Cable: 4.1 ft (1.25 m) 5N 8-core OFC-plated silver
This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Package and Accessories
The packaging of the T3 starts off in a similar fashion to the T2, except this time there are a couple of little transparent windows in the sleeve that show a glimpse of the earphones inside.
Beneath the sleeve is a familiarly styled box that resembles a book. This time, however, instead of a faux leather surface this one has a smooth, sparkly finish that feels a little more premium. The transparent window is present here again, of course and the other noticeable difference is that this box is slightly larger than the T2’s.
Continuing with the book-themed box, the front flap opens like a book cover and inside is a foam insert with a velvety cover, in which the earpieces are displayed.
Below are, of course, the rest of the accessories so here’s what you get in total:
Tin Audio T3 earphones
Detachable MMCX cable
3 pairs of narrow-bore silicone eartips
3 pairs of wide-bore silicone eartips
1 pair of foam eartips
Build Quality and Design
At first glance, it seems as though the Tin Audio T3’s metal housings are identical to the T2 and they very nearly are. However, the barrel of the T3 is just slightly (approx 1mm) longer, the area where the MMCX sockets are has a notch in the middle and is straight on the bottom edge where the T2’s is angled. Another difference is the circular recession on the rear face, where the T2 is completely flat.
Again we see the single tiny port on the rear face of the housings and another at the base of the nozzle. The nozzles have a nice ridge that hold eartips securely and there is a protective metal mesh covering the nozzle opening.
As expected, the build quality of the T3 is excellent; it’s lightweight, very durable and can be worn cable-down or over-ear.
The biggest physical change from the T2 is the T3’s upgraded cable. Gone is that rigid, thin and quick-to-oxidize cable of the past. In its place is a very nice white and gold braided cable that alone is almost worth the price of admission.
Instead of the transparent plastic MMCX connectors, the T3 cable has aluminium ones and I’m happy to note that they are colour-coded just like the old ones (red for right, blue for left).
There are now pre-formed ear guides which make the cable more suitable for over-ear wearing. They are still supple enough that you can wear them cable down and if that is your default preferred style, a quick blast with a warm hairdryer should allow you to permanently straighten out the section.
There’s a spherical, transparent bead on the cable which acts as a chin slider. It looks and works great. The Y-split is a polished aluminium which has the Tin Audio logo on one side and perfectly matches the material of the housings.
The cable terminates in a straight 3.5 mm aluminium and carbon fibre plug, akin to the one on the T2 Pro but it’s more sensibly sized. Overall, this is a fantastic cable that is above average in this price range and adds a lot of value to the T3.
Comfort and Noise Isolation
For those who own or have tried the T2 you will know exactly what to expect here. The T3 housings are lightweight and cleverly designed so that only the nozzles and end of the barrels sit in your ears.
It’s worth noting that the nozzles are quite wide, so those with very narrow ears might get some discomfort. Personally, I can easily wear these all day long.
Noise isolation is average or maybe a little above average. With some music playing quietly right now I can’t hear the keys (Cherry MX Brown) on my mechanical keyboard as I type. Noise leak is about average and will most likely not bother any people around you.
Gear used for testing includes the FiiO M6 or my Android phone with the Earstudio ES100 for on the go use. On the desktop, I played FLAC files on the computer with MusicBee, fedding the FiiO K3 DAC.
The Tin Audio T3 has a lovely near-neutral sound signature, similar to the T2 that became so popular in enthusiast circles. Its defining characteristics are transparency, fast transients, texture, timbre and now, clarity.
I would describe the T3’s bass as light, nimble and textured. It’s part of what made its predecessor so popular, so it’s hardly surprising that we find the same bass tuning here.
Some people are claiming that the T3 has more bass than the T2 but it sounds the same in quantity to me. Sub-bass has nice extension and even though the levels are tame, it is satisfying nevertheless. Absolute control with no signs of unwanted resonance is the order of the day here, as the T3 declares it.
Mid and upper bass is well-defined with a clear leading edge and natural decay that drives music without any sluggishness or bloat. If you think neutral doesn’t cut it with bass-driven music, just cue up Devin The Dude’s “Do What You Wanna Do” and the T3 will show you just how it’s done with authority.
I’m not sure whether it’s the dynamic driver or the Knowles balanced armature in charge of the midrange but when it sounds this good who cares?
Electric guitars have some real crunch, pianos are crisp and orchestral string instruments sound fantastic on the T3. There’s really nothing in the midrange that these little earphones can’t handle.
Instrument and vocal tonality are incredible for a budget earphone like this. Female vocals really pop and tracks like “March For Mingus (Live)” by Melody Gardot are a playground for the T3 to revel in. Not only do the vocals pop but the individual instruments and the applause of the crowd sound incredibly lifelike.
What was (in my opinion) the fatal flaw in the T2 Pro is a big strength of the T3. The T3’s treble is a marked improvement over the original T2 and as for the T2 Pro…well, that doesn’t even deserve a mention here.
What the Tin Audio T3 treble does incredibly well is timbre. Hi-hats and cymbals sound just right. The sheen and the decay are really good too and even though I tend to be treble-sensitive I found myself thoroughly enjoying the treble here.
For the most part, I don’t find the treble harsh or unpleasant but there are some occasions where it can be a little irksome. This usually only happens when there is sibilance in the recording, like on several tracks on Someone Here Is Missing by The Pineapple Thief (whoever is responsible for the mastering needs their ears or monitors checked!)
The T3’s soundstage isn’t all that expansive; it’s like a medium-sized hall as opposed to a stadium but it is far from intimate. Having said that, vocals still have good density and it feels as though the performer is standing a few meters in front and above you.
Imaging and instrument placement is a strong point and gives you a good sense of where everything in the music is located. Sound reaches out in all directions and extends to just beyond the headspace.
Tin Audio T2 ($49)
In terms of bass these two IEMs are practically identical, although, of course, the difference in the treble has an effect on the overall tonality. The T2’s lower midrange is leaner in comparison and the T3’s slightly thicker notes give it a more natural body, though the change is very subtle.
The more notable changes are in the upper midrange and treble regions. Starting with the T3’s extra peak at 2.5kHz, this gives vocals more presence and vibrancy, along with some extra crunch for electric guitars.
Around 5kHz to 9kHz the T3’s enhanced level adds significant clarity and definition, making it more lively than the T2 and also improving the timbre of cymbals. Although the T3’s treble starts to fall off more after 12kHz it doesn’t really have much effect and still produces plenty of sparkle and details.
For the treble sensitive, the T2 would probably be the safer choice but really neither might suit you depending on how averse to brightness you are. Personally I prefer the T3 which surprised me because I usually prefer a warmer sound with less lower treble presence. However, the quality of the T3’s treble is simply excellent and it makes for a more engaging and exciting experience to my ears.
Apart from the upgrade in audio quality, I think just the T3’s cable makes it worth the extra $10 over the T2. In fact, it’s so nice I’m not even upset about the lack of a carrying case. I’ll make do and keep the cable thank you very much!
So there you have it. The Tin Audio T3 is an excellent IEM that performs better than most others in its price range. In my opinion, this is what the T2 Pro should have been.
There’s not much to think about here; if you don’t already have the T2, you need to get yourself a T3. If you do have the T2, you’ll probably end up getting the T3 anyway because people are going to be talking about it. A lot.