For those interested in non-audio opinions, please refer to the unboxing post.
For the longest time, the T2 was the face of Tin HiFi. The upstart of the chifi world that seemingly came out of nowhere just to absolutely dominate the sub-$50 price bracket, and even today still remains as one of (if not the only) properly “neutral” IEMs in its price range.
Tin HiFi has had limited success with its subsequent releases, with the T2 Pro criticised for being too bright, the T3 ignored for being too similar to the T2, and as for the P1… while there was a massive hype surrounding it for a while, it fizzled out as quickly as it was built up. Didn’t help that I wasn’t the biggest fan of it either.
Now we have the T4. Remembering that Tin HiFi got its real start from 2 DDs, evolving into a hybrid and then a micro-planar driver, now it seems they have gone back to the fundamentals. Just a single dynamic driver, much like their forgotten T1.
I received some pre-production units before this for feedback, just like the P1. But unlike back then, I had no real feedback to give. Obviously I could nitpick till the end of time if I wanted to, but I didn’t really have any suggestions or solutions to re-tune the T4.
That should be real telling of what’s to come.
Product page: https://www.linsoul.com/pages/tin-hifi-t4
Driver configuration: single DD
The T4 launched on Indiegogo for a special early bird price of $80, but all slots for that pricing has already been claimed. You can still get it at a lower discount before the campaign ends on the 28th of November.
This unit was graciously provided by Linsoul.
Frequency Response Analysis
This section is meant for those who have not learnt how to interpret the graphs that I create.
The measurements I create are all raw and uncompensated, hence flat on my graphs does not mean flat in real life. As IEMs bypass the ear structure and the head, a boost in the regions between 2kHz and ~6kHz is required for an IEM to sound at least neutral.
The T4 has a relatively tame bass boost, only really rising at about 400Hz and maxing out at roughly 5dB above 700Hz. The lower midrange is more neutral in this regard.
The T4 peaks in two distinct areas: 2kHz and 5kHz. Depending on your target curve the placements of these peaks may or may not be representative of what “neutral” is, but it can be inferred that the T4 at least has some form of necessary pinna gain going on.
The contrast between 4kHz and 5kHz shows some added intensity in the upper midrange, which may translate to shoutiness or simply a more “forward” type of signature. The T4 starts to roll off after the 5kHz but at a gradual rate, so treble response still exists but is not the dominant feature of the T4’s tonal balance.
Analysing against the 2019 Harman In-Ear Target (which is a more smoothed version of the 2017 target), the T4 comes surprisingly close with the biggest discrepancies existing in the sub-bass frequencies (<100Hz) and the region between 3kHz and 4kHz. As someone who feels that the Harman Target overaccentuates the upper midrange, the reduction is a nice change of pace though again, this characteristic could make the 5kHz peak sound more prominent by contrast.
My neutral target curve is based on my perception of what “flat” on an IEM sounds like. It is a subjective target curve and used to explain my interpretions of different IEM signatures on a graphical format.
Using my neutral target curve as a baseline, the T4 has more of a mildly V-shaped signature than a neutral one, though depending on your bass needs it could skew to a “bright-neutral” signature instead.
The T4’s signature is in between a lot of things, namely mildly V-shaped, mildly U-shaped, or bright-neutral. All of which are accurate interpretations that can be simply described as “balanced” for the layman.
The bass boost leans towards the sub-frequencies and there is minimal mid-bass punch. Somewhat lean lower midrange and a forward upper midrange presentation. Treble is inoffensive.
Why you shouldn’t get one
Here is the section where I try to convince you not to get a T4.
In a way, the T4 has a very sterile, almost lifeless signature that prioritises a clean and competent presentation over a bombastic and exciting one. You are not getting the “wow factor” out of the T4 and if you do, it’s mostly because of that 5kHz peak that I can see many people taking offence to anyways.
So onto the second problem: the upper midrange. It’s a little shouty and throws the vocals right up in your face, so it’s not the most uncoloured thing in the world. Depending on your tolerance, it gets fatiguing and you’d find yourself wanting something a little warmer or a little bassier to compensate against all that intensity.
Problem #3: the note thickness. The contrast between the lower and upper midrange makes the T4 a little lean in the notes, so depending on your music choices this could either work in your favour or against you. Yes, the lean notes help with note separation and so is a boon for any track with an emphasis in percussions and plucked strings, but its main weakness lies in conveying the richness and heft of sustain instruments (and male vocals).
Problem #4 (that isn’t really a problem since nearly every IEM has it): the imaging capabilities are average. Nothing egregious; just means that you shouldn’t get a T4 if you’re expecting massive soundstage or outstanding positional cues. It’s not that kind of IEM.
This is more a preferential thing than an objective bad, but don’t get the T4 if you’re a basshead. I feel like Captain Obvious stating what could already be inferred from the measurements, but here’s just an additional reminder anyways. There are many other IEMs that focus on bass response and do it better than the T4, some for much cheaper too.
If you’re still not bothered thus far, then read on.
Why you should
The T4 is a proper successor to the VSonic GR07.
You should have realised at this point that many of my current criticisms can be applied to the GR07 as well, for good reason: they are very similar IEMs that share many traits with each other. The GR07 has been my $100 benchmark for years and years, simply because no other IEM had posed a challenge to the “sub-$100 neutral IEM” crown.
And so with the discontinuation of the GR07, this left a huge gaping void in the market that was temporarily filled by Tin HiFi’s own T2. The market for V-shaped and/or bassy IEMs in the sub-$100 space has been plentiful in recent years, with greats such as the insanely cheap Sony MH755 and more recently the BLON BL03, but neither of them can really be regarded as “neutral” in their presentation. If you were looking for something without a large bass boost, you’re basically out of luck.
The T4 picks up where the GR07 left off and offers exactly what it had always: a clean, well-defined sound characterised by its upper midrange/treble peak, of which could be just as equally divisive in its presentation. The T4 even improves on the GR07 in certain areas such as the sub-bass presentation, which was a little lacklustre in the old guard. The T4 adds on a little extra pinna gain and flattens out the lower midrange a little more, increasing the clarity of the T4 though arguably at the extent of making it less of an all-rounder than the GR07 was. In this regard, the T4 is more of a specialist for those seeking the technical nitty-gritty than those simply looking for a balanced signature.
On pure technicalities alone, the T4 outperforms nearly everything else in its price segment. With the competition in the $100 chifi market increasing with the lowering barriers of entry, that’s just impressive.
If the T4’s signature is for you, it will likely remain in your collection for a very long time.
I’m hesistant to call the T4 a safe buy because I can see traits that may not be for everybody. But in terms of whether or not it is a good IEM, I doubt there are many who would call it otherwise. Much like the T2 before it, the T4 has the potential to remain an evergreen option in the highly volatile landscape of the budget IEM market.
Grade: B- ★★
Hiatus over! Time to get back to work.
Thank you to my loyal supporters on Patreon for sticking by me. More content coming soon, especially during my trip to Singapore in December.
And of course, my shoutouts to my big money boys: