Review: TRN VX Pro – Don’t Judge an IEM by its Cover

TRN's 9-driver per side IEM hybrid flagship, the VX Pro, in Midnight Blue.
TRN’s 9-driver per side IEM hybrid flagship, the VX Pro, in Midnight Blue.
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A simple and smooth face paired with an exciting personality that stands out from the crowd.

First, a sincere thank you to HiFiGo for allowing Headphonesty to review the TRN VX Pro. As is my standard, I did not read any reviews before my evaluation.

First Impressions

This is my first encounter with a TRN product. The VX Pro, in Midnight blue, is TRN’s newest hybrid flagship monitor, retailing for sub-USD$100, and the culmination of more than 2 years of development. The excellent fit and finish is immediately noticeable, with smooth rounded features on every surface. Regarding sound quality, I find them highly sensitive to ear tip selection. Thankfully, many good choices are included, including foam tips, which serve me best.

TRN's 9-driver per side IEM hybrid flagship, the VX Pro, in Midnight Blue.
Bottom Line

The VX Pro are simple, attractive, well-made, and competent technical performers that will satisfy a wide variety of listeners. They deliver a clear and detailed wide-frequency sound with excellent imaging and an expansive soundstage, presenting quality audio in their own unique way. TRN has done a commendable job tuning the VX Pro, ensuring that the drivers perform seamlessly. The VX Pro have heavy competition in their price bracket, but they hold their own well, and manage to differentiate themselves.

What We Like
  • Simple, sophisticated, and understated
  • Excellent build, fit, and finish
  • Neutral sound signature with good clarity and airiness
  • Unique tuning, imaging, and soundstaging
  • Coherence and blending
  • Extended frequency range, with notable high treble extension
  • No obvious BA timbre or sibilance
  • Light and very comfortable for extended listening
  • Good carrying case and accessories
What We Don't Like
  • While flexible across most genres, not the best for EDM and unnaturally bass-heavy music
  • Lacking sub-bass oomph, and overall bass texture
  • Soundstage width and expansion comes at the expense of intimate vocal-centricity and “right in front of you” imaging
  • A more premium cable at this price point would be a bonus
  • Few included ear tips to choose from

While the looks of the VX Pro may not “wow” you like some of the acrylics, they are understatedly sophisticated with a unique sound signature and audio characteristics. For me, it was not love at first sight or listen. Taking any credible reviewer’s advice of not jumping to conclusions, the VX Pro revealed their gifts over time, and I appreciate what makes the VX Pro stand (or sound) apart.

The VX Pro are clearly labeled with a L and R,. Unfortunately, you'll have to listen to channel calibration tracks to determine if you have the proper cable side attached.
The VX Pro are clearly labeled with a L and R,. Unfortunately, you’ll have to listen to channel calibration tracks to determine if you have the proper cable side attached.
After a lengthy burn-in period (72-100 hours), I always begin evaluations with the same protocol: experiment with all of the ear tips to find the best fit. In addition, I do not use secondary EQ adjustments while testing.
Not only does TRN suggest burn-in time, this manual text demonstrates the (painful) need for native English translators. Happy reading, and happy life! (Source: TRN product manual)
Not only does TRN suggest burn-in time, this manual text demonstrates the (painful) need for native English translators. Happy reading, and happy life! (Source: TRN product manual)

Company Overview

Launched in 2017, the TRN brand belongs to Dongguan Zuodu Acoustic Technology Co., Ltd. TRN produces a range of High Fidelity (Hi-Fi) IEMs, Bluetooth TWS earphones, cables, and ear tips, most of which are accessible, budget-friendly options that appear to offer high value for price.

“Each TRN product has earphone enthusiasts involved in the development process to ensure that it has the best performance and durability.” – TRN

If you’re a fan of Chi-Fi, TRN is likely a familiar name to you. They have quite a catalog for a young brand, and have made some highly popular and well-regarded products thus far.

All parts and pieces are well-placed and protected.
All parts and pieces are well-placed and protected.

