UNIQUE MELODY 3DT Review: Master of Musical Versatility

PROS:
Wide holographic soundstage, beautifully layered imaging, natural & dense timbre, punchy well-articulated bass with impressive sub &mid bass separation, well-balanced tonality, very versatile tuning, weighty attack, bodied mids, energic yet not overly edgy attack, luxurious stabilized wood construction, not over-priced

CONS:
Not the cleanest resolution, lack of air and treble, not the most precise imaging, sub-bass isn’t fully extended, driver-flex issue, ear tips sensitive, cheap cable

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TONALITY: 8.8/10
TECHNICALITIES: 8.5/10
CONSTRUCTION: 8.5/10
SOUND VALUE: 8.5/10


INTRO

UNIQUE MELODY
is a well-known earphones audio company based in Zhuhai, China. Their goal has always been to innovate and push sound boundaries further using new technology going from simple dynamic driver to electrostatic, multi-BA, and even hybrid bone conduction IEM like the MEST orMASON Fusang. Their fan base is solid as well as their reputation, but if there one thing UM isn’t known for its for making affordable IEM. Their price range from 660$ for the Mini-Mest to 6000$(!) for the MASON FS.
Well, that was true until they launch the UM 3DT not far ago, with a 350$ price tag as well as a 3 dynamic drivers configuration.
For budget-minded audiophiles like me, this is very exciting news! But will it be just a TOTL gimmick with average sound quality or deliver high sound benefit return from a company that seems to aim at the ‘’audiophile elite’’?
Let’s see in this review if were in good sound value territories.




CONSTRUCTION&PACKAGING

Unique Melody 3D Terminator 3DT


INSIDE the IEM
we found 3 dynamic drivers, all interconnected with a complex acoustic tube architecture. We have 2x7mm for low and mid-high bass connected with a smaller tube to a big central tube with a 10mm Carbon Nano-tubes (CNT) driver for mid and treble. Yeah, their a lot of acoustic chamber work with this tri-dynamic 3DT, and the goal is to achieve a cohesive natural whole that will not feel like it’s artificially tuned. In my experience, driver tubing can inflict on sound openness but permit more precise and articulate tonality and resolution. It’s interesting to not that the mid-treble driver is notably bigger than near micro drivers for the bass part, so I think the 3DT tuning approach of the low end wasn’t to boost a big bass response but a fast, tight and energic one.

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OUTSIDE construction is very well done and feels like a TOTL IEM. Every 3DT is handcrafted and unique due to the use of stabilized wood mixed with resin plastic. Yes, the shell is all wood even if it feels…all resin plastic. This surely has some acoustic property permitting to make 3DT sound even more singular. The shape of the shell uses CNC tech to offer smooth curvy ergonomic. The Size is quite big though, and will perhaps be problematic for small ears. If i can nitpick something about housing construction, it would be the ULTRA thigh 2pin connector that becomes fastly loose after you frequently swap cable, in fact, the stock cable is now too loose to be used. I cannot find the size spec of 2pin connector.
In term of COMFORT, you’ll need to find the right ear tips to don’t encounter any issue, with too hard silicone ear tips it creates pressure discomfort, with soft wide bore ear tips I can wear the 3DT for hours and hours without discomfort. It must be noted that I encounter driver flex in left ear very often.

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About the CABLE, hum, perhaps we have been overly spoiled with 50-150$ chifi IEM, but it isn’t an impressive cable. Perhaps it’s a way to punish us for buying the cheapest UM earphones available? In the end, I don’t care about it as I always select my cable pairing preference, but the fact stock cable now disconnects very easily is sure a drawback to be noted.

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PACKAGING is as minimalist as UM can get, surely to keep the cost as low as possible. It’s a black box, with a very nice looking PU leather case that feels premium but is on the big not very portable size. As well, you have 3 pairs of silicone ear tips and this so-so cable mentioned above. Sure, if I compare boxing presentation and cable quality with brands like FIIO or DUNU, it makes UM look rather skinflint, but I’m somebody that give all credit to the sound and IEM built and not to decorative things. I expect TOTL cable at above 500$ and like with 3DT, i’m rarely impressed by what i get even in kilobuck range.


