This year has been a rollercoaster ride for me, the ups and downs would have been worse if I I weren’t in the company of my closed ones and these beautiful IEMs. I have been working on some of the most exciting IEMs around the price tag of $1000 and very recently finished my reviews of 64audio Duo. Along with the Duo was the Unique Melody Mext.
Unique Melody has been one of the most exciting chi-fi brands in the $1000+ segment as they have released the most number of IEMs in this range. Their Mest mk2 was a revelation. There was the Indigo to top the Mk2 and few more untouchable IEMs arrived after that. But most recently they released something most of us can reach for or at least think of, the UM Mext. It’s their most capable bone conduction driver IEM in a hybrid setup. Mext has 1 dynamic driver for bass and 4 BA drivers for the rest of the spectrum. I will be lying if I tell you I wasn’t excited about this IEM.
Priced at $1099, Mext ships in only one color, black.
In their words:
“Since its 1st gen MEST, Unique Melody has acquired the distinction of being the first audio brand to use bone conduction technology in its high-end in-ear headphones. The MEXT has been launched after years of R&D and can deliver sound through both, air transmission and bone conduction. This creates an all-around sense of space and vibration. Combined with the dynamic and balanced armatures, the new OBC drivers offer a breathtaking experience with excellent conduction and a high yield rate.”
Get one from These Links:
UNBOXING AND ACCESSORIES:
Mext comes with the usual flap open, double compartment box from UM. The first thing we see is the signature blue colored box. This is an excellent case with compartments made with a Velcro strap, one can adjust this according to their liking. The IEM and cable are placed inside it. 3 pair of Xelastic and UM blue core tips, a cable tie, cleaning cloth, additional pair of filters and a warranty card is placed inside the lower compartment.
Keep no doubts about the build quality of this IEM. UM has gone extreme lengths to accommodate the bone conduction driver and has taken the build quality seriously since only a well built, rigid shell can transfer the frequency with lesser loss. There is a lot of resin on the shell, it’s super solid but that makes it heavy too.. Drop it, and it might not survive.
I have to mention, this IEM looks fantastic. Just like most of the UM IEMs this too has a semi custom type shell. This shell is ergonomically designed to provide good traction and comfort. The bigger problem here is the size.. This IEM is nearly 30% bigger than the Mest mk2 and nearly twice as voluminous as the 64audio Duo. I wasn’t exactly worried about this but then this is the limit to it. For a universal IEM, there has to be some wiggle room cuz no two ears are exactly same. If the shell was any bigger, it would have been uncomfortable. Keep no doubts, this IEM won’t fit smaller ear. The nozzle too is a bit on the wider side and isn’t exactly deep.
This cable nearly exactly looks like the Mest mk2’s pure copper cable but that’s M2, this is M1 and one can easily tell them apart. M1 is a bit stiffer, has a more shiny appearance and is a bit more prone to microphonics. This 4 core cable too is made by PW audio. It looks awesome and compliments the IEM aesthetically. What I don’t like is the aggressively bent ear hooks. They are stiff and do not feel comfortable.
This is a proper copper cable which favors mid bass and mid treble regions
I have been looking forward to this IEM. This has to be one of the most beautiful IEM around $1000 but will you buy an IEM in this price its looks? We come down to its sound quality. UM Mext houses one bone conduction driver, one dynamic driver for bass and 4 BA drivers for the mids and highs. This bone conduction powered hybrid IEM wasn’t giving me the WOW factor I was expecting out of the box. It took the IEM around 200hrs to reach its potential. Initially most of the notes were lacking much needed control and accuracy but after putting a whole lot of hours behind the drivers, things started to settle. Finally this 4 way cross starts to make a positive impression.
Keep no doubt, Mext has a V shaped sound signature with musicality at its heart. It has a mid bass dominated lower end while the treble is on the energetic and sparkly side. The tonality and timber improved and is fairly natural with a hint of metallic feeling to it.
I have used the stock blue core tip, Shanling UA5 and Micro Signature for this review.
PAIRING WITH SOURCES:
Mext is not a very moody or power hungry IEM. What it does enjoy is a bit of power to open up it’s stage and sonics. One can easily get most out of it with a simple dongle but I will definitely like to use a powerful DAC/amp like TK2 to extract the extra bit of composure and bigger stage from it.
