Tin Hifi T2 - A Musical, Reference IEM for the Small Budget!?
Updated: Aug 29, 2021
Is there such a thing as a musical, reference IEM for a small budget? Actually, there have been very few IEM that have come to my review desk that fit into the "musical, reference" for the small budget universe (small budget to me is less then $100 current price), the Etymotic ER2SE, Tin Hifi T3 and Moondrop SSR. But, does the Tin Hifi T2 deserve to be added to that list?
What do I consider to be "reference"? I believe that a reference IEM should be one that is about as flat, neutral as possible without losing detail and extension. A reference IEM should not add in flavoring or coloring to the sound that isn't natural or realistic.
What do I consider to be "musical"? A musical IEM to me is one that sounds natural and realistic without being bloated or excessive in any of the frequencies. A musical IEM should be an accurate portrayal of the music in the real world that is enjoyable and detailed.
I purchased the Tin Hifi T2 with my own funds. I have not been paid, pressured or otherwise influenced to spin this review one way or the other. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Driver Config: Dynamic 10MM woofer + 6MM Tweeter (2DD drive unit)
Frequency range: 12-40000Hz
Elegantly practical. would be the best description of the Tin Hifi T2 unboxing experience. An outer white box like all other Tin Hifi products protects a small, blue box that opens from the top.
The T2 shells are nestled in the top tray. Below are 3 clear bags that you will find your cable, blue foam tips and silicone tips.
Overall, the accessories included are adequate for the price.
The Tin Hifi T2 are built like their siblings, T2 Pro, T3 and T4. I find the T2 build is solid and durable but surprisingly, not heavy.
The form factor is odd but not; it fits really good; kinda strange and hard to explain, but it works. I find that the cable is exceptional, thin and light but well behaved. The cable connects with MMCX connection.
The ear hooks are a good balance of flexible and soft with control. Stock tips work well and the medium silicone fit me best. But I changed to the JVC Spiral Dots and I found that they fit me a little better without altering sonics.
Sound: (Sound impressions are with the the JVC Spiral Dots.)
Bass: The TIn Hifi T2 bass is a good example of neutral but musical; it has just enough enjoyment with the details to impress.
The bass of the T2 isn't going to win any awards with bass lovers but it won't disappoint those seeking details and resolution. The bass has a good amount of extension but don't expect to feel any rumbles or kicks. The notes are weighted good and have nice presence but do not drive home with power. The speed and accuracy of the T2 is incredible. Instrument isolation and separation is fantastic. The Tin Hifi T2 bass is natural and realistic. The tone and timbre is spectacular. Detail retrieval is spectacular. Detail resolution is fantastic. Everything about the bass is pleasing and well controlled, you won't be begging for more unless you like bass slam and impact. If you are seeking a bass that is accurate and detailed then you shouldn't look any further then the T2.
Oh my, wow.
The mids of the Tin Hifi T2 are special, If you are seeking natural, realistic sounding mids then the T2 should be where you look. Balanced and cohesive vocals and instruments; everything sounds correctly placed. Airy and kissed with a natural warmth; the T2 puts on full display an accurate portrayal of natural and realistic mids. The T2 provides you with all the details you wish for and controls them with impeccable resolution. The upper mids are slightly more forward but do not venture into sibilant, harsh or bright mode. Even though the upper mids are slightly more forward they do not sound uneven or more prominent. Everything about the T2 mids sound realistic and natural.
I'm in love!
I will start this off by saying that the T2 has some of the best treble I have heard in an IEM, no matter the cost. There are a lot of ways that treble is displayed in an IEM, boosted upper treble, rolled off mid and upper treble, boost it all, roll it all off, and usually they sound unnatural to me. But the Tin Hifi T2 got it right. There is a good amount of extension with the T2 and it is slightly boosted....BUT...it is controlled and has the correct amount of boost. When I say that I love treble, a controlled treble, I am talking about the T2. Vocals and instruments are just wonderful to listen to as they flow smoothly. The T2 detail retrieval is great and there isn't any smearing and smudging. Harshness and brightness only present when the music has it in the mix. The T2 treble is a treasure that is rarely found in this price range.
