CUSTOM TRIPLE.FI 10 PRO REVIEW
UPDATE: 5/29/11 - It was brought to my attention that Fisher hearing has increased their rate from $80 to $90 and from $20 to $30 for cables
Additonally, If you're going to have your TripleFi's custom shelled, I recommend you have them configured to a different cable. The OEM custom UE cable is horrible. It always shorts out and turns green because I used them for jogging. I've gone through three UE cables within a few months time. The custom reshell work is still fantastic; however, the volume, in my left earpiece, has decreased substantially, but I think that is from earwax buildup that has fallen deep inside the hole where sound emanates from. Perhaps custom IEMs are not built for jogging, I'm not sure.
This review is a reflection of my experiences with the custom fit Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 Pro, on Thursday 11/12/09 to Sunday 11/15/09 from Fisher Hearing. I wanted to note my experiences from start to present. I consider myself an audiophile, but I still haven't grasped all of the concepts when it comes to describing sound. So please forgive me, if I use terms improperly, or make up words to describe sound.
I am recommending Fisher Hearing and the owner, Kim, who assisted me because of the wonderful service and customer care that I received from them. Please don't hold me accountable should your experience differ. But do share your experiences in this thread. I have only had my TripleFi's reshelled with this company. I cannot comment on how other reshelled models will sound. What I can tell you, is that Kim has years of experience with reshelling to custom molds, and if you have some sort of preference or request, he will most likely grant it.
I went into Kim's office, and sat across from him as he handed me my finished product, the custom fit reshelled TF10. It was a little uncomfortable at first, fitting the customs into my ear, but I slowly got used to it; now it doesn't bother me at all. The first track I played was Lenny Kravits "Believe" - from my iPhone. The first thing I noticed was a slight annoying vibrating buzz in my right ear, like a strand of hair fell into a speaker through the grill. To my relief, this was due to an improper seal. So simply maneuvering it a bit in my ear, resolved the issue. While I am placing them into my ear, I leave my mouth opened wide, then I shut it after both pieces are in.
BUILD & QUALITY
The translucent red earpieces are identical to pictures I've seen of Unique Melody's custom UE's. My last name is printed on both pieces, one earpiece has it in a blue font, and the other a pink font. This helps differentiate left & right, although the UE11 cable already has "R" & "L" labels. "Custom UE 111209" has also been printed on them with the same respective colors. Kim brought it to my attention before hand, that in order to use the UE11 cable, the socket of the earpiece would have to stick out more, where as on the actual UE11, it is much more recessed. This was fine with me, as I've already seen that in some other people's picture of their Third-Party custom UE's. In my photographs it may look like it sticks out too much, but when you see them in reality, it looks just fine. If you don't want it to stick out that much, then I suggest you request a different cable configuration with your TF10's. For me, I was obsessed with retaining the sound signature as much as possible - so I had to have the UE11 cable.
You can see he did a very good job with the dual bores/earhole openings. Kim tried match the distances from earhole openings as closely as possible, factoring the distance of the edge of the comply foam tips when they are attached to the regular TF10. I was extremely anal and persistent with Kim, as far as having him keep all the distances and wiring the same when reshelling. I was determined to the keep my sound signature! He was able to achieve all of this for the most part, because my specific custom ear impressions could accommodate for such a task, in which case your experience may vary.
In these macro shot photographs, please excuse my white dust particles and traces of earwax in the openings. And there is some white glare from the light reflecting.
This is obviously the most crucial and critical part of the review. Once I got the proper seal with my customs (which was quick and easy), the first thing I noticed was the increase in bass response, especially in the low end. It was nice and thick, but I was fearful that it was going to veil the sparkly highs/treble detail that I love so much. To my sweet surprise, they still retained their sparkle in the highs and treble detail while still maintaining a deeper bass response. But something else was different about the over all sparkle. It's a little difficult for me to describe, but I feel they are a pinch less brighter than before. This is neither good or bad; but different. I am not disappointed in the slightest. The soundstage has greatly improved, along with the addition of little nuances you will now be aware of in your music. It's like adding the cherry to the top of your cake. The details have become more apparent. I put an "asterisk" next to each artist or song that I felt you will really enjoy with these customs, and notice the added details/nuances. If you don't seen an "asterisk" next to an artist or song, that does not imply that it did not sound good! I'm simply highlighting the recordings that really stood out for me. Everything sounded great with these, with the exception of a few tracks (which very well may be due to the actual recording).
