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Review: TRI Audio I3 Pro – Bright Shine and Sound

The improvised I3 Pro from TRI Audio fixed the majority of the issues of their predecessor.
The improvised I3 Pro from TRI Audio fixed the majority of the issues of their predecessor.

The TRI I3 Pro is a pair of unique sounding tribrid IEMs with accurate bass and midrange, and outstanding transparency and clarity.

Thank you to TRI Audio for providing the I3 Pro for review purposes.

TRI Audio released the first version of the TRI I3 in late 2019. Due to their affordable sub-USD$200 price and the incorporation of planar magnetic drivers, they received lots of attention from the audiophile industry.

After receiving feedback regarding channel imbalance and the lack of nozzle lips, TRI Audio decided to revisit the I3 and released the updated I3 Pro, an improved version of the I3 to address these issues. According to TRI Audio, there are also significant advancements in the I3 Pro’s sonic quality.

I3 Pro have great depth extension in their soundstage, like a galaxy without end.
Bottom Line

The TRI I3 Pro are an excellent pair of IEMs and are a top contender under USD$200. Their accuracy and transparency are outstanding. They would be near perfect if the shells were more ergonomic and if a balanced cable termination option was available for users when purchasing.

What We Like
  • Excellent clarity and transparency in the midrange
  • Precise bass
  • Well-extended and clean treble
  • Three-dimensional soundstage
  • High quality cable
  • Durable and eye-catching shell design
What We Don't Like
  • Lack of balanced termination options for cable
  • Shell is not ergonomically designed
  • Lack of texture in midrange

Company Introduction

​​TRI Audio is a spin-off of KBEar. KBEar is focused primarily on the budget segment of IEMs, while TRI Audio concentrates on designing, producing, and marketing higher-end audio gear that delivers impeccable performance at attractive prices.

Technical Specifications

  • Form: IEM
  • Drivers: 1 x dynamic driver, 1 x planar magnetic driver, and 1 x BA driver
  • Impedance (Ohm): 15Ξ©
  • Sensitivity (dB): 103dB
  • Frequency Response (Hz): 20 Hz – 40 KHz
  • Removable Cable: Y
  • Source Jack: 3.5mm
  • Cup/Shell Jack: 0.78mm 2-pin

Packaging

The I3 Pro comes in a black box with a galaxy-like design. It looks cool, but the unboxing experience is relatively simple compared to many flagship IEMs in the market. The first things that greet us are the IEMs stuffed in protective foam and the faux leather case. The remaining accessories, including the cable, are inside the case.

Included are seven extra ear tips, an instruction manual, a cleaning cloth, and a cleaning tool.

The cleaning cloth is handy because fingerprints tend to dirty the shells.
The I3 Pro packaging has a fancy and futuristic galaxy-like design.
The I3 Pro packaging has a fancy and futuristic galaxy-like design.

Cable

I3 Pro ship with an excellent-looking, octa-core, 5N oxygen-free copper (OFC) cable. It is supple and there are barely any microphonics to worry about. The cable splitter is small, while the chin slider is easy to work with. Chrome plating across the connectors gives this cable a premium look.

I am satisfied with the cable’s quality, but I would appreciate it if there was a balanced termination option. I will have to swap this cable out if I wish to use the balanced output on my amplifiers or DAPs.

Chrome plating across the connectors gives this cable premium looks.
Chrome plating across the connectors gives this cable premium looks.

Design

The I3 Pro have durable 7050 series of aviation aluminum housings. According to TRI Audio, the Pro version are 26% smaller in volume than the non-Pro, improving fit, stability, and comfort.

The nozzle size is averagely long and wide, which further helps to provide a more comfortable and secure wearing experience. There is a series of pressure-releasing vents on the side of the shell to mitigate driver flex.

The I3 Pro are not the most ergonomically designed IEMs but still have a wing-like structure, which helps secure the shells inside the ear. Thanks to the CNC-machining process, the shell’s edges are perfectly rounded and there are no comfort problems while moving the IEM inside the ear. Furthermore, the I3 Pro’s weight distribution is excellent and they don’t tend to slip out of the ear.

The nozzle size is of average length and width.
The nozzle size is of average length and width.
There are a series of pressure-releasing vents on the side of the shell to mitigate driver flex.
There are a series of pressure-releasing vents on the side of the shell to mitigate driver flex.
The flushed 0.78mm 2-pin connector on the I3 Pro.
The flushed 0.78mm 2-pin connector on the I3 Pro.

