Welcome to my take about Hi Fri’s 1+3 1DD 3BA IEM. I mostly use and review headphones. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy IEMs. They are more portable and IEM market improves at a much higher pace than headphones.
Mahir sent me these prototypes Hi Fri made to share my opinion. I really appreciate experiencing different products and different sound signatures. So I want to thank again Mahir and Jeff for this chance.
I didn’t read what my friends Chris and Mahir wrote about 1+3 not to get influenced by them. I didn’t see any frequency response graph until I finished either. After I took my notes, I checked what they wrote and unsuprisingly most of our impressions aligned.
- Very Dynamic Presentation
- Tactile and Impactful Bass
- Very High Detail Level
- Clear Sound
- Somewhat Prone to Sibilance
- Dynamic Presentation also Causes Unevennes
Without boring you too much, I don’t necessarily have a sound preference. I tend to enjoy different sound profiles as long as they do well at what they intend to do. I’m not very sensitive to treble so I can enjoy the most notoriously bright headphones, however I’m somewhat sensitive to upper mids area. Please keep these in mind. As I mentioned earlier, these IEMs are prototypes and not available to buy. After this review I do not get to keep them either. One week later I learned that Jeff is making them on order. If you are interested you can contact him through his facebook profile.
Build, Comfort and Trivia
I don’t know how Jeff produced these so I can’t comment on it very much. They have 3D printed shells according to Mahir. Then again these are prototypes so we don’t really need to dwell on it too much. One thing though, multidriver IEMs don’t really fit in my ear and these weren’t that different. They stuck out quite a bit but stayed in my ear securely enough. I could wear them for about an hour before the sagging start to hurt my ears.
Before delving into it deeper, I want mention that I tried these IEMs on several different setups, but I’m writing my impressions based on my experience with my desktop DAC/Amp Da-art Aurora. Tips I used first were Spinfit CP100s. Cable I used was BQEYZ Autumn’s 4.4 mm balanced cable.
The first thing I noticed was how dynamic Hi Fri 1+3 were. The bass was very impactful and tactile but at the same time fast. Dynamism wasn’t limited only to bass but the whole frequency range, which we will get to later. It was not the case with limited power however. With simple dongles or my notebook’s headphone out, 1+3 sounded lifeless. They didn’t need more power, say, than Shuoer S12, but changed the listening experience more drastically compared to S12. I had to crank volume pot more with S12 but experience didn’t change that much. I can’t say bass is boomy but I noticed it warms up lower mids a little. It means it glides smoothly from bass to the mids.
For the first few songs lower mids sounded recessed to me and masked but other instuments like strings. When more instruments and vocalists entered into the picture I realized what Hi Fri 1+3 were really all about. Like I said earlier dynamism was spread the whole frequency spectrum. There is nothing to say here really. One moment I thought these were bright, other moment warm. A vocal that was recessed earlier come forward later. There was never a dull moment. However like everything in this world, this dynamism also comes with a negative and that is unevenness. Still this sound was nothing like I have experienced so far. Also I noticed 1+3 extends deeper into subbass than S12.
Like I said earlier, highs felt brighter than neutral time to time. I also heard some hint of sibilance here and there. But they weren’t zingy which annoys me on some headphones. Unfortunately the unevenness I mentioned affects timbre a bit and highs, especially high hats and cymbals sound off sometimes. Other than that these extend well and nothing sounds lacking. Again instruments are lively and dynamic.
One thing is certain: these are highly technical and detailed IEMs, no doubt about it. I would say these are more detailed than S12. Staging was good but I didn’t notice anything spectacular. To be honest, in case of IEMs, difference I hear is usually marginal and exceptionally wide IEMs are very rare. However imaging was one of the best I’ve heard. I could pinpoint incremantal movements of sounds easily.
Hi Fri 1+3 vs Shuoer S12
I compared Hi Fri 1+3 to S12 because those were the best IEMs I had with me. Bass was deeper also more impactful on 1+3. They also mostly sounded more natural than S12 but there were times 1+3 sounded of because of the highs. Still 1+3 are more dynamic and more detailed IEMs. 1+3 sound clearer but also grainier. Compared to 1+3, S12 sound smoother and they are not known to be smooth sounding IEMs, try to imagine that!
Some Other Notes
I tried 1+3 with foam tips just to see what would it do to sound and they helped with the unevennes a little. Then I wanted to play with filters which I wanted to try from the get go when I noticed there were nothing on the nozzles. I slapped an Olina filter on the nozzle and they immediately became smoother. Now they were easier to listen to but the dynamism I raved about and clarity were now both gone. So it was a bit of a give and take situation. You should decide which one you want to compromise.
I’m glad I could experience what 1+3 had to offer. Like I said they were nothing like I’ve experienced before. They are not perfect, nothing is. However I can see they can easily be improved upon. Again their techical capability left me speechless and I could easily say tuning is like 75-80% there. I look forward to what Hi Fri will give this hobby and this community in the coming years.