TRN MT4 Review
Say hello to the TRN MT4. Thankfully I received this set from TRN themselves in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you very much for your kindness. I wrote a review some time last year of the MT4’s predecessor the TRN MT3. I quite enjoyed the MT3. It was a stand-out iem at an ultra-budget price and while there were some small issues, I couldn’t help but give it pretty high marks for how well it was tuned. Well now I have a chance to do the same with the MT4 and I gotta say, I quite like this set.
TRN is a mainstay in the Chi-Fi scene. A direct competitor to the likes of KZ, KBear and so on. If I’m being perfectly honest, I have really enjoyed the last few iems that I’ve had the chance to listen to from TRN. I absolutely adored the TA1 Max and still feel it ranks very highly in my “Best under $50” list (which I haven’t made). The ST5 is another set from TRN that I enjoy which is also a more recent set which made its rounds. I can only speak on what I have heard though, and I am somewhat limited in the amount of TRN gear that I’ve tested, but thus far I like what I hear. TRN represents price to Performance, and from what I’ve heard they really are dialing in the tuning of late. So, with that, let’s take a close look at the $16 TRN MT4…
Left to right: Ifi Go Blu / Shanling M6 Ultra / iBasso DX240 / Moondrop Dawn 4.4
–Ifi Go Blu
–Moondrop Dawn 4.4
with Amp8 Mk2
–Shanling M6 Ultra
Full review HERE
The box that the MT4 arrived in is a smaller box not much different from any TRN budget box. Just a graphic of the MT4 earphones on the cover with the name MT4 printed below. Pretty basic and not a lot of waste if you ask me. Inside the box you are first met with the MT4 earphones themselves as you normally do in this audio game. Under the Iems is a baggy for the cable and a baggy for the tips as well as some very compelling reading material. Not a lot to talk about or describe and I’m betting that not many people really care too much about this entire paragraph. Moving on…
TRN provides four sets of eartips altogether. You receive the normal TRN budget white tips in large, medium and small sizes. These tips are a narrow bore pair and honestly don’t really do the MT4 justice which kind of boggles my mind that these are the selected tips they hand out. Not saying they are bad tips as they are of good quality, they just don’t help the MT4 in very many ways. Oh well. TRN also adds one pair of their own eartips the TRN “T-Ear
” tips in the medium size. I do like this set as well but I settled on my all-time favorite KBear KB07 tips that fit me like a charm and really bring a great sound to the MT4. I would advise using a wider bore or at the very least a semi-wide bore eartips on the MT4 as they feel less congested in staging as well as a bit more dynamically expressive to the ear.
The included cable is actually pretty decent for an ultra-budget set. It is a 2-pin, white colored, braided, 4 core silver plated copper cable which terminates with a 3.5 single ended jack. Really it isn’t a bad cable at all, and I did use it for any single ended usage. However, I did swap cables for TRN’s very own modular cable which is almost identical to the included cable whenever I listened from my balanced sources. The modular cable I am using is very close to the included cable except it has a hint more girth. However, the included cable is not bad at all and a definitive upgrade from the likes of the KZ’s of the world.
Build / Design / Internals / Fit
I don’t see how you couldn’t be impressed with the build quality of the MT4. First off, you have a crystal-clear resin shell which perfectly shows the inner workings of the earphones. You can easily see the drivers as well as the wiring and so forth and I think it’s nice for this price point. The Faceplate is made from (in my case) a shiny silver and polished zinc alloy which is perfectly aligned with the shell. No rough edges, no burrs, misalignments or anything. I’m telling you; TRN created a very well-built earphone for a very low price. Another thing which is not at all normal for $16 is the brass nozzle as well as the quality metal grill. Great work TRN! I thought the MT3 was built well and the MT4 is no different.
I’m sure you could already guess what I’m going to say about how the MT4 looks. Yes, they did a fantastic job in the design of the MT4. The faceplates have a very cool oval within an oval cast within the metal and it looks very classy and understated. Very confident looking set if you ask me. The MT4 comes in two colorways, shiny silver and black (obviously mine is the shiny silver). No, the MT4 won’t win any design awards and yes, we’ve seen this type of design before but the quality you feel when they are in hand is undeniable. Very well-done TRN.
