Love at Second Sight
- Balanced, homogeneous and warm sound.
- Quality of its middle zone.
- Excellent quality/price ratio.
- Ultra-light weight, remarkable fit and ergonomics.
- Good cable.
- Extension of the upper area somewhat limited.
- No bag for storage.
Link to the Store
Tin HiFi is back, or rather, it doesn’t stop. There are no more presentations, for a brand of headphones that this year is being very active, creating great products. Their previous model, the T2 Plus, for me, is one of the best IEMS in its price range, for its quality and special tuning, of all those I have been able to try. Now, they return with a new economic model, whose profile is based on the classic V, but revisited. With a driver covered with 98% beryllium, a material whose exceptional combination of rigidity and lightness, offers physical characteristics very suitable for this purpose. All this is encapsulated in a very ergonomic and ultra-light packaging, of only 3.2g per capsule. Available in 4 colours (white, black, pink or green), the T1 Plus adopts the classic 2Pin 0.78mm connector, to offer the best versatility when choosing a new cable. Although, perhaps not necessary, because the 28-core silver-plated copper cable is good enough not to have to change it, raising the level of its theoretical rivals.
Let’s look at the rest of the features of this promising model and, of course, how they sound.
- Drivers type: Dynamic 10mm, with beryllium diaphragm and dual magnetic circuit N50.
- Frequency Response: 10Hz-20kHz.
- Sensitivity: 105dB/mW.
- Impedance: 32Ω ± 15%.
- Nominal power: 3mW.
- Maximum power: 5mW.
- Maximum Distortion: 1% @1kHz 0.126V.
- Jack connector: 3.5mm, straight, gold plated.
- Capsule Connection Type: 2Pin 0.78mm, gold plated.
The Tin HiFi T1 Plus comes in a white cardboard box measuring 121x121x42mm. There are hardly any inscriptions on it, only the brand logo in black in the lower left corner and the model in the upper right corner. On the back side 3 QR codes, an EAN13 and where it has been manufactured. After lifting the lid, you can see the capsules embedded in a white foam mould and underneath, a white cardboard box. After removing the mould and the box, you can see a booklet of instructions, in Chinese and English, where the specifications come, among other things. Inside the box there is a cable and a transparent zip bag with silicone tips. There are two sets, one with a wide channel and one with a narrow channel, all in grey. The cable is black, with four braided and knotted strands. In short:
- Tin HiFi T1 Plus capsules.
- A 4-wire cable with 2Pin 0.78 QDC connection.
- 3 pairs of grey silicone tips, narrow channel, sizes SxMxL.
- 3 pairs of grey silicone tips, wide channel, sizes SxMxL.
The cable has a velcro strip to collect it, but there is no bag, cover for storage and protection. The price is low, but the storage bags cost very little, including one would have been desirable. As for the two pairs of silicone tips, it is good that such a variety exists.
Good and sober presentation, of contained size, well protected, although something big for not having neither drawings, nor specifications, nor sheath.
Construction and Design
Tin HiFi T1 Plus are very light, only 3.2g per capsule. Made of polycarbonate, it offers 4 colours to choose from (white, black, pink or green). In my case, the model is black. In fact, it is almost translucent grey, whose external sides have a slight mixture of glitter, without being very evident, so that the inside of the capsule can be seen. This external face has the shape of the African continent, but with very rounded curves. The thickness is medium and the inner side is smooth and gently rounded at the edges. At the foot of the nozzles, there are two letters R and L, to indicate the channel, in grey ink. Near them, on a steeper part, there is a hole. There is also another, on the other side of the letter, in the direction of the edge of the capsule. The nozzles form a single piece with the body of the capsules. At their base they have a slight step, followed by a central part with a smaller diameter, to end in a larger ring, in which the micro-perforated metal grid is located. In total, the nozzles are approximately 4mm long, with a smaller diameter of 4.8mm and a larger diameter of 5.8mm. The 2Pin 0.78mm connections are mounted in a protruding oval piece on the flat edge of the capsule. This structure supports the so-called QDC connector. Finally, following the edge adjacent to the connectors, the full name of the brand and model can be read in the same grey ink.
It should be noted that capsule size could be considered as a medium. Despite their lightness, IEMS never provide a feeling of fragility, as they feel solid and compact.
