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TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red Review

Last updated: 2 months ago
9 min read
Editor
rating
4.0
TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red IEMs

TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red are excellent in-ear monitors under $60 with a neutral and relaxing sound.

TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red are the latest pair of affordable in-ear monitors tuned by the IEM king himself (Crinacle). Despite some initial worries regarding sound (more on that later), we were pleasantly surprised after first listening impressions.

For under $60, you probably can’t get a fuller, more accurate sound than this. There’s even a Bass+ adapter if you want a meatier low-end.

Moreover, the packaging reveals a wide selection of silicone and foam ear tips, a pouch, nozzle cover replacements, and a “waifu“. Even the build is solid, apart from the included unbalanced cable, which is incredibly thin in some areas.

Are the new IEM a must-have under $60? How do they compete with alternatives like KZ AS16 Pro and SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS, which we also recommended at this price?

Find all the answers below.

We used the ear tips with a wider nozzle size for tests, as they provide a more neutral tuning. More on other ear tips later.

We test and evaluate headphones using a standardized 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Disclaimer: Crinacle sent IEMs to us as a review unit. However, we are still presenting our honest opinion.

Price:

Pros & Cons:

  • Smooth & neutral tuning that goes with all music genres
  • Comfortable & stable fit for long listening sessions
  • Detachable cable & replaceable nozzle mesh extends durability
  • Good overall passive noise isolation
  • No option for cable with mic/controls support

Category ratings:

Editor
rating
4
By HeadphonesAddict
User
ratings
4.7
User Ratings: 6
Our rating
  • Star Rating
    4.5
  • Star Rating
    4.5
  • Star Rating
    3.5
  • Star Rating
    3.0
  • Star Rating
    3.5
  • Star Rating
    5.0
User rating
  • 4.3
  • 4.3
  • 5.0
  • 4.8
  • 5.0
  • 5.0
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CONTENTS (show more)

    Sound

    Star Rating
    4.5 Almost Perfect

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red pleasantly surprise with natural tuning that lacks a hair of excitement to reach perfection. While technical performance could be better, they easily beat their competition in overall quality.

    Check the TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red – A/B sound test:

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Learn how to understand sound comparisons.

    We (at HeadphonesAddict) haven’t yet reviewed any IEMs tuned by Crinacle, so I didn’t know what to expect.

    I was slightly worried, though, as we bought and tested Moondrop Chu upon his recommendation. The Chu were overall very balanced but had a bright treble that didn’t match quite well with my ears.

    That said, the Zero:Red avoid such brightness in favor of slightly darker, more relaxed tuning (close to Harman in-ear target). And I like it a lot. However, the tuning could use some fine tweaks.

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red Frequency Response

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red frequency response
    Looking at the frequency response graph, the TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero: Red aren’t that far from sounding neutral.

    Bass: Slightly elevated but never bloated

    Lower frequencies are ever so slightly boosted, adding some extra punch and sub-bass rumble when a song calls for it. However, the boost drops at around 125Hz and creates a slight dip between 150Hz and 250Hz. 

    While that clears up the bass response a bit, it also slightly affects instruments like bass guitars, like in the song “Steam” by Peter Gabriel. Fortunately, the dip is so small you hardly notice it without a direct A/B comparison.

    Thanks to a dedicated 10mm dynamic bass driver, the lower end feels well-controlled, whether you play metal or bass-heavy tracks like “Blast Off” by Gesaffelstein.

    Interestingly, Zero:Red sound more controlled than KZ AS16 Pro, which use 4 BA drivers exclusively for lower frequencies.

    It’s worth mentioning that IEMs come with a Bass+ adapter, which adds an extra 4dB of bass boost. However, it also takes away 2dB from the midrange and lower treble.

    Midrange: Almost spot on

    A separate 7.8mm dynamic driver produces the midrange (and treble). The mids are mostly neutral and very naturally portray instruments and both male/female vocals. Smoothness is also a vital characteristic of the mids, making it incredibly easy to listen.

