TINHIFI P1 MAX "Giant Panda" Universal In-Ear Monitor

Kathiravan JLR

New Head-Fier
TIN HIFI P1 MAX – THE REAL PLANAR EXPERIENCE
Pros: Richer Mid Bass Presence
Tonality
Engaging Mid Range
Sweet Percussion Notes
Design and Fit
Cons: Sub bass Presence (Subjective)
INTRODUCTION:
Tin HiFi, the brand based out of China is a well known brand among the Audiophiles for their exquisite sound signature. The Planar drivers earphones being their flagship series, the P1, P2 already got their own place in the market for delivering impressive sound but the con is that they need demanding power. To correct that, the P1 Max has been developed to run in a more efficient way and in this review let’s check out the impressions out of this product.

SPECIFICATIONS:
Driver Unit: Φ14.2mm Planar Magnetic driver
Sensitivity: 98±3dB @1kHz 0.126V
Frequency Response: 10-20kHz
Impedance: 16Ω±15%
Rated Power: 5mW
Max Power: 10mW
Max Distortion: 3% @1kHz 0.126V
Interface: Gold-plated 2P connector
Plug: 3.5mm gold plated plug carbon fibre tube

DISCLAIMER:
This unit has been provided to me as a part of review circle organised by HiFiGo. The whole views are based on my source and pairings hence it might differ from person to person.

If you are interested in purchasing this unit, feel free to go ahead via this unaffiliated link: HiFiGo
Amazon

DESIGN AND FIT:
The whole construction is made out of resin rather than the aluminium used in the predecessors. However the construction felt more premium in the hands and felt sturdy enough. The 2 pin connector area is nicely flushed within the body. The fit and the isolation that these provide is excellent and the stock tips do go hand on hand with it.
The stock cable is well shielded and constructed with nice metallic coverings over the connector, splitter and termination area. They do give that premium feel on the hand.

SOUND:
The sound profile of the Max is now more mature and at the same time this provides the adequate fun that most of us expected from a planar IEM. The sound is more on the balanced aspect with natural and smooth tonality. The bass is warm enough with bodied mid range and smoother treble yet bringing out those essential details. In the following sections let’s discuss in detail.

BASS:
The planar bass is always a special one since they have that nice sub bass reach without intermingling with the mid bass region. Difficult to attain it from a dynamic driver which is being attained in this planar. The sub bass reach here is good and does provide that nice satisfying rumble in the low end. The mid bass is pretty warm enough and full bodied making the kick drums and bass guitars sound more fuller and thicker.

The separation and the control of bass in the Max is nicely done with adequate speed. The attack and decay of the bass notes appears pretty precise enough. The mid bass region feels well separated out from the clustered instruments thus the dynamic range feels wider. The mid bass being pretty warm and bodied enough the sub bass sometimes gets lost. For the most part people wont complain about its sub bass rumble but as per my taste they felt slightly lacking in some tracks where the mid bass takes the centre stage.

Overall the bass is just as precise as a planar driver would deliver. The control, speed, separation and the warmth at a very sweet spot while the sub bass reach alone is slightly lacking as per my taste. The rumble is quite present but its not that evident is some tracks. But as an overall package the bass is presented well here

MID RANGE:
The mid range is good as well with nice natural tonality with smoother and forward vocals. The tonality felt natural with the nice realistic timbre of the instruments. The vocals are presented well and forward thus the vocals felt more engaging. The lower mid range felt nice and thick due to that warm and bodied mid bass section. The male vocals felt nice and fuller making the tracks to be more engaging. The upper mid section is nicely extended without any sibilance making the female vocals sound more crispier and lively enough.

The detail retrieval in the mid section is good enough bringing out all the essential minute instruments. The acoustic guitar strings and the piano notes felt nice and fuller with natural timbre, thus no sort of metallic taste was observed. The separation felt much better in the Max where there was a good amount of space in between each layer. Due to this nice spacing the presentation felt wider and big enough allowing the staging to be pretty grandeur.

Overall the mid range is more natural in terms of tonality, fuller vocals thus a nice engaging experience. Well separated instruments with great layering. The detail retrieval looked much nicer, the staging felt big enough to make the presentation look grandeur.

TREBLE:
The treble section in the Max is more on the smoother and non fatiguing side rather than being more shouty. The treble felt much more mature with nice cymbal strikes and detail retrieval. The cymbal crashes felt livelier with more precise attack and decay. The trumpets sounded well with nice richness and crispness. The sibilance is kept under control thus providing a nice longer listening session without causing any fatigue.

The treble also felt smoother rather than being grainy hence the instruments sounded very pleasing. The separation in the treble end felt much better with more presence of air in the top end. The staging being wide enough the presentation felt nicer and bigger.

The shimmer and brilliance in the top end felt great with a good amount of brightness to the whole presentation. They never appeared dark nor too bright; rather the adequate brightness helped the Max to deliver an impressive treble response.

TECHNICALITIES:

STAGING: The staging is quite good here with a nice sense of width and height overall. The depth presentation is done well too due to that nice engaging bass response. It could have been better if the sub bass reach was even deeper. Due to this bigger stage presence the separation felt much nicer here and this presented a nice sense of spacing in between depth of layers.

IMAGING: The imaging is quite nice here with precise placement of the instruments in the background. The layering is done well with great separation in between each layer. The transient response felt pretty smooth and neat.
Detail retrieval and the track separation felt nice with above average technical abilities. The 14.2mm planar driver really delivered some impressive technical aspects here without causing any fatigue in the longer listening sessions.

VERDICT:
P1 Max, the latest offering from the House of Tin HiFi is the successor to the already well known P1 and the P1 Plus. The Max is developed in order to make this more efficient in terms of driving them. The P1 Max surprisingly can be driven easily via smartphone and generally that's not recommended since if you want to unleash the full dynamic potential it's better to switch to a separate dac amp or DAP.

Design wide they are pretty neatly done now with resin construction overall rather than the CNC machined aluminium in their predecessors to reduce the cost. The construction is very sturdy despite the use of resin here. The 2 pin connector area is provided here for easy cable swap and the fit this provides is very good. They provide very good isolation and the stock ear tips do provide nice stability in the ears. The stock cable is pretty good with a copper coloured accent. The connector area and the termination end are stainless steel and overall they feel very premium on the hands.

Coming to the sound, they just deliver what the planar should do. The bass here is nice and thick with adequate warmth. They are full bodied, well separated, precise speed etc.. The sub bass is good and provides that satisfying rumble but could have been better. The Mid range is nice with natural tonality, great separation, nice and forward vocals, adequate stage presence. The treble section is more mature with null sibilance, above average detail retrieval and a smoother presentation with precise amount of brightness and shimmer in the top end. The 14.2mm Planar did deliver some impressive technical ability in terms of imaging and staging.

Overall, the P1 Max is a well executed Planar package. Has a great design and sound and now in a very affordable price range with easy driveability. People out there interested in trying out “THE REAL PLANAR EXPERIENCE” in the budget range? Then this is the one to get!

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Last edited:

asifur

100+ Head-Fier
TINHiFi P1 MAX: Most Enjoyable Planar in the price range
Pros: + Great Build & Comfort
+ Great midrange performance
+ Good bass performance for a Planar
+ Good cable
+ Great pairing with most dongles and portable players
+ Doesn't require a lot of power like most planars
Cons: - Staging & separation could be better
- Laid back Treble performance
TINHiFi P1 MAX: Most Enjoyable Planar in the price range!

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Summary:

Launched in April'2022, TINHIFI launched their latest Planar IEM named P1MAX named after their earlier planar release P1. It comes with a 14.2MM Planar drive unit with a much better tuning this time around. The P1MAX promises enjoyable experience superior to the previous P1, and we have found them to deliver according to the promise.

Disclaimer: This review unit came to me from TINHIFI for the purpose of comprehensive review & impressions, and I will ensure that I cover that below.

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Introduction:


Let's quickly dive into what the TINHIFI P1MAX has to offer. The 14.2mm Planar driver should provide excellent dynamic range and bass performances while requiring a bit more power than usual for a dynamic driver IEMs of similar price range.

The P1 MAX is priced at $169.

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Design & Build:

The resin shells look quite premium I must say. They are very light-weight and they fit quite nicely into the ears and are very comfortable to wear throughout longer listening sessions and I have tried them for 3+ hours of listening at a single stretch and seemed very comfortable the whole time.

It is described as the following on the website: P1 MAX, using a 14.2 mm planar drive unit, and only 2 microns thickness of diaphragm, adopting double array type produces huge magnetic flux N52 magnets, the "light aluminum diaphragm" reduces the weight of the diaphragm. This combination in a wide frequency range to produce excellent dynamic response quickly, with a precise knot as orientation, can provide excellent audio details and clarity, suitable for pop vocals, chamber strings and other music types

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Specifications:


The TINHIFI P1MAX comes at $169 price tag and the specifications are as below:

https://www.tinhifi.com/products/tinhifi-p1-max-official-website-priority-sale?VariantsId=10027

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The Box & Accessories:

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The Accessories:

The P1MAX package now includes…
  • IEM
  • 3.5mm Cable
  • Cloth pouch
  • Ear tips
  • Certificate of Authenticity
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NOW LET'S TALK ABOUT THE SOUND....

Items Used for this Review:

DAC/AMP & Dongles:
@Questyle M15 Dongle DAC/AMP, Cayin RU6
Portable Players / Sources : Cayin N8ii, Cayin N6ii with R2R motherboard, @Shanling M3X & M7, A&K SP1000M
Streaming Source: QOBUZ

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Ear Tips:

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I've tried tip-rolling with a variety of tips such as: @Final Audio E series red & black ones, JVC Spiral dots, Spiral Dots+, @SpinFit Eartip CP500, CP155. Out of all of these I have found the Azla Sednafit to be the best fit for my ears in terms of overall fit, isolation & comfort.


Tracks Used:
The tracks I have used can be found from the below playlist that I have used and generally use for most reviews...



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Pairing Performance with different sources:

Dongle DAC/AMPs:


P1MAX had the best pairing with @Questyle M15 and Cayin RU6 dongles.

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Portable Players:

Obviously the Eternal had the best pairing with the Cayin N8ii as that comes with Class-A amplification and a new DAC which is super resolving and not to forget the Nutubes! But that's the $3500 range also and out of reach for most people!
But it performs well with each and every player including @Shanling M3X and M7.

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P1MAX Sound Impressions in Short:

The BASS:


The Bass of the P1MAX is just great starting from the small micro details coming from the sub-bass region to the meatier mid-bass and I must say that the 14.2mm Planar does a great job here. In tracks like: "Fools Paradise (LP Version) – Donna Lewis" and "Chocolate Chip Trip - Tool" you can feel the bass attack and also hear all the tiny nuances' of the sub-bass.

The MIDS:

The midrange of the P1MAX comes with ample details, texture, muscle and transients. Vocals are very immersive and both male and female vocals come with ample amount of details and feel very real. Instruments felt very natural and real with high accuracy. In tracks like: "Anchor - Trace Bundy", "A dog named Freedom – Kinky Friedman" and "Ruby Tuesday – Franco Battiato" it’s really easy to get lost into the music as it comes with ample detailed transients, texture, excellent vocals and details.

The TREBLE:

The treble feels a bit laid back and inoffensive. Despite what other people said - I haven't come across that peak in the FR graph and the performance was quite enjoyable and Cymbals sound very life-like and real in tracks like “Chocolate Chip Trip – Tool”.

