Pros: Good build, well fitting and comfortable.
Good technicalities at this price bracket.
Well textured bass with good subbass rumble/extension.
Easy to drive.
Smoother and not as hot/fatiguing in the upper mids as the usual CHIFI KZ/TRN fare.
Okay timbre for a hybrid for acoustic instruments, but won’t beat single DD types in absolute timbre.
Cons: Overly recessed mids (not for mid lovers).
May on rare occasions be overly bright in the upper treble 10 - 12 kHz regions for younger folks with very good hearing.
Nasal vocal timbre.
I would like to thank the TRN Official Store for providing this review unit.
The TRN V90S is a V shaped hybrid that does most things well. It has good technicalities at this price range, with a well textured bass. In fact, it is smoother and tuned not as hot in the upper mids as the garden variety KZs/TRNs. The TRN V90S may on rare occasions be overly bright in the upper treble 10 - 12 kHz regions for younger folks with very good hearing, but this does add some airiness and extension to the treble regions.
I think it can be an allrounder for most folks, other than for mid lovers, due to the recessed mids in the tuning.
Driver Unit: 5 BA + 1 DD
Sensitivity: 108 db/mW
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20000Hz
Impedance: 22 ohms
Cable: 2 pin detachable
Tested at $50 USD
In addition to the IEM, it comes with:
Silicone eartips (S/M/L).
4 core 6N OCC pure copper cable.
Well, it’s the usual (dearth) of accessories we see for a TRN IEM, these same accessories are seen in budget sets like the TRN STM all the way to their higher end gear like the TRN VX and TRN BA8 (maybe the TRN BA8 has a $3 USD hard metal round case to add some semblance of importance).
The stock cable of the TRN V90S is a bit too thin for my tastes, but sounds fine sonically. Do upgrade the cable if you want something thicker or haptically better, I’ll leave the unending cable skeptic vs cable believer debate for another time, while we concentrate on the review of the IEM. For the rest of this review, I used the stock tips and stock cables for assessment.
The TRN V90S came in a very nice Ferrari red hue, quite unique for a CHIFI. The build is very good, no build QC issues detected on my end. They are comfortable and well fitting too, I managed to use the TRN V90S for a continuous few hours without issues. I didn’t find any driver flex on my set, though YMMV, as driver flex is partially related to ear anatomy and eartips used.
I liked that it came with a 2 pin connector, as I’m not a fan of MMCX connectors due to potential longevity issues, especially with frequent cable swapping.
Isolation on the TRN V90S is average with the stock tips used. It has 2 vents on each earpiece, and this does let in some noise. I tried the TRN V90S on the subway, and personally I am quite OCD about hearing health and I wouldn’t use it for commuting due to this set letting it outside noise. One may try to boost the volume to overcome the external noise, and this is not good for hearing health in the long term. But as usual YMMV, as we have different tolerances in the area of isolation.
I tried running the TRN V90S with a Khadas Tone Board -> Toppping L30, Khadas Tone Board -> Fiio A3 amp, Shanling Q1 DAP, Ziku HD X9 DAP -> Fiio A3 amp, a low powered smartphone and the Tempotec Sonata HD Pro.
The TRN V90S is easy to drive, it does scale just a slight tinge with amping, but amping is not mandatory.
Graphs courtesy of KopiOKaya from Audioreviews (IEC711 compliant coupler). 8 kHz area is probably a resonance coupler peak.
The TRN V90S is a V shaped set, but this is one of the smoother and less fatiguing TRNs I have heard in the past few years. The bass is dosed very well, and the upper mids are more depressed than the garden variety TRN/KZ multi driver types. What this translates to, is that the TRN V90S manages to get in details and clarity without the CHIFI “cheat code” of boosting the upper mids to create a fake sense of perceived clarity, and hence the TRN V90S avoids fatigue/shoutiness in those upper mid frequencies. There is a 10 - 12 kHz region peak that may on rare occasions be overly bright, especially for folks with good hearing health/younger audiophiles, but this does add to a sense of treble extension and airiness.
For a budget hybrid, the TRN V90S has very good imaging, details, instrument separation and clarity. Soundstage width and height on the TRN V90S is above average, depth is about average. Music didn’t sound too congested on the TRN V90S during complex movements.
