Tin Hifi T5 Impressions

The Tin Hifi T5 is the latest in-ear monitor from the company that brought you one of the most popular and "legendary" status budget IEM, the T2, several years ago. They have made a series of equally popular products since then and this T5 is the newest one to hit the market.

The T5 will go on pre-sale on May 3rd at 6AM EST on Linsoul and Drop.com. The early bird price will be $109, while retail pricing will raise to $129.

The new T5 uses a single "DOC" dynamic driver. I wasn't able to figure out what "DOC" meant, but it is supposedly similar to the "diamond-like carbon coating (DLC)" used on other dynamic drivers. 

The new structural design allows the DOC diaphragm to be thinner, while being 60% stronger and more rigid than that of traditional DLC diaphragms. Furthermore, due the closer proximity of the carbon atoms to each other, the DOC driver is 5 times harder than that of typical ceramic diaphragms. 

The T5 comes with a basic black braided cable, a series of tips and their signature foam tips in white, and an all-new white fake-leather case. This case is quite nice actually. It has a magnetic closing lid that opens up and has a spacious opening inside. There's a Tin Hifi metal placard on the front as well. In addition to these standard accessories, Tin also added a few extra filter pieces in the box.

Sound Impressions

I will keep this rather brief, since my time with the Tin T5 has been pretty limited, but I was requested to put something out prior to the launch of the product to give people a more educated decision on whether to pre-order and save a few bucks or not. All the playback was on the Lotoo PAW 6000 digital audio player using Azla Xelastec tips.

In my opinion, the Tin T5 has a much different sound signature than previous Tin Hifi products. It takes the balanced U-shape signature of the Tin T2 Plus, and then makes it even more bassy, and more bright, and turns this into a standard V-Shape "fun" IEM sound signature which is the first in the Tin Hifi lineup that I am aware of, and I believe I've tried all but the original T1 at this point.

I am not sure I like the way Tin Hifi has been trending, mostly because I like how the started with their T2 product competing with the likes of Etymotic and their more diffuse sound. With a V-shaped signature, this product does not really distinguish itself from the pack. Instead, it's more of the same, or even worse.

It will out-resolve and be cleaner and clearer than what you'll find in your local big box store in terms of competing IEMs with the same V-shape signature (think Beats or in-store Sonys or Skullcandys), but I'm not so sure it can compete with other audiophile-centric products even at its $109 price point, nor its own cheaper sibling, the T4, which I find the best overall Tin product.

The main issues I have with the Tin T5 are two fold. First, it has a little too much bass (mid-bass), but that's actually not too distracting. I found it to be pretty fun to listen to with specific genres like modern pop and EDM music. It has a enjoyable level of bass that hits pretty hard, though lacks a lot of layering and texture.

The biggest issue is the the amount of treble and the lack of upper-mids on this product. On the first song I listened to out of the box, I put on Alison Krauss and Union Station's "Restless." It's a bluegrass pop track, which evidently is the worst type of music to play with this IEM. Bluegrass music is centered around instrument play of various string instruments and most of these have harmonics in the upper-mids and treble range that tend to be louder than the fundamental. Add on top of that Krauss's angelic voice, and I have a recipe for disaster here.

I put this song on, turned up the volume slightly, and within 30 seconds, I had to remove the IEM. I could feel the onset of ringing. The mandolin and banjo plucks and their resonance was already fatiguing, and then her vocals sounded strained and stretched and quite unnatural.

I did something that I really don't believe a lot in. I then let it burn-in for a bit. A while later, I put on Chvrches latest record, and enjoyed the deeper and bigger bass in these electropop tracks. Lauren Mayberry's vocals sounded a little uneven, as in some songs or sections she'd sound fine, and in others, she sounded thin and near sibilant. Luckily, most of the synth play sounded fun and enjoyable here.

I threw on some more acoustic jazz music. Cymbals and snares were overly fatiguing with the bright nature of the T5 and despite liking the impact of the bass guitar, I couldn't bear the level of ringing and jarring treble sounds.

I then switched over to the Icelandic-Rock track, "Empire" from Of Monsters and Men. The very first guitar riff was almost unnaturally clear and forward. The kick drums and basslines were big and boomy, but also fun and entertaining. Unfortunately I did find the vocals and guitars sounding plasticky in nature and almost incoherent with the bigger low-end. I wouldn't say it was muddy, but it was pretty close to it.

Final Impression Remarks

For the music I spend a lot of time listening to, the Tin T5 does not do it for me. It's actually a bit painful to use in that it's just too bright for my tastes. In some genres, it may work. It adds a fun character to music, but treble sensitive folks should be cautious here. Some may find the bass to be perhaps overwhelming too, especially if you're used to the Tin T2.

For $109 or $129, I would personally take a different product that better suits my tastes in music. But for those who may enjoy a little more clarity and improved resolution upon your standard Beats or generic store bought products, this would could do the trick, though again, there's other stuff out there to consider for a less.

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