The cable consists of 4 strands covered with a black plastic. They are made of 28 silver-plated copper cores. In the common part, its braid is double, very tight between the cables of the same channel and again wound in pairs. The splitting piece resembles a small metallic cylinder, while the pin is spherical, with a hole in its centre, through which the cables pass. The plug is straight, also cylindrical, black, with a ring-shaped groove at the far end to the 3.5mm gold-plated jack. It has a small black rubber sleeve to protect the cable outlet. At the other end, the connectors are 2Pin 0.78 QDC, with black rigid plastic casings, with the letters R and L inscribed on them. Each one is angled at 120º. It has guides on the ear, somewhat closed.
The result is simple, but effective, without showing off, looking for solidity, a distinctive touch on the outer faces, with very light, soft capsules, with a very appropriate size and shape.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
The size of the nozzles allows a superficial adjustment, a very light and soft accommodation, with hardly any friction, with the parts of the ear. The shape and ergonomics of the capsules facilitate simple fitting, without the ability to rotate, making positioning a very simple operation, without being impaired by the guides on the ear, which the cable has. These guides do not have a very high rigidity, so they only rest on the ears, without offering hardly any pressure.
In short, the comfort is very high and the sensation of lightness, as if you were carrying nothing, is appreciable.
The profile of the Tin HiFi is based on the classic V, with emphasis on the mid-bass, mid-high and first highs. There is slightly more presence in the high zone than in the low. In addition, the valley is not very deep, leaving a lighter and smoother profile, with a good body in the lower mid-range. In the whole ensemble, containment predominates, more than the extremes, resulting in a sound that is not polarised at all, starting from the classic V-shaped personality, without excesses and adding cleanliness, dynamism and clarity, so as not to fall into the classic clichés of this profile.
The lower zone is tight, with a sound based on the mid-bass, which knows how to control its extension very well, so as not to fall into the classic perception of a coloured and incomplete bass in its initial zone. It is not a powerful ultra-bass, but its emphasis begins at that lower border, giving a not inconsiderable depth, combined with the typical punch emphasized in its centre, with a successful and limited, quite enjoyable gomosity. From this point on, there is a slight linearity, which provides a wide and generous body, but with very good control, as it does not poison the rest of the ranges, but only provides a calm warmth, beneficial in the soft and generalized character of the sound. In this way, the lower zone is described as fun, but at the same time, serious in its approach, since its quality is no game. The result is a relatively fast zone, with a dry beat, which hardly leaves any deposit and a realistic sound, which does not try to colour the zone to increase its spectacularity. It is the classic low V zone, but adjusted to the current trend, which demands some basses whose emphasis is transferred to the sub-bass, with the intention of gaining cleanliness in the middle zone.
Gone are the sunken mids of the classic V. This time, the voices can almost compete on equal terms, with the lower zone. They can’t be said to be protagonists, but they don’t feel behind at any time. It is undeniable that there is warmth in them and a calm reproduction, which is more concerned with recreating a wide and voluminous body, than with describing a more detailed, precise surface, centred on its nuances or on the drawing of its texture. And it is not that it suffers from it, since it can be easily distinguished and its smoothness discovered, but not so much as to discern a more interesting or complex roughness. In this sense, the analytical capacity of the T1 Plus, is relegated to a thicker plane, since its reproduction has a more mellow and pleasant tendency, more distant from a high resolution recreation. But this smoothness also receives a new treatment and I am beginning to suspect that this driver, covered in beryllium, has something to do with it. It is clear that the focus is not on texture, but on a more complete recreation of all the notes and sounds. And in this sense, the instrumentation benefits enormously, because it is at the same level as the voices, with a quite high expressiveness and recreation capacity. In this way, the central area feels very full, quite busy, but not dense or congested. There is warmth, as I have already said, but there is also air, body, volume, space and steam. Much of the blame for this feeling lies in the gentle fall of the bass to the midrange. So, it’s how the first half retains that presence and volume. The second half emancipates itself with a higher tuning than the classical one, but without falling into the current trend of over-exposure of the upper mids. In this way, there is clarity and good light, but the mids are not perceived as completely bright or clean. There is a good balance between both extremes of the middle zone, a mutual respect, a favourable synergy that does not break that very well-balanced V profile, nor the warmth. This is how the upper zone provides sparkle, elevating the details, breathing in air so that the nuances are visible, but without them predominating over the musicality of the more important elements. However, there is no trace of sibilance or artifacts of this type. Although, it is true that the voices have a slight tendency to sound somewhat dry, sometimes achieving the opposite effect.