Note weight on the TRN V90S is a tinge thinner than average. Considering it is BA drivers handling the mids and upper frequencies on the TRN V90S, the timbre is not bad for acoustic instruments, I was pleasantly surprised by well rendered stringed instruments, though vocal timbre sounded a bit nasal. Timbre on this set is much better than most garden variety KZs for acoustic instruments, but still won’t beat a well tuned single DD set in the isolated area of timbre.
The TRN V90S has a midbass just slightly north of neutral. Subbass is of slightly more quantity than midbass. Subbass extension is actually very good, the subbass can give a visceral rumble that should please most bassheads. The TRN V90S also has quite a quality bass in being rather well textured and quite accurate with minimal midbass bleed.
The TRN V90S mids are quite depressed and this actually contributes to the wider perceived soundstage as such. Upper mids are boosted relative to the lower mids, but the upper mids in the big scheme of things are tuned on the smooth and safer side relative to the general TRN lineup (looking at you TRN BA8 and TRN VX).
The TRN V90S is hence not a set for mid lovers. Guitars may sound subdued, and on some recordings I was familiar with, there were some nuances and elements in the mids missing. Having said that, this is an intentionally tuned V shaped set, so do know what you getting into if you intend to get this set, mid lovers best consider an alternative option.
The lower treble of the TRN V90S continues on from the safe upper mids tuning, and is non fatiguing. At the higher treble region, the TRN V90S does have a peak around the 10 – 12ish kHz region which adds some air and extension to the music, though some who are very treble sensitive to the higher treble regions may find occasional peaks in the music here. Details are captured rather well in the treble and cymbals didn’t sound too splashy for me. Sibilance is mild and manageable.
As per comparing apples to apples, I left out single DD types from the comparisons here as the different driver types have their respective strengths and weaknesses.
TRN BA8(8BA, $140ish USD at launch, now hovering around $130ish USD)
Graphs courtesy of KopiOKaya from Audioreviews (IEC711 compliant coupler). 8 kHz area is probably a resonance coupler peak.
The TRN BA8 is a bright V shaped set, and of the time of writing, is their current flagship (let’s ignore the $15000 USD golden ears joke TRN for now). The TRN BA8 was famous (or rather infamous) for having a scary looking graph, but on actual listening, it didn’t sound as scary as what it looked like. Nevertheless, the TRN BA8 is still hotter and more fatiguing in the upper mids/lower treble than the TRN V90S. The TRN V90S has more subbass extension than the TRN BA8.
A big area of controversy on the TRN BA8 is the almost 15 dB difference between the upper mids to the rest of the lower mids spectrum, this caused the lower mids area to be perceived to be “hollow” and gave an off tonality for the mids. The TRN V90S is much more balanced in the tuning, even though the mids are relatively more recessed than the TRN BA8.
The TRN BA8 has better technical performance and a thinner note weight. The TRN BA8 was a bit more uncomfortable in fit and tuning for me for longer listening sessions, though fit is quite dependant on ear anatomy and the individual, so YMMV.
Scary graph aside, the TRN BA8 is not that bad sounding in the big scheme of things, I’ve heard worse CHIFI before. But the big elephant in the room is that it was released into the $140ish USD region at launch. There’s tough competition against some bigboys there like the TRI I3, ISN H40, Fiio FH3, TRI Starsea, ThieAudio gear, Shozy Form 1.4 etc. People expect a much more refined experience and better tuning at that price bracket. Hence, even though the TRN BA8 has better technicalities, I would take the TRN V90S any day of the week, cause of the better value in terms of price to performance ratio and the better tuning in the TRN V90S. To add insult to injury, the TRN BA8 also came with almost similar accessories as the TRN V90S and other budget TRN models, barring the addition of a $3 USD hard metal case to remind us that it is indeed a flagship. That dearth of accessories is not acceptable for a $50 – 100 USD set, let alone a $130 – 140ish USD flagship.
TRN VX(6 BA + 1 DD, $90ish USD at launch, now hovering at $70ish USD)
The TRN VX is another bright V shaped set in the TRN stable, it has better technical performance than the TRN V90S, but is too hot for me in the upper mids/treble regions, with sibilance in spades. I honestly couldn’t use the TRN VX for more than a few minutes without resorting to EQ or a micropore mod.
As it is also priced more expensive than the TRN V90S, I do feel the TRN V90S has better price to performance ratio, with a better tuning to boot (though TRN VX has better technicalities).