I want to be dramatic here. BCD BCD BCD, go home.. No no.. Wait there is more to it. A bit more to it, okay okay.. There is much more to it. But from this you can already sense that the bone conduction driver affects the lower end a lot, thanks to it the mid bass region dominates the lower end. There is good amount of punch, moves very good amount of air. Initially the sub-bass presence was average but it opened up a bit more after the 200hrs+ mark with extra rumble. The extension isn’t exactly the best but it’s much more rounded now. Back to the OBC driver, again, thanks to it the whole lower end is dominated by mid bass. It has a large impact area but the impact is on the softer side. What felt odd is the way this mid bass region affects the notes from both sub and upper bass regions. It attracts the sub-bass and upper bass notes and takes over them or reduces their impact or energy. The mid bass gets a bit busier while the lower end loses its dynamic nature. I am not saying this is problem either, but this could have been better.
To the common ears, this will go unnoticed, this lower end is fun and musical, no harsh feeling as the decay speed is well under control, it has good amount of texture and the level details is decent too. I like its layered presentation too.
After the initial hiccup Mext has gained good definition and resolution but still is not as good as the Mest mk2 but catches up to the 64audio Duo. Gains in with sonics and timber are easily perceivable. It has the cohesive feeling. Are the notes well developed now? The short answer is yes, they still have a wider bases and slightly thinner body giving it a bit less cleaner but cohesive sound. Definition and finishing of the notes have improved a lot. It’s slightly slower decay helps with the musical tuning. Another good thing is note’s height. Mext has taller notes than both Mest mk2 and Duo. This gives it a more immersive feeling. Layering and separation is good but the transparency with micro details isn’t up to the Duo.
Vocals are cohesive but do have a bit of a weighty feel to them giving them a slightly metallic timber. Both male and female vocals sound clean and clear with reasonably accurate tonality. I am impressed with the vocal textures too. It does not try to emulate a more organic or warmer tonality like Solaris 2020 and Fibae 4 but the texture and emotions are portrayed with a bit more depth and feeling. These vocals do not sound overly thin either, placing Mext in somewhere in between “lush and accurate” and “musical and detailed”. Instruments too do not lack any texture or definition but still it lacks a bit of energy with micro details. Thankfully it doesn’t lack a bit of finishing definition or sharpness of the macro details. Still then notes are aptly agile, energetic, weighty and deep while retaining very good crispiness and contrast. It projects a more fun sound and doesn’t try to be as accurate or as precise as the Mest mk2. The upper mids is exceptionally under control giving the Mext one of the cleanest and aggression free feeling without sounding dull.
Initially there wasn’t much treble to talk about and I thought, okay.. This is interesting. A mild mannered bassy IEM from UM with a musical tuning is good. But this started to change after 50 hrs of burning. The highs opened up but there wasn’t much life to talk about, it was in the bud stage, notes were compressed and lacked body, and the energy was uneven. Both these things irritate me, I got annoyed and a thought spread in my mind.. What is this.. A prototype? An Experiment where UM wanted to go all out with their OBC driver? I gave it around 50 hrs and lost much of my hope. Frequencies were all over the paces, the energy was uneven and the notes were lean. I though this is it.. Doom, worst UM IEM I have heard.. But something happened after 200 hrs. This as good as dead IEM came back to life. This now sounds like a proper V shaped IEM without much to complain about. The bass started to sound more linear. Mids were spacious and the treble gained the much needed stability. Notes still are much more accurate and precise and the uneven energy got addressed. Still then.. The energy starts to dip and the upper treble loses energy, but that’s alright as the Mext is not a detail oriented IEM.
Thanks its own set of BA drivers Mext has its own treble energy, it starts to rise at the lower treble region and peaks at the mid treble region and then starts to drop, but the whole treble region is lively with very good sparkle and details. There is very good amount of separation and layering with good amount of air between instruments. It isn’t as vivid as the 64audio Duo or Fiio FH9 but does plenty good for most of us.
Stage and Imaging:
MEXT has an above average stage. It has very good height, above average width and reasonable depth. It’s not huge but has plenty of room for the instruments to spread their legs. I like the layered feeling specially the way it keeps the vocals separated is excellent. Imaging is really good with this IEM, it’s not the most accurate but is fairly engaging thanks to its sonics. No part of the spectrum takes a lion’s share and the instrument distribution is more or less even. Yes, treble has taller notes which gives the whole stage a bit of cone like shape but its still is aptly rounded with voluminous lower end.
VS 64Audio Duo:
Let’s get to the point. How good is the Mext? It’s excellent for those looking for an engaging fun sound, those who like to sit back and enjoy their music, the sonics and energetic instruments along with punchy bass will keep most of us seated. It is good for those who enjoys energetic highs and punchy bass but are not critical about micro details.
If you start seeking the extra bit of details in between macro details, Mext can feel slightly less capable. Don’t mean that it doesn’t have that detail, it’s just not as transparent.. One piece of advice.. If you want a more balanced sound and better micro details, get a silver cable.
Have a nice day, Enjoy!! Cheers!!