The “ChiFi” phenomena has been cropping up in the audiophile world, with new and past releases that might have been swept under the rug starting to see light. IEMs are the biggest proponents of this debate, and with how certain models are priced, the line between “high-end” and “audiophile” is blurred even more. Now and then, we get a chance to review a new release from a smaller brand that blows us away.
We’ve seen the likes of Kinera, and Shanling churn out excellent products for half the price of some audiophile earphones. Today we have the new TinHiFi T5, a pair of IEMs from their acclaimed T series. The T5 only costs $129, with the price dropping down to even just $109. Can this earphone stand out from the ChiFi pack?
What You Get
These ChiFI manufacturers know how to put a package together. The box and carrying case all have the same solid white theme, making the earpieces themselves stick out in their protective inserts. Underneath is a pair of tweezers and a cleaning tool to be as thorough as possible when taking care of your IEMs. Finally, there’s a row of ear tips in various sizes, three sets of rubber and silicone. Also, don’t forget the extra pair of foam tips and filters in the carrying case.
Look and Feel
A common theme with these ChiFi brands is their shared philosophy in design and aesthetic choices. A lot of these brands do a great job making hundred-dollar earphones looking like thousand-dollar earphones. My first impression of the T5 was no different. This is another great-looking IEM, that’s both striking and ergonomic. The outer shell is made out of titanium for an even more solid appearance. The added durability is also a positive attribute.
TinHiFi also factors the shape of most ear sizes to construct a universal fit that should provide a comfortable fit for most listeners. In my experience with the T5, the earphones achieved a standard level of comfort and security. It has a smaller nozzle that fits with any ear tip well, even excluding the ones that come with the T5. Sometimes the body can feel a little large after long listening periods, but no ear fatigue was had here.
There’s a lot of technical components to get through when analyzing the inner construction of the T5’s housing. To start, the T5 supports a 10mm DOC driver system, which is the latest in this generation of carbon drivers. The idea here is to create a carbon atom structure to resemble that of a diamond. It allows for the diaphragm to be thinner while maintaining its strength, with five times the durability of a ceramic diaphragm. A few advantages to this design are the ability to achieve stronger dynamics and a wider range of detail. This acoustic makeup also aims to deliver a broader bandwidth with maximum transparency.
With 48 Ohms of impedance, it may seem like the T5 has a bit higher of a resistance, but you definitely shouldn’t have any issue driving these IEMs. With my experience, I wouldn’t even necessarily say plugging the T5 into a smartphone or computer headphone jack won’t do it justice. Of course, a small DAC/amp is more ideal, but from testing out the T5’s with a couple of different adapters, I found a standard connection to be just as enjoyable due to the sound signatures linear response.
IEMs have been impressing me with their soundstages in recent memory, and the T5 keeps that train moving. Starting off, the width here is excellent. Everything in the sound field appears naturally placed, with the complete bandwidth achieving a shoulder-length resonance. Instruments and effects panned to the extreme left and right appear accurately and with a certain limitless aura.
The track “Calumet” by Billow Observatory was a great proponent of this sensation, with reverberated bass strings tailing off into the distance. This also showcased the T5’s holographic qualities as well, with exceptional layering and separation making the image equally front to back as it is left to right. Even though the response isn’t as three-dimensional as it sounds like it should be, the exceptional level of separation does a great job imitating that effect with still maintaining a sense of articulation and accuracy.
A lot of the bass tones do a great job putting this diaphragm to work. The response here is fast and punchy, proving itself with a more versatile bass tonality. It has the tump, while also maintaining a strict sense of clarity and separation. Tracks can output a solid rumble that just braises the sub-bass so that the feeling is just present enough to be noticeable. The lift and pump are there but don’t expect any considerable thickness. This is a mostly clean timbre with some extra flavor to make the lows more energetic.
The midrange is given a decent amount of detail and resonance that’s properly spacious and textured. Distorted guitars sound fittingly crunchy, and upper mid-range frequencies receive a touch of emphasis. This creates a much more colorful timbre, with a good sense of balance and articulation. The highlight here is the vocal response, which is given the perfect touch of crispness. Listening to the new Oragami Angel album, you get a great sense of upper midrange accentuation, which considerably brought out the vocal range.
Comparing the rest of the sound signature, the treble doesn’t quite have the same energy as the other ranges of frequency. You still receive some slight brightness for a bit more character, but most of the extended highs are reeled in for a tighter response. Some elements can have a shimmering tonality, like certain sibilances in vocals or crash cymbal, but for the most part, the fidelity is rather limited.
For the amount of money you’re dropping, the Tin HiFi T5 is a great value. The sound signature is more than satisfying at any price and is versatile enough for listeners of various genres. They also look fantastic and are easy to wear for long hours. Its driver design is full of innovative technology that makes the sound all the more articulate and detailed, giving most listeners the definition they need. For me, it’s a no-brainer. The T5 is definitely more than worth its price and delivers a strong sound that will bring liveliness to your music.
Pros and Cons
Pro: Aesthetic, Ergonomic fit, Punchy Bass, Great soundstage, Price
Cons: Limited highs
The Tin HiFi T5 is available at Linsoul.
See where it ranks on our ranking list here.