TRN chose to go with the trending driver layout of adding two dynamic drivers. We have seen these many times over the last year in sets like the Truthear Zero
, QKZ X-HBB Khan
etc. It is only fitting that TRN decided they should do the same… but do it cheaper, and even use some nice materials. They went with one 10mm Dual Magnet Beryllium coated Woofer along with another 6mm Dynamic Driver for the upper frequencies. So, since beryllium was used, we should expect at least a subtle bit better response with a bit more tightness in transients. However, if you’ve been in the hobby long enough than you know that beryllium coated drivers at the cheaper levels rarely live up to the promise. Let’s hope TRN delivers.
TRN did a very nice job at creating a very ergonomic shell of medium size which should fit most ears. As for me I get an absolutely bonkers good seal as the MT4 seat very well in my ears. I cannot say how the MT4 will fit you, but I’d venture to say that they will fit most very well. Isolation is great too as outside noises are somewhat attenuated and there is very small sound leakage. Again, well done for an earphone in this price tier.
TRN MT4 attached to Ifi Go Blu
Quick Sound Impressions *Note: Understand that I am judging this set per its price tier. Basically from $10 – $35. I will use words like “great” and “excellent” or even the opposite of those terms and I will use them within the context of the price point as well as other iems within that price point. My ratings at the end should be looked at in that vein. We are looking at ultra-budget here people, this set in no way takes on pricier sets ($50+) and guess what… it shouldn’t be possible anyways. Sorry, I had to get that out.
When I first listened to the MT4 I have to be honest, I wasn’t very impressed. I heard a pretty congested stage that sounded narrower to my ears, and I was instantly not too thrilled. It sounded almost too dampened, slightly veiled and not that crisp. Bass had an almost semi-dense pillowy attack as well. I wrote a Facebook post describing that they were basically…Okay-ish.
Being that the driver material is coated with beryllium I knew that the sound would change with some time in usage through burn-in or listen-in. Sure enough, after a 48-hr. burn-in it did seem to help. Less congestion, less veil, tighter and gripper bass region. No, it didn’t sound like a completely different earphone, but the change did make a difference in how it will be reviewed, that’s for sure. So, take my advice and burn these in, or at least keep from judging them too harshly before they log some playing time under their belts.
So, what do they sound like?
Okay, on to the sound. The MT4 comes across as a slight V-shaped sound, just left of neutral. Call it warm/neutral maybe. There is a decent sense of musicality here for an iem costing under $20. The bass is pretty dynamic and deep but not quite bass head levels. The MT4 comes close to it though, with a tighter reverb that doesn’t sound too sloppy to me.
The midrange to me is neither forward nor too recessed. Males come across husky and warmer with a natural type of timbre. Definitely they have good weight. Female vocal energy has nice form, but I wouldn’t call them thick, they are simply good. There is a slight semblance of shimmer to a female which comes across in my music on certain tracks.
The treble region could use a bit more energy for me, but I would not call it lacking. There is a subtle amount of bite in the treble and even decent extension. Technicalities like detail retrieval are actually decent as well. Stage size is very nice compared to previous models and all together the MT4 has a nicely represented sound in my opinion…For the price that is.
The MT4 comes in rated with a 22-ohm impedance and a sensitivity of 115 dbs. so it can be driven to good volumes and fidelity by almost any source. Of course, I should state that I haven’t tried to drive the MT4 from a cellphone due to the fact that I don’t have a cellphone with a 3.5 jack. However, I don’t think it’s an issue.
I did notice that the MT4 doesn’t get along with all sources. The Ifi Go Blu
did not have that synergy that we strive for. For instance, the overall sound became very confined, and a lot of air was sucked out of the replay. However, using the Moondrop Dawn 4.4
the MT4 just came alive and really jived with the Dawn’s CS43131 Dac Chip. Much of this review was written using the Dawn actually. The Dawn is very crisp and closer to neutral and certainly counters the MT4’s warmer and smoother sound signature. Using a better source will certainly make a difference.