KZ ZS10 Pro (4BA + 1DD, $27 – 30ish USD)
The KZ ZS10 Pro is a popular V shaped KZ. The KZ ZS10 Pro has a muddier and more bloated bass, with the TRN V90S being more textured and accurate in bass lines. Instrument separation, details and imaging are better on the TRN V90S.
The TRN V90S has a better timbre for acoustic instruments than the KZ ZS10 Pro, and is also less fatiguing/hot in the upper mids compared to the KZ ZS10 Pro.
The TRN V90S is a V shaped hybrid that does most things well. It has good technicalities at this price range, with a well textured bass. To top it off, it is smoother and tuned not as hot in the upper mids as the garden variety KZs/TRNs. The TRN V90S may on rare occasions be overly bright in the upper treble 10 - 12 kHz regions for younger folks with very good hearing, but this does add some airiness and extension to the treble regions.
I think it can be an allrounder for most folks, other than for mid lovers, due to the recessed mids in the tuning. Indeed, the TRN STM and this TRN V90S are actually my favourite TRNs for this year (sorry TRN BA8 and TRN VX, I would take tonality and price to performance ratio over technical performance any day).
Pros: Technically very good; very articulate bass.
Cons: Not the most organic tonality; recessed lower mids and boosted upper treble; needs aftermarket eartips.
The TRN V90S is a technically impressive earphone (for its category) loosely based on the popular TRN V90, characterized by a V-shaped sound with good dynamics and resolution and slightly unnatural timbre. Bass is very well dosed, midrange is rather recessed, and the upper treble is strongly elevated.
The TRN V90 have a V-shaped tuning resulting in a slightly warm sound that is technically focused and lacks a bit of organics. As said, I was initially not impressed by the BA timbre above the bass. At $50, the money should be in a well-tuned single driver imo. BUT…for some reason, my ears got into the TRN V90S and I started actually using and enjoying them. The TRN V90S are a technically very capable earphones and I somewhat got used to the timbre.
The other technicalities are impressive for a budget earphone: open, wide stage at average depth, nothing crammed in there. Height is good – generally one of the biggest progresses in recent budget Chi-Fi history. Musicians are sufficiently spaced and separated from each other.
I produced a YouTube video that gives you a comprehensive rundown...sounds really good with earphones.
Pros: less V-shaped than V90, good bass articulation and instrument separation
Cons: exaggerated upper treble creates artificial sheen over entire frequency response, too expensive at list price
The TRN V90S is a hybrid in-ear monitor (IEM) with a 1 dynamic driver (DD)+ 5 balanced armature (BA) configuration. The V90S is a direct successor to the TRN V90, which I previously reviewed on my blog:
The TRN V90S comes in a small rectangular white cardboard tray with a black and white slipcover. The V90S is illustrated on the front of the slipcover, and its technical specifications are provided in Chinese and English on the back. TRN’s contact information is also listed on the back of the slipcover. Behind the slipcover, the earpieces are displayed in a white foam tray behind a clear plastic front panel. The V90S comes with a brown detachable 2-pin cable with QDC-style connectors. It is unclear from the promotional materials whether the cable uses .75mm or .78mm pins. Also included are three pairs of round black and red silicone eartips (S, M, L), a user manual, a quality control pass chit, and a warranty card. The V90S does not include a carry pouch or case.
BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN:
The V90S is similar to the V90 in its overall housing design. The V90S is built using anodized aluminum, with a striking red faceplate and a jet black housing body. The gently scalloped faceplate is the shape of a half-moon. The TRN logo is printed in white on the faceplate, and “1DD+5BA” is printed on the forward-facing side of the housing just below the 2-pin connector, along with a left/right indicator. The inner housing is ergonomically shaped and the nozzles are swept forward slightly. The nozzle has a substantial lip for securing eartips and a metal mesh filter. The V90S ditches the exterior vents that were found on the faceplate of the V90, instead opting for two tiny circular vents on the inner face of the housing. There is very slight driver flex with silicone eartips. However, I did most of my listening with TRN’s foam tips.
