Unique Melody Mest MKii IEMs – New Flagship Quadbrid
Truly a revolutionary piece, the MKii of Mest from Unique Melody is priced at 1500 USD at the moment of writing this full written review, and it features four types of driver technologies, made to sound the most coherent, detailed yet natural of all the IEMs out there. This means that it is necessary to compare the Mest MKii with Final Audio A8000, Beyerdynamic Xelento, Clear Tune Monitors Da Vinci X, Rhapsodio Zombie, Lime Ears Aether R, and Audeze Euclid IEMs. So many different technologies, and so little time to make proper comparisons, but I still hope that my review will be proper and detailed enough to help you decide what would best suit your tastes.
Unique Melody is the kind of company you don’t hear enough about, and that’s mainly because they are not from the USA, but they’re actually from Asia. They designed the Mest MKii with 8 actual drivers, and we’re talking about 7 full sized custom drivers, with 1 traditional driver. They always develop new technologies and have been one of the first companies to have two dynamic drivers in a single IEM, and although they’re known to have a somewhat more bright and open sound, their latest IEMs indicate a very versatile company with many unique signatures for each of their products. Mest MKii tackles a very natural and live sound, being awesome in general, not tuned with any coloration in mind.
It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Unique Melody, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I’d like to thank Unique Melody for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in Unique Mest MKii find their next music companion.
First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:
Where I was satisfied and happy even with the package of the Terminator 3D or 3DT I reviewed mere weeks ago, the Mest MKii totally outdoes my expectations.
This is how you properly scale a small, energy and resource-efficient package, without losing track of what is important. The package includes the IEMs, and what I consider to be probably the best carrying case I’ve seen thus far. This is because it manages to offer structural resistance, while looking awesome, while not being prone to breaking.
Unique Melody also included special tips this time around, with the package including Azla Xelastic Tips for the first time in my reviewing history, along with three pairs of Comply foam tips, and three sizes of silicone tips, comparable to Spinfit in quality and fit.
There’s also a cleaning cloth, cable separator, and an information USB card. Everything is hidden in a smart little drawer beneath the main IEM and carrying case chamber. I came to like efficient packaging, as environmental concerns are on the rise, and Unique Melody wins big numbers here.
The build quality of the Mest MKii is superb, and it is a very solid iem with a carbon fiber reinforced shell, made in one piece, and pampered with tiny gold leafs for aesthetic purposes. The sound design is also ingenious, with 8 drivers inside the IEMS, but very different from most competition, having 4 driver types.
When you go low, the bass is handled by a full sized 10mm dynamic driver. The midrange is handled by two Balanced armature drivers on each ear, for added detail and a more crispy sound, than usually possible with dynamic drivers. The treble is then produced by two Electrostatic drivers on each ear, powered by a voltage booster. Then, the cherry on the cake is a bone conduction system, with one bone conduction plate on each ear. This is basically insane, and insanely complicated to deliver and plan, without large coherency issues.
It is really surprising to say this, but Mest MKii actually manages to sound a bit more natural and more coherent than most IEMs with just one driver, or those that have one type for all drivers. This is actually because when using a single dynamic driver, it is quite complicated to make it respond quickly enough for midrange, all while delivering a big and low enough bass, and a clean treble. The compromise is usually a lighter bass, or a smoother response in the mids and treble (as you can notice from my review on the Vega2020 from Campfire). Then, using only Balanced Armature drivers inside a IEM can result in a bass that is too quick, and the overall sound can be a bit too dry and fast, so a combination of all technologies is usually needed. The big issue when combining technologies is that coherency takes a hit, as at the crossover point, or where you end the bass produced by the dynamic driver, and start the mids produced by the Balanced Armature drivers, you get either some range where the two overlap, and create a peak / distort, or a dip, where the range is not covered properly.
Unique Melody managed to avoid all those issues by planning a really efficient 5-way crossover that extracts the best of all drivers, while keeping the sound as coherent and fluid as possible.
When thinking about this number of drivers, you’d imagine a large IEM, like the CTM Da Vinci X, but Mest MKii is rather small and portable, extremely comfortable for my medium sized ears. The fit is shallow towards normal, and a good contact with the tips and the IEMs is necessary for the bone conduction system to work. I got the best results using Spinfit tips, while some of my friends got a much better result using Azla Xelastic tips. The Azla Xelastec tips I was able to use are super small, although for any other tips I use medium size. The fit is a bit deeper, and the bass is a bit less boomy, and a bit deeper, while the tips make a better overall fit and comfort. The downside of using them is that they are a bit sticky, the silicone being of a better quality for the bone conduction system to work. This means they gather dust easier. Comfort is not affected.
