TinAudio T2 review: audiophillia on a budget

“Here’s our take on TinAudio’s dual-driver T2 earphones”

I’ve become a huge advocate for Chi-fi IEMs, especially over the course of last year. So much so that whenever I’m asked about budget earphones, I usually end up recommending a product from Chinese audio giant Knowledge Zenith. To say that the earphones from the company punch above their weight would be an understatement.

That said, KZ is just one of the many companies which sell high-quality IEMs at affordable prices in China. Another brand which got on my radar recently goes by the name of TinAudio, and the brand’s T2 earphones have been on the lips of several audiophiles in various online communities. Naturally, I got myself a pair to review and I think I’ve found my favourite earphones for 2018.

Design and packaging

I usually skip through the packaging section in my KZ reviews, as the earphones come wrapped in a small cardboard box with just a handful of accessories. I was expecting the same from TinAudio’s T2 as well, but much to my surprise, the earphones come bundled in a stunning book-case which deserves a special mention. Flipping the case open, the first thing you’ll be greeted by are the individual earpieces and an instruction manual, followed by a stylish braided cable and three pairs of single-flanged silicon ear tips. Despite its inexpensive price tag, the unboxing experience offered by TinAudio’s T2 is on par with earphones priced much, much higher.

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There has been a stigma against products which carry the ‘made in China’ branding for some time now. Consumers are often led to believe that Chinese products tend to break very easily. However, in the case of TinAudio’s T2, nothing could be further from the truth. The individual earpieces on the T2 earphones have been constructed out of metal. What’s more, the earphones have been crafted with precision, and you’ll not find any jagged edges on the IEMs’ body. The surface of the earphones feels smooth to the touch, and simply put, I’m yet to come across a more stylish and well-constructed pair of IEMs at this price range.

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Much like most other Chi-fi products, the TinAudio T2 also ships with detachable cables. The earphones make use of an MMCX connector, which feels a lot more durable as compared to say, the two-pin connectors employed by Knowledge Zenith in its offerings. Consequently, you’ll be able to use the bundled cable for much longer, and even if the cable does break, you can easily replace it without having to throw away the earphones.

Speaking of which, the TinAudio T2 ships with a braided cable which feels undeniably sturdy. The cable terminates in a rather large, gold-plated 3.5mm headphone jack which funnily enough, is heavier than the weight of both the ear pieces combined. All in all, really good stuff from TinAudio.

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In terms of comfort, I must hand it to the company once again, the T2 earphones are tremendously comfortable to wear over long hours. What’s more, you can either wear the earphones by warping the cable around your ear (as seen on FiiO’s FH1) or just let the cable hang from your ears (like with Noble’s EDC Velvet). I preferred to use the latter style, but the fact that the company gives you the option to choose is just fantastic. During my review period, I stuck to the bright blue foam tips which were bundled with the earphones. As expected, the tips do attract a lot of lint but I liked how snugly the earphones fit in my ears. That said, your mileage could vary if you’ve got small ears.

Sound

If I could wrap up the sound section by describing the TinAudio T2 in one word, I’d say that the earphones sound magical. It baffles me how something priced so affordably outputs sound that’s so intricate and so much fun to listen to. But, before I proceed any further, let’s get the specs out of the way.

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The TinAudio T2 are dual-driver IEMs which ship with a pair of 10mm and 6mm drivers inside each ear piece. The earphones carry an impedance of 12 ohms, allowing you to drive them by pretty much any mobile phone or laptop. Lastly, the IEMs can operate across a frequency range of 7Hz to 40KHz.

The TinAudio T2 is by far, the most well-balanced pair of budget IEMs I’ve heard. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the earphones neutral, as the sound signature does sway a little in favour of the high-end. But, you’d be hard-pressed to find a pair of similarly-priced earphones with as finely tuned drivers as the ones inside the T2.

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Coming to the actual sound, I enjoyed listening to songs from the EDM/Hip-hop genre the most on the TinAudio T2. The bass output is not without its faults, and I wish the IEM packed a bit more punch in the low-end but, what the earphones lack in quantity, they more than make up for in quality. The thumps sound impactful and tight, there’s no bass bleed at high volumes and the earphones respond to quick and sudden changes in the beats admirably too. What I mean by that is that the earphones have an excellent transient response, which allows the T2 to deliver two subsequent beats with identical ‘oomph’. Therefore, you’ll love listening to songs with chaotic beats, such as Infected Mushroom’s ‘Artillery’ on the TinAudio T2.

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The mids on the T2 are a treat to listen to. The vocals sound natural and lush and aren’t bogged down by other frequencies. As a result, you’ll be able to make out the lyrics accurately even if there are a dozen instruments playing in the background. The earphones boast an impressive vocal range too, allowing you to enjoy songs from both male and female singers alike. Thankfully, words ending in an ‘S’ won’t bite your ears as TinAudio’s T2 aren’t sibilant either.

As compared to the sharp, piercing treble you would get with the KZ’s ZS6 (review), the T2 sounds a lot more laid back without skimping on any of the details. Consequently, I could enjoy rock songs like ‘I think I smell a rat‘ from The White Stripes as much as I did on the ZS6 on the earphones, without having to deal with sudden spikes in the high-end.

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Now, you won’t be blown away by the IEMs’ soundstage, which quite frankly is understandable. It’s extremely difficult to get a sense of the positioning of the instruments in your head when you’re listening to music via a pair of in-ear type headphones. But, on the bright side, the earphones excel at imaging and therefore, while you might not be able to pick up on where the sound is coming from, you will be able to dissect it and figure out all the instruments being used in a soundtrack.

Verdict

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I can wholeheartedly recommend the TinAudio T2 earphones to anyone looking for a pair of budget earphones with incredible sound. The icing on the cake is that the earphones look the part of an expensive product too. Therefore, for its asking price of around Rs 4K, the TinAudio T2 is an absolute steal and one that’s going to stay in my pockets for a very, very long time.

Editor’s rating: 4.5 / 5

Pros:

  • Surreal and sturdy design
  • Detachable cables with MMCX connectors
  • Incredible sound

Cons:

  • Bass output could be slightly better
Photos by Raj Rout

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