Shoutout to Cory Tucker for the loaner unit!
Originally published 1/28/19.
- 9/13/19. Article clean up.
- 3/15/22. Article revisit/added graph to make a point/potential caveats.
Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!
Before we get into the Tin Audio T2 Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
You’ve come to the right place!!
Here are 5 reasons to purchase this IEM:
- Price to Performance Ratio. At under $100, this IEM has no business being so cheap.
- Sound & Balance. Its sound signature rivals much more expensive headphones and IEMs. There’s a ton of balance here but you’ll never be bored given the 3kHz rise as well as some sparkle in the treble.
- Bass. I made this separate because the bass is always a point of contention amongst newer folks. A lot of audiophile headphones go for the significant roll-off below 100Hz, but the T2 retains a lot of that slam and the majority will love it. It is rolled off by about 5dB, but in my mind, it’s the perfect amount without sacrificing too much of what makes music sound good.
- Build. The build quality here is phenomenal. The braided cable, 3.5mm jack termination, and the earbuds themselves are extremely solid and rugged. This doesn’t feel like a $50 product. It feels more like something in the $200 range.
- Versatility. It pairs well with any genre, and can be used with your phone or a Headphone Amp/DAC should you want a bit of extra kick and an improved overall sound. You can easily take these on the go with your phone, Tidal, and something like a FiiO Q1 (More on that later).
For the official review, read on!
Table of Contents
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My Video Review
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never been really into IEMs (In-Ear Monitors).
For whatever reason, I much prefer the feeling of actually having headphones envelope my ears. I’ve always been that way. Call it a security blanket for my dome. Whatever.
Years back I bought my mom a pair of Shure SE215s, which are another incredible set of earbuds, especially for the price. Unfortunately, someone at her job stole them which is another story in itself.
Aside from that…
There’s a cool fella named Cory Tucker that frequents my channel on YouTube and really enjoys my video reviews.
One day he reached out to me and said something along the lines of “I would love to send you some demo units for review. I want to keep seeing videos on your channel!”
He ended up sending me the Superlux HD330 as well as these T2s from Tin Audio.
Tin Audio T2
- Price: Check Amazon! | Check Apos!
- Type: IEM (In-Ear Monitor)
- Impedance: 16 Ohm.
- Sensitivity: 104dB/mW.
- Frequency Response: 12Hz – 40kHz.
- Cable Detachable: Yes.
The build of the T2 is quite good, and for roughly $50 these don’t feel cheap at all.
I’m really loving the white braided cable. It feels extremely solid and durable as if it could withstand some abuse.
It terminates in a standard 3.5mm jack, but the jack resembles something you’d find on a headphone way out of its price range.
I’m floored at how rock solid it is and haven’t been this impressed with a 3.5mm jack since the original Audio Technica ATH M50.
Gently pulling on the other ends result in a snap, as they detach quite easily from each bud.
The design here is marvelous, as you can quickly discern the right side from the left.
It’s color-coded Red and Blue with a small “R” and “L” on each of the buds if you look closely enough.
I have pretty good vision, but not everyone will be able to make these out on the Gold area of the termination without really looking for it.
The actual earpieces themselves are made of aluminum and have small rubbery caps that click into place on each for your ears.
The overall build is fantastic.
BUILD SCORE: A+
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, comfort is a bit of a mixed bag.
On one hand, the earpieces fit pretty well into your ears and don’t tend to want to come out most of the time.
On the other hand, for whatever reason, I get a slight “burning” sensation from wearing them, and I’m not exactly sure why.
Perhaps I’m about to die.
As soon as I remove them, the sensation goes away. Other times when I’m wearing them I don’t feel the burn, and I can wear them for a much longer period of time without an adjustment.
It’s like a hot, kind of uncomfortable feeling that gives me the urge to take the buds out on some occasions.
Other than that, they are pretty comfortable and have the capacity to sit a bit further inside your ears with a gentle push. I find that this enables them to deliver a bit more bass.
I have them situated where they are pointing straight down. I find that this provides the cleanest and best sound.
COMFORT SCORE: B
I’m at a loss for words in trying to describe how good these sound.
Let’s start with the bass.
The bass here has a lot of thump and great articulation but never sounds bloated or clammy. I listened to these for a few weeks and then emailed Cory to tell him how much I loved the sound signature as well as the bass.
I hadn’t seen a graph, but as soon as he sent me one I understood. It’s very similar to like an Audeze LCD-2 type of bass, or something similar to a HIFIMAN Sundara.
