Unique Melody MEXT Review
The Bone Conductor
Pros: + Balanced, musical and organic
+ Sub-bass extension and great bass tuning
+ Bone Conduction adds a great physical impact to the bass
+ Excellent timbre
+ Crystal clear and highly resolving
+ Holographic soundstage
+ Non fatiguing treble
+ Lightweight with comfortable and stress free fit
+ Good passive noise attenuation
+ Excellent quality cable
+ Very beautiful, real leather, carrying case
+ XELASTEC eartips
Cons: – Bulky and not discrete
– Fit maybe an issue for smaller ears
– Not forgiving (but not punishing either)
– Requires top quality partners
– Sensitive to noise
– Comes with only one cable (no adapter, no modular cable)
The review sample was kindly provided by MusicTeck in exchange for my honest and subjective evaluation, I only covered import fees and tax.
MusicTeck is the official USA distributor of Unique Melody, the MEXT is priced at $1099 and you can buy it using this, non affiliate link.
Unique Melody is one of the most renowned IEM and CIEM manufacturers in the world with very popular models like the famous MEST MK2.
Most of their models (including the MEXT) are available in universal and custom editions.
This is my first experience with a product from Unique Melody.
MEXT, a new high-performance product, is being launched by UM after years of technical research and development. The MEXT provides a revolutionary breathtaking experience with the new bone conduction technology. With the combination of dynamic, balanced armature, and OBC coil bone conduction drivers, MEXT can deliver sound through both air transmission and bone conduction, generating an all-round sense of space and vibration. Whether it’s single or dual side bone conduction or the current OBC patented technology, UM is always leading in the hi-fi industry. Such techniques may be imitated, but the ultimate sound by UM cannot be surpassed.
The MEXT features a hybrid, six driver configuration.
One coil Original Bone Conduction, one bass Dynamic Driver, 2 Mids BA Drivers and 2 Treble BA Drivers with a 4-way crossover.
Boasting a smooth transition and rich sound, the OBC driver can reach up to 200Hz-7000Hz in sound frequency with its sensitivity peak to @400Hz 79m·N.
With assistance from the OBC driver, the MEXT’s sound packs a powerful punch and is more impactful at low frequencies.
Along with the perfect performance of the combination of dynamic and balanced armature drivers, the MEXT can lend itself to be exacting and precise or smooth and gentle when the music calls for it.
Original Bone Conduction (OBC)
While bone conduction technology was not unknown to me, this is my first real experience with an IEM featuring an OBC driver.
OBC, namely Original Bone Conduction, is known as coil bone conduction driver.
From the first generation of the MEST, UM is the first audio company who applies the technology of bone conduction to high-end in-ear headphones by combining air conduction with bone conduction to achieve a unique sound experience and quality.
Consisting of a high magnetic N52 neodymium magnet and high toughness vibrating steel sheet and high purity copper coil, the OBC driver is made using the technology of low-temperature welding.
High quality neodymium magnet is produced by continuous debugging and sifting.
The coil bone conduction driver is lightweight, wear-resistant and offers excellent conduction, indicated by its incredibly high yield rate, stability, and accuracy.
You don’t take an OBC driver and just throw it into the earphone, scientific positioning is very important for the best audible results.
Deeper is the OBC driver placed inside the headphone, close to the ear bone, giving MEXT the advantage to instantaneously sense the vibration of sound waves. Moderate in physical vibration, it’s comfortable even for long wearing.
Build quality, appearance and fit
The MEXT are made from synthetic, medical grade, resin which is friendly to the skin and is completely odorless.
The shells, although being quite bulky, are lightweight and feature an anatomically shaped, ergonomic, semi-custom design.
Also the long sound tube helps a lot with the fit which is deep, stable and comfortable so it doesn’t cause any ear fatigue or stress even after a couple hours of continuous use.
The included AZLA Sedna XELASTEC eartips offer a tight fit and excellent passive noise attenuation making the MEXT suitable for use in noisy environments.
