TFZ Series 4;
Graphene the Hi-Fi material of the future?!
The company TFZ (The Fragrant Zither) is located in mainland China in the province Shenzhen and is a manufacturer for high-end audio and video products that we know since the last two years with it’s popular IEM (in-ear monitor) line, the TFZ Series 1/3/5 and the Balance 2/2M.
After the success of this IEM’s, the company have released the TFZ Series 1s/3s/5s and a new DD (double dynamic) driver model The King.
The latest line up is now the Exclusive 1/3/5 series and at least a target model for female consumers that are called My Love.
The TFZ Series 4 that I will now review for you is a special release of the TFZ Series.
I would like to thank Penon Audio and TFZ for this review unit. This product was provided free of charge for review purposes in exchange for my honest opinion.
Package and Accessories:
The Series 4 comes in a relative small rectangular black card box.
The box includes the following contents;
- 1 pair TFZ SERIES 4 IEM
- 1 pcs. of cable with 0,78mm 2 pin connection
- 1 pair of ear hook
- 1 pair of foam ear tips
- 3 pairs of silicone ear tips with wide-bore
- 4 pairs of silicone ear tips with regular-bore (1 pair is comes pre-installed)
- 1 pcs. of Collar Clip
- 1 pcs. of Soft carrying pouch
The first thing that I find out is that TFZ has not provided any hard or semi hard case in the box.
I know, it’s not a deal breaker especially for this price but it would be better to provide a hard case instead this good looking soft pouch. I think that this is the only downside in terms of accessories.
The eartips inside the box are soft and comfortable, 3 pairs of those have a wide-bore and 4 pairs of this have a small bore 1 pair is comes pre-installed). There is also a pair of soft foam tips that are very comfy.
The good thing of the ne TFZ Series is the detachable cable option. The cable that comes with the Series 4 has a 0,78mm 2 pin interface and feels sturdy and without any microphonics.
This cable has a Y- Splitter with a TFZ logo that has a nice look. The only downside of the cable is, that it is prone to interlace. Earhooks and the collar clips are nice extras that I didn’t use.
Inside the Series 4 is a 12mm diameter Dual Magnetic Circuit Graphene Driver. But what is Graphene?
Graphene is a thin layer of pure carbon. It is a ultra thin and strong material. Some scientists call it the material of the future. So in short the driver inside the TFZ 4 is a graphene coated driver that is ultra flexible and strong. But it doesn’t make any sense if this has no positive effect to the sound, but this will be mentioned later.
The TFZ 4 is an easy to drive IEM (16 ohm) and you don’t need any amplification to go loud. This IEM works great with a Smartphone but benefits from a good source like a DAP (Digital Audio Player).
- IEM Type : Universal In-Ear Monitor
- Driver Type : 12.0MM Dual Magnetic Circuit Graphene Driver
- Sensitivity : 108dB / mW
- Impedance : 16 ohm
- Freq. response : 5-40kHz
- Connectors : 2-pin 0.78mm
- Lowest power : 8MW
- Plug : 3.5mm
- Cable length : 1.2m
Design, Fit and Build Quality:
The TFZ Series 4 looks and feels very premium, especially for the retail price of 99 USD.
It has a plastic shell with a glossy metal faceplate. It feels sturdy and is well crafted. The fit and size of the monitor is one of the best in its price range.
I have worn it for more that 3 hours a day without any discomfort. The seal is above average but I didn’t expected more for this price J
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- Dire Straits – Money For Nothing (DSF)
- Stevie Wonder – Rocket Love (DSF)
- Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (DSF)
- Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
- Dr. Chesky’s Binaural Album (Flac 24bit/192Hz)
- Otto Liebert & Luna Negra – The River (DSF)
- Metallica – The Black Album (Flac 24bit/96Hz)
- Aretha Franklin – Ain’t No Way (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
- Michael Jackson – Bad Album (Flac 24bit/96Hz)
- Mile Davis – So What (DSF)
- Daft Punk – Random Access Memories Album (Flac 24bit/192Hz)
- Kraddy – Be A Light Album (MP3 320Kbps)
Sources used for this review:
IEM : Rose Cappuccino MK2, Vivo XE800
DAP : Fiio X5 MK3, Smart Player (YinLVMei) D200+, Zishan Z2, Ipaid Air 2
I wrote this review after 150 hours of burn-in with my DUNU double flange ear tips (not in the box included)
As I mentioned before, the TFZ Series 4 has a Dual Circuit Graphene driver under the hood. This is my second earphone in my collection that has a Graphene coated driver and I know that this driver benefits from an intensive burn-in period. My DIY MX760 Graphene earbud sounded horrible at the first hours of listening. But after 100 hours it started to shine.
