TRI Starshine

Shines bright like the North Star!

PROS: Clean, vividly musical, exciting and energetic signature, exceptional clarity and micro-detail retrieval, good fast bass dynamics, precision and attack, good build quality with excellent finish shine, attractive stock faceplate design, comes stock with 2.5mm balanced cable + 4.4mm and 3.5mm adapters.

CONS: Nitpicking – Can use slight reduction in mid and upper treble gain especially for people sensitive to treble, primary upper-midrange peak slightly later at 4kHz takes a bit away from perfect tonal accuracy, TRI should fill the shell cavity with a bit more resin to add some heft, would’ve liked more variety in stock ear tip options.

Disclaimer.

I would like to thank TRI for sending me the Starshine to test and review. I am not affiliated with the company or any of its sellers and write this review with an unbiased opinion regardless of how the review turns out.

About TRI.

TRI is KBEAR’s premium line of in-ear monitors and are brands of Shenzhen Lingyin Technology Co. Ltd. China. KBEAR mainly offers value for money IEMs and cables under $100 whereas TRI is positioned as a more premium lineup of IEMs, mostly $100 and above.

Links – TRI Starshine (KBEAR AliExpress Store, $499)

TRI Starshine Solo Left


Technical Specifications.

  • Drivers – 2 Sonion Electrostatic drivers + 2 Knowles Balanced Armatures
  • Impedance – 56Ω
  • Sensitivity: 98dB
  • Frequency response range: 20-20kHz
  • Cable – 2-pin 2.5mm Copper and Silver-Plated mixed braided cable

Included in the box.

  • TRI Starshine
  • 2-pin Cable with 2.5mm jack
  • 4.4mm and 3.5mm adapters
  • Carry case
  • Cleaning brush and cloth
  • Manual

Build Quality.

Starshine has semi-custom shaped shells made out of resin. The shells are finished beautifully and I could spot no imperfections even under bright light. The shells are minorly filled with resin on the inside which makes them quite a bit lighter than full resin filled IEMs like Moondrop S8. I personally like full resin shells but less resin in the shells actually makes the internals easier to fix in case of warranty repairs. The shells have a translucent black bottom and a unique blue coloured Swirl design faceplate with the TRI logo on top. The nozzle is slightly short and relies on a well extending ear tip for a medium insertion fit.

Cable – Starshine comes stock with KBEAR’s Rhyme 2-pin Copper and Silver-Plated mixed braided balanced cable with a 2.5mm balanced jack termination. Also included are 2 very good quality, right angled 4.4mm and 3.5mm adapters, which I highly appreciate. The stock cable is not the nicest cable I’ve gotten with an IEM under $500 but it isn’t too microphonic, has decent thickness, is soft and wraps & unwinds nice and easy without tangling. Frankly, it has the perfect thickness to wear the Starshine around as an EDC IEM.

TRI Starshine Cable

Case – It’s a faux leather case with a magnetic closing mechanism. It barely fits the Starshine and the cable and you can’t really put the extra adapters in there in the tiny pouch. They should’ve chosen a more roomy case that could’ve fit at least some of the stock accessories.

TRI Starshine Case

Fit and Comfort.

Starshine has a fairly comfortable fit for me with the stock ear tips because of its semi-custom shape. Even though the nozzle isn’t too long, it allows for a medium insertion fit with stock ear tips, even better with third-party ear tips like Fearless stock green bore, Azla Sedna, BGVP A07 and Final E tips. 

Sound Analysis.

Drivability – Starshine has 56Ω impedance/98dB sensitivity and demands good juice from a nice source. My OnePlus 7Pro could barely power it, MacBook Pro did a bit better by almost maxing out the volume but it sounded much better through HiBy R6 2020’s 245mW SE output and even more through its 750mW 4.4mm BAL output. Those stock high quality 4.4mm and 3.5mm adapters make it very convenient to jump between source outputs. For reference, I had the volume at 75-80 with SE in High Gain and 68-73 with 4.4mm BAL in High Gain

Summary – Sound wise, Starshine has a clean, vivid, exciting and energetic signature which is fairly balanced but has a prominent treble boost for a sparkly, sizzly and extremely airy presentation. Because of its brighter signature, Starshine has a wide soundstage and high micro-detail retrieval clarity but without sacrificing on bass or lower-midrange balance as much. Its bass presentation is in fact fairly well balanced relative to the mid and upper treble boosted signature it has and doesn’t come off as anaemic or lacking. Also, in my tests ear tips had a significant affect on Starshine’s signature. For example, Final-E tips increased bass and tamed a bit of upper treble. So, I highly recommend tip rolling with Starshine to your liking.

Let’s dig in deeper…

Bass – Starshine has good extension till 20Hz but is just a bit north of neutral in its tuning. You can hear and even feel the sub-bass rumble in songs like Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howards’ ‘Why so serious’ from The Dark Knight soundtrack as well as Linkin Park’s ‘Sorry for Now’ but it feels more neutral-ish than rumbly. It has a very slight mid-bass boost which makes bass in songs a bit more fun to listen to than absolute neutral. Bass is quick, has exceptional clarity, precision and fast precise attack. You can clearly hear and discern every note the bass player plays as the whole bass range has very good resolution and separation.

