TRN MT3 ($16)
The company TRN seems to be on a tear lately. Release after release in multiple price points and styles, builds and materials all are performing well against the competition. As if they (TRN) took a page out of KZ’s book. Accept they went a step or two further by releasing original and differently designed iems yet all similar with a unique quality or two and released in rapid succession.
TRN is doing well…
TRN is doing well for themselves. I for one think the TA1 Max is one of the better iems under $50 (I recently reviewed the TA1 Max Here). The recently released ST5 received some nice thoughts from reviewers and the community in general. In fact, I like that set a lot and plan to review it soon. The Planar driven Kirin is well liked, the VX Pro (Mahir’s VX Pro Review) is widely enjoyed and the Bax is pretty widely celebrated. There are more releases, but I only have so much digital ink and really, I don’t care to list them all. The point is, regardless of the price point, TRN is doing well. Today I am reviewing the ultra-budget TRN MT3 which comes in at $15-16.
I want to thank TRN for providing the MT3 for a fair and honest review. My integrity and character mean more to me than receiving budget iems so please understand… Fair and honest is the only thing that my hands will type. So, my thanks go out to TRN who believe in their product enough, with enough guts, to open them up to scrutiny or praise. Many companies do this but even more should follow suit. It gives their products exposure and advertising which would cost much more any other way. Of course, it is the company who takes all the risk, a risk I believe is worth it. It is an opportunity to listen and get better, or to bask in the praise of a job well done. So, with that out of the way… Ladies & Gents… the TRN MT3!
-Fantastic build quality
-More open sounding
-Complicated tracks sound… Complicated
-Vocals are a bit thin
-Separation & Imaging
-This set is $16, I can’t complain too much
The packaging that the MT3 comes in is a very small box with a clear plastic top revealing the MT3 iems. As you open the plastic cover and unearth the Iems and begin digging through, you’ll find the eartips. There are six sets of eartips in total which, for the price… is not bad at all. Also, they aren’t bad quality tips, they are usable. You get three white tips and three black tips. Also packaged within is the cable nicely rolled up.
Build / Design / Internals / Fit / Isolation
I think you can guess what I’m about to say here. For the price to have a completely Zinc Alloy Shell and cavity is an uncommon occurrence and one I am welcoming. The Shell is very nice with obvious durability in construction. In fact, I can’t think of a better built iem under $20 anywhere! There are no flaws to the construction that I can see. All clean lines and smooth transitions on the Faceplate and shell.
There is a QDC style 2-pin connector for swapping cables as well as two vents. One vent is nearer to the nozzle and there is one hidden vent within the Faceplate. I also see that the nozzles have small ridges or notches to better hold eartips in place. don’t have much else to add really except, nice job TRN!
I love the look. The polygonal lines which cover about 2/3 of the Faceplate area is a solid design choice. All in a Matte black colorway. TRN are becoming known for fantastic build quality and are really beginning to set themselves apart from other chifi branded companies… in my opinion. Think about it… what other chifi company is creating so many well-constructed and well styled iems at every price point? I’m sure there are some other brands which also put a priority into the design and build but TRN is really putting an emphasis on these attributes. Anyways, this set looks tough! The MT3 is all dude, blacked out all the way around and are pretty dope. Sorry for my teenage description but I don’t think I can say it better. TRN is really doing a great job at creating stylish, relevant and bold designs and doing so at incredible prices for the consumer.
Inside of the Alloy housing is one 10mm Titanium-coated Composite Cavity Dynamic Driver. Supposedly this is to make the diaphragm more rigid than its predecessors. Also, the MT3 is promoted as having a dual chamber moving coil design in a double cavity structure and an exclusive resonant cavity configuration. I suppose I could’ve just let TRN do the talking as I pretty much just copy what they say anyways… See below…
TRN promotional images below:
They fit nice. I really don’t like adding this ridiculously subjective part of my reviews. I still don’t know why I do. Let’s pretend for a moment that we all have the exact same ears. Are you using your imagination? Okay, fellas… and ladies… the fit is very nice. These actually do hug my ears very well, of course I have not even an inkling for how well the MT3 will fit your ears.
The MT3 have average isolation for me. Nothing which jumps out at me as spectacular. I’d say average for an iem which is not built specifically for stage use. When music is playing I don’t hear the hum of my fan blowing around in my bedroom, or my daughter’s TV shows that she turns up… Far too Loud. So… Not bad.
