TinAudio T2: Dual-Dynamics Have Still Got It
Today we’re checking out the T2 from TinAudio.
Before I hopped onto the hybrid bandwagon, I was deep into into dual-dynamics; NarMoo’s W1M, B2M, and S1, the JVC HA-FXT90, Tingo’s GX12, and Havi’s B3 Pro I, just to name a few. Many of these used micro-dynamics which are my favorite drivers, and shrugged off the use of crossovers for old-school tuning. Compared to many similarly priced single driver earphones, I found these dual dynamics offered superior layering and separation in many cases, even if that sometimes came at the cost of driver coherence which wasn’t always a bad thing. 2.1 stereo effect anyone?
While it seems dual-dynamics have faded in popularity in favour of budget hybrids, there are still a few kicking around, including those by TinAudio. My first experience with the brand was of their entry level dual-dynamic, the T515. When I first saw it all I could think was “NarMoo”. Same shell, same cable, same driver layout, same everything. When a fellow Head-fi’er let me give his a go, I was not entirely surprised to find that it was extremely similar to NarMoo’s B1M and B2M models which I quite like, B1M in particular. I suspect they shared OEMs for these models. When the T2 arrived on my doorstep I was keen to give them a listen, hoping they would be a significant step up from the T515. They certainly haven’t disappointed.
Let’s find out why, shall we?
The TinAudio T2 was provided free of charge in exchange for a fair and impartial review. The thoughts within are my own and are not representative of TinAudio, Penon Audio or any other entity. There is no financial incentive for writing this.
At the time of writing the T2 could be picked up for 49.90 USD: penonaudio.com/Tin-Audio-T2
For at home use the T2 was powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp or straight out of my Asus FX53V laptop. For portable use it was paired with an LG G5, HiFi E.T. MA8, Walnut V2s or Shanling M1, all of which brought it up to listening volume without any effort. I also occasionally ran it through the Walnut F1 which brightened up the signature somewhat.
I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, MacaW GT600s, and thinksound On2 offer examples of signatures I enjoy.
- Drivers: Dynamic, 10mm Woofer and 6mm Tweeter
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Frequency response range: 12-40000Hz
- Cable: 1.2m, 5N oxygen free copper silver-plated wire
Packaging and Accessories:
TinAudio outdid themselves with the T2’s beautifully simple and elegant packaging. Initial impressions are nothing special. Just a plain white box with minimal text. The front announces inside is the T2, and shows off TinAudio’s logo. The sides show nothing while the rear has some print in Mandarin, a scan-able bar code, and notice that the T2 was made in the People’s Republic of China.
Opening this package you are greeted to a long case coated in a blue and while leatherette material. Flipping the lid back like a book, the instruction pamphlet is the first thing you see. One side is in Mandarin, the other English, and it goes over all the usual basic; specs, safety and case info, burn in instructions, and to my surprise, info pertaining to a fairly generous 12 month warranty. The English translation is predictably wonky, but it’s not tough to figure out what they’re getting at in most cases.
Lifting out the manual you see a foam inlay showing off the earpieces, detached from the cable and with bright blue foam tips installed. Below this are the rest of the included items. In all you get;
- T2 ear pieces
- 1 pair of blue foam tips
- 3 pairs of single-flange, small bore silicone tips (s/m/l)
It’s not an extensive accessory kit and the silicone tips are the same generic set provided with countless other earphones, but the presentation is top notch. You really do feel like you’re opening something special.
Build Quality, Comfort, and Isolation:
The T2’s lightweight housings are all-metal minus some blue/red plastic rings denoting left and right channels, around where the MMCX cable plug in. Fit and finish is spectacular with all seams integrated into the design so they are all but invisible. The housing are ventilated, one at the base of the nozzle and another on the back plate. Both vents are quite small yet the T2 displays no driver flex at all. The T2’s housings are also completely free of logos and in their gunmetal color are very subdued.
Also adding to the subdued look is the cable and it’s beige plugs. The rest of the cable is tightly coiled and book looks and feel absolutely fantastic. Taking a cue from more expensive gear, the y-split and chin cinch are made from clear heat shrink tubing and from a distance are barely visible. The sheath surrounding the silver-coated wiring within is both stiff yet flexible, and displays some memory holding small kinks and bends. This is mostly apparent above the y-split. Some cable noise transmits, but it’s minimal and negated through use of the cinch. Strain relief at the carbon fibre coated straight jack is good, though stiff, and non-existent at the ear piece plugs; a small oversight in my opinion. Despite the few negatives mentioned, this is one of the nicest budget cables I’ve come across.