——-CRITICAL SOUND IMPRESSIONS——
(Gear used: SMSL SU-9+SH-9, Xduoo X20, Xduoo X3, Xduoo XD05+,Audirect BEAM2, LG V30+)

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TONALITY is an energic but slightly warm W shape signature, with extra emphasis on mid-bass, slight boost in upper mids and relaxed upper treble. It is both lush and vivid, very punchy yet thighs in rumble, with forwards vocal that avoids sibilance while being very present and lively. It’s a safe, but unboring sound, very well balanced and without harshness or shoutyness even if the attack is energic and pina gain on the high side.

TECHNICALITIES are above average for the price but not mind-blowing as we could expect with 3 dynamic drivers. Sound layering capabilities are incredible, yet a bit compressed. Attack speed is very impressive but it has more lead impact than properly controlled decay. Driver’s coherency is organic, but suffers a little from lack of air and space to be perfectly articulated. Bass and treble extension are slightly rolled off. Transparency has some grain that affects clarity sharpness.

RESOLUTION is more about the macro than the micro approach of details here, and it’s condensed in sound layers. Instruments while well define are soft-edged, they have more body presence than contour presence. It’s a bit warm yet never dark or lacking in sound info, details, and pitch weight.

TIMBRE is natural, lush, condensed in texture with a hint of smoothen porous grain, it has palpable density but average transparency. It isn’t cold, dry or thin.

SOUNDSTAGE has very good surrounding wideness, holographic 2D perception. It lacks a bit of tallness-deepness and isn’t very airy. It feels more triangular than circular in axis. Densely panoramic and very immersive.

IMAGING is excellent in terms of layering, but they are close to each other so instrument placement precision is a bit hollow. Spatiality is affected by the number of sound info, so separation of instruments will be less accurate and easy to process with busy track.

BASS of the 3DT is one of a kind and some will perhaps be underwhelmed by the quantity if offer due to the fact that using 2 DD might create basshead expectation. The 3DT is more mid-centric than bass-centric, and what impresses is how kick and sub-bass are well layered and can work in tandem following their own attack articulation singularities. It’s more about fast punchy attack and weight here, with a hint of extra low mids warmth acting as tonal ‘’glue’’ with 10mm mid-treble DD. The sub-bass is a hint roll-off and takes the backstage in presence while maintaining an impressive amount of well resolve nuances. It’s not super clean, but it’s super layered, super textured, and super fast. As always with tubing, you have less natural resonance, rumble and extension than a DD in an open cavity-sound chamber. But you have more control, more attack pressure, and tight thumping. The texture is rich, life-like, electric bass being very realistic in both lead and edge of attack. Separation from mids isn’t the cleanest due to slight lower mids boost, but it doesn’t mean the bass is sloppy at all. Transient is very fast, near similar to a balanced armature with more weight and density.
The unique talent of 2 dynamic drivers working in tandem is the highlight of how well are layered and articulated different instrument in this audio spectrum, if you have cello playing with bassoon, they will not mix between each other or feel it lack body, we can say the bass is ‘’double-weighted’’ so it will extract both synth or electric bassline and drum elements like kick or tom independantly.

MIDS are the star of the show: forwards, lively, lush and natural, a hint bright but never sibilant. This is a very versatile mid-range that do as good for male-female vocal than an electric guitar, sax or violin. The whole register is boosted in gain presence without sounding unbalanced. I didn’t encounter any instrument sounding off in terms of tone. The amount of sound layers is very rich and holographic. As a fan of female vocalists, i am very spoiled with the 3DT, they have their own space, which is wide and upfront, the tone is lush, realist, rich in texture details and dense in timbre yet just enough transparent to permit perfect layering without sounding thin. Hayden Thorpes (solo and Wild Beast way male singer that have wide voice pitch range) voice have good body, smooth hint breathy timbre, a hint of warmth when it’s in a low pitch, hint of brightness upper mids when in upper pitch. This upper mids are very well done because while it gives some extra attack edge and tonal abrasiveness, it benefits instrument attack of violin, electric guitar, snare etc.

TREBLE sound as full as rest of spectrum, because 3DT is all about richly layered sound. It’s just a hint bright, but perfectly balanced and smoothen in ultra-high. Their no notable harsh peak apart from notable pina gain from lower and mid-treble. It will only go hot with screamy aggressive recordings like thrash metal or other non-musical nihilist garbage. Percussions have good definition with a 3D rendering, in the sense it’s not just about high harmonic here but about the density of the instrument too. So, nor thin, cold or artificial highs, neither analytical or boosted in micro-details. Sure, it doesn’t feel it extend up to 20KHZ and lacks bit of sparkle and air, but never to the point of making the sound too dark or hollow. The 3DT would not be problematic for treble sensitive people apart from those highly sensitive to the upper mids area (or notable pina gain boost).

