TANGZU Zetian Wu IEM Review
TANGZU Zetian Wu IEM Review
TANGZU Audio is a relative new brand located in Dongguan, Guangdong, China, which was a former OEM that was specialized in design and development Earphones/IEM’s. The Yuan Li and Shimin Li In-Ear Monitors are their first models under the TANGZU branding that gained a quick popularity in the audiophile community.
The Zetian Wu is the company’s flagship IEM and the first model that features a planar magnetic driver. The Zetian Wu is equipped with a newly developed 14.5mm planar magnetic driver that is located insde the 4th Gen DLP 3D printed resin cavity with a CNC machined aluminum alloy faceplate on the top. It comes with a N5 purity OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) Copper wire cable made from 224 wires in total that is with 2-Pin connectors that can ordered with a 3.5mm SE or 4.4mm Balanced headphone plug terminations.
I would like to thank HiFiGO and TANGZU Audio for providing me the Zetian Wu IEM as review sample. I am not affiliated with HiFiGO and TANGZU or any third person beyond this review and all these words reflect my true, unaltered opinions about the product.
Price & Availability:
The actual price for the TANGZU Zetian Wu is 154.52 US$. More information’s can be found under the links below;
Package and Accessories:
When have seen the box of the Zetian Wu for the first time, I said wow what a big box! The box, which is in black color, came with a fancy looking cardboard sleeve that shows some traditional Chinese design elements on its surface.
Inside the box are the following items/accessories;
- 1 x TANGZU Zetian Wu Planar Driver In-Ear Monitors
- 1 x 2-Pin Detachable Cable with 4.4mm or 3.5mm Headphone Plug
- 3 x pairs of Balanced Silicone Ear Tips (S, M, L)
- 3 x pairs of Bass Enhance Silicone Ear Tips (S, M, L)
- 1 x pair of Foam Tips (M)
- 1 x Storage Case
The Zetian Wu came with 3 different types of ear tips including 3 pairs of Balanced Silicone Ear Tips, 3 pairs of Bass Enhance Silicone Ear Tips and 1 pair of Foam Ear Tips that are carefully placed in to a foam layer.
The Storage Case that came inside the box is relative large, which looks pretty nice with a surface in Translucent Bruise color and a double zipper design with a golden finish. On the top of the storage case is the TANGZU brand logo in gold color.
The inner surface has a velvet fabric layer that will protect the monitors and metal parts of the cable from possible scratches.
Design & Build Quality:
The TANGZU Zetian Wu is a beautiful looking In-Ear Monitor that has an eye catching faceplate design, which will immediately draw your attention. The shell of the monitor is a combination of a 4th Gen DLP 3D printed resin cavity with a CNC machined aluminum alloy faceplate on the top.
Inside the monitors is a specially designed a 14.5mm planar magnetic driver. Unlike Dynamic Drivers, a planar magnetic driver has got the voice coil evenly placed on the diaphragm. The very esthetic looking aluminum faceplate reflects design roots within the Chinese dynasties. TANGZU used nice looking cloud patterns along with the violet color, a color that represented the Emperor in the Chinese Dynasty.
The inner surface (cavity) that is made from 4th Gen DLP 3D printed resin material in black color where you can find the sound nozzle, L (left earpiece) / R (right earpiece) makings and a pressure relief hole.
The sound nozzle is a bit short, but is compatible with all standard silicone and foam ear tips that I have use on it. On the top of the nozzles is a black filter in order to prevent the insertion of unwanted particles such like dust or ear wax.
On the top of the monitor shell is the 0.78mm diameter 2-Pin female connector interface that offers a tight connection. Here is also a second pressure relief hole.
At the rear side of the shell is a third pressure relief opening that is dedicated for the 14.5mm planar magnetic driver.
The TANGZU Zetian Wu comes with a N5 purity OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) Copper wire cable made from 224 wires in total. The cable has a braided design and a relative soft PVC insulation that shows a low amount of microphonic effect.
The 2-Pin connectors do have a metal housing in with Left / Right markings on their surface.
Near the left and right connectors are heat shrink ear guides for extra comfort on the go.
The detachable cable is available in two different headphone plugs terminations, which are the one with a 3.5mm Single Ended interface and the one with a 4.4mm Balanced (TRRRS) plug interface that you can chose when your order the monitors.
My review unit came with the 4.4mm Balanced plug that features a straight profiled metal housing and a transparent plastic strain relief for extra durability.
The build quality of both the monitors and the detachable cable is decent!
Comfort & Isolation:
The TANGZU Audio, as a former OEM has access to a large data of human ear shapes. This explains the pretty comfortable shape of the Zetian Wu that is maybe larger than the Yuan Li and Shimin Li, due to the use of the pretty large 14.5mm diameter Planar Magnetic driver. However, it offers a pretty comfortable fit that sits perfectly to my average sized ear concha.
