of expansion, bringing you closer to the performer. The soundstage does scale up with some of the sources, stretching wider, but depth/height remained the same.

I found the bass to be the star of MKII tuning, having a deep extended textured sub-bass rumble, more elevated than in original Mest, building a solid foundation underneath of a strong and articulate rounded mid-bass punch. Bass is well controlled, has quite a noticeable presence, not overwhelming or basshead quantity level, but when called upon will elevate the low end with a textured deep rumble and strong rounded punch. This is unmistakably a DD quality bass with an average attack and decay, impressive weight, and analog quality.

Mids have fuller body than in original Mest, thanks to a meatier lower mids, but they are not too thick or too smooth. I do find their tonality to be quite natural and revealing thanks to more energy in lower treble that elevates the resolution and helps with layering and separation of the sounds. Mids are not too forward, and as mentioned already, depending on eartips selection can be more balanced or slightly pulled back in their presentation.

Treble is extended, airy, crisp, energetic, and yet not harsh or sibilant. This is another improvement from the original Mest where its notorious 6.5kHz peak is slightly attenuated down, still keeping the energy and the definition of the lower treble, but making it less fatigue and more controlled. Here, the eartips selections will be important as well because if you have a relaxed seal or use eartips with a narrow bore opening, treble didn't sound right to my ears, but with the right selection of eartips it was just perfect. The combination of EST and dBC drivers creates a perfect extended harmony of upper frequencies in MKII.

Also, I found MKII to work great with any genre of music I threw at it.

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Eartips selection.

The selection of eartips is crucial to any universal in-ear monitors and will affect the sound, especially the bass impact depending on the seal. Due to a large opening of my earcanals, I usually go for the largest size eartips to get a better seal, but with a bigger diameter of MKII nozzle, in some cases I had to step down to medium size eartips. Also, please keep in mind, eartips impressions are subjective and will be based on anatomy of your ears. Here, I was analyzing the sound using LPGT and stock cable.

stock Comply TSX-500 - very tight fit to get these on; balanced W-shaped signature with a smoother natural tonality, a deep bass, more forward mids, smoother natural extended treble. The foam filter of TSX dampens the upper frequencies extra sparkle which brings mids more forward. Sound wise they are good, but personally, I don't like the comfort of Comply tips.

stock Silicone - seal here is a lot more relaxed; sound sig is U-shaped with more emphasis on bass impact and brighter lower treble, while the mids had a more pulled back presentation. Because of the more relaxed seal, treble sounds more piercing, and I noticed that wider bore opening of eartips also contributes to brighter upper frequencies of MKII. Of course, everyone's sound perception is different.

AZLA Xelastec - I typically use larger size tips, and have another Xelastec ML/L set, but since the nozzle of MKII is bigger in diameter, M size was OK and I still had a good seal. The sound sig I hear here is between U-shaped and W-shaped with deep textured bass and strong mid-bass impact, natural mids with slightly more revealing tonality due to a brighter upper treble which is airy and crisp but not piercing or harsh.

Symbio F - I tried L and M size, both give a good isolation and similar mids/treble, but the bass was attenuated with M-size, thus I switched to Large for a better seal, though I did feel a little pressure. The sound sig with Symbio F is mildly U-shaped with an overall tonality being natural and revealing. Bass goes deep, has a nice textured rumble but the rumble itself is not as high as with TSX Comply tips and mid-bass punch is strong and articulate. I actually prefer the bass with F over TSX. Mids are natural, revealing, layered, with plenty of body and without any extra coloring. Treble is extended and airy, revealing, yet natural and well controlled, absolutely zero harshness.

SpinFit CP100 - with these SpinFits the sound sig is a perfect example of U-shaped tuning where bass and treble are more elevated and upper mids sound more scooped out. With these eartips bass is scaled up in quantity, I hear a lot more sub-bass rumble and overall bass has more weight and more presence. With mids being more scooped out and bass having more weight, mids/vocals sound thicker and warmer, losing some of the resolution. Treble is crisp and bright, but not harsh, though the tonality of treble was a bit off, sounding a bit plasticy. Wasn’t too crazy about these eartips with MKII.

Final Audio Type E - another pair of eartips with a narrow bore opening, similar to SpinFit where I hear a similar U-shaped sound sig tuning. Bass goes deeper, has stronger punch, and overall, more elevated. Mids/vocals are not as thick or warm as with SpinFits, they are smooth but with a higher resolution. Treble is crisp and bright, not harsh but closer to my personal borderline of tolerance. While I find the treble here better than with SpinFit, the tonality is a bit off as well. Perhaps, it is all due to narrow sound bore of these tips.

Xelastec and Symbio F were my favorite eartips with MKII, but keep in mind, it is very subjective and relative to my ear anatomy. Bottom line, sound does vary with different eartips so don't jump into the final sound analysis conclusion until you experiment.

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Cable pair up.

