TRN-V90 Earphone

General Information

SPECIFICATIONS

Brand: TRN
Model: V90
Type: In-ear
Driver Unit: 4BA+1DD hybrid
Impedance: 22 Ω
Sensitivity: 110 dB/mW
Frequency range: 7-40000 Hz
Plug Type : 3.5mm straight plug
Cable Length: 1.25 m
Colours: blue, black
Earphone interface: 2-pin connector

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Latest reviews

Pros: Excellent build quality.
Very comfortable.
Smooth sound.
Powerful bass.
Cons: Soundstage is only average. Slightly V shaped sound signature.
First, I would like to thank Kiki from Kinboofi for graciously sending out the V90 in exchange for an honest review. Kiki also included a very nice 8 core cable with a balanced, 2.5mm plug.

I did all the listening on my Hiby R3 in balanced mode, using the upgrade cable from Kiki. Source files are all FLAC 16bit, 44.1k or better.

CONSTRUCTION

The TRN V90 is the follow up from the popular V80 and is a more upscale product all around. The shells are CNC machined from solid aluminum and feature a nice, matte black finish. The iems have a reassuring weight to them and feel premium in the hand. Seams are very tight and the shape of the shells is rounded with no hard edges or sharp points. Comfort is excellent. I replaced the stock tips with red and white, solely to make left and right easier to identify in low light. The stock cable is decent and sturdy but, I do all my listening in balanced mode so Kiki graciously sent out a beautiful 8 core cable with a 2.5mm balanced connector. This cable is soft and supple and looks great. I will include a link to both products at the end of this review.

BASS

The V90 bass is very powerful yet has sufficient control to work with most genres of music. It has very good low frequency extension and adds a visceral, tactile sub bass to tracks that require it. It can be subtle and polite and work for jazz, country, or rock, but its strength is in its power and deep bass rumble. EDM, hip hop, and other bass heavy styles are where the V90 bass excels. The bass is capable of being reserved and subtle, but I always find myself looking for bass centric songs to unleash these on. Fun!

MIDS

Mids are smooth and slightly lean in the lower range. They have good detail and good timbre and guitars and vocals sound slightly intimate and personal sounding. There is good detail here, but it doesn't shout at you like some others. For example, the KZ ZSX has more detail but sometimes it is too "in your face" to let you relax. The TRN V90 is more relaxed and smooth.

TREBLE
I am happy to report that the treble is much improved over the V80. It is smooth and detailed and along with the bass, seems to get a bit more attention. I enjoy the air up top and the lack of sibilance. There is a bit of a peak in the lower treble that helps vocals cut through but doesn't overdo it. Good detail and nice air. Smooth operator.

SOUNDSTAGE

Soundstage is probably the V90's weakest link though it's not bad. The stage is wider than deep but is just average in size. It's not super closed in, but it does make vocal performances sound intimate and close. I enjoy it on most generas but electronic music is where it shines. It's very good for EDM, and rap. That's not to say I don't enjoy it on other styles, but I just seem to crave the powerful sub bass and crisp treble on these.

Comments:

The V90 is easy to drive, even with modest sources. My Samsung Galaxy Note 9 drives them just fine though they have more authority when fed from a source with a bit more power.

I thoroughly enjoy the V90's and the beautiful cable. I highly recommend both.
Kinboofi is excellent to work with as always!

Here are links to purchase the V90 and the upgrade cable from Kinboofi's Amazon store. Thank you for reading!

V90: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XYQ1DT8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_qBj0DbA6VY7WG

Cable: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GQZ7BZ9/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_0wj0Db2AV1MES

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Pros: Well balanced Signature
Solid sub-bass
Articulate mids
Clean sparkling treble
Excellent imaging
Cons: Minimal accessories
The V90 is the new flagship hybrid IEM from TRN, who are probably best known for their excellent 2DD + 2BA V80 hybrid earphone. The V90 is a 5-driver IEM (1DD + 4BA). It employs a 10mm dynamic driver with a “diamond graphite” diaphragm for the bass, two 50060 BAs for the midrange and two 30019 BAs for the high frequencies. This configuration resembles the KZ ZS10 Pro and CCA C10, with the 30019 BAs replacing the venerable 30095 units in the earlier models. The 30019 BA has been seen before in the BGVP SGZ-DN1S.

The IEMs are presented in a small rectangular box very similar to those used by KZ, CCA and KBEAR, whereas previous TRN models had their own corporate branding and design. With similar drive units to earphones from these other companies, it is likely that they originate from the same source. On the front of the box you will find an outline drawing of the earpiece with a red TRN logo above, the title “TRN V90” below and the description “4BA +1DD 10 Hybrid Drivers In-Ear Monitors” under that. Opening the box, the earpieces are nestled in a cut-out with the same text. Under the cut-out you will find the 2-pin cable, spare eartips and documentation, quite a basic package and very similar to that provided by KZ, etc.

The earpieces are very well made, being all-metal construction. They are understated in design compared to recent offerings from CCA (C12) and KZ (ZSX and ZS10 Pro) and are compact considering that they contain five drivers. They have a rounded profile resembling a pebble and have a smooth black anodised finish. There is a large circular TRN logo on the rear of the earpiece and two large vents for the dynamic driver. There is discreet channel identification and recessed 2-pin sockets. The detachable cable is similar to that supplied with the V80, being a black braided OFC copper cable with a straight metal 3.5mm plug and metal Y-split. There is no chin slider. This cable is preferable to that supplied with IEMs from KZ and CCA, etc. Comfort was excellent, in fact very similar to that achieved with the previous V80 model and isolation was above average.

The earphones were left burning in for over 72 hours before testing and included tracks of white and pink noise, glide tones and other audio conditioning tracks. After this I used a Hifi Walker H2 DAP with a Fiio A5 amplifier and a Sony NWZ-A15 for evaluation. Initially, the supplied cable and tips were used, but I achieved and improved performance by using a Senlee 8 core single crystal cable and JVC Spiral Dot tips, which were used for the purposes of the review.

The V90s displayed a well-balanced sound signature with solid sub-bass, clear articulate midrange and clean open treble with no discernible peaks. The 30019 treble BAs are tuned very well here and produce a preferable sound to that of the 30095 units found in most other recent “Chi-Fi” IEMs.

Bass

The sub-bass dug deep and possessed good texture and resolution, yet at the same time not dominating the overall sound. The rest of the bass region was nicely contoured and did not bleed into the mids. The lively powerful bass presentation came to the fore in Junior Tucker’s “The Kick (Rock On)”. The infectious bass line drove the track along in entertaining fashion and brought a smile to my face. It was clean and well-textured and was in perfect balance with the rest of the production. The menacing bass drums in Sibelius’s “The Swan of Tuonela” performed by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra provided a perfect foundation for the strings and the beautiful cor anglais solo in this moody and atmospheric work. Electronic music also benefited from this excellent bass extension with Jean-Michel Jarre’s “The Watchers” from “Equinoxe Infinity” displaying superb depth and attack from the arsenal of synthesisers deployed in this piece.

Midrange

The midrange was unusually clear and open, with accurate positioning of instruments. Solo instruments and vocals stood out but at the same time integrated well with their accompaniment. Detail retrieval was top-class, and the 50060 BAs displayed a very natural timbre. “Tomorrow is So Far Away” by Design was a good example of this with the “trippy-hippy” multi-tracked vocals being clearly depicted above the jangly guitar parts and percussion. Solo instruments in classical pieces also came over very effectively with the concertante parts in Holst’s “Venus” performed by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under Charles Dutoit being beautifully rendered and accurately positioned within the stereo image. The complex tonalities and arrangements in Richard Souther’s “Beginnings” from his “Heirborne” album were well differentiated, allowing the different timbres of the synth patches to be appreciated. The lively rhythmic qualities of the piece were also preserved well.

Treble

The treble was very impressive. The decision to use the 30019 BAs instead of the more commonly found 30095 units was a good one. The extension, clarity and smoothness was immediately apparent, enabling the most subtle details to be heard with excellent resolution. Andreas Vollenweider’s “The Glass Hall” from his “White Winds” album features a wealth of crystalline percussion sounds which were reproduced with astonishing realism. Transient attack and dynamic range were also notable here. Orchestral strings possessed a wonderful timbre, with the beautiful string arrangement of Holst’s “Moorside Suite” conducted by David Lloyd-Jones being a good example. The high violin harmonics towards the end of the piece were particularly well portrayed and blended perfectly with the orchestral accompaniment. The subtle sounds of the violins being played “col legno” (with the strings being struck by the wood of the bow) at the conclusion of Sibelius’s “The Swan of Tuonela” are very difficult to reproduce but the V90s passed this test with flying colours.

