…and I almost missed it… the Magic!
Tripowin, established in 2019, quickly gained experience in manufacturing professional HiFi cables and earphone accessories. To date, they have brought two models of IEMs to market. The inaugural release, the TP10, is a 5BA (Balanced Armatures) model with a build strikingly similar to the now retired CCA A10 and CCA C10.
The TC-01, our present beauties, are Tripowin’s unique sophomore effort – with a single direct driver and no foolishness to be found. With little build-up, marketing hyperbole, and excessive audiophile jargon from Tripowin, my expectations are tempered.
Based on your feedback, dear readers, I will consistently make my reviews a journey in sound and showcase for diverse global music. I hope that you take the time to listen to the artists and expand your musical horizons.
- Simple and beautiful small form factor
- High quality fit and finish
- Exceptional tuning and overall cohesion
- High detail and clarity without harshness
- Smooth treble
- Powerful and tight bass with good texture
- Soundstage and imaging is far better than others in the same and higher price brackets
- Outstanding value
- Limited selection of included silicone ear tips may lead to subpar sound reproduction
- Bass may be over represented for some who prefer neutral, flat audiophile sound
- No standard cable with microphone option
The links posted will generally be YouTubeMusic links. Please note that the quality of these online files vary drastically and are provided for quick reference. I primarily listen and evaluate from original source CDs or high-quality lossless files. You can likely source them through high-quality streaming services. Let me know if you find some new favorites, and please share yours with us at Headphonesty!
Throwback vibe. Simple, chrome-plated metal bodies, super shiny, and oh so cool. Almost flat on the outside with a compact form factor, and surprisingly substantial. My first reaction as a Headphonesty team member… these small silver beauties are going to be quite a challenge to photograph! And holding hope that they are easier to listen to. The mirror surface is so reflective it may warrant a warning for outdoor use on a bright sunny day.
Tripowin provides 3 silicone options – Small, Medium, and Large. One seems to be best for me. I turn on, tune in, and am underwhelmed. Tripowin claims a high degree of passive noise isolation, which can only be possible with a tight seal (which I am unsure I have achieved).
I am confused by what I am hearing. Bass is anemic and flat, while mids and highs are coherent and clear — highly unusual. Normally, a poor seal leads to poor bass response and is not paired with mids and highs that sound this good. Referencing the Tripowin provided frequency graph causes me more confusion, as I am expecting the bass (especially with a 10mm single direct driver in a metal body) to be healthy, if not big boned.
What would you do next? If you’re curious, read on and see if your answer matches mine below.
My readers will note that I and the Headphonesty team consistently have lots to say about ear tips (please reference this Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Perfect IEM Ear Tips). I am also prone to small rants on the topic.
As with all IEMs, the right ear tips and seal are crucial to realize the best sound and isolation. It is always worth the time to experiment until you find what’s best for you.
Established in 2019 and located in Shenzhen, China, Tripowin is a premium design-minded Hi-Fi audio brand established by a group of experienced engineers who are dedicated to pursuing ultimate sound quality and producing the best-in-class acoustic quality products with budget pricing, ergonomic design, and a human-centric music experience.
- Price: USD$49.00
- Transducer Driver: 10-millimeter dynamic driver with silicon-coated polyurethane diaphragm
- Impedance: 16 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 104db SPL/mW
- Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Noise Isolation: Passive, 26 dB (not noise cancelling as stated on the website)
- Style: In-ear, with earhook cable
- Connector: 0.78mm 2 Pin
- Plug Type: 3.5mm gold-plated straight plug
- IEM weight: 9 grams each (without ear tips)
- Cable length and type: 1.2m (3.9 ft) detachable
Arriving in a tidy and sharp cornered black cardboard box with an industrial graphic rendering of the TC-01 on the cover, it has a premium feel. What’s inside the box is even better.
