INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER:
The TRN VX is a hybrid (6 BA+1 DD) in-ear monitor (IEM) which retails for around $73. I received the VX and the TRN-T4 upgrade cable directly from TRN.
This review is also available on my blog: https://medium.com/bedrock-reviews/trn-vx-review-b7f8b0e8d16a
I have used the TRN VX with the following sources:
- JDS Labs The Element
- Apple USB-C to 3.5mm dongle
- Meizu HiFi Pro dongle
- Fiio BTR1K Apt-X Bluetooth Receiver
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:
The TRN VX comes in a small rectangular white box with a black and white slipcover. Technical specifications for the VX are provided in Chinese and English on the back of the slipcover. The package includes a detachable 2-pin cable, three silicone eartips (small, medium, large), a quality control pass chit, a warranty card, and a user manual. Given the price, I would have liked to have seen a carry case and a greater variety of eartips included.
BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN:
The TRN VX has magnesium alloy housings with a gorgeous but understated emerald green anodized finish. The faceplates are machined with a scalloped pattern. “VX-DDx1BAx6” is printed on the side of each housing in line with the 2-pin connector and the inner faces of the housings are marked with “L” and “R” in white. The inner face of each housing also has two small circular vents. The nozzles are black with silver grilles and have a sizable lip to secure eartips. The 2-pin connectors protrude slightly from the surface of the housing and are compatible with QDC-type cable connections.
The included cable is a simple 4-strand braided design with pre-formed transparent plastic earguides. The Y-split and 3.5mm jack housing hardware is anodized black metal with rubber strain relief below the Y-split and above the jack. The jack hardware is marked with the TRN logo in white. There is no chin-adjustment choker and the cable is moderately tangle-prone. The cable is mildly microphonic. The 2-pin connectors have raised markings to indicate left and right, but the markings are so faint that they require scrutiny to distinguish.
COMFORT / FIT / ISOLATION:
The TRN VX is intended to be worn cable-up only. The earpieces have a shallow-ish insertion depth and are comfortable. Secureness of fit is very good, but isolation is average. The VX does not have driver flex.
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 measurements are presented with 1/24th smoothing. There is a resonant peak at 8k. Measurements above 10k are not reliable.
The TRN VX is a bright-sounding IEM.
The TRN VX emphasizes mid-bass over sub-bass. The bass has very good speed and articulation but average texture. There is a good amount of slam and adequate rumble. The bass is surprisingly resolving and there is little in the way of mid-bass bleed.
The lower midrange is slightly recessed compared to the bass and very recessed compared with the frequency response above 1 kHz. Vocal intelligibility is good, although female vocals are significantly forward of male vocals. Clarity is excellent but body is lacking. Though not sibilant, female vocals sound a little overcooked. While free of plasticky BA timbre the midrange sounds cold due to the intense upper-midrange emphasis.
There is a pronounced lower-treble emphasis, which while not fatiguing gives cymbal splashes a diffuse quality. The upper treble is slightly less prominent but is well extended. Detail retrieval is excellent. The width of the soundstage is fair, but its depth is limited. Instrument separation is good, but imaging is poor.
TRN VX vs TRN V90
The TRN V90 is a hybrid (4BA+1DD) IEM which currently retails around $35. The TRN VX sounds like the TRN V90 with less overwhelming bass, and the overall presentation is undeniably clearer. The V90 has better sub-bass extension and remains the obvious choice for bass heads between the two IEMs. That said, the upper half of the VX’s frequency response remains nearly as most as intense as that of the V90. The two IEMs have similarly sized soundstages. The VX has slightly better imaging and improved instrument separation. The VX does not have driver flex or the V90’s infuriating venting issue.
TRN VX vs KBEAR Diamond
The KB EAR Diamond, which can be found on AliExpress for as low as $71 at the time of the writing of this review, uses a single diamond-like carbon-coated PET-diaphragm dynamic driver. The Diamond, though quite V-shaped in its sound signature, sounds more balanced than the VX due to the roughly equal prominence of its bass response and top end. The biggest issue with the Diamond is the overly elevated presence region. The Diamond has better imaging and instrument separation and is competitive with the VX in terms of soundstage. The Diamond has a more premium build and a much more generous accessory selection.
AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS AND SOURCE PAIRING:
The TRN VX can be easily driven to a comfortable listening volume with a competent dongle. I did not notice hiss with any of my sources.
Rather than refining the V90, TRN seems to have shot for a different target altogether with the VX, and the audience that the V90 found may not want to follow along. At this price point, I still recommend the KBEAR Diamond if you are willing to use EQ or to save up for the Moondrop Starfield if you are not.