Mister Zeng

New Head-Fier
Unique Melody MEST MKIII CF: WOW!
Pros: ✔ Great tonality and tuning.
✔ Excellent imaging, separation, and soundstage.
✔ Great build quality.
✔ Great sub-bass extension.
✔ Easy to drive.
✔ Jack of all trades; reference IEM.
Cons: ❌ Lacks bass quantity.
❌ Default eartips sounds terrible.
Hello everyone! 大家好!I'm Mister Zeng, your go-to audio reviewer, committed to providing you with unbiased and no-nonsense assessments. When it comes to audio gear, I'll cut through the hype and give you honest insights you can trust. No BS here, just genuine reviews to help you make the best decisions for your audio needs. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, MAKING YOU LOVE AND ENJOY MUSIC THE WAY IT SHOULD BE EXPERIENCED!

Today is the BIG ONE! I'll be offering my insights on the Unique Melody MEST MKIII CF, kindly provided to me by my good friend Edz Cuizon aka @RemedyMusic for review purposes. Rest assured, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own, entirely independent and unbiased. I maintain no affiliations and haven't been requested to provide any particular viewpoint in exchange for these units. Again, thank you very much for lending me this unit for review!

📝NOTES BEFORE THE REVIEW:
Just so you're aware, my review will focus solely on my personal sound impressions of this in-ear monitor (IEM). I won't delve into the details of the packaging or the accessories that accompany the unit. Additionally, I'll be sharing my personal equalizer (if needed) settings that cater to my specific sound preferences. I'd appreciate your thoughts on how these settings sound on your end - feel free to share in the comments below.

The packaging for the MEST MKIII includes what they call petal eartips and open tips. Frankly, I didn't use them because the open tips don't fit my ears properly, and the petal eartips sounded horrible. I feel that they are limiting the potential of this wonderful IEM.

So, for the purposes of this review, I utilized generic large silicone eartips and an aftermarket cable, as my good friend forgot to include it when lending it to me.



All of the audio gears that have been used have been burned in for at least 150 hours or more.

Here are the list of audio gears used for this review:

  • Topping A90 Discrete
  • SMSL SU-9N
  • Centrance DACport HD
  • Abigail Dongle
  • Apple Dongle USB C to Headphone Jack
Here are the list of tracks used for this review: (All tracks have been streamed at Qobuz and while other tracks have been bought for the FLAC file)
  • Shoot to Thrill - AC/DC
  • Kashmir - Marcin
  • Gravity - John Mayer
  • You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC
  • Back in Black - AC/DC
  • Highway to Hell - AC/DC
  • Immortality - Bee Gees feat. Celine Dion
  • Because You Loved Me - Celine Dion
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls - Metallica
  • Enter Sandman - Metallica
  • Killing Strangers - Marilyn Manson
  • Sunflower - Post Malone feat. Swae Lee
  • Save Your Tears - The Weeknd
  • Always Remember Us This Way - Lady Gaga
  • Time - Pink Floyd
  • 雪落下的声音 - 陆虎
  • Seishun Kyousoukyoku - Sambomaster
  • Lay Me Down - Sam Smith
  • Let's Groove - Earth, Wind & Fire
  • September - Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Porco Rosso - Joe Hisaishi
  • Summer - Joe Hisaishi
  • Innocent - Joe Hisaishi
  • Nostalgia - Joe Hisaishi
  • When a Man Loves a Woman - Michael Bolton
  • Don't Stop Me Now - Queen
  • Radio Ga Ga - Queen
  • Come Together - The Beatles
  • Early Summer Rain - Yasuharu Takanashi
  • Mourning - Post Malone
  • AND MORE...


UNIQUE MELODY MEST MKIII CF - A Review by Zeng
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TLDR
Who should consider these IEMs?

  • Those with the budget who simply want to experience top-of-the-line sound.
  • Individuals seeking reference and neutral sound in their music.
  • Audiophiles who enjoy hearing every detail in their tracks without experiencing fatigue.
  • Enthusiasts who appreciate excellent imaging, separation, and soundstage.

Tonality (9.5/10)

The tonality of the MEST MKIII is nearly perfect. Its sound signature can truly be described as neutral and reference-quality. It strikes a delicate balance with the right amount of everything. The sound is smooth, and the bass reaches deep into the subbass.

The level of detail in its sound is truly impressive, capturing the nuances and subtleties of each track I played. What's amazing for me is that this detailed performance doesn't lead to fatigue, which is often times a concern with bright IEMs.

Let’s talk about the bass. It dives deep and adds a rich texture to the music without overwhelming the rest of the frequencies. However, it lacks a bit in quantity for my personal taste, it's essential to note that this is purely a matter of preference. Some listeners may prefer a more restrained bass, especially for critical listening or reference purposes. However, I tend to enjoy a touch more "fun" in my sound, and I wouldn't mind a slightly more pronounced bass for a more enjoyable listening experience.

The midrange is well-pronounced, and perfectly positioned on the soundstage. It neither dominates the mix nor retreats too far into the background. This balance is essential for accurately reproducing vocals and instruments, and the MEST MKIII excels in this regard.

Overall, the MEST MKIII maintains its reference and neutral tuning throughout, and that's one of its standout qualities. Every track I played through this IEM sounded remarkably natural and organic, as if the music was unfolding right in front of me, without any coloration or distortion.

Bass (9/10)
The bass of the MEST MKIII is undeniably impressive, but it leaves me wanting just a touch more energy. However, it's crucial to clarify that this in no way suggests that the MEST MKIII lacks bass or has subpar performance in this department. Quite the contrary, the sub-bass rumble and extension that it offers are among the best I've had the pleasure of experiencing.

Listening to the track "Burn it to the Ground" by Nickelback, the kickdrums hit with an infectious energy and impact that's hard to resist. The sound of cymbals in "Hotel California" from the Eagles' album "Hell Freezes Over" is an experience unto itself. The rumble it produces genuinely brought a smile to my face.

"Fragments of Time" by Daft Punk featuring Todd Edwards features a bassline that covers the entire spectrum, putting the MEST MKIII's capabilities to the test. And the result is truly pleasing to the ears, as it captures the full depth and richness of the bass.

Additionally, when I played "Kashmir" by Marcin, the MEST MKIII delivered bass so deep that it makes my heart pound. The quality of bass from this IEM is exceptionally well-tuned, demonstrating its prowess in handling low frequencies with precision and power.

While I noted a slight desire for more energy in the bass of the MEST MKIII; again, it’s purely a matter of personal preference. The bass it does provide is of outstanding quality, with impressive sub-bass extension and rumble that elevates the listening experience. The MEST MKIII excels in reproducing bass-heavy tracks, delivering a depth and impact that will satisfy even the most discerning audiophiles and bass enthusiasts.

Mids (10/10)
The midrange of the MEST MKIII is, in a word, perfect. I couldn't find a single fault or complaint about it. The balance between distance and forwardness in the tracks I played was spot on. Both male and female vocals sounded incredibly natural and perfectly clear. The separation between vocals and instruments was executed flawlessly.

One track that truly showcased the MEST MKIII's ability to handle male vocals exceptionally well is "Crying Shame" by The Teskey Brothers. The instruments and vocals in this song sounded crystal clear and impeccably separated, allowing the listener to savor every nuance of the performance.

Speaking of instruments, what truly astonishes me about the MEST MKIII is its ability to present every detail of the sound effortlessly. There were moments during my casual listening sessions when I heard the subtle crash or slap of an instrument that I had never noticed before. It's remarkable how this neutral IEM can produce such high-quality sound in such a compact form factor.

The MEST MKIII's neutral sound signature also brings a touch of lushness, richness, and a hint of warmth to the overall tone. While some listeners might perceive it as slightly warm, it genuinely embodies what I consider to be the essence of "neutral." This balance adds to the musicality of the IEM without sacrificing accuracy or transparency.

Generally, the midrange performance of the MEST MKIII is nothing short of exceptional. Its ability to faithfully reproduce vocals and instruments, with impeccable separation and detail, sets a high standard for neutral IEMs. Whether you're a fan of male or female vocals or enjoy dissecting the intricacies of instrumentals, the MEST MKIII delivers an audiophile-grade experience that will leave you thoroughly impressed.

Treble (10/10)
The treble of the MEST MKIII is also perfect. It's free from any hints of peaks, sibilance, or listener fatigue, even during extended listening sessions. What sets it apart even further is its ability to produce a sparkling quality at the top end of the spectrum, tailored precisely to my listening preferences. It's this exceptional treble performance that made me truly fall in love with the sound signature of this IEM.

Listening to tracks like "Porco Rosso" by Joe Hisaishi was a revelation. Every instrument in that live performance was presented in a breathtaking manner. The cymbals, pianos, trumpets, and more were effortlessly rendered with meticulous detail, making the music a sheer pleasure to the ear.

For testing sibilant tracks like "Wolves" by Selena Gomez, where the mix tends to be bright, the MEST MKIII proved to be a game-changer. Despite the inherently bright mix, this IEM managed to maintain a balanced presentation, avoiding any harsh sibilance that could detract from the listening experience.

And when it came to evaluating treble extension, "Enter Sandman" by Metallica provided a perfect testing ground. At the beginning of the track, the MEST MKIII showcased its prowess by flawlessly reproducing the hit of the hi-hats with long echoes that I had eagerly anticipated. It's an extraordinary treble performance that adds an extra layer of excitement to the music.

The treble performance of the MEST MKIII is simply outstanding. Its ability to maintain a clean, balanced, and fatigue-free presentation while still delivering sparkling highs is a testament to its audio prowess. Whether you're enjoying delicate acoustic performances or rocking out to high-energy tracks, the MEST MKIII's treble performance will elevate your listening experience to new heights, leaving you in awe of its exceptional capabilities.

Imaging and Separation (10/10)
The imaging and separation provided by this IEM are genuinely one of a kind, surpassing even some high-end headphones and speakers. What truly sets it apart is the effortless way it presents these qualities, making it a standout in the world of audio.

Listening to the track "Silent Sea" by Joe Hisaishi was a revelation in itself. The MEST MKIII allowed me to distinguish every instrument being played in the track with remarkable precision. Each individual instrument was so well separated by this IEM that it even outperformed my Hifiman Arya Stealth headphones in this category. It's a testament to the MEST MKIII's ability to paint a vivid sonic landscape that lets you explore every musical detail.

Another track worth mentioning is "Summer" by Joe Hisaishi. The imaging in this track seems to go everywhere, and what's truly astonishing is that the MEST MKIII effortlessly located every instrument, from left to right, creating a three-dimensional sonic panorama that's truly immersive.

But the MEST MKIII's capabilities extend beyond just music. I decided to put it to the test by playing a few shooting games like Counter Strike 1.6 and Valorant. To say that I was impressed would be an understatement. The technical prowess of this IEM became apparent as it delivered pinpoint accuracy in sound placement, helping me to locate opponents and crucial audio cues with astonishing precision. It's safe to say that the MEST MKIII exceeded my expectations when it came to gaming performance as well.

In conclusion, the MEST MKIII's imaging and separation capabilities are simply exceptional. It not only competes with but often surpasses the performance of high-end headphones and speakers in this regard. Whether you're listening to music, watching movies, or gaming, the MEST MKIII's ability to create a vivid, precise, and immersive audio experience will undoubtedly leave you in awe of its technical capabilities.

Soundstage (9.5/10)
The soundstage of the MEST MKIII is also outstanding, and I can hardly believe I'm saying this on an IEM. It manages to create an immersive soundstage that pulls you into the heart of the music.

One track that beautifully showcases the MEST MKIII's expansive soundstage is "Thriller" by Michael Jackson. Right from the start of the track, it's as if there's someone walking right in front of me. The opening of the door, the footsteps, and the eerie howling of the wolves are all rendered with such spatial precision that it's like experiencing a live performance. The MEST MKIII manages to convey depth, width, and height with remarkable accuracy.

Listening to the classic track "Hotel California" by the Eagles further illustrates the MEST MKIII's prowess. The width and height of the stage in this track are perceptible through this IEM, allowing you to immerse yourself in the intricate details of the song's arrangement. It's an experience that truly elevates the enjoyment of timeless classics.

For a different perspective, I also tuned into "The World of Sound" by Dolby on YouTube. This simple sound demo of Dolby Atmos, when experienced through the MEST 3, left a lasting impression. It showcased the IEM's ability to reproduce spatial audio with exceptional clarity and precision. It was like having a personal Dolby Atmos experience right in my ears.

The soundstage performance of the MEST MKIII is a testament to its audio excellence. It defies expectations by creating an immersive and expansive soundstage that adds a new dimension to your listening experience. Whether you're enjoying cinematic soundscapes or classic hits, the MEST 3's ability to convey depth, width, and height with astonishing precision will leave you truly impressed.

EQ Performance ( - )
The MEST MKIII doesn't require EQ to shine. In fact, it already offers an exceptional sound experience right out of the box.

For those who would still like to EQ, you have the option to experiment with a slight low shelf boost around 125Hz, perhaps adding just 1 dB or 2 for a noticeable impact. However, it's worth noting that such adjustments are purely optional, as the MEST MK3's default sound is already extraordinary.

Comparison to other IEMs
First and foremost, the price contrast between the MEST Mk3 and the IEMs I've reviewed is staggering. It's not a fair comparison to begin with. However, perhaps in the future, more companies will send high-end IEMs for me to evaluate and compare.

Letshuoer S15
One IEM that immediately comes to mind in this comparison is the S15, priced at approximately $325. In contrast, the MEST MKIII comes in at around $1,919, nearly six times the cost. Despite the price difference, the S15 exhibits a slightly warm tonality, lacking a shimmer at the top end, yet maintaining a balanced-neutral sound. On the other hand, the MEST MKIII embodies pure neutrality in my opinion.

In terms of technical prowess, the MEST MKIII takes the lead, although not by a substantial margin. Both IEMs excel technically. In fact, unless you're a discerning listener, you may not readily discern the distinctions. However, the MEST MKIII effortlessly delivers an immersive listening experience, drawing attention to its exceptional imaging, separation, and soundstage, even if you're not fully focused on the music.

Apart from these differences, they share many similarities and qualify as excellent performing IEMs, both deserving a spot in your top 10 IEMs list.

Letshuoer S12 Pro
The S12 Pro holds a special place as the first IEM I reviewed and fell in love with. It features a bright-neutral sound signature that particularly shines on orchestral tracks. When comparing it to the MEST MKIII, I still favor the S12 Pro's tonality, primarily due to my affinity for orchestral music. However, it's important to note that the technical capabilities of the S12 Pro fall short in comparison to the S15 and the MEST MKIII.

In the realm of technical performance, the MEST MKIII takes a commanding lead. Therefore, if you're searching for a budget-friendly option that still offers good overall performance, the S12 Pro is an attractive choice, especially considering its current price of just $139 on Letshuoer's website. Alternatively, the MEST MKIII stands as an end-game neutral/reference IEM, excelling as an all-rounder in its own right.

Conclusion
The Unique Melody MEST MKIII CF is nothing short of an astounding IEM that, until recently, I could only dream of getting my hands on. A special shoutout to RemedyMusic for graciously lending me his unit for this comprehensive review.

In terms of sound quality, the MEST MKIII delivers a neutral-reference signature that stands as a benchmark of excellence. Its technical performance sets it apart and places it firmly in the realm of end-game audio.

However, it's important to be candid about the price tag attached to the MEST MKIII. It's an investment suited for those who are in pursuit of the pinnacle of audio nirvana and have a substantial budget to allocate. For those of us embarking on the IEM journey, it's crucial not to let this IEM spoil you, as it may tempt you to part with $2000 😆.

In summary, my wholehearted recommendation for the MEST MKIII extends primarily to individuals who have the financial means to afford this premium experience. For those seeking more budget-friendly options, alternatives like the S12 Pro or the S15 are worth considering and can provide exceptional listening experiences without breaking the bank.



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P.S.
Again, I would like to express my gratitude to Unique Melody and @RemedyMusic for providing me with the review unit of the Unique Melody MEST MKIII CF. I want to clarify that all the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own, and I have not received any sponsorship or incentive to promote or favor this IEM in any way. It is important of me to provide an unbiased and honest assessment of the product.
Tanalasta
Tanalasta
The non-standard font was unorthodox. Stylistically reminds me of ChatGPT in verbosity but a glowing, enthusiastic review. 🥳

corgifall

1000+ Head-Fier
Carbon Dreams
Pros: Wonderful neutral-bright tuning. Great detail retrieval.
Cons: Stock ear tips might not work for everyone. Flat cable causes kinks.
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I liked the UM MEXT when it launched and I gave it a positive review. I’ve only ever heard great things about the MEST series and while I’ve never had the chance to hear the MEST or MEST MKII, I was excited to check out the new MEST MKIII. The MKIII(for the rest of the review) uses 10 driver hybrid made up of 1 dynamic driver, 4 balanced armatures, 4 EST drivers and topped off with their in house bone conductor. The MKIII comes in two colors with two price points. I have the blue version that comes in at $1919($1599 without the cable). The red version can be had for $2359($1899 without the cable).

Quick shoutout to Unique Melody for sending the MEST MKIII to check out and review. While I always appreciate the chance to test and review products sent in from manufacturers or dealers, it never affects the rating of my reviews.

The MEST MKIII can be pickup below:

https://www.uniquemelody.org/products/mest-mkiii-1

Onto the review of the Unique Melody MEST MKIII Carbon Fiber Edition! My personal preference is a hybrid/tribrid IEM where I get good hitting bass and have a detailed treble with decent mids. When it comes to an over ear headphone I prefer a spacious sound with a deep low end, the mids to be more forward and the highs to be a little bright with some sparkle. I listen to a lot of genres but I hover in the classic rock, blues and edm music with some rap here and there.

Gear Used​

IPhone 14 Pro Max with headphone adapter, Hiby R6 PRO II, Letshuoer Cadenza 12, THIEAUDIO V16 and Everolo Z8/SMSL SP400 stack

Looks and fit​

The MKIII is a little on the bigger side for an IEM but it has a decent amount of space between the stem and shell. Which in my case, makes for an extremely comfortable fit and good seal on most tips. The shells are lightweight but they look and feel pretty sturdy overall. The shells have a nice looking semi transparent blue color with visible strands of what I’m guessing are carbon fiber from the name. The faceplate has a pretty wood design and I like the color scheme with the gold accent. I normally don’t like gold anything but I think it looks good here.
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Isolation and sound leakage​

The MKIII isolates well for a hybrid and it’s on par with all the other better isolated hybrid designs. It doesn’t leak sound as much either so louder listening won’t irritate those around the listener in quiet areas as much when running at normal volume levels.

Packaging and accessories​

I always liked UM’s boxes and while the box is a bit on the larger side height wise, they do fill the space well enough. When you pull the sleeve off the box, it opens up with a neat little quote written inside. In the box were greeted with the warranty card and under that is the IEMS, the two different types of UM specific tips, the cleaning cloth and a nice round leather circle case which holds the cable. They also include a leather cable strap buckle which is a nice touch. I would have liked to see normal tips included since not everyone's ears will work well with the new tips they include. That being said, I think the buyers of this IEM won’t mind spending a little money to tip roll anyways.
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Sound(overall)​

These final impressions were done off the Eversolo DAC-Z8 connected to the SMSL SP400. These impressions are what the MEST MKIII sounded like to my ears. This was also using the Spinfit W1 tips. Things like ear tip selection and DAC/amp selection will produce different results and impressions vs what my ears hear on my specific gear.

I will note that the MKIII does benefit from tip rolling and I’ll be listing my impressions with my preferred Spinfit W1 tips.


The MKIII goes for a somewhat safe neutral tuning with a hair brighter overall sound. It’s mostly neutral but there’s a good balance between the whole frequency range which makes it more of a jack of all trades IMO. The sub-bass comes in nice and strong with good thumps when called for. The mid bass does feel a little lean which on first listen can make it sound a little thin overall. After a track or two of adjusting, I can appreciate the bass in general though. The mids are accurate and neutral as are the vocals. The vocals do have a good sense of space and presence without sounding artificial or too far forward. The upper mids are a little sharp but I think it stays under the line of sibilance. The same thing applies to the treble which is still somewhat bright in the lower treble but it never sounds extreme and it starts to trail down near the upper end which results in detailed instruments without the splashy or ultra sharp annoyances. This could possibly sound a little tame to those but I think it pulls in wonderful details regardless. I actually really like this tuning but I’ve come to appreciate the safer neutral tunings as of late for higher priced IEMs.


Soundstage/Imaging​

I personally believe what sets the UM products apart from the competition is the use of their bone conductors which almost always add a more unique and bigger sounding stage. The drawback is a slightly noticeable “echo” effect as I call it. I would say that while it might take a track or two to adjust, I think the staging on the MEST MKIII makes it stand out and adds to the overall enjoyment. The imaging is accurate though but it can sound strange at times before adjusting to the staging from the MKIII. Especially if you go from one set of IEMs straight to this set.

Sensitivity/Drivability​

I find the MKIII to be mostly easy to drive. It does get up there on my desktop stack for volume but it only requires slightly more power than normal. I would say anything modern will be able to drive these fine. It does scale decently from higher end gear but isn’t required. It’s also not sensitive and picks up zero floor noise from my current audio gear.
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Stock cable​

So the neat thing with the MEST MKIII is that it can be had with or without the cable. Which is nice since the stock cable will definitely not be for everyone. The stock cable which is super high quality, is also a flat-ish cable which makes it somewhat annoying to unravel once out of the case. Not a deal breaker but I almost always have to fiddle around in order to get it “prepped” for listening. The nice thing is that once the cable is straightened out, it never tangles or kinks on its own. I wouldn’t swap it out and continue to use this cable with the MKIII. I like that they however offer the option for those with their preferred cables to simply buy just the MKIII on its own.
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IEM comparisons​


LETSHUOER Cadenza 12​

Both these IEMs go for a somewhat safe tuning. The Cadenza 12 has a slightly stronger and fuller bass vs the MKIII. The mids are about the same but I would say the Cadenza 12 does sound a little smoother here. Vocals sound a little more natural and life-like on the Cadenza 12 but its a small difference over the MKIII. The upper mids are a little more intense on the Cadenza 12 but both are very good at not being sibilant. The lower treble sounds brighter on the MKIII but I think it’s well controlled enough that it doesn’t sound too sharp. The Cadenza 12 in comparison sounds like it has a strong upper treble but I found both to be comparable in detail retrieval and resolution. With the edge maybe going to the Cadenza 12. Staging however sounds wider and deeper on the MKIII thanks to the unique staging caused by the bone conductors. I think both are fantastic and I find myself struggling on which I want to listen to constantly.DSC08902.jpg

THIEAUDIO Divinity V16​

The V16 continues to be another favorite of mine. Mostly for the warmer and smoother tuning. I would say the V16 produces a fuller overall bass where the MKIII produces the stronger sub bass thump but lacks that mid bass the V16 manages to provide. The mids are fantastic on both but the MKIII has a more accurate presentation. The Vocals are more natural on the V16 and I prefer them here over the MKIII. The upper mids and treble go to the MKIII however. It just sounds better tuned and provides better detail retrieval. The staging also goes to the MKIII as well. That unique bone conductor staging really beats everything out IMO. I still love the V16 but I do find myself constantly using the MKIII over it.DSC08897.jpg

Amping Combinations​


Hiby R6 PRO II​

The R6 P2 is my favorite neutral-warm DAP and it really compliments the MKIII tuning. It adds a little of the missing mid bass presence back which can make the MKIII sound a little more balanced down low. I would say that’s about all it really adds compared to my desktop stack. The mids and vocals sound about the same and the treble is a little more relaxed sounding. I would say the staging, while wide, doesn’t quite sound quite as spacious compared to my desktop stack. Overall, a good pairing and I would say for most, something like the R6 PRO II is gonna perform super well with the MEST MKIII.DSC08916.jpg

Eversolo DAC-Z8/SMSL SP400​

This desktop combo is what I use to review all my current audio gear with. I do find the MKIII does actually scale and I can notice a small but decent difference between something like the Moondrop Moonriver 2 Ti dongle and this desktop stack. Do I think the MKIII needs super high end gear? Nope!! I think you can get away with mid range gear and be super happy. I mostly use this set on my Hiby R6 P2 DAP and even the Moondriver 2 Ti dongle attached to my Macbook without any complaints.

Overall thoughts​

I always enjoyed the way UM designed their IEMs and the added unique sound stage via the bone conductors really make the MEST MKIII stand out from the pack. I never had a chance to hear the original MEST MKI and MKII but I have to say I really like the MKIII. It plays it safe but indeed sounds like a well tuned and detailed sub $2k IEM. This is an easy recommendation and I think if you can at least give the MKIII a listen, you won’t be disappointed! Great job to the team over at Unique Melody! I look forward to what they conjure up next!! Thanks for reading!!!
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Trance_Gott

Headphoneus Supremus
A detail and soundstage monster!
Pros: Great tonality
Tons of details
Very wide, deep and accurate soundstage
Bone Conduction: You can practically feel the sound
Cons: Cable is very stiff
I would like to see a little more bass
The MEST MK3 from Unique Melody is, as the name suggests, the third iteration of the MEST model. Step by step, better technologies were integrated and, according to Unique Melody, the tonality was improved more and more. Unfortunately, I myself have not heard the first and second iteration and can therefore only describe the sound of the latest model, without drawing a comparison to the older iterations. Price-wise, it also went up step by step. The MK3 costs around 2000 USD. That seems like a lot at first. But if you look at the competitors who also use bone conduction and EST drivers for the treble, they are very often even more expensive.

Let's just start with the technology. First, there's the use of UM's proprietary Bone Conduction technology, for which UM has spent nearly a decade in research and development. This is supposed to deliver an incomparable sound quality. In total, we are dealing with four different coordinated driver technologies. The Bone Conduction driver, 1 dynamic driver for the bass range, 4 BA drivers for the mid and treble range and 4 EST drivers for the super high frequency range. The piezoelectric Bone Conduction driver consists of 27 ceramic coatings with a silver-palladium alloy and creates the effect that you can virtually feel the sound and this across the entire frequency spectrum, not just the bass range. This is said to make for a very immersive sound. Through very rigorous quality testing compared to common bone conduction drivers with 14 ceramic coatings, the sound intensity could be further improved. How does such a driver actually do that? The sound is transported directly to the inner ear through contact with the skull, without going through the nozzle. So in the end, you're dealing with an interplay of classic air transmissions with additional vibration transmissions, which makes the sound more intense and noticeable. And this also works, as I will demonstrate in more detail later!