The brown 4-strand OCC pure copper cable included with the V90S I received was defective, so I instead used the cable from the TRN BA8 for my listening. These cables appear to be identical apart from the V90S cable having a microphone and the BA8 cable not having one. The cable is more tangle-prone than the older black stock TRN cable, which is disappointing. There is strain-relief above the 3.5mm jack and below the Y-split. The cable has an L-shaped 3.5mm jack. The Y-split and jack hardware are mostly rubber, though there is a metal cap on the back of the 3.5mm connector housing printed with the TRN logo. The cable does not have a chin-adjustment slider. The black plastic 2-pin connectors have raised markings to indicate left and right. These markers are even smaller than is typically seen. The cable has pre-formed ear-guides without memory wire. The cable has little in the way of microphonics,
COMFORT / FIT / ISOLATION:
The TRN V90S is intended to be worn cable-up only. The V90S has slightly worse fit than the V90. The nozzle does not insert as deeply and the housing is slightly larger. Secureness of fit is below average. Comfort is roughly the same as the V90 and is good overall. There is negligible sound leakage and isolation is average for a vented hybrid design. The V90S does mostly eliminate the venting issue that was present on the V90.
My measurements were conducted with a Dayton iMM-6 microphone using a vinyl tubing coupler and a calibrated USB sound interface. The headphones are driven using my Element, which has an output impedance of no more than 1 ohm. The measurements use a compensation file derived from relating my raw measurements to published measurements from Crinacle and Antdroid. The indicated SPL readings are not accurate. The measurements are presented with 1/24th smoothing. There is a resonant peak at 8k. Measurements above 10k are not reliable.
SOUND AND COMPARISON WITH TRN V90:
The TRN V90S has a V-shaped sound signature, though it is less V-shaped than the original TRN V90.
The V90S’ bass response is more restrained than the V90 but still possesses a substantial bass shelf. The V90S has more sub-bass than mid-bass and the sub-bass extension is excellent. There is ample rumble. The V90S largely retains the sense of impact and slam offered by the V90, though to a less overwhelming degree. The V90S is much snappier-sounding than its predecessor with faster bass note decay. Bass resolution and articulation are greatly improved. The V90S is capable of separating and distinguishing overlapping bass lines in layered electronic music to a greater degree than the V90. However, the bass resolution is not class-leading at the list price.
The lower midrange is recessed to the point of hollowness and the midrange presentation lacks body as a result. The V90S has more of an emphasis in the pinna gain region than the V90 but sharply dials back the presence region in comparison. This is a change for the better, though keeping the V90’s pinna gain or lowering both would have been preferable. Male vocals can sound distant and their intelligibility is average. Female vocals fare better in terms of intelligibility and richness but can be shrill. The V90S has a slightly metallic timbre.
The V90S has slightly less lower treble than the V90. Transient delivery in this region is slightly splashy. However, the biggest difference between the V90 and the V90S is the V90S’ exaggerated upper treble emphasis. There is far too much air. The upper treble emphasis creates an unnaturally airy sheen over the entire presentation. It is difficult to accurately evaluate the V90S’ true detail retrieval in light of this, even with EQ. The upper treble issues are most evident with electronic music. The unnatural timbre and the highly exaggerated upper treble do not pair well with synthesized percussion and female vocals.
The V90S has an expansive soundstage and good instrument separation throughout its frequency response. Though easy to drive, the V90S is very prone to hiss.
The Moondrop SSR is a single DD IEM with a beryllium-coated dome and a polyurethane suspension ring. The SSR has a more secure fit than the V90S but is less comfortable for me. The SSR has a much lower profile fit, sitting entirely below the surface of my ear. The SSR targets Moondrop’s take on a Diffuse Field-type tuning. As I discussed in my review, however, my personal in-ear listening experience has significantly more bass than measurements indicate thanks to the occlusion of the SSR’s bass vents in my small ears. The SSR has better technical performance than the V90S in most respects. The SSR has faster bass articulation, shaper transient delivery, and better overall resolution. The V90S has more textured bass and better instrument separation. The SSR has a more natural-sounding tuning even with its polarizing midrange. The V90S, for all its faults, cannot be called congested. The V90S has a more expansive soundstage. The SSR includes a carry bag.
The TRN V90S meaningfully improves on the TRN V90 in a number of ways, including its bass presentation, midrange tuning, and venting solution. However, the upper treble glare issues keep me from giving the V90S my recommendation, especially at its original price. TRN has made a number of missteps this year and I hope they can course-correct soon.