Welcome to the Hall of Fame series. I’ve observed that some products never seem to get old even after all these years. People keep on going back to it. I think these products deserve a special mention, and the first one I’m going to write about is the 10.
The amount of new products in the market today doesn’t seem to be able to take down this old school IEM from Ultimate Ears. There’s something magical about the sound. What we do at the store is we help people discover the right IEM for them (or for their music, another way to put it). When someone comes, we ask them what they’re looking for and what music they listen to. Then we start taking out the popular choices, and we keep on showing them different headphones/IEMs until they find something that they like. Sometimes, they found something they really like and that’s great. What happens from time to time is that we get people who can’t seem to get the right IEM for them, then we take out the store’s demo Triple.Fi 10 for them to listen to. Then they say: this is the one I want.
The Hall of Fame
I’m starting a list of a Headfonia Hall of Fame and the Triple.Fi 10 is the first one I’m writing about. Personally, it’s not my kind of an IEM. I like dark, mellow, weighty lows, and the TF10 is nothing like it. But play some fast Rock on it and I truly think that there are no other IEMs out there that tops the 10. Recently I wrote about the newly released UE900. It is a good IEM and I wrote a good review of it. However, the more refined tuning, the fuller mids and bass, for some reason simply doesn’t satisfy like the TF10. The UE900, after a few months, are starting to lose its luster. It doesn’t have the snap, speed, and attack of the 10. People are starting to come back to the 10.
I’ve seen countless of other IEMs got swept by the new generation of cheaper and better IEMs. The Shure SE530, Senn’s IE8, Westone’s W3, Westone’s UM3X, Earsonic’s SM3, Shure’s 535, Westone’s W4, and so and so. Unlike them, the Triple.Fi 10 is still here. Despite the stiff cable and the worst-in-the-industry fit, the dry midrange and the harsh treble, people keep on coming back to the 10.
Some say it’s the price. Some say it’s the cheapest way to get yourself a triple driver custom IEM ($99 during Amazon’s sale + UM’s re-shelling fee). I’ve seen people with custom IEMs come back to the universal fit TF10, so I don’t think it’s about price, or the customs factor. It’s definitely something that you can’t measure with instruments or numbers or ratings or stars. Legendary stuff has elements that we simply can’t describe that makes them legendary.
Today we were just listening to the TF10 at the store. All these headphone veterans, hanging out, listening to the TF10. A friend just made a DIY cable for it using some Oyaide wire. We also happen to have an Oyaide factory-built cable for the TF10, and ALO’s cable for the JH (which we also modify to fit the TF10). So people were just hanging out and checking out these different cables, and talking about the TF10. Not everyone in the group uses the TF10 as their main IEM (me included), but everyone agrees that nothing else does rock like the TF10. Even after all these years, nothing seems to overcome it.
Why We Can’t Sell Triple.Fi 10s
The problem with the Triple.Fi 10 is that US prices (or Amazon) is selling them for some sub $200 (and less during their black friday sale), while local distributors are selling them for more than double the Amazon price. It’s just one of those things that we simply can’t sell on the store because people would discover the Amazon price and/or you have people hand-carrying them from the US and selling brand new units locally on internet forums for far less than what the local distributor is selling them for. So we simply can’t sell them since we’ll be selling them close or at around the $400 mark.
So why do we keep a Triple.Fi 10 demo at the store? To be frank, I have no idea. We just happen to have one around, and when people gets frustrated because they can’t get their music right, we pull out the Triple.Fi 10. And when we see their expression upon hearing the Triple.Fi 10, it makes us happy.
But what happens next? They tell us that they want the TF10, and we tell them that “no we don’t sell them because of the Amazon price vs the local distributor price bla bla bla”. I’m not trying to attack the local Ultimate Ears distributor here, far from it. It’s just one of those things that are like currency exchange, we just have to live with. The Sennheiser HD25-1 sells for U$199 in the US while local distributors want U$360-U$370 for it. What the ?? I know. So what happens next is that we try to find a used TF10 in the local market. And if the customer is lucky, we find one for them. If there aren’t any, then, tough luck.
All the other IEMs that belonged to the TF10’s generation, or even a few after it, are now mostly obsolete. Not the 10. I can’t guarantee you’ll like it at first listen, and if you don’t, give it time. I’ve seen people sold their TF10 only to buy another one a few months later. If you haven’t tried the TF10, then it really is one of the must try. Amazon’s price is pretty okay at the moment at $233. I think they can be lower sometimes, and especially during their sale specials.