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 this blog:
Although it normally retails for around $50, the V90S will be available for $20 on TRN’s official AliExpress store for just $20. The V90S is available for purchase at the link below:
I have used the TRN V90S with the following sources:
- JDS Labs The Element
- Qudelix 5K
I have tested these headphones with local FLAC and Spotify Premium. Visit my last.fm page to get an idea of what I listen to:
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:
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.
TRN V90S vs Moondrop SSR
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.