ARTISTS & SONGS
*Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" sounded amazing! The instrument separation was superb and while being heavily detailed with a perfect amount of bass. It was an out of body experience, with the nuances that I had never heard before.
*Cat Stevens "Morning has broken" was eargasimic, and breathtakingly realistic. This particular track had the added dimension effect (left to right, front to back), along with the sparkle of the acoustic guitars being strum. All the Cat Stevens tracks sounded great to me.
*U2 "With or Without You" - Finally, this song sounded perfect. Listening to this track on other headphones, I found either the bass was too much or too little. On the custom TF10, it sounded just right, without compromising or veiling the rest of the details.
*Pearl Jam and Zero 7 - everything from these bands sounded amazing. Deep, punchy bass, along with nuances and clarity, and good instrument separation.
*John Mayer - everything sounded great, but I really got the sense of dimension and depth with "No Such Thing".
*Mr. Big - "To be with you" - another realistic experience, with an amazing amount of clarity and detail. Nice sparkle in the acoustic guitar
*Nickelback - "Rockstar" - similar experience with Mr. Big
*Joni Mitchell "Little Green" - similar experience with Mr. Big
- Deftones - *Changes (in the house of flies) acoustic version / and studio version
- *Moby (all)
- Neil Young - *Old Man
- Red Hot Chili Pepers - *Desecration Smile
- R.E.M. - *Losing my Religion
- *Lenny Kravits (all)
- *Collective Soul (all)
- Foo Fighters - entire *Skin & Bones album
- Blondie - *Heart of Glass
- *Dave Matthews - all of his tracks (live performances & studio recordings) (all)
- *Jack Johnson - *Upside Down - and all of his tracks (all)
- *Rolling Stones - Wild Horses (acoustic)
- Simple Minds - Don't you Forget about me
- Red Hot Chili Peppers - My Friends
- When in Rome - Promise
- Tori Amos - Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana Cover)
- Tears for Fears - Head Over Heals
- N.E.R.D. - Lapdance[/SIZE]
SONGS THAT WERE NOT SO GREAT
U2 "Sunday Bloody Sunday" - instrument separation was great, but vocals were still too recessed. This is the remastered version, but I still believe it is due to the recording. Because this sound didn't even sound good on my Grados.
Smashing Pumpkins "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" - the bass seemed a bit muddy and somewhat veiling. I just had a bit of the compressed feeling when it came to the sound. It's most likely the recording, but who knows.
Rolling Stones "Paint it Black" - I don't k now if it's my copy, but just wasn't at all impressive.
iPhone 3GS 32GB
All Music Formated in Apple Lossless
To my ears, both the Custom & Universal fit TripleFi, sound best, unampped, through the headphone jack on the iPhone 3GS with apple lossless music. When I try anything else, they seem to lose too much brightness.
Suffice to say, I would like to discover an amp that suits them properly. But for now, I love how they sound without an amp through my iPhone, and it's less for me to spend and carry!
JOGGING & WORKING OUT
They still sound great, and I haven't damaged them yet. I've taken them on the treadmill while speed walking, and jogging. However, I will say this, if the volume is too low, you will hear your feet stomping. While weight lifting, I thought that all the pressure exerted would some how force the TF10's out of my ears, but surprisingly they stayed in. I didn't even have to keep pushing them back in.
Occasionally during jogging, I would get that vibration buzz that I mentioned before when I tried the custom TF10 for the first time. Again, it only happens in my right ear from time to time, and it goes away with a slight readjustment of the earpiece while it is in your ear. This becomes more apparent when increasing the volume. Overall a minor issue that is easily resolved, and it doesn't happen often. This issue is not the fault of Fisher Hearing, but my ears! I experienced the same issue when I had the Klipsch Image X10.
IMHO, I feel that the custom TripleFi is almost perfect for an IEM. There's a slight compressed feeling, but that goes with my experience with every IEM. It's not a full sized headphone, nor a speaker. I did not find the mid range the least bit lacking. I honestly do not see the need for an additional driver; and I'm not sure what it will do to the overall signature. I have read reviews from other people, but for some reason, I just refuse to believe that it improve the sound quality. I was very happy with the TripleFi Universal sound signature, but I felt that the mids were a little recessed, and they weren't very comfortable, although I got a very good seal with comply foam tips. The custom TF10 addressed all of the previous shortcomings.
