The Tripowin TC-01: another upgrade to the Blon BL-03 for vocal lovers.
Updated: Jan 1, 2021
Hi all! As we turn the page from 2020 to 2021, word is starting to pick up regarding the Tripowin TC-01. Tripowin is a company that most people associate with making cables at this point. The Tripowin C8 has been shilled by Zeos for well over a year now, and I frequently use balanced versions of both it and the Tripowin Zonie cable in my testing. So, I do like their cables, but do their earphones measure up? Let’s get InToit!
The build of the TC-01 is pretty nice. The shell is made out of metal, and it seems both lightweight and durable. The overall build is on the smaller size, but the size of the nozzle is neither too large, nor too small. It fits mostly well within my ear overall, and I had no real difficulties with comfort. Connection is established in the TC-01 via flush 2-pin connectors, and if I had one criticism here, I would have preferred for this to be a properly recessed 2-pin connection instead.
The set comes with pretty standard silicon tips, but these were neither may favorite for fit, sound, nor comfort. I found the sonics lacking and the midbass specifically too intense with the stock tips, and I much preferred ePro Horn-Shaped Tips instead. So, I’d recommend investing in a set of horn tips for this set. I think they are generally pretty cheap for ear tip- at around $10 off Amazon.
Link to horn tips: https://www.amazon.com/eProaudios-ePro-Horn-Shaped-Ear-Tips/dp/B07S82M9PG
The cable is plastic wrapped, and twisted. It played well, for the most part, in normal use-case scenarios; but I could also never get it to really lay perfectly flat either. Here, the quality of cable seems like an afterthought. I gather that they cared enough to provide a decent cable in the package, as its connectors are good, but this isn’t a cable that I would use long-term either. Overall, it just that it seems rather cheap, plasticky, and not well though out. For instance, they "missed the boat" with the chin slider in that it is just a piece of clear plastic, rather than a bead made of something higher in quality- like a piece of metal, wood, or other more premium material. And I guess, they want you to buy one of their aftermarket cables, because I really did not find this cable to sound very good with this earphone either, as it clouded an already murky resolution when in use.
However; the case included with the TC-01 is quite nice, and I found that it is even nicer than the case that I have been using recently that came with the KBEAR Lark. It is a hard-shell case, and on the smaller side, but still has enough room on its inside to house most earphones and their cables. It is covered in a black woven material, and has a mesh net on the inside for extra goodies. There is also a proved wrist strap which clasps on the outside via a metal ring to aid in its carry. As an additional perk, the case is also unbranded, so I’ll most likely be switching to this case for my daily carries, at least until something better comes along.
Timbre on this earphone is rather warm, and it has a similar tonality to that of the Blon BL-03. It also has a similar stage in terms of its width, but with additional depth and height to its presentation, which is a plus. There is also less stretching and smearing of the sonics here, and I found separation to be both pretty decent, and better than the Blon BL-03 as well. Instrument distinction was suitable, and its placement of instruments within space was accurate. Imaging was very good for the price-point, and sonics were less cluttered within its stage compared to some others in the in the marketplace around this price. Transients and decay capacities were also decently well executed, and there’s a certain ambience to the overall presentation that I find endearing. There’s a certain fullness to the presentation here, that I know a lot of people are looking for, and it’s also similar to the BL-03 in this way, without being as murky in its overall presentation, nor as confused by more complicated sonics.
Besides its staging, vocals are the standout characteristic of this set. If you’re a vocal-first-listener, then this could be an everyday, knock-around carry IEM for you. Vocals are distinct from the rest of the presentation, and they are more forward in the mix. The TC-01 does well with both male and female vocals alike, pushing male vocals forward more so than most sets, especially in this price-range, and rounding off female vocals appropriately so; so that they are always soothing and pleasant, and never sharp or shrill.
Aside from its vocals, the midrange is rather laid-back, but there is enough presence here to satisfy most. Especially if one is coming from more of a consumer tuning than an audiophile one. Unfortunately, as an audiophile, I found that mid-range to lack some definition at times, as it was often too soft in its delivery to the ear for me.
The treble was also soft in its delivery, but well extended enough. And, while I did not feel like things were overly rolled to the point where I would be missing information from the treble region, it was apparent to me that the aim of the TC-01 was a smooth and pleasant delivery of sounds, even at the cost of detailing and resolution characteristics if necessary. So, detailing and resolution capabilities were not strengths of this set; but, as I’ve already mentioned, switching to alternative cables did help improve the clarity a bit from what one gets from this set straight out of the box.
So, onto the bass... The bass here is simply over-elevated, particularly in its mid-bass, and it doesn't do this earphone any favors as a result. The TC-01 can be classified as an IEM type that I am going to start calling “IEMs for Petulant Children from the Aloha -State;” which, in other words, is an earphone with some tricks that sounds much like an upgraded Sony, with way too much midbass, and lacking in general resolution.
On certain songs, the kick drum is all I hear, and its distracting... On the song, "Jambi" by Tool, the kick drum is just too far forward, and the mid-bass here bleeds into the other sonics in an unpleasant fashion. On the track “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin, it is subtle, and it takes a trained listener to parse it out, but the kick drum comes through as overly authoritative. One should note, that this is a track where the drums were famously recorded in a stairwell, by hanging microphones over a banister to pick up a thinner, ambient, ghost-like effect from the drums of John Banhan below. Plus, any true historian of Led Zeppelin knows that Banham famously tuned his drum heads pretty high. A reviewer worth his salt with skills would know this, and not expect an exaggerated response from the kick drum or bass region in general from this track. And, look, I’m all for a well-executed bass, even when its elevated, but in this case, its simply not the best- at least from a true audiophile’s standpoint.
So where does the Tripowin TC-01 fit-in, and who is this IEM for? Well I’ve said prior that if I was looking for an upgrade from the Blon BL-03, then I would look at the Shozy Form 1.1 with JVC Spiral Dot Tips at around $75 for the earphone and additional $15-20 for the tips. And, I still stand by that recommendation; however, I now think that the Tripowin TC-01 lays firmly in the middle of that upgrade path, as it lies somewhere in quality in-between the Blon BL-03 and the Shozy Form 1.1.
I also think that the TC-01 will be for those audiophiles for whom vocals or a “fuller” presentation are the priority, even over mid-bass performance and clarity. And it is with this earphone's resolution limitations in mind, I do find the TC-01 to be somewhat overpriced at $50. I think I would be more forgiving if the the TC-01 was priced around $30-35 dollars, or so, instead. As at this adjusted price-point, it would compete more effectively with earphones like the KBEAR Lark. The Lark is a similarly built earphone, in terms of quality, and it comes with a comparably rich package in its box as well. With that said, I would personally look at Moondrop's S.S.R., Jade Audio's EA1 or EA3, or Tin HiFi's T2 Plus, prior to considering the Tripowin TC-01- but to each their own. And with that, I’m out… for now…
*Tripowin TC-01 provided by Linsoul: https://www.linsoul.com/products/tripowin-tc-01
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