voja

500+ Head-Fier
Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Pros: Build quality
Slim design & lightweight nature
The only "stainless" mirror finish I've seen on an IEM — it's not 100% stainless, but from afar you the stains are almost unnoticeable
Amazing rubber modular cable
Great low-end response which is capable of producing rumble
Great treble extension
Very spacious
Superb imaging, staging, soundstage
Unboxing experience & presentation
A variety of high-quality accessories
Leather carrying case (p.s. it smells amazing!)
Cons: Comfort — the nozzle should've been angled more upwards/outwards
Warm and slightly reduced mid-range might not be everyone's cup of tea
Source picky
TinHiFi is now one of the biggest names in the portable audio space. It is also one of the more widely known Chinese earphone companies. I will always remember TinHiFi as one of the first companies to bring the “Chi-Fi” world on the map. Its T2 model was always featured and mentioned in “top X” lists, but it was also often featured on Massdrop (now Drop).

Today I will be taking a look at TinHiFi’s flagship P2+.

Most of you are already familiar with the P2, the company’s “other” flagship. Well, P2 Plus is a “Commemoratory Edition” of the P2. What does this mean? Read on…

Unboxing Experience

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Most certainly, the first thing you will notice is the unboxing experience. It is screaming “premium”! Do note, P2 and P2+ share the same overall unboxing experience, but have some differences in the packaging design.

At first, you are met with this standard looking cardboard box, but once you slide it out of the cover, you see the special side. Ribbons, texture, moving parts... perhaps TinHiFi should make one of those motorized luxury watch boxes?

The box features the model name, “P2+”, in the center. In the upper-right corner there is text that says “Commemorative Edition”. In the bottom-left corner there is a print of the company’ standard logo. All of these prints are raised (they can be felt). The box itself is completely white, but has a circuit-like texture. Aside from the front-facing side, all the other sides of the box are plain (no text prints or anything alike).

One you pull the top ribbon, you will see a diagram showcasing the driver used in the P2+. You will also see the frequency response & specifications. After you completely lift the “lid”, you will find the P2+ IEMs, a carrying case, a white cleaning brush, and plastic tweezers.

Once you pull the front-facing ribbon, you will reveal the “drawer” that holds all the ear-tips, cable connectors, and the cable itself.

It’s quite apparent that TinHiFi carefully thought out the packaging design for its flagship IEMs, offering a truly exceptional presentation & experience. In my eyes, P2+ would make for a great gift, especially because of the unboxing experience. This is something I also said for HiFiMan’s RE600s V2, which too had an unordinary unboxing experience.

Formal format of what’s inside:
1x Mogami modular cable
3x adaptors (balanced 2.5mm, Single-Ended 3.5mm, balanced 4.4mm)
3x pairs of replaceable metal nozzle filters
1x cleaning brush
1x plastic tweezers
1x set of foam ear-tips (S/M/L)
1x set of color silicone ear-tips (S/M/L)
1x pair of Medium SpinFit CP100 ear-tips

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Design

In terms of physical design, these are identical to the P2 model. However, what is different between these two is the visual design.

You probably remember the standard P2 as the satin silver IEMs. If you were to ask me, I’d say that the P2 reminds me the most of Apple’s MacBooks. While some people consider MacBook’s finish “matte”, I consider it satin. It reflects light, but retains that stainless nature of a matte finish. P2+ is a bit different from the P2… Maybe more than just a bit. Instead of a silver satin finish, it features a polished gold finish.

The shells are fairly slim. I can say with confidence that this is one of the slimmest IEMs that I’ve had, if not the slimmest. Although they are made of two pieces, they have a very organic look. This is mainly due to the absence of sharp corners. Without the cable, they have a UFO-like silhouette. With the cable, they heavily resemble ear-buds — the old, classic ear-buds; not the modern wireless ear-buds — because of the stem-like figure.

On the outer part of the shell, there is a raised portion that is slanted at an angle. This part is flat and has a textured gray faceplate. At first, I thought the faceplate would be rough like sandpaper, but found that to be false (more on that in the “Build Quality” section). In P2’s marketing section, the company calls this a “SPL Pneumatic filter ventilate panel” and also gives an “explanation”. As far as I can see, this faceplate is solid, making me think that this was just for some marketing. Either way, it looks nice. Whether or not it serves the said function is something that I cannot confirm or validate.