You can expect about 20-30 dB of passive noise isolation from the Mest MKii, depending on what tips you’re using, and on how deep the fit is. My passive noise isolation was on average 25 dB regardless of frequency.
The drive factor of the Mest MKii is excellent, they have an impedance of about 12 OHMs, but are not very sensitive to hiss. There is some background stuff going on with Lotoo Paw 6000, but it is also present with iBasso DX300, and FiiO M11 PRO. They are quite easy to drive though, and you won’t have any issue running the Mest MKii from a smartphone or portable DAC/AMP, like the Lotoo Paw S1. So far, the DAP that had the least background noise has been the QLS QA361.
The default 3.5mm cable is a bit on the thick side of things, but is of an excellent quality. You can always order Unique Melody’s own aftermarket cables, which come with 4.4mm plugs too. There is ventilation on the back of the IEM, so there’s absolutely no driver flex, and the cable is not microphonic either. Regardless of the plug you get with the cables, they are all high-quality OCC 24 AWG 4-Core Cables. This is probably the highest quality of a cable you can find by default on an IEM, and so far I haven’t seen any other IEM coming with anything better out of the factory. You could always upgrade it by purchasing a high-end cable for about 500-1000 USD, but I think that the default cable will sound and be ergonomic enough for all practical usages.
The overall signature of the Mest MKii is pretty much perfectly natural. There’s something magic about the way it is able to have the entire range of sounds, from the lowest bass you can imagine, all the way to the most sparkly of treble, air, soundstage, and dynamics. Today I had a really lengthy conversation with Romania’s best flute player about music and audio, and Mest MKii came in the convo, because we were talking about the overall way a headphone / IEM can portray music.
For most professional music players, audiophile grade IEMs are way more important than they seem, but they can’t play without hearing the rest of the orchestra, and they work together as a single unit, everything needs to combine perfectly, timbre, timing and energy. This is exactly the way I can describe Mest MKii – it is an IEM where all sounds combine perfectly, timbre, timing and energy, without losing the definition of each instrument. For that one example and experiment we used mostly classical, but I switched up to thrash metal, rock, EDM and Rock, and the result was always the same.
Mest MKii sounds precise, but natural. The bass is full and deep, but the midrange is natural, spacious and well separated. Detail is bountiful, while the treble is airy and well-extended, with a nice sharp bite when the song calls for it, but can sound smooth and light when the song calls for a mellow presentation. There are songs with strong bass where Mest MKii can rattle your brains like a can of whoop*ss, and songs where the bass is extremely quick, as it basically just plays what you’re feeding them.
I am absolutely in love with the presentation, and I would be willing to say that as long as you’re using a high quality power source, like a good DAP, Lotto Paw 6000, iBasso DX300, FiiO M11, QLS QA361 and the likes, you’re going to experience pure musical bliss with the Mest MKii.
The bass is really deep, but controlled. It has enough substance to rattle your brain and awaken your basshead instincts, transforming you from the most calm and well-mannered listeners into a bloodthirsty basshead, as soon as you switch the playlist to some dirty EDM and Rap. Even Mori Calliope’s songs have that edge in the lows, which reminds me why I fell in love with her music, and why it motivates me so much to keep making YT content and not switch to a writing-only diet. You should take into account that the bass of the MEST MKii is not necessarily supported by the bone conduction system, as its magic starts from the upper bass and the sub-bass, mid bass and most of the body from each song is supported by the high quality 10mm driver.
The midrange is clearly where MEST MKii is strongest and although I would say it is ever so slightly recessed compared to the bass and the treble, it has more than enough presence to simulate the singer softly whispering in your ears while singing. The instrument separation is so good, yet everything combines so coherently that I often check my own pulse to make sure I haven’t reached heaven. Jokes aside, it is extremely good, voices and blow instruments, guitars and pianos all have the perfect timbre they should have. Even extremely complicated instruments like Ocarinas sound good with the MEST MKii. I noticed a soft tendency for the midrange to be on the thinner and wet character side, rather than the dry or thick side of things. There is a good spatial separation, with both great depth and width to all music played. It is not the largest sounding IEM out there, but it is the most coherent, natural and precise (all in one) I heard this far.
