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An Attempt at a Review of the Fidelity Triples

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

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/

Build 4.5/5
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.

Sound 1/5
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.

Accessories 2/5
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.

Verdict 1/5
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!
post #2 of 22
well, thank you for the review - one of the first i think for these (i am probably wrong). too bad you did not find them enjoyable for your work or listening... of course the futuresonics are incredible -they are one of a kind, the first custom earphone ever.
post #3 of 22
Thank you for review vii_haven. Well, definitely something wrong with them. Please keep us informed on further investigation what's happen there and what Catherine will answer.
post #4 of 22
yeah, must be something wrong as they seem to make good products.
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Does anyone have a Fidelity Triple that sounds similar or different from what i've described? Could you put some impressions here as well?
post #6 of 22
I'm curious to see if you can try them with a 75 ohm P-to-S adapter to see if that helps. My Freq Show triples don't sound very good until I use the 75 ohm switch on my XM5 amp, and I wonder if my solution could be used with yours as well. One person has already posted that adding 50 ohms does not help.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well i don't own a P to S adaptor, and I sure don't want to permanently use a P to S on stage and with my iPod when it should be sounding decent in the first place? The Livewires didn't need a P to S to function well and i'm pretty sure the Triples wasn't designed to be permanently used with a P to S. I did however try it with the UE attenuator but it did not make the soudn any better.
post #8 of 22
from "Livewires - California Dreamin" thread.

Originally Posted by isao2k8 View Post
I received Fidelity Triples yesterday.

(Left: LiveWires T1, Right: Fidelity Triples)

The molds are more comfortable than LiveWires T1, for me. The stock cable is the same as T1's stock cable, so you can use any "cables for LiveWires" for Fidelity Triples.

However, the sound is TERRIBLE - muddy, blurred, low resolution and distorted like cheap earphones. It's far worse than LiveWires T1's sound, so I'm suspecting these are defectives and sent a mail to their support.

Originally Posted by John Smith View Post

My Triples arrived.
ummmm .... it seems that my triples am also hopeless.(=Defective Triples)

It seems that however, the normal Triples has reached two of Japanese music lovers.

[My impression for Fidelity Triples]
Please review my comment based on the assumption that my Triples are defective (they have problems with sound cracking and muffling).
And since I am poor at English, my words may be strange.

Since my Triples do not sustain the sound, they are not good from the view point of enjoying music and the issue is much more pronounced in female vocal(no good).
Although the range of the sound is at a considerable level, the sound is muffled considerably and its muffling is worse than that of my Sleek Audio [SA6](universal type).

[Japanese blogger's impression for Fidelity Triples]
The following is description by a blogger famous for Japan.(His Fidelity is a normal article.)
For normal products, the resolution is analytical, and the sound is not lumped together and each individual sound can be heard with the help of dry sound tendencies.
Although the sound field is not as broad as that of UE, they have a broad range from side to side.
Also, they provide full volume bass while having a core sound.

The tendency of the sound of Fidelity Triples is a flat.
The frequency response of Fidelity Triples resembles UE-10pro(cusutom earphone) very much.
He says,”I have purchased Triples absolutely also $800.”

Thank you.

Originally Posted by Steph86 View Post
Hi, I just received my fidelity triples, the fit is amazing much better with an open mouth impression over my t1's which were done closed mouth. The build quality is also superb like my original t1.

Now for the but, and the very big BUT........

The sound is awful, I am experiencing exactly the same muffled,muddy, blurred, low resolution sound that "isao2k8" is experiencing. Unfortunately my T1's got lost in the post so I don't have them to do a direct comparison, however from memory the fidelity triples do seem far more inferior to the T1's.

How can this be? I honestly don't think burn in is going to make much of a difference. Should the crossover be visible inside the custom earphone? or is it part of one of the drivers? All i can see are the three drivers wired to the connection point no crossover.

Here are some pictures anyway.

Im going to call the office this afternoon see if I can speak to Earl himself, see what he says.

I'll keep you all updated, isao2k8 have you heard anything yet?
Originally Posted by isao2k8 View Post
I just got a reply from them that said my triples seemed to have some problem. I send them back.
post #9 of 22
and here is interesting post on Jaben community forum:


When I first got my ‘Trips’, I was a little disappointed after the hype david generated with his thread as out of the pouch it sounded veiled, muffled and ‘weird’, nothing like what he mentioned in here

bass is impactful with nice depth and good resolution, without muddying out the mids, ensuring that bass instruments sound clear and precise, never straying from where they're meant to be. the midrange is smoothly textured, and generous in both detail and clarity, a killer combination for jazz and vocals, in my opinion.
the highs are sweet and natural, and for lack of a better description, faithfully reproduced. they sparkle when they need to, and while not overly prominent, they hold their ground and are in no way overwhelmed..
Later, I heard from ZhenYu that they require some run-in time and I decided to give them a chance before dismissing them as a waste of money. Thank God I did. If you read some of my comments littered around in the various threads located in the LiveWires subforum, you would have known that I suffered some minor shocks while plugging the ‘Trips’ to the notebook. Prior to that, some popping noises were heard in the right side. Perhaps it’s a sign of things to come because after removing them from the notebook, the audio experience was totally electrifying (pun intended).

It was as though someone shoved some mufflers on them and then decided to remove it after getting shocks. The difference between them was as obvious as day and night and suddenly what david has been saying made sense.

Enough of the introduction, the review shall commence in the next post.
post #10 of 22
Interesting post of one more Jaben forum member:
the main difference is that Fidelity decide to push in what it seems to be 2 bass drivers instead of LiveWires's single bass with mids and tweeter.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Maybe that Jaben forum member missed out the specs on the Fidelity site.

"DRIVERS: Triple balanced armatures (Tweeter/Mid/Woofer)
SENSITIVITY (at 1kHz): ~118 dB/mW
ISOLATION: 25-28 dB (depending on accuracy of impressions)
DISTORTION: Less than 0.3%
CORD LENGTH: 50 inches standard . . . 64 inches optional
NET WEIGHT: ~3 oz.(varies with ear size)
INPUT CONNECTOR: Gold-plated 3.5mm phone, Stereo"

I had asked Catherine about it when i was ordering it and i'm sure its a 3 way, 3 driver IEM, not a 2 way, 3 driver IEM like what the Jaben forum member is claiming.
post #12 of 22
Probably he is wrong.
Any news from Nashville?
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Just got a reply from Catherine saying to send my monitors back so they can rectify the problem and get it back to me ASAP. Cross my fingers.
post #14 of 22
Think you could pull something like this:
off with all the earphones you've run?
post #15 of 22

Did this ever got resolved?  I spoke to Catherine, who told me that when they scoped the "defective triple drivers" the frequency response was not what they spec'd.  The actual manufacturer for Fidelity Custom Earphones did not follow the schematics for their design.  She has assured me that all is well with these IEM's now.  I ordered a pair, and have very high hopes for them, but this review did scare me, quite a bit.

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