Current testing methodology is v1.2
July 26, 2023
TRN MT1 MAX
3.93 x 2.75 x 1.18 in
The TRN MT1 Max is a budget-friendly IEM that features tuning switches, allowing you to customize the sound to your preference. A few years back, this feature could only be found on more expensive IEMs. This IEM retails for only around $20 and having this feature shows how fast the audio industry moves in terms of innovation.
So can the addition of tuning switches make this IEM stand out? Let’s see how it performs in this detailed review.
TRN MT1 Max
Budget earphones with a tuning switch
The TRN MT1 Max is an affordable IEM that integrates tuning switches and different tuning configurations to bring you different flavors of sound in this small enclosure.
Although the TRN MT1 Max isn’t perfect, it manages to hold itself up during testing and for its price, it performed relatively well. It has a versatile sound that could work nicely with many genres. However, some users may find its highs too harsh and bright, which can be problematic for treble-sensitive people.
- Driver: 10mm Dual Manetic Dynamic Driver
- Cable: 3.5mm angled plug / 0.75mm detachable cable
- Frequency: 20-20,000Hz
- Impedance: 22Ω
- Sensitivity: 108±3db
What’s in the Box?
- TRN MT1 Max Earphones
- 2-pin detachable cable
- 2 pairs of silicone ear tips (S, L)
- 1 pair of TRN T-ear tips (M)
- Switching pin
- Instruction manual
Stuff I like
- Versatile and balanced sound
- Good price-to-performance ratio
- Decent technical capabilities
- Intuitive design
Stuff I like less
- Poor cable quality
- Sibilance on Treble Mode and Extra Bass Mode
- Extra Bass Mode is also quite muddy
- No instructions on how to navigate through different tunings
I was taken aback when I first came across the TRN MT1 Max. For such an affordable price, has tuning switches that I only saw on more expensive IEMs. Although this feature isn’t necessarily new, it’s surprising that more and more companies are implementing it on cheaper sets.
Regarding packaging, the MT1 Max comes in a simple retail box with just the basic inclusions such as a 2-pin detachable cable and a couple of extra pairs of silicone ear tips. It also comes with one pair of TRN’s T-Ear Tips which alone retail for $3, so it’s a nice surprise.
The build quality of the TRN MT1 Max is average.
It has a resin shell, which is pretty common with IEMs at this price point. It feels durable as if it can withstand regular use. Its design is tasteful and it features some vents on its faceplate. Overall, it’s a nice-looking IEM.
The included ear tips are of decent quality, especially the T-Ear Tips, which are considered upgrade ear tips.
On the other hand, I wish I could say the same about the quality of the silver-plated cable as its texture is rubbery. It feels relatively cheap like it’s a downgrade from what TRN typically uses. This cable doesn’t seem durable so I would recommend being extra careful with it.
Fit and Comfort
The TRN MT1 Max doesn’t shy away from the typical IEM shape we all know and love, which makes it a pretty comfortable pair. I didn’t have any issues with its fit and comfort. This IEM is also quite light because of the polycarbonate resin material used for its shell.
Since the TRN MT1 Max has no fins or extrusions, I didn’t experience any pain or discomfort when I was wearing them, even for extended listening sessions.
The included T-Ear Tips were a treat and I think they do a phenomenal job in providing decent fit and comfort. However, it’s a bummer that it only comes in medium size so those with smaller or larger ears may not get a proper fit with the T-Ear Tips. In this case, you can use the included silicone ear tips or swap them out for something better.
The TRN MT1 Max has a tuning switch feature that can change how the IEM sounds. It comes with four modes, and here are my impressions of each mode when used with the test tracks, “It Runs Through Me” by Tom Misch and “Church” by Samm Henshaw ft. Earthgang.
- Bass Enhanced (Up/Down/Down) – As the name suggests, the bass was more prominent around the mix. The presentation is a V-shape sound signature, with the bass being highlighted more than the other frequencies.
- Treble Enhanced (Down/Up/Down) – This mode toned down the lower regions of the frequencies and gave a slight boost to the highs. However, the presentation was unpleasant as the treble seemed too thin and sharp and had a slight hint of sibilance leaking through.
- Balanced (Up/Up/Down) – This mode is one of the more pleasant tunings, although the highs were distracting since they sounded thin for my ears and very prone to sibilance. The bass and the mids, however, had a good balance with each other.
- Xtra-bass (Down/Down/Up) – With this mode, the mid-bass was punchy and the sub-bass had significant amounts of rumble. Although this came with a few flaws, the mids sounded smeared by the bass. The presentation is V-shaped, as the highs were prominent in the mix.
The bass of the TRN MT1 Max has sufficient amounts of rumble and presence. It sounds thick and heavy, packing a lot of punch on the mid-bass and rumble on its sub-bass. Going through the different configurations does help in making the bass more forward in the mix and it can even reach bass-head levels.
On some occasions, depending on the mode you’re using, the bass is quite muddy and can sometimes bleed through the midrange, affecting the instruments and vocals in that region.
This mostly happened to me when using the Bass Enhanced and Xtra Bass modes.
The mids of the TRN MT1 Max are a bit of a hit or miss depending on the tuning mode you’re using. They can either sound decent or smeared. Instruments and vocals can be easily discerned, although the sound separation on the MT1 Max isn’t great.
The mids also suffer from mid-bass bleed, which messes with the presentation and clarity of the vocals and instruments. Vocals were recessed in the mix except when using the Balanced mode since the sound signature of the other modes appears to be V-shaped.
Instruments are detailed and crisp for the most part, although they can go from “in your face” to “dull sounding” when going through different tunings.
On its own, the treble of the TRN MT1 Max is excessive and sharp. It remains prominent on different tuning configurations and it can also be prone to sibilance when switching through different tunings.
The highs aren’t not as well-refined, which is what I expected. Although I expected that the tuning switches would help solve this problem, the sharp characteristic of the treble remained the same.
Overall, the treble isn’t that pleasant to the ears and can easily be a disadvantage for some people, especially those who are treble-sensitive.
I’ve tested the TRN MT1 Max on different genres of music to get a proper understanding of how they sound and here are my findings.
- Metal / Rock – The instruments and vocals were well-balanced. Their positioning and volume in the mix depend on the tuning used but for the most part, guitars and vocals were tight, although they lack clarity and detail. The snare hits were relatively thin and a bit piercing, which annoyed me. Using the Balanced Mode works best for this genre. Tracks used: I Don’t Love You (My Chemical Romance), All The Small Things (Blink 182), Ignorance (Paramore), Cold (Korn), Cliffs of Dover (Eric Johnson)
- Pop – I used the Balanced Mode since it worked best with this genre. Vocals can be heard in front of the mix and the instruments sat well just behind the vocals. The bass was well-controlled and didn’t smear the mids. Tracks used: Snooze (SZA), As It Was (Harry Styles), Yours (Maye)
- Hip-hop – I used the Bass Enhanced mode for this genre as the Xtra Bass mode produced excessive amounts of bass for my liking. On the test tracks, the MT1 Max produced a decent width on the soundstage, adding depth to the spacey instrumentals in the song. Although it wasn’t that refined, it held up well. The amount of bass can be modified with a simple flick of a switch which means you can choose between configurations to get the bass presentation that suits you. Tracks used: LOVE. (Kendrick Lamar, Zacari), sdp interlude (Travis Scott), I Wonder (Kanye West), Superhero (Metro Boomin & Future)
- R&B / Soul – I used the Balanced Mode for this genre, and it was the most consistent-sounding configuration I’ve tried. The vocals on this configuration were upfront and not too recessed in the mix. The instruments were a bit thin in presentation due to the tuning of the upper mids, although the lower mids gave them a bit of body. The instruments on the bass region were punchy, although it was slow on the attack and decay. Tracks used: LA FAMA (Rosalia, The Weeknd), Blessed (Daniel Ceasar), Moonlight (Kali Uchis), Traingazing (Sam Wills ft. Honey Mooncie), Always (Daniel Ceasar)
The TRN MT1 Max has much potential without its treble’s unpleasant sharpness and inconsistent detail and clarity retrieval. For such an affordable price, you’re getting a decent pair of ear tips with tuning switches and fairly decent build quality, making it hard to question the value that it gives.
For the most part, I enjoy listening to this IEM. I’ve been using it casually but I do find the treble peaks annoying and it just doesn’t suit my taste. Some people may also find it fatiguing
Still, for its retail price of around $20, I think the TRN MT1 Max is worth a try since it offers a taste of a decent tuning switch feature without breaking the bank.
A man of many interests, Querho is passionate about discovering new things that stimulate the mind. When he is not writing about the things he is passionate about, Querho can be found making music at his home studio.
This post was last updated on 2023-12-02 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.