Unique Melody Mason V3 review: mastering the details at terminal velocity

Pros: Remarkably detailed, natural treble extension, deep bass extension, speed to dominate even the fastest tracks, flexible tuning with dB-Go and ‘Dual Tone’ cable, big soundstage, timbre, bass texture, revealing details previously unnoticed and giving new life to old music, can battle with full size headphones for stage

Cons: large universal shell, price, cable is a touch heavy on the ear, some mids recession, female vocals can sound thin on silver cable (better on copper), cable housing could be softer material

List Price: $2699

Product Website: http://en.uniquemelody.org/detail_203.html

Unique Melody Mason v3

Rating Disclaimer: ratings are subjective. Audio quality and value do not mean the same thing across all prices. A headphone with a 5 rating on audio at $5 does not have equivalent sound quality as a 5 rating at $500. Likewise, value at $5 is not the same as value at $5000 dollars.

Introduction

The folks at Unique Melody have been around since 2008, so the Unique Melody Mason V3 and Mentor V3 mark kind of a 10-year anniversary celebration for Unique Melody. Happy belated birthday, guys!

funny-birthday-quotes-09

Unique Melody started with remoulding busted IEMs in 2008 and moved into building CIEMs in 2009. Happy 10th birthday, Unique Melody CIEM business! For my tenth birthday I got a calligraphy set, a birthday party at McDonald’s and acne. I hope your tenth birthday is better than mine.

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Along their decade of existence as a full-on manufacturer of IEMs they’ve stayed true to making IEMs for enjoyment and a broad audience with IEMs ranging from hybrid bass cannons to delicate all-BA setups like the Mason V3 and all kinds of variety in between. Their latest releases, the Mirage and Maven, have used titanium 3D printing and look cool—I haven’t heard them yet, but am curious. They’ve even released upper market triple dynamic driver IEMs TWICE!

That’s what I got when I searched for DDD. K-pop. It was too interesting not to share. My brain doesn’t work right.

Audio quality

The Mason V3 has extended bass with rich texture, a wide-open revealing midrange that leaves me looking for all the details in vocals, and treble that is detailed but never fatiguing. I can listen to these for a long long time on sound alone.

Comparisons

All comparisons were done using stock cables (except for the Noble Encore) with some use of the iFi iEMatch 2.5mm where necessary. Volume matching was done using white noise and an SPL metre. All comparisons were done using the Questyle QP2R in High Bias.

Source Headphone Cable SE/Balanced Gain Volume ~SPL
Questyle QP2R (High Bias) Unique Melody Mason V3 Stock Silver Balanced 2.5mm to iFi iEMatch2.5 (Ultra) Balanced Medium 110 78.4
Questyle QP2R (High Bias) Unique Melody Mason V3 Stock Silver Balanced 2.5mm to iFi iEMatch2.5 (High) Balanced Medium 92 78.4
Questyle QP2R (High Bias) Noble Encore PlusSound X Series GPC + iFi iEMatch2.5 (High) Balanced Low 90 78.4
Questyle QP2R (High Bias) UERR Stock Balanced Balanced Low 89 78.4
Questyle QP2R (High Bias) Unique Mentor V3 Stock Silver Balanced 2.5mm to iFi iEMatch2.5 (Ultra) Balanced Medium 101 78.3
SOUNDAWARE M2Pro Unique Melody Mason V3 Stock Silver 3.5mm SE Medium 70 78.2
SOUNDAWARE M2Pro Lark Studios LSX Stock SE Low 91 78.2
SOUNDAWARE M2Pro HiFiMAN RE2000 Gold Stock SE High 57 78.2

Noble Encore ($1899 + $349 for PlusSound X-Series GPC cable) vs. Unique Melody Mason V3 ($2699)

I took the Mason V3, the Mentor V3, and the Noble Encore to a friend in London. He favoured the Noble Encore for it’s lively sound. He could also hear the differences between the cables and the open and closed dB-Go settings. I didn’t tell him what I was doing or any effects. He has good ears.

