Unique Melody makes lots of IEMs and they don’t play when it comes to eye candy. Of their many, every one of them from the Mason to the Maven is gorgeous.
Their line consists of segments of IEMs grouped in series named Titanium series, Carbon Fiber series, and so on. We reviewed some of their IEMs and so far they have been consistent in bringing the goods home and have not been disappointed yet.
We just got another Unique melody model and is called the 3D Terminator for review and it’s also a beauty. It forms part of their Stabilized wood line. But beauty sometimes is only skin deep if I am allowed to quote the Temptations.
What does Unique Melody bring to the table this time around? Looking at their steady record of visually appealing IEMs, unique combinations of driver configurations with very good sound, it seems this one is also going to follow that trend.
What’s the main concept? Unique Melody calls their 3D Terminator a triple dynamic design with a concise structure with maximum space utilization. It sounds complicated but it’s actually a simple concept.
The Unique Melody 3D Terminator uses what UM calls a 3 independent moving coil design because, in fact, it’s a 3 dynamic driver IEM with a shell made from a CNC carved block of stabilized wood.
I searched around the internet for similar IEMs because I could not recall any with a similar driver configuration, and found only one model called the Geek Wold GK3 which is a very inexpensive IEM that also has 3 dynamic drivers but in a plastic shell.
The 3 drivers inside the 3D Terminator are coupled by an acoustic tube which is 3D printed. Each driver is equipped with its own independent tunnel in which to output sound and is enclosed in its own chamber.
The 3 drivers inside the Unique Melody 3D Terminators are wired in a 2-way configuration. 2 drivers handle the bass while the other handles the rest of the frequency spectrum.
Contrary to my logic, Unique Melody decided to use the smaller-sized 7mm drivers as a dual combo to produce bass while the larger 10mm driver handles the midrange and treble response. I would have thought the larger diaphragm would be the better bass producer but they proved me wrong and if done right, 2 smaller bass drivers can produce tighter bass than a large single driver would.
The 10mm driver is a CNT carbon nanotube driver. The other two drivers are a pair of 7mm compound diaphragm drivers which are then all connected by nanotubes and directed to the 3D printed acoustic tube.
The outer layer and shell of the Unique Melody 3D Terminator are made from a block of stabilized wood. The shells’ shapes were designed with a 3D fID process which is a method to scan the inner ear to create 3-dimensional graphs. The inner core after it is CNC formed is fitted with a 3D printed acoustic tube which directs all the nanotube outputs of each driver into the ear canal.
The stabilized wood faceplate is coupled to the back of the IEM and held in place with a metal cap which is also a damping device. I think the damping device is also a venting tube and serves a dual purpose here. The shells are finished off with a surface mount 0.78mm connector.
The shells have a gorgeous appearance with a contrasting orange wood tone and a deep blue color, something similar to the Kinera Baldr. This color scheme was obtained by using pigments and resins mixed in specific portions and allowed to seep into the wood. The entire assembly is then covered in a layer of a clear polished acrylic finish. The UM logo is displayed in a silver inlay.
Comfort & Isolation
The Unique Melody does not have any active noise canceling obviously and depends on passive means for that. You get an average amount of isolation of around 24 decibels from most IEMs but this one isolates extremely well and isolates I would say better than average.
This IEM does not have any vent holes to mar that beautiful finish that I could see except for the damping device and the absence of vents tends to help with isolation.
Comfort is very good. They felt naturally comfortable and I could wear them for long periods. They are rather chunky and do stick out of the ear some but that does not affect comfort and I did not feel pressure points inside the ear whatsoever but also stayed in place securely.
The Unique melody 3D Terminator comes with a rather peculiar carrying case. The case, according to Unique Melody was made by Dignis. It resembles a mini beach bag. It does contrast the fanciness of the IEMs but not in color. However, I love the case and not so much for its convenience because it’s rather large for carrying IEMs but because Unique Melody dared to be different.
The stock SPC cable assembly is rather simple in design and somewhat looks familiar to me. Both 3.5mm connectors and the two 0.78mm male connectors are made with a translucent rubber-like material. The wire is a 4 wire braided silver-coated OCC type. To be honest, in my opinion, these IEMs deserve a better cable. The 3.5mm plug is fine but the .78mm connectors feel flimsy.
Unique melody includes 3 sets of rubber tips and a white one which is preinstalled. The warranty card is also unique which is black and made of plastic. They also include a fairly large and branded grey micro cloth so you can keep those babies looking their sharpest.
