TIN HiFi P1+ - Planar Sensations
I was a big fan of the original P1. My first ever Magnetic Planar IEM. A relationship that was actually quite rocky due to the very finicky nature of P1 that is so full of characters. So, when my favourite online store HifiGo listed P1+ on their store it was practically a blind purchase for me without even thinking.
I will try to make this as concise as possible. A great many people have already known and experienced the OG P1. And to cut to the chase, after spending over 100 hours with my own P1+, I will outlay it like this:
- P1+ is indeed less demanding to drive at 108db of sensitivity vs the OG P1 at 95db. It simply mean P1+ can actually be used on my Android phones directly at volume level of 70/100 (Xiaomi Redmi 10) or 80/100 (Sony Xperia X Compact). Proper listening loudness can be achieved and P1+ can be used for casual listening – something that’s practically not possible with the very stubborn OG P1
- P1+ retained similar sound signature to the OG P1, and I am actually grateful for this as I was already a big fan of the OG P1 sound which I regard as truthful to classic Magnetic Planar signature (using FOSTEX’s Foster Orthodynamic Magnetic Planar sound as a reference – one of the key pioneer for developing Magnetic Planar drivers for the last 30 years). Simply put, both P1+ and OG P1 sounds similar to my FOSTEX T40RP MK3 which I love so very dearly.
- Cosmetically, P1+ is practically identical to the OG P1. In fact, the shells are the same. About the only difference I see is that the cable now goes with a more complex braid on the main body where the OG P1 was much simpler. Even the box and accessories included are identical to the OG P1.
Tuning for Listening
As with many other IEMs I have ever tried, it will always start with matching the right tips to get proper seal and comfort – as well as to achieve the best match of sonic responses. Again, I would like to remind that tips selection can make or break an IEM in the larger scheme of things. Pair it wrong and they will sound utterly terrible, pair them right (matching the listener ear biology) and sonic bliss is assured.
For my own usage I opted to use the stock grey slow rebound tips included by TIN as part of the accessories. I am very grateful for this as recently it seems many manufacturer have seemed to assume that everyone needs silicone tips. I have big issues with most silicone tips – they seem to have odd unnatural Bass resonances and reverb, at least to my ears.
Timbre, Tonality & Dynamics:
P1+, truthful to the original P1, remained highly analogue and organic neutral. The overall sound is pleasingly natural without any hint of artificial Dynamics vibrancy. Clean and tidy as how a Magnetic Planar meant to be. For people who enjoy their sound bright and sparkly, they would describe this P1+ as “warm”. For Bassheads they would probably classify P1+ as boring (similar to OG P1). The tone of P1+ is very mature and polished, non-euphonic as opposed to how it would be normally be heard from most modern single Dynamic Drivers or Hybrids. Dynamic range focuses more on subtle and articulated extensions, which means for most probably this P1+ will not give them the WOW factor on first listen. The sound curve is a lot closer to Diffused Field Neutral but not quite as flat sounding as how it would be with Etymotic ER series.
P1+ Mids are rich and forward sounding. It has great density, texture, and details – especially when powered properly. The general theme for Mids is natural and smooth. With vocals presentation being realistically lush and engaging for female vocals, deep and commanding for males. Instruments with realistic tones, attack, and decays. There’s zero hint of added coloration especially when driven with an equally neutral source. If I am to draw comparison, then P1+ is very similar to Etymotic ER2XR – which many regard as a refence for natural sounding Mids. The staging for Mids can be perceived as a bit more intimate especially if the listener is more accustomed to V sounding unit, also depending on the level of mastering done with the records. For example, Diana Krall, Alison Krauss, and Morrissey will always have their Mids mastering done a bit more intimate forward than most. With the likes of Sinne Eeg, Nick Cave and Suzanne Vega, there’s a bit more of space provisioned. This only mean that P1+ is super transparent to the nature of the recording, which is a big plus in my book.
Treble on P1+ is markedly well extended yet highly controlled. It has all the deep extensions as per expected of an IEM of this pedigree. As with the rest of the sound frequencies, this largely depend on how competent the source is. Overall Treble presentation of P1+ focuses more on subtle articulation with very well controlled shimmer and micro-Dynamics. Treble does not jump into your face; it is as silky smooth yet crisp with pleasing sparkle. Markedly a bit more pronounced than the OG P1 (which can be outright rolled-off when inadequately powered). Treble edge and note decays are very realistic sounding, it does not linger longer than what’s perceived as natural. Nor does it rolled-off too early. What I admire the most is how unoffensive the entire Treble spectrum is, there’s no hint of spiky humps or sibilance. P1+ offers ample Treble details and textures despite being somewhat subtle – again largely depends on the source competency and tips choice.
P1+ has very neutral Bass responses. And this is no different from the OG P1. I am glad that TIN HiFi decided to keep it this way. Unfortunately, this would not be a great thing for Bassheads. However, for those preferring realistic uncolored natural and neutral Bass, P1+ assuredly will be very satisfying. Well, it does seem to be a bit denser than Diffused Field Neutral Bass responses of the Etymotics or VE Duke, but it also means it is not as lifeless sounding as the Etys as well. From certain perspective P1+ can be considered as “less fun” due to this. Sub-Bass unfortunately a bit lacking in presence, almost inaudible when paired with sources pumping up to 1 Vrms of power. Sub-Bass begin to show a bit more of presence with at least 2 Vrms and will shine the best with 4 Vrms and above – or simply put with a minimum of 200 mW per channel. Bass performances of P1+ are at absolute best when paired with my 4.1 Vrms 775 mW DACport HD or RAP5 + Abigail (combination of over 5 Vrms in total) – there’s tons of texture, mass density and details with deep and convincing extensions. Mid-Bass fares better with solid yet subtle punches and rumble, still a bit soft with seismic responses but then this is per expected of a Magnetic Planar especially when they are this small at just 10mm. Bass is where P1 siblings need power the most. As noted earlier it largely depends on the power feed. Running straight from my phones while the sound is decent, Bass is borderline anemic and recessed (still usable but not as abysmal as the OG P1). There’s no hint of Mid-Bass interfering with the rest of the frequencies especially the lower Mids.