P2+ uses industry standard 0.78mm connectors. However, instead of going with the usual recessed connectors, TinHiFi opted for protruding ones. They can work with non-recessed connector cables, but the best and most desirable “fit” is achieved with recessed connector cables.

As a whole, the P2 series is well-designed. I like the different look. However, I am by far the biggest fan of the polished finish. Unlike a mirror finish, P2+’s finish is fairly stainless. I’m not sure if there is any sort of a special layer that is contributing to this, but I definitely noticed that stains aren’t as apparent as on a mirror finish. Unless you are very close to the IEMs, the stains aren’t really visible.

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Build Quality & Cable

Just like the standard P2, P2+ features stainless steel shells. P2’s shells have been treated with some sort of a process (e.g. sand blasting) to achieve the satin finish. In similar fashion, P2+’s shells have been electroplated with 18K gold to achieve the polished gold look. This is another feature that makes the “Commemorative Edition” special. Fun fact: P2+ is also referred to as the “Gold Edition”.

There is not much more to say regarding the build quality. It feels rock solid and the gold electroplated layer also feels of pretty good quality.

On the other hand, the cable had me much more intrigued. It is a custom Mogami 2381 modular cable. Let me tell you one thing: I LOVE IT!

I don’t know about everyone else, but I am one of the people that’s rooting for modular cables to become the next industry-standard feature. They are not bulky, they are convenient, and who the hell can not like them? I guess there are people who do not need the extra connectors, hence why they might consider them unnecessary, but for those who often find themselves switching connectors, they are a must-have. One thing is for sure, and that’s that they made the “old” adaptors seem almost unacceptable. Cable connectors are already bulky enough by themselves, let alone adding a bulky adaptor on top of that. *Brr* Yikes!

The part I love the most about this cable is the cable itself. While transparent cables are gorgeous because they show off the cable’s material beneath the sheathing, I love the good ole black rubber cables. I’m married to my Sennheiser HD598’s rubber cable, everyone knows that, and this Mogami cable heavily reminds me of it. It is silky smooth, it has that sheen, and it’s durable. It’s not necessarily the most flexible cable I’ve used, but it holds its shape when I want to put it away, and that’s what matters to me.

The housings (IEM connectors, Y-splitter, angled part of the connectors) are made of high-quality plastic. It would’ve been much more appropriate if they were made of metal, especially when you remember this is a premium IEM. The only reason why it’s forgivable is because the plastic matches the metal finish and feels high-quality.

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The modular cable uses a 4-pin “system”. Imagine two 2-pin connectors next to each other, and bam, you have the today’s modular cable system. You can actually stick a normal male 2-pin connector inside the female part (3.5mm, 2.5mm, 4.4mm connectors) — do note that I did this while the cable was fully disconnected from the IEMs and the amp/dac. Both IEM connectors are labeled with a colored metal ring at the end (red for the right, blue for the left). The male end is is fully made of metal and is labeled for the ease of use. There is a small textured section that helps you lock/unlock the connectors, and right above it there is a label that indicated that if you rotate it to the left, you will release the lock, and if you rotate it to the right, you will secure the lock. Not only that, but there is a white dot on the very end of it, helping you to aline the connectors, which also have a white dot. It’s a pretty straightforward mechanism that is quite reliable.

There’s no doubt that both the IEM shells and the cable are well-made, but I do have a pet peeve: the plastic bead chin slider. Ugh… me and bead chin sliders, we do not get along. I just don’t like their appearance. I’d rather have no chin slider than a bead one. Bead sliders, be gone!

Comfort

While the P2+ isn’t uncomfortable, comfort is definitely a field that needs to be worked on.

The IEMs themselves are very light, making them non-fatiguing weight-wise. In similar fashion, the ear-guides are very flexible and the cable is also fairly light, both of these lead to no fatigue or discomfort around the ear.

However, the main issue lies within the part that goes inside your ears: the nozzle.

It’s not too big, it’s not too short/deep — both of which are good aspects — but the angle of the nozzle just isn’t right. While, yes, it is angled outwards, it severely lacks the upward angle that is needed for a deep insertion into the ear. In my opinion, and also from experience, the best fitting IEMs have the nozzle sitting at a 45˚ angle upwards, while P2+’s nozzle appears to be at a 90˚ angle. If you ever put a finger in your ear, you will know that to reach your ear kanal (not recommended), you have to go 90˚ in, then go upwards (if you were to align the angle with your face, it would be towards the ends of your eyebrows). A very sharp upwards angle is needed for the IEM to fit like a glove.

