TRN is a Chinese IEM manufacturer that focuses on the budget to the entry-level market. They also have some Bluetooth wireless adapters that have been very popular among audio enthusiasts. In this review, I’m looking at the TRN VX earphones.
The TRN VX has 7 drivers per side (6 balanced armature and 1 dynamic) enclosed in a magnesium alloy housing. It also has a frequency range of 7-40,000Hz. Those are some pretty impressive specs for a $70 earphone but as always, the proof is in the listening. So how do they sound? Let’s find out.
Disclaimer: 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.
Robust metal shells
Great build quality and comfort
Treble will be too hot for some
Package and Accessories
The TRN VX comes in a typical minimalistic box, similar to what we see with KZ, CCA and KBEAR budget earphones. At $70 I would like to see something a little more substantial but I guess you can’t really complain since one would assume the cost saved went into the large driver count. What you get in the box is the VX earphones, a detachable 2-pin cable and 3 pairs of silicone eartips.
Design, Comfort and Noise Isolation
The TRN VX’s magnesium alloy shells are CNC machined and have a matte finish. They’re available in 2 colours: dark green and knight black. They have a fairly simple exterior design with some curved ridges adorning the faceplates. Interestingly, they also have a small scooped out section that contours to the ear’s anti-tragus, similar to the Meze Rai Penta shells.
On the inner shell, there are 2 small vents: one just under the 2-pin socket and another near the base of the nozzle. The nozzle has a protective metal mesh and a solid ridge that effectively holds eartips securely in place. The VX has 2-pin sockets with the QDC interface for improved longevity.
Internally, the VX has a 10mm dynamic driver with dual neodymium magnets that were specially designed for the VX earphone. In addition, it has three customized 30095 balanced armature drivers for the treble and three customized 30060 drivers for the midrange. To blend the sound of all these drivers together, the TRN VX uses a proprietary active crossover circuit.
Are They Comfortable?
TRN’s recent budget models, such as the IM2 and X6 were really good ergonomically and the VX follows suit. The lightweight shells have rounded edges all around and the finish on them is very smooth. I find these to be extremely comfortable for my ears and I can happily wear them for hours at a time.
Noise isolation is fairly standard for this type of shell, which is to say it’s pretty good. You can enjoy your music anywhere and you won’t be distracted by the noise around you. They’re perfect for a noisy morning commute or busy shopping mall.
Included with the VX is a generic braided, 4-core oxygen-free copper cable with black insulation. It has transparent QDC 2-pin connector housings at the top and pre-formed ear guides. The Y-split and straight 3.5mm plug are both made from matching aluminium. There is no chin slider present.
In terms of handling, the cable performs moderately. It drapes nicely but has some microphonics. Because it’s a bit thin above the Y-split and has the curved ear guides it is quite prone to tangling and this is worsened by the lack of a cable cinch.
The VX is an efficient earphone so it will work with any source, including smartphones. It has a mild V-shaped signature that’s somewhat bright with a lifted treble. What I hear is a clean and lively sound with above-average clarity and cooler tonality. The overall resolution is good and the VX is also able to reveal a good amount of micro-details as well.
TRN’s engineers have done a nice job with the bass on the VX. It delivers a punchy sound with substantial impact combined with speed and control. The focus is on the mid-bass but the sub-bass can get a nice rumble going too.
The VX isn’t a basshead IEM but has a more balanced approach with a bass quantity that leans towards neutral. It has a clean attack and a speedy decay. In Tides of Nebula’s “Radionoize”, the impact of the kick drum is tactile and the bass guitar ripples with a texture that you don’t often hear from something at this price point.
The midrange is on the brighter side of neutral and is slightly lacking in body. It’s a direct result of the neutral-leaning bass and the 7-9kHz treble peak. This is a midrange that fares better with instrumental music rather than vocals but still lacks naturalness due to a lack of warmth.
What the VX mids do well are instrument separation and resolution. Fast transients and thin notes give these a fast and lean sound, along with strong instrument placement and layering.
The VX’s treble is what will make or break the sound for most people. Those who are treble-sensitive will likely find the VX too bright. On the bright side (pun intended), there is an abundance of detail with good overall resolution. But hi-hats and percussion instruments are unnaturally forward and crash cymbals can get a bit splashy.
If you’re a treble-head and love some extra energy and precision in the highs, you should appreciate what the VX delivers but for the average listener, these may be fatiguing
The soundstage is reasonably large but has more width than depth. Stereo imaging is quite strong and positional cues are fairly good. The instrument separation and treble resolution along with the treble resolution create an uncluttered stage.
KBEAR Diamond ($79)
The KBEAR Diamond (review here) is a single dynamic driver IEM. It takes a more traditional V-shaped approach which has both pros and cons. The Diamond has more bass presence and a warmer tonality while the VX has a fairly neutral bass.
In the midrange, Diamond has more body and note thickness but at the same time, the mids are placed further behind the bass and lower treble. In comparison, the VX has a clinical midrange with above average clarity and fast transients.
Diamond’s treble is more laid back but has an upper treble peak to increase its airiness. It’s not as forward or resolving as the TRN VX but it’s less fatiguing for extended listening.
iBasso IT00 ($69)
The iBasso IT00 (review here) has a single 10mm dynamic driver and acrylic shells. It has a warmer and balanced sound signature. IT00 has considerably more bass presence with more impact and sub-bass rumble.
The midrange on the IT00 is more forward, full-bodied and infused with additional warmth from the bass. It’s not as clean or detailed in the midrange but has a more natural timbre compared to the VX. Both IEMs have energetic highs but the IT00 treble is offset by it’s warm bass which makes it less fatiguing over time.
CCA CA16 ($60)
The CCA CA16 has one additional BA driver in each shell than the VX for a total of 8 drivers per side. Insane right? It has acrylic shells compared to the magnesium alloy of the VX. The CA16 has a mild V-shaped sound with punchy bass and clear, non-fatiguing presentation.
It has a similar bass quantity as the VX but because of its slightly recessed midrange and more laid back treble, the bass is more forward. The CA16 mids have a good tone, separation and note size but aren’t as forward as those on the VX.
CA16 also has a decent amount of treble energy but it peaks sooner at around 6kHz and doesn’t sound dissonant like the VX’s 8kHz crest. It’s not as precise or detailed as the VX but it is a lot more forgiving and doesn’t cause fatigue like the VX can.
The TRN VX is an ambitious IEM that comes close to being a great release. It has a delightful bass, excellent midrange resolution and loads of treble precision. For most people, the VX is probably a bit too hot in the high frequencies but treble lovers and micro-detail peepers should get a real thrill from these IEMs.
Earphone sensitivity: 107dB/mW
Frequency range: 7-40000Hz
Plug Type: 3.5mm Straight Plug
Cable Length: 1.25+/-5m
Colour: Green, Black
Earphone interface: QDC Interface
Whether with mic: Optional
Driver unit: 6BA+1DD hybrid driver unit (Super-sized 10mm Diaphragm + Customized BA )