Crinacle – one of the most recognisable names in the IEM scene – has teased Project Red for quite some time now. So when he finally unveiled the Truthear x Crinacle Zero Red, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding the new IEM.
Not surprisingly, the Zero Red has a dual dynamic driver setup – just like the original Zero – with a true subwoofer, and it remains pretty affordable with a $54.99 (about RM255) price tag from SHENZHENAUDIO. But what’s changed with this version of the Zero is a new, “more palatable” tuning, as Crinacle puts it.
The results? A very, very competitive IEM that sounds fantastic, especially at this price point. Granted, the Zero Red does have its drawbacks, but I imagine most folks will be very happy with the tuning and bass performance of this IEM. Without further ado, let’s get to the review of the Zero Red.
What It Is
Packaging of the Truthear Zero Red is basically the same as other IEMs from the company, including the original Zero and the Truthear Hexa. There is (naturally) another anime waifu pictured on the box, along with a decent synthetic leather carrying pouch.
Tip selection remains extensive. There are options for narrow and wide bore tips in small, medium, and large sizes, along with a medium-size foam tips. The wide bore ear tips should provide more treble emphasis, while the narrow bore and foam tips boost the low-end at the cost of less air in the treble region. My impressions of the Zero Red in this review is with the narrow tips installed.
Before we get to the meat of the review, I do have some (small) qualms with the Zero Red. The all-black 2-pin cable, for one, is thin and quite prone to tangling up. The nozzle of the IEM is also quite large, so if you’ve got smaller ear canals, wearing the Red for an extended amount of time can be a tad uncomfortable, as it was for me.
Nonetheless, I do like the overall design of the Zero Red. It feels well-built – though the shell’s glossy finish does make it quite slippery – and the red faceplate looks great. In my opinion, it is more aesthetically pleasing than the blue faceplate of the first Zero.
How Does It Sound?
Simply put, the Truthear Zero Red has a relatively neutral sound signature with a good amount of bass boost; even more so with the “Bass+” impedance adapter (10Ω) installed, which is bundled with the IEM. While the Red doesn’t strictly follow the Harman in-ear target curve like the original Zero, it does have a “Harman-esque” tuning to my ears with a warm sound profile, which I personally quite like.
In the low-end, the Zero Red offers quite a bit of sub-bass, but not much in the mid-bass region. Bass impact is good, but it’s not particularly tight or deep. Don’t get me wrong, it can still offer a satisfying amount of bass, but compared to other IEMs with a similar driver setup such as the QKZ x HBB Khan, the Red is not quite as hard-hitting.
However, with the impedance adapter installed, the Zero Red’s bass reproduction can almost get to the same volume as the Khan, though treble fidelity is negatively affected as a result; to my ears, at least. I’ll compare the Red to other 2DD IEMs further down the review.
Male vocals sound warm and laid-back without any “boominess” with the Zero Red. As for female vocals, they sound “lush” and slightly forward. In essence, note weight sounds just right and natural; it is neither too thick nor too thin. All in all, I’m a fan of the Red’s performance in the mids.
If I were to describe the Zero Red’s treble performance in two words, it would be warm and smooth. On slower songs, treble sounds smooth and laid-back, so depending on your preference, this could be a positive or negative, as some may find this sound profile to be a tad boring and lacking in energy or dynamics.
It’s also worth noting that on busier, instrument-heavy tracks, the Zero Red can sound a bit harsh and borderline shouty.
How Does the Zero Red Compare to Other 2DD IEMs?
Unfortunately, I do not have the original Truthear Zero to compare with the Zero Red, but I do have access to the aforementioned Khan and 7Hz Legato. Both of them feature a similar dual dynamic driver setup – with one of them acting as a subwoofer – as the Red.
Let’s start by comparing the Zero Red to the Khan. Out of the two IEMs, the Red sounds more resolving and detailed, lending to a “cleaner” sound signature. However, the Zero Red also sounds less exciting compared to the more energetic Khan, which is quite a bit more affordable too with a $39.99 (about RM185) price tag.
As for the Legato, it has a much, much more boomy bass than the Zero Red, making it ideal for folks who want a very bass-heavy IEM. That being said, the Red’s tonality is more natural and pleasing to my ears by a mile, not to mention the fact that it’s far more affordable than the $109 (around RM500) Legato as well.
I’d also like to touch on the impedance adapter of the Zero Red. At first, I liked the IEM better with it, but I find myself missing the more balanced sound of the Red on its own after some time. To me, the adapter makes the treble sound a bit grainier and less natural. Of course, the impedance adapter makes the Red harder to drive too, which is something to take note of.
Is It Worth It?
The strength of the Truthear Zero Red is its tuning, which doesn’t come as a surprise for an IEM tuned by Crinacle. It’s a well-tuned IEM with a pleasing, neutral sound signature with boosted bass. This makes it great for a wide range of genre, but if you listen to more hip-hop, then the bassier Khan and Legato might be better options. However, do note that both of them are not as resolving or as detailed as the Red.
With its affordable $54.99 price tag and a tuning that’s suitable for various genres, the Zero Red is very easy to recommend for folks that want a budget-friendly pair of IEMs with great value for money. If that sounds compelling to you, grab the Zero Red.