I received a TRN TA1 Max for free courtesy of the Linsoul team from their Soul Giveaway program on Discord! I'm quite excited since I've never won anything in their giveaway before, so to win something I've wanted is awesome. Linsoul asked for giveaway winners to give an honest review, so an honest review I shall give! I have been involved in this hobby for a couple of years and own much more expensive IEMs, so I will treat this product as it is - a $46 set. And at the same time, I’m also an amateur that has never written a proper review in their life, so sorry if it sounds dumb!
Here's the packaging in all of its glory!
So right off the bat, my main issue - the silver-plated OFC copper stock cable is absolutely disgusting. It's stringy, it's sticky, and it has a crude and strong plastic odor that you can smell from across the room. The moment I opened the case containing the cable, I was overwhelmed by an oily scent. I've never encountered such a terrible stock cable before. It doesn't feel sturdy, though the aesthetic design of the 2-pin connector port is solid. I'd highly recommend using a different cable, but for the purpose of this review, I'll stick with stock.
Accessories are simple - two sets of earbud tips, one clear silicon, the other black and opaque. The 1/4" adapter is very interesting, and is something I’ve never seen offered with any IEM in this price bracket. Pretty cool!
Overall, the build quality of the IEMs themselves are great. The aluminum metal casing is a little bit cheap-looking, but the design is cool and does the job. The fit is great and not fatiguing, and is very comfortable to wear for long periods of time without much hassle. However, the key player here is the vents on the back of the shell - we'll get to that in a bit!
The TRN TA1 Max is excellently tuned. The lower end is vibrant with a warm tint, with a pronounced and authentic bass sound. Bass response is punchy and controlled, and everything sounds "natural". It's certainly way more than I expected for its price - it's just fun, and definitely the best range in this tuning. Initially, I wrote about the lower range as being non-overbearing, but this is not true, and we’ll get to that in a bit.
Midrange is not anything special, very middle of the road tuning without much flair... but also just right. It's just good, balanced, and straight to the point. However, the upper midrange is slightly recessed, and female vocals do not shine as bright as they could. Because of the aforementioned strong bass tuning, the upper midrange can get drowned out, as I’ve experienced some tracks with female vocals and forward-presenting bass having those vocals be less prominent.
The tuning falls a little bit flat in the treble, as it can get slightly shouty and somewhat piercing, but it's not fatiguing. There is a scoop in the FRC between 6k - 9k, and detail retrieval beyond 5k is a little bit off and can make the treble a real mixed bag. It’s fine for what it is though, I just think having a linear, even treble would have benefited this tuning greatly. The lower end is the star of the show, and it can make the other ranges fall to the sidelines in some tracks.
Overall, it’s very fun tuning, pairs very well with any genre of music. It might even appeal to some bassheads due to how forward the bass is on this set. I'd wager the cut in treble quality is due to the removal of the 2 EST drivers from the TRN Bax, but if it cuts the price down from >$300 to sub-50 then what the heck, right?
In terms of technicalities, it resolves fairly decently, and sound is detailed enough, about what I expected for the price. I mentioned above about issues with detail retrieval in the treble, but it’s whatever because we already know the treble isn't this set's strong suit. Sound has a nice texture, with a bright and engaging quality to it, which adds a breath of life to any track. The real star of the show is its stellar soundstage, courtesy of the vented open-back design. For this price point, the TRN TA1 Max has no business having such a detailed and wide soundstage, and yet it pulls it off so well, leaving you feeling immersed in any track. It's definitely the selling point of this product, and I'm having a lot of fun with it.
Overall, this ended up being one of my favorite IEMs in my collection, with fun tuning and unique capabilities. It certainly punches above its price point, and has the unique positioning of being an amazing open-back IEM at sub-50. I might even end up using it as a daily driver! I recommend the TRN TA1 Max to anyone looking for a sub-50 IEM with excellent soundstage and good tuning!
Space Song - Beach House (excellent soundstage demonstration)
Dough-Nuts Town's Map - Plus-Tech Squeeze Box (chaotic song to test instrument separation)
The Flag is Raised - Bladee (ethereal production with high-pitched male vocals)
Butterfly 3000 - King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (a bit of prog to test detail retrieval and instrument separation with synths)
bedroom community - glass beach (overblown yet melodic electric guitars, just a nice rock song)
Flow - FINAL FANTASY XIV: ENDWALKER (soft, somewhat orchestral piece with female operatic vocals)
Hajnal - Venetian Snares (aggressive strings combined with frenetic breaks)
Like Someone in Love - Björk (heartfelt female vocals that has a lot of ’s’ sounds)
Ladyflash - The Go! Team (lo-fi, tinny recording quality that basically exists only in the treble)
We Don’t Talk About Bruno - Disney’s Encanto (multiple overlapping vocals, separation is excellent, though female vocals are a little bit drowned out)
Oh Shit!!! - Injury Reserve (experimental hip-hop but with a lot of ’s’ sounds)