With either the iBasso DX240
or the Shanling M6 Ultra
, I was pleased with how the MT4 paired with each. The DX240 did however present the more open sound as it uses an ES9038 Pro Dac Chip which is one of my favorites within a Dap. For iem’s with a slightly warmer and smoother tonality this pair is awesome. The DX240 is like a much more refined and dynamic Dawn 4.4 in my opinion. So, for anyone interested in the MT4 I would probably make sure that you aren’t using a source which is on the warmer side of the aisle. Also, I’d imagine that as far as power goes, using a decent dongle dac would be perfectly fine.
The bass is as I’ve already described; deft, full and pretty darn close to basshead levels. However, I do stop just short of that delineation. The bass is fun, relatively textured, and quick for the quantity. To be honest I like the sound here as the bass hits with a nice and compact form for an elevated bass region. For a set at this price the bass has some roundness, the timbre isn’t out of whack, and I hear a satisfactory haptic rumble down low.
” by Ray Willie Hubbard
begins with a guttural bass guitar riff that’s meaty and grizzly. Coincidently the MT4 also sounds guttural, meaty and grizzly replaying it. Definitely juddering enough to feel it and the pitch is deep and growling. Good extension too. No, it isn’t going to rumble your eyeballs loose, but it does come across with a nice tactile and textured vibration. Sub-bass on the MT4 is not a hollow resonance only affair, there is a sense of matter, or a sense of density. At least enough for me to enjoy.
” by the Glass Animals
comes across as it should on this set. There is a nice note edge in attack which is perceived to be rather tight for the amount of emphasis that TRN tuned the MT4 with. This song begins with a little studio jingle which all of a sudden abruptly drops the bass on you and the MT4 handles it very well. The leading edge of the bass is pretty coarse and defined as the fundamental bass-note definition is rotund and full. “Elevators (Me & You)
” by Outkast
is another nice replay. I’ve heard this song a thousand times and I like how the MT4 sounds appropriate to the song in that there is that compact boom that you should hear during this legendary bassline.
Bass guitar comes across forward, full, sometimes gravely and growling depending on the track. We see enough of a mid-bass rise and sub-bass depth to provide a sonorous enough and tactile sounding bass guitar. Kick drums have a decent roundness with an echoed thud that can boom when called upon. Snares have a decent bodied “pang” as well. Baritones have that deep resonance for the most part as well. I’m not saying that the bass down low is life changing, we are talking about an iem which is under $20. Still, there is a nice rise which is done so well for the price.
In a nutshell…
All in all, the bass is good for a fun tuning. I don’t hear anything even remotely soft or pillowy by $17 standards. The mid-bass does bleed into the midrange a bit, but I don’t think it has an adverse effect on the mids at all. Of course, some are used to the more common bass tuck nowadays will notice that the low-mids may not be as clean as the replay on other 2DD sets which are tuned to separate these frequencies a bit more.
Honestly, I think the MT4 sounds just fine and could easily be considered “bass head” by many people, I’m sure. For me it’s close… but not quite. The bass is elevated to a nice level that makes for a fun sound. What the bass doesn’t do is muddy up the whole of the mix in a frequency wide blanket of murky veil. I think it adds just enough warmth and heft to add-to certain frequencies. Just enough to thicken up some vocals and add body to certain instruments.
[IMG alt="TRN MT4
The midrange has a decent warmth to it with average clarity compared to sets around its price. No these aren’t tuned to have crystal clear and ultra-resolute vocals, but they do come across not too recessed and with good note weight and average resolution. They certainly aren’t drab, dim or clouded in auditory haze. The MT4 is tuned fun with accentuated lows and highs but they in no way left out the midrange. The mids are a mostly non-fatiguing affair with a smoother replay to my ears. Note definition is not bad at all either. There is a certain transparency, and nothing comes across too veiled to me. Fundamental frequency of a cymbal crash is nicely bodied, piano sounds a touch less vibrant than natural, strings come across pretty natural too.