The treble of the MEST Mark 2 is extremely detailed, sparkly and well extended. An energetic IEM, it can keep up with Rock, Metal, EDM and Classical alike. The treble does not roll off early, and doesn’t rely on smoothness to cover for a poor treble performance, nor does it try to enhance treble with cheap tricks like upper midrange brightness. I appreciate this a lot, because the upper midrange is natural, emotional, perfect for piano songs. The treble, where cymbal action happens, is as airy as the atmosphere in my hometown in the mountains, where there’s no pollution like there is in Bucharest.
Mest MK II is really dynamic and peppy, has an honest character, not overly forgiving, not offending either. I never thought I would say this, but even xxxtentacion sounds excellent through it, great beats along with distortion-free backgrounds that are engaging and interesting. Switching things up to Dance Gavin Dance, John Mess’s voice is as lively as ever while Tilian’s voice is melodic. Guitars are vivid, bright and dynamic. Excellent from end to end. You should continue reading the comparisons part of the review to get some idea of where MEST MK ii is in relation to other IEMS.
I went with pretty much all of the other flagships I reviewed so far, because MEST MK2 needs a proper battle, if it is to make it to your ears and my Hall Of Fame. Before this, I want to add that for all my comparisons, I relied on the same DAPs, which are the best flagships I reviewed so far.
They are iBasso DX300, Lotoo Paw 6000, FiiO M11 PRO, QLS QA361. MESt MKii is somewhat easy to drive, and I’m stuck at maximum 62 volume on the Lotoo PAW 6000, so it can easily be driven by the likes of Lotoo PAw S1, Ear Studio HUD100 MKII, Hiby R3 PRO, or Tempotec V1A Variations.
Unique Melody MESt MKii vs Final Audio A8000 (1500 USD vs 2000 USD) – The biggest difference by far here is in the sonics, where A8000 is really good with detail and clarity, but Mest MK2 adds bass, and some substance to music. A8000 is impressive when you want to simply analyse everything, when you want to hear every little detail in your music, while Mest MKii is the kind of IEM that really punches when it should, sounds way more natural, and has more overall body to music. I find myself listening to MEST MKii more thanks to the more bass, which in return makes it better for a wider selection of music, where A8000 is more of a delicacy that is best served quiet and with whom you need to spend long periods of time to really understand and appreciate.
Unique Melody MESt MKii vs Beyerdynamic Xelento (1500 USD vs 1000 USD) – I heard a lot of you guys wanted me to compare the MEST MKii to Xelento, but it makes very little sense to me. I mean, not only the price, but also the year of release of Xelento puts it in inferiority compared to the MEST. The comfort is much better on MEST MKii, especially with the Xelastec tips, and Xelento has a shallow fit which tends to slip away quite often. On the other hand, MEST MK2 is far more natural in the fit, and never falls out of your ears. The sound is far more L-Shaped with Xelento, where the Bass is the focus, the midrange is behind, and the treble is in the last place. This means that Xelento has less resolution, less detail and less overall clarity than MEST MKii. In fact, MEST MKii sounds much cleaner, more open, more dynamic, wider, with more control. Xelento has more bass, which means more impact, but they can lack control at times, where MEST MKii is controlled, fun and natural. Xelento is great if you’re a diehard basshead or if you want something that’s extremely smooth and has absolutely no grain or edge, where MESt MKii is better if you want a natural sounding IEM with tons of detail, clarity, and if you like resolution.
Unique Melody MESt MKii vs Clear Tune Monitors Da Vinci X (1500 USD vs 2500 USD) – Now it is time to start with the heavy boiss where the fight is more even. The fit is better on MEST MK2, which has a smaller body, where Da Vinci X is physically larger and those with smaller ears will find a worse fit with Da Vinci X. The overall clarity is similar between the two, and so is the detail. Da Vinci X has a bit more resolution, especially in micro-details and textures, where MEST MKii has a more natural sound, fuller, with more body. The overall difference is not that large, and paying 1000 USD more on Da Vinci X is a bit of an extra, so if you ever heard it and thought you loved the sound but you wanted a bit more body, and could give up on some of the extra textures, I would recommend considering MEST MKii instead, and you’d still have almost enough money for a high-end Flagship DAP like iBasso DX300!
