Among current in-ear monitor (IEM) manufacturers, Crinacle is the most prominent. He worked with the up-and-coming Truthear company to develop the Truthear x Crinacle ZERO IEM about a year ago; it costs fifty dollars and has a frequency response that closely approximates the statistically-derived Harman In-Ear frequency response goal. However, Crinacle does not approve of that aim point and has developed an alternative that better fits his preferred tuning. Truthear x Crinacle ZERO: RED, formerly known as Project Red, is now available for $55. Seeing Crinacle's own film about the RED's origins here and Resolve's assessment here are both highly recommended. In this review, I'll try to figure out what makes the RED stand out from the crowd of other affordable in-ear monitors (IEMs) that sound great.
Give Me the Goods!
Similar to the Zero, the RED's two dynamic drivers measure 7.8 mm and 10 mm, with the latter functioning as a subwoofer and crossing over at about 160–180 Hz. To improve performance even further, the voice coils of the drivers were tweaked, and the crossover networks were redesigned. The electrical impedance curve of the RED may be used in conjunction with the accompanying 10 Ohm impedance adaptor to further improve bass response.
The bundle comes with a good assortment of extras:
There are a total of 6 pairs of white S/M/L silicon tips. The treble response of each pair is somewhat variable due to the varying bore sizes. For my evaluation, I utilised the medium-sized, narrow-bored tips.
- A pair of universally sized black foam earplugs.
- A faux-leather purse with a luxurious feel.
- The aforementioned conversion of impedance from 10 Bass+.
- A typical 4-core black braided cable with two male ends. It's a respectable cable that doesn't retain much noise or information. As a touch-obsessed person, I like something that isn't quite as securely braided as I would want.
Truthear x Crinacle Zero (Red) - First Look and Main Features
There is nothing revolutionary about the Truthear x Crinacle Zero: Red. It's based on the original Zero and retains its foundational architecture while updating the listening experience in significant ways. One of the earliest double dynamic driver (DD) IEMs, the original Zero had a 10mm DD and a 7.8mm DD, with the larger of the two serving as a subwoofer.
The Zero's success may be attributed to its specialised electronic crossover. This little part is responsible for separating the drivers' frequencies. Similar to the original Zero, the bigger speaker here can only generate sounds with a frequency of 200 Hz or below. Its speciality is producing deep bass, and it excels at it. The 7.8mm driver provides the majority of the sound, while the biggun' contributes the super low-end's meat, rumble, and punch.
This dynamism (pardon the pun) provides the Zero a distinct position among IEMs. Some systems use a different frequency-splitting scheme, while others include additional driver types. This option combines the cohesiveness of a single DD with the audacious appearance of a sub. To put it simply, it's enjoyable.
The Red, formerly known as Project Red, is an upgrade to the original design that better matches the tuning intended by Crinacle. The midrange and bass are both mellowed down, but the treble is remarkably faithful to the original and just as silky and nonfatiguing as before. New voice coils and a revised crossover are only two of the improvements made to the drivers. It's more than simply a cosmetic change due to the fact that it delivers both tuning and technical advantages, reducing overall distortion rather considerably when tested.
The replicas of the shells are identical to the originals in size and form. They are resin that has been 3D printed (by the same company that makes Moondrop) and then polished. They're about average in size, although the broader nozzles may be uncomfortable for those with tiny heads. The term is reflected in the new, bright red colour and eye-catching feather design of the faceplates.
Matter and Practicality
The Red's included accessories are top-notch, including a variety of eartips, filters, a clever carrying case, and even a 10 adaptor for amplifying bass and sub-bass, in addition to the standard cable and documentation. The earpieces have the same form as the original Zero, but they're fairly huge and have extremely thick nozzles that may accommodate several third-party tips.
Impact of Noise and Frequency
The Truthear Zero by Crimson Peak:RED is a top-notch IEM that addresses a significant need. In my opinion, this is an example of a contemporary "neutral" + "bass shelf" tuning. It is up-to-date because it benefits from the developments and discoveries made in the field of audio during the last several decades. The RED is not the first in-ear monitor (IEM) with this kind of tuning, but it is the first to be manufactured and, as far as I know, confirmed by the now-standard B&K 5128 measuring system.
The RED's tuning is comparable to that of a set of studio monitors, to borrow a terrible cliché. It's not that it imitates one; rather, the RED is so precise and harmonically on-point that it's difficult to dispute. However, just as not everyone wants studio speakers, not everyone wants stereo hi-fi.
The RED has a rather small soundstage. There is improved imaging thanks to the stereo effect and the stage's depth, but the height and central focus are still problematic. The RED's staging isn't terrible, but it's not up to par with other recent low-budget IEMs.
The RED has the best resolution in its class. The low-end IEM category, to be precise. The new planar family of IEMs and other reference devices, such as the MoonDrop Blessing 2, will remain in use. The RED's texture and roughness provide great microdetail, with subtleties that characterise each note.
As an improved version of the 2022 Zero, the Truthear x Crinacle Zero Red is a fine iem that justifies its price tag. Even if it has been well-accessorized, it is not nearly as unique as the internet's echo chamber would have you believe, and it falls well short of the lofty standards set by Crinacle's marketing machine over the course of many years. The focus on low frequencies is unprecedented among its peers. However, the Red will appeal to the vast majority of the market.
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