TRI KAI vs Truthear ZERO
The TRI Kai comes with a 3rd generation 9.8mm DLC (Diamond-like coating) dynamic driver. The shell of KAI is made of aviation-grade 7 series aluminium alloy and has adopted the five-axis CNC process for a better-curved surface and is highly polished.
As the model name suggests KAI is a collaboration unit between Youtuber Hawaiian Bad Boy and TRI Audio. What is this mean? The IEM is tuned by him and made by TRI. The model name KAI also came from HBB as it means “Sea” In Hawaiian culture. The colour combo reflects blue for the sea and golden for the sand or beach.
Colours might be your thing or not but the metal shell and design are amazing, at least for my taste. They look great and fit great. Very ergonomic. TRI has done an amazing job here. The 79$ IEM definitely looks as premiım as it can be. Not just the IEM, the stock cable that comes with is also matched with metal and gold colour connectors and plug. And last but not least a premium carrying case tossed in the package together with also not bad silicone ear tips.
The Truthear ZERO on the other hand comes with a double dynamic driver configuration. The 10mm PU (Polyurethane) dynamic driver is responsible for low frequency, cuts at 200Hz with the help of a crossover. The 7.8mm LCP (Liquid Crystalline Polymer) dynamic driver takes the sound from 200Hz and takes it to the end of the sound spectrum, meaning is responsible for mid and high frequencies and uses an ultra-fine CCAW voice coil. ZERO is capped by a glue-dropping process, and it is solidified and shaped by ultraviolet and processed by hand-polishing and varnish spraying.
This one is, yes you guessed it right, another calibration with Youtuber Crinacle, who has the biggest amateur earphone FR graph database in his blog. The brand Truthear is a new company though, they choose to market their first product ZERO with this collab, which is a smart move.
Houston we have a problem, with the fit. The nozzle length and the slightly wider nozzle tip of the Zero gave me hard times. The slippery structure, the IEM made from resin, might be a problem with your 3rd party and short-length ear tips. Spring tips for example. Thank God the Zero comes with a variety of tips including foams. But depending on your ear you might struggle for finding the best fit. My ear canal started to hurt with stock tips as the nozzle is longer than usual.
I would like to thank Keephifi for providing me with the review sample of TRI x HBB KAI and Shenzenaudio for providing me with the review sample of Truthear x Crinacle ZERO.
Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell, KAI is tuned by HBB for the best sound in his mind according to his library. Which consists of mostly Classic Rock, Rock, Blues, Hip-Hop and Rap. ZERO on the other hand is targeted to be the best and cheapest Harman tuned IEM by Crinacle.
Bass is deep and powerful. As usual, lows are the pillar of all the great things that happen upfront. It’s deeply immersive, with just the right amount of oomph to push you out of your comfort zone, and enough control to keep you hooked. Quick, pure lows dwelling deeply into my eardrum, without overpowering the rest of the spectrum. It’s a cool rumble until you crank up the volume and get slammed by the bass. Perfectly suits bass lovers’ needs. It gets better and better each time you turn up the volume.
The mid-range sounds more natural, delivering a warm and full note structure, with a wider soundstage. You don’t have to go balanced on this one, as single-ended already provides a great sense of space. Yet, if you decide to go the extra mile, the enhancements will be there, with better mid-lows and cleaner voices at mid to high-volume. The mids are warm and spacious. Obviously, the wide soundstage and soothing voices make for a very pleasant experience. Vocals are bliss, and the IEM can fully immerse you, in just a few seconds. I found the TRI KAI soothing mids particularly detailed, with lots and lots of micro-details, even when I chose to play my music at low volume levels. Great texture, solid lows, clean mids.
Highs are crisp and lively. There is a slight emphasis on highs but nothing to be afraid of unless you’re really sensitive. Personally, I really like that signature, and found the KAI quite lovely and never too hissy. Add to that the impeccable ASDR (attack, decay, sustain, and release) and, once properly driven, you get a very lovely IEM.
Yes, it’s a lovely IEM, one that carries you through your musical journey and leaves you in a better shape than you started. Overall clarity is excellent for the price, distortion levels are minimal and there is an immediate sense of fullness as soon as you start pushing the volume. That, if you get a solid DAC/AMP, of course. Paired with the Cayin RU6, the result was terrific and the combo gave me astute highs and strong bass.
The Truthear Zero have an elevated, impactful, and full-bodied bass reproduction. The sub-bass is slightly more prominent than the rest of the bass range, however, the bass feels abundant altogether. The textured, powerful bass contributes to the fun factor of the IEM. It’s tuned in a way (Harman 2019 curve v2) to prevent the bass from bleeding into the lower midsection. The detail level is also good. The Zero performs well in this regard, the bass is controlled, very powerful, and quite exciting to listen to.
Starting with the lower mids, Truthear Zero follow a recipe of linearity here. I would easily say that this smart move ensures that the signature stays airy and a general sense of air is present. The overall signature feels quite spacious, as well as the stage and the space between the instruments. The midrange has a linear tonality and features a note-weight that is rather on the lighter side of the scale. However, the body of instruments and the body of vocals do not feel particularly thin and insufficient. The vocals feel breathy with plenty of details and they are quite engaging to listen to. The resolution and detail-retrieval are really good here, you can hear and track micro-details and individual instruments on the stage, easily. The slightly recessed midrange does not stick out at all, it feels quite alright, following the rest of the spectrum effortlessly. The Zero have an elevated upper midrange with a crisper tone.
The treble range of the IEM follows the bass’ line, they are a little more pronounced compared to the lower midrange. The second dynamic driver does a great job of reproducing detailed, articulate, and clean treble. The resolution and detail level are certainly impressive for this price and the extension is quite satisfactory. The dispersion of extended highs of the Zero helps stereo imaging and enhances the perception of stage height and width.
The soundstage is definitely one of the strong suits. The instruments have accurate positioning with ample space between them and you can easily track individual instruments on the stage. The Truthear Zero also handles congestion quite well thanks to its well-tuned signature and technical prowess.
So which one should you choose? Both, if you have the budget 🙂 Seriously you can’t go wrong with either.
The TRI KAI is one of the best surprises of the year I think. Saying this as what you get for what you pay. A very, very good IEM, inside and outside. Although it’s tuned for a variety of genres and tastes in mind I think it’s still an all-rounder IEM, depending on your sound preference-style of course.
For $50 and with two DDs inside, the ZERO sounds just amazing. And can be the closest match to Harman 2019 curve in Crinacle’s collaborations, therefore the cheapest and best Harman style sounding IEM, which many may like in my opinion.
Asking me? I would choose ZERO’s bass and mids, KAI’s shells and treble in matte-black colour 🙂