The Multiverse of IEMs
Great quality mids
Above average treble
Soundstage/Imaging/Instrument Separation are next to none
Occasionally overwhelming bass
Less treble presence than some might prefer
Up for review today is the Unique Melody (UM) Multiverse Mentor Jade/Emerald (MM) Special Edition (the guys who came up with this design call it the Jade, Musicteck, who sells it, calls it the Emerald – no clue what the actual name is.) I was sent this gorgeous piece of art by Musicteck (shop.musicteck.com), who are the only ones I know that carry it, and they are a VERY limited edition (I know of maybe 2 so far.) Anyway, Musicteck sent me these in exchange for a review with a very generous discount, though they were still extremely expensive (Retail is $4,999: https://shop.musicteck.com/products/um-multiverse-mentor?variant=43713129972002.) You pay an extra $500 for the Jade/Emerald edition, but wow is it gorgeous and it actually feels like a more premium product. The stock edition gets some complaints about how the faceplate looks/feels at this price, but it’s still better looking than the *GASP* expensive Oriolus Traillii (especially in red.) As always, receiving a discount doesn’t change how I review since I still had to pay an eye-watering amount for these – I am still my usual critical/sarcastic self.
Anyway, enough about the price and the looks (for now), no one would care about how these looked and the price would be wildly unreasonable if these didn’t have some amazing technology and sound. So, let’s talk about the tech that goes into these and makes them a step above the UM Indigo. The MM includes a new Frequency Shift Piezoelectric Bone Conduction Driver (BCD) – fancy sales-guy speak for palladium-coated copper and ceramic drivers. It creates more stable and structurally sound BC drivers. It’s specifically designed to resonate between 20Hz to 20kHz. On top of that, there are also 1 Balanced Armature Drivers (BA) – 4 bass, 2 mids, 2 mid-high, and 4 high drivers per ear. It’s interesting to see a full complement of BA drivers covering the broad spectrum of sound in addition to one BCD covering that same spectrum. The shells themselves are carbon fiber, which allows them to be both hard and lightweight, oh, and cool looking. So, read on below for why these are my current #1 in my headphone rankings.
The MM comes in a plain silver cardboard box that has tiny letters on the side to tell you what’s inside. Inside that box is another blue box which is far more ornate and has some random unrelated art on it (guessing it’s a stock box also since it has a multiverse stick on it as well and no other identifying features.) It’s a bit disappointing that the special edition green MM doesn’t come with a green box – for the extra $500, it should. The accessories inside the bottom jewelry-style box has the usual accessories that the MEST Mk2 also comes with. There are UM tips or Sedna Xelastic tips, filters, a cable wrap, etc. Of course, I’m using my favorite Spinfit W1s to get a great fit/seal (Here if you want a pair: https://amzn.to/41n6j4y.) In the top section, there is a large blue leather carrying case inside a soft white UM bag. Why? No clue, it’s really unnecessary and once again a missed opportunity to include a green leather case with the special edition (booo.)
The leather case is much nicer than the one that came with the MEST Mk2, but it’s also gigantic for no reason (it’s not as if the IEMs are huge) and when I opened the case, the MM had shifted around in shipping – not something you want from an IEM this price. The cable splitter protector was also protecting nothing and there was only 1 instead of the 2 that the MEST Mk2 comes with (I’ve had 3 now, and I’m becoming an expert on their packaging.) Sooo…yeah, the only upgrade over the MEST Mk2 is a useless soft UM bag that I will never use and a large, pointless leather case in the wrong color (which I imagine is designed to come with the regular blue MM.) Luckily for UM, the MEST Mk2 comes nicely appointed (and with a more useful case), so it’s not a massive hit, but they could have done better.
Dangit. I was hoping to avoid the cable rant on IEMs this expensive with a custom cable from PW Audio, that has its own name (Deep of Universe Shielding), and would likely retail for over $1,000. It looks like it’s based on the PW Audio Mercer Spider and it’s a shielded 4-core cable with 26AWG copper and silver-plated copper. It’s clearly a better quality cable than most stock cables you’ll see coming with IEMs, and it’s a nice dark green with a green connector and splitter. BUT, and this is a big but (heh), it’s a very microphonic cable. Something at this price should not be microphonic (a pet peeve of mine as I shouldn’t hear a rubbing sound every time I turn my head.)
It amazes me that people still make IEM cables with paracord considering how bad the microphonics are on something like it are. A nice soft rubber here like the Effect Audio EROS in green would have been far more welcome on these. Additionally, it’s a very thick, sturdy cable, which doesn’t have any memory retention, but it can easily get twisted up if you’re not careful as a result. I was thinking the Code 23 in Cyber Green would be a good replacement for this, but they’re sold out, so ah well. Also, it only comes in 4.4mm balanced, so if you can’t use that, it’s not very helpful to you since this cable sort of HAS to go with this IEM – very few people make quality cables in green. Still, it’s good quality and the sound is great, so only a couple of points off for the microphonics as that’s my only real complaint.
