Dobrescu George

Reviewer: AudiophileHeaven
Unique Melody Mest MKii IEMs - New Flagship Quadbrid
Pros: + Detail
+ Comfort
+ Resolution
+ Fun, Dynamic Sound
+ Engaging
+ Awesome package
+ Probably the most natural midrange ever seen in an IEM
+ Soundstage
Cons: - Price
Unique Melody Mest MKii IEMs - New Flagship Quadbrid

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-13-900x600.jpg


Truly a revolutionary piece, the MKii of Mest from Unique Melody is priced at 1500 USD at the moment of writing this full written review, and it features four types of driver technologies, made to sound the most coherent, detailed yet natural of all the IEMs out there. This means that it is necessary to compare the Mest MKii with Final Audio A8000, Beyerdynamic Xelento, Clear Tune Monitors Da Vinci X, Rhapsodio Zombie, Lime Ears Aether R, and Audeze Euclid IEMs. So many different technologies, and so little time to make proper comparisons, but I still hope that my review will be proper and detailed enough to help you decide what would best suit your tastes.






Introduction

Unique Melody is the kind of company you don't hear enough about, and that's mainly because they are not from the USA, but they're actually from Asia. They designed the Mest MKii with 8 actual drivers, and we're talking about 7 full sized custom drivers, with 1 traditional driver. They always develop new technologies and have been one of the first companies to have two dynamic drivers in a single IEM, and although they're known to have a somewhat more bright and open sound, their latest IEMs indicate a very versatile company with many unique signatures for each of their products. Mest MKii tackles a very natural and live sound, being awesome in general, not tuned with any coloration in mind.

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-17-900x614.jpg


It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Unique Melody, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I'd like to thank Unique Melody for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in Unique Mest MKii find their next music companion.



Packaging

First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-57-900x600.jpg



Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-58-900x600.jpg


Where I was satisfied and happy even with the package of the Terminator 3D or 3DT I reviewed mere weeks ago, the Mest MKii totally outdoes my expectations.

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-60-900x607.jpg


This is how you properly scale a small, energy and resource-efficient package, without losing track of what is important. The package includes the IEMs, and what I consider to be probably the best carrying case I've seen thus far. This is because it manages to offer structural resistance, while looking awesome, while not being prone to breaking.

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-59-900x521.jpg


Unique Melody also included special tips this time around, with the package including Azla Xelastic Tips for the first time in my reviewing history, along with three pairs of Comply foam tips, and three sizes of silicone tips, comparable to Spinfit in quality and fit.

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-21-900x547.jpg


There's also a cleaning cloth, cable separator, and an information USB card. Everything is hidden in a smart little drawer beneath the main IEM and carrying case chamber. I came to like efficient packaging, as environmental concerns are on the rise, and Unique Melody wins big numbers here.



Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

The build quality of the Mest MKii is superb, and it is a very solid iem with a carbon fiber reinforced shell, made in one piece, and pampered with tiny gold leafs for aesthetic purposes. The sound design is also ingenious, with 8 drivers inside the IEMS, but very different from most competition, having 4 driver types.

When you go low, the bass is handled by a full sized 10mm dynamic driver. The midrange is handled by two Balanced armature drivers on each ear, for added detail and a more crispy sound, than usually possible with dynamic drivers. The treble is then produced by two Electrostatic drivers on each ear, powered by a voltage booster. Then, the cherry on the cake is a bone conduction system, with one bone conduction plate on each ear. This is basically insane, and insanely complicated to deliver and plan, without large coherency issues.

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-04-900x595.jpg


It is really surprising to say this, but Mest MKii actually manages to sound a bit more natural and more coherent than most IEMs with just one driver, or those that have one type for all drivers. This is actually because when using a single dynamic driver, it is quite complicated to make it respond quickly enough for midrange, all while delivering a big and low enough bass, and a clean treble. The compromise is usually a lighter bass, or a smoother response in the mids and treble (as you can notice from my review on the Vega2020 from Campfire). Then, using only Balanced Armature drivers inside a IEM can result in a bass that is too quick, and the overall sound can be a bit too dry and fast, so a combination of all technologies is usually needed. The big issue when combining technologies is that coherency takes a hit, as at the crossover point, or where you end the bass produced by the dynamic driver, and start the mids produced by the Balanced Armature drivers, you get either some range where the two overlap, and create a peak / distort, or a dip, where the range is not covered properly.

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-16-900x554.jpg


Unique Melody managed to avoid all those issues by planning a really efficient 5-way crossover that extracts the best of all drivers, while keeping the sound as coherent and fluid as possible.