Unique melody did not go the now common hybrid way and instead went pure dynamic drivers with the 3D Terminators and the sound signature reflects that fact by sounding, well, very dynamic. There seems to be plenty of energy and good dynamic range especially down below and in the mid-bass region.
The frequency response graph supplied by Unique Melody shows a rather intense U or V-shaped curve but in reality, it did not sound like that to me. It sounded rather balanced to my ears with the biggest emphasis placed on the bass response but not by an exaggerated amount. There is a dip in the midrange but it’s not so detrimental to the sound quality and just gives it some smoothness and warmth.
When I ran the tone sweep on the 3D Terminator the bass went way below the 20hz point audibly but the high frequencies dropped off early. The only aspect I found the 3D Terminator lacking in was in high-frequency extension. The rest of the frequency response was balanced with no abnormal shifting or exaggerated peaks to my ears.
Unique Melody went with a rather balanced tuning on the 3D Terminator although the graph shows a big hump in the bass and treble region and a few upper region peaks. The bass is absent of boominess and is rather dynamic and responsive and in my opinion, has good speed and tonality.
Most of the bass energy is in the lower portion and drops into the mid-bass somewhat until it dips into the midrange but there is no midbass bleed to speak of.
I somewhat trust graphs but in this case not so much because if you look at the frequency response curve there is a big dip in the midrange and it shows a 20-decibel difference in the form of a dip around the 3khz region and listening tests do not reflect that difference at all to me and the midrange is almost the same level with the rest of the spectrum.
The highs feel somewhat restrained at the very top end but some might find that to be a benefit if sharp highs bother you. The 3D Terminator in general sounds warm but punchy.
The bass is well textured and was able to go all the way down to the lowest octaves. The one observation I made was that these bass drivers do not respond very well to equalization. They take a small amount of boost but it gets to a point where bass clarity is lost if pushed too hard.
The midrange section actually has a lot of detail and presence. The midrange is fairly smooth, pushed back perhaps a couple of decibels but because of this reason it never becomes harsh or irritating. The midrange seems fairly balanced with lots of detail and is fairly pleasant to listen to.
I would have preferred more treble extension on this IEM. If you look at the graph supplied by Unique Melody, there’s a steep dip at around 8 kHz which if I was to guess is what I heard. Whatever highs there are sound fairly clean but in my opinion most dynamic drivers still lack refinement in the highs with perhaps a couple of exceptions.
The Unique Melody 3D Terminator does very well with bass-heavy music but I would not consider these bass cans. If you listen to EDM, Hip Hop, and such other music as popular you will like these. Who will not? Perhaps classical music listeners or music with lots of complexity because I heard some congestion at times.
Listening to Eminem’s Alfred’s Theme, The bassline is hard-hitting enough to keep you entertained but what strikes most was the vocal clarity and nuances in the background which were cleanly presented plus you could perfectly hear what he says. So, not the best for bass but it brings clarity to the genre.
When it comes to classical music, The would do better with a song like The Royal Jubilee with lots of dynamic forwardness rather than a more complex piece with many soft nuances with lots of layers.
The Unique Melody 3D Terminator has a decent soundstage. It has good depth and width but somewhat narrow in height. You do get some height but elements stay at or cut off at what I would call just above eye level.
The placement is good and you could hear a good level of instrument and recording element layering. At times there is some congestion, especially in the upper midrange area. I think it’s due to that peak at 7 and 9khz which is affecting the midrange some and tries to push forward into all the other frequencies.
The Unique Melody 3D Terminator is very efficient with a somewhat unusual impedance rating of 25.4 ohms and a sound pressure level rating of 113db at 1 kHz.
I do not see the need to power these with a diesel generator and any power will do including phones and small DAPs plus they work comfortably with micro DACs as well. Every one of my Micro DACs powered these to very loud volume levels.
They do seem to like bright-sounding amplifiers. The 3D Terminator was one of my favorite IEMs on my Hifiman Supermini which tends to sound bright but has no tone control.
The moment I think of dynamic drivers at this time, the one that comes to mind first is the FiiO FD5 which I recently reviewed. This single dynamic driver is FiiO’s flagship single dynamic driver IEM and has some contrasting elements with the 3D Terminator but also some similarities.
The differences are obvious and visual since the FiiO FD5 has an industrial quality artistic all-metal shell with a mirror-like finish against the more organic stabilized wood and colorful shells of the 3D Terminator. The FiiO has a bunch of unique features like back venting and the Volcanic Field system. The 3D Terminator is more traditional in design and shape.