The passive noise isolation of the monitors is on an average level that is sufficient for the use in relative noise environments such like a bus or a train.
Pairing & Drivability:
The TANGZU Zetian Wu is relative easy to driver for an IEM with a large 14.5mm Planar Magnetic Driver. It comes with a pretty low impedance of 16Ω and a sensitivity of approx 100dB (1 kHz), which makes it compatible for the use with portable USB DAC/AMP dongles.
- Driver Unit : 14.5mm dia. Planar Magnetic Driver
- Distortion Rate : < 1%
- Sensitivity : 100dB (1 kHz)
- Channel Difference : 1dB (1 kHz)
- Impedance : 16Ω
- Frequency Response : 20 – 20 kHz
- THD+N : 0.16%
- Cable Length : approx 1.2 meter
- Connector Interface : 2-Pin – 0.78mm dia.
- Plug : 3.5mm Single Ended or 4.4mm Balanced
Equipment’s used for this review:
- IEM’s : TANGZU Zetian Wu, 7HZ Timeless
- Sources : FiiO M11 Plus, iFi xDSD Gryphon, FiiO BTR7
Albums & Tracks used for this review:
- Adele – My Little Love (Spotify)
- Randy Crawford – On Day I Will Fly Away (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
- Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
- Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Sonya Yoncheva – (Giuseppe Verdi) II Trovatore, ActI (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- George Michael – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- B.B. King – Riding With The King (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
- Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Daft Punk – Doin’ it Right (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (Spotify)
- Lorde – Royals (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
- Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Gogo Penguin – Murmuration (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
- Max Richter – On the Nature of Daylight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
- Otto Liebert & Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Metallica – Master of Puppets (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
- Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)
The TANGZU Zetian Wu is a crisp, powerful and highly entertaining IEM with a good adjusted V-Shaped sound signature, which shows a touch warmer than neutral tonality. It offers powerful yet controlled bass response, successful level of transparency and detail retrieval for its price in the midrange and a treble presentation that shows a good sense of brightness, airiness and extension without to sound sharp or shouty.
This review has been written after a burn-in period of approx 60 hours. I have used the stock balanced silicone ear tips and the cable that are included in the standard package. My sound impressions below are based on my auditions with devices like the FiiO M11 Plus, FiiO BTR7 and iFi Audio Gryphon.
The TANGZU Zetian Wu comes with a powerful, controlled, and pretty fast bass response thanks to the well adjusted 14.5mm Planar Magnet Driver, which has a focal point in the subbass area. The subbass region is one of the highlights of the Zetian Wu that offers an excellent grade of depth, control and extension. Songs like Daft Punk’s “Doin’ it Right”, Bro Safari & UFO’s “Drama” and “Armin Van Buuren’s “Vini Vici” are reproduced with an excellent sense of authority and rumble, which was quite exiting to listen to.
The midbass region is slightly less highlighted compared to the subbass area that stands out with its clean, fast and tight tuning, which doesn’t show any remarkable negative conditions (muddiness, mixings) when I have listen to relative fast and complex bass passages in some of my reference songs like Gogo Penguin’s “Murmuration” or Charly Antolini’s “Knock Out 2000” album. The TANGZU Zetian Wu offers a pretty good performance in terms of layering, texture and control in the lower frequency region, which makes it to a versatile IEM in this area.
The midrange of the TANGZU Zetian Wu truly shines with its natural and balanced presentation and nicely done warmish tonality, which surprised me since the bass is quite evident but doesn’t affects this area in a negative manner. The midrange is reproduced with a good level of clarity thanks to the well-adjusted upper midrange region, which shows an audible but controlled boost around the 3 kHz region.
Vocals & Instruments:
Both female and male voices are presented in a pretty natural, intimate and detailed way, which will impress you with respect of the price of the product. Male vocals from Sting to Dave Gahan form Barry White to David Bowie are shown with fairly natural sense of body and depth. Female voices do benefit from the well-adjusted upper midrange tuning, for example vocals such like Adel, Sarah McLachlan or Dionne Warwick do sound quite lively, intimate and emotional.
The TANGZU Zetian Wu shows a fairly natural and realistic instrument presentation from stings like guitars, from violins up to pianos and keyboards. For example, the guitar solos of Eric Clapton or Otto Liebert are reproduced in a pretty lifelike and natural manner.
Upper Midrange & Treble:
It is nice to hear that the TANGZU Zetian Wu has a quite controlled, well separated upper midrange and treble tuning. The upper midrange seems to have a mildly peak around the 3 kHz that adds a good sense of brightness and extension especially to female vocals and instruments such like violins, flutes cellos or pianos. The transitions from the upper midrange towards the lower treble area are in general controlled. Only some poor recorder albums like Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” are shown with a certain sense of sibilance and distortion that is not at disturbing levels.
