In this article, we review the new TRN Kirin which is a universal in-ear monitor using a single 14.5mm nano-grade planar magnetic driver. It is currently priced at $123.31.
Disclaimer: We received this sample in exchange for our honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website that does not have any affiliate links. Thank Linsoul and TRN for this opportunity.
More information about Linsoul-supplied products that we have previously covered on Headfonics can be found by clicking here.
Please keep in mind that this post adheres to our most recent scoring guidelines, which you can find here.
TRN Kirin Review
The TRN Kirin certainly are good sound IEMs. They feel balanced, pure, and clean. They also offer a nice sense of lacking impact and harshness on physical strike factor, or, that wince element and sudden slam effect.
In all honesty, I cannot describe how happy I am to see so many planar options out there these days.
Not long ago, I was elated at the idea of Audeze’s I-series planar portables and told myself we might be seeing a portable planar IEM wave not long after, and gosh…that seems pretty accurate.
It is like a meteor struck the Earth and it was carrying a bunch of planar magnetic IEM options for us to soak up. Count me in! I’ve no complaints about such a future.
Truthfully, I’ve needed a good new tone for my portable experience, so these arrived at just the right time. Call it Audio Karma, I suppose. Call it Fate. Call it whatever you want because it is all very nice sounding to me.
I am very used to reviewing dynamic drivers and a rare planar model, but nothing at the price point of $129 or so. Now that is a steal and a half if you ask me.
TRN is claiming a new era 14.5mm nano-grade planar driver is inside this bad boy. What exactly does that mean?
It means the inner drivers of this headphone are made from a different type of setup and design than typical coiled magnet drivers. The Planar design is entirely different and usually lends more of a powerful, dense sound than most dynamic models that are commonly purchased by non-audio nerds.
The exterior shell is CNC’ed magnesium alloy, which likely helps out with the resonation control that I am hearing on this model in my testing phase, but more on that in a bit.
Beyond the materials used, the Kirin has detachable nozzles that are specifically designed to yield a different result in sound type. It also has a pressure relief port, which is intended to smooth out the low-end experience.
The TRN Kirin uses a standard IEM design that loops over the top of your ear. Generally, there are two main design and fitting types: the loop over the ear style, and the straight down hanging style.
The Kirin is on the larger side in terms of heft and physical dimensions. There are much smaller IEMs out there and there are significantly larger IEMs out there, such as my Sony wireless buds that are pictured above next to the Kirin for size comparisons.
The exterior aesthetics are also very pleasing. The dark contrasting tone of the shells and the light reflective surface of their boarders and nozzle area exudes a high sense of style and class. Means they look expensive and high-end and I enjoy that. I get a nice-looking IEM for a relatively budget-oriented price.
I also enjoy the slightly textured face of the shell, which makes it easier to grip and remove/place the IEM.
Sometimes, a slippery surface can be a bad thing, often have I butterfingered it and dropped an expensive shell only to scuff it up, all because the shell had no grip texture anywhere on it. Thankfully, the Kirin doesn’t have that problem.
Comfort & Isolation
I do not have any fit issues with the Kirin, I find them to place into my ear canal well regardless of what tips and nozzle combo I am using.
However, I am having comfort issues. The interior side of the shell, the side that touches the inside of your ear area, is shaped in a way that applies a bit too much pressure in a small locale for me.
I find myself constantly adjusting and rubbing my ears a bit to relieve the discomfort. I cannot wear this set for more than an hour without soreness. That is due to the bulbous rounded design. That roundness factor, for me, needs to be less round and flatted a bit.
I found isolating qualities fairly good with this model, of course, it isn’t dedicated to noise cancelation needs. It is passive in that regard but what there is, is still good overall.
I have trouble hearing a box fan, or the wind, or trees and leaves rattling on walks. I have trouble hearing cars pass by, and I cannot hear any of that while music plays at a low volume.
So, with that in mind, I rate the isolation factor pretty good overall on this Kirin, despite it having a relief pressure port, somehow, it still isolates well.
The TRN Kirin comes with 2 sets of regular silicone tips, one white set, and one darker set. It also comes with a single set of foam tips.
Personally, I have found that the stock silicone tips work best and that the softer foam options are not a subjectively good meshing for me. I am not fond of how they sound. Yes, they are comfier than the silicone options, but they are also less engaging on a tonal level and I thought it was clear the foams sounded audibly inferior.
Interestingly, for such a low price, you get an 8-core silver plated and oxygen-free cable, thankfully without a microphone on it. Blessed be the audio gods. May they ever watch over us. Shocking also, it comes with a variety of detachable options in the box!
You get a 4.4mm balanced option, a 2.5mm, and a 3.5mm. Heck ya! That is what I love to see. Stuff! Options! Love it. I like this era of detachable cable leads instead of just swap to another cable.
This is the future! Also, the cable leads are solid and feel hefty in the hand. They don’t exude a cheap plastic vibe at all, at least not in my opinion.
Packaging & Accessories
TRN offers a standard box but what is inside the box is really something I need to see a lot more of. I went into this not knowing what was included in there or anything beyond that this IEM was a planar design.
So, when I opened the box and found out that it has nozzle attachments, I was super happy. I want and need to see more of this type of thing in the budget tier so that the more expensive sets can learn that we want more for our dollars invested and not a basic setup.
More nozzles in a $129 IEM? Why isn’t this a standard thing? Included also is a standard case as well to keep things nifty and neat.
More so, the cable is a good quality cable and the cable leads are totally detachable. Outside of the needless extra foam tips included, you get 2 sets of standard tips as well. This set is excessive in every way and that is a good thing.
Shilling out piece after piece that you can customize and play with to find out which set of nozzles works best with which type of cable lead for your amp or source. Then figure out which one of the three sets of tips included is best for you. Let this be a new era of standard inclusion.
At 32Ω, the TRN Kirin is not a needy planar. Back a few years ago, Planar IEMs required a lot more power and greatly benefitted from extra juice. Such is not the case with the Kirin.
I found generally no improvements over just a good portable source, even a phone, vs a dedicated power amplifier connected to that source.
This IEM doesn’t need a lot of power and more voltage did not equate to more bass depth and smoother treble. Seek higher quality sources, not power. I can hear a difference between my portable xDuoo X3 and connecting that same DAP to a larger home amplifier, but not much.
This IEM doesn’t scale much, so don’t worry about power needs. Grab a good portable source and you will be good to go, no need for a 1W output or anything like that unless you are home and want to connect your IEM to a better-sounding amplifier. Even then, as mentioned, you don’t get that much extra. The extra is just hardly audible.
I really love my X3 DAP. It is just a workhorse and punches way above its original price tag. I prefer non-touchscreen DAP experiences so I like the controls of the X3s physical button setup.
I am also using a Sony Xperia 1iii. This is a powerhouse of a phone, with excellent voltage output and a really good DAC inside. It also has a 3.5mm output!
The Kirin sounds enjoyable through both, but the phone has access to mobile Foobar2000 and other apps. The downfall of the X3 is a weak bass output in the EQ settings. However, the phones now have access to monster DSPs and amazing stuff. So, I’ve been using it often with the Sony Xperia too. And I feel the meshing is overkill for the Kirin.
Truly, I have some lower-end DAPs that are better fits than the Xperia 1iii and the X3. Both offer quality and fidelity that exceeds what the Kirin is capable of, so I am maxing the Kirin out by using them.