Unique Melody MESt MKii vs Rhapsodio Zombie (1500 USD vs 2000 USD) – When you want something more V-Shaped than MEST and think you want less midrange, but much more bass, and more treble bite, the Zombie returns from its grave to serve. This IEM is dead and buried by the maker, being quite old, and Rhapsodio is now working on more new IEMS, but the Zombie is what I would call an excellent IEM with tons of body, and I can’t wait to hear the next thing developed by Rhapsodio. The sound of the Zombie is raging, powerful, deep, really rattling and with a bass so deep it will unclog your ears. MEST MK2 has a much better midrange, and less bass. The bass of the Zombie is controlled and powerful, but I personally find the bass of the MEST MKii to be closer to what I would naturally hear, and more bass doesn’t necessarily mean better. Then again, I have a basshead inside, raging to come out at times. The higher price of RSD is a bit controversial, as the overall resolution / detail is actually slightly in the favor of MEST MK2, but that price of Zombie is for a few years ago when it was produced, while MEST MK2 is a newer IEM, and developments always happen in the audio world.
Unique Melody MESt MKii vs Lime Ears Aether R (1500 USD vs 1400 USD) – Aether R is the closest IEM to MEST MKii in general, but despite the rather low difference in price, the difference in sound is actually a bit large. Aether R has a tip towards the upper midrange, which cuts some of the aggressiveness, and it is best at low-medium volumes, where MEST MKii is great regardless of the volume it is being listened to at. The upper midrange of MEST MKii has more bite, and more presence, which helps with emotional songs, especially violins and pianos, where Aether R is better for happy-sounding songs. The resolution is a bit better on MEST MKii, as it is able to render micro details and textures better, while Aether R is a bit wider sounding and more relaxed, smoother. This makes MEST MK2 more engaging and more punchy, where Aether R is the one that’s relaxed and easier to listen to for many hours in a row. As I tend to listen in shorter bursts at higher volumes, MEST MK2 wins for me with rock and metal, while with Jazz and Laid Back music, Aether R sounds more ethereal.
Unique Melody MESt MKii vs Audeze Euclid (1500 USD vs 2000 USD) – This is probably the hardest comparison I have to make, because both IEMs are really new, and I’ve been exceptionally happy about both, having just published my video review of the Euclid. The difference in comfort is minimal, both IEMs are comfortable, different fit and shape, but neither doesn’t have driver flex, and the drive factor is similar, so a high-end DAP like DX300 from iBasso would work nicely for both. I love the resolution and overall detail / refinement on the Euclid, which is really clean and clear, crisp and fun. The thing with Euclid is that the bass is quite flat and neutral, which turned down some people, especially those who expected to enjoy them really loud, thick and meaty like the Audeze house sound tends to be. Knowing that the Euclid is lighter, snappy, the MEST MK2 sounds more natural, with more body, more overall impact and depth, and more dynamics. Generally, despite the unusual approach given the company history, Euclid is better for those who enjoy an analytical, detailed sound, while MEST Mk2 is better for those looking for a full, natural sound, realistic with everything as you’\re used to hearing live.
Value and Conclusion
Well, we reached the end, and the value of MEST MKii is excellent, in relation to other flagship high-end IEMS out there. Compared to just other IEMs, you could most definitely stop at around 300 USD and go for Unique Melody 3DT, an IEM I absolutely love and still use daily, but if you wanna to to the max, the MEST MKii will be a much more impressive experience and will totally blow your mind. I can’t really emphasize enough how much I love the performance of MESt MKii, and for sure I am the kind of guy who would invest this money in the IEM, and who would still be smug and happy about it. But I’m also someone who traded years of eating poorly so I could afford high-end audio when I was a student, so maybe I’m not exactly a good example for mindful spending.
This being said, MEST MKii is the kind of IEM that you can surely use for three-five years and still be impressed on a daily basis, and I’m still in love with the really crisp sound of their Martians, an IEM I reviewed years ago now, but which still comes to my mind, as a phantom of a past pleasure.
The package of the second mark MEST is excellent, with the Xelastec tips being something I will have to experiment more with, even with other IEMS. There’s the beautiful carrying case too, that adds to the package value. In the end, I simply have to add the MESt MKII to Audiophile-Heaven’s Hall Of Fame, and keep it there. None of the previously added IEMS need to be taken out, the MESt MKII does not replace anything, it earned a rightful place here, in the heart of the best.
At the end of today’s review, if you enjoy a natural tonality, coherent sound, excellent comfort, a deep and explosive bass, if you enjoy a ton of detail, combined with excellent instrument separation, a full and deep bass, and what I would call the perfect timbre, then I think you should totally go for the MESt MKii.
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Full Playlist used for this review
We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature. I recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music! The playlists are different for Spotify, Tidal and Youtube, and based on the songs I enjoy and are available on each!
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