Quick Look: Tripowin Leá Budget In-Ear Monitors 1

Quick Look: Tripowin Leá Budget In-Ear Monitors

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Tripowin Logo

Tripowin is an up and coming audio brand that has recently made waves with its affordable IEMs and other audio accessories, including cables and carry cases. The Tripowin TC-01 we examined last year is a good example of V-shaped tuning done well while being accessible to the masses, and the brand then showed it is not just a one-trick pony with the impressive Olina. Sometimes even outperforming more expensive sets, both of these aimed to compete against the best in their respective $50 and $100 segments. So when I heard about a new Tripowin set targeting the $25 price range, I was too curious to resist taking a look. Thanks to Linsoul for providing TechPowerUp a review sample.

The Tripowin Leá claims to have been designed with feedback from the audiophile community and markets itself as a set with a balanced tuning. Rarely seen in this budget-class is the use of an all-metal shell, as well as a detachable cable for longevity. These two features, and the image above showing the Leá in all its glory, would make it hard to pick out as the inexpensive set it is. As is the norm for such IEMs, the Leá uses a single dynamic driver the company claims is very similar—if not identical—to those used in more expensive sets. I can't speak for this claim, but we will put the Tripowin Leá through its paces in this quick look article that begins with a look at the product specifications in the table below.

Tripowin Leá In-Ear Monitors
Shell:CNC-machined metal shell in a brushed black finish
Cable:Silver-plated oxygen-free copper cable
Driver Units:10 mm dynamic driver with liquid crystalline polymer diaphragm
Frequency Response:20 Hz–20 kHz
Sensitivity:105 +/-3 dB/mW @1 kHz
Impedance:32 Ω
Cable Connectors:3.5 mm TRS plug to source + two 0.78 mm 2-pin plugs to IEMs
Cable Length:4 ft/1.2 m
Warranty:One year

Packaging and Accessories

This might be the cheapest looking packaging I have ever seen for IEMs, including for some freebie sets you might have seen passed around. The box has no front cover or lid, instead relying on a clear plastic wrap for a look at the IEMs and some of the accessories. The brand and product name are at the bottom, and again on the back of this single-piece cardboard box with contact information for Tripowin. That website is sorely outdated though, so I don't see the point of having it there at all! Tear off the plastic and we now see the IEMs and ear tips individually placed inside cutouts in a foam sheet to snugly hold and protect them on their way to you, with a cardboard cutout at the bottom keeping the other accessories in place.

The IEMs come with size M ear tips pre-installed, and I removed them for a closer look at the silicone ear tips which come with the Tripowin Leá. Unsurprisingly, it's quite barebones with one type of basic size S, M, and L single flange silicone ear tips. But then I was surprised by silicone ear hooks, which are handy if you want more comfort or a pre-molded ear hook for these IEMs and the provided cable. A slit has been cut down the middle across the entire length of these, and you simply push the cable in. There is no carry pouch, which is a small shame.

Closer Look

Uff, this is a cable that shows the Leá is indeed a budget set. It's merely a conduit to get audio from one end to another without spending much on it. Tripowin is claiming this to be an upgraded cable with a silver-plated oxygen-free copper conductor, and no doubt the conductor itself is plenty fine. But it's the actual usability that is found wanting since the cable has a mind of its own and isn't receptive to being reshaped or coiled up. It's also quite thin and picks up microphonics more easily than most. Unsurprisingly, Linsoul lists the Leá with a replacement cable right on the product page. Regardless, this cable gets the basics right, starting with a right-angled 3.5 mm TRS plug from the source, fixed splitter with a movable cable cinch, and two 0.78 mm 2-pin connectors on the other end for the IEMs. It's the usual 4' long, there are L/R markings on the IEM-side plug housings, and the smaller plugs are gold-plated for oxidation resistance.

The IEMs are thankfully much better by comparison even if they look and feel plain. There is no mention about the shell composition, but it does seem to be aluminium alloy, machined and then given the dark black brushed finish. The Tripowin logo is etched into the face plate, and all things said, it makes for an inconspicuous set of earphones. Build quality is more than adequate in my books. It does not really feel cheap if that is your worry. The shells are smaller than average and machined with ergonomics in mind, with the two pieces clearly visible on the side as opposed to Tripowin making them feel like one. The matching housings on the cable fit into a circular cutout around the cable connectors,which means aftermarket cables probably won't provide an equally snug fit. Two vents on the inner side provide airflow, and pressure relief, and the pre-installed size M ear tip nicely fits over the relatively long nozzle that has a stubby lip at the end to secure the ear tips in place. A metal mesh at the end of the nozzle prevents contaminants from entering the acoustic chamber.

Installing the cable is simple enough even without a pre-molded ear hook or L/R indicators on the IEMs. First, identify the left and right channels based on the design of the shells as they naturally go into your ear canal, and then orient the matching cable indicators on the outside either way before pushing the 0.78 mm 2-pin plugs into the IEM connectors such that the round housing goes into the circular gap, and friction will do the rest, keeping them in place. There is no memory wire in the cable, so see if the cable cinch and positioning the thin cable strands around your ears will do the job for you. If not, the provided silicone over-ear hooks might be necessary.

