Home Headphones Unique Melody: Mirage and Maven titan IEM review

Unique Melody: Mirage and Maven titan IEM review

by Paul Dmitryev
Unique Melody: Mirage and Maven titan IEM review

Welcome, my dear readers, here are two reviews in one again. Now we will speak about very interesting titan IEM models by Unique Melody.

It has all begun from the fact that UM have learned how to 3D print IEM bodies from titan. Having gained such experience, they have decided to release two models — more affordable (around 1000 USD) was called Mirage. These IEMs use 3 transducers per ear and a standard 3-way crossover.

More expensive (around 2000 USD) Maven are more complex, there are 11 transducers and 4-way crossover — apart from 4 drivers for lows, two for mids and 4 for highs there is some custom half-open transducer that was called “tuning”. I don’t know what it is responsible for but if it helps IEMs to sound better — let it be.

Specifications

Mirage

  • Transducers: 3 × balanced armature
  • Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 104 dB @ 1 kHz
  • Impedance: 23Ω

Maven

  • Transducers: 11 × balanced armature
  • Frequency range: 20 Hz – 25 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 108 dB @ 1 kHz
  • Impedance: 26Ω

Accessories and packaging

The presentation of both models is approximately the same and it in fact made me think about combining the reviews. Both models come in the minimal black cardboard box. There is a leather pouch on the top containing IEMs and the colors of pouches are different depending on the model. There also are:

  • IEMs and stock cable
  • 3 pairs of Comply foam
  • 4 pairs of silicone tips
  • microfibre cleaning cloth
  • warranty card

Funny, Mirage has a usual warranty card while Maven has it in the form of USB flash drive, similar to Mason V3.

Design and comfort

As it could be expected, having mastered 3D printing from titan, the engineers have used it to full potential. If Mirage caresses the glance by complex faceplate while keeping the inner part plain, Maven is fully covered with ornament. I have tried to make good photos to transmit all this. I like the design but someone may not, I will just mention good overall build quality.

The comfort is good if you don’t have extra small ears. Nozzles are slightly longer than average but not too much so the passive isolation for Mirage is average, and for Maven due to slightly different nozzle angle is slightly better than average.

Both models have detachable cables, 2-pin connectors are used. Stock cables are a little different in thickness (senior model has a thicker cable) but no difference in appearance. They are braided from contrast black and white chords, comfy and soft with almost no microphone effect and are prone to stiffening.

Sound

I have used the following equipment for listening purposes.

  • Yulong DA10 and Resonessence Labs Concero HP as DAC and amp
  • Apple MacBook Pro Retina 2016 as a source
  • Audirvana+ as a player
  • Lotoo Paw Gold Touch, Astell&Kern A&ultima SP1000 and others as portable players
  • Hi-Res recordings in Lossless-форматах (Dr. Chesky The Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc and others)

I have allowed 48 hours of burn in with no changes to sound, there are armature transducers after all.

Mirage

This model is close to mass-market tuning with accents on lows and highs, or in short — V-shaped presentation.

The bass is elevated averagely, the IEMs are not basshead and I think it is good. Attacks and decays are shortened so the overall presentation is somewhat dry but in return the listener gets great resolution and textures and together with correct weight it provides great armature sound. The deep bass layers are present but in comparison to enhanced midbass they are behind.

The mids are detailed with slight accent on microcontrast and this is what you expect from single armature transducer. It also lacks weight sometimes but it is compensated by resolution and emotions. Of course mids are well controlled and coherent without any problems between drivers. The sound stage is above average in width and average in depth. Mirage additionally enhances layering and moves vocals slightly forward.

The highs, despite the accent, is tuned in a way not to sound too harsh. Of course if you are too treble sensitive, you should better listen to IEMs before you buy, but I believe that on average people won’t think about them as too harsh. The length of highs is not abundant, but rather good with good resolution. Attacks and decays are slightly diminished but overall this part of the range sounds natural.

Maven

Since the company already has neutral-monitor flaship Mason V3 model, they have decided to give Maven the presentation with accent on highs that provides maximum clarity and details.

