In recent times, the Chi-Fi industry has been focusing less on their traditional “shock bass” tuning and aiming for a more refined and detailed audiophile-esque approach. In today’s review, I’ll be taking a look at the TRN X6, an earphone that boasts 6 balanced armature drivers per side and “Crystal-clear Balanced tuning”. According to marketing, each X6 is handmade using medical-grade resin and customized drivers. It looks promising on paper but how does it sound?
He who walks in the middle of the roads gets hit from both sides.George P. Shultz
This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
- Great build quality
- Tonal imbalance
- Fatiguing, unnatural sound
Package and Accessories
The X6 comes in a small, simple white box with red highlights plus an image of the earpieces on the front. Inside are the earpieces, secured in a white foam insert and all the other accessories are found beneath the foam. Here’s what you get in the box:
- TRN X6 earphones
- Detachable 2-pin cable
- 3 pairs of silicone eartips (S, M, L)
- Warranty card/user guide
It’s a straightforward and simple package. I appreciate the small size of the box and minimal waste but I would have liked to see some kind of carrying case included.
Build Quality and Design
In terms of build-quality, the TRN X6 is very nice. The shells are the increasingly popular pseudo-custom type, made from imported German, medical-grade resin. On the faceplates is an attractive pearly-grey/black pattern with silver TRN branding in the center.
The light-grey transparent shells give you a clear view of the balanced armature drivers and internal wiring. There is a single vent on the rear face of the shell, presumably to relieve ear pressure. The triple-bore nozzle has a small ridge designed to hold eartips on securely but it doesn’t work very well and various tips that I tested would often slip off and end up in my ears.
Comfort and Noise Isolation
Like most recent IEMs with this body type, the X6 is very comfortable and suitable for long listening sessions. The shells are a similar shape but slightly smaller than the BGVP DM7 and Fearless S6RUI. The entire surface and edges are all smooth and rounded.
Noise isolation is good and slightly above average, making the X6 good for use on public transport and noisy environments. Noise leak is pretty much non-existent too and anyone nearby is not likely to hear anything radiating from your earphones.
The 4-strand twisted cable has a glossy black TPU sheath. It’s fairly pliable and doesn’t have any annoying kinks and handles quite well. There is minimal microphonics and overall it’s comfortable to use.
At the top are the 2-pin connectors in a black plastic housing. Pre-formed ear guides sit just below the 2-pin connectors. There is an aluminium, cylindrical Y-split but sadly no cable cinch. The cable terminates in a straight aluminium 3.5 mm plug.
Gear used for testing includes the FiiO M6 and iBasso DX120 for portable sources. On the desktop, I plugged into the Arcam irDAC-II. The X6 does not require much power and can be driven easily by a smartphone.
The X6 has an unbalanced tonality that focuses squarely on the midrange and pushes the bass and treble back into the distance. It’s as though the entire sound is focused on the 1-2.5kHz area and everything else is an afterthought.
X6’s bass extension is mediocre at best. Sub-bass is rolled off severely making it something you need to strain your ears to hear. In fact, the difference between the sub-bass at 20Hz and the midrange peak at 1.5kHz is around 17-18dB. Who thought that would be a good idea?
Mid-bass doesn’t fare much better and lacks any weight or authority. On the bright side, it is very fast and tidy and there’s no bloat or bleeding into the midrange.
Well, this is where all the X6 action is. With a fierce focus on the 1-2.5kHz region the X6 is all about the core midrange. It’s pushed way past the bass and treble which makes it great for certain things like acoustic guitars and vocals but it can become extremely fatiguing very quickly too.
The X6’s treble also sits behind the midrange, though not as drastically as the bass. Treble extension is moderate and the timbre of it is actually good. Hi-hats and cymbals sound natural but it can be hard to tell when it’s being drowned out by the midrange.
There’s a good amount of detail rendered by the treble but it depends a lot on each individual recording as anything with a busy midrange becomes a tinny clusterf**k.
The soundstage presented by the X6 has moderate dimensions. There is more width than depth but neither is particularly impressive. Vocals are up close and intimate and everything else is spread out to either side with very little in the way of layering or depth, similar to the KZ AS16 I reviewed recently.
The TRN X6 aims to impress with detail and midrange resolution but in the process it compromises its tonal balance, becoming unnatural and fatiguing in the process. While it does work occasionally for some specific recording they’re few and far between, making this one IEM I would never pick up to use.
The build quality is great but as far as audio quality and tonality go, there are several earphones at a third of the price that can handily outperform it, most notably in naturalness and musicality. I would not recommend this IEM to anyone.
- Impedance: 58Ω
- Earphone sensitivity: 96dB/mW
- Frequency range: 10-40000Hz
- Cable Length: 1.25m
- Earphone interface: 2Pin Interface