Soundstage for P1+ is admirably spacious, wide and with great depth for an IEM. But then it does sound confined and boxed in when used with both of my phones directly from the 3.5mm SE. Soundstage will only open up properly at the mark of 2 Vrms and above. So, this also means with Abigail, Avani and VE Odyssey HD the staging is small and narrow as well.
Imaging and separation are great. Not exactly clinically razor edged but it is not fuzzy as well. Spatial positioning seems to favor a bit more of traditional Stereo rather than being holographic. Separation lines are distinct, and it is easy to track instrument notes even with Lo-Fi recordings.
Speed wise, P1+ just like the OG P1 is average at best. Average when compared against the speed demons like Etymotic ER4SR, VE Duke or Shure KSE1500. But it is speedy enough for a Magnetic Planar which means it will not get congested for handling of complex passages. I must admit though, for handling of outright fast songs above 200 BPM, there’s a hint of compression where the sound field gets slightly narrow – it remained coherent, but the footprint become slightly reduced.
Being a single driver, maintaining Dynamics coherence is easy for P1+. It is evident to me the overall smooth mature presentation is largely attributed by the single driver deft ability to maintain great Dynamics transients harmony throughout the range.
It is simple. P1+ is the next sensible evolution of P1. Those already loving the OG P1 will also love this P1+. In fact, I may even say if you already have OG P1 and managed to get it paired with powerful enough nuclear-powered amps, then you may consider skipping P1+. But if there’s a need for a more sensible driving source, then P1+ is the clear option to choose from. Not forgetting that with the sensitivity change it also have marginally improved P1+ Treble for a bit more sparkle. Otherwise, they are pretty much identical in timbre, tonality, and characteristics.
P1+ is a fast becoming a beacon on Magnetic Planar done right in IEM form factor.
And yes, last but not least. What I like about the P1+ as a package is how great the stock cable and the tips are. I am perfectly satisfied that I will not need to swap them out for aftermarket units – at least not for now. I will still swap cables simply because I already have tons of cables lying around, but the key thing is the stock cable is as sonically great as it is aesthetically pleasing.
- Ovidius B1(3.5mm SE)
- CEntrance DACport HD(3.5mm SE)
- VE Run About Plus 5(18V Amplifier)
- Xiaomi Redmi 10
- Sony Xperia X Compact
- HiBy Music with USB Exclusive Mode (FLAC)
- Tidal Masters with Exclusive Mode
(Both with slow rebound Foam Tips, Stock Cables & paired with CEntrance DACport HD)
- Dynamic transients on Timeless is markedly more euphonic and edgier than P1+. Timeless being the only Magnetic Planar that I have ever listened to that sounds more like a Dynamic Driver. P1+ on the other hand stayed faithful to classic Magnetic Planar signature of being flatter and solid bodied.
- Timeless has more pronounced Bass responses. More like a DD Bass rather than a Magnetic Planar. P1+ exhibited flatter and tighter Bass signature which is common for Magnetic Planars. Timeless also has more audible Sub-Bass, and Mid-Bass with stronger seismic sensation. Timeless will appeal more to Bassheads while P1+ stays truer to DF Neutral Bass performances.
- Timeless offers more Treble sparkle and shimmer with crisper decays. P1+ instead more on smooth and subtle presentation. Trebleheads are more inclined to prefer Timeless over P1+. In summary, Timeless is just more exciting and vibrant, P1+ focuses on mature, smooth, and subtly nuanced Treble textures.
- P1+ has more organic and forward Mids vs Timeless. Timeless being closer to a soft V Mids of Dynamic Drivers type of Mids - while P1+ exhibited hint of warmth as per expected from a typical Magnetic Planar. P1+ Mids is closer to Etymotic ER2XR Mids - which classify it being Natural Organic.
- Stock vs Stock, Timeless has slightly wider Soundstage vs P1+ more intimate spacing and width. Imaging pretty much similar
- Timeless still the easier one to drive, less demanding. P1+ despite having lower requirements than the OG P1, will shine best with more powerful pairing. Which also means P1+ is the one that will scale better with superior sources and amplification. 7Hz Timeless will already reach max potential even with a good 2 VRMS source, 90% with 1 Vrms (Avani, Abigail & VE Odyssey HD), while P1+ will only give max 70% with the same 1 Vrms Dongles. P1+ shines the best with 2 VRMS at approx. 90% (Ovidius B1) and 100% with over 4 Vrms power from the likes of DACport HD (775 mW), RAP5 + Abigail or TempoTec Sonata E44. Scalability wise, undoubtedly P1+ being more preferable.
Based on the differences as noted above, it is clear to me why one would choose Timeless or P1+. For generally exciting and vibrant presentation, Timeless is the obvious choice. For refined, subtly nuanced fidelity that is faithful to Magnetic Planar sound, P1+ it is. Compared side by side, the Timeless undoubtedly offering mild V sound tuning, P1+ being analogue and organic, “warm” sounding unit. So personal preferences will prevail on deciding which one suits the listener better - because technically both are equally competent with most elements.
PS: My analogy on this. P1+ and P1 are very similar sounding to my FOSTEX T40RP MK3 while Timeless would be in alignment with Monolith M565c (another Magnetic Planar headphone that I like a lot).