In the world filled with IEMs and new releases happening almost weekly, it seems like novelty is something that rarely happens anymore. Unique Melody did just that. Not only the MEST is a “quadbrid” design, but it also incorporates something completely new to the IEM world, a bone conduction driver which vibrates the shell of the IEM. The rest of the drivers are a dynamic driver for the bass, 2 balanced armatures for the midrange, 2 balanced armatures for the highs and 2 EST drivers for the ultra highs.
In the box
Build quality and accessories
The IEMs are built very well, the shell is smooth and very well finished. The 2 pin socket, is quite tight which makes the cable hold very well and doesn’t feel like it will wear out quickly. The nozzle is well designed and having a notch it prevents the tips from falling off easily.
The cable is quite stiff but has a quality feel to it and by being clear shows how much conductor is inside. The split is done with an adhesive heat-shrink, I’d have preferred a light aluminium one which would add to the quality factor but I also understand that it would add extra weight to an already quite heavy wire so I can’t hold this against UM. The chin slider works but is quite hard to adjust and I’m a bit worried it will eventually damage the cable if I keep moving it.
The case is very good, made by Dignis (a high-end case manufacturer for audio products) it adds to the premium feel of the whole package. The internal design of the case is one I like the most, where the IEMs themselves are separate from one another and the cable which prevents them scratching and bumping into each other and potentially getting damaged. My only small gripe is the fact the red version of MEST still comes with a blue case, it would’ve been great if that colour was matched to the IEMs themselves.
In general, the accessories are good, I kind of wish for a second cable or adapters at this price range or a slightly more premium unboxing experience but at the same time the performance of MEST compensates for this, but more on this later.
Fit and comfort
I think the main issue of MEST is the fit, and it’s not that it fits badly per se, it’s the fact it needs a deep fit with as much of the shell contacting the ear as possible for the bone conduction driver to do its work. With stock silicone tips I couldn’t get a good fit, they were too stiff and the sizing wasn’t great for me, small would be too small and medium would be too big. However with either final E or xelastec tips that wasn’t a problem anymore and I was able to get them very comfortable and used them for 6+h at a time without issues.
I do feel like Unique melody could have designed the shells a bit better.
I think they could’ve opted for a more “pseudo-custom” shell which would ensure a bigger area of contact between the IEM and the ear for better effect of the bone conduction driver.
Here’s where things get interesting. If you look at the graph of MEST it looks like a V or U shaped IEM, however, upon hearing them with a good fit it sounds much more like a tasteful W signature to me. Very lively and engaging while never sharp or shouty.
Bass is fast, textured, punchy and extremely well-tuned. Listening to my trusty bass test track “Trentemøller – Evil Dub” the MEST presents all the detail and punches you when asked for it. While it doesn’t have the dynamics of something like a Final A8000 it’s still very good. The extension is fantastic and the subbass digs extremely deep and punches hard. Due to the way the tuning is done it never bleeds into the midrange, not only that it also allows the lower midrange to shine much better than a lot of the IEMs with a longer bass shelf.
The midrange of the MEST is something quite unexpected, especially if you’ve seen the graph before hearing it. Not only it has an amazing detail retrieval but also a textural quality that’s hard to describe. Listening to instruments gives you this odd ability to actually “feel” them in a way which is not something any other IEM I’ve heard can do, think of it as if you felt the texture of each note physically. Vocals are a bit forward but due to the well-tuned and never harsh nature of them, this to me is a plus and it balances the whole presentation really well. Listening to things like “Fleetwood Mac – The Chain” or “Iron Maiden – Trooper” is pure joy, with guitars, vocals and instruments having a sort of liveliness to them that’s hard to achieve.
Again, a fantastic performance here. The detail is up there with the super high-end flagships like the U18T, Anole VX etc. As someone who’s sensitive to 5-6kHz, I never found the MEST harsh or unpleasant even with very badly recorded and sibilant tracks. It always had a sense of smoothness and ease to them but still have enough bite to present the cymbals in a true to life fashion. There was plenty of air between the instruments and really good high-end extension.
Imaging and Soundstage
Here’s another place the MEST shines, it can “disappear”, what I mean by that is you don’t feel like you’re listening to a transducer but rather listening to the music itself. This takes a bit of time to get used to, hearing MEST for the first couple songs may be a bit odd but then the stage opens up and the imaging becomes extremely good and precise while definitely not being limited to the headspace and expanding well past it.
If you haven’t realised this by now, I absolutely love the MEST and can recommend it with ease. From the tuning to the technical performance it delivers on the highest degree, with only downsides being a possibly finicky fit to achieve the best sound and just ok accessories. I’m still amazed at the value the MEST presents in the high-end market and how this “novelty” IEM has struck such a great balance in the first go of implementing something new.
I would also like to give a big thank you to Andrew from MusicTeck who agreed to give my readers a 5% discount on the MEST when you use the code vikingaudioblog which will be valid for approximately 3 months.
Get UM MEST here: