disclaimer: Hifigo offered the TinHifi T2 plus for review and I gladly accepted. I have had the opportunity to try several other Tinhifi models and find them to be a good value with performance typically outperforming their price point. I have no financial interest in TinHifi or Hifigo, nor have either had any input in this review. If you are interested in the T2 Plus, visit the Tin Hifi Facebook Page or to purchase the T2 Plus visit Hifigo.
Unboxing / Packaging:
Tin hifi has developed a signature packaging with a white outer cover over a medium blue box. The T2 Plus continues that trend with the outer packaging having the model and logo and the inner box having the gold seal logo on the cover. Unlike most other brands, specs are not found anywhere on the packaging. Once you lift the cover, the earpieces are seated in foam surround with the rest of the accessories hiding beneath it. The kit includes 7 sets of tips (6 silicones, 2 sets each of S,M,L and one set of foams), cable, cable tie, and warranty card. I’ll admit to some disappointment that the T2 Plus didn’t come with the same case as the P1 as it was very well done. Unfortunately, the T2 Plus does not come with a case at all so most will want to pick something up for transport and storage.
And if the packaging is classic TinHifi, the build isn’t. The T2 Plus is a complete departure from the T2 in form. While previous models have been barrel shaped with the nozzle on the face, the T2Plus is a more classic shape with a 2 part aluminum shell and the nozzle built in to the inner shell exiting the front edge with a distinct upward rake. The shell does not have a distinct faceplate as the outer and inner are roughly the same size with the mmcx connector being partially housed in both. There are two vents one just behind the nozzle and one on the bottom in the outer shell. The inner vent provides for air movement to the front of the driver while the bottom vent provides air to the rear face of the driver. One needs to be somewhat careful with fit as it is particularly easy to obstruct the rear vent. If you do, bass gets bigger and less defined (you’ll know). I appreciate the lack of sharp edges on the shell and the rounded shape, but when combined with the slim depth of the T2-Plus, I find it a bit hard to get a solid fit in ear without it wanting to move during periods of exercise. The good news is for small ears these may be an option as they should be easier to fit than many. Comfort is good for long term wear with no physical fatigue.
The T2Plus uses the same tried and true formula that Tin Hifi has used on previous T Series models. The 10mm driver from the T2 was re-worked using a nickel-zinc Alloy to strengthen it, reduce distortion, and improve extension. Tin Hifi lists the new drivers as having a frequency range down to 10Hz where previous models list only to 20Hz at the bottom end. Power handling was improved as well with rated output increased to 3mW and maximum output to 5mW. The T2Plus needs a bit of power to operate to its full potential as nominal impedance is listed as 32Ω±15% with a rated sensitivity of 104±3bBdB @1K HzV 0.126V. I found I could run them from my phone in high power mode but it showed a definite preference for a more potent source as bass was a bit anemic when paired to phone. It doesn’t require as much power as the P1, but more than the recently released T4.
The provided cable is silver-plated copper in a clear casing. Fitting are a straight 3.5mm TRS jack in a knurled aluminum housing with a short strain relief, an aluminum splitter with the Tinhifi logo, a glass bead chin slider, and aluminum housed mmcx connectors at the north end. Connectors are labeled L/R with the right having a red surround on the connector as well. The cable is 4 braided strands below the splitter and twisted pairs above. I found the cable very pliable and comfortable, and the pre-formed earhooks spread the weight of the earpieces well for extended listening. Time will tell if the cable starts to take on a green tint as so many of my similar models have, but for now its a very good looking and very functional cable.
The T series has a reputation for being slightly bright with good mids and a de-emphasized low end. Tin T2-Plus retains some characteristics but has more low-end than previous models. I’ve tried to compare it to the other members of the T-series in the comparison section so will avoid comparisons here in the sound notes.
The sub-bass has good presence in the mix and while still not the primary focus of the sound, it has enough rumble to be a good option for movies, hip-hop, and edm. Mid-bass had good speed both on attack and decay (slightly slower than attack) which gives the mid-bass a very clean, textured sound without adding un-natural weight or thickness. Mid-bass is about as good as I’ve found in the budget segment. There is no bleed to speak of, and transition from the mid-bass into the mids is very good indeed.
Lower-mids transition cleanly from the mid-bass and have good detail and weight. I’d have been really disappointed if TinHifi had messed this up. Male vocals have good timbre and while they are slightly behind higher voices, they don’t sound recessed or distant. Guitars have good growl with enough edge to sound natural without getting harsh. Strings have good timbre and texture as well and with the upper-mid push, violins have a more natural sound than most budget offerings. The upper-mids are emphasized mildly, and push female vocals slightly forward but lack enough emphasis to result in stridency or sibilance.
The emphasis of the upper-mids continues into the lower treble before dropping back slightly in the true treble range. The treble has good details and some micro-detail. Extension is good with roll-off above the limits of my hearing. Snare rattle is good but the leading edge isn’t quite as jagged as it could be. Cymbals are well rendered without a pronounced metallic tone. There is more air and sparkle than expected in a budget in-ear as well.