When thinking about this number of drivers, you'd imagine a large IEM, like the CTM Da Vinci X, but Mest MKii is rather small and portable, extremely comfortable for my medium sized ears. The fit is shallow towards normal, and a good contact with the tips and the IEMs is necessary for the bone conduction system to work. I got the best results using Spinfit tips, while some of my friends got a much better result using Azla Xelastic tips. The Azla Xelastec tips I was able to use are super small, although for any other tips I use medium size. The fit is a bit deeper, and the bass is a bit less boomy, and a bit deeper, while the tips make a better overall fit and comfort. The downside of using them is that they are a bit sticky, the silicone being of a better quality for the bone conduction system to work. This means they gather dust easier. Comfort is not affected.

You can expect about 20-30 dB of passive noise isolation from the Mest MKii, depending on what tips you're using, and on how deep the fit is. My passive noise isolation was on average 25 dB regardless of frequency.

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-11-900x596.jpg


The drive factor of the Mest MKii is excellent, they have an impedance of about 12 OHMs, but are not very sensitive to hiss. There is some background stuff going on with Lotoo Paw 6000, but it is also present with iBasso DX300, and FiiO M11 PRO. They are quite easy to drive though, and you won't have any issue running the Mest MKii from a smartphone or portable DAC/AMP, like the Lotoo Paw S1. So far, the DAP that had the least background noise has been the QLS QA361.

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-51-900x560.jpg


The default 3.5mm cable is a bit on the thick side of things, but is of an excellent quality. You can always order Unique Melody's own aftermarket cables, which come with 4.4mm plugs too. There is ventilation on the back of the IEM, so there's absolutely no driver flex, and the cable is not microphonic either. Regardless of the plug you get with the cables, they are all high-quality OCC 24 AWG 4-Core Cables. This is probably the highest quality of a cable you can find by default on an IEM, and so far I haven't seen any other IEM coming with anything better out of the factory. You could always upgrade it by purchasing a high-end cable for about 500-1000 USD, but I think that the default cable will sound and be ergonomic enough for all practical usages.



Sound Quality

The overall signature of the Mest MKii is pretty much perfectly natural. There's something magic about the way it is able to have the entire range of sounds, from the lowest bass you can imagine, all the way to the most sparkly of treble, air, soundstage, and dynamics. Today I had a really lengthy conversation with Romania's best flute player about music and audio, and Mest MKii came in the convo, because we were talking about the overall way a headphone / IEM can portray music.

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-71-900x577.jpg


For most professional music players, audiophile grade IEMs are way more important than they seem, but they can't play without hearing the rest of the orchestra, and they work together as a single unit, everything needs to combine perfectly, timbre, timing and energy. This is exactly the way I can describe Mest MKii - it is an IEM where all sounds combine perfectly, timbre, timing and energy, without losing the definition of each instrument. For that one example and experiment we used mostly classical, but I switched up to thrash metal, rock, EDM and Rock, and the result was always the same.

Mest MKii sounds precise, but natural. The bass is full and deep, but the midrange is natural, spacious and well separated. Detail is bountiful, while the treble is airy and well-extended, with a nice sharp bite when the song calls for it, but can sound smooth and light when the song calls for a mellow presentation. There are songs with strong bass where Mest MKii can rattle your brains like a can of whoop*ss, and songs where the bass is extremely quick, as it basically just plays what you're feeding them.

I am absolutely in love with the presentation, and I would be willing to say that as long as you're using a high quality power source, like a good DAP, Lotto Paw 6000, iBasso DX300, FiiO M11, QLS QA361 and the likes, you're going to experience pure musical bliss with the Mest MKii.

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-65-900x560.jpg


The bass is really deep, but controlled. It has enough substance to rattle your brain and awaken your basshead instincts, transforming you from the most calm and well-mannered listeners into a bloodthirsty basshead, as soon as you switch the playlist to some dirty EDM and Rap. Even Mori Calliope's songs have that edge in the lows, which reminds me why I fell in love with her music, and why it motivates me so much to keep making YT content and not switch to a writing-only diet. You should take into account that the bass of the MEST MKii is not necessarily supported by the bone conduction system, as its magic starts from the upper bass and the sub-bass, mid bass and most of the body from each song is supported by the high quality 10mm driver.

The midrange is clearly where MEST MKii is strongest and although I would say it is ever so slightly recessed compared to the bass and the treble, it has more than enough presence to simulate the singer softly whispering in your ears while singing. The instrument separation is so good, yet everything combines so coherently that I often check my own pulse to make sure I haven't reached heaven. Jokes aside, it is extremely good, voices and blow instruments, guitars and pianos all have the perfect timbre they should have. Even extremely complicated instruments like Ocarinas sound good with the MEST MKii. I noticed a soft tendency for the midrange to be on the thinner and wet character side, rather than the dry or thick side of things. There is a good spatial separation, with both great depth and width to all music played. It is not the largest sounding IEM out there, but it is the most coherent, natural and precise (all in one) I heard this far.

