Based on the structure appearance of the SERIES 5S, built-in a new generation of 12MM dual magnetic self-frequency graphene drivers.

TFZ EXCLUSIVE KING Experience Version HiFi In-ear Earphones

Average User Rating:
4.75/5,
    • Exclusive series is tfz brand new hifi audio products, using the latest acoustic technology and material technology. Especially the double magnetic circuit and graphene driver, improve quality of resolution and sound field, incredible restore ability.
    • EXCLUSIVE KING: Based on the structure appearance of the SERIES 5S, built-in a new generation of 12MM dual magnetic self-frequency graphene driver, 12Ω, 110dB, professional HIFI sound quality, easy to drive, exciting sound. TFZ brand hopes to use the latest acoustic technology and acoustic materials for more players to provide a better audio-visual experience.
    • KING Experience version equipped with dual magnetic two-way graphene driver, will show the expected restore effect.
    • Greatly enhanced each frequency transient and resolution.
    • Driver built-in frequency divided system, perfectly balanced the high frequency and low frequency energy distribution
    • Clean and loose sound field make the new series more attractive and full of emotion
    Specification

    • Driver: 12mm Double magnetic circuit Graphene driver
    • Impedance: 12 ohm
    • Sensitivity: 110 dB mW
    • Frequency response: 5 Hz一40 kHz
    • Lowest power: 8 mW
    • Connectors: 3.5mm
    • Plug type: Line
    • Cable length: 1.2m
CoiL likes this.

Recent User Reviews

  1. ryanjsoo
    5.0/5,
    "TFZ King Review – Articulate, Tactile, Agile"
    Pros - Great build, fit and isolation, Relatively balanced tuning, Best in class resolution and end to end extension, Nicely rounded soundstage
    Cons - Tuning may be bright or over-aggressive for some, Midrange slightly thin, Large housings, Non-removable cable
    Introduction –

    TFZ have built up quite a reputation with their affordable yet capable earphones, the 5S being a notable model that was instantly met with wide acclaim. Their new King seeks to compound on the successes of TFZ’s previous models, occupying the very popular $100 price tier. And when compared to competitors, the King brings one of the most innovative driver and housing designs augmented by terrific tuning that capitalises on the earphone’s technical abilities. Keep reading to see how the King stacks up to the competition and whether its aggressive, hyper-clear tones will suit your preferences.



    Disclaimer –

    I would like to thank Chi Kong Hui from Penonaudio very much for getting in contact and providing me with the King for the purpose of an honest review. All words are my own and despite receiving the earphone free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.



    About Me, Background, Gear of choice, Preferences and Biases –

    I generally prefer a u-shaped sound that is close to neutral. I like a lot of detail and clarity but can appreciate a smooth, laid back sound. I’m not particularly treble sensitive so I may be more forgiving of brightness over darkness. I will note if I use a different eartip/pad/cover during the review and describe the sound changes.

    Read More



    Accessories –

    [​IMG]

    I’m quite a fan of the King’s lighter coloured unboxing which is both refreshing and distinctive. Within the embossed metallic box lies the earphones and soft pouch within a plastic inlet.

    [​IMG]

    Underneath are the instruction and warranty papers along with the various ear tips and a shirt clip. The TFZ King comes pre-equipped with Dual flange tips though I found a better fit with the regular silicone tips. Unfortunately, no foam tips are included though the earphones are fully-sealed, providing great isolation regardless.

    [​IMG]

    The soft pouch is nice and supple with a slight amount of padding that will suffice for daily storage and protection. It isn’t as nice as a hard case or the pelican style cases that are becoming increasingly common though it does the job and is ever more pocketable. The King’s are also pretty hardy on their own so I never felt that the earphones were at risk of damage.



    Design –

    The King’s have an unorthodox negative profile fit that reminds me of universal adapted custom earphones. They well earn their asking price with an incredible density and solidity in the hand and a striking metallic blue colour scheme that is catching without being gaudy.

    [​IMG]

    The housings are primarily plastic though the outer faceplates are metal. They actually feel like stainless steel rather than aluminium and the earphones incredible weight contribute to that impression. The plastic portions are thick and feel denser than most acrylic earphones including much more expensive models from Westone and Shure. The plastic and metal components are both perfectly finished and are mated very well, creating a sleek design. The outer faces possess an almost pearlescent quality, changing colour as they reflect light from different angles. All of these little features contribute to an earphone that is both tactile and visually captivating.

    [​IMG]

    During wear, the earphones continue to impress with superb isolation, seal and comfort. Though they have very large housings, as large as the EN700 Bass but considerably wider, they achieve comfort through their very ergonomic forming. Those with smaller ears may experience comfort issues though I found the King’s to conform almost perfectly into the grooves of my ears, achieving faultless long-term comfort. That being said, I didn’t forget I was wearing them due to the weight of the housings and they do protrude quite a bit from the ear; you can’t sleep wearing them though wind noise when out and about is reasonable due to their smoother styling. The smaller Oriveti Basics do provide similar comfort and their vastly lighter, smaller housings make them the better choice for runners or those who like to sleep wearing earphones.