I’m aware that some people don’t believe in cables and have very strong opinion about it. It’s not my intent to change those minds. Instead, I’m just sharing what I hear during my testing. What makes sense to me, a metal wire is a material with physical properties of resistivity, conductivity, purity, and unique geometry, all of which put together act as a filter between your source and headphones. Variations of these physical properties can affect the conductivity of analog signal, resulting in a sound change, from a subtle to a more noticeable level. If the talk about cables upsets you, please skip this section. Otherwise, enjoy these short impressions.

stock to EA EVO10 - in this comparison I hear just a slight improvement in soundstage width and vocals being a little more forward. But overall tonality and signature are similar.

stock to EA Aries II - The main change I hear is mids being noticeably more forward, to the point where the signature changed from U-shaped to slightly mid-forward and as a result it affected the impact of the bass which now sounds lower in quantity. I didn't like that change.

stock to PWA No 10 - I hear the signature to change slightly, being more U-shaped due to bass being slightly more elevated and lower treble going higher in quantity, making the sound brighter and more revealing.

stock to Eletech Socrates - very interesting pair up where treble sounds the same but the bass is more articulate and sounds a little faster and mids are just slightly more forward in presentation.

Btw, while testing Mest OG with new PWA UM Copper cable, I heard more elevated bass with a deeper sub-bass rumble and a little harder hitting mid-bass punch.

I didn't go into cable rolling with my other higher end cables that cost more than MKII itself. If you have other flagship cables, go ahead, it never hurts to try, to see if you can bring more refinement to the sound. But considering a quality stock PWA copper cable and some other similar cables I compared it to, I don't think you need to invest into a cable upgrade with MKII, though Socrates pair up was the type of refinement that I actually enjoyed.

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Comparison.

The comparison was done using MKII with a stock cable, Xelastec stock eartips, and LPGT source; volume matched in every comparison.

Mest OG vs MKII Sound Analysis.

I can hear from OG to MKII the tuning to be updated, but in a very precise and controlled way. MKII has a wider soundstage, both have the same soundstage depth/height, but the width perception spreads wider in MKII, which could be due to its new stock cable as one of the contributing factors.

MKII has more sub-bass rumble. Both have a similar mid-bass impact, but it is quite noticeable to hear MKII digging in deeper and with more elevated velvety sub-bass rumble. Mids are slightly recessed in both IEMs, creating a more U-shaped sound sig, but in MKII lower mids have more body which gives instruments and vocals more texture and more organic tonality. Another big change is in lower treble where the original 6.5kHz peak has been attenuated down. The treble is still quite energetic and crisp; its revealing tonality didn't change but with a peak being slightly attenuated, the treble sounds more under control and less harsh.

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Other comparisons.

MKII vs FiR Audio M4
- MKII soundstage is wider and to my ears it is probably due to these new Mest iems having more air in upper frequencies, giving its soundstage a more open and expanded width. Their bass, from sub-bass rumble to mid-bass impact, has a lot of similarities, I can't say it is identical, but it is very close in weight and presence. Upper mids are very similar as well, making vocals sound very natural and detailed, but lower mids are a little less colored in MKII, giving mids more transparency while M4 gives mids even more body. But aside from that, the actual mids quantity is a little more recessed (scooped out) in M4 while has slightly more presence in MKII. With treble, MKII has more sparkle and air. Both have energetic highs, but MKII adds more air.

MKII vs 64 Audio Trio - Another interesting comparison due to how close these come in tuning, but still with some noticeable variations. First thing you'll notice is that MKII is more U-shaped while Trio is V-shaped, with mids being more recessed. Soundstage expansion is very close, maybe with MKII being just a little bit wider. Both have elevated DD bass with a deep sub-bass rumble and healthy mid-bass impact, but Trio scales up in quantity just a little higher, which could also be a part of the perception due to a more V-shaped sound sig. Mids are very similar in quality, but more recessed in Trio, while MKII mids/vocals are more forward, more present, and as a result of that - more detailed. Both have energetic treble with plenty of sparkle and airiness, but Trio's tia sounds splashier in comparison to more controlled MKII treble.

MKII vs Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 - Also an interesting comparison to another popular hybrid. Here I found Solaris being just a touch wider in soundstage while both have the same depth/height. The signature variation here is due to difference in bass impact: MKII is a little U-shaped while Solaris is more balanced. And all comes down to the bass impact where while Solaris has a deeper sub-bass extension and a good punch, in comparison to MKII its bass has a lot less weight and presence. MKII bass scales up in quantity to give you more sub-bass rumble and stronger mid-bass punch. Mids/vocals are very similar in quality, being more natural and detailed, but the quantity and presentation is higher in Solaris, bringing mids more forward. Both have a clear and sparkly treble, with plenty of energy, but MKII has a little more treble presence and also better extension with a little more air.

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Source pair up.

In each source pair up, I was using a stock premium cable. MKII is easy to drive considering its 112dB sensitivity and 12.3ohm impedance. No hissing was detected. For your reference, here are my brief pair up notes. And by brief, I just focus on any changes related to signature and general tonality, without going into too many details of technical performance difference.

Lotoo LPGT - the baseline sound with wide soundstage, mildly U-shaped sound sig; deep extended sub-bass with an elevated mid-bass slam, natural revealing mids/vocals, revealing extended treble.

Cayin N6ii w/E02 - wide soundstage, more balanced sound sig; surprisingly bass notes are a little softer and bass is less elevated due to mids/vocals being more forward, still tuned to be natural-revealing, and treble being quite energetic, brighter, extended, but not harsh.

Sony WM1Z - wide soundstage, mildly U-shaped sound sig; deep extended sub-bass and powerful mid-bass slam, with overall bass being more elevated from sub-bass to mid-bass, natural soulful mids/vocals, and crisp airy extended treble, but not harsh.

Hiby R8 - wide soundstage, mildly U-shaped sound sig; extended sub-bass with a fast and elevated mid-bass impact, but the sub-bass is not as elevated as in some other pair up, it goes deep, but not as elevated in quantity; mids are natural and detailed, a bit less revealing because they sound more natural, and treble is airy and with plenty of sparkle but a bit smoother in comparison to other pair ups.

iBasso DX300 - wide soundstage expansion, more W-shaped balanced signature with a deep sub-bass rumble and stronger mid-bass impact, natural revealing mids/vocals, and extra energetic extended airy treble. Treble in this pair up had extra sparkle, but it wasn't fatigue.

A&K SP2000 SS - wide soundstage expansion, more U-shaped sound signature with an elevated bass impact and sub-bass rumble, sub-bass was very deep and textured. Mids were natural and very detailed, highly resolving for sure; treble was extended, airy, sparkly, but not as aggressive, more controlled.

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Conclusion.

The reunion with the original Mest felt very similar to my experience with V3+ models of Mentor and Mason which I coincidentally misjudged as well during last year CanJam NYC show until I had a chance to hear them again when I borrowed it for review from MusicTeck last year. A proper eartips selection can make a big difference with these IEMs, as well as being able to hear them in a quiet comfort of your home. The same happened with OG version of Mest, but it also helped me to appreciate even more the new MKII shell design which I found to have a much better fit with my ears. And it wasn’t just the shell, but also the sound finetuning, the new PWA copper cable, and the bonus AZLA Xelastec eartips.

IMHO, bass is the star of MKII tuning, and it can please as equally a picky audiophile and a regular consumer. The quality of the bass can even put a smile on some audiophile bassheads. But when it comes to mids and lower treble, I noticed OG version to have a bit of a polarizing effect. MKII took care of that by adding more body to the sound and attenuating down the lower treble peak while still keeping the revealing and energetic nature of the original tuning, making it less fatigue and more tolerable during long listening sessions. This is still Mest IEM with its unique quadbrid driver config and fun tuning. But now UM took it to the next level with a more refined natural revealing tuning and more premium accessories such as PWA cable and AZLA tips in addition to Dignis leather case. Very impressive for an IEM under $1.5k.
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Layman1

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Holographic soundstage, technical performance, tone, detail, musicality, extension, cable
Cons: none worth mentioning for me.
Introduction:

Unique Melody will by now need little introduction from me, since they’re not only a very well-known and established company from China, but also one whose products I have now reviewed on several occasions, usually to great rapture and applause (mine, concerning the product in question, as opposed to readers’, concerning the quality of my reviewing):stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
Pasted below are the IEM details from authorised dealer MusicTeck’s website:
https://shop.musicteck.com/collecti...um-universal-mest-mkii?variant=39279351529534

This link also has photos and explanations of the considerable amount of tech that features in these IEMs.
The MEST retails at USD $1’499 (I believe MusicTeck have a sale on them at present).
Given some of the upgrades this new product offers (read on for more), that’s an impressive amount of
price-hiking-restraint shown by UM, and I thoroughly applaud them for it!

The MEST is a hybrid IEM. Perhaps this now increasingly common term fails to give them the credit they are due; specifically, they are, to the best of my knowledge:
The World’s 2nd or 3rd $1k+ Quad-brid-Hybrid-IEM-Type-Product (!!) :)

Here we have a combination of a single Dynamic Driver (DD) with 4 Balanced Armatures (BA), 2 Electrostatic drivers (EST) and if that wasn’t enough to induce the kind of drooling that would put a teething toddler to shame, it also comes with UM’s patented Bone Conductor Driver as well!
This veritable cornucopia of drivers has been arranged for your delight in the following configuration:

1 x Low (DD)

2 x Mid (BA)

2 x High (BA)

2 x Ultra High (EST)

1 x Bone Conduction Driver (BCD).

Note that UM, far from resting on the laurels of their previous MEST-based achievements, have continued their R&D efforts and the new MEST Mk II now features a new and improved BCD that spans the whole frequency spectrum of these IEMs, rather than just the mids and highs as the original MEST did.

It is a source of vicarious (but thoroughly legal) pleasure to be able to tell you that another area in which UM made changes with the MEST Mk II was with its appearance.
So, without any further ado, Layman1 cordially invites you to proceed to the section that - with almost Brutalist utilitarianism - is merely entitled ‘Photos’ :)


Photos:
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Build Quality and accessories:

The MEST are solidly built with no visible blemishes or flaws of any kind.
The only small criticism I could level at them is that if they were going to go with the conventional 2-pin design, then I would have preferred the sockets to be recessed within the body of the IEMs, so that they don’t have the less attractive part of the connectors sticking out (or used a different 2-pin plug on their cable), or that – if there wasn’t enough room available inside the IEM body to do that – then they’d gone again with the same design used on the original MEST.

This small caveat aside, the Mk II’s come in what I personally consider to be greatly improved design, with carbon fibre appearance flecked with gold, which goes marvellously well with gold (or black and gold) DAPs, such as the Sony WM1Z.

