Tin HiFi has been a major player in the ChiFi world for a number of years, usually targeting the budget market with offerings that emphasize high build and sound quality for the price. It was also one of the first brands to release a planar magnetic IEM with the original P1, so it was only a matter of time before it came back with another release for this market.
The Tin HiFi P1 Max retails for only $119 and features a large 14.2mm planar magnetic driver. It’s the cheapest yet, but is especially exciting with Tin HiFi’s experience tuning planar IEMS. Were they successful in delivering the best budget planar magnetic IEM? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
- Current Price: $119 (Amazon)
- Key Features
- 14.2mm Planar Driver, A New Planar Choice
- Advanced Acoustic Structure, Full Of Details
- Comfortable To Wear
- High-Quality Cable, Interchangeable Wire Design
- Driver Unit: Φ14.2mm Planar Magnetic driver
- Sensitivity: 98±3dB @1kHz 0.126V
- Frequency Response: 10-20kHz
- Impedance: 16Ω±15%
- Rated Power: 5mW
- Max Power: 10mW
- Max Distortion: 3% @1kHz 0.126V
- Interface: Gold-plated 2P connector
- Plug: 3.5mm gold plated plug carbon fiber tube
Tin HiFi P1 Max - First Impressions and Key Features
The Tin HiFi P1 Max is the latest in a line of recent planar magnetic IEMs. Up until recently, planar magnetics were largely left to over-ear headphones, but times are officially changing. We reviewed four others, the Audeze Euclid ($1299), Raptgo Hook-X ($239), 7Hz Timeless ($199), and the Letshouer S12 ($169). At $119, the P1 Max already has an advantage in terms of pricing. Add to that, Tin HiFi’s solid track record, and the appeal of planar magnetic technology, and you can begin to see why the P1 Max is such an anticipated release.
Unlike traditional earphones, planar magnetic drivers use an entirely different technology to create sound. Instead of the usual conical dynamic driver, planars use a thin sheet traced with conductive wires, held poised between magnets. When electricity is coursed through the wires, the sheet diaphragm moves creating sound. These drivers are known for delivering exceptional clarity and detail with low levels of distortion. They’re used all throughout the audiophile industry for exactly this reason, but the technology is usually expensive and requires additional power to drive. The P1 Max, on the other hand, is priced affordably and is easy to drive even off of a dongle DAC (while responding well to additional power).
Unlike Tin HiFi’s prior planar earphones, the packaging has been scaled back here. You still get a wide selection of ear tips (silicone and foam), as well as a very nice copper cable — so the basics you would get in a more expensive package. What you don’t get is the same level of presentation or a hardshell carrying case. Instead, the packaging is simple and you’re given a fabric travel bag. These are fair trade-offs for a more affordable price, in my opinion, but I still miss having a more protective case to carry the IEMs throughout the day.
The shells also stand apart from the P1 or P2 models. Instead of having aluminum bodies, the P1 Max uses a fully resin shell decorated with a silver hex pattern on the faceplate. It’s a simpler design, but is also an improvement in comfort. I didn’t have major issues with the P1 during my testing, but the P1 Max is definitely more comfortable overall.
The buds also do away with the MMCX connector Tin was so fond of, and they’re better for it. Now, the buds use a 2-pin connection, which makes removing them easier and less likely to break. It’s also good for sourcing an upgraded cable if you choose to swap out in the future.
Inside the shells, the buds use a large 14.2mm driver with a frequency response of 10Hz-20kHz. Tin HiFi has developed it to be much more efficient than the original P1. It has a sensitivity of 98dB and an impedance of 16 ohms. They’re not as sensitive as many dynamic IEMs but are still easy to drive with even a simple dongle DAC like the Apple Dongle. Tin HiFi has opted for a balanced sound signature with slightly enhanced bass and treble for body and detail.
Tin HiFi P1 Max - Fit and Comfort
The P1 Max uses a very traditional resin shell. It’s ergonomically designed and very comfortable. As is always the case, you’ll need to use proper tips to find a secure fit, but that’s not difficult. Tin HiFi includes nine sets of silicone tips (small bore and large bore for more or less bass), as well as small and large foam tips. With my medium-sized ears, the shells fit comfortably and didn’t result in any discomfort, even over multi-hour listening sessions.