    [​IMG]

    The Kings have reasonably short nozzles though when equipped with the Dual flange ear tips, achieve a depth of fit similar to the longer nozzled Shure SE215’s. Of the Simgot EN700 Bass, Oriveti Basic and Magaosi K3 Pro, the King easily isolates and seals the best, they are almost at the level of the Shures, just with a shallower fit. Their fully-sealed housings produce vacuum like isolation when combined with foam ear tips, perfect for any kind of travel, though they do produce notable driver flex upon insertion. I did experience some stability issues due to those metal faceplates which place the earphone’s weight very laterally and, when combined with their shallower fit (with single flange tips) and lack of ear guides, the earphones to have a tendency to wiggle themselves loose with activity. That being said, I would consider the earphones to have a really solid fit overall and they were rock solid in general commute.

    [​IMG]

    Like the EN700 Bass, the King’s also lack a removable cable though TFZ has since released a variant with a removable cable (and at the same price!). The 4-core unit on the King also isn’t as nice as the 8-core unit on the Simgot earphones though both are far more manageable than the tacky unit equipped on the K3 Pro. The King’s cable is smooth and doesn’t catch on clothes, it also doesn’t pick up too much microphonic noise when walking. Unfortunately, the cable has quite a lot of memory though they are compliant enough to coil and store.

    [​IMG]

    The cable also terminates in a 45-degreeplug which works well from both an amp and from a portable source within the pocket. Of note, there is no offset on the plug so if you have a particularly tight phone case, the plug may not fit. The cable routes over the ear though they have no ear-guides at all. This wasn’t too much of an issue in my testing, I actually prefer this type of fit in many circumstances, though the springy nature of the cable did make it prone to flicking over the tops of my ears. The angled connectors do somewhat help to route the cable comfortably over the ear despite the absence of guides and twisting the cable helps to keep them in line.



    Sound –

    The Kings utilise a very unique driver setup that, dare I say, might be unprecedented at this price. They are technically a single dynamic driver earphone though they employ a technology similar to RHA’s high-end earphones with dual magnets and voice coils acting like two drivers in the space of one, quite innovative indeed. And in listening, the TFZ King’s proved to be the most technically impressive earphone I’ve heard around this price point; take note that a more revealing earphone may and probably does exist out there, I just haven’t heard it. In terms of resolution, end to end extension and outright detail retrieval, the King handily bests the Oriveti Basic, Simgot EN700 and Magaosi K3 Pro. And this technical ability really enhances every aspect of the earphones sound; whereas clarity is a tuning choice, resolution can only be achieved through meticulous housing design and driver choice. The K3 Pro best illustrates this concept, it is a clearer sounding earphone than the King though TFZ’s earphone is continually more detailed and nuanced. Of course, the King is not faultless and despite being objectively superior to a lot of earphones out there, their tuning will be polarising to some listeners. Read the breakdown to see whether the King will suit your personal tastes.



    Burn-in –

    The Kings achieved considerable change with the usual 150 hours of burn-in that I put most earphones through before review. Out of the box, I questioned a few of the reviews I had read online, I felt that the King’s were quite bass heavy rather than balanced. But post burn-in, the King’s sound more balanced and transparent, bass is more controlled and quantity is more in line with the midrange. Again, I can only subjectively comment on these changes but I have found the King to become the balanced earphone that others have described and I am pleased with the ultimate tonality these earphones produce.



    Tonality –

    The King is quite a balanced earphone, more so than the more V-shaped K3 Pro and L-shaped Basic though slightly less so than the Simgot EN700 Bass. It is nowhere near neutral, I don’t believe any of these models are really comparable to earphones like the Hifiman RE-400 as they inherently pursue different kinds of sounds. The King has a brighter tonal balance with treble having the most prominence by a slight margin. Mids and bass are in good balance though the upper midrange and treble can rarely overshadow the lower frequencies. They have a very forward sound that capitalizes on their resolving nature.



    Soundstage, Imaging and Separation –

    The King’s excel with soundstage similar to the EN700 Bass and K3 Pro. And amongst $100 earphones, the King holds a notable advantage in soundstage depth which is considerably better than that offered by the K3 Pro, EN700 Bass and Basic though width isn’t as obviously out of the head as these models. The King’s are quite well-rounded as a result though I would still call them slightly width biased. When listening to Eric Clapton’s “Old Love”, the King’s presented a delightful sense of forward projection that added an extra dimension of realism to the live recording that the other earphones were unable to achieve. Their advantage with resolution also aids layering and background effects are brought to the fore; they are definitely tuned for engagement and clarity over outright realism. The King’s have no issue with separation, they don’t have the bass bloat of the Simgot’s nor the busy treble of the K3 Pro’s though the super smooth Oriveti Basics still sound cleaner in their presentation. Imaging is also great due to their rounded soundstage and resolving nature though I would give a slight advantage to the Simgot EN700 Bass in overall accuracy. Ultimately, the King’s technical ability really enhances their sound throughout and their mostly tasteful tuning takes maximum advantage of that unique driver design.