The TFZ 4 sounded already good out of the box, but this IEM sounds better and better after 100 hours. I think that Graphene and Titanium coated drivers benefits more form burn-in than traditional PET or PEK diaphragm drivers.
The TFZ Series 4 is a quite warm sounding (comes from the 100 Hz range) IEM with a V shaped sound signature. It has a non-fatiguing tuning that is ideal for long listening periods.
b) The Bass (Subbass and Bass):
The bass is where the TFZ really shines. It is well controlled punchy and fun sounding. There is a good amount of space between bass and lower midrange. I didn’t expect such a good tuning for an IEM that cost 99 USD. The subbass (20 – 60 Hz range) is well presented.
Bass heavy instruments like bass guitar don’t struggle that much (a big plus point). The texture and layering is good, much better than my old Vsonic GR07 BE. The resolution is above its price range and the result will make many people happy.
c) The Mids (Lower midrange – Midrange – Upper midrange):
The TFZ Series 4 is not a mid centric IEM, but that doesn’t mean that Vocals sound bad, they are a bit recessed for my taste but not too much that it sound unnatural.
The clarity of vocals and instruments is above average with a small amount of stress that comes from the lower midrange, especially form the 450 – 500 Hz range that can cause to a muddy presentation in some bass intensive tracks. But I think that this is in an acceptable level especially for this price. The upper midrange (2 Hz to 4 kHz) is the best part of the mid section.
There is no stress or irritation that comes from the 3 kHz range. As a result, female vocals sound great and male vocals sound good. The Vsonic GR07 BE sounded a bit more musical and realistic.
d) The Highs (treble – upper treble):
The treble section of the TFZ 4 is well controlled. The clarity and definition pretty good. Since the treble is not overpowered, most tracks that I tested out didn’t sounded harsh or ear piercing like the Vsonic GR07/GR07 BE
The overall presentation is fairly transparent and not too distant. The resolution is above average and much better than my old GR07 BE.
The upper treble (5 khz – 18 khz) is well presented and gives a good amount of sparkle and a airy presentation. It is not as airy like my Rose Cappuccino MK2 that is one of the best in my collection, but this wouldn’t be a fair comparison. The Vsonic GR07 at the other hand sounded too harsh for my taste and didn’t have enough control over the upper end.
e) Soundstage and Imagine:
The TFZ Series 4 has a good soundstage and a fairly ok imagine. The soundstage is not as huge or expansive as some more expensive multi BA/Hibrit IEM’s like the Rose Cappuccino or the Oriolus Fosteni, but that doesn’t mean that the Series 4 is a claustrophobic sounding IEM.
Instruments are well placed and there is enough space for each instrument and vocal so that you can imagine the atmosphere in a live recorded track.
The TFZ Series 4 is a well build IEM with a good price to performance ratio. This thing looks sexy and you have the option to change the cable to enhance the overall performs to another level.
I had a brief listening experience with the Magaosi K3 Pro and think that The TFZ Series 4 is a good alternative in this price range and significant improvement over my old Vsonic GR07 BE.
Summary (plus and minus):
+ Great look and fit
+ Replaceable cable option
+ Good price to performance ratio
+ Non fatiguing sound tuning with a good amount of detail
+ Well controlled bass and treble region
– Midrange sounds a bit recessed
– Soundstage could be a bit wider (depth is ok)
– Hard case is missing