In this feature we discuss the Unique Melody Maven Pro, a custom titanium shell IEM with 10 BA and a dual electrostatic driver design. It costs $2999.
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Unique Melody Maven Pro
The Unique Melody Maven Pro is a duplication of the tuning direction used first by the MEST MKII and then by the MEXT. This is a weighty, impactful and powerful presentation designed to evoke rather than reveal. Something to get your toes tapping, with excellent dynamics and power for a BA low end.
Dynamic and powerful tuning
Robust titanium shell
Excellent levels of insulation
Not for reference enthusiasts
More resolving flagship use at this price.
Unique Melody has produced some really powerful monitors that are packed with technology for prices that are below what you would think they should go for.
Examples such as the MEXT and MEST MKII, complete with bone conduction and EST drivers for less than $2k, have proven to be popular choices over the past two years. The Maven Pro promises to continue that trend with a multi-driver combo that, at least in a universal format, is coupled with an equally competitive price.
The Maven Pro is a second-generation creation, and the original is due out in 2019 for $1999. The Gen 2 updates both the design and the insides, and to my surprise, slightly lowers the price of the universal version from the original.
The example we have here is the custom version, so it looks a bit different, is also priced much higher at $2999, and may also have a custom ‘true’ tuning as it doesn’t rely on earbuds.
The Unique Melody Maven Pro is a custom hybrid in-ear monitor packed with no less than 10 non-vented balanced armature drivers per side. Unlike the original Maven, those 10 drivers are further complemented by an additional dual electrostatic driver module, complete with a transformer module.
The precise driver grouping inside is 4 larger woofer armature drivers for the lows, two full-range drivers for the mids and a quadruple pack of BA drivers for the highs up to approximately 8-10k.
You then have the EST drivers which provide an additional layer of response for the ultra highs above 10k and a 4-way crossover that has been modified from the original to improve bass response.
The Maven Pro has an impedance of 30Ω and 112dB SPL @1KHz, so ideally it shouldn’t be too demanding, although EST drivers can be surprisingly difficult to drive. I assume if these are Sonion EST drivers they are technically gen 2 versions that have a more efficient transformer than the first generation.
To stick with that crossover point a little longer, one of the unique internal acoustic designs UM introduced in the Maven Pro is that of a tuning tunnel. The tuning tunnel has a wider range than traditional timing in IEM tubes.
The aim here beyond phase control is for proper isolation of the frequency bands of the 4 way with 4 metal tubes (one for each driver group), inserted at the end to ensure the ‘tunnel’ so the tubes don’t lose their shape and consistency.
Since this is a custom design, Unique Melody has some options on what your final Maven Pro will look like. I believe you get 3 color choices, a standard blue sapphire which keeps the price within the range of affordability, and for an additional $900 you can choose between the black finish of the image above or a gold version.
The design itself is an important feature. You get an indication that it is not your normal resin shell when you have them in your hand. They feel dense, super solid and very robust. Properties that are relatively lacking in resin shell designs.
That’s because instead of regular resin, the Maven Pro uses a medical grade 3D printed titanium metal alloy for both shell and plate materials. Once printed, the metal design is then polished and finished with a PVD coating to give it that final color look.
I must admit when I first handled it I knew the shell was different, but the actual PVD feel came across more like resin than metal.
I did ask if there was a resin coating on the titanium to get accuracy from the digital scan of my earmold to the last piece. The answer was no, it is a real translation from a digital scan into a real 3D metal replica of my ear canal.
It feels incredibly smooth and wonderfully precise in its fit (see more below). However, the grille motif on the top plate helps to give the overall aesthetic a visual lift in an otherwise monotonous block. Black looks great, but I suspect the lighter blue stock might be even better.
The Maven Pro isn’t as big as you think it could be or should be, it uses 3D printed titanium. I would class this as a regular size monitor as the bottom matches my ear canal exactly, it’s about the size I would expect.