Mids – Starshine is slightly north of neutral in the 250-500Hz range, which I hear primarily adding a bit more body and fatness to instruments, particularly snares. Upper-midrange is where Starshine moves away more from a neutral-reference presentation and into the fun realm since it has a minor dip in the 1.5-3kHz range and the primary upper-midrange peak at 4kHz instead of more tonally accurate 2.75-3kHz. As a result, instruments do not have as forward a presentation as Harman-target or Diffuse-field IEMs and aren’t as perfectly tonally accurate as those IEMs either. But then it’s not like Starshine portrays instruments badly, quite the contrary in fact. It just doesn’t hit the tonal accuracy nail right at the head perfectly and ends up becoming a more fun tuning than a reference one. Less forwardness in upper-midrange also leads to wide panned instruments not forming a strong tall wall at the far ends and the soundstage sounding a bit more open as a result, to which the airy treble presentation adds on even more. 

Treble – Treble, actually ‘mid and upper treble’ prominently are Starshine’s USP that stand out shining bright like the North Star. It has a slight dip around 6kHz and a primary lower-treble peak at 8kHz. Post that, Starshine has a significant mid and upper treble boost which is responsible for Starshine’s energetic and vivid sound signature. Beware, it’s not for the faint hearted and might not be the easiest for people sensitive to treble since it is well above what I would consider neutral (at least 5-7dBs). It’s not harsh per se, at least it doesn’t seem so to me, but is sizzly, sparkly and airy, which also puts Starshine in the treble-head IEM category. But if you aren’t particularly sensitive to treble, you might enjoy the Starshine with a lot of songs because it sure brings out the details left, right and centre and adds extra sparkle to songs, making Starshine a very fun and exciting sounding IEM. The treble boost is prominent but is fairly balanced with the bass shelf (and midrange) and doesn’t make them sound anaemic. It does however add sizzle and sparkle to vocals and slight sharp attack to cymbals and orchestral horns in brighter mixed songs which can be off-putting but sounds really good with neutral and warm-ish mixed records like The Bros Landreth’s ‘Let it Lie’ and John Mayer’s albums like Continuum, Battle Studies and Born & Raised. This airy presentation also adds a bit of thinness to the signature, which I see some people enjoy and some complain. I personally like a good airy presentation (not as prominent as this) and can enjoy Starshine with most rock and pop songs as well as a lot of soundtrack records but there are times when the hi-hat and cymbal sparkle and sizzle becomes a bit distracting in brighter mixed songs, which is where I would recommend keeping your DAP’s stock EQ’s 16kHz band slider handy and tone the upper-treble down if and when required. Also, in my experience, Final-E ear tips power sub-bass reach, increase bass punch and tame a bit of the upper-treble, so I highly recommend tip rolling the Starshine to your liking.

Resolution and clarity – Starshine’s boosting of treble adds a ton of clarity to the signature, kicking detail retrieval capability into overdrive. It shines a bright light to every little nuance in the mix or quirks of an instrument. Detail retrieval is so high that you can clearly hear a hissy analog compressor as well as opening and closing of noise gates on vocals/instruments, like in Paul McCartney’s vocals in the song ‘Fuh You’ every time he sings a lyric line in the first verse. Now this can be interesting or distracting depending on what one likes. Whatever said and done, the ability to hear and discern every layer of the mix is quite fascinating for me personally. Generally, well done bright IEMs have the tendency to be highly resolving and Starshine is no different.

Soundstage – Starshine’s soundstage is quite wide, much wider than average and compared to other IEMs in its price bracket. The soundstage isn’t too deep but since the instruments do not have a very forward presentation, the width is exceptional for the price range. It has very good separation between instrument layers and good amount of space between instruments.

TRI Starshine + HiBy R6 2020

Comparisons.

Fearless Audio S8F – S8F, like Starshine, is made of resin but has more resin filling in the cavity than Starshine. S8F too is a more fun oriented signature than neutral/reference-ish but overall, S8F is a more v-shaped signature compared to Starshine. It has a bigger bass boost as well as more fullness in the lower mid range by around 3dBs or so. Fearless has a significantly more forward presentation in the upper mid range with primary peak at 3.5kHz whereas Starshine has it at 4kHz. S8F has more prominent lower-treble but its upper-treble starts rolling off past 10kHz where Starshine boosts more prominently. Starshine has much better and more prominent top end extension. S8F comes across as a bright IEM because of its lower-treble whereas Starshine is a more airy and bright IEM because of its upper-treble boosts. Even though S8F is no slouch in detail retrieval, Starshine is even clearer and has better micro-detail retrieval capabilities owing to better top end extension. Starshine has a wider soundstage but S8F’s is deeper. 

