I recently reviewed Chinese-based 1More’s MK801 Headphones. To my great surprise, the word “budget” for the MK801s was all about the price, not the sound. Would 1More’s $99 MSRP Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones yield the same results? I was eager to find out.
At the outset, I can say that there is simply no better headphone packaging presentation I’ve ever seen. If you are looking for a set of sub-$100 headphones to gift, these take the cake from the packaging alone. It’s eye-candy.
In the box, there is an entire array of tips and a nice imitation leather hard-case that is just shy the size of a deck of cards. The case seals with a magnetic closure so that pulling out your headphones is always easy. I also liked the sizing of the case. It will fit nicely into a suit pocket or jacket, protecting your headphones from any strains or bends. The soft inner-lining ensures that you won’t have any abrasion on your headphones.
The 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones are solidly built. The nylon-covered 3.5mm cable is virtually tangle-free. It’s among the best I’ve had in for review. The nylon braiding does an exceptional job of rejecting any transferred rubbing noise. A multi-function inline remote sits on the right side and any points of strain are reinforced with metal barrels.
There’s only one minor flaw with the 3.5mm metal barrel. If you have an battery case for your iOS or Android phone, it’s just large enough and long enough to fit into the earphone slot with a slight bit of effort. However, because of its slightly oval shape, it will get stuck in the case’s headphone slot requiring significant effort to pull it back out. If you have a Mophie case, like I do, you’ll need to remove the phone from the case and then push out the 3.5mm jack from the inside.
The “Tip” of the problem
When you unpack the Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones, you’ll be excited to see such a vast array of tip sizes and options. There are silicone tips and soft-tips in a variety of sizes for nearly every situation. Unfortunately, your excitement will turn to distain once you actually try and use the tips.
They are terrible.
The silicone tips are much too slick and continually cause the Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones to fall out or require readjustment during listening sessions. The memory-foam style tips are your only saving grace, but they have one major flaw. They are so rough that they caused my ears to become irritated. I’ve never experienced such problems with ear-tips before except for a pair of Sure IEMs I owned over a decade ago.
The saving grace replacing the included ear tips with the truly exceptional and comfortable Comply memory foam tips
. That additional investment made all the difference. The Comply tips kept the Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones in my ears at all times. Best of all, they didn’t irritate my ears.
I was completely taken aback when I started listening. I wasn’t expecting these things to sound this good at this price point. “Budget price, not sound!” Is there an echo in here? The upper midrange and top end is the real strength of these headphones and something that isn’t common among many peers. Overall, these are very good sounding in-ear headphones.
They aren’t perfect, however—no $99 IEM is. I found that their performance was dependent on the kind of music you are listening to. And, the strengths and weaknesses will manifest themselves differently depending on the genre or song. I’ll try and detail some of the perceived tradeoffs and preferences so that you can make the best decision. (I must also note as a disclaimer and for the record that some of these tradeoffs I note below could certainly have been exacerbated by the awesome seal that the Comply memory foam tips deliver).
|I used Comply’s isolation memory foam ear-tips. They were a revolutionary improvement over the included tips.
The bottom end will be perceived as a strength or a weakness depending on your listening preferences. For my tastes, I found the bottom end to be a tad bit disconnected from the rest. It was as though the bottom end was behaving slightly different than the upper midrange or top end. Is this the result of the crossovers or something else? I cannot be sure.
Regardless, the bottom end was heavier—not more authoritative–than other IEMs and free-standing speakers I’ve auditioned. I know some will like this; while others (like me) will say it’s not neutral. Do you like your tea strong, with honey, or sugar? It’s a matter of taste.
Minor quibbles aside, you can just lose yourself in the music with the Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones. U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is a good example of the sound these IEMs exhibit. There was a slightly elevated bass and lower midrange that pushed ever so slightly into and over Bono’s vocals. The upper midrange was good and the top end was fairly smooth and seemed to have a euphonic rolloff. It seems to me that the Triple Driver’s strive for a smoother sound as opposed to a finely detailed one. For example, with IEMs costing nearly double the price, I get a more airy presentation with more space and definition around the instruments. However the Triple Driver IEMs do a great job of avoiding the chalk-board grating detail that you’ll sometimes find with in-ear headphones at this price-point.
Female vocals—one of my stress tests for any system—passed. Adele’s vocals were well rendered but, as with male vocals, were sometimes battling against an aggressive lower midrange. “Rolling in the Deep” is the case and point. During the refrain, the bass lines and lower piano notes recessed Adele’s vocals back into the soundstage while during the regular stanzas there was a greater musical coherence. Snare drums and cymbals were superb for this price point. In contrast, “One and Only” from Adele’s 21 fared far better with a greater sense of musical balance.
|A superb package: great sound and accessories
The bottom line
Let’s face it, there are lots and lots of options with in-ear monitors today. In my experience, to start getting true audiophile-quality IEMs, you need to spend at least $180 (or more). Therefore, at $99 1More’s Triple Driver In-Ear headphones continue the tradition of having the word budget be all about the price and not the performance. Good sound is accompanied by equally good build quality. These things are just beautiful. They have a luxurious look, feel, and design. The Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones will go toe-to-toe and best many of its peers.
Sadly, the included tips are a waste. Throw them out upon opening the package and save some frustration. It’s the only area that 1More needs to address immediately. Replace the included tips with the exceptional Comply memory foam tips and you won’t look back.
Once you do, just sit back, relax and enjoy the music through the Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones. You’ll be glad you did.