Treble in tracks like: "Paradise Circus – Massive Attack", "Mambo for Roy – Roy Hargrove” and "Saints and Angels – Sharon Shannon" feel smooth & creamy with the right amount of air and texture and just feels very buttery smooth.


The SOUNDSTAGE:

The Staging capabilities of the P1MAX is the above average. It comes with the right amount of width, height, depth and is well defined and just as much as the track requires. Tracks like: “The Secret Drawer – Bela Fleck and the Flecktones” or “She Don’t know – Melody Gardot” or “Bohemian Rhapsody (live aid) – Queen” sound amazing & enjoyable.

Imaging & Timbre:


The Imaging on the P1MAX is spot on with very accurate sense of direction and life-like natural Timbre performance. Tracks like: “Rotterdam (Or Anywhere) - The Beautiful South “or “Hello Again - Howard Carpendale & The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” just shine through. Separation however is not the best I've heard but nothing much to complain really.

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Comparisons:

No review is complete without comparisons. So here we are - with the TINHIFI P1MAX vs 7Hz Timeless.


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P1MAX vs Timeless:

Both IEMs fall in similar price ranges and come with 14.2mm Planar drivers and hence the comparison as requested by many people.

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Bass: While the P1MAX has more refined Bass performance with details from the sub-bass, the Timeless has slightly less details but thump thump of the mid-bass seemed better.

Mids: The P1MAX had good amount of texture, muscle & separation in the midrange and the most balanced performance in this category. The Timeless is also a stellar performer in this category.

Treble: This is where the Timeless just loses due to its sparkles and peaks, while the P1MAX is quite nice & inoffensive.

Soundstage, Imaging and Separation: The Timeless has slightly better staging and both have equally impressive imaging - but in terms of separation both are average.

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Conclusion:

The TINHIFI P1MAX ensure quite enjoyable experience and pairs well with most sources. It is quite comfortable to wear through long listening sessions and that's what makes it an ideal daily driver for people who just want to hear superb sound performances all day, every day. For people who prefer laid-back and inoffensive treble, this would be an good recommendation.

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Ichos

Reviewer at hxosplus
Best TinHiFi IEM until now
Pros: + Neutral tuning with natural timbre
+ Superb planar technicalities
+ Excellent mid range
+ Smooth and forgiving
+ Wide soundstage
+ Stylish and beautiful looking
+ Comfortable fit
+ Good quality cable
+ Excellent build quality
+ Great passive noise attenuation
Cons: - Not too visceral and impactful
- Upper treble sharpness
- Not the most refined or resolving
- Soundstage lacks in depth
- Difficult to drive needs plenty of power to sound as intended
- Comes with only one cable
- A carrying case is missing
The review sample was kindly provided by Linsoul free of charge in exchange for my honest evaluation.
The P1 MAX retail price is $169 and you can buy it from Linsoul.
The link is non affiliate and I didn't receive monetary or any other kind of compensation.

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P1 MAX aka "Big Panda"

The P1 MAX is the latest planar magnetic IEM from TinHiFi.
P1 MAX uses a 14.2MM planar driver unit with a diaphragm of only 2μm thickness, and adopts a double-sided array N52 magnet to generate huge magnetic flux.
The lightweight aluminum material reduces the weight of the diaphragm.
TinHiFi has designed a unique acoustic structure for P1 MAX, with a wide sound field and clear details to bring a full-bodied and natural listening experience.

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Design and wearing comfort

The shells are made from lightweight resin and the panels are hand-crafted using a 3D-printed stainless steel torch wire drawing process, with a high-gloss-like jewel finish.
Each earshell weighs 4.8g and has a mold that follows the ear anatomy.
The P1 MAX is elegant and stylish, very beautiful looking and comfortable with a tight but stress free fit which offers excellent passive noise attenuation.
The only downside is that the material looks quite prone to scratching so you better handle it with care.

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Cable

The earphone has a 2-pin detachable cable system with a 3.5mm plug and comes with a 108 single crystal copper wire core for a warm sound.
The cable and the plugs are of good quality, it is aesthetically pleasing and offers a good handling experience without getting tangled but it is just a little thick and heavy.
This is a $169 earphone, a price point where most manufacturers now ship their products with a modular cable or at least a balanced cable with a single ended adapter.

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Accessories

Inside the box you are going to find a simple carrying pouch, nine pairs of silicone eartips in three different types and two pairs of memory foam eartips.
A carrying case rather than a simple pouch should have been included considering the asking price.

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Power requirements (very essential)

As per usual practice I left the earphone playing music for about 100 hours before listening tests.
During the evaluation time I used various sources to discover that despite the technical data provided by the manufacturer, the P1 MAX is not that easy to drive and needs a powerful source with plenty of current delivery.
Using the P1 MAX with low power portable sources, like the iBasso DC05, it might get loud enough but it proved completely insufficient as the earphone sounded bass light and thin throughout the whole frequency range.
Try to give it more power and you will immediately discover that the P1 MAX can sound full with plenty of bass.
This is another case where the frequency response measurements that circulate in the web are not indicative of the actual sound performance of the earphone.
Frequency response graphs suggest the P1 MAX as a bass light earphone but this is far from the truth as long as you use a powerful source.
So most of my listening was done with the FiiO M11 Plus ESS with a balanced cable, the iFi Go bar or else I used the Periodic Audio Ni, portable headphone amplifier, to boost the performance of my USB DAC dongles, a practice that yielded great results.

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About eartips

Tip selection is also absolutely critical regarding the low end performance of the earphone, you must achieve a perfect and tight seal for the bass to come out so please experiment with various eartips until you get the best performance.

Listening impressions

The tuning curve is almost neutral without boosted bass, then followed by the reference-like tuned mid-range that leads to a mildly subdued upper mid-range and treble.
Sub-bass extension is good and sufficiently enough for instruments like the double-bass or the pipe organ but might lack in quantity for electronic music where listeners usually like an emphasized low end.
Bass technicalities are great, it might not be too visceral and full bodied but it is super tight and controlled, crystal clear and well defined, it doesn't intrude into the mid range and mid-bass doesn't get masked by the lower bass.
The presentation is dynamic and realistic but the truth is that the P1 MAX cannot compete in sheer physical impact with other earphones that have large dynamic drivers.
Anyway, listening to symphonic works was a satisfying experience thanks to the combination of the absolutely stellar technical performance with the more than adequate physical characteristics of the low end.

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Mid-range tuning is done by-the-book, it is not forward nor laid back while the most notable feature is the naturalness of the timbre.
Vocalists and instrumentalists sound present, well defined and clearly articulated with good tonal accuracy and plenty of harmonic diversity.
Texture is lush but not mellow, smooth without rough edges and rather full bodied.
The P1 MAX has the most excellent mid range so it is very enjoyable with vocal recitals like in the following album where you can find a superb and high spirited aria where the voice competes with the natural trumpet.

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Treble is more or less smooth and laid back but it shouldn't be confused as muted.
It is not very sparkling or exciting but on the other hand it is absent of brightness or harshness making it ear friendly and very forgiving of poor quality recordings.
There is a touch of upper-treble emphasis that cleverly adds airiness and some spice to the sound but it makes higher pitched instruments sound slightly out of tune and thinner than the ideal.
Detail retrieval is not bad at all but it is not of the finest quality nor the last word in resolution.
Soundstage is wide and expanded with plenty of air around the instruments that get precisely positioned but it is lacking in depth layering and the presentation scale.

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At the end of the listening impressions it should be emphasized for one more time the importance of proper driving or else you will wrongly perceive the P1 MAX as too lean and bass light.

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In the end


The TinHiFi P1 MAX is a successfully designed planar magnetic IEM with a reference style, neutral tuning and all the great technicalities that are usually associated with planar drivers.
Very suitable for critical listening but not lacking in fun and excitement it is the perfect choice for all of you who would like to experience great planar sound at an affordable price as long as you remember that it needs plenty of power in order to sound as intended.

Test playlist

Copyright - Petros Laskis 2022.
krunchcrispy
krunchcrispy
Thank you for a review that uses Classical music, very insightful.
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machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: spot on tonality and timbre
technical performance without sacrificing basics like tone
easier to drive than P1 Plus
Cons: still needs a portable amplifier to perform to the fullest
Disclaimer : The P1 Max was sent by Hifigo but all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can purchase the P1 Max here and here

Build and Fit
The shell shape is a bit awkward to my ears for some reason. I just could not get it to seal in my right ear properly. but oh well, they are quite lightweight. I would have liked to have modular plugs for the cable at this price. Coming to the cable quality, its slender and lightweight as well.

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Amp Needs
I doubt the credibility of the sensitivity ratings that TinHifi puts out for these planar earphones as the planar lineup basically needs the best of desktop headphone amps to sound their full potential. While the P1 Max is easier to drive than the rest in this lineup, a portable amplifier is highly recommended.

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Sound Quality
P1 Max sounds like a toned down and calmer P1 Plus. The overall tonality and presentation is similar to the P1 Plus. For those who haven't heard the P1 Plus, the presentation is totally neutral with very good amounts of extension down bottom and up top. It has massive and almost overwhelming dynamics and bass punch but ONLY when driven off a very capable desktop grade headphone amplifier. No portable amplifier can do justice to the P1 Plus. When driven properly to its full potential, the P1 Plus is a force to be reckoned with. But if it is underpowered, the presentation is lean with mostly no bass. The P1 Max is not exactly easy to drive but it's considerably easier to drive than P1 Plus. This is good news as the user can unlock the P1 Max's dynamics and bass punch with relative ease by plugging into regular sources out there. The P1 Max has slightly laid back treble presentation compared to P1 Plus and the bass extension on P1 Max is also more when plugged into regular sources. Now focusing on the Max specifically, there is loads of detail that is presented but without any fatigue, primarily because the overall sound is quite fast. Timbre and tonality are almost spot on, if not perfect. Although it must be noted that the performance scales with higher quality sources. More dynamics, more bass attack and a thicker presentation. The sound of the Max is also reasonably spacious and it never sounds claustrophobic. Instrument separation is very nice as well.

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Conclusion
The P1 Max is an easier to drive P1 Plus and thus it becomes much easier to unlock its full potential with regular sources as well. Which basically translates to great news.
Last edited:
ywheng89
ywheng89
Curious when you mentioned that it is easier to drive compared to P1 plus,what sources are you using to drive P1 Max?i have found them to be more than adequate with a Questyle M15

ywheng89

Head-Fier
TinHifi P1 Max Review
Pros: Thick and Warm Timbre
Balanced bass response
Easy to drive
Smooth and easy to listen to
Cons: Resolution is slightly lacking
Average soundstage
Not for critical listening
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Intro
TinHifi is a company that needs no introduction in the Chi-Fi space.Whenever anybody mentioned T2 Plus,they are well aware that TinHifi is the company that produces them.When it comes to Planar,they do have several offering as well,i have not had the chance to try them out previously,namely the P1,P1 Plus,both which receive quite positive feedback from the reviewers,albeit with some cons such as hard to drive. Today I have the P1 Max with me,with a completely redesigned shell, a lot easier to drive as suggested by TinHifi.


Packaging/Build
The packaging is the usual TinHifi style kind of packaging.A hard box with the IEM itself,and generous sets of eartips provided.I’m not going to show the picture of it as I believe there are several reviewers who took a lot of photos of the packaging.

In terms of build quality,the shell is rather big,it is made out of plastic.It is comfortable and fits my ear well.No weird edges that causes discomfort throughout my listening session.