Build Quality/Comfort (9/10):
OK, I have to mention some weirdness that occurred for me when I got these. As mentioned in the accessories section, the case didn’t hold onto the right earbud well, so when I opened the case, it wasn’t secured. I looked at the faceplate and saw what looked like divots taken out of the faceplate, so I assumed that the 4.4mm connector had hit the faceplate and damaged it in transit. Understandably, I freaked out, as I mentioned, these were still quite expensive, even with a reviewer discount. Musicteck recommended rubbing the spot with a cloth, which did nothing, and I tried gently scratching it with my fingernail and it came off – I figure it was a little bit of glue left over from manufacturing. Phew, but still not something that should happen on an IEM in this price range (c’mon UM.)
After that freakout was resolved, I can say that the build quality on these is fantastic. The transparent green faceplates are awesome looking (being able to see the BCD inside is neat), and the gold trim is very cool when it catches the light (I’m not even a fan of gold stuff.) The green carbon fiber body is excellent and feels very heavy-duty. Quite frankly, they could have made the whole IEM out of this stuff and I’d have been happy. They are very lightweight and feel sturdy as well. I’m not sure how the green faceplate and gold trim will hold up long-term, but I take good care of my stuff, so I should be fine – just avoid knocking them together or putting them down on abrasive materials.
The comfort is good. I don’t find them annoying to my ears and the little shelf near the top of the ear isn’t annoying. They’re a tad bigger than the Noble FoKus Mystique, but quite a bit smaller than the Aroma Thunder and Thieaudio Monarch Mk2. They’re also less thick than the Thunder or FAudio Mezzo LE. So overall, the MM are small-ish, light, good-looking, and well-made (mostly.)
I will be comparing these to the Aroma Audio Thunder as the Thunder is the closest IEM I have in price at $2,600 and it sits at/near the top of my IEM rankings. Below is the Squig.link Frequency Response Graph for both of them. I’m using the bassier version of the switch on the Thunder (I think, it’s hard to tell and there are really no instructions anywhere.) In the Harmony mode, the bass between these two is similar. The mids are also quite similar until you hit 1k where the MM takes a more pronounced approach to the upper mids. In the low-treble the MM dips hard while the Thunder maintains a pretty neutral response until you hit 10k. The MM pops back up after 5k and stays pretty neutral as well until about 11k before the drop. Of course, anything after 8k is typically suspect regardless and anything past 5k is technically outside of the normal instrument range (vocals and pianos cut off after about 3,500Hz and cymbals past 5k.) I burned the MM in for 50+ hours but didn’t notice much of a difference in the sound.
I will be powering both IEMs off of my Shanling M6 Ultra (mid-range DAP king) with the balanced 4.4mm connection (Here if you want one: https://amzn.to/3ksfmAP). The MM runs at about 30-34/100 volume level here making them harder to drive than the Mezzo LE and Thunder (28-32/100), but slightly easier than the Monarch Mk2. The MM are definitely not the most efficient IEMs ever, but on balanced just about anything should be able to power them. One thing to keep in mind if you get these is that you need a decent quality source, I tried powering these off my Shanling M3 Ultra (budget DAP king, Here if you want one: https://amzn.to/3ID148r) and the MM lost a lot of its magic just like the Kublai Khan did – more expensive IEMs need better DAPs.
Starting off with the Mid-bass/Sub-bass test I’m using David Guetta’s “I’m Good (Blue).” The intro bass drums have excellent impact as expected from UM. There’s no bloat or additional unwanted reverb like the Thunder can have a little of on this song. The sub-bass after the intro is strong and clean, with a good amount of that breathtaking quality I look for in this song. So, excellent bass without overwhelming the mid/high synths or vocals. I honestly expect nothing less from UM having listened to several of their IEMs now, but this is top-notch bass, if a little less quantity than the Thunder in Focus mode.
Up next is Demon Hunter’s “I Am A Stone,” which I use to test whether the bass is too strong and overwhelms the mids. While the bass here is quite strong, it doesn’t overwhelm the mids – quite. The mids are still quite easy to hear and they still sound great, but there is a tad too much bass here to the point where it’s distracting. Overall, the bass on these is excellent but will be a bit much for some people on some songs – which is still an issue the Thunder has as well, to an even greater extent. As a quick add-on, the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “The Zephyr Song” has the same issue – so if you love bass, these are definitely good headphones. Better than the bass on the Thunder, slightly worse than the W900.
Weaving The Fate’s “The Fall” is a test song for guitars and vocals. The clean intro guitars sound good and project a massive soundstage here and good imaging, while the dirty guitars sound really fantastic with the cymbals easily heard in the background. The vocals sound great and appear to be in front of you without sounding too far away like some IEMs. It truly feels like you’re sitting in a club listening to this song – it’s pretty amazing and the bass isn’t overwhelming. The Thunder also sounds fantastic here, but with more distortion, more forward vocals, and almost obnoxiously present treble (this depends on preference.)