They come with a 0.78mm 2-pin cable, which can be terminated with your choice of plugs.
After a period where – due to issues with a supplier – UM were only able to offer 3.5mm or 2.5mm options (albeit with a free adaptor included), it’s really great to see the 4.4mm option back on offer, and this was indeed the one I chose.

The original MEST came with a pretty impressive array of complimentary accessories, and I’m delighted to report that the Mk II once again brings improvements and further value.
As can be seen in the photos, in addition to the various things included previously such as premium Comply ear tips, and an artisan Dignis leather case, the Mk II comes bundled with 3 various-sized pairs of Sedna Xelastec ear tips, which would normally set you back $30 or so by themselves, not to mention a completely upgraded cable offering (which I just mentioned).

The cable itself is – for my preferences – a huge step up from the one that came with the original MEST. That was good enough, but I find the new one to be slimmer and lighter, very soft and supple whilst still feeling robust. Aside from that, this PW Audio designed and built cable is frankly gorgeous. It has some seriously great design touches, with the fairly glossy looking black cables offset by matte black plug, connectors and Y-split, and the UM logo prominently displayed on all of them.


Sound:

I have a few tracks which I’ve only found available on MP3; the rest are FLAC or WAV in 16/44 or 24/192, with a few DSD56 tracks sneaking their way in too.
For the purposes of this review, the sources I chiefly used were the Sony WM1Z (using MrWalkman’s ‘Midnight Plus’ free custom firmware) and iBasso DX220MAX.

Rather than have a separate comparisons section, I’ll be including comparisons between the MEST Mk II and the original model scattered throughout this section, simply because I think it’s the single most-requested comparison with the Mk II and also because the similar DNA shared by both IEMs makes it easier to compare apples with apples, so to speak.

Lows:
One of the things I liked a lot about the original MEST was the controlled but powerful low end, and the Mk II does not disappoint at all in this regard. I feel it has quite a deep sub-bass extension with more power, depth and impact than that on the original MEST. With both models, I feel there is more emphasis on the sub-bass than the mid-bass, although that’s certainly not lacking. Indeed, I feel it’s one of the areas in which the Mk II differs from the original MEST, in that there’s a bit more mid-bass presence that helps to add some warmth and body to the mid-bass and the mids that I felt was slightly lacking in the original model.

Mids:
I hear the MEST Mk II to be moderately full-bodied (this quality varies from DAP to DAP).
I do feel that it has more body and note weight in the mids than the original.
This quality was more noticeable when listening with the DX220MAX, which I’ve reviewed previously and observed the authoritative amount of power and weight it infuses into the notes on most IEMs I plug into it. With the WM1Z, there was comparatively a little less note weight, but this was not really a negative point at any time, since the WM1Z brought its own organic richness to the mids of the Mk II.

As a comparison, I used two tracks from The Stranglers (from their ‘About Time’ album, where the main singer had been replaced by someone who sounds a bit like a lounge singer but which I actually really like): ‘Golden Boy’ and ‘Sinister’, two outstanding tracks from the album.

I notice with Golden Boy, from around 1m55s into the song, it breaks into a brief guitar solo followed by a quick instrument breakdown and re-introduction.
With the original MEST, I heard the guitar riff, bass and drums to take a very slight step back in the mix to the lead guitar solo, and yet this had the effect of increasing the musicality for me, bringing a delicate warmth and richness to those other instruments and making this part of the song as a whole sound a little more dynamic.

On the other hand, with the MEST Mk II, I found this section of the song to sound great, but slightly more homogenous and indistinct. I’d guess that this was down to a two possible factors; namely the tonality of the tuning in the mids of the two IEMs, and perhaps the way in which layering is implemented in each of them (or the effect of the tuning of the mids upon the layering).

Aside from this, with MEST Mk II, I felt the rim-taps of the drummer (or whatever that percussion effect was that came in just after the solo and breakdown) had more of a ring and chime to them than with the original MEST.
With the track ‘Sinister’ an immediate difference becomes clear.

The song opens with a mixture of kick drum and snare and a cello comes in shortly after.
I hear a good deal more thump, impact and body to the kick drum with the Mk II, a little more clarity and edge to the high-hat on the original MEST, and with the Mk II again the cello also benefits from the increased body and weight, as well as exhibiting a more realistic timbre with a lovely texture.

Generally with vocals, I hear a bit more body and meat and texture with the Mk II, and this quality is noticeable with guitars too, both acoustic and electric.
Playing ‘The Boy in the Bubble’ by Paul Simon on my DX220MAX, I noticed an absolutely captivating meaty, engaging and full-bodied tone with the accordion instrument that the song opens with. This wasn’t so pronounced on the WM1Z.

The original MEST has some qualities more reminiscent of an ‘Eastern’ style tuning, whereas the tuning of the Mk II leans a bit more towards a ‘Western’ style.
Whilst both IEMs can be described as having a W-shaped sound signature, I feel the original MEST has more of an emphasis on the upper mids and treble, with less body, warmth and richness in the lows and lower-mids.
The Mk II rather flips this on its head, with increased weight, richness and body in the lows and lower mids, and the upper mids – whilst by no means recessed – taking a more equal place with the lower mids.