Not too rolled off, not boosted. Just right.
In fact, this entire sound signature is non-intrusive in a way that really enables you to appreciate the subtle textures of each frequency.
I had heard rumblings of people complaining that these had no bass and I just had to laugh. Really?
No bass. K. Sure.
This is another example of why the audio community irritates me. More parroting.
If you truly believe these have no bass then either your hearing is damaged or you have an incredibly unrealistic expectation of how the bass is supposed to sound, likely from years of listening to horrific sounding Beats headphones or some other drug store variety dog food cans.
JMO. This graph was added years after the fact to illustrate the point.
I promise that’s my only rant for today. xD
The mid-range has a presence bump at around 3k, similar to an HD600. The difference is that it doesn’t really come across as shouty or in your face – likely due to the fact that the bass here is less rolled off and tends to give the compositions more meat.
Vocals and instruments have just enough zing and excitement to them, but I’m rarely (if ever) finding myself getting the urge to turn the volume down. Everything sounds very natural and organic, with fantastic resolution, detail retrieval, and tonal balance. It manages to do all of this while not sounding cold or sterile.
Ricardo Robecchi talked about this in his excellent Tin Audio T2 review: budget audio nirvana.
The T2 has this incredible knack for never getting out of line with regard to any frequencies. It’s especially impressive considering:
- The T2 is a very cheap IEM that sounds like it should cost a lot more than it’s priced at.
- It has a very low impedance and high Sensitivity. Usually pushing an IEM or headphone with these specs is asking for a blowout or a headache. Granted, I was using them with the FiiO Q1 MK II, which doesn’t have much power.
Still, if I turn up the volume it doesn’t get harsh or grating. And that’s something definitely worth mentioning.
You’d think that perhaps a darker-sounding treble like this would result in lost detail.
Not the case here.
In fact, it makes them actually sound better because it’s not artificially trying to provide more, as in the case with a Samson SR850 or Beyerdynamic DT880. Those are both great headphones in their own right but can get a bit hot at times (especially the 850).
No, the T2 handles treble in a way that it really has no business handling. It portrays this sensitive area a lot like a Sennheiser HD600 or Audeze LCD-3.
Relaxed but yet still detailed and revealing.
The only thing I can dock a point or two for is that the treble can sometimes get a tad fuzzy/metallic, which makes sense now that I look at a graph, but to me, it’s a minor nitpick because of how phenomenal the overall sound is. Still, you will notice it from time to time.
SOUND SCORE: A
My Video Review
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2019 Beach Trip
Imaging is sublime here. It’s a bit hard to believe that an IEM in this price range is capable of providing such great width and spacing, but the T2 handles both with ease.
Prepare to start hearing sounds in all directions.
Even the most minuscule and seemingly arbitrary sounds, utterances, instrument plucks, and breaths are all rendered with great precision.
There’s a revelatory quality about these that kind of does take that proverbial “blanket” off of the sound, allowing it to breathe and express itself in a very pleasant way.
The attack, sustain, and especially the decay of instruments and vocals is so incredibly revealing at times, that it makes familiar tracks you’ve heard all your life sound foreign.
“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac is a great example of a song that I’ve heard in nearly every circumstance, with pretty much every type of headphone, Amp, phone, CD Player, Stereo, iPod, etc. you can think of.
I remember listening to this song on a Disc-man and some cheap $10 headphones (you know the ones with the cheap foam “ear pads”) back in the 90s and early 2000s.
It sounded nothing near as detailed, articulate, and musical as it does with these earbuds. Now you may say: “Well yeah, but you were listening on a Disc-man with a likely worse recording.”
True, but these are $50 earbuds over 20 years later, and they rival a lot of stuff I’ve heard for hundreds (if not thousands of dollars). No exaggeration.
To quote Ricardo again:
Soundstage is equally as impressive for an IEM at this price point. What is Soundstage?
I wouldn’t call it incredibly wide, but it’s wide enough, dare I say out of your head sounding at times. It will have you turning your head on occasion wondering what that sound was that you heard.
Another mark of a great headphone or earbud.
On John Coltrane’s “Moment’s Notice” at around 7:57, there’s a loud sound that I thought was coming from inside my apartment or outside. I rewound the track a couple of times and the same sound startled me.
I realized that it was coming from the song. It’s the type of sound that kind of makes your heart drop for a split second, as you pause the music, making sure that you’re not about to get obliterated by Jason Voorhees. 😛
All in all, instruments and vocals just sound incredibly realistic, lifelike, and natural with these, and it’s something that really did catch me off guard upon first listen and pretty much every subsequent one thereafter.
IMAGING SCORE: A+
The short answer is no.
I would recommend the Q1 amp only for people with lower impedance, high sensitivity headphones, or IEMs like the T2 because of its lack of power.
At 300 Ohms it only outputs 7mW. Even at 33 Ohm it only outputs 62mW.
Even with something like a Philips SHP9500 at 101dB, I found myself using gain and turning up the volume quite a bit.
Another cool option you could go with is the Oppo HA-2, which I used with the T2 as well. Another great pairing! The HA-2 pairs well with pretty much anything though. It’s just an extremely solid all-around investment.
Do keep in mind the HA-2 has been discontinued, but I’m keeping the photos around for the fond memories I had with this pairing.
I wouldn’t go crazy with an amp here, but you’re going to want one regardless when starting out. The Q1 is perfect for this type of IEM because you can:
- Use it with your phone. It comes with both a lightning cable for Apple products, a 3.5mm interconnect cable for everything else, and two rubber bands.
- Use it with your laptop. It comes with a standard USB to micro cable as well.
- It’s very compact and comes with a plush drawstring carrying bag for on-the-go.
- It’s got both a gain switch and bass boost to color the music a little if you so desire.
With that said…
It’s not too surprising how well these will do with multiple genres when you consider the excellent sound signature that they possess.
I listened to them with just about everything, ranging from Jazz, Rock, Hip-Hop, Indie, & Pop.
The way they also render instruments is particularly stunning. There’s this lush warmth to them that never seems forced or unnatural.
On John Coltrane’s “Summertime”, my absolute favorite Jazz piece right now, the spacing between instruments is spot on. A lot of headphones have a tough time portraying Jazz because they tend to make everything sound really congested and cluttered.
The T2 does a fantastic job of separating sounds so that it makes sense to your brain.
Aside from that, it’s an extremely nostalgic piece to me for some reason. It evokes the spirit of summer so effortlessly and the T2 really brings it to life.
On “A Chase of Sorts” from TTNG, I love how the vocals and instruments never get out of line. I never feel like the vocalist is shouting at me, and instruments are on their best behavior, never abrasive or harsh.
Further, Bonobo’s “7th Sevens” sounds so lush and full that it simply blew me away. There’s so much impact and weight to the tracks, but it never feels overwhelming.
In a quiet environment at night, you’re going to notice these come to life and it’s really quite breathtaking.
I would say be prepared to enjoy these with anything and everything you may like or desire to listen to.
They’re going to render the music with accuracy and excitement that’s hard to beat, especially at this price.
Final Word/Potential Caveats
Before I discuss the final grade, one of the reasons why I revisited this article is because I decided to buy a pair of these as a Christmas gift for mom in 2021.
Unfortunately, I had to return them to Drop after receiving a faulty pair, so be forewarned. One side kept cutting out and the build was not up to par. The piece that connects into the bud wouldn’t stay incorrectly and it was a huge pain.
I fully believe I simply got a lemon and would still recommend these as I believe they are worth the risk. In all likelihood, you will probably get a good pair, but it’s something to keep in mind. For the price, I can excuse a hiccup here and there.
The reason I didn’t immediately get a replacement is that my mom’s iPhone doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack. So yeah. F you Apple.
Anyways, I’m still giving these a solid A because the first pair I demoed was fine build-wise and I didn’t have any problems with it.
The comfort factor (at least for me) holds the T2 back somewhat, and the slight fuzz in the treble as well. Even with that said, I don’t think either issue is enough to drop it down to an A-.
For instance, comfort was a bit off yesterday but today I’m not getting that burning sensation.
It’s hard to put into words how good these are, but I tried my best. Resolution, dynamics, accuracy, timbre, clarity, detail retrieval, Soundstage, build, and the overall sound signature are almost perfect. What is Timbre?
Stunning when you, again, consider the price.
This could be the only IEM you’d need for quite a while before an upgrade. Maybe forever, but we all know that’s not possible if you’re an audiophile. 😉
Interested in learning more?
Well that’s about it for today my friend. I do hope you’ve enjoyed this Tin Audio T2 Review, and came away with some valuable insight.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
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All the best and God bless,
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Photo Gallery II
2021 Drop Purchase