SUBJECTIVE APPRECIATION

My story with the 3DT is one of great expectation, and begin 3 months ago when a trustable headfier urge me to try these and promise me to be Wowed! This was after my big Aune Jasper crush, which makes my obsession for dynamic driver IEM go next level so the fact 3DT uses 3 DD multiply by 3 this obsession. So, when I receive them i was ultra pumped up with crazy high promises and my first listen was underwhelming….until I find the right ear tips (not included) and begin to get immersed in it’s big holographic sound. The 3DT is this type of IEM that doesn’t show you all its weapons at first listen and will continuously surprise you with the time. Imagine a Final E5000 mixed with a Final A8000, and you not far from it’s tonality. Or imagine a Dunu Zen with better technicalities. Even if the bass doesn’t extend as deep as expected, it’s hard to not get addicted to its special presentation that makes music sound bigger than life. While it doesn’t pin-point instrument placement with precision, it shares you wide sound layers that give a multi-faced musicality, very intricate and fun to dive in. As well, real capable all-arounder IEM is something rare nowadays, and the 3DT can deal with any music style i throw at him from classical to jazz to IDM, rock, soul, R&B, it’s really a master of versatility without never sounding dull or blend like those ”master of none, jack of all trades” IEM à la Seeaudio Yume.

Side notes :
The 3DT did scale up with about anything in its audio chain from ear tips to cable to DAC and AMP quality, but not that much in terms of extra amping power alone. Still, it needs enough humble juice, anything 200mW@32ohm or above should do in that regard. Simply put, for ear tips, 3DT like it open, for cable, it like it smooth and clean, for DACit like it smooth, crisp with good bass presence and for amping, stable with enough minimum power. Resolution-timbre-dynamic are what is mostly affect by these accessories, apart from ear tips which affect mostly tonal balance and Soundstage.
About ear tips, while the included one are good enough to open the sound, short wide bore ear tips is what I hold on, since it permits to sub-bass to be fully present and make the soundstage more open and holographic.
Burn-in is of prime importance too with those. Why? Because if a single DD iem need some playtime to achieve full flexibility-stability of it’s driver diaphragm….you could imagine 3 of these drivers will multiply the burn-in duration. A minimum of 50H is what I suggest, it can be in your ears since the 3DT sounds good right out of the box. Its only it’s transient fluidity and THD (total harmonic distortion due to drivers stress) that will improve and settle with time.


COMPARISONS

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VS AUNE JASPER (1DD/300$)

The 3DT is more energic sounding, with greater pina gain and upper mids presence. The mid-bass hit harder, the bass is more textured but less extended and clean than JASPER.
MIDS are more forwards, have more upper mids presence and texture-grain, they feel thicker too but less transparent and crisp than JASPER, which has leaner smoother mids that are more centered.
TREBLE is brighter and more in your face, crunchier and more low-mid treble axed than JASPER that is more airy and extended on top, snappy in its attack and sparkly.
AUNE soundstage sound more open and holographic, it’s wider and deeper than 3DT that have a thick panoramic presentation.
We have more amount of sounds layers amount with the 3DT, which offer a very different imaging presentation where you ‘’peel the sounds layers’’ to find what’s under it while you have a more realistic sense of spatiality with the JASPER and clearer instrument placement cue.
TECHNICALLY speaking, it’s hard to compare, but it seems the transient response of the single DD of JASPER is faster and less prompt to micro harmonic distortion. Bass extends further and doesn’t bleed after it’s hit, treble has more snap and resolution is notably higher-cleaner. All these are indicative of driver speed. JASPER attack lead and edge is more controlled too and less prompt to slight hotness-shoutyness.
TIMBRE is soft, liquid, dark, transparent, and very clean with the JASPER, it’s more gently natural, transparent and smooth than brighter, more textured and thick timbre of 3DT.

All in all, these 2 IEM complete each other well with their different signature and I can’t choose a fav unless I multiply by 3 the same fabulous DD find in the JASPER. 3DT is more bodied, punchy, lively and energic while the JASPER is more laid back, rumbly, crisp and transparent.

