Back in April, we had our first introduction to Advanced as a player in the world of audio gear. We had some trouble with their Evo X and M4 headphones, we liked their Mezger Bluetooth receiver, but in both cases we appreciate that Advanced seems to be willing to try new things. Advanced is continuing the trend with the Model 3, a Hi-Res Audio certified IEM that comes with detachable cables and is convertible to Bluetooth operation for $80. It’s the best-sounding Advanced headphone we’ve heard yet.
As we saw in prior reviews, Advanced tends to include a nice set of accessories with each of their products. The Model 3 is no exception, shipping with a zippered carry case, three sizes each of silicone and foam ear tips, and a USB cable.
The standout feature, however, is the Bluetooth cable. The Model 3’s cables can are swappable via tiny MMCX connectors located on top of its driver housings, allowing the user to swap its analog cable for a Bluetooth module. The Bluetooth is itself unique — rather than placing all the electronics in a pod behind the head, this cable is worn like a necklace, with microphone and controls hanging from a sleeved cable in front and battery/antenna stored in a pod that clasps magnetically behind the head. Sound is delivered to the ears via two translucent cables that run from the rear pod over the user’s ears to the drivers. We’ve never seen a setup quite like this.
Using the Bluetooth cable is just a bit awkward. We actually like the necklace design, as it easily hides under a shirt and adds almost no weight to the parts of the Model 3 that actually touch your ears.
The Model 3’s over-ear guides are a vast improvement over the Evo X that we tested earlier this year, flexible enough to fit a wider variety of ear shapes, and its driver housings nestle nicely in the concha providing an overall comfortable experience. Our one complaint is that the orientation of the Model 3’s cables on the Bluetooth cable are such that they were permanently twisted, making it impossible to get them to lay as flat as we see in Advanced’s marketing photos. The Model 3’s analog cable is standard fare, thin and prone to tangles, but it gets the job done.
We found the Model 3’s Bluetooth performance to be very good, with around five hours of life and decent connectivity — we experienced some occasional stutters when switching between front and back pockets in dense urban areas. The control pod has three buttons (track changes are made with long-presses of the volume buttons), volume level is linked to that of the iPhone, and battery level is displayed on the phone’s menu bar.
We’re not sure whether the Hi-Res certification plays a role in this (we can’t hear anything at 40,000hz), but the Model 3 sounds very good for its price.