Updated: Nov 19, 2020
Pros: Instruments shine, Neutral tuning well done, nice soundstage and details, Build Quality of earbuds
Cons: Comfort, Poorer than average isolation, Subpar cable, Potential Mismatch of Expectations
Driver Setup: Dual Dynamic Driver
Price: $38 (USD)
Disclaimer: I purchased the Tin T2 from Aliexpress at full price and this review is written of my own accord.
This is a review of the Tin T2, the first breakout success of company TinHiFi. This set has received rave reviews from around the world saying how it sounds many times more than its asking price and today we shall have a look at this set.
Packaging and Accessories (Score: 6/10)
A very simple yet minimalistic packaging, no complaints in this area, not at this price range at least. Decent tip selection provided, with the famous blue foams to complete the look. The blue foams provided are of good quality and have good synergy with the sound of the Tin T2.
It comes with an honestly subpar MMCX cable. My cable broke after a month, so it is not pictured but overall the MMCX connectors did not seem to be well made and the 3.5mm plug on my cable had a gold coloured metal that faded in 2 weeks.
Build Quality and Fit (Score: 7/10)
I really should split this section into 2 for this earpiece. The build quality was excellent as the T2 earphones themselves are built like tanks and I don’t think they would be taking any damage soon, and the only thing I could see happening to them are some scratches from the earbuds scratching each other. They look beautifully machined and I love the aesthetic.
However, the fit for this earphone is highly subjective. To me, they are not the most comfortable. They also have very wide bores and only very few tips fit comfortably for me. Another thing to take note is that the T2s were designed to be worn cable down (as can be told from the red-blue colourings at the female MMCX connectors) However, they wouldn’t stay in my ears if I wore them that way and the only solution was to switch them around and wear the cable over the ears.
Sound (Overall Score: 7.8/10)
Frequency Response Graph of the Tin Audio T2
- Shanling M3s
- Fiio Q1 MkII (I liked this pairing as the T2 benefitted from the warmth of the Q1 and I enjoyed having the option to use the bass boost switch on the Q1)
Albums and Tracks Listened to
- Aladdin Original Broadway Recording
- Martin Frost – Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K.622
- The Killers – Battle Born
- Andy Gibb – The Very Best Of
- Spinners – Essentials
- The Temptations – Classic Soul Hits
- Postmodern Jukebox – The New Classics (Recorded Live!)
Bass (Score: 7/10)
Do not expect powerful bass from this set. This is one big area where the sound differs from many chi-fi earphones. There is a decent punch in the mid-bass however as can be seen from the frequency graph, there is a significant dip (roll-off) in the sub-bass. To describe how this feels, it constantly feels as though the T2s do not have a good seal in my ear and I keep trying to push them further in although they are already secure. My guess would be because of the way the T2 is heavily vented. (Isolation suffers because of this and I wouldn’t recommend this for a noisy train commute.) One thing I like about the bass is its speed and attack. It sounds tight and doesn’t bleed or linger too long, and decays naturally. This really shone in the tap-dancing section of Aladdin’s “Friend Like Me”.
Mids (Score: 8/10)
The mids perform well on the T2s. It’s not what you’d usually expect from a typical V-shaped tuning with scooped mids. Listening to Martin Frost’s rendition of the “Clarinet Concerto in A” by Mozart was a real treat. It really brought the strings to life. Few IEMs in the sub-100 range succeed in really injecting energy into the strings without going overboard. Most of the time I find that they either sound lifeless or shrill. However, the T2 seems to hit the sweet spot, with very nice detail retrieval as well. To add the cherry on the cake, the tonality of the clarinet was very enjoyable too. The clarinet sounded mellow, yet with lots of breadth and not suppressed by the other instruments. The soundstage on the T2 is also much better than average, giving a very enjoyable experience with classical music. The biggest complaint I have is with how vocals somehow seem weak and too far back in the mix.
Treble (Score: 7.5/10)
Treble here is a little too boosted for my liking, especially for longer listening sessions. There are peaks at the 7-8k and 10-12k region and it makes it a little fatiguing and I find myself having to refrain from turning the volume too high. This is a big con as I constantly find that the vocals are too laid back in the mix and I keep wanting to turn up the volume to hear them better. However, a good thing is that the treble has impressive detail retrieval for such a budget set. Listening to Aladdin’s “Friend Like Me”, the bar chimes have a very nice shimmer and sparkle. The Hi-hats have an excellent tonality on the T2 as well. Quick note, if you are treble sensitive, swapping our silicone tips for foam tips may help. One impressive thing to note is the significant air in the treble region which gives a nice sense of space, something you don’t see often at this price range.
The Tin T2 leans towards a brighter sound signature. It has a more detail-oriented tuning. Although I wouldn’t call these lacking in bass, people who are more used to more common V-shape tunings with slightly elevated bass might find this set hard to adjust to. I won’t lie, it took me a while of listening before I managed to fully appreciate the strengths of the T2. It is quite a technically capable set, especially for its asking price.
Tin T2 vs TinT4 (Review here)
I am going to be skipping the Tin T3s here and jumping straight to the T4s. The T4s have been touted as the upgrade to the Tin T2 and for good reason. The T4, with a similar shell design and with an upgraded cable and packaging, has a better bass and sub-bass response. Its overall sound signature that leans more towards a V-shape. The T4 also has a smaller soundstage than the T2. The T4s are also much more technically capable and those who found themselves wishing more detail from the T2 would enjoy the T4.
However, the T2 has been hyped so hard for its unbeatable value but I cannot say the same for the T4. The T4 is significantly pricier than the T2s and although the T4s is a worthy performer, I would not say that it is as solid a rec as the T2s for what it offers.
The sub $50 range is flooded with many models and people new to the hobby would have a hard time finding something to get. Among the sea of normies, the Tin T2 stands out as an outstanding performer and pushes out a special sound signature with quality that is rarely seen in budget models. This is not to say that the Tin T2 is “endgame”, with things like me wishing the bass didn’t roll off so early (which would be a huge improvement IMHO). The Tin T2 fully deserves its status of a sub $50 budget rec.
Overall Grade: B+
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