Tin HiFi P1 Max BIG PANDA: Half an Impression, Half a Review

Introduction

Quite a while ago, Tin HiFi sent me the Tin P1 Max out of the blue. At the time, I didn't even know what I was getting or that it would somehow turn into the BIG PANDA but I guess we're here. The P1 Max is a 14.8 mm planar IEM from Tin HiFi. I think it costs $169 for early bird pricing though I don't really know as Tin HiFi hasn't mentioned where you can buy it. While they've produced a few other planars in the past, it seems like this is a totally different driver, one in-line with recent successes like the Shuoer S12 and 7Hz Timeless. This post will be some impressions, some graphs, and a bit of comparison to the Timeless. I won't do a full review of the P1 Max as my unit is a sample unit. Tin HiFi let me know that "the sound [of my unit] is similar" which I will assume means the same while "the appearance [of the production units] is more beautiful". You can consider this article as half impressions, half review.

Please read my 7Hz Timeless review over at headphones.com before reading this one because I will heavily reference it throughout and will be the comparison point.

Build

Tin HiFi went for a straightforward build here. It has an ergonomically shaped resin shell, one that is commonly found among recent ChiFi releases. No complaints on comfort. On the faceplate is a shiny hexagonal pattern on a black background, perhaps trying to suggest at the P1 Max's planar driver? The cable included in my sample unit is a silver 2-pin, 2-core braided cable. This is a similar cable to something found in the 7Hz Timeless though it feels slightly different. Works fine, no complaints.

Sound

It sounds pretty good. A little on the generic side, not particularly "hi-fi" in the sense that I'm wholly satisfied with its resolving ability but otherwise could be a lot worse. Basically, a marginal step below the 7Hz Timeless. I like it.

Frequency response of the Tin HiFi P1 Max. Measurement taken with an IEC-711 clone microphone. Comparisons can only be made relative to other measurements taken by this specific microphone. A peak at about 8 – 10 kHz is likely an artifact of the measurement rig and may not exist as depicted here. Measurements above 8 kHz are not accurate.
 
Bass is on the boomy side. Drum notes aren't super tightly defined and textured, there's some bloom here. There's also less rumble in the subbass compared to the Timeless. Bass guitar however is nice. There's note definition and clarity and rolls fluidly. Really, the drums is where the P1 Max loses most of its points in my eyes. It's not bad in the grand scheme of things but it's where it sounds its weakest in terms of technical performance.

The P1 Max's upper mids aren't nearly as pushed forward as the Timeless. While some might like more recessed mids to impart warmth, I personally think the upper mids are needed to balance out the bass intrusion into the lower mids. As such, I prefer the Timeless' midrange but honestly, I can see some people liking the P1 Max's instead. The difference isn't as great as the graph may indicate. Other than that minor difference in the upper mids however, they're quite similar with a similar-ish timbre. Vocals are natural sounding and sibilant free to my ears.

Tin HiFi P1 Max vs. 7Hz Timeless frequency response aligned at 1 kHz. It largely matches my impressions above.

Like the Timeless, the P1 Max has an airy quality to it. However one notable difference is in the upper treble. The P1 Max doesn't have as strong an upper treble peak. On the Timeless, it causes hats/cymbals to pop up with a tizziness to it and causes them to be more prominent. On the P1 Max, its less apparent.

The staging experience is largely similar. That is to say, pleasant to listen to and non-fatiguing. I don't think it's as open feeling as the Timeless was however. As previously stated, the P1 Max is a little less technical overall I feel but it could very well all be in the upper mids difference.

 

Conclusion

To be completely honest, I think I would have been a lot more impressed with the Tin HiFi P1 Max if it came out before the 7Hz Timeless. But with the Timeless as a measuring stick, its hard to not be a little blasé with the P1 Max. Looking at it more objectively, the P1 Max is worth a buy. I don't know the price but if its around the $170 mark it makes sense given the slightly weaker performance compared to the Timeless. A/Bing them side by side, while I preferred the Timeless, it wasn't like the P1 Max was really behind. The other IEM to consider is the Shuoer S12. That IEM costs $169 (at the time of this writing). In Antdroid's review, it looks very very similar to the 7Hz Timeless.

So let's talk product differentiation since ChiFi companies don't know how. Why SHOULD you buy the P1 Max over the 7Hz Timeless or Shuoer S12? For starters, the shell. Maybe you like a resin shell better. Probably won't have any paint chipping or faceplate falling issues and will be more comfy. Maybe you hate MMCX IEMs with a passion. Maybe you want a milder sound: less subbass, less upper mids, less upper treble peak. Totally fair, I did note in my original review that the Timeless can sometimes be a little overbearing. 

At the end of the day, the P1 Max is yet another option in the ultra competitive ChiFi IEM market. It's probably the best IEM that Tin HiFi has done (?) even if it does go against some of the uniqueness that made Tin HiFi a notable company in the first place aeons ago. Don't expect miracles as the P1 Max is not it. Just enjoy your music.

______________________

If you want to revel in Tin HiFi's marketing pictures for the P1 Max, here it is. They sent it to me via Twitter. Why the long scroll format that's barely legible, don't ask me.


Comments

  1. I love both the Timeless and the Letshuoer S12 but they sound very different, well at least the ones I had, to me. They are complimentary rather than competing with each other to my ears. It's good to see all these Planars coming out........I love their sound.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, that's what makes these new planar IEMs interesting. They all graph very similarly but sound different enough that you can really pick and choose which would fit you best.

      Delete

Post a Comment