Still, the shells are quite bulky so don’t expect discretion while users with smaller ear cavities may find some trouble achieving the perfect fit.
Build quality is top notch and the minimalist design of the MEXT, with the total black color and the golden logos, is very elegant and beautiful looking.
Of course Unique Melody has a wide range of both shell and plate options in order to customize your MEXT.
The included, 2-pin, detachable cable is worth mentioning because of its high end quality.
It is a UM Copper M1 custom cable manufactured by PW Audio, using OFHC copper wires to create a natural and smooth sound.
The braided cable is reinforced with external sheathing and has a soft handling, it doesn’t get tangled and is absent of microphonic noise.
The plugs at both sides are of top quality and the buyer can choose between three types of termination plugs (2.5mm, 4.4mm and 3.5mm).
The cable is really of the highest quality and there is nothing to complain about but it must be noted that most of the competition, at this price tag, now comes usually with two cables with different plugs or a modular plug cable or at least an adapter from balanced to unbalanced.
Maybe UM will include a second cable or an adapter with the next production batch so the MEXT would be more competitive and versatile when it comes to source pairing.
The MEXT comes packed in a sturdy cardboard box with a separate drawer where you can store the extra eartips and the cable.
The very beautiful looking and roomy carrying case is made from real leather.
There is also a black leather clamp, a premium cleaning pad and two extra metal filters.
The eartips include three sizes of silicone eartips (S/M/L), three sizes of AZLA Sedna XELASTEC eartips (SS/MS/M) and the default pair that comes attached to the earphone.
As per usual practice, prior to listening tests the MEXT was left playing music for about 150 hours.
The MEXT are rated at 16Ω with a high sensitivity of 108dB so they are very easy to drive but also susceptible to noise.
But make no mistakes, the MEXT is a top tier earphone and a high quality source is mandatory in order to fully exploit its sound performance.
The FiiO M17, FiiO M11 ESS, Cayin N8II and iBasso DX240 were proven as worthy partners.
The different ear tips offer small variations in sound signature with the XELASTEC slightly enhancing the bass performance.
The XELASTEC also offered a much better fit and isolation but in the end most of the listening was done with the plain silicone eartips that sounded more balanced to my ears.
I must admit that I was a total noob to bone conduction and as such various silly questions were bothering my mind;
Is it safe?Does it hurt?Am I going to sense an unpleasant feeling?Does it tickle?Am I going to lose my hearing?
Fortunately nothing of this happened, well except some tickling and a mild vibration when I raised the volume to deafening levels…
What happened was that for the first time in my life I was hearing such an impactful and physically present bass from an in-ear monitor.
The bone conduction technology compensates for the lack of natural air movement and makes the MEXT to sound like a full sized headphone with a large dynamic driver pushing air masses to your ears.
And more, as the listener can sense the bass rattling his jaws, extending into his skull, making for a visceral, physically impactful and shuttering bass experience.
At this point, you shouldn’t confuse the fleshy bass presence with the actual tuning of the MEXT, the OBC is more responsible for the raw feeling than the frequency response.
The tuning is mostly determined by the dynamic driver implementation and here is expressed with a deeply extended sub – bass followed by a slightly accentuated bass response that mildly fades away while leading into the upper – bass.
The bass is full blooded and very impactful as described above but the MEXT shouldn’t be confused as a bass – head earphone.
The sub – bass quantity is definitely adequate to cover all kinds of acoustic instruments and faithfully reproduce the lowest synthesized notes but it never gets annoyingly intrusive as to cloud the mid – bass or the mids.
While the presentation is just slightly warmish and dark, the low end is still very clear, tight and controlled with excellent layering and separation between the various instruments of the bass line.
Warmish and dark doesn’t necessarily mean slow, the MEXT is very fast when it comes to driver recovery so it sounds pacey, rhythmic and with excellent macro dynamics.
