Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › [REVIEW] UE Triple Fi 10 and the Twisted Adventures of Cables
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

[REVIEW] UE Triple Fi 10 and the Twisted Adventures of Cables

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 

Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10 Review

 

 

Intro

The UE TF10 (will refer to the earphones from now on as TF10s), an old favourite and an earphone that you have surely heard of. They have been in circulation since 2006 and have fluctuated in price range with offers on Amazon letting them go for as cheap as $100 and then they soar back up to near the retail of $400. Of course location also pays a dramatic effect on price, in the US you will very likely get a cheap pair but elsewhere well then they may still be big bucks. I was recently offered a chance to loan them off a fellow Head-Fi member for a couple of weeks and not only the earphones but a choice of two extra cables along with the stock cable. Pretty nice huh!

 

So what are they?  An earphone with three balanced armature drivers in each ear with a dual unit doing the lows and mids and a single unit designated for the highs. All of this is combined with a crossover to make them blend together. One big question you may be wondering is have they lasted the test of time after being around for 6 years compared to earphones being released this year?

 

So as I have mentioned I also have some other cable and will be reviewing them alongside the TF10s.

First up we have the Chris_Himself Silver Ray IEM cable. This is a pretty renowned cable and a common upgrade amongst TF10 users and a cable I was well aware of before this opportunity. It starts from $70 and goes up the longer that you want it. This also comes with the most expensive jack, which is an additional $25 and is the Viabule V6.

The second cable I also have with these is the ES8. Now this is not a cable I had heard of before but a little research I realize it is made and sold by Jaben (an online retailer of audio goodies) and is simply a $48 upgrade cable for al Ultimate Ears earphones with replaceable cables.

 

Don't wanna massive read? Check how they compared to my other earphones hear: http://www.head-fi.org/t/607311/my-iem-round-up

 

I thank the loaner, some1 for allowing this to happen as it has been plenty of fun and I may just have to buy a TF10 now. Anyway lets go.

 

IMG_1338.JPG

 

Set-up

Okay normally for my review I will follow a strict rule of doing all testing simply on how they sound out of my Cowon J3 with FLAC but as I have limited time with them I have decided that I will just do as a average on how they sound using them with all different means of listening from simply with my iPhone 4 or Cowon or with an amp or from my iMac and mixing all the variables up.

 

However the main sound quality I will describe will be how I hear them mainly just from the Cowon like normal but may have a few smaller influences. Each cable will have a different sound quality section.

 

I have been using the medium stock silicone tips as well as the Comply T-400 foam tips.

 

I thought I would mention that the when reviewing the Silver Ray cable I decided to do it amped with my Epiphany Acoustics EHP-O2 as it sounded a lot better and more efficient. This has lead me to believe that the cable may have a higher impedance although I can not be sure.

 

Build Quality/Design

Okay starting with the housings, they are solid and I reckon that there will be users out there who still have there TF10 from back in 2006 and they are still going strongly. These are fairly new having been purchased in October 2011, used lightly before being sold onto some1 in December 2011. They back of the housing is a black silicone. This is unscathed on the pair I am using and this silicone also holds the port for where the cables are inserted.

It then transits into the “gun metal blue” front end of the barrel of a housing, which is a standard plastics with a nice colour and a solid feel. It also has the “R” and “L” on them to distinguish each earpiece and a UE logo on them. Finally we move onto the final bit of the housing, which is the sound tube. It is one of thicker I have encountered and must be at least 4mm thick. This is a clear blue plastic and also strangely has the earphones patent number on it. It is not a thin flimsy plastic but with the thickness of it comes the signs of longevity.

 The housing seems to be a upgrade in build quality to the Super Fi 3s I have but the housings are the same size and there are little differences. One of the SF3s do not have the silicone at the back and have a seam running all the way through them. The other is that the SF3s have just the one sound bore at the end of the sound tube but the TF10s have two, one holding a filter. These are some super solid earphones housing and I would not fear any problems.

 

Now I am going to go through the build of each cable. They all have 3.5mm jacks.

 

Ultimate Ears Stock Cable

Starting with the plain black cable that you receive with your TF10s. There is also a version of this with a three-button control on it that can be purchased from UE or it comes with the TF10 VI version. It starts of with a gold plated plug. It is right angle and in a hard solid shell. It then moves into a small flexible strain relief to prevent any problems. It then moves up to the split as a flexible, shiny black cable that is relatively thick. Not quite as thick and tough as the Phonak wire but god enough none the less. The lower cable then hits a chunky plastic split which has the same flexible strain relief as the jack and is also as solid as the jack. Now what really impresses me here is where after the split the wires normally get thinner. With this cable they are both as thick as the bottom, which means they are some of the sturdy, thickest stock cables I have come across once split. When you reach the top three inches of the cable, just before they terminate into the two pin connectors, they have memory wire inside so that they mold around your ears and will stick there in shape. There is also a small black cable cinch on the higher cable, which I find almost essential. The whole cable is black and is quite low profile compared to the earphones them self.

 

IMG_1336.jpg

 

Chris_himself Silver Ray IEM Cable

The silver ray lets you chose your jack so you can tune it too what you want. This one has the Viablue T6 jack which is very nice indeed. It starts off with a 24 carat gold plated bronze jack and beast of an aluminum shell. It says Viablue on it and also has the Viablue logo. It moves onto a very thick cable that is coated with a material. The strain relief is not flexible like others but is pretty damn solid. The cable with the material is also not really that flexible and I would not really say that it is that portable. It is however safe from rips, tear or breaks. I do not think much is going to damage it. You then go to a split, which is a wooden bead; I think this is also another option that is customizable. The bead is as solid as well wood and has a glossy finish. Popping out the other side is the silver cables in all their glory and not covered by and black material. It’s a double braid and also lacks flexibility but does hold position well. On the cable is a circular wooded cable cinch, which is rather large but very nice aesthetically as well as doing its job properly. At the top of the cable is the usual memory guides, which make the wires, stay in position over you ears. This is the most durable of the three but also the least portable because of its lack of flexibility and size. It also looks gorgeous and pictures do no justice.

 

IMG_1335.jpg

 

Jaben ES8 Cable

The final cable is the ES8, which is made and sold by the audio retailer Jaben specifically for Ultimate Ears earphones. This starts with a jack very similar too that of the UE stock cable, a right-angled jack with a gold plated plug. It has a similar jack housing but has groves in it instead and the strain relief is not quite as flexible. It then moves into a triple braid which is now (I do not know how old) very unbraided. Its very soft and flexible but I cannot really comment on much else, as it is a general mess where the braids are all loose. The split is your traditional looking Y-split and has the same strain relief on both the entrance to it and the cables going out. It is just plastic and one of the best bits of the cables build wise. The top part of the cable is just double braid and is even looser than the bottom part. There is a small circular chin slider with grip bumps on it, which is a nice touch. The top of the wire has a memory wire guide on it, which keeps it in position over your ear. As for what it looks like it is just a mess of cables at the moment and although I don’t know the age of each one this has come out the worse.

 

IMG_1333.jpg

 

Accessories

Now for the accessories that come with them it depends if you get the cheaper black box version (with a loss less stuff, from the likes of eBay) or the full golden box with all the accessories which is what you will get for example of the Logitech store. It also depends if you buy them new or second hand as if second hand you get what they come with. Now for the loan I did not get all the accessories but have all the same things from my UE SF3s.

 

Well hares what you get with the gold box.

 

First off you get a very nice metal crush proof case. It has an aluminum outer coating and inside is very nice velvet. It is pocket size but still fits the earphones in. I do not worry about them when they are in there and you could drop it all day long and not risk a slight blemish on the earphones.