Male vocals have a warm tilt without sounding too muffled or drowned out by the bass. In fact, I like what the bass adds to males from baritone to tenor as they have decent authority while still coming across weighted and fuller in body. Resolution could be better, and it isn’t the cleanest delivery ever but for $16-$17 the MT4 sound perfectly fine for my music library. “Where I Find God
” by Larry Fleet
comes across sharp as his voice naturally has an edginess to it which counters the MT4’s warmer & smoother sound. In fact, most males come across very nicely as the MT4 does well to provide a sense of mass or a nice heartiness to males. Again, resolution isn’t the best I’ve ever heard but timbre sounds just fine to me.
Females sound a bit more forward to the ear then males with good energy. I hear nothing piercing or grating in this area as TRN stopped just short. Females actually have a sense of shimmer at times with good clarity and resolution for the price. For instance, Ella Henderson
in “Everything I Didn’t Say
” have a forward nature that highlights the inflection and cadence to her voice. Honestly her voice has an alluring quality listening on the MT4 with good coherence. “Skeletons
” by Suzannah
sounds nice on the MT4 as well. Her soft and silky voice seems to just ride the wave of the melody surrounding her vocals and the MT4 captures this. Shoot, this whole song resonates on the MT4 so well.
TRN MT4 attached to the Moondrop Dawn 4.4
Could use a bit more air
It seems the treble is more of a supporting role. Slightly dull while adding just enough energy to bring some sort of levity to the overall sound of the MT4. Not necessarily veiled but simply a bit lackluster. Also, if I’m being honest…I’m being very-very picky over a set at this price point. Maybe I should add that I don’t believe these comments are hard ‘cons’ but rather a way of explaining what the MT4 sounds like. In the same breath, I’m pretty positive that some will look at this as a con.
Not good, not bad
The treble is on the softer side and transient attack and decay isn’t overly rapid or anything. I would probably call the treble ‘slightly laid back’ but with just enough of an emphasis to at least add some sort of levity. I suppose I’d also say that the treble isn’t forced like some chifi sets of the past to add false resolution. Of course, still not enough to bring on a huge sense of air. Songs like “A Love Song, Played Slow
” by Rachael & Vilray
show this softer note outline but with a pretty nice timbre. Instrumentation has decent body and doesn’t come across thin or dry. Also, the MT4 does have pretty decent extension past 8k so as not to leave out a ton of information.
Also, detail retrieval isn’t completely abysmal either as the treble is clean enough to highlight some of the macro minutiae within a track. Certainly, this isn’t a budget detail king like some of the sets within the price bracket but the MT4 isn’t abysmal. The MT4 is just not tuned in such a way. It’s fun, V-shaped, bigger bass and not exactly meant for analyzing your favorite live tracks.
The stage size is actually quite nice as the MT4 does well to fill my mind space with a pretty wide layout. Height is a bit above average, and I do hear some depth to the music. Nothing groundbreaking or anything but better than average as a whole. Honestly it is also better than I thought. The MT4 does present a nicely contoured and round field of sound that I wasn’t expecting to hear.
Separation / Imaging
Separation is not the MT4’s strong suit as its tuning simply doesn’t cater to it. I would call this area if the MT4’s repertoire was about average. Not horrible but nothing that stands out. Imaging fares a bit better as for the most part the psycho-acoustic rendering of elements within a stage are placed well. Left to right delineation is easy to discern. This all may not sound like a ringing endorsement of the MT4, but we should also put things into perspective as well. This set is $17! I am not reviewing this set or judging this set by higher standards than the budget suggests.
Again, as I stated earlier in the review, the MT4 is not a master class in detail retrieval. The tuning simply is not one to draw out the subtleties within a track. The bass is a bit bigger, the mids aren’t ultra resolute and the treble does not have that controlled sheen that enables details to be perfectly loud and clear. This is not to say that it is bad either. Honestly, I like the MT4 as it is. I wouldn’t want a more dry and analytical tuning just to hear a more highlighted finger scrape on a guitar string. I’d much rather a set be tuned with a sense of musicality, which the MT4 happens to do just that. I think the biggest drawback is the fact that congested tracks sound pretty congested and blended. With that said, for $17 the MT4 is able to do pretty well in the detail department.
