Pros: value, value & value, sound quality, wireless and wired use possible, ergonomic design, very coherent mids and highs
Cons: bass quality & quantity won't appeal to everybody, shape of the wireless cable's ear guides not comfortable for everybody
No, the “Model 3” isn’t a new car coming from Tesla Motors but an in-ear from ADVANCED, a New York based audio company that was formerly known as “ADV.SOUND”. Their first product, the M4 (, which I reviewed here), already managed to positively surprised me, and now the team is back with a new product, the ergonomically shaped Model 3 (https://www.adv-sound.com/collections/all-collection/products/model-3), which caught my interest because despite its quite competitive price, it features removable MMCX cables, with one of them being a Bluetooth module (that even supports aptX), so you are getting both the freedom of wireless audio as well as the reliability of a wired connection from the same in-ear, which I find an interesting idea.
But what you all are probably more interested in is how the in-ears sound, aren’t you? So let’s move on.
Before I go on though, I want to thank ADVANCED for sending me a sample of the Model 3 free of charge for the purpose of an honest and unbiased evaluation.
Driver Unit: Custom Tuned Single Dynamic Drivers
Impedance: 16 Ohm+/-15%
Sensitivity: 100dB+/-3dB at 1kHz
Frequency Response: 20Hz – 40kHz
Music/talk Time (Wireless): up to 5 hours
Charging Time: 1.5 hours
Bluetooth Version: 4.1 + aptX®
Connection Distance: 10m (33ft)
Input Port: MicroUSB, DC 5V/60mA
Working Current: 10-19mA
Cord length (Wired): 1.2 m
Plug (Wired): 3.5mm Gold Plated
The Model 3 arrives in a nicely designed outer package (with nice pictures, an exploded view on the in-ear as well as its parts and an uncompensated frequency response chart) that contains a black inner package with magnetically closed lid. Inside, one will find the in-ear, two cables (one wireless module and one regular cable), a charging cable, three pairs of green foam tips (three sizes), three pairs of silicone tips (two sizes), a manual and last but not least a large and ADVANCED-branded carrying case that offers enough room for the in-ears as well as both cables and the charging cable.
Looks, Feels, Build Quality:
The in-ear shells are transparent and resemble the ergonomic shape known from Westone and Shure models. The outer side is flat and has got a transparent mesh-pattern that looks nice and is unobtrusive.
Build quality is great and the in-ears feel really sturdy.
The standard cable for wired connection is a regular thin cable with a single-button remote control and excellent strain relief near the 3.5 mm connector, however none directly at the in-ears or the y-split. It also doesn’t have a chin-slider. Personally, I would have preferred if a cable similar to the one used for the ADV.SOUND M4 was used, but as the in-ears have adopted standard MMCX sockets, any cable with the matching counterpart can be used.
The cable with the wireless module is kind of a necklace cable with a remote control on the bottom and two “arms” that are the cables that lead to the ear pieces which have ear guides, however no memory wire. The clasp is magnetically closed and contains the charging port.
Build quality and appearance of the module are definitely not bad, however I am not a fan of the nylon-coated necklace as it will fray over time and soak sweat.
The in-ear shape is, just as written above, very ergonomic and resembles Shure’s and Westone’s models, though with a somewhat different angle.
Shure in-ears are among the most comfortable for me and the Model 3 comes very close though I have to turn it a little to get the best seal.
Using the cable with the wireless module, I don’t get a good fit and no consistent seal because the lack of memory wire in the ear guides leads to the in-ears being pulled out after some time. With the regular cable though, this doesn’t happen and the seal is consistent.
The included silicone tips are quite sticky and manage to give you a good seal.
Talking about seal and isolation, the Model 3 doesn’t seem to be vented, at least I couldn’t spot any vent upon close inspection. Isolation is therefore high although a bit lower than with Shure’s or Westone’s models.
Operation (Bluetooth Module & iPhone 4):
The module contains three buttons – the centre one acts as power on/off respectively pairing and play/pause button while the other two skip tracks with a short click and change the volume with a long one. Double-clicking the centre button, the last called number is re-dialled.
During operation, a small multi-coloured LED behind the button is also blinking, indicating that the module is active.
Volume is rather on the higher side even with the lowest settings – personally, I really wouldn’t mind if the module’s lowest possible volume setting was lower.
The following detailed impressions are based on listening in wired mode. After them, you will find a shorter impression of the sound with the Bluetooth cable attached.
For listening, I mainly used the iBasso DX80 as well as Luxury & Precision L3 Pro in wired mode.
The largest included silicone tips were used for listening.