What this means in practicality is that if you’re a fan of music featuring female vocals from places like Japan, India, Chinese-speaking areas, Korea, Thailand etc – and to some extent even some of the comparatively higher pitched male vocals from these areas - you’ll probably find the original MEST to offer more sweetness and clarity to those vocals, whereas for male vocals, especially Western ones, I feel there’s more richness, meatiness and body on offer with the Mk II, which really brings out the best in them.
There are always exceptions to both rules of course, but this is just some general guidance.



Highs:
This is an area in which there’s a fair degree of overlap between the two models, when one examines this part of the sound signature in isolation. I make that distinction, because my original immediate reaction with the Mk II was that it was less spacious and extended than the original. However, further critical listening disabused me of this misconception.

It’s simply that the increased note thickness and body in the mids and lows of the Mk II have the effect of using up comparatively more of the space available within the soundstage, leading to the perception of slightly less spaciousness and air. In actuality, the highs of the Mk II are pretty much just as extended, and the air and spaciousness is there; it’s just filled in a bit more with this model. Clarity and detail are equally stunning on both models.

Technical Performance:
The original MEST frankly astonished me with its technical performance, and the MEST Mk II not only matches that, but I think lifts the bar slightly higher too.

With the Bone Conduction Driver in the Mk II now handling its entire frequency spectrum, I feel there’s a touch more coherence and slightly more accuracy in the timbre overall.
It’s a close thing and not a huge difference, and of course one’s perception of this is going to be slightly skewed by the differing tonal presentation of the two IEMs.

With the original MEST, detail retrieval is perhaps a touch more apparent, simply because the somewhat leaner presentation and smaller note size leaves more space between the instruments and vocals, allowing details a bit more room to pop out. However, I think the Mk II possesses equally fantastic levels of detail retrieval, but due to the somewhat busier mids, those details are a bit more organic and natural in the way they present themselves.

As with the original, the soundstage is stunningly huge and holographic, the separation – whilst not quite as obvious as with the original MEST – similarly world-class, and the imaging, layering and resolution are equally superb. For the price point – and even aside from any consideration of price points – its performance is superlative.


Sources and synergies:

iBasso DX220MAX:
With the DX220MAX, I found there to be a remarkably good synergy with the MEST Mk II.

This DAP brought out a little bit more of a meaty and full-bodied tone, along with a significant amount of note weight. However, it also brought a nice touch of clarity, space and separation that allowed the Mk II to open up a bit more and have more breathing room.
This meant that there seemed to be a bit more space between the notes, and the details seemed to pop out with more clarity. The mids seemed to be pushed slightly more forwards; on the majority of tracks this was A Good Thing, but on one or two occasions, I found it to be a tiny bit sharp, compared with the more organic and laid-back signature of the WM1Z. Generally there seemed to be a bit more air and extension in the highs too.

Sony WM1Z:
As mentioned, this has a comparatively warmer and more organic signature than the DX220MAX, and I found it to be a really enjoyable pairing with the MEST Mk II.
The WM1Z, with MrWalkman’s custom FW (Midnight Plus), has a strong technical performance too, and this matched up well with the Mk II, allowing the marvellous technical qualities of this IEM to shine.
I found the mids and highs to be a bit more smooth and neutrally positioned compared with the DX220MAX. The lows had a bit more mid-bass presence, whereas I feel the sub-bass was comparatively a touch more enhanced with the DX220MAX.


iBasso DX300:
I didn’t spend much time with this pair up simply because, with the MEST Mk II, it felt tonally like somewhere pretty much mid-way between the signatures of the DX220MAX and the WM1Z. I found more of a significant contrast when listening with those two DAPs, and more of a noticeable synergy with each, albeit in different ways.
However, a couple of caveats:

Firstly, this was still a high-quality pairing, and if you were reading my notes on the two DAPs above and thinking “Gosh, Layman1, if only there were a DAP that could combine some of the qualities from each of those two!” then today’s your lucky day :D

Secondly, I was listening using the stock AMP11 that came with the DX300.
I just received the new AMP12 whilst finishing up this review and I suspect I’m going to like its sound signature more than that of the AMP11. So I’ll include the MEST Mk II in my review of that AMP unit, once I’ve burned it in and spent some time listening to it :)


Conclusion:

I think people who prefer a leaner signature, or one with more forward mids, or one that favours Eastern style music from the Asia region such Japan, Korea, Chinese-speaking countries and so forth, will perhaps feel more at home with the original MEST, which is – as I have often said – a superb IEM. Similarly, people who have enjoyed the Empire Ears Odin or Zeus may find more in common sonically with the original MEST.

I’d describe the original MEST as being comparatively a little bit more vivid, bright and forward than the MEST Mk II.
Conversely, for those – like myself – who loved the original MEST but would have preferred a bit more body and richness in the mids, or a more ergonomic fit or slicker design, the new Mk II is going to be worth a listen, or even an outright blind purchase :)

Simply put, the Mk II picks up the gauntlet thrown down by the original MEST, offering the kind of holographic soundstage, separation, detail, clarity and timbre that one would normally expect to find in an IEM with an extra thousand plus dollars slapped onto the price tag. Not only that, it brings a somewhat more conventional tuning with increased body, richness and warmth in the mids, a touch more impact and slam and weight in the lows and improvements across the board in ergonomics, design, engineering and accessories.

