Unique Melody: From Miracle to Maestro

Note: MusicTeck graciously provided the Miracle and Maestro samples for review. 

Based in New Jersey, MusicTeck is an official distributor for some of the best-known manufacturers of high-end in-ear monitors, such as Unique Melody, Vision Ears, AAW, InEar and Earsonics to name a few. When they contacted CYMBACAVUM to see if we would be interested in reviewing two of Unique Melody’s in-ear monitors: the Miracle and the Maestro, of course we jumped at the opportunity.

Links to MusicTeck, their store and Unique Melody are located at the end of the review.

Miracle coiled
Unique Melody Miracle with stock cable

Introducing the Unique Melody Miracle and Maestro

Hand Crafted With Love

UM in-ear monitors, both universal and custom, come in a small (4”x4”x3”) black box that belies the size of the sound inside. The box greats you with an embossed Unique Melody logo, as well as the words, “IEMS INSIDE BOX” and “HAND CRAFTED WITH LOVE”. Once you slide the inner box out, you find a smaller box containing UM’s new hockey-puck-style carrying case and other accessories: airline adapter, 6.3mm adapter, cleaning tool, cleaning cloth and three sizes of tips (universals only) in both silicone and Comply foam. Also included is a card with serial number, manufacturing date, warranty period and UM contact info.

The monitors themselves are inside a velvet drawstring baggy, that fits very snuggly inside the hockey-puck carrying case. The carrying case is well padded but would benefit from being a little bigger, especially when the monitors are fitted with after market cables, which tend to be bulkier than stock cables. Both the Miracle and the Maestro come with a black PlasticsOnestyle stock cable, which has a low profile, clear heat shrink Y-split and clear plastic tube neck slider. The cable is terminated in an old-style right-angle plug. This fatter plug is not smartphone case friendly. At the other end, the cable finishes in the standard two pin connectors that can fit the UM recessed housing sockets.

Unique Melody Maestro with Effect Audio Thor cable, along with AK100 and Mojo
Unique Melody Maestro with Effect Audio cable, AK100 and Mojo

The universal monitors are finished in a glossy, black acrylic shell with black carbon fibre faceplates. The underside of the universal housings are inscribed with the model, serial number and either an L or R denoting the side. Customs will also include the owners initials. The nozzles appear to be Comply 500 series sized and are finished with a ridge to keep the tips from sliding off. The nozzle ending is open, without a screen or mesh to protect from debris or wax, so users should always keep the exposed bore tubes clear with the provided cleaning tool. The Miracle has two exposed bore tubes and the Maestro three. The shells for both the Miracle and Maestro universals appear to be the same all around size and they do stick out quite a bit when worn. They are anatomically ergonomic, though, so a very comfortable fit is easy to achieve.

Miracle Specifications:

6 Balanced Armatures
2 Low, 2 Mid, 2 High
3 Way Crossover
18 Hz to 19 kHz
114 dB SPL Sensitivity
15.9 ohm Impedance
Pricing starts at $1049

Maestro Specifications:

12 Balanced Armatures
4 Low, 4 Mid, 2 High, 2 Super High
4 Way Crossover
20 Hz to 20 kHz
109 dB SPL Sensitivity
20 ohm Impedance
Pricing starts at $1599

Miracle with round carrying case
Miracle with hockey-puck carrying case

Miracle vs Maestro

The Miracle provided is the newer V2 tuning. Over the years, one of the minor complaints from users was of a slightly dry midrange. The V2 tuning was created to address this specific feedback. In addition, it has been said the Maestro was tuned with the American market in mind. UM also has other regional specific tunings for their flagship models.

In general, the Miracle is a bit thinner sounding with more lower treble sparkle and a bit more peaky in treble overall. The Maestro has slightly more bass and sounds fuller, with weightier notes and a smoother top end. Having explored the provided stock tips and rummaged through my personal arsenal, my preferred tip for both is the Mee Audio dual flange silicone tip. The slightly deeper fit achieved makes for a bit smoother sonic presentation.

Bass
Bass of the Maestro is even front to back with a nice boost over neutral. Bass sounds full with equal impact and rumble. Texture is very good- the bottom end is clean, natural and tight without an overly “speedy” feel. Extension is strong to about 40 Hz before beginning its roll off. By comparison, the Miracle bass is slightly lower in quantity but with a rise in deep bass. The Miracle’s rumble slightly upstages it’s impact, and texture, while very good, is slightly behind the Maestro’s. Yet ,while the Miracle’s bass sounds thinner than the Maestro, it’s not lacking in any way and can be quite powerful when the track calls for it.

