Cons - Expensive but it's good to the point they actually feel value for the money
I have owned the UM Miracle for about 2 months now, I have bought them from Stereo Singapore and I have to say the service overall is great and altogether it took roughly 4 weeks to arrive after sending in my impressions. It is good dealing with Stereo as hassles such as having to mail your own impressions and handling the shipping is negated and the price they charged is also much cheaper than the online price of US$1049 and on top of that I got a 10% discount which was sweet. For the the customisations I have went with the classic transparent with midnight blue/wine red tips.
Source wise I use them with my Sony Walkman A16 and iPod Touch 5th generation without use of an external amp/dac as I've always felt those added to the bulk which affected portability a lot. As for the sound, using mainly the Walkman A16 the soundstage as mentioned from other members is very wide and when you close your eyes it actually feels like you're in a concert hall, with the music touching you as if it was real life. I've to say this experience isn't something you get from many CIEMs or IEMs out there.
As for my previous CIEMs/IEMs I was using the ATH-CK100pro, AAW M20 and Westone 4R(for a while before selling them) and they are just not the same again after receiving my Miracles. The Miracles have somewhat obliterated the other 2 from my ears and the use I get for them are almost non existent now, that just really proves how good the Miracles really are.
As for highs they are rather smooth and extended without being piercing at all, it is actually one of the strongest points of the Miracles as compared to the other frequencies. Pianos, violins, and other string instruments have never sounded that good before.
While many users have stated that the Miracles have a slight V-shaped signature and some have stated that the mids are somewhat 'boring'? I personally do not feel this way as the mids on the Miracle are actually very neutral and accurate, it lacks the "oomph" of certain mid-centric IEMs such as the fitear TG/MH334 or Westone 4, I feel that with those IEMs mids can be overly warm at times and sometimes even muddying the sound. For the Miracles they're very clear and gives the Miracle a sense of positive overall clarity in conjunction with it's somewhat sparkly highs.
The lows as many have stated are not for bassheads and since I'm far from one(I actually prefer less bass usually), I feel the bass on the Miracles are definitely far from nonexistent but they do exists in a just right amount while being tight and punchy at the same time, this gives the overall vibe that the Miracle is very balanced and neutral as compared to many other CIEMs/IEMs. They still do extend very deeply and mid-bass never gets in the way with the other frequencies.
So as stated, the Miracle is a very balanced CIEM with no frequencies disrupting the other in any way, each frequency is able to sing at it's full potential which really makes it a wow factor for the Miracle.
I can say that I have came a long way before actually settling for the Miracle and I have tried many other CIEM demoes out there and the comparable ones in price would be the JH13FP, UERM, Noble 4, AAW W500 etc. and personally I can say that I prefer the Miracle to the above stated CIEMs(demoes) as the Miracle just appears so balanced, yet being able to produce a very engaging 3D soundstage that it really gives the others a run for their money. It therefore doesn't surprise me that the Miracle is able to stay at the top for such a long time and even newer and pricier alternatives from UM themselves have really failed to impress as CIEMs such as the mentor and legacy did not lure me away from the Miracles.
Cons - non-visceral bass (as expected with BA drivers)
I have been using these for well over 18 months now. I was extremely hesitant to spend this much money on a pair of IEMs, however I can say with absolute certainty that they are worth every cent.
The sound quality achieved with a good AMP/DAC and these cIEMs just can't be overstated - they are phenomenal. In particular I really enjoy these for listening to music concerts or classical music - the wide sound stage really makes you feel like you are there. Close your eyes and the real world just disappears and you are in the front row. It's the best cure for stress.
After 18 months of putting these through their paces, I would expect any flaws to have presented themselves by now. I'm pleased to say that I have not had any flaws at all. I have listened to music across many genres and in many situations. Not once have I been let down.
My only criticism is that due to the nature of BA drivers, if you want to listen to something with a strong bassline, you won't experience the same visceral response you can obtain from dynamic drivers. You don't feel your tympanic membrane vibrating away. Instead, you are presented with a low tone that is perfectly executed from start to finish, without even the slightest hint of wavering or distortion. It's a very different way to listen to low tones but it is still enjoyable; I suppose in a more clinical way. A great example of where this is actually a good thing is Bjork's "Possibly Maybe" which can absolutely destroy a dynamic driver. The UM Miracle executes those low frequencies perfectly with no impact at all on the mids or highs. It's really something special.
One final point is regarding the sound isolation. I use these often for air travel and compared to Shure SE535 or Bose QC2, they offer the best sound isolation I have experienced. Put some music on a low-ish volume and you wouldn't even know you were on an aircraft.
