Pros: - Balanced U-shape tuning
- Sibilance free (except for treble-enhanced mode)
- Well-controlled/behaved bass without messing up mids
- Good decent technicalities
- Budget with good value
- Included with TRN own unique eartips
- Light shell
- Functioning tuning switches
- Semi opened-back IEM design (??)
Cons: - Basic unbraided cable
- Slightly dull sounding when with bass-enchanced mode (subjective)
- Slightly lacking in upper harmonics for strings instrument
- Whole shell is made out of plastic
- The highs could be more refined, but it might due to limitation of DD drivers
- Treble sensitive audiophiles might find that the treble enhanced mode is too harsh sounding
- Isolation is not that good due to semi opened-back design (??)
Basically, TRN MT1 Max could have 4 types of tuning signatures, from mild-U shape (balanced) to nearing neutral-bright (treble-enhanced), then also with the maximum bass presence or potentially dark sounding (Bass-enhanced) and balanced with sub-bass boosted (Xtra-bass). As it is a DD drivers, the tonality here is quite natural
sounding, nothing weird sounding, if needing to nitpick, strings instrument did sounded not nearly realistic due to lacking in upper harmonics. Technicalities are surprisingly decent especially with such asking price. Timbre here is neither cold or warm sounding (depends on which tuning switch being activated).
Depiste having 4 switches to play around, there are only three kind of bass shelf (quantity):
(Bassiest to less bassy switches will be rate as following)
As a neutral-head/analytical head myself, I find myself liking the bass with Treble Enhanced mode, as it is the least boomy and good for analysing music without being too affected by the bass. Don’t get me wrong, with even the bassiest tuning activated, the bass will be indeed fun sounding, but then, thanks to the decent DD drivers
with well-controlled/behanved transient, the bass didn’t bleed into the mids that much, which is still consider a clean mid-bass. Even with the Treble Enhanced mode, the bass here is not too lean sounding, the bass is still quite present within the mix. For better bass monitoring, it is not advisable to use Treble Enhanced mode, as the
bass here is not that present compare to the other tuning modes. For a short summary, use Treble Enhanced mode if you are allergic to bass, Balanced mode if you liking well-cooked punchy bass, and if you’re a bass head, just boost the bass all the way up with Bass Enhanced or Xtra-Bass mode.
With 4 possible tuning from TRN MT1 Max, the mids will be having different perceive forwardness.
(Most in-your-face mids to less or slightly dull mids rating)
As a treblehead myself, of course, I am liking Treble Enhanced mode the most. But then, high sensitive folks might find it slightly harsh sounding, and also, there is slight sibilance presence with some tracks. As a self-learnt electric guitarist myself, I will like to hear a lot of electric guitar melodies, rhythms, etc. Therefore, I find myself
wanting some more bites with the Bass Enhanced mode, and also do find that this mode is somewhat dull sounding, and it is my least liking mode, but then, for high sensitive audiophiles, it will be a good mode from relax and casual listening, with soothing warm bass. Both male and female vocalist here are not recess sounding,
except for the Bass Enhanced mode. For instrumental mids such as electric guitars, piano, strings like violin, viola, cello & bass, even with Treble Enhanced mode, the upper harmonics of these instrument is less presence, or it could be most realistic with slightly more bites. If you don’t need too much details to be overloading your head, Bass Enhanced mode will be a good relaxing listening choice, but if you needing some critical listening, just stick with Treble Enhanced mode.
With 4 possible tuning from TRN MT1 Max, the highs could be perceived differently.
If you are a drum playing that needing to monitor your crash cymbals, hi-hats, rides, etc. you will need to turn on the Treble Enhanced mode. This mode is the most airiest sounding compare to the other tuning mode. As it is a decent budget DD drivers, the highs here is not that airy, and also not super clean/refined kind of highs, but then,
it is not that kind of messy splashy highs too. If you are the type of listener that liking some sparkers in the top end of the frequency spectrum, you will need Treble Enhanced mode too, as all the other three modes might be too polite in highs, with Bass Enhanced mode being too dull or dark sounding to my personal own preference.
As promised, TRN MT1 Max with 4 tuning switches, it could have 4 type of sound signature, from L-shape dark bass, to balanced, and also to analytical neutral-bright tuning. However, it is still not that natural sounding due to slightly lacking in upper harmonics of some instrument, but then, it is nearing natural sounding pairs.
