TRI is a brand renowned with their mid fi iems before. This silver and black brick with golden contours is the usb C dac / amps of the starting with i3, i4, i3pro, continuing with Meteor and finally a collaboration with famous (remember high end Lotoo Paw?) KAEI; TK-2.
TK-2 is a 32bit and DSD256 capable dac / amp with dual ESS9038Q2M chips. Weight is around 280gr and the feeling is solid and the fully informative box it greeting you with a chrome looking sided black plated (or fully clad is black depending up to your choice) short brick with one side containing 2.5mm BAL – 4.4mm BAL – 3.5mm SE inputs and accidental touches prevented volume wheel that is acting as a power on / off switch amd the other side with two usb c female slots + switch for selecting the output type, within the black box below; mini sized male to male usb c, 1mt of male to male usb c cable, usb c to lightning (male) converter, dual plastic bands to attach it with your DAP and cleaning cloth with TRI logo.
If you are aged enough to witness Colorfly C4, it’s a sweet surprise to see a device in its dimensions at this modern and sleek age. And contents are on the par with high level daps save that there is no carrying case or four silicone feet for stationary use.
>Frequency Response: 10Hz-40kHz.
>Output Power: up to [email protected] 32Ω.
>Headphone Interface: 3.5mm single-ended/2.5mm Bal/4.4mm Bal.
>Fixed LO level: 2Vrms.
>Battery Life: up to 9 hours.
>QC 3.0 fast charging support.
>Weight: about 280grams.
Now let’s start with its sound impressions and review. Both sections will be performed with different gear. TRI i3pro, Shozy Form 1.4, QoA Adonis and Hifiman He400i will be used in the testing. And a Philips GoGear Vibe + Macbook Air for control equipment (yuppiee, the scientific method left the lab) to show the improvements of TK-2 on the sound I hear.
Pros and Cons are below If you don’t want to spend time with the through review + Impressions
Pretty strong and neutral
Has many output options SE and BAL
Long lasting battery
Looks are charming
Can function as line out AMP besides the DAC function
Good novelty value for C4 users / seasoned folks
Huge for modern equipments
Only limited with USB-C input
Gets hot with use
No BT or wifi
Stock Adonis is coming with a 2.5mm connector. But due to my project’s health, I limited it with a 3.5mm adapter.
Enter Shikari – Last Garrison Used Apple Music lossless for Macbook Air listenings. Link is just in case you hadn’t heard the song before https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUAgotnkrL4
Vibe: Pretty weak, lacking body and punch. No depth. Somehow wide scene. Seperation is almost non existant. Lightly distorted sound. Energy of the band is not with me. His screamo type of vocal (and anger according to the song and the band in general) is mellow and bland. Basses are a little bit stronger than symbolic. But texture at both vocals and instruments are disappointing.
Macbook Air: Absolutely stronger. Body and the punch is a thing to speak about now. Extensions too. Separation is nice now. Energy is higher. Basses and the overall Melody is solid. Textures are pretty good at vocals and instruments. But due to Apple house sound*, timbre is dark to neutral and the atmosphere is warm. This shows neutrality at Adonis at the same time.
*this house sound used to include an audible hiss. But while it was pretty high in ipod Video + Adonis, very low a Macbook Air 2021, almost none at TK-2 + Macbook Air combo.
TK2 + Macbook Air: The best configuration yet! I am at 10 o’clock (around %10 of %100) and while it is moderate to high volume for me, separation rose up to heavens. And texture & musicality too. Stage gained air and vocals flesh. I am not having congested moments anymore. The soundstage had lightened up and the complexity became clear. The 80’s legacy (synthesizer) to Enter Shikari never left me alone.
Primus – American Life https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7PlSUQiISY
Vibe: Bass is having difficulties and vocal is nasal & metallic. Guitars aren’t easily separable. And tonality is poor. Treble extensions are artificial sounding. Not even 1d (Out of 3d) Stage is so narrow.
Macbook Air: Now the guitars at the beginning of the song are something and have bodies. Separation is higher and the background is pitch black now. Tonality is quite better than Vibe. Extensions are natural as the laid back recording of this song permits.
TK-2 and Macbook Air: The guitars gained contrast (sharper tones not body) Extensions got the ultimate boost. Best experience yet IMO. Dual DAC chips on TK-2 mean business and now I see it. The results would be the same if I did a combo of V30+ and TK-2 (I had put my guess into trial and saw the undeniable high body of the guitars and recessed extensions. So nah, I withdrew it. )
The Jim Hall Trio – Circles After 35:40 of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pvxi6vz6gEM&ab_channel=JimHallArchive
Vibe: The piano is so lifeless and texture is not existant. The guitar (or what I can’t tell) is like 1d. Background is 0.5d 🙂 With no tonality. Almost an insult playing this track with Vibe. The reason for picking this track * is nullified with it..
*TJHT – Circles has one of the best dynamic ranges out there.
Macbook Air: Piano is visible along with the guitar with Jim Hall. This is life! after GoGear Vibe. Background is pitch black. Guitar and the keyboard are syncing together. Even Apple Music doesn’t have this album or song and I am stuck! to YouTube’s limited quality but hearing a masterpiece with the help of Adonis. Everything is calm and natural.
