TRN X7 Review: Mistakes Were Made

Pros:
  • Good shell design
  • Great set of accessories

Cons:
  • Cable could be better considering the price
  • Mids sound really weird
  • Treble lacks presence
  • Blurry imaging
  • Congested stage

Introduction:
TRN is a Chinese company that makes in-ear monitors. They have been in the game for quite some time now and they have release a lot of IEMs ranging from a simple single dynamic driver, multiple balanced armatures, and to hybrid configurations. The X7 is their latest IEM as of writing this review, and a successor to their X6 which was released in 2019. The X7 was provided to me for free by TRN in exchange for this review.

Specifications:
Driver units: 7 balanced armature
Impedance: 20 ohms
Sensitivity: 102 dB
Frequency response range: 20 Hz - 40 kHz

Source:
Poco X3 paired with iBasso DC03 and Shanling UA1

Test tracks:
Africano - Earth Wind and Fire
Dark Necessities - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gurenge - Lisa
The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
Monsters - All Time Low
Ours - Taylor Swift
Stay - Mayday Parade
Snuff - Slipknot
Yesterday Once More - Carpenters
So Slow - Freestyle
Aurora Sunrise - Franco
Attention - Pentatonix
Blue Bird - Ikimono-gakari
You're Still The One - Shania Twain
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is(Will Understand) - Irma Thomas
Salamin - Slapshock
AOV - Slipknot
Hey Jude - The Beatles
The Way You Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson
...and a lot more.

Unboxing and Accessories:
The X7 comes in a white rectangular sleeved box. Removing the sleeve and the lid reveals the X7 earphones, and everything that comes with it. Accessories include the cable, a round metal case, airplane adapter, 6.35mm male to 3.5mm female adapter, a pair of foam tips, 3 pairs of black silicone tips, 3 pairs of white silicone tips that are a bit softer, velcro strap for the cable, a plastic cap for the 3.5mm plug, instruction manual, warranty card, and a quality control pass certificate. There is also 1 pair of a different white silicone tips already attached to the earphones.
Build:
The shells are made of transparent resin with a smooth and glossy surface and have no vents. The faceplates sport the TRN logo and has this design that kinda looks like a galaxy. Looking at the rear side of the shell, you can clearly see the drivers inside, with the BAs having a tube attached to their nozzles going to the main nozzle of the shell. The nozzle has a metal filter and a small lip to hold eartips in place.
The cable is a very basic 4 core twisted silver plated copper. It doesn't have a chin slider which is unfortunate. The male 2 pin connector, splitter, and the L-type gold plated 3.5mm plug are all made of plastic.
Now let's get to the sound.

Lows:
The lows have a forward presentation accompanied by a moderate amount of impact. Subbass reaches quite deep but the rumble is quick and dissipates quickly. Midbass is more forward than the subbass and has an average weight in its punch and thickness.

Overall, the lows reproduction of the X7 is what you would expect from an IEM with an all-BA setup. It is fast and tight, and doesn't interfere at all with the other frequencies, although it is slightly affected by the darkness of mids.

Mids:
The mids are pretty weird. There is a poor level of articulation and clarity. Vocals are recessed and sound veiled. Aside from that, vocals are also thick and dark sounding. And to top it off, there is a peak in the upper mids region that sometimes give a hint of aggressiveness in some tracks.

Overall, this is where the X7 starts to crumble. The mids just sound so unnatural. This is the area that needs the most improvement since the mids contain the vocals and most of the instruments.

Highs:
The highs sound hollow and distant. Treble reach is below average with a fair level of decay. The presence of the highs is barely felt and easily gets lost in the mix, even in not so complex tracks.

Overall, the highs of the X7 just fall short in every way. Instruments like cymbals and lead guitars sound completely bland and lifeless. It's very surprising since balanced armature drivers are known for generally having better high frequency reproduction than dynamic drivers.

Soundstage and Imaging:
The stage expansion is average. There is more focus on the width than the height, and due to the shortcomings in the treble region, the stage lacks air. The treble, coupled with the dark sounding mids, renders the imaging to be blurry. Layering and instrument separation are below average and congestion is very noticeable on most tracks.

Comparisons:
TRN X7 (7 BA, 129 USD) vs. KZ ZST (1 BA + 1 DD, 12 USD)
The ZST sounds a lot more natural. The ZST has more impact and rumble in the subbass, and has a heavier, more solid punch in the midbass. The ZST has recessed mids but it is more forward and has better clarity compared to the X7. The highs of the ZST are definitely more upfront and more detailed, and also the decay and reach is evidently superior than the X7. Soundstage of the ZST has a lot more width and height, it is also more open making the layering and instrument separation better when compared to the X7.

Conclusion:
The X7 is the perfect example that more drivers doesn't necessarily equate to better performance. It all boils down to proper tuning. Not to disrespect TRN, they are definitely capable of producing good sounding IEMs in the past, but it's just puzzling how the X7's tuning got approved for mass production. Nonetheless, it's only fitting to say that they should take this as a major lesson for their future products.

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