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red dual drivers
    A glimpse of the dual dynamic driver setup inside.

    However, that smoothness comes at the cost of fine details and little nuances. String plucks don’t sound as sharp as they could, and you have to focus to hear small nuances in the singer’s voice.

    If you really want to add some clarity, you can slightly boost the 4kHz region and see if that works for you.

    Treble: Excellent for the price, but with some limitations

    As mentioned, Zero:Red have a smooth output, which is primarily noticeable in the treble tuning. Apart from some energy at 14kHz-15kHz, the other regions feel subdued.

    You get decent airiness and texture from cymbal hits. There’s zero harshness, and you can easily listen even to songs you usually find piercing.

    However, while that makes them great all-around IEMs for relaxation, adding some more energy at 10kHz-11kHz would make the sound more exciting to listen to.

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red earbud on a branch
    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red aren’t just about the wow factor; they sound as good as they look.

    The soundstage is relatively intimate but wide enough so you don’t hear sounds trapped inside your head.

    On the flip side, a smaller stage helps make the imaging more accurate. Nurse’s steps in “Simulation” by Avenged Sevenfold aren’t pinpoint accurate but good enough to feel immersed in a song.

    In conclusion, TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red represent a fantastic value in terms of sound quality under $60.

    Anyone who wants to chill and enjoy a neutral sound signature should consider putting these on their “IEM suggestions” list.

    While we would definitely make some slight sound tweaks, we can assure you they are worth their price and deserve our recommendation.

    How do ear tips change the sound?

    With TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red you receive 6 pair of silicone tips (3 pairs have a wider nozzle than the other 3 pairs) and a pair made of memory foam.

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red tips
    Ear tips come attached to a plastic plate.

    Here’s how they differ from each other:

    Wider nozzleNarrow nozzleMemory foam
    BASSGently warm bass
    with good control
    Slightly more
    tactile kick
    drum
    More neutral bass
    but less controlled
    MIDSNeutral midrangeMore forward
    midrange
    Quieter, more
    muffled midrange
    HIGHSTreble sounds
    slightly darkish
    More energy in
    the lower treble
    Softer treble

    Do you benefit from using a headphone amp?

    After extensive A/B comparison between the original Samsung audio dongle and DragonFly Red headphone DAC/amp, we haven’t noticed any significant difference in performance.

    If there is any, it is pretty insignificant compared to the extra cost of an amp.

    Comfort & Fit

    Star Rating
    4.5 Almost Perfect

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red provide excellent comfort thanks to a smooth exterior that doesn’t hurt your earlobes. Stability is also admirable, albeit still unsuitable for exercising.

    IEMs have a pretty standard IEM design with an over-the-ear cable hook. The inner part is smooth rather than curved to better contour the pinna, like in CCA LYRA or Antlion Kimura Solo.

    That makes the IEMs more universally compatible, as not all ears are shaped equally. Also, the housing is smaller than KZ AS16 Pro, so unless you have tiny ears, it shouldn’t press against your earlobe.

    I can wear them for at least an hour without experiencing any discomfort. However, there’s one slightly annoying thing that occurs during walking.

    The ear hook cable isn’t stiff but still holds its shape quite well. However, at the back, where the hook ends, it can tickle the bottom of your ears, which gets a bit frustrating.

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red earbud in ears
    The cable is wired tightly behind your ear, so you feel it more during use.

    On the other hand, that ear hook design helps to provide a very stable fit. Using TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red in a stationary position, you can laugh, speak, and move your head around without breaking the seal.

    The only time the seal starts to lose its grip is when you really start shaking your head left and right. IEMs won’t fall off, but the ear tips slowly slide out of your ear canal.

    Fortunately, TRUTHEAR let you pick between 7 pair of ear tips inside the packaging, one of which are foam tips, which provide the best stability (but also the worse sound, in our opinion).

