Audio, IEM, Review

TinHiFi T1S Review: Thick, Dark, And…Warm?

Yes, we’ve got another review of an ultra-budget single dynamic driver IEM. This time around, we have an affordable IEM from TinHiFi, a brand that needs no introduction in the “ChiFi” scene. Having released affordable bangers like the T2, T3, and many other variants of the two, the new TinHiFi T1S is one such variation.

Touted to be an improved version of the T1 Plus, how does the T1S stack up to other ultra-budget IEMs such as the Tripowin Leá and CCA CRA+? Well, let’s find out!

What It Is

Packaging of the T1S is pretty standard, which is to be expected at this price point. You get the IEMs themselves, a thin cable (with a tendency to tangle quite easily), three pairs of wide-bore ear tips, and two more pairs of standard-bore ones. There is one oddity though: the inner box still reads “T1 Plus.” Even the IEMs’ shells have the T1 Plus branding on them.

Aside from this peculiar branding, the plastic shells of the T1S have a semi-transparent housing with silver speckles sprinkled over the faceplate, somewhat resembling a starry night sky. Aside from the black model in this review, there are also white, pink, and green color options from Linsoul.

I also have to add that the plastic used for the T1S’ housing is thin and weighs next to nothing. It’s also shaped in a similar manner to the usual offerings from KZ, and in extension, not that different from the CCA CRA+.

And just like the CRA+, finding the right fit for the T1S required the constant shifting around of the IEMs in the ear canals, as well as the hassle of trying all the differently sized ear tips provided. Thankfully, I did eventually discover the “sweet spot” for the IEMs to stay put and sound optimal.

Compared to the T1 Plus, the T1S has new beryllium plated drivers, as well as the redeveloped acoustic silicon sleeve…which we assume means new ear tips. But what do these rather minor upgrades mean acoustically for the T1S? Let’s get to that in the next section.

How Does It Sound?

The first thing I noticed once I put on the T1S – aside from the sub-par passive noise isolation due to the fit and vents – is its warm sound signature. Unfortunately, this seemingly pleasing quality does creep its way into the rest of the frequency range, making too much of a good thing, bad.

Bass

Bass is definitely the standout frequency of the T1S. In fact, you might even say it sticks out like a sore thumb. The mid-bass is unabashedly bloated, bleeding into the mids without a care.

Now, you would think that this gives pop tracks some low-end kick, and you’d be right, if it weren’t for the bit of sub-bass roll-off that limits the bass extension and details a fair bit.

Mids

One advantage of the T1S’ thick, low-end presence is the fact that it gives vocals a good sense of weight and body. However, whether this affects your music positively or not differs from track to track, vocalist to vocalist. For example, Rich Brian and Jackson Wang might sound full and intimate, but Sam Smith and The Weeknd could sound veiled and drowned out.

There’s a bit of a lift in the upper mids of the T1S to resurface some of the female vocals lost in the warmth from the low-end, but it isn’t nearly enough for my taste. There is a severe lack of air and spaciousness which, does make the T1S a mellow, non-fatiguing pair of earphones, but female vocals have a tendency to sound a tad nasally too.

Highs

Like the mids, the treble of the T1S is also lightly painted over by the warmth of the low-end, but I wouldn’t say the highs are completely enveloped in it. The warmth tames the highs just enough for it to be fatigue-free, albeit at the cost of clarity and detail. I just wish there were a bit more sparkle and a touch more air.

Soundstage

The T1S does have a good sense of vertical depth, with the space between left and right a little narrower. The veil of warmth present throughout the frequency range also gives the sense of a…congested stage, though instrumentally-light tracks will still sound sufficiently spaced out.

Is It Worth It?

For only $20 (about RM90), the TinHiFi T1S isn’t the budget all-rounder some might hope for. It isn’t made for monitoring or any form of analytical listening; far from it. The dark, warm sound signature is more suited for casual listening sessions in front of the fireplace with a hot cup of cocoa.

But we’re in Malaysia, and we have no need for fireplaces. So likewise, not everyone will need or want that amount of warmth in their music with the T1S.

Li Jin Soh contributed to this review.

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