The cable is not the most spectacular that I’ve ever seen. Also, it is better than most <$20 iem cables in both look and feel. It is a white 4 core Silver Plated Copper (SPC) and is tightly wound. I instantly swapped the included as I listen mostly on balanced. Also, I really don’t like how tangled the included cable can get and the formed ear-hooks have a very tight curvature which gets hung up on things a lot. Actually, most of this review was completed with a balanced 16 core SPC Fedai cable. I realize that this is a very cheap iem and I shouldn’t expect something premium, but it (included cable) just isn’t my favorite. However, if you don’t have an upgrade cable at hand then the included cable is just fine for use with this set.
I did not use the ear tips provided either. I normally search out tips as one of the first thing I do on every review to hopefully find the best pairing. It is normally about an hour-long process at the longest. You will almost never read one of my reviews where I haven’t tip-rolled. Also, I didn’t really get a good seal with the provided tips. I instead went with “Tenmak Whirlwind” wide bore tips. They have a very firm flange, shallow fit and a nice wide bore which seals so very well for me. However, for much of the review process I went with KBear 07 medium/large tips as well. Both works very well with the MT3. Another pair which works nicely is the Fiio Vocal Tips.
On another note, TRN is sending me their own special (TRN T Tips) tips that are supposed to work very well with the MT3. Unfortunately, they were not here in this review sample, but I will circle back and edit after I recieve them if the sound changes.
So, the MT3 are fairly easy to drive. With an impedance listed at 28 ohms and a sensitivity of 114 dB, it doesn’t take a lot to push these. However, I did find I had to volume up a bit more than some of its competition. If I was at 55 with the XHBB then it was 65 with the MT3 to achieve the same dynamic expression as well as loudness. Not a big deal.
The Zoo Aux Dongle Dac performed well here. It proved this set easy to drive. In fact, I found no benefit at all to giving it more power really. Perhaps a better and more sonically gifted source like the IBasso Dx240 achieved a better auditory result but… that should go without saying. A decent Dongle Dac should prove to be perfectly capable of driving the MT3. The Shanling UA2 was stellar with this set as well as IFi Go Blu.
Quick Sound Impressions
The TRN MT3 are a closer to neutral sounding set to my ears with some warmth just taking things left of center. We have been bombarded with warmer sounding budget iems of late and so the more pronounced upper 3rd of the MT3 adds some coolness and levity. I also hear a better balance than most iems at the price point but still I wouldn’t refer to these as “balanced”. The MT3 are a slight V-shaped iem with pronounced treble area, especially near the presence region and Mid-treble as well as a healthy dose of low end to try to balance things out a bit.
The bass is impactful but not even close to bass-head levels. The low-end is quick (for a budget iem) and is sub-bass focused with a less boomy mid-bass that is not intrusive at all into the Mids. Overall I hear good texture in this region along with pretty good clarity.
The low-mids are a bit thin and are a hair recessed as well, but they are also pretty clean sounding, depending on the track. The upper-mids follow-suit and also have good clarity overall with a certain openness to the sound. Vocals do sound a bit thin for both male and female but veer more towards a natural playback to me.
The treble can get a bit Hot to me. Nothing too crazy but fatigue can set in for me on certain tracks (One example later). Details do come out pretty well so long as the track being played isn’t too chaotic. The stage is about average in my opinion while imaging is okay, and separation can feel a slight bit blended at higher volumes and while listening to congested tracks.
As I said the bass is quicker than I would have thought and is actually quite nice. The MT3’s sub-bass has a dense depth that shows up when it is needed. This set has a good extension to the left with plenty of focus in this area. “Paradigm” by The Head and the Heart absolutely fills my ears with a haptic judder as the bassline rumbles along.
The mid-bass is a touch held back and doesn’t carry the same authority as the lowest of lows. However, bass light would not be the words I use to describe this set either. Not the most hammering or potent mid-bass, but I do detect some pretty nice texture. Attack is actually quick with a decently atmospheric decay/sustain while notes have pretty good definition.
Low end in a nutshell
The low end is one of the highlights of the MT3 for me and for $16 I am more than satisfied with what TRN has done here. The bass shows up with a decent slam and good rumble when a track demands it, and you won’t hear any muddiness or veil at all. You’ll hear solid texture for the price and a pretty clean sound. “How to Play the Flute” by Macklemore is great listening with the MT3. Once the Flute intro is done the bass will drop and the MT3 give a very satisfying rumble.
The midrange is on the up-front side of a slight recession. I say recessive, but in truth the recession isn’t great. Depending on the recording, males can have an edgy inflection to voices and also can sound more to the fore of the rest of the stage. Basically, more forward. With only a small bit of warmth and weight from the low-end, there is a very slight thinness to a man’s voice as well.