Soundstage

The V90s managed to combine an expansive three-dimensional soundstage with excellent stereo imaging and accurate positioning of elements within the image. Recorded ambience was reproduced well enabling the character of a recording venue to be appreciated. Malcolm Arnold’s wonderful “Cornish Dances” performed by the LPO with the composer on the rostrum showed what the V90s could do with a huge spacious image filled with orchestral colour with the remarkable tambourine strikes having an impressive sense of distance. The somewhat “tongue-in-cheek” nature of the piece came over very well under the composer’s baton. Patrick Bernard’s “Hands of Sacred Light” is a beautiful new age piece from his “Angel Reiki” album. It features harp-like sounds and angelic voices underpinned by deep synthesised bass and the V90s did not disappoint, presenting a wide open airy atmosphere perfect for this kind of material. Smaller-scale pieces were also accurately depicted with Jacques Loussier’s famous Bach piece “Air on a G string” displaying piano, bass and drums in an authentic intimate acoustic. The almost tangible atmosphere of this piece was very impressive to hear.

Conclusion

With a large number of multi-driver hybrids recently released, the V90 has had to face impressive competition. KZ’s ZS10 Pro and ZSX, and CCA’s C10 and C12 are all vying for dominance in this market. The V90 with its well-balanced sound signature manages to combine the best of all these models with its impressive deep sub bass extension, expressive and articulate midrange and clean sparkling treble with no noticeable peaks. The 30019 treble BAs were very impressive with a resolution and timbre equal to that of the Knowles drivers in my Tin Hifi T3 and TRI i4 IEMs. If you are looking for a multi-driver hybrid IEM in this price range and you value a well-balanced or neutral signature, then this is definitely the one to go for.
This review sample was supplied by Gina at Senlee at Amazon.com. Product link:'https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07X7S3QTK/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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Pros: much improved shell design compared to v80. Good detail and polite treble
Cons: V-signature with some recess in mids and vocals.
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disclaimer: The TRN v90 was sent by Better Audio for review. I have no financial interest in Better Audio or TRN and have received no other incentives to review this product. I have reviewed several TRN offerings in the past and have found them quite mixed with some like the v80 having definite potential and others like the X6 showing a bit less upside, so I went in with an open but some what skeptical mind regarding the v90.


If you have an interest in purchasing the v90, they can be bought through Better Audio’s Amazon store here.


Unboxing / Packaging:

Packaging on the v90 will be familiar to anyone who has bought anything from KZ, TRN, or several of the Chi-fi brandings. White slip-cover package with the line drawing of the earpiece on the front and specs on the reverse. Sliding the cover off shows the buds in a tray behind a clear shield. Accessories are hiding under the tray and in this case include manual, warranty card, three sets of tips, and cable. A fairly spartan package, but this is a budget model.

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Build/Fit:

If the v90 is the follow-on to the v80 as the number implies, it sure looks like the v80 was the rough-out and the v90 got the finish treatment when it comes to build. About every aspect of build is improved. Gone are the squared edges and over-sized shell and the anodizing that sometimes matched and sometimes didn’t. The v90 is smaller by roughly 15%, nicely shaped with no squared edges save the bi-pin connector, and the anodizing is deep and well mated. Shells are 3 parts with faceplate, inner-shell, and nozzle. faceplate and inner shell are anodized aluminum while the nozzle is black plastic with a lip to hold tips. The basic shape is still the half circle with the nozzle at bottom front and the cable exiting top front. The rake of the nozzle is fairly steep in the forward direction but has no rake vertically. There is a small vent on the inner surface just above the nozzle and two larger vents on the outer shell also in line with the nozzle. One caveat, the small inner vent can be inadvertently sealed if the earpiece is pushed too far into the ear or a large double flanged tip can occlude it. If that vent is blocked, the sound changes significantly for the worse. It is a poor position for the vent as it forces the user to be conscious of it and adjust accordingly. I found the v90 comfortable for extended wear and that it stayed well during exercise. At least in build quality, the v90 is 10 points better than its predecessor (assuming 100 point scale).

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Internals:

The v90 is a 5 driver per side hybrid with a single 10mm dynamic driver with a graphene coated diaphragm handling the bass duties, a pair of 50060 balanced armatures that cover the mids, and a pair of the 30019 balanced armatures handling the treble details. An electronic crossover is built on the back of the dynamic driver and handles the signal distribution tasks to the drivers. Nominal impedance is listed as 22Ω with a sensitivity of 110 dB/mW. I found the v90 was acceptable directly from a phone or tablet, but does scale with better sources are really needs a bit more power than the average phone provides to do its best work. I’d recommend either something like the LG phone on high power output or some form of amplifier to really get the most out of the v90. Having said that, I did find that the noise floor needs to be fairly low or the v90 can show some hiss. it was not a good fit with the Burson Fun for example but did fine with the Euterpe with a 12au7 preamp tube installed.







