Advanced Sound Model 3 Review – High Performance, Low Fuss
If you frequent the tech channels on YouTube or any kind of review site on the net, you’ve likely seen Advanced Sound’s Model 3 floating around. As a frequent runner, it’s always intrigued me. I definitely enjoy the freedom afforded by wireless in-ears however, my foray into the category was lukewarm at best; riddled with unreliable fully-wireless options and awkward neckband implementations.
The Model 3 caught so much attention as it is quite the opposite. With ergonomic and immensely stable housings, solid wireless connectivity and, most importantly, a warm but detailed sound, Adv’s wireless in-ear does the form factor justice. And, with a very reasonable $79.99 USD asking price, the Model 3 is attainable for just about everyone. This is an affordable wireless in-ear that finally deserves your time and money.
I would like to thank Hannah from Advanced very much for her quick communication and for providing me with the Model 3 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
The model 3 has a pleasing unboxing consistent with Adv’s other products. The front showcases the earphones through punchy print and brandishes their high-res certification.
On the back is the earphone’s frequency response and specifications. Advanced Sound also include basic feature, function and accessory lists.
Inside are the earphones connected to the wireless cable in addition to a standard wired cable. Adv provide a larger zippered hard case that comfortably holds the earphones, accessories and a small mp3 player. The Model 3 includes a nice tip selection with 3 pairs of silicone tips and 3 pairs of memory foam tips. I don’t personally get a solid seal with the stock silicone tips, but at the very least, they’re well-moulded and don’t collapse in the ear.
The foam tips provide a better experience. Previous batches had some issues but Adv quickly responded to provide a more malleable tip that better conforms to the ear. Combined with the Model 3’s sealed design, they provide excellent noise isolation perfect for travel.
Who says a Bluetooth earphones have to be unwieldy and awkward; that they can’t fit like a high-end wired IEM. Sleek, clean and ergonomic all aptly define the Model 3. Though meagre in asking price, the Model 3’s acrylic housings feel sturdy and well-assembled. Their design is reminiscent of earphones like Westone’s UM Pro line with a pod-shaped housing that is stable and smooth.
The earphones themselves are modestly sized, similar to the UM 30 Pro but smoother and more rounded on their internal face. As such, they are very comfortable, creating no hotspots over time. With an over-ear design and long, slender nozzles forming a deep fit, the Model 3 also produces very high levels of passive noise isolation and great stability in the ear.
Resultantly, they are perfect for commute and activity, easily providing adequate isolation during a recent flight and failing to budge even during a vigorous cardio workout. The Model 3’s transparent housings are also captivating to look at, providing a window to the dynamic micro-drivers inside. They have checkered internal reinforcement that gives them a confident rigidity in the hand.
Up top is one of the M3’s most outstanding feature, a removable MMCX cable system. Not only does this enable users to swap out broken cables in favour of an affordable replacement, it also enables the Model 3 to switch between a wired and wireless connection. The wired cable isn’t anything special, it’s thin and rubbery with minimal strain relief. That said, it isn’t cumbersome and features a well-constructed right-angle 3.5mm plug. In short, perfectly usable should you run out of battery but not ideal.
By contrast, the Bluetooth cable is far more interesting; with a rather unique style of wear and a pleasing construction. The cable is split with sweat resistant rubber wires running to the in-ears and fabric braided cables running from the electronic module to controls. Though the rubber section is a bit tacky, it never comes into contact with clothing and doesn’t present any issues as a result. The Bluetooth cable also features pre-moulded ear guides that were nicely shaped for my ears, producing a stable fit.
And, though none of the terminations are especially well-relieved, the cable looks almost new after a month of heavy use with no hardening or fraying. I’m also a fan of the finish on the module and controls; both are coated in a tactile matte texture as opposed to a rubberised finish that may become tacky over time. The 3-button remote also provides nice feedback with a nice click to each button, however, as they aren’t well separated, it can be difficult to delineate between them. Perhaps the best part of this cable is that it can be used with any MMCX earphone, enabling all of them to benefit from Adv innovative implementation!
The Model 3’s wireless implementation may be its most distinct feature. Rather than utilising a bulky module, neckband, or enlarging the earphones themselves to house the electronics, the Model 3 assumes a necklace-like wear style. In particular, a compact 3-button lies at the front with the larger battery and electronics at the rear, resting on the back of the neck. This design keeps the bulk of the electronics central and stable while keeping controls in an easily accessible location, and is by far one of my most preferred wireless implementations for active use. The remote at the front also houses a well-placed microphone that delivered clear audio during my testing.
The Model 3’s controls also proved to be quite practical. As with most Bluetooth in-ears, holding the centre button on the remote powers them on with a longer hold entering pairing mode. Connection status is denoted by an RGD LED indicator within the button. Once paired, the Model 3 promptly auto-connected to my HTC U11 and laptop after every power on without issue. The Model 3 supports Apt-X which enables higher quality streaming and I noticed no interference or cutouts and just a handful of stutters during regular use. Wireless range was also impressive, far better than the vast majority of wireless in-ears I’ve tested. For instance, the Model 3 did not cut-out when my phone was on the other side of my body as some tend to. In fact, I was able to completely leave the room with undisrupted audio.