    Drivability –

    The King’s have incredibly sensitive at 110dB combined with a low-impedance at 12ohms. As such, the earphones are exceptionally easy to drive in terms of volume, even my iPod Nano drives them to deafening volumes. Though despite being a dynamic driver, the King’s are actually very source sensitive, I especially noticed the biggest difference with their bass performance which varied quite noticeably between my devices. Switching from my HTC 10 to Oppo HA-2 yielded more sub-bass extension and impact in addition to an expanded soundstage. The King’s also pick up a huge amount of hiss from almost every source. This ruled out the Hidizs AP60 and even my Fiio X5 III and Oppo HA-2 produced an ever-present hiss audible even when music was playing; though my HTC 10, iPods and Fiio X7 all served the King’s perfectly. While they sound perfectly fine from an iPhone or high-end Android phone, the King’s benefit from a clean low-impedance source with a warmer tone like the Chord Mojo or Fiio X7 with AM2 module. All comments below will be with the X7 w/AM2.



    Bass –

    The King’s have a nice bass response that has great transparency, agility and articulation. Sub-bass extension is very good, they are just bested by the Oriveti Basics but hold a noticeable advantage over the K3 Pro’s and EN700 Bass. Deep and sub-bass hold the most focus with a slight emphasis while mid and upper bass are closer to neutral in quantity. Bass has great linearity with a very consistent tone to notes of various frequencies. Sub-bass is nice and tight and mid-bass is devoid of any bloat. And despite having similar tuning, the King’s more linear emphasis and neutral quantity gives it an advantage in texture over the Oriveti Basic, they are notably less muddy. That being said, I suspect a lot of listeners will prefer the more mid-bass focused responses offered by these other earphones and the added sub-bass slam of the Basic’s is often more engaging despite being less technically impressive. The bass performance of the King’s most impressed me when listening to Simply Red’s “Stars”, quite a fast track that easily overwhelms earphones costing many times more. The King’s handled this song with aplomb, their agility allowed them to keep pace with the song’s rapid bass lines while their resolution perceived minute details within the low-end that the K3 Pro’s and EN700 Bass both skipped over entirely.



    Mids –

    The King’s have a delightful midrange that combines traits of the clarity driven K3 Pro and the very natural EN700 Bass. The King is a brighter earphone though its transparency and resolution mean they don’t have to rely on clarity to bring details to the fore. As such, they are a noticeably more natural sounding earphone than the K3 Pro though they still don’t sound quite as organic as the EN700 Bass which benefits from increased body and smoothness throughout. The King’s have a slightly thinner midrange with well-judged clarity and excellent layering. Midrange presence is great, sitting ever so slightly in front of the bass and mostly in line with treble though some areas of treble hold greater emphasis. As such, vocals are rendered wonderfully and instruments such as piano and acoustic are reproduced with exceptional detail. They can sound a little over-forward on certain tracks, for instance, the very intimate mastering of modern K-pop can become a little intense. On the contrary, when listening to older western music and some Jazz where vocals tend to be more recessed, the King’s sound considerably more balanced. This was most notably highlighted when listening to Steve Conti’s “Call Me Call Me” where the King brought the slightly recessed vocals forward while retaining pleasing balance in the lows and highs. The King also avoided bringing instruments such as strings overly forward despite enhancing vocal presence and the orchestral backdrop sounded smooth and appropriately restrained. In addition, the King’s well-rounded stage and imaging provide nice directional cues and an atmospheric effect to classical and instrumental tracks without making vocals sound distant when listening to other genres. The King’s tread a delicate line of equilibrium though TFZ have very carefully considered their tuning to make sure things remain in balance.



