TRN V90s, MT1, BT20s Pro review: not the droids you’re looking for

TRN V90s BT20s Pro MT1 review

Here’s a trio of products that I thought would be best reviewed by grouping them up, as I wanted to keep their respective reviews short and to the point. I was contacted a while back by TRN and asked if I wanted to try their new products and, considering I liked many of their past ones, I accepted. It’s taken a bit to try these out, but now I’ll keep things short: the TRN V90s are a mess and nowhere near their predecessors, the BT20s Pro were the product of a great idea and a very bad implementation, and the MT1, which are an interesting experiment at less than $10, but not worth the hassle anyway.

TRN V90s review

TRN V90s review

Are all sequels good? Well, my opinion is that the answer is no, especially if we’re talking about modern sequels to old film classics. But that also applies to earphones. The TRN V90s are unfortunately not as good as their predecessors, the V90. In pure TRN style, the packaging is kept to a minimum and so are the accessories.

The design is quite close to the V90, with a triangular metal shell that sports a red faceplate (other colours are available as well). They’re small and curved enough for them to be comfortable and the metal makes them quite good at isolating from outside noises. The cable is the usual, cheap one you get from TRN and KZ: prone to tangling and not quite great.

Unfortunately, the TRN V90s are treble cannons. It took me a while to hear the lows, even though I was listening to a track with quite a bit of them – the second part of Snarky Puppy’s Binky. I can basically hear only the treble there, with the cymbals being so forward compared to the rest that I can’t actually hear basically anything else. The only other thing I can hear with enough clarity is the upper midrange, as it’s emphasised as well. Everything else is, however, nowhere near the treble, so it basically disappears. The problem with this is that it makes it very hard to judge the various parts individually: if I set the volume to a level where I can hear bass and lower midrange correctly, treble becomes too harsh; if I set it so that treble is manageable, the rest is almost inaudible.

The TRN V90s are simply so problematic and unbalanced that it becomes too difficult to provide a full review with the usual breakdown of the various things that are happening there.

I liked the first generation of the V90, but the second one is just nowhere near that. The TRN V90s are treble monsters that will pierce your ears with spikes that are absolutely out of control. While I do like the looks and the build, the V90s are just not worth your money when there are so many other great options out there. I’ve read people saying “these are great, I just had to mod them to make them sound good” and sure enough, I can also install Ferrari engine, suspensions and other components on a Fiat Panda and tell you it’s great on the track, but that doesn’t mean that the product you actually get is great. A big “no no” from me here.

TRN BT20s Pro review

TRN BT20s review

I really like the idea of the TRN BT20s Pro: an adaptor that allows you to transform basically any earphones in a Bluetooth-enabled model. If you have any favourite earphones that you wish were wireless, this could be the answer to that… if it was any good. The problem is that the great idea of the BT20s Pro is marred by a subpar implementation.

There is in fact no room inside the case for the earphones! This design is actually quite stupid as it assumes I am going to take the earphones off the adaptor every single time I want to charge it, which is extremely inconvenient on top of being not recommended as it does in fact wear out the contacts, especially in the MMCX version, and that shortens the lifespan of both the adaptor and the earphones. This is a clear example of a design failure, if I’ve ever seen one! Not only this, but TRN shows in its promo pictures that you can leave your earphones in the net pocket on the lid… except that you actually can’t, because otherwise the lid doesn’t close.

What could have also been a great feature, which is the possibility to replace the small cable to connect the adaptor to the earphone, is also compromised by the extreme fragility of said cable. Speaking of design failures, you can only charge the case (and consequently the adaptors) with their own USB-C cable, which is non-standard as the connector is much longer than any other one I’ve ever seen.

Considering these significant flaws, I don’t think that the BT20s Pro is a product I can recommend, especially considering it costs fifty dollars. It could have been great, but it is simply not worth it due to its many design failures. Unfortunately the BT30, which the company recently launched, appears not to be any better in these regards and inherits all of the design issues of this model, and it costs even more at eighty dollars. Let’s hope that with the BT40, if and when it will be out, TRN will fix these issues.

TRN MT1 review

TRN MT1 review

The TRN MT1 is basically a V90s with a plastic shell, which is also uncomfortable due to the way the cable is made. The shell reminds me of the V10, even though the shape is totally different – but I do love the transparency! As with the V90s, the accessories are kept to a minimum. Isolation is limited.

The tuning of the MT1 is just very odd, with prominent bass, very recessed mids and peaky treble. Its treble is a little less emphasised than that of the V90s, but it’s still enough to be excessive by any standards. Mids are the real issue in terms of tonality, as there’s basically no lower midrange followed by a bump in the middle and by a dip in the upper region. The problem with the MT1 is that it just sounds wrong – and I don’t say this often nor lightly. Tonally it just isn’t there at all. It goes without saying, then, that I don’t recommend these earphones, despite their cost of less than $7.

Final Thoughts

I really wish TRN upped their game. These products are no better than those that they launched in 2018, when the market was quite different and they had the excuse of being new. Now the market has evolved so much you can get very good earphones for less than $50, so I suggest you go with those – you have many examples in the Best of page.

About Riccardo Robecchi

Living in Glasgow, Scotland but born and raised near Milan, Italy, I got the the passion for music listening as a legacy from my father and my grandfather. I have reported on technology for major Italian publications since 2011.
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