Soundstage / Imaging:
The soundstage on the T2plus is wider than deep with some sense of height but is not outside the expected for this price point. The good news is instrument separation is above average so seating the orchestra is fairly straight forward even if stage is not as well-proportioned as one would hope for. Here again the speed of the driver helps. Imgaging is also good with movements being easily tracked and locations being easy to identify even though I did find the instrument positions to be slightly less tightly defined than some higher price point models.
So how does the T2Plus compare to its namesake The T2?
Shape wise the T2 Plus is more comfortable and smaller than the original but the form is enough different that the original may fit some people better due to the straight insertion style of the original. Sound wise, the Plus has more sub-bass presence and a more weighty mid-bass as well while the original is a bit thinner. Mids are similar, but again the Plus is a bit more balanced and has a bit more detail to the lower mids in particular. The upper-mid/lower-treble push of the original T2 gives it a bright overall sound while the Plus is better balanced and the top end doesn’t jump out as the dominant feature of the sound. Instrument separation is also slightly better on the Plus. All in all, the Plus is well the T2 improved.
How about the T4, most reviewers called it an improved T2 so is the Plus better than it?
The T4 has more of a bass emphasis (both sub-bass and mid-bass) than the Plus and a bit more of a push forward on the top end as well. With both ends being more elevated, the T4 mids feel a bit more behind the lows and highs comparatively while the Plus is a bit more linear by comparison. The Plus bass isn’t as emphasized but is a bit faster and cleaner to my ear so bassheads may prefer the T4 while those who appreciate particularly tight and clean will like the Plus a bit better. These two have more in common than they should considering the disparity in price and while the T4 is billed as the flagship, the T2 Plus may well dethrone it.
Ok so how about competitors in today’s market? With a retail around $60 USD that puts it in the class with things like the CCA Ca16, the Ibasso IT00, and the TRN Ba5. All of these are solid offerings so if the Plus doesn’t stand up to the test, it will fall flat pretty quick.
CCA CA16 –
Shells are smaller and better made on the T2 Plus vs the Ca16’s plastic multi-part design so the T2 wins on build. The cable on the Plus is also a bit higher grade than the one provided with the Ca16. Internally the two are equally dissimilar. The Plus is a single dynamic driver while the Ca16 is multi-driver hybrid so we expect the Ca16 to be capable of better detail and separation and the Plus to be a bit smoother, and while for the most part that is true, the Ca16 is more recessed in the mids so the Plus outshines it there. The Ca16 has slightly more mid-bass, similar sub-bass, and slightly more grain to the treble. Sound will be the deciding factor for many with the Ca16 a bit more detailed and the Plus smoother and a bit cleaner.
Ibasso IT00 –
So now we have the opposite of the previous compare, here shells are different (resin vs aluminum) and internals are very similar (1omm dynamics). The Plus is smaller and thinner than the IT00 so fit may be easier with the Plus. Cables are good on both so no clear winner there. The IT00 does come with a better kit than the Plus so it wins points there. Sound wise, the IT00 is a bit thicker bodied than the Plus and has a warmer sound as well. The Plus sounds a bit cleaner so while the IT00 has a bit more body, vocals are a touch clearer and better defined on the Plus. The IT00 has more sub-bass emphasis, a bit more forward lower treble, and a touch more extension at the top. The Plus is more linear and has tighter definition but lacks a little weight and is slightly cooler.
The Ba5 is a hybrid shell with a resin inner shell and a metal face plate compared to the Plus’ all metal construction. The cable provided with the T2 Plus is a bit better and the T2 Plus comes more tips, but neither comes with a case so kit is similar. Internally, the Ba5 is an all balanced armature arrangement while the Plus is a single dynamic driver. The Ba5 has more bass, but slightly less sub-bass extension and rumble. Both are clean in the lows, with the Ba5 a bit better at handling fast tracks before showing signs of compression. Mids are much more recessed on the Ba5 compared to the Plus as is lower treble as the Ba5 has a push forward at the true treble rather than the earlier push of the Plus. Extension is good on both but slightly better on the Ba5. Detail is slightly better on the Ba5 throughout, but timbre and texture is better on the Plus and it has a much more natural tonality as a result.
Thoughts / Conclusion:
Tin Hifi has built quite a following with the T Series as many will argue they are (as a group) among the best budget options that have been available in recent years so they have big shoes to fill each time a new product is released. The T3 was a bit of a miss so everyone was excited when the T4 came out and was once again a great budget option. Now the T2 Plus arrives and with the shape being such a departure from the rest of the line, I think most were a bit confused and not sure what to expect. It certainly doesn’t look like a T2, but it does sound like an improved one. With other competitors raising the bar, it isn’t surprising that TinHifi wanted to position the T2 Plus in the $50 space where the T4 aims at the $100 range. The biggest problem for TinHifi may just be that the T2 Plus competes well enough with the T4 to actually draw sales away from it. The two share about 90% of the same signature and the Plus is 50% of the cost. Tin Hifi hit the mark with the Plus as an improved T2, better low end, slightly cleaner, easier fit, and retains the things that made the T2 a favorite. It should sell quite well. For me, it slips into the #2 spot just slightly behind the IT00 and for many that would like a bit less warm signature, it may well take the top spot.
Pros: Good build quality, more bass than previous T-series, well balanced, non-fatiguing
Cons: Limited Kit, limited detail, Won’t please bassheads