    Treble –

    High notes are sparkly and crisp with great detailing and a nice sense of air that contributes to that expansive soundstage presentation. Extension is good though I feel like the Simgot EN700 Bass and K3 Pro do resolve the very highest details just slightly better, especially the Simgot. That being said, the King renders other treble notes with slightly more detail and micro-detail retrieval is especially impressive at this price point. Int terms of tuning, the King’s treble is slightly uneven with a typical middle treble boost. This grants the earphones with a sense of vividness and clarity that generally extracts details from tracks, making them quite an aggressive earphone. The Simgot’s, by contrast, aren’t as immediately engaging and detailed as the King but possess a more natural and realistic response with more accurate texturing to cymbals and strings. The King generally has more definition than both of these earphones though its more sculpted nature does give cymbals a bit more crunch. I still prefer the King to the peakier K3 Pro and would consider the King to be closer to the more natural EN700 Bass in terms of treble tone and character than the Magaosi. Listening to Steely Dan’s “Peg” and “Deacon Blues” and the King provided hyper clear cymbals with nice texturing and adequate body. But while cymbals never sounded thin or splashy, high-hats were somewhat tizzy compared to the EN700 Bass. That being said, each guitar strum was crisp and airy and the King’s instrument separation provided delineation of instruments that the K3 Pro and EN700 Bass both tended to mush together. While some have labelled the King as a fatiguing earphone, I personally didn’t find the high-frequencies to be overly forward. Rather, I would surmise that their very forward, aggressive nature could turn off some listeners and despite the King’s ergonomic comfort, their sound is geared more towards short-term excitement over long-term listenability.



    Verdict –

    [​IMG]

    When reviewing a piece of audio equipment, I often like to consider the price I would pay for the sound quality and features on offer and whether it is higher, lower or the same as that recommended by the manufacturer. The K3 Pro, EN700 Bass and Basic are all fabulous earphones that pursue different sounds; they have no shortage of features nor do they lack technical ability. That being said, the King is the only earphone among those that I’ve heard that I would pay considerably more for; their resolution, detail retrieval and tuning all over-perform for TFZ’s very accessible asking price; in fact, they are a little cheaper than the aforementioned models. Combined with their solid housings, ergonomic fit and exceptional noise isolation, and the King’s make for an incredibly versatile earphone that is just as suitable for travel as home use. That’s not to say that the King is THE earphone to buy around $100 USD; while their sound quality is spectacular, I’m sure many will prefer the smaller housings and bassier tones of the Oriveti Basic or perhaps the more natural and organic Simgot EN700 Bass. Ultimately, audio is subjective and is heavily a matter of personal taste but I doubt many would be disappointed by the King.

    Overall – 10/10, Smaller eared folk may struggle with their large housings though those who find a good fit will be rewarded with comfort and superb isolation. Sonically, their technical advantages over other similarly priced earphones are a double edged sword because the King’s aggressive, brighter nature is also its most polarising aspect. But if it’s clarity and detail you want, the King is a delightfully revealing and engaging earphone that thoroughly outperforms its asking price.

    Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my review, please have a look at my website for more just like it:
    https://everydaylisteningblog.wordp...z-king-review-notes-articulate-tactile-agile/
    B9Scrambler likes this.
  2. crabdog
    4.0/5,
    "TFZ Exclusive King - An Audience with the King"
    Pros - Great aesthetics and build quality. Well defined bass. Clear and detailed sound.
    Cons - Upper frequencies can get hot at higher volume.
    "He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    TFZ or "The Fragrant Zither" burst onto the IEM scene not so long ago but since then has gained quite the name for itself amongst enthusiasts. Starting with the "Series" series which were regarded as having some pretty serious bass, they followed up with the Balance 2/2M which were indeed fairly balanced but still had a heavy does of the low end. Fast forward to the present and TFZ has a new series going by the title "Exclusive". The Exclusive King Experience Edition is soon to be released as the Exclusive King Formal version. The Formal version will have detachable cables in place of the fixed found on the original. Today I'll be reviewing the Exclusive King so without further ado let's get down to it.

    You may be wondering what the heck a zither is. Being the considerate person that I am, I shall provide a brief description -

    zith·er
    ˈziT͟Hər,ˈziTHər
    noun
    a musical instrument consisting of a flat wooden sound box with numerous strings stretched across it, placed horizontally and played with the fingers and a plectrum. It is used especially in central European folk music.

    Disclaimer
    This sample was provided to me for the purpose of an honest review. I am not affiliated with the company or seller and all observations and opinions here are my own, based on my personal experience with the product.

    The Exclusive King is currently selling for $99 and can be purchased from Penon Audio.

    Penon Audio website

    Penon Audio on AliExpress

    Like most people on this type of site I'm a lover of music. In my younger days I spent several years as a hip-hop DJ (using real vinyl and turntables) as well as producting a variety of music on computer using a combination of MIDI and live instruments. I did a Home Studio Sound Certificate at the Milton School of Audio Engineering in Brisbane, Queensland which covered the setup of audio for playback and recording in a studio environment along with other basic engineering principles. Nowadays I prefer to simply listen to and enjoy music.

    My taste in music has changed a great deal over the years. For a long time my only interest was in rap and hip-hop music. Now though I listen to all kinds of music including jazz, classical, rock, psytrance, folk and ambient. I listen to music everyday using portable gear consisting of a DAP and mostly IEMs or simple desktop setup consisting of a laptop and DAC at work and my desktop setup at home which is based around my PC or Shinrico D3S with a DAC, often but not always including a tube amp and full-sized headphones or speakers.

