So far it’s been pretty consistent: Each time we review a set of Ultimate Ears ‘phones, the bar leaps up a few notches as our expectations regarding the outfit’s offerings rise. After reviewing the 350, 700, and especially the 600vi — which garnered a best-in-class verdict — we were expecting the TripleFi 10 ($400) to slay vampires and cure cancer.
Of Ultimate Ears’ more serious offerings — and by serious, I’m referring to UE’s armature-equipped models, which start at $100 — the TripleFi 10 is by far the most serious, with three drivers and a crossover in each ear, pro-level detachable leads, the thickest cable we’ve ever seen on an IEM, Comply foam tips (the best tips, period) and a sound signature that’ll have you madly running through your entire music catalog with a big, gleeful smile plastered all over your face.
These ‘phones are stuffed with goodness:
Sound is spine-tinglingly, nose-bleedingly, jumping-up-and-down amazing. These aren’t glorified earings, or baubles to replace the buds that came with your Samsung Galaxy; they’re pro-level, audiophile instruments built with the single-mided purpose of reproducing music in all its glorious wonder. And they succeed wildly.
Balanced armatures are renowned for producing great mids and highs, which the TripleFi did extremely well; but also present was tons of bass, but I was really surprised to find tons of bass; even more impressive is that it wasn’t just boomy, overwhelming bass, but quality, breathy bass that blended pefectly with any genre of music. There’s also a marvellous feeling of separation, expanse and clarity without harshness, which I think likely has something to do with the fact that each eartip’s three armatures separately carry low, mid and high frequencies.
Comfort is kind of an odd subject with these guys. My own experience was superb — almost every time I wore the TripleFis I came away with the impression that they were the most comfortable IEMs I’d ever tried, due in equal parts to the excellent tips and the solid memory wire around the area where the leads meet the earpieces. The Comply foam tips are the best out there, but wear out eventually; but even the silicone tips felt superior to other silicone tips in terms of comfort. Likewise, achieving a tight seal was easy.
However, For a set of non-customs, the TripleFi’s earpieces are elephantine (they’re also electric blue, which, when combined with their size and fact that they stick out ridiculously, might make it look as if a pair of dung beetles is trying to mate through your head). Because of their size, I’ve read reports of some reviewers not being able to get comfy with the fit — but only because their ears were on the smallish side. My ears are somewhat largish, which may have been a somewhat largish reason I was so happy with the fit.
As one would hope with a set of ‘phones this expensive, the cables are massive, almost impossible to tangle and don’t look like they’ll break anytime soon. If they do break, no worries — a new cable can be purchased from Ultimate Ears for $20 and easily replaced yourself. Interestingly, UE doesn’t want you replacing the stock cable with the $30 mic-equipped cable. i confirmed this with the company, but they wouldn’t tell me why.
There isn’t much to gripe about:
The only complaint with the TripleFis was that sometimes after extended wear — perhaps something like two hours use — the earpieces became a little uncomfortable (experts recommend giving your ears a break from IEMs during extended wearing anyway, which would make this even less of an issue).
Then there’s the size of the earpieces, which may be an issue for some; try before buying if possible.
I could probably compose a series of poems about how utterly superb the TripeFi 10s are (don’t worry, I won’t). The small-eared should proceed with caution.