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The packaging is appropriate for the price segment. When you open the storage box, you first see a plastic card with serial number, production date and warranty information. The Inears themselves are stored in a very nice green leather case wrapped in a cloth bag. Included are clear silicone tips in three different sizes and two types. One of them with holes. I can already say that this last type of silicone tips offers tremendous openness in sound, but completely kills the bass and is unusable for me. As far as I know, the regular silicone pads are the Azla Crystal and they work quite well for me, though I have other favorites. More on that later.

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As befits such a high-priced model, there was no skimping on the connection cable. It is a 4 core OCC copper cable with 26AWG from PWAudio, which is held in the colors of the Inears (blue or red), very robust and provided with a fabric jacket. The cable is quite thick, but unfortunately also very stiff and can not be wrapped so easily. I would have liked a softer cable here.

The Inears themselves are absolutely fantastically crafted. The model I tested is the cobalt blue variant. There is another one in melon red. This golden border paired with the glittering cobalt blue is really a feast for the eyes. My models from 64 Audio seem rather boring in design, so colorful and bright is the MEST MK3. And the whole thing weighs little and is very comfortable to wear!

As always, I also use here for testing my terrific iBasso DX320 MAX Ti, probably the best DAP at present at all. With its 14 ohms, the MEST MK3 is not at all demanding in terms of power and is in low gain at 10-11 o'clock effortlessly whipped forward by the MAX.

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Let's first look at the general tonality and tuning. In contrast to my U4s, the MEST MK3 is tuned much more dignified and neutral. Here, neither the treble nor the bass are emphasized, but all three areas bass, mids and treble are tuned very neutrally. This makes for a leaner sound than the U4s. It is more comparable to a Spirit Pulse IEM and its red sound module (+3dB bass) or a Focal Utopia 2022, but the latter offers the slightly stronger bass and silkier treble. The MEST MK3 is a true resolution monster. Now there's one of two of the most defining characteristics. The MEST MK3 offers detail in abundance. At first I thought it sounded a bit bright and might seem too peaky. But whenever you think now it must hiss in the treble it does not. I think that's thanks to the four EST drivers, which illuminate the treble range massively just like an SR009 does, and yet don't come across as too peaky. This is one of the best treble ranges I have heard in an IEM, just great!

The next outstanding feature of the MEST MK3 is its expansive soundstage. Rarely have I heard such a wide and deep stage and all with great razor sharp imaging. The part can really be called a magnifying glass for resolution and stage.

The bass range is personally minimally too slim for me. With the right tips, such as the SpiralDots++, I was able to tease out the necessary punch for me. Even if the bass range is not the strongest, the MEST MK3 creates it through the bone conduction to feel the bass and thereby increase the intensity. This is fun and is first different as you know it, for example, from a U4s. The simply pushes more air mass through the nozzle, but this noticeable, more tangible that creates the MEST MK3 even better. The whole so that I would have liked then but even more, so that in the end it would have just grabbed me even more.

The midrange is neither characterized by nasal discoloration nor does it seem too thickened or stocky. A U4s plays fuller, but not nearly as audible. The MEST MK3 goes more in the direction of the Torino Pulse IEM, but without triggering its goosebumps in voices. Both IEMs are more of the neutral variety, but by no means boring. Where the Pulse IEM scores with the more beautiful timbres in the mids, the MEST MK3 offers the even more intense feeling over the entire frequency range with the help of its bone conduction driver.

Is the MEST MK3 really worth the price? Well, that's a question that ultimately everyone has to decide for themselves. If you attach great importance to resolution and stage presentation, the MEST MK3 could be the IEM par excellence up to 2000 USD. For me personally, who mostly listens to metal and rock, the resolution is not the most important feature. An expansive stage, however, I also like very much and I personally has the Bone Conduction so hooked that I now absolutely want to test more models with this technology.

Layman1

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: mids, treble, balance, technical performance, case, tactility, note weight, bass quantity & quality
Cons: cable ergonomics
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 (to shamelessly re-hash an old joke of mine) 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).

Pasted below are the IEM details from authorised dealer MusicTeck’s website:

https://shop.musicteck.com/products/um-mest-mkiii

This link also has photos and explanations of the considerable amount of tech that features in these IEMs.

The MEST Mk III currently retails on MusicTeck at USD $1919 for the blue model or $2399 for the red. Especially in the case of the red model, that’s quite a price hike from the Mk II, which retailed at $1499 originally (which itself was just a $100 increase on the original MEST’s price tag of $1399).
More on this later.

The MEST Mk III, in keeping with the MEST family lineage, is a hybrid IEM.
Here we have a combination of a single Dynamic Driver (DD), a Bone Conduction Driver (BCD), 4 Balanced Armatures (BA), and (in a new development for the Mk III), the Electrostatic driver (EST) count has been increased to 4.

On top of that, the BCD is the latest iteration as used in the flagship Mason Red Halo model, AND the platform in which it is cradled (which has an impact on performance too) is the new one that was developed for the recent Multiverse Mentor.
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)

4 x Ultra High (EST)

1 x Bone Conduction Driver (BCD).

Interestingly, for this release, UM have simply used the design of a previous limited edition model called the Indigo - which was available in blue only; the Mk III comes available in the colour of your choice, as long as that choice is either red or blue

The cable, however, is rather different from the Indigo, and will be discussed in detail later.
With this preamble aside, it’s time to feast your eyes upon the exquisite opulence in the upcoming section of the review which, with a total lack of exquisite opulence, is humbly titled ‘Photos’.

Photos:
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Build Quality and accessories:

The MEST Mk III are solidly built with no visible blemishes or flaws of any kind.
The only small criticism I could level at them (and indeed which I have mentioned in every MEST family model review since the Mk II) 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 with a 0.78mm 2-pin cable, which at the time of writing, is only available in a 4.4mm plug option.
The 4.4mm plug has become the de facto standard for most audiophiles though, so I don’t see this being much of an issue.

Whilst the range of accessories included is quite sparse for an IEM at this price point, it does include a few things of note.
First are the new tip options. Previous MEST models included tips from Comply and the Azla Sedna crystal tips.

The Mk III comes instead with two sets of tips that at first impression seem identical to the aforementioned Azla Sedna tips.

However, the UM version are thinner (which I imagine has been done to minimise any damping of the nozzle vibrations, so as to allow the BCD’s to strut their stuff to their fullest potential).

There is also another set of tips that are largely identical, but which feature holes spaced symmetrically spaced around the top of the ear tips’ rims.
This is going to provide a more ‘open back headphones’ style of sound signature.

I personally preferred the non-perforated tips.
I need to stress at this point that the Mk III to my ears is especially responsive to different tip selections. This of course is going to be highly subjective and dependent on one’s individual ear anatomy, but I’ve heard other people making the same comment.

For myself, I found the sound signature to vary significantly with different ear tips.
Personally, I have never really gotten along well with silicone tips. For some reason, I struggle to maintain a good seal with them, regardless of the shape or size I choose, and I do sometimes find they seem to irritate the skin inside my ear canals.

I started out with the default stock UM ear tips (sans holes).
I found the sound signature to be comparatively neutral, and very open and spacious.

Switching to my favoured New Bee foam tips (a fairly chunky and thick memory foam tip), made the sound too closed in and reduced the technical performance (they will have been nullifying the effects of the Bone Conduction Drivers).

However, in a last throw of the metaphorical dice, I tried some tips by UK company Flare Audio. These are called the Earfoams. Note that they have 2 varieties of Earfoams, one of which is just silicone with no foam involved at all (go figure!). But the actual foam-y ones are very different to any other foam tips I’ve encountered.

Firstly, they have a quite rigid, wide-bore core, and the foam around them is soft, but surprisingly thin.
Secondly, the height of the tips is quite a bit shorter than most of my other eartips (foam or otherwise).

I’ve found the thin foam doesn’t seem to compromise the performance of Bone Conduction Drivers the way most foam tips would. Also, the low profile and thin foam of the tips means they pair well with IEMs like the Mk III that have fairly long stems for deep insertion.
So, after some experimentation, these tips are the ones I am using with the Mk III for this review.

The cable is… different. I was a big fan of the cable on the previous Mk II model.
It was classy, understated and very solidly put together. I found it fine ergonomically too.

On top of that, I can say it was perfectly tuned to complement the Mk II, since I tried swapping it out with some after-market cables I have (from companies like Effect Audio and Eletech, ranging in price from $150 - $1500), and in all cases, the effects were either miniscule or they changed the sound signature in ways that I personally felt were suboptimal.

This new cable has a hybrid design, with thin rubbery insulation on the upper parts of the cable (above the Y-splitter, where the cable splits into two), and a very chunky, cloth-wrapped cable with a rectangular cross-section on the lower part. This lower part easily develops twists and kinks, is stiff and inflexible and is far from ergonomic.

Aesthetically, I’d also add that they’ve changed the writing on the cable hardware; where the Mk II cable featured a classy-looking UM logo on the plug and Y-Splitter, the Mk III replaces this with ‘Ultimate Sound, Sound by Unique Melody’ all crammed onto the plug, and ‘Shielding’ and ‘Melon Red’ (the cable’s colour) on either side of the Y-Splitter, both of which are stating the blindingly obvious.

No idea where this design choice crept in, but I’d urge Unique Melody to go back to their simple ‘UM’ logo in future, which looked comparatively classy.
Sound-wise, I can’t fault the cable though, and again I think it’s been tuned well.

However, in response to customer feedback, authorised dealer MusicTeck are now offering the IEM only (without the cable); $1599 for the blue model, $1899 for red.

They have also tested several other cables with the Mk III, and are offering the Mk III bundled with a choice of cables from Effect Audio and Liquid links.
Personally, I like this flexibility a lot, and would like to see such options available on more high-end IEMs.

Finally, to end this section on a high note, the MEST Mk III comes with an absolutely gorgeous leather case, in a deep blue with turquoise hints.

It has a very premium feel and is effortless to use; very much a product in keeping with the lofty price point of the Mk III.


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 latest free custom firmware.

Lows:
The low end of the MEST Mk III surprised me. I’d read descriptions about how the tuning for this IEM was intended to be somewhere between the (comparatively) ‘fun’ tuning of the Mk II and the (comparatively) more neutral-reference sound signature of the Indigo.

So I was thinking maybe the low end would be tamed down a bit in the Mk III, but not a bit of it! In many ways, I feel this is perhaps the most satisfying bass tuning yet from the MEST line-up, according to my personal preferences!

It really does hit hard when required. Where songs are mastered with a fairly impactful bassline, acoustic (stand-up) bass, kick drum or whatnot, the Mk III really goes to town, delivering wonderful tactility, thump and impact. With some of these kinds of tracks, I do feel that warmth from the low end colours the lower mids too. This is not an especially common occurrence, and indeed you may regard it as a good thing, adding as it does a rich musicality to the sound signature overall.

Conversely, playing the Mk III with songs where the bass/drums are mastered relatively neutrally in the mix (quite a bit of 80’s/90’s rock for example), or indeed on more laid back genres, such as acoustic music, jazz, folk, singer-songwriter fare and so forth, what the Mk III does in infuse a lovely foundation to that music.
It again brings a rich musical warmth, but in a controlled way, that doesn’t bleed into the rest of the sound signature. Along with its technical prowess (of which more later), it really did make for hugely enjoyable and relaxing listening sessions.


Mids:
I do feel this is an area which the Mk III does especially well. I would describe the mids as being a fairly full-bodied and natural presentation, with a hint of warmth (which depends to some extent upon the kind of music being listened to, as mentioned in the ‘Lows’ section above). When I think of the MEST line-up, I tend to think of listening to genres such as rock, pop and hip-hop; I suppose that’s due to the perceived ‘fun’ tuning and hard-hitting dynamic drivers.

But I can honestly say, whilst the Mk III of course sounds fantastic with those genres, it’s with the songs on my ‘relaxing’ playlists that the Mk III has really been a joy to listen to.

There’s such richness and authority infused into instruments; piano, guitars, strings, brass.. They’re tactile, the transient speed is very well-judged, the notes have weight and body, but without any bloating or muddiness. Male and female vocals are both presented very well, with the Mk III infusing them with presence and body.

I hear the mids overall as being a little bit more forward compared with previous MEST models; by no means excessively forward, just more balanced now with the low end and treble.


Highs:
I hear the highs as being more smooth than with previous models, but also more extended and more present. I’m guessing that this is probably down to the extra 2 EST drivers in each side, along with UM’s general tuning decisions for this model.

It’s pretty much ideal for my tastes. There’s space around the notes, and enough air to ensure things rarely become congested. I hear a bit less sparkle than with the Mk II, but conversely there’s also no triggering peaks for me either, and in any case, the treble is airy and extended enough to suffuse the sound signature with all the air and space it needs.


Technical Performance:
As with all the MEST models, the Mk III features what I consider to be outstanding technical performance. The combination of the dynamic drivers and bone conduction drivers really brings tactility and note weight. Tiny details consistently pop out and catch my attention.

Again, a big, holographic soundstage, very good separation, imaging and layering.
It’s hard to overstate just how delightful the Mk III is to listen to, and the technical performance is a big part of that. To balance such richness, power and weight with the air and separation to stop it becoming congested or muddy is a credit to the designers and its detail retrieval is second to none.

Conclusion:

Overall, the MEST Mk III is a truly excellent IEM, no doubt.
There have been some misses in amongst the hits though.
The ergonomics and design choices of the cable had me scratching my head in bewilderment.
So too did the pretty significant price hike.

One the reasons I was so, so impressed by the MEST Mk I was the level of performance it brought at a comparatively modest price point (when talking TOTL prices at least; it’s all relative!). The Mk I came in at $1399. The Mk II bought a variety of improvements; much better cable design, more attractive IEM shells, upgraded BCD drivers and so forth, and still cost just $100 more.

So, here we are with a nearly $1000 increase for the red model.
The problem here is that what MEST Mk I and II delivered was either TOTL or ‘really close to TOTL’ levels of performance, at a price point that only scratched at the door of TOTL pricing.
Now, there’s been a pretty egregious price creep going on since Mk I came out, and most TOTL stuff these days seems to be coming in at $3k+ (there will be exceptions of course).

So an argument could be made that UM are just following along in parallel with the shifting goalposts of TOTL pricing; where you could say the Mk III is still at the lower end of the TOTL price spectrum.

I just don’t feel quite so confident to shout about the Mk III from the rafters with its current price tag. Before, I felt it represented staggering value for money (again, relatively speaking). Now, it just kind of feels a bit like another expensive IEM (admittedly in a world of even more expensive IEMs!).

Philosophy of pricing aside, what I can say with confidence is that it is an excellent IEM.

It has power and authority in the low end, that serves as a solid foundation for the rest of the sound signature. It’s very musical and engaging, handling vocals with aplomb and instruments are astonishingly good. It’s very well balanced with no part of the sound signature pushing rudely ahead of any other part. It has outstanding technical performance.

It’s really been a joy listening to my music on it, and I know it’s going to become one of the main IEMs that I listen to daily.

EDIT: Several months later and the MEST Mk III is now my favourite of all the IEMs I own. I use it nearly every day at home and I am utterly enchanted by its musicality and technical performance. It continues to make my jaw drop on a daily basis. I hear more of the fine details in the music I love with this IEM than I have with any other to date. I've demoed various TOTL gear; Fir Rn6, Xe6, Kr5; EE Raven, Storm, Loki, VE EXT, VE10, Phonix etc.
Each has their own unique qualities, and most do certain things better than the others. Overall though, I'd rank the MEST Mk III up there with any of them; as such, I'm inclined to revise my previous comments on the value for money of the Mk III, given that it's competing on an equal footing with IEMs costing 50-100% more!
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grumpy213

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Warm tuning invites long, engaging listening sessions.
Strong detail and staging capabilities provide for a unique listening experience.
Wonderfully balanced tonality combined with great ‘layering’ leads to detailed yet emotionally engaging musicality.
Cons: Accessories are lacking.
The treble is missing a sense of hair-raising sparkle.
Price.

Unique Melody MEST MKIII – Bone Conduction 3.0​

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Preamble:​

This is the first of what I hope to be many audio reviews. As a newbie of putting audio impressions to paper, I may misconstrue the meaning of certain terms and phrases, as such I appreciate any feedback that you may have. I do not purport to be the most technical reviewer but I hope to make this entertaining and provide you with an understanding of the experience as a whole.
Many thanks to @Damz87 and @UniqueMelody (UM) for arranging the Australian tour of the MEST MK3 and to @o0genesis0o for ensuring their safe delivery.
The sources used to form this review included:
• Gustard X16 -> Topping A90;
• Shanling M6 Ultra;
• iBasso DC04 Pro; and
• Cayin RU7,
All fed with Apple Music lossless.


Everyone loves the third movie of a trilogy. The Matrix Revolutions, Revenge of the Sith, Spiderman 3, and Godfather 3, are all the pinnacle of the respective series. Okay, not really but today’s review pertains to the third of its name, the MEST MKIII (MK3).
The MEST series of IEMs have long occupied my mind as somewhat of a curiosity by virtue of its bone-conduction driver (BCD) which was described as either a gimmick or the next big thing in IEMs.
And so, when presented with the opportunity to review a set, I jumped at the opportunity (thank you to Damz and UM for arranging the Australian tour) and perhaps, in my haste, also purchased a set of MK2s from @MusicTeck (thank you to Andrew and the team at MusicTeck for their great customer service).
After both had arrived at my doorstep essentially simultaneously, I would have two weeks to realise if I had made a horrible mistake (bought a terrible IEM and have to write about an equally terrible IEM) or if I had made a horrible mistake (bought an IEM that was outclassed by its successor).

Factual stuff:​

The MK3s is a 10-driver hybrid IEM consisting of a single dynamic driver, 4 balanced armatures, 4 electrostatics and a single BCD.
The earpieces are carbon fibre suspended in resin and feature fruitwood faceplates finished with gold accents.
Within the box, you will find:
  • a Peter Wong Audio (PW Audio) 1.2m copper cable with your choice of 2.5mm, 3.5mm or 4.4mm terminations (the review unit is a 4.4mm) and shielded in nylon;
  • a leather carry case finished in what UM terms “emerald”;
  • a leather cable tie;
  • 7 pairs of UM’s own proprietary tips consisting of:
    • 3 “open” tips; and
    • 4 “petal tips,
  • a cleaning cloth;
  • a mesh storage bag; and
  • the MK3s!
Priced at $3,199 (for the blue) to $3,899 (for the red) dollarydoos at Australian store Minidisc or $1,919 to $2,359 freedom dollars at MusicTeck. Additionally, MusicTeck now offers the MK3 without the aforementioned PW Audio cable for $1,599 to $2,124 USD.

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Opinion Stuff​

Sound​

Bass:
The bass frequencies of the MK3 were wonderfully executed with a slight boost in these regions. The bass extends low and there is a strong sense of presence and impact with the sub-bass. With deep booming bass in tracks such as, “THE PLAN” from the TENET soundtrack, the bass feels physical and at times (perhaps with a rather generous amount of volume, which I don’t endorse) could be felt in my chest, something rather rare for an IEM.

Unlike some of the more fastidious adherents to the Harman curve, the mid-bass of the MK3s receive some elevation providing an overall warm colouration to the rest of the sound of the MK3s. This mid-bass bump imbues a level of warmth and engagement across the board but is especially present in hip-hop portions of my playlist, with “Above the Clouds” by Gang Starr presenting the drums in a manner that is readily present but neither underwhelming nor overwhelming.

These “boosts” I speak of do not render the MK3s the equivalent of a 12-inch sub in a 2001 Honda Civic (ala the Fast and the Furious) but rather elevate the ‘fun’ factor of the MK3s against more neutral IEMs whilst maintaining a delicate balance to not bloat it to the point of intruding on the rest of the frequency response.

Bass texture and quality are also very well done, as these bass frequencies remain clear, coherent and readily discernible compared to more “generously” boosted IEMs out in the market.

Overall, I rate the MK3s as fun and engaging in the bass frequencies without diminishing the rest of the frequency response. Ultimately, these are not basshead IEMs but I feel that they achieve a great balance.

Mids:
Perhaps by virtue of the slightly warmer tonality, the mids achieve something close to my particular preferences. I am unabashedly a fan of warmer mids as I equate this and note weight in this region with imbuing a great level of emotion and engagement with the vocalist or instruments in whatever I am listening to.

Ruler straight response the MK3s are not, nor are they boosted to the point of becoming the sole focus of the song. The MK3s achieve a nice balance between female and male vocalists as both appear to be given an equal amount of footing. This is readily apparent in duets such as “Until the End of Time” by Justin Timberlake and Beyonce or “Can’t Love You Anymore” by IU and OhHyuk, with both songs utilising a call and response between the two vocalists. The MK3s handles both songs readily and presents the back and forth with equal emotional impact and clarity.

Instrumentation remains clear and precise throughout the mix and with the warmer tilt, creates the sense of greater note weight. There is nothing about the MK3 that could be construed as thin or lacking body in my mind.

Overall, it appears the keyword of this review will be “balanced”. The mids, whilst not especially awe-inspiring in any particular fashion in my time listening to them, remained very well balanced, clear within the mix and with the warmer tilt that I thoroughly enjoy.

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Treble:
The upper end of the frequency response carries forward what appears to be the theme of the MK3 and that is balance.
When I state that there is a warmer tilt, there is perhaps an inclination to believe the MK3 may sound a little dark and perhaps is missing detail. However, the tuning of the treble region manages to carry on the “balanced” nature of the MK3 as it provides a strong presentation of the treble regions.

Hugely varying synths in “Language” by Porter Robinson and hi-hats throughout “Edamame” bbno$ and Rich Brian remain crisp, clear and detailed in the mix. There remains a distinct amount of air despite the warmer tilted tuning as the technical chops of the MK3 manage to juggle all three regions with great gusto.

And despite doing so, the MK3 also manages to avoid becoming too bright as there is no sense of sibilance or fatigue when listening to tracks that seek to draw that out. The MK3 does not attack your ears with such boosted treble in a manner to try and get you to really believe that it has as much detail as other IEMs and in the process did not leave my ears lying on the ground curled up in the foetal position, rather it presents these frequencies in a straightforward yet enjoyable manner.

There is a bit of fallacy as a result as my brain, perhaps by virtue of reading too much about Harman curves and other “detail monsters” felt that there was some detail and sense of sparkle that was left on the table with the MK3s.

Technicalities:
Given my experience with IEMs in the price range are fairly limited, I hesitate to wax poetic about the technical chops of the MK3 in this regard. However, there is something to be said for the resolving ability of the MK3 despite its warmed sound signature and slightly ‘wet’ presentation of sound. These characteristics are usually seen as the antithesis of a detailed and highly resolving IEM as I understand however, the MK3s revealed and represented very well-produced tracks with gusto. From hearing fingers grazing piano keys and the kick of the pedal and subtle inhales of the vocalist in tracks such as Haliene’s “Rush Over Me (Acoustic Version)” were simply amazing.

The imagining chops of the MK3 combined with its tuning as each region of the frequency response curve seems to sit comfortably within layers in a very coherent and organised fashion.
The combination of these factors leads to a very unique soundstage. In my time with IEMs, there have been limited instances wherein it was not abundantly clear that I was listening to (comparatively) tiny drivers stuck in my ears. A suspension of disbelief and absorption in whatever I was listening to led to the belief that the MK3s were essentially replicating an intimate stage beyond the confines of my head and something more akin to what I have termed, “the most hi-fidelity karaoke room you have been in”.

An odd analogy but I hope some of you get what I am trying to get across. The ambience and atmosphere that the MK3s belie the fact they are tiny IEMs pushing big and layered sounds into your ears. Like an intimate stage wherein you’re in the front row, the MK3s present something a little special.

I would like to note that the soundstage of the MK3s will vary depending on the tips you use (see below). The Petal tips provide a deep insertion depth and place the nozzles right next to your ear canal, creating a slightly more intimate rendition of staging. I also used Spinfit W1s, CP145, and CP360 (oddly enough) to good effect to provide a minorly larger staging effect but your mileage may vary.

Overall:
The MK3 adopts a warmer sound signature that provides a punchy and engaging audio experience, when combined with its excellent technical abilities creates a unique ambience wherein music is presented on an intimate stage that belies the fact that it is an IEM.

The MK3, is in my opinion, something that can be listened to for hours due to its rather non-offensive sound signature and is engaging by virtue of its unique staging abilities. This is definitely not an extreme IEM that seeks to wow you by being a strong performer in any region of response but rather provides the mix of the song in a manner that is thoroughly enjoyable.

Perhaps if I was to nitpick, I would have minorly boosted the treble to imbue that goosebump-inducing feeling with certain higher frequencies.

Synergy​

In spite of what Reddit /r/headphones would have me believe, I can indeed hear some differences in source chains much to my wallet and perhaps my ears, chagrin. This section will try to put my “delusions” into words, after all, I could have gotten away with an Apple dongle just fine.

Shanling M6 Ultra
I would characterise the M6 Ultra (M6U) as a smooth, slightly warm source with an increased sense of presence in the mids and a strong note weight.
These elements added another element of warmth and cosiness to the overall tonality of the MK3s perhaps colouring the music to the point of being perhaps “too much”. Bass frequencies were heavy and quite forward in the mix. Hip-hop / RnB tracks such as “Conceited” by SZA felt slightly overwhelming at times. Fun, but still, not exactly the most faithful and flattering representation of what the MK3 was able to offer.
Overall, I feel that the M6U with the MK3 would be something for a very particular bass-head mood and would be indulging far too much in warmth and overly coloured tonality for my personal daily use.

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iBasso DC04 Pro
I would characterise the DC04Pro as dynamic, clean and has a very low noise floor. The sound signature is slightly bright in comparison to my other sources and tracks seem to “attack” you.
These elements complemented the slightly warm and laid-back tuning of the MK3s, imparting great energy and dynamics to the MK3s. This resulted in me flipping through tracks in a haphazard manner in order to listen to certain portions in an almost feverish manner.
Overall, I feel there is rather good synergy between the two but ultimately, for a very engaged sense of critical listening rather than relaxing with a nice drink to wind down.

Cayin RU7
I would characterise the RU7 as smooth, slightly rolled off and warm (depending on your settings). The sound signature is meant to replicate a more “analogue” sound signature and the result is a more calming and relaxed approach.
The RU7 changes rather noticeably as you flip through DSD64, 128 and 512 resampling with the DSD64 being the most warm and smooth reproduction of music that you can get on the device. This did not play nice in my experience with the MK3, as it started to take away some of the strengths of the MK3, namely imaging chops and its engaging sound signature. DSD128 starts to tighten things up whilst maintaining that smooth sound signature, overall, this setting and the MK3 demonstrate great synergy for the purpose of very laid-back listening sessions for long hours.

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Topping A90 + Gustard X16
I would characterise the A90 as ruler flat and being entirely overpowered for any IEM but in an attempt to avoid any “u didn’t have enough watts” comments, I sought to see how the MK3s scaled and how they were represented by a (comparatively) very neutral source chain.
With the knob at around 9 o’clock on the A90, the MK3s present themselves as neutral as they can be and my impressions remain largely the same. The warmth of the MK3s remains untouched and so too does largely the frequency response as a whole.
Perhaps there is a touch of added boost to the treble but otherwise, these two go together fairly well in that there is little to add to the MK3s already great tuning. There also may be my brain playing tricks on me but there is a smidge of an expanded stage width. Otherwise, these appear not to “scale” that greatly with the added juice.

Comparison vs MK2​

Perhaps the most pertinent comparison for the MK3 is with its predecessor the MK2. Now there may be some bias given that I purchased the MK2 with my own money but I had essentially both show up at my doorstep at the same time. As such, I have not had any extensive time with either IEM to colour these impressions.

First and foremost, the tuning of the MK2 and the MK3s is noticeably different. Whereas the MK3 leans to the warm side of things, the MK2 tends to move slightly to the lean side wherein note weight is noticeably lighter and certain beats and vocals come across as thinner compared to the warmth of the MK3. The MK2s feel more sparse, and more airy compared to the MK3s which hold their own appeal. In this regard, I opted to test some of the more “sibilant’ tracks in my playlist and whereas the MK3s rendered these comfortably to my ears, there was a mix of tingle-inducing sparkle from the MK2s bordering on some slight puckering of my (ear)holes. The MK3’s additional bass impact and punch definitely added a level of ‘drama’ and ‘fun’ to certain tracks whereas the MK2, whilst very respectable, did not have that same sense of presence in the low-end.

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In terms of technicality, I do not feel that the MK2 is as resolving as the MK3. That is not to say that the MK2 is no slouch but the MK3’s technical chops are definitely one of the best that I have experienced (noting my lack of experience). Certain nuances of tracks are not made abundantly clear on the MK2s as they were on the MK3.
In terms of staging and ‘layering’ the music, the MK3 once again trumps the MK2s as I feel each particular section of the frequency response comes at you in readily apparent layers that remain cohesive. This contributes heavily to a greater sense of the depth of the stage, however, I feel that the MK2s are somewhat ‘wider’ in their staging compared to the MK3s. Based on the above, one would say that the MK3s are a no-brainer however, the consideration of cost is definitely something to keep in mind.

Overall, I feel that the MK3 represents marked improvements in technicalities and soundstage, with detail retrieval and a “holographic” head stage being readily apparent on first listen. The MK2 represents some elements of this but to a lesser, more subtle extent. I would describe the MK2 as “thinner”, “sparser” and less “engaging” compared to the MK3. There is a charm to the MK2 as the brighter tonality eeked out some definitely goosebumps on certain tracks as the crisp rendition of high notes, hi-hats and cymbals were much more forward in the mix compared to the MK3s.

Quality of Life​

Whilst the raison d'être of an IEM is to produce sound in a manner that is technically proficient and enjoyable, there are always external considerations for something you insert in yourself.

Beyond sound, there are a number of concerns that one would be remiss to not raise in the context of a purchase this significant.

First and foremost, the PW Audio cable is very, very bad in my opinion. Outside of the realm of “sound quality” concerns, there remain distinct ergonomic issues with the cable due to the nylon shielding. The cable is akin to the terrible Focal balanced cable they give you with a set of Clears and is wholly unsatisfying to use due to its memory and like myself on a late night on an incognito tab on Chrome, can get very kinky.
MusicTeck now offers the opportunity for purchasers to opt to not get the cable for a $320 USD discount, which would be my choice.

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The ear tips included are rather unique in their very shallow leading to the nozzles pressed directly to your earholes. Now this doesn’t cause any comfort issues with me and likely was done to maximise the BCD’s efficacy but this may cause issues for certain people. Other than that, I see literally zero purpose with the “open” tips as they basically suck away the dynamic range and all of the bass from the MK3s.
The petal tips worked for me but at the cost of some soundstage as the insertion depth was rather deep. Other tips that worked for me (in no particular order):
  • Spinfit W1;
  • Spinfit CP100;
  • Spinfit CP145;
  • Spinfit CP360; and
  • Final Audio E-Type.

Comfort was very good to me, apart from the whole experience of being weighed down by that nasty cable when using a cable that made more sense, the MK3s sat comfortably in my ear for hours at a time with me. The lightweight construction made the MK3 feel as though they were an extension of my ear and perhaps like I was wearing nothing at all (insert stupid sexy Flanders).

Driver flex was apparent in both earpieces but was more apparent in the right ear with that crinkly cringe-inducing sound emanating when inserting the MK3s, and with those petal tips, this is really, really close to your ear holes. Not a good look for any IEM in this price category.

Value

The cost of the MK3s is definitely something to behold with the red unit coming in at $3,899 AUD and the blue at $3,199 (Minidisc prices). MusicTeck’s move to offer the MK3 without a cable presents significant cost saving with the blue coming in at around $2,400 AUD (adjusted for FX). With the original MK2s coming in around $2,500 AUD at Minidisc with rather healthy discounts from time to time and especially now that it is at the end of its life, the MK3s present a somewhat questionable value proposition. However, with MusicTeck’s very clutch move, I feel as though the MK3 would definitely be worth its price tag currently and things can only get better from here on out.

The price increase from the MK2s also is disappointing as I feel that the price is somewhat of a tough pill to swallow. Other value considerations are the rather anaemic number of accessories provided with the MK3s. Perhaps by virtue of the “apparently” $320 USD PW Audio cable, the MK3s do not come with an accessory pack to provide you with (likely) the maximum potential of the IEMs themselves. A greater variety of ear tips would have been something appreciated with the MK3’s package.

Overall, the asking price, with the accessories included leaves a lot to be desired. I for one, am now mightily enticed by MusicTeck’s discount without the wire and feel that presents the best bang for the buck.

Conclusion​

And then I saw her face. And I was a believer.
The BCD of the MEST series was something that I had a distinct curiosity about. They now have my attention. There are inevitably caveats with this method of sound reproduction as it is heavily reliant on the fitment of the IEMs themselves. Reports of the effect of BCD has been overblown by some more zealous individuals waxing poetic about its effect but with both the MK2 and MK3 there appears to be some indiscernible "special sauce" in their staging abilities.

With a balanced, rather non-offensive sound signature that leans slightly warm, I feel as though the MK3 presents a unique presentation, a highly engaging tonality and technical chops that leaves you wanting to listen to more and more.
The ends of the audio-enjoyer spectrum in terms of bass heads and treble heads are likely going to be left wanting more but I found enjoyment in the MK3s beyond whether they met my tonality preference and rather I just wanted to see how they produced sound compared to other technologies.

I somewhat lament purchasing the MK2 prior to trying the MK3, the successor being a strong technical upgrade over its predecessor. Whether the rather drastic change in tonality and the not-insignificant price premium justifies such an upgrade is something that I cannot opine on. This is not to say that the MK2s are going in the bin but the MK3s have made an indelible mark on my audio-enjoying heart with their hard-to-hate tonality and whimsy-inducing technical chops.

Ruler flat neutral the MK3s are not, super bright and sparkly either, nor are they bass monsters. Rather, by leveraging wonderful technical capabilities, and unique staging combined with a rather inoffensive tuning, the MK3s present something that I feel would be an everyman sound, albeit, not at an everyman price.
The value proposition of the MK3 stifles this glowing audio review as I cannot justify the full price of the MK3s. Given the MusicTeck discount and likely more discounts over the course of the life of the MK3s, I believe that the MK3s would present a compelling package in the future if you are looking for a technically great, warm and enjoyable listening experience.

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o0genesis0o

Headphoneus Supremus
Unique Melody MEST Mk III - Soundstage Magic
Pros: Holographic Soundstage
Top-notch Resolution
Neutral-warm Tonality
Energetic yet Controlled Treble
Cons: The Dynamic Could Be Improved
The Stock Cable is Too Stiff
The Stock Eartips Hinder Sound Quality
Price Hike from MEST II
The Unique Melody MEST family of IEMs has always intrigued me due to its unique combination of various driver types, particularly the enigmatic Bone Conduction Drivers (BCD), and the reputation for a “holographic” soundstage. However, the high price point and limited availability in Australian hifi stores have prevented me from experiencing them firsthand. Instead, I’ve had to rely on reading about them and hearing others praise their performance. Fortunately, my curiosity is finally satisfied as I get the chance to spend quality time with the legendary MEST, thanks to the Australian Head-Fi Tour. Now, it’s time to subject these IEMs to a thorough evaluation and see if they live up to the hype. So, let’s dive in.

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Forewords​

  • What I look for in an IEM is immersion. I want to feel the orchestra around me, track individual instruments, and hear all of their textures and details. I’m not picky about tonality, as long as it does not get in the way of immersion.
  • I rate IEMs within with a consistent scale from 1 (poor) to 3 (Adequate) to 5 (outstanding). Ratings are assigned by A/B tests against benchmark IEMs, regardless of the retail price.
  • Ranking list and measurement database are on my IEM review blog.
  • This review is possible thanks to the Australian Head-Fi Tour (Thank you @Damz87 and @UniqueMelody for arranging) I have no affiliation with or financial interest in Unique Melody. The unit retails for A$3200 (blue version) or A$3900 (red version) at the time this review was published.
Sources for listening tests:

  • iBasso DX300 (for all A/B tests)
  • FiiO K7
  • L&P W4
Local FLAC files ripped from CDs or bought from Qobuz were used for most casual listening and A/B tests. My playlist for A/B tests can be found on Apple Music here.

All of my listening was done with XXXX ear tips. I listen at a medium volume. I usually turn up the volume until the midrange is fully audible and detailed, unless a treble peak or overwhelming bass prevents me from doing so.

Specs​

  • Driver: 1 Dynamic Bass Driver + 2 BA Mid Drivers + 2 BA treble Drivers + 4 EST Ultra - High Drivers +1 UM patented Silver-Palladium Alloy Piezoelectric Bone Conduction Driver
  • Connector Type: 2-pin 0.78
  • Impedance: 14 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: Unknown

Build and Comfort​

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Accessories: The unboxing experience and packaging of MEST III left me with mixed feelings. Considering the A$3900 price tag, I had expected something more premium and refined. However, the overall presentation feels somewhat underwhelming. Fortunately, while the accessory selection is not as extensive as some mid-fi IEMs, the items provided are practical and interesting. Included in the accessories kit is a leather puck case in a dark teal color. The case’s height appears slightly taller than usual, possibly to accommodate the gigantic cable. Additionally, there is a cable clamp, crafted from the same leather material, which serves its purpose well in keeping the cable organized.

Unique Melody also offers two types of in-house designed ear tips, which play a significant role in shaping the sound signature. I found these ear tips to have a considerable impact on the audio experience, and we will delve into their influence further in the pairing section of this review.

Lastly, the package includes a cable created by the renowned cable maker, PWA. And I have a lot of bones to pick with this cable.

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Stock cable: I’ll pull no punches: the cable is the weakest link in the accessory pack of MEST III. It is composed of two parts. The section extending from the splitter to the earpieces is simple and supple, and I have no complaints about it. However, the segment preceding the splitter is very problematic. The best way to describe this part of the cable is to think of an extension cord used in power boards. It’s excessively stiff, to the point where it hinders the overall usability of the IEM. Moreover, this stiffness raises concerns about the longevity of the 4.4mm socket on my music player, as it forces the 4.4mm connector to rotate within the socket rather than conforming to the natural positioning as I wear the IEMs.

Earpieces: The earpieces of the MEST III are constructed with carbon fiber shells. They look great in photos. However, upon closer examination, I noticed a few minor areas for improvement in terms of build quality. Specifically, the polishing of the shells could be refined, and the finishing around the air vent for the dynamic drivers might benefit from some attention. On the positive side, the earpieces are light and surprisingly compact despite accommodating multiple driver units, making them comfortable to wear for extended periods.

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Comfort and isolation: In terms of comfort, I found the MEST III to be quite pleasant to wear. The IEM’s lightweight construction and smaller shells contribute to a comfortable fit, allowing them to sit flush against the concha of my ears without causing any discomfort or irritation. This comfortable fit is particularly beneficial, as it maximizes the contact between the earpieces and my ears, enhancing the experience with the Bone Conduction Drivers (BCD) technology.

On the note of isolation, the MEST III performs surprisingly well, providing a level of isolation similar to that of sealed IEMs. However, I did encounter one drawback in the form of driver flex on the right earpiece. This phenomenon, characterized by a crinkling sound when adjusting the earpiece, is attributed to the flexing of the dynamic driver. While not a significant issue, it’s worth noting for those who may be sensitive to such occurrences.

Tonality​

Frequency response of MEST III. The measurement might NOT capture the effect of MEST’s BCD. Measurements were done with an IEC-711-compliant coupler and might only be compared with other measurements from this same coupler. Visit my graph database for more comparisons.

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It is helpful to think of an IEM as a filter that highlights or subdues different parts of the incoming audio signal. This effect can be measured objectively by the squiggly lines above, called Frequency Response (FR) graphs, which measure how loud an IEM is at different frequencies from 20Hz (bass) to 20kHz (upper treble). Subjectivity is how your ears and brain interpret the effect of that filter on your music and decide whether it is “enjoyable.” There are some “rules of thumb” when it comes to tonality, but most interesting IEMs usually bend the rules masterfully.

Sound signature: In my previous encounter with the MEST series, specifically the MkII model, I discovered a lean and somewhat analytical sound signature. Thus, I was taken aback by the shift in tonality with the MEST III, which exhibits a neutral-warm character. The MEST III presents music with a warm hue and additional body comparing to Harman-tuned IEMs or U-shaped IEM, but the colouring is not to the extent of Andromeda 2020 or VE Phonix.

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Midrange: During my listening session with “Jolene (feat. Dolly Parton)” by Pentatonix, I observed that all the voices sounded natural with good warmth and body, without an overly colored presentation. The balance between male and female vocals was quite even, with no particular voice overpowering the mix. Notably, the bass voice, which often gets buried in IEMs with leaner and brighter tonalities, remained discernible and well-articulated.

Next, I focused on “Bach’s Violin Sonata No.1 in G Minor: Presto” performed by Kavakos. This track exemplifies everything commendable about the MEST III’s sound, including its warm-ish tonality, attention to detail, and holographic soundstage. The violin’s warm hue with added body still maintained its brilliance without sounding thin or harsh. The midrange offered a wealth of details and nuances, capturing subtle movements and even the violinist’s breath during quieter sections, adding a sense of realism to the recording.

Proceeding to “Game of Thrones Medley” by 2CELLOS, my go-to test track for evaluating timbre, tonal balance, and congestion, I noticed that the cellos had a warm and rich tonality. However, I detected a slight tendency towards being overly full and sometimes bloomy, indicating the colored nature of the MEST III’s tonality. Despite this, the IEM managed to avoid muddiness or congestion even when the music became dense around 1:30. The layering and separation remained remarkably accurate, with the two cellos distinctly separated and precisely positioned on the soundstage. This clarity made it easy to pinpoint their locations during the performance.

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Treble: Despite the rather intimidating treble peak shown in the graph, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the MEST III offers a smooth and easy-going treble region. When listening to “Livin’ On a Prayer” by Bon Jovi, a track I use to evaluate tonal balance, sibilance, harshness, and transient behavior, I noticed an absence of shoutiness or harshness in both vocals and instruments. Interestingly, the cymbals and hi-hats were slightly less pronounced than expected. However, the MEST III managed to retain the energy and sense of rhythm in the music, keeping it engaging and compelling.

This observation remained consistent when listening to “Beat It” by Michael Jackson and “G.O.A.T.” by Polyphia. The treble remained free from harshness or piercing qualities, while still delivering sufficient energy and presence. The treble’s quality is of high standard, evident in the nuanced textures of cymbals and hi-hats across all the test tracks mentioned.

If I were to nitpick, I would mention a slight imbalance in the amount of treble, particularly around the 8kHz to 10kHz range, compared to the rest of the frequency response. This became noticeable when listening to the claps at the beginning of “Synchro (Bom-ba-ye)” by Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, a track I use to assess treble tonal balance. The claps exhibited a somewhat steely timbre, hinting at the slight imbalance. On the positive side, the claps demonstrated excellent crispness and detail, with a strong sense of reverb and decay around the notes.

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Bass and dynamic: As mentioned earlier, the MEST III impressively conveys a strong sense of beat and rhythm, contributing to an energetic musical experience. Listening to “Beat It” by Michael Jackson, I noticed the impactful and powerful attack of each kick, enhancing the song’s energy and drive.

Moving on to “Let the Battles Begin!” by Square Enix Music & Nobuo Uematsu, I found the dynamic swings or “slams” of the orchestra on the downbeats to be forceful and energetic. Notably, these dynamic transitions were devoid of the rounded transient behavior I encountered in another recent top-of-the-line IEM.

Additionally, “Battle Bar” by Yuki Hayashi, a test track I use to closely examine an IEM’s bass response, showcased the MEST III’s clean leading edge and excellent decay and texture in the bass notes. This quality translates into the drums’ decay having a distinct and tangible “brrrrm” sensation rather than a textureless and indistinct “ummmm” hum.

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Despite the seemingly glowing description of the bass and dynamic performance of the MEST III, I must admit that I am not entirely satisfied with this aspect of its sound. In comparison to some other top-of-the-line IEMs like the U12T, Phonix, and certain single dynamic driver IEMs with robust dynamic capabilities, the MEST III does not scale the dynamic swings as strongly and decisively. While the MEST III does offer dynamic swings, they lack the visceral impact and strong contrast between the moments of silence, almost creating a negative pressure, before the bass drop and the powerful WHAM! slams of the bass or orchestra. This presentation sometimes leaves me feeling a bit wanting, as if I am waiting for more impact and intensity from the MEST III’s dynamic performance.

Soundstage Imaging​

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Stereo imaging or “soundstage” is a psychoacoustic illusion that different recording elements appear at various locations inside and around your head. Your brain creates based on the cues in the recording, which are enhanced or diminushed by your IEMs, your DAC, and your amplifier. Some IEMs present a wide but flat soundstage. Some present a “3D” soundstage with layering, depth, and height. In rare cases, with some specific songs, some IEMs can trick you into thinking that the sound comes from the environment (a.k.a., “holographic”)

One of the brightest aspects of the MEST III is its soundstage imaging, which happens to be the most compelling reason why I wanted to add it to my collection.

Before diving into the details, it’s essential to dispel any misconceptions surrounding the “holographic” soundstage claims. While descriptions may lead to expectations of an IEM that places the main vocals and instruments at phantom speakers in the room, outside of one’s head, similar to what a two-channel speaker system can achieve, this isn’t the case with the MEST III, nor with other IEMs like the U12T or Andromeda 2020.

Nonetheless, the MEST III’s soundstage is far from ordinary in the context of IEMs. Listening to “Jolene (feat. Dolly Parton)” by Pentatonix, the experience is akin to sitting in a dimly lit room with closed doors and curtains, with the voices floating around the head. Dolly Parton’s voice is presented with presence, rich in details and texture, yet it doesn’t feel intrusive or in-your-face. The center of the stage doesn’t forcefully reside inside the head, nor does it overly push forward like Airpods with crossfeed activated. Instead, the soundstage naturally hovers slightly at the front part of the head, sometimes seemingly in front of the face.

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Unlike many IEMs that present the soundstage with distinct left, center, and right blobs, the MEST III crafts a dome-like environment where instruments and vocals can be freely positioned in all directions—left-to-right, near-to-far, and low-to-high. This soundstage characteristic is particularly enjoyable when listening to “Synchro (Bom-ba-ye)” by Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, where the snare (or hat) seems to float above my head, while the orchestra spreads around my head with a sense of distance.

Where the MEST III truly excels is in its ability to shape a dome or arc of reverb around my head, creating an incredible sense of space that almost feels as if I’m seated in the recording hall itself. This effect is strikingly evident when I listen to “Bach’s Violin Sonata No.1 in G Minor: Presto” by Kavakos. The sense of space achieved with the MEST III becomes even more apparent in its absence, when I switch back to my U12T and Andromeda 2020, both of which are already strong soundstage performers. There’s something extra and captivating about the way the MEST III crafts the sense of space in this recording, making it quite addictive and, frankly, magical.

To assess the “holographic imaging” capability of any IEM, a good test track is “Hotel California (Live on MTV, 1994)” by Eagles. Here, the MEST III showcases an uncanny ability to separate the foreground (the band) and background (audience cheers) and place the latter in the surrounding environment. The audience’s cheers in the song’s opening feel astonishingly real in terms of distance, as if they come from my environment, rather than just inside my head. As the whole band starts, the MEST III accurately places the instruments around my head, with the singer floating in front and the audience noticeably positioned further back, creating a distinct sense of depth and spatial separation.

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Soundstage imaging with games (CS GO Gameplay by Throneful) The MEST III provides an incredibly immersive gaming imaging experience that ranks among the most captivating I have encountered with an IEM. With this IEM, gunshots and footsteps sound as if they originate from the area surrounding my head, rather than being confined to a sphere within my head, which is a common characteristic of most IEMs. In this aspect, the MEST III operates more akin to earbuds, extending the sound around the head rather than restricting it to a mere left-to-right presentation.

The soundstage produced by the MEST III is not only expansive in width but also offers a remarkable sense of depth. Sounds seem to span from close to far in all directions, creating a strong sense of distance that enhances the overall listening experience. Moreover, it excels in accurately pinpointing the height of incoming sounds.

Resolution​

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Resolution is a fascinating subject due to the difficulty of pinning down what it really is. To me, “resolution” can be broken down into three components: (1) Sharpness, incisiveness, or “definition” of note attacks (see the figure above). (2) The separation of instruments and vocals, especially when they overlap on the soundstage. (3) The texture and details in the decay side of the notes. The first two give music clarity and make it easy to track individual elements of a mix. The last provides music details and nuances. Smooth and well extended treble response plays a crucial role.

The MEST III impresses with its excellent technical performance, and this prowess extends to its resolution capabilities. Listening to “Jolene (feat. Dolly Parton)” by Pentatonix, I noticed a strong separation between voices, each one occupying its distinct space on the stage with ample “air” between them. This presentation allows for effortless tracking of individual voices, making it easy to discern each voice’s texture, nuances, and intricate details, rather than encountering smeared or blended voice lines.

The level of detail retrieval offered by the MEST III is truly outstanding. As previously mentioned, while listening to “Bach’s Violin Sonata No.1 in G Minor: Presto” by Kavakos, I could discern even the subtlest details, such as the breath and slight movements of the violin during quiet sections. This heightened sense of detail creates an immersive and authentic listening experience, making the recording feel incredibly real. Furthermore, the reproduction of the recording hall’s reverb showcases excellent detail, with the sense of the hall’s acoustic space seemingly highlighted with precision.

Pairing​

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The MEST III offers a volume level similar to the U12T across all of my sources, making it a suitable fit for portable gear. During my testing, I paired the MEST III with the FiiO UTWS5, a pair of Bluetooth earhooks, and was pleased to find that the IEM’s impressive staging performance remained uncompromised, even when using the AAC Bluetooth codec. Therefore, there’s no need to worry too much about what to pair the MEST III with, as it seems to adapt well to various setups.

However, one aspect that deserves attention is the choice of eartips. I discovered that the stock eartips didn’t work optimally with the MEST III, particularly in terms of sound quality. These tips seem designed to mimic the fit of a custom IEM, allowing the earpieces to sit as close to the concha of the ears as possible and eliminating any material in front of the nozzle. Unfortunately, pushing universal IEMs deeper into the ear canal can lead to a smaller perception of the soundstage. Consequently, my initial impressions of the MEST III weren’t very positive, mainly due to the stock eartips.

To achieve the best performance from the MEST III and fully harness the capabilities of the Bone Conduction Drivers (BCD) it’s crucial to ensure maximum contact between the earpieces and the ear concha. As a result, some eartips, like the Spin Fit CP145 and W1 that I typically prefer, didn’t sound as good as I had hoped before they push the earpieces far away from my ears. Eventually, I settled for the FiiO HS18 ear tips, which worked better for this IEM. All the descriptions provided above are based on my experience with the HS18 tips.

A brief note about the ear tips with holes on the hat that come with the MEST III: I found them to be unsatisfactory. Despite the earpieces fitting tightly in the ears, there was no air seal, resulting in a loss of all the bass and lower midrange of the MEST III. This made it sound tinny and emphasized the upper midrange, rendering it less enjoyable as an IEM.

Comparison and Rating​

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Tonality: 5/5 (Outstanding) - MEST III nails the type of tonality that I adore more and more nowadays: warmer and more “musical” without sacrificing the technical performance. In fact, I found my benchmark, the U12T, harsh and thin after a session with MEST III.



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Percussion Rendering: 4.5/5 (Very Good) - MEST III has good bass, but not outstanding. It lacks a bit of the visceral and decisive dynamic swings that I expect.
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Resolution: 5/5 (Outstanding) - MEST III fits confidently among the upper echelon. There might be a few IEMs out there that out-resolve the MEST III, but for mere mortals with limited funds like myself, these are as good as it gets.



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Soundstage: 5/5 (Outstanding) - If I have a rank higher than 5/5, I would assign it to MEST III.

Special ComparisonsPermalink

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Comparisons: 64 Audio U12T

64 Audio U12T is old, but die hard. To me, any IEM within the A$3000 bracket must past the test “is it as good as U12T.” Listening to “Jolene (feat. Dolly Parton)” by Pentatonix, I noticed that the U12T had a noticeably leaner and colder sound signature compared to the MEST III. The U12T’s treble also felt harsher, introducing sibilance that the MEST III managed to avoid. Interestingly, the female vocals on the sides of the stage were less emphasized on the U12T, requiring more attentive listening to pick up those details. However, when considering the overall mix and separation, both IEMs appeared to be on a similar level in terms of detail retrieval.

When I shifted my focus to “Bach’s Violin Sonata No.1 in G Minor: Presto” by Kavakos, I observed more noticeable differences in the technical performance of the MEST III and U12T. While both IEMs delivered a similar level of nuances and details, the reverb trails were more prominently highlighted on the MEST III. This created a stronger and more encompassing effect, forming a dome of sound around the head, which the U12T felt flatter in comparison during A/B testing. Tonality-wise, the U12T was less colored, presenting the violin with a truer-to-life sound but potentially rendering it less enjoyable to some listeners.

Determining which IEM is better might come down to price considerations, as used U12T units can be found at a lower cost than the MEST III. Additionally, the U12T’s established reputation and staying power might influence its resale value, which can be a significant factor for many users.

Comparisons: AFUL P8

The comparison between the AFUL P8, a $380 IEM, and the MEST III, a multi-kilobuck IEM, might raise eyebrows due to the price difference. However, the market for reasonably-priced IEMs has seen significant advancements in technical performance, rapidly closing the gap with old kilobucks like Andromeda 2020. Hence, I wanted to gauge the gap between the P8 and a modern high-end IEM like the MEST III.

In direct A/B tests, the difference between the two was apparent. Listening to “Jolene (feat. Dolly Parton),” I quickly noticed an extra level of nuances and details when switching from the P8 to the MEST III. The P8 also exhibited a noticeably leaner and colder tonality compared to the MEST III.

Where the gap in resolution didn’t bother me too much, given the already impressive resolution of the P8, the disparity in soundstage imaging was more significant. When listening to “Bach’s Violin Sonata No.1 in G Minor: Presto” by Kavakos, the P8 felt more two-dimensional, lacking the sense of sitting in front of a dome of sound created by the room’s reverb. In contrast, the MEST III managed to create the illusion of being in the same room as the violin, surrounded by a dome of reverb around my head. The MEST III’s rendering of the violin also appeared more nuanced and textured compared to the P8. The only advantage the P8 held was a truer-to-life tonality for the violin, though some might find the MEST III’s more colored tonality to be more enjoyable.

Conclusion​

In my journey through the audio hobby, I’ve frequently experienced high expectations, followed by bitter disappointments. However, my encounter with the MEST series was a delightful and rewarding experience.

Pros:

  • Holographic Soundstage: The sense of space and directionality was outstanding, making the listening experience truly captivating.
  • Top-notch Resolution: The MEST III showcased exceptional resolution. Every instrument and voice felt clear and well-defined.
  • Neutral-warm Tonality: I appreciated the coloured tonality of the MEST III. The vocals were natural and rich, and the instrument timbres felt enjoyable yet authentic.
  • Energetic yet Controlled Treble: The treble performance of the MEST III struck a good balance between energy and control. The highs were engaging and provided a good level of sparkle without becoming harsh or fatiguing.
Cons:

  • The Dynamic Could Be Improved: While the MEST III delivered a satisfying dynamic performance, I felt that it could be enhanced to provide a more visceral and impactful experience.
  • The Stock Cable is Too Stiff: The stock cable provided with the MEST III proved to be overly stiff, affecting the overall usability and comfort of the IEM.
  • The Stock Eartips Hinder Sound Quality: The stock eartips compromise the soundstage and overall sonic experience, making tip-rolling a necessity.
  • Price Hike from MEST II
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Updated: July 22, 2023
Last edited:
LuckyPantsu
LuckyPantsu
Really nice review!
Does the middle sound separate from other frequencies like in mest2 or new one more coherent?
corgifall
corgifall
They did really good with the MKIII. Great review!
o0genesis0o
o0genesis0o
@LuckyPantsu The new one sounds more “together” than the Mest2 that I have just borrowed. It’s surprising how much colder the Mest2 is.

@corgifall thanks for dropping by! Have been reading your reviews since forever.

NymPHONOmaniac

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: -superhuman resolution
-ultra precise next level imaging
-holographic multi layered soundstage
-fast punchy textured bass with excellent definition
-excellent sub and mid bass layering and resolution
-vast open mids with fully covered sound info
-fowards vocal, piano and main instrument
-rich in details texture yet transparent enough too
-edgy definition, no contour blur
-fast snappy ultra controlled attack
-infinite number of micro details: effortless way
-treble sparkle-brillance and long clean natural resonance
-even silence have resolution info
-can deal and even refresh any music you throw at
-neutral with slight bass boost, lively and crisp way
-non fatiguing tx to BC driver
-small and light housing is very comfortable
-intense noise isolation
-strange to say but: good sound value even at this price!
Cons: -those who love thick colored mids timbre might find it slightly thin
-at VERY high volume we can have extra fuzzy resonance in upper mids with soprano singer loud passage
-the bass impact isn't vast in headroom and not super weighty or chunky (not for basshead)
-treble info might be overwhelming for some
-cable is absurdly bulky
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TONALITY: 9/10
TECHNICALITIES: 10/10
CONSTRUCTION: 8.5/10
ACCESSORIES: 8.2/10
SOUND VALUE: 8.5/10


INTRO


UNIQUE MELODY does not need an exhaustive presentation. Its reputation is enough for it, which is known for many high-end IEMs, including the UM Mest series which has garnered more than many fan.
Personally, I discovered this company with the 3DT, a mid-tier earphones using 3 dynamic drivers that I really liked. Then the big revelation was with the Mext, which expanded my hearing capabilities to a level never before known due to the sound revolution conferred by the broadband bone conduction driver.

Today, it is the UM Mest MK3 that I will review. The latest releases from the Mest series and surely the ultimate culmination of all the experience collecting with the MK1, MK2 and Mext.

The price seems to have already dropped since their release, the MK3s are available for 1600$usd (without cable which I suggest you to do) in their blue version, and curiously 300$ more for the red version ($1900-without cable). The MK3 is an IEM using 4 different type of driver, 10 in total composed of 4EST+4BAs+1DD+1BC (bone conduction) drivers.

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I must emphasize that this review is the first that I write in French and then translate it and rework it in English, this is due to the complexity of the sound that the MK3 delivers, but also a quest for accuracy in acoustic description that I intend to push even further.

So let's discover together this sound universe that the MK3 delivers.



CONSTRUCTION&ACCESSORIES

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I will try to be brief for this review section which seems rather superfluous to me, except when we are in high-end territory: which is the case here.

First, I'll point out that the first version of the Mest MK3s looked like this and it didn't look very good. As if UM took inspiration from the Campfire design and added a touch of bling that affected the elegance of the design instead of enhancing it. Thank God, UM has changed its design which is not only more beautiful but also certainly more comfortable.

But is it extremely durable and sturdy?
It's always hard to conclude anything about this unless I wait 6 months before posting a review, and even that would be unreliable. Let's start by saying that the shell is made entirely of plastic. A semi-translucent plastic with decorative threads inside, making the aesthetic unique and pleasing to the eye. It is elegant, artistic, intriguing and quite understated. I find them very beautiful but the choice of plastic seems a little less thick (and durable?) than my Mext, it's obvious for the fingers, not too much for the eye.

This shell is smaller than the Mext and other Mest, here are some supporting photos:
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The shape is organic and ergonomic, the plastic very soft and the insertion is easy and adaptable to any type of canal. The beak is longer than the Mext, allowing easier deep insertion, which is very beneficial for complete bone conduction.

The 2pin connector is not deep, it is on the edge of the shell, which can make it more difficult to pin it in accurately as well as represent risks of bending the pins of the 2pin cables used. Also, the insertion of these pins is very tight and could make connecting certain cables a hassle.

The Mest MK3s are the kind of EMP I would be worried about dropping on hard ground, as the shock could transmit internally and damage the drivers I believe.

And now this famous cable.

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If we just talk about quality, this is certainly an high end cable since it does transmit sound cleanly with effortless vivid dynamic, but it's bulky as hell too and not really portable. Ive try multiple time to go to grocery store with this and it was too cumbersome, as well, the PVC+nylon+FEP sleeve and coating material make it prompt to keep the bent, it's not an easy cable to fit in pocket but for sedentary use it's more than OK and will not make mandatory an upgrade in term of performance of transmission, since the shielding is truely good and we don't have noise or dynamic unbalance going on with the sound. Mine come in 4.4mm bal plug, but you can choose 3.5mm se or 2.5mm bal too. Yet, I can't understand the choice of UM here, it seem they go all in in quality, forgeting practicality. Its a bit ironic since I was complaining about Hifiman Svanar cable being too flimsy and now I got complete opposite: over the top way.

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In term of packaging and accessories, this is more than OK to me, but i'm not very sensitive to the presentation and just care about quality and number of accessories. Here if I was UM, i would offer a modular cable of good quality, not as bulky though. Then the box presentation was nice but minimalist, nothing really stand apart or blow my mind.
I appreciate the IEM pouch and carrying case is nice enough, but limited in space, especially for such gigantic cable.
Then if i nit pick, I would say their a lack of ear tips choice. I mean, those are nice exclusive UM Transparent ear tips, a bit similar to Azla but shorter and the new ''umbrella'' perforated ear tips are interesting, but its not those that I use and I'm pretty sure i'm not only consumer that will get third party eartips to fully get the sound experience they seek for.
Nonetheless, apart the cable not being portable, I have no complaint.


SOUND IMPRESSIONS

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Well, let's start by pointing out that for once, it's impossible for me to write a sustained sound impression with the fabulous Mest MK3s in my ears. It's evocative of their captivating power, I believe, and of their vivid musicality which grabs you into their own space-time, I mean sound space. It tears you away from this reality much like a VR headset must do I imagine.

The UM Mest MK3 offers an unparalleled sound experience, beyond any comparative reference or almost, because the other Mest and Mext also use the secret ingredient to this multi-dimensional acoustic rendering: the bone conduction transducer with wide frequency band.

It is he who changes the game and leads the acoustics of the 3 other types of drivers like an orchestra conductor directing his musicians in a perfectionist way to assert with more brilliance the accuracy of instrumental definition, the sharpness of the amplitude of attack, and this diversity of texture in a high resolution way among other things.

I will try to explain why I consider the BC to be a central and unifying element of the sound reproduction of the other drivers during this review, but let's start at the beginning.

The UM Mest MK3 delivers a tonal balance perceived as bright neutral to analytical but energetic and very varied in its dynamic richness.
Listening to the MK3 for the first time is certainly very intense for an audiophile with an ear and a developed psychoacoustic sense, because the sound information seems infinite, even exceeding the hearing capacity of a seasoned audiophile. Which can be disconcerting or euphoric. I'm in the second case, because the first time I put the MK3s in my ears, I never took them off for the rest of the day, and when I moved around my little village, I couldn't help but follow the guitar riffs with my hands and the drum section with my head, making me look like a crank trapped in his world, or rather the world of MK3s.

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The BASS is gently and just slightly raised with the MK3, without however entering into ''basshead'' or too bassy territory, resulting in a fairly neutral perception but lively in dynamics perceived by the listener. The rendering is very singular and can be achievable only with a tribrid IEM with extra BC, because the secret is in the sauce as they say, and the spices come from the BC here.
So the sub-bass is more amplified with the dynamic transducer, which seems to add meatiness, extension, elasticity and an ounce of warmth to the whole rendering which is intended to be full in presence and punchy in attack.
But here is where it surprises, here, we have a very defined separation of the presence of the bass lines and kick drum, a sustained, vibrant and vast extension of the rumble and the fast hit, well sculpted in textured definition but not 100% round or corporal in this hit when it comes to a kick drum that wants to be fleshy precisely.…
Imagined the BC as a painter who would add details to the texture of the characters, and even contour lines to delimit them more overall. And that this painting is alive, full of flamboyant colors, illuminating the whole thing with crystalline fizz....ok, but here I digress into the high frequencies, dazzling indeed, thanks to the EST transducers for that!
But back to our sheep: the bass.
Here, it is not a monstrous boost in quantity that would affect the quality of resolution and separation, it is a quality boost thanks to a ''patchwork'' of sound layers only possible with a BC. I have no difficulty finding and following the basslines of various musicians, whether electric or acoustic, the presence is ultra detailed and textured, with a precise and abrasive onset and a resonantly controlled extension that is also rich in detail. Yes, this is what bluffs the listener, his ears can suddenly perceive the movement of the air in the projection of sound waves, this tends to concentrate the thickness of timbre while preserving its transparency so that we can separate low frequency instruments with almost superhuman ease.
So, we have the total with the MK3, a striking speed amplified in its resolution which extracts the presence of the kick drum without burr or fog of the under bass which gives them flesh. The cello is full, infinitely textured in a hyper-realistic and effortless way. The counter bass stretches into its lower frequencies with no sudden boom or rumble gain or resonance, but nonetheless fully and beautifully with an emphasis on the attack hit that allows us to follow the fastest string playing. With the MK3, it is we who decide which instrument will be the center of the show because none is abandoned, all have a magnified, lively and very inviting singularity.
Hmm, if I'm trying to find fault with these basses it would be from a dynamic point of view which might seem compressed for certain, in the sense that if the very silence is detailed, then the air is 100% clear or a free vibrance or resonance after impact would be perceived as vastly lacking, in fact that impact resonance goes inwards to the listener's head and not outwards and it can be disconcerting.

The mids have a similar treatment as the basses in the sense that here it is the BAs which act in tandem with the BC to deliver an energetic and highly resolved dynamic in its analytical rendering which is never forced, but which invites the listener to discover all its acoustic richness which is literally infinite.
Let's take as an example my favorite instrument for judging the fullness of midrange coverage: the acoustic piano. Let me say that pianist lovers like Glen Gould will be incredibly pampered, to the point of rediscovering his entire discography. Each note is fully sculpted in its definition, textured in its density and above all clean and sustained in its natural impact resonance. The piano note has weight and an amplitude of rendering going towards the listener, as if the pianist was only playing for us and that the whole acoustic scene was designed to amplify its rendering towards the head of the listener.
For those who know the genius Glen Gould, he plays extremely fast and structured in his almost cerebral rhythm of contraputal perfection, it is a revelation to rediscover him with the MK3 which restores the entire harmonic palette of the piano without excess bass or high which would color the notes in an unbalanced way, which is very frequent for the piano where the high jumps more towards you or the mediums have too much fundamental bass which gives them a warmth covering the accuracy of presence .

So no, it's not about colored mids with an excess of bass or high mids even if yes the presence and the texture are amplified by the BC. Still, this presence of vocals, for example, is wide, airy and transparent but with a density of timbre amplified by the BAs which are creamy in their mix, because there is no metallic or dry tone conferred by their mix. The MK3 transcends the vocal rendering in a complete embrace of the listener, it mixes with him, Arianna Savall for example seems in front of me, and her voice passes through my head while going to my ears in an open way, it's very intimate and highly addictive because the articulation of each word is perfect, yes .... and without sibilance. I had already noticed this with the Mext and tended to use them to watch movies and thus be able to understand each word with ease, the MK3 pushes this even further because it is even clearer and separate from the other instruments, which have the same treatment as the vocals but will be put forward if the mastering or your audio source so wishes.

This means that the violins will be perfectly separated and easy to follow in their fullness of rendering, symphony orchestra lovers will be able to enjoy the cellist, each violinist, the pianist and even the harpsichordist, the great forgotten sound reproduction. It's that high definition point, because the MK3s are beyond the absolute ear, beyond human hearing capacity and what's amazing is that this experience is cohesive, non-fatiguing even when heard loud and extremely immersive...to the point that yes, it can be dangerous to use these headphones on a bike I would say, and I'm an audiophile cyclist.

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The treble is certainly the most fascinating thing about MK3s, and if you find my review too wordy....take a break and come back to continue reading after a good coffee, because in fact, the high frequencies of MK3s can be compared to the auditory hyper vigilance induced by caffeine abuse, without risk to your health!
Nothing is left in oblivion here, from 4khz to 20khz, you will be invaded by clear, precise, clean and as much magnified auditory information in their macro resolution as micro definition. It is not about ''false clarity'' where you are thrown a concentrate of thorny high frequencies, nor about a forced and clinical analytical presentation which would keep us far from engaging musicality. It's certainly clear, vividly but not with garish or unbalanced amplitude, nor with a messy grain of texture, nor with a lack of definition of contours of each instrument, it's almost surreal high fidelity in fact.
Let's start with the percussions which have a precise and complete rendering of each of them, and this without gaining power from the crash cymbals which would obliterate the auditory field of vision. Each of them are rendered limpidly and vividly, effortlessly we can place them in the sound field. Their presence is complete, with infinite detail that amplifies the curiosity of listening but also that scintillating snap and also that sustained and natural echo and resonance that remains linear and highly perceptive although transparent. I emphasize again that with the MK3, even the air and the silence have resolution, an outline, an extractable presence, it stretches in the head but comes from outside.
The impact of the instruments is underlined with an abrasive presence, it is neither slippery nor vaporous, and so much so as to make the perceptivity of each micro detail very easy if we want it, or taking part of a coherent and living macro whole if we want to let ourselves be rocked.
The harp, the harpsichord as well as the acoustic guitar are reproduced with an accuracy of tone amplified with a resolution of presence and definition without equal. The texture of the touch is there, the type of impact whether it's pulling or tapping is there, you can almost count the number of skin pores of this hand that controls the instrument: if you want to. Without auditory fatigue inherent in the transmission of sound through the air because the most boosted of them seems to be the BC in fact. Again, in an organic and coherent balance.
The question is: how is this possible? These IEMs have been tuned by ear and the machine, I imagine....and the experience of the Mest and Mext series have resulted in this tour de force of the analytical monitor type meeting romantic 5.1 sound system.
Hmm, I'm known for finding acoustic faults and being pessimistic....but when it comes to the treble, it's really hard for me to point out a fault. But let's try to do it.
Certain high notes don't tire my ears but may sound loud to my ears, especially on the piano, so in the lower treble. A hint of presence amplitude which can be beneficial for dynamic perception as it adds a liveliness effect to the attack, but then the reverberation projects too much momentum towards the listener, especially at higher volumes. I tested this phenomenon at very high volume (for less than 30 seconds for certain specific passages with a female singer or piano) and it can create a form of distortion, I think it's due to the conduction force limit of the BC, but it was so rare and at such a high volume that I found it absurd to even note it down...I'm doing it here to be as critical as possible.
The other ultra high frequency criticism was highlighted with my comparison of the Hiby Zeta which have 4EST but no BC. The silence is perceptible in its density of particles, so it's not diminishing but amplifying in presence too, it steals air from the natural propagation of ultra highs and it's almost impossible to explain....but let's say it doesn't stretch out of the head in its resonance but goes inward. For some, it could be claustrophobic perhaps.
But not for me because having the possibility of enjoying a cyborg ear that can perceive the sounds of the smallest micro details of my entire auditory spectrum is priceless. Yes, I say: priceless.
I listened to and owned a large number of high end IEMs, none allowed me to do this, the closest was the GSaudio SE12 but it was unmusical, tiring and aggressive.
Finally, because I could go on for a very long time here, what I was saying in relation to the rendering of the piano for the mediums also translates for the high frequencies with an instrument like the harp or the harpsichord. For example, the rendition of Pierre Hantai's harpsichord playing is unheard of in tone, with a textured timbre of a natural metallic crisp, not sexy but sustained and contrasting resonance depending on the striking force, an energy of impact that rushes in and out of the head and above all an irreproachable clarity and speed of rendering of notes well sculpted, transparent and fully articulated in their rendering regardless of the dizzying speed of a Bach or Scarlatti composition.

Spatiality is something very difficult to describe....because, yes, downright psychadelic. But different nevertheless from the Mext that I will compare so below. I had used the VR headset analogy at the start of this review and will take this further as the front image is the BC and dynamic transducer, and the side sounds are the BA and EST. And it's actually a big three-dimensional bubble surrounding the listener, it goes so far as to perceive certain sound behind the ears, not the head, but it goes beyond a 360 degree of perception.
Also, we become spatiality, our head produces sounds that complement the 3D experience, with a clean, non-euphonic holography. We feel both swallowed up and projected into this spatiality.

The imaging follows this hallucinating rendering of accuracy and amplified resolution. The spatial realism is perhaps 'colored' here, in the sense....even though I used the ''monitor'' terminology with the MK3s, it doesn't mean that the instrument placement is what the musicians intended. Like in an Imax cinema experience, it makes everything more precise in it's bright presence, we can pin point instrument or sound far behind other sounds layers, or pick up hight pitch instrument in stereo channeling with zero effort. It's a condensed holographic rendering with edgy instrument separation in X axis and ultra transparent sound layers separation in Y axis. Whatever complexity or speed of a music track, the MK3 will never struggle to pull off ever sound info and make them carved in singularity. We are into next-level crisp imaging here, nothing is alike those MK3 in that regard.

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RANDOM SIDE NOTES

-source pairing impressions-

With Hiby R6pro ii:
The scene is more intimate and loses stereo width. The result is both silkier and creamier in the mids and sparkling in the highs. The bass is more linear and soft in impact but a little meatier. The amplification is OK but lacks a bit of dynamic authority.

With Tempotec V6:
Very similar to the R6pro but colder and analytical and even flatter in dynamics, the transparency is amplified, the rendering more airy and light in the impact, the mids further back.

With SMSL SU9 DAC+ SH9 AMP (low gain)
The best of both worlds, the mids are silky but wide in presence and clear, the impact of the notes is softened as well as the contour of the mids without making them recoil. The bass has enough punch and a clean extension. The highs are more balanced and also more nuanced in the colors, less put forward in texture grain. Delicious.
With Moondrop Dawn 4.4
The opening of the scene is amplified, which benefits the MK3. The timbre is a little rougher but underlined in these texture details. The dynamics are vivid and alive. The treble becomes crisper but less sharp in its brilliance. Very nice compliment.


Another thing to note with the sources is that the Mest MK3 reveals all their quality and defects, including background noise or micro harmonic distortion. The power gain does not seem to be a problem, but the output impedance and the darkness of the bottom seem to have an influence. It is obvious that the MK3 will benefit from the high fidelity source but it does not require a great amplification power. 200mW and even 2vrms seems to be enough for them.

Eartips and fit are very important for bone conduction to take place, but not just that, the bass of the dynamic driver seems to appreciate a well-fitting mouthpiece to the circumference of the IEM's mouthpiece. I do not recommend those with a hole smaller than this circumference, as well as too large. The fit must be deep enough for the shell to be in contact with the temporal bone, the deeper it is, the more the mids and highs will be put forward and clear.
See this graph, its bone conduction (vibration) transmission speed measurement, more it's in contact with the right temporal spot more the mids presence,definition edge and details will be boosted in your head. The hard task is to get a deep seal wich permit the bass to blossom natural enough too, for proper density.

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Not only is the insulation excellent but having music playing inside our head makes us completely deaf to the outside world, it should be noted for those who would think of jogging with MK3s, it could be dangerous for the vigilance of the real world.

Changing and testing various cables with the MK3 is worth the detour, if they are very revealing of the sources, there are also noises induced by bad cables. The standard cable is very good in terms of sound transmission but not really practical, another reason to keep it for sedentary listening.

And finally, although I consider the MK3 very versatile, it tends to amaze me even more with complex instrumental music such as jazz, rock, classical, or very difficult mixes to appreciate with my other IEMs. For example experimental and overloaded mixes such as found with Moor Mother. Surprisingly, the recording quality is not of prime importance, unless overwhelmed with background noise or completely disastrous, in fact MK3s can bring life and clarity back to old classical albums or piano solos etc.


COMPARISONS

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VS UM MEXT

No, I don't have the Mest MK2s, yes I've heard them in the past....but it's diffuse as impressions so here what strikes first is the extension of the treble after 10khz, it's more brilliant and generous in micro details with the MK3, but that influences the whole sound too.
With the Mext's I found the bass a little too warm and light in kick drum impact, here the MK3's are more punchy, textured, fast and defined and not as mushy and boosted. You could say that the Mexts are the warm, basshead version of the MK3s but the improvement in kick-sub separation is very substantial with the MK3s, the Mexts spill over a lot more into the mids too, which could be beneficial for certain types of vocals but in the end this affects the cleanliness of the rendering, the transparency and the sharpness of the instrumental definition, which are all very superior with the MK3.
More neutral yes, but more analytical and clear are the MK3s, it seems that even the BC extracts more sound information, but this may be due to the IS which gives a more vivid rendering revealing micro details and also a more emphasized brilliance, and a much quicker, sharper, shimmering ultra-high sustain-release.
In terms of spatiality, it seems that the Mext offers a wider and higher stage, surely amplified by the expansion of the bass, but it is much less deep and clean than the MK3 which in the end offers a more intimate listening. , immersive and enterprising.
The Mexts are not as talented in instrumental separation, especially in the bass and ultra highs, I am unable to separate the kick drum from the electric bass for example with such precision.

In the end, the Mest MK3 offers an obvious technical improvement and is positioned as analytical monitors compared to the more bassy and colorful tone offered by the Mext. The Mext offers a less realistic and cohesive macro resolution even if the benefits of BC are very impressive.

VS FINAL A8000

An IEM with a single dynamic driver might seem anachronistic here, but that would be underestimating the incredible technical capacity of the A8000s, which can easily compete with many hybrids, tribrids or planars. But what strikes here is how it sounds less neutral and more colorful and even bassy than the MK3s, yes....the dynamics hit all the physicality here compared to the more cerebral, transparent, clairvoyant and brilliant MK3. So the A8000s are more aggressive and W-shaped in dynamics, the high mids hit more the eardrum and give a grittier texture to vocals that are a bit fuller but not as nuanced as the MK3s. The basses are rounder and meatier with a more physical and warm bass mid hit impact, the perception of the kick drum is less clear and well cut, it hits with the bassline which remains perceptible but not as emphasized in its presence as the superior MK3 in sound layer separation.
The mids are less clean, open, vastly detailed and neutral in their rendering, it's more piquant and the piano won't be as articulated in its attack and rougher in its definition, which remains high but more softened in its contours.
The highs are more abrasive in timbre and aggressive in amplitude, the control is more diffuse and saturated with noise, the cymbals are more at risk of dominating the spectrum and splashing over other percussion. The MK3's treble draws more micro detail with less effort and energy, sparkles more with instruments or metallic percussion, has a more realistic clean and linear resonance and superior attack control as well as faster and extended.
Again, the spatiality is more free and open overall with the A8000s, taller and wider, but this blocks out in depth and space can be filled with a less transparent mix of bass and resonance than the MK3s which offers a more multi-faceted spatiality, blending in and out of head of auditory perception.
The sound imagery is very good with the A8000s but cannot be compared to the MK3 which has an addition of more diversified sound layers and pushed in their precision. The A8000s are more at risk of favoring the perception of certain percussions, amplifying the space of separation to the detriment of what could be hidden inside it. The MK3s treat all of the instrumentation at or near the same level.

Well, finally... it's not very surprising that the technical performance is highly superior with the Mest MK3s, because they ''cheat'' with their BC and nothing is comparable except perhaps the Kinera Loki, which I I will definitely test in the not so distant future.
Still, I prefer the bass impact dynamics of the A8000s as well as a more coated tactility of the timbre, if only it were as little tiring as the MK3s!

VS HIBY ZETA

The Zeta is more U shape and bassy, not as analytical neutral as the MK3 but more open sounding and airy.
The bass is warmer and offer bigger boom, the sub bass is more boosted and rumbling but separation with mid bass is less good and bass line and kick drum is less textured, define, resolved and controlled. Kick drum get swallow by bass line or boom resonance more easily, which isn't an issue at all with MK3 that offer better attack speed and control and edgier definition of low end instrument and drum.
The mids are thinner and bit more recessed with the Zeta, timbre is dryer and tend to dominate in presence boost, which is strange to say since MK3 is very boosted in mids presence but the use of BC make the mid range more fowards and richer denser in texture info. The mids are way more resolved and transparent with the MK3 too. So the upper mids are more agressive with the Zeta and prompt to sligth sibilance with risky vocal like Sabrina Claudio. It mean some instrument can sound more fowards like violin but it will overshadow piano in background more. MK3 mids are leaner and fuller in restitution, resolution is notably higher and center stage is a mix of in and out of your head so it sound cleaner, more transparent and sharper in resolution of each instrument of same range.
The treble of Zeta is slightly darker, it doesnt dig up as much sound info, micro details and texture fullness as MK3...which is just unbeatable in sub-2000$ price range perhaps above since it kick out of water Fir Audio Xenon6 in that regard too. But since center stage is more recessed the treble feel a bit more airy and the attack snap more tactile too. The 4EST deliver marvelous treble with the Zeta but high pitch instrument resolution isn't as edgy, it's more about plucked string like harp and guitar, in that regard MK3 have thinner and lighter highs, more boosted in texture details rendering than sens of impact and physical decay, with the MK3 decay have resolution and sound more cerebral, cymbals crash exten longer too, without creating fatigue even if brighter in restitution than Zeta.
Soundstage is very different with those, put out the BC of MK3 and it might sound similat to Zeta U carved spatiality that feel a bit wider and more open and not as in your head as MK3 even if MK3 mix this in your head spatiality with an open stereo one.
Imaging is notably superior with the Mk3, which is like next level monitoring with extre precision and accuracy of each single instrument in a track, including bassist and drummer which are darker in restitution with Zeta that add bit of warmth in lower mids too.

All in all I might prefer upper treble of Zeta even if a bit understated and that's it, everything else feel from another league technical performance wise with MK3, but tonal balance is quite different since Zeta is near basshead U shape while MK3 is way more neutral and analytical.

CONCLUSION

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I'm know for being a rather grumpy reviewer, rarely overwhelmed with positivity and enthusiasm for an IEM and let say the UM Mest MK3 are real disruptor in that regard because it's one of few IEMs I intensely struggle to find cons.

This is due to supreme end game technical performance these deliver and the fact no other IEMs ever achieve such high resolution with or without hearing fatigue, because this is something else to note: these sound rather smooth and even 8H listen didn't fatigue me, well, it fatigue my mind as if it enter a roller coaster.


The UM Mest MK3 offer hyper resolution like no other and will even permit people with bad hearing to get golden ears. The bone conduction implementation as well as upper treble extension, balance and brilliance is a big step up from UM Mext and the bass and mids a big step up from Mest MK2 too.

If you seek for ultimate wow effect that doesnt fade away with time and always wonder what high sound benefit return mean in kilobucks IEMs real: buy the UM Mest MK3 asap.

I've tested 20 or more IEMs costing more than 1K$ and this one offer highest sound benefit of them all, even if Firaudio Xenon6 was selling for 1.6K$, i would say the same.

These are an experience of a lifetime, an IEM that bypass law of sound and permit the listener to enjoy every single details and instruments singularity possible, even in biggest orchestra you are the one who choose where to focus your attention.

And the fact it doesn't sound artificial, unbalanced or fatiguing is another ''tour de force'' in it's own right.

Yes, i'm overwhelmed, and perhaps you are too if you fully read this way too wordy review but it's just the tip of the iceberg of richness of this sound experience. I'm not even satisfy by number of detailed impressions I share since i discover new acoustic mysteries everyday with this lifekeeper UM Mest MK3.

Ultimately Recommended and more likely the very best IEM i've ever tested in my audiophile quest for now, again, technical performance wise. Tonality being crisp neutral with lively dynamic, this is the subjective part that will decide if you marry the MK3 or not.



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PS: I want to thanks Unique Melody for sending me this review sample as loaner to share with other audiophiles. After the tour, i will keep them for the rest of my life. As always, those are my 100% unbiased impressions which surprisingly go all-in passionate mode. You can look my facebook audiophile profile (Eric Lab) to see i post near every day about those. This passion isn't forced at all!

You can order the Mest MK3 for 1600$ here, this is an official seller so no worries about guarantee:https://shop.musicteck.com/products/um-mest-mkiii

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H
hawgrider
Excellent in depth review nymPH. 👍🏽👍🏽

antdroid

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Refined, smooth sound
Most coherent MEST yet
Great case included
Attractive looks
Warm, pleasant tuning, easy to enjoy
Cons: Cable is very nicely built, but very stiff
Not as exciting and big soundstage as prior MEST



The MEST series has been one of my favorite IEM lines since Unique Melody first came out with the original bone conductor-featuring quadbrid earphone. The original MEST had used two "new" IEM technologies at the time with a bone conducting driver and electrostatic tweeters to go along with a dynamic driver and a series of balanced armature drivers. This review will take a look at the company's newest MEST branded product, the MEST MK3.

The original MK3 prototype and design that was shown around featured a ceramic shell with a plain looking design that had some mixed opinions. After running into supply-chain issues with the ceramic material for the shells, and collecting feedback, the UM team decided to use a more familiar and popular look from their limited run Indigo product and released the MEST MK3 in a similar blue and a new red colorway. The one I was sent for review from Unique Melody is of the blue variety.

With a shiny gold rim, and translucent blue faceplate and shell that displays little pieces of carbon fiber within it, the MEST MK3 is really a nice looking IEM. It has a very comfortable medium-to-large shell size that fits me perfectly. I was able to wear this for hours at work without problems. The shell is made from a lightweight plastic, which also helps with the long-term comfort.

The custom cable that comes with the MK3 comes from PW Audio, and is designed to match the looks of the shell design. The connectors are come painted in a popping blue color and are very well-built. The Y-splitter, and chin strap are also matching in color and metal material. The cable is 2-core, but with each core shielded and thick. The lower portion of the cable is rather stiff, as it isn't woven, and instead has both of the L/R cables running in parallel with each other, and wrapped with a fabric braided sheathing in dark blue. While its a very nice looking cable, I do find the extra stiffness and weight to be a little annoying to use in practice. It is not too bad if you are stationary, but if you're moving around, the cable can be a frustrating experience.




In addition to the cable, the MEST MK3 also comes with a beautiful and well-designed leather case. This case is a round 2-piece design with a smaller lower cylinder where the products go into, and an upper, larger top that closes down on it. It's one of my most favorite included cases with an IEM that I've seen yet, and I even like it more than the very cool Dignis zipper case that came with the MEST MK2 and MK1 prior.

One of the newer products from Unique Melody that is also included with this IEM and the previously reviewed U-FREE truely wireless IEM is their umbrella-shaped tips. This pairing, however, is quite bad with the MEST MK3, and one I would not recommend -- at least in my experience. I'll discuss why in my sound impressions section, but I did end up finding great fit and sound with my typical sets of SpinFit tips that I use with most of my IEM reviews.

As with prior MEST products, their packaging contents are very good and if not top notch. I only wish they pick a more softer cable, and its the same nitpick I've had through all their products. But everything else is great, and I can't deny that the cable looks fantastic and well-built.

Sound Impressions​

MEST MK3 takes a similar approach to tuning as prior MEST IEMs. It stays on the warmer and slightly darker side of neutral, and comes across as a warm-bodied, and very pleasantly tuned in-ear. It has a slightly elevated bass range, steady mids, and a darker treble range that is well-extended on both ends of the spectrum. I find it a very solid darker U-Shape tuning, and should be very familiar to those who have listened to prior MESTs.



While general tonal balance is similar, though not exactly the same, the approach on the rest of the tuning does differ. There is definite MEST DNA in the MK3 - with a similar driver configuration, and overall design, but the MK3 refines the overall sound significantly, over both the MK2 and MK1. This is, by far, more coherent than the other two, and comes across very smooth and lacking a sense of disjointed bass that the other two presented to me -- whether that was for good and for bad.

Now that said, that lack of full cohesion, did give the original MEST its charm. It's bass felt isolated and singular, away from the rest of the mid-range and treble, and the upper-midrange had a very unique holographic sound to it, that also sounded weird, and different and made it so original-sounding at the time. The MK2 cleaned it up a bit, and maybe to its dismay, made the MEST MK2 sound a bit ordinary, albeit still very good.

The MK3 doesn't necessarily have these issues, or benefits, depending on your preferences. It still retains the holographic soundstage that all of the UM Bone Conducting products exhibit, but it brings everything together more coherently, and packaged better. It does not sound ordinary like the MK2 does, and it doesn't sound crazy like the MK1 did -- it's somewhere in between with a nice sweet spot of just sounding good.




The resolution on the MK3 is excellent. At first, I tried using the included UM tips, which are very soft and reminiscent of the Azla Xelastec tips, except these have scalloped edges that make it look like an umbrella. With these tips, the resolution is very apparent, but it also killed all depth, soundstage, and imaging from the product. I actually was shocked at how untechnical the MEST MK3 sounded at first, because the included tips were the first set I tried the MEST on. They fit great and everything, but the sound was like someone shouting into my ears.

With different tips, and literally any other tip, the sound presentation opened up and the stage widened and deepened, and it felt much more natural and more like something I was expecting for a $2000 IEM. The soundstage is still smaller and more intimate than my CIEM MEST MK1 and the universal MEST MK2 I compared the MK3 against, but it was fine, and the differences in stage were very little.

The resolution was much the same. The other MEST excelled at bringing out the micro-details from recordings, and I did not feel the MK3 gave up any of this at all. It only made them less sharp and more natural.

Yes, the MK3 is probably the most musical of the three that I have and compared against. It doesn't go for the most precision edges, nor the biggest bass bloom, but it just has a nicely tight knit and warm sound that is very easy to enjoy and get lost in the music with, and it does not suffer from the occasional blips where the upper-mids and treble can be a bit bright and harsh that the others experience. It's very sweet and gentle in its treble presentation in this regard.




Listening to different music genres with the MEST MK3 gave me some insight into which I prefer most with the MK3. This isn't a neutral IEM that is indifferent to musical choices. It's pretty close though. For my liking, I really enjoyed the MK3 out of music with brighter notes, and shriller highs. It went well with classical and jazz music, where a variety of instruments are at play, and it tames the horns and strings well, without losing the quality of the sound -- in fact making them sound sometimes more warm and natural.

In rock music, I did find the darker tonality to be beneficial for some music and perhaps suffocating some other songs. For tracks with an excessive amount of electric guitars buzzing like metal, this combination really does well. For others, like alternative rock music, it provided a good grunt of meat, but at times closes in the song a bit more than I like, which for a genre that already suffers from the bad period of lack of dynamic range, makes it a bit more dark and missing some sparkle.

I loved how the MEST MK3 sounded on acoustic rock songs though. My endless plays of various progressive bluegrass and alt-country songs sounded well with this IEM. The fiddles, banjos and violins sound well controlled, with the added acoustic bass guitars and drums feeling heavy with good rumble.

Final Thoughts​

My recommendation for the MEST MK3 is to try different tips. This one can sound pretty different with what tips are thrown on them, as I had already discovered, but almost forgot about, with the original MEST MK1 and MK2 units. Once you find the one you like, I think the MK3 really shines and comes off as a very engaging and smooth listen, with good technical performance and a very warm and rich sound that is well-extended at the same time. It doesn't do a lot wrong, and is a great cohesive affair, and something that brings a new life to the MEST line.

Scuba Devils

Headphoneus Supremus
UM MEST MKIII - 3rd time a charm?
Pros: > Balanced and technically proficient allowing for a competent all-rounder: regardless of genre
> Comfortable shells with excellent isolation, and great comfort for extended listening sessions
> Large stage, clarity, top-notch layering and imaging
> Bone conduction provides an excellent cohesive feel across the FR - like a glue that bonds the entire frequency spectrum
> Visceral combination of dynamic driver bass, and captivating EST treble - coupled with the aforementioned BCD
Cons: > Cable... thick, heavy, microphonic and doesn't have flat 2-pin terminals for the shells (a huge bugbear of mine)
> Poor selection of tips
> Significant price difference if red is your preference...
> Unboxing & accessories could be better for the price
Unique Melody MEST MKIII Carbon Fibre Edition - $1,919 (Blue) / $2,359 (Red)

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Introduction and Disclaimers

This will be my 4th IEM from Unique Melody - my introduction to the brand was MEST MKII which I bought on release in early 2021. A few months later, I purchased MEXT, and took the plunge with the mighty Mentor late last year. While I enjoyed each of them quite a lot, I no longer own any of them for various reasons - mostly due to how I play in this hobby; which often means buying / enjoying / selling... repeat. We have different objectives in this hobby and I think it's important we reflect on what is it exactly that we would like to achieve - if we don't know that, we are sort of like a ship without a captain or crew: we can just drift in various directions with no idea as to what it is we want... that can lead to FOMO, stress, financial challenges etc. I say this because it has certainly been my own experience in this hobby in recent years. Lately for me I look at it as a hobby - it complements my passion for music and technology, and I'm not looking for an elusive 'perfect' set or end-game. I really enjoy experimenting with new sets, hearing how they are tuned, how they pair with my sources, and ultimately to what extent do I enjoy them - with this comes learning, and a greater ability to seek out other sets that are likely to be enjoyable. From a discipline perspective, as money certainly doesn't grow on trees - as much as possible these days I only buy when I sell... I aim for a 'one in, one out' methodology - there are only a handful of sets that have remained in my collection that I now consider keepers. So going back to my point with regards to what it is that we actually want - there will be some who are indeed just looking for a set that they can enjoy for a long period of time, maybe a few years before even considering another, and many others at the other end of the spectrum who will seek to constantly cycle between sets in the same way I do... whichever it is you do, try set some ground rules and enjoy the process! Anyway, just thought I'd share my recent musings on this hobby!

I purchased this set at a reduced price in exchange for a review - I would like to thank @MusicTeck & @UniqueMelody for the opportunity. These are my honest thoughts, formed over the last few weeks as I've become familiar with MEST MKIII. My other disclaimer as always is to point out I am not a professional reviewer, this is my hobby, once my career, and links back as always to a lifelong passion for both music and technology, brought together in absolute harmony through this wonderful hobby. Needless to say also, we all hear differently, and while I do my best to express what I hear in a way that I hope is useful to the community, please remember your individual experiences may differ from mine for all sorts of reasons... music preferences, age, frequency tolerances, sources, etc.

The MEST MKIII is available from MusicTeck HERE

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Unboxing & Accessories


I was a little underwhelmed by the unboxing experience here - certainly in comparison to previous sets... gone are the trays that slide out and reveal the goods in a similar way to high-end watches - now a more simple affair that is pretty much the standard across many IEMs. There is nothing wrong with it, but just lacks a bit of 'wow' factor for a circa $2k purchase. On a positive note in a world where sustainability is a growing consideration, it absolutely makes sense to reduce the amount of packaging, but I still feel they could improve on the overall experience.

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Contents: On the one hand, it feels rather meagre, but on the other hand, you've got all you need really - I do think they could have included more tips though. The case is nice, but with the rather thick and clumsy cable, it can take a bit of effort to wrap it up and store away in the case... I'll come to the cable next, but I'm not a fan.

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Cable - this was a bit of a disappointment I must say when MEST arrived. I had drooled in anticipation of the arrival of the beautiful looking red edition of MEST - I wrestled with paying extra simply for a different colour, but was honestly captivated by the lure of the sultry looking fiery-red shell and matching cable... they looked fantastic in the pictures, and to be fair still do in the flesh - but handling is a different experience. If you tend to kick back and listen while sitting, the cable is absolutely fine - bar when you go to wrap it up and feel like you are fighting off a python... maybe a tad dramatic, plus I've never actually fought a python but you get my drift. Finally, UM have been asked by a few owners why the cable is what it is, and they have responded to point out from a sound quality perspective they worked closely with PW Audio to achieve the best results, without adding too much extra to the price. Ultimately, for me I have chosen to stick with the stock cable for now as I do not tend to listen to a set like this or at this price level anywhere but in the house.

The thick and rigid nature of the cable had led to some slight kinks at various points - this is from wrapping it up to store away in the case. You can see this below near the neck cinch. I do not seeing this as being a concern for damage, but it does take away from a visual perspective.

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The y-splitter denotes the chosen colour, in this case 'melon red' and notes the fact it's shielded on the opposite side.

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On a positive note, I do actually like the jack - it feels sturdy, and has a nice grip to it for insertion and extraction. As per the rest of the cable, I like the look of it too. While it's not modular as has become quite popular lately, you do have the option of 3.5mm or 4.4mm on ordering.

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The selection of tips isn't fantastic, but I have had a good experience using one variety of the two provided. For anyone who has owned MEST MKII, it is pretty well known that they require a good deep insertion for an optimal experience with the bone conduction driver - this being as it's requires contact for maximum effect, this of course applies to MKIII also. The 'petal' silicone tips provided do allow a good deep insertion and perfect seal for me, and in spite of testing quite a few other 3rd party choices, I have come back to these each time. I would as always encourage experimenting with tips as we all have unique ears - but certainly worth trying the stock as they've been excellent for me.

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The supplied tips include a set of open and petal silicone in small, medium and large. While they feel basically the same, for some reason I could only get a secure seal using the petal variety. That concludes the selection of tips, I would like to have seen the blue/black tips that also came with MEST MKII as I found them quite good.

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Finally, you do also get a mesh storage bag for the IEMs and I use this each time I'm done listening. I'm a firm believer in protecting our investments, be it to keep them in great condition for own use, protecting from both visual and functional damage but also in a like-new condition should you choose to move them on at some point. This is a decent size and very easy to store the MEST securely.

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Design & Fit

While I've never tried the Indigo, these do look very similar and feel more like an evolution of that set as opposed to MEST MKII from an appearance perspective at least, we'll get on to sound later on of course! They are made from carbon fibre and feel both sturdy and smooth to touch. I find them very comfortable, and can listen for extended periods without any discomfort. The below image depicts a 3D explosion of the driver configuration and overall build.

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As noted previously, I do wish they would use recessed sockets for the 2-pin cable - they tend to feel more secure, and also look better from a visual perspective. I can never understand when this decision is made. Surely the shells could either have recessed sockets, or PW could make a flat 2-pin plug to sit flush considering it's a bespoke cable?!

Pictured below with the stock 'petal' tips in large affixed.

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Listening Impressions

I'm on about my fifth week of listening to MEST MKIII and have got to know them very well. Most of my time has been spent with the wonderful Cayin N7, but I've paired also with my precious LPGT Ti and Shanling M6U. While MEST isn't fussy about the source, like any IEM, some will be better than others and in my experience synergy is simply wonderful with the N7 - it injects more energy into the low-end, and provides an organic sense of warmth to the overall somewhat neutral tuned MEST, making for a very captivating listening experience with absolutely any genre. For those of you who take burn-in into consideration, these have at least 200 hours at this stage.

I'm inclined to say that while very well balanced, mids probably step ever so slightly back versus both bass and treble which both sound forward in comparison, albeit by not much.

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Bass

Sub digs deep with a wonderfully visceral rumble - mid bass kicks with excellent impact and authority. As noted, the overall FR is rather well balanced so if you are looking for huge skull-shattering bass, these are not for you. However, as someone who listens to a lot of electronic music that really benefits from the low-end, I am certainly not left wanting... bass from both sub and mid should be more than enough for most. The quantity to quality ratio in my experience is excellent: when listening to instruments such as bass guitar or the lowest registers of a piano, there is an excellent sense of detail and realism - likewise with electronic music, sub bass extends to fantastic depths in support of the lowest synth keys.

Mids

Clear, distinct, and captivating are the three words that immediately jump out for me. As is often the case, there is a hint of warmth that helps to promote emotional engagement, and I would say that the note weight sits slightly on the heavier side with good body. Both male and femal vocals sound wonderful, sitting perfectly centre and when hooked up to the N7 in particular, you feel like you can almost reach out and touch them. Whether you choose acoustics, vocal, or electronic, the BAs here deliver. There is absolutely never any issues with congestion, even with the busiest of tracks - always plenty of room, speed, and clarity.

Treble

I'm a sucker for well implemented ESTs, and UM have hit the nail on the head here. In a similar way to how a well implemented dynamic driver delivers a visceral low-end sensation, ESTs can really create an ear-tickling experience in the high-range, and that is absolutely the case here. The treble is not too forward and sounds perfectly cohesive in the mix, hi-hats strike where you expect them to with excellent realism - the upper registers of strings sing beautifully, never shrill or harsh. Ten out of ten for me here, perfect EST implementation.

Technical

While these are not 'technical monsters' in the same way as a set such as Ragnar, they are certainly no slouch in this department. I would say that they lean somewhat more musical than technical in my experience, which from an all-rounder perspective is a good thing. From a macro and micro detail perspective, you are met with a solid balance and while you are not served up with microscopic details, you do get a fantastic presentation of how you might expect an instrument to be delivered. There is a large holographic stage, with wonderful imaging and layering - instruments have plenty of space and seem to sit where you would expect them to.

Tracks

I often wonder whether this section of a review is of value or not as music taste is so incredibly diverse. I try capture a few genres in the hope it's of use.

First up is is some jazz with the track 'Oneness' by Matthew Halsall. Bass, percussion, sax - all sound fantastic, I honestly can't fault anything here. There is space - there is a large area of musical presentation, with accurate timbre and both musically and technically captivating. I love the sense of air between instruments - it's cohesive, but at the same time it's easy to pinpoint a specific instrument should you choose to.



Next I've chosen one of my usual test tracks for female vocals, 'Wasting my Younger Years' by the wonderful London Grammar. Yet again, I note a sense of balance - vocals are pretty much in-line with instruments, not pushed forward or back but certainly in a central position. To quote Radiohead, everything sounds in it's right place... vocals, percussion, guitar and again with that sense of air between instruments.



Next up is a track very close to my heart, from an artist very close to my heart: 'Lush 3-1 by Orbital'. I'd need to write a thesis to emphasise how important Orbital are to me, and even at that I wouldn't be able to convey sufficiently... why? - rewind to 1994 - I was 17, and fast becoming a massive fan of electronic music. Orbital were a massive part of this, I can't begin to imagine how many times I listened to their 2nd album dubbed 'The Brown Album' in those coming-of-age years. It can be challenging to enjoy some of these older tracks that have not yet been remastered - 90s recordings showing their age, and certainly their flaws in some cases. I love that with MEST MKIII leaning more musical than technical, it can forgive older recordings misgivings, and that is absolutely the case here - I can not only play, but thoroughly enjoy a track I've known and loved for almost 30 years now - no easy feat. Simply put, this track sounds absolutely fantastic on MEST MKIII and I cannot wait to revisit the entire album soon as a result.



And now for something completely different - Monty Python anyone? I guess knowing that reference will be dependent on age and geographic location... regardless, this is a classic hip hop track, and provides MEST MKIII with another genre test use case. A Tribe Called Quest - Can I Kick It? - can MEST kick it... yes it can, flawlessly. It's actually quite amazing to play a track that's over 30 years old, yet still sounds amazing. I think UM have struck a fantastic balance in the tuning between technical and musical, too technical can result in harshness, and too musical can lack detail - no issue here, be it the low sub register to mid vocals and upper treble delivery.



Moving on to a complex and intricate electronic track by Symbolico - 'Perceiving All' does as the name suggests, and really pushes forward every last bit of minute detail but never becomes harsh. This is a track that I like to test the technical to musical capability of a set, and MEST MKIII passes with flying colours. Everything from the sub bass depth, to the highest treble register in this track sound fantastic - balanced, musical, technical - all boxes ticked.



Some more electronica, this time the spectacular 'Sex' by Djrum. I've heard this album countless times, via numerous IEMs - I could say I know it off by heart. Yet again, I can't fault it - nothing harsh, and both technically and musically catered for - MEST MKIII provides a remarkable listening experience with this complex and potentially challenging track.



Comparisons

MEST MKII


Andrew from MusicTeck provided me a loan unit so I could test versus MKIII. While I have some recollections of the 2nd edition of MEST, it's far too long ago to recall sufficiently in this review. I've been curious for quite a while what a revisit to this set might entail, especially with a new selection of sources to reach for. The difference is huge - they sound nothing like each other, except maybe for how the sub extends. MKIII improves everything to my ears, and absolutely justifies the step up in price. When I switch from MKII to MKIII, I hear significantly more competent mids - more visceral, improved & somewhat relaxed treble, and overall a better balance of technical and musical engagement. That's not to say MKII sound 'bad' - I'm actually quite impressed revisiting, but the 3rd iteration to my ears are a big step up in every way - I can hear how those who might have a treble sensitivity had problems with MKII - this should not be the case with MKIII. I'm actually enjoying a revisit to MKII, but MKIII are without question a huge step foward.

Camelot

This is still my top choice IEM - it leans a bit brighter, and more technical versus MEST MKIII yet still wonderfully captivating. They are quite similar in many ways, both quite neutral and with the exception of the BCD in MEST, more or less the same driver config in terms of DD / BA / EST for low, mid and high. If I were to capture a scale of musical to technical on a graph, with zero being most technical, and ten being most musical, I would plot Camelot around 4, and MEST around 8. They are both highly competent all-rounders, with excellent balance across the FR - Camelot is that bit brighter, and that bit more resolving... the 2nd DD in Camelot for low-end is also evident where there is more distinction between low and mid bass.

Ragnar (from memory)

I had Ragnar on loan for a while from a generous Head-Fi member (@Eoin) and I was incredibly impressed. I would say the most detailed and precise set I have heard on my IEM journey... they literally take everything with a microscope, providing the most detailed musical experience imaginable. On the negative side, I found some upper mid glare issues at times, which for me ruled out a purchase.

Conclusion

While I never tried the first iteration of MEST, I certainly heard very good things about them and some even preferred to MKII. My original experience of MKII was hit and miss, and I eventually sold them having found they were more miss than hit. MEST MKIII absolutely hit the mark for me, and I would go as far as to say they are my favourite from UM so far, even ahead of the formidable Mentor - now before the pitchforks come out, I'm not saying they are better, but I had some issues with upper mid peaks on Mentor which led me to ultimately sell... I've zero areas of challenge with MEST MKIII - that's not to say they are perfect, but I cannot tolerate any FR challenges that disrupt my listening experience, it's the first thing that will result in me parting with a set. MEXT are a fun sounding and excellent set, but I had problems with fit as they were quite big, so they had to go too.

Engaging, exciting, entertaining, but well balanced, a simply excellent IEM - UM hit a slam dunk with the 3rd iteration of MEST… I'm loving every minute I spend with this fantastic set, regardless of genre, and certainly from my perspective, absolutely 3rd time is indeed a charm.

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Sioux67
Sioux67
Excellent review 👍
BadgerRivFan
BadgerRivFan
Thanks for a great review! I love my MkII’s but now I’m intrigued. Very well written 👍🏻
vikinguy
vikinguy
The stage is maybe the most ethereal that I’ve ever heard. Unfortunately I need to sell my blue set but I WILL be buying again.

koyawmohabal

New Head-Fier
Definition
Pros: -natural timbre on instruments. In fact, timbral accuracy is high
-good separation of instruments and vocals. This set does very well in this regard.
-very good decay. The mest mkiii can capture echoes and even to the last definition of notes
Cons: -the bass texture and overall quality might be good, but the level might not be enough for bassheads
-although mid treble is forward, the attenuation in the low treble might not please some treble heads.
MEST MKII – "Definition"
IMG_20230712_072736.jpg


‼️DISCLAIMER:
This is tour unit provided by UM and managed by a friend Edz Cuizon.


I am not affiliated with the company, I do not get any incentives and I am not paid for this review. If there is anything involving money, it will be me paying for the shipping haha.


So, I will be sharing my user experience of the UM MEST MKIII as transparent as possible. I hope.


⚜️WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
IMG_20230712_083538.jpg



Check my unboxing video here:





As you may have noticed, my unboxing is not that fancy. This is just a nitpick, but I did not feel like I was unboxing an expensive set. Inside you get:


1.) A Circular IEM case


2.) A thiccckk cable- it’s a pure 4-core copper in 26AWG shielded in nylon. They are thick man. It has a similar feel to my clothes iron cable- however you may take that. Also an important thing to note is that, I did not use the cable in most of my listening assessment because they were when I got them broken. I had them fixed and tried them for a day before sending to the next reviewer.


3.) Two sets of eartips- it feels like azla xelastics, in a different form. The other set has holes, and honestly, I am not sure what they are for. When I use them, I do not get any seal. Zero. Nai. It felt like the IEMS are just shoved inside my ears without any eartip. Yeah you guessed it right, it sounds awful to the point that even Vido eardbuds sound better.


4.) Eartip case - yes


5.) A leather strap – yes


6.) A small pouch for the IEMS – yes


7.) That’s it.


⚜️IEM SPECS:

IMG_20230712_083311.jpg



1. It’s a quadbrid. A combination of 1 dynamic driver, 4 balanced armatures, 4 ESTs and 1 piezo bone conduction.


3. A two pin socket


4. 5 way crossover


5. Frequency range of 20Hz-70kHz – denngg 70Khz


⚜️BUILD and COMFORT:

IMG_20230712_083459.jpg

Please excuse me for whining this early. After my underwhelming unboxing of a $2000 set, the build is just not acceptable when compared to other IEMS or even in the sub $1000.


But there is more than meets the eye. It is said to be constructed from carbon fiber. It has a transparent indigo shell with black webs inside, or at least that how I see it haha.


The faceplate is made of laminated wood as what I’ve read.


They are on the bigger side and its weight does not justify its size. They are really light and I did not get any strain from wearing them in long hours. Standard fit for me. They isolate well when stock eartips are used.


Honestly though, they look and feel cheap when compared to other TOTLs in its price bracket. Like really.


However, I am not judging the book by its cover, or am I? lets find out its performance in sound


⚜️SETUP:
-Shanling M3X using UAPP, Hiby ang stock player


-stock cable and some random cables from different IEMS
-stock eartips (non-holes) and AET07


⚜️SOUND:
IMG_20230712_072543.jpg
Bass is clean without noticeable bleed from the mids. This is evidenced by a mild cut at 200hz. However, the vocals and instruments are not thin sounding because there is a huge hole in the upper mids. This makes the the MEST Mkiii natural and organic sounding. I think the bone conduction adds a bit of dimension and texture to bass guitars and kick drums.


Mids are not forward nor recessed, and I think the bone conduction also works by separating the vocals from the instruments, similar to BQEYZ Winter.


They are shout and fatigue free, but I sometimes feel the lack of power in certain vocal range.


Treble is a bit forward when it comes to details. The presence region to lower treble gets some focus because there is a dip before that. I must say that the treble is actually smooth even with this emphasis. Cymbal timbre is natural and extension is commendable.


⚜️A FAMILIAR SOUND


I have heard some sets from Unique Melody in Japan, particulary the UM 3DT Grain. It was almost a year ago and my memory is faint, but I feel like they tune their treble pretty forward.


As I described the MEST Mk3 in my first impressions video, I said that the they have some emphasis on the treble but without being fatiguing. I knew the sound was familiar and I have some sets in mind with this kind quality.


First, I was reminded of the BQEYZ winter vocal presentation and separation. Having a similar Piezo Bone conductor configuration might be the reason. The similarity in sound and staging is uncanny. Vocal layering is great, and I could catch harmonies with less effort. It seemed like they are being played at separate speakers.


After few hours of listening, I was then again reminded of another set, the Bravery AE. This time, the tonality and presentation are very familiar. The Mest Mkiii sounds like a buffed Bravery. As mentioned in my review of the bravery, it tends to highlight treble without being strident. This results in getting more nuance and details. My tracks always have those extra details that I did not notice with other sets, or maybe not that highlighted.


⚜️DETAILS, TONAL ACCURACY and SEPARATION


This might be an unpopular opinion, but I always thought details and nuance is a result of highlighting specific areas in the spectrum.


When I was in Japan, I had the chance to try out expensive sets and A/B them with KZ sets hahaha, not kidding. What I found was that, in my test tracks, I hear the same exact details in specific time stamps, but the tuning makes the amplitude of those details less or more noticeable.

There are some exceptions, but basically the details are not lost when switching to cheaper sets, only that, you may not notice them because the focus is on a different frequency band.


Having said that, the MEST MKIII is a set that really manages well in presenting nuances in a track. Listening to Polyphia’s “Ego Death”, the playful guitar harmonics are more evident.


So, what sets TOTL apart from cheaper sets? I think it is tonal accuracy and separation. I have always noticed that expensive sets have better tonal accuracy in instruments.


Separation also seems to be better in a way that, you would be less likely to focus hard when catching chords or notes.


The MEST MKIII for me sounds exactly that. The tonal accuracy is near realism, and they didn’t mess up cymbal timbre. Bass guitars are very textured and all the elements in the mix seem to be floating in space, waiting to be noticed. The separation is commendable especially in vocal layering, and because everything has their own space, you get the perception of “new details pop out”.


⚜️THE DIP


- there seems to be an attenuation in the upper mids with the mest mkiii.. around 4-5k. What this translates is that it makes the timbre of instruments and vocals natural and organic sounding. This is a different approach because some tunings increase the midbass to make timbre organic sounding. Because there is a harmonic cut, plus an elevated 1k region, the vocals are clear and lush.


Additionally, since the bass cut is around 200hz, the midrange remains open and devoid of any bleed from midbass. So, is the midbass not present? Not at all, you get enough amount relative to subbass level. In fact, the bass on the mest mkiii is well implemented.


The cut at 4k also makes the mest mkiii very forgiving, smooth and fatigue free. It is a unique tuning that combines being organic while being resolving at the same time.


But there is a catch. You actually loose some bite and incisiveness in the harmonics of guitars and snares.
Female vocals in higher pitches also seem to lose that realism in shout. You know what I mean? Like when Celine Dione belts, we are supposed to squint our eyes because we feel that power in her voice. But not in my experience. My eyes were wide open, hoping to get that connection.


This cut also results in a perceived warmth in its signature without sounding bloated in the bass.


This might be the reason for its organic sound, but sometimes, they are just too warm for me really..


Also interesting to note is that, this dip might be one of the reasons why instruments are well separated. It seems that they have their own individual spaces that makes discerning notes a breeze.


⚜️BONE CONDUCTION


I have to be honest. Maybe I’m not trained for this, but I do not really hear how this driver works, apart from the added texture in bass guitars and kick drums.. that’s it.


If the bone conduction targets the bass, then that’s the only thing I noticed. No visceral rumble, no bass head dream, no realistic decay, just timbral accuracy on instruments that lies around 40hz to 200hz.. Maybe it also renders better separation in the vocals and other instruments. But yeah, those are my only observations.


And then I have been told by Eric that the bone conductor is full range. Now that makes sense.


⚜️THE BORING PART


In the first few days of my listening, I get that TOTL level of sound. They are great sounding and I really enjoyed listening to them. Until the honeymoon phase is over.


It happened too quickly. I am not sure if it’s the overall tuning, or my ears get fatigued by that maximum 70Khz frequency range, but in my third day, everything gets less engaging.


It’s not the kind of set that stops you in whatever you are doing. You know what I mean? I know I am wearing them, and I hear my music, but for some reason, it does not let me connect.


❤️PROS
✅ natural timbre on instruments. In fact, timbral accuracy is high


✅ good separation of instruments and vocals. This set does very well in this regard.


✅fatigue free and shout free. It’s a double edged sword though because you also get less intensity in higher pitches.


✅very good decay. The mest mkiii can capture echoes and even to the last definition of notes


✅Natural sounding vocals especially males.


💢CONS
❌the bass texture and overall quality might be good, but the level might not be enough for bassheads


❌although mid treble is forward, the attenuation in the low treble might not please some treble heads.


❌needs a bit of vocal and instrument intensity. Listening to “just a phase” by Incubus was not so intense in the 4:22 mark.


❌the harmonic cut might be bothersome for some people. In Maroon 5’ Sunday Morning, the snares sounded like they are stuffed and did not sound as snappy as I like.


⚜️COMPARISONS


⏯️Letshuoer cadenza


I think they are priced similarly (yes im talking about the red mkiii) haha


Having said that, i think the cadenza 12 has better accesories and overall value for what you pay. Like the box is filled with eartips, a portable iem drawer, interchangable cable termination, and a metal figure, which you might not need haha.


Anyhow, in terms of sounds, I do think the Cadenza 12 sounds more resolving in terms of how natural instruments and vocals are. Maybe its because of the drivers? I do think the Mest mkiii wins it on bass. But i still think the cadenza 12 is a tad better for my preference.


⏯️Aful performer 8
Why is this here? Well looking at the graph, they follow a very similar curve up until 4k, where the mest mkiii attenuates the frequency.


The mest has more subbass and i definitely hear it. Both of them share the same openness in the midrange and vocals, as evidenced by the uncanny similarity from 200hz- 2k.. however, because of the dip , the mest mkiii sounds warmer in comparison and is more forgiving.


The p8 sounds more linear in the upper mids to treble, which translates that treble can be more forward than the mest mkiii.


Both of them have great extension, but I have to give it to mest mkiii when presenting natural timbre in the treble, especially cymbal timbre.


⏯️Studio 4
The studio 4 is here because they are my current reference for neutral. Since the MEST MKiii can sound neutral, I think the comparison is valid.


There is big price gap but I think most of the cost did not go to sound implementation. Materials, construction, and different drivers have to be taken into account.


As for the sound comparison, the Studio 4 sounds more realistic for me, albeit not as resolving as the MEST MKIII.


Separation is a close tie, but the presentation is a bit different because of the perceived stage dimension. The studio 4 has equal proportions that helps with layering, while the the MEST mkiii separates instruments thru spacial projection.


The Mest MKIII sounds wider in comparison but has lesser intensity in the harmonics.


The studio 4 also has a harmonic cut, but because it also has some ear gain around 2.5k, it sounds more correct.


Take your pick $440 vs $2000


⚜️SCORING
-Please be reminded that my scoring is always based on its price range.


TONALITY - 2.5
BASS - 2.5
MIDS - 3
TREBLE - 2.5
TECHS - 3


=13.5 ( A + rank, generally better than other TOTL sets, but the price to performance and overall packaging hinders me from giving them a solid S rank)


Check my scoring criteria here:


https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15WhgCgiMzWfF3ccgB8SK5-Cg7m87kpIShtxsyg2u-AI/edit?usp=sharing


⚜️GRAB SCORE:
This is easy, I just rate the set whether I would grab them for listening. Very subjective.


0️⃣- I will never touch this again


1️⃣- I grab if I remember


2️⃣- Can be part of my rotation


3️⃣- I break my rotation and grab this one today


4️⃣- *** rotation, I’ll listen to these for the whole week


5️⃣- Im selling everything, I will only listen to these haha.


💥Mest MKIII GRAB SCORE: 2


They might sound good, but If I bought this set, they could only be part of my rotation. It's not quite the set that makes you feel excited when you wake up in the morning. This is a personal scoring though, dont take this seriously.


🤔FINAL THOUGHTS
IMG_20230712_083423.jpg


The tonality of the MEST MKiii can run between being neutral to balanced depending on eartips.


Technical ability is TOTL level when it comes to timbral accuracy and detail retrieval. Separation is some of the best out there, and as I mentioned about cymbals, it is one of the few that represents an accurate tonal color.


If I have to make an analogy, the MEST MKIII is a pro artist that portrays music with great detail and definition. Every nuance and emotion is captured.


However. Yes a big however. I honestly do not think the price justifies its overall performance, package, and build. Some of the mid fi sets look classier and sturdier than the MEST MKiii, for example the Celest Phoenixcall and some kiwi ears models.. The build quality really feels cheap, the eartips with holes is unusable, and the overall package leaves you wanting for more accessories. Well maybe the cost of drivers and building them together makes it more expensive.


A/B-ing the mest mkiii with some of my S-tiered sets (Aful P8), makes me shake my head, not because they sound extremely better, but because of how the MKiii is priced.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a very good sounding set, but how much you are willing to pay is a personal endeavor.


Having said that, the sound of the Mest Mkiii is quite opposite to its external irks. It specializes in recreating an accurate representation of instruments and has this addictive quality in texture and nuance. Every time I listen to them, I get the feeling of correctness and precision.


Just don’t ask about its price tag, because its quite a DEFINITION in terms of appearance and sonic performance.


==========================
WHERE TO BUY: non affiliate links


https://shop.musicteck.com/products/um-mest-mkiii


https://hifigo.com/blogs/news/unique-melody-mest-mkiii-cf-edition-news


⚜️MY LIBRARY:
I grew up listening to 90’s music. Alternative, punk-rock, screamo, rap, Philippine OPM, Anime songs, JPOP, KPOP, metal, reggae and a lot more.
The artists I regularly listen to are:


⭐Rock-Alternative-Metal
Incubus, 311, BMTH, Matchbox 20, The Goo Goo Dolls, Paramore, Polyphia, The Calling,, Babymetal, Metallica, Slipknot, Bon Jovi, Coheed and Cambria, Deftones, Red Hot, Green day,


⭐OPM(Original Pinoy Music):
E-heads, Slapshock, Parokya, Urbanddub, Up Dharma Down, Bamboo, IV of spade, Kamikazee, Rivermaya


⭐POP:
IU, Yoasobi, Yorushika, Milet, Reona, Maroon 5, Coldplay, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Taylor, Dua Lipa, Oliva Rodrigo, Billie Eilish


⭐OTHERS:
Carpenters, Micheal Learns to Rock, Celine Dion, Bob Marley, Sitti, Daft Punk, Pink Floyed, Earth wind and fire, Amber rubarth, Sia, Yosi Horikawa


I listen to more, but I can’t just list them all here.haha. Just giving you an idea on what I listen.


Thanks for reaching here. Hope you enjoyed reading. :)
RemedyMusic
RemedyMusic
Thanks for the review mate! This proves the hobby to be highly subjective. You're impression with the mest mkiii, is actually mine for the cadenza 12. Lol. Cadenza didn't connect with me. Once again, thanks for the review mate!!
o0genesis0o
o0genesis0o
Agree with you. I'm also kinda surprised by how cheap the earpieces feel in real life. I have a few $200 IEM here that looks and feels better in hands.

But I think the soundstage and resolution of these IEMs are quite epic.

ken1109

New Head-Fier
Pros: Energetic dynamic
Great resolution
All-rounded
Top Tier Technical performance
Suitable for those like U-neutral sound signature
Solid build quality
Good external design
Excellent ergonomic
Lightweight
Well-made cable
Open box experience is adequate and not overpackaged
Cons: It might be a little sibilant
The sound stage can be improved
No adjustable system to tailor the sound
New stock ear tips are interesting, but I can see many won't use them
These reviewed IEMs are purchased from MusicTeck.

Long story short, UM Mest MK3 is the first choice for those who want a Neutral/U-shape tonality and leading driver configuration under $2K. Compared to Mest MK2, MK3 is a more refined and balanced version. Fit for those who listen to many genres of music or are willing to use EQ to customize the sound.

About UM Mest MK3 CF


IMG_7117.jpeg


UM is one of the famous and innovative Chinese IEMs makers. It has been producing high-end IEMs since 2016. Now, the Mest MK3 is introduced to the UM & Mest family. Mest is the line using quadbird - DD, BA, EST, and bone conduction. As the predecessor of the famous um Mest mk2, the sound and design are highly expected.

Specifications

Headphone Type: Dynamic+BA+Electrostatic+Bone Conduction Quadbrid IEMs
Driver Counts: 10 Drivers
Socket: 2-Pin
Impedance: 14 ohm
Crossover: 5-Way Crossover
Configuration: 1 DD + 4BA + 4 EST +1 UM patent Bone Conduction Driver

Accessories

IMG_7118.jpeg


Cable: Cobalt Blue / Melon Red Custom Cable
Carrying Case: Emerald Leather Case
Protective Bag: Double Pocket Sandwich Net Bag
Others: Premium Grey Cleaning Pad
Eartips: Open Tips + Petal Tips (S /M/L)

The cable is made of 4 threads, 26AWG, OCC Copper. As another head-fier said, the cable looks like a special version of the PWAudio Epoch. PWAudio is known for its expertise in making cables with copper. Even though the cable seems bulky, the parts after the Y splitter are quite flexible. Some might consider this cable inconvenient, but most use cases are in stable environments when it comes to $2K IEMs. The cable feels premium and proper for a pair of $2K IEMs. However, I use another cable with my Mest MK3, so I can't comment on the cable's sound.

When the MK3's pictures were released around May, I wondered about the new stock ear tips. Now, I can tell these tips failed my expectation. They look cool but could sound better. To be more specific, the fitting is unpleasant, the sound is affected, and the isolation is weak. They might be suitable for UM's new TWS but not Mest MK3. Moreover, UM can still provide its traditional ear tips since ear tips won't cost much.

IMG_7119.jpeg


Sound

Bass => The quality of the bass is phenomenal, and the quantity is sufficient. This might be the result of using the DD and bond conduction system in the configuration. Compared with all BA or BA&EST, DD can provide a more natural way to present the bass. The bone conduction acts as a plus to make the dynamic more smooth. If we only talk about the bass, the difference between MK2 and MK3 is small. However, the improvement is huge from the perspective of the whole balance of sound. The new bone conductors are better than the previous version in connecting bass, mid, and treble.

Mid => The mid-range is the reason why I love this Mest MK3. The vocal from these IEMs is penetrative, clear, and harmonic. The vocal is not that forward but mid-distance, just like listening in a small live house. The mid-range body is rich and detailed. I can feel the vibration from the guitar. In addition, the transition from bass to mid is soothing. MK3's mid-range is definitely an upgrade from MK2.

Treble => The extra two EST do bring more detail and airiness. The Treble's flow is intense and rapid. Nevertheless, they also make the treble of Mest MK3 slightly brighter. Consequently, some female vocals or instruments are too sharp and sibilant. Also, it will amplify the impurity of the recording. Therefore, some will find it an enhancement, but others won't. Personally, I listen to many female vocals, so it's surely a plus for me.

Sound Stage/Imaging => The sound stage is narrow compared to U18t. Indeed, it's more like listening in a room, placing the vocal at an ideal distance. Nonetheless, it's not saying the sound stage of Mest MK3 is mediocre. Rather, it is unique and real. Meanwhile, the imaging is superior. The separation among instruments or/and vocals is excellent.

Overall => Natural is the keyword for Mest MK3. The detail might not be the best, but it's definitely on the top list. The transition is outstanding. Compared to Mest MK3, it's more polished and elegant. The price is losing a little fun. This tradeoff is pretty worth it.

Fitting

The ergonomic design of Mest MK3 is brilliant. Due to the carbon fiber material and the internal configuration, Mest MK3 is surprisingly light and relatively small. Although the shape might be perfect for everyone, most will find it comfortable. The shell shape is a bit different from MK2.

Conclusion

UM Mest MK3 is exceptional in its price range, if not the best. It provides a neutral and refined sound, outstanding imaging, and leading technicality. The fitting and external design is brilliant. In addition, the cable and other accessories are decent.
Visceral
Visceral
Great review Ken. It’s nice seeing good content put out to help fellow head-fiers. Out of curiosity, what tips did you settle on? I had a similar experience with the stock tips but stuck it out for the review. Also, what was your music source? I also noticed this having a significant impact on the performance of the low end.

Visceral

Previously known as gangviolence
Unique Melody - Mest MKIII CF (Is Mest Still the Best?)
Pros: Shell Design
Driver Configuration
Tonality
Imaging
Timbre
Technical Abilities
Fit
Cons: Sub Bass
Cost
Quality Control
Unique Melody Mest MKIII

MestGen.jpg


About Yours Truly:
Music has been, and will continue to be, a huge part of my life. My escape from the frustrations and static of everyday life. An experience critical to my very sanity. I typically listen to progressive metal, djent, deathcore, hardcore, alternative and classic rock. Music with meaning, emotion, and polyrhythms! Music dedicated to pushing the limits of what we thought was possible. I am a simple man, on an epically expensive journey through an endless sea of products and propaganda, searching for the long lost treasure at the end of the rainbow that will bring me absolute happiness. Until it doesn't, because the ‘end game’ in this hobby is just a fantasy. This next purchase is definitely the one, am I right? This product was purchased from MusicTeck in exchange for my honest review. I have no affiliation with MusicTeck or Unique Melody and my thoughts are my own. If you’re interested in purchasing a set for yourself, please Click https://shop.musicteck.com/products/um-mest-mkiii

Product Overview: Unique Melody Mest MKIII CF
Retail: $1919 (Blue)/ $2359 (Red)
Shells: Metal frame, carbon fiber shells, fruitwood faceplates
Driver Configuration: Four distinct collocated drivers: (1) Dynamic Driver (low frequencies), (4) BA Drivers (mid and high frequencies), (4) Electrostatic Driver (ultra high frequencies), (1) silver-palladium alloy piezoelectric bone conductor (frequency compensation)
UM Custom Shielding Cable (Cobalt Blue/ Melon Red): Pure 4-core OCC copper conductor (26AWG), nylon sleeve+PVC coating+FEP
sleeve and coating material. Pretty sure this is literally a custom PWAudio Epoch.

Unboxing Experience (5/5)
I'm not too critical of the unboxing experience. I more so care that the packaging matches the cost. If I'm paying premium, packaging
should not be an after thought. The product should be well protected, and include everything I need to enjoy and store it. In regards to the UM Mest MKIII, I didn’t love or hate the experience. It’s a sharp looking gift box housing cool stuff that’s easy to access. If you’re looking for elegance, this wasn’t anything special. For me, it was perfect.

MestAcc.jpg

Contents
• UM Geometric Gift Box
• Pair of Mest MKIII’s (Who woulda thought)
• Custom cable with leather cable organizer
• Emerald round leather puck case/ IEM double pocket mesh bag
• Grey Cleaning Cloth
• Open + Pedal Tips (S/M/L)
• Warranty Card

Build Quality (5/5)
Let’s start with the IEM’s themselves. Wow, these things are gorgeous. If you’ve owned or demoed the Indigo’s, you will immediately notice the aesthetic similarities. Precise construction, elegant faceplates surrounded by a solid golden frame, translucent carbon fiber shell. Not really my style but you cant help but appreciate the attention to detail UM put into the design.

Cable Quality (3/5)
The cable compliments the overall theme incredibly. Whether you actually find the cable functional is another story. The nylon sleeve will produce some microphonics, but nothing beyond what’s typical for this type of sleeve material. The cable is thick and a tad bit stiff but if your intention is to use this set while at home sitting in your favorite leather chair, you won’t have any complaints. I found the cable to have a low resistance, great clarity and produced absolutely no distortion in my audio output. Unfortunately, the cable I received with my purchase had reversed polarity. Special thanks to Andrew at MusicTeck for the quick turn around on a replacement cable.

Accessories (4/5)
The leather puck style case is nothing new. It’s functional, well constructed and performs its job. The tips are something worth discussing. In the package, you receive (3) sets of UM’s new open tips and (3) sets of their non-perforated petal tips. These are made of food grade liquid silicone, and are quite soft and flexible compared to the typical Azla tips provided in the past. At first, I hated them. I typically use M size tips and I just could not get a good seal with these puppies. I downsized, thinking the M were to big and the result only worsened. After a day of tip rolling, I decided to give the L stock tips a try and to my delight - success. I personally prefer the petal tips, and am very pleased with their isolation and comfort. Bottom line, if you initially have a fit problem, try them all before you store them away.

A&K35.PA10.jpg


Sound (4/5)
Sound is subjective. My ears and personal preference are undoubtedly going to differ from yours. I will do my best to describe each
frequency region followed by some track impressions to give you an idea of what I listen for.

Personal Taste: Bass. I need to feel my music. There needs to be a distinct separation of instruments. I need to hear that bass guitar! This is the sonic link between the rhythmic and melodic elements in my music. Vocals are generally less important to me but need to sound natural. Prefer a well refined FR in the treble region. Give me presence, air, and detail.

Bass: Describing the bass of this set was by far the hardest section to put into words. The bass is well controlled and provides a
rather subtle punch. The dynamic drivers do a great job of setting the stage while the bone conduction drivers place you in the front
row. Since sub bass is perceived as more of a ‘feeling’ than actual sound, I can’t help but feel at a crossroad. Though the quantity of
bass is modest, I can still feel it! My ears are telling me I prefer the elevated bass of the Mest MK predecessor BUT my brain is asking
me why. UM really developed a unique product here. But one thing I can almost guarantee, If you’re a bass head, these aren’t going
to be for you.

Mid Bass: As far as mid bass is concerned, I don’t have much of anything to critique here. Due to the driver implementation outlined
above, floor toms, snares, string instruments just hit so good. Literally. If I was to summarize, the sound is broad, textured and well
controlled.