    My preferred sound signature is fairly balanced with slightly elevated mid-bass and deep well-extended sub-bass, clear and resolving midrange with a touch of warmth and clean, airy treble. I'm not offended but brighter sounding gear but dislike any sibilance. The majority of my music is 16/44.1 flac files as I stopped using physical media (CD/vinyl) many years ago and prefer the convenience of digital formats.

    I often list a number of tracks or albums that I have used for testing a specific product in my reviews and they usually relate to things I've been listening to at the time of the review but note that during all my testing there are a number of ADDITIONAL standard tracks that I use for testing various aspects but do not list these in my reviews.

    Untitled-1.jpg

    Packaging and accessories

    On this occasion the King's carriage comes in the form of a classy silver box emblazoned with shiny silver print. Under the lid is the striking blue IEMs laid out before you in their snow white plastic tray, the colors contrasting wonderfully. You'll also see the white carrying pouch here, adorned with the TFZ logo on the front. Underneath the pouch is a recessed pocket with the cable coiled up and held with a Velcro cable-tie.

    Lifting out the tray reveals a few extras and a smaller silver box containing the rest of the accessories. All together you'll find:
    • user manual
    • warranty and information cards
    • 3x pairs silicone tips (S, M, L)
    • 1x pair double flange silicone tips
    • 1x pair foam tips
    • 1x pair silicone ear-guides
    • shirt clip
    It's a nice package overall with an elegant presentation and gives you pretty much everything you could want to accompany your new IEM.

    20170505_071840.jpg 20170505_072202.jpg

    Build, comfort and isolation

    The King is constructed with shiny, blue metal face-plates covering a transparent blue, plastic housing. The shells are smoothly contoured with high quality construction and feel every bit as good as they look. There's quite a bit of heft making them feel substantial and solid but they don't feel as heavy as the Balance 2M and don't feel heavy when worn.

    The angled nozzles have a good length and a raised ridge to prevent ear-tips from sliding off and getting stuck in your ears. There's also a metal grill in place to prevent debris and earwax from entering the housings.

    Coming out from the top of the shells are the translucent strain reliefs with the cable embedded inside. Farther down is a translucent Y-split and chin slider/cable cinch. The cable itself is pretty nice, a clear, twisted affair that has a good thickness and weight to it and terminates in a translucent, 45° angled plug with TFZ branding printed in red.

    For my ears these very comfortable, especially with shorter, third-party tips (all the provided ones are too small for my ears). There's no memory wire in the cable so it can easily sit over your ears and is barely noticeable. Unlike many other UIEMs (including the B2M) these don't cause any hotspots for me so I could really wear them all day without a second thought.

    For isolation I find these pretty good too, mostly due to having large ears so the shells sit nicely in the conch of my ears, almost as if they were customs. Your mileage may vary of course as we're all special little snowflakes with unique anatomy. With music playing quietly I don't hear much outside noise and when the volume is turned up I am oblivious to what's going on around me.

    20170505_072901.jpg 20170604_153638.jpg 20170604_153605.jpg 20170604_153910.jpg 20170604_154020.jpg

    Sound

    Sources used for testing
    • Benjie X1
    • Acoustic Research M20
    • PC/JRiver Media Center > Sabaj D3 DAC/Amp
    It's often the case that as you go higher in price then you'll get less V-shaped signatures with earphones and that's true with the King. It has a more balanced sound and is aimed towards the enthusiast group who are looking for a more refined or unique presentation, so there's an emphasis on the higher midrange and lower treble with very little of the coloring that you find in the general consumer targeted products.

    There's bass here. Not a lot in terms of quantity but ohh this is all about the quality. You won't hear any bloat, or woolly beats (unless the track was recorded that way). Rather the bass is punchy and fast with next to no bleed into the lower mids. There's an almost hybrid like separation of the bass from the other frequencies all wrapped up in a coherent bundle. Sub-bass can let out a growl when it's called upon and displays nice extension but never overexerts itself or becomes too boisterous. Kick drums and bass notes have a great edge to them with fast attacks and decay and drive the music along without blurring the lines.

    Midrange is allowed to shine as it doesn't need to compete with an overly aggressive bass. Sure it's a little on the thin side but it's smooth with great instrument separation and choc full of detail and clarity. In the Addictive Glance "How Far You've Gone" Evgeny Lebadev remix all the minute pitter-patter sounds are easy to distinguish amidst the energetic, driving bass. Female vocals get special treatment via the slightly emphasized upper mids like in "The Moment" from The Gentle Storm's The Diary - Anneke van Giersbergen's voice rings out sounding natural and uninhibited. In the lower spectrum the male vocals in Katatonia's "Residual" come off as a touch dry but it's a worthy trade-off when you hear the great drums backing them up.