Midrange
Neither the Maestro nor the Miracle are what I’d call inmate in the midrange, although they are fully engaging. The Maestro midrange seems pretty neutrally placed- perhaps just a hair foward, but very clear and detailed. The full bass does a great job of staying out of the way- it doesn’t make male vocals too deep and chesty. The same is true of the Miracle– male vocals are clear and detailed. Placement is just behind the Maestro’s, with a slightly thinner note. When it comes to female vocals, both the UM models really shine and engage. Female vocals are energetic and demand your attention.

Treble
Treble on the Maestro is precise, crisp but overall smooth and fatigue free. The Miracle takes this same treble presentation and ever so slightly increases crispness and overall treble presence. UM tends to carry a house signature through their trebles with lower treble peaks around 6k. I found this in the Merlin and now in the Miracle and Maestro. Listening to some of my test tracks for sibilance, ringing and other treble piercing sounds, both the Miracle and Maestro tuning can slightly accentuate sibilance of some recordings, but a deeper fit mitigates this. I would expect the full custom to not accentuate sibilance at all, but simply render it as recorded. All in all, both models avoid over accentuating any recorded top end issues but they don’t gloss over them either. Both remain crisp and generally refined, perhaps ever so slightly erring on the forgiving side (the Maestro more-so than the Miracle).

A Miracle Born
A Miracle Born

Select Comparisons

Miracle & Maestro vs Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor

Bass
The bass of the UERM is a knife of precision. Within double bass passages, it cuts with expert finesse, clean and precise with fantastic impact and timbre. The only real downside to the UERM bass is a slight lack of rumble in the deepest registers. Moving to the Maestro, bass notes are fuller with noticeably more rumble and longer decay. Those same double bass passages feel a little less clean and precise but have a more satisfying rumble and fullness to them. The Miracle on the other hand tends to fit in the space between the UERM and Maestro. It’s leaner presentation feels a bit quicker than the Maestro but is not quite up to the speed of the UERM. Miracle bass impact seems on par with the UERM but also has noticeably more deep rumble and decay.

Midrange
UERM vocals are very effortless- they are my benchmark for neutral vocals that sound both open and intimate, flowing with the emotion of the performance. Midrange resolution is a UERM forte, with excellent low level detail resolution. Midrange timbre is also top notch- distortion guitars soar with air and bite with tangible crunch. Acoustic guitars sound incredibly detailed with balance between the pluck of the stings and reverberation from the sound hole. By comparison, the Maestro vocals are moved slightly forward for a more intimate performance. With vocal oriented material, the Maestro can be more engaging with hints of romanticism, while never straying too far from a neutralish performance. Vocal resolution can stand toe to toe. Acoustic guitars are a little fuller with more reverberation from the sound hole and distortion guitars are slightly smoother and more grounded. The Miracle’s thinner note again seems to split the difference between the UERM and Maestro. The biggest difference is the Miracle vocals have the openness of the UERM but tend to accentuate sibilance slightly more than the other two.

Treble
The UERM treble is airy and sparkly, mainly due to a middle treble peak around 10k. This imparts the extremely open sound, that is seemingly without the borders that most closed iems tend to present. The treble is precise, highly resolving and tonally accurate, if a bit unforgiving. Extension is some of the best I’ve heard in higher end armature based monitors. Maestro treble can be a bit airy but is definitely much less so than the UERM. It’s lower treble peak contributes towards a slightly weightier treble that maintains very good tonality. Overall it’s treble is a bit smoother and noticeably more forgiving. Resolution is just as good, however, more subtle in presentation. Miracle treble falls more in-line with the Maestro than not. While somewhat airy, and more-so than the Maestro, it’s just not anywhere to the degree of the UERM. The increase in crispness and brightness of the Miracle over the Maestro, presents details in a slightly less subtle way.