The treble range of the TANGZU Zetian Wu sounds energetic but not in a way that irritates you. It’s the kind of treble tuning that adds the overall presentation a nice sense clarity, definition and airiness. The lower treble region shows a decent grade of clarity, while the resolution is on an efficient level that fulfills my expectation from an IEM around the 150 – 200 US$ range. There is a mildly peak around the 5kHz region adds instruments like pianos and snare drums sufficient level of clarity and definition.
The upper treble range of the TANGZU Zetian Wu has an audible peak around the 8 kHz region, which is a popular adjustment that is used often to increase the sense of airiness and to add sparkle to the overall presentation that works pretty fine with the Zetian Wu. Instruments like cymbals, hi-hats or pianos are reproduced with an efficient grade of extension, brilliance and resolution. If you are sensitive to treble sharpness and are in search for an uncompressed and lively sounding IEM in this area, the TANGZU Zetian Wu could be a good choice, especially with respect of its price.
Soundstage & Imaging:
The TANGZU Zetian Wu shows a pretty natural and airy soundstage atmosphere that has good conditions for a relative precise separation and placement of instrument and vocals. The soundstage of the Zetian Wu shows an efficient level of depth and wideness, while the height of the stage is on an average level, which meets my expectations from a product an In-Ear Monitor at this price level.
TANGZU Zetian Wu versus 7HZ Timeless:
There have been a variety of IEMs with planar drivers on the market for a number of years, but the real interest and popularity to products with that type of driver has boomed with the 7HZ Timeless thanks to its very enjoyable/entertaining tuning.
Both IEM’s do features a quite large Planar Magnetic Driver, while the one located inside the TANGZU Zetian Wu is just slightly larger with 14.5mm versus 14.2mm that the 7HZ Timeless has. The Timeless has an all-metal shell, while the Zetian Wu offers a combination of resin & aluminum material. The Timeless reflects an industrial design language, while the Zetian Wu looks has a more esthetic looking faceplate design, however, both IEM’s do offer a pretty robust build quality. The TANGZU Zetian Wu offers a better fit and little better passive noise isolation.
When it comes to the sound, I can say that the TANZGU Zetian Wu shows a more V-Shaped sound signature that is highlighted in the lows and highs. The 7HZ Timeless on the other hand shows a more mildly adjusted V-shaped signature where the midrange is a bit more forward.
The subbass region of the Zetian Wu is more pronounced and shows a higher sense of depth and extension, while both IEM’s do offer a relative close grade of clarity and control in this area. The midbass region of both the 7HZ Timeless and the TANZGU Zetian Wu is full bodied and impactful, while the Zetian Wu shows a slightly bit more emphasis in this area. The Timeless has the upper hand in terms of clarity, while the Zetian Wu has the edge when it comes to the depth and extension.
The midrange of the TANGZU Zetian Wu shows a slightly warmer tonality created in the midbass area that makes it a bit more musical. The 7HZ Timeless on the other side shows a slightly better sense of transparency and airiness. Instruments and vocals are slightly more upfront on the 7HZ Timeless, however the difference is not high but audible. Male vocals and instruments like violas or cellos do have more body when I do listen to the Zetian WU. Female vocals or instruments such like a piano or side flute sounds a bit crisper and lively when I do switch to the Timeless.
The treble range of the TANGZU Zetian Wu is more pronounced compared to those of the 7HZ Timeless due to its more evident V-shaped sound signature. The lower treble region of the Timeless shows less clarity and a shorter extension when I listen to percussions or a pianos, while both are surprisingly close in terms of control, deep side the Zetian Wu is more accented in this area. The same story can be told for the upper treble region where the TANGZU Zetian Wu has the upper hand in terms of sparkle and extension.
Both IEM’s do offer a pretty good performance in terms of separation of instruments and vocals. However, the 7HZ Timeless is sounds slightly more open and airy, which creates more space between them. The Timeless has the slightly edge in terms of soundstage wideness, while both IEM’s are pretty close in when it comes to the depth of the stage.
The TANZGU Zetian Wu is a beautiful looking Planar IEM with its Violet faceplate, which is a color that has deep roots and that represented the Emperor in the Chinese Dynasty. It sound is another highlight, which stands out with its very well implemented V-shaped sound signature that offers a highly entertaining sound experience. All-in all, a decent Planar IEM that has to face many competitors on the market.
Pros and Cons:
- + Very well implement V-shaped sound signature
- + Excellent Bass response (Fast, Controlled, Punchy)
- + Pretty musical Midrange presentation that is not too recessed
- + Energetic yet controlled Treble tuning
- + Eye catching Faceplate Design
- + Fit & Comfort
- – A modular headphone plug design would be welcome
- – Not a powerhouse in terms of technical performance
- – Maybe not everyone’s cup of café in terms of esthetical appearance
Thank you for the Read!