The Tin HiFi T5: “I’m sorry, what?”
Hello, and welcome back everyone to The Neighborhood! We’re looking at another IEM from Tin HiFi today. The T5! This is another IEM in the T-series, and like the last, the T4, this is a single dynamic. And from the looks of this thing, a number of things, have changed, so let’s… get Intoit!
Starting with the build, the most notably different thing that stands out here is that Tin has abandoned their iconic metal bullet-shaped shell for a more traditionally-shaped, pewter-colored, aluminum (or as the Aussies say, Al-u-min-eeeum) shell. The shell itself is pretty light weight, and fits well within my ear, but is somewhat shallow in its fit, nevertheless, and might be too shallow for some.
Tin has also switched up the connector here- moving away from their traditional use of a MMCX connection to a properly-recessed 2-pin. Big props to Tin for this switch here, but I do have to say that I’m not in love with the shell design, it was a bit on the chunky side, even if it was relatively small, and it was much more awkward for portable carry compared to what I have come to expect from Tin HiFi in the past.
The cable this IEM comes with is also a bit of a mixed-bag. The connectors as the base of the IEM, the Y-Split, the metal tension ring, and the 3.5 mm connector are nice enough, but the wire is wrapped in plastic, prone to tangling, and just comes across as too thin to use in the long run. Tin has usually been known to include really nice cables with their other sets, so this was a bit of a let-down. Although I did appreciate the nice, white, carry case, and the rest of the package that came with the T5.
The tips that were included in the box were mostly fine, but there was not a lot of different in the sound here, and in general, I found the T5 to less-than tip-dependent, even after trying a variety of tips. So, in the end, I stuck with the stock, black silicones, as this led to both the best fit and sound for me.
So, let’s go head and get into the sound, but be prepared this is going to be a bit of a short one… but why you ask? Well, because they are going to get of a bit of a recommendation/non-recommendation. The short of it, is that these sound remarkably similar to the T4 with ePro horn-shaped ear tips installed on that set, and if you want to know what I thought about the T4 specifically, feel free to go head and watch that review. I’ll place a link to it in the description below. But in any case, I’m going to actually recommend that you look at the T4 in most cases, given that that set is an easier portable carry, has a more even sound to it, is cheaper, and should be generally regarded as the better set between the two.
So, what’s the real deal here, and how is different from the T4? Well, to summarize it simply, the T5 is a more V-shaped T4, with generally harsher mids, more artificial treble, and a more boomier bass. If you recall my T4 review, or go back and watch it, you’ll know that I liked the bass of the T4 for the most part, but felt that certain frequencies in the upper mid-bass and upper bass regions were simply missing on certain tracks. And while the T5 corrects this, it comes at a cost. You see, compared to the T4, the T5’s bass is less informative, a bit too large, somewhat overly diffuse, generally flat sounding, characteristically nondescript, and somewhat smooshy.
The mid-range is also a bit too elevated, and comes across as a tad too forward for my ears. On certain tracks, especially tracks from the metal genre, things sound a bit overly harsh at times. If one graphs the T4 and T5 together, the elevations in the mids on the T5 are not super large, but they are apparent. Simply put, the peaks here, are a bit too peaky for my tastes, and suggest that the T4 is the objectively better sounding IEM to my ears.
The treble also sounds a bit more artificial to me. Even though air elements graph similarly between the two sets, there is a slight dissonance that I get from the T5 that I don’t get with the T4. For example, I noticed that high hat hits, symbol crashes, a block strikes had an overly shrill, almost raspy quality to their character. And this was potentially exacerbated by the fact that peripheral detailing was somewhat overly pushed forward in the mix at times, and sound staging was more generally more restrictive in the case of the T5 than it was in the case of the T4. I’ll also note, that note weight, as a whole, was thinner in the T5, and separation, for the most part slightly less distinctive.
But I don’t want to paint the picture that this is really a bad IEM, because it really is far from that. Imaging is fine, and vocals are well done, even if they are still a bit more “in the mix” compared to the T4. In this case, its just disappointing that the new IEM isn’t as good as its cheaper predecessor, the T4. Having said that, it is ever so slightly crisper in its presentation, and has a more robust bottom-end, and some may prefer that; even if this reviewer doesn’t in this case in particular.
So, Tin HiFI seems to have taken a slight step-back somewhat here with the T5. It leaves me scratching my head, thinking, “I’m sorry, what?” It’s probably needless to say that the T5 isn’t going to make my top recommendations in the price-range or anything like that, even if it is an IEM that I might recommend otherwise. But, its pricing and the existence of the T4 at a cheaper cost make it hard to recommend. Especially considering that the T5 is priced about twice as expensive as the T4. In my opinion, Tin should consider lower the price of the T5 to compete more with their own T4. At least in that case, one might be able to justify the cost of the T5 from a “pick your favorite flavor” standpoint. But, at this point, the T5 is simply too expensive given its level of performance, as it really doesn’t even compete with other IEMs in the $100+ dollar market place; especially in consideration of other standouts such as the Tri Starsea or the Tanchjim Hana. In fact, it has trouble even competing with the TFZ No. 3, which I also previously covered on the channel, and can generally be found for under $100 bucks. So far now, I’ll say look elsewhere, unless Tin HiFi lowers the price or this happens to be the particular presentation that you are after. And with that, I’m out for now!
But before I go, I want to thank Tin HiFi for sending out the T5 directly to the channel for the review, and also remind everyone to make sure to like, comment, and subscribe here on YouTube, and then go and follow the channel at its other Neighborhood access locations which will, as always, be listed in the description below. Peace!
*Thanks to Tin HiFi for sending in the T5 for Review!
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