In the box
- Tripowin TC-01 IEMs
- 1 detachable cable (1.25m long, 4 x 25 cores), no microphone available
- 3 pairs of black silicone ear tips (Small, Medium, Large)
- A small, well-made travel case with sewn-in netting with additional carry strap
- Printed instruction and information pamphlet that provides basic information, a guarantee card, and a quality certificate
Tripowin, despite being self-appointed experts in cables, ironically provides no detail on the material or properties of this cable. The cable appears to be of appropriate quality for the price point. While not a looker per se, it is minimalist, functional, and likely durable due to being tightly wound and dense. The chrome-colored plastic protective splitter is sturdy, and the sliding cinch grips well. It has a straight earplug design and a 3.5mm plug. All connections are secure.
My one complaint is that the diameter of the housing for the plug is larger than it needs to be, requiring me to remove cases from several devices to make a secure connection. Upgrade replacements are available.
The cable transmits no microphonics. The ear hooks have a plastic sleeve to help retain shape and for a flexible fit around the ear. They are secure and adequately comfortable.
Thumbing their collective nose at the trend of stuffing ever more drivers into ever larger translucent resin bodies, Tripowin decided on a single (yes, only one!) dynamic driver housed in a slim and sexy chrome polished metal body. A work of industrial art, form, and function. I have the silver/chrome to test. It also comes in a unique purple tint, as pictured below.
Each TC-01 IEM appears to be three assembled pieces: nozzle, body, and faceplate. The nozzles are larger in diameter than most, and collars are heavy duty. While ear tips are challenging to apply and remove due to the thick collars, they are highly secure once properly fitted. Swapping ear tips may take some practice and patience for the novice – it is 100% worth the time and effort.
The low profile of the TC-01 results in a relatively flush seating in the ears. Their ability to stay in the ear with normal movement is mostly dependent on the ear tip seal, not the shape of the IEM body conforming to the ear. The nozzle’s length and positioning are good.
The cord’s comfort is acceptable and appears to be durable and fine quality for the IEMs. The ear hooks hold well and conform around the ear without exerting any bothersome pressure.
- One (unseen) 10-millimeter dynamic driver with a silicon-coated polyurethane diaphragm per IEM
Tripowin TC-01 Sound
Picking up on my story from First Impressions, I am now mystified, accepting that the TC-01 is what it is. Great potential, notably inadequate bass and sub-bass. I tried to address this with many ear tip changes, source experiments, and amplifier and EQ adjustments (which is against my testing protocol unless specifically noted or earphone hardware enabled). No improvement.
In writing this review, I still have an unsettling feeling that I am the one missing something and quite possibly the source of the problem. I redouble my efforts, try all the alternative ear tips again, then conduct a search of my collection for other compatible ear tips. Memory foam, disappointingly, did not improve bass response.
I finally found a silicone pair that fit well for me on another pair of IEMs. The silicone was flexible enough to fit the large nozzle diameter, with shorter tips and a wider flange than the stock tips provided by Tripowin.
From weak to WHOA! In under a minute, I am blown away and beside myself. Other than not believing my ears and momentarily concerned that I had grabbed an entirely different pair of IEMs by accident, I am confused yet again…
I had almost completed all my notes for this review. Had I not persisted, I would have missed the true capability of the TC-01 and done Tripowin and you a great disservice.
What next? Trash bin all the notes, clear my digital paper and head of previous observations. Start over. The rework was worth it – the TC-01 is an amazing accomplishment indeed and something you will want to experience.
Not only does the sound production feel effortless, it is entirely smooth and well integrated. Everything blends and, keeping with the simplicity theme, simply seems to seamlessly sound right.
The TC-01 is warm without being dark or syrupy. It is somewhat v-shaped, though not as obvious in real-world listening as a look at the frequency graphs may suggest. For reference (and your entertainment), look at Crinacle’s measurements below.
For evaluation, I listened to a great variety of music from numerous sources, including:
- Sony DVP-S7000 CD Player
- LG V20 phone with quad DAC (has a headphone jack)
- Samsung A71 (in 2020-21, still has a headphone jack!)
- FiiO A3
- Samsung Chromebook
With a high sensitivity of 104db and a low impedance of 16 ohms, these IEMs are easy to drive with virtually any source. That said, I found them to sound better with amplification via a quality AMP/DAC. If you have such a device or a source that allows you to adjust the sound profile, you may find significant improvements with your own preferred tuning.