Back to the textural qualities, you can easily hear every single note, from the bassoons to the double-basses while at the same time you can distinguish bowing techniques and pizzicato.
The MEXT is neither too visceral nor too lean, the sound is a nice balance between being full bodied and highly descriptive at the same time.
Just listen carefully to the following song where the MEXT can finely reproduce the double-bass bowing and left hand fingering while it makes sure that the wonderful female voice gets clearly articulated, radiating its magic into your ears.
And this takes us to the mid – range which is presented with the most natural timbre, slightly warmish and organic with great presence and transparency.
Instruments and voices are reproduced with plenty of harmonic saturation, they sound articulated with deep emotional expression and sculptured with a three dimensional relief.
Note after note, diverse tone colors blend together, arousing the senses of the listener.
The MEXT midrange is closer to a pair of high quality speakers rather than the usual skinny, flimsy and sometimes screaming presentation of an IEM.
Choruses with blazing horns, alarming trumpets and solo woodwinds are some of the finest examples to enjoy the remarkable performance by highlighting the integrity of the mid-range and the perfect transition to the treble.
You are going to find plenty of them in this excellent opera seria by G.F Handel.
One thing that should be specially noted is the excellent integration between the various drivers and the crossover.
The MEXT is absolutely coherent sounding throughout the whole frequency range while there is a smooth and not audible transition at the crossover frequency points.
All drivers work together in perfect harmony to draw a realistic and highly convincing multicolored tonal palette.
The treble is smooth sounding without artificial brightness, a more or less easy going nature that doesn’t cause listener fatigue.
There is some higher frequency boosting, as needed to add the necessary presence and sparkle in order to counterbalance for the extra bass but it is done without causing any audible acidity or metallic harshness.
The MEXT is brilliant and full of energy, not very forgiving and it should be considered as transparent and exposing but not that much as to make poorly recorded material unlistenable.
Thus said, it should be better to feed it with high quality material and use top tier supporting electronics in order to achieve the best audible results.
Metallic percussion instruments like high – huts and various kinds of bells and chimes or glockenspiels are heard naturally fading while at the same time the region retains all the flesh around the bones, never sounding leaner than the rest of the frequencies and this is a hell of an achievement for a multi-driver hybrid IEM.
I know that a lot of people associate higher-end earphones with ultimate detail retrieval and the deepest analysis, a point of view that gets highly respected.
But let me respectfully disagree, I believe that all modern high-end earphones have the inherent ability to educe every last drop of information but they greatly differ in the presentation way.
The MEXT belongs to the breed of earphones that are highly resolving without being analytical.
The details are presented in a free flowing manner, nicely integrated with the musical event rather than being detached from it and purposely thrown into the foreground in order to impress with excessive analysis.
The MEXT is about enjoying, listening to your favorite music while relaxing, rather than analyzing the material into scattered pieces of sounds and then recomposing the puzzle.
Playing some large symphonic works is an eye opener experience regarding the soundstaging abilities of the MEXT, which is literally sounding like some of the best open back headphones.
Expanded and proportionally layered, the soundscape is presented in a holographic and grandiose manner with exemplary pinpoint imaging and great communication of the overall ambience.
In the end
The MEXT is a unique earphone with a well balanced, organic and musical sound signature combined with great technicalities and a physically impactful low end, rarely heard from an IEM.
Then, like a chameleon, is gets easily adaptable to the musical environment, making for an excellent all – rounder IEM, able to pass from classical music to EDM at a blink of an eye, equally suitable for the snobbish – reference guy to the party animal alike.
This is a high end IEM per se, rightfully positioned amongst the best without any serious sonic flaws.
We are at the critical point where sound performance is mostly about personal taste rather than trying to spot any negative points that objectively does not exist.
Aggressively priced it should be definitely considered as a great step into the high end territory without breaking the bank.
Copyright – Petros Laskis 2022.