Tri audio is an extension of KBear but unlike the parent brand Tri brings more innovative and expensive IEMs with various setups and configurations. They start as low as $70 for the i4 and go as high as $800 for the Starlight.
What I have here is revision to one of their most popular models i3. The outgoing model has the same driver configuration as the successor but this time around the shell is petite and is more rigid. The price is only $20 more at $189 and the same chrome finish on the shell lives on.
No doubt this IEM looks exceptionally good. But does it sound equally impressive? Let’s find out. I will compare it with the Senfer MT300 and a Fiio FD3 for more contexts.
Get one for yourself from these links:
ACCESSORIES AND UNBOXING:
The i3 pro comes in a black box with some futuristic designs on the box. It looks cool but the unboxing experience is fairly simple. The first thing that greets us is the earpieces stuffed in the foam and the faux leather carry case. Every other accessory is inside the case including the cable. There is 7 extra pair of tips, a cleaning cloth, and a cleaning tool. An instruction manual can be found at the bottom and it concludes the list of stuff out of the box.
HOW IS THE CABLE:
i3 pro ships with a very good looking brown colored cable and strangely this cable feels better to the hand than the BGVP DM8 cable. I like the cable more than any other in this price. This 8 core 5N OFC cable is not stiff or unreasonably supple. It has barely nay micro phonics to worry about.
There is barely any stress relievers on the cable but this cable is strong enough and should hold strong against minor stress. The cable splitter is small in size while the chin slider is easy to work with. Chrome plating across the connectors give this IEM a more premium look.
BUILD QUALITY AND ERGONOMICS:
These IEMs have a very similar design to the OG i3. i3 pro has the exact type of housing made out of slightly better quality 7050 series of aviation aluminum. The pr version has 26% less volume as the OG providing equally impressive strength, stability and better comfort inside the ear. The nozzle size is not wide and aptly long which helps with a more comfortable and secure feel. It can fit anything between T500 and T400 sized tips. The set of tips it ships with are comfortable and stable inside the ear. There is a series of pressure releasing vent on the side of the body.
I3 pro is not a very ergonomically designed IEM but still has a bit of wing like structure which helps with a bit of traction inside the ear. Best thing are the rounded edges which cause no problem while moving the IEM inside the ear. The biggest positive is the shape and weight, i3 pro’s weight distribution is very good and the IEM doesn’t tend to slip out of the ear.
PTO for sound quality and and comparisons.
I have no experience with the OG i3 but one thing I can say clearly that this i3 pro is a very capable IEM, it has all the traits which makes an excellent IEM. This tri-brid with use of an 8mm DD, 10mm planar and one BA driver delivers a satisfying sound. The bass is tight, mids are slightly in the V, treble is clean, clear and sparkly.
It does not try to be warm or thicker and that makes it more neutral and natural sounding.
MATCHING WITH SOURCES:
This is a critical point for an IEM equipped like this. This tri-brid IEM has an impedance of just 15ohm and an sensitivity of 103db. 103db makes it slightly hard to reach satisfying volume but the 15ohm is kind of misleading. i3 pro needs good amount of power to sound close to it’s full potential. Use a dongle and it will do the job, use a proper AMP and it will sing. Use a mobile phone and the stage will lose it’s expansion in the X-axis and the treble air is gone.
What I really like about the i3 pro is it’s control over the lower end notes. It has the body, slam and punch but it does not get out of control. It has to be one of the most tighter and cleaner sounding lower end from an DD under $200.
It has very good extension but lacks a bit of sub-bass rumble and body but is better than what a BA based IEM like Satsuma offers. The mid bass is a bit more voluminous providing it the required amount of body and fullness. The notes do not have a lot of weight because of faster decay speed. It doesn’t let the notes precipitate and get heavy which brings class leading control. It has good amount of texture but is slightly inferior to the Senfer MT300, so is the amount of details. This 8mm DD has good dynamics, as good as Onkyo E900M.
Upper bass is aptly energized and nicely blends into the lower mids.
The only problem I find in this IEM is it’s slightly V shaped sound signature which pushes the mid range, especially the vocals back. A projection like this would not have been a problem but vocal notes don’t have enough room and the lack of height robs it off of some dynamics and naturality but both male and female vocals have accurate notes thickness. Male vocals are not a lot throaty but female vocals are lot more defined and accurate. The downside is the slight lack of texture.
The main attraction of the mid range are the instruments, they have a cohesion of their own. If you like instrumental tracks and space music this IEM can easily captivate your mind. It doesn’t try to make the notes sound overly tall or energetic but thanks to more precise finishing it delivers high quality resolution and very good details. It has a pleasing kind of attack, it bites but with love, without leaving any sibilance behind even at the upper mid region. The downside is the lack of cleanliness at the base of the notes.
The transition phase at the upper bass to lower mid region has very good details and energy. There is no anomalies to worry about.
The treble region is the strongest point of this IEM. It doesn’t miss a single note or detail. It has the best sense of space and air in the whole spectrum. It is slightly more energetic than average but is not overly so. The Akoustyx R220 is a bit more attacking than the i3 pro. The biggest plus here is the cleaner and exceptional definition of instruments. The i3 pro simply has some of the best air and separation here. There is no overlapping at the base of the notes either. It performs admirably in the sonic front too. It’s cue placement is very clean and precise. For formalities, treble extension is very good for the price, it does much better than what the Spring 2 and is on par with Fiio FD5.
The only down side is notes do not have the fastest decay emulating what a DD based IEM does, it is slower than the MT300. The EST inside the MT300 is super fast with decay.
STAGE AND IMAGING:
Another plus of the i3 pro is it’s stage. It is not the biggest but the stage feels evenly filled without getting lopsided. This stage has very good height, average width and depth.
Most of the vocals, nearly 70% starts and end inside the ear while most of the instruments are placed out of the head. The out of head feel is on par with it’s competition. The dynamic feel of this stage is impressive, it doesn’t feel limited to a boundary. It can extend if the track has it.
VS Senfer MT300:
This EST, DD and BA based IEM has been one of the favorite IEM under $200 and it still is.
I can end this comparison by saying that pick any aspect, MT300 is simply better, let it be, bass body, details, clarity or stage this IEM still is not bested. MT300 is more balanced, has even better finishing definition, but there is more to it.
i3 brings a cleaner and calmer sound with a deeper and taller stage. It is more musical and cohesive sounding too. While the MT300 can sound a dry and less juicy and can induce a bit of comfort issues for those with sensitive ears.
VS Fiio FD3:
This newly released IEM has it’s say in this price bracket. This is not the pro version but has the same 12mm driver. It sounds more organic and warmer.
This has slightly bigger bass body and more texture. Sub bass has less extension but the volume and fuller notes make up for it. Mids are more forward and the vocals are a lot more natural and accurate with notes body and finishing. Treble is where the FD3 is considerably weaker against the highly capable i3 pro. It lacks a lot of upper treble energy and lack with sparkle at the mid treble too.
Stage size is taller on the FD3 but i3 pro has better width.
The i3 pro from TRI is an excellent IEM and is the top contender under $200. It is one of most cohesive and accurate sounding IEM. It barely adds anything more that what it is supposed to be. Yes, it is not the best in most scenarios but has one of the best treble clarity and does admirably in every other aspect. The mid range is it’s weakest part but it barely affects it’s performance since it is well separated and doesn’t get shadowed by anything. It just doesn’t have the energy or forward feel to it.
If you don’t know what you want but have to have details and good accuracy across the spectrum i3 pro should be the top option.
Enjoy your music, Cheers!!