>>I am brazilian and I speak portuguese, so forgive my english, I’ll use translator tools to help.<<
TRN Audio coming for a new review in the website, and this time the evaluation will be from TRN XUANWU. The earphones have the latest SPD – Square Planar Driver, which is similar to those used in Celest Audio IEMs, and also uses a custom balanced armature in its composition.
Price: 49$ USD
Cabe: No Mic and with Mic
(1) 10x10mm SPD (Square Planar Driver)
(1) Balanced Armature (BA)
Frequency: 20Hz – 20kHz
Termination Plug: 3.5mm (straight)
Cable size: 120±3cm
Cable material: 4 core silver-plated copper & OFC
Connectors: 2Pin QDC (detachable)
Shell: Resin + Aluminum (faceplate)
Weight: 5.3g+20g with cable
Eartips. Here we have the exact same eartip kit as the TRN MT3: 1 pair of T-eartips size M, 3 pairs of balanced eartips (black) in sizes S/M/L, and 3 pairs of bass eartips (white) in sizes S/M/L. The T-eartips are TRN’s proprietary tips, as I said in the MT3 review, they are very good eartips, the silicone is very soft and comfortable, they remind me the Moondrop’s SpringTips, that by the way, has the same issue with the size not being the standard used by the market, that is, in both you need to take a size larger than usual for the isolation to be “correct”.
-The evaluation was made with the “bass” (white) in size M. PS: I didn’t see anywhere the indication that the black eartips were the “balanced” and the white ones were the “bass”, isn’t on the product packaging, neither on the company’s website, it just says that it comes with “balanced and bass” eartips, but it doesn’t say which ones they are.
Cable. The Xuanwu cable is the same cable as the MT3, which in turn is also the same cable as the TA1 MAX… From a usability point, it’s a nice cable, it’s lightweight, it has a good aesthetic, it’s easy to roll up for storage, and has low microphonics levels (the trivial). What I felt different compared to when I tested the MT3 one was that I thought now I had more problems with tangles, nothing chronic but I don’t remember this happening a lot with the MT3. The cable doesn’t come with the chin slider. A point to be questioned here is that there are some companies – not only TRN – that have this practice of putting the same cable in all the products, and in my opinion, if you increase the price of your product, you need to deliver something more sophisticated. Assuming a consumer had a problem with the cable, why would he buy another product from the company if the cable is the same as the one he had a problem before?
Earhooks. This is always a subjective point, there are people who don’t even like cable earhooks. In my opinion, the earhooks are extremely important, because they can simply influence the fit of the IEM. For me, the Xuanwu’s earhooks are good, it has a good curvature, which leaves the earphone very tight in the ear, but without creating pressure or weight. Positive point in my opinion.
Connectors. Xuanwu connectors are 2-pin type but QDC style. This type of connector is very safe, I had no problem here with the IEM. It comes with the letters L and R (left and right) to indicate the correct fitting side. The body of the earphones also have the indicator letters. The only issue here is that the letters that are on the cable are a little difficult to see, you need to put a light on it so that it shows what the letter is.
Fit. In terms of fit, I found this IEM to be the best among the other two TRN earphones I tested – maybe I’ll give this position to the TRN TA1 MAX too because the design of the TA1 MAX is the type I recommend for any size ear (small, medium, large). So, Xuanwu’s fit has nothing to criticize, it’s only praise. The IEM has very good stability, it doesn’t wobble, it’s the type of IEM that you put on once and it “sits” in the shell of your ear. I consider it a discreet profile earphone, without generating protruding parts outside the ear (this is partly subjective). The insertion I found medium, and the isolation I found medium.
Comfort. First I want to make an addendum about the construction. The body is made of resin and the faceplate is made of aluminum (according to the company), but I only realized that it was aluminum after I saw it in the specifications, I confess that in my hands I thought it was plastic. The resin part is like “smoke glass”, so you can see a small part of the driver – you need light to see too. Now about Xuanwu’s comfort. Positive point, in this aspect the IEM is very comfortable, it is very lightweight, it also has a very smooth surface, very anatomical. I didn’t have any pressure points, or part that I thought was “wrong” in the construction, the Xuanwu is a very comfortable IEM. This comfort part is very subjective but I believe that the IEM delivers a good performance in this regard, even with people with small ears. During the time I was testing it, I didn’t feel any discomfort, so I think it’s a nice IEM for long sessions.
The product didn’t come with any case to store the earphone, which was a pity, because TRN is a company that is good at delivering quality accessories for more affordable prices… The TRN TA1 MAX kit was better than the Xuanwu one (in my opinion).
The sound of TRN XUANWU I consider as a V-Shape. Even with this signature, the earphone manages to deliver an interesting “balance”, without sounding as an extreme V-Shape. I was a little apprehensive before this IEM arrived because of the MT3, if you read my review there, you’ll see that I didn’t like the IEM very much (subjective). I also started to see some not very “exciting” feedbacks in the audio community… But as always, I just try to report my experience with the product. To my surprise, the IEM did better than the MT3 (in my opinion), but I still think that in terms of sound/design, the TA1 MAX was the best of the 3 I could test.
Let’s get down to Xuanwu’s bass in quantitative terms. Honestly, it’s not an earphone for bassheads, I understand that because the amount here really isn’t something “intense” for the ears… I think it is on the moderate side. Looking at the frequency response graph (FR), it seems to be a very “bassy” earphone, but in reality, it’s a “balanced” bass. Sub-bass and mid-bass I found to be in line, that is, with no audible difference between one region and another, both perform very well, with good presence. For me, there is no roll-off in the bass region, the extension is good.
In qualitative terms, the Xuanwu’s bass is clean, controlled, has good definition, good speed, doesn’t invade the midrange, isn’t disproportionate, isn’t bloated, isn’t boomy, isn’t muddy. The impact is audible and is of a dry, more “tight/contained” type. I believe that the implementation of the SPD driver has brought benefit to this bass region. The only point to be considered here is that the Xuanwu bass doesn’t deliver much texture, it seems that is something related to the SPD driver, the sound seems to be more outlined, and for other side, the Tin C3, which is a single DD IEM, can extract more texture, more vibration. I think that the Xuanwu’s bass will go better with acoustic instruments than electric, because I understand that it’s bass that needs more precision than physicality.
Xuanwu’s mids. Indeed it’s a very peaceful zone. Neither aggressive nor too distant. In fact, it tends more to the recess side (in my opinion). If you ask me if it is an IEM with very clear and transparent mids, I would say that it’s not the earphone with the best performance in this region that I have ever heard. Although it’s possible to hear everything that passes here without losing information. Possibly this is an IEM that can be good for people who feel fatigue in the upper midrange, because I thought it didn’t have much emphasis here. Hard Rock guitars, for example, are “softer” to hear.
The voices in Xuanwu. Here we have something interesting – which can be seen as something good or not so good – the voices were good for both styles, female/high and male/low, however, they also cannot excel in either type, that is, very low voices it can’t extract the greatest potential, as well as high voices it can’t either (in my opinion). So it does very well with voices in the middle of the range of vocal timbres, that is, baritone, tenor, alto and mezzo-soprano. A Djavan (brazilian singer) it will be very good.
Xuanwu’s treble in quantitative terms. I certainly didn’t think this treble region was high, but the IEM seems to have a peak that generates a certain increase in sound in some situations (more details in the next paragraph). Apart from the very few and rare situations in which the treble were more “lit”, the IEM manages to reproduce the treble in a moderate way, without causing fatigue. To better exemplify this question: you can listen to an entire album and the earphones don’t show this “peak” in the treble, but if, for example, you are listening to a playlist (various recordings), then yes, at some point you may come across an “alive” situation of an instrument playing.
In qualitative terms, the treble of the Xuanwu are restrained, versatile, with an Ok/good extension. The detail is OK, but it doesn’t have a level of micro details (in my opinion). The feeling of airy I found low. Sparkle is moderate and coherent in most of cases. I didn’t feel harshness or stridency, neither sibilance in this IEM, even the songs that usually present these problems passed easily through Xuanwu. Now, there was a situation that generated something unwanted, which were grainy treble in “Le Douche” from the album VA – Soft House Lounge, right at the beginning of the song there is already a “micro excess”. So, for EDM, I feel already concerned to listen. For all other things that I heard, it didn’t generate any similar problems. Hi-hats didn’t sound harsh, triangles didn’t sound sharp, chime played without over-brightness, half-moon tambourine also passed without excess.
Soundstage. The soundstage feeling I thought was good. In fact, it doesn’t have much space, the good thing about it is that it has a nice depth, and width too, but in height I didn’t feel much opening, it’s like a earphone with a more “horizontal” sound. For example, cymbals you don’t feel like the sound is coming from the top down.
Imaging. The instrumental separation I thought was good. The earphone deliver a two-layer feel, it’s as if the vocals are closer to you and the other instruments are harmonizing behind you. True, the imaging isn’t something from another world, but the presentation isn’t congested, you can hear that there is a certain space between the instruments (remembering that this can also vary according to the recording and other processes during the music production).
DriverFlex test. The Xuanwu is an IEM with the SPD driver, and so far it has its differences in relation to the dynamic drivers (DD), but from what I’ve seen it’s not a kind of driver that has been showing driver flex noise issues. So when inserting the earphone in my ear canal, it didn’t show the driver flex noise.
Amplification. I used the Questyle M15 DAC/AMP dongle connected to my notebook to do this evaluation. The output used was the 3.5mm SE and the device with the selector in “Low” mode, that is, without gain. The volume used was the 40% level of the 100% available by the Windows volume scale. This IEM has the same configuration as the Celest Gumiho, and the difference is that at Gumiho I thought it could “scale up” with more amplification, whereas here at Xuanwu I didn’t see the need to use it with more powerful sources. I also tested it directly on my notebook board (Dell/Realtek) and I thought everything was normal, the bass was coming out without difficulty.
Music is subjective, so below is the list of some musical genres that I personally think that was better with this IEM. Remember that were only few genres and few artists tested. If I describe that one genre was better and the other don’t, it doesn’t mean that you can’t listen to your favorite music genre with this IEM and love it. So, here goes:
*Brazilian musical genres.
Not so much:
Graphs by IAN FANN:
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