The Mangird Tea was most well-known for being a Moondrop Blessing 2 alternative, enjoying a smaller, almost cult-like following in certain circles. It never really picked up mainstream traction though, and in my circles, it was bashed for being something of a meme. So you can imagine my surprise when I got around to hearing it and it was neither: simply a straight shot into the pit of mediocrity. That said, with a re-brand from Mangird to XENNS, XENNS has now released the Tea's successor, aptly named the Mangird Tea 2. The Tea 2 maintains the original's 1DD/6BA configuration and stacks on a healthy $50 price increase to $350. Let's take a look at whether the Tea 2 has what it takes to justify its price this time around. Just as a quick FYI, though...I can't remember what the original Tea sounded like after hearing it so long ago, so don't expect comparisons between the two. I'll be assessing the Tea 2 on its own merit.
Unit provided for review courtesy of Linsoul. As always, what follows are my honest thoughts and opinions to the best of my ability.
Source & Drivability
All critical listening was done off an iBasso DX300 and iPhone 13 Mini with lossless files. The stock cable and silicone ear tips were used. The Tea 2 takes very little power to drive, and I had no issue hitting my usual listening volumes on these sources. I'd imagine that if you listened carefully on quieter tracks, there might be just a hair of hissing. If you'd like to learn more about my listening methodology, test tracks, and general beliefs in audio, then I would encourage you to check out this page.
In the box with the Mangird Tea 2, you'll find the following accessories:
- Faux Leather Case
- Airline adapter
- 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter
- 6x pairs of silicone ear tips
- 2x pairs of foam ear tips
- Shirt clip
The included leather case with the Tea 2 is a solid inclusion in my book. It sports a rigid structure, magnetic latch, and a mesh pocket inside for storing additional accessories. Do be aware that it is on the larger side, though, so some might find it difficult to pocket. Personally this is never a concern for me, as I usually transport my IEMs in my backpack!
The cable included with the Tea is a thicker one, and I'm not sure if I'm a fan - I'm someone who usually prefers thinner, more pliable cables. That said, there aren't any major qualms with it that come to mind and it's perfectly usable. Moving to the Tea 2 itself, if it's got one thing going for it? It's a pretty face! The faceplate of the Tea 2 is a glittering concoction of turquoise and the word "Mangird" emblazoned in silver. Connectors are flush 2-pin. For fit and comfort, I was able to wear the Tea 2 for a couple hours without an issue. Do be aware that, per usual, these qualities are 100% subjective to the end user. And of course, looks only get you so far, so I'll be talking about the Tea 2's sonic performance shortly.
The frequency response below was taken off an IEC-711 coupler. There is a resonance peak at ~8kHz, as such measurements after this point should not be considered entirely accurate. If you'd like to compare the Mangird Tea 2 to other IEMs I've graphed, I'd encourage you to check out this link.
The overall tonality of the Tea 2 can be considered one that toes the line between "balanced" and slightly warmer, more relaxed. Up until 1kHz, it maintains a stellar foundation: a pronounced, controlled sub-bass emphasis with a silky-smooth transition into a generally flat lower-midrange. Almost perfect, and it's mostly thanks to how spot-on the Tea 2 is relative to my preference curve. Closer examination of the Tea 2's bass transients is where I am obligated to draw the line, though. Oddly enough, it sounds like there's some BA(s) tokening the Tea 2's bass, perhaps not unlike my memory of the ThieAudio Monarch and Clairvoyance. Both are IEMs that I criticized for having "plasticky" bass. In any case, I find that the Tea 2's sense of bass texture and slam are somewhat below average for $350 - at least in A/B with a benchmark like the Moondrop Blessing 2. On the opening bass line of a track like Girls' Generation's "Whisper", it simply feels like the Blessing 2 is able to dig deeper and present a more natural tactility even if the Tea 2's bass has significantly more SPL on paper.
Past 1kHz, XENNS has made some tuning decisions that harken to the qdc Anole VX, an established heavy-hitter in the flagship arena. You do have a slight emphasis towards the upper-midrange for clarity; however, the pinna compensation is sloped by a couple dB off my perceived neutral so vocals aren't overly upfront. Like the Anole VX, things fall back a bit transitioning into the lower-treble (~5-6kHz) in an effort to mitigate sibilance. I do find the treble tonality of the Tea 2 to be somewhat odd, perhaps partially responsible for a lack of adequate texture to the Tea 2's presentation. In any case, treble on the Tea 2 is slightly more recessed if decidedly inoffensive. Sheer extension is appropriate for $350; it's not great, but there aren't any major qualms that come to mind.
I think most would agree that the tuning of the Tea 2 is pretty solid and that the folks at XENNS are not your usual, mud-slinging warriors. For this reason, it's all the more a shame that technicalities are where the Tea 2 stumbles: its detailing is mostly just surface level.
What does this mean, though? To me, surface level detailing is indicative of when a transducer generally nails attack characteristics - it has good clarity - but doesn't render decay as well. Like so, the Tea 2's note texturing and ability to capture reverb trails and trailing ends of instruments comes across more...well, mediocre. It is fair to note that too much texture yields undesirable grain and coarseness (the dreaded perception with which vocalists sound like chain smokers, heh). But generally, I get the impression that the Tea 2 has leaned too far in the opposite direction. And as I alluded to above, this lack of perceived detail probably isn’t aided by the recessions in the treble either.
The Tea 2's other technical characteristics can best be summarized as adequate for $300. Imaging is mostly average with notes blurring positionally somewhat, even if they do sound "bigger" on the stage. This is a trade-off that commonly occurs (as in - by contrast - "smaller" notes will usually lend to a greater sense of image sharpness).
Assessment of Value
I suppose the question at this point is whether the Tea 2 is the Moondrop B2 alternative that it’s predecessor was made out to be. In my book...sort of. The Tea 2 is certainly not a bad IEM. It does offer a more laidback listen relative to the B2, thanks to a more desirable bass tonality, relaxed upper-midrange, and a foil to the B2’s 6kHz peak. But I do feel that the B2 comes out on-top for technical performance even if the IEMs trade blows for raw tuning. It becomes less of a contest with the B2: Dusk which, in my opinion, strikes the ideal balance between the B2's superior technical performance and the Tea 2's more relaxed tonality.
The Bottom Line
I want to like the Mangird Tea 2. It's got a lot going for it, and I commend XENNS for trying a different type of tuning. But it's hard to knock the feeling that there are superior IEMs for this price point or less. In many respects, then, the Mangird Tea 2 is a prime demonstration of just how cutthroat the $350 space has gotten. Overall? I'd say the Mangird Tea 2 is worth giving a shot, but don't get your hopes too high.