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Quick Take – TRN BT20

With the popularity of Apple’s Airpods exploding in the past year and a number of competitors coming out of the woodworks from the likes of Sennheiser, Bose, Apple’s longtime rival in the smartphone market – Samsung, and many others, it appears the era of true wireless earphones is upon us. I’ve been hesitant to enter the market myself as my audiophile leanings make me an incredibly discerning buyer. As good as Bluetooth audio streaming quality has gotten over the years, nothing beats plugging your earphones into a good ol’ headphone jack.

If your phone still has one, that is.

Anyway, another reason I’ve been hesitant to jump aboard the true wireless train is that the sound quality is probably not in the same price/performance league as some of my favorite earphones. Now, I could be wrong, but I doubt very strongly that the $180 Airpods offer the same level of detail and refinement of the similarly priced BGVP DM6 IEM, for example.

So, I’ve been watching the Bluetooth adapter market and the TRN BT20 caught my eye. Available for around $25 to $35 depending on where you look in MMCX and .75mm (for KZ IEMs) and .78mm 2-pin configurations, the BT20 will work with dozens of earphones. I went out and purchased a set of the MMCX adapters and after giving them a listen, I’m pretty pleased.

The TRN BT20s are clad in all plastic so they’re fingerprint magnets and will show scratches and scuffs over time. But, considering the price, that’s not really a dealbreaker. These feature Bluetooth 5.0 and apparently support AAC, which means better compatibility with Apple products but I haven’t been able to verify that for sure. What I do know is that the BT20 sounds pretty good. One flaw that stood out to me from the get go was the hiss. Unfortunately, these hiss quite a bit with sensitive earphones. It’s not a big deal with less sensitive IEMs once the music gets going but at low volumes, and especially with balanced armature IEMs – which tend to be more sensitive than their dynamic driver counterparts – the hiss is apparent.

But, if you’re willing to look past that, these fit well, hooking in behind both ears and pair easily with your devices. Battery life is good, about on par with the advertised six hours and I have to admit, the freedom of true wireless IEMs has certainly grown on me after using these. It’s no substitute for a wired connection, in terms of audio fidelity but it’s good enough that I’m willing to part ways with my cables from time to time. I wish these supported more Bluetooth audio codecs like apt-X, and LDAC but, considering the relatively low price of entry, their omission isn’t much of an issue.

Though I wish something could’ve been done to lessen the background hiss and despite the rather cheap, plasticky build, the TRN BT20 is a good product for a good price. Once the music gets going, the constant hiss tends to fade into the background so it isn’t enough of an issue to annoy me to the point that I want to stop using them. But, besides that, the overall performance, ease of use, and functionality the BT20 provides are good enough to earn a (somewhat tentative) recommendation from me.

About Justin McBride

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