Unique Melody Miracle: a smooth operator

Pros:  Smooth pleasing signature, laid back, isolation, deep rich bass, detail retrieval and imaging

Cons: Soft tonality, slightly diffuse bass, soundstage merely average, like some amplification to sound their best

List Price: $1049 (musicteck.com)

Unique Melody Miracle v2 Rating

Acknowledgment

I’d like to thank Lawrance of Unique Melody for loaning audioprimate.blog the Miracle V2 in exchange for honest opinions. You can find more info on Unique Melody and say ‘hello’ on their Facebook and Twitter.

Introduction

Audioprimate interviewed Lawrance of Unique Melody a short while ago finding out a good deal about the company and a little bit about Pennsylvania and St. Louis. Briefly, Unique Melody is a Chinese IEM manufacturer that started as a re-shelling operation in 2008. Since then they were one of the first to put out hybrid IEMs (Merlin, Merlin V2, and now the Martian), and are now releasing the ME-1, an in ear with a single planar magnetic driver and built-in pressure relief on the ear drum.

The Miracle V2 is less exotic than the Merlin or Martian, but it was the flagship before they released the Maestro. The Miracle V2 is a six driver per ear IEM with a sound designed to lean more toward the reference side while still being a bit of fun.

If you’d like to know more about your friendly neighbourhood audio reviewer—with much power comes much ability to shirk responsibility—you can look at my about me on HeadFi.

Useability: Form & Function

Unboxing

Artwork depicting John Keats’ poem subject in ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’

The Unique Melody Miracle v2 came in a DHL plastic envelope with the best packing I’ve ever seen to protect the retail box. The packing was a made to size foam cube that gives approximately an inch of padding on each side. That’s some mighty mighty caution. The packaging made me feel like I was unpacking a precious vase, not IEMs.

Inside the foam cube of invincibility, the box is a simple black affair with compartments for the accessories and a compartment for the small screwtop metal case with a substantial foam surround. The unboxing experience is premium, but not as luxurious as the UERR or Noble Kaiser Encore.  If you’d like the full unboxing experience, check out the gallery here.

Accessories

The Unique Melody Miracle v2 comes with an average assortment of accessories. There are 7 sets of eartips in three sizes: 2 medium white Comply style foamies to go with 1 small and 1 large set of foamies, and generic black silicone tips in S/M/L. One set of medium foamie tips was on the IEMs, which came packed inside the small screwtop puck that is the case. The case is smaller than I’d prefer and I sometimes found the thread a bit finicky. The solution I found is to turn a bit counter-clockwise before turning clockwise. In this way I never had to fight the threads. Other accessories included a cleaning tool (just pick, no brush), a small velvet pouch, and the ubiquitous 6.3mm and airline adaptors.

Build and Fit

The Miracle v2 I received is a chunky black plastic pseudo-custom shaped IEM with a jumbled text fascia. I found the fit ergonomic and comfortable and had no problems wearing them with any tips I used. My favourite tips with it were Spinfits (not included), which were used throughout the review. Isolation was good due to the pseudo-custom fit.

The cable attaches like a Ultimate Ears Pro IEM (protruding socket), and does not use standard 0.78mm pins. The 2-pin cable market is truly fraught with peril. I tried using the Noble Kaiser Encore’s cable, which has pins on the smaller side, and the cable was far too large. I tried a FiiO balanced Ultimate Ears cable and that had perfect fit. However, I’ve been warned in the past that Ultimate Ears has reversed polarity on their pin-out compared to other manufacturers, so I didn’t conduct the review using that cable. When I asked Ultimate Ears if I could use their cable on the Miracle v2, they told me not to do it, but didn’t provide an answer to the polarity question. This puts the Miracle v2 in an awkward position. It’s pin-out is too small for standard pin cables, and it may not have the same polarity as the Ultimate Ears cables that fit it. This meant that I was stuck using single ended for the review, and it means that instructions to custom manufacturers will need to be very specific. The picture below supplied by Lawrance of Unique Melody should help people wanting a custom cable for Unique Melody IEMs.

