The Triple Driver in-ear phones from 1More have made something of a splash among audiophiles. Attendees at T.H.E. Show Newport were treated to an audition of fully broken in buds, and reports are that it was well worth it. Being stuck in my room for most of the show, I missed a lot, including the headphone space, but on my return, I heard about these marvels and decided to check them out for myself. At $99.99, the upside, especially based on what folks were telling me, seemed worth the risk.
The packaging did not disappoint, and the inclusion of a magnetically closing faux leather box added to the feel of quality. The sound, however, was a different matter: Right out of the gate, though the bass was large and the potential for real transparency was present, there was a palpable whitish glare with bright crashy, splatty and thin sounding transients which meant that, for the time being, to me at least, they could not be not be regarded as "listenable". I decided to put as many hours on them as possible. I've been playing pink and white noise, sweep patterns and music though them. As of this writing there are at about 40 hours. My guess is that they won't come fully into their own until at least after 100 hours, maybe longer.
Yesterday, being my usual impatient self, I decided to see what I could extract in the here and now. I dug into my tweak-o-holic's kit bag and came up with fo.Q TA-32, self-adhering 21st century damping material and Oyaide MWA-100S, electromagnetic wave control material.
My first move was to apply a circle of TA-32 to the flat round back end of the ear buds. This added a significant level of clarity and weight to the presentation, though it was still far from musical and still had that hard to live with high-endy quality.
The next move was to wrap the brass down tube with TA-32. Again another uptick.
The next move was done in stages: I punched six dots using the largest punch on the leather punch tool shown above and applied them in one location at a time: 1st the bottom of the black portion of the body, then the top and finally on the brass face of the body just behind the ear cup. Each of these produced a profound improvement, with the one on the brass face being the most powerful. We were beginning to approach musical.
The final two moves were to wrap TA-32 on the cable just below the "Y" and to wrap the 3.5mm stereo plug with first a layer of Oyaide MWA-100S electromagnetic wave control material and then a layer of TA-32. The outer layer of TA-32 was necessary because the MWA-100 S is very thick and would quickly come undone on its own. In fact, I put a little extra effort into bending it around the plug and holding it in place to insure that it would not unravel before applying the TA-32, and, of course, the TA-32 could not hurt.
At this stage in the listening the buds are on the edge of being truly musical. I will continue the burn in process and report back in a future blog. For $100 I don't expect them to equal my Audeze LCD-3s, but they are easily now the most open sounding earbuds i own. (Disclaimer: I don't own any expensive earbuds, and I'm sure that the high priced spread is well beyond these, but for their price, and with a little tweaking, I think they are definitely worth the cash.)
Let me know your thoughts and experiences.
Update July 2, 2016
I was about ready to pack these up and return them (they were stuck for several days at the edge where they still had a fatiguing upper midrange to treble glare), but something interesting happened between the last time I listened (yesterday) and today. Are they fully out of the woods? No, but the harshness and greater bulk of the fatiguing quality seems to have disappeared, leaving behind a mostly musical and fairly transparent signal. It still needs further break in, but it is getting interesting.
Update July 8, 2016
We have passed another milestone. There was a slight hiccup when it appeared that the bass in one ear was louder than the other. I'm now convinced that this was due to the sensitivity of the 3.5mm stereo plug, which must be seated perfectly. These buds have grown addictive with their transparency and openness being something of a marvel. Treble is still not world class with a slight tinge of tizziness, but now now subtle enough to be a non-issue. I decided to see if I could extract more performance with TA-32. In the photo below you can see where I have added more to the cords. I also added another dot to the buds themselves. The dot on the brass face of each bud came loose on their own, probably by constant rubbing against my ear. There are now three dots on the black band, which I think are quite secure.
With these additions the 1More buds have become addictive. I have a new and heightened awareness of both music and background sounds on soundtracks and find myself grooving to deep synthesized bass - things I usually don't pay much too attention to. The magnification of ambient cues and the overall sense of transparency is immense.