This review is somewhat long overdue, but I wanted to made sure that what I was hearing was accurate and wanted to review the final sound of the burnt-in Fidelity Triples. I hope its not too scanty, and do take what i say with a pinch of salt, as our preferences and our ears are all different. I do hope it makes good reading for someone potentially buying a custom in-ear monitor.
What I gather from head-fi is that the BA drivers don’t really benefit much from burn-in, but the crossovers do, so in order to make sure that I was listening to what the Fidelities was REALLY meant to sound like, the pair I have now has over 800 hours of pink noise, on top of normal usage on the iPod and for stage monitoring (drums) at normal listening volume. For the Fidelity Triples, the sound didn’t change much from the initial sound even after this. More below.
I have owned or tested extensively all the IEMs listed below. I used to use (and REALLY ENJOY) the Corda 2Move connected to a 5.5G iPod with a custom Cryo Mundorf LOD for about a year. I sold the amp and LOD eventually due to the bulk and I went back to using the iPod unamped. My stage monitoring is through AVIOM and the Shure PSM700 out from a Digidesign Venue and a Yamaha M7CL depending on which hall I play in in church.
I owned the Shure E2, E1, E3, E4, E5, Westone UM1, UM2, Livewires T1, Sennheiser IE8, Futuresonics Atrio and of late, the Fidelity Triples and the Futuresonics EARS Custom Monitor. I’ve also tested the UE super.fi 3, 5Pro, EB, Triple.fi, UE11Pro, the Shure SE530, the Westone ES2, the Unique Melody Aero, the ACS T1. My ear canals are pretty small, so I just insert the custom IEMs into my ears and it seals my off from the world. Its not the most accurate test, but its about 90% of the actual SQ of the IEM.
I currently still own the Westone UM1, Fidelity Triples, Futuresonics Atrio and EARS.
My favorites are the Shure E4s, Westone UM1, Livewires T1, Futuresonics Atrio and EARS. I enjoy the Futuresonics IEMs the most, and use them the most on stage as well, but still occasionally pick up the Westone UM1 for acoustic music.
I previously wrote a review for the Livewires T1 that I used to own and did a brief comparison to the Westone ES2 there, just so you know where I’m coming from. http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f4/rev...m2-es2-244960/
If you had read my review for the Livewires T1 (URL given above), the Fidelity Triples are built the same way, very well made and very well finished. Feels very good in my hands and in my ears.
I had a fit issue with my left ear, which was quickly rectified by sending the earpiece back to Fidelity and they added material to it and sent it back all within two weeks (from Singapore to the US and back). The fit was good after the refit, with the seal breaking only when I catch a big yawn. Other than that, the seal was good, and the isolation is super, cuts you off from the world in the noisy subway/public bus during rush hour, cuts out all the blaring ambient sound from the cymbals and drums, giving me complete control over what i hear from AVIOM.
Cables were the same as the Livewire T1 cables, except that the 3.5mm audio connector was now gold plated instead of the nickel plated ones I received with the original Livewires T1 (from the previous review). The cable connector is placed higher up than my Livewires T1, perhaps due to the extra driver that’s now inside the shell, which leaves no space for the connector in the middle.
The reason it doesn’t get full marks for Build, is due to the fact that color choices for earpieces and cables are EXTREMELY limited, and there is no option for custom artwork. While this might be due to the fact that Fidelity is focused on making custom IEMs for performing musicians, it would be an option that many would gladly welcome to make their IEMs truly, a CUSTOM in-ear monitor.
I was very anxious to receive the Fidelity Triples as my Livewires were no longer with me anymore. I needed a custom monitor for the best isolation as I used them to monitor while playing drums. When I finally received the Fidelity Triples, I put them in immediately to realise that the fit on my left ear was bad, it could not remain sealed without me using my hands to hold the IEM in place. It seemed like it needed a lot more material to hold it in place inside my ears. I plugged them into my iPod and waited for the ‘Livewires on steriods’ sound that I posted before, and was greeted with very strong (albeit muddy) bass, and what i thought i remembered to be the mids and highs of the Livewires. That was the reason i described the sound as ‘Livewires on steriods’ in some of my previous comments. I also had the impression that the muddy bass would tighten up after burn-in and give a more rounded sound. But that was of course, my very initial impressions of the Fidelity Triples.
I listen mainly to Rock, Jazz, Funk, Fusion, some Pop, acoustic music, and Indie and play some of each in church. After listening to them and using them on stage monitoring with drums consistently after my refit, and burn-in with pink noise at my normal listening volume, the sound did not change, and I could not get used to the sound at all. It was just really bizarre. The soundstage sounded reversed, with the lead singers at the back of my head instead of the front. Instrument separation is there, but I was completely disorientated with the weird soundstage.
The bass did not tighten up, and i’m not sure if it got muddier. The highs and mids were lost in the muddy bass, which did not have the ‘rumble’ the Livewires T1 did. Of course I tested that with a track that had that rumbling sub bass which came out very transparently on the Livewires, but I just could not replicate it on the Fidelity Triples even at a high volume (which I could not listen to for a long period of time).
A description of the sound in simple English would be ‘sucked out’ and hollow. Tracks that I knew well and really enjoyed with the Livewires T1 suddenly sounded horrible and thin and hollow with the Fidelity Triples. It had a ‘ringing’ to the sound that just killed any music I put on it. I used the Fidelity Triples on stage, and I had a really bad weekend of monitoring sound. The reversed soundstage just completely threw me off; adding to that, the ‘sucked out, hollow’ sound made my drums sound like cardboard boxes, and made the guitars, keys and vocals sound over compressed. I tried to EQ the band, cut off all outboard EFX to my mix, and tried to balance the volumes but nothing seem to fix the sound. I switched out to my Futuresonics Atrio for the last session, and everything went back to normal, sounding like the way it should. Mind you, I had abstained from using the Atrios for about a month to get myself used to the Fidelity Triples by using them exclusively. Similarly, the bass was muddy, the details and mids were not cutting and coming through, and the sound was not at all transparent, and nothing like the Livewires T1.
Not convinced that the Fidelity Triples were made to sound so bad, I tested it with different sources including my Macbook Pro audio out, my Macbook Pro with a M-audio Transit DAC, with someone’s 3Move and iQube amp with the Cryo Mundorf cable (my 2 absolute favorite amps with my absolute favorite LOD), another Macbook Pro, a HP laptop. But the sound remained the same. I monitored with the Fidelity Triples in different locations with different audio gear (with brands like Digidesign, Yamaha, Shure, TC Electronics, NEXO, Meyer Audio etc in the signal chain) and settings (with/without EFX, different EQs as I knew that different monitors respond differently to EQ from owning so many before), but I still always ended up with a hollow, tinny sound in my ears.
The Livewires T1 was extremely neutral and transparent, had good deep, rumbling bass, and had awesome mids and highs. Not something that everyone will like because of the extreme neutrality and transparency, but definitely something that most musicians/audio engineers would say good things about. The Fidelity Triples on the other hand, are just bizarre, muddy, and in crude terms, sound cheap.
The 1/5 rating comes because the sound is so unbalanced and muddy, and because the soundstage is very disorientating.
The Fidelity Triples came with an virtually indestructible Pelican 1010 case, with a cleaning tool and brush. Although a little scanty and non-fancy, the Pelican case was a wonderful touch, as I use it to keep my extra cables, cleaning tool, CF card (to store Roland V-drum settings), an extension cable with a 3.5mm to 1/4inch stereo convertor, and a spare set of monitors in it. The case also came with a personalised label from Fidelity with my name and serial numbers of my IEMs printed on a laminated sheet of paper.
I prefer the Pelican 1010 to the Westone Monitor case (a Pelican 1050 case with a customised insert) as the 1010 was a lot smaller and portable, and is still able to fit all I put into it without cramping, and is able to protect everything from water, impact etc.
The accessories provided were a definite upgrade from the Livewires T1 which I received in a ziplock bag with NO ACCESSORIES (see Livewires review, URL given near the top of this review).
The 2/5 rating would potentially have increased with a custom molded insert with a desiccant slot for the 1010.
Turnover Time 3/5
It took about a month and a half from the time I sent out my impressions from Singapore to Fidelity, and for them to manufacture my IEMs, and send them back. The shipment was slightly delayed due to erratic weather conditions in the US. The turnover time was as promised, nothing was delayed except for the shipping back but that could not have been avoided.
I audio engineer for services and recordings in our hall and recording studio and play drums in my worship band. Although not a professional in this field, I do know what kind of sound I like and dislike.
The sound of the Fidelity Triples really puzzled me. I’ve been reading about similar cases like mine on head-fi, while also reading on head-fi and on the Fidelity website about how some musicians LOVE and SWEAR BY their Fidelity Triples. I’m wondering if we actually have the same product in our hands. At this moment, I’m quite disappointed with the Fidelity Triples but as some on head-fi (with similar problems) have mentioned that they were told to send back their monitors for checks, I see a ray of hope that the Fidelitys could potentially sound a whole lot better than what i’m hearing now. The current verdict is based on the current sound i'm hearing. No matter how good the build and accessories are, if the custom monitor doesn't sound good, it defeats the purpose of getting a custom monitor in the first place, hence the current rating. I will update this review when and if Fidelity responds with regards to my issues which are faced by some others too.
Not wanting to misrepresent a potentially good product, I have emailed Fidelity with my review, and am waiting to see what they can do with this. I’m not sure how the Fidelity Triples were meant to sound, but if this is really how they are sounding, its would be a harsh verdict, but I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone at all. I am waiting for a reply from Catherine who had very promptly replied my mails before I purchased the Fidelitys and even about my refit. I spoke to her once on the phone and had a very pleasant and helpful conversation. I am quite confident they will get back to me on the issue. Just got to wait out and see what happens next. I do hope mine is a defective pair, and that the real Fidelitys really sound like ‘Livewires on STERIODS’.
For that matter, I purchased the Futuresonics EARs Custom Monitors as I needed a custom monitor on stage and haven’t looked back! The Futuresonics are just awesome awesome stage monitors and make music soooo enjoyable!