Truthear x Crinacle Zero Red (Project Red): getting it right this time...
Hello there, and welcome back to The Neighborhood! We’ve got the Truthear X Crinacle Zero Red in the house for review. I was lucky enough to get this one in a few weeks early so I could get my thoughts out to you as soon as possible. So let’s get inToit!
This In-Ear-Monitor is what Crinacle and others have been referring to as “Project Red” for the last number of months. Essentially this is an update or retune of the original Truthear X Crinacle Zero. The tuning here is somewhat new, but the build is nearly identical other than improved voice coils and reworked crossovers according the Crinacle himself. It’s the same plastic shell, same case, same set of tips, same oxygen-free, silver-plated Truthear cable, and similar set of dynamic drivers on the inside: a 10mm PU and a 7.8mm LCP. But rather than blue, the faceplate of the Zero Red is, you guess it, red, with a sparkly striated pattern rather than the swirl of the original. Also included in the box is an impedance adapter labeled “Bass+,” that, you guessed it, raises the bass. I preferred the IEM without the Bass+ adapter, but even with it, it’s less bassy than the original Zero, and there’s less bass bleed into the mix.
But let’s quickly get into the sound, as, as exciting as the red colored shell of this one is, I’m sure you’re here for the sonics. Like its predecessor, the Zero Red mostly follows the Harmon Target. But compared to the original zero the bass slopes more evenly and appropriately (with less of a midbass bump and more subbass), and the upper mid-range and early treble are less forward. The outcome here is a more even sound signature overall that is detailed, smooth, slightly warm and simply a pleasure to listen to. It may not be the most resolving thing under the sun, but for price of $55 dollars, this is an excellent option to consider.
Even with the Bass+ adapter, its tuned absurdly well, and with this adapter you can kind of dial in your bass preference level. I mean, maybe you’re a closet basshead? There’s no judgement here… With that said, the bass does lack some detail, as most things do under $100 dollars these days. Critically, it’s not richly textured and rather one-note-ish; and often comes across to the ear as the same note at that. Maybe in the next “Project Green” version of this IEM they will make use of a more capable low-end driver than the one that was used in both of the previous iterations. I’d be willing to pay a bit more for that…
The mid-range is represented well-enough, with the early mid-range taking a backseat to the later midrange. Nevertheless, the mid-range is more integrative and cohesive sounding than the blue Zero. It’s never shouty, harsh or sibilant. There’s a mildly lush and velvety characteristic to the mids of the Zero Red; which is warmly flavored, but universally enjoyable across both track and genre.
The treble could be better. The Zero Red follows a recent trend; dipping itself between 8 and 10K to avoid harshness and treble fatigue. It rebounds later for a sense of air, but I would have liked for the treble slope more smoothly and evenly throughout its frequency response. Even so, I’m sure this tuning approach was implemented intentionally, so as not evoke the wrath of the treble sensitive, as this is a in-ear-monitor tuned for the many rather than the few.
Soundstage, layering, detail and separation impress for the price, but instrument distinctiveness does suffer at times due to similar tonality across instrumentation. The soundstage image is somewhat step-backed, but still somewhat large in its scope and scale: like looking down on the stage from a second story overhang in an auditorium. My expectations regarding placement are met, and I find the overall experience and auditory image to be rather organic.
So, I think Crinacle took his time tuning his Project Red this time, and it shows. This is definitely my favorite Crinacle collaboration IEM since the FiiO Eclipse: FHE. It may not be as capable in its detail as that IEM, but its certainly tuned well. Releasing at $55, I think a lot of people will be happy with its purchase. In the price-range, it’s a warmer, more musical offering compared to the competition, such as the Tin HiFi T2 DLC and TRN ST5 that I recently reviewed. My personal favorites around the $50 dollar price-point continue to include: the Jade Audio EA3, HZSound Waist Drum, and the Moondrop Lan; but the Moondrop Jiu, who’s review will be out soon, is also no slouch either- coming in at only $26 dollars. I’ll also continue to recommend IEMs like the HZSound Heart Mirror Pro and the Aria Snow Edition, for just a few bucks more, but the Truthear Crinacle Zero: Red will now also be among the other suggestions.