Have we reached a saturation point with headphones? It’s starting to feel that way. For every high-performance headphone, there seems to be 30-40 really crappy ones that end up in the garbage can at the airport. They have become disposable and does that lower the perceived value of headphones as a product? I’m fairly certain that most of the people purchasing Apple AirPods Pro or AirPods Max headphones are not tossing them into the trash after one year of use – but a lot of headphones below $100 are not enjoying a very long life. One pair of $75 earphones that deserve to be kept around for years are the 1More Triple Driver IEMs.
After more than 2 years with them, I have zero desire to change.
Wireless headphones are experiencing the fastest level of growth and that’s only going to increase, but what about the consumer who needs to stay wired to their device for below $100? Most smartphones have ditched the 3.5mm output jack but there are still tens of millions of older phones, DAPs, laptops, and headphone amplifiers that still require a wired connection.
Consumers who utilize a Dongle DAC with their smartphone or laptop still require a wired connection; we have some excellent suggestions from $69 – $300 in that regard.
The 1More Triple Driver Earphones
The Triple Driver IEMs utilize 2 balanced armatures, and a separate dynamic driver to achieve their quoted frequency response of 20Hz to 40kHz. They are extremely lightweight at 18 grams; the aluminum alloy earpieces feature a sandblasted texture and feel very solid. They handle daily abuse very well based on our experience so far.
The supplied 1.25-meter headphone cable is an enameled copper wrapped around Kevlar fibers; it has proven to be very strong and great at resisting snags. Cable tears are very common with all types of headphones; especially those that are not detachable but so far so good with the 1More design.
The in-line mic works with both iOS and Android devices and the MEMS microphone produces clear sounding phone conversations; when I can find a cell zone on the Jersey Shore that doesn’t become the phantom zone for no apparent reason.
1More provides 9 sets of ear tips with the Triple Driver earphones, a dual-prong airline adapter, and shirt clip to keep everything neat and tidy. The supplied travel case is robust, and you get a lot of useful accessories for your money; there are plenty of more expensive headphones that do not come with this level of accessories.
What We Like
Very few IEMs sound very good fresh out of the box; our personal experience is that they need a few hours of break-in with bass-heavy music to clear out the haze. The Triple Driver, however, were impressively open sounding from the first listen – they did sound better after a few days of 90-minute listening sessions on my train commute into Manhattan from New Jersey.
Inexpensive IEMs have a tendency to emphasize either the lower bass or treble to make you think they are bass monsters, or extremely detailed. I find both of those approaches problematic as nobody needs to experience that much bass in a headphone stuffed into their ear canal, and too much detail will prove to be fatiguing in the long-term.
What sets the 1More apart from almost every entry-level IEM I’ve tried from Sony, Audio-Technica, KZ, and FiiO, is their overall sense of balance. They don’t pretend to have the ability to reproduce bass below their stated 20Hz rating; I punished the Triple Driver IEMs with Metallica, Tool, AC/DC, Aphex Twin, Muse, and Massive Attack – much to the chagrin of the people sitting next to me on NJ Transit.
Massive Attack’s “Angel” (Tidal, 16-bit/44.1 kHz) starts off fairly civilized and composed, but as the track progresses, the bass increases very quickly and gives most subwoofers a hard time. The Triple Driver reproduced the bass information with above average speed and definition, but the visceral impact was fairly absent.
Moving to “Teardrop” (Tidal, 16-bit/44.1 kHz) exposed the very same shortcoming with the Triple Driver IEMs; the hypnotic beat that is the backdrop to this track that (pretty sure I’m not alone in saying this) has inspired more than a few sexual thoughts, came across with enough pace and definition – but not a lot of force. It’s the visceral impact that gives this song its gestalt and one will definitely notice that it’s missing.
Where the Triple Driver sets the bar very high is in the midrange with one of the most transparent sounding presentations around for the price. Sam Cooke’s “Lost and Lookin’” from Night Beat (Tidal, 16-bit/44.1 kHz) is a very present sounding track with the right pair of loudspeakers or headphones and the 1More did not disappoint.
Sam was front and center; the Triple Driver IEMs did not flesh out his heavenly voice with the same degree of warmth as the now discontinued iSINE20 IEMs from Audeze, but considering the $370 difference in price, the super-affordable Triple Driver were very easy to enjoy with vocals for extended listening sessions.
Nothing bothers me more than bright sounding headphones, and the Triple Driver IEMs would have been doomed from the very beginning had they been guilty of this offense.
Listening to jazz is an important part of my morning commute; running at 5 a.m. and listening to music helps me deal with some focus issues as I prepare myself for my hectic day working with multiple clients across different time zones.
Hank Mobley’s “Workout” (Tidal, 16-bit/44.1 kHz) is one of the tracks that I listen to each day and the 1More did not disappoint in any way. The top end sizzles and at no point did I ever think about turning down the volume. Horns have just enough bite with these earphones to make them a solid recommendation with jazz.
I’m not a huge imaging freak but the 1More might change my perspective on the topic as I spend more time listening to them. Soundstage depth and width is way above average for an entry-level IEM and its ability to make musicians sound anchored in the recording space is very impressive.
Build quality is superb across the board with the Triple Driver IEMs. The cable doesn’t snag and is very tough. I’ve taken at least 80 train trips with them so far and they are in better shape than my iPhone. The supplied ear tips don’t become too gross with use (you really need to clean your headphones), and the in-line mic works surprisingly well with my huge fingers. Big mitts. Really big mitts folks. Blame my parents.
Your listening habits will either make or break your experience with the 1More Triple-Driver IEMs; heavy metal fans will be disappointed by the low-end bass response, which is tight, but not necessarily very meaty.
Listening to Metallica’s “One” from And Justice for All (16-bit/44.1 kHz, CD) illustrates two very clear points about the tonal balance of the Triple-Driver IEMs; their neutrality is a boon for those who want to experience the opening guitar notes with a level of transparency and presence that you don’t get from most affordable IEMs, but also a negative for those who crave fleshed out bass response when the music descends into the lower depths. There is plenty of bass – but it’s not going to rattle your skull.
The Triple-Driver’s aforementioned transparency will also shift your attention to recordings that are less than stellar. If you’re looking for a bandage to cover up warts or smooth over rather bright sounding recordings, the 1More will not be for you; they do not impart an extra layer of warmth on vocals or in the mid-bass.
If your budget for IEMs maxes out at $100, these are one of the best high-performance options available. They are built better than anything in their price range and come with an impressive range of accessories to ensure proper fit and noise isolation. If your budget stretches to $200, I would still recommend these as one of the best options available. Commuters, college students, and runners will find a lot to love about these IEMs.
The 1More Triple-Driver earphones have to be viewed as a benchmark for affordable excellence in the personal audio category. While not the last word in low end bass response for those who require an IEM that can rattle your skull, the Triple-Driver do almost everything else that you should be looking for in an IEM. For under $80, they are one the best sounding In-ear earphones in the category and have superior build quality than anything else in their range. The in-line mic works well with smartphones and the included accessories make these a long-term purchase regardless of budget.
Additional headphone reviews: In-Ear and Wireless Headphone Reviews