Simple / Complicated
In complicated tracks however, sometimes the MT3 can’t keep up and some blending of sounds occurs. Hence why I say it really depends on the track and certain genres. Acoustic music sounds fantastic on this set. Like songs with only a simple acoustic guitar as in “Flower Shops” by Ernest and Morgan Wallen (Acoustic version), which is flat out awesome on the MT3. Both voices are clean and accentuated and seemingly natural and accurate. The details, like fingers gliding along the strings of the guitar or even the breathing before vocals make you feel like you are there being sung to. Overall clarity is nice in male vocals, and they sound hearty enough with good presence.
Females are also just slightly thin, pretty forward and they also have a bit of shimmer to them. Females have a nice tonality, timbre and cadence for the most part. However, subtle glare can be heard, depending on the track and who is singing. Still, just like males, the female voices steer closer to natural sounding as the rising and the falling intonations of a female voice just sound good to me. Instruments in this region sound well reproduced for the most part, providing the recording isn’t too complicated. Sibilance isn’t really an issue at all either. All things considered the midrange is more open sounding and nicely balanced to the rest of the mix.
The treble is pretty accentuated in the mid-treble area and then again out past 10k with decent extension. Again, this is a more open sound up top. Considering the emphasis in these areas, the treble can be a bit too much for a person who is treble shy. The treble isn’t always overly fatiguing for me but on some tracks… the MT3 can get HOT. “Bird Set Free” by Sia for example is a bit much during the chorus of the song. The issue is exacerbated when listening at higher volumes. I truly think that raising the volume can really bring out some glare in the treble. I do think these are isolated incidents where this occurs.
There can also be an unnatural emphasis to a very slight degree. You’ll hear it with cymbals and hi hats, almost a prolonged “chshhhhhhh”. Forgive me for the ridiculous explanation but the timbre and tonality are just outside of natural here.
On the flip side…
On the flip side, the boost up top does bring out some decent details in the upper 3rd of the mix. Especially in more simple tracks the details can be pushed to the surface to a degree. Most instruments like the flute and sax sound nicely rendered for a $16 iem. Also, the piano can sometimes feel a bit forward (depending on the track) but for the most part there is a natural sound to keystrokes. Again, this is a more open and airy treble which leads way to a decently detailed sound so long as the song isn’t too hectic.
The stage size feels about average to me. Average width, decent depth and average height. I’d say this is what all iems should at the very least shoot for, as far as stage size is concerned. Everything sounds appropriate to my music. Not enormous but also not closed in.
Separation & Imaging
As far as separation and imaging goes, the running theme is that this set is great until things get a bit more congested. At which point instruments and voices begin to blend a little, layering takes a hit as well. Honestly it wasn’t anything which took me away from my music but something I should add. All in all, for $16 the MT3 separates and images the psycho-acoustic stage elements about par for the course. Not bad at all but there could be some improvement.
The MT3 seems to do a bit better on the detail front in the upper areas of the frequency. Again, not class leading but not bad. Also again, in complicated tracks or at higher volumes things start to blend a bit. However, for the price this set sounds perfectly fine.
Is it worth the price?
For the price of $16, TRN created a fine looking and very well built iem with a more balanced sound. For $16, or the price of a McDonald’s lunch for two you can have a very tough looking set in my opinion. I think the MT3 is absolutely priced where it should be. The sound correlates to the price and the build and looks shoot way over what TRN is asking with a healthy collection of ear tips as well and is pretty easily driven from low powered sources. I think the low end is well done with a cleaner midrange and crisp vocals. There are some issues with complicated songs and higher volume listening but as a whole this set plays right at the asking price.
In fact, the MT3 is very close to being included in my top echelon of ultra-budget auditory beasts. It’s problems slightly hold it back and for some these won’t be issues at all. I’m sure that many will love the tuning. I will say, in my opinion… tip-rolling is a must and trust me you can get this set sounding very nice. “Akros” (YouTube reviewer) actually has a fantastic video covering how he tip rolled the MT3 and does so very well and explains his thought process. I do believe it is worth your time to check that video out.
Get other perspectives…
I hope that no one simply takes my word for it. Please seek out other reviews from other perspectives. We all hear differently, have different gear, we have different libraries of music and simply have different likes and dislikes. It always pays off in the long run to read or listen to or watch other reviews as I know we don’t all have a million dollars collecting lint in our pockets and most of us have to make our purchases count.
I want to thank TRN for providing the MT3 for a fair and honest review. I am a fan of TRN as I own or have owned many of their iems and I love the direction they are going in as a company. In fact, at some point soon I have a review of the TRN ST5 coming up which I do enjoy. I also want to thank anyone who stuck it out till the end of this review. Please take good care and stay safe… thanks.