Staind’s “Something to Remind You” has clean electric guitars and wonderful vocals – this song tests the vocal quality and background noise. The vocals here are good enough to give me chills, which doesn’t happen very often. The bass guitar is more present than most IEMs, but that’s not a bad thing and the regular guitars sound fantastic with multiple different levels of guitar managing to have their own place without overlapping. Also, while you can hear the fingers moving up the fret on the strings in the background if you listen for it, it’s not as forward and present as it can be on some IEMs – I consider that a good thing since it can be annoying. It’s something that the Thunder makes obvious (somewhat painfully) – also, the vocals are less clean on the Thunder and more distorted (barely.)
To test classical instruments in the mids, I’m using The Piano Guys’ “Code Name Vivaldi.” The bass-strings can be a bit overwhelming here, but the mids themselves still come in beautifully. Each note on the piano can be heard, though not as clearly as an IEM with less pronounced bass, especially when the piano hits the lower notes. That said, the soundstage and imaging here along with the instrument separation are fantastic – I am expecting my highs piano test song to sound really good on these based on the performance here. Sadly, the Thunder cannot present this song anywhere near as well as the MM, it’s still great, but it just doesn’t make you feel like you’re there surrounded by instruments.
To test sibilance on headphones I use Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes. Yeah, there’s some sibilance on the MM, unfortunately. I’m a little surprised by that as the MM dips around the 3.5kHz range, so I was expecting less sibilance. However, based on how a lot of the highs presentation is on these IEMs, it makes sense that there is some sibilance here. Admittedly, the large majority of headphones I listen to have some sibilance on this song and the MM is nowhere near the worst here, more like the upper middle of the pack – about on par with the Thunder.
The first highs test song I’ll be using is Dream Theater’s “The Alien,” which I use to test and see if the cymbals/high-hats/snare can be clearly heard and distinguished from the rest of the music. The cymbals and hi-hats in the intro can be clearly heard and are quite distinctive. You hear each drumstick hit on them, which puts these into the top tier of headphones with this song. Something like the Blessing 2 will allow you to hear the cymbals, but they’ll just be a muddy mess of sound in the background. Other headphones won’t let you hear the cymbals at all, so the excellent representation from the MM here is impressive and the cymbals manage to not be overwhelming here either – also a win. The Thunder has even more forward treble here, so if that’s your preference, get the Thunder – I find it to be a bit distracting personally. Nonetheless, the Thunder has better treble here.
Michelle McLaughlin’s “Across The Burren” is another of my favorite highs/sharpness test songs as it can easily sound painful on some headphones. As previously mentioned, this seems to be an area where the Mentor excels. There is no sharpness and each note can be heard cleanly and clearly. The notes don’t cut out or distort, which can also easily happen on some IEMs. Perfectly represented. The Thunder have a very annoying hissing noise in the background that is far more apparent than on the MM and they also have more sharpness to the notes than the MM, which is to be expected considering their performance on “The Alien.” Something’s gotta give.
Soundstage/ Instrument Separation/Imaging (10/10):
I use MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” to test soundstage and imaging. Wow, freaking epic. Much better than on the Thunder, which sounds good, but more 2D with everything appearing in front of you compared to the MM. I wasn’t there when they named the MM, but I feel like the crazy ability to envelope you in sound is why they named these the Multiverse Mentor (that, or they just love Dr. Strange.) There is something weirdly magical about the way the MM sounds, that really makes you want to go back and listen to all of your music library again – I think it’s this right here. The MM has an excellent soundstage that doesn’t feel too big, excellent imaging, and excellent instrument separation.
There is no obnoxious driver pop on the MM, which the Thunder has every time you put them in. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s just an additional annoyance, and one I had on the Kublai Khan as well – the MM doesn’t have that issue. The MM also doesn’t have the fit/size issues I’m sure some people have with the Mezzo LE, Kublai Khan, and Thunder since they’re all chonky. As far as sound goes, the Thunder’s bass has more bloat while the mids just aren’t up to the MM’s level, especially on classical. The soundstage, imaging, and instrument separation on the Thunder are a step back as well. The Thunder does however have more treble presence, so if that’s your preference, grab the Thunder and if treble annoys you, avoid it. Keep in mind that the Thunder is fantastic and retails for half the price of the MM – it’s really close for much less $$$. It just can’t compete with the MM’s bass or mids with that soundstage/imaging/instrument separation.
The Multiverse Mentor takes the #1 spot on my IEM Ranking list due to its excellent bass, magical mids/soundstage/imaging/separation, solid treble, and its ability to make classical music sound next level without any sharpness. Yes, its treble isn’t as good as the Thunders, and yes, the bass can be a bit much sometimes, but it’s still the best IEM I’ve ever heard, and it matches very closely to my preferences. If you think something sounds better, send it to me to compare. Until then, the Multiverse of Melodies shall continue to be my most listened-to headphone (and the highest-scoring headphone under the v3 scoring chart), IEM or otherwise.
|Headphone Scoring (v3):|
|Accessories / Earpads / Eartips (10 pts):||8|
|Cable (10 pts):||8|
|Build Quality/ Design / Comfort (10 pts):||9|
|Lows (20 pts):||18|
|Mids (20 pts):||18|
|Highs (20 pts):||15|
|Soundstage / Instrument Separation (10 pts):||10|