The overall clarity and energy levels of the Mini MEST are impressive, even without the EST drivers its big brother has. The downsides are that the experience and feel of the bone conduction driver is limited, especially compared to the bigger custom IEM, where the faceplate and the contact area with the skin and bones is more important. The other downside is the Mini MEST picks up a slight bit of noise which is audible during silent passages and at very low volumes.
Bass is really impressive. It has really good body and impact but it at the same time is tight and fast. Bass reaches down really low and has good layering and detail retrieval, there even is a nice sub bass rumble when needed.
While the bass actually sounds a lot like the typical dynamic driver bass, it’s actually fully produced by Knowles balanced armatures. Very impressive!
The lower mids perfectly separate from the bass and the are lighter in presence and body. This combined with the energetic and more present upper mids, produces the v-shaped presentation. Which many people like. The energy, detail retrieval and timbre of the upper mids and vocals is really good. The timbre is smooth but clear and very musical. The note extension and depth are very nice as well. The vocals shine.
Treble, BA produced without any EST drivers, is fresh, energetic and clear. The presentation is spacious and lively and it extends quite well. I never felt the Mini MEST left me wanting in this area, and the amount of detail, the decay and crispiness are al good.
All-in-all I don’t feel the v-shaped tuning is overly present here, and it all just fits well and works seamlessly together.
As mentioned before, UM uses their proprietary cable system and the cable from the MEST is thicker. As the connections are identical its very easy to swap the cables of both units.
The difference in sound isn’t huge however. Bass and mid body increase a bit and there’s an added layer of detail, while keeping the excellent clarity. At the same time however it feels like the MEST cables enhances the layering and depth but it feels a bit strange in regards to the rest of the tuning.
For me the Mini MEST with the normal cable it comes with, sounds more coherent and correct.
The Mini MEST still is quite a bit away from the MEST in terms of performance, but it’s impressive none-the-less. No, the bone conduction isn’t as obvious and feelable here as it is in the big brother, but it certainly ads to the experience.
UM’s MEST simply is incredibly well-tuned and the more present bone conduction brings something exciting to the listening experience. Technically the MEST of course is stronger than the Mini MEST and it’s overall more balanced in signature.
Especially the sound stage, extension, detail retrieval and spaciousness of the MEST are at a whole other level. Can the sound of both IEMs be compared? Yes, there are similarities, but they’re just at a whole different level.
It’s safe to say the UM MEST is one of the best IEMs on the market now in the high end segment. The MEST sells for quite a bit less compared to other brands’ flagship models and that makes it even more attractive and a strong contender for our Best IEM award.
The Mini MEST is just as special as the MEST in this regard: it performs incredibly well for the price it is selling for and it easily beats many monitors in its price class with it’s engaging tuning and bone conduction experience.
For only $599 you get one heck of a universal hybrid monitor. I’m not the biggest fan of universal fit IEMs, but this one is so good that I have to give it our Recommended Buy award. To the Best Buy list it goes!