 

You get 5 different tips in total. 3 are silicone in small, medium and large and then you get two pairs of T-400 Comply tips. The Comply are of course very nice as you can guess and the Complys are awesome and if you like them you will see that as very welcome. They are some of the more firm silicone tips that I have come across and very short. Too what I am aware of you also get some dual flanges (For tips I got slightly different with my SF3s so tip wise it could be quite different what you end up with.).

 

Although the cable is already long enough you get a 45.7 cm additional which depending on your use for them may be handy. (I have not got this to write about).

 

You get a cleaning tool, which is just your standard wax loop (going by what I got with SF3s). You also get a ¼ inch jack attachment, which is just like any other you have probably come across and have not looked into the differences of them.

 

IMG_1339.jpg With accessories from Super Fi 3

 

 

Comfort/Fit

How comfy they are for me will not necessary apply to you. Of course I thought about that so I took these to school and let 6 of my friends use them. Of two of them only two of them got a seal and did not have to hold them in there ears so that they could hear them. On the four they did fit you could also see the silicone tip hanging out (with me half the earphone disappears) so my guess is that they ear canal is just not wide enough to fit the earphone rendering them useless. Basically I will be fairly harsh and say if you do not get a fit (don’t look how big you ears are for guidance, my mate with small ears fit them so it is all about the canal) there will be no use for them unless you get them reshelled.

 

So, I get them to fit well and if you can too (which I hope) is what you should expect. These are actually really quite comfy (especially with the Comply tips). Despite there size they are not that heavy and the way that they fit the do not harm or irritate any other parts of your ears. In fact I would go to say that these are some of my comfiest earphones. It is just a real shame how many people they do not fit and I am so happy that I am one of the lucky few.

 

Isolation

Average for a good earphone. Not Etymotic’s but not as bad as Sennheiser IE8. It is not shallow fitting earphone but does not feel deep at all; it’s quite weird actually. Anyway more to the point, if you get a good fit then it good and will keep most out but if not then, well no isolation.

 

Microphonics (Cable Noise)

 

Ultimate Ears Stock Cable

The stock cable is great in this category. The microphonics are basically non-existent and as you should expect. There is nothing to worry about here.

 

Chris_himself Silver Ray IEM Cable

Before you start play music it is close to unbearable. Every time your head moves your ears get every little ounce of noise they can pick up and that is quite a bit. I do not know why as they are worn over the ear. The bottom half of the cable is actually worse than the top half. When the music starts playing however, you gain the ability to move your head about a bit but touching the cable is like hitting an idle microphone. I do not either understand or like this.

 

Jaben ES8 Cable

Again like the stock cable this is great in this category. The microphonics are basically non-existent and as you should expect with an over ear earphone. There is nothing to worry about here.

 

Initial impressions, there has been some changes:

 

Just started listening to the TF10s. Although i have an array of cables i have started with the stock.

 

So far bass is wow. For a BA the quantity is just astonishing and although the bass is not as detailed as my BA200s or DBA-02 it is not bad, especially for how much quantity is added. Extension really feels great and these rumble nicely.

Mids are as many have said before me recessed but still okay nonetheless. They do not feel veiled and just pushed back. They are smooth most of the time but vocals do not sound the best at times and lack energy and oomph. 

Treble lacks some zing but still sits well in front of the mids with the bass. There is sparkle but not at a fatiguing mark by a long way. Detail up top is very nice. 

 

Soundstage is just on it in my opinion and nice and wide, average height and a complimentary depth.

 

Soundstage and instrument separation

 

Ultimate Ears Stock Cable

So this will be the section for the stock sound with no upgrade or extra money, what you get out of the box. Soundstage is awesome and the biggest I have encountered on a balanced armature driver. Its main strength is how wide it is and it puts a lot of dynamic drivers to shame here but does not keep up with the IE8, ASG-1 and by the sounds of it the Sony EX-1000. However what it does have over the IE8 and ASG-1 is that it is a lot closer to you and although is not an intimate soundstage its still close enough to leave you saying, “why is the sound so far away”! The height is no were near as good as the width and more ‘average’. There is some nice depth to it and it sounds far from thin and very 3 dimensional. However instrument separation is not as good as the soundstage and although you can distinguish what’s what, it’s not offering that stellar airy separation of the DBA-02.