The Tin Hifi T2 soundstage is of average width, depth and layering for the price but don't fret, they do imaging very well. You will be hard pressed to find an IEM in this price point that does imaging better. Along with the accurate imaging, the T2 offers instrument and vocal separation. Often with an average sized stage comes claustrophobic imaging and separation but the T2 is far from the norm. The T2 portrays vocals and instruments accurately; realistically spaced and separated, not too far or too close to each other. You can easily place and follow everything on the stage; the T2 makes it easy to diagnosis a stage.
Natural tone with realistic timbre is the best way to describe the Tin Hifi T2. Even though the overall presentation is slightly lightweight it doesn't lack in tonal accuracy. Instruments sound natural and realistic and are easily recognized.
Detail/Resolution: Detail retrieval is excellent for the price and exceeds my expectations. Resolution of the details portrayed is high quality and far exceeds the price average. The Tin Hifi T2 is very good at giving you an accurate picture of the music and includes all that you need and then some. The Tin Hifi T2 is a very revealing IEM.
The Moondrop SSR is one of my go to IEM that I highly recommend for anyone looking for a reference sound. The Tin Hifi T2 has a small bass advantage, adding in just a touch more note body and weight. The mids are way more forward on the SSR and are the focal point of the presentation. But the SSR has moments of sibilance and harshness in the upper mids. The treble is boosted in the upper region and doesn't sound as natural and realistic. The T2 has a more defined and refined soundstage with a slight advantage in imaging. The Tin Hifi T2 has replaced the Moondrop SSR as my go to reference IEM.
Tin Hifi T2 Plus:
The Tin Hifi T2 Plus is an interesting comparison to the T2, siblings yes but differences are easily detected. There is a significant increase in bass on the T2+ but it isn't as well resolved as the T2. The mids are more forward and full on the T2+ but they have a touch of sibilance and harshness that isn't present with the T2. The treble is more elevated on the T2 but yet still sounds more natural. The soundstage and imaging are similar but the T2 has an advantage in detail retrieval and resolution over the T2+. The T2 Plus is the fun version and the T2 is the workhouse.
Tin Hifi T3:
Close siblings that the similarities are familiar and the differences are extremely hard to hear. The T3 has a slim increase in the lower bass regions, that gives just a tad more body and impact. The T3 has a small advantage in mids body but there is a tad more upper mids presence, this can cause a few moments of sibilance on the T3. One of the biggest differences is the treble, the T2 is more extended and has more air but is somewhat brighter, the T3 is a bit more laidback and controlled. Soundstage width is similar but the T2 is a smidge wider. The T3 flexes it muscles with depth and layering as it is a bit more refined. Tone and timbre is exactly the same. Detail retrieval and resolution is another area that the T3 pulls away slightly. None of the differences mentioned are night and day but they do impact the overall sound. I love both and neither are leaving my review desk anytime. They both will play a part in the review process; T2 for the neutral reference and T3 for the musical reference..
The Etymotic ER2SE is very similar in sound to the T2 but there are a couple small differences. First, the T2 has a touch more treble extension and energy. Second, the ER2SE has a tad more mids presence and that gives a little more body and fullness. Third, the ER2SE has the slight advantage with detail retrieval and resolution, the ER2SE sounds a touch more refined and defined. Tone and timbre are very similar, hard to hear a difference. Soundstage and imaging are very similar as well and are hard to pick out differences. If you want a slight less amount of treble and a touch more mids then the ER2SE is the pick for you. Both are excellent and get a huge recommendation from me.
Paired the xDuoo Link with my Samsung Note 10 Plus and Google Pixelbook and it is was a solid option. The neutral nature of both the Link and the T2 were on display. But there was a slight sheen in the mids and treble at times that was somewhat fatiguing. I didn't mind this pairing for portable use as it didn't leave me wanting more sonically but it was a bit tiring over time which limited my listening sessions.
Nextdrive Spectra X:
Using the Nextdrive Spectra X on both my Samsung Note 10 Plus and Google Pixelbook was an enjoyable experience. The added warmth and bass impact that the Spectra X provides is fantastic with the T2. I love the non-fatiguing listen but yet all the details are still present. This is truly a great option for portable use. I was able to use this pairing for an 8 hour listening session without any fatigue.
