Pros: Brilliant sparkling treble, sublime mids, and solid bass.
Cons: These IEMs may not be for those who are treble sensitive.
In the Starlight, TRI released its version of the recently fashionable Tribrid earphones which incorporate Sonion Electrostatic (EST) drivers. These are now competing with an increasing number of players offering EST drivers, but the various offerings are by no means inexpensive. The Starlight falls at the lower price range of the recent EST fad.
The IEMS come in a medium sized package including, a cable, a hard case and a wide selection of tips.
The cable is nice and soft, ends in a 3.5mm plug, which is connected to the ear pieces by 2 pin. The cable does not tangle easily. The TRI Starlight’s hard case is similar to the Tin T4 case but instead of a PU leather covering its covering is a grey/silvery cloth which closes with a nice magnetic clamp.
The TRI Starlight IEMs are made of, what they call, medical grade hybrid resin shells.
They are made to order, what choices the buyer has is not immediately clear because there were no alternative face plates, no choice of 2 pin or MMCX was offered. What “custom” definitely means is that you have to wait 5 to 7 days for IEMs to be made. Your IEMs will be made only after you make our order and they cannot be returned after your order is complete. I was also able to specifically request, no logo or any inscription on my IEMs.
The ear pieces look very good with smoky transparent lower shells and dark face plate with specks of gold, each face plate with a unique subtle pattern. They are not small but not too big either, they are approximately the size of the TRI I3, which, for my ears, fit snugly and comfortably and flush. I have no issues with isolation which is very good.
The TRI Starlight comes with 3 types of drivers, one 10mm Carbon NanoTube (CNT) Dynamic Driver, two Balanced Amature (BA) drivers and 4 EST drivers, each pair with a minute external amplifier, that makes it 7 drivers per side. These are fed through to 3 channels out of the spout to your ears.
The 2 Balanced Amatures are also made by Sonion and serve to deliver the mid treble with a huge range covering male and female voices quite effectively.
The Sonion electrostatic tweeters are for the are, as I understand it, 2 tweeters and 2 super tweeters.
Impdence is 12Omh plus/minus 20% and sensitivity is 12db plus/minus 3db.
In short, these are absolutely superb in sub-bass, mid-bass, mid treble, highs and super-highs. Read on if you want my more detailed view on the Starlights.
The sound signature of the Starlights is more reference or monitoring than tuned with any frequency bias.
My view is that the highs stand out but it is not because it is tuned to give greater prominence to the highs and super highs. Mids are gloriously subtle, not shouty and instruments registering notes in the mid range frequency give you clean and beautiful sound.
The mid-bass is fast and deep. However, there appears to be some elevation or prominence in the sub-bass than on the TRI I3 (where the recording offers sub-bass) which I absolutely love.
I am not treble intolerant, so I cannot say that those who are treble sensitive will not be affected by the plentiful detail delivered by the mid and high treble drivers.
The Starlight drivers are so competent, that the detail they deliver are pin-point and precise but also those details do not take away from the harmony, so you can enjoy a relaxing time with them. Yes, they will work on your phone with a dongle, and even better with a bit more amplification, but they are at their best with greater amplification.
What blew me away was using them on my SMSL AD18 dac/amp. Although not the most powerful headphone amplifier, these are IEMs and the AD18 gave plenty power and made the Starlight deliver beautiful high quality sound. For the purposes of the review, I did not use EQ.
You may want to put on your monitors of choice and check out the music using the links.
Bass on the Starlight is as recorded, in other words, the mid-bass is not prominent or elevated. It is not boosted. What was mixed in the mastering of the track is what you get. In essence the bass is both visceral and provides mid-bass which is dependent on the recording so does not appear to be boosted and sub-bass which is deep and rich in texture.
Chris Standring - Sneaky - Chuck Loeb - Rock With You - Ronny Jordan - Laidback - Jeff Lober - Mids
The Sonion BAs deliver mid treble with such subtlety you will feel like you are enveloped in the most cosseting chair. The mids are lush and sublime, no voice or instrument sounds over-done.
Count Basic - Joy and Pain -
The sublime voice of Rebecca Ferguson, is delivered with such aplomb, it is just divine. In my view the reason is quite simply the Sonion BA drivers are highly competent and may have been tuned specifically for a huge range of voices without excess.
Rebecca Ferguson - Nothing’s Real But Love - Dave Koz - Sound of the underground -
This is where the TRI Starlights deliver their masterpiece. I have never heard better highs. The top end sparkle brings out notes of which I had not previously taken note (pun unintended but apt).
The timbral accuracy [credit to @IEMusic for the term, "timbral accuracy"] is so vivid. Cymbals, High hats, the lightest string on a guitar, violins all have such magnificent realism but also become more noticeable for their musical contribution. The triangle sounds so good on the Starlights, I now see the humble triangle in a new light. A bit ironic that you have to shell out on more expensive (although not the most expensive) IEMs to hear what may be the most inexpensive instrument on stage at its glorious best.
Listening to Cafe Del Mar 14 is an indication of what I found with these IEMs, where the recording warrants it.
“Viva Cuba Musica” begins with the picking of guitar strings and the Trumpet belts in, all the time you have various percussion instruments giving you shimmering sounds up top. At the end of the track, all of this goodness comes to an abrupt halt…..but…..the resonance of the tingling instruments continue to ring in your ears for a few seconds more. I have heard this track in other IEMs but the sparkle is special on these, then at the abrupt end the resonance in your ears sound so good and they appear to linger on a bit longer than on other IEMs as they fad away. It is like the after taste of good food, you do not want to spoil it....just enjoy it a bit longer.
Cafe del Mar - XIV - Viva Cuba Musica -
Again on to the next track “Sentosa” Starts with traffic noise, cars, helicopter and siren. This is followed by the sound of water, then piano notes, then shimmering percussion, then the drum kicks in with a calm, heartbeat rhythm, although this is not a track with a particular harmonic thread, it certainly gives you lots of calm instrumental nourishment for the soul.
The final track, “I Believe” begins with an easy saxophone and more sizzling and tingling goodness. The TRI Starlights bring out all of the tracks, and listening is just divine.
I Believe - Imaging and Sound stage
The imaging and sound stage on the TRI Starlight is brilliant, delivering a wide sound stage. It feels like nothing is missing. Yet the Starlight is so relaxed and harmonic, yet detailed. In tandem with the fantastic imaging you have the perception of a wide stage.
In conclusion, the TRI Starlights are sublime to my the ears and in my honest belief, the Starlights are near perfection with one caveat, which is that they may not be for those who are treble sensitive, but they are certainly for those who like details with distinct highs, sublime mids and good rich bass. Why do I say, they are near perfection when I could not possibly have heard every In Ear Monitors? Just my opinion and maybe someone else will confirm my view in the near future.