The soundsatge here is decently wide. Instrument separation abilities are decent. Able to provide enough details or clarity except for Bass Enhanced mode. Could handle busy complicated track decently.
If you ask me, do I recommend TRN MT1 Max, I would reply, why not? For such budget price tag, you will get 4 different type of tunings. It is really a bargain, especially for those that still not yet knowing their own preference tuning signature yet. Back then, IEMs with tunable switches will cost a lot, but nowadays, we could grab it at budget price tag too. Overall, I think TRN MT1 Max is a well-tuned IEMs, but then there are still a lot of room for improvements.
Pros: △ Quite cheap and affordable.
△ Decent build quality of it shells.
△ A tuning switches that really works as you can choose what tuning do you prefer
△ It has a balanced sounding quality (Extra Bass).
△ Less aggressive and smooth treble response. (Bass-Enhanced mode)
△Fairly punchy bass with good rumble on its sub bass. (All modes)
△ Not a hint of harshness nor sibilance on Bass-Enhance mode.
△ Warm and smooth midrange.'(Bass-Enhanced mode)
Cons: ▽ Stock ear tips are sort of doesn't seal well into my lug holes
▽ Mediocre technical performance.
▽ Treble quality is a bit smooth and too laidback sounding in my liking as it quite lifeless of being crisp and sparkling. (Bass-enhanced mode)
▽ Hint of harshness and sibilance on balanced and treble mode, sometimes on Extra Bass mode.
▽ It takes a time to figure out the tuning difference between balanced mode and treble mode as they sound almost similar to my ears in most cases unless you concentrate even more.
▽ No tuning switches guide inside the box.
Oi! Audio mates, welcome to my another IEM review and this time from one of the audio companies that I use to collect its products way back in 2018.
I am talking about TRN and as I remember, I owned at least 7 products from them in my early phase in portable audio enthusiasm. TRN MT1 was the last IEM that I bought in 2021 as a gift for a friend. TRN IM1 was one of the longest sets that I ever used; it took more than 2 years before I switched to a higher tier ones and take note that I have some IEMs which are most of them are TRN sets like V30, IM2 and V80.
And now after 2 years, I have their TRNMT1 MAX. TRN MT1 MAX is the current upgrade model of the original MT1 and like its predecessor it has a single dynamic driver and this time it has tuning switches to change its sound profile in 4 modes.
The said transducers that MT1 has was the latest generation of 10mm dual magnet driver and it was housed in an acrylic plastic shell with metal alloy nozzles. The shells are of semi-open back design as it has a large vent hole on its gold-coloured ring that is placed on its face plate aside from its two smaller vent holes at the cavity base. At the upper part of the shells it has 3 dip switches for its 4 tuning modes used to regulate resistance output and it seems that TRN forgot to put a guide for its tuning settings. Just look at the picture below with some guides for tuning switches.
And like all current TRN products, it still uses a QDC-type 2-pin connector and it uses a rubbery, dark brown-coloured parallel insulation coated OFC cable with an L-shaped 3.5mm termination plug on its end.
Expect the basic product packaging of an ultra-budget with its price point as its contents are packed in a small box for an IEM.
The contents inside from the box are the following:
■ TRN MT1 MAX IEM
■ a stock translucent dark brown stock cable
■ a type-T ear tips that was already at nozzle
■ 2 sets extra white-coloured ear tips with narrow-bored dimensions in different standard sizes (M,L).
■ a tuning pin
■ Some paperworks like instruction manual and warranty card.
With low impedance rating, TRN MT1MAX are easy to drive sets that mobile devices like smartphones and tablets with decent power out will be able drive them properly without any hitches. A decent power will be able to have a sufficient loudness output on them to give that full and dynamic sounding.
As for tonality, with tuning mode switches it has four (4) sound profiles, all of them are leaning towards U to V-shaped sound signatures.
■Bass enhanced mode: it is somewhat an L-shaped sound signature, elevated bass, a "neutral", pillowy midrange and treble.
■Extra bass mode: it has a more V-shaped sound signature, a boosted bass, a more recess midrange and elevated treble response.