The power module at the rear has two magnetic halves that separate for easy wear. When separated, one face reveals a micro-usb charging port that is otherwise covered to prevent liquid ingress. Battery life is rated at a modest 5hrs which is middle of the road for a wireless in-ear and respectable given the dimensions of its electronic module. I managed to regularly meet that claim at volume 15/25. Of note, the volume control on the remote does not control the source but cycles through 25 levels on the earphones themselves.
Should battery life not be sufficient, Adv offers a carry case with integrated 800mah micro-usb charger called the Power Pack through which they claim an additional 7 charge cycles. It’s a practical way to keep the earphones topped up and staves some of my nervousness with battery operated devices.
As the Model 3 was intended to be used Wireless, all of the following comments will be using the Bluetooth cable paired to my HTC U11 via Apt-x. Through such a connection, the Model 3 sounded dynamic and spacious with very minimal background hiss; when swapping the cable over to a more sensitive in-ear, some hiss was present but this easily remains one if the best wireless implementations I’ve tested. In addition, since I was unable to find a comfortable fit with the included silicone ear tips, I paired the Model 3 with Westone STAR tips. They produced a deeper fit and have a slightly expanded bore producing a cleaner low-end and slightly enhanced treble clarity. I also put the earphones through 150hrs of burn-in to ensure they are performing at their best during evaluation.
The Model 3 assumes a more V-shaped sound typical to consumer earphones. Its sound holds notable mid-bass emphasis with a recessed midrange and slightly more energetic treble presentation. It’s a warm, full and very accessible sound that provides plenty of instant gratification. Of course, this isn’t a perfectly balanced earphone designed for critical listening, but its sound is rich and enjoyable; certainly more tastefully sculpted than models found in retail stores. This is also a presentation that works well in louder environments such as public transport and the gym, where low-frequencies tend to get drowned out. As such, the Model 3’s tuning is well-considered for its intended uses while remaining engaging and balanced enough to be enjoyed at home.
With a hearty emphasis, the Model 3’s low-end is very full, delivering round but nicely textured notes. Sub-bass extension is very nice for a micro-driver; they don’t have the guttural slam of a high-end dynamic but do provide solid punch when called for. Mid-bass holds the main focus of the sound, creating a warm tone and a generally full-bodied presentation that stops shy of thick. Resultantly, the Model 3 isn’t especially articulate nor is bass meticulously separated, but the earphones do produce modest amounts of definition and pleasing dynamics.
This is mainly due to the Model 3’s tighter low-end with nice attack and natural decay creating fair pace and rhythm. Accordingly, though their mid-bass emphasis does create apparent bloat, the Model 3 doesn’t become particularly messy during faster tracks and each note remains focussed and easily discerned. So despite their uneven emphasis, the Model 3 remains a well-performing earphone for the price, especially considering that they are being driven by a wireless source.
As a result of the Model 3’s larger mid-bass emphasis, mids are bolstered with warmth. That said, slight brightness enhances clarity and definition. And, though not transparent or realistic, the Model 3 delivers a clear and mostly natural midrange presentation despite its fullness. Lower-mids are most notably coloured; male vocals are recessed and somewhat chesty down low but with a slight lift into the middle and upper-midrange that prevents veil. Instrument timbre is also less obviously affected with rich, organic piano and guitar. This tuning does sap their presentation of separation and definition but the Model 3 is tonally pleasing and nowhere near thick or congested.
Upper-mids fair better on an objective level. They are laid-back but present, with slight emphasis relative to the M3’s lower mids preceding a gradual dip before their lower-treble. This produces a smooth, clean and natural presentation that flatters female vocals, avoiding both sibilance and truncation. The Model 3 also produces above average levels of resolution that enable it to discern some finer background details that other wireless in-ears skim over. As a result of the slight dip up top, their upper-midrange and treble aren’t perfectly seamless or integrated, but this doesn’t compromise detail presentation.
With a typical V-shaped signature, the Model 3 well balances its warm low-end and more laid-back midrange with elevated treble clarity. This augments their sound with energy and a sense of vividness. Lower-treble is most notably accentuated, producing a slightly more aggressive presentation that benefits treble attack; imbuing guitars, strings and cymbals with a sense of immediacy and crispness. Middle treble is also slightly lifted which aids treble air and separation. They still aren’t a bright earphone in the grand scheme of things, but the Model 3 easily avoids the smoothed off and even dull sound that activity centric wireless in-ears often suffer from.
Still, the Model 3 doesn’t have a hint of harshness and sibilance isn’t emphasized. They also possess great treble extension for a wireless in-ear, producing higher levels of resolution that contributes to their slightly more revealing nature up top. Treble is also quite linear, producing bodied notes with defined texture. Moreover, they effectively avoid sounding overly aggressive and peaky which is very admirable around this price range. Though not absolutely extended and resolving, the Model 3’s crisp but natural high-end is very tasteful and surprisingly technical.