V, not U, is how the Tin HiFi T1 Plus is tuned. And this is how the treble has that initial spark and its subsequent softening not without air. But don’t think that the treble is dulled, but that its tuning is realistic and, in turn, very well integrated into the rest of the sound. The treble achieves a quite striking presence, without lasting longer than necessary, nor standing out above the rest of the range, recreating a very positive and pleasant balance, which greatly benefits the whole. Once again, realism reigns, with a tonality that does not lose its warmth, capable of generating some high notes without echo, although without too much projection; with a medium narrowness, which gives it its characteristic sonority. This is the price to pay for not going too far. It is clear that control prevails over sparkle and extension, preventing a greater deployment, beyond the first part, that allows a more exact and, above all, complete definition of the high spectrum. This explains this certain tendency to express the high notes with a more perceptible dryness, which prevents a more splashy, vivid, sparkling or crunchy sound. It’s all about balance.
The scene is perceived frontally and laterally, as if we were inside a cylinder, with good width, a perceptible height and better depth. There is a good amount of air, but an ethereal or very expansive scene is not shown. There is no sensation outside the head, but the recreation is more realistic, but without congestion. The three-dimensionality is not declared evident, although the positioning is not vague, since the origin and the trace of the sounds can be easily followed. Although the recreation of the different planes is somewhat diffuse, the depth is not perceived with much separation between layers. The instrumental distance is more than correct, the sound is not dense, but it is true that the space is not distinguished too clearly, but it is influenced by the warmth and softness of the sound. In this way, the background is not so dark, nor can it be distinguished clearly. But it must be stressed that the sound is not diffuse, but has a good level of detail, micro nuances and precision, quite high for its level.
The profile of the KB04 has a more U-shaped tendency, with a clear emphasis on the sub-bass and, more pronounced, on the upper and lower mid-range. As a first impression, the sound in the KBEAR feels different, with a more perceptible depth, more clarity and cleanliness in the upper zone, but with a more distant and fine mid-range. Thus, its profile is sharper, focused on details, rather than on instrumentation or vocals. In this sense, the density of the mids, as well as their proximity and fullness, is much greater in the T1 Plus, offering a larger and more enjoyable sound, with more power, more palpable, providing a greater sense of immersion. Comparatively speaking, the instrumentation and voices in the KBEAR are thinner, cooler, farther away, with less body. This generates a cleaner, but also more hollow sound, where the high mids become more penetrating, being more likely to produce hearing fatigue, much earlier than with the T1 Plus. It is clear that the sound of the Tin HiFi is quieter, softer and warmer, the bass is not as deep and may not have the immediacy of the KBEAR, nor are its highs as precise, defined, clear, resolving and extended. But its sound is definitely more homogeneous, pleasant, full and balanced. The low end of the KBEAR is slightly tighter and more concise, less wide and perhaps a little more controlled and precise, as nothing escapes into the midrange. The T1 Plus offers a slightly darker lower zone, with a less defined, slightly thicker, but larger, hotter spot. In the midrange, the greater distance of the KB04 offers simplicity and lightness in the voices and also in the instrumentation. The texture generated is smoother and less detailed, with fewer resources than that expressed by the T1 Plus, whose richness in this range makes the KB04 pale. The turns are different when it comes to the treble: that simplicity and less extension is now revealed in the Tin HiFi, where the KBEARs show greater power, extension, quantity, expressiveness, resolution capacity, definition and proximity. The treble in T1 Plus is felt to be lower in relation to the expansion of the KB04. However, it is also true that this level has its consequences, which must be paid for, such as the possible fatigue that may appear, in people more sensitive to this range. Continuing with the advantages, the level of detail clearly falls on the side of the KB04, their finer and more crystalline top notes, providing more delicate, thinner, subtle, more projected and closer nuances. This increases the detail, which becomes more explicit, just as the greater extension gives more air to the overall sound. But the micro detail does not feel greater than the Tin HiFi. Smaller nuances are seen at almost the same level, unless they belong to the upper zone. By this I mean that the overall resolution level is quite similar in both models, just shifted according to the range.
The more U-shaped profile of the KBEARs, combined with the lower density of their sound and the air from the upper zone, results in greater separation and cleanliness in their sound. However, the scene looks different, it is difficult to determine which is greater, because its distribution is distinct. In the KBEAR, the scene is more concave, which is logical given the proximity of the extremes and the greater distance from the middle. In the Tin HiFi, the scene is more rounded, more frontal, tubular. There is more height in the KB04 and depth, but it is possible that the T1 Plus expand more in width, offering a more involving sensation and a more noticeable lateral scene.
Clearly, both IEMS are quite good in their range. But you have to take into account what you’re looking for, to target one or the other. In addition, the construction and weight of each must also be taken into account. Comparatively speaking, the Tin HiFi T1 Plus are ultra-light, which is very noticeable when you put the KB04 in your ears, which is quite heavy, comparatively speaking, as it is made of metal.
Any comparison in this price range, would be orphaned if not compared to the well known BL-03, the most hyped IEM in recent times. The initial differences are obvious, the Blon has a more U-shaped profile, with a low zone in clear descent from the sub-bass. Its highs are more extensive and with more air. But the mids feel more hollow, slim and fine. The Tin HiFis have a larger middle zone, with a different pitch of the voices, thicker in the low zone, less accentuated in the high zone. They are built with a fairly strong and wide body, with a different positioning, warm, which can sometimes be more cloudy, dark or influenced by the middle zone. In the Blon, this sensation does not exist; the voices stand out cleaner, but subtracting more distant, with a less evident, although clear, texture. The sub bass prevails over the mids, as do the highs, while the first half of the middle zone can feel more sterile and harmless. This does not happen in T1 Plus, quite the contrary, if we talk about that middle zone. In this case there will be followers and detractors of both models, although I think that a middle ground would be ideal. In my opinion the Blon should have a little more emphasis on the lower middle, or the T1 Plus less emphasis on that zone. The difference between the two, in this sense, is very polarized, and there is a clear possibility of debate between the two tunings: cleanliness of sound, body and proximity to the first mids. What is clear, is that, also in the lower zone this discussion exists. But, again, something in the middle would have been the best option, something like a slightly more linear sub-bass. For my taste, with genres where the lower midrange has more protagonism, bass, drums, even guitars, they have a body and a forcefulness that is not found in the Blon. For genres where the detail is more important, especially in the high part, the Tin HiFi are not so suitable.
The bass in the BL-03 is cleaner, somewhat more contained, slightly deeper. The greater width in the lower zone of the T1 Plus, provides that sensation of having a longer shadow and a little more darkness. Technically speaking I don’t find one to be superior to the other, it’s a matter of tuning. In the upper part, the wider Blon gives that extra that the T1 Plus lacks: extension, air and a bit more control. In this way, more separation can be seen in the BL-03, but a more concave and retracted scene. Meanwhile, the T1 Plus has more frontal and also lateral closeness, producing that higher immersive feeling. As the pitch, presence and sonority change at the top of both IEMS, it feels like the Blon produces more detail. But the level of micro detail in both is similar, maintaining an even ability to reveal more hidden nuances throughout the mid and low range.
The ergonomics of the BL-01 are curious and not all of them fit well. In addition, the choice of silicone tips can be more complex. Both the ergonomics and the adjustment of the T1 Plus is simple and easy, being very easy to find the best coupling, even with the standard tips.
Every time I analyse a Tin HiFi model, I realise that it is not love at first sight. Its quality requires an effort, nothing is as it initially seems. The preliminary impression is not bad, although it seems that the T1 Plus has fallen into an ease in its profile. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think that there is a lot of maturity in this tuning, something that can be noticed in the weight of the bass, in the homogeneity of its mids and in its warm, but renewed tone. The passage of time puts in value this model so accessible and light. Its very pleasant sound allows long listening, which, in turn, allows a better delight of its texture, its surrounding scene and the fullness and quality of its midrange. I think that the Tin HiFi T1 Plus are absolutely essential in any ChiFi collection.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Burson Audio Playmate.
- xDuoo XP-2Pro.
- ACMEE MF-01.
- HyBy R3 Pro.
- Earmen TR-Amp.
- Earmen Sparrow.