Cable:

The provided cable is an oxygen free copper braid with black coating in the double twist design up to the splitter where it leaves as 2 twisted pairs to the earhooks. Earpiece terminations are standard .75mm bi-bin connectors (not the hooded type that has become popular of late). The jack is a straight style with a black metal barrel with the TRN etched. The splitter matches the jack nicely and gives an overall subdued look to the cable. No chin slider or cable management is provided. While nothing out of the ordinary in today’s market, the cable is well put together and should serve nicely.

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Sound:

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Bass:

The v90 has bass emphasis that centers on the sub-bass region and then drops back as you move into the mid-bass with the emphasis fading from view at roughly the 400Hz mark as you move into the lower mids. Sub-bass extension is quite good with good texture, but can get a bit loose as it lacks a bit of speed that would help keep it tighter. The same goes for mid-bass, it has good quantity and reasonable texture, but suffers a bit from lack of speed in both attack and decay and can sound a bit boomy at times when the track tends toward it anyway. The v90 will please those looking for big rumble and slam, but will not please those looking for the most articulate and defined bass. Thankfully, bleed into the mids is very little as the mid-bass has dropped off its peak before the transition.



Mids:

The drop that starts in the mid-bass continues into the lower mids with the lower-mids being the trough of the V. Once past the mid-point of the V, things start climbing back forward and as a result upper-mids are much more present in the mix than their lower counterparts. Male vocals are markedly behind their female counterparts and can at times seem a bit distant in the mix as a result. Those who prefer that vocals sit in line with the instrumentation will probably like the v90 a bit better than those who prefer a bit of a lift. Guitar has good growl when called upon, and acoustic guitar has good timbre but again can seem slightly distanced from the listener. Strings suffer a little as the recess keeps them from sounding entirely realistic but then again the tuning of the v90 is much more geared to pop/rock than orchestral so this isn’t a surprise.



Treble:

This is where I was most interested in seeing what TRN had done with the v90. To me the v80 was a fairly good effort ruined by a grainy, over aggressive treble so would the v90 be more of the same? Happily, I can report that while the treble is still energetic, it is no longer overly so, and is much more polite than its ancestor. Lower treble is still pushed a bit forward but not annoyingly so, and above that it falls back and if anything is a bit recessed. This is a big change from the previous generation that had several smaller spikes and gave the treble a grainy nature. The v90 does have a lift at about 10kHz that adds some air back into the top end but has limited sparkle because of the treble tuning. Roll-off is fairly steep immediately after the 10k push so top end extension is average at best. Treble detail is fairly good with a nice clean delivery.



Soundstage / Imaging:

Soundstage is limited with a bit more width than depth which is not surprising for a small, mostly closed in-ear. This is not helped by instrument separation being average at best due to the previously mentioned lack of speed in the low end dynamic driver. Instruments rendered by the BA drivers fair a little better as they have cleaner definition and a bit better separation as a result. Seating the orchestra has a few anomalies where instruments are more beside than behind each other, but overall is acceptable and spatial cues are well produced with movements around the stage being easily tracked.



Thoughts / Conclusion:

Were this 2017, I would be telling you to go buy this earphone. It does a lot right, but in 2019, the Sub-$50 space has become crowded with models that do a lot right. The v90 is certainly better than the v80, and deserves consideration if you are looking for a new in-ear in this price range, but it shares that market with the ZSX and C12 both of which offer a bit more detail than the v90, the v2 which has recently been updated and has a more neutral tuning, and the BQ3 which sports a bit better top end extension. The good news is all of these are good sounding in-ears and any of them should provide hours of enjoyment. The bad news is, without knowing an individuals preferences, I can’t begin to tell them which one should be their choice. For TRN, the v90 is certainly movement in a positive direction and offers the user good value at the price point. End users have a lot of great choices to pick from, and the v90 expands that list.


Added this to confirm FR since Otto seems to think it isnt correct - here are two pairs of v90s run through my system back to back with the TinHifi P1 run as a baseline/comparison. These do have a bass bump.
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Wiljen
Wiljen
Nope not a coupler issue, maybe an issue with the v90 QC itself - ran it with two different couplers and two different pickup mics (Umik1 and Ears) and I get the same curve.
Wiljen
Wiljen
Added a test of 2 pairs of TRN v90 (got a 2nd from another vendor) and the TinHifi P1 for comparison/baseline - all run back to back on the same test rig - it aint the rig as the P1 measures exactly as expected.
R
remr90
Can you link to the V2's please? Also, about the bq3 if I get this right, those have a more refined and extense treble right?

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