In October 2017 I reviewed the Tinaudio T2 dual driver earphone which has been really popular thanks to its audiophile tuning and resolution. Well, did you know it also has a younger sibling? Meet the Tin Audio T1, a single dynamic driver IEM that for my preferences, might be even better.
The T1 has a single 12.5mm driver, 3-button controller and is shaped like a hockey puck. Or those little pink things you used to see in public urinals. Does this earbud belong in there with them? Let’s find out.
At the time of writing, the T1 is listed at $36.90 USD at Penon Audio.
This product was provided for the purpose of an honest review. I’m not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions here are my own.
Nice, textured bass
Good build quality
Driver: 12.5mm overclocking wide cell ring
Frequency response range: 18-25000Hz
Cable: 1.3m TPU
Package and Accessories
Just like the T2, the Tinaudio T1 comes in a nondescript, rectangular white box, which is bare apart from the company name and model designation. Inside the white box is Tinaudio’s little blue book, the same as we saw with the T2. I still like this; it’s much more interesting than most of the generic fare you get with budget phones.
When you open the book/box there’s a user manual sitting at the top. Under that is the T1, sitting in a slab of grey foam.
Under the foam is the wound up cable and extra eartips. You get 3x pairs of black silicone tips (S, M, L) and 3x pairs of the ever popular transparent grey tips with the red bore (S, M, L). That’s all you get but I do appreciate the choice of two different types of eartips and the original way in which the earphones are presented.
Build quality & Design
The T1 has an all-metal body, similar in colour and feel to their T2 model and that’s a good thing. It has a matte finish that’s really smooth and stays free of fingerprints. At the same time, the shells feel very durable and are put together very nicely, feeling durable but still lightweight.
As you can see in the pictures, the shells are shaped like a hockey puck. The outer side has a subtle pattern of concentric rings but is otherwise fairly low-key. On the inner side of the shells, there is an L and R marking to designate each side. The markings are difficult to see in low light but I’ll still give them a point for the inclusion. Another pinhole vent is located just in front of the cable connector.
Just next to those L and R markings is a small slit that acts as a bass vent for the large 12.5mm dynamic driver. Then there are the angled nozzles, which have a good lip to secure your eartips and a protective metal grill to keep out ear wax and debris.
As I found with the T2, the T1 is very well built, especially considering its low price. The joins and finish on the housings are executed really well. Overall the build quality is excellent.
Unlike the Tin Audio T2, the T1 has a fixed cable. At the point where it connects to the shells, there’s a black, angled plastic guide that also serves to strengthen the connection and acts as a sort of strain relief. There’s a small bump on the left-side guide to help you identify it which is nice when you can’t see the printed markings.
The cable itself has a black rubber sheath that’s very smooth and feels good to the touch. It has a nice thickness to it and feels very strong and is resistant to tangling. It’s also very supple, sits well and doesn’t have any kinks or bounciness to it. This cable feels like a slightly cheaper version of a DUNU cable and in case you’re not familiar with those, that is a compliment.
On the right side of the cable is the metal 3-button inline control which can be used to play/pause music, adjust volume and skip tracks. Further down is a rather chunky metal Y-split which is identical to the outer side of the IEM shells.
Finally, the cable terminates in a straight metal 3.5mm gold-plated plug. Overall I’d rate the cable as above average quality for something in this price range and I actually prefer this over the T2 cable.
Comfort & Isolation
When looking at the pictures, I expected to have some difficulty with the fit and comfort of the Tin Audio T1 but my experience turned out to be the complete opposite. Thanks to the angled nozzles and smooth edges, the shells sit really nicely in your ears.
The T1 is designed to be worn with the cable over your ears. One big benefit of over-ear style IEMs is that it drastically reduces any microphonics (cable noise). You can actually wear this earphone with the cable down and I found to be equally as comfortable this way. The only drawback with wearing cable down is that the left and right channels are reversed.