The top end is thankfully kept under control, so it’s not quite as bulbous as older JH Audio models like the Signature Layla Edition we reviewed in 2018.
UM has gone to great lengths to detail how thin the Maven Pro ti panels are compared to regular resin marking it up to 1/6 thinner but over 4 times denser and x 15 stronger so dropping it may not be the dramatic experience that comes with resin use.
Comfort & Insulation
The level of passive isolation is excellent from the Maven Pro. I more or less expected it not to be given. I have always considered metal molds for IEMs to be less flexible for sealing compared to resin alternatives.
How wrong am I? I barely hear any aspect of my air conditioner’s rumble or whistle, which is rare even for a custom fit.
Of course, being a custom, the Maven Pro has to fit snugly in your ear and in this case it clearly does. The pressure balance in the ear canal is good, maybe a little on the hard side with a long mouthpiece and more weight, so it’s not what I’d call a ‘relaxed’ fit.
This is closer to a stage performer’s custom mouthpiece length, meaning the bore comes out slightly closer to the second bend of your canal and stays snug and secure in your ear.
Cornering on the Maven Pro’s out-of-channel scale is a little less forgiving compared to resin jigs, though definitely rounder than I expected.
The corners feel more ‘there’ and something I assume is due to the rigid frame and improved density of the titanium material. However, the underlying shell is very smoothly molded and similar to resin impressions, so it does not affect comfort during use.
Stock Cable & Connectors
The Maven Pro uses the same cable as the Mest MK II, the UM Copper M2 specially designed in collaboration with PW Audio of Hong Kong.
Internally this is a 24AWG gauge OCC copper 4 wire geometry wrapped in a carbon fiber sleeve and applied with a black PVC coating on the outer surface. The wire is braided into a black metal long barrel splitter and then twisted up to left and right matching black 2 pin barrels.
The jack options are available in TRS 3.5mm, TRSS 2.5mm and pentaconn 4.4mm depending on your preferences. I love the barrel of the M2. It matches perfectly with the splitter and connector versions with its matte black finish and minimalist branding in white. It also has a slightly concave shape to help your little fingers grip the barrel better.
The only caveat is the barrel size, which is a bit on the chunky side, so keep that in mind if you’re running sources with very little space between the output ports. The other standout finish is a soft silicone sheath that now seems to be the norm on good aftermarket cables. It is soft springy and easy on the back of your ear.
In terms of handling, the cable is a bit sturdier than some PVC designs I’ve used before. Otherwise, the design doesn’t have much memory retention. It’s also not that heavy with super-low mic from the Maven Pro under the splitter, as well as nice balance and no pressure points around the ears.
Packaging & Accessories
Unique Melody has changed the packaging of the Maven Pro. The box is slightly larger than the older, more compact boxes and has a more prominent brand image on the front. It also opens and articulates closer to the Empire Ears packaging with a lift-up lid and a jewelry-style sliding drawer at the bottom for all of its accessories.
This particular version comes in blue, which I suspect would be the perfect complement to the blue sapphire shell version of the Maven Pro and from the looks of it, the stock case for the universal version which is also sapphire blue. Perhaps a matching black and gold version of the case would be great for the other designs since they cost an additional $900.
Accessories are a bit flimsy as this is a custom design. You don’t get any earbuds, but you do get the warranty card, a cleaning cloth and a super refreshed carrying case.
Like the box, the new Maven Pro zip is taller and deeper than their older stock cases. It also has a fresh design that in a way mimics the triangular grille pattern of the Maven Pro’s faceplate.
The materials also feel like they’ve been given a bit of a premium lift with slightly softer, black grained leather on the outside and gray suede trim on the inside. The internal compartment is huge, you can easily fit multiple IEMs and cables with room to spare.
However, it still has some dividers to safely secure your Maven Pro units and prevent the cable plugs from being accidentally bumped during transport. To further protect the shells, the cable plugs also feature removable soft mesh screens.
Click on page 2 below for sound impressions and links.
Click on page 3 below for our selected comparisons.
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