    Durability

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red have a uniform, 3D-printed housing without any significant flaw except lacking water resistance. The thin cables are the weakest part of this package.

    These IEMs are made from medical-grade resin that’s 3D printed in a uniform body without any visible weak spots. That means they can easily survive daily use, drops, or being stepped on.

    On the top, there’s a small bass vent and a slightly recessed 2-pin connector to prevent accidental bending. 2-pin jacks are also more durable than MMCX ones, which is another bonus.

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red bass vent
    A bass vent next to the “right” indicator and a 2-pin jack.

    A minor issue is the lack of an IPX rating, but that’s normal for wired in-ear monitors. That means you should avoid sweating with them or taking them for a swim.

    Looking at the metal nozzle grill and a bass vent, the holes are undoubtedly tiny enough to prevent water droplets from coming inside. However, we aren’t so sure about the cable connector.

    The cable is soft and doesn’t tangle or have memory wire properties, which is excellent. However, it’s very thin, especially after it splits into the left and right channels.

    That shouldn’t be an issue with proper care, but any aggressive pulling might lead to accidental damage. Fortunately, it is replaceable if anything happens.

    Inside the package, you also get replacement metal grills for the nozzle when it gets covered in ear wax. If that happens, here is how you clean them.

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red metal mesh
    Replacement metal mesh for the nozzles (if you clog them with dirt over time).

    Lastly, you get a small pleather carrying pouch for easier transportation. A hard case would be nicer, but something is better than nothing. The inside is soft, so it doesn’t scratch the glossy surface of the Zero:Red.

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red carrying case
    The carrying pouch is soft, so it can’t prevent your IEMs from getting crushed.

    Features

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red have a standard set of features for an IEM, apart from the Bass+ adapter. There’s no cable with an inline microphone or controls (unless you buy from a third party).

    Like any other in-ear monitors at this price point, Zero:Red primarily focus on sound, leaving extra features behind.

    The features worth mentioning are a detachable cable and a Bass+ adapter. Buying from the Shenzhen Audio website, you don’t even get the option for a cable with a mic or inline controls.

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red Bass+ adapter
    The Bass+ impedance adapter adds another 10 ohms of resistance, which does affect the loudness a little.

    That said, you can pick a third-party cable with those features as long as it has a 2-pin connector. Just don’t cheap out, as poor cable quality can affect IEM’s technical performance.

    Another aesthetic “feature” is the included “waifu” called Shiroi (many Chi-Fi headphones come with their anime waifu art). You even get a stand to place Shiroi somewhere your heart pleases.

    “Waifu” is a fictional anime girl character that a person considers a wife. “Husbando” would be an anime husband. For most people, waifus are just a fun and casual thing, but with some, it can have a romantic undertone.

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red waifu comparison
    IEM waifus aren’t exclusive to TRUTHEAR; the one on the right is from Moondrop Chu.

    Noise Isolation

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red have a slightly better passive noise isolation performance than most true wireless earbuds with ear tips we’ve tested. So, as long as you play music, noise shouldn’t bother you.

    Measured average noise isolation22,47 dBA

    Regarding passive noise isolation, the TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red IEMs do the job quite well. They’re slightly better than most true wireless earbuds we’ve tested in the past few months, but they still can’t qualify as “hearing protection”.

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red passive isolation measurement
    IEMs (red line) start to attenuate noise at 180Hz, but you’ll hear the biggest difference after 1.5kHz.

    Lower frequencies are still very difficult to block passively, so they remain mostly intact. It is in the upper midrange and treble where you see the highest reduction.