VS DUNU DK-2000 (1DD+2BA/300$)

Now, these 2 have a more similar tonal balance sitting between V and W shape, but the 3DT as a fuller more bodied tonality, more forward mids and less emphasis upper treble than DUNU.
It’s very interesting to compare the technical differences between those 2 due to different type of drivers they use, the 3DT has a more condensed layering made of wider sound layer, as well mids and treble have more weight to them but it can’t compete in speed to the knowles BA of the DUNU, which have a warmer yet crisper tonality. The warmth came from its DD bass that can create a resonance that embraces mids-highs in a different way than 3DT which have more punch than resonant rumble, it doesn’t feel a bit detached like the DUNU.
MIDS are thinner, more recessed, and centered with the DUNU, while the 3DT has more open mids that are weightier and more body as well as more realist and cohesive as a whole. Instruments like piano and cello as well as female vocals have a more natural tone with the 3DT.
TREBLE is were the 3DT show the limit of it’s DD in term of attack speed and extension, it’s less snappy and well resolved as well as not as accurate but it’s better balanced and less boosted than DUNU, which can distract you with forwarded micro-details.



VS FINAL E5000 (1DD/300$)

The E5000 is notable warmer, darker, and more laidback. Oh, and harder to drive. The bass is more boosted and bleedy, less textured and tight, it doesn’t hit as hard but seem to have less more rumble and extension. Kick can get swallow by bassline more than 3DT too due to less control.
We talk about a single micro-DD of 6.4mm vs 3 bigger DD here, and its more evident than Jasper in term of technical limit. But again, the overall sound seems more open and organic with E5000 due to the lower amount of sounds layers stick together. BASS of the E5000 is more of a guilty pleasure than more authoritative 3DT attack. It’s slower sloppier too and darkens the whole sound. MIDS are more recessed, less prompt to slight sibilance or harshness, less edgy in attack, and well defined in macro-resolution. Vocal of 3DT seems to jump at you while they are warm, hollow and shy with the E5000. TREBLE is a bit more sparkly with the E5000 but less full and textured as well as detailed, it adds air to the top which 3DT lack a bit.
The resolution being higher with 3DT, as well as layering capabilities, the imaging is notably better than E5000 which have a darken clarity.
The E5000 tonality is more similar to the JASPER but technically inferior to it as well as the 3DT, if you have a severe allergy to slight upper mids boost, this is the only reason i would suggest them to you over 3DT which have fuller tonality, more vivid dynamic and better technicalities and resolution. Oh, and you don’t need crazy amping to make them sound good.


(BONUS) VS UM MEST MK2 (from memory):
MK2 is technically superior, has better clarity and details, faster attack, more transparent but thinner timbre. It’s tonality is more neutral and lean, less bassy-warm-thick. More analytical and cold.
The soundstage feels smaller but notably deeper. Imaging is more precise.
BASS is lighter with more sub-bass presence and extension. It’s cleaner but less punchy.
MIDS are crisper, thinner, and a bit leaner and more distant, vocals aren’t very enjoyable and lack body and widen presence. Clarity and separation is from another league.
TREBLE is airy, sparklier, faster and dig way more micro-details: effortless way. It’s more controlled, articulated and extended.
TIMBRE is more transparent, organic and cold, less dense and weighty.
Tonally speaking, I find the 3DT more appealing, versatile and easy to love, but technically the MEST MK2 put to shame the 3DT in every single aspect from attack speed to resolution and precision, to control and imaging etc.


CONCLUSION

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Priced now 350$ (and even 320$ at Musictek store), the UM 3DT offers a good sound benefit return, has a well-balanced lively tonality, and fascinating technicalities that focus on sound layers extraction and weighty dynamic musicality.
Being able to tune those 3 dynamic drivers cohesively is a tour de force of its own and proves Unique Melody tuning experience gained in top tier IEM creation pay off for the budget offering they begin to offer.
If you are searching for an ultra-versatile sounding IEM that can inject richness and energy to any of your music styles, have a warm yet vivid tonality and bigger-than-life holographic sound presentation, I can’t recommend you enough these addictive UM 3DT.


——-
PS: I wanna thanks Unique Melody as well as the official UM IEM distributor MusicTek for sending me this review sample after my demand. I’m not affiliated to this brand and audio distributor and they didn’t ask me to write a positive review. As always: i’m 100% free of mind.
The UM 3DT is on SALE RIGHT NOW at MusicTek for 320$, you can buy it there
:
https://shop.musicteck.com/products/unique-melody-3d-terminator-3dt?variant=32656510156862

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