It would have been so easy for 1More to sink into obscurity. Between their somewhat ho-hum name, and the line of inexpensive in-ear headphones they offer, we wouldn’t be surprised if they got zero name recognition. But here’s the thing about 1More: while they may produce inexpensive gear, they definitely don’t let that define them – especially when it comes to ambitious headphones like the Triple Driver Over Ears. In this review, we break down the sound, design, comfort and fit, packaging and accessories, specs and more of the Triple Driver Over Ears. To see alternatives, read our list of the best high-end headphones.
Let’s talk about why having three drivers is better than one: After all, that’s the obvious question raised with models like the 1More Triple Driver Over Ears. A driver, as a quick refresher, is the part of the headphone that makes a sound – usually a diaphragm that moves back and forth to produce sound waves. In almost all over-ear headphones, you get one of these per ear, and each are used to handle the entire sound spectrum – bass, mids, high-end, the works.
If that sounds like a fundamental design flaw, it actually isn’t - most of the best headphones on earth use a single driver. The Focal Utopia (full review here), which are the single best thing you can put on your head (up to and including the finest of hand-made Panama hats) uses single drivers. So, what exactly are the TDOE trying to accomplish here? You get three drivers for each ear. One of them is a standard, 40mm dynamic driver, made of graphene. But, on top of that, you also get a ceramic tweeter, and a bass reflector, which handle the highs and the lows respectively.
This frees up the main dynamic driver to focus its energy on a narrower part of the sound, which has one major effect: space. Staggering, jaw-dropping amounts of space. It wouldn’t be right to say that these are the widest headphones we’ve ever heard – you really can’t beat a pair of electrostatics. But they are the widest headphones under $1,000 that we’ve experienced. Ever. When we say space, we’re referring to the positioning of the instruments – how effective the headphones are creating a three-dimensional soundstage where you’re surrounded by the mix. And boy, is the positioning of these headphones good. Each individual element of the song seems to occupy a single defined space - almost as if you could reach out and touch it. Separated, but not entirely isolated, from the others. They’re a real joy to listen to, especially on tracks that feature orchestral elements, like film scores, and match up well with similarly-priced headphones that set their stock by their spacing, like the PSB M4U 8s (full review here) - and the PSBs cost almost double what the 1Mores do, at $399. Outside of a full surround system, these are probably the easiest way to experience the magic of a big, badass action movie. They’re also backed up by an excellent level of detail in the sounds themselves, with terrific articulation and dynamics. Vocals, in particular, feel like they’ve been given an extra level of sheen, with the headphones flattering and placing them right where they need to be.
Despite everything we’ve mentioned above, the sound isn’t entirely perfect. If you’ve got a song with well-defined bass elements – like the single, clear kick drum of a hip-hop track – then all is well. But, when the low end gets a little busier, as it does with some metal tracks, the headphones start to lose their grasp. The bass doesn’t exactly break down, but it definitely gets less clear. It’s a disappointment, but not a major one. When the other elements of the sound are this good, we can’t be mad about headphones occasionally dropping the ball on bass. For the most part, the TDOEs achieve their ambition in extraordinary fashion, delivering a unique and rewarding sound signature that we found addictive. Triple drivers may sound like a marketing gimmick, but they work well enough that we fully expect to see the design copied by other manufacturers in the future. And at 32 ohms, with a sensitivity of 104dB, these headphones are perfectly capable of being powered by a simple smartphone. They will, however, sound even better with an inexpensive headphone amp.
Looks and Build Quality
Before we dive any further into this, we have one question: what is it with headphone companies and rose gold? The Triple Driver Over Ears we were sent were this particular style...and, in our opinion, it looks ridiculous. Perhaps we’re in the minority here – when Apple put out the iPhone 6S, nearly 40% of pre-orders were for the rose gold option - but it’s a little silly on headphones. Just ask V-Moda, who made sure that, if you wanted the aptX version of their Crossfade 2 Wireless (full review here), you had to opt for rose gold.
Regardless, we shouldn’t let a simple color option get in the way here. There’s no denying that the Triple Driver Over Ears look really, really good. Although they don’t have the heft and weight of pricier headphones, the build quality feels premium – as if they could cost much more than their $235 price tag. The most eye-catching feature is the outer surface of the housing. It looks like the hubcap of a sports car and gives the design a level of texture and tactility that’s fun. A spider-like, anodized aluminum grille, and the layer of transparent plastic underneath it, lock away the drivers. It’s an unusual, but eye-catching headphone design.
The actual earpads themselves are considerably larger than the drivers, and there are very clear left and right indicators inside the ear cups - as well as on the headband itself. While the band is made of mostly plastic, its sheathed in a soft leather that feels nicely squishy under the fingers. The cable is detachable – we’ll go more into detail later – and the ports are individually color-coded, to make sure that you never get mixed up. The branding is unobtrusive, with an embossed logo on the top of the headband and detailed copy around the edges of the hubcaps. It seems weird – that such a visually striking pair of headphones should be so subtle – but they’ve somehow pulled it off. It’s rare to find a pair of headphones that stands apart from the crowd without being obnoxious, but the Triple Driver Over Ears succeed in this category. To continue the car metaphor, they remind us of a Porsche: you see enough of them that they tend to blend in. But the moment one catches your eye, you realise just how damn good they look. If we had one complaint, it’s the name. Triple Driver Over Ear - it’s just dull. These are begging for a snazzy name. The 1More Pantera, perhaps. The 1More La Tigra. The 1More Quantum Apocalypse Action Force Plus. Whatever – given that their Triple Driver In-Ears have almost the same name, is just lazy. Not to mention confusing.
