No question the Unique Melody Maven Pro faithfully follows the meatier fuller tuning of the likes of the MEST MKII and the smaller sibling, the MEXT. For an entirely BA-driven low-end its got excellent power and a noticeable mid-bass punch to go along with it.
This is not a reference neutral performance. It is designed to evoke, engage, and inject a bit of fun and a huge dose of powerful dynamics into the presentation.
Yes, it is fuller sounding than either of the aforementioned models courtesy of a 40-200Hz lift but this is a BA model so the decay and speed are faster giving it a degree more precision and clarity.
So, whilst not quite as sub-bass elevated as the dynamic drivers inside the MEST and MEXT it compensates with a punchier character that responds really well to voltage-friendly pairings such as the P+ from the Cayin N8ii.
Vocals are more to the fore than in previous models, most likely to compensate for the stronger bass response. The net effect is a more aggressive tuning but not one without some refined detail in note texture, more so than something like the MEXT for sure.
One subtle attribute is the impressive acoustical space or air the Maven Pro provides. Despite the more upfront vocal imaging I never felt it sounded congested. In fact, I found the mids a little more dynamic and engaging compared to the Mason V3+ despite it not being quite as resolving on a technical level.
The EST drivers do not hold the Maven Pro back either in terms of power demands. It’s easy enough to drive and more sensitive than the Mason V3+. So, low gain from a quality source is all you will need for great dynamics.
There is a lot of commonality between the Maven Pro and some of the recently released alternative models in the UM lineup.
At a high level, the Maven Pro has an elevated bass response from 20Hz to around 200Hz with it slowly dipping to around 1k in the mids. From there it has a Harmon-esque 1-3k pinna gain to help keep the midrange voicing and instruments clear of the low-end energy and a relatively strong but narrow 7-8k treble peak that never comes across as troubling or sharp sounding.
Some things stay the same with what seems to be a UM customary FR drop around 3-4k which may help explain why there isn’t a pervasive treble bleed into the mids.
The key difference from what has come before is that switch to an all-BA low-end in the Maven Pro so there is less of a sub-bass peak and more of a mid-bass punchy emphasis.
The second big difference is the level of elevation followed by the depth of the upper-bass scoop. From the MEST MKII to the Maven Pro the curve is consistently several dB higher and slower to drop so there is a lot more warmth carried up into the timbre which I will explain in more detail below.
The EST drivers do make a difference though it’s more subtle than overt for me since they are positioned to perform above the 10k marker. This is more about extension and headroom with some good energy in the chart from 12-14k.
The timbral character of the Maven Pro is dense sounding, with a very weighted, and fulsome delivery right throughout. Thankfully, it’s not an overly smeared sound with those low-end BA drivers keeping the impactful bass delivery mercifully tight and articulate.
The fundamental is really good. Not quite the bombastic dynamic driver levels of natural decay right at the sub-bass level but you will not find the Maven Pro lacking any authority for key instrumental notes such as drum kicks and chugging bass guitar chords.
Vocals are forward and again quite fulsome, more so than the MEXT MKII which actually sounds a bit thinner and slightly brighter. That being said, I find the definition to be improved over the more relaxed and softer MEXT performance and more exuberant sounding than the Mason V3+ mids which tend to sound slightly more delicate and softer in their delivery.
Treble is not overly influential in the harmonic balance of the Maven Pro. It is not a blunted tone but the upper-mids to lower-treble FR dip robs percussion of a bit of bite and energy so it’s a light overtone from the mid-treble lift rather than a sharp or crisp presentation.
Staging & Dynamics
The dynamics on the Maven Pro are excellent. Much more than what I was expecting. It has a bit of life and energy about it that sucks you right into a toe-tapping listening experience.
You could argue the imaging is more upfront than neutral though with that elevated bass and 1-3k range pushing the lows and vocals to the fore. However, it would not amount to much if it was a mushy “wall of sound” so I have to give credit to UM for being able to keep an admirable amount of space and clarity from the acoustical space it is afforded.
Is it as complex and well-layered as something like the older flagship Mason V3+? Well, no. A side-by-side comparison reveals better layering and more resolution from the flagship offering but in turn, the Maven Pro’s infectious energy and livelier midrange actually produced a more engaged listening session for me. That has value.
Staging-wise this is about an above-average level of BA depth and power, combined with a front-and-center midrange delivery. It is not quite sub-bass dominant, with the driving force really a bit closer to the mid-bass where it peaks at about 50-100Hz.
Headroom is surprisingly good but the treble sparkle is a touch muted from a dipped upper-mids lower-treble transition so percussion is more supportive than fizzing with in-your-face energy and presence.
The Unique Melody Maven Pro is rated at an impedance level of 30Ω with 112dB @1KHz SPL. Out of the three alternative Unique Melody customs I compared it with, the Maven Pro seemed to be the most sensitive of the four.
In the case of the 19.6Ω and 107dB SPL Mason V3+, the difference in dynamics and sensitivity was fairly obvious on the HiBy RS8 using Turbo Mode in low gain. I would say around 5-6 volume steps at least more sensitive.
I cannot discount the cable variable either and it is possible the new M2 Hansound co-creation has less resistance than the older 4-core Silver side of the Dual-Tone stock wire from the Mason V3+. I cannot test that theory since the connectors are different on each.
If you are coming from the MEST MKII or the MEXT then the sensitivity gap is not that big at all with just a very light edge to the Maven Pro in terms of loudness. There is no issue with background hiss from any of our tested DAPs either, not even the tube output of the iBasso DX320/AMP13 combo.
How you determine what the ideal pairing will come down to tuning preferences given how easy the Maven Pro is to drive.
For example, if you want the low-end to sound at its punchiest and most visceral then I would suggest both the Turbo and P+ mode from the HiBy RS8 and the Cayin N8ii.
Both DAPs are very satisfying in the way they dig out an expansive deep-sounding bass response from this BA-packed monitor. Choosing between the two will depend on whether you like your timbre more neutral, (RS8), or something a bit richer and sweeter sounding, (N8ii).
You also get a few flavors from the timbre control of the N8ii so you can elect for a slightly softer Class A tube sound but for me, this kills the intensity of the Maven Pro so I tend to leave that setting in Class AB solid state which provides the tightest punch and cleaner highs.
The RS8 will produce a more neutral tone and imaging compared to the N8ii. Vocals are not quite as full and upfront but again, this might suit your preference. You get a cleaner upper treble and a bit more perceived space between you and the performer compared to the Cayin.
The DX320/AMP13 provides a competitive pairing also. I would stick with the hybrid tube output, over the pure tube offering output. I prefer the firmer tone it offers throughout though the pure tube output does offer a very spacious sound with excellent sub-bass depth from the Maven Pro.
The final offering, the Cayin N6ii with the R-2R R01 motherboard, might be a worthy alternative to the DX320. It’s a cleaner tone, but with a stronger bass presence than the DX320 and you can hear that right away with the Maven Pro.