UM polarity

Aesthetics

I wasn’t a fan of the aesthetics of the unit. The Unique Melody type is a horrid jumble and not good graphic design, in my opinion. It is reminiscent of word jumble posters that you see up for sale talking about a city or fantastic brewers in an area (like the poster below), but the problem is that it is on the small canvas of an IEM and it is letters being moved around, not words. It ends up feeling like a nasty little jumble. The finish with the Unique Melody (UM) logo is cleaner and better, on CIEMs. Lawrance tells me that which options are available depends on what dealers order from them. So you may find that your local dealer has silver faceplates and blue shells. I’d prefer a standardised attractive approach with colours indicating which model you are buying.

Image of Miracle v2 face (custom to left, and universal carbon fibre at right)

Currently, it appears that there are only two options for universal fit IEMs, and both are variants of black (Carbon Fibre with small silver Unique Melody writing, or black with jumbled up Unique Melody), for all models. If a user should decide to use more than two Unique Melody IEMs: say they use the Maestro at home, The Merlin for rap, and the Miracle v2 in the studio, all in universal, they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between two of them by looking at them. I think that UM needs to do a better job differentiating their universal products. Noble did this in the not too distant past, and I have to imagine their new colour-coded line-up is much easier to sell. Please give me some different colour IEMs. I think it helps Unique Melody, and it certainly will help users (and probably people demoing them at shows).

Matchability

I tried the Miracle v2 with the following DAPs:

  • Aune M1s
  • Audio Opus Opus #3
  • Echobox Explorer
  • FiiO X5iii
  • XunSound XS-01

None of the DAPs had hiss problems with the Miracle v2. Of the DAPs on the list above, there was one DAP that stood out, the FiiO X5iii. It stood out because the FiiO X5iii has boosted sub-bass. For bass-heads, this will be excellent. For folks like me, it was a bit much. The bass was absolutely thumping at my ears with hip-hop tracks from Aesop Rock and 2Pac. I’m now understanding why HeadFi User and bass aficionado, Hawaiibadboy, really digs the X5iii. I found the combo a bit overwhelming.

I also threw the ALO Continental v5 at the Miracle v2 and they loved it. In general, the detail of the Miracles was as high as the DAP could show. When hooked up to the supremely detailed Opus #3 they kept up. I don’t think that people will have problems matching the Miracle v2. They sounded great out of my Asus Zenfone 3 also.

Audio quality

I’ve spent a sizeable number of hours with the Unique Melody Miracle v2 and I can certainly say that I like it. The Miracle v2 has three areas of the sound thrust a bit forward, the sub-bass, lower mids, and upper treble, to my ear. The most apparent forward area was in the mids. I compared these to the Noble Kaiser Encore, the UERR, and the Effect Audio Arthur and the ranking for forwardness in the vocals was as follows: Miracle v2, Encore, UERR, and Effect Audio Arthur (see reviews for more comparison text). The effect of having three areas of the sound pushed forward is to make the soundstage more intimate in feel than its competitors in my reviews. The Miracle v2 has an average soundstage as IEMs go with excellent detail and clarity. For those who like a mid-forward signature, I think this will be right up their alley.

Bass on the Miracle v2 is a touch soft with regards to note definition. However, it still has excellent body on tracks like D’yer Ma’ker, it just isn’t as tightly resolved in presentation as the Noble Kaiser Encore. Bass decay is long with dynamics a tiny bit restrained. On Why – Strawberries and Massive Attack – Teardrop the bass reaches low, with big sub-bass presence and slam, more than any of the IEMs listed above.

Low and centre mids are forward with good body, but female vocals on Teardrop felt a little restrained. Drums have excellent impact. Piano sounds natural. The mids are really the heart of the action. There is good emotion in vocals and guitars as evidenced in the Pixies – Where is My Mind. The vocal range emphasis allows all the subtle background male mutterings to really stand out on the track. There is a wonderful, powerful soul to the vocals on these. Damien Rice is clear and emotional on The Animals Are Gone, but not as emotionally devastating as the Encore.

The soundstage has more width than depth, but is overall fairly average. Height is a little above average. Width just barely reaches beyond the ear edge. Depth is fairly average. Separation and imaging within the stage is good, with accurate instrument placement and a nice free flowing sound. Detail retrieval is excellent.