Fit and Audio Performance

Seen above is the right side of the Tripowin Leá installed in an anthropomorphic pinna that does well in showing my own experience with these. I have average-sized ears and found the pre-installed size M ear tips to work best. The relatively small shell size means those with smaller ear conchas will find the Leá to be a good fit. However, for most others, it will be somewhat loose without a good seal from the ear tips as not much of the back touches the ear tragus. The cable with or without the silicone hooks will be a factor with support and securement, so there are situations where these can be loose and come off unintentionally. Make the most of the provided accessories, and perhaps look into whether your budget allows for a different cable or ear tips. These are otherwise quite light at ~6 g each; physical fatigue is a non-issue. Isolation depends a lot on the mentioned factors, and it's mediocre to good. For what it's worth, I primarily used the Leá without the silicone ear hooks.

I mentioned how the Tripowin Leá uses a single dynamic driver, and it is a 10 mm driver with an LCP (liquid crystalline polymer) diaphragm. We have seen LCP drivers put to good use in the sub-$100 market, including with the excellent DUNU TITAN S. There is no mention of the magnets or voice coil, let alone the surround. What we do know is that the Leá is about average when it comes to source requirements, with a rated impedance of 32 Ω and sensitivity of 105 dB/mW. A decent dongle will be plenty, and I paired it with the Qudelix-5K for most of my listening experience.

Testing was done similar to all other IEMs, such as the Tripowin Olina itself. However, I chose to omit the test with the artificial pinna in place since fit was quite subjective and I wanted to keep this short. Seen above is the measured frequency response for both channels of the Tripowin Leá, which can be found and played around with here if interested. I would classify this sound signature as fairly balanced indeed, if not with a mellow V-shape depending on your preferences. There's around a 7 dB SPL hike in the bass region compared to the lowest point in the mids at 600 Hz, and even here it peaks in the lower bass with good extension down to 20 Hz. That ~0.5 dB drop in the sub-bass will not be felt much for a variety of reasons, the biggest of which is that this is a well-tuned set, but with mediocre technical performance. In this case, the bass doesn't hit as hard as you might think, and the dynamic range isn't much to boast about either. Leading edges in snares especially suffer, although micro-dynamics within that range are quite competent. Instrument separation could also be better, and the forward vocals primarily make this a set for bass guitars and vocals rather than string instruments and classical music.

Male vocals are rendered quite well, and the Leá can play well for general media consumption too. In fact, I wanted to see a cable option that includes a microphone since the budget market for IEMs favors all-in-one communication devices that are also used for listening to music. Imaging is good, especially up front, but gets hazy with more complex pieces and multiple sources playing simultaneously. Female vocals might benefit from some love, but they don't come off honky or muted courtesy a decently executed pinna gain. It's what happens next that might be divisive, at least as much as the narrow soundstage would be. Treble sensitive folks might want to turn to EQ here, but note that it's best to turn things down than raise them up, at least in the higher frequencies where distortion can be an EQing challenge. The consistent presence from 4–6 kHz can be unpleasant for some, although it is not a piercing peak. There isn't much in the way of sibilance unless it is already present in the recording. However, generally, the treble region is the weak spot here. The resonance peak can be felt anywhere from 7–9 kHz depending on your ear canals and achieved fit, but everything after that is a dark lottery. Don't go in thinking there is a sense of air courtesy that peak at 15 kHz; even as someone who can hear up to 18 kHz, I could barely tell in those tracks I selected. It could again be the general apathy with instruments showing up, though.

The Tripowin Leá had arrived a few weeks ago, but I wanted to wait until something other than just the FiiO x JadeAudio JD3 was tested from among budget IEMs. KZ is synonymous with this market, but I am not a fan of how the company handles multi-driver configurations lately and will thus only cover its single dynamic driver offerings for the time being. It's a good thing then that KZ came out with the new EDA that is a novel triple set of IEMs in one, and it will get a dedicated review soon enough. There are three different turnings with the KZ EDA, all viewable on VSG.squig.link, and I chose to show the balanced version. In general, I would take the Tripowin Leá over the KZ EDA, although it's closer than you would think—the Leá wins purely because of its simple, effective tuning. The MOONDROP CHU, on the other hand, is going to outsell all others here combined thanks to an ongoing hype train, and it has a fixed cable like the FiiO JD3 and metal shell and over-ear silicone hooks like the Tripowin Leá. It's a lot closer here, including for the bad cable, but I personally again prefer the Leá's tuning, over my sample of the CHU anyway. More on that in due time as the MOONDROP CHU will also be covered separately. The FiiO JD3 is ultimately a V-shaped tuning, so not in the same league or appealing to the same customer base as those wanting a balanced set. All four sets lack a lot technically, which is a clear sign they are budget sets since tuning can be freely customized to some extent with EQ but the technicalities are inherent to the product design and execution.

The Tripowin Lea is a budget set of in-ear monitors that costs $25.99 from the Linsoul web shop as well as the Linsoul Amazon store as this is written. Linsoul also makes it available with the Tripowin Zonie cable in 2.5, 3.5 or 4.4 mm connector options for $44, at which point I would rather get something in the $50 range with a better stock cable and more accessories. At $26, it compares favorably against other budget IEMs I have here, as well as some that cost more. Tripowin's strength has been in a good understanding of where the audiophile market is heading these days and going for a balanced tuning with an emphasis on bass and treble without being V-shaped or following the Harman target that might be too bassy for some. It's not necessarily a set I would recommend for the majority of the mainstream audience, who would want more bass, nor those prioritizing instruments over vocals. But enough is done well to attract an audience that prefers vocals and mid-bass, and it makes for a good gift or, depending on preferences, beater set, too.
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Jun 28th, 2022 20:31 EDT change timezone

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