A while ago, when I was in a dilemma (mind you, it was a good dilemma) of choosing what CIEM to get, I read many reviews on the UM Miracle, JH13, ES5, JH16 and the Rooth LS8. Of those, I narrowed it down to the Miracles, JH13 and LS8 since I was after a more balanced sound signature. I then eliminated the Rooth since there were no local dealers in Australia and they seemed a bit too treble heavy for me. The JH13 and UM Miracle both looked like exceptional CIEMs and there were certainly very much hype surrounding those two, especially the JH13, many people claiming it as the best CIEM that you could buy. However, neither average_joe nor ljokerl had a review up of the JH13 and ljokerl had the UM Miracles and gave them a full 10/10. Eventually, I gave in and got the Miracles and got my impressions and took them down to UM’s Melbourne office.
Note that my listening was carried out via my HDP-R10 (Japanese DX100), SanDisk Clip+ and my Samsung Galaxy S3
**Disclaimer** I am in no way affiliated nor against Unique Melody in any way. I will try to give my unbiased opinions on the UM Miracle. I purchased them myself for the RRP of $980.
Things To Consider Before you get a custom, you have to decide if a custom is really for you. Do you want to be completely isolated from your surroundings? Are you willing to make the commitment, knowing that if you don’t like them, you will have to sell them off at a large loss? Are you more comfortable with acrylic shoved up your ears or some silicone or foam? If you are from the latter group, you may be better off with going for a top tier universal IEM such as the AKG K3003, FitEar ToGo 334, Tralucent 1plus2, Sennheiser IE800 and the like. They take a while to make and you have to add the cost of an audiologist (around $50) and you may have to send them back for a refit if the fit is not optimal. To me, I found that I wanted more isolation, the comfort levels of a custom that everyone was talking about and didn’t mind waiting for a while, so I jumped the bandwagon.
Overview The Miracles are a 6 balanced armature (BA) driver 3 way IEM. 2 drivers produce the bass, 2 make the midrange and has 2 drivers for the treble. Having the same amount of drivers for every frequency, they are supposed to produce a neutral, balanced sound. Unique melody says “Offering six balanced armature drivers per side, the Miracle offers astounding detail and clarity from high to low, with just the right amount of fun. Don’t expect any noticeable bumps throughout the frequency range though, the Miracle represents the epitome of the epitome of the Unique Melody house sound. Clarity, accuracy, liveliness and detail.” Here are the specifications: · Frequency Range: 18 Hz – 19kHz · Impedance: 15.9 ohms · Sensitivity: 114 dB SPL · Driver Tech: 6 Balanced Armatures · Crossover: 3 Way Passive Crossover · Driver Configuration: 2xHigh, 2xMid, 2xHigh
Ordering Process To order any pair of CIEMs, you just about follow the same steps. Basically, first I contacted UM to get the order form for your order.
Design This is a relatively large decision as if you change your design midway through before your IEMs are made, you have to start your wait again from scratch, as I learned the hard way. You have to decide what colour you want for the faceplate, shell, tips and what artwork you want on the faceplate. You can browse the web for CIEM designs and pick one of your liking, or if you are good with Photoshop, you can make your own design. Now I think that custom-iem.com has a program where you chose the colours and they will show you about what the CIEMs will look like. Again, this is an important decision because once they are built, there is no way to change the colours unless you rebuild them from scratch.
Impressions Next, you should go to an audiologist, preferably an experienced one so that they don’t mess up your impressions. I personally went to Melbourne Audiology Centre and they messed up my impressions the first time, but the second time I had a more experienced person do it and it was fine, but my right ear impression was taken 4 times. Here is a quote from Loquah’s review on what to do when getting your impressions taken:
“When having your impressions taken, be sure to stay completely still and looking straight ahead (you might want to choose a spot on the wall to stare at for the whole time). Different companies recommend different mouth positions (i.e. open, closed, wide open, open & closed) so you may find variation in the instructions. Many audiologists will have bite blocks you can use to hold your mouth still in an open position. I found for the Miracles that a bit block around 1.5cm thick worked best. Importantly, the audiologist may forget to instruct you thoroughly so make sure you remind yourself of the steps provided by your CIEM company and stick to them or it could be a painful wait as you send your brand new CIEMs back to be redone.”
Send Them In You then send your impressions in to the UM office in Melbourne or straight to UM labs. From what others have said, dealing directly with UM labs may result in you getting your CIEMs back quicker. Next, you just wait and try to forget that you ordered them or even heard of Unique Melody. If you get good impressions, then you shouldn’t need a refit and the wait time is 5-7 weeks normally.
Getting Them After what seems like a whole year, you will get them. You will probably rip open the packaging as fast as you can an open the box. The unboxing experience is nothing too special and there is a glass paperweight, case, manuals, cloths, a warranty card, a pair of tips, IEM cleaner and a case, which when you open are greeted with the Miracles. · When you first try to put them in your ears, they will feel weird and uncomfortable, as if the tip of the CIEM is poking your eardrum, but don’t worry, it’s not. · You will probably fiddle with them and get them in to your ears finally after around 5 minutes if this is your first CIEM. At first, it will be really hard to put in and take out the Miracles (or any CIEM), but after about a week, you eventually get used to it. · At first, you may not get the perfect seal. This does not mean that they don’t fit properly and you require a refit. Wriggle them around your ears for a while and see if it gets better. When you smile, the seal will break; this happens to most people. Hopefully, the fit is fine, but if you are positive that after you move it around and after a few days, you still find that it doesn’t have a good seal, then maybe it is time for you to take another trip to the audiologist. When they fit properly, you will be able to tell from the way that they fit snugly against your ear and the sound quality. If it doesn’t fit, there is no bass and everything sounds hollow and terrible. Trust me, you’ll know if they don’t fit. When I first got them, they seemed really uncomfortable, but now that I’ve gotten used to them, they fit extremely well and are just as comfortable, if not better, than any universal. When I’m wearing them, I sometimes forget that they are on at all! However, it is quite uncomfortable and at certain times, even painful to put them in and take them out.
Build Quality So how is the build quality on these? Unique Melody is known as one of the companies with the best build quality, ahead of JH Audio and on par with Heir Audio, but with less design options. There are a few tiny bubbles that you won’t notice unless you are looking specifically for them. Other than that, the build of these are impeccable. As you can see from the picture included, I opted to have translucent grey faceplates, tips and bright blue body with large Unique Melody inserts. There is absolutely no point in getting light coloured tips and all it does it show if you have earwax there or not. After a while, it doesn’t look nice and you have to clean it more often for it to not look disgusting. If you, like me, decide to choose light colours, you will be able to see the 6 drivers in there, which I think is actually quite cool. There are 4 drivers in the middle, which I think are the high and midrange drivers, but I could be wrong and there are 2 others that are closer to the sound bores that could be the 2 bass drivers.
A pic of my Miracles.
Cable This is the standard cable that comes with CIEM from most companies like JH Audio, Ultimate Ears etc. I quite like the right angled jack, but it could be a problem for some phone cases. The cable itself is nice and flexible and it very easy to use. It seems pretty well built, but the braids will probably loosen up over time.
Service To me at least, service is very important with anything, but especially something expensive like this. To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t bad either. They didn’t have a phone number that you can call, but instead, they have a call back option. At times, UM or Actustoms as they have merged into one company could answer one of my emails in an hour or so, but other times, it would take them 2 or 3 business days to answer and email. UM labs were much more responsive, answering all my emails mostly in less than 10 minutes when the time was reasonable. It is truly a bit of a shame that the overall experience had to be let down by this. UM did still maintain a professional attitude when I was bugging them about where my CIEMs were toward the end. What happened was that Um labs said that my Miracles were already sent out, but UM Aus said that they were still at UM labs. It really is a shame that the customer service isn’t great, because, as you will see later on, the Miracle is a truly exceptional product and when paying almost a grand, I expect to have faster customer service.
Isolation Being an acrylic custom moulded IEM, the isolation is great, but naturally, it will be bested by silicone CIEMs such as the Spiral Ears SE5. However, you need not worry about isolation with any CIEM because the isolation on my pair is already great and sometimes I actually wish that I had a bit less isolation in order to hear what others are saying. When there is no music playing, you have to sort of lean towards someone to hear what they are saying if they are talking at a normal volume. To sum up, there is a lot of isolation and it is completely enough, but if you feel like, for some reason, require even more isolation, you should go with a silicone based CIEM.
Sound Finally, we are at the sound section after a long time. From what I read, I certainly had high hopes for this custom and it didn’t disappoint. Initially, they were nothing special and they were a bit muddy and lacking detail. After 50 hours, the sound settled down and after 100 hours, I don’t think that it will change any more (or my brain has fully adapted to it if you don’t believe in BAs burning in.
Presentation The Miracles are often praised for their nice and natural presentation and after I got accustomed to them, I now see what it is really about.
The soundstage, while not massive, is very respectable and I am continuing to be surprised at what an in ear moniter can actually do. Every single note played in beautifully portrayed and pianos and guitars sound like a live performance.
Extremely accurate and never congested, the Miracles have a heap of detail, but doesn’t hit you in the face with it. While they may not wow you upon the first listen, I am appreciating them more and more with every song that I listen to with these jewels.
Sound Signature The sound is very neutral and the mids are a bit recessed. By recessed, I don’t mean that they are recessed until the music is a bit unenjoyable (cough cough TF-10 cough) but it is more a “neutral V” sound if that makes sense. The bass it a bit north of neutral and the treble has a good amount of sparkle from it, but I wished that it had a little more.
Bass The bass is very neutral, albeit a bit heavy. At no time do I feel like it is overpowering any section of the spectrum though. It is just right and is certainly very fast and makes other IEMs that I have heard such as the Earsonics SM3 v2 sound muddy, bloated and very un-neutral. The bass detail is great and you can hear the texture from every drum beat or every string of a bass guitar plucked. Bass heavy IEMs such as the Sennheiser IE8 seem like they are lacking resolution and speed. For mainstream music though, I do wish that there was a bit more midbass whilst staying just as fast. The Miracles get top marks in the bass department for quality, but not quantity. If you are a basshead, look into something else like the JH16 or the UM Merlin.
Midrange Even though the midrange is a bit recessed, it still sounds great and not by any means really distant like the ATH-M50 or the TF-10. It is only a tiny bit recessed and the detail level in the midrange is still great. I actually prefer this sort of midrange to a forward, in your face midrange. It strikes an excellent balance between thick and thin and vocals sound like you are at a live performance. It may take a while for you to get used to this kind of midrange if you come from something like a mid forward Earsonics SM3 v2, but from a neutral midrange IEM like the Brainwavz B2 I had no problems adapting. Vocal sibilance will be there if it is present in the track. Great midrange, but if you like a forward midrange, look into Westone’s line of customs.
Treble At first, I thought that these were a bit dull and the highs were a bit rolled off, but that is understandable because the B2s are an extreme treblehead IEM. From my standpoint now, the treble is excellent and just like UM said, just enough fun. It isn’t like those bass heavier IEMs with rolled off trebles where the cymbals just don’t come alive. In this, the cymbals have just enough sparkle to not become sibilant and harsh, but still have great extension. The cymbals decay is realistic, but I feel like it is just a bit too fast. If you have heard a live performance, you will know that the cymbals have quite a slow decay. However, other instruments are very realistic and the details are all there if you listen closely.
Accuracy By accuracy, I mean how well the instrument is produced and how much it sounds like as if it is just out in front of you. Of course, IEMs of any kind will probably never be able to match flagship headphones at producing instruments realistically. I feel like the Miracles reproduce instruments very well and realistically, especially with high quality classical tracks such as Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”. The instruments really came alive and sounded very believable and there wasn’t much colouration to the song. Playing nice piano pieces on a high quality source also makes it very much like the piano is just right in front of you. It strikes an excellent balance between thin and thick and as a result, the UM Miracle has great accuracy and instruments are portrayed excellently.
Imaging & Soundstage IEMs in general are not known to have a huge soundstage and great imaging. The soundstage on the Miracles is big, but not bigger than say a $400 Sennheiser HD600. Open headphones generally have the biggest soundstages (HD800, SR-009 etc.) and the UM Miracle simply cannot compete against them. Most people praise the Sennheiser IE8/IE80 for their soundstage and I feel like the soundstage on these is just a bit smaller. The soundstage is not really in front of you, but the Miracles create a sort of surround felling, immersing you in the music, which I actually prefer to the stage in front of you. Overall soundstage is very large for a non-vented IEM.
Imaging is actually one of the best that I have ever heard on an IEM. Universals such as the IE8 which has a large soundstage simply cannot match the Miracles in terms of imaging. Listening to quality music, you can hear and point out where each instrument is placed very easily. Very good imaging from not only an IEM, but it challenges many higher end headphones as well.
Instrument Separation In nothing that I have heard so far am I struggling to make out what is behind another instrument. Maybe it is because there are 2 drivers per ear for each frequency and each driver has to produce less than other (C)IEMs that have say 3 drivers per ear, one handling each frequency. For example, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” is a pretty well recorded track which I happen to like a lot, doesn’t have much congestion anywhere, and I thought that other IEMs which I had listened to the song on were just fine and everything was great, but other IEMs just seem to be lacking separation compared to the Miracles and this song really isn’t a very congested track. As for vocal separation, I used Fun.’s “Some Nights”. At the start, you can easily distinguish between their voices with no congestion whatsoever and they don’t sound like it is just one person singing.
Details This is certainly a detailed custom, but the way that it presents its details is different from other IEMs. Instead of instantly “wowing” you with in your face details, but instead letting them sink in. Initially, I thought that they were actually lacking details, but after a while, I have really learnt how to appreciate them and know that their detail level is actually exceptional. I actually feel like on some tracks, especially mainstream music (which I listen to a lot of), even FLAC tracks sound harsh. For example, “Hall Of Fame” By The Script Ft. Will.I.Am sounds really bad because the recording itself is mastered badly and the Miracles really reveal jut how sub-par the recording is. It is definitely detailed, but it is a bit unforgiving.
Clarity, Transparency and Lushness Upon the first listen, I realised that I could see no veil that plagues many IEMs. I think that it is extremely easy to “look” (or rather hear) through and see the performers and the instruments. It is very easy to place where they are and the detail and air surrounding them is just amazing.
The Miracles are definitely very clear, but other top IEMs have definitely bested it. Vocals are lacking that tiny bit of clarity that I find other treble heavier IEMs possess.
I feel like this strikes a nice balance between fun and analytical and it is lush without being overly lush. The note decay is very fast, perhaps a tad bit too fast for my taste, but as usual, YMMV.
Summary For almost $1000, I did have extremely high expectations for these and needless to say. I was most definitely not let down by these. There was no real flaw to me and everything was very balanced, with a very slight bass boost and recessed mids. These are really just an exceptional pair of customs and I am happy that my first foray into the world of customs was a positive one.
AKG K3003 Big thank you to Jaben Australia for letting me demo their AKG K3003. Tested with the reference filters.
The AKG K3003 has been very highly regarded as one of the best universals that you can buy. Compared to the Miracles, the bass is very nice and hits around the same, but maybe a bit harder than the Miracles but stays around as fast. Mids were definitely more present than the slightly recessed mids of the Miracles, but they were thin and didn’t sound as natural as the rather lush midrange of the Miracles. The mids were also brighter, which made them seem like they had a bit more detail over the Miracles, but I also found them a bit more sibilant than the Miracles. As for treble, they definitely have more sparkle to them, but whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, that’s up to you. Personally, I liked the treble somewhere in between the Miracles and the K3003s, but if I had to choose what treble I preferred, I would have to pick the Miracle’s treble over the AKG’s since I find the K3003 treble slightly too bright and a tad bit metallic. The detail levels of the treble in both IEMs are about the same, but the Miracle’s details are more laid back while the AKG’s are more forward, which makes them very unforgiving of badly recorded tracks. From what I’ve written above, you might be thinking that technically, the AKG K3003 are pretty much on par with the Miracles and you’d be right in saying that. They are the best universals that I have heard to date and when you reach this level of performance, there is no clear winner, but it is instead what you prefer. However, I think that the presentation of the Miracles are much better than the AKGs and I think that many would agree with me. The soundstage is bigger and on the AKGs, instrument placement is just not on par with the Miracles. The instrument separation wasn’t as good as the Miracles, maybe due to their 3 drivers and sometimes there was just that tiny bit of congestion. As for transparency and imaging, these really excelled, but weren’t better than the Miracles. They were around the same standard. Isolation is not even close. The AKG’s housing isn’t designed to go in deep and they didn’t. The isolation fell short of my B2s. The AKG K3003 are certainly a top IEM, but I just wasn’t blown away by them and I feel like they fall just short of the Miracles. Having a $1300 price tag, I really can’t recommend them over the $980 UM Miracles.
Final Audio Design FI-BA-SS Thanks this time to Addicted To Audio for kindly allowing me to demo the FI-BA-SS, Sennheiser HD600, 650 and the Audez’e LCD-3s.
I think that many, including me, didn’t really regard the FI-BA-SSs as one of the top universals because of ljokerl’s 9.3 rating on his huge multi IEM review which has helped me so much that I can’t think him enough. To be honest, I’m not quite so sure where I stand on these yet. They seem to be a nice and detailed IEM and is proficient in many areas, but when I listen to it, I just feel like there is something missing, not as in micro details, but something with the presentation is odd. Bass is very nice, has good impact and is fast, actually a bit faster than the Miracles. Detail levels are good, but just not on par with the Miracles, but I actually prefer the bass quantity and speed over that of the Miracles. Midrange, again, is liquid, but not nearly as lush as the UM Miracles and even though they are not, they sometimes come across as a bit thin on vocal reproduction. Midrange clarity is better than the Miracles, but gets sibilant more easily. As for treble, it is presented in a very nice way indeed. Not too sparkly, but has more sparkle than the Miracles. To be perfectly honest, I actually really like the treble of the FI-BA-SS and I consider it on par with the UM Miracles. Now on to presentation. This is where the FI-BA-SS is not so good. The separation is not nearly as good as the Miracles and on some tracks, it sounds a bit congested. Imaging is also a few steps behind. Soundstage is good, but also cannot compete with the Miracles. However, the biggest deal breaker for me was the cable. It was thin, non detachable (I think) and there was no real strain relief. I find that this is completely unacceptable for a $1350 IEM. I really did like the sound, almost as much as the AKG K3003. I do feel like they should be a 9.5 or 9.6 on ljokerl’s list, but being more expensive than the both the AKGs and the Miracles, I would rather get the 3003s than these.
