The TRN V90 is a hybrid in-ear monitor (4BA +1DD), retailing for $45 at the NiceHCK Audio Store on AliExpress at the time of this review. The V90 was provided to me by NiceHCK in exchange for a fair and objective review.
I have used the TRN V90 with the following sources:
Windows 10 PC > JDS Labs The Element > TRN V90
Pixel 3 > Fiio BTR1K (Bluetooth Apt-X) > TRN V90
Windows 10 PC > Fiio BTR1K (USB-DAC) > TRN V90
Pixel 3 > Apple USB-C to 3.5mm dongle > TRN V90
I have tested these headphones with local FLAC, Spotify Premium, and Amazon Music HD. Visit my last.fm page to get an idea of what I listen to.
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:
The TRN V90 comes in a small white tray with a black and white slipcover. The selected mic and color options are indicated on the right side of the box, and the V90’s technical specifications and TRN’s contact information are listed on the back. The V90 comes with a detachable .75mm 2-pin cable, three pairs of dark grey silicone eartips (S, M, L), a user manual, a QC pass chit, and a warranty card. The V90 does not include a carry bag or case.
BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN:
The V90 has a three-part, all-metal housing with a triangular cross-section. The longest edge of the triangle faces forward. There are no sharp edges anywhere on the housing. The inner face of the housing has a gentle crescent shape, with a small protrusion on the top corner. The nozzle is swept down and forward from the bottom corner. There are two rectangular vents on the bottom corner of the outer faceplate, and one circular vent on the inner face of the housing. The nozzles have a small lip for securing eartips. The V90 has mild-to-moderate driver flex. The V90 has the same venting issue as the Simgot EM1, where if the inner vent is covered during insertion, the sound produced by the IEM is muffled and must be gently tugged away from the ear to restore proper clearance.
The V90 comes with a braided 4-core cable with angled 2-pin connectors and a straight 3.5mm jack. The cable has little-to-no microphonics. The 2-pin connectors have indented markings to indicate left and right. The cable has pre-formed ear-guides without memory wire. The TRN logo is printed on the 3.5mm jack housing. There is no chin-adjustment choker. The cable is not tangle-prone. There is strain-relief above the 3.5mm jack but none at the Y-split.
COMFORT / FIT / ISOLATION:
The TRN V90 is intended to be worn cable-up only. The V90 has a deeper than average insertion depth and I was able to get a good seal using the stock eartips. I found the V90 very comfortable to wear for long periods. Isolation is above average, and I have not received any complaints about sound leakage (in comparison to the TRN H1, for which I have received complaints at equivalent volumes).
The TRN V90 has a bassy V-shaped tuning.
The V90 does not have a mid-bass hump, instead emphasizing sub-bass over mid-bass. Sub-bass extension is striking. The bass region as a whole is elevated above the lower midrange. There is abundant rumble and powerful slam. The bass has average speed and articulation and can become confused and indistinct during complicated, bass-heavy passages. This is most evident in heavy varieties of electronic dance music. The bass is highly textured but can be boomy and borderline overwhelming.
Although the lower midrange is recessed compared to the mid-bass, male vocals retain good intelligibility and have plenty of warmth and body. Female vocals are a bit further forward than male vocals. The overall timbre is realistic. There is enough presence to give distorted electric guitars bite without being fatiguing.
The treble is energetic but surprisingly smooth. Transients are crisp without being unrealistically quick. There is a healthy amount of sparkle and air. Overall resolution and detail retrieval are middling. Soundstage, imaging and instrument separation are average for a budget multi-BA hybrid.
My measurements were conducted with a Dayton iMM-6 microphone using a vinyl tubing coupler and a calibrated USB sound interface. The measurements use a compensation file derived from relating my raw measurements with Crinacle’s published measurements. The measurements are presented with 1/24th smoothing. There is a resonant peak at 8k. Measurements above 10k are not reliable.
AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS AND SOURCE PAIRING:
The TRN V90 can be driven to comfortable listening volumes with a smartphone or dongle. There is noticeable hiss with some sources.
TRN V90 vs Blon BL-03
The Blon BL-03 uses a single carbon nanotube dynamic driver. It has a more neutral sound signature, with a much more restrained bass presentation and a less forward upper midrange and treble response. The BL-03 has better bass definition and articulation. It is much easier to get a good seal using stock tips with the V90. Because I need to use double flange tips with the BL-03, the V90 is more comfortable. The BL-03 has worse driver flex. The V90 is easier to drive but is much more prone to hiss. The V90 does not come with a bag or carry case, while the BL-03 comes with a Blon-branded pouch.
KZ ZSX vs TRN V90
The KZ ZSX is a six-driver (5BA+1DD) hybrid IEM. The two IEMs have very similar tunings, but the V90 is bassier than the ZSX and has a more elevated lower treble response. Despite this, the V90’s treble is smoother-sounding than the ZSX’s. The V90 has more defined, better-articulated bass than the ZSX. The V90’s upper midrange is a touch more forward than the ZSX but has no issues with sibilance. The V90 has better clarity and detail retrieval. The V90 has better imaging. The V90 has slightly worse driver flex. The V90 has less hiss. The V90 is more comfortable.
The TRN V90 is a great-sounding budget hybrid IEM with an annoying usability concern which prevents me from recommending it without qualification. If the venting issue sounds manageable to you, it replaces the CCA-C10 as my go-to consumer-friendly sub-$50 hybrid recommendation.