Presentation is in my opinion, not quite natural. This is though something that people will differentiate on in opinion but personally the BA200 and ASG-1 have better presentation.

 

Chris_himself Silver Ray IEM Cable

The width of the TF10s soundstage actually shrinks with this cable ever so slightly and it is not only that it is also the depth. There is a boost in height however and I find this quite strange. It is still very big and nice but to my ears surprisingly different! Instrument separation takes a boost forward and you get that airy feel around each instrument that I craved with the stock cable. Still not quite DBA-02 but better none the less.

Jaben ES8 Cable

This retains the width of the stock cable and in fact the rest of the sound signature. If a/bing different cables did not take so long I would be able to say this for sure but I may be tempted to say that this has an ever so slightly wider soundstage, perhaps half a head each way. This is mostly the same, no major change over than that.

 

Bass

 

Ultimate Ears Stock Cable

Balanced armature bass at its best! The mid-bass quantity is big; this is surely enough to satisfy the “bassheads”. It delivers big impact with a punch of big body. The awesome thing though is like you will know if you have had or own a balanced armature earphone such as the Phonak PFE, Etymotic HF or Fischer Audio DBA-02, you will be well aware that they have superb detail and quality and are extremely tight. Now the TF10 does not differ and although in quality of bass the HF5 and DBA-02 come out just on top, as a whole package of bass I with ease give the nod to the TF10. The reason I say that it is not quite as god is that the decay does not last quite long enough and the drums pound and disappear slightly too quickly. The mid-bass is boosted so that it sits above the mids but does not bleed more than a mere bit of warmth to them.

 

Extension is also awesome on it. Although it extends well it does not give off that same rumble as dynamics and although you can feel the sub-bass, dynamic drivers such as IE8 will take it here. I fell that they are half way towards getting balanced armature bass just right!

 

Chris_himself Silver Ray IEM Cable

You know I said how that they had a boost with the stock cable? Well that’s all gone! That bass is in line and neutral with the mids and this will please some of you but also put of, perhaps, just as many. The quantity also takes a drop and although it punches the same it lacks the body that the stock cable gave off. Decay is unfortunately no different which I thought a shame but the rest of the quality of the bass remains.

 

Jaben ES8 Cable

Mid-bass sees improvements to the stock, especially if you’re a basshead. The quantity is ever so slightly more and there is also an increase in the peak it has sending the bass to become the dominant force in the earphone. The punch is still the same with slightly more body. The warmth leak into the mids also sees and increases.

 

The extension stays the same but makes better use of it and I have had some amazing moments of rumble affecting my whole body. Love it!

 

Midrange

 

Ultimate Ears Stock Cable

To me this is the let down section as I am a man of forward mids. They are not overly that recessed but do take a back seat to the boosted bass and sparkly treble. They are ever so slightly veiled from the bass but that is me being ever so picky and its not going to be any were near a similar performance if you have heard the IE8s and the word veiled springs to mind. Now the mids are not overly that detailed but instead of them being smooth as result of this I think they can feel quite shaky and harsh at times. As for vocals, women vocals are actually very nice and have a nice tone to them. For men I think it’s a different story and they sound rather nasally.

 

I would like to move onto the texture of these as it is very nice and has multiple layers to it. With any other balanced armature earphones (single and double, this is my first triple) you tend to get quite a thin sound but this is perhaps the most layered earphone I have heard.

 

Chris_himself Silver Ray IEM Cable

The main reason that I would recommend this cable so whole-heartedly is what it does to the mids of these earphones. It quite literally picks them up and drags them with everything else. So is that all? Nope, quality takes a boost, vocals sound so much smoother, still not liquid but a vast improvement on the stock. They are much more transparent now with details shining through extra. Female vocals are not noticeably different but the men vocals are a different story. They are no longer nasally and sound, well, natural.