At this price – and at this price one can only speak comparatively – I believe it to offer excellent value for money and I have no hesitation in recommending it.
szore
szore
Nice review! I sold my original MEST to buy some cans, and I instantly regretted it. Now looking to get the MK2.

skedra

Head-Fier
New Favourite
Pros: Great fit, great package, extremely good tuning, immersive stage, amazing performance across the board
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Overview:
Last year Unique Melody released the MEST, which quickly became my favourite IEM. With its unique driver setup, it sounded different than everything else I’ve heard before re-defining its price bracket. A few months ago Unique Melody released the MEST MK2, based on the same driver setup with an improved bone conduction driver, better airflow management and different shell design.

Big thank you to Unique Melody and MusicTeck for providing the demo unit in exchange for an unbiased review. The opinions expressed below are my own.

The Unique Melody MEST is available for sale on MusicTeck

In the box:
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  • IEMs
  • Case
  • 4.4 to 2 pin copper cable (source termination is selectable)
  • Magnetic cable clip
  • 4 sets of standard silicone tips
  • 3 sets of SednaEarfit Xelastec tips
  • 3 sets of Comply Foam tips
  • Cleaning cloth
  • USB warranty card

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Build quality and accessories:
Starting with the IEMs, the shells are made nicely, the clear acrylic mixed with carbon fibre and specs of gold gives the faceplate a bit of depth and makes it more interesting to look at. Same as the original MEST the MK2 shells have a great finish to them, no sharp or rough edges, the pins are flush with the shell which is a nice improvement over the originals which used QDC pins (wired as 2 pins). The back vent being covered is also a nice addition, makes for a much more polished product.

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The cable is very good, especially in terms of the plugs used. They are bespoke for Unique Melody and fit the theme and look of the IEMs really well. They appear to be either made by Pentaconn or AEC, both of which supply very high-quality plugs. The wire itself is a little bit stiff, but not to the point of being bothersome or take away from the build quality.

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The Y split isn’t something that I usually pay attention to, but in this case, it matches very well with the overall cable aesthetics and while light gives that premium feeling in contrast to the shrink wrap used on the original MEST cable. The slider also works very well, doesn’t rattle and when set stays in place.


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The cable clip and the way it’s recommended to be used by Unique Melody is something completely new to me. However, it’s also something more manufacturers should do. It keeps the cable neat in the case and also doesn’t dangle on the cable when using the IEMs while helping to keep the cable neat and comfortable.

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The case is the same case used for the original MEST, and as I mentioned in that review it’s a great case, both in terms of being protective but also the build quality. I do wish Unique Melody made the case match the colour of the MK2 by making it black, grey and gold. That would have added a matching feel to the whole package.

In terms of other accessories, the Xelastec tips are an amazing addition, I found they were something that worked very well with the original MEST and this is still the case with the MK2. The fact Unique Melody provides a selection pack also means you can figure out the size you may need to buy in the future. The card/USB warranty card is also an admirable touch to make the package that bit more premium.

The whole package feels like a mature version of what came with the MEST MK1, everything that needed improvement was improved, more small things were added to make it feel more worth the money spent.

Fit and comfort:
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The fit on the MEST MK2 is great. And I say this having owned a fair few pseudo custom IEMs in the past, which oftentimes are a bit too “aggressive”, making parts of the ear hurt after a while because while the IEM fits securely it also presses against them to achieve it.

The MK2 takes an approach that ends up being extremely comfortable, a shorter stem (or closer to the shell stem) also makes shell contact much easier to achieve.

Thanks to the above I found I can wear the IEMs for 8h straight without much if any fatigue from the shells pressing on my ears.

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Sound:
It’s rare for me to say something is tuned perfectly for all music, but I think this may be the time to say this. MEST MK2 has, what I would call a slightly downward shifted W signature. Usually, things that are tuned for everything aren’t actually good at anything, this may be one of those times this ain’t true.

Bass:
Fast, deep, very dynamic and textured. Listening to “Trentemøller – Evil Dub” every single bass note has a definition and texture to it, it makes listening to it a visceral experience, you can almost touch the bass notes. “Bonefield – Window” shows how deep the bass can be on the MEST MK2, it can literally shake your jaw, even when pushed to really high volume I never found it to distort, which makes me think for those who want more of it EQ should work just fine. Finally, listening to “Infected Mushroom – Demons of Pain (Remix)”, usually here is where small dynamic drivers can’t keep up, yet again MEST deals with it like it was nothing, it punches hard and keeps bass control throughout the song.

Midrange:
Again, an extremely good performance here, the midrange is full-bodied, remarkably textured and while “fun” sounding, it never takes away from being natural in presentation. This is one of those IEMs where you can pick up the slightest reverberations in a vocal or a finger sliding on a guitar note when that note is played, while not forcing that information onto the listener. “Accept – Beat the Bastards” guitar solo is almost overwhelming with how much raw texture is pulled out by the MEST. Listening to “John Frusciante – Scratches” conveys his voice in a smooth yet detailed manner, imagine a drink with a lot of character, but so well balanced it never feels like there’s too much of it.

Treble:
Yet again the treble is tuned very well while keeping a great performance across the board. As someone who listens to both really well recorded and mastered music as well as the opposite side of the spectrum with really badly recorded and mastered punk / electronic / metal, I always appreciate a product that can shuffle between all of them while not making me want to skip songs from either category. I’d call the treble a touch on the darker side, albeit this is mostly due to it being relatively less “boosted” than the bass and the midrange.

Imaging and Soundstage:
I think MEST MK2 still has the magic of disappearing, you no longer listen to an IEM, instead, you listen to this landscape of music presented in front of you, with things jumping out of nowhere. The absolute best example of this is listening to the album Dark Days Exit by Felix Laband, sounds happen all around you, as well as inside your head. It’s a wild experience I wish everyone can try.

Tip choices:
I won't get into too much detail in terms of tips for the MK2, my recommendations go to Beyerdynamic Xelento silicone tips (the asymmetrical ones). They provide a very deep fit without actually going very deep into the ear canal. This to me makes all the difference in terms of comfort for longer periods of time. The second choice would be xelastec tips, they are more secure than the Xelento ones but do need to go deeper into the ear. In general MEST tends to work really well with wide bore short tips. Anything else skews the FR to either have too much bass or lacking bass. A shallow fit/fit without shell contact with the ear also kills the effects of the bone conduction driver.

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MEST MK1 vs MK2 Comparison:
I think this is what a lot of people came here for. Is the MK2 worth the upgrade?

Starting with fit, the MK2 is much better than the original, the shells feel smaller, they keep in the ears better, they are less tip picky. Additionally, the use of standard 2 pin connectors means you get more choice in terms of cable upgrades in the future.

Sonically, the MK2 feels like a mature version of the original, bass is faster, much more dynamic and feels even more textured.

The midrange has more body to it and even more texture while keeping the smoothness of the original MEST. The MK1 had a bit more of an upper midrange forwardness/bite, which made it a touch more suited for specific genres in that regard, but after spending the time with the MK2 it becomes apparent that this comes with tradeoffs which to me aren’t worth it.

The treble on the MK2 has as much definition and what feels like even more detail (while being less prone to being fatiguing) than it was on the MK1. As someone who uses headphones hours at a time, this is another welcome addition.

The stage on the MK2 may not feel as “vivid” due to a bit less bite still has the same ability to show you the music in that special MEST way.

To me, MEST MK2 is a grown-up version of the original, and as such, it is a worthy upgrade.

Conclusion:
Unique Melody does it again. I can wholeheartedly recommend the MEST MK2 to pretty much everyone. There is nothing it does wrong and a whole lot it does amazingly well. It’s a great improvement over the original MEST. Finally, I wish more companies took the feedback from the customers like what Unique Melody did with the MEST MK1 in creating the MK2.

Find the original review here:
https://vikingaudioblog.com/2021/05/23/unique-melody-mest-mk2/
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Mcleenx
Mcleenx
Fantastic detailed review and great pictures!
Thanks for sharing
S
shsdshsd
Is there a reason the flush 2-pin is preferred over the qdc style connection?
skedra
skedra
More aftermarket cable options, better quality plugs available. QDC plugs also wear out on the IEM side not on the cable side which can cause issues as you can imagine

bluestorm1992

Headphoneus Supremus
UM Mest MKii - A Steady Step Up
Pros: Improved fit. Improved set of accessories. Incredible Sound Stage. Neutral and revealing tonality. Excellent value.
Cons: The harshness in sound is sill there but to a lesser degree; pairing with certain sources fixes this.


Here comes my impressions of the Mest MKii and a comparison with the Mest OG. In the above pic, OG is the one with blue chips in the shell and silver-colored cable. MKii is the one with gold chips and black-colored cable. Like my other review, let me get my conclusion out first.

The Mest MKii is a steady step up from the OG. Put it simply, it addresses a couple of the biggest complaints I have for the OG, which are:
  • The number one complaint I had with OG was the fit. It was too big for my ear. Most of the time I need to push it in to get an OK fit, but after hours' long of listening it can still get a bit shaky and I need to readjust the position of it. I tried 5 different kinds of tips and none of them fully solve this issue. MKii is noticeably smaller in size and with a modified form of the shell which achieves a much better fit to my ears. Now, MKii fits my ears like a CIEM. I will share some side-by-side pics below.
  • The recessed mids and the edges/harshness in sound I can hear from time to time. That was another big complaint from me as I listen to vocals a lot. I strongly suspect that this is due to my poor fit with OG. With MKii, the recessed mids thing gets significantly improved. The harshness in sound is somewhat improved, but I find that the degree of improvement depends on the source you pair with it.
Mest MKii also comes with a better set of accessories. The cable is now made by PW Audio and is a very nice copper cable. I find it to be more premium and comfortable to have on compared to the cable in OG. MKii also comes with a set of AZLA ear tips which are incredible. In fact, on OG I ended up using the AZLA tips as it gives me the best fit, so I am pleasantly surprised that MKii comes with this as standard in the package.

And, what are the things that MKii keeps from OG? Basically, MKii preserves the strength of OG very well.
  • The excellent sound stage. Just incredible.
  • A neutral tuning with decent clarity and imaging. The layering and separation between bass, mids, and treble are also quite well-achieved, although some people may think that there is a slight lack of coherence among them. I find the lack of coherence to be less in MKii than in OG. Again, this could be due to the improved fit I get.
My quick suggestion for people who had the OG and are curious about MKii:
  • If you are an OG owner and have fit issues, then of course I will recommend moving to the MKii, especially if you are into vocals. The improvement is just so obvious to me.
  • If you get a good fit already or if you have a customed version, I don't think you will need to upgrade. For OG, I have seen from several reviewers that the sound is supposed to be smooth if you find the right tips and have the right fit. Hence, if you do not have any real complaints about it, especially about the recessed mids and edges in sound, and you find the OG to be comfortable in long listening sessions, then I think the benefit of upgrading is small. The benefit could be there, but I doubt it will justify the cost of roughly $600 (the difference between buying a new MKii and what you get from selling the OG).
  • If you are debating between OG and MKii - MKii is a safe choice to go as it is able to preserve most of the good stuff in OG and comes with an improved fit.

Now, let me dive into and give more details about the FIT and sound signature of Mest MKii. Most of the listening is done with LP's new dongle W2. The test is done with 3.5mm termination for both OG and MKii. A DDHifi 2.5 to 3.5 adapter is used with MKii.

The Fit Comparison between OG and MKii

I think it is most direct for me to use side-by-side pics to demonstrate the size comparisons between OG and MKii. Overall, MKii is smaller. Its shell has more curvatures that should work with your ears better. I also find it to be slightly lighter when wearing it for a long time, but this could be due to the improved fit. The left is MKii and the right is OG.



The Sound Signature of MEST MKii

This section is mostly for the people who are new to Mest. Welcome and I think you are in for a treat.

Mest's biggest strength is its sound stage, which is (at least partially) enabled by its innovative bone-conductor driver. I would describe the sound stage of Mest as wide, deep, and real. From time to time I do not feel that I am listening to an IEM - everything feels so real around me. This is really an experience different from any other IEMs I have tried, except for the Traillii. The benefit of this incredible sound stage is that the music feels real to the listener. You can feel that you are really there, on the performing stage or in the recording room, listening to the artist performing.

Because of the depth Mest is able to achieve in the sound stage, it creates the "room" for Mest to achieve good separation and clarity in the sound. Things are rarely "compressed" together and I rarely feel the sound to be muddled. The imaging you get is also quite good.

Sound Comparison between Mest OG and Mest MKii

Overall, I would say both Mest OG and MKii have a neutral sound signature.

For OG, it has good bass and good treble extensions, but I have found its mids to be quite recessed. This has created difficulties for me to appreciate the emotion the singer tries to deliver, and I don't feel enough of the "impact" from the music. Most of my listening is on female vocals, so this troubles me a lot. In some sense, this is similar to the problem I had with the Sony IER-Z1R, which has excellent soundstage and clarity of music, but the recessed mids made me move away from it.

For MKii, I have found the mids to be significantly better to my ears. It is more forward but not too intimate. Kind of at the perfect balanced position to me. Because of this, the imaging of the mids improved quite a lot for me. Overall, with MKii, I can say that the bass, mids, and treble achieves a good balance.

Regarding the coherence between bass, mids, and treble. In OG I have found them to be pretty "separated". Some people like this and some people don't. In MKii, I have found the coherence among them improves quite a lot, and this is achieved without suppressing them together.

It is also worth noting that I have found both OG and MKii to be quite revealing of the signature of the source, and MKii is the more revealing one of the two.

The Potential of Mest MKii

As I have hinted above, the coherence of Mest MKii can be improved by pairing it with the right source. Because this is a quick impression, I have only been able to do my assessment mostly based on LP's new dongle W2. I managed to spend some time to test its pairing with SP2000 and my "ultimate" IEM machine Cayin N6ii + C9. What I can say is Mest scales up BIG when you find a good source to pair it with. When using Cayin N6ii + C9, I get an incredible experience of the imaging and presence of the music. Everything is vivid and soooo real! I have no more complaints about the harshness of the sound. The sound stage is even better and more extended. WOW. This is possibly the best IEM experience I have had and competes with my experience with Traillii - too bad that I longer have the little bird for a side-by-side comparison. (A side note: Cayin and UM are from the same city and their employees have a very good relationship, so I suspect UM has done quite some tuning test with Cayin's products).

OK let me calm down a bit and stop raving about this pairing. In the coming days, I will spend more time trying out Mest MKii with different sources, including Lotoo S1, Cayin N6ii (E02), SP2000, and of course the N6ii +C9 stack. My initial impression across these pairings is that Mest is quite revealing for the signature of the source. As a result, its performance scales with the source, and it opens up the possibility for you to use an appropriate source to achieve an "optimal" sound to your ears.

Verdict and The Value of Mest

I think Mest is easily my most recommended IEM at the price range of $1000-2000. It can certainly be the BEST choice for a lot of people. I have owned or tried many IEMs that are more expensive than $2000 (check out my signature lol). Now they are all gone and Mest is the one I am keeping as I find it to be of incredible value and also because I have enjoyed its incredible sound stage so much. Although I have had some complaints about the fit of OG, this still does not stop me from keeping it as my daily driver. So, when MKii is announced, I am incredibly excited to get one and I am happy to report that UM listens and is able to deliver an improved version of the Mest that will be a better fit for a group of users. Incredible value from the Mest again and nice job UM!

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KickAssChewGum
KickAssChewGum
Thanks! Great review and fantastic photos! The red one is insane!
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