TinHiFi T2 Plus: Familiarity
Today we’re checking out TinHiFi’s newest model in their popular T Series of earphones, the T2 Plus.
TinHiFi became a sensation shortly after the release of the T2 thanks to its neutral-bright signature that was very much a novelty in the price range. With the exception of the T1 which is the warm, bassy, red-headed stepchild in the lineup, every release following the T2 has maintained the neutral-bright sound that put Tin on the map in the first place. With the T4 they added in some additional bass and dialed down the treble bit, but that bright-ish quality remained. The T2 Plus pulls A LOT from the sound of the T4, but I’ll dive into that in the comparisons section.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes the T2 Plus one of the better budget-minded products on the market right now.
What I Hear Treble out of the T2 Plus has a light and sparkly feel to it that is in no way lacking detail. Whereas it is quite common for brands to elevate the brilliance region to artificially bump perceived detail and clarity, there is none of that going on here. It’s the real deal. That said, upper treble has been restrained somewhat compared to earlier models like the T2 Pro, T3, and P1, with the focus residing mostly in the presence region. Combine this with a robust low end that we’ll get to later, and the T2 Plus stands alongside the T4 as the most balanced earphone in Tin’s lineup. Notes have a lean, light, and airy presentation resulting in something that feels very nimble. Regardless of how complicated a track may get, the T2 Plus holds composure giving it a very well-controlled and peppy presentation. Decay is maybe too quick and more in line with what we expect from a balanced armature. The result is something that isn’t as accurate as it could be. I’m fine with that since is results in a level of technical prowess matched by few in this price range.
In line with the T1, T2, T3, T4, and P1, so nearly every earphone in the lineup, the T2 Plus has pretty damn good mids. They are linear, prominent, and are technically quite awesome. Male vocals take up most of the warmth on tap leaving female vocals often coming across a little cooler than I prefer, but for the most part they go tit for tat and neither benefits more than the other from the tuning found in this region. Clarity and detail are area where Tin products rarely falter, and the T2 Plus is no different. Fine details are retained and ready for trained ears to enjoy their nuances. The presentation is analytic without tossing entertainment value to the wayside, something that is very hard to do well. Timbre is quite accurate though a hint brighter than what I consider correct. Still, it works in the context of the overall tune and is kept from veering in the wrong direction thanks to an injection of warmth from the midbass.
Bass is an area where Tin products often get the most negative feedback and while I don’t think the T2 Plus is going to satisfy those who want a powerful, robust low end, those who enjoyed the T2 and P1 but wanted a bit more emphasis will be happy little clams. Extension is stellar though subbass emphasis is on the polite side. This keeps the presentation from being too visceral but when called for, can still rumble. Midbass outputs enough texture and detail for grungy beats from the likes of Malibu Ken, but like it’s relatives, is somewhat lean and only adds a smidge of warmth to the overall signature. The outstanding speed on tap keeps it fairly punchy, though not a bare knuckle punch. There is definitely some padding in place that keeps notes from hitting hard. The aforementioned speed matches another model in the lineup resulting in some of the most articulate and well-defined bass I’ve heard from in a single dynamic.
One area where I was expecting the find some faults with the T2 Plus was sound stage and the technical abilities that go along with it. I was very happy to hear that this is (probably) where the new 10mm “NanoPure” nickel-zinc alloy plated dynamic driver truly earns it’s keep. The T2 Plus’ sound stage is wide and fairly deep giving sounds plenty of room to move around. This is one of those rare earphones that makes me remove an earphone thinking I heard someone call my name, or enter the room behind me. The imaging quality is a massive step up over the T4 which was oddly subpar and well below average. Channel-to-channel transitions are nuanced and precise making the T2 Plus a good pick for somewhat competitive gaming. The excellent instrument layering and separation aid in this too since track elements rarely congest and meld together.
Thanks to the improved technical ability of the T2 Plus, the T4 hands it the “best in lineup” torch. Given the price gap between the two, that’s pretty frickin’ impressive and elevates the T2 Plus to one of the best value earphones in portable audio. One of… That brings us to the next section.
Compared To A Peer (volume matched using a Dayton iMM-6)
Moondrop SSR (39.99 USD): Comparing two juggernauts is hella tough. Both of these earphones are truly awesome offerings and probably the best things available around 50 USD. Depending on what you value, the T2 Plus is probably what you’re going to want to drop your cash on if bass is what you value most in your neutral-leaning earphone. Both extend well but the T2 Plus offers up more subbass presence and a hint more texture. The SSR’s midbass warmth is better carried through into the mids though, resulting is a more natural and timbre-accurate presentation. And that is where the SSR will be the pick for some. As good as the T2 Plus is in the mids, the SSR is so much smoother and more refined while giving up nothing in terms of coherence and detail. Some say it’s shouty. It’s forward, not shouty. The T2 Plus comes closer to being shouty thanks to the near breakup that occurs at higher volumes, but it’s still not shouty. Treble quality also falls into the SSR’s camp in my opinion, though the difference here isn’t particularly vast. The T2 Plus is brighter and more aggressive thanks to the additional brilliance region emphasis which makes it more fatiguing than the SSR over long listening sessions, or on particularly treble heavy tracks. The SSR’s presence region bias also gives it a bit more detail to my ears, though the difference is small. Both offer up plenty of information and texture. The SSR has a pretty killer sound stage but it doesn’t necessarily overshadow the equally excellent T2 Plus. The SSR’s vocals have a further default positioning giving it a more spacious feel off the hop. Sounds cascade further into the distance and move from channel-to-channel with even greater accuracy, but the T2 Plus sounds deeper and more layered. Instrument separation is on par.