The treble of the MEST Mark 2 is extremely detailed, sparkly and well extended. An energetic IEM, it can keep up with Rock, Metal, EDM and Classical alike. The treble does not roll off early, and doesn't rely on smoothness to cover for a poor treble performance, nor does it try to enhance treble with cheap tricks like upper midrange brightness. I appreciate this a lot, because the upper midrange is natural, emotional, perfect for piano songs. The treble, where cymbal action happens, is as airy as the atmosphere in my hometown in the mountains, where there's no pollution like there is in Bucharest.

Mest MK II is really dynamic and peppy, has an honest character, not overly forgiving, not offending either. I never thought I would say this, but even xxxtentacion sounds excellent through it, great beats along with distortion-free backgrounds that are engaging and interesting. Switching things up to Dance Gavin Dance, John Mess's voice is as lively as ever while Tilian's voice is melodic. Guitars are vivid, bright and dynamic. Excellent from end to end. You should continue reading the comparisons part of the review to get some idea of where MEST MK ii is in relation to other IEMS.



Comparisons

I went with pretty much all of the other flagships I reviewed so far, because MEST MK2 needs a proper battle, if it is to make it to your ears and my Hall Of Fame. Before this, I want to add that for all my comparisons, I relied on the same DAPs, which are the best flagships I reviewed so far.

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-41-900x555.jpg


They are iBasso DX300, Lotoo Paw 6000, FiiO M11 PRO, QLS QA361. MESt MKii is somewhat easy to drive, and I'm stuck at maximum 62 volume on the Lotoo PAW 6000, so it can easily be driven by the likes of Lotoo PAw S1, Ear Studio HUD100 MKII, Hiby R3 PRO, or Tempotec V1A Variations.

Unique Melody MESt MKii vs Final Audio A8000 (1500 USD vs 2000 USD) - The biggest difference by far here is in the sonics, where A8000 is really good with detail and clarity, but Mest MK2 adds bass, and some substance to music. A8000 is impressive when you want to simply analyse everything, when you want to hear every little detail in your music, while Mest MKii is the kind of IEM that really punches when it should, sounds way more natural, and has more overall body to music. I find myself listening to MEST MKii more thanks to the more bass, which in return makes it better for a wider selection of music, where A8000 is more of a delicacy that is best served quiet and with whom you need to spend long periods of time to really understand and appreciate.

Unique Melody MESt MKii vs Beyerdynamic Xelento (1500 USD vs 1000 USD) - I heard a lot of you guys wanted me to compare the MEST MKii to Xelento, but it makes very little sense to me. I mean, not only the price, but also the year of release of Xelento puts it in inferiority compared to the MEST. The comfort is much better on MEST MKii, especially with the Xelastec tips, and Xelento has a shallow fit which tends to slip away quite often. On the other hand, MEST MK2 is far more natural in the fit, and never falls out of your ears. The sound is far more L-Shaped with Xelento, where the Bass is the focus, the midrange is behind, and the treble is in the last place. This means that Xelento has less resolution, less detail and less overall clarity than MEST MKii. In fact, MEST MKii sounds much cleaner, more open, more dynamic, wider, with more control. Xelento has more bass, which means more impact, but they can lack control at times, where MEST MKii is controlled, fun and natural. Xelento is great if you're a diehard basshead or if you want something that's extremely smooth and has absolutely no grain or edge, where MESt MKii is better if you want a natural sounding IEM with tons of detail, clarity, and if you like resolution.

Unique Melody MESt MKii vs Clear Tune Monitors Da Vinci X (1500 USD vs 2500 USD) - Now it is time to start with the heavy boiss where the fight is more even. The fit is better on MEST MK2, which has a smaller body, where Da Vinci X is physically larger and those with smaller ears will find a worse fit with Da Vinci X. The overall clarity is similar between the two, and so is the detail. Da Vinci X has a bit more resolution, especially in micro-details and textures, where MEST MKii has a more natural sound, fuller, with more body. The overall difference is not that large, and paying 1000 USD more on Da Vinci X is a bit of an extra, so if you ever heard it and thought you loved the sound but you wanted a bit more body, and could give up on some of the extra textures, I would recommend considering MEST MKii instead, and you'd still have almost enough money for a high-end Flagship DAP like iBasso DX300!

Unique Melody MESt MKii vs Rhapsodio Zombie (1500 USD vs 2000 USD) - When you want something more V-Shaped than MEST and think you want less midrange, but much more bass, and more treble bite, the Zombie returns from its grave to serve. This IEM is dead and buried by the maker, being quite old, and Rhapsodio is now working on more new IEMS, but the Zombie is what I would call an excellent IEM with tons of body, and I can't wait to hear the next thing developed by Rhapsodio. The sound of the Zombie is raging, powerful, deep, really rattling and with a bass so deep it will unclog your ears. MEST MK2 has a much better midrange, and less bass. The bass of the Zombie is controlled and powerful, but I personally find the bass of the MEST MKii to be closer to what I would naturally hear, and more bass doesn't necessarily mean better. Then again, I have a basshead inside, raging to come out at times. The higher price of RSD is a bit controversial, as the overall resolution / detail is actually slightly in the favor of MEST MK2, but that price of Zombie is for a few years ago when it was produced, while MEST MK2 is a newer IEM, and developments always happen in the audio world.

Unique Melody MESt MKii vs Lime Ears Aether R (1500 USD vs 1400 USD) - Aether R is the closest IEM to MEST MKii in general, but despite the rather low difference in price, the difference in sound is actually a bit large. Aether R has a tip towards the upper midrange, which cuts some of the aggressiveness, and it is best at low-medium volumes, where MEST MKii is great regardless of the volume it is being listened to at. The upper midrange of MEST MKii has more bite, and more presence, which helps with emotional songs, especially violins and pianos, where Aether R is better for happy-sounding songs. The resolution is a bit better on MEST MKii, as it is able to render micro details and textures better, while Aether R is a bit wider sounding and more relaxed, smoother. This makes MEST MK2 more engaging and more punchy, where Aether R is the one that's relaxed and easier to listen to for many hours in a row. As I tend to listen in shorter bursts at higher volumes, MEST MK2 wins for me with rock and metal, while with Jazz and Laid Back music, Aether R sounds more ethereal.

Unique Melody MESt MKii vs Audeze Euclid (1500 USD vs 2000 USD) - This is probably the hardest comparison I have to make, because both IEMs are really new, and I've been exceptionally happy about both, having just published my video review of the Euclid. The difference in comfort is minimal, both IEMs are comfortable, different fit and shape, but neither doesn't have driver flex, and the drive factor is similar, so a high-end DAP like DX300 from iBasso would work nicely for both. I love the resolution and overall detail / refinement on the Euclid, which is really clean and clear, crisp and fun. The thing with Euclid is that the bass is quite flat and neutral, which turned down some people, especially those who expected to enjoy them really loud, thick and meaty like the Audeze house sound tends to be. Knowing that the Euclid is lighter, snappy, the MEST MK2 sounds more natural, with more body, more overall impact and depth, and more dynamics. Generally, despite the unusual approach given the company history, Euclid is better for those who enjoy an analytical, detailed sound, while MEST Mk2 is better for those looking for a full, natural sound, realistic with everything as you'\re used to hearing live.



Value and Conclusion

Well, we reached the end, and the value of MEST MKii is excellent, in relation to other flagship high-end IEMS out there. Compared to just other IEMs, you could most definitely stop at around 300 USD and go for Unique Melody 3DT, an IEM I absolutely love and still use daily, but if you wanna to to the max, the MEST MKii will be a much more impressive experience and will totally blow your mind. I can't really emphasize enough how much I love the performance of MESt MKii, and for sure I am the kind of guy who would invest this money in the IEM, and who would still be smug and happy about it. But I'm also someone who traded years of eating poorly so I could afford high-end audio when I was a student, so maybe I'm not exactly a good example for mindful spending.

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-42-900x587.jpg


This being said, MEST MKii is the kind of IEM that you can surely use for three-five years and still be impressed on a daily basis, and I'm still in love with the really crisp sound of their Martians, an IEM I reviewed years ago now, but which still comes to my mind, as a phantom of a past pleasure.

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-62-900x565.jpg


The package of the second mark MEST is excellent, with the Xelastec tips being something I will have to experiment more with, even with other IEMS. There's the beautiful carrying case too, that adds to the package value. In the end, I simply have to add the MESt MKII to Audiophile-Heaven's Hall Of Fame, and keep it there. None of the previously added IEMS need to be taken out, the MESt MKII does not replace anything, it earned a rightful place here, in the heart of the best.

Unique-Melody-MEST-MK2-MKii-Audiophile-Heaven-Review-Quadbrid-Haru-4-Driver-35-900x570.jpg


At the end of today's review, if you enjoy a natural tonality, coherent sound, excellent comfort, a deep and explosive bass, if you enjoy a ton of detail, combined with excellent instrument separation, a full and deep bass, and what I would call the perfect timbre, then I think you should totally go for the MESt MKii.
Gustavo1976
Gustavo1976
Hi. Im going yo buy Mest on sale Black F but now arrive Thieaudio Monarch Mk2. MEST MK2 is an all rounder ( edm, rock, pop, latin jazz...)???. MEST mk2 on 1199 $ vs Monarch Mk2 around 950$?? Help me please:))) Thanks.
Dobrescu George
Dobrescu George
@Gustavo1976 - Hii Gustavo, I have not heart the Monarch, but you can safely go with MEST MK2, it should be really enjoytable as an all-rounder, great bass, great treble, good wide stage, it has everything you can desire :)
Gustavo1976
Gustavo1976
Thanks. I bought it. Waitiiiing:)

Zelda

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Sound Quality - Soundstage. Detail retrieval. Among the best sub-bass performance. Extension. Resolution. Very unique and impressive imaging
Build quality
Comfortable fit design and good isolation
Includes PW Audio cable, Dignis case, Azla Xelastec and Comply tips
Cons: Large shells and wide nozzle may not suit everyone
Some may prefer recessed 2-pin sockets (?)
Unique Melody Mest MKII

mest (1).jpg


Website – Unique Melody

mest (2).jpg

Specifications
  • Driver Types: Dynamic + Balanced Armature + Electrostatics (EST) + Bone Conduction (Dual Sides Bone Conduction), 4-Way Quadbrid
  • Driver Counts: 7+1 (7 Traditional Drivers + Dual Sides Bone Conduction System)
  • Sensitivity: @1KHz 112 DBs
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-70KHz
  • Cable Sockets: 2-Pin Flat
  • Shells: One Piece Carbon Fiber + Gold Foil
  • Crossover: 5-Way Crossover
  • Resistance: 12.3Ω
  • Driver Configuration: 1 Dynamic Bass Driver + 2 BA Mid Drivers + 2 BA Treble Drivers + 2 EST Ultra High Drivers + 1 Full Range B2 Bone Conduction Driver
  • Cable: UM Copper M2 Cable Custom Cable
  • Ear Tips: AZLA SednaEarfit Xelastec SS | MS | M

Price: $1499 for Universal fit. $1799 for Custom.

Official MEST MKII page.

The review is based on a unit lent by Unique Melody. Available from MusicTeck store as well.

mest (3).jpg
mest (5).jpg


The new Mest MKII arrives inside a decent black storage cardboard box. The design is simple, not too plain, and offered in a convenient and logical presentation. The magnetic cover has the ‘UM’ logo on top and once opened it reveals the upper section where the storage case holds the earphones themselves and the bottom drawer has all the extra accessories, very tightly arranged. While the box does not have a very premium look on it, the quality and variety of the included accessories are quite good, mixing a few brands in a single package. First of all, the blue storage case is an original Dignis leather case of high quality. It has enough room to hold the Mest earphones inside and there is a soft velcro band that can be removed or placed in another desired way to properly hold each earpiece on a separated section from the cable. The cable is an original custom made PW Audio specifically designed for the Mest MKII. There are four pairs of standard silicone ear tips, a pack of AZLA Xelastec tips in three sizes (SS/MS/M – which are more like S/M/L in comparison to other tips) and three pairs of Comply Foam tips of TSX series in three sizes as well. There is also a soft cleaning cloth and a real leather magnetic clip that can be used to properly hold the cable and store it inside the case. Lastly, the warranty card has a hidden USB stick of 16GB of storage.

mest (6).jpg
mest (7).jpg
mest (8).jpg
mest (9).jpg
mest (10).jpg
mest (11).jpg
mest (12).jpg


Design

The earpieces of the MEST MKII are nicely designed for proper fit and comfort. The main shells are made of carbon fiber with gold foils, which is basically a polymer (plastic) derivative material with added flakes in gold color scattered around the shells for a more attractive finish. Unlike the original Mest (MKI) model which was available in two color themes, the new MKII is limited to this black and gold mix. Still very nice and matches well the all-black PW Audio included cable.

mest (13).jpg


Build quality is as good as it gets with this kind of materials; on par with the qdc IEM (e.g. Anole VX) or Hyla Sarda (with very similar shells). Not as tough as more solid and resistant metal shells of steel or even aluminum, and maybe not as premium looking, either, but on the other hand, they are lightweight and more comfortable to wear. Apparently, this kind of material is needed for the Bone-Conduction drivers inside to perform effectively as they need an easier (less limited) contact with the listener's body.

mest (14).jpg


At the faceplates lower area there is an improved metal vent for proper air flow of the dynamic drivers. The shells on the MKII have a more custom-like shape than the original version, but still maintain a very universal fit. I wouldn’t have any fit issues with the first Mest or similar shells, yet the MKII sits more securely than those. The inner area towards the nozzle has a proper angle too. The shells are still a bit on the large size, and with the wider diameter nozzle the fit can be more shallow. The nozzle itself is of very good quality, all metal (probably stainless steel or nickel), well attached to the main plastic body and features a metal filter from which the various bores can be spotted underneath at a closer look.

mest (15).jpg


On the MKII, the cable has been changed to standard 2-pin (0.78). The sockets on the shells’ side are flushed, making the new Mest more universal at the moment of changing cables. However, with the included cable, the connectors look like they stick out too much over the base of the shells. More an aesthetic thing, if anything, and does not affect the quality at all. The cable itself is new a custom made one in collaboration with PW Audio company called “UM Copper M2” (or just M2). It consists of a 24awg gauge OCC copper wire of four strands, softly braided at the plug to y-split section and then twisted at the right and left sides. The cable has an all-black finish well matching the earphones color theme. It is rather soft and flexible with an outer PVC coating and shows no cable noise when moving around. The plug and y-split are made of solid metal material with gold screws attached to them, UM logo and ‘M2’ printed in white. The cable slider (made of metal) is designed to look as part of the y-split and runs very tightly through the cable. The 2-pin connectors are also metal and have the ‘UM’ logo on them. There are heat shrink tubes applied to form soft ear hooks. The audio plug is available in three options: standard 3.5mm and balanced 2.5mm and 4.4mm.

mest (16).jpg


A most appealing feature on the Mest lies in its drivers’ selection and configuration. While there are uncountable hybrids out there that mix two kind of drivers and already too many that go with three types together (aka ‘tri-brid’s), the Mest goes even further, and more complex, implementing a quad-brid, four type of drivers combined into a single shell: Dynamic, Balanced Armature, the now popular Electrostatic and the unique Bone-Conduction. The total drivers’ count is of eight drivers divided in a single dynamic (10mm) for lows, two BA for midrange, two BA for highs and two EST for ultra-highs, while the BC driver are dual-side drivers for full-range freq. In the theory, BC drivers should not just be heard but also more ’felt’. The more complex and very exotic driver mix is always intriguing, though it is impossible to tell how great the implementation of these kind of drivers on such universal in-ear form factor is, unless you could try a non-BC option of the earphone. But regardless of its hardware setup, the Mest MKII does stand out in its final audio tuning and high technical performance.

mest (4).jpg


Sound

Main gear used – Campfire Solaris, qdc Anole VX, final A8000, Shanling M8, iBasso DX300, Fiio M15. Extra cables: PW Audio Monile, Satin Audio Zeu.

Overall, the Mest MKII sound is of a lively signature, in a very wide, mild u-shaped response, and that I personally appreciate over the more typical v-shaped type, at least at this price range when seeking for a most balanced sound. Worth noting is that the Mest can be quite ear tips dependent, but even so it does not deviate much from a well-balanced frequency response. Despite the complex drivers’ configuration, the tonality is rather natural and the Mest stands out in its resolution and technical capabilities. The tuning is very refined, fairly smooth without sharp peaks, great in control and precision. For many this could be an excellent all-rounder pair that sounds full, strong and highly detailed, enjoyable with a wide variety of genres and very unique in its imaging.

mest (19).jpg


Following the lively signature, the low-end is enhanced in quantities, more elevated on its sub-bass than mid-bass, but always full and immersive. The bass is deep and extends very effortlessly. It is particularly very dynamic and has a natural texture. Speed is high; fast for a dynamic driver, and while maybe not the fastest among its close rivals like the Anole VX with all BA setup or even the A8000, it is still faster than the Solaris and Nio. Layering too, is really good and well separated, and the Mest can deal with most complex tracks with much ease. Certainly, this is the best sub-bass presentation I’ve heard on an IEM; a perfect mix of quality and quantity that beats the Sarda by a fair margin. It is very clean but also rumbly, deep and articulated. Mid-bass is just as good, though less elevated than the sub-bass is, and as such it is clear yet impactful. Total bass heads may not apply for the Mest for sheer quantities. Otherwise, the quality is great and should fit most tastes without compromising at anything; always present when needed and never overwhelming. It is hard (or impossible) to tell how much the BC driver contributes against a traditional single dynamic setup, at least on this Universal-fit, but regardless, the Mest MKII is already worth praising for its bass performance alone.

The good news is that the low-end does not affect (negatively) to the midrange at all, while tends to add extra body and a bit of warmth and texture to the armature units. The whole midrange is very even from its low to high regions and remains very neutral within the frequency response. Distant, thin or recessed it is not, but won’t be calling it particularly forward or too thick, either. Rather, it is full and very neutral, and presented very true to the played music – again, ear tips do play an important role here. It is smooth, very accurate and articulated, a bit liquid in texture in a BA-driver fashion, but does not show much of BA timbre. All instruments and vocals play along in a very fine balance, though I do find the mids being a bit dry and raw in texture, more suitable for instruments than they are for vocals, and could prefer a bit sweeter texture and energy for female vocals. The positioning, however, is remarkable on the Mest, where each element has its own place and is easy to isolate within the sound mix, resulting in one of the best and most special imaging in the IEM realm (at least at this high price range).

As for the highs, the Mest combines two BA drivers with a dual Electrostatic (EST) for ultra-highs frequencies. Surprisingly, these two types of drivers work in such a natural harmony that it is very hard to pinpoint their assigned frequency region. The treble is tuned in a natural way that nicely complements the whole sound balance. In a very direct (and critical) comparison to the low-end, the treble may give up to a touch darker tuning next to richer bass, but still feels more upfront than the midrange, contributing for a very even u-shaped sound. Treble is full in quantity; energetic, very well extended without presenting a bright tonality and still doesn’t give the sense of missing something on the upper registers. Not harsh and very rarely sibilant; control is very high and so is definition. Not sure if it is due to the EST drivers, but the response is (subjectively) fairly linear having no particular peak or dip. The precision, detail and speed on the treble are very, very high, though to be fair, it is missing a bit in dynamics.

