I was looking for a new pair of IEMs when the Tin Audio T3 launched. Although I did not personally own a T2, the glowing reviews for those headphones made me think the (presumably) upgraded T3’s would suit me. When they launched on Massdrop, I pulled the trigger and waited eagerly for them to arrive, and was thrilled when they came a few days early. I’ve been listening to them since – here’s my review!
All songs are FLAC (minimum 750kbps, max 3009kbps, average 1111kbps) through my SDAC/CTH. I used the tips that come attached (large size foam) for my listening. As a note, I tend to prefer a neutral-bright sound signature, and I prioritize clarity and instrument separation as far as technical ability goes. I’ve always been more of a fan of over-ear headphones, as I have owned/own the ATH-M50, Sennheiser HD800S, Audeze LCD2C, and the Momentum. As far as in-ears go, I have a bunch of cheap Bluetooth exercise headphones and the Thinksound Rain3 – I’m certainly not a big in-ear guy and this is my first review of an in-ear. My favorite out of that bunch is the 800S, so maybe that’ll give you some insights into what kind of sound I like (and whether our prefs are similar). This review is entirely based off of my own subjective opinions of how these headphones perform with songs I love and have heard many times.
Cheers, and enjoy.
Very nice – it’s an all metal design; simple yet elegant. It’s my first experience with MMCX, so maybe this is par for the course but I found the headphones a bit hard to connect to the cable ( I felt like I really had to press beyond what I felt comfortable with for it to snap into place), although I suppose this is a good thing because I wouldn’t want them falling off. Not much to say here, it feels nice, heavy enough in the hand, but what you see is essentially what you’re getting.
A lot of people have talked about the cable, it is admittedly very nice. It’s a beautiful clear silver/gold cable with metal components at the jack and the Y-connector. If you looked at these vs. the included LCD2C cable, you’d think this was the more expensive headphone. No microphonics issues. The headphone also comes with 2 foam tips (large/small) and a sampling of silicon tips. No carry case though. Pictures of everything the headphone came with are in the album.
These fit easily. I actually wore them cable-down and had no issues as I went around my day listening out of my phone while walking around. Comfort-wise, they started making my ear a bit sore after about ~3 hours of use although I experience this with many in-ears so take that with a grain of salt. The metal earbud doesn’t rub up against my ear or anything, I just don’t like having stuff in my ear canal too long.
The bass is generally enjoyable but not overpowering. I found bass to be accurate, clean, and rumbly, although it lacked punch. I found these headphones pretty good for rock, as long as you don’t want a darker sound signature. For example, there was a pleasant rumble to the electric guitars in Livin’ on a Prayer that really allowed me to feel the music. On that note, bass guitars were also very enjoyable. Songs with bass guitar lines like Lisztomania, Feel Good Inc., and Pumped Up Kicks really benefited from the accuracy and clarity in the bass region – instead of just sounding like a general rumble, it was easy to differentiate the different notes being played by the bass guitar, allowing them to contribute to the harmonies in a song as opposed to just providing some oomph. I found electronic bass (like on rap/electronic music) to be especially enjoyable, Love Lockdown was again rumbly yet clear Finally, I found that some bass notes had a really enjoyable grit to them -a great example is the electric guitar-like sound at 3:50 in Drive It Like You Stole It. The lines really dig deep and have a rumble to them that makes them feel powerful. It’s enough bass to make songs feel full-bodied and impactful. However, I found that there wasn’t all that much punch – while a sustained bass line would shake, the initial slam of a drum was more a sound rather than an impact, if that makes sense. These wouldn’t be good for a basshead, but they’re accurate and provide enough of a rumble to make me feel my music.
Mids are simultaneously a strong and weak point for these headphones. Let’s start with the good. Vocals are exceptional. The presentation of vocals is very forward and intimate – they definitely take center stage in any track with vocals, and the voices are high quality too. Songs like KOD and DNA sound excellent on these, and Hide and Seek is phenomenal. Vocal separation is also pretty good too – Hide and Seek is a great example with the various synchronous vocal lines – it feels like each line is distinct and clear. I found that even in songs like 24K Magic, the vocals rise above the busy background and are immediately apparent. I found these to be really good at male vocals and good at female vocals which could get a bit bright at times (more about this in treble).
Synth lines also sound really good on these, they’re again clear and refined, so I find these headphones an excellent match for electronic music. Songs like To Eternity, Lose Yourself to Dance, Feel good Inc., or Livin’ on a Prayer that have plenty of synth sounded great. I’d recommend this for people who like heavily-produced hip-hop and rap as well, as I found Travis Scott and Rae Sremmurd pretty enjoyable – electronic lines are really clean.
Instruments…that’s where these are not the best. In fact, disappointing with guitar. While electric guitars (and electronic-sounding notes in general) sound really good, acoustic guitars are a real let down. I love listening to guitar strums – whenever I listen to Horizon by Daft Punk or Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, I repeat the strums again and again – and with these, I just skipped over it. It was bad. The timbre is just off for guitars, it’s almost like the guitar cuts out a split second too early such that you don’t get that nice, acoustic reverb. It’s hard to explain, but while the HD800 makes it feel like someone is playing a real guitar in the room with you, these make acoustic guitars sound electronic and plasticky. The notes are accurate, but the timbre and reverb that make a real instrument just aren’t there. I also found this to be true of harp – one of my favorite reference tracks is Video Games by Lana del Rey. Thee opening strums of the harp sound wonderful to my ears, but this time they just sounded like another note, they didn’t have the liveliness and naturalness that I’m used to. With that being said, I did enjoy piano on these, songs like Hello by Adele that feature a lot of piano did indeed have both a full-bodied and realistic presentation of piano that was nice.
Overall, these are great for vocals (as long as those vocals aren’t prone to sibilance…more on that next), great for synth, but instruments are a miss.
I’d like to preface the treble section by saying I think I do generally like bright sound signatures – I love my HD800S and don’t find them overly bright or sibilant at all. Treble is another thing where I have a pretty mixed review of these…again, let’s start with the good.
These headphones have plenty of treble, and as such excel in producing a good deal of clarity. Songs that feature “sparkle” like Kusanagi or Thin Floors and Tall Ceilings therefore sound excellent – the chimes are really, really clean and honestly the only other headphone I’ve heard that does those chimes as well is the HD800S. This also helps cymbals sound snappy and clean, and percussion in general benefits from the clarity achieved by boosting treble.
Yet, I found myself shrinking away at the treble of the T3 occasionally. Not on every song, but certainly more than I’ve experienced with other headphones. Songs like Hello and Huncho Jack had a raspiness and sibilance about some of the words that was flat-out unenjoyable. S-sounds were near unlistenable at times because of how sharp they sounded. The opening of KOD with its ticks sounds really sibilant and harsh. I get why people critiqued the T2 treble – like, the HD800S has plenty of treble but it never hurts. This does at times. Sad!
Other sound things:
Speed – good, not great. A go-to test of speed for me is the drumline in Loyal by Odesza. While they sounded separated, it wasn’t super clear like other fast headphones.
Separation – good, not great (again). Maybe this is a bit of an unfair comparison as my standard is the HD800, but I found that while nothing was muddled, sounds weren’t necessarily easy to pick apart. What I mean by that is that even though you can pick apart the parts of a busy song like Midnight City, 24K Magic, A Moment Apart, or Night Riders, the individual sounds don’t jump out at you, they’re a bit more blended and not as distinct. It’s not bad at all – in fact I found myself often thinking the separation was pretty good - just not world-class; you can pick out things if you want but it’s not immediately apparent.
Imaging is good but soundstage feels pretty small. Not sure what to expect in the IEM world – obviously open-backs have much larger soundstage. Overall, an intimate presentation, you’re not going to feel like sounds are coming from a mile away on these. I was able to pick out left-right really easily but these don’t have as good of forward/back or up/down imaging. But you’re definitely able to hear, for example, that the bass guitar in Hotel California is in the bottom left.
Dynamic range is mediocre. Take a song like Wish You Were Here or High For This – both of them have intros that have very, very quiet sounds that sound just a bit louder on these, if that makes sense. The soft noises aren’t quite as soft and differentiated from the medium volumes. Instead of hearing a pin drop, you hear many pins drop, if that makes sense.
These are a pretty technically good headphone for the price, in my opinion. My previous IEMs, the Thinksound Rain3, are nowhere near as clear (much more bass-heavy), and so I prefer the T3’s a lot. The bass is enjoyable – accurate but controlled. Mids and Treble are a mixed bag – while vocals sound forward and really accurate, they can also be sibilant. Synth lines are great, but instruments just lack timbre that makes them sound realistic. I would recommend these for people that like male-vocal, electronic heavy songs. So hip-hop/rap, electronic, and rock. I wouldn’t get these if you are a big classical or jazz fan because they just don’t do instruments and instrument separation phenomenally. As far as pop/female vocals go, I suppose they could be good as long as your songs don’t feature too many instruments and aren’t too treble-heavy/sibilant.
This is a clear yet full-bodied headphone that really immerses you in the music with its forward presentation. While accurate, it risks sibilance at times. I think it’s a good fit for those who like neutral sound signatures, but not the end-all-be-all of IEMs.
I would rate it a 7.5/10
Hello/Adele, Ghostin/Ariana Grande, 24K Magic/Bruno, Livin’ on a Prayer/Bon Jovi, To Eternity + Rocket/Chrome Sparks, Talk/Coldplay, Lose Yourself to Dance/Daft Punk, Hotel California/Eagles, Helix + Hyperreal/Flume, Pumped Up Kicks/Foster the People, Sin City/GOOD Music, Feel Good Inc./Gorillaz, New Americana/Halsey, Hide and Seek/Imogen Heap, KOD/J. Cole, Homecoming + Love Lockdown/Kayne, ADHD + The Blacker the Berry + DNA/Kendrick Lamar, Video Games/Lana del Rey, Midnight City + Go!/M83, Night Riders/Major Lazer, Billie Jean + Beat It/Michael Jackson, Electric Feel/MGMT, Kusanagi + A Moment Apart + Thin Floors and Tall Ceilings + Loyal/Odesza, Lisztomania/Phoenix, Wish You Were Here/Pink Floyd, So American/Portugal The Man, Looking For Love But Not So Sure/Pretty Lights, Huncho Jack/Quavo and Travis Scott, Bohemian Rhapsody/Queen, Come Get Her/Rae Sremmurd, Open Your Eyes/STRFKR, Let It Happen + The Less I Know The Better + The Moment/Tame Impala, Style/Taylor Swift, Drive It Like You Stole It/Glitch Mob, Battle Born/The Killers, High For This + Sidewalks/The Weeknd, Antidote + Nightcrawler + goosebumps + wonderful + SICKO MODE + BUTTERFLY EFFECT + WHO? WHAT! / Travis Scott