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REVIEW: Unique Melody Merlin - hybrid dynamic/balanced armature custom IEM

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  1. White Lotus
     
    Not just rumbling, but absolutely loves to be whipped into a bassheads dream with EQ. More than a lot of hybrids I've tried it with. Even the Fiio E12/E18 bass boost switch makes this IEM so much fun.
     
  2. burpingboy
    all these reading makes the waiting more difficult... 1 week and counting...
     
  3. uli87
    Lucky you, I still got a long wait. I'm curious what you are upgrading from and why you chose the Merlin?
     
    I keep reading about the Merlin compared to the Miracle and to other hybrids like the Tralucent 1p2, AKG k3003 and it's funny how everyone hears things differently. Some people say that the Merlin is a Miracle with more bass, or that the Merlin has recessed mids while some say they are mid-centric. Confusing to say the least. Can't wait to hear them for myself. 
     
    Also, I know how the number of drivers isn't as important as implementation, but I keep wondering how is it that people state that the 1p2 is much better than the Merlin, considering that both use TOTL drivers (the same ones if i'm not mistaken). I wasn't looking for a universal anyway, but it's just interesting to me. 
     
  4. burpingboy
    YES YES YES! My Merlins finally arrived after exactly 5 weeks!
     
    But i can't post pictures here! Pictures can be found here: http://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/headphones-earphones-portable-media-devices-314/return-um-4190711-113.html#post87993548
     
  5. burpingboy
    And yes finally i can share pictures and update my avatar, so here goes!
     
    Colour Scheme:
    Left Shell = Blue
    Left Tip = Dark Smoke
    Left Face = Light Smoke + EVA Unit 01

    Right Shell = Red
    Right Tip = Orange
    Right Face = Light Smoke + EVA Unit 02
     
    Front view
    P8236532.jpg
     
    Back view
    P8236546.jpg
     
    Top view
    P8236539.jpg
     
    Quad BA drivers in left unit
    P8236516.jpg
     
    Single dynamic bass driver in right unit
    P8236519.jpg
     
    Minor grumblings: the right orange tip could have been more translucent to match the left translucent smoke tip, but it's going into my ears anyway.

    I thought light smoke face would be cool to see the innards of the IEM, but now i think perhaps a opaque white / black / silver background would have made the custom artwork pop out abit more.

    And these are really fingerprinty! My old livewires had a matt black face with the plug in the middle so no fingerprints and no art.

    BUT OVERALL, build quality is really good, shell had no visible bubbles or flaws. Artwork turned out well, right colour, size and proportion. 

    Fit is really perfect, slipped right in painlessly and created a vacuum, seal won't break even if i do the chewing motion. it made me realise how airy and unvacuum my old livewires are, perhaps my ears changed shape over the last 5 years.
     
     
    White Lotus likes this.
  6. White Lotus
     
    Looking good, mate! Great work. Welcome aboard! 
     
  7. White Lotus
    I bought an X5 today. Plays VERY nicely with my carbon fiber Merlins! 
     
     
    DSC04354.jpg
     
  8. uli87
    Burpingboy, cool artwork :) I'd be interested to hear some sound impressions and what you upgraded from!
     
    White Lotus - those look great together! I also follow the X5 thread and noticed that you said that the HPO sounded sweet with the merlins, but here I see that you also use an amp? The X5 should have more than enough power to drive IEM of any kind from what I have read.
     
  9. White Lotus
     
    Absolutely. The amp is one I had already (E18). I thought I would try them with the stacking kit to see how it looked [​IMG]
     
    I usually only use an amp to actually get a better output impedance for the IEM, such as with an iPod. 
     
    The X5 HPO is actually fantastic with the Merlins. Especially because the volume on the X5 feels like a perfect match for them. For example, having the volume up one quarter is quiet, having it up half way is comfortable, any higher is a loud volume.. 
     
    I just really love it, compared to using amps that will blast your ears when you even slightly whisper to the volume knob. Lots of steps to play with.
     
    With the super low output impedance, the X5 is a match made in heaven for the low impedance Merlins. 
     
  10. uli87
    Sweet :) I plan to use my Merlin straight out of the HPO of my DX90 and give my wallet a freaking rest for a bit.
     
  11. burpingboy
     
    I am not very good with describing sound impressions, and i listen mostly to mandarin pop and japanese OSTs so the titles will not be familiar to most, but i shall try nonetheless.
     
    Coming from a 5 year old dual driver LiveWires CIEM, using directly out of my Fiio X5 headphone-out:
     
    Soundstage - much wider, I can "visualise" a wider zone from left to right, and with recordings from Chesky, can tell the front and back. Yet with the wider soundstage, it does not feel sparse in between, each musical element is well-sized and well-placed within the space without feeling too empty.
     
    Highs, especially high hats and cymbals, sounds really lively and open, fast and reactive, totally different from my old LiveWires where they were hiding somewhere.
     
    Lows, of course, the dynamic drivers are doing what they do best - full rumbling bass, yet it does not steal the show from the rest of the spectrum. I have my lune silver cable re-terminated to 2-pins and after changing the stock to lune, and the most obvious difference is in the bass - which is punchier and more controlled for the really low frequency. Presence of bass is definitely a few notches up from my LiveWires, but not overpowering. I like it more with the lune cables.
     
    Mids and vocals did not felt recessed to me, i can still hear them where they were, definitely an upgrade from my LiveWires. 
     
    Details and separation, i feel these 2 are quite connected because if the sound is not separated enough, you won't get the details. I can vouch that i am hearing alot more things for very familiar tracks but it is delightful in everyway, not distracting.
     
    One big reason that made me wanna replace my LiveWires was because i was hearing crackling noises in my right ear when the music is loud, or for specific frequency when a female vocalist sings somewhere in the range of a high G to B. Turns out it wasn't a driver problem as i am also experiencing this with my ATH AD900 which are open headphones, though less frequent. My specialist said it's got something to do with my Eustachian tubes not functioning properly to equalize the middle ear air pressure likely due to sinusitis. Antihistamines did help abit but it is still quite easily triggered with my LiveWires.
     
    After changing it to the Merlins, which are 100% more fit that my LiveWires, i dunno if it is due to the fit and better vacuum, or the air vent, or other factors, the tolerance level of my set up and ears has increased substantially before the crackling will appear, i.e. i can go for a higher listening level or longer listening time before i hear crackling. 
     
    Overall the listening experience is enjoyable and a huge step from my LiveWires.
     
  12. uli87
    Thanks for the impressions!
     
    Your review is more or less in line with the majority of the others I have read. I keep patting myself on the back for stumbling on the merlins as they seem to fit my needs very well. 
     
  13. efib
    Would you characterize Merlin as a bright sounding iem ?
     
  14. DeepGroove
    I would say it has a warm bass but rather bright mids and treble. Using a silver cable improves clarity and makes it much brighter.
     
  15. efib
    Oh I see , thank you :)
    I like bass and thick mids and I'm trying to gather as much info as possible ,I mean buying it for 880$ and then selling it at 350$ if I don't like them , isn't the best deal ..
    Too bad the reshell cost for them it's so high, I'm sure it will out many buyers off from buying it ..
     
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