The Unique Melody Mason V3 gives such great scope to Pink Floyd – On the Run (DSD64). The stage has realistic and deep directional movement with objects fading into the distance and zooming into the forefront extremely effectively with insistent percussion keeping pace in the front beautifully. The announcement is clear while being a well-spaced distance in the stage. The stage isn’t quite as wide on the Noble Kaiser Encore. The warbling digital tone at the beginning is smoother and less distinct than the Mason V3. The Noble Encore has more mid-bass body, while the Mason V3 is tighter and more focused. Bass thump is less defined on the Encore. There is slightly less depth in the Encore stage. The depth of vocals in the mids on this track is roughly equal which tells me that frequency response is similar there.

I’m guessing that the drums and piano are where the difference between the Noble Encore and the Mason V3 will be on Queen – Bicycle Race (DSD64). The Unique Melody Mason V3 is tight and focused on this across all frequencies. The best single word description for the Mason V3 is precise. If I choose a second word, I’ll choose accurate. A third brings spacious. The Noble Encore in comparison is smoother and warmer with more midbass. Drums have a touch more impact on the Noble Encore. Bass is a bit more diffuse but a bit bigger—the classic precision/body trade-off that I see all the time in both high and low-end IEMs. The Encore is a bit more vivacious, the Mason V3 is more accurate. The bass is substantially bigger on the Encore, but the texture is superior on the Mason V3. The Mason V3 really pulls out every ounce of texture it can. With regards to bass extension, the Mason V3 goes deeper with more texture. The Encore is bigger, smoother and warmer with more weight in the midbass. Cymbals on the Mason V3 are very accurate. There is no inordinate splash, taps that should make little ting sounds make the precisely right little ting sound. The bicycle bells are conveyed with loads of texture and appropriate tight decay that allows all the elements of the bike bell sound to be showcased. Bells on the Mason V3 are a hair sharper than the Noble Encore and a touch more forward.

Rebecca Pidgeon’s voice is sweet and front and centre on Spanish Harlem (24-88, Bob Katz 15th Anniversary Edition), and the Mason V3 lets it hang there. The recording has a nice insistent backing stand-up bass that is tight and focused while having just the right amount of lingering presence on the Mason V3. Every instrument has beautiful placement with the maraca and cabasa (or guiro?) both clearly in front of a single percussionist to the right. Right before the percussionist begins playing their feet can be heard shifting in their seat. There is excellent layering. On the Noble Kaiser Encore, the stand-up bass is bigger but less textured, and Rebecca Pidgeon’s vocal has more reverb. I think the vocal is more what I’m used to hearing on the Noble Kaiser Encore, as on most headphones the vocal has this body and reverb. On this particular vocal, the Mason V3 could be described as lean. The Mason V3 does the stand-up bass better. Interestingly, the strumming guitar is somewhat lost on the Noble Encore while being more nicely featured on the Mason V3. The Noble Kaiser Encore has a little more trouble resolving delicate instruments like the guiro (thinking about it, I don’t think it’s a cabasa due to the single percussionist) when there is a lot going on in the scene—there are definitely some benefits to more dedicated sets of balanced armature drivers. The maraca has a woodier snap on the Noble Encore, probably indicating a bit more emphasis in the 3-4kHz range. Also, of note, this recording has some background recording noise, a kind of soft hiss. This hiss is more present on the Noble Kaiser Encore. It’s heard on lots of headphones, so is not an artefact of the Noble Kaiser Encore, but some may find the reduction of this on the Mason V3 pleasing.

For me, listening to Rush – The Trees (DSD64) is all about sibilance and complexity. Geddy Lee has a sibilant voice with long sss sounds and soft t’s. The Noble Encore is giving me a little bit of extra warmth on Geddy Lee’s voice, which is somewhat expected given the extra energy in the midbass and lower mids. Geddy Lee has a somewhat nasally voice, so this makes him sound a bit more congested. Sibilance on the Noble Encore isn’t elevated or reduced, so about right. The Noble Encore does all right with the complexity on this track. The Mason V3 presents Geddy Lee more cleanly and presents the stage with more separation and resolution. There is no problem with sibilance on Geddy Lee’s voice, the sibilance that is there is represented without any detraction or addition. The birds in the intro come through beautifully while still having more air between them and Geddy Lee than the Encore represents. The overall stage depth is greater on the Mason V3, but Geddy Lee sounds less forward, as does the bass. All instruments are more controlled with a more precise imaging and a clearer overall sound. The Mason V3 is technically superior and more tonally accurate. The cymbals on the Noble Encore have a bit of a tizzy sound on them, while the Mason V3 has a more accurate metallic ting or crash as the style of play demands. The dimensionality of the Mason V3 is stunning. Instruments on the Mason V3 just sound more realistic than the Noble Encore.

Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered (UERR) ($999) vs. Unique Melody Mason V3 ($2699)

Violent Femmes – American Music (16-44) positively chugs with good bass depth, but low body on the Mason V3. The stage is 3-dimensional with great air between the many instruments chugging in and out of the song. It’s a really busy song, but the Mason V3 takes it in stride. The Mason V3 is just straight-up fast. Gordon Gano’s vocals are more up front with a bit more nasal tone on the UERR. The UERR also has a good 3D stage, but it doesn’t have the depth of the Mason V3. For the difference in driver count, the UERR does a remarkable job delineating all the individual elements, but it doesn’t sound effortless or as well-separated as the Mason V3. The Mason V3 plays the complex parts of the track with ease. The end part of the track feels a lot more claustrophobic and busier on the UERR than the Mason V3, which keeps up a little better.

Warren P. Chi of Head-Fi fame turned me onto Yosi Horikawa – Wandering (16-44, binaural), and I’m glad he did. The binaural recording has a lot of exotic panning, insistent snapping percussion and big synthetic bass hit that extends low both in the stage and in the frequency curve while the high part of the stage is populated by birds and ethereal synth. The initial footsteps leading into the track are more forward and have softer, more muted crunching on the UERR. Bass doesn’t extend as deep or have as much body on the synth bass with the UERR. The percussion elements are harder and somewhat unpleasant on the UERR. Stage doesn’t have as much separation and the sound is overall more forward. The track is just miles more enjoyable on the Mason V3. I like the UERR, but it isn’t a great match for this track.

This is Prog Rock! Yes – Soundchaser (24-96, Steven Wilson remaster) is a speedy symphonic composition with competing frequencies and spatial representations with all the drama of an orchestral arrangement. It’s busy and impressive. The speedy cymbals and other percussion are there on the UERR, but there is some blending, especially when there are many elements going at once. The Mason V3, is just MAD fast, pulling an Alfred E. Neumann on this one. The UERR has a more immediate presentation, but the UERR has more depth, even after considering the illusion of depth created by the slightly recessed mids of the Mason V3. Soundstage width isn’t much different between the two and stage height is also a push. Resolution is ridiculous on the Mason V3. When the three vocalists are going at the same time, they are easily separated with the Mason V3, such that they stand out, while you must listen with intent with the UERR.

The Mason V3 is delicate, precise and clear no matter the track, it isn’t one for raw emotion—not that it can’t evoke it, it just doesn’t prioritise it. On Amber Rubarth – Hold On (24-192, binaural), Amber’s voice is clean, and a touch light with the Mason V3 without sounding brittle or overly thin, but it doesn’t carry the kind of emotional weight that this track is capable of; it’s a touch lean. The UERR gives Amber and strings a bit more weight, which raises the emotional bar. However, when I switch to the copper cable on the Dual Tone cable, I get back a bit of that emotional weight (not all of it) while sacrificing a little bit of stage and precision. When listening to female vocals, I think that many will consider this switch. It’s good to have options.

Lark Studio LSX ($1699) vs Unique Melody Mason V3 ($2699)

The comparisons here were done on the SOUNDAWARE M2Pro as the Mason V3 doesn’t sound quite right out of the single-ended output of the Questyle QP2R (this is fixable with a UE Buffer Jack).

The Mason V3 really lays out the stage beautifully on Macy Gray – Annabelle (24-192, binaural). The distance between the band members feels like a real stage with Macy sitting a bit back of the bassist and the lead guitarist, while the drummer sits well into the back slightly left of centre. On the LSX, bass and Macy Gray’s vocals are slightly more forward, but Macy’s vocal sounds a bit stuffy. The Mason V3 sounds cleaner and clearer on Macy’s vocal, and overall on this track. The cymbals sound like there is a bit of a haze between them and the listener on the LSX. The LSX out does the Mason V3 on bass weight with dB-Go open and closed, but the gap is less when the dB-Go module is closed as this gives a bit more weight.