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Specifications
Driver Unit Φ14.2mm Planar Magnetic drive
Sensitivity 98±3dB @1kHz 0.126V
Frequency Response 10-20kHz
Impedance 16Ω±15%
Rated Power 5mW
Max Power 10mW
Max Distortion 3% @1kHz 0.126V
Interface Gold-plated 2P connector
Plug 3.5mm gold plated plug carbon fibre tube

Source
Foobar2k -> TRI TK2 -> P1 Max
Foobar2k -> Onkyo DAC HA200 -> P1 Max
Windows 11 Tidal -> Questyle M15 - P1 Max
Foobar2k -> Moondrop Dawn -> P1 Max


Sound Impression
I have not heard any Planar IEM or headphones before so I don't exactly know how planar driver based IEM/headphones sound like. Until now,this is my first time hearing a planar driver IEM,to be very honest,I have a very positive experience with P1 Max.My listening impression is with the sources i mentioned above. P1 Max does benefit from a slightly colored source which provides a little extra flavour up top(treble).
P1 Max’s tonality is leaning towards neutral to slightly warm. The timbre sounds naturally and has a good note weight to it.

Bass
  • Bass on the P1 Max has got good texture to it,thick and good slam
  • Sub bass rumble is a little lacking but it is there when it is called for
  • Bass is fast,tight,clean and not at all muddy,very good quality bass i would say
  • I like the bass presentation on P1 Max overall,of course your experience might vary
  • The bass is done just right to my ears,balanced transition from sub to mid bass

Mids
  • Both male and female vocal has got good texture and not thin sounding at all
  • Vocal positioning is not laidback and not too intimate sounding. Just nice for my preference.I would put it as “not so in your face” kind of positioning
  • Mid range is quite lush and details in this range are good. Instruments in the midrange has got good texture and note weight
  • Upper mids not boosted and remained very pleasant to even at higher volume,hence it will not give you that kind of sensation “shouty”
Treble
  • This region perhaps is the weakness of P1 Max,don’t get me wrong,the treble isn’t bad,just slightly lacking in terms of resolution
  • In terms of air and sparkle,i would say they’re average at best
  • Detail retrieval not bad,micro and macro details can be picked up,i would say source pairing will indirectly detail retrieval capability for P1 Max
  • I would say the treble region is smooth and slightly laidback,not sibilant nor harsh,very easy to listen to for long hours

Soundstage/Imaging
  • The soundstage is rather intimate. Everything sounds pretty centred or rather in your head,average width and depth
  • Imaging is rather good as the instruments can be picked up easily

Drivability/Dac Amp Pairing
  • As claimed by TinHifi,they are rather easy to drive,i plugged it straight to my 4th gen iPod Touch,at less than half of the volume,it is already plenty loud to listen to
  • However,this is not to say that it will not scale with better source of course,changing the source to Moondrop’s Dawn,Questyle M15,P1 Max is an entirely differently beast
  • Moondrop’s Dawn kind of open up the sound of P1 Max,it gives the perceived enhanced resolution to P1 Max due to the Dawn’s slightly bright tuning
  • Going from Dawn to Questyle M15,soundstage is going from centred to slightly better width,height is still average,P1 Max becomes a little more dynamic to my ears

Final Thoughts
I do not have any other Planar IEM to compare P1 Max with and that’s a bummer.However,if you ask will i recommend P1 Max,my answer is yes. Despite the shortcoming in terms of technical capability,tuning wise,P1 Max is not bad.Lets put it this way,P1 Max is not for critical listening,it is an IEM where you plug in and you just want to listen to music instead of being critical.

*P1 Max was sent over by TinHifi F.O.C in exchange for this review.I am in no way compensated/influenced in any way to produce this review.All thoughts and words are of my own.

If you are interested in getting one,head over to TinHifi’s Aliexpress store below:
P1 Max Store Link (Not Affiliated)

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NymPHONOmaniac

Headphoneus Supremus
The fun tuned P1
Pros: -Cohesive and musical warmish tuning
-Nice female vocal
-natural and dense timbre enough for a planar
-wide and tall soundstage
-notably bassier than P1 and P1plus
-light and comfortable fit
Cons: -average technical performance
-boomy sloppy bass
-lack of treble snap, sparkle, decay
-thin male vocal
-poor imaging
-muffled dynamic rendering
-P1plus sidegrade, not upgrade
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TONALITY: 8.2/10
TECHNICALITIES: 7.8/10
CONSTRUCTION: 8.2/10
SOUND VALUE: 7.8/10

TINHIFI
is a chinese earphones company that have been around for more than 5 years. Their biggest success is the legendary dual dynamic drivers Tinhifi T2, but they were the very first chifi IEM company to introduce planar earphones too in 2019 with their P1. After, they launch multiple other planar earphones, with different level of success. The last one I review, the P1plus, was among my favorite 2021 IEM and deliver incredible technical performance that i find superior to any hybrid or single DD or planar IEM under 200$.
Today, I will review their latest Planar IEM, the Panda P1Max, which is a departur from P1 and P1plus since it use a bigger Planar driver of 14.2mm instead of 10mm.


More than ever, Planar IEM competition is high and overcrowded, so let see in this review if the musical and technical performance of the Panda worth a serious consideration.

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CONSTRUCTION​

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Tinhifi have taken seriously the fitting issue complaint about their P1 serie and change the whole shell for a more common plastic housing with UIEM organic design. While it feel cheaper than thick metal built of P1(+) that feel invincible, it’s fit like a glove in my ears and doesn’t tend to fall or create displeasant pressure. That’s surprising since its about 3 times bigger than P1, but it’s lighter too. The plastic used feel thick, but doesn’t impress they eyes As well, the choice to put venting hole in front of the shell might be risky, since if you block it by pushing to far the IEM, it can inflict on tonal balance. The one near the nozzle is more prompt to be block that other one. 2pin connector too is a change from P1 and a very welcome one.

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When it come to the cable, it’s a crystal copper of good quality, a cable i’m use too and like since it’s smooth and flexible and the ear hook doesn’t tend to be too tight. This type of cable tend to warm overall clarity a bit.

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The packaging is minimalist and yet generous in term of ear tips number, you have 9 pair of silicone ear tips of different model and 2 pairs of memory foams tips. You have a basic carrying pouch….which is a bit of a bummer since the magnetic carrying case included with P1 was very nice. The box design is a bit questionnable in term of drawing talent but that’s nit picking, in fact, it’s kinda cute I guess.



SOUND IMPRESSIONS​

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(Gear used: Tri TK2, Tempotec E44, Xduoo Link2 Bal and Questyle M15)
The PANDA is nothing like the rest of P1 serie and focus on a cohesive musical presentation, warm and laidback, immersive and well bodied. It’s a darker bassier version of P1plus.

I would summarize the Tonality of P1max as lush balanced V shape with an energic foward presentation to warm W shape with upper treble roll off. It have boosted warm mid bass, well rounded boosted (upper) mids and lean crisp crunchy treble. Tonal balance have nothing to do with the P1plus, it’s warmer, more hefty and heavy in dynamic impact and less crisp-analytical.

The bass is all about dark thick slam, it’s not basshead level but still very heavy in impact, yet warm in definition and a bit lacking in attack edge and control. Boomy? Yes, a little bit but not in a normal way since planar driver shout the bass hit quite fast, but lack that well define roundness so you don’t reall hear the falling impact lead, just the vibrance and resonance. Kick drum doesn’t benefit from this presentation, it will lack definition, texture and get mixed up with mid range, for better and the worst. Tinhifi seem to have gone all bass impact and warmth approach with the P1max, since biggest complaint about P1 serie was lack of bass presence, but presence should include resolution of instrument singularity, which it isn’t the case here…since all instrument sound a bit the same: is it a bass line or kick drum? Good luck to find out. Still, guilty pleasure is present too, it’s not displeasant bass at all, the boom did add physical slam fun, and can mix beautifully into the mids, not in a overly blurry way.

The mid range is quite natural sounding for a planar, and that even if lower mids aren’t really full. Thanks to planar unique way to project sound, mid range have wide presence, good macro resolution and lush timbre. We have good notes weight too. Upper mids are gently lifted, so you have hint of bright energy to female vocal but no invasive sibilance. While clarity can be incredible in instrumental music, when big bass occur it did veil and warm a bit resolution.
Mids are rich in sound layer, but not very accurate or precise in proper definition and separation, as well, it can get a bit condensed with blurry sound layers in very busy track.
A bit dark and less vivid in dynamic energy than bass and treble, the mids are well balanced for a V shape tonality, have lush natural timbre and full female vocal that I would have like a bit more fowards and well extracted, so yes, not your typical V shape mid range but still a bit recessed and leaner in dynamic than rest of audio spectrum. But again, female vocal doesn’t have this distant fate, and for example, with a song like ”Power” from Joy Crookes, her vocal presence is wide, lush and full with inviting hint of breathyness and warmth, it’s upfront and piano note at her back are very warm in definition as well as overall macro-resolution is thick with darken edge. I tend to prefer the debut of this song when their less instruments and sound layer since it become easyly condensed-foggy’ish with multiply timbre density and layers. I’ll say the Panda excell with woodwind instrument and vocal that doesn’t need well sculpted definition or high level of precision in attack.

As expected with a planar, treble attack is quite fast, with energic and crunchy sustain-release. It’s bright and abrasive, not very brilliant and sparkly, so a bit dry too. Amount of micro-details it reveal is average for a planar and will favorize certain percussions and sounds in 8khz area. While fast and without problematic resonance, the attack release is a bit fuzzy and lacking in definition edge. As well, air is lacking and highs extension is a bit rolled off. Violin sound quite good especially under higher harmonic notes (8khz and up). Electric guitar are less convincing and a bit fuzzy or uneven in timbral balance, dynamic a bit shouty in attack, making definition of guitar strike diffuse yet compressed too and tamed in dynamic scaling.
Nonetheless, treble sound full not thin nor artificial.

The soundstage is quite wide and tall, giving the Panda an open presentation that feel like a wide wall of music surrounding you. It’s immersive even if it lack clean deepness to spatiality.

This lack of depth will affect imaging limitation and tend to make sound layers more compressed against each other. Separation isn’t very perceivable and we struggle to precisely pin point instruments position. It lack clean space between instrument as well as well sculpted definition of individual instruments. Layering can be decent with not too crowded or energic music.



COMPARISONS​

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VS MUSE POWER PLANAR

The Muse is crisper and brigther, with a more neutral-analytical and less bassy balance. Panda is more warm and V shape as well as more natural in balance, less thin in timbre and heavier in overall dynamic. Compared to Panda, the Muse seem a treble head monster and push fowars the micro details way more agressively, so it’s feel less well rounded as a whole. Attack seem faster and more edgy with the Muse, less prompt to bass warmth too, more textured and precise in definition, its rendering is cleaner yet more clinical and artificial, less musical and lush than Panda. Resolution is sharper and treble is snappier with the Muse, which make me conclude it offer better technical performance but bass and mids are way more lean in dynamic than whole treble, so while soundstage seem wider deeper and imaging more accurate, it’s hard to enjoy this overly technical musicality too.
Muse is more shouty, dry, trebly and agressive in micro-details than Panda P1max, it’s tonal balance is polar opposite boosting top end while Panda boost low end. It’s harder to enjoy music immersively with the Muse planar clinical tonality.

