TRI Starshine Review – Too Hot to Handle

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Pros –

Compact and attractive shells, Excellent stock cable complete with adaptors, Musical bass and mid tuning, Good soundstage depth and holographic imaging, Outstanding treble extension and sparkle

Cons –

Sharp 8k peak hurts timbre, Bass extension leaves to be desired, Average bass and midrange technical performance, Feel would benefit from resin filling

Verdict –

If you enjoy a bright sound, then you’ll find the Starshine to be a technically outstanding EST implementation. For all else, proceed with caution.


Introduction –

TRI is one of those companies I keep hearing about but have never had a chance to become acquainted with personally. As it turns out, they are the premium division of KBEAR who some of you may be familiar with if you’ve been in the market for a budget IEM. TRI focus instead on higher price tiers serviced with more sophisticated acoustic designs. They were first popularised with the release of the i3, a tribrid earphone with planar magnetic driver at a very affordable price. And, this same legacy has been upheld with the Starshine. This is a midrange IEM featuring a quad hybrid driver setup. Inside are two of Knowles 2nd Generation electrostatic tweeters in addition to 2x Knowles BA drivers in a 3-way crossover. While many are implementing tribrid designs at this price point, perhaps you will find beauty in the Starshine’s more focused approach to electrostatic implementation.

The Starshine is available for $499 USD. You can read all about it and treat yourself to a unit on HiFiGO!

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Nappoler from HiFiGO and the team at TRI very much for making this review happen. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. I paid a slightly reduced cost for the earphones in return for honest evaluation and will attempt to be as objective as possible.

Contents –

Specifications –

  • Drivers: 2x Sonion Electrostatic Drivers, Knowles 29689 BA Mid, Knowles 22955 Bass
  • Crossover: 3-way with physical frequency division
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 98 dB
  • Impedance: 56 Ohms

Behind the Design –

Sonion Electrostatic Tweeter System

These tweeters implement an ultra-light membrane driven by electrostatic force, offering one of the cleanest and quickest transient responses of all driver types. In turn, distortion is very low into the ultra-sonic frequencies delivering strong extension and resolution. They are, however, difficult to implement given the need for a high-voltage transformer that lowers their sensitivity and an unorthodox frequency curve, making pairing with other driver types difficult.

Unboxing –

The Starshine has a premium unboxing experience suitable for the asking price. An outer sleeve with colour art slides off to reveal a grey hard box with the earphones and ear tips just inside within a laser cut foam inlet. Below is quality hard case with magnetic lid and a mesh internal pocket. Inside the case is the 2.5mm 8-core cable alongside 4.4mm and 3.5mm single-ended and 3.5mm balanced adaptors to support all source pairings. Also included is a cleaning cloth and cleaning brush tool. In terms of ear tips, the company includes 5 pairs of generic silicone tips with a firm stem design.

Design –

The Starshine is a handsome earphone with its lustrous blue faceplates and gorgeous 8-core cable that serve as fitting complements to its smoke clear shells. The faceplates don’t have the depth of pricier resin earphones and the internal structures are simply glued in place rather than being housed within a solid-filled structure. However, I was impressed by the seamless faceplate integration and the flawless finish of the German resin; no contamination or bubbles were observed on pixel peeping. So, while they don’t have huge density in the hand, the quality of the finish leaves nothing to be desired.  

TRI use widely adopted 2-pin 0.78mm connectors on the Starshine enabling wide aftermarket support. This likely won’t be on the buyer’s mind, however, as the stock cable is of excellent quality. It’s an 8-wire cable with copper and silver-plated copper conductors with a clear jacket that showing off awesome contrast. The jacket is ultra-supple with zero memory and minimal microphonic noise transmission. The cable feels very sturdy but is also surprisingly light. Chrome connectors complete a premium overall package alongside soft, well-shaped ear guides. It is terminated in 2.5mm and 3 adaptors are included in the box to suit other balanced standards in addition to single-ended 3.5mm.

Fit & Isolation –

On first impression, what surprised me was the compact dimensions of the Starshine; and this isn’t so apparent on the macro photographs you’ll see online. Accordingly, this will be one of the best options for those with smaller ears as its dimensions are depth biased, with a short and narrow face. However, this does mean they protrude noticeably from the ear and won’t be suitable for sleeping on. The inner face of the Starshine is also well-sculpted to accommodate the folds of the outer ear, promoting a more comfortable and stable fit.

They have a protruding nozzle that is well-angled and of typical size and shape, suiting many third party ear tips. It’s of medium length and tapers down which can permit a deeper fit depth with smaller tips or a more comfortable, shallower fit with larger ones. I found wearing pressure wasn’t too bad despite them being fully sealed, seal and fit stability also remain strong. However, for whatever reason, the Starshine doesn’t attenuate noise quite as much as a lot of sealed competitors especially in conjunction with its hollow shells, if remaining better than most vented IEMs. This makes them suitable for daily use and commute though I would prefer a more isolating design for air travel and especially noisy environments.

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About Author

Avid writer, passionate photographer and sleep-deprived medical student, Ryan has an ongoing desire to bring quality products to the regular reader.

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