So for me, the Tin Audio T1 is a very comfortable earphone. It’s lightweight and ergonomically sound. As such, I can wear the T1 for long periods without discomfort.
When it comes to passive noise isolation the T1 scores quite highly too. Despite the vented housings, the earphone fills up the majority of the ear concha, blocking out a considerable amount of external noise. It doesn’t compete with non-vented designs of course, but the isolation is good enough for use in most everyday situations.
The Tin Audio T1 is defined by its balanced and linear sound signature. The transition from lower bass to upper treble is a smooth one devoid of any large peaks or valleys. There is a slight peak in the upper midrange at 2kHz to give things a lift and add clarity.
Gear used for testing
Acoustic Research AR-M20
PC > Tidal HiFi > Topping DX7
The T1 has a lovely, textured bass that is slightly boosted but still well tamed. Mid-bass is pretty lean with a fast attack and decay giving notes good definition and a clean but natural edge. It sounds fantastic when listening to “The last dive of David Shaw” by We Lost the Sea on their Departure Songs album. It’s a bass that is north of neutral but likely wouldn’t suit bassheads or those looking for a big bass in general.
The extension on the bass is pretty darn good too. Sub-bass is in line with mid-bass level-wise and can bring it enough to create some rumble in your ears but it’s not likely to shake your world up.
The T1’s midrange is clear with a natural tonality. Vocals are fairly dense and forward making them sound lifelike. The 2kHz peak is fairly small, so it adds some brightness while keeping things reasonably smooth.
Detail is good but some of it can get lost if there’s a lot of activity around the 2hKz mark, which tends to steal the focus when given the chance.
Treble is a little subdued, which is okay because there isn’t a large amount of bass or midrange body to contend with. It does lack a little in brilliance, and often takes a bow to the upper midrange.
With a slight attenuation between 5kHz-8kHz, the T1 manages to avoid any sibilance and retains a realistic timbre.
The T1 has a fairly wide soundstage with average depth. It does portray a sense of height pretty well – vocals are raised a bit, making you feel like you’re in the mosh pit at times.
This earphone tackles imaging well too, giving good directional cues. Instrument separation is neither poor nor extraordinary but does a good job of avoiding congested, thanks to its lean notes.
Tin Audio T2
The most immediate difference with the T2 is its reduced amount of bass. A direct result of that is it brings the midrange slightly more forward. Next of note is the upper midrange/lower treble peak at 3kHz-4kHz which give female vocals more presence compared to the T1. However, to my ears, the T1 sounds more natural and emotive, as the T2’s peak separates itself too much from the overall presentation and juts out unnaturally.
Overall tonality is slightly more realistic on the T2. In Ludovico Einaudi’s “Solo”, the piano notes have a more natural timbre. The T2 has better instrument separation and transparency, likely thanks to its dual driver setup. Both of these IEMs sound better than most in their price range. The T1 has a warmer, smoother presentation with more bass impact, while the T2 is very resolving, detailed and more analytical.
Alpha & Delta D3
Alpha & Delta’s D3 is more V-shaped. It has significantly more bass and more body in its lower midrange. The D3 has a recessed midrange compared to the T1’s more linear approach. I found tonality of the vocals a little more natural on the D3 but they’re way less forward than on the T1.
The treble is where these two are most similar, being quite relaxed and rolling off significantly after 5-7kHz. Both of these IEMs offer great value for money – the D3 with its exceptional accessory bundle and the T1 for its mature and accomplished tuning.
Tin Audio T1 Conclusion
So, there we have it; the Tin Audio T1. Just like they did with the T2, Tin Audio have managed to put their unique flavour into this, making it another budget earphone tuned for the audiophiles out there. It has great build quality, a mature yet welcoming sound signature and a wallet-friendly price tag.
These definitely don’t belong with those smelly pink things (see 2nd paragraph!) If you’re looking for something in the sub $50 price range, make sure this one is on your list of contenders.