The lows are massive and deep but not at the cost of resolution — here we have an example of how to correctly use several armature transducers to give bass correct weight. Of course top dynamic transducers will be even more massive and springy, but armatures win in resolution, speed and textures. Additional bass accent is very slight but is enough to sound great.

The mids have correct weight and good resolution. The accent on micro details is less than in Mirage and together with additional weight it has allows Maven to play in a more natural way and better transmit emotions, vocals and character of instruments, giving them good weight and naturalness. The sound stage is notably above average in depth and height but the IEMs don’t bring anything additionally on purpose.

The highs are accentuated throughout their frequency range, starting from upper mids. It is natural that people who do not love highs should not buy these, however for me they are still not overly abundant in this r4egistre. This accent has allowed wow-effect for Maven, they play with enhanced clarity and are very clean that astonishes on some styles. The highs resolution, the naturalness of attacks/decays are on good level, the IEMs underline overtones well, make them lively, sometimes even more than in reality.

Comparisons

First of all let us compare Mirage.

HUM Pristine Model from Hong Kong sound wizards has been created for maximum clarity and neutrality and it sounds this way. They are more detailed than Mirage and have better length in highs, but less weighty bass and drier mids.

Campfire Audio Andromeda Comparison I can’t avoid, but the difference is obvious — Andromedas are more neutral, monitor, with less accents on lows and highs. They have more weight and less micro-details.

And, of course, comparisons for Maven.

Mason V3 I think we should consider this model a second (or main) flagship of the company, they are more neutral in the upper part of frequency range but have more forward mids and accentuate them additionally.

Noble Audio Khan Hybrids with 3 transducer types offer more weighty dynamic bass with slightly less resolution, less accentuated but more weighted highs from ceramic transducer and slightly more mids resolution that has been possible with some sacrifice on weight.

Noble Audio Kaiser Encore More fun variant of tuning with better lows accent and more emotions with macro details.

Campfire Audio Andromeda More neutral tuning — less lows, less weight on mids, more resolution on mids, less accentuated for highs with more length.

Compatibility

Both models do not require much power but in order to show their full potential they will need mid-high tier player or even top. They are tolerant to background noise, good control is much more important.

In terms of style both Maven and Mirage are universal, it all depends on what you like to listen to — Mirage are better with simple jazz, classical rock and blues while Maven with complex classical music or jazz. The sensitivity for quality of recording are 7 for Mirage and 8 for Maven.

Example tracks

Foreigner — Woman Oh Woman (Live ’78) When prog players begin to hate playing something complex they unite into a superband and try to overcome their nature and to play more simple. This is the case with Foreigner and their great ballad that shows involving Mirage presentation. To make the task more complex, I have chosen a live version from famous concert of 1978, but the IEMs have been good at transmitting the atmosphere.

Stan Getz & João Gilberto — Pra Machucar Meu Coração To be honest, I cannot begin to love the latam version of jazz with all that bossa nova. Of course, Girl from Ipanema is genius, but after 3-4 composition I just get tired and begin skipping tracks. This time I have decided to make an exclusion since this track fits junior model UM pretty well. Great bass, somewhat moved to the right channel is complimented by sax in the center and light forte piano support from the left, overwhelming the listener with the emotions.

Veronica Swift — Interlude Another jazz track, more complex for the IEMs, since it is a vocal jazz by one of the rising stars — Veronica Swift. She has begun career at the age of 10 and to 25 years has gained quite a success.We, of course, appreciate her ability to control vocals and Maven show this pretty well, sometimes giving the goosebumps.

Kronos Quartet — Sun Rings: Beebopterismo And in the end, some complex music. I won’t dig deep into story around Kronos Quartet or I risk to never finish this review. Their history starts from 1973 and they are one of the mains in the genre but this does not prevent them from mixing neoclassical attempts with avantgarde experiments. Sun Rings are no exclusion, since apart from quartet music and great choir parties the listener gets a wide palette of space sounds that create great atmosphere of touching something really great. Of course everything is recorded on the highest level and to transmit it, the IEMs have to be really potent. UM Maven are such.

Conclusions

Unique Melody continue moving along the direction that has been taken by company several years ago and prove that they can not only create great sound, but are one of the leaders when it comes to design and materials.

Translated by: Vadim Kolchev

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