DISCLAIMER: Unique Melody loaned me this Mason V3 universal demo in return for my honest opinion. I will send the unit back following the review. I am not personally affiliated with the company in any way, nor do I receive any monetary rewards for a positive evaluation. The review is as follows.
Unique Melody is an undoubted veteran within the in-ear monitoring industry. First making waves with their six-driver Miracle (which I still own to this day), the Chinese company have showcased excellence in both longevity and innovation. Four years ago, they were reshell specialists who even offered installing additional drivers for superior performance. And today, they’re an engineering powerhouse capable of developing their very own planar magnetic in-ears, metal-shelled hybrid IEMs, and a slew of new technologies including dB-Go modules, Dual-Tone cables and the Dreamweaver shell. The culmination of all this is their sixteen-driver flagship: The Mason V3. Equipped with one of the highest – and priciest – driver counts in the industry today, can the Mason V3 and its bag of tricks justify the luxurious price tag?
Unique Melody Mason V3
- Driver count: Sixteen balanced-armature drivers
- Impedance: 24Ω
- Sensitivity: 104dB @ 1kHz
- Key feature(s) (if any): Dual-Tone cable; dB-Go modules; Dreamweaver shell
- Available form factor(s): Universal and custom acrylic IEM
- Price: $2699
- Website: en.uniquemelody.org
Build and Accessories
The Mason V3 comes in a black, textured box with the company name embossed on top. Lifting off the top cover reveals a foam-lined interior with precision-cut depressions to secure the owner’s card, a satchel of multi-sized tips and a round metal case. The card comes embedded with a USB stick which supposedly contains photos of the in-ear throughout different stages of production, but since this was a loaner unit, I chose not to tempt the possible risk of breaking it. The puck-like case is not dissimilar from the ones offered by JHAudio, and they do a brilliant job of keeping the IEMs safe. Accessories aren’t plenty at this price range, but Unique Melody win big in presentation. This is a visually-stunning package that exudes class, even if the addition of a cleaning cloth or a carabiner-clad carrying case wouldn’t have hurt.
As far as build quality is concerned, Unique Melody have absolutely hit it out of the park. Externally, the Mason V3 is one of the most solid IEMs I’ve ever encountered. They aren’t heavy at all (especially in the ear), but they have immense density. And, I must attribute that to their Dreamweaver shells. While other companies cure liquid resin until enough of it solidifies to form a single wall around the perimeter of the shell, Unique Melody have employed a novel method where acrylic is painted and cured onto the IEM layer-by-layer. This essentially produces multiple walls around the shell to further bolster its strength. Unique Melody also offer a design where strands of a wool-like material are placed between each layer to form a spider-web-like effect, as seen on my unit. Cosmetically, the IEMs have also been finished with a flawless layer of lacquer, and the monitor’s internals have been tactfully arranged to maximise finesse.
Unique Melody developed the Dual-Tone cable to further increase the Mason V3’s sonic customisability, as well as to simplify cable-rolling on the go. The Mason V3 (and the Mentor V3, for that matter) comes equipped with a screw-in, 4-pin connector not unlike the ones on JHAudio’s Siren Series monitors. But – where the latter uses the four pins to separate bass, mids, treble and ground – only two of the four pins on Unique Melody’s IEMs are ever active at all times. The conductor connected to these two active pins will be the one carrying the audio signal from your source to the IEM, while the other remains inactive. This is designed such that when you swap the cables left and right, you’ll be using a different conductor material to listen. Sonic comparisons between the two will be on the last page of the review.
Ergonomically, Unique Melody’s option is light enough for daily use. Flexibility is okay, but it understandably can’t compete with standards set by the likes of PlusSound or Effect Audio. However, these are but minor gripes when compared to the cable’s memory wire. Unpleasant and stiff, it would actively prevent me from listening to the IEM on the go for any longer than 30-minute stretches. Although the cable’s flexibility and weight are pleasant enough to not warrant any immediate changes, I’d love for Unique Melody to ditch the memory wire completely. Companies like Han Sound Audio don’t even bother pre-shaping ear bends and they work just fine, so this is an option I’d love to see offered on all Dual-Tone cables from now on. The screw-on sockets do need casual re-tightening, but considering my unit is a review loaner that’s been passed around multiple individuals, some wear-and-tear is expected.
The Mason V3 also comes with what Unique Melody are calling dB-Go modules. They take the form of dials protruding from the faceplate, visually akin to Asius Technologies’ ADEL MAMs (Manually-Adjusted Modules). According to Unique Melody, they relieve pressure from within the ear canal – for a less fatiguing listening experience – whilst simultaneously functioning as a sub-bass adjuster. In practice, the adjustment aspect of the modules only allow for two realistic scenarios: Full up or full down. This is because the dials only ever tighten on either extreme, and any setting in-between can’t be maintained because of how sensitive the dial is to the touch when unfastened. Sonically speaking, though, appreciable changes can be heard on either setting, affecting – as advertised – the sub-bass and the sub-bass only. Certain instruments gain a a greater sense of growl down low, This aids musicality on EDM tracks especially, adding a necessary sense of cadence to bass drops and climaxes. Again, it’s a nifty gadget that bolsters the Mason V3’s customisability, and I don’t think it’d be unrealistic to expect more variants on this module some time down the line.