A solid DAP deserves a quality IEM and the T2 and NW-A105 are a great pairing. There is a natural and realistic sound that these two present. This is my favorite DAP pairing for the T2 that doesn't have a huge price difference (see next pairing). The T2 shows off all the musical capabilities of the NW-A105 and will put a smile on your face. Source some quality recordings from Amber Rubarth, Danish National Symphony, Metallica, Greater Vision, Hans Zimmer, Gaither Vocal Band, Bruce Carroll, Bob James, Robert Len, Yanni or anything else and you will be impressed.
This is a fantastic pairing that puts a smile on my face, no matter the music I am listening to; Johnny Cash, Beatles, Blues Company, Diana Panton, David Phelps, Sandi Patty, Bach, Queen, Pink Floyd, Wagner, R.E.M., Pistol Annies....you get the point. The T2 shows off the clean, accurate sound of the NW-WM1a and is a budget treasure to listen to. I know the price difference is crazy but if you are looking for a budget friendly IEM to pair with your WM1a this is a great option.
If you haven't figured it out yet, I love the Tin Hifi T2. I highly recommend the T2. I find it plays well with all music genres and is perfect for all listening sessions but it excels at critical listening. If you are looking for an accurate, realistic, natural and musical reference IEM then give the Tin Hifi T2 a listen.
YouTube reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgMj7xJ1SDxGqqxZ5l3g_jg
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TalkDbs @TalkDbs
DBS Tech Talk research and review process: https://youtu.be/UkSnoZZNyYc
Audio Terms and Definitions: https://www.stereophile.com/reference/50/index.html
Meze Empyrean: https://mezeaudio.com/products/meze-empyrean
Hifiman Ananda: https://hifiman.com/products/detail/290
Sennheiser HD660s: https://en-us.sennheiser.com/hd-660-s
MrSpeakers Ether C (non flow version) https://danclarkaudio.com/
Meze Rai Penta: https://mezeaudio.com/collections/all/products/rai-penta
Meze Rai Solo: https://mezeaudio.com/products/rai-solo
Moondrop SSR: https://www.moondroplab.com/ssr
Monoprice Monolith THX AAA 788: https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=24459
Mytek Liberty: https://mytekdigital.com/hifi/products/liberty-dac/
Soekris DAC1421: https://soekris.modhouseaudio.com/soekris-audiophile-line/dac-1421
Tor Audio Roger: https://toraudio.com/main.html#
Massdrop THX AAA 789:
Grace Design SDAC-B: https://drop.com/buy/drop-grace-design-standard-dac-balanced?utm_source=linkshare&referer=FTSS2S
Geshelli Labs Enog 2 Pro: https://geshelli.com/shop/ols/products/enog2-pro-dac-metal-case
Geshelli Labs J2: https://geshelli.com/jnog
Geshelli Labs Erish: https://geshelli.com/shop/ols/products/erish-balanced
https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/5bbf80ce-33f3-4222-a1fc-6539a95415d6 (in order of playlist)
Tingvall Trio “Beat” - piano tonality
Sinne Eeg “We’ve Just Begun” - multiple layer soundstage
Molly Johnson “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” - female vocal tone
Leslie Odom Jr. “Under Pressure” - male vocal tone
Eric Clapton “Change the World” - soundstage, layering and placement
Yo Yo Ma “Ecstasy of Gold” - acoustic instrument timbre
Adam Baldych “Spem in Alium” - acoustic instrument timbre
Pain of Salvation “Stress” - percussion balance
Michael Buble “When I Fall in Love” - orchestral dynamics
Patricia Barber “Code Cool” - sibilance check
Christian Scott “New New Orleans” - shouty upper mids
Tool “Chocolate Chip Trip” - imaging
Hans Zimmer “Why So Serious” - sub bass extension
Marcus Miller “No Limit” - bass control
Dave Holland Quartet “Conference Of The Birds”- bass check
Ilhan Eshkeri “47 Ronin”- orchestra and bass dynamics
Hans Zimmer :2049” - sub bass extension
Cher: Believe - sibilance
Stanley Clarke - Passenger 57 main title - percussion, bass, separation and placement
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra - The Pine of the Appian Way - soundstage, imaging and separation
Houston Person - You are my Sunshine - tone and timbre
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