Because IEMs are little objects, it’s possible to angle them and push them in, but then you have to face the consequences. What happens when you angle an IEM (instead of it being the other way around) is that the whole IEM sits at that angle… which also means that the cable will sit at a very awkward position.

Sound Performance​

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Lows

Up until this point, I’ve never really experienced the “planar bass” in its fullest form. I think that even if you tried to, you wouldn't be able to ignore P2+’s bass. The texture, the volume, the depth—chef’s kiss—the good stuff! Since I’ve already done a comparison between iBasso’s DX300 + AMP12 and DX300 MAX, I’ll go on to include an excerpt from my DX300 MAX review:

Setup:

DX300 MAX:
ᴀɴᴀʟᴏɢ ᴘᴏᴛ sᴇᴛ ᴀᴛ 12 ᴏ’ᴄʟᴏᴄᴋ
ᴅᴀᴄ ᴠᴏʟᴜᴍᴇ: 75
ɢᴀɪɴ: ʜɪɢʜ ɢᴀɪɴ
ᴅɪɢɪᴛᴀʟ ꜰɪʟᴛᴇʀ: D3
ᴜʟᴛɪᴍᴀᴛᴇ ᴍᴏᴅᴇ: ON

DX300 + AMP12:
ᴠᴏʟᴜᴍᴇ: 45
ɢᴀɪɴ: ɢᴀɪɴ
ᴅɪɢɪᴛᴀʟ ꜰɪʟᴛᴇʀ: D5 (ɴᴏs)

Rihanna — Final Goodbye │00:32, sub-bass is considerably more refined and has more depth & presence on the DX300 MAX (on the DX300 + AMP12, it sounds thinner and the delay isn't as audible as on the DX300 MAX)

Sia — Where I Belong│sub-bass/bass in the beginning has more depth and texture on the DX300 MAX. My ear notices and "feels" (I can feel more of the vibration) more on the DX300 MAX, especially in the delay of the bass

Daft Punk — Giorgo by Moroder│bass is more controlled, is tighter and punchier (has a sharper attack & delay), cleaner (less "oomph"), and has more texture on the DX300 MAX; 07:46 - 07:48, each drum hit and its vibration is felt more on the DX300 MAX

Pink Floyd — Dogs│just like in other tracks, I noticed that the bass is cleaner and has more of a thud than an "oomph" on the DX300 MAX

As you can tell, the difference between the two is audible.

I also wanted to hear how DX300 + AMP1MK1 differs from the DX300 MAX. I’ve done some A/B testing in the past between the AMP11MK1 and AMP12 modules, and the difference between the two is quite significant. AMP11MK1 has more bass quantity, while AMP12 has a more controlled and balanced sound signature altogether. AMP12 also has better tonality and clarity in the mid-range.

Starting off with my reference sub-bass testing track “Why so Serious?” by Hans Zimmer, I can immediately notice that the P2+ has not only more sub-bass quantity, but also better quality on the DX300 MAX. However, as soon as I played a track where there is more of a focus on mid-bass, I came to the same conclusion as I did before: AMP11 has more bass quantity, but less quality compared to AMP12 and DX300 MAX. A neat track to listen to this is “Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys. Focus on the drums’ qualities at the very start of the track. P2+ has more “oomph” with the DX300 + AMP11MK1 combo, but has a much clearer and present decay on the DX300 MAX. Also, by saying there is more “oomph” I am saying that the body is fuller, but also that the decay and the overall drums are less defined. Have you ever made you eyes go out of focus? If so, you probably know that everything in sight loses its definition, but everything becomes “larger”. Nothing is in focus, but because everything lost its definition, everything is “larger”. This is how I’d describe the previously-mentioned comparison.

I heard similar differences in Pink Floyd’s “Hey You” at the 01:18 minute mark. The first two drum hits have more depth on the DX300 MAX.

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Mids

Everything here is “smooth” and nicely executed. From vocals to instruments, for the most part, the timbre is life-like and natural.

I’d say the mid-range is more warm than analytical. None of my shouty/peaky testing tracks sounded edgy or peaky. I usually play “Forget Her” by Jeff Buckley, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, “Strange Fruit” by Nina Simone, and “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” by Joan Baez. Although in all of these tracks the peaks has somewhat of an edge, I wouldn’t say they had enough of it to make the recordings as “grainy” in the peaks as they are supposed to be (as they would be on a brighter set of IEMs). However, I also wouldn’t say that the peaks have been polished to the point where the peaky recording don’t sound peaky anymore.

Listening to several tracks with strings, I noticed that the overall mid-range and the upper mid-range are right on, but the lower mid-range doesn’t have enough “body” or “oomph” to give that authentic plucking sound. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I came to the conclusion that this lower mid-range is what gives a pluck its definition, its nature of sounding like a pluck, its texture. To come to this conclusion, I went through dozens of tracks that I am familiar with, some of them include: “Go Insane - Live 1997” by Fleetwood Mac, “Oh Daddy” by Fleetwood Mac, “Soldier of Fortune” by Deep Purple, “Private Investigations” and “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits, “Beyond the Realms of Death” by Judas Priest, “When a Bind Man Cries” by Metallica, “Some Other Time” by Alan Parsons Project

The mid-range isn’t the most impressive part of the P2+, especially when you are someone who likes to listen to a lot of acoustic and instrumental music. Also, if anything, I found vocals to sit slightly “behind” other elements in music.

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Highs

In my opinion, this is where the majority of excitement comes from. This is the so-called cherry on the cake.

I know that some people described the normal P2 as a U-shaped IEM, and I think that might be the case with the P2+. However, unlike with the P2, I find P2+’ treble response to be the factor that attracts me to enjoy it so much.
Playing my two tracks of choice for sibilance (“Portia” by Miles Davis, “Stop Trying to Be God” by Travis Scott — Stevie Wonder’s mouth harmonica at around 4:43 minute mark) I didn’t notice any signs of sibilance or piercingness. Sure, I can say that there is edge at the peaks, but I wouldn’t say that there is sparkle. In terms of my definition of sparkle, read this excerpt from my iBasso SR2 review:

“Sparkle is a sound characteristic of greater amount of clarity and detail retrieval than shine - it is a very hard characteristic to pull off, because often times it’s easy to cross the line and go into sibilance. When done correctly, you experience a very satisfying “tingle” feeling in your ear.”

It’s the treble quality that’s “borderline” with sibilance, or as one might say, the very last quality of “good” treble quality before it crosses into the bad treble qualities (piercing, sibilant).

Percussion, on the other hand, is something that I would call bright-sounding, but not in an unpleasant way. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: lovely!

Hm… maybe “lovely” isn’t the correct word, because that might give one the impression that it’s soft and forgiving. To get straight to the point, percussion is crisp, sharp, and aggressive. It is forward, but not to the point where it’s hurting your ears or distracting you from the rest of the elements in the mix. Because it is forward, it does stick out in the mix, but in a tasteful way. I know that I can say that I absolutely like how percussion sounds on the P2+. I’ve listened to a whole bunch of tracks and music, and percussion always sounds good. If I had to only use a single word to describe it, the word would be “crisp”.

I don’t think I’d pick out any specific track that showcases this, as though the majority of the already mentioned tracks showcase the crisp nature of percussion. “Heaven and Hell” by Black Sabbath, “When a Blind Man Cries” by Metallica, “Pull Me Under” by Dream Theater, “Some Other Time” by The Alan Parsons Project might be good examples of bright & crisp percussion.

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Soundstage & Layering

Let’s talk about soundstage for a second. I’ve had experience with quite a few IEMs, but I don’t think that any IEM came close to the soundstage of MMR Thummim — until now. While it’s not as holographic and as life-like as the Thummim, P2+ is pretty close. Also, do note that Thummim is a humongous IEM, and P2+ is a slim IEM. Whatever the hell TinHiFi did with the P2+, they did it right.

In just about every track you can hear how spacious and “holographic” the soundstage is. And it’s not just the soundstage, every element has room, meaning that you can separate out every element in the mix. Separation, layering, both are done excellently — as they should be in this price range. I was caught off guard by the spacious nature of King Crimson’s “Epitaph - Including “March for No Reason” and “Tomorrow and Tomorrow””. The guitar which is panned to the left sounds roughly 15-20 centimeters outside of the IEMs.

