TRI TK2 – Like a DAP Without Screen

TRI has partnered with KAEI, a well-known audio decoder manufacturer from China, and released their very first Portable USB DAC/AMP, the TRI TK2.

TRI has two premium Sabre DAC chips to be the core of the TK2. They have chosen two high-performance ES9038Q2M DAC chips that have already proven their capabilities with countless high-resolution audio decoders in the market. The Sabre DACs provide ultimate high-resolution audio decoding characteristics to the TK2 achieving a dynamic range of up to 129dB and SNR of -120dB.

TRI TK2 has two independent 45.158mHz and 49.152mHz ultra-low jitter clocks. They provide high clock synchronization for the DAC chips resulting in clean output with perfect resolution.

TRI TK2 features a tremendously powerful output with a fully balanced amplification circuit. It adopts highly-trusted OPA2132+ and TPA6120A2 amplification chips providing both Class A and Class AB amp modes. All the internal circuitry has gold-plated circuit boards ensuring true sound performance. TRI TK2 outputs up to 1250mW of power to all 4.4mm and 2.5mm balanced outputs, including the 3.5mm single-ended output which is rare.

The volume adjustment is buttery smooth with a potentiometer volume wheel on the front of the TK2. Once you go over 60% on the volume wheel, TK2 automatically adjusts to high-gain mode.

You need to use TK2 in bit-perfect mode to light up the correct bit rate ledTRI TK2 has an elegant and premium finish with a unibody aviation-grade aluminium alloy integrated CNC shell. The device is finished with manual polishing, electroplating for a premium scratch-resistant end finish. The headphone ports and volume wheel have a rich golden finish.

LO – Line out mode switch (use in DAC mode only)

TK2 packs a large 5000mAh battery. TRI claims up to 9 hours of continuous music playback. But in my tests, the battery never reached that number. If you pass %60 volume levels, expect less battery life around 5-6 hours. It supports charging while using via a separate USB Type-C port. TK2 supports different power adapters up to 12V in output power.

Specs

  • Dual ES9038Q2M DAC chips.
  • Dual amplification modes Class A and Class AB.
  • Supports Line Out (LO) function.
  • Fully balanced output design.
  • Dual Independent Low-Jitter Clocks.
  • THD+N: 0.005%.
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz-40kHz.
  • Output Power: up to 1250mW@ 32Ω.
  • Impedance: 6Ω-600Ω.
  • Headphone Interface: 3.5mm single-ended – 2.5mm Bal – 4.4mm Bal.
  • Equally-distributed power of 1,250mW@32Ω to all 3.5mm single-ended, 4.4mm and 2.5mm balanced outputs.
  • Fixed LO level: 2Vrms.
  • Battery Life: up to 9 hours.
  • QC 3.0 fast charging support.
  • High-quality aviation-grade aluminium alloy body.
  • Size: 13cmx6.8cmx2.4cm.
  • Weight: 280grams.
  • Price: 289$

I would like to thank TRI Audio for providing me with the review sample of  TRI TK2.

TRI Store (no affiliate)

Sound

I want to start with two major facts when I first listened to TRI TK2,  amazing natural tonality and very good detail retrieval.  Plus, its neutral sound signature keeps the bass and the treble balanced, without any overemphasis. TK2 with many IEMs I tried had a very natural dynamic balance without any exaggerated boosting. TK2 has textured and clean lows. Also has a good midrange presence that is neither forward nor recess. The sense of clarity in macro and micro details hits you immediately. The vocal is positioned at the right depth. The top-end is open and airy. The technical performance, regardless of whether you are listening to single-ended or balanced outputs, is the same and has a very wide soundstage expansion. Attacks are fast with good energy and control that is able to handle even the most complex and demanding music tracks.

Turning the volume knob past 60% TK2 goes into Turbo mode or high gain mode. In Turbo mode, TK2 becomes a Class A amplifier. The richness in tonality immediately comes to life. There is hardly a headphone that you won’t be able to drive with TK2 in this mode, of course apart from some exceptions.

The neutral and balanced sound signature of the TRI TK2 is supported with an accurate and wide dynamic range. Backed up with a good note weight that is engaging and musical. You get a great extension through the frequency spectrum. I think the dual ES9038Q2M DAC chips showing themselves here clearly. I am using the Khadas Tone2 Pro DAC connected in DAC only mode to an AMP in my testing rig which I like very much. Tone2 Pro also has the ES9038Q2M DAC. Reviewing the TK2 I felt like hearing the advantages of dual DAC setup in micro-detail level, clarity, dynamics and extension. Definitely, an upgrade in sound quality compared to single DAC solutions.

Imaging and layering capabilities are exceptional as well. Perfect dynamics expansion and extra sparkle in treble also helped with layering and separation of sounds, giving more air between the layers. Instruments have a natural and clean timbre. Timbre and tonality of TK2 are natural, devoid of any colouration. It is neither warm nor bright, it sounds correct.

For those who seek the balance between musicality and technicality, TRI TK2 does a very good job.

 

Sum-Up

I read people complaining about the lack of Bluetooth, a status/mode display, any other input modes besides a single TYPE-C. I beg the differ. There are cheaper products on the market of course but without this level of power and sound quality. There are also products with onboard Bluetooth support which are also very powerful as output, but you need to double the price.

TRI TK2 is a product on its own that brings two main things together. Flagship level sound quality and power. And justifies the asking price of 289$ perfectly in that regard in my opinion. It’s like a good DAP without a screen.