One thing to note is the better inclusion of accessories with the FiiO FD5. FiiO throws in the box over 12 pairs of tips, a better wire which works single-ended or balanced, with swappable tips and FIIO includes 3 sizes, plus 2 output nozzles that change the sound characteristics of the FiiO FD5 to give you 2 different sound signatures with one IEM.
To me, dynamic drivers have similar characteristics with little changes far as frequency response. Most have great bass with a very good representation of midrange but once you start reaching the higher frequencies there seems to be an early dip and both of these IEMs present the same character I just described.
Both these IEMs have a general appeal sound signature that aims to be balanced with good bass response, smooth midrange with good highs. The 3D Terminator did go below 20hz easily but the FiiO FD5 rolls off earlier but is also capable of sub 20hz capability. When the FiiO FD5 is boosted in the bass region they take the lead in thump and bass energy.
The midrange response on both IEMs is very similar with a dip in output and they both have an upper midrange crispness because of a peak reaching the high-frequency area. But the FiiO smoothens out once you install the narrow output nozzles and there seems to be an expansion of the midrange sound panorama.
Meze Audio RAI Solo
The Meze Audio RAI Solo is another dynamic driver IEM that has some thought behind its design leading to an innovative way of connecting a driver voice coil. Meze Audio was able to spread evenly the connection leads and by not having them at one particular point, piston movement is more linear which produces sound with less distortion.
There are commonalities as well and if you look at both cables that come with these IEMs, they are very similar, except of course for the different connectors and the color coding on the connectors. The accessories list is almost the same but Meze includes a few more tips.
Their build differences are unmistakable. The Meze Audio RAI Solo is made of stainless steel and has a brushed metal finish contrasting the more traditional and organic stable wood construction.
Once again, because both are dynamic driver-based, both have some similar sonic characteristics. However, looking at graphs one would assume the 3D Terminator would be more V-shaped and that’s not the case. The RAI Solo has more of a V shape sound signature but only because of an audible dip in the lower midrange which pushes back vocals.
Both IEMs have a good bass response but the RAI Solo takes to boosting better and can present a more weighted bass response. Their midrange response differs in a sense that to my ears the 3D Terminator has slightly more detail and is more fun in a sense and the RAI Solo sounds more clinical.
The treble response on the RAI Solo sounds a touch more metallic but at times I preferred that type of sound because, for example, cymbals sounded more realistic on the RAI Solo in where the 3D Terminator was more relaxed since they have that early 8khz drop-off.
AYA Audio Siren
Speaking of metallic highs, the AYA Siren is an IEM that was also reviewed recently and their niche is their dual electrostatic set along with 4 balanced armatures promising great performance especially with acoustic recordings.
The Sirens have a sort of in-between construction in the way that it uses wood along with resin to form its composite shell but no metal was used except o the output nozzle. They feel light on the ear and are very comfortable. Their construction seems more traditional in contrast to most others in this lineup.
I really like the Hakugei cable and to me, it seems more robust versus the one included with the 3D Terminator especially at the .78mm connectors, and is probably the best of the bunch in quality.
You do not get a cool-looking case with the AYA Sirens but you get 2 storage means by their inclusion of a Pelican case and an additional cloth bag which is padded for just the earbuds.
If you like clean and pronounced highs whit a very balanced and detailed frequency response then the AYA Sirens are for you. They do cost a little more but sonically they are worth their asking price.
The one area the 3D Terminator lacks is a high-frequency extension and that is what the Sirens do best due to their dual electrostatic Sonion high-frequency drivers. These 2 IEMs are sonic opposites because the bass response is better done by the 3D Terminator but the highs excel on the sirens.
Overall there is more clarity and perhaps a better soundstage presentation on the Sirens but of course at additional cost. The point I am trying to put across is the fact that for the cost of the 3D Terminator, sonically for the price they are heavy hitters.
The Unique Melody 3D Terminator or 3DT competes very well in today’s market offering great sound which is fun to listen to and good looking. It’s one of the better dynamic driver IEMs I have.
Perhaps a better accessories list and a better wire would put this IEM some point ahead of others but as it stands it’s an IEM I could recommend to most people because this IEM is tuned with a generally appealing sound signature that most will like.
If you are looking around for a dynamic driver good looking IEM with a fun sounding character, then do not overlook these because it does not get much better than this in the dynamic driver IEM realm unless you are willing to make a payment that will need bank authorization for being such a large amount.