A track where you can hear P2+’ soundstage and staging capability is Yosi Horikawa’s well-respected “Bubbles”. If you’ve never listened to this track, I highly recommend it! I know that just about every person who gave it a listen made it essential when listening to any new gear. In my opinion, the two most important qualities in this track are soundstage & staging, both of which the P2+ nails. I’d say that here you can really hear the 3D soundstage that the P2+ is capable of, and I would also say the soundstage is 5-10cm wider than in the King Crimson track.

It’s one thing when an IEM has a wide soundstage, and it’s a whole other thing when an IEM is spacious. If you think about it, a wide soundstage is nothing more but the “perceived” distance in music, i.e. our interpretation of the imaginative music space, while a spacious IEM is one that has room around each element. The opposite of a spacious IEM is a crowded IEM, one that doesn’t give enough room to each element in the mix. The P2+ possesses both of these qualities.

Conclusion

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I have to say that I wasn’t expecting to like the P2+ so much. To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations, but in the end P2+ proved itself in just about every field.

It is not perfect, but the number of things it gets right, in my opinion, justifies the price. I’ve never seen a mirror finish IEM that isn’t a fingerprint magnet, yet TinHiFi somehow managed to do just that in here.

The slim form-factor, the lightweight nature, the relaxed (not perfect) fit, the cable!

I never had a chance to listen to the standard P2, but the flagship P2+ is fascinating. If the P2 retains the same qualities of the P2+, it’s a no-brainer. It’s still pretty unclear if the “Plus” is just a cosmetic and cable upgrade, or if there have been any sonic differences. I’d love to debunk this, but I do not have the standard model at hand.

“U-Shaped” would be the most accurate way to describe the P2+’ sound signature in technical terms. It has growling lows which are capable of rumble, but also retains the qualities in the bass region. The qualities I am talking about are the responsiveness (fast attack & decay), depth, and punchiness (delivery). It has a warmer and slightly recessed mid-range, and fills in the warmth with a more analytical and brighter treble response.

If it had a deeper and more present lower mid-range, had a greater upper mid-range extension, and the nozzle was more angled upwards, I would without a doubt rate it at 5 stars. When you are feeding these with enough juice, they really show what they are capable of.

At $650 (currently going for $620), it sits in a very competitive space in the market. Whether it is better or worse than its competitors, I cannot say because I have limited experience. My focus is mainly on the headphone market, and there’s only a bunch of IEMs that I’ve had an opportunity to listen to, but having had the experience to listen to MMR’s Thummim on my DX300 MAX SS, I can at least give my input as to how close this experience is to that one, and as I’ve already said, the P2+ is the only IEM I’ve listened to that comes close to the spaciousness of the Thummim.

If you have any need to justify its price, the standard P2 sells for $369 (currently going for $339). The P2+ Mogami modular cable goes for $169 (currently going for $150) on TinHiFi’s official store, so we can say that the 18K electroplating, SpinFit ear-tips, the updated ear-tips, the different leather carrying case, and the unboxing experience is costing you $112 (MSRP prices) or $131 with the current discounted prices… which doesn’t sound all that bad. These are just the physical changes, I cannot confirm whether there are any sonic differences between the two models.

All in all, if you have a source that gives enough juice to this power-hungry planar, I think you will be rewarded with a very pleasant listening experience.



Setup: iBasso DX300 MAX, high gain, DAC volume set @ 75, Ultimate Mode on, analog volume pot's position varied from 12 o'clock to 4 o'clock, Android OS, 4.4mm balanced
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Fatdoi
Fatdoi
my question is does a '+' sign and change of color warrant over 80% jump in price
voja
voja
@Fatdoi That's a question the buyer has to answer. If it's just a cosmetic change, then it would not be the first time that a change of finish would skyrocket the price.

However, as I said, it's not just the change of color. It's electroplated with 18K real gold. It's not a cheap finish and that is extremely apparent! It's also the cable and the whole unboxing experience.

Many people said that the normal P2 is shouty, and I didn't hear that in the P2+, which only makes me more confident that the "+" indicates also a change in sound.


As always, those who want to pay for luxury will pay for it.
Fatdoi
Fatdoi
@ voja well, with that price hike, it should be another class/level of iem not a slight improvement from the original....
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