The Ultra Cheap IEM Thread



Great review. I enjoyed reading it.



Thanks Paul. I kind of wish KZ would slow down with their releases and focus on making higher quality IEMs. Their stuff always has so much potential, yet end up letting me down. The AS10 was a good path forward though. I have yet to listen to the ZS10 but I may get that if I see it on sale some day just to have a listen. Its the only top tier KZ (if you can call it that) that I have not heard yet.


They do seem to release them very frequently. Sadly I haven’t heard any of the Chinese budget iem’s or earbuds. I would like to though. I hanged some of the T2 pros on order from Massdrop. It’s strange but I am sure that if KZ put their mind to it and stopped throwing out so many releases and concentrated on a few premium or even medium tier iem’s and focused purely on those then, I am sure they’d come out much better.

They seem pretty badly designed, and look uncomfortable from here.



That’s a great review. I agree with your impressions. I recently purchased these from Amazon, the same seller as you, Yinyoo. My Amazon review appears below.

The recent trend for multi-driver hybrid IEMs continues unabated. Ever since KZ released their quad-driver ZS5, manufacturers have brought out competing models using technology trickling down from high-end designs. Materials have also improved, with high quality metal housings being the order of the day, such as the KZ ZS6, Zodic ET2201, Revonext QT2 and QT3. Some of these have earpieces based on designs by other makers (e.g. Campfire Audio) and the TRN V80 is no exception, with its design clearly resembling the Dunu Falcon C.

The V80s are attractively presented in a sturdy white box featuring a line drawing of the earphones and the words "Audiophile Quad-driver Hybrid In-ear Monitor". I would not disagree with that description!

Inside you will find the earpieces nestling in a white foam insert below which, under a flap, are the detachable 2-pin cable, two pairs of silicone eartips and some literature. One set (medium) of silicone eartips with a red bore is pre-fitted.

The TRN V80 is a quad-driver IEM employing two dynamic drivers and two balanced armatures. Each driver is assigned its own frequency range by means of an electronic crossover network. The bass driver is a dual concentric design with a 10mm dynamic driver covering the lower bass and a 6mm dynamic driver the upper bass. The two balanced armatures cover the midrange and treble. The earpieces are machined from aluminium and are coated in three layers of enamel, giving a smooth glossy finish. The faceplates have three graduated vents which should produce a wide soundstage at the expense of a little isolation. There is another small vent at the base of the nozzle. The cables fit very easily into the sockets and they have a reinforced section for shaping around the ears, which retains its shape very well. There is a nice metal Y-split and a chunky black metal 3.5mm straight plug.

The earpieces are quite compact in dimension, and fit snugly in the ear. The pre-fitted tips were a perfect fit and gave good isolation at the same time as being very comfortable. In fact these are the most comfortable over-ear IEMs I have used so far. There was no problem with microphonics or cable noise although the cable is rather prone to tangling. A chin slider would have helped.

The instruction leaflet recommends 100 hours burn-in before the earphones are at their best so I followed this advice. (I am an advocate of burn-in anyway!). After this, listening was carried out using a HifiWalker H2 DAP and Fiio A5 amplifier. Until recently, the more affordable hybrid designs have been tuned with a pronounced “V-shaped” sound with prominent bass, recessed mids and bright, sometimes aggressive treble. This was certainly not the case with the V80s. I would describe the overall sound signature as well-balanced with no part of the frequency range unduly emphasised.


The bass on these IEMs is very deep and extended, but does not bleed into the mids. Rather than being boosted in the mid-bass and then rolling off towards the sub-bass, it maintains its level all the way down and has excellent texture and resolution, yet never dominating the overall sound. As a result, recorded ambience is reproduced very well, adding to the realism with orchestral basses and bass drums having great character. In the second movement of Benjamin Britten’s “Simple Symphony” by the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by the composer, the double basses and cellos have a wonderful resonance and timbre with the reverberation in the Snape Maltings coming over beautifully. Electronic music also benefits from this bass quality. Matthew Clifford’s “Accumulus” is a grandiose electronic work using an arsenal of synthesisers and the bass has real impact and depth, providing a wonderful foundation for the music. The bass is agile with great transient attack.


The mids are prominent and well-articulated, with the balanced character of these IEMs a refreshing change from the popular “V-shaped” profile. Due to the vented design, detail is excellent, separation is clear and soundstage open, deep and wide, with a good impression of height as well. Stereo imagery is very good with vocals standing out clearly over the accompaniment. Moya Brennan’s ethereal vocals in “Newgrange” from Clannad’s “Magical Ring” album shone out above the synthesised background and deep drum effects, producing an appropriate magical performance. In “High Hopes” from Pink Floyd’s “Division Bell” David Gilmour’s voice was clear and expressive with a somewhat menacing quality. Studio reverb was reproduced very well. These are some of the most impressive mids I have heard.


Some online reviews of these IEMs have mentioned sibilance or an aggressive quality. I did not find this to be the case. I found the treble to be smooth, extended and airy with wonderful detail. The harpsichord continuo and upper strings in Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No.3” (Alsace Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Karl Ristenpart) were clear and detailed. The overall effect resembled a live performance with good presence and attack and the rhythmic quality of the piece coming over very attractively with a lively bouncy quality. In Richard Burmer’s classic electronic track, “Across the View” the high synth notes were reproduced very clearly. This added to the character of the piece which had superb coherence. I believe this is due to the dedicated BA drivers for the midrange and treble.