Soundstage, Imaging and Separation
The UERM produces a very wide and airy presentation from left to right. It has excellent air and space between instruments that is far above average. Presentation is wider than it is at height and depth, and instrument placement is more precise on the horizontal axis than it is at placement in depth. The Maestro presentation is also larger than average, and while it doesn’t have the openness of the UERM, nor come close to it in width from left to right, it’s proportions sound more evenly matched. As a result, the Maestro sounds taller and deeper than the UERM; it has less air around instruments but they are easier to place from back to front. On the other hand, the Miracle sounds a little wider than than the Maestro but not as wide and as open as the UERM. The Miracle isn’t as tall or deep sounding as the Maestro and is more similar to the UERM presentation. Separation and placement are not quite as precise as the Maestro.

Miracle & Maestro vs Perfect Seal AR6

Bass
Bass on the AR6 sounds very linear and has excellent extension. Note thickness is close to the goldilocks zone, in that it doesn’t sound too thick or too thin most of the time. Bass texturing is top notch with perhaps just a tilt towards rumble over impact. In comparison, the Maestro note is thicker with more impact. Texturing is not quite as detailed as the AR6 but provides a fuller bass presentation with slightly more natural decay and reverberation. The Miracle, on the other hand, has more accentuated rumble down low than either. Note thickness is similar overall to the AR6 but the Miracle’s deep bass is noticeably bloomier with more decay for a slightly slower and more rounded bass presentation.

Midrange
The AR6 is every so slightly mid-centric with a tilt towards the upper midrange. This midrange tilt lends itself towards female vocals more-so than male. Intimately recorded male vocals can sound just a hair lightweight but resolution and clarity are fantastic. The AR6 really shines with female vocals, displaying great energy and focus. The AR6 doesn’t over emphasis sibilance, nor does it gloss over it but rather presents you with the truth of the recording. The Maestro is also very clear throughout the midrange but has a very small tilt towards the lower and middle midrange. Male vocals can sound more intimate than the AR6 for a more evocative experience and slightly accentuates sibilance over the AR6. In contrast, it doesn’t quite have the same energy in female vocals. Moving on to the Miracle, it has perhaps a hair more weight with male vocals than the AR6 but accentuates sibilance more than the other two. It likewise sounds a little closer to the AR6 when it comes to female vocal energy and focus but falling just short of the clarity and transparency of the AR6.

Treble
The AR6 treble is easy going with moderate air and brightness but not as bright as something like the UERM. Treble weight is a little on the thin side but is free of peaks, which lends heavily to it’s fatigue free presentation. The Maestro’s treble is not quite as present as the AR6 and while it’s treble peak gives it a crisp nature, it has a more realistic and weightier presentation. Similarly, the Maestro also remains fatigue free. In comparison, the Miracle is the brightest of the three, with it’s peak giving more overall treble presence. The Miracle treble isn’t quite as refined as the other two, giving up just a little bit of grain. Treble weight is similar to the Maestro, albeit even crisper and brighter in presentation.

Soundstage, Imaging and Separation
The AR6 forte is that it has one of the most well rounded presentations in size and scope. Staging proportions are surprisingly lifelike with realistic space around instruments, lending to it an almost holographic image. It’s not a grand presentation with class leading width but rather presents things like you are in the recording studio, with realistic and tangible proportions. The affect is more subtle than overt and noise from the outside environment can have a negative effect. In contrast, the Maestro and Miracle presentation is denser, noticeably fuller and more traditional in approach, which means the middle presentation happens more inside the head rather than in front of it. The boundaries are not closed in by any stretch, and the stereo image from left to right seemingly extends beyond the edges of the head. The effect of their staging is move overt and requires less concentration or less getting lost in the moment.

A Single Maestro
A Single Maestro

Conclusion

…improved refinement, fuller note, overall balance and improved spaciousness

Offering a universal version is a great option for those that would rather not go through the custom process. Despite being on the large side, both universals proved to be very comfortable over longer listening sessions, including comparison sessions, which require inserting and removing them numerous times.

The Miracle remains a timeless classic that still maintains the performance to compete with many of the newer models on the market. However, the Maestro really takes the Unique Melody sound to the next level. It’s improved refinement, fuller note, overall balance and improved spaciousness makes for a superb top-of-the-line offering. It really is a true all rounder, sounding effortless and engaging with any genre thrown its way. It will be a favorite recommendation for those seeking for a high end monitor whose requirements match that of the Maestro’s talents.

For more information on Unique Melody products, please visit the new reorganized official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/UniqueMelodyIEM/
and updated website: http://www.uniquemelody.co

Customers in the USA can visit http://www.musicteck.com for latest pricing and ordering information.

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