Something to note about the Unique Melody Miracle v2, it likes power. At the same volume level with different gain settings on the Aune M1S mid gain provides a much more dynamic listen than low gain. These also sounded lovely with the ALO Continental v5. The low gain setting didn’t require much to power these. With regards to matchability, the Miracle v2 were not prone to hiss on any of my sources, which means they should be pretty plug and play for most folks as I’ve got a good range of output impedances from sub 1ohm to 2.2ohms.

Comparisons

When it comes to comparisons, I’ve got a bit of a quandary. I want to provide enough comparison to allow people to make choices without having to jump all over the internet like a frightened lemur. At the same time, I don’t want to just regurgitate what I’ve written elsewhere. For this reason, I’ve only written up a comparison between the UERR and the Unique Melody Miracle here. For comparisons to the Noble Kaiser Encore and Effect Audio Arthur, you can look at my other reviews, linked above. With that said, I have provided the volume match settings on my Aune M1S for the comparisons in the table below.

Headphone Cable SE/

Balanced

Gain Volume ~SPL
UERR Stock 2.5mm Balanced Middle 66 76.4
Noble Kaiser Encore Effect Audio Ares II+ Balanced Low 59 78.2
Unique Melody Miracle V2 Stock SE Middle 66 78.2
Effect Audio Arthur Excalibur Balanced Middle 42 78.2

The bass on the Unique Melody Miracle is deep, rich, and a little north of neutral. It is quite pleasing. The UERR is lighter, with a touch more speed and a bit less presence. Listening to Georgio by Maroder from Daft Punk, the low bass has more quantity but a bit more diffuse character. On the UERR the drums have a more palpable snap on Massive – Teardrop, and the overall sound is a bit tighter and more focused. This is not to say that the image on the UERR is smaller. On the contrary, the UERR casts a slightly a bigger image with greater width and depth. Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals feel like they come from forehead level with some intimacy, like she’s singing down on you from the stage whilst you lean forward from the front row when listening with the UERR. Fraser is at similar height, which is quite impressive, but it’s like you are in a seat at a show without general admission. Fraser’s vocals are comparatively recessed to the UERR’s neutral reference.

Overall the sound from the Miracle v2 is less dynamic, with a smooth, easy-going character and a little extra bass quantity. The UERR is more revealing, owing to its more balanced presentation of the mids and the more extended treble. It is also this treble that gives the UERR the advantage in stage dimensions. Both IEMs have great imaging, but the UERR is more precise and punchy which gives the image cast by the UERR more clarity than the Miracle V2. The Miracle V2 isn’t fuzzy, but it is softer than the UERR.

I make no secrets that my preferences are more towards balanced signatures, but there is a good use for V and U-shaped signatures. When we are out and about—I often took the Unique Melody Miracle V2 on the bus to work—loud noises populate our environment like Puffins populate Icelandic cliffs in summer. The crowd may be colourful, fishy, and temporary, but unless you’ve come specifically to see these feathered clown impersonators they probably aren’t what you want with your music. Since our greatest sensitivity is to the vocal range and we lose sensitivity to bass and treble in loud environments, V-shaped signatures normalise sound, making it more balanced when the ‘puffins’ start squawking.

Specifications

Like many headphones over $1000, the measurements of the headphone are not available. On many high-end IEMs you won’t find frequency charts, and sometimes stats are sparse. The Unique Melody Miracle v2 do not deviate too much from this opaque information template. It’s a bit of a shame. I’m a big proponent of transparency, it’s good for science and good for the consumer. Unique Melody used to have frequency charts available, you can find lots on the interwebs, but they don’t have any available now.

Specifications
Price $1049 (custom or universal)
Drivers 6 BA: 2 high, 2 mid, 2 low with 3-way crossover
Frequency Response 18Hz – 19kHz
Impedance 15.9Ω
Sensitivity 114dB

Conclusions

The Unique Melody Miracle v2 presents a signature that is smooth, easy-going, and a touch soft. It reserves its power for sub-bass, drums, male vocals and some upper level treble sparkle. The soundstage was smaller than all the multi-balanced armature setups I had on hand, and more on par with lower price offerings in dimension. Imaging was strong, with good separation and location. I can recommend this IEM to folks looking for a somewhat w-shaped signature with an overall smooth tone. There is no harshness to be found in this signature and it is always a pleasure to listen to.

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