Introduction: Tin Audio is a Chinese IEM company that's becoming a familiar name in the audio realms. They currently have 3 IEM's in their line and I'll be reviewing their T1 dynamic driver driven IEM for today. I'd like to thank Tin Audio and Penon for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
Driver: 12.5mm Dynamic Driver
Frequency Response: 18-25000Hz
Cable: 1.3m TPU coated
The 16Ω impedance means that even the least powerful mobile phone will be able to drive the Tin Audio T1 to good performance and relatively loud enough at 102dB that even my XZP is able to pump out satisfying levels of sound. But like in most things that generate sound, a better source can provide better driver performance.
Unboxing: The T1 came in a white carton box that has the Tin Audio branding in front and a QR code on the back. Inside that box is the blue Tin Audio branded box that's made of thick cardboard, it opens like a book and closes in tight with a simple fitted inner block at the cover. The first thing you'll see once it's open is the instructions manual covering the IEMs themselves.
Under the manual and seated in a foam tray is the IEM and cable splitter on full display with a bit of wire showing. It's symmetrically positioned and artsy in a way, under the foam tray is the rest of the cable, plug, extra silicone tips (there's a total of 6 pairs), with one pair already attached on the T1.
Build/Design: The cable is a TPU coated wire that is typical at this price range and has a slightly springy nature, though it can coil easily for storage, it has a tendency to straighten out. It has strain reliefs at the ends of the IEM and plug and feels rather strong and supple overall. The plug is a nicely designed unmarked full body metal plug with a 3.5mm 4 band gold plated jack. The Y-splitter is made of solid metal and designed with a tight spiral on both sides, the 3 button (volume up, play/pause, volume down) microphone and controller is similarly jacketed as the plug and feels sturdy, it is pleasantly responsive to button presses.
The IEM itself has non-removable cables and a solid disk like shape made entirely of metal. It feels sturdy and looks pretty with the same tight spiral design like the splitter and has a nice heft to it. Still, it's something that isn't too heavy to use or fatiguing to wear. The nozzle is cleanly cut with a tip lip and a metal screen at the end to prevent ear wax and other debris from falling into the T1. The tip lip is deeply grooved so most tips I've tried didn't come off easily (and were a bit hard to remove). The fit can be a bit confusing at first if you've used other IEM's before since the design is meant to have the cables dangle from the IEM directly down, though you can curl it over your ear too but the control area would be a bit too high at the side of the head for that to be practical for use (but if you won't use the controls, then that's perfectly fine), even with that design, the T1 stays comfortably in place in my ear and doesn't threaten to fall off anytime with the stock tips.
Sound Stuff: Previously when I first tried it, I could almost immediately say that this is gonna be more of a daily beater for commutes than most, the nice balanced sound was unobtrusive and has enough interesting bits to keep one listening. But as the in use hours piled up, (aka burn in) to around 140 hours, there's a bit more nuance on this not so little driver that I didn't realize on the first day. This review utilized all of my DAPs and DAC/Amps but the biggest surprise is when I used it on my laptop directly (a Lenovo Ideapad 100) and Deezer, with that, lets go the sound analysis.
Bass: The T1 produces a good amount of sub-bass that reaches rather deep which is almost expected with it's 12.5mm diaphragm. The rumble is playful, letting you hear and feel the note's decay into the next parts of the song like Way Down Deep. Bass decay and clarity is average, though the overall bass impact is a bit on the light side, it's still present and felt, and gives a sense of musicality in how it's rendered. There is a level of warmth with the T1 that lends to a smooth texture and good feeling with the music.
Mids: Are one of the things that draw me to an eargear, and the T1 does pretty well here. With a good amount of body and warmth in the lower mids, it gives male vocals good presence and thickness. Instruments here gain a good amount of reverb, songs like Lithium or any song that has stringed sustains, distortion and general vibration will sound really good. Female vocals and the upper mids are the same as the lower-mids wherein their position is neutral and natural sounding but the warmth and body from the lower mids also give women like Heart a more felt performance with songs like Alone. Overall there is a nice amount of clarity and transparency in the mids so music sounds nice, smooth and pleasant.
Highs: There is a light amount of extension and a decent amount of air in the treble region which gives the T1 a bit of an energy boost when the song calls for it. There may not be enough crisp in the notes to give the T1 sparkle in this region but there is enough clarity and detail retrieval to keep things interesting. Snares, cymbals and even screeching violins will play nice with your ears with a touch of warmth and there is no sibilance or harshness to be found here.
Soundstage: The stage is decently wide though not as deep, which can lead to a bit of congestion with complicated music but a bit of headspace to distance them from your ear. The imaging of the T1 is generally accurate.
Conclusion: The Tin Audio T1 does not want you to think it's meant for the high end audiophile in both price tag and performance but the fact that it's pretty good on mobile devices, laptops and budget DAPs means that it's forgiving for casual listening and a good experience for beginning hobbyists. This should be good for most people looking for a smooth and easy listening earpiece that can last them a long while and still look good, be functional for daily communication and sound good for their music needs.
The T1 scales a bit with better gear but seems to be better suited for warm sources, and since most phones, laptops, PCs and budget DAPs are warm in nature, they would be the best sources for the T1 as it helps with providing a bit more bass impact and additional body. Using an Acoustune AET-07 also adds a bit more impact and still opens the stage a bit on the mid and upper frequencies.
Pros: Solid metal construction, pretty design, useful and functional controls, smooth and easy listening, fun mids, a lot of reverb, good price for what you get.
Cons: Could use a bit more bass impact
Nitpicks: A cloth carry pouch would have been nice, replacing the 3 pairs of silicone tips to 1-2 pairs of foam and one pair of double flange tips might have increased ear fitting compatibility without increasing overall cost.
Sound testing was done using a Sony WM1a (Primarily), a Hiby R6 and Zishan Z1(for comparison) and various other stuff like DAC/Amps, my laptop and a phone (for checking driveability and synergy) volume matched to 90.X db of max volume for safe hearing below 8 hours of use and calibrated using a 1kh tone on a dedicated DB Meter, all sources patched through a switcher. More information will be available on the About Me page (once I find the time to write it up.)