Updated: Mar 18
If you love treble, you’re in for a treat. These have crazy treble performance, a lot of detail and clarity as well as a pretty good soundstage.
We have with us today the TRI Audio Starshine. TRI Audio is a Chinese audio brand that serves up more premium IEMs compared to its sister brand, KB Ear, which does more budget earphones.
So let’s talk design: these look gorgeous. I absolutely love the way the faceplates are done, with that mix of blue, silver and brown and a bunch of sparkly bits that can only be seen up close. The TRI logo looks like a trident, which is pretty cool, so I’m perfectly happy with that.
You get a pretty ergonomic shape for the shells and they’re made with resin, although it seems like the internals isn’t filled completely with resin, so they’re lighter. Not a big deal, the craftsmanship here is pretty good and I didn’t notice any flaws.
These are hybrid IEMs, with two electrostatic drivers and two balanced armature drivers.
They come with an eight-core cable, mixing copper and SPC, which was a bit of a surprise. I know other brands like FiiO have provided eight-core cables in the past, but it definitely exceeded my expectations for a US$500 IEM. The cable is super pliant and soft with no problems with tangling, and I didn’t encounter too much microphonics either. Because it’s a heftier eight-core cable, it drapes very well over my ears and the memory wire isn’t too stiff, which is nice. My own eight-core copper litz cable cost around S$400 or US$300, so like I said, I was surprised when I saw the stock cable. Also, these are using the 0.78mm 2-pin connection, not MMCX. One of the pins came ever-so-slightly bent, but I bent it back very carefully, and no harm done. They still sound perfectly fine.
There are also right-angled adapters for 3.5mm balanced and unbalanced and 4.4mm balanced, with the stock termination being a 2.5mm balanced jack, so I stuck to 2.5mm for the entirety of my testing. You also get a silver-grey saffiano leather-esque case that works fine, though I did think it was a bit of a tight squeeze to get the IEMs in and you have to position them pretty much perfectly to get the lid to close.
You get five sets of tips included, XS all the way to XL, but there aren't foam tips or anything, so if you really want them, it’s a separate purchase.
Anyway, let’s talk about sound. Most of my testing was done with my iPhone 12 and the FiiO Q3, but after the tests, I kind of wish I had a warmer, more bass-inclined player. These really do need amping to shine, since it’s at 56 ohms impedance.
The reason for wanting the bass-inclined player is because while you do get a good amount of bass, you do have to keep in mind that the bass is handled by a BA driver in these earphones, so you don’t get the punch and dynamics that you would from a dynamic driver. That being said, you do get pretty good speed and attack out of it, along with a pretty deep extension. Sub-bass rumble is there, and you get good definition, but if I had a warmer player, I reckon I’d be able to enjoy the bass a bit more.
The mids are also pretty decent. You get a slight dip, and vocals aren’t quite as forward, but there’s still plenty of detail and a good bit of musicality here. It’s a more fun, V-shaped tuning than analytical or reference.
The treble is where the Starshine really shines, though. Thanks to the two electrostatic drivers inside, you get so much sparkle and energy in the highs, and for someone who really enjoys bright treble, I absolutely love these. There’s so much detail here, and the treble extends quite a bit. The only problem is that if you’re more sensitive to treble, you might end up feeling a bit fatigued.
I did change out the cable once to try it with my copper cable, and it did end up tempering the highs a little bit and brought the focus a bit more to the low-end, but personally, the treble was fine for me so I just kept to the stock cable. Swapping out the cable is definitely an option for people who want to bring down the treble a bit, but honestly, the highlight of these IEMs is the treble.
The soundstage is nice and wide with plenty of air and space between instruments, and imaging is accurate too.
If you enjoy bright, sparkly treble, you really need to see if you can give these a listen.
Content by Cheryl Tan