Inaugural Review – Massdrop x Trn V80

So I finally decided to start reviewing audio products, it’ll mostly be headphone related stuff for now since actual home audio products are incredibly expensive…and I only have so much room in my office.

I’m giving simple, straight-forward reviews. If a brand/retailer tries to send me something to review I am going to decline them. Why? I don’t want there to be any suspicion of bias on my part. I love free stuff, but I’m going to keep it real here. That and if say, a company like Unique Melody, sent me a product for review and I thought it was crap, I’m going to say it’s crap. Glowing reviews don’t help products improve, they only drive sales. I don’t care about sales, I care about my music and how I experience it. If the experience is good, then that’s what I’ll say. If the experience is bad, then that’s what I’ll say.

All that being said…here’s the first legit review that will make sense and not make you run for a dictionary…The Massdrop x Trn V80 IEMs…

 

Massdrop x TRN Audio V80 IEM Review

“The Gentleman’s Bass Cannon”

First, I actually got the wrong color in the mail. I had ordered the blue ones through Massdrop, but they had a packaging error and sent me the black ones. I ended up liking them so much I said the hell with an exchange, I’m keeping these! Yeah, that’s how much I was impressed at first listen….

Build quality of the monitors is very good. The casing is aluminum, finished smoothly in a semi-gloss fashion, and the halves’ edges are flush with each other. The pin sockets are clean and don’t display any wiggle. The nozzle screen is firmly affixed inside the nozzle and slightly recessed by a couple millimeters. This should help prevent accidental damage from fussing with ear tips.

The cable really surprised me, as it is very pleasing in the hands, has a straight plug with a high quality, slightly beveled plug sleeve, and the memory wire requires no fussing with to fit into place as it is pre-curved from the factory. Some may appreciate this, some not, it’s personal preference. Overall, the cable is tightly wound, shiny black in appearance, and the cable after the split is most ample in length. My only gripe is that for the length of the L/R cables, a keeper or cinch would help with keeping the wires out of the way when moving around. Sitting at home listening, they’re not a big deal.

Ear tips are your generic silicone S, M, and L offerings. The medium ones are pre-installed and happened to fit my ears just right. Since I’m happy with the stock tips, I won’t offer any comparisons. I would have liked to see a set of foam tips as well, but given the price drop on these for Massdrop, it’s ok.

Sound:

PC: FLAC+WINAMP/Spotify Premium > Schiit Fulla 2 > Massdrop x Trn V80

iPhone X: Spotify Premium (downloaded)/Bandcamp (streaming)/Apple Music (320k MP3) > Massdrop x Trn V80

Xbox One X > Turtle Beach Stream Mic / Wireless Xbox Controller > Massdrop x Trn V80

I’m not going to use audio-nerd terms here, but simple English we can all relate to physically and emotionally. This is for the people. *sweeping bow*

The frequency response is V-shaped and has some delightfully authoritative bass, gentle but clear mids, and dancing highs that don’t scratch your ears bloody.

The bass response is actually quite accurate for a more bass-tuned IEM. Lossless tracks from Unheilig’s Zelluloid did not have a bloat to the midbass nor inappropriate addition to the subbass. Rather, the bass became a little fuller and punchier, while retaining enough detail to distinguish between rapidly plucked notes. On songs that are notably midbass heavy, much modern pop comes to mind, the midbass bloom was very well controlled and surprisingly the mids remained enjoyable.

Mids are gently recessed, with their presence belying the V-shape frequency response. Male vocals are more present than female vocals, with the latter sounding more “distant,” but only by a small amount. Awe inspiring vibratos aremain intelligible and pleasing, lacking the piercing characteristics lesser IEMs confer upon such performances.

The treble is delightful and balanced in its approach; there is sparkle when appropriate and softness likewise. Harsh, energetic cellos and violins, such as those from Epica and Apocalyptica, retain their musical charm and do not claw at the eardrums. It’s really nice to be able to hear both the instrument’s natural tone as well as the distortion and have it pleasant. Cymbals and similar percussion instruments are distinguishable from each other.

The sound stage is generously wide with lossless recordings and fed from the Fulla 2. From the iPhone X, it narrows noticeably but not enough to become congested. What the V80s do not do, is image vertically much at all. The music remains mostly in front of your face or inside your head. When it is inside your head it isn’t unpleasant and it’s usually not all the elements of the song that are centered. Placement of all the instruments and vocals is very good, albeit constrained. Bass usually presents itself low on the sound stage, acting as a firm and authoritative foundation for the mids and highs.

There are notable differences between lossless and Spotify/Bandcamp downloads/streaming as well as between PC and iPhone use. From the iPhone, the soundstage as a whole, closes in more in a circular fashion, evenly reducing the presentation’s width and depth. From the Fulla 2 and lossless FLAC, separation, detail, and musicality was the best. I could not tell the difference between 320K MP3 rips in iTunes/Spotify and the Spotify downloads and streams or the Bandcamp streams. I personally feel that 320K MP3 and Spotify Premium/Bandcamp Streaming (owned music) are virtually identical and if there are differences, either my gear isn’t good enough to resolve them or my ears aren’t.

The memory wire is unusually comfortable and doesn’t interfere with my glasses…I don’t even notice it when it’s in place. The pre-formed shape from the factory is just right for my ears and perhaps other people too. They’re really freaking comfortable and discrete. The cable is quite nice as well.

I would describe how the V80s execute each note as “precise;” even with rapid fire harpsichord key strikes or a roaring symphony you are able to hear and appreciate each individual instrument. This is why I have dubbed the Trn V80s “The Gentleman’s Bass Cannon.” They’ll mess your ears up in all the right ways and be polite while doing it.

What these are not good for at all is gaming…whether they were fed by the Turtle Beach Stream Mic’s headphone out or from the wireless Xbox controller, the sound was a bit congested and all centered in the head. It was very difficult to pick out directional sounds in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, which messed with my performance as the audio engine in the game is superb. Streaming video (Amazon Prime Video, Netflix 4K, CBS Go) was alright but if you’re looking for a movie experience, these won’t do it.

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