06
Jan
RLogitech-Ultimate-Ears-Triple-Fi-10_1304x840

I'll make it known now, I've been itching to try out Logitech's Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 headphones for some time. Artem, the Android Police Chief, if you will, swears by this pair of headphones. I'm pretty picky about sound, so I wasn't entirely certain if I'd come to love them as much as he does. But after a couple of weeks with these rather pricey earbuds, I have to say, the sound is better than any other earbud I've used (admittedly, I've not tried any other earbuds above the $150 mark for any meaningful amount of time).

Logitech Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 Headphones

  • Price: $400 MSRP (street price: $160-175)
  • What is it? An ultra-high-fidelity in-ear headphone.
  • Why is it special? Ultimate Ears products are renowned for their excellent audio quality, and through the use of a triple balanced-armature system, the TripleFi 10 delivers extraordinarily clear and powerful sound.

The Good

  • Sound. Amazing, wonderful sound. The TripleFi 10 earbuds deliver accurate and truly clear audio to your ears.
  • They also have extremely solid and punchy bass, something many balanced armature headphones may lack out of the box without equalization.
  • Very good noise isolation.
  • They're quite comfortable, not as good as some headphones I've tried, but significantly more comfortable than I expected.
  • Fully user-replaceable components. The earbuds are separable from the cord, meaning you can replace the cord or the earbuds as individual parts, saving you money in the long run (at least compared to other, similarly priced headphones).
  • They come with a gamut of useful accessories.

The Not So Good

  • Price. At $170 on Amazon, that's a lot of clams to drop on headphones unless you're serious about sound.
  • The recommended wearing position may be annoying to some - because of the weight of the earbuds, UE suggests you wrap the cord over the top of your ear (from the front) to ensure the earbuds don't weight you down or fall out. Personally, I don't mind it.
  • Build quality of the driver housings does seem a bit plasticky, cable is annoyingly tangle-prone.
  • The overall sound character of the TripleFi 10's is very 'in your face' - some people might find to be grating or unnerving.

Comfort And Design

RLogitech-Ultimate-Ears-Triple-Fi-10_1304x840As I said in the bulleted points above, the TF10's are a fairly comfortable set of earphones - as long as you wear them properly. Because the driver housings are quite large and heavy for an in-ear headphone, you really need to wrap the cord over the top of your ear to make them feel "light." If you wear them as you would normally wear an earbud headphone, you'll probably find they get heavy and uncomfortable after a while. I personally think the cord-over-the-ear method keeps them more secure in your ear, and also just feels better. Your results may vary.

In terms of design, the TripleFi 10's look very similar to how they sound - bright and in-your-face. The blue polished metal driver housings and clear blue plastic trim are distinctive and bold. I wouldn't exactly call the TF10's classy. As for construction, I get the feeling that some corners have been cut since the Logitech buyout of UE. The driver housings have obvious seams from the plastic molding process, and the fit of the pieces that make up the casing isn't very clean - leading to nooks and crannies for dirt and grime to fall into. Additionally, these things are f'ing huge - I wouldn't recommend them for people with particularly small ears.

Noise isolation has been very good, and it's a point Ultimate Ears prides itself on. Compared to most $100+ in-ear headphones, the TripleFi 10's score above-average marks in this area (estimated -26dB isolation), and definitely make a good choice if one of your major concerns is finding an in-ear headphone that can effectively block most environmental noise.

Ultimate-Ears-TripleFi-10-Noise-Isolating-EarphonesAs far as the cable goes, it feels sturdy enough, but given how many times Artem has had to replace the cable on his pair, I'm not going to go out on a limb and call it rugged or anything like that. The elbowed jack design does make them annoying when you place your phone in your pocket, as the edge of the jack can get caught and unplug them.

Additionally, all of the three major components of the TripleFi 10 are replaceable. You can buy replacement parts straight through Logitech - including the individual earbuds (left or right), as well as the cord. You can also upgrade to the TripleFi 10vi cable, which has in-line controls, if you decide you want that functionality at a later point. Logitech even provides instructions for you to do all of this.

Logitech doesn't skimp on accessories, either - here's what you get in the box:

  • Detachable cable
  • Aluminum case
  • Extension cord
  • 1/4" stereo adapter
  • Airline attenuator
  • Filter cleaner
  • 3 pairs of rubber ear tips, 2 pairs of Comply foam ear tips.

Sound

You may have noticed in the "Good" section that I was pretty clear in professing my love for the sound these headphones produce. It really is stellar.

Bass, in particular, comes through with such clarity that I can scarcely believe I'm wearing in-ear headphones. The TF10's actually have one of the three balanced armatures in each earbud devoted to low-frequency sound, and the result is well worth the extra bulk. You'll hear bass guitar notes clearly, and a well-defined variety of drums that often just become muddled on most headphones. For electronic music, hard rock, or anything percussion-heavy, the TF10's are an excellent choice.