■Balanced mode: a brighter U/V-shaped sound signature, an elevated bass, a tad recess on midrange and boosted treble. It sort of sounds a bit closer to the original MT1.
■Treble-boost mode: very similar to balanced mode but the difference is that it has a less texture on mid bass response.
The bass qualities on bass enhanced, extra bass and balanced modes have a sufficient punchiness and with ample depth but it doesn't sound that clean as I hear some bass smudges across the midrange. The bass on treble seems to sound a bit cleaner as it has less textured on the mid bass and it gives more focus on sub bass.
Sub bass of all modes exhibits a fairly rumbling sound on them while I play some tracks with synthesisers, drum machines, low-toned on both bass guitar and viola. Mid basses on bass enhanced, extra bass and balanced modes have an ample texture to give a note weight on bass guitar, bass drum kicks, violas and bass-baritone vocals. Bass guitars has dull and a bit hollow sounding on their roars and growls, bass drum kicks have adequate thudding but less fuller as it is on softer sound, then on violas, they sounds a bit warmer, muffled and austere in my liking and lastly, bass-baritones have decent depth on them but it lacks of heft and less denser especially on vocal qualities Barry White and Peter Steele of Type O Negative.
The presentation of the midrange of all modes are definitely recessed as I noticed the presentation of vocals and some instruments are less emphasis and it's on the rear position on both low and high frequency. But balanced and treble modes, it has ample warmth and sufficient brightness to add clarity and detail while extra bass mode has rather a smoother and less brighter and bass enhanced mode is a bit too smooth to the point that I hear the leanness and too transparent note weight.
Extra Bass,Treble and balanced modes seema to give more emphasis on female vocals like Mezzo-sopranos and sopranos to have a smooth and gleaming sound to that emotional and engaging sound to my ears. Strings, some percussion and woodwinds will fare better in this type of tuning modes that I mentioned above as it gives a crisp sound on guitars, a shrill and metallic sound of violins, a hollow, dry and clattering on both toms and snares, a whistling sound of a flute a pale and bit duller sound of saxophone. Bass Enhanced modes give more priority on male vocals, lower female vocals like contralto and instruments like brass and percussion. Baritones have sufficient weight and lushness on them, Countertenors have light and soft quality than their usual modal voice on them and tenors have rather rounded but lack spiciness and brassy sound on them. Contraltos have sufficient deep vocal timbre as I listened to Tracy Chapman and Annie Lennox. Trumpets seem to have an ample warm and full sound , but not too dark and intense as I preferred, Trombones have rather a rounded and softer sound that gives a lack of sounds more "dramatic" and "sinister". Pianos sound warmer and rounded in this particular tuning setting.
Three(3) distinct treble registers from 4 tuning modes, both balanced and treble modes gives a brighter, crispier and with modest airy extension to give a decent detail clarity but there are some hint of sibilances and harshness on it especially on sibilant-laden tracks. On the Enhance Bass mode, it give a smoother, "cleaner" and leaner treble register but they are bit subdued as it has lack of shimmering qualities in them while Extra Bass mode, it has a sufficient brightness as it gives some sense of detail and clarity.
Treble, balanced and sometimes on extra treble modes give me splashy sound on cymbals strikes due to shrilly and piercing nature that it is bit too much that might be problematic to treble-sensitives out there. Enhanced Bass has soughing and dull sounding on its cymbal strikes.
SOUNDSTAGE, IMAGING AND OTHER TECHNICALITIES:
The overall sounds/speaker stage dimensions are rather average size as it has an average on wideness, not so tall height clearance and a decent depth from front to back.
Imaging is presented into typical bi-channel stereo panning set up as you can decently perceive the placement of instruments and vocals but not in a very pinpoint way. Separation and layering aren't particularly impressive as instruments and other elements seems to be in a quite congested presentation as it has doesn't have decent spacing and gaps while layering of each specific instrumental timbre with its frequency and dynamic layer doesn't have that distinctive outline that multi-instrumental tracks doesn't fare well as it sounds a bit chaotic.
The coherency of its single driver performs pretty well on how it delivers a faster transient response without any distortion.
