Recently we looked at the Unique Melody Aero, a set of custom-moulded triple-driver In-Ear Monitors (IEMs), and were reasonably impressed but they couldn't quite take the fight to the similarly priced ACS T2 dual driver set. Now we're taking a look at the next model up from the Aeros, the Unique Melody Mage. They pack in four balanced armature drivers to deliver their audio oomph. So can double the number of drivers deliver double the performance of the ACS T2? Let's find out.
Before we hit the review proper, for those uninitiated in the ways of custom IEMs, here's a brief introduction.
Unlike normal earphones or IEMs, 'customs' are created literally in the mould of your own ears. You visit an audiologist to get impressions taken of your ears (prices range from £20-£50) then send these to the manufacturer of your choice where they're crafted into perfect fitting facilitators of audiological fun.
In the case of Unique Melody, the company plans to develop a voucher scheme whereby once you've ordered your headphones you can simply hand over the voucher to the audiologist and not have to pay anything. However, currently you have to cover this cost yourself and £20 has been removed from the overall price to balance this. Also, when you order your headphones the company provides a prepaid envelope for you to return the impressions.
Where Unique Melody differs from some other custom providers is that you can also completely customise the look of your IEMs at no extra cost. Specifically you can choose from literally any opaque or translucent colour for the main plastic of the earpieces, choose a second colour for the cap (the flat section that covers most of the outer surface of the earpiece), add a background panel for the cap (like brushed aluminium) and finish it all off with a custom etching.
We went for an all clear plastic look, so as best to get photos of the insides, with inlaid aluminium panels and a couple of custom etchings. For more examples you can check out Unique Melody's gallery.
Once the impressions were made and styling chosen was done, it took around four weeks for the IEMs to arrive and thankfully upon first impression they were well worth the wait. They arrive in a splendiferous faux leather clad box (that thankfully isn't pink like on the Aeros) complete with a wax removal tool, reasonably informative instruction manual (most crucially advising how best to fit and remove the 'phones), a snazzy warranty card, and a unique sound level graph showing just how your IEMs perform sonically, at least according to some professional monitoring equipment.
You don't, however, get a carry case, inline volume control, or other such extras. And, of course, you don't get any rubber tips, as being customs you don't need them.