The T2 doesn’t do anything too crazy with the design, featuring a standard barrel shape that is expanded on out back to accommodate the removable cable. This protrusion helps with stability should you choose to wear these cable up or down, both of which are completely viable. Cable down wear leads to more noticeable cable noise, though again the chin cinch helps to negate that. Over comfort is quite good, with no sharp edges to cause discomfort or hot spots. Just a straightforward, comfortable design.
Isolation is merely adequate, and about what you would expect from a ventilated dual-dynamic earphone. Outside noise bleeds in but not enough to drown out your music. If using these while on transit, you will likely need to turn up the volume a bit more than normal.
What makes the T2 so special in terms of it’s sound is how even it’s presentation is from top to bottom. With the exception of the Havi B3 Pro I, I can’t think of anything I’ve heard that is quite as neutral-ish as the T2 in this price range. Using the preinstalled foam tips helps to flatten the signature out even more.
It’s treble presentation is quite linear with an polite uptick in the lower treble giving them an appropriate amount of sparkle and shimmer. Extension is good with a pleasantly mild dip at the tippy top. Even at the very high volumes I tend to avoid the T2 doesn’t display harshness or induce listening fatigue. The soundstage isn’t anything special, but the T2’s treble presentation makes the most of it giving this earphone an open and airy feel.
The T2’s mid-range is where the magic happens. It’s tonally very pleasing and quite similar to the Simgot EN700 Pro. Vocals have a breathy, textured presentation with a tendency to cut through and stand out, even if they’re recessed on the recording. I wouldn’t say the T2’s mid-range is forward, but it has the unique ability to retain presence when you would expect it to fall behind. This makes it especially great with live instruments and recordings.
In terms of bass, fault can be found in the prominence of sub-bass regions. For example, on Ephixa’s ‘Dubstep Killed Rock and Roll’ there is a strong sub-bass line that perpetuates the majority of the length of the track. With the T2 it is present, but not a focal point as it should be and lacks physical presence. That said, what the T2 lacks in quantity it makes up for in speed and impact. It’s a punchy, nimble little earphone that can handle some quick transitions.
While the T2’s soundstage is good, it’s not overly capacious like the TFZ Exclusive 3. Sounds move just to the edges of your head. Imaging is good with sounds moving smoothly between channels. Layering is above average with the T2 showing a sense of depth to recordings that is generally reserved for more pricey offerings. Separation is also quite good with the T2 handling clustered tracks without becoming congested.
Overall the T2 makes for a very easygoing and technically proficient listen. Their more technical approach that is somewhat uncommon in budget gear is a refreshing change of pace. I’m glad TinAudio stepped away from the darker, more bass focused signatures or mid/treble focused signatures that seem to be everywhere right now.
Havi B3 Pro 1: The B3 Pro I is a well-known earphone in the Head-fi community, respected for it’s neutral and capable sound. Despite being out for years, it is still commonly recommended to those wanting a neutral signature and massive soundstage. The T2 and B3 Pro I share a number of qualities with some key differences. The T2 has tighter, more impactful bass than the Pro I with similar extension. The T2’s treble offers up more sparkle and life. The B3’s mid-range is a touch smoother, though I find the T2’s more detailed and clear. The impression of sheer space goes to the B3, though I find the T2 picks up the slack in terms of depth and layering. Both of these dual-dynamics are killer picks
E-MI CI880: Earlier this year I ordered the E-MI CI880 blind. There were no impressions of this earphone anywhere that I could find, so fingers crossed they were good. I wasn’t disappointed. Like the T2 it is a dual-driver, though in this case it’s a hybrid and one of the better budget ones I’ve come across. They offer similar signatures but with some notable differences making the CI880 a great companion to the T2. The CI880 offers a more treble-focused and vibrant signature offering a level of detail in the upper ranges and mids that the T2 can’t match. Chalk one up to the balanced armature.
The CI880 has a leaner sound, especially in the treble and mid-range where the T2 has more body. In terms of bass, they are quite similar though the T2 digs deeper into the sub-bass regions where the CI880 is lacking. The T2’s dynamic druver offers up more low end texture than the CI880’s but falls behind a bit in terms of mid-bass punch. Soundstage is quite similar with the CI880’s thinner sound giving the impression of greater space. Both layer and image well, but the CI880 has the upper hand in terms of separation where the T2’s thicker sound profile kicks in. I personally love both earphones.
The T2 isn’t flashy. It doesn’t draw your eyes and spark interest with exotic materials or a billion drivers per side. It’s simply a well-thought out, fairly priced, and expertly tuned dual-dynamic earphone with a nice cable, great build quality, sparse accessory kit, and a lovely presentation.
If you’re looking for a fairly neutral earphone that doesn’t break the bank and are okay with trying something from a lesser known brand, give the T2 a go. It’s well worth your time and should be durable enough to stick with you long into the future.
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)