Review: Tin Audio T3 (Budget IEMs with a few Quirks)

If you haven’t heard of Tin Audio, then you must be new to the audio game. Although Tin Audio is relatively new to the audiophile scene when it was launched in 2010, it is already loved and appraised by many audiophiles due to one of their hit IEMs which is their T2 and T2 Pro. But that has been succeeded by the Tin Audio T3 which we will reviewing today.

I’ve had the Tin Audio T3 for about 2 weeks now and have listened to them for a total time of at least 60 hours and have burned them continuously for 50 hours. I’ve used them mostly daily during this time period to listen to all genres of songs (rock, EDM, pop, movie soundtracks, Western classics, etc.).

Don’t want to read the full review? Here’s your TL:DR :

The Tin Audio T3 is a great neutral sounding pair of IEMs for a reasonable amount of money but it has its flaws which might be a deal breaker for quite a few people.

But wait! Before you dive into the review, I have a quick disclaimer for you: I have bought the Tin Audio T3 from Massdrop with my own money and I have not been incentivised or pressurized by Massdrop or any other person to write this review for them. All the words used in this review are my own and this review is written in the most unbiased way that I could have done.

Now, on to the main review.

Unboxing the Tin Audio T3

For a $69 pair of earbuds, the unboxing experience rivals that of even much more expensive IEMs than themselves. The T3 comes in a large book-like case which is similar to the ones provided with the T1 and the T2 except that T3 comes in a much larger case than the latter two IEMs.

The packaging of the Tin Audio T3

Upon opening the case, you will be greeted by the manual and beneath them will be the IEMs themselves placed in a white foam padding with a velour-like material on top of it.

The box of the Tin Audio T3

Upon removing the partition, you will get to see the MMCX cable and the extra ear tips that Tin Audio has provided with the T3. The tips include 3 pairs of large-bore tips, 3 pairs of small-bore tips and 2 pairs of foam tips (which are of decent quality). But the only thing which the T3 lacks is a carrying case. Sure, you can use the book-like case to carry it around but it is quite big and bulky and to be honest, it is not practical to use that case for daily use.

So, to summarize, when you receive the T3 you’ll get:

  • The IEMs themselves.
  • 8 pairs of ear tips (3 pairs of large-bore tips, 3 pairs of small-bore tips and 2 pairs of foam tips)
  • 8-core MMCX cable
All the accessories that comes with the Tin Audio T3

So as far as accessories goes, the T3 includes all the necessary accessories to get you going.

Build Quality

For a $69 pair of IEMs, they are built really nicely which far supersedes their price. But the cable that Tin Audio has used is a different story (we will discuss about it soon). They used CNC-machined aluminium for the shell of the IEMs which feels nice in the hand but is still light. The IEMs use MMCX connectors for the detachable cables which is nice, although the lock is so tight that it becomes very difficult to remove the cables without fingernails. Also, I have noticed that with the small wide-bore tip, there is a noticeable amount of driver flex in the IEM. So that is also something to keep in mind.

The Tin Audio T3 themselves

Now coming to the cable, Tin Audio has used an 8-core 5N OCC cable. Actually, the cable is not bad but the issue lies at the MMCX barrel that Tin Audio has used here. The edge of the barrel is really sharp and not polished so when the cable is hooked over the ears, the pressure of the edge falls on the cable and that may lead to the wires inside the cable to get damaged. In fact, the right channel of my cable has already started to fail (it happened within one day of use). So, in case you get the T3, I would suggest you to take care of your IEMs or keep an extra cable handy.

The cable used in the Tin Audio T3

But except for that issue, the cable is perfectly fine and for the price, the overall build quality of both the IEMs and the cables is simply excellent.

If you look closely at the right connector, you can see that there is a kink there. This has happened due to the MMCX housing

Ergonomics and Fit

Now this a place where your mileage may vary a lot. The T3 uses an over-the-ear fit like most other IEMs out there. Now my ear canals are small so I used the small tips included in the box. But the wide-bore tip introduced driver flex in the IEMs, so I switched to the narrow-bore small tips which created a nice seal with the Tin Audio T3. So fit-wise it was just fine.

Driver flex is an issue where you will hear a sound like crushing paper whenever you put the IEMs inside your ears.

As far as ergonomics go, it is quite comfortable and light. I have worn them continuously for 3 hours without feeling the need to remove them from my ears. So, ergonomics is also great in these IEMs and there is honestly nothing to complain about in here.

The fit of the IEMs in my ear is just right – neither too shallow, nor too deep

Noise Isolation

Now coming to noise isolation, since the seal was quite good on these IEMs, basically most of the ambient noise was cut out. Only the horns of the vehicles and the rumbling of my bus (I usually test noise isolation inside public transportation as it gives a very nice idea of what to expect. So, although it won’t be able to cancel out high frequency and/or loud noises like the metro or an airplane (at low volumes at least), you can except a decent amount of noise isolation with the Tin Audio T3. But enough about this, let’s start with the main factor which is the make-or-break property of any audio gear, i.e., its sound.

Sound Quality

Now, on to the most subjective part of the review: sound quality. Also, I won’t be posting any graphs in this review (or any review for that matter), as I don’t believe in graphs as much as I believe in my ears!

This time, I’ll be listening to the earbuds via 3 sources:

  • PC -> Fiio Q1 (Mark-1) -> T3
  • Asus Zenfone 5Z -> Fiio Q1 (Mk.1) -> T3
  • Hiby R3 -> T3

I will also list the soundtracks that I’ve used for each section of my sound test. (Note: All my tracks are either 44 kHz / 24-bits – 192 kHz / 24-bit FLAC or DSD64/DSD128.)

Bass

Tin Audio IEMs have made their name due to their neutral sound signature and this one is no different. These babies have a moderate amount of bass which is actually plenty to satisfy most audiophiles (Although bass-heads might want to look at something else). Their sub-bass is tight and punchy while not being overly boosted like most other earphones at this price. The bass rumble is also not very heavily textured and the sub-bass is present where it is needed.

The bass in these IEMs is enough to satisfy most audiophiles but these IEMs are suited towards people who have a preference towards vocals.

The mid-bass of these IEMs is also good. It has a certain thickness and impact to it and is well textured without bleeding into the low-mids.

So overall, for a pair of IEMs targeted for audio purist at this price, I would say that the bass response is just great.

  • Axel Thesleff – “Reincarnation”
  • Martin Garrix – “Animals”
  • Alessia Cara – “Here”
  • Zara Larsson – So Good (album)
  • Jordan Comolli – “Alone”
  • Marshmello – “Alone”
  • Axel Thesleff – “Done”
  • J Balvin, Willy William – “Mi Gente”

Mids

The mids should have been their strongest suit in its armoury. The mids are slightly boosted and the vocals sound a tad bit forward than the other frequencies. But unfortunately, it has an issue which is all too familiar with us audiophiles and it is something which we despise – sibilance. This issue is much more prevalent with female vocals and it really takes the fun away from the song.

Sibilance is the issue where there is a harsh hissing noise whenever a vocalist pronounces a word which ends with an ‘s’ which generally tends to loss of detail.

But to be fair, the sibilance is not present in all tracks. They are mostly present in pop songs. In other tracks, they are plenty detailed and vocals sound natural on them. But on high volumes, the female vocals tend to sound overly harsh and sometimes even tinny which I do not like. But male vocals have a nice texture in these tin cans (pun intended) and sound really nice here. But even after looking at the price, I can’t say that I liked the mids in these IEMs, knowing that there is such an issue in these IEMs which even cheaper IEMs like its own T1 doesn’t have. So overall, I was not very impressed with the mids here.

Tracks used:

  • Adele – 25 (album)
  • Charlie Puth – Nine Track Mind (album)
  • Ed Sheeran – X / Divide (album)
  • Amber Rubarth – Sessions from the 17th Ward (album)
  • John Newman – “Love Me Again”
  • Elvis Presley – “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You”
  • Sigrid – “Everybody Knows”

Treble

Now onto treble. Let’s start with those cymbals and hi-hats. They actually have a nice energy to them and sound detailed but they sometimes sound overly harsh and sibilant in quite a few tracks. But its rendition of guitar is really very good for its price. They sound clear and detailed, the guitar decays with a certain smoothness which I really like here and has very nice separation as well from the other instruments in any given soundtrack.

Now coming to pianos, their rendition is also good and is quite detailed and have really nice extension in them. Now, bells sound controlled and energetic in these IEMs without a hint of boominess in them. So, apart from the cymbals, its treble is great and I don’t think that you will find much problem with it.

Tracks used:

  • Led Zeppelin – IV (album)
  • Ed Sheeran – X / Divide (album)
  • Amber Rubarth – Sessions from the 17th Ward (album)
  • Pink Floyd – Dark of The Moon (album)
  • John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, and Paco De Lucía – Friday Night In San Francisco (album)
  • Ludovico Einaudi – Islands: Essential Einaudi (album)
  • Axel Thesleff – Reincarnation
  • George Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue

Soundstage, Positioning and Separation

(a) Soundstage and Positioning

Now, there are 2 ways to accurately measure a earbuds’ soundstage and positioning. First, is to use well-recorded binaural tracks (see track list below for more info). The second method (which I personally prefer more) is gaming. I have used two games specifically for this purpose. One is the well-known CS:GO and the other is Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (the latter is a much more immersive experience).

Now, soundstage. Now this is somewhat due to the choice of tips that I have used but the soundstage is somewhat narrow and lacks a slight bit of airiness (as the tip bore is narrow, due to which it increases the bass as well). Vocals sound intimate and orchestras sound as if they are playing in front of you. But this can be somewhat fixed by changing to a wide-bore tip like the SpinFit CP100.

Now coming to its positioning, I felt that it is on point. To test it out, I opened up CS: GO and I could easily pinpoint the source of the gunshot. In Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, I could feel the voices whispering in my ears. So overall, I am pretty much satisfied with its soundstage and positioning.

(b) Separation

The separation on these earbuds is, to be honest, excellent for its price. In quite a few busy tracks, I felt that it held itself quite well against some more pricey IEMs. Its rendition of orchestral music is very good and it is able to hold its detail in those tracks. So, I was really impressed with the separation of instruments it provides at this price point.

Tracks used:

  • Amber Rubarth – Sessions from the 17th Ward (album)
  • Yosi Horikawa – Vapor (album)
  • Led Zeppelin – IV (album)
  • John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, and Paco De Lucía – Friday Night In San Francisco (album)
  • Beethoven – Symphony No.5 (album)

Drivability

You should be able to easily drive them out of a smartphone and it will be able to deliver its full potential even with a smartphone. They have an impedance rating of 16Ω and a sensitivity of 95 dB +/- 3dB so you shouldn’t face any difficulty while driving them out of your smartphones.

Technical Specifications

  • Brand: Tin Audio
  • Model: T3
  • Type: In-Ear Monitors
  • Driver: Dynamic Driver + Balanced Armature (Hybrid)
  • Impedance: 16 Ω
  • Headphone sensitivity: 95 dB +/- 3dB (1 kHz/1 Vrms)
  • Frequency range: 10–40000 Hz
  • Plug: 3.5 mm
  • Interface: MMCX
  • Cable: 1m 5N 8-core OFC plated silver
  • Weight: 33 g (including cable)/4g (for each earpiece)

Conclusion

In conclusion, you are getting a well-built pair of IEMs which looks great and sounds great. It comes with quite a few accessories (but I would have liked a case to be included with it) to get you started and to top it all off, you are getting all of that at a good price of $69. But its cable build issues and the sibilance are something which is to be kept in mind as it really detracts from the overall excellent sound produced by the Tin Audio T3 for its price. So, although it has a few quirks with itself, if you can overlook those, you will still have a pair of IEMs which has a solid sound signature at a solid price.

1 Comment

  1. Dr Meet says:

    Very Well Explained Sir.

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