COMPANY INFO & PRICING
Monday to Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm (EST)
Fisher Hearing Technologies Inc.
Attention: Customer Care Center
241 N. Country Club Rd.
Lake Mary, FL.
$90 + SHIPPING You need to specify that you're from head-fi and that Rumi sent you. (Kim knows me by my actual name) The cost covers the reshelling and re-use of the cable that is already attached to your earphones with a 90 day warranty. You can also send him the cable you want fitted with your earphones (at your own expense). He may charge a small additional fee for reconfiguring the pins to suit your detachable cable. You would have to speak with or email him for a proper estimate regarding that. Kim also has a nice assortment of cables as well. I ordered a UE11 cable from Ultimate Ears, and had it shipped to Fisher Hearing.
Kim will not be adding drivers to your earphones. Although, he creates his own brand of earphones; adding drivers to ready made earphones is not in his area of expertise at this time.
ADD $25. Some of his artwork can be viewed here. Here's what he told me. He has a special laser engraving machine. So he can accommodate for one or two colors in your graphics. He uses a special type of enamel paint to fill in the engraving with color. Apparently the chemical compound in the enamel is resistant to sweat and body oils, so you don't have to worry about it corroding away. Send him your jpeg, but keep it simple!
ABOUT THE COMPANY ITSELF
For those of you who are curious about the environment in which you may be sending to your earphones to, I actually went to the company's building. It's in a very nice part of town. Lake Mary, Florida is a very rich area. I can vouch that Fisher Hearing is not a "hole-in-the-wall" place; but a legitimate business establishment in a small strip-mall. Kim has a team of employees working in a semi-fast paced environment.
I'm not saying this company is better than Unique Melody, nor can I really do an accurate comparison. But Unique Melody does offer the service of additional drivers, and they have a pretty good reputation. Regardless, it's nice to have options, and even better when the pricing is competitively matched and in the same country in which you reside. Not to mention the turn-around is much quicker.
I had a very good experience with this company, and this is an excellent alternative if you feel uncomfortable sending your earphones to China. Kim only speaks English (to my knowledge), so there's no language barrier for me. So if you love your IEMs, but just want to enhance the signature and want a supremely comfortable fit, then this is the way to go.
I will be giving my review within the next few days. For now, here are some pics of my custom triplefi's. They aren't the greatest, because I took them with my iPhone in low light.
ORIGINAL POST 11/05/09
I went to the audiologist today to get my custom molds done, so that I could ship them off to Unique Melody in China, and have them reshell my Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 Pro's into custom ear molds. The audiologist told me he knew of a company that could beat that price of $125, and that they were local. I decided to take the risk. I sent the company pictures of what i wanted. I used pictures from Scott Tarlow's custom triplefi as a point of reference. I wanted the translucent red earmolds with clear UE11 cable. Kim is the person who is going to be working on them. He also guaranteed me 90 days for a refit or any other problems. He said he's not even going to mess with the wiring/crossovers. He's going to transport everything as is into the new custom ear molds. His company also services hearing aids and such. I had to order and send him the UE11 clear cable so that he can put in the right pin configuration on the triplefi's so it fits. I'm a little scared about all of this, but hopeful. And the turn around is much faster. 5 days? But it all depends on when Ultimate Ears ships out that cable! I just ordered it this afternoon. They're shipping it straight to him.
I don't want to promote this company just yet, until I get my custom triple fi's. Then I will give my full review. I hope they turn out as good as Scott's, and the other guys that got it done from Unique Melody. Anyway, if I have any problems, his company is 20 minutes from my house. I'll keep you guys posted.
Oh yea, he's working on his own brand of customs as well. He might hook me up with a sample pair for review. He is also working on bluetooth customs that will support the A2DP profile. I don't really have anymore details than that. I'm just praying that my TripleFi's signature is preserved and enhanced with these customs.
FYI His company is in Lake Mary, Florida. Which is 25 minutes from Orlando, Florida.
Edited by f00fighters - 5/29/11 at 9:15am