Yes, a headphone and IEM comparison, just as a benchmark since many people have listened to this headphone. The Sennheiser HD600 is an old classic, but still regarded as a great headphone and perhaps the most neutral headphone in the world. Yes, it is a great headphone, but it has one terrible flaw – the veil that everyone is all so familiar with. Now, I can’t speak for you since some people can and some people can’t hear the veil, but I am one of those who can. Everything is pretty much on par, but I can hear more details with the Miracle and I prefer their presentation over the HD600s, however, I do feel like at $500 in Australia, half the price of the Miracles, the HD600’s get to 85% of the Miracles without breaking the bank.
Rhapsodio RDB v1 First, I would like to thank Rhapsodio for sending out a review sample for me. Wow it is a good IEM for $650! To be perfectly honest, I found that this is the best universal IEM that I have ever heard and I'm quite an IEM guy. It really gives the Miracles a run for the money. Charles from Rhapsodio is also one of the friendliest guys that I know and he answers emails in a few minutes provided that the time isn't ridiculous. The bass is exceptional on both. The Miracles have more mid bass quantity and more reverb, but I feel like the RDB v1's mid bass is cleaner and detail levels are about the same. The RDB v1 has a lot of sub bass rumble This is a draw. As for the mids, both IEMs are recessed, but the Miracles have better separation and more realistic, but the v1 mids are still exceptional, not only for a $650 IEM, but even as a $1000 IEM. There is no annoying peak in the higher mids that causes sibilance, but I think that the higher mids are actually the most recessed! For the treble, this is perhaps the hardest part to choose. the highs are about the same quantity, but the v1 has slightly more. Cymbals sound better on the v1s, however, other parts of the treble sound just as good on the Miracles as they do on the RDB v1. I find myself slightly preferring the Rhapsodio's treble most of the time. Now to presentation, the soundstage is smaller on the RDB v1 by a bit and things seem to be in front of you like it's on a stage rather than surrounding you like on the Miracles. Detail is won by the Miracles since the bass is in general smaller and has less rumble, therefore, not drowning out micro details. This is a killer IEM for $650 and should be on everyone's list if you are looking for an IEM in that price range. I honestly thing that they can compete - and win against 1 grand IEMs like the FI-BA-SS and the AKG K3003. I am going to buy one. Sorry, Sennheiser, the HD650 has to wait. Also, for what it means to you, the Rhapsodio RDB v1 also is said to have the same drivers as the really hyped up 1plus2. For an analytical sound, I always reach for the Miracles, but the RDB v1 is just so damn fun!
Rhapsodio RDB 2v1 I don't like this at all! It is simply just bad. There is no comparison between these and the Miracles. Here's what I wrote on the RDB 2v1 tour thread:
The Miracles are simply better in every way and everything in the music is just more coherentSimply put, these are the worst IEMs I have heard over $100.
Cable Changes I don’t want to somehow turn this thread into an argument as to whether aftermarket cables make a difference or not. I believe that they do and I’m just writing what I think.
Toxic Cables 8-Wire Hybrid Silver/Copper Cable (Currently around $500) A and b-ing cables has an obvious element of pointlessness because you will always know what cable is what due to the weight, etc. After using the stock cable for a week, going to the super expensive 8-wire hybrid, I immediately noticed than the 8-wire was much better sounding and flowed a lot better. The details were much easier to hear and the mids got pushed forward a bit. The mid bass quantity stayed just about the same, but the details and texture in drum hits were a lot more apparent. The sub bass actually increased quite a bit in quantity and quality. The Miracles have slightly recessed mids, but I feel like this problem has been rectified with the 8-wire. The mids were slightly lacking detail, but now, they are great and much more enjoyable. As for highs, there really isn’t much change. There may just be a tiny bit more extension and the cymbals sound a bit more lively, but that is just it. Separation is what shocked me most of all. Everything sounded so clear, building on the already great separation of the Miracles. This is built like a tank and I have no gripes about build quality and I love the absence of memory wire that is there on all stock CIEM cables. However, it is quite thick, having 8 wires, and if you, like me, go around a lot, than this cable may not be a good choice for you. To sum up, the Miracles are an excellent pair of CIEMs, but this cable really shows me what the UM Miracles are capable of.