    When it comes to treble this is perhaps the King's weakest point. Actually let me rephrase that because it's not really a weakness - the treble is not quite as impressive as the bass and midrange. It's prominent enough to give the overall sound a bright edge and at times borders on being a bit aggressive but I wouldn't call it abrasive or harsh. There isn't any real shimmer or airiness to it though like I find in the Whizzer A15's treble. Still the timbre is very true to form and it's a very good match for the overall signature of the King's sound.

    Soundstage and imaging are definitely above average for an IEM at this price. These have really good soundstage depth and the stereo imaging is nothing short of excellent. You can get a real sense of distance and positioning which is so often hindered by heavy bass and midrange thickness in a budget earphone.

    Comparisons

    vs Thinksound ms02 ($99 USD)

    The ms02 sounds more organic while the King has a digital like cleanliness that is full of detail. Bass has similar levels on both but is more defined with a cleaner edge on King. Thniksound's ms02 has a warmer overall sound but is still lively in the treble. Both are comfortable but the ms02 is even more so with its traditional barrel shaped housing that basically leave only the ear-tips making contact with your ears. You can't go wrong with either of these as they're both great performers with the deciding factors being over-ear or cable down wear along with whether you prefer a brighter, more detailed sound (TFZ) or a slightly warmer and smoother one (ms02).

    vs Accutone Gemini HD ($119 USD)

    These each have their own unique approach and differ greatly in sonic presentation. On one hand you have the King with its upper tilt focus while the Gemini HD is more about lower mids and mid-bass presence. Treble is much more pronounced on the TFZ compared to a subdued one on Accutone's offering and as a result the Gemini HD has a darker, non-fatiguing sound. Build quality is fantastic on either one but I find the TFZ more comfortable because the Gemini HD has a straight back edge that causes hot-spots in my outer ear after prolonged use. The updated version of the King (Formal edition) will also have the benefit of a detachable MMCX cable that could prolong its longevity and also gives the user the ability for some customization.

    20170608_194609.jpg
    From left to right: TFZ Exclusive King, Accutone Gemini HD, Thinksound ms02

    Conclusion

    Like I said earlier the TFZ King is not targeting the average listener as it's more tuned for audiophiles. Actually I really don't like that term because after all what is an "audiophile"? Just a snobbish term for an audio enthusiast! Jokes aside though, the King has a lot going for it technically, aesthetically and ergonomically as well as a good accessory bundle that makes it pretty impressive for the price. The tuning might not suit everyone but I am certain it will appeal to a lot of more seasoned listeners looking for something outside of the common V-shaped sound. For $99 the TFZ Exclusive King Experience version is in a small, select group of products that aims to please a more demanding demographic. TFZ has created something that is truly unique in this price bracket and for that reason alone you should aim for an audience with the King.

    20170604_134255.jpg
  3. B9Scrambler
    5.0/5,
    "TFZ Exclusive King – THE King"
    Pros - Beautiful aesthetics and build - Detail and clarity - Soundstage
    Cons - Fixed-cable - Heavy
    *Note: The TFZ Exclusive King will be updated soon to become the TFZ Exclusive King Formal Version. Sound and design will remain the same, but it will now feature removable cables. I'm fully on board with this change given the fixed cable version has limited strain relief and heavy housings which was not a good recipe for longevity.*

    Greetings,

    Today we’ll be checking out the newest from TFZ, the aptly named Exclusive King.

    TFZ, whom you may be familiar with already from their prior releases under the TTPOD brand, surged onto the market last year with their Series 1, 3, and 5 earphones which were positively received. While I haven’t had the pleasure of listening to those models, I understand that with The King here they’ve taken their sound in a different direction, one that’s more suitable for those that like their bass subdued and emphasis on detail and clarity. Those of you who fall into this camp should be right pleased with The King. Why? Let’s find out.

    20170511_081436.jpg

    Disclaimer:

    Huge thanks for Penon Audio for working with me on this one and sending over a complimentary (i.e. free of charge) sample for the purposes of this review. I am not receiving any monetary compensation for this review and the thoughts within do not reflect Penon, TFZ, or anyone but myself.

    Your very own King can be purchased over at PenonAudio.com for 99.00 USD: http://penonaudio.com/TFZ-EXCLUSIVE-KING-Experience-Version

    I’m a 30 year old professional working for what is currently the largest luxury hotel chain on the planet. I have a background in Psychology which probably explains my somewhat dry writing style. My entry into the world of portable audio was due primarily to a lack of space for a full-sized stereo system during my university years, and truly began with the venerable JVC HA-FXT90. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI’s multi-earphone review thread, reviews from other established reviewers, and thus being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own.

