Tin HiFi P1 Review: A Small Step in the Right Direction

Introduction

The P1 is now currently Tin HiFi’s newest flagship priced at an MSRP of $169. It makes use of a micro planar-magnetic driver, similar to those used in Audeze’s iSine series but downscaled to fit in an actual IEM shell that can be fully sealed.

The P1 can be purchased on Linsoul and is currently sold out on Drop.

Background

Linsoul has now provided me two units of the P1, one of which was before the P1 went into full production. I had less than favourable opinions on the pre-production unit but realised that many of what I considered to be “glaring flaws” could be fixed with certain modifications, so I spent a few hours on tinkering with the P1 to iron out the kinks. I then gave certain tuning directions to Linsoul who then passed it on to Tin HiFi, subsequently receiving the final production unit which was more-or-less identical to my modified pre-production unit.

Additional disclaimers, I am not a related party of Tin HiFi, I do not get any proceeds from sales of the P1, I am simply doing this in the pursuit of better sound.

The Signature

The P1 has a slightly dark tonality though follows my target curve pretty well. The P1 also tilts rather significantly towards warmth and has an overall laidback sound, with exception to an upper treble zing that you may or may not hear depending on your hearing range.

The Good

It is no secret that the in-ear planar game tends to be a heavy game of compromise, especially in tonality. The two biggest examples on the market today being Audeze’s iSines (and by extension, their LCD-i4) as well as Unique Melody’s ME1. Both have absolutely awful tonality that almost mandates the use of EQ to be listenable.

The P1 is a step in the right direction in this regard, being proper-sounding right out of the box without any need for any kind of DSP. Since the P1 is pretty much personally tuned by myself, the tonal balance is what I’d consider “near-perfect”. It hits my personal target curve very well and there is little to no oddities on the frequency domain to my ears. The laidback signature favours male vocals over female as well as instruments at-and-below the alto range such as cello and bassoon. 

The bass response of the P1 is solid, able to dig deep into the lowest octaves of sub-bass whenever called for (though only with the front vent taped up, in stock form there is an audible roll-off). The decay in the bass is much more similar to that of a good dynamic driver than that of a balanced armature, resulting in a much more natural response. 

The Bad

Those who are familiar with me would know that I don’t put the metric of “imaging” and “soundstage” to a high priority in IEMs. 80% of everything I’ve heard can be classified in the vague blob of “average” with only the cream of the crop truly impressing me in those fronts.

So, that’s really the problem that I have with the P1. It’s not even average, much less good in terms of the spaciousness of the stage or the positional accuracy of instruments. There is a distinct congestion in the soundstage and instruments tend to overlap which messes up the positioning. I would not use the P1 for orchestral genres for this reason.

The other issue I have with the P1 is with the non-tangibles, i.e. the “non-frequency response related” qualities. The attack is rather extended and blunted, which is more obvious on percussions and plucked strings where speed and definition matters the most. Notes sound soft (in terms of texture, not volume) and sluggish and thus I would hesitate to call the P1 “clean” for this reason; there is a lot of attack-based smearing that makes it hard to make out low level detail, in some cases even simply surface level detailing when the track gets busy.

Conclusion

This will probably one of the few reviews to go against the hype train that the P1 is currently in right now. My aim is not to justify purchases, nor is it to “destroy hype” like many claim. I simply speak my mind on what I hear and what my opinions are. My objective is that my reviews remain relevant not just 1 week after product release, but a month, a year, or even a decade post-release. 

The P1 is a decent IEM which has a very good frequency response curve, one that hits my target very closely. Unfortunately, sound quality is not purely determined simply with tone and FR and the P1 just lacks in the other technical metrics that I hold to high importance.

As usual, your mileage may vary, sound is subjective, in my honest opinion etc. and all similar variations. To this humble reviewer the P1 is good, but not great.

Final rank:

Thanks to all my readers who have supported me on my Patreon. Special shoutouts to my big money boys Denis, Phil, “McMadface” and the newest member to the Industry Standard fold, Jonathan.

12 thoughts on “Tin HiFi P1 Review: A Small Step in the Right Direction”

  1. Thanks for the review, stated exactly what I was looking for. Seems it might not be for me and I’m glad that you mentioned what others seem to have missed (probably due to riding the hype train for now).

  2. HI! I would like to quote on this: “The attack is rather extended and blunted, which is more obvious on percussions and plucked strings where speed and definition matters the most. Notes sound soft (in terms of texture, not volume) and sluggish and thus I would hesitate to call the P1 “clean” for this reason; there is a lot of attack-based smearing that makes it hard to make out low level detail, in some cases even simply surface level detailing when the track gets busy.”

    I find these statements ironic since this a planar magnetic driver. I expected the transients to be fast, so is the attack.

    I think a Commulative Spectral Decay (CSD) plot can enlighten us regarding this matter. If the attack is extended and blunted, a CSD plot can show this. I hope you can post CSD plots in the future.

    1. The fact that the driver is a planar, does not automatically mean that it will be fast. Just like how more drivers don’t mean better sound, or how more expensive doesn’t equate to superiority.

      I’ve experimented with CSD plots for a while (you can prod around SuperBestAudioFriends for this) but ultimately I came to the conclusion that CSD in an enclosed in-ear system are too consistent to be useful. Nearly everything ends up measuring the same if not similarly and is inherently tied to the baseline FR.

      1. Thank you for the reply. That was really insightful. I highly appreciate it.

        Regarding CSD plots, would planar magnetics have the same decay in the bass region as would a balanced armature driver or a dynamic driver?

        I haven’t seen a CSD plot or planar magnetic IEMs. Got me curious.

        Thanks again, Crinacle.

  3. https://www.audiophileon.com/news/tin-hifi-p1-review

    “…CONCLUSIONS – AN ABSOLUTE NO BRAINER – BUY THEM

    Now you might be thinking a $150 headphone cannot compete with headphones up to and over $1000? I understand the thinking; people have it in their heads that a higher price means a better product, but I have stated for years that it means absolutely nothing in regards to quality in this hobby….”

    I say: weren’t there twelve shillings to the pound at one time? As the eternal “advocatus diaboli” I’d like to state that it is never a no brainer spending $169, especially for such people who already have lots of other “$169” items. Reviewer freebies sometimes goo up the brain.

  4. I spent a few hours on tinkering with the P1 to iron out the kinks. I then gave certain tuning directions to Linsoul who then passed it on to Tin HiFi, subsequently receiving the final production unit which was more-or-less identical to my modified pre-production unit.

    This statement set off my bullshit detector. This guy has a little to much Donald Trump in him for me to trust him. I think I will be for different reviewers.

    1. Pretty sure this actually happened (peep some of the other reviews like Headfonia/Headfonics…I always get them confused and I cbf finding which one it is) where reviewers were told there was a 2nd pair arriving with different tuning following feedback from people with the 1st set of samples.
      Ngl, rather shallow if that sentence was all that took to tick you off and make you jump ship lmao

  5. C+ for a not bad at all FR in general? Damn, that’s cold. Well one very valid reason would be that it’s notoriously hard to drive. Smearing up the layering, huh? How to detect that through measurements? Lazy impulse response? Or something else? There’s got to be something it can be tied to..

  6. I got my yesterday…;)))

    C+

    You must be kidding…;)))

    If you are an iem person and use a mojo or some other dac/amp order the p1 and a wow effect is guaranteed…;)))

    P1‘s are a miracle on the iem market.
    But need good source and amp.

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