When it comes to build I’m not sure which I prefer. The T2 Plus certainly looks cleaner with some impressively tight seams and better implemented L/R designations, but the use of MMCX is a sore point for many past TinHiFi customers. The SSR has a more industrial feel with the deep seams and prominent hex screw holding the faceplate on. I suspect it’ll be the more durable of the two. I also prefer the use of standard 0.78mm plugs which tend to be more reliable. Both have great cables, though for different reasons. I’d be perfectly happy with either. Comfort of the T2 Plus is a step up from past T Series models thanks to the move to a smooth, rounded, low profile design, but the short nozzle still proves to be a bit of an issue at times. The SSR fits me perfectly, slotting into place without issue and remaining stable and comfy at all times.
Both of these are killer earphones and equally deserving of your time. The SSR is my personal favorite though. Why? The midrange is so clean and the overall presentation smooth and refined. The T2 Plus has a rougher overall feel to it but makes up for this with it’s technical prowess and subbass. I would be happy with either but since I’m in a position to choose, SSR gets the vote.
BQEYZ KC2 (~45.00 USD): The KC2 has seen an odd resurgence in popularity lately. Not a bad thing because it’s a good earphone, but worthy competition for the T2 Plus? Kinda. Sub-bass is handled well but despite some fairly linear measurements, doesn’t feel like it’s enough to properly counter-balance the midbass which sounds overly prominent, looser, less textured, and somewhat bloated next to the T2 Plus. The midrange fairs better with similar emphasis and timbre quality, though detail sits firmly in the T2 Plus camp, and in general it sounds more coherent. I will give the KC2 an edge in weight since vocals certainly sound thicker and more beefy than what you hear from the T2 Plus. I suspect this is due mostly to the presence region which sees a huge dip on the KC2 nerfing detail and clarity next to TinHiFi’s newest T series model. The brilliance region sees the KC2 spike back up making it more sparkly, but also harsher and more fatiguing. Sound stage is also in the T2 Plus’ corner coming across wider and deeper, backed with better imaging and improved separation, though I find the KC2 layers about as well.
When it comes to build they are both wonderfully constructed. Fit and finish on the KC2’s shell is just as impressive and while the cable is significantly cheaper feeling, they went with a 2-pin design which I prefer. I also find the KC2 more comfortable and stable design being quite a bit larger and heavier.
Overall I like the KC2. Despite it’s age it is still plenty competitive and am glad to see if finally getting it’s dues. Still, the T2 Plus handily outperforms it in my opinion and is absolutely worth the extra cost.
TinHiFi T4 (109.00 USD): I’m going to keep this one simple; if you’ve been thinking of getting the T4, save your money and buy the T2 Plus instead. The tuning is nearly identical save for a slight decrease in the upper mids and presence regions on the T2 Plus that results in the perception of a bit more bass. Putting the T4 in one ear and the T2 Plus in the other, my brain quickly adjusted and compensated for the differences, save for what sounded like a very mild channel imbalance due to their sensitivity variances. The biggest gulf between the two is the T2 Plus’ improvement to the imaging quality which alone is probably a good enough reason to pick it up over the T4. If the T4 had a similar shell design to the T2 Plus, I would say there was no real reason for it to remain in TinHiFi’s lineup. The Plus does everything the T4 does, and more. That’s high praise coming from someone that adores the T4.
In The Ear The T2 Plus makes some serious headway for the brand when it comes to design and ergonomics. I find all of their past models to be attractive, well-build earphones, but each and every one has ergonomics issues; T1’s nozzle is too stubby for such a broad body, T2/T3/T4 are unstable for many thanks to the length and weight distribution, and the P1 is quite heavy with proportions that lead to instability. While the T2 Plus could benefit from a longer nozzle, you can compensate with longer tips. Everything else about it is a massive step in the right direction in my opinion. The low profile, light weight, and smooth, rounded edges make it very comfortable. This is one of few low-profile designs that I don’t have to fiddle with on the regular to retain a good seal.