Comparisons*Note: Any comparison that I complete is not a duel to the death. I really try to simply point out differences so as to explain the device which is being reviewed. I don’t always succeed at that. One more thing, I will only use quick and vague explanations to quickly point out differences because taking the time to break everything down would make this review ridiculously long and drawn out. It is already a long read. So, I do hope it helps. Remember, these are only my opinions, and you know what they say about opinions. Each comparison takes about 45 minutes to an hour depending on how closely aligned they are, probably closer to the former.
TRN MT3 ($15)
The TRN MT3 release last year was one of those which took on a life of its own. I’m sure many of you in the Facebook Groups can recall the constant borage postings debating the auditory abilities of this ultra-budget set. I completed a review
last year and I was up and down with this one. I can recap for you in a couple words… ‘Mixed feelings’. Some thought it wasn’t all that great while some adored it, some even modified it to fit their personal preferences, but one thing was pretty common at the end of the day… The MT3 is a good set for such a low price.
The MT3 comes fitted with a Titanium-coated Dynamic Driver and built to last. I have zero idea how TRN keeps costs down because the MT3 is a sweet looking set. Full metal zinc alloy, black, cool shell design and tuned pretty darn well.
Beginning with the low end I can tell you that these two sets are very similar in quantity, but it does seem that the newer MT4 is a bit of an upgrade. The MT4 has a slight bit more sub-bass judder but the difference is minimal. What stands out is the timbre and that the MT4 has a much more crisp and clean note definition and is more forward and dense. The mid-bass slam of the MT4 is also a bit more in quantity and cleanliness. Perhaps we are seeing the fruits of using beryllium as the driver coating. The MT4 hits harder, rounder, deeper and a bit more refined.
The midrange differences are pretty stark between these two sets. The MT4 is easily a step up from the earlier version. It is a hair warmer with more exact note outlines. The MT4 has the more forward midrange in both lower and upper mids as the MT3 is a bit more recessed. The MT4 has the weightier male vocal delivery as they come across more robust and fuller. Between the two, I would probably say the MT3 has the more convincing and natural timbre though. Females sound livelier on the MT4 while the MT3 comes across a bit thin and more distant.
The theme persists from the upper mids through the treble region. The MT4 is fuller in note weight. Also, energy in the lower treble sounds as though the MT4 has a bit more luster. Now, neither is a treble Heads paradise and both could use some shine up top, but between the two the MT4 has the snappier sound. There is better energy listening with the MT4 as it simply sounds more fixed, exact and richer in sound.
All things considered…
The MT4 has the larger field of sound, with a wider and deeper stage as a clear upgrade from the MT3. The MT4 has better layering abilities as well as better separation while both image pretty well for the price point. However, as far as small details are concerned, I think the MT4 reveals them a bit better. Neither set is detail deficient but the MT4 is just cleaner throughout and the livelier between the two. The MT3 is a bit flatter in sound and less round in presentation. The MT4 is the more fun set and is simply an upgrade across the board for me.
Graph courtesy of Iann Fann, thank you
Check out my review of the TRN MT3 HERE
7hz Salnotes Zero ($20)
The Zero was an absolute monster last year as it quite literally took the budget sector of the ChiFi scene by storm. 7hz chose a 10mm single Dynamic Driver for the Zero and it is one of obvious quality. Known for its clean and detailed delivery the Zero has been loved by many enthusiasts in the hobby. One could call it the benchmark at its price point for its neutral and high-resolution sound. This comparison will certainly be a preference battle between the two as they are different in more ways than they are similar.
The first thing you’ll notice right away is that the MT4 is tuned to be much more of a fun earphone with bigger bass in both the sub-bass through the mid-bass. It hits much harder, it’s more sonorous and easily the boomier of the two. However, that doesn’t make it better. The Zero has a much tighter and snappier bass region with a more tonally accurate replay while also having a hint more pillowy surface texture. That said, the MT4 is much punchier and deliberate in note delivery while the Zero has the faster attack & decay. The Zero handles the bass region in a cleaner way which keeps the midrange squeaky clean with decent texture accommodating more of a supportive role. Still, for its size and amount the MT4 isn’t exactly a muddy mess, it is very well done for a fun signature which emphasizes the bass. Two different deliveries and sound signatures. Preference battle.