 

So is it all positives? Unfortunately no, you know that wonderful texture that I loved with the stock, well its gone and the mids now sound thin.

 

Jaben ES8 Cable

The mids are warmer than with the other cables so if this is good is down to preference of course. They have the less presence than the stock cable being slightly recessed.  They are however still lacking texture but sound a lot smoother. Texture is less than the stock but not as much as with the Silver Ray cable. Men’s vocals are also a subject to an improvement over the stock cable.

 

Treble

 

Ultimate Ears Stock Cable

Ahhhh, the redemption of the midrange I would say and finishes of these earphones very nicely. It does lack zing at times but there is sparkle there for sure. I would say it is 30-40% of the DBA-02, which will never be fatiguing at any ridiculous length of time. The presence is very nice at this level and sticks out other the mids just enough to appreciate it. I would say the decay is similar to that of the bass and symbols do not last quite long enough. The detail is slightly better in this part of the spectrum and that’s of course welcome.

 

Chris_himself Silver Ray IEM Cable

I think the treble is the frequency that is the least effected by this cable. I think like the bass it is just slightly simmered. That’s all.

 

Jaben ES8 Cable

The let down of this cable is the harshness of the highs when using it. They are slightly more laid back but with less sparkle but are extremely harsh and fuzzy which is very off putting of the rest of the sound.

 

Overall

This has been very fun to do and I have to say a HUGE THANK YOU to the SOME1 who lent me these. These are a great earphone and in my eyes have outlasted there years with ease and are still a great buy today and even more so at some of the prices that they go for. The stock cable is great sounding and how malleable they are to the effects of different cables is only a bonus. I prefer the Silver Ray cable personally as that sonic signature suits me the best out of the bunch and then the stock over ES8, but for a “basshead” you may take the ES8 over the rest and the Silver Ray would not please as much.

 

Great earphones overall and I will be buying a pair when I settle to a few pairs of earphones as these sound GREAT.

 

See how they compared to my other earphones here!

My IEM Round-Up


Edited by Swimsonny - 5/16/12 at 11:46pm
post #2 of 42

Very good read. Will be receiving mine tomorrow. Can't wait to try them out! :)

post #3 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lm8753 View Post

Very good read. Will be receiving mine tomorrow. Can't wait to try them out! :)

Glad you thought so, was not sure if it started to get boring as i blabbed on ahaha! Yeh if your get a good fit/seal you will be pleased! What earphones are you coming from?

post #4 of 42

Good read, good review for people who are thinking about the TF10

post #5 of 42

Well i'm pretty new to this hobby so i'm coming from image s4's. There was just always a desire to get better quality sound from my music. I am praying that they are a good fit for me. Although I haven't come across a pair of iem's that don't fit me yet. After reading many good reviews about the TF10's I gave in. I always am using my IEM's so I know it will be put to good use. I just hope I haven't started an obsession I will regret 5 grand in. Haha.


Edited by Lm8753 - 5/13/12 at 1:14pm
post #6 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lm8753 View Post

Well i'm pretty new to this hobby so i'm coming from image s4's. There was just always a desire to get better quality sound from my music. I am praying that they are a good fit for me. Although I haven't come across a pair of iem's that don't fit me yet. After reading many good reviews about the TF10's I gave in. I always am using my IEM's so I know it will be put to good use. I just hope I haven't started an obsession I will regret 5 grand in. Haha.