    Here’s a table of how effective is TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red’s passive noise isolation at blocking specific frequencies:

    FrequencyNoise reduction
    dB SPL
    Noise reduction
    dBA (A-weighted)
    100 Hz1,6 dB-17,5 dBA
    200 Hz2,6 dB-8,2 dBA
    400 Hz6,5 dB1,7 dBA
    600 Hz7,6 dB5,4 dBA
    1 kHz5,1 dB5,1 dBA
    2 kHz27,7 dB28,9 dBA
    4 kHz48,4 dB49,4 dBA
    6 kHz51,5 dB51,6 dBA
    10 kHz51,8 dB49,3 dBA
    15 kHz39,3 dB33,3 dBA
    Average22,47 dBA
    A-weighted values from the International standard IEC 61672:2003

    At some point, they can reduce ambient noise by 51 dB, which is impressive. Of course, that happens in the 8kHz region, which doesn’t help much in real-world situations, but still.

    What might seal the deal is very low cable noise (microphonics). The hook around your ears very effectively distributes the vibrations, so you shouldn’t notice them (unless you play using the IEMs during outdoor walks).

    Should You Get TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red?

    Star Rating
    5.0 Perfect

    With TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red, you get natural, if not close to neutral sound signature that pairs well with most music genres. And even if the bass is lacking, hooking the Bass+ adapter provides an extra boost.

    These IEMs are suitable for any budget audiophile who primarily looks for neutral tuning rather than analytical detail retrieval.

    Due to their smoothness, they’re also a fine pick for users who find other IEMs too harsh or sibilant.

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red on a rock
    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red are affordable yet capable, so they deserve our recommendation.

    On the other hand, people looking for bass monsters or excitement should look elsewhere. They also aren’t that portable due to a wired connection, but you already know that before purchase.

    Overall, they’re an easy recommendation.

    How do TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red compare to the competition?

    • They have the most neutral sound compared to other competitors.
    • They’re comfier and better made than similarly priced competitors.
    • Passive isolation is better than competition.
    • IEMs have a detachable cable, which is on par with other budget-wired in-ears.
    • They lack an option for a built-in mic or physical controls.

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red alternatives

    KZ AS16 Pro

    KZ AS16 Pro on a stone

    KZ’s have a bassier and more exciting sound but a similarly dark treble. They’re also slightly more detailed, but the Red’s tonality is smoother and more neutral.

    AS16 Pro have a big housing compared to Zero:Red, but a similar shape, so they’re equally comfy to users with regular ear sizes. However, Zero:Red feel more robust (and prettier).

    Both have detachable cables with ear hooks, but the one with AS16 Pro is stiffer and has a less premium feeling.

    KZ AS16 Pro review

    SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS

    SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS on a blossom

    You can make them sound more natural and exciting with some EQ, but they lack the bass extension from Zero:Red.

    Due to design, they can’t match passive isolation properties or stability. But they offer IPX4 protection against sweat and rain and wireless operation.

    Air3 Deluxe HS are a great alternative for sound quality if you don’t mind weaker bass.

    SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS review

    EarFun Air Pro 3

    EarFun Air Pro 3 earbuds on stone

    After some EQ, you get a more exciting sound that feels airier and slightly more detailed, although less balanced than Zero:Red.

    At $80, Air Pro 3 offer excellent active noise cancellation, ambient sound mode, and a long battery life (for true wireless buds).

    Also, they sport an IPX5 rating, so you can even take them in the shower. Since they’re wireless, they offer greater freedom of movement.

    EarFun Air Pro 3 review

    What’s in the Box?

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red accessories
    • TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero: Red wired in-ear monitors
    • Detachable cable with 2-pin connectors & 3.5mm jack
    • 7 pairs of ear tips (2x S, 2x M, 2x L, 1x memory foam)
    • 4 replacement nozzle grills
    • “Waifu” picture & stand
    • User manual

    Specification

    Type: In-ear monitors
    Connection: Wired 3.5mm
    Back design: Closed-back
    Drivers: 10mm & 7.8mm dynamic
    Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Impedance: 17.5 ohms (+10ohms with Bass+ adapter)
    Weight: 0.9 ounces (26 grams) with cable
    Mic & Controls: No
    Water resistance: None
    Battery life: /
    Charging time: /
    Active noise cancelling: No
    Bluetooth codecs: /
    Wireless range: /
    Microphone: None

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