Note weight across the mix has more heft in the MT4 while the Zero comes across leaner but with better resolution and smoother with a cleaner sound and tighter transient attack. Male vocals have more warmth on the MT4 and have more fullness to them. Listening with the Zero I hear an openness that the MT4 doesn’t have, albeit with less body, but also more natural to the ear and better detailed. Females follow the same trajectory. The MT4 is more forward, full and with a hint more shimmer while the smoother and cleaner Zero is more resolute and open sounding.
The treble of the MT4 comes across less neutral/bright than the Zero up top. I feel the MT4 could certainly use a bit more energy here while the Zero keeps it livelier. However, the MT4 has a smoother sound with more body in the treble region with just as good of extension as the Zero.
The Zero is dry, analytical, bright and with good technical ability for the price with air up top whereas the MT4 goes for the completely non-fatiguing playback. The MT4 isn’t completely lacking however, and while the Zero lacks bass, the MT4 lacks energy in the treble. I say that but on a small counter to that, stuff like secondary harmonics of cymbals is a bit splashy on the Zero with a tizzy and brittle nature while the MT4 they come across a bit fuller in sound. There are pluses and minuses on both sets, but I certainly think the Zero has the more sparkly and airy presentation. Again, this doesn’t mean it’s better. Some may definitely prefer a more laid-back approach like on TRN’s model, but we already know an ocean of people love the Zero. This is not a duel to the death here people, we all are different, just showing some differences.
All things considered…
Boy are these two polar opposites or what? The MT4 is a fun, robust and a pinch warmer sounding iem while the Zero is neutral/bright, analytical, drier and more detailed. Both have their places in the hobby, and both compete well within their relative price points per their relative sound signatures. The MT4 seem to have a bit more depth in sound with a rounder approach at the sculpting of a stage and are certainly the more satisfying set if you enjoy a more colored sound. Again, the Zero have much better resolution and clarity, they are much better technically and really do jump price tiers for these attributes.
Graph courtesy of Iann Fann, thank you
Is the MT4 worth the asking price?
This is an easy answer for me as I do believe that the MT4 is well worth the asking price. When you think about the price, the good build, the nice look, the fit and the musical sound of the MT4 it is an easy recommendation. TRN is doing good things with their budget lineup and certainly there is more to come. I think if a fun signature is what you are after at the under $20 price point than the MT4 is one to consider.
On the flip side, if you are after a more technically savvy replay with a neutral balanced sound than maybe the MT4 is not for you. Also, I should add that there are some absolutely fantastic sounding iems in this price bracket as well. That said, the MT4 certainly have their place within some of the better sounding iems in that same bracket. I think TRN created a nice sounding ultra-budget set in the MT4.
Ratings per price point ($10-$35)*Ratings range from 0 to 10
[IMG width="625px" height="351px" alt="TRN MT4
I want to thank TRN for providing the MT4 for a fair and honest review. To be clear, I want you all to know that I was not provoked in any way to skew my review and have not been asked to say anything against my true feelings. I keep my integrity in-tact at all times as that means far more to me than review samples and keeping companies happy with me.
To that point, I want to give a round of applause to TRN for having the guts to put their product out there for an honest look. A review can go either way, good or… Not so good. I didn’t give an absolutely rave review, but I do believe it was ultimately a positive one. Of course, there are minor issues with the MT4, but all things considered it is a good set that I can rec. Also, to be fair, I shouldn’t really call the problems that I hear as “issues”, as the things I’d like to see changed are really subjective matters which are personal to me. The MT4 could be perfect for you. What I like to do is showcase a product as best I can and try to give a fair and informative look at the product so to help you, the reader.
Check out other opinions
Also, please check out other opinions and reviews of the MT4 as I want you guys to know exactly what you are buying. Other perspectives help tremendously when researching an audio device. No two of us are exactly alike. We all have different likes and dislikes, different gear, our hearing can be different, and we haven’t all been down the same audio journey. So please, check out some other views and opinions. I say this in every review and do so for good reason. With that, I want to thank you so very much for reading any word that I write, it truly means a lot. Please take good care and thank you for reading.