Technical Specifications

  • Drivers: Hybrid configuration with 9 drivers on each side, employing a 3-way crossover network
    • (1) 10mm dual-magnet carbon nanotube (CNT) diaphragm dynamic driver
    • (4) Custom 30095 balanced armatures (BA)
    • (4) Custom 50060 balanced armatures (BA)
  • Impedance: 22 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 106 dB/mW
  • Frequency Response Range: 7Hz – 40kHz
  • Style: In-ear, with earhook cable
  • Color: Midnight blue, Moonshine silver
  • Connector: 2-pin
  • Plug Type: 3.5mm gold-plated, 90-degree angle plug
  • Cable Length and Type: 1.25m cable with 4-core silver-plated copper cable and pre-shaped ear hooks
  • Weight: 13g (IEMs), 15g (cable)

Packaging

Clean, simple, and well-constructed, like the VX Pro themselves. After removing the outer sleeve and opening the inner box, the IEMs are presented, nestled safely in dense foam, with various accessories safely inside the aluminum carrying case.

From unboxing to listening, the VX Pro are simple and sophisticated.
From unboxing to listening, the VX Pro are simple and sophisticated.

In the box

  • TRN VX Pro IEMs
  • 1 audiophile-grade 4-core silver-plated copper cable with a 90-degree angle 3.5mm plug and 2-pin connectors
  • 8 pairs of ear tips (high-frequency, bass, and memory foam ear tips)
    • 4 pairs black silicone with red stem (S, 2M, L)
    • 3 pairs white silicone with white stem (S, M, L)
    • 1 pair memory foam (L)
  • Black aluminum cylindrical carry and storage case
  • 6.3mm adapter
  • Instruction manual
  • Warranty card
  • Inspection qualification card
The VX Pro come with a full complement of needed accessories.
The VX Pro come with a full complement of needed accessories.

Cable

The thin, lightweight, glistening white, “audiophile-grade”, 4-core silver-plated copper cable is standard fare for Chinese IEMs. It is cleanly braided, flexible, and functional. It has standard 2-pin connectors and a 3.5mm, right angle single-ended plug. It has a clear plastic splitter cover with no chin slider. The TRN logo on the right-angle plug and reinforced sleeve is a nice touch.

The cable is perfectly acceptable: light, attractive, functional, and the bet part - no microphonics.
The cable is perfectly acceptable: light, attractive, functional, and the bet part – no microphonics.

To support a case for purchasing a better cable, I find that the ear hook sleeves are too stiff and require quite some work to attempt to reshape and retrain the bend. In addition, the markings on the clear plastic connectors are virtually invisible, making it impossible without a magnifying glass or channel calibration audio track to tell which is left or right.

Design

The VX Pro are simple and stylish, with sweeping curves and a smooth finish. According to TRN, the entire process requires a 5-axis CNC machine with 21 diamond router bits, operated by highly-trained craftsmen, and they are finally hand-finished to perfection.

The TRN VX Pro come in Moonshine silver or Midnight blue. (Source: https://trn-audio.com/trn-vx-pro.html)
The TRN VX Pro come in Moonshine silver or Midnight blue. (Source: https://trn-audio.com/trn-vx-pro.html)

The shell is constructed of two pieces, the faceplate side and the main cavity side, precisely bonded together. Each IEM has a protruding 2-pin shielded receptacle for the cable connection and the gold nozzle has a stout lip, holding ear tips securely in place.

The high-precision acoustical housing is either made of aerospace-grade aluminum or magnesium alloy: the documentation from TRN is conflicting and the material is unconfirmed by TRN at the time of publication.

Comfort

The ear hooks, reshaped for my preference, generally hold well around my ears and do not exert pressure, remaining comfortable for long listening sessions. With the foam ear tips, isolation is excellent and further ensure that the VX Pros remain securely in place, despite the light pull from the ear hooks.

The contours of the metal shells are perfectly smooth, easy to handle, and have a nozzle length and angle that should fit most ears well. The ergonomically-shaped IEMs are light and sit perfectly in my ears. The medium-length nozzle inserts well, and I do not have any awareness of them inside the tips. Hours go by and I can forget that they are there.