Metallica – Master of Puppets (24-96, Vinyl Rip) has great speed on the Mason V3, but a slightly more forward sound usually benefits metal, and the Mason V3 isn’t a front row kind of IEM. I find myself wanting it louder on this track. When I jack up the volume a bit that sounds more like it. It can certainly make it sound like I want it to. Bass extension is good on this track, but there isn’t any emphasis, so these could be interpreted as bass light with the dB-Go open. Closing the dB-Go gets a bit more bass ambience and makes the sound a bit heavier in general. The desire for additional loudness is repeated on the LSX (this is just a quietly recorded track). Vocals feel a tiny bit more distant due to some emphasis in the lower mids. Doing a similar volume boost works on the LSX also. The cymbal taps on this track have longer decay on the LSX, in contrast, the Mason V3 sounds a touch fast on the cymbals on this track. Guitar solos sound smoother on the LSX, but more refined on the Mason V3.

Why? – Strawberries (16-44) with the LSX has some big nicely textured bass. It gets some serious slam in the intro. Yoni Wolf’s vocals sound nice and silky with the LSX. Instruments have good layering. These work really well for this highly active alt-rap track. Nice sparkle in the percussion too with the LSX. The Mason V3 does just as nicely with Yoni Wolf’s vocal. Bass comes in with really nice definition, but the slam is less palpable on the Mason V3. Percussive elements like the maracas or the clapping are more in balance on the Mason V3. The sound isn’t as fun on the Mason V3, but it is probably more honest to the recording. Fans of hip-hop will probably prefer the bigger bass of the LSX.

There is some voice echo in Tori Amos – Silent All These Years (24-96, Vinyl Rip) in the verse vocal sections that is very subtle and soft. The Mason V3 does an excellent job picking this minute detail up. The vocals on the Lark Studio LSX are more forward, but it doesn’t pick up the echo vocal with quite as much definition. It’s still there, but I can’t pick up the full resolution of the vocalisations. It’s like it’s half there. The LSX is louder in the mids and has a silky texture to Tori’s vocals. Piano has a slightly softened timbre on the LSX. Low notes on the piano have slightly exaggerated body on the LSX. Cello has similarly lengthened decay. On the Mason V3, stage depth is deeper, but mids are also presented deeper. Cello and flute are more precise and correct sounding on the Mason V3. The violins have a beautiful soar to them. Tori’s voice isn’t as silky on the Mason V3. Low piano notes and cello are more controlled on the Mason V3.

With the Mason V3 the silver cable gives a leaner presentation, as does having dB-Go open. When dB-Go is closed and the copper cable is engaged, the Mason V3 retains a resolution advantage on the LSX but has a closer tonal presentation to the LSX. The LSX still wins on bass impact, and still tends to have silkier sounding vocals (vocals depend on the singer). The Mason V3 is more flexible, and more technically proficient with the accompanying sonic precision, but is not as emotive as the LSX.

Unique Melody Mentor V3 ($2099) vs. Unique Melody Mason V3 ($2699)

Both in-ears love some amplification, so I jacked the iFi iEMatch 2.5 up to Ultra and let that power flow into the IEMs. I listen in high bias all the time too—battery be damned! The Mentor V3 is more flexible to lower levels of amplification, but the Mason V3 wakes up with well-matched amplification levels. It can sound a little restrained before it wakes up, so it is probably worth testing the Mason V3 on a variety of amping setups.