VS TINHIFI P1 Plus

Now, the P1 Plus might use a smaller Planar driver, but technically it’s clearly the champ here since resolution is even better than the Muse. P1 Max feel like a very warm V shape compared to more plain neutral P1plus, here the clarity is miles ahead the Max delivering higher sound info number, greater transparency and macro and micro resolution, Max feel very fuzzy-blurry as a whole with less well resolve but chunkier sound layers. Bass impact sure have more slam and physicality, and the bodied presence help to make it more part of music experience while P1plus have better resolve low end, with more nuanced texture and linear extension, bass line being less warm and sloppy and mixed with kick impact, yet we don’t feel impact of bass with the P1plus. Mids are more lean and cold sounding, again with cleaner more informative resolution and greater transparency and separation, yet the Panda offer lusher timbre and vocal, more breathy and more emphasise in low harmonic while P1plus focus is high harmonic, so thinner timber but better separation, more intimate female vocal that feel less diffuse in their presence. Treble is notably more refined, controlled and extended with the P1plus, cleaner, airier, sparklyier, with sharper faster attack and more natural decay, Panda feel very rough and darken, lacking in air and attack snap. This make the P1plus Imaging way superior in accuracy and separation definition, though not as lush in musicality.
So, here, your tonal preference will decide which is better musicaly, but P1max sure is warmer, bassier, more accessible and less niche tuned than more technical sounding P1plus.

CONCLUSION​

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Unlike P1plus which was very similar to P1 with slight technical upgrade, the Panda is a refreshing Planar tuning that doesn’t choose to offer an overly technical sound but instead a lush analog like musicality with hint of bass warmth.
While not exactly basshead, the P1Max is still the bassiest planar IEM I test until today, but with a smooth weighty dynamic that doesn’t go sharp V shape with crisp upper treble.
If you don’t seek for technical performance champion, the P1Max will offer you a very immersive sound experience with it’s wide and tall soundstage and wooly bass slam that add fun to music experience.
For me, the P1Max are easy to love unless you are a critical listener, but for those seeking clean detailed sound, Tinhifi have already P1plus.
I respect Tinhifi diversify soundsignature offering and will sure follow their next release with great interest!

———-

PS: I wanna thanks Keephifi for sending me this review sample. I’m not affiliated or pay to write this review, and as always share with you my 100% honest sound impressions.

You can order the Tinhifi P1Max for 190$ here:
https://keephifi.com/products/tinhifi-p1-max

For more honest add-free non-affiliate audio reviews, give a look to my No Borders Audiophile blog HERE.
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SherryLion

New Head-Fier
Review Of TINHIFI P1 MAX
Pros: Warm and Neutral
Great Upper Mid Range and Lower Treble
Well Control Bass
Natural Sounding nature
No Sibilance or Sharp Sound Elements Found
Cons: Lack Of Air
Lack of Upper Treble Energy
Not So Okay Bass texture
More Laidback Sounding
Narrow Soundstage

Review Of THE TINHIFI P1 MAX

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Introduction


TinHiFi is a renowned Chinese company known for their IEMs like T2, T3, T4, P1, P2,etc. The TinHiFi P1 Max is their first full planar magnetic driver IEM. These have a redesigned acoustic cavity structure, which I find very light and cheap looking and feeling butt the sound being non offensive and loving. These are priced at $169 -$179 at the below link mentioned :-

https://hifigo.com/products/tinhifi-p1-max
And
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09XQZD1QY/tinhifi+p1+max/

Disclaimer


*Thanks to HiFiGo team as this unit tour has been arranged by HiFiGo, lovely people. And as mentioned in all of my reviews, same goes with this one too and that is, each and every thoughts below mentioned are my personal own thoughts and they are not fiddled with any outside influences. The following link is where you can go and own one for yourself :-

https://hifigo.com/products/tinhifi-p1-max
And
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09XQZD1QY/tinhifi+p1+max/
*I will be referring these IEMs to as 'P1 Max' for the rest of the review.
*Other than my own 7hz Timeless and P1 Max I have not heard any other planar magnetic IEM. So I will be comparing the P1 Max with the Timeless only.
*And at last I will only be reviewing the P1 Max on the basis of their performance, I do not care what these are made of or packaged with when newly purchased unless it affects the sound in any sense what so ever.

Specification


The P1 Max is a full planar magnetic IEM which houses a 14.2mm planar magnetic drivers with ultra thin 2-micron aluminum diaphragm. These have an impendence of 16 ohms and sensitivity of 98db/1khz. The frequency response is from 10Hz to 20kHz.


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Sound


The sound profile of P1 Max is warm-neutral with great sounding vocals. The bass is more mid bass focused and the treble have a less control in the air region although the lower treble and upper mid range are forward but neither are fatiguing or sharp. Vocals sounds very natural and relaxed. A planar magnetic IEM with relaxed and non offensive tuning.


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Treble


The treble is not very well extended, The air is there but not to an extend where there is a sense of sparkle or crisps notes which I am not surprised with. The lower treble on the other end feels more fuller, more rounded, clean and relaxed whereas other IEMs I have tried whether planar or any other driver configurated IEM sounds sibilant or sharp most of the times. These do a very well job when it comes to its performance in the lower treble and upper mid range. The female vocals in this region doesn't sound artificial but warm and soothing.

Mid Range


The mid range is where this IEM shines, The vocals are upfront and never sounds sharp or sibilant but very natural and warm. Instruments are not subjected to play in the back but within the mix melodiously. Although even after being so natural sounding, the sense of deep sound or higher notes aren't much identifiable. They are intimate sounding as well. Everything happening all round you but close but there is a good sense of each and every instrument. The upper mid range elevates the experience being very lively and at the same time relaxed, which I find really good tuned. The lower mid range have that girth and thick base which helps the male vocals find their place in the mix. Overall the mid range is really well tuned being non offensive and beautiful.

Bass


The bass tuned here have more emphasis on the mid bass which is quite nicely done. Even though I love sub bass more, I am quite happy with what the P1 Max can do. The mid bass is really well controlled. They are thick and warm, slams really good. The nature of this IEM is to produce relaxed sound where the bass tuned here plays an important role. Having that natural feel and thumping organic bass is really nice sounding to my ears. I cannot say whether these are for bass head but the bass suffice the need. As the bass is more focused on the mid bass the rumbling nature is somewhat felt but it is overtaken with that thick and thumping bass. The bass guitar sounds more warm than metallic. The drums sound really well placed while being thumpy and punchy in nature. But when it comes to my taste, I would still prefer the bass on my Timeless.


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Technical Performance


The tonality of the P1 Max is much more pleasing and relaxing than the Timeless and to be honest felt much better. But when it comes to Technical performance, the P1 Max loses to Timeless. Although being okay in technically performing, still it is really great sounding IEM.

Soundstage, Sound Imaging & Separation


The soundstage on the P1 Max is really narrow and intimate sounding, The holographic nature of 3d representation is really well done but still needs more work upon the P1 Max. The Imaging is really nice, instruments and vocals can easily be differentiated and pin pointed. The separation is okay for a planar magnetic driver, doesn't disappoint though.


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Speed & Resolution


Being a planar magnetic IEM, the resolving power is marvelous but at the same time, it cannot compete on the level of 7hz Timeless. And like I said planar magnetic IEM resolves pretty great. The attack and decay of notes are surprisingly fast.

Conclusion


To conclude, the P1 Max is a very pleasing and relaxed sound IEM. And to be honest non offensive to anyone especially audiophiles. A must buy, if someone would want to buy a planar driver IEM with warm-neutral tuning. Also a standard where one would want to start their journey into the planar IEMs. And yes, definitely for the price they are being offered, go for it.

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Sources And Tracks Used

Sources


Apple iPhone XS Max
LG G8X
iPad (4th generation)
Ikko ITX01
Apple Dongle Dac
Shanling UA1 Pro
iFi HIPDAC
Venture Electronics Megatron
Apple Lossless
UAPP
Localy stored Flac and Wav Files

Tracks


Curtis Mayfield - Pusherman
Earth, Wind & Fire - September
Earth, Wind & Fire - Let's Groove
Boston - More Than A Feeling
Fleetwood Mac - Everywhere(Remastered)
Toto - Africa
The Police - Every Breath You Take
George Benson - Affirmation
Daft Punk - Doin' It Right
Daft Punk - Derezzed
Daft Punk - Tron Legacy (End Titles)
GOJIRA - Amazonia
The Mars Volta - Inertiatic ESP
Fergie - Glamorous
50 Cent - In Da Club
Jay Z - Holy Grail
Christina Perri - Human
Erbes - Lies
Nitti Gritti - The Loud
Juelz - Inferno
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J
jmwant
The Timeless sounds amazing with the xbass on in Hipdac. How does it perform in the P1 Max?

corgifall

500+ Head-Fier
Giant Panda with Max effort.
Pros: Decent tuning, different driver flavor, wonderful comfort, price
Cons: Boring neutral tuning, almost lean sounding, lacks some meat down low and sparkle up top
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I never got around to checking out the original P1 or the newer P2 planar IEMs from TINHiFi but I know there was a decent following around both IEMs. I have listened to a few older first generation planar IEMs like the Audeze iSine 10/20 and the RHA CL2. I only liked the iSine series with heavy EQ and I just didn’t like the rough tuning of the CL2. I’ve seen the release of the newer planar IEMs recently from 7HZ(Timeless) and LETSHUOER(S12) and a few others. While I’ve been interested, I’ve simply been too busy with other reviews so I never got around to requesting samples when they were hot. That being said, I did like the design of P1 MAX so I wanted at least a taste of the newer planar IEM attempts. The P1 MAX is using a 14.2mm planar and comes in at $169.00.

Quick shoutout to Kareena from Linsoul for sending the P1 MAX to review. While I always appreciate the chance to test and review products sent in from manufacturers, it never affects the rating of my reviews.

The P1 MAX can be picked up from Linsoul at their website below.

https://www.linsoul.com/products/tinhifi-p1-max

Onto the review of the TIN Hifi P1 MAX! My personal preference is a hybrid/tribrid IEM where I get good hitting bass and have a detailed treble with decent mids. When it comes to an over ear headphone I prefer a spacious sound with a deep low end, the mids to be more forward and the highs to be a little bright with some sparkle. I listen to a lot of genres but I hover in the classic rock, blues and edm music with some rap here and there.

Gear Used​

IPhone 12 pro with headphone adapter, Lotto PAW S1, Moondrop Moon River 2 and SMSL SU-9 feeding the SP400 amp.

Looks and fit​

The shell goes for a simple but glossy black resin that is smooth to the touch. The faceplate is the same glossy black but with a silver criss cross design that I find classy but not over the top. The IEMs feel of quality and I’ve been impressed how nice a lot of the sub $500 look quality wise over the last few years. The shells are really lightweight as well and I find the nozzle average in length and width so I was able to get comfy results combined with my favorite Spinfit tips. I like the simple design but I would have preferred to see a logo of some sort on the faceplate. Even a little P1 MAX logo would have been fine in the corner or something.
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Isolation and sound leakage​

The passive isolation is pretty good overall. It does have a small pin hole vent facing the user's ear so it does let a little more sound in versus a nice sealed IEM or sealed CIEMs. The P1 MAX does leak a little sound from the pin hole vents but it's not noticeable when played at lower volumes so for most instances, I would say these work great for quiet areas.

Packaging and accessories​

The P1 MAX comes in a white box with some basic info on it. I do have some confusion as the box calls the IEM the P1 MAX giant panda and the spelling even has some cute panda art worked into the name. When you look at the IEMs it would be hard to tell it had anything to do with pandas but oh well. Inside the box we get a cover that has some warranty info on the other side, the IEMs in some foam and in a little box there's the extra tips, cloth/canvas style pouch and the cable. Pretty straight forward and I think for the price it’s fine overall.
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Sound(overall)​

These final impressions were done off a mix of the Lotoo Paw S1 and the SMSL SU-9 connected to the SMSL SP400. These impressions are what the P1 MAX sounded like to my ears. This was also using the CP100+ eartips from Spinfit. Things like ear tip selection and DAC/amp selection will produce different results and impressions vs what my ears hear on my specific gear.

I mentioned at the beginning my only experiences with planar IEMs were pretty meh overall and after listening to this P1 MAX, I’m impressed with the improvements I’m hearing now versus my memory of those older IEMs. The P1 Max goes for a neutral tuning. The lows do feel somewhat leaner than I would personally like but I still get bass hits that feel much better than most “value” all BA designs I’ve heard. It has decent sub bass slam/impact when it's called for but it doesn’t quite hit the way some dynamic drivers would. The mid bass is decent and it's the same case as the subass, enough to make me happy but the lows overall feel like a leaner tuned hybrid with way better speed and control. This very much reminds me of actual planar bass from a full size planar headphone. Mids are pretty clear with good details coming from instruments and I found things like guitars sounding fast with extra energy all round. Vocals are pretty clear with maybe a hint of compression, mostly a loss of focus compared to the rest of the instruments. Mostly noticeable in busy tracks. Lastly the treble is just average here. It isn’t a bright tuning and lacks a little resolution. Everything sounds fairly decent but given the price of the P1 MAX, I would have expected it to be a splashier tuning. It does well for the price but it doesn’t quite impress me. I do like the tuning of the P1 MAX though and I’m bummed I don’t have the other big planar IEMs on hand to compare.

Soundstage/Imaging​

Staging is pretty good overall. Width and depth are about average if not slightly above the norm. This balanced stage sound doesn’t give the P1 MAX any special staging tricks but tuning and staging are good enough that I don’t have much to say in terms of positives or negatives. The imaging was actually above average and I didn’t have to try too hard to pick out specific sounds in busy tracks.

Sensitivity/Drivability​

The P1 MAX isn’t super hard to drive but it does require just a little bit more juice than normal. Most people will be able to run this off their dongle of choice without too many issues. This isn’t an overly sensitive IEM either and I wasn’t able to pick up any floor noise when running balanced.

Stock cable​

The stock cable is a standard run of the mill 3.5mm dark brown cable that feels fine. I did leave the cable on there since I wasn’t getting any microphonics from the cable.
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IEM comparisons​


Ikko OH10​

The OH10 is around the same price but it’s a hybrid that also happens to be much older. It however still sounds wonderful and is a well tuned hybrid. The bass has better slam and impact vs the P1 Max. Mids are better on the P1 max but the vocals sound more lively on the OH10. The treble has more energy and while both lack any special resolution for the price, I think the OH10 is a better tuned IEM and I do enjoy it more personally. Even if it's getting a little older in terms of design and age.
DSC06828.jpg

DUNU Falcon Pro​

The falcon pro is a single DD with a very warm tuning. In terms of overall detail, both pull in around the same micro details. So average between the two. The bass on the Falcon Pro is much stronger and that is mainly the focus over the P1 Max’s neutral focus. I prefer the vocals and mids on the P1 max but it has a different flavor over the Falcon Pro which makes it unique enough to recommend checking out.
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Amping Combinations​


Moondrop Moon River 2​

The MR2 was one of the better pairings due to its sound signature. It provides the brightest tuning so I got just a little extra energy out of the P1’s treble. While it doesn’t transform the P1 Max, it does give it a little sharpness to pull it out of the neutral tuning if not ever so slightly. It doesn’t help the staging at all but I think the P1 Max can benefit from source gear that adds a little extra flavor. That being said, I don’t personally like neutral tunings so my preferences may be different compared to others.
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Lotoo PAW S1​

The S1 was more my personal flavor since I liked warmer tuned gear. Where the MR2 had a brighter tuning with extra speed and bite. It doesn’t add any extra resolution or detail. The PAW S1 doesn’t help bring in details but it does add a stronger hitting bass with a warm if not gooey sound to the P1 Max. I like the warmer tilt for the P1 Max as it makes it a more relaxed and chill listen. Those wanting a brighter tuning will wanna hunt down a sharper source gear.
DSC06826.jpg

SMSL SU-9/SP400​

As always, my sound section above is always based on this desktop stack pairing. As with most IEMs, A desktop amp isn’t really needed but the best sound I got from the P1 Max did come from the SMSL stack. It also was the most boring pairing since the SMSL stack doesn’t really add much in terms of sound signature to most headphones I use. All in all, a normal dongle will do just fine for the P1 Max.
DSC06832.jpg

Overall thoughts​

The P1 MAX really impressed me and I’m very bummed that I don’t have the 7HZ Timeless or the LETSHUOER S12 on hand to see how the other new planar IEMs compare. I like the P1 MAX and for its sub $200 price tag, It just enters recommendation territory for me. I haven’t been a fan of the last few TIN Hifi IEMs I’ve both seen and received so this is a nice breath of fresh air and I hope they come out with more winners going forward. Thanks for reading!
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triveniprasadnanda

New Head-Fier
TinHiFi P1 Max: Newest contender in the planar IEM arena
Pros: 1. Value for money
2. Depth of stage
3. Engaging vocals
Cons: 1. Narrow stage on operatic tracks
2. Sub-par extensions on both ends
3. Uncharacteristic speed unlike other planars
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TinHiFi P1 Max: Newest contender in the planar IEM arena

Price: USD 169 on HiFiGo

Link: https://hifigo.com/products/tinhifi-p1-max

Disclosure: The unit was provided to me as part of a review tour organized by hifigo.com with no expectation of the review’s outcome. I do not own this unit.


I have listened to my fair share of IEMs, mostly single dynamic drivers or hybrid sets with BA drivers. These past few years have seen me gravitate towards single DD setups, since I prioritise coherence over detail retrieval and other technical abilities.
That said, I do own another of these ‘new wave’ planar IEMs, the LetShuoer S12 and this review would additionally be a direct comparison of P1 Max and the S12.
Sources used:
Apple Lightning Dongle, Lotoo Paw S1 (3.5mm out), Lotoo Paw S1 (line-out) to Topping NX7 (3.5mm out), iFi Zen DAC (3.5mm out)
It sounded best with the Paw S1+NX7 stack so the review would be based on that.
The tips and cable were stock, as received.
Transport used primarily was my 2018 iPad playing Apple Music Lossless.

Build, fit and comfort:
The shells look bulky but are not. Made with 3D printed resin, they are a clear departure from the industrial-looking plain/brushed stainless steel finish that other IEMs from TinHiFi have.
They fit snugly in my ear, but I do have larger ears and have never faced issues with even bigger/heavier shells like Ikko OH10s. YMMV though. They are quite light and could be worn for extended listening sessions. The sound signature does aid in that too.

Tonality and Timbre:
Tonally, both of these are clearly V-shaped IEMs with the P1 Max focussing on the mid-bass more whereas the S12 has the sub-bass extension in focus.
In terms of timbre, P1 Max sounds more like a DD than a planar whereas S12 has that distinctive planar timbre and speed and is more linear sounding than the P1 Max.

Bass:
The IEMs are not absolutely linear in any sense, most audio gears are not. The bass on the P1 Max is concentrated more on the mid-bass slam rather than extending into the sub-bass region. S12 is a tad bit better in this regard.
Songs like Tennesse Whiskey by Chris Stapleton are much more enjoyable on P1 Max than on the S12. There’s sufficient bass where it is called for. The bass texture could be a bit better though.

Mids:
This is where the P1 Max had an edge over the S12. They did not show any signs of having 14.2mm planar drivers under the hood and could easily pass for DDs in blindfold tests. The male vocals were just a sheer pleasure to listen to. Songs like ‘I put a spell on you’ by Seal and ‘Garaj Garaj’ by Pt. Ajoy Chakrabarty from Bandish Bandits, sounded so good, it felt almost like honey being poured in my ears. Female vocals on the other hand sounded more controlled on the S12.
Artists like Rebecca Pidgeon and Shirley Bassey sounded better on the P1 Max but artists with raspy voices like Neeti Mohan or Adele sounded sweeter with better vocal texture on the S12.

Treble:
Treble on the P1 Max is where I felt a little EQ could help. It never felt shouty on any of my test tracks, but definitely sounded sibilant to my ears on tracks like ‘Tabah Ho Gae’ from Kalank. This is my go-to track to test sibilance and it could be definitely heard with the P1 Max. Although there was sufficient extension present to make the presentation airier, S12 just did extensions better than the P1 Max.

Technical Abilities:
Both P1 Max and S12 have technical capabilities that far exceed the ticket price for both and they can compete with any IEMs 3-to 4 times their price bracket.
That said, P1 Max had a more intimate stage than the S12, but had a better sense of depth. This clearly helped in tracks with acoustic instrumentation, where except for the singer and the guitarist/pianist there is not much stage to present anyway. Tracks like ‘Unchained Melody’ by Boyce Avenue sound much more engaging on P1 Max than on S12.
But with operatic tracks like Con Te Partiro (by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli) and Yad Lagla (by Ajay Gogavale from Sairat), replete with huge brass and string sections, the S12 trounced the P1 Max by a mile, with its wide staging and clear instrument separation.
Detail retrieval was no slouch on the P1 Max but I felt that the S12 did more justice here.
The layering and stereo separation are at par with any 500-600 USD IEM and with their tuning can give any of them a run for their money.

Conclusion:
The P1 Max is a continuation of a long line-up of pioneering and illustrious planar IEMs from the house of TinHiFi; P1, P2, and the P1 Plus preceded them.
All the above three were known for being power-hungry beasts that needed almost desktop-level amplification to shine. Not the case with P1 Max. Although it pairs the best with a fairly neutral source like the Lotoo Paw S1 and benefits from the clean NFCA-based amping of the Topping NX7, it did not sound bad at all with the $10 Apple lightning dongle either.
As I’ve already mentioned, as have many others, both P1 Max and S12 are heralding a new wave of value for money IEMs with top tier technical capabilities at absolute entry-level prices. For people looking for a laid-back listening experience from their choice of dongle DACs or DAPs, P1 Max is an easy recommendation.
If my wallet allowed I’d keep both the P1 Max and the Shuoer S12, but to my taste, I prefer the S12 over the P1 Max, as the Latin maxim goes, De gustibus non est disputandum, meaning "In matters of taste, there can be no disputes".
Review and Comparison between Shuoer S12 and Tin hifi P1 Max!
Pros: 1. Rich Tonality and Tonal Weight
2. Tall Images
3. Staging
4. Emotional and engaging vocals
Cons: 1. Slightly boomy bass.
2. Separation
3. Layering
First of all, thanks to hifigo.com who gave me the P1 max as a part of their review tour, and also to a friend of mine, Triveni for lending me his personal S12 unit for comparison. :)


Let me get to the point straightaway, I talk about a gear being value for money, when it is trying to do it's best to reach and touch the higher leagues, but still falls a bit short. These 2 Planar babies, however, aren't vfm, and that's a complement. Why? Because they managed to trounce many iems in the 500-1000usd range, that I've heard in the past, in various departments. So these 2 basically sound to me like they should be priced at 600-700usd but are actually being offered at a ridiculous discount at their current MRPs under 200usd. And yes, I own 2 good TOTL iems, but these 2 have managed to capture my attention for more than a week now, and I didn't miss listening to the EVO and Kse 1200 a lot. BOTH THESE IEMS ARE INCREDIBLE. They do have some flaws imo, but even the poshest cars don't give their owners everything under the sun.

In short, imo, these are basically Toyota Fortuner cars being offered at the prices of Tata Altroz!

Getting to the review after creating the buzz now. All these impressions are on the stock tuning without EQ. Both have a degree of V-shaped signatures. But didn't seem like a sharp V to me, P1max felt slightly more V than the S12 to me.

After trying different permutations and combinations, I found that S12 pairs well with my Astell & Kern Sp2000 CU (akm chips, relatively warmer dap) and P1 max with Kann Alpha (Sabre chips and relatively neutral to slightly bright profile). And my god do these iems scale well.


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So here's what I think about these 2 IEMS!!

Build Quality and stock cables - The build on both is quite solid. The Shuoer does feel more premium though, with its silver colored metal shells and a thicker cable which also looks gorgeous with its silver and grey intertwining design. The P1 max seems to have the usual resin shells with what looks like a copper colored cable, not exactly sure about the material though.

Bass - Both P1 Max and S12 have excellent bass that digs quite deep, while subs rumble a bit more on the s12, it is the mid bass that stars on the P1 max for me. Excellent texture was observed on both, but the S12 has a bit more of it, making up for a more exciting and richer experience. P1 max feels surely warmer and a tad slower and boomier in comparison. The bass feels more linear on S12 to me, but ymmv.

Mids - The mids seem a bit clearer to me on the S12 compared to P1 max. But both have very engaging vocals, and again excellent textures. On some of Rahman sir's vocals only tracks, P1 max felt a bit more emotional, maybe due to it's denser sound signature and the fact that the mid bass does lend a bit of warmth to the vocals as well. But on regular Bollywood tracks, S12 seemed to balance the strings and the vocals slightly better for me. While the vocals and strings sound a bit thicker on the P1 max, the S12 sounds snappier. Both sound amazing, but on different tracks, as hinted above. On an average though, both do a great job with the mids.

Treble - S12 has slightly pronounced upper mids, and treble air, due to which, or maybe some other synergy related issues, I found its pairing with the Alpha to be a bit shouty, but those issues were overcome to a large extent with sp2k cu, which made the treble sound much sweeter and more to my liking.

P1 max has relatively muted upper mids (2k - 4k hz range) and it seems to have heightened 6k presence that adds a good amount of air to the signature. That Synergizes well with Alpha, which, from my past experience, in its itself, makes iems with heightened upper mids sound very shouty. So if your dap is different, them you may want to EQ it to increase the upper mid presence, but for me, it is perfect. Both the iems exhibit excellent texture, but the P1 max does sound a bit more sibilant in comparison, but not beyond my tolerance levels. But again, I do have a higher tolerance for upper treble and lower tolerance for upper mids, compared to many of my friends and peers in this hobby, so ymmv again.



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Staging - staging on the P1 max seems to be slightly on the intimate side compared to S12, but both iems have great depth and super tall images (to which I took an instant liking, and that makes these iems sound very premium), and these aspects are bigger compared to some entry level high end iems that I've had the fortune to listen to. The width on both the iems is decent and slightly smaller than likes of some entry level high end iems like Andro, M9 etc.

Imaging - The left right panning and placement of instruments is decently sharp. The incredible things is the images are super tall, similar to what I hear on the EVO and my kse1200.

Transient, Layering, Separation and Dynamics - While both of these iems do feel quite quick by the virtue of their well tuned planar drivers (P1 max feels a smidgen slower than S12), their only Achilles heel is their layering and separation on very complex tracks like Kamli and Malang from Dhoom 3 (both have very complex intro and interludes and are fairly complex arrangements throughout the track as well). But I can confidently say that both these iems flatten their competitors (that I've heard under 500 uss like Kato, Blessing, spring, summer their chi-fi brethren from few other brands) and simply obliterate them in these departments. Also, both of them didn't feel flat at all, and had great dynamics to reproduce every instrument and vocal layer almost accurately and at their quietest and loudest, also S12 felt slightly ahead of P1 max in this department.




I am making these compete with entry level high end IEMS which are priced at 600+ usd. That already places these in a league much higher than what these are priced at. Btw, I am getting both of these, Tin Hifi P1 max for my Alpha and Shuoer S12 for my Sp2k cu.

Detailing - Both these iems do the macro detailing and contrasts quite effortlessly, and S12 seemed to be relatively better at digging for micro details, but, while P1 max was able to dig into those pieces of info, it couldn't produce them as well as S12. I felt that it was there on the P1 max, but you had to put some more effort to find them due to the lack of adequate contrast.

Tonality and Timbre - Both are overall V-shaped IEMS, although I couldn't sense a huge mid recession, maybe because Most of the iems I have owned and loved have had a v-shaped character, right from Z1R earlier to Kse1200 and the EVO (I have EQed it to reduce the upper mids and mid bass region to get to my desires tuning). I can sense that mids sit slightly behind in the mix, but not by much. While overall the S12 appears to be slightly brighter due to its lower mid bass presence and heightened upper mids region and upper treble, the P1 max appears to be bit darker in comparisons for almost opposite tuning in the above mentioned regions of the spectrum, barting the upper treble. Plus, S12 is slightly leaner than the P1 max. Imo, S12 might pair better with the likes of N6II, or SP2k Cu as a source, which have a thicker sound. While P1 max will do well with relatively neutral sources like say a dx160 or Kann Alpha/Se100 etc. A big plus for me is that both these iems do not have that prominent plasticky timbre that I have experienced with other planar IEMS. These sound more like a faster, refined, and a thicker BA setup, however, that plasticky timbre does appear few times on both, bit more on the S12 than the P1 max. But it is very much within my tolerance limit, which makes me very happy, as I have been able to enjoy a planar on non-cipher mode after a long long time. The tone is very well textured and feels relatively richer, which helps in the overall presentation.

To sum it up, I'm getting both of these iems, coz they're that good. :) Can't wait to get the S12 and P1 max to from Hifigo. 🙃 🙃

Edit - Forgot to mention about the power requirements. Both iems required a good amount of power to sound full and loud enough. For both S12 and P1 max, it required about 70-75/150 on Alpha to sound right. So a dap with a good amount of power should work well.

I've also added bits about the dynamics and timbre as well above now.
rarewolf
rarewolf
Can you please approximate the delivered milliwattage for your Alpha at half volume, or let us know what it is for full volume? Tia… :)

Redcarmoose

Headphoneus Supremus
The Giant Panda Rocks
Pros: The Giant Panda is not that big
A beautiful and organized musical response
Spectacular planar coherence
3D soundstage
Midrange forever and ever
Dynamite cable
Vocals 100% to you
Cons: The bass is subjective, but I learned to love it
The Giant Panda
TINHIFI P1 MAX
Redcarmoose April 28, 2022

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TINHIFI previously known as TinAudio has made quite a name for itself offering exceptional value and unique design for a number of years. They first found fame with the T2, fast forward through what seems like 100s of releases............and we now find ourselves with the TINHIFI P1 MAX or the "Giant Panda”!

Planar Wars 2022

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As fate would have it...........we have the battle of two 2022 planar in-ear monitors today. Each special and characteristic of the latest planar technology. Each manufacturer has a history and is in-fact battling for your expendable income. Which way it goes, no one knows?

Pushed into existence by prior releases, the TINHIFI P1 MAX or Giant Panda as its affectionately known, comes from a long lineage of past planar brothers. While being a planar in purest of form, it comes with a single giant 14.2mm planar driver.

The Challenger:
The new kid on the block, an unknown, wildly formed from a juxtaposition of parts, The RAPTGO HOOK-X. Containing bone conduction technology, 14.2mm planar technology, open-back technology and strangely piezoelectric technology.

Each will battle it out with combination of inherent street values.........Tonality, Soundstage, Imaging, Bass, Treble, Aesthetics and more!


Take a seat, buy a beer, make your bets. This battle can go three ways. The P1 MAX wins, the HOOK-X wins out, or actually it may become a draw due to each IEM offering some special sauce.......uniquely potent in its own way.

Of course there is always the possibility of a full knock-out, where only one walks away, with full annihilation of the opposing player. Let the best IEM win!

Redcarmoose House Referee and Final Judge

In the right corner:
RAPTGO HOOK-X


Planar + PiezoElectric Drivers Hybrid IEM
Novel Concept, Precise Execution
Custom Made 14.2mm Planar Magnetic Driver
Custom 18 Layer Double-Sided PZT Driver
Open-Back Design
Interchangeable Connector Cable

PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS
Driver: 14.2mm Planar drive+Double-faced 9-layer PZT drive
Wear Type: In-ear
Sensitivity(1KHz): 105dB SPL/mW
Frequency range: 20Hz- 40KHz
Impedance(1KHz): 15Ω
Audio interface: 0.78mm - 2.5mm/3 5mm/4.4mm
Earphone cable length: 1.25m

Packing List:
RAPTGO HOOK.X Earphones*1
0.78 2pin OCC Silver Plated Coaxial Shielded Wire + 2.5mm/3.5mm/4.4mm Plugs
Earphones Bag* 1
Headphone Silicone Sleeves*3 (S M L)
Warranty Card And Instructions*1

There were a couple planars before which garnered world-wide fame, the 7Hz Timeless IEM Planar 14.2mm and Shuoer S12 14.8mm Planar. These two Planar IEMs have really laid the groundwork for this next new generation of IEMs. If the 7HzTimeless or Shuoer S12 are truly better, it will have to wait for another day as I haven’t heard them.

In the left corner:
TINHIFI P1 MAX “Giant Panda”

14.2mm planar Magnetic driver HiFi In Ear Earphone
14.2mm Planar Driver, A New Planar Choice
Advanced Acoustic Structure, Full Of Details
Comfortable To Wear
High-Quality Cable, Interchangeable Wire Design


PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS
Driver Unit Φ14.2mm Planar Magnetic driver
Sensitivity 98±3dB @1kHz 0.126V
Frequency Response 10-20kHz
Impedance 16Ω±15%
Rated Power 5mW
Max Power 10mW
Max Distortion 3% @1kHz 0.126V
Interface Gold-plated 2P connector
Plug 3.5mm gold plated plug carbon fibre tube

Both IEMs available from Linsoul:
If you purchase from Linsoul you also get free world-wide shipping, and a 1 year warranty.
Linsoul website: https://www.linsoul.com/
Linsoul Aliexpress Store: https://ddaudio.aliexpress.com/store/2894006
Linsoul USA Amazon Store link: https://www.amazon.com/s?me=A267P2DT104U3C&marketplaceID=ATVPDKIKX0DER


Disclaimer:
Both the RAPTGO HOOK-X and TINHIFI P1 MAX "Giant Panda” was sent to me by Kareena Tang of Linsoul in exchange for this review as well as a single HOOK-X review.