Double Helix Cables Symbiote SE Litz Copper Cable (Currently around $270)
I tried this cable out today at the Melbourne meet and I was very impressed. The build quality was excellent, though the braids themselves were not as tight as the Toxic Cables cables that I've seen. This looks like a hybrid since it is multi-coloured, but it is actually a pure litz copper cable, meaning that it will not turn green like ordinary copper cables. From the stock cable to the DHC cable, I noticed a difference in the first 10 seconds of a song. It had some micro details that I could not hear on the Miracles with the lower quality stock cable. Bass went lower and it was a tiny bit more impactful. Mids were brought out a little and had some more detail as well. The treble stayed about the same, the cymbals having a slightly longer decay. Soundstage was increased a bit as well. Very good cable indeed, but a the price might suggest, the detail levels, soundstage size and other things just weren't on par with the Toxic Cables 8-wire.
Edit: Dropped half a start because of UM Aus' atrocious customer service.
Pros - Incredible sound at every frequency, comfort, isolation, presentation of sound
Cons - Customer service, fit issues at first (due to impressions, not the product itself)
I bought these back in October and have only been able to enjoy them in the last couple of weeks (i.e. from late April 2013 after ordering in October 2012). I can't stress enough how important it is to get the impressions done perfectly the first time around.
My experience was unfortunately tainted by extremely variable customer service, but the product speaks for itself and is worth the wait. The sound is just magic - beautifully balanced across the whole frequency range, plenty of impact in the bass without any negative impact into other frequencies, and a brilliant soundstage that extends high, low and wide.
The Miracles are definitely susceptible to influence from the source's output impedance so be sure to pair them with a <1 ohm output before judging. Higher output impedances result in less bass and more treble, resulting in an OK sound, but a slightly imbalanced and possibly fatiguing sound which is not as overall enjoyable.
Also, I have paired my Miracles with the DHC Symbiote SE Litz cable and cannnot recommend this pairing enough - magical!
I've written a full, in-depth review including some information about the process of ordering CIEMs and having impressions done. You can read it here: http://passionforsound.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/unique-melody-miracles/
Pros - Huge soundstage with airy sound, controlled and detailed bass, great balance overall
Cons - Mids could be more engaging, but are still very good.
As promised, this is my modest review / take on the Unique Melody Miracle. I am by no means a professional reviewer, nor do I know how to use the precise terms to qualify sound, so I will just describe what I hear. I have strictly no technical background, I just love music and iems.
First of all, a little reminder of how pretty they are
Equipement used for the review:
I have listened to over 30-40 albums in all genres, encoded in 16/44 and 24/44 flac over the past four month on my rig, and a few hours more to conduct this review. The rig is the following: DX100 > ALO Audio SXC22 mini to mini > Tralucent T1 amp > Tralucent silver / gold cable > UM Miracles.
I began using the Beat Audio Cronus Cable, but the silver gold from Tralucent opened the sound a bit more, so I used these instead, and will not be switching / comparing cables as I already broke my sockets doing so.
Ordering process and customer service
All my dealings with UM were conducted directly through Stephen Guo. As there are various sites, I was working with this one: http://www.custom-iem.com/. I should remind that I am located in China. These dealings began with my reshelling my Shure SE530x6, then on to the Miracles. During these processes, I have been communicating almost daily with Stephen, which was the best customer service experience I have ever had, apart from my dealings with Gavin at Tralucent. Stephen explained everything very clearly, even things I could have found on the website. He even assisted me in defining the design of my Miracles (the nice font of characters you see what provided by him).
I took my prints at a local audiologist here in Shanghai, but the guys are actually from Europe and knew about ciems (they actually new Heir Audio). The prints were taken with me biting two fingers.
The fact that I was in China helped a lot. There was no jet lag so Stephen could answer quite quickly. Besides, any shipping was quite fast (1 to 2 days between UM and me). From the moment I sent my prints, it took less than 3 weeks to receive my Miracles. I was quite lucky, because I was the last in the latest production batch. I ordered the Beat Audio Cronus at the same time and they arrived maybe 3 days after I ordered.
Even further customer service was very good. I had an issue as the sockets on the left side collapsed inside the iem because I apparently was not careful enough switching cables. I sent them back with a note explaining what was wrong and they were returned in perfect shape 2 weeks later. I had asked them if they could remove a couple of small bubbles and they actually did.