Midrange: The tuning of the midrange seems very similar to the MKII but with an impeccable tonal presentation. Probably one of the
most impressive things about this set is its instrumental timbre and natural vocal presentation. This set emphasizes the unique
qualities of the instruments being played, and does a great job of maintaining a noticeable separation throughout.

Treble: The treble region is well refined but is one of the brighter sets in my collection. I did not experience any sibilance or harshness, but I did find them a bit fatiguing when listening for extended periods of time. Great definition and management of space.

Technicalities: The MKIII gets some pretty impressive marks here. Incredible three dimensional imaging, respectable macro and
micro detail retrieval and most importantly, their precise.

Impressions (Source: Lossless FLAC I DAP: HiBy RS6 I Astell&Kern SR35 w/ Astell&Kern PA10)

HiByRS6.jpg


Meshuggah “Bleed” (5/5) - First word that comes to mind when listening to the 15th anniversary remastered edition of “Bleed” through my Mest MKIII’s is accuracy. A complex storm of polymeters and precision. Instruments are well separated and distinguished, vocals have a slight forward presentation, and the imaging is just incredible. It’s one thing for drivers to keep up, but to keep up and maintain performance just elevates this IEM to another level.

Erra “Pull From the Ghost” (3.5/5) - Off the rip, imaging is great. The kick drum, in particular, sounds very ‘studio’ like in relation to the
‘live’ like presentation of the other instruments. This is that crossroad I spoke of earlier. A slightly more elevated bass shelf would have really done wonders on this track. Guitars are meaty, vocals are natural and the subtle synth is recessed perfectly to complicate the track.

Everything Everything “Teletype” (5/5) - A lot of sounds, all around. This is a great track to accentuate the three dimensional
soundstage of the MKIII. Detail retrieval is fantastic. One of those songs you could listen to over and over and notice something new
every time.

Polyphia “Playing God” (4/5) - Incredible instrumental timbre and detail. Hearing Tim’s fret slides and finger picking is enough to make anyone smile. The drums have a slightly forward presentation but since they are equally impressive. I’m not complaining. The bone conduction drivers are extremely engaging and do a great job of pulling you onto the set.

Conclusion
Is this a worthy end game contender? The tonal capabilities alone make this IEM a great upgrade for anyone looking to take their
listening experience to the next level. From a technicality standpoint, I think the Mest MKIII is a worthy addition to anyone’s arsenal
and provides a respectable upgrade to the Mest series. Is it right for you? It all depends on your preferences and budget. For me, the
Mest MKIII will have a special place in my collection BUT it just doesn’t do everything I need it to do for this to be the end of my
journey.
Last edited:
RemedyMusic
RemedyMusic
Very transparent and straight to the point review sir. I like it. Thanks for the review!!

Zerstorer_GOhren

500+ Head-Fier
UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.III: Completely A Superlative One
Pros: △ An improvement over its predecessor in both tonality and technical performance.
△ Premium looking, high quality carbon-fibre shell chassis.
△ Elegant looking face plates that exudes sophistication and elan.
△ High quality, custom-made nylon-sheated thick cable.
△ Two types of liquid silicone ear tips to choose from for remarkable fitting and comfort.
△ A circular, hard-bound PU leather IEM container for storage.
△ It has a "quad-brid" drivers set-up to give an exceptional and an impeccable unique listening experience.
△ That resonating bone conduction experience.
△ a balanced-neutral tuning that is well-suitable to some experienced audio enthusiasts out there.
△ Excellent bass haptics.
△ Clean and clear midrange.
△ Almost tonally perfect rendition of both male and female vocals. Sweet and captivating coloratura soprano vocals.
△ Nearly tonal accurate timbre of most instruments.
△ Shimmering, airy yet inoffensive treble response.
△ Unmatched technical performance.
△ Good quality included accesories.
Cons: ▽ Wishing for a modular cable and also quite inflexible and unwieldy too.
▽ Not for listeners who wants a more coloured tonality.
▽ Treble-sensitive blokes should stay cautious regarding this type of tuning as they might be a bit delicate on high frequencies.
▽ I'll be frank on this one, very pricey and expensive unless you are a deep pocketed audiophile who can wad a dosh for it.
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"The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety."

~Jakub Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn, German pianist, composer and conductor in the Romantic Period.

The brand UNIQUE MELODY is considered as one of the top dogs in the realm of high-end audio brands out there that specialises on producing both universal or custom in-ear monitors. They have been in business since 2007 and are considered as one of the pioneers in China's portable audio industry. They continue to specialise on putting the best available materials to be implemented on their products to give the best possible sonic performance and the longevity of the parts and components that they have been used. All of their products that I have tested are of a bespoke quality and a masterpiece that will always astonish us.

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I'm already familiar with this audio brand as I have tested before some of their products like the MEST MK.II and also the MASON FU SANG. The MASON FU SANG leaves me a long lasting impression as a total package one as it redefines the qualities of a TOTL set should have by having an excellent build quality, exceptional tonality and unparalleled technical performance that it became my reference set in a TOTL segment and eventually displaces my previous favourite flagship set.


What I have here right now is the latest model from their MEST line-up, The UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.III CF. The MEST MK.III is a successor model of their highly popular MEST MK.II and at this time, UNIQUE MELODY furthers to continue the development of this model line-up by improving some shortcomings of MEST MK.II based on the feedbacks from their customers and portable audio reviewers.

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Like its predecessors, UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.III still follows the multi hybrid driver template consisting of four (4) types of transducers; Dynamic driver, Balanced armature drivers, Bone conduction driver and Electret/"Electrostatic" driver. These drivers are also connected into a passive 5-way crossover and integrated into the gold-plated PCB circuit board to achieve rigidity, stability and consistent conductivity performance of all parts and components embedded there.

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On each side of this IEM, it has a single dynamic driver along with its four (4) custom balanced armature drivers (probably some unspecified models from premium balanced armature manufacturer, either from Knowles or Sonion) are the ones who handle the majority frequency range response from bass to treble, two (2) balanced armatures for midrange frequency and the two remaining balanced armature drivers handles specifically the treble frequency. In that process it will deliver a tactile and slamming bass response, an exuberant and well-textured midrange and then a crisp, shimmering and well-detailed treble quality. The proprietary piezoelectric bone conduction drivers' metal alloy that compensates a certain frequency range from 500 Hz up to 16 kHz according to the marketing product info released by UNIQUE MELODY, are made from rare materials like silver and palladium with multi ceramic coatings, will give a better conductivity and at the same time, has a potent catalysis properties as it has an excellent resistance against tarnishing and corrosion. The implementation of piezoelectric bone conduction drivers will also add a unique cohesive listening experience to its listeners by harnessing its technology and we are also aware that bone conduction has a different principle compare to a typical air conduction system as bone conduction will deliver a sonic wave via vibration through our skulls to serve as a "resonance chamber" and MEST MK.III will give us the most engaging and immersive listening experience that this set can offer. The quad Sonion Electret/"Electrostatic" drivers will handle the ultra-high frequencies which sets around 10 kHz and beyond as it will deliver a more sparkle and tons of harmonics to give a more airier and expansive treble range.

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The transducers and other internal components were encapsulated in a UIEM-style shell chassis made of composite materials. The base cavity part is made of solid and yet smooth carbon-fibre in an indigo blue colourway with a metal alloy nozzle, while the face plate is made of laminated wood in a darker indigo blue which is quite similar to an ultramarine blue and it has bronze coloured metal alloy frame on its outline accent of its contours. There is a single vent hole at the lower middle part besides the face plate alloy frame that aligns with the nozzle. This is the part where I really like on UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.III that UNIQUE MELODY continues to use the 2-pin connector as its interlocking mechanism for an ease of interchangeable of other cables and 2-pin connectors are the most common and a proven one when it comes to rigidity and longevity.

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The said stock cable of UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.III was produced by PWAudio, a Hong Kong-based premium custom cable maker and this one is quite hefty, a bit cumbersome due its stiffness and sturdiness but its overall build quality exudes its quality and premium-grade one. It has a black-coloured nylon-like sleeve that shields the four (4)-core high purity, 26AWG gauge-rated OCC copper wiring insulated with a PVC coating. This cable, according to UNIQUE MELODY, will offer a very minuscule resistance and distortion to deliver a seamless, good clarity and a cleaner audio output. The termination plugs are available in 3.5mm single-ended, 2.5mm balanced and 4.4mm balanced.

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Furthermore, another thing that UNIQUE MELODY has to offer was its stock ear tips. There are two types of stock ear tips that were included, these are the perforated Open Tips and the non-perforated Petal Tips. The Open Tips have six holes situated at the edge of the bore to reduce pressure and be breathable in our lugholes, the other one works like just another ear tips which reminds me of an Azla ear tips that I have. These ear tips are made of liquid silicone which are soft and more flexible materials that don't alter even for a long use unlike latex. Liquid silicone ear tips have good benefits for audio enthusiasts for long listening sessions as it provides the best comfort while it maintains spatial awareness of sounds coming from its environs.

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The sizes of UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.III's shells are quite large given on how many drivers and other components that were implemented inside. But despite its sizes, it doesn't bother me as it doesn't give me a listening fatigue as I can wear them for a long listening session. It has a good passive isolation as it seals well into my lugholes and blocks some ambient noises coming from the outside.

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For a TOTL set, the product packaging of UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.III is rather elementary and minimalist in presentation compared to some TOTL and even midrange sets that I have unboxed before. They are neither too rudimentary nor pedestrian per se as it has some sense of sophistication and elegance with a substantial amount of high quality inclusions. The packaging box of MEST MK.III is of a medium-sized and it has a blue accent with some geometric pattern that makes it more suave and an avant-garde vibe on it.

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Here the following inclusions from the box:

■ a pair of UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.III IEMs.
■ a premium and thick stock cable with a 4.4mm balanced output termination plug.
■ Blue-coloured mesh bags for protection from scratches, smudges and dings.
■ 3 pairs of perforated Open Tips in different standard sizes.
■ 3 pairs of unperforated Petal Tips in different standard sizes.
■ a circular hardbound PU leather IEM container.
■ Cleaning cloth.
■ PU leather cable organiser.
■ a black-coloured PVC card that integrates warranty period and social media contacts of UNIQUE MELODY.

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With a substantial number of drivers inside, MEST MK.III is still easy to drive from my primary sources, the USB DAC/Amp dongles with 4.4mm balanced output on either normal gain mode or high gain mode. At around 20-30% volume level, it already sounds very dynamic with its fullest range that encompasses the ends of frequency range spectrum.

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To ascertain its tonal make-up and its sonic properties, The UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.III certainly has a balanced-neutral sound profile based on my comprehensive tonal vocabularies on determining a sound signature of a certain head/ear gear. It has tad elevation on bass region, a neutral yet textured midrange and just a slight elevation on the treble region.


Here are some of my observations on its sound characteristics from each part of the frequency range spectrum.


LOWS/BASS:

The bass properties of MEST MK.III pivots towards quality over quantity. It has a sufficient punch, incisive, clean and exceptionally detailed on delivering the best possible sub bass reverberations and a well-defined mid bass strike with its ample impact. For sure that it has a mild boost on the low end but it doesn't deviate to sound exaggerated.

The rumbling and reverberations along with resonating effects from bone conduction technology (Which makes me wonder that bone conduction drivers usually encompasses a full frequency range spectrum. And the bone conduction driver technology that UM utilises was described as it was able to hit only at the region range of 500 Hz which is a midrange minor or lower midrange.) as it will even amplify it even further that adds more ambience. Sub bass focus instruments like synthesisers, drum machines, low toned bass guitar and octabass will sound even deeper and thrumming.

Mid bass has a sufficient texture to give an ample note weight on some instruments like bass guitars, violas, bass kicks and bass-baritone vocals. Bass guitars have its raspiness, resonant and broad sound that I was able to feel every fingering and strumming on its adjacent note strings, either a fretless bass line of Steve DiGiorgio of Sadus or slapping techniques of Les Claypool of Primus. Violas sounds so sensuous, resonant and "stately" that I was able to enjoy its austere charm when I listened to some orchestral tracks in my playlist while I appreciate the sound quality of bass kick drums as they have a good thudding, resonating and sonorous as I listened to some iconic drum lines like John Bonham's "When the Levee Break", blazing fast double bass drummings of Gene Hoglan's "Death Is Certain (Life Is Not)" and Dave Lombardo's "Raining Blood" and that disco-ish drum kick beats of Marduk's "The Blond Beast". This is the most interesting part on analysing the mid bass quality of a certain element, the bass-baritone vocals. These type of vocals doesn't have that woolly nor dense sounding that I really want but they have this guttural and sufficient warmth to give the detail and espresso-like texture on voices of Andrew Eldritch, Peter Steele, Barry White and Louis Armstrong. With its clean and well-segmented lows, MEST MK.III definitely won't smear across other frequencies.


MIDRANGE:

Pristine, immaculate, transparent and neutral, those characteristics that come up momentarily in my thoughts in my initial then a long listening session. It has a sufficient texture that gives an ample dense on note weight for vocals and instruments.

Both male and female vocals will sound very pleasant, mellow, ethereal and sweet. I think that I was even able to hear clearly the breathing and modulation of the voice qualities of both genders. On male vocals it will give a decent depth, sufficient weight and husky characteristics on baritones as they sound velvety and smooth in my ears. But there are some particular types of baritones like bel cantos, lyrical baritones and light baritones that sound so sublime and I even hear the evenness of its tone, Gackt is one of prime examples to have this type of baritone vocal during his tenure in Malice Mizer. Modern baritones with more emphasis on depth and weight like the voices of Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Jimmy Hendrix and Billy Idol will have a milder and richer texture. Countertenors and tenors will even fare better on this set on how it projects its vocal quality on these types of male voices. Countertenors which are akin to castrati vocals have a light, smooth and agile quality on how they modulate the high pitch with their falsettos. Geddy Lee of Rush, King Diamond of Mercyful Fate and Giannis Papadopoulos of Beast In Black have these types of vocals on the rock and metal scene while on the classical or operatic side, Andreas Scholl and James Bowman are well-known singers in this category. Tenors have its spiciness, brassy and metallic vocal qualities that gives a bright and shining timbre on the voices of Justin Timberlake, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin and Freddie Mercury. Then on the operatic side where there are many subtypes of tenor vocals like spinto, lyrical and dramatic. Andrea Bocelli, Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo are famous tenor singers and the MEST MK.III was able to capture their tonal colours in a very detailed manner.

On the female vocals, contraltos singers like Annie Lennox, Tracy Chapman and Toni Braxton have tad milder on its rich, deep and husky vocals which make them sounds more pleasant and comforting to listen. Meanwhile, on mezzo-sopranos, the MEST MK.III excels on presenting the vocal tone and timbre as Mezzo-sopranos are known to have a variety of pitch characteristics which make them the most versatile among the female vocal types. They are usually characterised to have semi-dark timbre, rounded, velvety, smooth and tender sound that always give us a captivate and sultry feel. Artists like Andrea Corr, Enya, Dolores O'Riordan, Edie Brickell and Sharon Del Adel were usually categorised under the list of mezzo-sopranos singers. This is where MEST MK.III truly excels in vocal clarity and it is the soprano range. Sopranos have the usual vocal characteristics as they sound creamy, silky, gleaming and silvery which I'm paying attention to on this particular type of female vocals. I always adore soprano-level singers like Mariah Carey, Tarja Turunen, Allison Kraus and Sarah Brightman. Concurrently, I also observed the quality of coloratura sopranos which should have a bell and flute-like sound with fluidity and airiness as this set was able to depict it accurately. Cecilia Bartoli, Olga Pereyatko and Diana Damrau are prime examples of coloratura sopranos.

As for instruments. MEST MK.III almost perfectly portrays the tonal quality and timbre of all types of instruments as this particular facet was its strongest asset. On brasses, trumpets have metallic, sonorous, brilliant and bright depending on notation registers while trombones have an intense, penetrating and eruptive sound on them. Meanwhile on string instruments, acoustic and electric guitars have this crisp, bright and lingering tone that I was able to discerningly hear the plucking in a very detail way, and then on violins, it has a very vibrant, lively lustrous and sparkling sound as it will an emotion and passion. Woodwinds like flutes, clarinets, bassoons and saxophones. flutes have an airy and graceful sound, then clarinets have rich, throaty and expressive sound while bassoons have a warm, mellow and delicate sound on them and saxophones have warm, shrilly and reedy on them as I listen to them either woodwind section of the orchestra or in a jazz ensemble. And then on percussions either drum types or mallets, snares have precise, sharp and bright sound, while timpanis have deep and resonant sound on them. Then on toms and field drums, both have a resonant, sonorous and menacing sound on them. Marimbas have an earthy and resonant sound on them, while glockenspiels have jingling and penetrating sound. Chordophones like celestas, organ and pianos. Celestas have its heavenly feel as it sounds so pure, lustrous and ethereal. While organ and pianos give some atmosphere expression as they sound warm, rich, brilliant and bright depending on the varying notations.



HIGHS/TREBLE:

While I consider the treble quality as a substantially a tad bright sounding set. MEST MK.III is probably the most refined bright sounding set that I have experienced so far. As we all know that bright sounding or colloquially a treble-focus tuning will have its caveats that it might produce sibilance or harsh sounds but this set doesn't have those issues after all. Sibilances are kept under control while there are some sleek and mild slopes on some parts between upper mids to the presence part of the treble region to avoid harshness and stridency.

It also noted that MEST MK.III has an excellent airy extension due to the implementation of Sonion Electrets/"Electrostatic" drivers. It gives a more sparkling with an enormous amount of harmonics that signifies its excellent performance on the brilliance part of the treble region. Cymbals have a shimmering and brilliant sound on them with good sizzle on it while hi-hats have shortened, undulating crisp sound on them.



SOUNDSTAGE, IMAGING AND OTHER TECHNICALITIES:

Overall, this is a definitive moment on how a TOTL set should perform and execute with its technical performance and MEST MK.III gets an excellent mark as it has a flawless technical performance since I've tested its more pricey elder sister before, The UNIQUE MELODY MASON FU SANG.

MEST MK.III have a very spacious and cavernous sound/speaker stage with a well-extended lateral orientation, excellent height reach and exceptional depth distance from front to back in which it gives me a vast spatial expanse of head room beyond my aural sphere.

The imaging display of MEST MK.III has a very atmospheric, three-dimensional and holographic presentation. This type of presentation will be excellent on perceiving location, distance and arrangement of instruments and vocals particularly on live concert sessions, jazz ensembles and orchestras where you will be able to pinpoint accurately the placements of instrument sections. Separation of instruments is also terrific on this set as it has gaping and spacing of each element. The layering capabilities of this set is outstanding as it gives a fine distinction on the arrangement of each part of layers, either on tonal dynamics of instruments or layers of frequencies in a clean, black sonic canvas. So, playing some complex multi-instrumental tracks will be easy-peasy on UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.III.

Coherency of drivers are excellent and pretty well-executed on how all drivers performs a very cohesive and homogenous sound quality that has an outstanding transient speed to attain that marvellous envelopment of a sound without any phasing issues.

Resolution capabilities-wise, it has a solid macro-dynamics and an exceptional dissecting of a substantial amount of audio track information like details, nuances and subtleties from an audio track data which gives an excellent micro-detail retrieval in a very sharp definition and almost surgical precision. The tonality of this set leans toward a balanced tone with a tad brighter side of natural tone.


PEER COMPARISONS:

UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.II (DEMO)

◆ This is MEST MK.III's predecessor, both have a "quad-brid" driver set-up but the difference is the design of its shell chassis as it looks like a more typical UIEM shell from other product contemporaries. Its face plate has a black-coloured accent resin shell reinforced with carbon-fibre on its cavity base has speckles of gold flakes.

◆ The tonality of MEST MK.II is a bit coloured as it has more mild-U shaped sound signature, it has a more tighter, sub bass focus low frequency, a bit recessed and leaner midrange, and some noticeable peaks on the upper mids that there are some instances of being a tad screechy and shrilly particularly on female vocals then some inconsistencies on timbres from certain types of instruments that hits the treble region like cymbals and triangles.

◆ As far as I remember, I'm not particularly impressed with MEST MK.II's technical performance. It has an above average sound/speaker stage. A more concave presentation on imaging rather than a holographic and 3D that a TOTL set should have albeit it has a good accuracy on determining the exact placement of elements. It has bit softer and blunted on resolution capabilities particularly on micro-details.




NOBLE AUDIO KATANA (2017) (DEMO)

◆ This is an old all-BA flagship from Noble Audio. There are 9 balanced armatures implemented inside. Its shells are made of high quality aluminium alloy and surprisingly it is quite lightweight.

◆ Its tonal signature is leaning to a balanced-neutral tuning which is also a sound profile of MEST MK.III. It has an ample bass boost albeit it has a bit softer impact, a well-presented, sufficiently textured and transparent midrange and a smooth and balanced treble response but compare to MEST MK.III, it was somehow less airy.

◆ On technicalities, the overall soundstage dimensions are pretty above average. It has an above average in wideness, decent depth and good height. It also has a holographic imaging with good separation and commendable layering capability. The resolution capability is either soft or balanced on definition of its fundamental notation on either macro-dynamics or micro-detail retrieval.




LETSHUOER CADENZA 12

◆ This is one of the true rivals of MEST MK.III in the thousand grand category. It also has hybrid driver set-up albeit it doesn't have either a bone conduction driver or an EST/Electret drivers. It has a single dynamic driver with a liquid silicone and a reinforced kevlar diaphragm and 11 premium balanced armature drivers from Knowles and Sonion and they are housed in titanium alloy shell chassis. It has a quantitative edge when it comes to product presentation and number of included inclusions inside. Also, it has a modular cable which makes it more versatile.

◆ The Cadenza 12 has a warmish-neutral tuning that gives a more organic, lusher and yet with good details on sound quality. It has a sufficient punchy and balanced bass, a warmer, smooth and well-bodied midrange and smooth and coherent treble response but less airy compare to MEST MK.III.

◆ On technicalities, it has an above average to wide soundstage dimensions but compare to MEST MK.III, it will be less narrow. It has similar imaging, separation and layering performance as it also has an atmospheric 3D-like presentation with excellent gaping of instruments and vocals then an impressive layering capabilities. Its tonality takes a warmer and organic approach as it can be considered a clean analogue-ish sound.




As I put up a conclusion regarding UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.III, I can confidently declare that MEST MK.III is truly a successor model along the lines of MEST series. It even outpaces and exceeding its predecessor, The UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.II both in tonal aspect and technical capabilities. This is a testament of UNIQUE MELODY's superb product craftsmanship and well-refined tuning.


It is also noted that it is given that UNIQUE MELODY's products like the MEST series gradually increase the prices in every generation of its product model, is it justified enough for some customers who can afford this set? In my opinion, it is certainly a justified and it will be a well-spent one that will definitely satisfy the cravings of some deep-pocketed audio enthusiasts on pursuing high fidelity experience on a portable and mobile audio set-up due to set-up improvements of its tuning and more refined and a total overhaul design on its shells along with choices of accesories.


For sure that I will highly recommend this set for those audio enthusiasts who can afford it. but for audio enthusiasts who wants a transition from midrange to TOTL category, is it viable to leap further? It still depends on your preferences and rationale as you really need to think critically to decide on purchasing a thousand grand flagship IEM, but in my opinion, I think that it is a worthwhile investment to continue pursuing a high fidelity experience (if sky's the limit).


UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.III is now available at MusicTeck. If you are interested in purchasing this set, There's a non-affiliated link below after this statement.


★★UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.III - MUSICTECK★★


For more information regarding UNIQUE MELODY. Check out the link below.


⊙⊙UNIQUE MELODY OFFICIAL SITE⊙⊙

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SPECIFICATION:

MODEL: UNIQUE MELODY MEST MK.III
IMPEDANCE: 14Ω
SENSITIVITY: ?dB
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20Hz – 70KHz
CABLE LENGTH: 1.25M
PIN TYPE: 2-PIN CONNECTOR
PLUG TYPE: 3.5MM, 4.4MM, 2.5MM
DRIVER UNIT(S): (1) DYNAMIC DRIVER + (4) BALANCED ARMATURE DRIVERS + (4) ELECTRET DRIVERS + (1) BONE CONDUCTION DRIVER


Some Tracks Tested: ( * = 16-bit FLAC, ** = 24-bit FLAC, *'* = MQA, '*' = DSD, *'= .WAV)

Alison Krauss -When You Say Nothing At All *
Jade Wiedlin - Blue Kiss**
Led Zeppelin - When The Levee Breaks **
Mountain - Mississippi Queen *
Queen - Killer Queen **
Guns N' Roses - Patience *'*
Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven '*'
Sergio Mendes- Never Gonna Let You Go '*'
Pearl Jam - Daughter **
Roselia - Hidamari Rhodonite *
Assassin - Fight (To Stop The Tyranny)*
Celtic Frost- Visual Aggression *
New Order - Blue Monday *
The Corrs- What Can I do (unplugged version) *
Jimi Hendrix Experience - Voodoo Child *
The Madness- Buggy Trousers *
Metallica - Motorbreath **
Mariah Carey- Always Be My Baby *
Destiny's Child - Say My Name *
Malice Mizer- Au Revoir *
Mozart - Lacrimosa *
New York Philharmonic Orchestra - Dvorak- Symphony 9 " From the New World." *
Eva Cassidy - Fields of Gold (Sting cover)*
Michael Jackson - Give In To Me *
Exciter - Violence and Force *
Diana Krall - Stop This World **
Debbie Gibson - Foolish Beat *'*
The Sisters of Mercy – Lucretia My Reflection**
Suzanne Vega – Luka **
Lauren Christy – Steep *
Ottoman Mehter - Hucum Marsi *
Diana Damrau - Mozart: Die Zauberflöte*
Type O Negative - Black No.1 *
Felix Ayo - Vivaldi: Presto **


P.S.

I am not affiliated to UNIQUE MELODY or MUSICTECK nor receive monetary incentives and financial gains as they provide me a review unit for an exchange of factual and sincere feedback from yours truly.

Once again, I would like to send my gratitude to my fellow audio mate, Edz Cuizon a.k.a @RemedyMusic for lending this review unit. I truly appreciate his generosity and trust towards me and other reviewers.

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RemedyMusic
RemedyMusic
Grrrrr you really are my mentor!! How can i top that quality work of yours??? Lol
Zerstorer_GOhren
Zerstorer_GOhren
@RemedyMusic thanks mate!

Your review is actually excellent.

RemedyMusic

100+ Head-Fier
Simply the MEST!
Pros: Immaculate technical chops
Balanced-neutral tuning
Gorgeous shell design
Robust and sturdy cable inclusion
Unique ear tips on par with Azla ear tips
Jacket for the IEMs for added protection
Holographic sound reproduction
Effective and efficient implementation of bone conduction unit
Comfortable wear
Achievable fit with minimal fiddling
Sound stage
Imaging
Separation
Cons: Midrange can be thin at times (nitpick)
Timbre can benefit from sounding a little bit more natural (nitpick)
Price is not for everyone
Non-modular cable
INTRODUCTION:
Unique Melody, commonly known as UM, is a distinguished brand under Zhuhai Acoustics Co., Ltd, based in Zhuhai, China. With a focus on creating distinctive and individualistic products, UM is dedicated to enhancing the listening experience for music enthusiasts and audiophiles alike. Since its establishment in 2006, UM has garnered a strong presence in the audio industry, accumulating a remarkable 17 years of experience. Notably, UM has received numerous accolades and has gained a dedicated following within the audio community. Among their renowned releases, the Mest Series, including the Mest OG and Mest MKII, along with the Mext, MavenPro, and Fu Sang, have consistently garnered attention and acclaim within the audio community.

Guess what? The audio gods must have heard my wishes because I've got something truly special from UM. We're about to embark on an exciting journey as we delve into the the newly released Mest MKIII! In this review, we'll explore its capabilities, sound quality, and highlight both the pros and cons. But let me tell you, my friends, this is more than just a review. From this moment on, my whole perspective on music has been completely transformed. Buckle up, because things are about to get interesting! And LONNNGGGGGG!! Let's dive right in!
01hvDCTpDewTztEDrZMk0cU8WVDldanFuT-9pJtgnSgNhP7dTEAV7wm4-I3IUjfquDf_0Tf31ATQryOYG6B8r4rlMK-cZ9qnT3JY6Zi5UZWcwSnpFF7xN5QiZ4Al6aKLGe0pupGHLc-0

Oh before we move along, here are the sites of UM. It is quite not easy to find and you need a page translation somehow.

Site in Chinese:
https://www.uniquemelody.co/sy

In English:
https://www.uniquemelody.org/

The Mkiii is now available at Musicteck!! Should you be interested in purchasing, click the link below!

Purchase link

FOREWORD:​


  • The gear on hand has undergone at least 25 hours of use before it was assessed.
  • No EQ is ever applied in my reviews.
  • For the sake of convenience, I try my best to use a stock setup. Not everyone has access to personal ear tips or cables. If personal ear tips, cables, or accessories are used, you will be notified.
  • As I try to be objective, my claims will inevitably be subjective and biased to my preference. I cannot stress more that you should take this with a grain of salt for we have different perceptions to sound and what we hear.



SPECIFICATIONS:​

Company: Unique Melody
Model: Mest MKIII CF
Driver count: 10 drivers in each earpiece
Socket: 0.78 2-pin
Impedance: 14 ohms
Sensitivity: strangely, no info yet on this
Frequency response: 20hz to 70khz
Crossover: 5-way crossover
Configuration: 1 Dynamic bass driver, 2 BA midrange drivers, 2 BA treble drivers, 4 EST ultra high drivers, 1 UM patent silver-palladium alloy piezoelectric bone conduction driver

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PACKAGING:​

The packaging for the Mest MKIII at its price point is straightforward and no-nonsense. The box features a blue and black accent, with a medium-sized design adorned with geometric triangles and zebra-like stripes. The contents of the package include:
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- A pair of Mest MKIII CF earphones
- A cobalt blue custom cable
- An emerald leather case
- A warranty card
- A cleaning pad/cloth
- Open tips and Petal tips in small, medium, and large sizes
- A double pocket sandwich net bag

Although the packaging may seem basic, I have come across IEMs in lower price ranges that offer more elaborate packaging. While unboxing and packaging contribute to the overall experience, let us shift our focus to what truly matters: performance and sound. But before we delve into that, let's discuss each of the inclusions in detail.


CABLE:​

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The cable of the MkIII is undeniably stunning. If you opt for the red variant, the cable colorway complements the overall motif. Personally, I went with the blue variant of the MkIII, which comes with a captivating cobalt blue cable. The melon red colorway is reserved for the red variant. The source plug is notably massive and chunky, giving off a robust and durable feel. The cable starts with a sleeved section that exhibits considerable thickness. Its stiffness is evident, and it doesn't readily conform to your movements, which can be somewhat inconvenient. I often find myself having to adjust to its rigidity, which can be a bit tricky.
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Midway through the cable, it splits and continues all the way to the MkIII earphones. Interestingly, the stiffness becomes more tolerable from this point onward, allowing for freer movement while on the go. The termination of the cable is a 0.78mm pin, which provides a secure connection.
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One major drawback for me, however, is the lack of modularity. I can't help but wonder why UM didn't offer a modular option. As a musician, I frequently rely on 3.5mm and 6.5mm plugs. My intention was to use this impressive cable with the MkIII, but I found myself frustrated by the limitation of the 4.4mm termination. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the benefits of a 4.4mm balanced connection when enjoying my music. However, some of my favorite sources, such as the Centrance DACport HD and Ovidius B1, only feature a 3.5mm output. Furthermore, most of my instruments offer either a 3.5mm or 6.5mm output. Consequently, I'm constantly forced to swap cables. I've expressed this frustration in various audio groups on Facebook, and the suggested solutions were either to purchase a cable that suits my needs or to resort to using an adapter. It would have been ideal if the cable were modular, allowing for greater versatility. Whatever UM's reasons may be, I kindly urge them to take this matter into consideration in future releases.


EAR TIPS:​

We are presented with two types of ear tips in the package, and allow me to share my experience with each of them. At first glance, I assumed they were Azla ear tips, which are known for their quality. However, I soon discovered that these were actually UM's own ear tips. According to UM, they are made from a food-grade silicone material, which is a first in their lineup. I must say, these ear tips are exceptionally comfortable, offering a pleasant softness and elasticity. I was able to achieve an optimal seal using the petal tips and decided to stick with them throughout this review.
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On the other hand, I wasn't able to achieve a proper seal with the open tips. UM claims that these tips provide an open back effect, akin to earbuds. However, the tube length of these tips is quite short, making it a bit challenging to securely fit them onto the Mkiii. Nevertheless, I believe these tips could work well with other IEMs in my collection, and I'm curious to explore their performance in that context.
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It's worth noting that the package does not include any foam tips, which might disappoint users who prefer that material. Unfortunately, if you are a foam tips enthusiast, you won't find them included with the Mkiii.

LEATHER CASE:​

The protective case included with the Mkiii takes a different approach compared to the usual zipper design. Instead, it features a convenient pop-up opening mechanism. The top and bottom parts of the case offer a good grip, ensuring that it won't accidentally open even if it's dropped. However, I must admit that the thickness of the case is a bit excessive for my liking. It makes it challenging to fit into a small bag when I'm traveling light. On the bright side, the emerald colorway adds a touch of visual appeal.
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In addition to the case, the Mkiii also comes with a double pocket sandwich net pouch, which I found to be a more preferable option when I'm traveling light. This pouch provides separate compartments to protect each unit, resembling socks. It's a practical solution that allows me to safely carry the Mkiii inside my sling bag without worrying about scratches or damage. I genuinely appreciate the convenience and protection it offers.

MKIII’s APPEARANCE:​

Prior to the arrival of the Mkiii at my doorstep, I spent considerable time exploring UM's website, examining their design philosophy. Interestingly, I noticed a resemblance to one of my favorite IEM designers, Kinera. While comparing the Mkiii to its predecessor, I discovered that it treads a slightly different path. Well, not entirely different, as it bears a striking resemblance to UM's Indigo, which happens to be a limited edition release. Initially, the design didn't immediately captivate me, but over time, its mature beauty grew on me, and I began to appreciate its unique aesthetic.
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The Mkiii features a colorway with shiny gold accents along the outer lining. Upon closer inspection, the faceplate reveals noticeable black accents that catch the light when viewed under a lamp. The base portion of the IEM is semi-transparent, revealing an intricate web-like design within. Although I tried to discern the specific configuration, the web-like patterns proved to be an obstacle. On the gold lining, the right unit showcases a serial number, while the left unit proudly displays the embedded text "MEST MKIII." The overall shape resembles a tear drop, and a vent hole is strategically positioned to prevent driver flex during prolonged use.
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Lastly, it's worth mentioning that the Mkiii is constructed with carbon fiber material instead of the more common resin counterparts, providing enhanced rigidity and sturdiness. While I have been cautious in handling the Mkiii, I cannot personally vouch for its durability in the event of a drop. I refrained from conducting a drop test, as I didn't want to risk any potential damage to this remarkable IEM.
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COMFORT:​

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The comfort of wearing the Mkiii is akin to a custom fit, at least in my experience. I found that I could wear them for extended periods without experiencing any fatigue. In fact, I was able to wear them for hours on end and even managed to take a nap with them on. Despite the medium-sized shells, which may appear slightly bulky, they never caused any discomfort for me. Additionally, the lightweight nature of the Mkiii made it easy to forget that I was wearing them. Achieving a proper seal and fit was a breeze, thanks to the ear tips, requiring minimal adjustment. It reminded me of the exceptional comfort I experienced with the TinHiFi T3 Plus, which I consider to be one of the most comfortable IEMs I've worn.

INTERNALS:​

Fear not, my friend, for after this detailed exploration, we shall delve into the sonic realm of the Mkiii. Please bear with me as I strive to provide a comprehensive analysis. Haha!
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The Mkiii boasts an impressive configuration of 10 drivers in each unit, encompassing four distinct types. To break it down, we have a dynamic driver dedicated to handling the low frequencies, two balanced armature (BA) drivers for the midrange, an additional pair of BAs for the treble, four electrostatic (EST) drivers responsible for the ultra-high frequencies, and a silver-palladium alloy piezoelectric bone conduction unit that ensures precise frequency compensation. Let's dive deeper into the specifications:

- The dynamic driver and BA drivers cover the frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz.
- The EST drivers come into play from 10kHz to an astonishing 70kHz.
- The bone conduction unit operates in the frequency range of 500Hz to 16kHz.

It's worth noting that the bone conduction unit takes an innovative approach by bypassing the traditional nozzle pathway, instead employing vibrations that resonate through the skull to produce sound. As a musician, I find this technology truly mesmerizing.

Alright, my friend! The moment you've eagerly awaited has arrived! Let us now venture straight into the sonic realm of the Mkiii. Finally, eh?

SOUND IMPRESSIONS:​

The Mest MKIII was put through its paces with various audio sources and equipment. I tested it with several dongles, namely the Centrance DACport HD, Ovidius B1, and Abigail Pro using both the 3.5mm and 4.4mm connections. Additionally, I explored its performance with the Fiio K9 in my desktop setup. Lastly, I paired the MKIII with my trusty portable audio player, the Hiby RS2. To ensure a fair assessment of its sound, I utilized the stock cable and ear tips provided, avoiding any potential impact from third-party accessories.
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Alright, my friend! I hope you're still with me because we've finally reached the most exciting part of this review. After exploring various aspects of the Mest MKIII, it's time to dive into the nitty-gritty details—the technicalities.

When it comes to soundstage, describing and elaborating on it can be quite tricky, especially for IEMs where stage performance is typically not their main focus. However, I must say that the Mest MKIII surprises me with its spacious and wide soundstage, offering ample room for every element to breathe. The depth is discernable, going beyond the usual two-dimensional presentation. For the first time, I've found an IEM that dethrones my beloved Bqeyz Autumn in terms of soundstage. The MkIII beautifully interprets the reverb from orchestral tracks, creating a hall-like sound that enhances the listening experience. Live albums sound more immersive, providing a closer-to-life sensation with the MkIII's expansive stage. With this captivating stage, let's move on to our next topic.

Imaging is a facet where the MkIII truly excels. The presentation of elements in my music comes from various directions, creating a mind-blowing experience. The depth is highly discernable, and instrument panning becomes enjoyable and desirable. Vertical imaging is also present, particularly evident in orchestral tracks like Vivaldi's Presto. Even with a full orchestra of 44 instruments, I can easily pinpoint individual instruments, their placement, and the depth both horizontally and vertically. Instead of using the word "accurate" for imaging, I must admit that the MkIII has challenged my preconceived notions, as I found myself hearing familiar tracks with instruments placed in new, unexpected locations. It's truly an eye-opener for me.

The separation capabilities of the MkIII are immaculate. Every element in the music has ample space to breathe, even in complex ensembles like a brass section. Spending time with the MkIII, dissecting chords and harmonies for my band, has become effortless. I can study five songs in a row without breaking a sweat. I didn't expect the MkIII to be such a valuable tool for musicians, but I'm delighted to conclude that it has significantly sped up my workflow. I spend less time deciphering chordal harmonies and inversions played by artists, making my daily music-related duties more enjoyable and less frustrating. The four different types of drivers (DD, BA, EST, and BC) handle frequencies beautifully, resulting in an accurate distribution that enhances layering, making it more defined and polished.

The MkIII showcases impressive speed and coherency, as there's a seamless synchronization among the drivers. No element feels out of pace or out of sync. UM's claim of significant improvement in this aspect over the MkIII's predecessors is indeed justified.

In terms of timbre, the MkIII delivers a realistic and natural sound. However, I do have a minor caveat as the midrange can sometimes lean towards the thinner side on certain tracks. Now, whether you believe in burn-in or not, I must mention that after almost two weeks of continuous listening, I feel that either my brain or the gear has adapted to the MkIII's tuning. For BA drivers handling the midrange and treble, the MkIII manages to minimize any prominent BA timbre, ensuring a more enjoyable listening experience.

Driving the MkIII is relatively easy, and even with a basic setup like using a phone with the Abigail pro dongle and Apple Music, I've found it sufficient for an enjoyable listen. With an impedance of 14 ohms, the MkIII can be driven by virtually any source without any issues. However, scaling it with a proper amplifier like the Centrance Dacport HD dongle does bring additional benefits, as it provides more power to make the MkIII shine even brighter.

BASS:​

The MkIII may not boast the punchiest or tightest bass I've ever encountered, but there's something truly special about its presentation. The bass frequencies are primarily handled by the bone conduction driver, which adds an extra layer of engagement and immersion to the low-end response. If you focus and pay close attention, you'll notice subtle vibrations from the bone conduction driver, bypassing the traditional nozzle pathway and creating sound that can be felt on your skin and skull. This unique approach extends beyond the bass and permeates throughout the entire frequency spectrum, as we'll discuss shortly.

The MkIII excels in reproducing lows around the 60Hz range, where the combination of instruments and the bone conduction driver truly shines. When an instrument hits this sweet spot, the collaboration between the bass and the bone conduction driver delivers an overload of bass awesomeness. However, it's important to note that the quantity of bass here is not overwhelming, nor does it meet the standards of a basshead's benchmark. Instead, the bass is refined and exhibits the perfect amount of weight to evoke a sense of fun without going overboard. Instruments such as drum kicks, dhols, floor toms, timpanis, acoustic bass, and various ethnic instruments like the tanggu from China left a lasting impression on me. The MkIII captures the reverberation of these instruments with remarkable efficiency, allowing the bone conduction driver to shine while maintaining a balanced quantity that doesn't overpower the surrounding frequencies. I couldn't ask for a better portrayal of bass in this regard.
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MIDRANGE:​

The midrange of the MkIII may not be the most forward I've encountered, but it is accurately placed within the soundstage. As I listen to an orchestral track, the choir is positioned behind and airy, occupying its rightful place across the stage platform. As someone who appreciates a mid-centric sound, it took me some time to adjust, as I personally prefer more forward mids. One notable aspect of the MkIII's midrange is its timbre, which leans slightly towards a thin character. From a neutral perspective, this won't be an issue, as it feels natural and balanced. However, coming from IEMs like my Bqeyz Winter with lush midrange, the thinness becomes more noticeable. It's important to mention that this is not a dealbreaker and can be something one can get used to. It can be attributed to the characteristic BA timbre. Overall, most instruments, including acoustic guitars, string sections, rhodes, warm upright pianos, organs, and a wide variety of genres in my playlist, sound right with the MkIII. However, there are times when brightly mixed tracks exhibit some thinness, but this is merely a nitpick on my part and not a cause for complaint.

Surprisingly, the vocals on the MkIII are forward, which is somewhat unusual since vocals fall within the midrange. Looking at the graph, we can observe a slight elevation of a few dBs around 600Hz to 1kHz, which enhances male vocals. Artists like Luther Vandross, Frank Sinatra, and Barry White shine with the MkIII's lower midrange emphasis. As for the upper midrange, there's a slight downward slope around 1kHz-3kHz, which still maintains a justified presence for female vocals. Fleetwood Mac is an artist that the MkIII favors, and contralto singers find a great match in its tuning. Audiophiles often enjoy testing their gear with the voice of Diana Krall, whose vocals sound blissful with the MkIII. Despite these minor nitpicks, the MkIII remains a viable and much-appreciated IEM for its performance in the midrange. Worth noting too, is the BC driver is still at play here and there are times when a vocal hits a certain frequency that the BC is greatly triggered especially if the mastering portrays a forward vocal presentation.

TREBLE:​

The treble performance of the MkIII is on par with its impressive bass, delivering a clean and highly resolving sound. What sets the treble apart is the combination of the balanced armature (BA) driver and the electrostatic (EST) drivers, which introduce a whole new world of details and nuances that I haven't experienced before. As this is my first IEM with EST drivers, it took some time for me to adjust and fully appreciate their presentation, as occasional brightness can be heard. However, it's important to note that the MkIII exhibits impressive control over the treble, as even tracks with extreme sibilance failed to elicit any discomfort or negative reactions from me.

An example of the MkIII's treble control can be heard in AC/DC's "A Long Way to the Top," where the bagpipes can be quite shouty and piercing with gear that isn't carefully tuned in the treble range. However, the MkIII handles them with finesse, showcasing sparkle and air in the treble region. The addition of the EST drivers brings a different color to the overall sound profile, and UM has done an excellent job of tuning, striking a balance between avoiding sibilance and unveiling a wealth of fine details.
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There are several nuances in the treble that left a lasting impression on me. I could hear Diana Krall's subtle lip smacking in between her breaths, the sound of a cellist breathing while playing, the overtones of drum snares, and the delicate ride bells that became more pronounced compared to my other IEMs. This level of detail retrieval is a unique achievement, demonstrating UM's expertise and their 17 years of experience in designing IEMs with this driver configuration. The treble of the MkIII stands as a testament to their knowledge and skill in crafting a captivating and nuanced sound signature.

COMPARISONS:​

To provide a more comprehensive comparison, I've chosen to focus on a specific IEM that I currently have in my possession: the Letshuoer Cadenza 12. A detailed review of the Cadenza 12 will follow shortly. Now, let's delve into the comparison.
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PACKAGING:​

Undoubtedly, the Cadenza 12 provides a more luxurious and fitting unboxing experience within its price range. It offers a greater number of accessories, inclusions, and an overall well-presented package. To truly appreciate the extent of its packaging, I believe that visuals would be more effective. Allow me to share some pictures showcasing the Cadenza 12's packaging. You can click down below for Cadenza's thread

Letshuoer Cadenza 12 thread

While I don't want to delve too extensively into other aspects as this is primarily a review for the Mkiii, I do want to touch upon one aspect that I feel Unique Melody could have taken into consideration when designing the Mkiii.

CABLE:​

Oh, the cable! It's definitely a disappointment for me with the Mkiii not because of its quality but its inability to be non-modular. In contrast, the Cadenza 12 offers a modular cable that comes in 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm options. This level of versatility is truly commendable, especially considering the price range. While the stiffness issue I mentioned earlier still persists with the Cadenza's cable, it is more manageable. However, I must admit that despite the stiffness, the configuration, appearance, and quality of the Mkiii's cable are superior in my opinion. Apart from the stiffness factor, I personally prefer the Mkiii's cable over the Cadenza's cable.
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SOUND:​

Okay let’s get it on in which really matters. How do these two differ in terms of how they sound considering they are around on the same price bracket. Mkiii is around $1,919 for the blue variant and $2,359 for the red one. Cadenza is at $2,299.

The soundstage of the Cadenza is undoubtedly narrower compared to the Mkiii. The Mkiii provides a more immersive experience, while the Cadenza's sound presentation can be perceived as 2D. Both IEMs offer accurate and on-par imaging, but the Mkiii takes it a step further by delivering a more holographic experience, which is undeniably more enjoyable and captivating. In terms of timbre, both exhibit a subtle BA timbre, which is natural and difficult to completely eliminate. We'll explore this in more detail shortly. As for speed, both IEMs perform admirably, and driving them is relatively easy, even with modest equipment like the Abigail dongle or an Apple dongle. In conclusion, both IEMs excel in details and technicalities, but the Mkiii sets itself apart with its holographic and immersive sound reproduction, offering a truly unique listening experience compared to the Cadenza.

BASS:​

The Cadenza offers a significantly punchier and tighter bass response compared to the Mkiii. The drum kicks have a satisfying impact that I'm accustomed to. However, it's important not to overlook the Mkiii's bass, as it presents a more natural and "live" feel. In contrast, the Cadenza's bass is cleaner and gives the impression of listening in a recording studio. The sub-bass presence is less pronounced with the Cadenza, while the mid-bass takes a more prominent role, resulting in a more neutral tuning overall. On the other hand, the Mkiii delivers a balanced reproduction of both sub-bass and mid-bass frequencies.

MIDRANGE:​

The quality of the midrange on both IEMs is quite similar, but upon closer examination, the Cadenza exhibits a more virtuosic and lush reproduction with a subtle touch of warmth. If the Mkiii had a midrange similar to the Cadenza, it could have been deemed perfection. However, I don't want to discount the midrange of the Mkiii. After spending two weeks with it, I've come to understand and appreciate its tuning, although it didn't immediately captivate me upon first listen. Both IEMs have BA drivers handling the midrange, which can result in a slightly thin timbre. Nevertheless, they manage to remain within the boundaries of realism and naturalness, even though I wouldn't describe their midrange performance as "organic."
Mest Mkiii vs Cadenza 12.jpg

TREBLE:​

I found the treble of the Cadenza to be the least appealing aspect. It imparted a sense of unnaturalness, and the BA timbre was quite noticeable. While it did possess some grit and bite, I personally found the presentation to be thinner than what I prefer. It could be that I have a bias towards warmer sound signatures. I must admit that prolonged listening to the Cadenza can be fatiguing, whereas the Mkiii excels in this regard by a noticeable margin. The Mkiii's implementation of EST drivers also plays a significant role, unveiling a plethora of details and nuances that the Cadenza fails to reproduce. In summary, the Cadenza's treble is a letdown compared to the Mkiii's impressive control and the rich world of nuances offered by the EST drivers.

In conclusion, I would choose the Mkiii over the Cadenza due to its unique, immersive, and holographic presentation. The utilization of the BC (bone conduction) driver in the Mkiii adds an extra dimension to the sound, creating a tactile experience that goes beyond mere auditory perception. Furthermore, the inclusion of EST drivers in the Mkiii enables exceptional handling of ultra-high frequencies, a feat that the Cadenza falls short of. It is worth noting that the Cadenza's treble, which I find to be somewhat risky and aggressive, can lead to fatigue during prolonged listening sessions, making it a less desirable option for those who are sensitive to such treble characteristics.
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VERDICT:​

A TOTL (top-of-the-line) experience is a rarity that my team of reviewers here in the Philippines doesn't encounter frequently. While my $200 sets may not be far off in terms of sound and performance, TOTLs possess a unique quality that is simply astonishing, captivating, and leaves an indelible impression. However, not all TOTLs succeed in delivering on their promises, and the phrase "your mileage may vary" becomes a significant gamble for consumers. The differences between $200, $500, $800, and $1000+ can seem marginal, around 5-10%. Yet, in the realm of audio, these small nuances can have a profound impact on our emotions and the way music resonates within us. Some individuals find these subtle improvements worthy of their hard-earned money.

Fortunately, I can confidently state, based on my subjective opinion, that the Mkiii offers a unique and captivating way of experiencing music, placing it among the ranks of the big boys. With 17 years of expertise in crafting custom IEMs and integrating not just two or three, but four distinct drivers with exceptional coherency and tuning, Unique Melody deserves high regard, recognition, and merit as a company.

If you seek something distinctive, immersive, holographic, and skillfully balanced between fun and analytical tuning, the Mest Mkiii should undoubtedly be on your radar. Its peculiarity sets it apart, and its ability to transport you into the heart of the music is truly remarkable.

I extend my deepest gratitude to Unique Melody (UM) for granting me and our team in the beautiful Philippines this incredible opportunity. We consider it a milestone and a trophy in our never-ending audio journey. As the first in line, I eagerly await the rotation of my dear babies among our circle. Although I know they will return to me in a month or so, they have already become an essential part of my music listening experience, both in leisure and as a professional musician.

Until our paths cross again, cheers!

TEST TRACKS:​

Here are some tracks I usually listen to when reviewing:

That’s the way of the World by EWF
Africa by TOTO
The Girl in the Other Room by Diana Kral
Balmorhea album All is wild, All is Silent
Sila by Sud
Smooth Escape by D’Sound
Never too Much by Luther Vandross
P.Y.T by Michael Jackson
Ain’t no Sunshine by Eva Cassidy
Shoot to Thrill by AC/DC
Another one bites the Dust by Queen
Good times bad times by Edie Brickell
Alice in Wonderland by Bill Evans
Ain’t it Fun by Paramore
Redefine by Incubus
Far Away by Nickelback
Lovesong by Adele
Lingus by Snarky Puppy
Harvest for the World by Vanessa Williams
Love Bites by Def Leppard
No Such Thing by John Mayer
As by Stevie Wonder
Whip Appeal by Babyface
Ain’t Nobody by Chaka Khan
Futures by Prep
Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
Every Summertime by NIKI
SADE tracks
AC/DC tracks
Queen tracks


And many more… I always listen to High resolution format, being the least quality 16bit/44khz FLACS be it offline or online.
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RemedyMusic
RemedyMusic
@amosamayo im sorry friend. I don't have the og mest so i can't really say. Don't worry, comparisons made by other reviewers will be coming soon.
Skullar
Skullar
Waa a big fan of Mest mkii, but god what is wrong with that graph..... Hope it just a difference in a graphing tool...

Also i think there is an error in review notes saying that bass is affected by BCD when the notes earlier mention that the BCD is only doing 500hz onwards(which aligns with UM official specs).


Otherwise a great review. It helps as i have heard the Cadenza.
RemedyMusic
RemedyMusic
@Skullar i had this in mind too. But definitely can feel the BC below 500hz. Reverbration on the low frequencies are evident.
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