I am constantly surprised by the quality of certain IEMs under the hundred-dollar price range. It’s never going to match the richness or clarity of the more prestigious audiophile models currently on the market, but some offer just enough fidelity to settle with if you’d rather not spend a pretty penny. I got to finally try out the Tripowin TC-01, an IEM that I’ve heard a lot about, but haven’t gotten my hands on until now. This IEM will only set you back fifty bucks, nothing compared to earphones of this ilk. Is it worth the hype?
What You Get
- TC-01 earphones
- Detachable 0.78 2-pin cable
- 3 pairs of silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
- Carrying case
- Warranty card
Look and Feel
In the past, I’ve seen plenty of nice-looking IEMs from the thousand dollar range to the hundred dollar range. In a way, the TC-01 not only surpasses those models but rivals some of the more expensive ones as well. I think this is one of the nicest looking earpieces currently available. It has this unique metal shell with a mirror polish with a tint of blue for my pair, but there’s an option without color as well. The aesthetic reminds me of one of those nice-looking stones you’d find in the dirt. The housing shines under light, and all-around appears like a brilliant work of art. I’m glad to say that the fit is just as spectacular. The size of the housing sits perfectly in your ear and is given enough room to both be invisible and secure. They’re also very self-isolating and are said to reduce up to 26dB of noise.
Inside of this immaculate piece is a quite meaty driver system. The TC-01 holds a 10mm Si+PU driver, one of the first dynamic systems Tripowin has made. Its diaphragm is coated in silicone for what Tripowin believes to be a more favorable output. They continue this philosophy with their cable design as well, offering Zonie, C8, and Nucool premium cables.
Although the TC-01 features a low impedance, the sensitivity is pretty highs for an IEM, and just using a 3.5mm headphone connector didn’t give it the juice it needed. I tested the TC-01 with a couple of different DAC/Amp adapters, like the HELM Audio BOLT, ALO Pilot, and NextDrive Spectra X. The Spectra X gave me the most comfortable and balanced passthrough, while the Pilot definitely supplied the TC-01 with the most power. The BOLT surprisingly couldn’t really push the signal hard enough to get a significant nominal volume level. The Pilot gave me the most headroom, and I used it for most of my testing. So I would absolutely recommend some kind of DAC adapter with the TC-01, as you’ll be getting a better sense of what these IEMs can deliver, and they deliver a lot.
Anything above average was going to be a major feat here considering the price, but I still found myself very surprised at how impressive this stage really is. The most exciting factor here is its height and layering. The TC-01 avoids a linear sound field by providing a good amount of separation between each range of frequency. What you get is an elegant reproduction of output, and a solid placement of all of the sound elements, so that they are expressed with detail and articulation. This expands the image into not only a more full sense of body but one that delivers a much more outward headspace. Vocals and high-end elements feel like they’re coming from a source on the top of your head, adding to the overall immersion of the stage. It’s truly a major accomplishment for a fifty-dollar IEM.
I thought that this bass was a lot meatier than I expected, and although the resonance is big, the timbre is always clean. While the overall tonality leans towards a more basic bass-head signature, I never thought that it was too much. The lows consistently offered a solid amount of heft, balanced out with the rest of the frequency response. The key here is the mid-bass, which presents itself as the focus of this sound signature. It doesn’t warm up the timbre, but instead adds a significant amount of ground to certain tracks. Heavy metal and hip-hop will definitely benefit the most here, but listening to some dark ambient, and film scores provides some smooth resonance.
This is how you do v-shaped. While there’s unmistakable more emphasis on the low and high mids, the rest of the bands are still extremely well balanced and clear. It doesn’t even sound like there is that much recession, since the body of the frequencies is so rich and full. While the low-mids add a heavier tonality, the mid-highs showcase some impressive detail. Female vocals were a huge standout, with great breathiness and supple air.
Do not fret if you’re treble sensitive, because the TC-01 couldn’t be sweeter here. For me, this is one of the biggest standouts of this IEM, as high-end detail is incredibly crisp. No harshness, or sibilance, but sparkle and airiness are absolutely present. Elements like high strings and bells appear with an elegant timbre that offers enough sizzle to be appreciable. Brighter tones can be heard at points, but I thought they were welcomed and delivered an even balance. It’s a colorful signature with enough detail to rival even the more high-end audiophile IEMs.
The TC-01 has immediately put Tripowin on my radar. This extremely affordable IEM proves to be a force to be reckoned with, with a build and sound quality matching that of some models from the top IEM manufacturers on the market. My only qualms with this IEM are almost nothing but insignificant nitpicks not worth getting into, especially once again considering this price point. This IEM is a must if you’re an audiophile on a budget.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Soundstage, Low-end, Detailed treble, Design, Fit
Cons: No tips or quarter-inch adapter
The Tripowin TC-01 is available from Linsoul.
Discuss the Tripowin TC-01 on our forums here.
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