TK-2 + Macbook Air: YouTube’s limitations became pain giving with all the hiss at LO mode at TK-2 in this song from YouTube and Adonis. So I switched back to low powered PO mode. The sound is still but more natural and bass guitar gained a slight body (like it should) High registers of the piano and guitar are increasing the brightness of this track thus “life” is running in it’s veins now. High BPM near the end of this track is flowing at you even after YouTube
Shozy Form 1.4
The Last Garrison
Vibe: Bass is clouded both at front and background. Synthesizer rythme can’t be heard. Backing vocals at the chorus is hardly selectable. Tonality is poor. All are nearly squeezed together.
Macbook Air: Details are awesome. Bass or anything is not clouded. But I hear a very little hint of muddiness when the drum double kicks and the group is attacking. Soundscape is much airier than Vibe.
TK2 with Macbook Air: This is it! So I had thought. The song evolved into its best form after adding TK-2 before the iem. Melody is great now. Synthesizer is clearly audible and trackable. Bass body is at its highest yet not obscuring others.
Vibe: Non detailed guitar trick at the beginning. Bass has poor resolution and weak body. Mid and all the technicsl parameters too. Guitar solo is trying to reach higher frequencies but Vibe is uncapable and terrible extensions too.
Macbook Air: Now I hear the trick. Bass has higher resolution. Body is not lacking. Multiple instruments aren’t congesting. Guitar solo near the end can properly reach to upper frequencies but keep in mind that this is a mac and high frequencies aren’t its thing.
TK2 with Mabook Air: Wow! It suddenly elevated into a beast and I considered lowering down the volume. (It was set at the same point through the whole review) Now almost a new world opened around my ears. Atmosphere is airy. Bass is more bodied. Extensions didn’t subdue. Electroguitar solo is just like how it should be.
Vibe: Everything is mediocre. I can sense a nice work but instruments – especially – guitar seems off-tone. And all other intruments are squeezed in. Nah, pass this on.
Macbook Air: A pretty enjoyable listen even its a YT record. Everything seems balanced and nicely packed in their places.
TK-2 with Macbook Air: A fresh air to my face with a clarity furthermore than the M. Air experience. Very natural with a higher volume leveI. I know its YT and its compressed. But maybe because of oversampling, it’s the most enjoyable time after the two methods.
TRI i3 pro
The Last Garrison
Vibe: I witness Vibe receiving the first serious blow. Everything is placed on the same line with rhythmic bumps that are called bass.
Macbook Air: Macbook is showing its prowess here. Detail level is high. Bass is punchy and somehow bodied. Mid, musicality and technical details are okay. But the overall performance is suffering from Apple’s chronic darkness issue.
TK2 with Macbook Air: The volume level is showing me that the planar driver and others are receiving proper power. While the darkness remain, it has withdrawn back and left room for brightness. So the i3 pro can now freely roam around thus its the most joyful listening experience so far.
Vibe: Not that bad as it was in the last song. But the bass guitar at the beginning and throughout the song isn’t as selectable as bass guitar. So no need to tell all over and over.
Macbook Air: Instantly gained air and separation and distance between singer and the backing chorus.The darkness of Macbook Air is more powerful than the i3 pro’s brightness. It was neutral to bright after all. With the huge increase in resolution after the Vibe, it turned into a pleasant listen.
TK-2 and Macbook Air:The whole bass turned into a punchy and well textured fest which is essential for this song.The guitar lines are adding up the eeriness of this song. Vocals too. Nothing short from this would be the soundtrack music of the infamous True Detective. TK-2 helped me to observe the whole song and its intent.
Vibe: Piano and Hall’s guitar lines are so so in quality thanks so i3 pro’s planar nature’s modesty. But I am not getting a silent and relaxed soundscape and / or background this track deserved. Or the textures of this two primary instruments.
Macbook Air: Good enough in everything which made this song great. Truly better than Vibe but considering all what TK-2’s dual ES DAC did to songs so far; transparency and naturality is good but not excellent.
TK2 with Macbook Air: The grand finale of the iem section of this long TK-2 review. Every instrument, every key or string has a tonality of its own. And separation is at best. I didn’t care if it was YouTube or not. A brand’s mid tier DAC alone and my entry level reference monitors had helped me unnotice YT playback if its very compressed or not, TK-2 is doing the same too.
It’s been 4 hours since I began to sit, listen and write. I’ll continue and end with he400i tomorrow. Track will be all the tracks I had used to far.
Vibe: A huge joke not worth spending time.
Macbook Air: I can tell that the shiny modern laptop is pretty weak for an old fashion planar magnet headphone. Raising the volume to 100/100 is only resulting it’s volume going up. Just like a paper tiger. Piano is textureless and background details are very hard to hear.
TK2 with Macbook Air: 100/100 volume at macbook Air and 2 o’clock at TK-2 is enough for %70 sound level at he400i. I am not hearing a 400s pitch black background, sadly. But 3d imaging and seperation increased greatly. Altough the improvements, stage width is not ultra wide like I can expect from an open backed planar.
TRI TK-2 Review Conclusions
With the technologies advancing, while using two DAC chips is not a huge deal, using usb c as input and using Class A and B amplification is. In ear earphones are small dishes for this shiny brick. But switching to an old time planar magnet with 50mm drivers is the real test IMO. But it passed the test with %60-%70 volume while the knob was almost halfway to the end. Thus I recommend this modern brick to anybody with a usb c slotted equipment carrying hard to drive earphones. Silicon bandages make the TK-2 ready to be bundled. And the lack of sticky feet shows its true purpose.
You can buy TK-2 from where I had bought. Keephifi