On resolution capability, it seems it focuses more on a more solid macro-dynamics rather than its micro-detail retrieval capability. The resolving aptness on defining the nuances and details are rather average; it can only extract a decent amount of infos from the audio track data. Tonal colour seems on warmer, laidback (Bass Enhanced mode) and bright (Extra bass, treble and balanced mode).
◆CVJ is a hybrid driver IEM and it has a composite shell chassis with tuning switches too, therefore it is more pricey. Its hybrid driver consists of 1 dynamic driver and 2 balanced armatures, one of them is an entry-level Knowles driver. The product packaging and its included accessories of MEI is a little bit better.
◆As for tonality, In a particular tuning setting (1DD + Knowles BA) , MEI is more natural, better tuned and more refined compared to the MT1 Max. It has more cleaner midrange and smoother treble response and it has decent treble air. Sibilance is well-controlled and definitely no harshness on this particular tuning switch mode.
◆Technical abilities of CVJ MEI is even an improvement as it has an average - above average sound/speaker stage dimensions, a good separation and decent layering of one of its frequencies and dynamics of each instrument. Resolution is even better on how it renders its micro-details and nuances.
To end my assessment about this set, In the span of 3 years, there were evolutionary changes of the MT1 series and TRNMT1 MAX is quite radical compare to its previous generation with its overall design with its complex mechanism for changing its tonal profile which was unimaginable for a cheap and very affordable price.
For sure that TRN MT1 MAX still needs some tuning refinements to deliver an even better sound quality that will be comparable to some great single DD sets under the US$20/£17 category. But for under US$15/£12, these will dispel any doubts on purchasing it on how compelling the pricing of TRN MT1 MAX with some added features that you can only find in more pricey sets.
TRN MT1 MAX is now available in all online vendors. You can check them out via unaffiliated-links below.
Alison Krauss -When You Say Nothing At All *
Jade Wiedlin - Blue Kiss**
Led Zeppelin - When The Levee Breaks **
Mountain - Mississippi Queen *
Queen - Killer Queen **
Guns N' Roses - Patience *'*
Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven '*'
Sergio Mendes- Never Gonna Let You Go '*'
Pearl Jam - Daughter **
Roselia - Hidamari Rhodonite *
Assassin - Fight (To Stop The Tyranny)*
Celtic Frost- Visual Aggression *
New Order - Blue Monday *
The Corrs- What Can I do (unplugged version) *
Jimi Hendrix Experience - Voodoo Child *
The Madness- Buggy Trousers *
Metallica - Motorbreath **
Mariah Carey- Always Be My Baby *
Destiny's Child - Say My Name *
Malice Mizer- Au Revoir *
Mozart - Lacrimosa *
New York Philharmonic Orchestra - Dvorak- Symphony 9 " From the New World." *
Eva Cassidy - Fields of Gold (Sting cover)*
Michael Jackson - Give In To Me *
Exciter - Violence and Force *
Diana Krall - Stop This World **
Debbie Gibson - Foolish Beat *'*
The Sisters of Mercy – Lucretia My Reflection**
Suzanne Vega – Luka **
Lauren Christy – Steep *
Ottoman Mehter - Hucum Marsi *
Diana Damrau - Mozart: Die Zauberflöte*
I am not affiliated to TRN nor receive monetary incentives and financial gains as they provide me a review unit for an exchange of factual and sincere feedback from yours truly.
Once again, I would like to send my gratitude to TRN especially to TRN PETTER for providing this review unit. I truly appreciate his generosity and trust towards me and other reviewers.
On “balanced” configuration, the TRN MT1 Max exhibits a well-done, mild v/u-shaped sound signature. This exact sound reminded me of the time when I still had my TRN V20 which I enjoyed a lot due to its relatively balanced sound signature. When compared to there, this sounds more refined, cleaner, and technically capable, tenfold.
The lows exhibited here in the MT1 Max are punchy, clean and very capable of presenting hard-hitting bass when needed. It is slightly elevated on this config, and has a good balance of attack and decay. There are times that some people may find that the subbass may slightly lack presence, but it is rare and is present on specific tracks only (ex. Harleys in Hawaii - Katy Perry). Budget bassheads and EDM junkies will find the MT1 Max enjoyable.