    Fast forward a couple years and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to write about products for wonderful companies like RHA, Accutone, ADVANCED, NarMoo, Mixcder, Brainwavz, Meze and many more. I don’t do it for money or free stuff, but because this is my hobby and I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to a product that makes them happy, I’ll consider that a job well done and payment enough.

    Gear used for testing was a Shanling M1, HTC One M8, LG G5, Topping NX1 portable amplifier paired with an XDuoo X3 (Rockbox), and my aging Asus G73 gaming laptop paired with a Creative SoundBlaster Recon3D usb amp. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even mid-range response, and reduced mid-bass, though lately I’ve been enjoying more mellow and relaxed products with a bass tilt. My favorite in-ears, the Echobox Finder X1 with grey filters installed and the Fischer Audio Dubliz Enhanced are good examples of my preferred signatures.

    DSC01269.JPG DSC01221.JPG DSC01227.JPG
    Packaging and Accessories:

    TFZ did a good job packing The King into a low cost package with nice visual appeal. The simple silver-coated cardboard with glossy silver logo and writing looks fantastic and is unexpectedly easy to read. Lifting off the lid has The King’s beautifully blue, glistening housings on full display, securely held in place in it’s plastic tray by a King branded sticker, the silver-colored, braided cable coiled below and neatly tied up with a handy Velcro strap.

    Lifting out the plastic tray reveals a couple extras nestled in underneath; manual, 12 month warranty card, an information card replicating the information from the back of the box, and a small cardboard box containing the accessories.

    – single flange silicone tips in s/m/l

    – one pair of bi-flange silicone tips

    – one pair of foam tips

    – cable clip

    – removable silicone ear guides

    It’s a nice selection of accessories. I was initially worried about the included tips as they are somewhat slick in hand, but they seal just fine. To my surprise the bi-flange tips ended up being my preferred set. Normally multi-flange tips are a no-go due to the shape of my ear canal.

    The King’s unboxing experience is simple and well thought out with a comprehensive accessory kit that should ensure a good fit for most.

    DSC01284.JPG DSC01288.JPG DSC01316.JPG
    Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

    An earphone with king in the name better be well built, and TFZ’s Exclusive King doesn’t disappoint. Yes, they are mostly plastic (metal face plate), but the feel in hand is reminiscent of an all-metal infused monster. The weight of those thick, dual-magnet, graphene coated 12 mm drivers combined with nearly flawless, super smooth molds means The King exudes a serious feeling of quality.

    Back that with a gorgeous silver-colored, braided cable and The King’s quality feel continues to ooze forth. The translucent, well-relieved 45 degree angled jack looks fantastic giving you a quick glimpse of the cable it’s protecting. On one side TFZ is printed in a shocking red that really stands out amid the electric blue and white used everywhere else. Strain relief along the rest of the cable is non-existent which I found quite disappointing given The King’s cable is fixed. With such heavy housings The King would benefit greatly from either a removable cable or some seriously beefy strain relief.

    I was expecting The King to be a comfortable earphone given it uses the same housing as the KZ ZST hybrid (but nicer plastics), and it is, though I’d give the comfort edge to the KZ entirely due to weight. The King’s hefty drivers had a tendency to drag the housings out of my ear when using anything but the stock bi-flange tips or large-sized KZ “Starline” tips. Thankfully there is a chin cinch present which enables a more secure fit. I found them best suited to use around the house while relaxing and reading a book, or doing low-activity chores, surfing the web, etc.

    That’s not a bad thing either as I didn’t find The King doing a particularly great job of isolating me from the outside world, at least not when using silicone tips. Sitting at my desk at work, using them to passively block sound (no music helping out) I could clearly hear myself type, cars on the nearby road, people chatting as they walked through the parking lot, birds chirping, and everything else under the sun. Tossing on the included foamies boosted isolation to the point where I could hardly hear any outside noise. A pretty stark difference really. If strong isolation is important to you, I highly recommend picking up some extra foam tips at the time of purchase to get the most out of The King’s varied isolation capabilities.

    Overall The King is a very well built earphone that could stand to benefit from either better strain relief or removable cables to accommodate those heavy housings. Comfort despite the weight is quite excellent, though I found myself moving to deeper insertion tips to accommodate the weight. Isolation ranges from mediocre (silicone) to stellar (foam), almost entirely dependent on the tips you use.

    DSC01277.JPG DSC01283.JPG DSC01294.JPG
    Sound:

    Tips: The stock tips are quite nice and I spent the vast majority of my two weeks and tens of hours with The King using the included bi-flange pair. The extra insertion depth helped draw out the bass and reduce treble emphasis which, with the single-flange tips installed, I can see some finding a touch over-done. The included foam tips had the same effect of balancing out their signature nicely, soaking up some treble energy, while vastly improving isolation. KZ Starline tips are also a good choice for the extra insertion depth and the stability that brings, but the stiff core doesn’t do much to soften the treble. If you have Sony Isolation Hybrids on hand, they are also a fantastic choice for their treble-taming qualities, though I worry they’ll tear upon removal as they’re fragile and the fit is quite tight.