These TRN V80s are an unqualified success. The balanced and neutral character of the presentation suits all genres equally and the use of separate drivers for the different frequency ranges really works, with no evidence of any crossover artefacts during listening. They improve on other recent multi-driver designs such as the KZ ZS10 and Revonext QT2 due to their more balanced presentation, good isolation, superb build quality and excellent comfort. Feed them with high quality music and you will be very impressed.


Great review. I am listening to the v80 for a review as well. I have similar impressions to you. They are a very great performer for their price range. I actually may choose it over there T2 (standard, not pro) since it has similar detail but more rich sounding and better treble. I do find the treble and upper mids to be a bit loose though with soon be songs sounding fantastic and some sounding very unnatural. Could be a fit thing too. I haven’t tried any other tips yet


These various little buggers are quite a lot of fun …

Picked up the KZ ZST, ZS6 and ZS10 last week. Some filtered Comply tips and EQ for the treble for the ZST and ZS6 makes them listenable and quite a lot of fun. The ZS10 is surprisingly decent as-is. At least out of the QP2R.

Also ordered the T2 Pro and RevoNext QT3 via Massdrop a few minutes ago; will be interested to see how those fair in comparison.

Might just have to snag a super-cheap DAP (maybe a FiiO X1, X3 or Sony A45) to see what can be done for <$250 and maybe <$150. Though I can’t see that replacing my iPhone/Dragonfly Red/ER4-XR/QC20i for travel purposes.


FWIW, I quite enjoy my QT2 straight out of my iPhone SE. I find myself using a music player with parametric EQ in order to tone down the treble spike, but for casual listening and telecommunications I’m happy to forego that.


This is mostly a bit of fun for me/review fodder. Grabbing a cheap DAP (or two) is also more for review/comparison purposes.

I have a sliding scale of gear for my portable listening. Starting with 1More Triple Driver Lightning IEMs permanently installed in a ScottEVest. Then there’s a Lightning Dongle/Bose QC20i for traveling long and light. Sometimes I use the AudioQuest Dragonfly Red instead of the Apple Dongle (since my iPhone XS has no headphone output, nor did the two models before it).

If I really am going to have time to listen, or am traveling alone, and assuming I can spare the weight/space, then the ER4-XR will replace the Bose (I don’t use true in-ear stuff when traveling in company - too much of a pain when people get chatty) things like my Sony NW-WM1Z or Hugo 2 get to tag along, combined with the Zeus XRA.


Speaking of Empire Ears, did you see that Massdrop is offering a version of the Zeus XIV? For some reason I can’t get past the fact that the shells look like KZ ZSTs, but its an interesting drop anyway.


I did!

And a pretty attractive price!

But, yes, they do look a bit more like a $20 IEM than a $1,000 one - the multi-color KZ ZST is, I think, prettier.

The Zeus XR (Adel) has a little switch on it. In one position you get the Zeus R tuning/crossover, in the other you get the Zeus XIV tuning/crossover. Personally I liked the Zeus R slightly better, but the XIV has a lusher mid-range - the XR just means I get either when I feel like it … just a tiny switch away!


I’d have a look at the Hidizs AP80 that’s just finished in kickstarter (and can be ordered direct off their site now).

Suoer portable, looks like great build quality and a lot of reviewers are rating the sound quality as on par with the Hiby R3.

I’ve ordered one as it ticks all my boxes, might be worth a look if you’re looking for a cheap DAP.


I’m happy you enjoyed my review! I have tried a number of different tips, Spiral Dots didn’t work too well, but Spinfits are great, I’m using medium size (red bore) and they sound superb. They are still improving after over 120 hours so I think they benefit from a very long burn-in.


Seems like an interesting enough device.

I’m not really “looking” for a cheap DAP though. This is just one of my all-too-frequent “that might be fun on the spur of the moment things”. Which also tends to mean “because it’s available same-day via Amazon” because “I have a few free hours to play with something I wasn’t expecting”.

Since the AP80 doesn’t start shipping until November, it’s not going to fit in with that.


I always hear you talking about same-day Amazon and it just makes me wish I had it here all the more. Supposedly a new distribution center is going in right down the road, but that could be many years out. Guess I’ll just have to move!


Haha. Funny you mention that, I switched to spinfit tips on the TRN V80 and I really enjoy it more now. I get better seal and bass and treble tightened up.


Amazon same day and prime now 1-2 hour shipping is dangerous. That’s my words of warning for you. I love it. But… not my wallet. :slight_smile:

This is me usually, “oh… I just need a few more bucks in my cart and then I’ll get it free today…”

Except this is multiple days per week.


Mission accomplished!

– Jeff Bezos


Be careful what you wish for!

Amazon same-day is responsible for more spur-of-the-moment audio purchase nonsense than any other single factor.

I may or may not be guilty of that too …

My fiance is convinced we get something delivered every day. I can neither deny nor confirm her suspicions here. Okay, well, I can … but I’m not going to!


That’s me all over. I am forever looking out of my window twitching my curtains trying to spy the delivery van.:grin:. Much easier now that you can track the driver though.



Coming soon: Ultra Cheap (Free) IEM Roundup

Warning: Includes humor (satire, sarcasm, and/or irony)

I recently returned from vacation and collected the complimentary IEMs offered along the way.

The products include:

Top: British Airways with its fancy pants Avis ad
Left bottom: Swiss Rail (SBB CFF FFS)
Right bottom: Italian museum tour group

I put these forth as representative of the technical achievements of each country, so this will be an international face-off (UK vs. Switzerland vs. Italy).

Unbagging and testing with both solid-state and tube amps to commence when the jet lag ends.

Note that Italian model clearly inspired Apple in favoring form over function, as it dispenses with the second ear (who needs stereo?) in favor of compact elegance.