This is the latest IEM to be sent my way by Keephifi. Let’s see what they’re like…
I have not been paid or sponsored for this review.
The views and opinions in this piece are unbiased and my own.
Thanks to Vivian, Keephifi & TRI for being kind enough to send me the KAI IEMs.
The KAI is priced at $74.00 at the time of this review.
You can have a look and purchase by following the link below:
Review gear & software:
TRI x HBB Kai.
Astell & Kern AK70.
iPhone XS Max.
Audioquest Dragonfly Black.
Qobuz Studio Premier.
A variety of genres in FLAC, DSD & 320kbps MP3, on the two portable players, & on Qobuz on the iPhone.
What’s in the box:
TRI x HBB KAI IEMs.
Silver OFC plated detachable 3.5mm cable.
6 pairs of assorted ear-tips.
Cleaning brush & cloth.
Leather (?) carry case.
FR Range: 20~40kHz.
Driver: DLC Dynamic.
Dynamic Diameter: 9.8mm.
Type: In-ear Earphones.
Cavity material: Aluminum alloy.
Interface: 2pin 0.7mm.
Plug: 3.5mm gold plated.
Cable material: OFC plated with silver.
Cable length: 120cm + 3cm.
Build & finish:
These are the first IEMs I’ve had from TRI.
Straight out of the box, I’m impressed with the use of cardboard and paper in the minimal packaging.
Then we’re presented with a lovely carrying case which looks and feels like leather, however, I am waiting on confirmation of what material this actually is as it isn’t stated on the product page. Either way, it is manufactured to a high standard, & holds and protects its contents satisfactorily.
Inside you’ll find assorted ear tips, a cleaning brush AND cloth, & the IEMs themselves.
Quite a lot of accessories considering the price. And all are high quality!
We’re off to a great start here.
The IEMs are built solidly and have a gorgeous finish. They are a bit on the large size compared to some, but not offensively so.
TRI have gone all out with the cable, at this price I would actually expect less and be content with it, but no, they’ve made & included a really well-made, substantial and nice-looking cable which has impressed me. If TRI can do it at this price point, other brands making higher-tier IEMs have no excuse to not follow suit.
I stated earlier in the review that the KAI’s were a little on the large side, and unfortunately, it does have an impact on comfort.
The over-ear cable does help in this respect and finding the correct fitting tips also helps, but it did mean that I could only wear them for an hour and a half. After that, I had to take a break due to some discomfort.
I hope that in future iterations, TRI may be able to get the size profile dialled down a notch or two.
Here’s where the magic really happens!
I really wasn’t sure what to expect at this price point and the fact that these are the first IEMs from TRI that I’ve had the opportunity to get some time with.
I was pleasantly surprised after some burn in time at how great they sound.
They have an aura of neutrality to them, yet they can pack a good punch at the same time.
The bass they produce is impressive, with fast paced performance matched with deep sub bass that doesn’t disappoint.
It doesn’t get muddied or confused with faster, noisier pieces of music like some others at this price point can.
It was one of the stand out features when having a good listening session with them.
Mids are neutral, not too forward, not rolled off. Airy and light come to mind when looking for words to depict what I hear. I know I tend to use these terms a lot in my reviews and perhaps I need to come up with better ways to describe what I’m hearing when reviewing gear. But more on that in another review perhaps.
The midrange of the KAI is easy on the ears with a delightful serving of clarity.
Sharp, sparkling highs that come quickly and almost clinically, in the nice, revealing sense.
They manage surprisingly well with high resolution sources and lesser quality audio alike.
Honestly, at $74.00 I can’t not recommend the TRI x HBB KAI.
For their low cost, these budget IEMs punch well above their weight in every department.
Ok apart from the large housings, they really are that good.
So who are they for? I would say that if you’re just getting into high end audio and have been looking for an affordable IEM to match your source, then the KAI might very well tick all of, if not most of your boxes.
However, they might just be a good choice, even for an enthusiast like myself.
Sometimes I like to take time out from my higher end audio gear, & get back to basics to remind myself that not all of us have a huge budget to spend on our listening passion. And that’s OK.
I still remember when I started out with a beat up, extremely used iPod, a DIY portable amp in an Altoids tin, some rough and ready cables I knocked up myself and a pair of old Sennheiser HD215s that I previously used as my daily DJ headphones.
It was a jerry rigged, beat up little portable rig, but it sounded great and it was my pride and joy for a good couple of years while I saved for something a touch more sophisticated.
So please take note, I review from the mixed perspectives of the Audiophile I am now, and the budding enthusiast I was back in the early 2000s.
To you, dear reader.
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