Headphones, Reviews

TRI Starsea Review

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Introduction TRI Starsea competes in one of the most competitive price brackets on the IEM market, the $100 to $200 bracket, and manages to come up near the top.  The…

Introduction

TRI Starsea competes in one of the most competitive price brackets on the IEM market, the $100 to $200 bracket, and manages to come up near the top. 

The powerful and exciting v-shape signature of these IEMs is done exceptionally well for the price. The bass is thumpy and hits with incredible power, an excellent bass-head IEM. The mids have decent tonality, and the treble is bright with good extension and detail. There’s not a lot to fault in these IEMs that can be considered a definite “deal-breaker.” Most of the problems that it has can either be mitigated by changing the switch combination on the side of the IEMs or is simply a matter of different listening preferences. 

So the only real question to ask about these IEMs is, are these pairs a good fit for your overall taste in music? Let’s find out!

Sound Breakdown

We are starting with the best part of these IEMs, the bass. It’s powerful with great separation and a decent level of control. The bass also feels massive in scale, appearing extra “boomy” and rich. The bass also has a very comforting and deep feeling that’s very easy and soothing to the ears while, again, being a powerhouse. Great separation means you’ll also be able to pick out each bass element even in the busiest of tracks.

One thing to note here is the slight lack of sub-bass. It’s there if you pay attention, but it’s not nearly enough to be satisfying if you’re a listener that looks for those in your IEM. 

Overall, the bass is quite impressive. As long as sub-bass is not your top priority, these are some of the most satisfying bass responses under $200 that I’ve heard.

Midrange

The midrange feels slightly aggressive near the upper end, which can benefit some vocalists. For example, vocalists like Frank Sinatra and Adele sound more powerful, fulfilling and gives their voices more grandeur and scale. 

The strong upper mid can also make some vocalists sound unnaturally heavy. Artists like Ariana Grande, Owl City, and Maroon 5 all have more naturally high and lifted voices. The added upper mid can make them sound more grounded and heavier, not true to how they usually sound. Whether or not that’s a bad thing is more a matter of preference than anything else in this case. For myself, I like robust vocals when it’s warranted, but when it’s not, it sounds a bit too manufactured and forced for my taste—switching on the “Beautiful Vocal” balances out the mid and bass, fixing that issue for me for the most part. Side note, for that reason, the “Beautiful Vocal” setting is my favorite setting for these IEMs. 

The one genre that doesn’t work well with the aggressive upper mid is orchestras. On these IEMs, the strings and woodwind feel too weighty, and they lose their natural light and beautiful atmospheric nature. Pianos can also come across as forward and muddy if the song lives mainly in the lower-mid region. Overall, not the best pair of IEMs for orchestral or piano tracks.

The detail and clarity, however, are overall great! 

Overall, the midrange is a hit or miss depending heavily on your music library and signature preferences. I also recommend trying different settings to get the midrange that you want. 

Treble

The treble is bright, distinct, and crispy clear. It’s one of the most fun-sounding trebles I’ve heard in the $100-$200 range. It can be harsh sometimes, depending on the track, but not a huge percentage. I’m pretty sensitive to treble peaks, and I can comfortably listen to these for hours. I’ve even fallen asleep wearing these a couple of times. Treble extension is also great, giving the vocalists their whole range without congestions. Electric guitars, high hats, and cymbals have the sparkle and shine they need to feel satisfying. Percussion hits are spot on as well. 

Overall, the treble here is fantastic—nothing I can fault at this price.

Sound Profile Options

Before we jump into the technical performance, let’s first go over all the sound profile options available on these IEMs.

“Amazing Bass” – Switch Number 1 Up. 

This option boosts the bass power slightly. It’s noticeable but not a massive change.

“Beautiful Vocals” – Switch Number 2 Up.

This option lowers the bass and balances out the mids, giving vocals a more natural appeal.

“Balanced Tuning” – Both Switch Up.

This option sounds almost indistinguishable from “Beautiful Vocals.” 

Technical Performance

Detail & Separation 

The TRI Starsea has great overall details across the board. Bass has good separation, mids are clear, and treble is nice and crispy. It may not have the depth of field or “3D” effect that more expensive IEMs have, but it’s exceptional for the price. 

Imaging & Soundstage

Imaging is meh on these IEMs, not the strong point, not bad, just average. Soundstage is a different story; it feels quite spacious and roomy, a step above the “inside your head” experience. 

The Good & Bad

The Good

  • Powerful bass with good separation.
  • The treble is top-tier for the price.
  • Impressive soundstage.
  • Pleasing vocals (in “Beautiful Vocals” setting)
  • It has sound profile options.

The Bad

  • The upper mid can make some instruments and vocal sounds unnaturally meaty.
  • Average imaging.

Alternatives

There are many IEMs under $200, and we can be here all year comparing them all. However, the closest one and the one many people have a hard time deciding between it and Starsea would be the Fiio FH3. The FH3 is more of a traditional v-shape with more recessed and natural-sounding mids. The bass, while some say stronger than the TRI Starsea, I find them to be quite similar power-wise. The sub-bass is noticeably more prominent on the FH3. Treble is brighter and potentially less safe on the FH3, but not by much. Detail and separation are slightly better on the FH3, while the soundstage is better on the Starsea. So which one is better? It’s all preference. If you like sub-bass rumbles and more natural-sounding mids, the FH3 is the one to pick. If you want a heavier sound profile with a more pronounced upper-mid and better soundstage, the Starsea will fit you better. I suggest looking at your music library to see which IEMs your playlist will benefit from the most. 

Conclusion

I recommend the Starsea. I stand by what I said at the beginning of this review that it’s one of the best IEMs you can get at this price. The technical performance from the detail to the soundstage is impressive. The treble is phenomenal, and the bass is satisfyingly impactful. The mid can be an issue, but the sound options can remedy some of that if not fix it altogether. Overall, a set worthy of being amongst the top of its price bracket. 

Review by Timmy Vangtan

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