(Some script from the HOOK-X review done previously)
https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/raptgo-hook-x.25798/reviews#review-28375
HOOK-X Planar:
The two N52 magnets suspend the ribbon driver. The magnets and 14.2mm Planar driver are custom in-house made as is the Piezoelectric driver. Simply stated, the mass of the ribbon is lower which results is extreme responsiveness in comparison to BA or DD technologies. Thus this magic ribbon results in better transients and response times. The frequency response at 20Hz to 40kHz.............becomes somewhat of an enigma! The trick here is we are copying regular full-size open-back planar headphones by using open-back design. This in itself makes the RAPTGO HOOK-X stand out, by design description anyway!

The open-back design philosophy creates a fatigue free listening environment due to relieving pressure on the ear-drum. The open-back character also cancels out any standing waves or vibration caught inside the shell. The 5-axis CNC shell guarantees precision alignment of constituents, resulting in construction variations kept at a minimum. The 0.78mm 2-pin cable jacks mean easy switch-ability..................if you want to roll cables. But more than that a modular plug system is in place so you never have to do cable changes. Use the included 2.5mm balanced connection for DAPs, use the included 3.5mm unbalanced if you want to go to a 6.5mm adapter then to a desktop. Also a 3.5mm output of course or 4.4mm balanced from your DAP or desktop.

A revolutionary juxtaposition of sound elements. Never before has anyone been brave enough, stupid enough or smart enough to merge these philosophies into one IEM shell. Supposedly it does work. But how well will it work for you? I will attempt to explain what is taking place.

Custom 18 Layer Double-Sided PZT Driver:

We have come in contact with this build philosophy a few times in the past. But what’s novel is merging it with a planar. Supposedly military technology comes into play here as a double sided-layer system is formed consisting of 18 ceramic piezo elements that come together to make a final “PZT” unit. My experience with the BQEYZ Spring 2 was my introduction to this new (in use) sonic technology. And while the Piezoelectric part really did well with the Spring2, offering a special window into guitar harmonics. The Spring 2 low end (which has nothing to do with Piezoelectric) was another story. When in fact after hearing the way Piezoelectric was which was truly kinda like EST technology, but was offering a softer edge. In truth I liked the tone of the top-end, though would have to wait for a year and a half for someone (RAPTGO) to merge the Piezoelectric technology with Planar technology and make it real!

This venture is basically looking for correct timbre and instrument tone. But the kicker is mixing it with a full open-back design, so we bypass any threat of standing waves or driver reverberations.



In the approaching Planar Battle.........will the 2μm diaphragm thickness of the TINHIFI P1 MAX "Giant Panda" become an obstacle which the HOOK-X can’t overcome? Or will the newcomers one-two double punch-secret-weapon of a fully actualized Piezoelectric driver in addition to a planar driver break the Giant Panda?

Let the best IEM win!


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Let’s get this review started, shall we!

The “Giant Panda” comes in a little box, more like a small trailer in comparison to the sprawling two story mansions other IEMs in this price bracket come with.

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For USD $169.00, you would think they would give you better packaging? But when you find out the surprises in-store, you totally wont care! I don’t care. It may have been due to the backlash, where people were saying to put the effort where it counts instead of into all this material people will simply toss-out?

Cable:

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Are you kidding me? The nicest cable I have received all year. Look at it, just look at it! I would pay an easy $100 for the cable alone. So do you see what they did? The put the effort into what counts. They put the effort into the sound!

The Cable:
Adopting a 108 single crystal OCC wire copper core. We get upscale plug mounting, a carbon-fiber plug and splitter. A gold-plated 3.5mm along with quality 2 pin connection. The cable...........I’m pretty sure they put a bunch of money into, truly the cable is just nice! Never have I seen such a foxy-cable included at this price point? Another test I did was utilize the included cable with a few of my more expensive IEMs. And sure enough, this is the real deal as far as cables go. The cable even improved my $600 qdc Anole V3. It’s just nice. Also there is an ergonomic factor in that the ear-hooks are well implemented to hold the Giant Panda 4.8 gram ear-pieces. It literally feels like your wearing nothing at all!


Drivability:
The other main thing that changed has been improved drivability over the power requirements of past P1, P1 plus and P2 Planar IEMs. Here we have an easy to drive audiophile IEM experience! So low weight and low power requirements! Just 16Ω along with a fairly high sensitivity of 98dB. Though still even with this it does upscale with a DAP over a phone output.

The Coming New Era:
So this 4.2mm driver is all new, and at only 2μm thick it introduces a whole new era for TINHIFI. Never used before the new diaphragm is combined with custom N52 double-sided magnetic array.


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Note the build here is very simple and sleek. All smoothed out just like the sound. The Pandas are incredibly ergonomic. They kind-of just flow into your hands and into your ears.



Specifications

Driver UnitΦ14.2mm Planar Magnetic drive
Sensitivity98±3dB @1kHz 0.126V
Frequency Response10-20kHz
Impedance16Ω±15%
Rated Power5mW
Max Power10mW
Max Distortion3% @1kHz 0.126V
InterfaceGold-plated 2P connector
Plug3.5mm gold plated plug carbon fibre tube




Sound Review:
I have a system of reviewing IEMs. The IEMs basically fall into one of three categories.


  1. Finicky- This means that they end up doing well at playback, but are demanding either of source or music genre, or both.
  2. Bad- Just like the word says. They suffer from an uneven incomplete/incorrect frequency response.
  3. Great- These if they were dogs they would be a golden retriever. Lol They become great sounding from any source, play all genres and offer an even, correct and complete frequency response. They get along well with equipment and are basically good mannered and friendly!


Comparisons:
I only have two Planar IEMs, the P1-MAX "Giant Panda" and the RAPTGO HOOK-X.


The first thing to note is the HOOK-X is actually a Hybrid. Not only is it a Hybrid, it sounds like one. But the two couldn’t be more different. Reason being is actual placement and personality. Meaning they are pretty much opposite! Also the HOOK-X is more money being that is USD $239.00. The HOOK has bone conduction as well it is totally open-back. The HOOK also includes a piezoelectric driver. And it kinda sounds like it has all that stuff. Where the “Giant Panda” has a cohesive and coherent style. Still it’s just slightly more coherent than the HOOK-X. Also the whole standpoint focus of frequencies is different with the Giant Panda. Where the HOOK-X is faster and offers a bigger soundstage, the instruments and better spread-out and delineated.

And as confusing as this sounds, I have an affinity for the HOOK-X that I can’t explain? It’s like the sum of all those hodgepodge of parts makes it different and great. Is this difference only the honeymoon phase? Time will tell.

The HOOK-X is not copying anyone, and that originality is special. Not only is it special, it's weird! Where the Giant Panda is slightly more conservative, really the HOOK-X is Rock and Roll, Vocals, and the Giant Panda is Vocals and Classical Music!

Where the Giant Panda is more careful, prim and proper.................a true gentleman.


Normally I really like what I get to review. Typically IEM reviews write themselves when you totally are into the IEM. You simply explain why you like it and maybe why others would like it too. This seems like it wouldn’t produce enough script simply writing love poems about some new IEM, but you would be surprised how many facets are involved. There is the company history, the build, the fit and design. Sometimes the company will even use a mix of drivers (Hybrid) that gives you a cornucopia of concepts to reiterate on. Then there is simply the aesthetics involved and how deep you can go into that. The accessories and how great or un-great they are. Then there is the sound, and not only the sound but how it interfaces with all your other gear. What about the burn-in process? So you can see that every IEM is journey and a small story which unfolds.

In the beginning you only have possible expectations as blind curiosity. Next you have drama and excitement as a character emerges. Then finally you have a mature idea of what’s up.

Believe it or not I actually try to simplify things. But much of the time it still doesn’t go as planned, due to IEM being complicated beasts. Still the end goal should be a truthful and interesting story. Either the readers relate, or they don’t understand where you are coming from. There is actually many different listener personalities in the world, so there is always a chance that you will stumble on a few that are on your wavelength.

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The Music
You can then explain how the IEMs relate with your favorite music. Also you can find challenging music that you don’t necessarily like, but serves a purpose into understanding the product you have. The crazy part is the music interpretation sector is actually endless. That literally means you can keep pulling up albums and keep putting down descriptions about them and the IEM forever. Forever is a long time!

With each piece of music you can travel farther down the rabbit hole. Each album offers you an opportunity to disclose just what’s great or what’s a challenge for your product. Not only that, but each piece of music, each instrument or vocal sample used is simply another opportunity to get closer to the music, and closer to the IEM.


The Fight!
The Competition Between Two Planar IEMs

In this section both IEMs will take turns playing the exact same music. While subjectivity is always a given, I will do my best to be objective here.

There will be four albums chosen and all four will be rated with both headphones on the following metrics.


1) Soundstage
2) Bass Performance
3) Treble Performance
4) Midrange Performance
5) Instrument tone
6) Timbre
7) Dynamics
8) Punch
9) Resolution/Detail
10) Transient Response
11) Imaging
12) Emotion
13) Musicality
14) Realness

15) Smoothness


This looks like a lot of work, but it’s truly quite simple………almost. I will get to the one part of this test which is slightly complicated. The Walkman WM1Z was used for the entire test. The specific reason for this is quite clear really. The warmer character and full-bass tone seemed to enhance the natural character that we were working with. The intrinsic treble soundstage actually made both IEMs better. Also of course it helped level the playing field, having both IEMs use the same player. Other sources were used prior, as how would I know to start with which player to use? No EQ, or sound processing were used in this test. The term Sony uses is called “Source Direct”…….such a set-up uses the minimum altering of sound values, though some may argue that using the WM1Z is not accurate, that it’s too dark and blurring the final out-come of our testing today. I feel the test is still accurate as it’s simply the best sound for both IEMs. In this regard we are lucky as a single comparison DAP was used. I figure if it’s fair to use the same DAP on both players, it’s fair, regardless of intrinsic tone values. After purchase everyone is going to use their own equipment for use with the IEMs. While it’s true that there will be differences between sources, this is simply a fact of life and not truly an issue in our testing procedure. Reason being is all the testing parameters have been equalized to the best of my ability. I’m not able to electronically equalize volume, but I did keep the volume levels exactly the same and consistent though-out the testing. Meaning the fly in the ointment here is that truly volume hasn’t been electronically equalized. Still amazingly in my uses they seemed to be equal in efficiency. Such a fact helped standardize the process, as it could be stated that a simple dB of more efficiency could in fact lead one to alternate conclusions about sound quality. Also probably the main focus of this whole “War” is in-fact that the two IEMs do respond to music differently. The playback sessions were further enhanced with the exact same tips. I used 2 sets of Sony Hybrid IEM Tips in Large size. Having two sets meant that all I had to do was change the 4.4mm plug. I used the included cable with the Panda but for this comparison test switched to a 4.4mm cable as I wanted to equalize any variability between playback. With the Panda I used a Han Sound Audio Zen 4 wire OCC litz copper cable terminated Furutech 4.4mm. The RAPTGO HOOK-X was used the included cable with 4.4 termination.

The scores are all 1-10 on value metrics: Take note the values are only with the realm of comparison of these 2 IEMs. These scores have nothing to do with other IEMs. It’s only a war between two opponents. Also this simple 1-10 score is perceived as correct at one moment in time. The scores can actually fluctuate a little, day to day. Though what will be consistent here is the written evaluation as well as the general ideas in the numerical 1-10 score. So when you see the numerical score think generalization.