The TC-01 IEMs are versatile across genres of music and sound. I find them to be a true all-around performer, without specific bias for certain sound profiles.
Channel separation is excellent and produces above average soundstage, imaging, and spaciousness. These are IEMs for listeners who appreciate smooth sound, a great deal of presence, high dynamics, detail, and clarity.
For an overall test of any IEM or headphone, listen to Liquid Tension Experiment’s new release, The Passage of Time. Not only will they give your gear a heavy-duty workout, the track will expose all kinds of strengths and weaknesses. The TC-01 thrives under stress and high demand.
Bass is substantial, boosted just enough to ensure that you know it’s there in spades. Driver response is generally quick, with fast attack and quick resolution. It is surprisingly excellent for all types of music, including bass-heavy electronic music.
Listening to bass test tracks, the bass extends deeply while remaining controlled. Sub-bass frequencies are notable in that you’re aware of them in a satisfying way; they fill out the bottom of the sound profile seamlessly. I only noticed significant distortion on sloppily recorded tracks or poor recordings.
Whenever the bass comes in with any type of music, the sound just expands and richly fills out. On tracks like this, the mids seem just slightly recessed, though still clear and present. Using a FiiO A3 amplifier, the bass boost option is unnecessary and too much, causing the TC-01 to become bloated and loose.
Listening to Skrillex, Summit (feat. Ellie Goulding), just after 25 seconds in, the bass drops. I admit that I exclaimed out loud, “Oh come on!” — SMH. Great energy, astounding bass presence without sacrificing mid and upper detail.
Presence and imaging are exceptional. Also shocking, the mids were consistently distinct and unencumbered by the prodigious bass. The tuning results in seamless blending throughout the frequencies.
The TC-01 have presence and soundstaging that are excellent for IEMs at any price point. The huge advantage of having only a single driver is not having to integrate multiple internal components with potentially overlapping or gapped frequency transitions.
Listen to Montaña by Gipsy Kings. Close your eyes and listen closely. Despite how much layering there is in the music, the small details are not lost. Captivating.
Alisha Poppet & Diego Ghinati’s The Prayer (African Cover) is breathtaking – the mix and high quality of this recording, even on YouTube Music, is rare. Depth and imaging are astounding for IEMs. Their voices are smooth and prominent, and the sense of space that the TC-01s create is open and lush.
In the sonically complex harmonies, the TC-01s flow with grace. This track highlights the TC-01s ability in the mids, especially upper midrange and lower treble.
It is frequently the case with single driver IEMs that there are major compromises due to tuning. Too much treble is harsh and wearing; over-emphasis of bass with too little treble results in music reproduction that can lack liveliness and detail. The TC-01 suffers none of that. While they do not sparkle overly brightly, there is plenty of detail and crispiness that adds to the presentation.
I found Barbra Streisand’s duet with Celine Dion, Tell Him to be even more moving than usual. The vocal dynamics of this song are very challenging for IEMS, headphones, and speakers to reproduce, especially the high notes. In lesser earphones, this causes sibilance and can sound shrieky. The TC-01s handled this challenge beautifully.
Where to Buy
Yes, they are shiny and new, though that is not the reason they will unabashedly divert your attention and steal the show (and possibly your ears and musical heart). Once the TC-01 arrives in your collection, the others will worry about neglect. Many of my other IEMs have now been moved closer to the back of the drawer.
The TC-01s currently occupy my top spot in the “budget” IEM category and confidently challenge those in far higher price tiers.
With this performance, Tripowin has highlighted that a focus on high quality and careful tuning can produce far greater aural impact than quantity and complexity. I strongly suggest that you experience these for yourself if you are looking for any pair of IEMs under USD$100.
Most companies just entering the IEM market need time, experience, and feedback to sort themselves out and release products that either hit their intended mark or mature and improve over time. Every once in a long while, a company produces something remarkable. If Tripowin can gain and build momentum on this success, I am excited to hear where they will go from here!