Moving on to the mids, it is well-placed, with some hints of slight recession depending on the track and pairing used. However, it never went distant or drowned during my tests as it is still clear and present most of the time. Lower mids have a good amount of depth, texture and thickness. It isn’t as “natural” when compared to the KZ Ling Long but it is definitely cleaner. Upper mids are elevated, with a good amount of texture, clarity, and sparkle. The upper mids may be perceived as “too bright and/or peaky” by people with sensitive ears, but It never came across as too sibilant or piercing within the normal volumes.
As for the highs, it is elevated, airy, and sparkly, especially if it is used with the treble configuration. It never sounded sibilant at all but may be too much for some people. Detail retrieval is actually good for its price and can pick up details easily.
Soundstage, Imaging, and separation:
In general, the technical performance on the TRN MT1 Max is above average, if we are talking under 20USD. The soundstage is wide, with a good amount of height and depth if we are talking about IEMs and their nature. Separation and layering is also fairly good for most busy tracks I have tested with. It is able to present things clearly without too much congestion. Imaging is average and can render instrument and vocal positions clearly.
Other tuning configurations:
Bass-enhanced mode (UDD)
L-shaped sound signature. Elevates the bass even more, and rolls off the upper frequencies. It may sound “muted” for most people.
Treble-enhanced mode (DUD)
Neutral-bright sound signature. Elevated the treble, making things airy and wider than usual. Introduces slight peaks and additional brightness as well.
Balanced mode (UUD)
“Balanced” sound signature. Technically my whole review.
XTRA-Bass mode (DDU)
Makes things more v-shaped, but very negligible and is nearly the same when compared to the balanced mode.
Comparisons! (VS MT1 Max on Balanced config)
VS KZ Ling Long
The MT1 Max is cleaner and more versatile in sound, while the Ling Long aims to a more “natural”, bassy approach.
VS Tanchjim Zero
Both are clean sounding IEMs. The Zero aims for a more neutral, or some may even call it as flat-sounding, while the MT1 Max still aims for fun.
VS KZ ZVX
The ZVX is a bit cleaner in sound but lacks more subbass when compared. It is also smaller in soundstage and is brighter in sound.
VS Tangzu Wan’er SG
The Wan’er is more “safe” in sound while keeping things really neutral and thick. It is a bit behind compared to the MT1 Max in terms of technicalities, particularly in layering and separation.
VS Salnotes Zero
The lows are more elevated and the mids are more recessed. The MT1 Max is definitely cleaner in sound.
The cheapest IEM yet with a tuning switch.
All-rounder, mass-oriented sound signature.
Punchy, fairly clean bass on all switch configurations.
Well-placed mids on all switch configurations.
Airy upper frequencies (treble config).
Non-fatiguing treble (bass config).
Above-average technical performance under 20USD.
Excellent fit and comfort.
Very good amount of accessories included for its price.
The included eartips affect the overall sound in every configuration negatively. It is advised to change the stock eartips right away.
No tuning switch manual is present with the product and may cause confusion to some people.
The tuning on my unit out of the box is set at “treble” mode. It should be at balanced mode out of the box (subjective).
The overall sound of the “treble” configuration may be perceived as “thin and peaky” when paired with the stock eartips (again, eartips is the culprit).
Upper frequencies may be perceived as “too bright” by some people, but by no means too sibilant (subjective).
The treble on the “bass” configuration is too rolled off to my liking (subjective).
The “Xtra Bass” and “Balanced” modes only offer subtle differences and are negligible for the most part. (subjective)
A hard case, cable winder, or a pouch would’ve been a good treat to everybody since this IEM has a tuning switch tool included (looks like a sim ejector tool).
The cable is rubbery in terms of feel and gets tangled easily.
As I write this review, I can definitely say that the TRN MT1 Max successfully achieved its goal: to be the cheapest IEM in the market with the capability to cater multiple sound signatures for everyone, in one IEM. This is definitely a recommendable IEM for everyone who wants an IEM with different sound signature for their different music preferences.
Source: This IEM is easy to be driven to its full potential. However, pairing it with a warmer source makes things a bit smoother.
Eartips: Eartip rolling definitely makes things better as the stock eartips degrade the sound of the IEM. I recommend KBEAR 07 or Final E eartips for this one.
Cable: Cable is as good as it gets, but you may always use your preferred cable.