The Model 3 is a bassy in-ear with a strong midbass and a full and also warm root. The sub-bass isn’t really less present, however it doesn’t appear as forceful and is also softer. Lower vocals are on the mellower and warmer side but overall neither overly warm nor overly coloured and aren’t overshadowed by the strong bass while it does bleed somewhat into them.
The treble is overall really inconspicuous and more on the neutral side with probably just a small bump in the middle (5 kHz) and upper (10 kHz) highs.
The bottom end is quite obviously tailored for a full mainstream signature, however the realism and evenness in the mids and highs is something that definitely not every in-ear in this price range has – here, the Model 3 does definitely have an advantage over a good amount of other in-ears (in its price range). It does definitely sound more coherent and authentic than many in-ears below $100 and even below $200. However, personally, I would have wished the bass to bleed less into the root and to only become present when it really extends low.
Listening to sine sweeps, what I am hearing is the lows to start climbing from 700 Hz down to 120 Hz where the climax is reached in my ears. It then stays like this down into the sub-bass but as the lowest notes don’t appear to move as much air, the focus is a little more on the midbass and the full and warm root. Compared to a flat in-ear like the Etymotic ER-4S, the bass is almost 15 dB more present which is not just a little.
Between 1 and 3 kHz, I can hear a moderate dip that makes trumpets sound a little compressed, but the rest of the treble sounds very cohesive, natural and authentic. Above, the highs are pretty neutral and probably just show a slight and broad-banded elevation around 5 and 10 kHz. Above 14 kHz, the highs are losing quantity.
Resolution is pretty darn good for the price and very initially, I even thought it was (much) better because as mentioned earlier, this in-ear has got one advantage over many other models in its price range: its treble sounds really natural and even, wherefore notes are rendered more realistically which leads to the impression of higher resolution at first.
While resolution is really high for the price, upon closer inspection and direct comparisons with in-ears in the $150 to 200 range, it is revealed that the Model 3 sounds a little less detailed in the mids than them, but when compared to some of the better in-ears in the sub $100 range, it is definitely among the better/best of them and outperforms the average performers.
Honestly speaking, mainly because of the high authenticity, the Model 3 is already a really good deal at its selling price in my opinion, and even more so if considered that a Bluetooth module and regular cable come included as well. Though, one shouldn’t expect the fastest and cleanest bass which is no wonder though because of its quantity, but even toned down using an equalizer, there are quicker and more arid in-ears around.
Bass – the lows are the only weaker part of this in-ear when it comes to sound. Control is about average, but they are somewhat more on the softer and mellower side except for the upper bass that is relatively quick and firm. Fortunately though, decay isn’t too slow so the bass doesn’t sound smeary. I wouldn’t mind if the resolution of low notes was a little higher either because it is good but not as good as the treble’s and mids’ resolution.
Mids – speech intelligibility is good and vocals are revealed well and only slightly less detailed than with the SoundMAGIC E80. Layering in the midrange is rather impressive for the price and really surprised me the first time I put the in-ears into my ears.
Highs – a really strong part of the Model 3. Quick attack and release, good separation. Also quite natural and realistically presented. Cymbals decay a little quickly and trumpets appear a bit compressed due to the moderate dip in the presence range between 1 and 3 kHz, but that was it. Other comparable in-ears have more flaws in the highs. Compared to the SoundMAGIC E80, the Model 3 sounds noticeably more realistic and also somewhat more detailed in the highs. As I said, definitely one of the strongest points of this in-ear.
The soundstage is quite remarkable in my ears – not only is it somewhat wider and deeper than average, but also precise, with very clear spatial cues. Spotting the exact position of single instruments in the imaginary room is quite easy and instrument separation is good, too.
Next to the high naturalness and authenticity in the mids and treble, this is definitely another really strong point of this in-ear.
Sound (wireless Bluetooth connection):
For the Bluetooth cable, I used my iPhone 4 which sends a clean, wireless AAC Bluetooth codec signal to the in-ears. The Hidizs AP60 with a really clean aptX Bluetooth transmission was used, too.
I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t really use the Bluetooth cable long at all (less than one and a half hour in total) because the use of memory-wire-less ear guides on the wireless module didn’t allow for a long lasting seal in my ears. What I would say is that sound quality is relatively close to the wired connection, however cymbal transients probably tended to sound minimally distorted/”spread” and the soundstage was a bit less precise. The product description also mentions that the wireless module contains custom DSP technology, and what I heard with it was indeed a brighter (however less realistic) treble and probably a bit less bloom in the fundamental range, but this might also be caused by a different angle in my ears (just as mentioned, because of the lack of memory wire in the ear guides, the in-ears didn’t stay in my ears very well with the wireless module), because no equalizer is used with this DSP as it seems but it is rather used to keep the distortion low at high volumes and to minimise hiss, at least that is what I was told upon request.
