TIN HiFi's T2 has long been regarded as one of the best value IEMs you can buy under $50. What happens when TIN raises the price bar to $109? That's what we're out to find out in our review of the TIN HiFi T4 in-ear headphones.
- Current Price: $109 (Linsoul Store)
- Shell Material: Aerospace-Grade Aluminum
- Driver: 10.0mm High Quality CNT Dynamic Driver
- Cable Type:
- Detachable MMCX 3.5mm carbon multi- dimensional heavy plug. Gold-plated MMCX Connector.
- Sensitivity: 102 +3DB @1kHz 0.126v
- Frequency Response: 10- 20000Hz
- Distortion: 1% @ 1kHz
- Impedance: 32ohm
Over the last year, TIN HiFi has been out to break the mold. They earned their reputation on budget-friendly IEMs, like the T2s and T2 Pros (reviewed here), but they’ve slowly been pushing ahead into the mid-tier with great results. The P1s were the first headphone I reviewed that pushed the price bracket — all the way up to $169 — and added planar magnetic drivers to the mix. Something somewhat rare and illustrious in an IEM, even at that higher price.
The T4s go the other way. Instead of sticking with the planar magnetics of the P1 or hybrid drivers of the T2 Pro and goes back to basics with a single dynamic driver. An interesting move given the $109 price point. You shouldn’t read too much into that move by itself, however, because single dynamic drivers have produced some of the best audio experiences in the headphone world.
As it happens, the T4 Pros have more than a little bit in common with the Moondrop Starfields I so loved not long ago. Like that headphone, the T4 Pros also use a 10mm Carbon Nanotube driver and, like that headphone, it also delivers a full-bodied, detail rich sound.
At the same time, the two headphones stand apart in a number of ways, but nothing so much as aesthetics. The TIN T4s take their cues from earlier entries’ in the T line. They’re lightweight aluminum and polished to a reflective shine. They also continue the bullet shape with the shells instead of the increasingly common ear-molded housing found all over the market right now. I actually find this quite comfortable and they stay in place well. The only thing that’s rather strange this time around is the turbine-like design on the bullet-ends. It looks… interesting. Not bad, but it’s unique in a way that I’m not sure I’m entirely sold on.
The headphones also come with a high-quality detachable cable. The stereo ends are ringed red and blue for easy identification (red for right) and attach with MMCX ends. I prefer 2-pin connectors for added durability, but MMCX holds tight and allows the buds to rotate for better positioning. The cable is made of high-purity silver and terminates in a large plug that will match a ¼-inch adapter if you’d like to use these with a desktop amp/DAC.
Rather than go for a tight, many wired braid like the T2s, the T4s combine that into a two-wire coil before it splits off to go to each bud. The finish is rubbery and feels almost sticky to the touch. On the plus side, I didn’t have any trouble with it getting tangled or holding kinks, but I definitely prefer the silky braid of the T2 Pros over this version. I also wish there were an option to have a cable with an in-line mic, though that’s not especially common on HiFi headphones, even when it’s most likely that they’ll be driven by a smartphone.
And that’s how I used them about 80% of the time. The other 20% was spent connected to my computer or PS4 controller. These headphones are easy to drive at 32-ohms. I tend to listen fairly loud, usually about 80% volume on most headphones, but I was able to find a comfortable volume at about 60%, so you should have no trouble using these even on older smartphones or systems.
Image credit: Crinacle, In-Ear Fidelity
So how do they sound? In a word: great, so long as you’re not a bass-head. They hem pretty close to the Harman Target Curve, which is supposed to represent the “ideal” headphone for mainstream audiences. Crinacle did an excellent job of charting the headphone’s response compared to this curve, as well as the standard frequency response and I highly recommend you check it out.
Compared to the Starfields, which also targeted the Harman Curve, the T4s are much more neutral with a couple of important caveats. First, as you can tell from the charts above, TIN cuts the bass response compared to Harman and raises the frequencies around 2k, 5k, and 8k. Looking at the top chart, the upper-midrange focus is especially evident. What this means is that this headphone has full, but not overstated bass and that vocals feel much closer to the ear. This is not a bass-head headphone by any means, but most listeners should find it pleasurable with that U-curve equalization.
Great For Music, Movies, and Games
In practice, I find this makes it a very versatile headphone. I was able to listen to a wide range of my favorite music, everything from hip-hop and pop, like The Weeknd, to stripped down worship tracks like Chris McClarney’s, Worth It All and find enough bass to feel fun and energetic — there’s even a good amount of sub-bass to make the lows sound big and textured. The jumped mids really bring the vocals forward. If you imagine your favorite group standing in a line, it’s as if the vocalist were asked to take one big step out, and I really enjoyed it. The highs have been reduced, but this is mainly heard in the upper register, which gets rid of any sharpness and reduces ear fatigue so you can listen for long hours.
That’s a good thing, too, because you just might. I found these headphones to be an excellent fit for swapping between devices. The stereo separation is excellent, and the soundstage is reasonably wide for an IEM, so they’re great for gaming. My PS4 and Xbox controllers could easily drive them. They really shined on PC where I could enable Windows Sonic for spatial surround sound.
The tuning here is great for games. Too often, gaming headsets turn up the bass to provide a “cinematic” experience. That may work during big explosive moments, but a more well-rounded headphone allows the game to sound good the rest of the time and can even provide a competitive advantage when you’re listening for fine, mid- and high-frequency details to pick out the enemy. The TIN T4s provide that and the ease of unplugging them and throwing them back in your pocket when you’re done is convenient. Why spend more on multiple headsets for different devices if you don’t have to?
At the end of the day, the TIN T4s are fairly inarguably a good IEM. The tuning will please most listeners, and their easy ability to drive makes them a good fit even for older devices. I’m not a huge fan of the turbine shell-ends or the coating on the cable, but they certainly provide an enjoyable listening experience for lots of different content. After a good few weeks with these headphones, I find myself slightly tweaking the bass up for metal-heavy games like Doom Eternal, but that’s an overall small concession to an otherwise great headphone.
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.