Internals

The I3 Pro are powered by three types of drivers, namely dynamic, planar magnetic, and balanced armature (BA). This triple-hybrid or β€œtribrid” configuration is no longer rare in the audiophile community. Major brands like Noble, Empire Ears, and Jomo have been adopting this configuration lately for their flagship releases.

Using various types of drivers can help to address the weaknesses of each type. For example, a dynamic driver can produce good quality bass with great sub-bass rumble but it is tough for it to produce well-extended highs at the same time. By introducing a BA driver, the treble frequencies can be covered by the BA while the dynamic driver can focus on delivering bass.

In the I3 Pro, the dynamic driver handles the bass, the planar magnetic driver handles the midrange, and the BA driver handles the highs.
The I3 Pro are powered by three types of drivers, namely dynamic, planar magnetic, and BA.
The I3 Pro are powered by three types of drivers, namely dynamic, planar magnetic, and BA.

I3 Pro Sound

The I3 Pro have a mild V-shaped sound signature with a slightly bright profile. The overall presentation is lean and swift. Users will experience great detail and clarity from the I3 Pro, with an impressive amount of air and space.

The I3 Pro’s soundstage is deep because of the mild V-shape, which improves spatial cues and transparency. The stage is three-dimensional, but the I3 Pro are more forward and this profile will reduce the headroom width. However, they do not sound congested and notes still flow swiftly without colliding with each other.

Source synergy is a crucial point for triple-hybrid driver configuration IEMs. Despite having an impedance of 15Ξ© and a sensitivity of 103db, the I3 Pro need a powerful source to drive them adequately.

Use a DAC/amp dongle or a dedicated amplifier with the I3 Pro to get them to sing sweetly.
I3 Pro have great depth extension in their soundstage, like a galaxy without end.
I3 Pro have great depth extension in their soundstage, like a galaxy without end.

Bass

I like the I3 Pro’s precise control over lower-end notes. The bass has body, slam, and punch, but it does not get out of control. This has to be one of the tightest and cleanest sounding low-ends available in IEMs below USD$200.

They have excellent extension but slightly lack sub-bass rumble. The mid-bass is a bit more voluminous, providing the required amount of body and fullness. Overall, the bass profile can be considered lean and speedy, thanks to precise attacks and agile decays.

This profile is unique and the character is very different from typical dynamic driver bass.

The I3 Pro focus on accuracy and precision with a compromise in sub-bass rumble.
The I3 Pro focus on accuracy and precision with a compromise in sub-bass rumble.

Midrange

The TRI I3 Pro positions the midrange slightly recessed behind the bass. This sort of tuning is enjoyable, but with some IEMs, the vocal notes may not have sufficient space and the boosted bass can shadow the midrange. TRI Audio did a decent job here and they nailed the sweet spot to preserve this region by not overly-recessing the midrange.

The Tri I3 have a delightful midrange response that displays excellent planar driver characteristics. The midrange is speedy, detailed, smooth, and transparent. However, the only con here is that the midrange lacks texture; it is quite lean due to the swift planar magnetic response.

At lower volumes, the TRI I3 Pro sound slightly recessed in the midrange. Once a higher volume is introduced and the power kicks in, the midrange moves forward, creating a more balanced sound signature. I assume this change is due to the planar magnetic driver being more power-demanding than the other types in the I3 Pro.
Pair them with an amplifier and they will not disappoint you.
Pair them with an amplifier and they will not disappoint you.

Treble

The treble region is one of the selling points of the I3 Pro. It is well-defined and there are tons of details in the treble. The treble introduces a lot of space and air to the overall presentation, making them sound spacious and resolving.

The I3 Pro are slightly more energetic than an average BA driver’s treble, but TRI Audio did not overdo it. The treble has a good presence, but it is not fatiguing, even after long hours of listening.

The aluminium housing is easier to maintain as compared to the nickel housing of the ALO RX, which is extremely vulnerable to oxidation.
The aluminium housing is easier to maintain as compared to the nickel housing of the ALO RX, which is extremely vulnerable to oxidation.

Where to Buy

Conclusion

The TRI I3 Pro are an excellent pair of IEMs and are a top contender under USD$200. Their accuracy and transparency are outstanding. They would be near perfect if the shells were more ergonomic and if a balanced cable termination option was available for users when purchasing.

For those pursuing great clarity and precision, the I3 Pro should be a top option!

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