    Amping: I had no issues driving The King from any of the sources I have on hand; PS Vita, HTC One M8, Shanling M1, LG G5, XDuoo X3, etc. mind you, I had no need to listen to them loud. The King performs exceptionally well at low volumes. I did find the treble increased in prominence and bass became more authoritative when amped and when the volume increased, but it didn’t add anything to the experience.


    ‘TFZ Hi-Fi MONITOR EXCLUSIVE’ is printed smack dab on the exterior of the housing. Makes it pretty clear as to whom TFZ’s target audience is with these earphones, and once you’ve got them in your ears, I think you’ll agree. It takes on a slightly warm and thin, treble prominent, mid-ranged focused sound that has a well-extended, sub-bass focused low end playing support. It’s a sound that truly involves and envelops the listener.

    The upper registers are extremely crisp and tight. The clarity and detail retrieval is pretty impressive for a dynamic driver, quite easily keeping pace with BA equipped earphones I’ve tried, be they BA-only or hybrids. The air between effects is clear and even on chaotic tracks like King Crimson’s ‘Starless and Bible Black’ nothing blurs together.

    The King’s mid-range has just the right weight, presence, and tonal qualities to engage you on any track with vocals. I love the way both male and female vocals are presented, with female vocals have a slightly more forward sound to them. The aggression and emotion in Killer Mike’s ‘Reagan’ or Scroobius Pip’s ‘Death of the Journalist’ shines through, as do the sultry tones of Sarah Barthel on Big Gram’ ‘Run for Your Life’. Toss on something overly textured and gritty like, well, anything from Tobacco’s ‘F***ed Up Friends’ and you’re in for a treat.

    While The King’s bass presence does take a backseat, I’d hesitate to call them bass-lite. Throw on some bass heavy EDM like AC Slater’s ‘Bass Inside’ or even an action movie and you’ll be shocked at how much this earphone can let loose when called upon. Considering how tame it’s low end is the majority of the time, the heavy wallops of rumbling sub-bass they can send your way is a real eye-opener. Part of what makes this possible is a down-tuned mid-bass region, or at least that’s how I hear it.

    Sound stage size is very large, throwing effects everywhere around you and at a good distance if called for by the track. Unlike other earphones I’ve tried with larger than average sound stage size, The King isn’t afraid to get intimate as heard in the closing moments of Culprate’s ‘Undefined’.

    I found it quite accurately places sounds as well, with stellar separation and layering. This is quite evident when used with Dirt Rally in the cockpit view. The sound design on that game is amazing and truly shines when paired with a good set of headphones or earphones like the Exclusive King.

    The TFZ Exclusive King is a very, very good sounding earphone. It’s detail and clarity is near unmatched compared with other earphones in this price range I’ve tried. I can definitely see some finding it a little bright, and others thinking the bass lacking quantity, but to my ears the tuning is spot on for giving you a quality, yet versatile, high fidelity sound.

    20170512_082925.jpg 20170512_083127.jpg DSC01281.JPG
    Select Comparisons:

    Havi B3 Pro I and II: For a while now the Pro I has been a Head-fi staple for those wanting a very capable, neutral-ish budget earphone. The Pro II does just a good of job as the Pro I, shifting its neutral-ish emphasis by taking a little from the high end and adding a bit to the low end. The King’s presentation contains the best of both of these (soundstage, imaging accuracy, layering, etc.), but adds some extra energy and sparkle in the high end, while improving on their end-to-end extension. It’s much easier to drive too.

    BeB 1200EX: The 1200EX and Exclusive King are two sides of the same coin when it comes to their sound signatures. The King is a touch brighter, it’s sub-bass slightly more prominent, and layering improved, but other than that the differences are hard to pin down. Choosing between the two comes down to preference really. Cable down, go 1200EX. Cable up, go with The King. Care about sound quality only, The King edges out the competition. Build is split as I prefer The King’s design and fit and finish but the 1200EX’s metal housings and overall durability.

    Final Thoughts:

    TFZ’s decision to call this product the Exclusive King is not without merit. It’s easily one of the best single driver earphone experiences I’ve come across. It’s clean, crisp, and detailed signature brings out every nuance in a track without being overbearing or uncomfortably aggressive. It’s not perfect though. Due to the weight of the earpieces it could really benefit from either better strain relief or removable cables. With the wrong tips, it can also be a touch strident in it’s treble.

    Overall this earphone is a very rewarding experience, from the design, to the build, to the sound. Everything about it has a premium and refined air that many products at this price flat out lack. Awesome work TFZ.

    Thanks for reading!

    – B9Scrambler
    CoiL and VinceHill24 like this.

User Comments

To view comments, simply sign up and become a member!