Tansio Mirai TSMR6 – Right off the bat, Starshine actually comes off as a better balanced IEM to me personally. TSMR has a much more prominently forward upper-midrange presentation and comes off significantly shoutier and brighter in the range compared to Starshine. They both have similar bass and lower-midrange presentation. TSMR-6 is slightly more prominent in lower-treble but starts rolling off past 10kHz whereas Starshine is much airier and sparkly in its upper-treble presentation compared to TSMR. Starshine has a much wider soundstage as well as better resolution and micro detail retrieval capabilities. 

Craft Ears Four (CE4) – This comparison is with CIEM version of CE4. CE4 actually has a more tonally accurate sound signature. It has slightly more sub-bass compared to Starshine. It has a slightly more forward upper-midrange presentation with peak presence in the range of 1.5-4kHz, which is what makes it more tonally accurate than Starshine. CE4 dips the lower-treble in the 5-8kHz range but then boosts the upper-treble fairly prominently till 17-18kHz after which it rolls-off. Starshine is much brighter than four in lower-treble as well as more sizzly, airier and has better and more prominent top end extension. Both CE4 as well as Starshine have wide soundstages but CE4’s goes deeper. Starshine has much better micro detail retrieval capabilities, clarity, resolution as well as a more vivid sound signature. Overall, CE4 ends up being the more neutral-ish IEM whereas Starshine sounds more fun and energetic.

Dunu DK-3001 Pro – DK-3001 Pro is made from 316 stainless steel shells which are much more solidly built to last compared to resin based IEMs. DK-3001 Pro comes with a modular cable whereas Starshine’s cable has a 2.5mm balanced jack with 3.5mm and 4.4mm adapters. DK-3001 Pro has more overall bass quantity, punch, rumble and softer attack owing to its 13mm Be coated DD whereas Starshine’s bass is quicker, has faster and sharper attack as well as better separation and precision. Both have similar lower mid range presentation but DK-3001 Pro has a slightly more forward upper-midrange presentation with peak presence at 3kHz which sounds a bit more accurate tonally. DK-3001 Pro has similar lower treble presentation but starts rolling off past 10 kHz leading to a much darker signature in comparison. Starshine comes off much brighter, airier and has better top end extension. Starshine has a wider soundstage whereas DK-3001 Pro is slightly deeper. Starshine has much better detail-retrieval capabilities, resolution, clarity and sounds much more vivid, energetic and exciting. DK-3001 Pro comes off a bit more neutral but also much darker because it does not have as good top end extension as Starshine.

Conclusion.

I now jokingly call TRI – Treble Response IEMs because of their treble focussed tuning in Starshine and even stronger boosting in Starlight. Starshine is tuned bright tastefully without sacrificing bass or lower-midrange presence and its overall tuning makes for a fun, exciting and energetic listen. But beware, Starshine might not be best for those sensitive to upper-treble. If you don’t mind a bit of extra sparkle and sizzle in your treble, I reckon you’d quite enjoy the Starshine especially for its vividly musical and exciting sound signature with exceptional clarity and detail retrieval capabilities, which made it hard for me to keep it down even though I’m more of a reference-head personally. Unless, you’re a strict reference-head who loves to go for absolute tonally accurate IEMs, I recommend giving Starshine’s fun exciting signature a shot. Just remember to power the Starshine with a decent DAP with good power on tap as it likes good juice because of its 56Ω impedance and 98dB sensitivity.


Gear used for testing and review.

  • DAPs- HiBy R6 2020 & iBasso DX160
  • Phone – OnePlus 7 Pro
  • Laptop – Apple MacBook Pro 15″

Reference Songs list.

  • Paul McCartney – Egypt Station album
  • Foo Fighters- The Pretender, Best of you & Everlong
  • Coldplay- Paradise, Up in flames & Everglow + Everyday Life Album
  • Ed Sheeran- Thinking out loud, Bloodstream & Galway Girl
  • Chainsmokers – Somebody, Sickboy, This Feeling & Closer
  • John Mayer- Room for Square, Continuum, Battles Studies & Born and Raised albums.
  • Gavin James- Always & Hearts on fire
  • Switchfoot- Meant to live & Dare you to move
  • Our Lady Peace – Do You Like It & Innocent
  • Linkin Park- Hybrid Theory, Meteora, Minutes to Midnight & One More Light albums
  • Maroon 5- She will be loved, Payphone & Lost stars
  • Lifehouse- All in all & Come back down
  • Breaking Benjamin – Diary of Jane
  • Karnivool- Simple boy & Goliath
  • Dead Letter Circus- Real you
  • I Am Giant- Purple heart, City limits & Transmission
  • Muse – Panic station
  • James Bay – Hold back the river

4 thoughts on “TRI Starshine

  1. Starlight has similar Penon Volt Design drivers, but i bet tuning would be totally different than Volt.
    I’d be curious to listen Starlight also, @Glenico did you listen it?

    Like

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