There are earphones with tunable filters and there are earphones with a hybrid (dynamic plus armature speaker) design. But it’s rare to see hybrid combined with filters in the same earphone. And it’s way more rare to see all this in an affordable package! Well, it’s not that rare anymore. The Trinity Delta Hybrid is all that, and more.
Trinity is yet another personal audio company coming out of our mother country, which begs the question: What is with the Brits and audio excellence? I have no idea, but whatever the reason, we former colonists sure do benefit from the UK’s largesse.
Trinity makes four distinct earphones: Techne, Hyperion, Atlas and the Delta Hybrid—which I’m reviewing. At first glance, the Delta Hybrid design looks classic and well-made, if a bit on the uninspired side. But don’t let the looks fool you. There’s some serious tech going on here.
Let me briefly explain why a hybrid earphone is so cool. Earphones come in two speaker designs—armature or dynamic. Dynamic speakers look and work like tiny versions of a regular bookshelf speaker. Armature speakers come from the hearing aid community. It’s a completely different design that is accurate to a fault. The advantages of dynamic speakers are their ability to smooth out music, making them easy to listen to for a long time. Plus the bass is more prominent. Armature speakers are much more detailed, bringing out details that dynamic speakers have difficulty reproducing. Armature speakers are also more expensive to produce. This is a shameless over-simplification of the differences, but I will leave it at that for this review. Hopefully, by combining the two approaches the benefits will overcome the minuses.
The Delta Hybrid is milled from aluminum. This can result in tight tolerances with an expensive look and feel, which is apparent when holding. There is some weight to the earphone shells and that can be an issue for those who like to wear earphones while exercising. But listening while sitting erases those concerns. These are one comfortable pair of earphones. They are easy to insert and remove and can be worn for hours with little or no discomfort. The twisted copper cable looks good and adds strength to the design. Usuassy, twisted cables will reduce or get rid of microphonics—that rustling sound heard when dragged on clothes or tapped. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here.
At the other end of the cable, Trinity has done something interesting. While some might prefer a straight mini plug setup, others (like me) prefer a mini plug to be set at a 90° angle. The Delta Hybrid box includes a right-angle plug extender that attaches to its standard, straight mini plug. It’s such a simple solution to a minor, but irritating quandary. Now fans of either approach can be satisfied. For added security, there is a coiled-wire strain relief where the cord meets the plug. I appreciate this attention to detail.
The Delta Hybrid earphones come with a good choice of ear tips—foam as well as silicone. Also included is a roomy triangle-shaped zippered case that protects well.
As I mentioned earlier, the Delta Hybrid earphones comes with a set of three filters: Silver (what Trinity calls “Fun”), Gunmetal (Smooth) and Purple (Vivid). The unused filters are kept in a nifty, aluminum tube that feels as well-machined as the earphones themselves. Keep in mind that once a favorite filter has been chosen, most people never change them again. But the option to change a filter to alter the sound is always good. Note that the filters can become unscrewed easily, so it’s always a good idea to twist to tighten every so often.
The Silver filter has an enhanced bass sound with a V-shaped signature. You may be asking yourself, “What the heck is a V-shaped signature?” Picture a frequency range from low to middle to high, sweeping from left to right. V-shaped means that there is an emphasis on Bass (left) and treble (right) with the middle frequencies (middle) pushed down or made less noticeable—thus a “V” shape.
The Gunmetal filter is the most neutral filter of the trio. It doesn’t place emphasis on any particular frequency. You might think everyone would want a filter that lets the music come through with no alterations. But nope; most people prefer added bass. I’m not one of them. My preference is the Gunmetal filter, because I want my music to be as un-colored as possible.
The Purple filter is for those who like treble or more of a “shimmer” to their music. Jazz fans like this filter, but it’s just too harsh for my tastes.
Note that here is no right or wrong filter, only what your ears tell you which is best. In other words, trust your ears … which brings me to this: To my ears, the Gunmetal filter had more and deeper bass than the Silver filter, which has been tuned for more bass. I’m not sure why this is but remember the “V-shape” signature explained earlier? The Silver filter may actually have more bass than the Gunmetal filter, but it’s somewhat sonically canceled out by the Silver filter’s increase in treble—so the Gunmetal filter actually sounds as if it has more bass. Confused? Me, too.
I went to one of my go-to songs to test bass; “Bone Bomb” from Brian Eno. This song has a deep, bassy undercurrent that throbs as the tension ratchets up to an abrupt ending. As if to confirm my suspicions, the bass in the song sounded more prominent using the Gunmetal filter than the Silver one. Maybe the Silver technically has more bass, but it sure doesn’t sound like it. In the end, I just had to mentally tell myself that Silver is brighter than Gunmetal—which in reality, it is—so it was easy to think that way.
Yet, despite the filter confusion I was hearing, the Trinity Delta hybrid earphones are special. They’re special because they sound quite good, are comfortable as heck and cost less than their build quality and hybrid technology would suggest. And when you get to the point, isn’t that about all you need to ask from an earphone?