The Mentor V3 produces nice jangly guitar strums on Rolling Stones – Salt of the Earth (DSD64) and forward, energetic piano. The stage depth isn’t huge in the Mentor’s representation. When the first bass guitar notes come in the Mentor V3 has some nice quantity with some depth. The Mentor V3 is forward and energetic. In comparison, the Mason V3 presents an expansive stage with excellent depth and separation but not as much energy. The bass guitar isn’t as powerful on the Mason V3 but exhibits a touch more texture. The treble on the Mentor V3 is a bit brighter and vocals are a bit smoother and less textured. When the gospel choir comes in the Mason V3 pulls off some wide panning to the left and the right and an overall airier presentation. The Mentor V3 stage is less wide and more forward but lead vocals are lost a bit more during the choir than on the Mason V3. Overall, I think the Mentor V3 captures the spirit of rock a bit more, because at the same SPL it sounds louder due to the overall forward orientation of the stage. Turning up the Mason V3 gets this same level of engagement while maintaining advantages in resolution and stage depth.

darryl-strawberry-01sq

If this song were a baseball player, it would be Darryl Strawberry, who famously went to prison for his stimulant addiction. Billy Cobham – Quadrant 4 (DSD64) is for speed addicts. At the beginning of the track there is a little opening speech that shows you the boundaries of the stage very effectively. The drums are so friggin’ fast in this track with speed all over the spectrum that drums represent, from toms all the way up to high hats. The Mason V3 is incredibly precise, with no loss of speed or spacing of instruments in this crowded arrangement. Individual tones are all rendered flawlessly with crisp boundaries, precise attack and decay and a lack of tonal smoothing. These will handle any level of speed.     The primary point of departure with the Mentor V3 is the depth of the mids. The Mentor V3 is a little more forward in the mids, which can be heard with a little more emphasis on the snare drums, the initial vocal and the guitar. The Mentor V3 also has a more compact presentation with modestly less width and depth to the stage, which gives a slightly more aggressive sound. Speed-wise, I think the Mason V3 has more precise resolution of the treble, and the more open sound of the Mason V3 allows the instruments to have their own space a bit more. There is a section about 3.5 minutes in that has a lot of cymbal crashing happening at the same time as high-speed cymbal tapping, the Mentor V3 doesn’t keep the sounds distinct as well as the Mason V3. The Mentor V3 also is more forward on the cymbal crashes leading to these swallowing some of the more delicate taps through their increase in volume.

Isaac Hayes – Walk on By (DSD64) has a big soundscape with loads of depth and wide dispersion of performers. The Mentor V3 does really well with the two duelling high-pitched guitars in the intro. These same guitars are a touch colder but also with wider dispersion on the Mason V3. The bass note right before Isaac Hayes silks his way into the stage is deeper and more textured on the Mason V3. The overall stage dimensions are superior on the Mason V3. As noted above, the Mentor V3 sounds louder at the same measured volume—I don’t know why this would be, and giving a couple ticks more volume to the Mason V3 pushes it to the same level of engagement as the Mentor V3, and better resolution and staging. Isaac’s voice is a bit airier and textured on the Mason V3, and more buttery and smoother on the Mentor V3, both are excellent presentations.

There is a disarming fragility to Macy Gray – The Heart (24-192, binaural), with the lingering emotive guitar, Macy’s raspy vocals, and the shimmer of the cymbals. The Mason V3 gets all the elements and splays them across the stage with deft precision. The Mentor V3 is immediately weightier and smoother during the intro guitar and Macy’s vocals, but some of the raspiness of her voice is lost to some buttery smoothness. Stand-up bass is bigger, and the treble shimmer of the cymbals is louder, but less precise than the Mason V3. The Mason V3 has a touch more definition in the treble, but not by much. The Mentor V3 is louder and more engaging. I’ve volume matched 5 times now trying to figure out if I’m hearing a loudness difference due to measurement error, and this difference in presentation is real, not a loudness artefact. The Mentor V3 is a more immediate, less deep stage compared to the Mason V3, with less horizontal spread, but it makes up for the technical deficit with extra tonal passion. I love both IEMs. As observed earlier, if I want a little more engagement with the Mason V3, I can just listen at 80dB instead of 78.3dB, but I can’t get more comparative resolution by turning up the Mentor V3. Is it worth an extra $600? That’ll be down to what you are looking for, but there is a lot of competition at $2699.