In Comparison with other In-Ears:
The comparisons were made using a wired connection.
Tonally, both are quite the opposite – the M4 is bright sounding without a strong bass and the Model 3 has got a prominent and warm bottom-end with a more neutral treble response. Where the M4 has got the advantage is the cable which is just phenomenal.
The M4 has got the much brighter and leaner treble as well as the leaner mids with a tamed-down bass. When it comes to realism in the mids and treble, the Model 3 is the winner.
In the mids and treble, the Model 3 is the more detailed in-ear. In the bass though, while both are more on the softer side (the M4 probably a bit less due to its lesser quantity), the M4 sounds slightly more resolving in the lows.
The Model 3 has got the somewhat larger as well as audibly deeper soundstage and has got the more precise spatial cues, making it easier to spot the exact position of single instruments (in comparison, the M4’s soundstage appears a little smeared).
SoundMAGIC E80 (stock wide bore tips):
The E80 has got considerably less bass, about identically warm mids with less quantity in the lower root and a steeper, brighter upper treble (~ 8 kHz) because here it has a peak. In the middle highs around 5 kHz, it has a dip, making it a v-shaped in-ear but without an exaggerated bass.
The midrange of the E80 is just very slightly more detailed with direct comparison, however in the highs, the Model 3 has got the higher resolution and also sounds more even, realistic and authentic.
When it comes to bass (midbass and sub-bass), the E80’s is a little less soft and also a little more detailed, but it’s a close match. Surprisingly, the Model 3 is a bit faster in the upper bass.
In terms of soundstage, both have about comparable width with the Model 3 having more depth though and slightly more width, too. The Model 3 is the winner though when it comes to spatial cues, layering, instrument separation and placement.
TTPod T1 (non-E):
The TTPod has got considerably less bass and warmth and the brighter and leaner midrange as well as treble, making it more comparable with the ADV.SOUND M4.
The T1 has got the somewhat quicker bass attack and better control in the lows while both are similarly resolving down low. In the mids and treble, the Model 3 is the more detailed, harmonic and realistic in-ear.
The TTPod’s soundstage is just slightly wider with a little less spatial depth. The ADVANCED has got the more precise spatial reproduction with superior instrument placement, separation and more air around instruments.
SoundMAGIC E10 (stock wide bore tips):
The E10 has got less bass quantity but is the darker and warmer sounding in-ear with the darker and thicker mids.
Detail retrieval in the mids and treble is audibly better with the Model 3 which is also the somewhat higher resolving in-ear in the lows although both are comparably soft down low. With fast music though, the SoundMAGIC is giving in more and sounds blurry whereas the Model 3 lets you still hear single bass notes.
The E10’s soundstage is smaller and appears quite blurry and imprecise in comparison, without any real separation.
DUNU Titan 1:
The DUNU has got less bass quantity and is the brighter and leaner in-ear out of the two.
The Titan 1 has got the quicker bass attack and better control in the lows. In the midrange and treble, the DUNU is a little more detailed but it is surprisingly not that much. The difference between the two is however that the Model 3 is the more natural and even sounding in-ear in the treble, making it sound more authentic.
The Titan’s soundstage is somewhat larger in both directions. Instrument placement is comparably precise with both while separation goes to the DUNU when comparing both directly.
The E10 is a famous and quite good/solid contender in the $50 range and so the E80 is in the ~ $80 range, wherefore the Model 3 shows that it sets itself apart from that lower price range of the E10, aiming more for models in the range around/above $80-100+.
Even without the Bluetooth module, the value would have been really good and is even better with it. Of course, because of the price, there just has to be a compromise between accessories and sound, however the main focus is definitely on the sound, making the ADVANCED Model 3 an in-ear with a good price-performance ratio with a powerful bass slam and a (considering the price range) detailed and especially really cohesive and natural midrange and treble, coupled with an airy and precise soundstage reproduction. The removable cables as well as the Bluetooth module are the cherry on the cake.
The disadvantage is however that the regular cable is not of the most impressive quality and that some things about the Bluetooth module could be more premium. At the price point, I don’t complain much though.
With my usual 70% sound for the price (87/100)/price-performance-ratio (93/100) to 30% accessories/build quality (76/100) weighting, I come to a conclusion of 4.29 out of 5 stars.