TFZ No.3

General Information

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TFZ No.3 technical specifications:

  • Driver: 11.4mm double cavity & voice coils, tesla magnetic group
  • Magnet material: NdFeB N50
  • Diaphragm: diamond diaphragm
  • Frequency response range: 5Hz-40kHz
  • Impedance: 20Ω
  • Sensitivity: 108dB
  • Cable connectors: 2pin, 0.78mm
  • Cable: 1.2m, silver-plated cable, 3.5mm jack

Latest reviews

Pros: Good bass quantity
Nice fit
Surprisingly good sounding IEM for this price
Cons: Mids are slightly recessed
Treble can be a tad sharp
Cable is terrible




The Fragrant Zither (TFZ) has been making in-earphones for a few years now, however I have not actually had a chance to try any of them. Linsoul contacted me a couple months ago and sent me the newest TFZ, the No. 3 to try out and write a short review about, and so here I go.

The No. 3 comes in a rectangular long box and comes with a set of tips, a carrying fabric pouch, and 2-pin cables. The cable itself isn’t all that great, as it isn’t very easy to use, tangles, and just feels awkward. I opted to use my own cables to pair with the No. 3.

The shell of the TFZ No 3 looks a little large at first, but actually fits quite comfortably and does a good job of blocking out noise. The outside plate has a brushed metal look, however it’s just a decal, while the inner side of the shell is transparent showing off the driver and internals.

Sound

The TFZ No. 3 presents a V-Shaped sound signature which elevates bass and treble responses, while recessing mid-range. This typically is not a sound profile that I really like, but can tolerate when done coherently and not overly done, and for the most part the TFZ No. 3 does this well.

Bass response is the thing that sticks out the most on the No. 3. It has good sub-bass response, which is deep, impactful, rumbly, and boosted. It doesn’t feel muddy either, and sounds quite nice. The natural decay is clean and present.

Mid-range is coherent, though definitely behind the bass and treble in a typical V-sound. I found male vocals to be rich and full, while female vocals to be a little bit on the brighter side. The treble response is elevated and borders on harshness. While on most songs, I found the TFZ No. 3 to be on the good side of this fine line, there are occasional tracks where I found the treble boost to be a little fatiguing and bright.

TFZ’s only redeeming quality is its soundstage, which is wide and sometimes engulfing. The added treble boost, also gives the sound profile some air and this makes instruments sparkle a bit and give a sense of good forward details.

Comparisons



While I kept the main content a bit short, I’d like to give a quick set of comparisons here, as there is just so much out there right now in this price range that is of good quality that it’s hard to sift through it all.

TFZ No. 3 vs BGVP DMS and BGVP DMG



This the comparison I feel like people really want to know about. These three IEMs share very similar sound signatures. The DMS is open-back and will leak and let sound in. That said, I think it’s a very fun and coherent in-ear. The DMG is the same but in a closed-back form but just a little bit muddier and brighter than the DMS. Both, however, sound muddy and less resolving than the TFZ No. 3. In fact, I found the No. 3 to sound better across the board in terms of bass qualities, mid coherency than both BGVPs. I do still like the DMS for it's openness however.
TFZ No. 3 vs Moondrop Kanas Pro and Moondrop KXXS


The No. 3 has more apparent bass boost than both the Moondrop IEMs. Some may find it too much, and some may find it just right. I actually do like how much bass the TFZ presents, although I do not in any way shape or form consider myself a basshead. It’s just a fun, yet good sounding bass response at this price point. The Kanas pro and KXXS have more muted bass, but it’s clean, punchy and just enough warmth to make me happy. The Kanas Pro is a smoother overall sound than both the KXXS and No. 3 and I find the KXXS and No 3 to be equally on the brighter side of what I like, but both are just toned down enough to be overly distracting and fatiguing. I find the KXXS to actually be a little more bright than the No. 3.

TFZ vs Sony MH755


Finally, I find the TFZ No. 3 to be an improved Sony MH755 earphone. The MH755 is ultra-cheap yet very fun and sounds quite good for it’s offering price of free99, or $8 on eBay. The MH755 was a bit too bassy though, and the TFZ No. 3 has the right amount of bass reduction yet still is ever present, and also has a slightly tamer treble response and better resolution.


Overall
In the end, I find the TFZ No. 3 to be a good buy at $109 and can stack up against IEMs above it’s price range. For a V-shaped IEM, I’d take it over the BGVP series of DMS, DMG, as well as the DM6. I’d personally prefer the Moondrop Kanas Pro over it, but that’s a sound signature choice. I can definitely recommend the TFZ No. 3 as a good fun In-Ear.

