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Headphones, it seems to me, follow the horses-for-courses principle: it depends what you use them for, and if ambient noise and or bothering other people with noise leakage is a problem.

Here is a novel ‘headphone solution’, which up to now I’ve hesitated in recommending in this column. The in-ear monitor (IEM) consists of tiny headphones that fit inside your ear. My problem with them is that if the fit in the ear canal is not tight, the phones will sound tinny, and will in some cases be severely lacking bass. It is also very hard to compare what you hear with others who use the IEMs: they may fit you perfectly and someone else very badly, and your opinions on the same product will vary wildly.

1More is a relatively new entrant into the headphone fold. Based in San Diego it produces a dazzling array of IEMs with one, two and three drivers – and has recently released a product with four drivers. These function like drive units on a speaker: by cutting up the frequency spectrum, each driver can focus on a specific range and do a better job. The drivers are tiny – the radius of the section that goes in your ear is around a couple of millimetres – another example of technology fitting a lot into a little.

The Triple Driver IEM costs around £100 –a remarkable snip for the price (for comparison, the Shure Triple Driver IEM costs £332). The headphones come in an elegant case, and have nine choices of tip made of foam and silicon, helping you to get the very best fit. It is only when a really tight seal is created around the IEM that the triple driver really delivers. The headphones have slick integration with iPhones and Android phones, including a remote control that answers incoming calls (the quality of the microphone is excellent). You can change volume and track, as well as using voice control.

I was really blown away by the sound of this triple driver. There is air and space, like listening through a good pair of speakers. Having played around with the nine pairs of buds, I found that the foam tips sounded better giving the best fit – for my ears at least.

When it comes to a comfortable fit, a UK-based company called Snugs offer a service to scan your ear canal and produce exact silicon tips that mould precisely to the ear. It costs £200 for the first pair, but subsequent pairs are cheaper as your scan can be reused. The process takes a little over a week, and the buds are sent through the post.

Using the silicon tips is a little more effort: you apply a dollop of the provided cream, and twist them into your ear. It takes a few goes, but you can quickly feel the difference that a perfect seal makes. The bass suddenly tightens up and creates a sound which reminds me of standing in front of an orchestra; the imagery becomes rock-solid. In all, this is a major upgrade to an already outstanding product. An additional £200 on top of £100 is not cheap, but I cannot think of any £300 headphone that can compare at this price.

There is one more headphone above the triple driver in the 1More range: a quadruple driver affair which costs £200. It covers a greater frequency range than the triple driver model, so it is to be recommended – but the differential can only be really appreciated with the Snugs tips.

It is of course possible to obtain a perfect fit with one of the pairs of tips supplied by 1More. I sadly didn’t, but I’d hazard a guess, having discussed this issue with reviewer colleagues, that Snugs always seem to provide a significant upgrade.

As with most audio products, 1More headphones will need a few tens of hours to break in. Straight out of the box, they can sound a bit bright; but if you leave them plugged into a CD player on repeat for a couple of days, they will come on song. With tips custom-made for your ears, you’ll have a really excellent combination that punches well above its weight.

RAFAEL TODES Read the full review on Agora Classica


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