If you tend to keep things on the lighter side, the TF10's won't disappoint, but you may find their emphatic and defined bass doesn't do much to enhance your listening experience. I'm more of a classic rock guy, and I still find the TF10's tend to sound better on 90% of tracks than the next best headphone I have laying around, the Etymotic Research hf2 (which I reviewed previously). The difference in quality, while noticeable, is not huge, though. It was enough that I was forced to, a little begrudgingly, concede that the TF10's really do just sound better in terms of accuracy and clarity.

Treble is also very defined on the TF10's, giving higher frequencies a clarity and accuracy that really is superb, allowing you to hear subtle nuances or otherwise inaudible elements in your music that you probably didn't even know were there. Like the bass, the treble, while accurate, is exceptionally tight and 'in your face' - there is nothing subdued about the sound of the TF10's, so those looking for a more traditional (eg, warmer, less intense) sound signature should probably look elsewhere. Putting on the TF10's is sort of like waking up one day with the ability to see the world at a microscopic level of detail; you're going to see a lot of new things, some of which you may have preferred remained unseen.

Conclusion

Many people will try to tell you there's "no difference" between a good pair of $50 earphones and a good pair of $150 earphones - I'm here to tell you they're wrong.

To draw a car analogy (apologies in advance), I'd say the TF10's are a bit like the Corvette of earphones - sure, they're kind of plasticky, flashy, and expensive, but they provide a level of performance (fidelity and overall audio quality) that will assure you there's at least $175 worth of sound coming out of them.

There's plenty of headphones out there costing more than $150 that really don't offer any increased performance to justify their high price (and probably some $50 ones that sound better than them). But there's many that do, as well - the TF10's being an excellent case-in-point. If you're looking to take a leap into the world of hi-fi in-ear headphones and have around $175 to burn, the Triple Fi 10's are pretty good bang for your buck. And if you're looking to step up from a mid-range in-ear headphone to something in the $150+ range, they should definitely be on your short list.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Jason

    I don't care how nice they sound, $175 is far to much money for headphones.

    • David Ruddock

      Again, it all comes down to whether or not you really care about sound, and how much you're willing to spend to get good audio. Plenty of people don't care that much, as long is it doesn't sound bad, and that's perfectly understandable - this probably isn't a product you'd be interested in.

      For those that do (and there are a lot more than you would think), there are a lot of earbuds around this price point (or way above it) to choose from, and it can be difficult to sort the crap from the legitimate hardware.

      • Shark

        Very true.

        These more in-depth reviews could be good for those who care about sound but don't care enough to warrant spending £100 on earphones, but would consider purchasing if the price goes down sometime i.e. myself.

        And of course for those who do care about sound enough to splurge a good amount can see weigh up what to get.

    • bobtentpeg

      Not really...Anything sub-$250 is reasonable for this level of headphone

      I picked my pair up during an Amazon Goldbox deal where they were only $99. They're professional grade monitors, and well worth it for those of us who enjoy music. While most phones don't have the ability to play music at high enough fidelity for it to matter, my computer, amp and other audio equipment do and thats where these get used.

    • duplissi

      what is with this perception that headphones arent worth it if they are expensive?
      yet no one bats an eye at someone spending several hundred to well over a grand on a home theater or stereo to get good sound.... its the same principle if you want high quality headphones for better sound you have to pay for them. if 175 is too much for headphones then by that logic anything people splurge on for better quality is also too much. i say this because everyone has something that they love and are willing to spend a lot of money on, some its tvs, some its computers, some its cars, some its sound and who knows what else other people like.

  • Jeff

    Android Police, where I go for some non-android news.

    • David Ruddock

      We publish reviews about phone accessories fairly often (earbuds are most commonly used with smartphones), and you'd be surprised how many people read them. We try to be a "full-service" Android blog. :-)

      • Jeff

        Just poking fun, I'm definitely a subscriber. Cheers!

  • Mapex

    Whoa, TripleFi-10 for $170? That's a goddamn steal! I remember when they used to go for almost $500. I might have to buy a pair or two.

  • http://www.wildabeast.net/ Wilda

    I have had a pair of these for just over two years now and they sound amazing. I have not had any trouble with the cables, knock on wood, like others have. My only complaint is that they are too bulky for use during heavy activity.

    Amazon has had them as their deal of the day a couple of times for $100. That's how I got mine. They used to sell for around $300 on Amazon so the current $170 is still pretty good.

  • ChaosKiller

    I myself listen to a lot of music and I love to have great sound. I bought the Sony MDR-EX310LP recently and I'm very happy with it. It sounds great and was only €50.

  • Maanas

    I got a pair two years back on amazon black friday deal for $100. best $100 I ever spent. Stellar sound quality. there's no going back once you use them!

  • Jay

    Amazon sells them for $99 around black Friday. They have for 2 years straight. I swear by these headphones. One thing I do recommend is to get them re-shelled - best thing i did - custom fit to my ear!

  • Daniel C

    They sound great, but man are they fragile. Mine broke after two days when I VERY CAREFULLY tried to swap out the detachable cable for the vi version of the cable (which includes a microphone and button). Ripped the plugs right out of one of them. Returned those and bought a pair of JH-5 Pro's from JH Audio instead. The owner, Jerry Harvey, helped design those Tripple.Fi's. More expensive, but I really wanted custom fit earphones, anyway. They sound even better, and you can't hear anything else when them in.

  • Ladislav Balik

    I do envy you so much :D I can't afford headphones like this, so I had to settle with SoundMagic PL50's, but I'm still admiring TripleFi's online from time to time and dreaming about them :-)
    Please add some more experiences after you get used to them (from my experience, it takes time to ear to get used to headphones to fully enjoy their potenital)

  • Brian

    This sounds expensive, but it's really a dip into the water of quality sound. If you're looking to improve the sound of these, I know a few companies (Fisher Audio is one) that will do reshells of them for around $80. That's an excellent sounding custom IEM for less than $300, not bad if you ask me.

  • Eric

    The biggest feature I want in my headphones? Ones who's volume +/- buttons work on android. If you find some, a review of them would be awesome.

    • duplissi

      thanks to apple owning that patent its not happening. unless of course the manufacturer and or google want to be sued for yet another thing

  • OFI

    Isn't that what the Klipsch S4 Androids do? Not really same league as these though.

    Been really wanting these for a while was gutted when the often mentioned amazon black Friday deal was US only!

    • Eric

      Not really. Close, but the S4a's use a background app to control android. Which makes me wonder if android actually doesn't support these buttons (which would seem insane to me)

    • My dixie normous

      Hahaha ha ha haha ha ahem ha haha ha ha......., HA

  • bobomb

    Unless Logitech does the right thing with the Revue I am DONE with them. This means either continue to support it (which I'm not counting on, and really don't blame them for), or open source it/unlock the bootloader (which is a "no duh" move, since they won't be supporting it).

    Anyway, I hope they do do the right thing, but I'm not holding my breath.

  • Khaled

    check out the Ultimate Ears custom Earphones, around $1000, these are magic as built for your ears contour on their web site or the Capital Studio joint development model for professionals

  • majorhunadadun

    First of all, I'm really diggin' all the earbud reviews here! I've ordered and tried quite a few the last 2 weeks in search of a pair that sound, function and fit well for me. I use a Rezound and float btwn the HTC music player, Google Music and Slacker. I use DSP Manager for addtl enhancement. The included iBeats have way too much bass and totally lack in the hi/mid dept. Fit sucks too. I tried the Etymotic HF2s. I held on to these for a full 2 weeks. I quite enjoyed the crisp, clean hifi sound they delivered. I listen to rock, electronic, new wave and such. They're however going back because I find them to be lacking 'musically'. A lil dirt is good! Second up is the Klipsch S4A. Great bud! Lightweight, comfortable fit but didn't excite. Then I got the Bose Mie2s. These for me have the best fit, sound and function of all I tried. I work out and cycle a lot and these never fell out! I still eq a lot of the bass out and add some hi's as well. They have that musical sound that I like to hear. They also have a cool look to them and they're super comfy! Anyway, sorry for the novel but I had to get it out! Android Police, please keep up the awesome bud reviews!!

    • duplissi

      yeah ibeats suck... had a pair at one point.

      what i recommend is that you get poweramp and drop the stock player because it has sooo much better sound quality and offers more tweaking of your sound that dsp manager offers, and keep the klipsch image s4a

  • K4

    Your review on these is the first time I have heard the reasoning for looping the wires over the ears related to weight. What I have seen in the past, and from my own experience, looping the wires over the ears helps kill the noise produced by movement of the wires themselves. Try it both ways and you'll see what I'm talking about.
    I also bought these during the $99 Amazon sale. Beautiful sounding IEM!

  • http://android-zone.org Android

    They sound great ... amazing sound!

  • gary23

    As mere FLAC nut on a budget, I can recommend Sony's MDREX310LPB. Widely available, (recently on sale < $50). 13 mm drivers give fine bass. 'Side-mount' drivers and a small pad to let the earlobe carry some weight to permit long periods of comfortable listening. Premium noise-cancelling version available too.

  • 7errence

    I've had the triplefi's for two months now and they are great. I bought them and upgraded to the vi cables which is a plug and play process for $~30.

    That being said, I can't understand why the vi cable quality is so much cheaper than the original cables. For starters, they are noticeably thinner and a matte black color vs the shiny, very robust, high-end looking regular cable. Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

  • 7errence

    I've had the triplefi's for two months now and they are great. I bought them and upgraded to the vi cables which is a plug and play process for $~30.

    That being said, I can't understand why the vi cable quality is so much cheaper than the original cables. For starters, they are noticeably thinner and a matte black color vs the shiny, very robust, high-end looking regular cable. Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

  • http://www.facebook.com/m4ckymac Macky Mac

    i got snatch a pair of BNIB on ebay for reasonable price and still waiting them for a week to arrive.I cannot wait to compare them with Sony XBA-3 after bought them in FUtureshop.If this babies is better i will going to return the xba for good since i have 1 more week to listen to it.Otherwise i will going to keep them both.