In 2017, TinAudio (now TinHiFi) confidently took over the budget market with the T2. It was an affordable, well-built dual-dynamic earphone that brought to the segment a near-neutral signature which was quite uncommon for 50 USD. Once the word got out, it became a fan favorite and a go to recommendation for many.
When I heard TinHiFi was prepping to release an updated T2 called the T2 Pro, I reached out to find out more about what they were intending to change. Bass was the answer. It was to be fleshed out and more powerful to satisfy those that found the regular T2 lacking low end, something I was excited to hear. Bass extension was one of the few sore spots when it came to the T2, for me at least. When the T2 Pro started showing up in the hands of reviewers, I was disheartened to hear that the changes were exactly the opposite of what was discussed. Bass and mids were mostly left alone and treble was boosted, something I really don’t think the T2 needed. Regardless, after spending some time with the T2 Pro it has shown itself to be a worthy follow up to the original T2.
Let’s take a closer look.
Thanks to Lillian with Linsoul/DD Audio for arranging a sample of the T2 Pro, free of charge. The thoughts within this review are my own and do not represent TinHiFi, Linsoul, or any other entity. No financial incentive was provided to write this review. At the time of writing, the T2 Pro was retailing for 59.99 USD: https://www.linsoul.com/product-page/TinAudio-T2-PRO-Earphones
You can also check it out on Massdrop where it has been dropping fairly routinely: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/tin-audio-t2-pro#overview
Source and Amping:
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 G6, HiFi E.T. MA8, or Shanling M0, all of which brought it up to listening volume without any effort.
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, Brainwavz B400, and thinksound On2 offer varied examples of signatures I enjoy. I generally listen at very low volumes, so keep this in mind when reading my thoughts on how an earphone sounds.
Packaging and Accessories:
If you’ve purchased either the T1 or T2 in the past, the T2 Pro’s unboxing experience will be nothing new. It’s still quite nice though.
The plain white cardboard box imbued with the TinHiFi brand and model information still looks low key and classy. Opening it you’re greeted to a blue case coated in a nicely texture faux-leather. It opens like a book to the T2 Pro’s manual. Beneath that is the T2 Pro’s ear pieces nestled in a foam insert with the new straight jack between them. The new jack is really nice, forgoing the traditional black carbon-fibre look for a shimmery silver fibre. It looks much more premium than the already attractive jack on the original T2. Under the foam insert are the rest of the accessories, those being a slew of tips. In all you get:
– T2 Pro earphones
– MMCX equipped, silver-plated cable
– Sony hybrid look-a-like silicone tips (s/m/l)
– Wide bore single flange tips (s/m/l)
– small bore single flange tips (s/m/l)
I love the addition of many new and varied tips, something the original T2 was sorely lacking. All three sets are different and are of a decent level of quality. Most should find exactly when they need to get a good fit without resorting to third party tips.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
The T2 Pro is build exactly the same as the regular T2, minus a mild color change. The all-metal shells are flawlessly machined with great fit and finish. All component parts fit together tightly and line up as they should. The color coded MMCX ports make a welcome return, allowing you to easily discern left and right channels. The nozzles have a prominent lip and are of a standard size letting you swap a wide variety of tips should you find the stock options insufficient.
The cable is a nice upgrade over the one included with the original T2. As mentioned earlier, the straight jack has been upgraded with a new look. Its also a bit bulkier, but there is an extension to permit compatibility with cellphone cases so the additional girth shouldn’t be an issue. The cable has a proper y-split, made from a very compact metal cylinder. Like the original cable, within the y-split the four strand braid divides into two twisted strands leading up to the ear pieces. This ensures the y-split isn’t a week spot. The MMCX plugs are very small and made with a clear plastic this time around, a nice change over the puke green/tan plugs found on the T2’s original cable.
Comfort is good but not amazing. The T2 Pro’s housings are a traditional barrel shape with a small protrusion at the end to accommodate the MMCX ports. They are fairly long and weighty, though should you choose to wear them cable over ear as is intended, the weight is fairly evenly distributed around the ear. I can wear them for long periods no problem, but they do require adjustment every once in a while to reset the seal.
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 or make sure you’re using foam tips which restricts the outside noise bleeding in.
The original T2 was a near-perfect budget earphone. It didn’t resort to any cheap tricks to wow listeners, like blasting the bass to mask a lack of technical ability or driving up the treble to artificially boost the perception of clarity. It provided a very transparent listening experience that was simply beautiful. While I think the T2 Pro is an excellent earphone in it’s own right, I wouldn’t classify it as an upgrade over the T2. The changes to the treble certainly have their positive effects, but it throws off the T2’s balanced signature turning it into another forgettable, bright earphone. A very good one, but forgettable none-the-less. And that’s coming from someone that enjoys a bright earphone.
Starting with the treble where TinHiFi made all the changes, you’ll immediately notice the T2 Pro has excellent extension but is bright. Very bright. Whereas the T2’s treble had a mild lift, it was quite pleasant for all but the most treble sensitive. For the T2 Pro you’ll need to be tolerant of the upper ranges. For example, balance is harmed on Broken Bell’s “Mongrel Hearts” The cymbals are way too loud and overpower the track. Were there any benefits of this change? For sure.
First off, it makes the T2 Pro a leaner sounding earphone which to my ears legitimately improves clarity. It also makes the presentation more open and airy, addressing the average sound stage I felt the T2 had. This also allows the T2 pro’s excellent imaging to show off. Lastly, it gives the T2 Pro some sparkle where the regular T2 could be a touch dull.
The other side effect of the increase to the treble quantity is a leaner mid-range. I consider this a negative as the T2 had a near-perfect mid-range for a budget offering. It had good weight and a natural tonality, providing a very sweet experience with the vast majority of vocalists. Timbre was spot on too. The T2 Pro ends up being lighter and leaner with a bit more detail, but that organic feel of the original is mostly gone. Sibilance was also introduced in areas the T2 had none, ending up being quite prominent with some of my favorite artists like Aesop Rock.
Bass remains untouched to my ear, so I’ll just copy in that section from my original T2 review, with some mild edits. 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 Pro it is present, but not a focal point as it should be and lacks physical presence. That said, what the T2 Pro lacks in quantity it makes up for in speed and impact. It’s a punchy, nimble little earphone that can handle some quick transitions.
In my opinion, bass extension and an increase in texture were the areas that most need to be addressed by the T2 Pro. While the heavily boosted treble had some positive effects on the signature, I feel it was unnecessary and unbalances an otherwise beautiful signature. Don’t get me wrong, I like the T2 Pro and still think it is one of the better offerings at it’s price point, I simply don’t feel that it was a necessary update to the T2. Maybe TinHiFi felt the original plan of fleshing out the low end would result in something too close to the T1. Or, maybe user feedback provided during testing favored a brighter signature. Maybe the T2 Pro would have been better off with a completely new model name. On the plus side, it does ensure TinHiFi’s lineup is varied. You’ve got the T2 Pro for something bright, the T2 for something neutral, and the T1 for something warm. An earphone for almost every listener.
Kinera SEED: The SEED is notoriously under appreciated in my opinion. It was Kinera’s follow up to the H3 which saw extremely mixed opinions. Along with a couple other mishaps, such as a retune prior to release and an issue with the cable blackening that resulted in a recall, it faded into relative obscurity very quickly. Too bad, because it’s a really nice product.
Compared to the T2 Pro, the SEED has a meatier, fuller sound to it. The T2 Pro is much more emphasized in the upper treble regions giving cymbals more shimmer than you’d get from the SEED. Treble clarity is slightly better on the T2 Pro, but I found the SEED’s armature to be more controlled. The SEED’s mid-range is more textured and forward with some added warmth and body. SEED’s bass is slightly slower but has better extension and texture. The sub-bass it outputs can be quite unexpected and is vastly more visceral than the T2 Pro’s, just know it’s not “always on” and only shows up when the song demands. Both can come across somewhat bass-lite to those used to more common, bassy earphones. Sound stage is similar in size but the T2 Pro has a clear the edge. The lean presentation and air between sounds results in something that feels larger and more open.
Build goes to the T2 Pro with it’s metal shells and lithe but durable braided cable. The SEED’s plastic, Shure-like shells are more comfortable and the cable much pricier looking than the actual cost, but the plug don’t really fit the earphone and look like an afterthought.
While I like the regular T2 more than the SEED, I prefer the SEED to the T2 Pro since it is more balanced and provides a more satisfying sub-bass experience.
EarNiNE EN120: The EN120 uses EarNiNE’s own, in-house developed full-range balanced armatures. It provides a neutral-bright signature along the lines of the T2 Pro.
The T2 Pro’s dual-dynamic provide improved end-to-end extension over the EN120. Treble on the T2 Pro is elevated over the EN120 and provides a more airy, crisp presentation. The EN120’s mids are thicker and more bodied with similar clarity and detail, but more texture and depth. The T2 Pro’s bass isn’t quite as quick but better separates individual instruments and tones and is more balanced. The EN120 sticks mainly to mid- and upper-bass. Sound stage easily goes to the T2 Pro which is much more open than the relatively intimate EN120.
While I love the T2 Pros build quality, the EN120 has my vote. The polished, stainless steel shells feel way more expensive than the EN120’s low price would suggest, and while fixed, the cable is one of my favorites. It is very thin but as a result is super light, flexible, and simply feels amazing.Their top model, the EN2J, features the same cable with MMCX terminations. I like it so much, I swapped out the Campfire Audio Polaris’ stock cable for it. Getting this same cable on a budget offering like the EN120 is awesome. Comfort goes to the EN120 too. It’s traditional, bullet shaped housings provide a no-fuss fit regardless of cable up or down wear.
While I think the T2 Pro is the better earphone, I can’t deny the EN120’s proprietary drivers have a certain charm that the T2 Pro is lacking.
TinHiFi clearly has some talent behind the team tuning their products. First there was the T2 which is more or less a modern classic. Then came the T1 which is a great alternative for those wanting a warmer sound. Now we have the T2 Pro. While I think the changes made were unnecessary, it doesn’t make it any less competent of an earphone. It is bright, airy, detailed, with a mostly neutral bass and mid-range tune, all matched up with strong technical competence. As long as you’re okay with a treble focused sound, I suspect you’ll be quite happy with the T2 Pro.
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)