-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
-average technical performance
-boomy sloppy bass
-lack of treble snap, sparkle, decay
-thin male vocal
-muffled dynamic rendering
-P1plus sidegrade, not upgrade
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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