disclaimer: I purchased the X6 from NiceHck for a slightly reduced price because I was interested to see how well this 6 driver all balanced armature in-ear could do for so little cash. I am now seeing prices drop into the range I paid so this may well represent full retail price or close to it at the time released. TRN has been a mixed bag to date but has released enough high value products in the mix to make me hopeful that the X6 might be that mythical sub-$100 Chi-fi that destroys a lot of $500 iems. Read on to find out where the dust settled after the battles.
Unboxing / Packaging:
Those familiar with TRN will note the similarity to TRN v80 packaging, white lift top box with picture and model on front, rear has support and company info displayed. Lifting the top reveals the earpieces resting in a foam tray with a lift tab at bottom. The cable, tips, and manual are in the box under the foam tray to round out the package. Overall, not exciting, but it works. At the price point, some form of cable management and a case would have been good additions.
The X6 shells are pearl gray/black on the outside and transparent gray underneath to allow view of the drivers. Shells are well fitted and well polished with no obvious seams, glue, or gaps, but the nozzles have no lip for tip retention. I had almost reached the point where I thought this was too emphasized as most models without the lip do a fine job and never cause any issue. This was not so with the X6. Upon putting tips on, I set them down and positioned them to take my initial photos, by the time I got the camera focused in, the left tip had come off. Ok, lets try that again, oh, now the right tip came off. A few more pictures, oh look both tips came off again. Honestly I was concerned about putting them in my ear as I knew I was going to end up fishing a loose tip back out of my ear canal. Off to the workshop and a quick hit with a small diamond file to rough the area where the tip sits solved the problem and now I have no issues with tips moving. Overall its a small thing, but it is obvious no-one at the factory took time to test this or fix it (I’m sure they own a file somewhere in the shop).
Thats right, I went there first. That is where the X6 goes first, so let’s do the same. Mids are more than a little forward on the X6 so those looking for an in-ear for vocal only or spoken word, may find the X6 really attractive. Unlike most of the competition, the X6 does not rise from the lower mids to the upper, its energy seems to center right at the mid point giving both male and female vocals similar amounts of texture and detail without pushing one or the other to the front. Acoustic guitar is presented well with good fullness to the body without sounding sluggish or muddied.
Sub-bass is fairly rolled off below about 50Hz. Above that point, bass begins to creep forward but never does reach the plateau of the mids which gives the X6 a bit of a bass-light signature. The positive aspects of the bass are that it is well controlled without any bloom or boom. The downside is it lacks details and can feel a bit monotone especially as you travel toward the lower end. EQ helps some, but this will never be a bass heavy in-ear. At best, it is still near neutral rather than recessed and unfortunately the EQ does nothing for the lack of detail or dynamic range that seem to be hard-coded.
The mids drop as they reach the lower treble and the treble never reaches back to the level of the mids as you continue to move northward. Roll-off begins to be evident slightly above the 7kHz mark and is pronounced by 8kHz. Overall, the combination of being recessed behind the mids, and rolled-off fairly early really limits the X6. Air and sparkle are very minimal, and treble detail suffers along with them. The upside, is I did find the X6 very non-fatiguing, the downside, I also found it a bit lackluster and lifeless.
Soundstage / Imaging:
Soundstage is wider than deep by a considerable margin and realistically the stage width is middle of the pack for things in its price range so nothing special at best and very shallow at worst. Instrument separation is good, but again not as good as anticipated in a 6 BA arrangement. Seating the orchestra while listening is marred by the fact that often instruments that should fit one behind another sit side by side or even are adjacent with space between. To me, the imaging was probably the most disappointing trait of the X6 as I don’t understand why it isn’t significantly
Thoughts / Conclusion:
Perhaps nowhere else has the fact that adding more drivers does not equate to better performance been better displayed. I had high hopes for the X6 as a 6 driver per side in-ear with a multi-way electronic crossover gives the tuners a ton of room to work and options to tweak the signature to near perfection. Unfortunately, whatever tweaking did take place was either counterproductive or at the very least did nothing to improve on the base drivers as the whole is certainly less than the sum of its parts here. For those looking for an in-ear for someone having trouble hearing voices on the TV, these might be a good option. For most other purposes, other better options abound.
- Bass - 4/104/10
- Mids - 7/107/10
- Treble - 4/104/10
- Soundstage - 4/104/10
- Imaging - 3.5/103.5/10
Pros – good mids
Cons – Tips wouldn’t stay on, early roll-off at both ends, lack of detail, sparkle and life.