As with all IEMs, the right ear tips and seal are crucial to realize the best sound and isolation. It is always worth the time to experiment until you find what’s best for you. Please reference this Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Perfect IEM Ear Tips.
The ear hooks are awkward for me and needed reshaping. Once done, they are comfortable enough that I often forget about them.
The ear hooks are awkward for me and needed reshaping. Once done, they are comfortable enough that I often forget about them.

Internals

1) 10mm dual-magnet carbon nanotube (CNT) dynamic driver x1

2) Custom 30095 balanced armature x4 (high-frequency response)

3) Custom 50060 balanced armature x4 (midrange response)

Many of you know from my body of work that I am skeptical, and not the biggest fan, of stuffing drivers into IEMs by the handful. The arms race of drivers, arguably, has not resulted in any significant value enhancement, especially given the increase in material cost and likelihood of defects.
1: 10mm dual-magnet dynamic driver; 2: Custom 30095 balanced armature x4; 3: Custom 50060 balanced armature x4. (From: https://trn-audio.com/trn-vx-pro.html)
1: 10mm dual-magnet dynamic driver; 2: Custom 30095 balanced armature x4; 3: Custom 50060 balanced armature x4. (From: https://trn-audio.com/trn-vx-pro.html)

According to TRN, the dual-magnet CNT driver, with close to 1 Tesla of magnetic flux density, significantly improves drivability without the need of a high-powered source. The nine drivers per IEM are managed by a precision 3-way crossover network.

”TRN VX Pro utilizes an advanced carbon nanotube diaphragm with high rigidity and elasticity. This unique material delivers deep, impactful bass with fast transients.” – TRN

TRN VX Pro Sound

The links posted are generally YouTube or YouTubeMusic links and the quality varies drastically and are provided for quick reference. I primarily listen and evaluate from original source CDs or high-quality lossless files.

For evaluation, I listen to a great variety of music through numerous sources, including:

A high sensitivity of 106db and a low impedance of 22 Ohms means that these IEMs are easy to drive with virtually any source.

While tuning a single dynamic driver is a challenge, properly placing and integrating a larger quantity and variety of drivers may be even more so. They are rarely of the same family and need lots of work to transform them from a group into a high performing team.

With the plethora of drivers, TRN has done a fine job tuning the VX Pro, as corroborated by the frequency response graph. Tuning leans just slightly toward neutral/bright: mostly neutral with a very smooth curve and slightly elevated treble. Always in control.

The frequency response is beautifully smooth. (From: https://trn-audio.com/trn-vx-pro.html)
The frequency response is beautifully smooth. (From: https://trn-audio.com/trn-vx-pro.html)

The VX Pro’s frequency graph is as smooth as their bodies – simple and uniquely beautiful in their own way. This graph will appeal to those who like more balanced signatures with almost no shoutiness, while still conveying plenty of detail. There are no wild spikes to be found anywhere that may result in unexpected or offensive audibles.

The VX Pro do not sound like an obvious BA hybrid, though the quality treble and air in the higher frequencies make the case for the inclusion of the extra BAs. They rarely exhibit the harshness, sharpness, or “metallic” sounds that some listeners have come to recognize as the telltale sound of BA drivers.

Bass frequencies do not impede on the midrange, which can be perceived as slightly recessed, though I don’t believe that is actually the case. The soundstage width counters some of the intimacy that other vocal-centric IEMs present, creating a slight illusion of midrange recession.

I really enjoy the overall presentation.

With the foam tips, there is an excellent sense of space and openness. Imaging is above average in this price range. Treble is very good: clean, crisp, resolving, and detailed. The foam seems to temper the VX Pro from crossing the line to sounding overly bright.

Let’s begin our usual trips around the musical and physical world…

The Netherlands is a beautiful country and home of the Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation. Their track Forsaken (The Aftermath) is a great place to begin. This track has much complexity across the frequencies. The VX Pro manages well in keeping vocalist Sharon den Adel’s voice centered well, while the music reaches out in all directions, as well as her own layered background vocals.

Detail retrieval is good without becoming overwhelming, as is resolution; not so speedy or sharp as to make the music soundscape feel thin. There is solid note weight, especially in the upper bass and midrange. The VX Pro mixes the piercing clarity of her voice with the distortion of the instruments very nicely.

Praise deserved: the VX Pro do not sound like an obvious BA hybrid.
Praise deserved: the VX Pro do not sound like an obvious BA hybrid.

Bass

The frequency response range and graph suggest that the VX Pro can extend down to a super-low 7Hz, though this is not clear since the graphs begin at 20Hz. With the fairly flat bass shelf from 20Hz upward, and very smooth downward glide into the midrange, the bass is well controlled.

For natural instrumentation, bass is adequate and well-balanced. Overboosting the bass will come at a cost of slight infringement on the lower mids. That said, it is definitely acceptable, retaining high frequency integrity and space/imaging. For super deep sub-bass, distortion may become an issue at higher volumes despite the frequency range.

If you’re into EDM, drum ‘n bass, and other deep music, the VX Pro will be unsatisfying without EQ.

Adding at least a +5 dB EQ bass boost really makes a notable difference in filling out the low end. If you prefer balanced bass presence, they will be just fine.

Traveling to Russia to drop in on our friends Dropgun, a Russian DJ and production duo from Tomsk, let’s listen to their song Krishna. Transients are fast and resolve quickly. While not particularly impactful, mid-bass is fast, punchy, though lacking depth and presence.

Bass is well controlled and presented, not ever excessive.
Bass is well controlled and presented, not ever excessive.

At 2:10, there is an exciting transition in the track where the VX Pro strengths of speed and dynamics become apparent, excelling here. Adding sub-bass presence helps to sound less lean.

Remixing a track from the German duo Township Rebellion, Switzerland’s duo Fat Sushi created an amazing techno club mix with the track Liquid Green. The same result as our previous track: underwhelming with the VX Pro with stock tuning. For example, listening using the FiiO A3 Bass Boost toggle switch brings more body and depth into the bass frequencies, transforming the presence of the track.

Midrange

All-American jazz artist Jeremy Green, featuring an all-American super group of Victor Wooten, Keith Carlock, and Chase Baird, created an exceptional track, Michael & Me. The music presents in a surprisingly three dimensional way. This creates a convincing illusion of sound moving around my head, with a sense of varying distance for instruments. The VX Pro’s imaging makes it easy to identify specific locations for each instrument.

The textured bass and crisp treble notes do not overshadow the full midrange. All sounds well balanced without any specific part of the frequency spectrum heading backstage.

Traveling to London from Melbourne, the birthplace of Dead Can Dance, we visit with the ethereal British and Australian music duo. Brendan Perry’s voice is hauntingly present and feels very well placed in the remastered mix of Black Sun.

Treble

Treble is crisp, light, and airy – smooth with good definition. Hailing from Houston, U.S., contemporary/jazz violinist Dominique Hammons’ track I Remember has an accurate and pleasing timbre. The violin in particular presents so smoothly that it’s easy to listen to more and more. Imaging, consistent with aforementioned tracks, brings a new and expanded sense of dimension to the music. No hints of harshness, even with the highest of notes played. Lush and detailed at the same time.

Where to Buy

The gold nozzle is sturdy and has enough lip to hold the ear tips securely.
The gold nozzle is sturdy and has enough lip to hold the ear tips securely.

Conclusion

The VX Pro are simple, attractive, well-made, and competent technical performers that will satisfy a wide variety of listeners. They deliver a clear and detailed wide-frequency sound with excellent imaging and an expansive soundstage, presenting quality audio in their own unique way.

The VX Pro have heavy competition in their price bracket of USD$75 – $100, with more fierce entries coming to market all the time. TRN has done a commendable job tuning the VX Pro, ensuring that the drivers perform seamlessly. They hold their own well, and manage to differentiate themselves.

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