I would like to thank Linsoul for providing this review unit.
The Tripowin Piccolo can be gotten here: https://www.linsoul.com/products/tripowin-piccolo
(no affliate links).
- Driver configuration: 11 mm dual-cavity LCP dynamic driver
- Impedance: 32 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 110 dB
- Cable: 2-pin, 0.78 mm, high-purity OCC copper cable
- Tested at $35 USD
Other than the IEM, these are included:
- 3 pairs of silicone eartips (S, M, L)
Retailing at $30ish USD, the spartan accessories are kind of expected, though it would have been nice to perhaps had more selection of eartips, or even a case.
The stock cable is a 2-pin, high-purity OCC copper cable. It's nothing to write home about, it is serviceable with a chin cinch, though it is thin and tangly with microphonics in abundance. No biggie swapping it for aftermarket cables for some of our recalcitrant CHIFI aficionados here who have a drawer full of cables haha.
Well, there are some similarly priced rivals without detachable cables in this current day, so I guess we can't complain much for the $30 entrance fee. Cables terminating in a 2-pin connector are always a plus in my book, as the budget MMCX types tend to get loose with repeated cable changes.
The rest of this review was done with the stock cable and stock tips. No aftermarket accessories were used, so as not to add any confounders to the sound.
At ordering, one can select between a black or silver shelled variant. Fashioned from metal, the shells are tear drop shaped with an almond like etching on the faceplate.
Comfort is superb. There are no weird edges to poke the ears, and the shells are relatively light. I did not experience any discomfort despite using the Piccolo for longer listening sessions.
Isolation is average as this set is heavily vented. I did not encounter any driver flex but this is partially dependent on ear anatomy and type of eartips used, so YMMV.
The Tripowin Piccolo uses an 11 mm dual-cavity LCP dynamic driver.
I tested the Piccolo with the following sources:
- Apple dongle
- Colorfly CDA M1 DAC/AMP dongle
- Creative Sound Blaster X5
- E1DA DAC/AMP dongle
- Hiby R3 Pro Saber 2022 DAP
- Khadas Tone Board -> Schiit Asgard 3 amp
- Khadas Tone Board -> Topping L30 amp
- Questyle M15 DAC/AMP dongle
- Sony Walkman NW A-55 DAP (Walkman One WM1Z Plus v2 Mod)
- Sony Walkman NW A-55 DAP (Walkman One Neutral Mod)
- Sony Walkman NW WM1A DAP (Walkman One WM1Z Plus v2 Mod)
The Piccolo can be driven off the weakest of sources, and amplification is not truly required. Amplification may however, provide a tighter bass, increased dynamics and better soundstage, so juice might allow the Piccolo to scale.
SOUND & TECHNICALITIES
Graph of the Tripowin Piccolo via IEC711 coupler. 8 kHz area is a coupler artefact peak.
Tonally, the Piccolo can be described as U-shaped. It is very balanced and should suit most music genres.
Timbral accuracy is extremely organic, and I daresay the Piccolo has one of the best timbre for a $30 pair. Timbre freaks will have a field day pairing the Piccolo with vocals or music featuring predominantly orchestral or acoustic instruments.
are quite good for a budget pair, with the Piccolo showcasing micro-details and clarity well, with resolution that belies its low price tag. Soundstage is decently wide but it is not the tallest or deepest. Thankfully, the Piccolo makes it up with a rather accurate imaging and acceptable instrument separation. The driver is speedy, with transients aced on the Piccolo, even on complex tracks.
The Piccolo is sub-bass focused, and the bass
is just slightly north of neutral. Sub-bass extends very well, with a visceral rumble heard when sub-bass heavy tracks are played. The Piccolo has superb bass quality, with good texturing and an agile bass, even with fast bass lines. There's some element of mid-bass bleed, but this is a love-it or hate-it kind of thing, as this adds warmth to the tuning, though some purists dislike it.
As discussed above, the lower midrange
is warmed by the hint of mid-bass bleed, which thickens this frequency band slightly. With just a 6 dB ear gain, the Piccolo has forward vocals but it is not shouty, which is a really tough line to balance. Vocals are not nasal, nor too far back in the mix. The midrange is very transparent, with great layering and vocals shining through, and the Piccolo is a great pair for mid-lovers and vocal genres.
is boosted, and the upper treble has moderate air and extension. There's a sprinkle of sibilance, though the Piccolo's treble is quite well-dosed, in pursuing sparkle without veering to too much harshness or fatigue. Cymbals and high-hats have a bit of bite, but this is not overcooked to the point of splashiness.
Playing the Piccolo at higher volumes (Fletcher Munson curve) may overly boost the treble and lead to some exhaustion with longer listening sessions, but using it at moderate or low volumes is a match made in heaven, in providing an extended treble with fine clarity and resolution. Indeed, the actual "Piccolo" is a woodwind instrument that plays in the higher registers, and the Tripowin Piccolo does live up to its namesake in nailing this area.
Comparisons were made with other budget single DD IEMs. Planars, hybrids and pure BA types were left out of the equation as the different transducers have their pros and cons.
BLON X HBB Z300
The Z300 is more "fun" sounding, with a bigger bass, though the bass isn't as tight with more mid-bass bleed and a slower driver. The Z300 has less air and sparkle, though the lower treble is more emphasized. The midrange is more veiled on the Z300.
The Z300 has a thicker note weight, but isn't as natural in timbre. In technicalities, the Z300 has a slightly more expansive soundstage depth/height, though the Piccolo is wider in this department. Imaging, micro-detailing and instrument separation is inferior on the Z300.
Kiwi Ears Cadenza
The Kiwi Ears Cadenza is a warm Harmanish set. The Cadenza has more bass, though the bass is of poorer quality, with mid-bass bleed and a less textured bass line heard. The Cadenza has more upper mids and lower treble, and is shoutier, though the Piccolo has a more extended upper treble.
The Cadenza is less natural in timbral accuracy. The Cadenza loses in technicalities, with a weaker soundstage, micro-detailing, instrument separation and imaging noted.
The HOLA is L-shaped, with bigger sub-bass and a darker treble.
The HOLA is a league behind in technicalities (imaging, instrument separation, micro-details, transients and soundstage). Timbre is also slightly less organic on the HOLA.
I was pleasantly surprised with the legitimate sonic fidelity of the Tripowin Piccolo, and wasn't expecting it to beat some $30ish USD benchmarks like the Kiwi Ears Cadenza. The Piccolo's technical prowess is nothing to be sniffed at for the price, other than a pinch of mid-bass bleed, and perhaps an intimate soundstage depth and height (width is quite well done).
The balanced U-shaped tonality with excellent treble extension should hold the Piccolo in good stead when it comes to music genre synergy, and the transparent and clean midrange and treble are the stars of the show, promising a eargasmic session for vocal heads and mid-lovers. Moreover, timbral accuracy is majestic for acoustic genres, and the Piccolo - as per its orchestral namesake - is the chef's kiss for classical and orchestral pieces, in addition to acoustic and jazz music.
The solid build, great comfort and easy drivability are the icing on the cake for this nifty pair of IEMs. Admittedly, the accessories are quite disappointing, but I'm sure most consumers would rather have a good sounding set with sub-par accessories, than a pair packed to the gills but with bad sound.
Don't judge a book by its cover, the Piccolo looks unassuming, but it is a very formidable budget single DD that melds the 3Ts of timbre, tonality and technicalities well. I'm quite happy to recommend the Tripowin Piccolo to new ones who are just joining the hobby, it is a hidden gem and an affordable introductory pair that is quite bang for buck.