TRN TA1

TRN TA1

2 May 2021 0 By Petros Laskis

$38 Well spent

Pros: – Easy listening tuning
– Good technicalities
– Fine quality treble
– Excellent build quality
– MMCX cable of good quality
– Very comfortable with excellent fit
– Unbeatable price to performance ratio

Cons: – Comes without carrying case
– Mid bass slightly clouded
– W tuning may not suit all tastes

HiFiGo suggested that I should test and evaluate the TRN-TA1 leaving it up to me to decide whether it is worthy of being reviewed.
I greatly liked it and I am providing the community with my honest and subjective opinion.

Introduction

TRN is a China based small manufacturer of in-ear monitors that is in the market for some years now and they have released some worthy models.

TRN TA1 is the latest hybrid driver in-ear monitor featuring a premium dual-driver hybrid setup with premium Magnesium Alloy ear shells.
The pair instead of the unbranded BA drivers that are usually used at this price point features a high-performance Knowles Balanced Armature driver paired with an 8mm dual-core dynamic driver.
It is selling for only $38 and you can order it from HiFiGo

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Technical parameters

TRN has equipped the TA1 with a dual-driver hybrid configuration consisting of an 8mm dual-core dynamic driver unit with a Knowles 33518 BA unit.
The 8mm micro dynamic driver unit handles the lower end with utmost precision and quick punchy bass complementing the other frequencies for musical output.
Knowles is a renowned brand for high-performance balanced armature drivers.
TRN has opted for a Knowles 33518 for sweet vocals and rich treble performance with the TA1.
The pair delivers smooth, detailed vocals, with rich non-fatiguing higher-frequencies.
The pair provides a super smooth distortion-free acoustic performance throughout its wide frequency response range.

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Physical appearance and fit

The TRN TA1 is made from a premium magnesium alloy shell.
This material carries a natural gloss and feels superior.
It is one of the most important elements in the whole design of TA1 with focus on functionality but also aesthetics.
Moreover, with a small form factor design, the earpieces will provide a perfect, comfy fit for most people.

Build quality is top notch and miles ahead than the price would suggest.
The earphone feels and looks very premium with a shiny, discrete and luxury design not to be found again in the budget category.

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The TRN TA1 is very discreet and comfortable with an excellent fit and positioning inside the ear.
It offers a fatigue free user experience suitable for long term use and we have greatly appreciated the small form factor after reviewing so many bulky multi driver iems.
The supplied cable is for over the ear fit but it is equally suited to be used with the classic cable down method if we swap cables.

Cable and accessories

The TRN TA1 comes packed with a four core silver plated OFC copper cable with detachable mmcx connectors.
It is actually of good quality with sturdy plugs and without microphonic noise with the only downside that it is a little smelly.

Eight pairs of ear tips are provided including 4 white colored (balanced) , 3 black colored (bass) and 1 foam.

No carrying case or a pouch are included.

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Sound impressions

The TRN TA1 is rated at 16 ohms and a high-sensitivity of 107dB/mW so a small amount of power is sufficient to drive it loud.
This is a $40 iem so it felt natural to test it with entry level dac/amps like the SoundMAGIC A30 (review) FiiO BTR3K (review) or Zoorlo Ztella.(the balanced ear tips were used)

The TN1 has a very agreeable , quite balanced and easily enjoyable tuning that is fatigue free and suitable for long term listening with all kinds of music.

Bass extension is good and while it can’t reach sub bass levels it is able to reproduce faithfully all the acoustic bass instruments but it may struggle to reach bass depth and rumble needed for electronic music.
Of course the 8mm dynamic driver is not expected to slam hard but nonetheless we found that dynamic behavior was sufficient and the iem is able to convey persuasively all the needed contrast.
The driver feels well controlled and the bass is tight enough and not slow with quite good detail and clarity.

Transition to the mids is good with the slightest midbass bloat that doesn’t cloud the mid range but we have spotted a mild masking between various bass and mid bass instruments that affects clarity and separation.

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The midrange tuning is some kind of a W shape with a recession at the lower mids and emphasized mid – upper mid range.
This tuning will favor high soprano notes and related instruments that will sound upfront and accentuated but not fatiguing.
For example solo oboe and soprano voice will emerge a little forward in a piece like http://open.qobuz.com/track/108643147 or the guitar solo is slightly dominating in the Sultans of Swing.
Nevertheless the overall feeling and presentation falls on the natural side with an engaging mid range that is well articulated with good clarity.

Treble is where the balanced armature driver kicks in and we were happy to find out that it sounded well integrated and not detached.
The higher registers feel quite balanced with a relaxed and easy going profile that is not short of energy and detail retrieval at least for the price point and casual listening.
Decay is natural and the overall timbre is good without metallic artifacts.
But there is a steep accentuation at the brilliance range that while is not piercing it will favor certain high instruments to sound a touch too prominent in the mix.
For example cymbals and bells are overly emphasized at tracks like the Sultans of Swing or http://open.qobuz.com/album/0002894794190

Soundstage is very good for the category with accurate positioning and well extended width that can handle symphonic works without much complaint regarding congestion.

Compared to Tripowin TC-01 ($45)

The Tripowin TC-01 (review) is another $45 wonder that greatly outperforms its price tag.
For $5 bucks more we get an extra hard carrying case and a little softer and longer cable.
Build quality is astonishingly good for both iems and the same goes for the overall design and appearance.
While the Tripowin is a very comfortable iem the TRN TA1 is even more comfortable with an extra discreet shape that favors deeper insertion without causing fatigue.

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The overall sound tuning of the Tripowin TC-01 is a little more V shaped than the W shape of the TRN TA1.
Bass up to mids will sound fairly the same regarding tuning but the TC-01 feels a little more clearer and better controlled but on the leaner side.
The TA 1 on the other hand is fuller sounding with a greater body to the notes but a little more bloated at upper bass.
Tripowin TC-01 mids and especially upper mids are more evenly tuned so voices and various instruments sound more balanced and in the same line.
Treble on the Tripowin is more detailed and less relaxed than the TRN TA1 which is more smooth and easy going.
The brilliance range is less emphasized on the Tripowin and very high percussion instruments are less pronounced.

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But the extra Knowles balanced armature driver is the key point and leads to a big difference regarding the associated frequency range which has much better quality characteristics on the TRN TA1.
Instruments are better articulated with more natural timbre and decay whether on the Tripowin sound artificial with a metallic hue and leaner body.
Both are easy recommendations with sound performance and build quality far above the asking price and they can fit different tastes and musical genres.

At the end

The TRN TA1 is another outsider winner because it is an excellent sounding budget iem without any significant notable drawbacks.
It is cleverly tuned to satisfy equally casual and more demanding listeners and while it is not a genre master it can handle nearly everything.
Add to the above the excellent build quality , the discreet and comfortable fit with an appealing design and we are talking here a $40 bargain that is highly recommended.

Test playlist

Copyright – Laskis Petros 2021