HiFiMAN RE2000 Gold ($2000) vs. Unique Melody Mason V3 ($2699)

The Unique Melody Mason V3 does depth and instrument placement brilliantly on Talking Heads – Psycho Killer (Stop Making Sense, 24-96, Vinyl Rip). David Byrne sings pressed up intimately against the front of the stage with electronic percussion next up, and then guitars followed by drums. The drums have impact but are not what would be called visceral with the dB-Go open (or closed).  The depth on the RE2000 Gold is not nearly as deep with the whole sound pushed forward and compressed. The sound is more vivacious but less spacious. The sound overall comes off as louder and a bit smoother. The RE2000 Gold does a good job with David Byrne’s voice—it’s still nasal but not sweet or syrupy. Bass drum is seriously accentuated which throws off stage depth substantially and obtrusively.

Like Psycho Killer, Wilco – Handshake Drugs (16-44) on the RE2000 has big warm, dominant bass that is north of neutral with a thumb on the midbass. The sound has great impact, loads of character and really good resolution, but a distorted stage presentation due to that thumb and a front row kind of presentation. The bass on the Mason V3 is tighter and more focused but without the impact of the RE2000. Comparatively the piano can have more focus and is very tunefully executed. The sound is a touch drier on the Mason V3. When I switch to the copper cable on the Mason V3 I get more warmth from the bass, a little less definition, and a more immediate presentation. The Mason V3 sound approaches the signature of the RE2000 with the copper cable on and the dB-Go port closed, but the bass is less forward, giving the sound a little bit more balanced presentation.

Norah Jones – Feeling the Same Way (16/44) gives me some serious upper mids candy with all those delicate guitar pluck on the Mason V3. Stand-up bass is nicely controlled, and Norah’s voice is sultry, breathy and weighty all at the same time—in other words, it’s right.  Stand-up bass on the RE2000 is bigger and rounder, but less defined. There is a trade-off of impact for definition, which is a common trade-off. Upper-mids guitar pluck aren’t as defined as the Mason V3 and the stage is more compact. Norah sounds fabulous on the RE2000 Gold also.

Jeebus! The kick drum is powerful at the beginning of Rage Against the Machine – Take the Power Back (16-44) with great impact and sustain on the RE2000 Gold. The bass guitar jam right after has gobs of power too on the RE2000 Gold. The sound is aggressive, but well-defined. Zac de la Roca’s vocals sound less powerful and a bit thinner than I want on the RE2000 Gold. On the Mason V3, the kick drum and the bass have similar impact, but a tighter, more focused presentation with a bit less emphasis, which puts Zac comparatively a bit further up in the stage. The stage is wider and deeper on the Mason V3. Zac still sounds a touch lean on the Mason V3 with the silver cable on. The copper cable is actually a better match for this track. I really dig the flexibility. The copper cable gives Zac a bit more body, as well as giving the bass some more body without sacrificing much in the way of detail—it does sacrifice a little bit of stage width and depth, but it’s an acceptable sacrifice.

These are both excellent headphones worth their price in sound quality with slightly different sound presentation. The Mason V3 is built far better (with better accessories by a mile) and has a more flexible tuning, as it comes with the Dual Tone cable and two settings for dB-Go all of which can be used to tailor the sound signature to the music and to personal preference.  I give the technical edge to the Mason V3, but it is $700 more to buy. From a comfort perspective, the Mason V3 is about equal to the RE2000. It has a better IEM body with no hard pressure points on the earpiece, but the memory wire cable could be softer and more comfortable than it is. At this end of the price spectrum, the Mason V3 is the better value.

Usability: Form & Function

As the unboxing experience and the build quality are the same on the Unique Melody Mentor V3 and the Mason V3, I’ve lifted this section directly from the Mentor V3 review, with minor modification. That’s why it’s at the end here, instead of coming first, like I normally do.

Unboxing

The Mentor V3 and Mason V3 share the same box, and accessory options. The Mentor and Mason V3 were part of a tour run on Head-Fi with Unique Melody (tour impressions here, Mason reviews here). The box is textured heavy card with a heavy linen pattern. Inside we find a titanium puck case with ‘UM’ minted into the middle. On the tour, the Mentor V3 came with a nickel-plated version and the Mason V3 came with a matte titanium puck. I prefer the matte puck that comes with these Mason V3 units. You can choose whichever you want when ordering.

The other accessories include three sizes of Comply foam eartips, 4 sizes of wide-bore silicone tips (unique to Unique Melody), a magnetic cable strap with button hook (cool little invention but I’ve never used it), a polishing cloth, and a plastic card that has the serial number and a USB drive with a user manual on it. There’s also the cable, which came in blue and black for the Mentor V3 and silver and black for the Mason V3. Overall the unboxing is a good experience.

Aesthetics and build quality

The tour unit Mason V3 are blue with what Unique Melody calls ‘dreamweaver’ fibres. These are white strands of fibre woven through at varying depths to create a 3-dimensional pattern. It’s a really nice effect. Something to note with dreamweaver and other cool patterns with regards to customs and universals: if you order from Musicteck, you can get a limited variety of nice dreamweaver designs in universal fittings at no extra charge, but if you do dreamweaver on a custom ordered direct from Unique Melody, it will cost you about $250.

The build quality of the Mason V3 is excellent. The 4-pin connector for the cable has a nice screw action and durable metal on metal connectors. However, every time you use the Mentor V3 both connectors should be checked as rubbing inside the puck case can cause the screws to loosen. If checked every time you listen, the connectors are very secure. I’ve forgotten to check and had scares where the IEM came off. Don’t forget to check.

About that case, I love the look of it, but it is a little bit small for keeping the Mason V3 connected to the cable inside the case, and I don’t like disconnecting every time I put stuff inside. I’m left wrapping the cable around the edge of the puck and then firmly pressing down the lid and working to match up the lid threads to the base threads—there isn’t much thread on the top of the case, so sometimes a half-turn backwards does the trick. If the case were slightly larger, even a few millimetres in height or width, it would make a big difference for putting the cable away.

Ergonomics

The ergonomics of the Mason V3 are comfortable for me for about 4 hours at a time but require specific adjustments. For me to get comfortable and secure insertion, I have to give a tug up on the top of my ear. I also have to arrange the memory wire on the cable in a way that limits pressure on the top of the ear as the cable is a bit heavy and hard. If you are thinking of using these for your spin class, you’ve probably got more money than Bezos and are battier than a battery of big brown bats.

Jeff Bezos is rich
Image from Fast Company

The size of the shell is large but is also not much different than the Unique Melody Miracle V2 I’ve previously reviewed (now available for $599 on musicteck.com). With 16 drivers inside (4 low, 4 lower midrange, 4 upper midrange, 4 high), and the dB-Go module, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done about the shell size except going for a custom which allows wider dispersion of internal parts. The cable could be improved by using a softer housing, and an alternative implementation for forming around the ear.

Specifications

 

Specifications  
Price $2699 (musicteck.com, uniquemelody.org)
Driver type 16 balanced armatures (4 low, 4 lower-mid, 4 upper-mid, 4 high)
Frequency response 20Hz to 25kHz
Impedance 24Ω
Sensitivity 104dB
Construction Acrylic, 4-way passive crossover
Accessories 8-core ‘dual tone’ cable (pure silver and pure copper), titanium storage case (matte or nickel-plated), Comply eartips (S/M/L), silicone eartips (S/M/L/XL), polishing cloth, warranty card with instruction manual

 

Acknowledgment

The Mason V3 was provided free-of-charge by Unique Melody. It is not my property, but I have not been given a timeline for return. I have received no compensation for this review. All thoughts in this review are my personal opinion.

Conclusions

I’m a huge fan of the Unique Melody Mason V3. It is the fastest IEM I’ve had the privilege of reviewing. It has a spacious stage with excellent clarity and precise imaging. It sounds realistic, like being a row or two back at a live show. It has deep extension in the bass and soaring extension in the treble. The mids are clear and precise with good emotion in male vocals. It’s not perfect, but I’ve not encountered a perfect IEM yet: it has slightly recessed mids, and the silver cable can be a touch lean on female vocals and strings, it’s bass impact could be considered light by some, some (not me) will find it cold; it’s large in the ear and it’s expensive. Unlike many other headphones or IEMs in this class, though, it comes with some built in adjustment. If you want more warmth you can switch to the copper side of the ‘Dual Tone’ cable, which also restores some emotion to female vocals. If you want more bass impact in the sub-bass the dB-Go module can be closed to get a boost. It’s an incredible IEM and priced like it. I highly recommend it.

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