The pics say all there is to say here. The build quality is excellent. The socket issue is possible with any ciem that has the Westone type pin. You just have to be careful and not change cables all the time. There were two small bubbles in the shell, which were visible because the shell was black, but they were subsequently removed. I was lucky, but otherwise I might have needed to live with them. Be advised that bubbles will be less visible in transparent colors than in full color shells.
The only niggle I have, but it is true of other mostly all IEM manufacturers I know of (with the exception of Tralucent), is that the stock cable really looks like dental floss. On the other hand, the Beat Audio Cables have the best build quality and ergonomics I've encountered in aftermarket cables by far.
Presentation and soundstage:
This is to me the key trademark of the Miracles, huge soundstage with airy surrounding presentation. I have no clue how they achieve this effect. You really have the feeling that you are in a huge bubble full of air and sounds just pop around you, out of thin air. This unique presentation has an addictive effect, and I always go back to the Miracles after some time.
The sound is to my ears very slightly v-shaped. There is a slight bass boost, and a less pronounced treble boost, the mids being slightly recessed.
The bass is the other selling point of the Miracles to me. The boost is mainly in mid bass, not lower bass, so you do not have that boomy effect I had on the Shure SE530x6 that bleeds into other frequency. The bass is very tight, detailed and texture. I can actually listen to the bass as music, not just as sound. Combined to the airy soundstage, it is just wonderful in some minimalist modern bassy music.
Fans of warm and lush vocals will not be satisfied with the Miracles. In my opinion, one of the reasons for their airiness is that the mids are slightly on the thin side. I do find them very nice to my ears, clear and transparent, even if they are sometimes slightly recessed. At this level of performance, one can be slightly demanding, so you can say that the mids could be more engaging ON CERTAIN TRACKS.
Nothing much to say in that respect. The high are clear, well detailed. They are absolutely non fatiguing to me. They could be more sparkly if you are a trebble head. But this is really being picky.
Comparison with the 1plus2:
I think customs have an advantage in terms of immersion into the music, all other things being equal. Indeed, they go deeper in your ear, and have a larger area of contact with you ear and better isolation, puting you in contact with the Music. However, that is only true if the iem has an immersive presentation, which is the case for the Miracles.
The overall presentation of the 1plus2, though very immersive, is quite different, the stage is in front of you instead of surrounding you. Some people will prefer this as being more realistic, some will prefer the surround feeling. Sometimes this can make the Miracles more immersive. However, some can find the 1Plus2 more engaging, with punchier sound (the bass is just as detailed as the Miracles, but has more kick thanks to the dynamic driver, giving the 1Plus2 more dynamism overall), and slightly more transparent mids. The highs of the 1plus2 are very slightly sparklier too, with slightly better detail. Bear in mind that these are small differences.
What the 1Plus2 and Miracle do share is the "immediacy" of sound. There is no distance, no veil between you and the sound. The sound is in you face, straight. However, the Miracles does it in a slightly (I know I use that word all the time, but differences are indeed minute) more polite way. The Miracles still have much more immediacy than the the Heir 5.0 which are more relaxed and non fatiguing, but not as much as the 1plus2. This seems contradictory with what I said about presentation, but I do not how to explain it better. I suppose it is because the 1plus2 have a very sharp attack, more than the Miracles, whereas the Heir 5.0 have a smooth attack.
Overall, the sound signatures are quite close, slightly u shaped, but with different presentations. The U in the 1plus is a bit different to my ears as the mids and trebble are a bit more forward than on the Miracles. The 1plus2 is overall slightly better technically, but the Miracle makes up for it by being airier and having the advantages of a custom. I switched between the two a lot, and neither ever disapoints me as they both have their own personality.
As you may well know, I have recently listened extensively to many recent high end iems (which I still have, but do not have time to compare in detail with the Miracles): 1Plus2, Flat-4 Kaede, Sennheiser IE800, Fitear Togo 334. The Miracles came out in 2010, nearly 3 years ago, and even if some newcomers do certain things better, well the Miracle still stands its ground as one of the top iem out there, because no iem I have listened to is clearly better overall. The Miracles are an elegant iem, one of the best all rounders out there, and unless you are crazy about warm and thick vocals, you will love them more and more each day once you discover them.
The CIEM itself projects a near perfect sound, with all treble mid bass equally distributed, soundstage not very appealing, suits studio musics. Cable needs to be changed, as it tends to tangle so much, and the twist loosens up after some time
Pros - Quite possibly the best Custom on the market
Cons - None
Just a sheer joy to Listen to, UM's Flagship will certainly provide even the fussiest ears a wonderfull experience with any genre of Music thrown at it. Even better still, step up the source & amp and Miracle will also upscale accordingly. Its a winner all the way.....