Tin HiFi P1 Max - Listening Impressions
I tested the P1 Max for about three weeks ahead of writing this review. For music, most of my listening was done using a dongle DAC. Unlike the original P1, they’re not hard to drive. Music was mostly found through Spotify on Very High quality. I also played a number of PC games connecting through my GoXLR Mini (mic muted).
Bass: Bass on the P1 Max reaches low. There’s a good amount of sub-bass presence. The earphones don’t rumble, but you can feel those super low tones widening the sound and making it sound full. The bass also offers solid punch, which is great for kick drums, but is softer around the edges than the 7Hz Timeless. Attention! Drifters! by Jonny Craig has fast kicks that come through clean and articulate. The machine gun drums opening Bleeding Mascara by Atreyu are equally clean, though lack the impact of over-ear headphones like the Aeon Open X. This is a challenging section and the P1 Max handles it admirably.
For gaming, I found it to be a good balance between clarity, details, and punchy, rumbly bass. It will feel light compared to most gaming headsets, but not terribly so. The trade-off for increased clarity and detail is well worth it for gaming, in my opinion.
Image Credit: Crinacle
Mids: Mids are slightly forward and have a delightful crispness for guitar-driven music and games. This register seems carefully tuned to bring it up “just enough” to allow you to hear lots of micro detail and texture in instruments. As a fan of guitar music, I find it very well done. It works well with pop music too. If I Were a Boy by Beyonce (an old favorite of my wife’s) pushes Beyonce back slightly and raises the instruments around her for a fuller, more well-rounded sound. You may not prefer this if you like your vocals to be clearly loudest, but since the quality of the vocal isn’t reduced, it really just leads to a more musical, full-band, sound overall.
For gaming, this tuning will bring out more of the details in the atmosphere around you. Running through Elwynn Forest in WoW was particularly fun and nostalgic as the music swelled around me mixed with the sounds of nature. The difference in volume between these details and voices isn’t overly apparent, so you really just get a fuller, more detailed sound for gaming.
Treble: Treble is forward but not fatiguing. Hi-hats and cymbals pop forward in music, and as a fan of percussion, I really enjoy that added sparkle in my music. Sibilance was never a problem for me with this set, though brightness in the treble could be an issue for sensitive listeners at higher volumes. Acoustic guitars sound particularly nice as they cut through the mix.
This treble tuning means you’ll have extra air and sparkle in games. Sounds like breaking glass will pop out in a way they don’t on most gaming headsets. You’ll notice more details with the P1 Max, which can make your games sound more lively.
Soundstage/Imaging/Layering: The soundstage is surprisingly spacious. We’re not in open-back territory, but sounds seem to come from around your head instead of inside your ears. Imaging is also very good with solid positioning of instruments and audio sources. The staging also has a fun wrap effect where sounds seem to emanate from diagonals — front right, rear and to the left. Layering is decent but doesn’t “pull apart” sounds and provide as much space between them as the Timeless or S12. Still, the sounds are crisp and clear, revealing lots of detail and easily allowing you to hear every piece of the song or game.
The P1 Max are an effective gaming earphone due to their enhanced soundstage and great positionality. You should have no trouble having an immersive gaming experience with these, whether you’re playing an MMORPG or a competitive first-person shooter. As I often recommend, do turn on Dolby Atmos or Windows Sonic for the best possible gaming experience with this set.
Overall Impressions and Final Thoughts
The Tin HiFi P1 Max is an impressive earphone on multiple levels. It sounds great and really highlights the things that planar drivers do well: lots of detail with an excellent, crisp timbre, and tight bass. It then adds to that with a wider-than-average soundstage and comfortable fit. That you get all of this for $50 or more less than the competition makes it the go-to recommendation for a planar IEM right now. If you’re able to wait, it may be wise to see what the 7Hz x Crinacle: Salnotes Dioko has to offer at $99, but even if you buy right now, the P1 Max is a great choice that is sure to impress.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. Articles may include affiliate links from which we may earn a small commission to help support the site. Authors do not earn affiliate revenue or commissions.