Never tried the S4 but from what I have read it it this will be a massive leap forward. I am also more of a IEM man, and have quite a collection now. The TF10 are massive but I hope for your sake that they fit comfortably! I do not think its an obsession you can regret. The sound difference will captivate you and you lose track of time listening or comparing earphones. And then like me, you realise you write extremley nerdy comments like this ahaha.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KimChee View Post

Good read, good review for people who are thinking about the TF10

Thanks a lot, glad you enjoyed it. By the looks of your sig, you like the chris_himself silver ray cables. They are very nice indeed sound wise making such a noticeable difference but on terms of portability what do you think? I would want to take it out the house, Do you?
post #7 of 42

Great review! The stock cables that come with it are pretty crap..

post #8 of 42

very nice review. great info going on.

post #9 of 42
I'm really happy with the TF10 - but still looking for that perfect cable :) I wonder when the tf10 will be refreshed? When shure released their new generation of iems, they kept the sound sig mostly consistent. I hope this will be true with TFXX or whatever that might be. If they can reduce the size to the super.fi.3, then that would help resolve some of the fitting issues for folks. These work fine for me - in fact, I do find them a bit more comfy than my other iems - and they are very easy to insert and remove. thanks for the reviews!
post #10 of 42

I take the CH cables outside the house, they are very tangle resistant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post


Never tried the S4 but from what I have read it it this will be a massive leap forward. I am also more of a IEM man, and have quite a collection now. The TF10 are massive but I hope for your sake that they fit comfortably! I do not think its an obsession you can regret. The sound difference will captivate you and you lose track of time listening or comparing earphones. And then like me, you realise you write extremley nerdy comments like this ahaha.
Thanks a lot, glad you enjoyed it. By the looks of your sig, you like the chris_himself silver ray cables. They are very nice indeed sound wise making such a noticeable difference but on terms of portability what do you think? I would want to take it out the house, Do you?
post #11 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDeep View Post

Great review! The stock cables that come with it are pretty crap..

Thanks man! They are not that bad, i mean i prefer the sound of the Silver Ray cable but they are still very enjoyable without it! Unless you was talking about the build in which i have the same cable with my Super Fi 3s and thats still in great condition and this one i have found was new in December last year and is in great condition also. Explain crap?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooses9 View Post

very nice review. great info going on.

Thanks a lot! Glad you enjoyed it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by talisman42 View Post

I'm really happy with the TF10 - but still looking for that perfect cable :) I wonder when the tf10 will be refreshed? When shure released their new generation of iems, they kept the sound sig mostly consistent. I hope this will be true with TFXX or whatever that might be. If they can reduce the size to the super.fi.3, then that would help resolve some of the fitting issues for folks. These work fine for me - in fact, I do find them a bit more comfy than my other iems - and they are very easy to insert and remove. thanks for the reviews!

What do you care for more in the cable and what is annoying you with what your using at the moment (what is that as well?)? I highly doubt that they will release an new TF or such with a similar signature as the TF10 was released when Jerry Harvey was working there (the guy who is now at JH Audio) and obviously he has now moved on and logitech have taken other. Although i would love to see them release a new flagship, if it will take and improve the TF10 i do not know and highly doubt! Also i have both SF3 and TF10 in my hands and they look same size? I also find them very and comfy! Oh and it was a pleasure!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KimChee View Post

I take the CH cables outside the house, they are very tangle resistant.

Yeh i jave noticed that but they are also very microphonic. Also where do you store it when you are out and not using them? i would not know were to put it with out worrying bout even though its solidly built. The warning you get with it worry's me a bit....

post #12 of 42

Thanks for reviewing, helps a lot.

post #13 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seasonyy View Post

Thanks for reviewing, helps a lot.
My pleasure! Glad you enjoyed it.
post #14 of 42

Even though you know already from me Sonny, great job on the review :)

post #15 of 42

Nice review! (though I admit I didn't read all of it), and got to agree the biggest disadvantage of the TF10 is the mids. And haha, those LS8 cables do look in a pretty bad shape, Jaben also has those Crystal Picolino cables which cost $1,000+, which they made it themselves.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Totally Dubbed View Post

Even though you know already from me Sonny, great job on the review :)


Have you heard the TF10s yet Dubbed? Quite interested to know if they satisfy your bass levels. There are people that call them basshead and my friend(who is sort of a partial basshead) admits that there is quite a lot of bass and it does satisfy him. 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › [REVIEW] UE Triple Fi 10 and the Twisted Adventures of Cables