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Review: Unique Melody Multiverse Mentor

Happy New Year one and all, and wishing all our readers a peaceful, plentiful year ahead. Before I begin, I’d like to thank my friend Doug Campbell for loaning me his brand-new Mentor for review. Many reviews would simply not be possible without the generosity of passionate enthusiasts like Doug. 

Introduction

For all its recent popularity, Unique Melody (UM) is a company I know very little of or about. The China-based boutique IEM manufacturer boasts a long history of very interesting, highly-regarded and ‘unique’ creations, but has also flirted with controversy for some of its outspoken social media activity over the past few years. 

All the ‘noise’ around the brand has certainly contributed to a heightened level of interest every time a new UM IEM is announced, not least the company’s latest ‘co-flagship’, the colorfully-named Multiverse Mentor.

A 13-driver high-end ‘hybrid’ IEM, Mentor is a technical marvel (oops…see what I did there). Along with 12 balanced armature (BA) drivers (4 bass, 2 midrange, 2 mid-treble and 4 treble), it features a ‘new’ bone conduction driver (BCD) with what UM calls ‘Frequency Shift’ technology. From what I can interpret from the marketing copy, this constrains the BCD driver’s range to below 20KHz, thus making the BCD effect more focused within the audible frequency spectrum. 

Whatever the theory behind it, Mentor’s technical performance is at least in line with, and generally above most of the premium priced ‘summit-fi’ monitors I’ve had the pleasure of testing. While that doesn’t mean it will appeal to every listener, at the very least the collective performance of the drivers, crossovers and other intricate components is unquestionably of the highest level.  

Let’s take a closer look at what this trending monitor is all about.

Packaging and presentation

With an RRP of $4,499, Mentor is certainly near the very top of the price ladder, surpassed only by IEMs like the Oriolus Traillii and Aroma Jewel. It’s therefore natural for Mentor to be compared to these IEMs, and even though I won’t be doing so myself in this review (other than with some cursory references to Traillii), it helps set the context for how Mentor is generally evaluated in the wild.

In that regard, Mentor’s packaging and presentation is understated for such a premium product, but is still leagues ahead of the Traillii’s plain-vanilla cardboard box that left much to be desired. There’s no minimalist utilitarianism here: the IEMs arrive comfortably nestled inside a faux leather zip-up case (complete with earpiece dividers), inside a soft white drawstring pouch, inside a hardboard blue-silkscreened box, inside a silver outer box. 

Alongside the case, UM provides two sets of eartips (including a set of pricey Azla Xelastec tips), cleaning materials, and replaceable metal mesh filters – a very nice touch indeed. This is no jewelry-like unboxing (think Sony Z1R), but it’s definitely up there with some of the better presentations I’ve seen. 

Design and fit

There are two parts to Mentor’s design and fit: the IEMs themselves, and the cable. 

Like most recent UM IEMs, Mentor ships with its own custom-made PW Audio cable. Mentor’s is a deep blue colour (to match the carbon shell), 4-wire, 26AWG silver-plated copper cable called ‘Deep of universe’ (not only a bizarre name but the small ‘u’ triggers my OCD like crazy). 

Despite the weirdness, this is par for the course for PWA’s recent ‘premium’ cables, and as such you can expect very good performance – albeit with not-so-optimal ergonomics. The cable is terminated with a 4.4mm balanced plug, which is fast becoming the standard for premium IEMs today. 

The design of the earpieces has come in for some criticism from early adopters, mainly because the shipping faceplates look absolutely nothing like UM’s product marketing pictures. Made with banksia seed and coated in clear resin, the faceplates have a dark brownish appearance with translucent purple patches when turned in the light. 

Only some very selective and exaggerated digital manipulation gets them to look like the reddish blue ‘artist impressions’ in the marketing photos, but in person the design isn’t quite as garish as some have made it out to be. 

The shells themselves are made from a deep blue etched carbon fibre – which initially made my heart race as I thought they were full of scratches (an unwarranted stress, it’s just how the material appears in certain light). A titanium-alloy inner frame separates the shells from the faceplates. The nozzle – made of polished metal – is quite fat and of medium length, which could be a challenge for smaller ears. 

Overall, the design is moderately comfortable, and tolerable for longer sessions with the smallest tips I managed to fit (SpinFit CP100 S). A shell vent prevents pressure buildup for longer sessions, which was one of the criticisms levelled at Traillii. The only criticism I have of Mentor’s design, faceplate-fiasco notwithstanding, is that the build quality is not as polished as I’d expect it to be, with visible glue lines for example, and certainly nowhere near the luxury levels I’d want from an IEM at this price tier. 

Continue to sound impressions

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Guy Lerner

Guy Lerner

An avid photographer and writer 'in real life', Guy's passion for music and technology created the perfect storm for his love of portable audio. When he's not playing with the latest and greatest head-fi gear, he prefers to spend time away from the hobby with his two (almost) grown kids and wife in the breathtaking city of Cape Town, and traveling around his native South Africa.

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2 Responses

    1. I didn’t get to compare it to Jewel but speaking to fellow hobbyists, some prefer Mentor to Jewel while others prefer Jewel. Probably best to audition for yourself to decide which you like more.

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