Overall detail retrieval is very high, well suiting the price tag when compared to similar or even higher priced options. The detail is not presented in a very upfront, analytical way that tries to call the listener’s attention, yet all the small details and nuances are easy to capture. Again, some ear tips can help to reveal the micro-details quicker, like the Azla SednaEarfit tips, but they make the sound more dry, less natural, and a bit more ‘raw’. Soundstage is one of the main strengths of the Mest (MKII) along with its very unique imaging. It goes very wide and almost equally in front to back distance and with very good ‘height’ for any IEM. Definitely one of the largest presentations among in-ear models at this high price, well compared to the Solaris and A8000. There is a lot of air and sense of space and excellent separations between multiple elements. Even considering the four types of drivers mixed together in a single IEM shell, the Mest manages to handle busy and most complex tracks with no problems. I won’t say they all play in totally perfect unison harmony, at least not when compared to single dynamic drivers’ based IEMs or more traditional multi-BA setups, but it is really hard to get a lack of coherence. The imaging is particularly special on the Mest, and one area where it does stand out over many other earphones. Instead of having a predominating side, right or left, from where the instruments are coming from, the Mest can position elements in a more vast ‘xyz’ axis taking advantage of the wider field stage it has. I admit that at first it kind of sounds strange to the point that it makes you think something’s wrong with the drivers or like there’s a polarity issue on the cable/socket because the sound can arrive from a more diagonal direction or different height. Once getting used to, it is actually part of the fun factor the Mest MKII offers.


Comparisons

Hyla Sarda

The Sarda is triple driver hybrid of one dynamic, dual BA (Sonion) and one piezoelectric units, divided for lows, mids and highs, respectively. In their overall design, including the shape, material and cable, both products share many similarities. (Actually, the original Mest seems to have the same shells’ design as the Sarda and other previous UM universal earphones).
As for what sound goes, the Mest MKII could be seen as a very strong upgrade over the Sarda. The Sarda has a very sharp V-shaped signature with a powerful low-end that stands out more in its sub-bass quantity and quality followed by a bit less pronounced mid-bass (yet strong and enhanced), a bright and if a bit spiky treble but well extended, and a midrange that is distant and unfortunately lacks in the timbre dept. The Mest takes a much wider u-shaped and cohesive tuning, and trades sheer quantities for higher quality. Like on the Sarda, the sub-bass on the Mest is more elevated than the mid-bass in its freq. response, but then sounds all more natural, tighter, faster and accurate, and more importantly, less abrasive. With better control it even extends further and more effortlessly. The midrange is much more forward (still on the neutral side); it is clean, detailed and more resolving, and simply, it sounds correct. The highs too, are more controlled, accurate and not peaky or sharp, with more detail and greater air. Soundstage on the Sarda is wide. The Mest is as wide, but then has better front to back distance, space and way better imaging.


qdc Anole VX
The Anole VX, previous qdc’s flagship IEM, with 10 BA drivers and 3 tuning switches is still one of the best (and favorites) sets I’ve tried. Build quality is around the same (high) level on both the Mest and VX, having polymer derivative materials for their main shell body and metal nozzles. The Mest, though, feels a bit more solid with the carbon fiber material. The shape is different but they both approach for a more ergonomic fit in a strict over-ear style – personally, I still find the VX more comfortable having the shells fitting better to my ears, while the Mest is easy to try with different tips as the seal is easier to achieve with a wider range of tips. On the other hand, the Mest’s sound is much more tip dependent.
In terms of sound quality and tuning, the VX has the 3 switches feature so the freq. response may vary, but overall the VX still has the upper hand in level of micro detail. The bass is faster with the all-BA drivers but then quicker in decay and less extended. Sub-bass is shier than mid-bass on the VX, yet hyper detailed. Midrange is more forward on the VX; with 2nd switch on it will sound mid-centered. It is more accurate and clearer too, with a slight elevation on the upper-mids. Vocals texture is nicer on the VX, while the Mest has a more equal balance, if favoring instruments a bit more. Treble is very neutral on the VX and a bit more abundant in quantity than the Mest. Quality is not far, but personally I found the VX to have more extension, extra detail and accuracy. Soundstage is a win for the Mest for sure. Imaging on the VX is super precise, though the Mest has a more special way to represent the whole picture.


Campfire Audio Solaris (2020)
A very popular IEM in its more compact 2020 version, the Solaris amazes with excellent built quality. The Solaris 2020 shells are still on the large side but the Mest are not small either, and both are ear tips’ sensitive. The Solaris fit can be more challenging for some, mostly on the outer ear area, while the Mest may not fit narrow ear canals with its wide nozzle. Drivers’ configuration may seem less fashionable on the Solaris with one dynamic and three BA units, but it has a rather complex internal chassis and the company's own tech. implemented.
As for what sound goes, the Solaris offers a good all-rounder presentation, more easy-going and, subjectively, more fun. The bass is large, dynamic and more pronounced on the mid-bass area, yet well extended to the low-bass. The Mest reaches further and more effortlessly, prioritizing sub-bass performance more. The Solaris is not as fast and has a much thicker texture that is perceived up to the midrange too. While the Mest is more linear and even on its midrange, the Solaris shifts its balance a bit more to the upper-mids. Layering and precision are higher on the Mest, and while it can sound more dry compared to the more engaging Solaris, it is cleaner, more detailed and higher in resolution. Vocals sound nicer on the Solaris as it has the thicker and sweeter texture. While I found the treble on the Solaris very good (but not excellent), the Mest wins in quality, control, extension and micro detail. Soundstage is practically a draw; both IEMs sound large and very spacious. The Solaris can be more engaging, while the Mest wins with its unique imaging.


mest (21).jpg


final A8000
final’s flagship takes the more traditional single dynamic driver to the very high quality of pure Beryllium. Even so, these two IEMs rate very high in their sound performance, and while they do not share a very similar sound tuning, they are both close in their level of technical abilities. The A8000 is more neutral in its signature. Bass extension is about the same on both, though the A8000 has more neutral bass quantity. The A8000 is still faster and more dynamic with a finer layering. Midrange is more neutral-to-forward on the A8000 and has more air and sharper instruments’ separation. The Mest puts more weight on low-mids, sounding more even with the upper-mids, while the A8000 focuses slightly more energy on the upper-midrange. Male vocals are leaner on the A8000 and female vocals are more vivid and realistic. Despite the use of dual EST drivers for upper treble on the Mest, the A8000 is still brighter and more sparkly. Extension too, reaches a bit further on the A8000. The Mest treble is a bit more forgiving and smoother. The level of micro-detail is really close on both, though the A8000 can reveal a little more info with less effort. Soundstage is about the same: wide, open and expansive. Imaging too, very precise. Layering and dynamics would still rate higher on the A8000, but the Mest has a more unique way of presenting its imaging.

mest (20).jpg


mest (18).jpg


The Unique Melody MEST MKII is indeed a unique pair of in-ear earphones. It presents a solid build quality with a comfortable fit and very good quality of included accessories. Dignis case, Xelastic tips and a new PW Audio cable. Inner setup is quite innovating utilizing a four type of drivers into a hybrid single piece and sound quality does stands out with its high technical abilities. Precision, soundstage, detail, extension all rate very high. The very mild lively u-shaped signature, the great bass quality (and best sub-bass) and the very special imaging all make the MEST MKII a very good all-rounder IEM and well worth a try of Unique Melody products.
Last edited:
asifur
asifur
Loved the comparisons!
  • Like
Reactions: Zelda
chojeongsik
chojeongsik
i heard before its wonderful
phaeton70
phaeton70
very well written and articulated!
  • Like
Reactions: Zelda

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.

um_mest_mkII-14.jpg

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.

um_mest_mkII-02.jpgum_mest_mkII-03.jpg

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.

um_mest_mkII-07.jpg

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!

um_mest_mkII-05.jpg

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.

um_mest_mkII-34.jpgum_mest_mkII-36.jpgum_mest_mkII-39.jpg

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.

um_mest_mkII-12.jpgum_mest_mkII-11.jpg

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.

um_mest_mkII-32.jpg

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.

um_mest_mkII-26.jpg

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.

um_mest_mkII-15.jpgum_mest_mkII-16.jpgum_mest_mkII-17.jpgum_mest_mkII-19.jpg

The fit.

um_mest_mkII-31.jpg

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.

um_mest_mkII-09.jpg

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.

um_mest_mkII-30.jpg

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.

um_mest_mkII-10.jpg

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.

um_mest_mkII-20.jpgum_mest_mkII-21.jpgum_mest_mkII-24.jpg

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.

um_mest_mkII-28.jpg

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.

um_mest_mkII-29.jpg

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.
Last edited:

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:
01.jpg
02.jpg
03.jpg
04.jpg
05.jpg
06.jpg

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
1621784740751.png


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:
1621784856583.png1621784870067.png
  • 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

1621784904793.png

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.

1621785034498.png


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.

1621785054605.png


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.


1621785129606.png


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.

1621785144953.png


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:
1621785203595.png
1621785208338.png

1621785213868.png


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.

1621785260099.png

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.

1621785345274.png


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/
Last edited:
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!

Attachments

  • C5EEA87B-2A7C-4238-93E2-66273252DF5D.jpeg
    C5EEA87B-2A7C-4238-93E2-66273252DF5D.jpeg
    5.4 MB · Views: 0
Last edited:
KickAssChewGum
KickAssChewGum
Thanks! Great review and fantastic photos! The red one is insane!
Kiats
Kiats
Nice review @bluestorm1992 ! Now tempted to try it and perhaps have a custom made since the BCD will have much greater impact in a custom. :wink:
Top