For the part on sound I used my favorite DAP, the Astell & Kern SP2000 DAP as source.
First of all let’s explain what the DB-GO module’s effect on the sound is.
By a simple twist forward or backward you increase or decrease the bass impact (with 4dB). With bass light music the effect is not always immediately audible but with bass heavier music, the extra punch is clearly there. It’s important to know however that even with the 4dB gain however, you don’t turn the Mason V3+ into a bass monster. Without gain you get a tight and neutral bass, and with extra bass you get a fuller and bigger impact. Personally I have the DG-GO module almost always fully activated as you get a more engaging and contrasting sound. The difference/impact of the DB-GO module depends on the quality of the source, the recording and the file quality. The DB-GO turning wheel on the V3+ is also upgraded, and it now is easier to turn as it has a better grip.
Readers not believing in the impact on sound based on the type of cable used better skip this paragraph. In general I most of the time prefer a copper over a silver cable but with the Mason V3+ it’s more complicated as both sound signatures are really good. With the previous V3 I preferred silver, but with the V3+ it’s more difficult. The copper cable makes everything a bit thicker, fuller bodied and smoother. The silver cable gives more clarity and precision, resulting in a more energetic, neutral sound signature. If I really have to choose I will opt for the copper one, simply because the silver cable brings me listening fatigue more quickly. For you that might be the other way around though.
I don’t know what it is with me and the Maestro/Mason series but they simply work for me. I actually still regularly listen to the original Maestro which dates back to 2016 already, and that means a lot.
You get a fast, balanced and very clear sound signature. The energy level and dynamics are very high here. You get good air, excellent separation and a nice and wide sound signature. The width here is more impressive than the depth and layering.
If you like a more neutral signature with great technicalities, the silver cable probably is the one for you. Close the DB-GO module and you get a flat, reference kind of sound. Open it up and bass get’s a bit more body, adding some musicality to the reference tuning. It’s only 4dB but it actually makes a world of difference for the bass. Even though bass with the silver cable is less present, it does reaches down really low. Don’t expect any sub bass rumble however.
The DB-GO module doesn’t really impact the mids and treble. The mids are spacious, detailed, transparent and have excellent separation. The mids also sound very airy and open, and they always come with excellent timbre. The treble section is light, precise and extends well. It’s energetic, clear and crisp but it never becomes harsh or sibilant.
To me it really are the mids that shine with the silver cable, though the highs aren’t far behind in quality. At the same time, as I said earlier, it’s because of this energetic treble that the listening fatigue pops up earlier for me, compared to with the copper cable.
With the copper cable, you get a fuller sound from top to bottom. The clarity and energy levels are a bit lower with this cable as well as the technical excellence, but you in return get better depth and layering, more bass (especially with the DB-module opened up) and a smoother (slightly warmer), more musical presentation.
I’ve been listening to the Mason V3+ for several months now and it seems I always end up listening to the copper cable with a different degree of DB-GO openness, depending on the type of music and the source used. To me the copper cable sounds more musical but that’s not all. The bass and mids get more body and the mid timbre is richer.
With the copper cable, bass always has more presence, depth (sub bass rumble!) and sounds fuller. Depending on the DB-GO setting, the impact varies but the amount is always good. The mids with the copper cable also sound fuller and warmer making them sound softer and more musical. The clarity and technical level here is not as pronounced but if you prefer smoothness and musicality with good detail, this will probably be the setting for you. Mids are still spacious and airy.
The treble section here is less exciting, clear and energetic, but it fits in better with the bass and mids section. If the treble here would sound the same as with the silver cable, it would disrupt the balance and sound signature. So yes, treble is softer and not as technically pronounced, but it is easier to listen to for longer periods and it perfectly matches with the copper bass and mids presentation.
This basically is the fourth edition of the Maestro/Mason and it makes sense to compare the latest version to the previous ones. Unfortunately I don’t have the V2, but I don’t think many actually do.
The original Maestro V1 has always been one of my favorite customs. It’s fast, intense, clean and has excellent layering. Bass has good impact but is not the absolute tightest. Of course this V1 – if we can call it that – doesn’t have a double cable choice or DB-GO module and tech-wise, the V3 and V3+ versions completely outperform the old V1, but that’s only normal as technology advances fast. The mids in the V1 are more in the back compared to with the V3 and V3+, and it for sure is more v-shaped. The bass and treble come out more than the mids, but it’s very well done.
The V3 version compared to the original Maestro has more drivers and is better in everything: it’s more precise, more natural, richer, wider, deeper, more extended and it has better decay.
Compared to the V3+ it surprisingly is less clean and precise. Complex passages on the V3 can sound messy more easily, while this isn’t the case anymore with the V3+. It manages “more” with better separation and precision, keeping everything clean and well articulated.
That being said, you can clearly hear these two are very close to each other and they share the same sound signature. The V3+ version however is technically better even though the normal V3 was very good already (it still is).
8. Driveability & Sources
The Mason V3+ is easy to drive but it at he same time will also show you just how good or bad your source (and file quality) is. I strongly suggest to use a good DAP or (USB) DAC/AMP but it doesn’t really need any specific amplification.
Personally I have mostly listened to the Mason V3+ with the Astell & Kern SP2000 DAP, as well as with the Chord Hugo 2 and AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt. The Mason V3+ sounds great from all of these, but it will also show you the typical characteristics of the amp/source.
I would not recommend pairing the V3+ with bass heavy and overly warm sources as that might mess up the intended tuning too much. With the DB-GO module and double cable, you already have many different sound signatures to choose from.
If you remember from reading the V3 review, you’ll know the V3 is featured on our Best CIEM list. The new V3+, even though more expensive, is a better/improved version of that CIEM and as such it will replace the V3 on our best buy list.
What an exceptional monitor the Unique Melody Mason V3+ is. I was expecting a lot as I already love the Maestro V1 and the V3, but the Mason V3+ is the best so far.
The Mason V3+ plays well with all the sources I used it with and it certainly is one of the very best CIEMs on the market at this point. A top quality monitor with these high end qualities doesn’t come cheap, but what you get in return is one of the very best IEMs out there.