Soundstage, Imaging and Separation –
With a slightly more vivid signature and good treble air and extension, the Model 3 produces a well-sized soundstage. They don’t stretch beyond the head but the Model 3 is hardly an intimate earphone, especially considering its more recessed midrange that can emphasize their sense of space and distance. Imaging is quite good due to their quicker transience and more linear treble. They aren’t pinpoint accurate as they are quite warm and sculpted overall, but directional cues are fairly sharp and vocals well-centred. Separation is mixed, low-end separation is below average due to their bloated mid-bass and some spill into the lower-midrange. However, their top half is quite delineated as it is more linear.
ADV 747 ($60): The 747 is Adv’s Active Noise Cancelling earphone. It has solid metal housings and a beefy cable though it does not share the wireless functionality of the Model 3. It also isn’t as balanced; being designed to be listened to in very noisy environments at higher volumes, the 747 has an L-shaped sound that avoids any form of fatigue. Bass is huge on the 747 and full on the Model 3, both are more mid-bass emphasised but the Model 3 is tighter and more balanced with greater sub-bass extension.
Mids are similarly recessed though the 747 is thicker and slightly veiled while the Model 3 is slightly brighter with enhanced clarity. The Model 3 is much more detailed within its high-end with slight lower-treble aggression and heightened air. On the contrary, the 747 is very smoothed off within its higher registers with just hints of lower treble crispness preceding considerable roll-off. As such, the Model 3 is clearly the more balanced, engaging earphone, but of course, it lacks the low-frequency noise cancelling ability of the 747.
Audiofly AF100W ($130): The AF100W is similarly a reasonably priced wireless in-ear with a more unobtrusive wireless implementation. It has one module on either side of the cable and a slider that locks them behind the head. Though sleek, the controls can be awkward to access and battery life is similarly mediocre at 5hrs. On the flipside, the earphones themselves feature the impeccable shaping of all Audiofly earphones making them just as comfortable and isolating as the Model 3 if not a little more so. And one thing that the AF100W possesses that the Model 3 lack is IPX4 water resistance making it a more responsible choice for pure active use.
That said, I do prefer the sound of the Model 3 by a fair margin as the AF100W has a strange sound signature that is quite an acquired taste. It’s quite an L-shaped earphone, but one with a strange emphasis on upper-bass. As such, it lacks some depth and impact down low and isn’t as vivid or dynamic as the Model 3. Rather, the AF100W sounds somewhat tubby within its low-end and bass spills a little into lower mids that are dry and warm. They lack the clarity of the Model 3 and a lot of its dynamics. Treble is similarly a bit dry and smoothed off on the AF100W where the Model 3 is more linear and detailed. Though the Af100W does balance out a little more in louder environments, it simply isn’t as tonally pleasing as the cheaper Model 3
Meeaudio Pinnacle P2 ($100): The P2 is one of the most resolving V-shaped earphones around this price. It has a similarly ergonomic and isolating design but can be inverted and worn cable-down too. Though it is not wireless, it has a removable cable that can be swapped with a Bluetooth unit. Its sound signature doesn’t differ substantially from the Model 3 on paper, focusing on mid-bass and lower-treble, but in listening, it is considerably more high-frequency focused and balanced down-low. Bass on the P2 is tighter and more agile but still punchy. It lacks the heft of the model 3, but sounds notably more defined and less bloated. Mids are smoother and more laid-back on the Model 3, they are also more recessed relative to its greater bass emphasis. The P2 has far greater clarity with a brighter upper-midrange.
As such, the P2 is the more revealing earphone, it also has more defined layers but it can sound a little thin and fatiguing over time. The P2 is a notably more aggressive earphone, the Model 3 is actually more linear and balanced within the higher-frequencies. The P2 is a bit more extended and produces a lot more air and bite to treble instruments such as strings and cymbals. That said, like its midrange, the P2 sounds thin and slightly artificial up top where the Model 3 is more natural but also less engaging. The P2 crafts a larger stage due to its airier, brighter composition, it is also more separated throughout. That said, the Model 3 sounds cleaner and a lot smoother, better suiting long listening sessions and higher volumes.
The Model 3 is the Bluetooth in-ear many have been searching for. It has some of the most streamlined wireless circuitry on the market, producing an ergonomic experience and a clean, reliable wireless connection. Furthermore, the earpieces themselves are comfortable and stable in the ear, just as suitable during activity as during daily commute. Passive noise isolation is also terrific and the ability to swap cables imbues confidence in their longevity.
When it comes to listening, the Model 3 continues to impress with its inviting V-shaped sound. It isn’t balanced, their mid-bass emphasis is slightly overzealous for my tastes, but they are engaging, natural and surprisingly technical. The Model 3 isn’t water resistant and battery life is on the shorter side, but this remains the best wireless in-ear I’ve tested south of $200 and the ability to swap its wireless cable to any MMCX in-ear further enhances its value.
Verdict – 9/10, Advanced Sound’s affordable wireless in-ear fits well and sounds great. It has an unobtrusive wireless implementation with high-quality Apt-x support. Look no further for a well-performing V-shaped wireless in-ear at a reasonable price.
The Model 3 can be purchased from Amazon for $79.99 USD at the time of writing. Please see my affiliate link for the most updated pricing, availability and configurations.
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