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (soundtrack)
Beautiful Lie: 96 kHz - 24 bit


This is the very first song on the OST, it starts a mood, a theme (of course it’s a theme) I mean a general theme in the movie. Here the war between the two IEMs could’t be more of a battle. Now what was interesting was how good the Big Panda was at the bass. Man, here they are duking-it-out, Not only is the bass of the Panda great but the whole soundtrack is played back well. This happens at times and is still a mystery, even though you are reading this review to escape the mystery about which IEM to buy. All I have to say is I’m really impressed by the Panda. If anything, it’s this movie soundtrack that somehow brought it to life! Of course the bass is not as physical as some IEM choices, but the Panda makes up for that with speed and agility. But here is the thing! The HOOK-X is a hybrid and the Panda is not. That is obvious in the specifications, but here it’s obvious in the music. So as we were talking about earlier...............it’s maybe matching the album with the Panda? The fact that this is one of my most vary favorite albums in my life, but..........it’s also the Panda’s favorite too! It’s that good! It’s almost the single reason to get the Panda, that in fact the Panda may be complementary to your library? Unified totality. The Panda is unified totality with the right music!

What I feel is happening here very much has to do with discovery of the holes in the Hybrid design. Meaning with Rock and New Age it seems the Hybrid HOOK-X was slightly bigger in soundstage and truthfully it’s always bigger in soundstage than the Panda. But with this OST there was an extra quality of cohesive nature in use with the Panda that made owning it special. So it was music that was simply less grainy and together. It was way smoother and of actually simply finer quality. I could actually see Hans Zimmer preferring the Panda without question here. Still what’s interesting is the bigger more involved rendition by the HOOK-X, not as pure but entertaining none-the-less.

Panda:
1) Soundstage 8
2) Bass Performance 8
3) Treble Performance 8
4) Midrange Performance 10
5) Instrument tone 10
6) Timbre 10
7) Dynamics 6.5
8) Punch 9.5
9) Resolution/Detail 10
10) Transient Response 10
11) Imaging 10
12) Emotion 10
13) Musicality 10
14) Realism 9
15) Smoothness 10

HOOK-X
1) Soundstage 10
2) Bass Performance 9
3) Treble Performance 9
4) Midrange Performance 9
5) Instrument tone 7
6) Timbre 9
7) Dynamics 9
8) Punch 8
9) Resolution/Detail 5
10) Transient Response 9
11) Imaging 9
12) Emotion 9
13) Musicality 9
14) Realism 9

15) Smoothness 7

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DCD-Anastasis
Amnesia: 44.1 kHz - 24 bit
I’m not judging the vocals numerically, though I do describe them (here) in the written introduction to the metrics. It’s really a wash to me, as both do vocals well but approach them from slightly different directions. The HOOK-X is less bright in the vocal department but still is considered a vocal IEM due to the great well roundedness and midrange. The HOOK-X is broader and more spread-out, offering a breath in reproduction….somehow the vocals find their place almost wavering in their middle placement of the soundstage. I can only guess the vocals are recorded in stereo? The Panda on the other hand offers a compressed rendition in size. The whole placement is more conservative and while subtle, it’s all closer to the center. You would think with the enhanced pinna gain the Panda would be brighter here, but somehow it’s not. It’s perfect, though a more compact vocal rendition.

Panda
1) Soundstage 10
2) Bass Performance 8 (Finally understanding the bass)
3) Treble Performance 10
4) Midrange Performance 10
5) Instrument tone 9
6) Timbre 9
7) Dynamics 8
8) Punch 7.5
9) Resolution/Detail 10
10) Transient Response 10
11) Imaging 10
12) Emotion 10
13) Musicality 10
14) Realism 9
15) Smoothness 9

HOOK-X
1) Soundstage 10
2) Bass Performance 10
3) Treble Performance 10
4) Midrange Performance 10
5) Instrument tone 10
6) Timbre 10
7) Dynamics 10
8) Punch 9
9) Resolution/Detail 8.5 (Somehow this is the Illusion)
10) Transient Response 9
11) Imaging 10
12) Emotion 10
13) Musicality 10
14) Realism 10

15) Smoothness (Sounds smoother than it is)


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Daft Punk TRON: Legacy OST
Rinzler: 44.1 kHz - 16 bit

Even though this was recorded with an 85 piece orchestra recorded at AIR Lyndhurst Studios in London, it’s not classical in a sense that electronics were used. Also a unique sound was put on tape that isn’t at all considered optimal. The recording was free to red-line which can bring about a different dynamic. It’s kinda what bad over tweeked (distorted) theater sound is like. You are sitting in the theatre and this effect almost makes everything sound bigger, but it’s truly the antithesis of audiophile sound. Here somehow the RAPTGO HOOK-X is in its element. The softness of the HOOK-X is the HOOKs secret weapon in this song. Where the brighter pinna gain of the Panda can cause any normal person to turn down the volume. Interestingly the “Dawn Of Justice” OST before has none of these issues. Where what takes place in DOJ is a more conservative and thoughtful rendition of an orchestral recording. Both OSTs recorded roughly 6 years apart, but very different on these two headphones.

Panda
1) Soundstage 9
2) Bass Performance 7
3) Treble Performance 10
4) Midrange Performance 10
5 )Instrument tone 10
6) Timbre 10
7) Dynamics 8
8) Punch 7
9) Resolution/Detail 7
10) Transient Response 7
11) Imaging 7
12) Emotion 7
13) Musicality 7
14) Realism 7
15) Smoothness 7

HOOK-X
1) Soundstage 10
2) Bass Performance 10
3) Treble Performance 10
4) Midrange Performance 10
5) Instrument tone 9
6) Timbre 10
7) Dynamics 10
8) Punch 9
9) Resolution/Detail 6
10) Transient Response 8
11) Imaging 7
12) Emotion 10
13) Musicality 10
14) Realism 7

15) Smoothness 5

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The Cure-Faith
All Cats are Gray: 44.1 kHz - 16 bit

I don't know how to get far enough away from this song to hear it with common first time ears? I have listened to this since 1981. Though the timeless quality it holds for me is made up of parts, like car parts. It can be taken apart and reassembled to make a whole working song in my mind. Ahhh the memory of music. So the first thing about it is the faint noise at 9 seconds in. Such a signpost I have used for years to judge the resolution of IEMs. The sunny day here is that both pairs, The HOOK and The Panda do super well at it.

And.....just like how they do vocals, they do the synthesizer elements with the same character. Meaning it's basically what this review is about. The fact that the Panda is more cohesive and tighter, with the HOOK-X being bigger and more spread-out. Probably my biggest hurdle with the Panda was coming to terms with the bass and drums. So I took a few days off and came back to the Panda and tried them again. Also they got the burn. Meaning I burned the Panda IEMs in for 100 hours. And the greatest thing happened, I came back and I perceived bass, and drums correctly. Also, it's been awhile and so far so good. So what happened? I don't know, except this is kinda how it goes. Time is our friend when reviewing headphones and IEMs.

Anyway to get back to ACaG......the end results are smooooooth. Yep, that is what is now taking place. Smooth with the Panda and slightly grainy with the HOOK-X. But the amazing part is both are a total 10/10 here. And......if anyone can verify that it is me. The fact that playback is made up of many different characters. Not always perfect but many times perfect can be two different ways of approaching music. I mean the actual performance is long gone, all we have is the recording, it is anyones guess which is correct and which one is not. Still my most satisfying thing is the beautiful sound of the bass from both the HOOK-X and the Panda!


Panda
1) Soundstage 9
2) Bass Performance 8
3) Treble Performance 10
4) Midrange Performance 10
5) Instrument tone 10
6) Timbre 10
7) Dynamics 8
8) Punch 7
9) Resolution/Detail 9
10) Transient Response 9
11) Imaging 10
12) Emotion 9
13) Musicality 9
14) Realism 9

15) Smoothness 10

HOOK-X
1) Soundstage 10
2) Bass Performance 10
3) Treble Performance 10
4) Midrange Performance 10
5) Instrument tone 10
6) Timbre 10
7) Dynamics 8
8) Punch 9
9) Resolution/Detail 7
10) Transient Response 9
11) Imaging 10
12) Emotion 10
13) Musicality 10
14) Realism 8

15) Smoothness 5


The Difference:

So we have come to the final conclusion of this test! The simple fact is that with some music they sound very close to the same, but with other music they start to differ. What are the ramifications of such a finding? It means that even generalizations are not always going to be correct. OK…..so this goes with-out saying that they would respond to Song A differently with some music and closer to the same with Song B. This is a bigger deal than it seems on the surface. It simply means that a broader range of music needed to be chosen. After that the same testing procedure can be followed.

So what does this all mean? It’s going to be subjective to a certain level…….still the final verdict is the Panda is smoother than the HOOK-X………still the pinna gain with the Panda is coinciding with that smoothness. This results in the Panda at times being simply brighter, but it depends on the music. This will almost go into a style of brightness correction if you find yourself listening to quieter music. Thus the Panda will get intense and overly intense if the music just is that way, where the RAPTGO HOOK-X sits back a little and will be forgiving in such instances.

So the smoothness in and of itself does not make the Panda better.

The HOOK-X brings a wider soundstage to the table. But……because the Panda is not a Hybrid………it means the Panda does not bring the incoherence.

The HOOK-X's sound is simply coming from combining different drivers into one unit and asking for possible unification.

Which do I personally enjoy more? That is a confusing question. I started out thinking the HOOK-X was too thin, then after burn-in the true nature of the HOOK-X became apparent. The HOOK-X after burn-in of 65 hours had great bass. The HOOK-X does put-out a more vibrant /bigger sound…….but the Panda is more about the midrange. Still that bass speed that the Panda brings! Though if you only listened to OSTs and Classical Symphonies maybe the Panda would suit you more? Believe it or not I can almost quantify this down to one single metric…………grain. The HOOK-X has more of it and the Panda smoother. Also the Panda is more evenly/correctly representing the music. My success with the Panda comes down to one single aspect……..that was understanding the bass, and enjoyment of the bass for exactly what it is.


Conclusion:
It's a draw.

It really, really is. Should you buy the HOOK-X or The Giant Panda? I'm thinking it's up to the style of tunes you listen to? Of course the HOOK-X is way bigger. Yep, it is bigger than the Giant Panda. In fact I'm not exactly sure about the marketing strategy for the Giant Panda? They are really small? Well....they are medium size. But the great part is they are 100% super comfy to wear. They are also the ultimate sports IEM. I would never jog with the HOOK-X, it's just not possible in any way. So there you have it.



Equipment Used:
Sony WM1Z Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 4.4mm/3.5mm
Sony WM1A Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 4.4mm/3.5mm
Sony TA-ZH1ES DAC/AMP Firmware 1.03
Electra Glide Audio Reference Glide-Reference Standard "Fatboy" Power Cord
Sony Walkman Cradle BCR-NWH10
AudioQuest Carbon USB
Apple iPhone

Disclaimer:

The information you are reading is one individuals thoughts and ideas, your personal results may vary.
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They just don’t sound this similar to me. Especially the way they graph in the 2k-5k? Though it maybe the 5k-6k difference I'm hearing? Also the bass is tight but not AS tight sounding and recessed as the graph would have you believe? But, who knows that may be just how this style of bass graphs? I view graphs only after writing a review due to the influence they may have on perception of FR.

End of review.
Last edited:
lucanato
lucanato
C
Carpet
I was holding off on these, and ordered the AQ4 instead during the AE summer sale. Then Tinhifi AE store put them on sale for $100 with discounts, so I ordered the P1 Max as well. July is going to be interesting. :L3000:
Redcarmoose
Redcarmoose
Congratulations! I struggled with the sound until burn-in was finished! This is one IEM that truly may need 100 hours of play first!
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