The excellent build quality is nothing new for TinHiFi with its neatly machined aluminum alloy housings. I especially like the velvety pebbled finish, though it does make them quite slippery. Fit and finish is top tier with extremely tight seams between the two halves of the shell. The fine metal filters are neatly applied and will be a prime target for removal by tuners and tinkerers who want to “open” the sound further. Outside of TinHiFi laser printed into the top of the housing in tiny writing, there isn’t any obvious branding or logo work showing off the shiny new TinHiFi earphones you’re rocking. Tin once again went with MMCX connectors which will turn away some given the apparent issues with other models in the past. I’ve been quite lucky with mine as only the T4 had slightly sloppy connectors, though nothing near as bad as the Whizzer A15 Pro which would detach at random. The T2 Plus I have here has very tight ports with zero play or even the ability to swivel without help from the user. It feels good.
The cable is also another step back in right direction for TinHiFi. After the T3, the quality of their cable took a bi of a dive. The P1’s cable had a very loose braid which screamed cost cutting, and the crinkly preformed ear guides could be annoying. The T4’s cable has a loose braid too, but added in a sticky, bouncy sheath to add insult to injury. With the T2 Plus, the cable still features a loose braid but it’s considerably tighter than on the T4. The sheath is much improved too. It is now extremely flexible, transmits next to no noise, isn’t at all sticky, and best of all, weighs next to nothing. The straight jack has is wrapped in a fine knurling that adds a moderate amount of extra grip. It is topped off with a beefy, clear strain relief that provides ample protection from bends and pulls. Within the aluminum y-split the braiding splits with two strands heading to each ear piece. A bead-like chin cinch is present to help provide an even more secure fit if needed. Leading up to the earpieces are flexible preformed ear guides that effectively hold the cable in place behind your ear. The MMCX plugs are aluminum wrapped for style and durability, with clear and red rings at the base to help determine channel. They follow the alternative industry standard with red for right, clear for left (instead of blue).
Isolation is pretty average at best. While wearing them I can comfortably hold a conversation with someone (without music playing). The snicking of a keyboard and cars driving by my window are still audible. Slightly dulled, but still very much present. Tossing on the included foam tips helps boost isolation a bit, but not enough for these to be a recommended pick for routine transit riders.
In The Box The T2 Plus goes back to Tin’s roots when it comes to packaging. The neat white box with minimal branding in gold foil lettering looks classy and simple, and feels like TinHiFi of old. Inside is a neat blue box with gold accents. Sure, it’s not the unique book-like case you got with the T2 and a couple other models, but it still evokes the same upscale feelings that belay the low price tag. Lifting off the lid you find the T2 Plus’ shapely ear pieces nestled in a insert. The main body of the insert is foam with a cardboard backing and pleather upper surface. While it looks nice, the pleather material doesn’t adhere to the foam particularly well and peels up while removing the earphones, or just naturally around the edges. Not something 99% of buyers would care about, so let’s move on. Lifting out the foam insert you find the accessories individually stored in high quality, Tin branded Ziplock baggies. In all you get:
- T2 Plus earphones
- MMCX 4-core silver-plated 22 AWG copper cable with inner Kevlar braiding
- Single flangle silicone tips (2x s/m/l)
- Medium foam tips
- Velcro cable tie
Overall a very nice unboxing experience. While normally I’d level light criticism at the duplicate tips (because variety is always nice), the included tips are of good quality, fit well, and you’re getting two of each. They didn’t have to do that, especially not when the majority of the competition only provides a single suite of generic tips and that’s it. There is one big omission though; no carrying case. They started including them with the P1 and the T4. At the very least include a simple carrying bag, TinHiFi. Your earphones are too nice to just shove into a pocket, unprotected.
Final Thoughts The legend continues. The T2 Plus is yet another outstanding entry in TinHiFi’s lineup. While it doesn’t stray from what the T4 did before it, it does so at half the price and with arguably better ergonomics, further solidifying my impression of TinHiFi as one of the most reliable and consistent brands on the market. That is of course, pending you enjoy their house sound. And not every release is sunshine and rainbows as we will find out in my next TinHiFi review…
Regardless, the neutral-bright signature Tin is known for, and found once again in the T2 Plus, may lack the robust bass you are used to if coming from your average v-shaped, mainstream tuned product. If seeking a different experience, one that is more traditionally considered “hi-fi”, you will be rewarded with an open stage, plenty of detail, stellar vocals, and a mature bass tuning.
If shopping around for a new earphone under 100 USD, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that bests the T2 Plus.
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer A big thanks to Lillian with Linsoul for arranging a sample of the T2 Plus and for sending it for review. The thoughts within this review are my subjective impressions based on time spent listening to the T2 Plus. They do not represent Linsoul, TinHiFi, or any other entity. At the time of writing the T2 Plus was retailing for 59.99 USD, but on sale for 49.99 USD: https://www.linsoul.com/products/tinhifi-t2-plus
- Driver: 10mm NanoPure nickel-zinc alloy plated dynamic driver
- Impedance: 32Ω ±15%
- Sensitivity: 104 ±3dB @1kHz 0.126v
- Frequency Response: 10Hz-20KHz
- Max Distortion: 1% @1kHz, 0.126v
Gear Used For Testing LG Q70, Earstudio HUD100, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501
Some Test Tunes
Supertramp – Crime of the Century
Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy
Steely Dan – The Royal Scam
Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams