In the past year or two, the headphone market has seen a surge of new brands offering “budget” IEMs. When we first heard about the cult following that San Diego based 1More had gathered, we hoped that the company was anything other than just “one more” budget IEM maker. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that the company’s name is actually a reference to their rigorous quality control testing which, according to 1More, ensures that their headphones can survive a cycle in a washing machine. Though our testing procedures don’t involve the laundry, our time with 1More’s Triple Driver IEM ($99) was more than enough to convince us that its popularity is well-deserved.
1More makes a great first impression. The Triple Driver’s packaging mimics a hardcover book; opening the cover reveals the story of 1More’s history and this headphone’s design. Flaps open to reveal cleanly-nested boxes that hold a leather carrying case, airplane adapter, shirt clip, and a total of nine sizes of ear tips (six silicone, three foam). The Triple Driver’s cable is equally nice, sleeved in black nylon with ribbed aluminum Y-split and jack housings, and terminates in a gold-plated 3.5mm plug. In our testing, we found ourselves wishing that the nylon sleeving continued all the way to the drivers — we found the rubber housing above the Y-split to be microphonic when it rubbed against clothes in motion.
The premium design continues to the driver housings, made entirely with aluminum parts of contrasting finishes — paired with the sleeved cable, the Triple Driver has an excellent use of materials that far outclasses pricier competitors like Beats. The acoustic channel is tilted forward and down at an angle we found to be nearly perfect for our ears. The Triple Driver’s isolation also proved to be very good, attenuating the noise of the NYC Subway commute enough for reasonable listening volumes. With a wide array of included tips and an ergonomic design, there’re really nothing more to say about the Triple Driver’s comfort other than that it was excellent.
As its name implies, this is a multi-driver headphone, with two balanced armature drivers and one dynamic driver per ear. According to 1More, this enables them to divide the duty of frequency reproduction between the three drivers, rather than forcing one driver to reproduce the entire spectrum. We found this three-driver system to be easily driven to loud volumes by mobile phones, but too sensitive for some powerful desktop amplifiers.
The Triple Driver sounds best with today’s most popular music genres. A V-shaped sound compliments the big bass of EDM, trap, hip-hop and pop music, especially tracks with female vocals. This effect was only amplified by switching to the foam tips, which expand inside the ear canal for a more complete seal. We found bass to be heavily accentuated and hard-hitting but clear, not boomy or flabby – it’s a fun sound that we think most will enjoy. However, we found the Triple Driver’s sound signature to be less compatible with guitar-driven rock and male vocals, which can sound distant compared to the spotlighted bass. Metalheads might be better served elsewhere.
The Triple Driver’s inline controls are easy to use and work as advertised, with full volume and track controls on both iOS and Android. The three buttons are a little loose – though this might seem like a departure from the otherwise flawless design of the Triple Driver, in practice we found that a little play in the control pod’s buttons actually made it easier to differentiate between them without looking. The microphone works just fine, but we can’t recommend the Triple Driver for regular phone calls – the bassy sound of this IEM combined with the overall poor quality of cellular calls made voices sound muffled and, in some cases, difficult to decipher. We know that 1More hasn’t marketed the Triple Driver for conference calls, so we’re happy to stick to music with this headphone.
At just under $100, we have no hesitation recommending the 1More Triple Driver to fans of the types of music that it pairs with best. If you are one of those, the Triple Driver’s excellent build quality, comfort, and isolation make them an easy choice when upgrading from more basic earbuds. Now that we’ve seen what 1More can do with three drivers, we can’t help but wonder – what could they do with four?
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