Like the design, the Triple Driver Over… Actually, you know what? Let’s just abbreviate it. The TDOEs. Like the design, the TDOEs’ comfort and fit is very good. The more headphones we review, the more we believe that the squishiness of the cups is super important. It’s not enough to get some memory foam and leather and call it a day; you actually have to put a little bit of thought into how they feel. Which has clearly been done here. The leather is soft enough to wear for long periods, but firm enough to hold the headphones in place - they have a clamping pressure that never seems to overstay its welcome. The pads don’t feel undersized, either: accommodating those of us with larger ears.
It also helps that the headband itself is easily adjustable for fit. Unlike so many other headphones, where adjusting the height of the band requires two hours, a screwdriver, and an energy drink – we’re looking at you, AUDEZE LCD2C (full review here) – the action here is smooth and easy to operate. None of this is particularly exciting. But it’s important to get the basics right from the beginning, and 1More definitely nailed that here. It also helps that the headphones are fully portable, folding up into themselves with just the slightest bit of pressure, and are relatively lightweight at 10.3oz.
Cheaper headphones aren’t supposed to come packaged like luxury goods. Fortunately, no-one told 1More that. The box these headphones come in is smart: made of heavy cardboard stock, and flipping open to reveal what look like a set of architectural drawings on the inner lid - a sketched, exploded diagram of the TDOEs. Yes, it’s frivolous. No, it doesn’t really need to be there. But it made us smile, priming us for a great experience. We love it when headphone companies go the extra mile - AudioQuest did it with their superlative NightHawk Carbons (full review here, including pics of the packaging). We can safely say 1More is in this category.
The accessories themselves impressed us, too. You get a rigid, zippered case with an embossed logo, and a static foam insert to hold the headphones in place. There’s a Velcro mesh pouch on the inner lid, which is fully removable, and perfectly sized to fit the included cable and 6.3mm adapter. We must say that we really liked the cable here. While it probably could have been a bit longer, at 4’4”, it’s very well made. We had zero tangling issues, as the semi-rigid fabric sheath kept things on the straight and narrow. The cable is well-made, and although we didn’t subject it to too much pressure, it feels like it could withstand being knocked around. Oh, and you get a stretchy fabric pouch as well, which is a nice bonus.
What We Like:
- The 1More Triple-Driver Over Ears have some eye-catching design that really works, as well as great build quality.
- The headphones deliver superlative soundstage and spacing.
- The accessories are premium and over-the-top - in a good way.
What We Don’t:
- The Triple Driver Over-Ears’ low end could use some work.
- The name is awful. Unimaginative and bland.
- Will likely get overlooked among the glut of new wireless headphones, although of course this isn’t 1More’s fault!
|1More Triple Driver Over Ears||$235||32Ω||104dB||40mm||Dynamic||10.3oz|
|AudioQuest NightHawk Carbon||$400||25Ω||99dB||50mm||Dynamic||12.20oz|
|MEZE 99 Classics||$309||32Ω||103dB||40mm||Dynamic||9.2oz|
If you have a little more cash to spend, and you like the idea of a pair of headphones that laugh in the face of design orthodoxy, then you need to look at the AudioQuest NightHawk Carbon. They’re not just a pair of the coolest-looking headphones available, they sound absolutely magical. They’re a little darker than the 1Mores, and lack the ethereal spacing, but are a lot of fun to listen to. We’ve seen them on sale, too, and, although they are unlikely to get down to $250 (they are currently around $400) they are a viable alternative. Be aware: AudioQuest is now out of the headphone game, so they’re not making any more of these.
We like to think that we don’t have any bias towards (or against) any particular company here at TMS. That being said, we fully acknowledge that we sing praise for the MEZE 99 Classics at every opportunity. They made by a fantastic, independent headphone company from Romania, and they deserve to be much more widely known than they are. This is by far their best model. Terrific design, wonderful low end, and a rewarding quality that trumps even the TDOEs – the 99 Classics remain one of the best pair of headphones you can buy for under $500 (They are currently $309, a touch pricier than the $235 TDOEs). However, you definitely won’t get the soundstage that the TDOEs offer – after all, they only have one driver per ear.
If you’ve got roughly $150 to spend, and can’t stretch to the what 1More charges for the TDOEs, the Thinksound On2 headphones are where you should look. They’re on-ear, rather than over-ear, but have the same attention paid to design, as well as fine tuning of the sound quality. The wooden cups provide an addictive resonance, and the sound signature is tight and compact - definitely lacking the spacing of the TDOEs, but certainly holding its own. If you can’t afford the TDOEs, or they’re sold out, you’ll be very happy with these.
1More don’t offer any other over-ear headphones - just in-ears - except for one. Technically, it’s not a true alternative, but you’ve had three, so here it goes. If you want a decent pair of gaming cans, try the 1More Spearhead. They are vastly different to the TDOEs - not to mention cheap, at $130, compared to the TDOEs’ $235. While they do offer 7.1 surround sound, you should be aware that they aren’t really suitable for music listening.
Dull name aside, the full experience is worth far more than the asking price. You get a pair of headphones, which not only look extremely cool, but deliver a sound signature that almost no other cans in this range manage to do. They aren’t flawless, by any means – we’d really like to see more attention paid to the low end in the inevitable TDOE2 – but there’s no doubt that the triple driver experiment worked. This is something that 1More are certainly aware of, shown by the fact that they’ve made in-ears called the Quad Driver (yikes). All we can say is: they were on the right track from the beginning.