You could argue the Ultimate Ear’s triple.fi 10 Pro offers the most technically advanced design of any earbud in this (or any) survey, since it is the only three-way in-ear headphones in this group. That’s right: The triple.fi 10 Pros feature separate, miniature bass, midrange, and high-frequency drivers— all fitted into an enclosure smaller than the tip of your pinkie finger. But does this technical prowess translate into great sound?
The triple.fi 10 Pros offer broad, smooth frequency response with a light touch of very low bass emphasis and—way up high—a barely perceptible hint of treble roll-off. But the overriding impression these headphones create is that they are well balanced and deliver a hearty and engaging sound. Though we liked Ultimate Ears’ super.fi 5 Pros (as reviewed in our first “Killer Earbud” survey) quite well, the triple.fi’s are even better, offering more evenly balanced frequency response, slightly more extended highs, and a more nuanced sound overall. Two of the triple.fi’s particular strengths are exceptionally good noise isolation and overarching smoothness—especially through the critical midrange. At higher frequencies the triple.fi 10 Pros convey slightly less low-level sonic information than some competing models do, but they offer the offsetting benefit of arguably superior smoothness.
The triple.fi 10 Pro is at its best on full-range audiophile recordings, such as Steve Strauss’s cover of the classic Springsteen song “Youngstown,” from Just Like Love [Stockfisch, SACD]. The track starts with a concert bass drum figure that emulates the clank of heavy factory machinery, and the triple.fi’s nailed the deep, lingering “thwacks” of that drum as well as any earbuds I’ve heard. They also did a good job with Straus’s evocative baritone voice, though they tended to smooth over some of the gritty, gravelly textures that are so characteristic of his sound. On the same track, the triple.fi 10 Pros also sounded lovely on Chris Jones’s guitar and dobro accompaniment, although they rounded off the very highest guitar and dobro harmonics, and suppressed the sense of high-frequency “air” I expected to hear. The resulting sound was rich and pleasingly romantic, but came up just a bit short in terms of transparency and detail.
The triple.fi 10 Pros are light earbuds whose earpiece cables are routed up and over the listener’s ears. A reinforced section of the cable acts as a moldable, custom-fit earclip and worked well for me (though some might find the reinforced section a bit too stiff for optimal comfort). Ultimate Ears provides a broad selection of various types of eartips, so it is never a problem to find a set that fits and seals well.