If you are interested, please check out the product at Linsoul.com or on the LSR-Direct store on Amazon. The links below are direct to product links:

Pros: Excellent bass in quantity and quality, suitable for bassheads.
Good stock tips and cables.
Fun signature.
Above average isolation.
Timbre and tonality of voices/instruments above average.
Good technicalities for a pure DD setup.
Cons: Treble slightly rolled off at higher frequencies, so maybe not suitable for treble heads.
Mid bass bleed.
As with a few other TFZ models, some aftermarket cables may not fit its perculiar 2 pin design (check out the forums on which cables can't fit it). Standard 2 pin cables can fit but they will stick up a bit.
8 khz spike, that may make trumpets and horns a bit piercing.
Upper mids/lower treble spike, may be fatiguing with longer listening sessions.
May have hiss with smartphones/desktop - can be fixed (see details below)
Disclaimer: I bought this IEM at my own expense and am not affliated to any company.

Hi this is my 3rd review on this forum.

Out of the box, my initial impressions were not very favourable, I found the bass over boomy and the mids recessed, with some harsh treble, but having burnt it in and listened more extensively, I am really really loving this IEM. So in the future, I have learnt not to make any firm impressions of any audio gear till more extensive listening.
The TFZ No. 3 is quite a fun set that will appeal to bassheads (like me).


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Specifications:
- Driver: 11.4mm Double magnetism, double cavity, double voice coil, tesla magnetic group
- Diaphragm: Diamond diaphragm
- Frequency Response: 5Hz-40000Hz
- Impedence: 20ohms
- Sensitivity:108dB
- Cable: 0.78mm 2 pin detachable cable


Build:
It is made of plastic, but is extremely light.

The stock cable is detachable and quite thick and of good quality with no microphonics. I tried a few different cables, such as the NICEHCK 8 braided cable, but decided to stick with the stock one in the end, due to the sound signature and fit. The stock cable has no chin clinch though.
Apparently some Headfiers have fedback that the cable connector is similar to some other TFZ models, and certain aftermarket cables may not fit the TFZ No. 3. You can still use a standard 2 pin cable but it sticks out of the IEM somewhat. (From what I know KZ para C type cables will not fit the TFZ No. 3, more info can be obtained from the forums on which cables won't fit the TFZ No. 3).

It comes with many stock tips and after tip rolling a bit, I still found the stock ones to still suit me better.

Isolation/comfort:
These are one of the more comfortable IEMs I have ever used. I can wear it for hours with no issues. It is extremely light and ergonomic.
The isolation is also excellent. I have used it in the subway or crowded areas with above average isolation. I did not find any driver flex on it.

Sound:
This IEM is easily drivable from smart phones, and doesn't really need any amping. I tested this with a desktop -> Khadas Tone board -> Fiio A3 and android -> Tempotec Sonata HD. There is a hiss with smartphones/PC but this resolves when the music is playing. The hiss can be fixed with a simple inline volume controller, impedance mismatch device, or even a DAC or AMP.

My initial impressions was that this was a V shaped tuning, but after extensive listening, it is more of a U shape, with mildly recessed lower mids (and boosted bass and slightly boosted lower treble/higher mids).
For a single DD set up, the imaging, instrument separation, clarity and details are very good. Most of the details in the music can still be heard, but IMHO as a single DD Driver, it loses out to some other multi BA drivers in this area. Among the pure DD setups I own, it is one of the better ones in the area of technicalities.

Bass:
Excellent bass (midbass and subbass) quantities. Subbass extends very well with great quantity, and will be suitable for bassheads. The timbre is spot on and has a decay typical of DD bass. It has a midbass bleed, but some may prefer this for an added warmth in the lower registers. It may be on the slightly bloated side in terms of quality. The bass is the most emphasized of the entire frequency spectrum, but I never found it overpowering other frequencies so far (having said that I'm a basshead). The bass is definitely my most favourite aspect of this IEM and it is just one level short of jaw rattling bass.

Mids:
It has slightly recessed lower mids, but a boost in the higher mids. As such, male voices sound softer than female ones to me. Vocals and instrument tonality/timbre is superb and make me feel like I am listening to singing from the first row of a stage. The upper mids can occasionally get fatiguing with longer listening sessions with female vocals.

Treble:
Lower treble is slightly boosted. I find sometimes horn and trumpet instruments may sound a bit harsh as there is a treble peak on the TFZ No. 3 at around the 8kHZ region. Otherwise the rest of the treble is non fatiguing, with minimal silibance. There is a slight roll off in the higher frequencies, so maybe treble heads may not appreciate it. But nevertheless, most of the details are there.

Soundstage:
Average.

Conclusions:
I initially wasn't impressed with TFZ No.3 out of the box, but after listening for almost a week, it has steadily grown on me and I love it now. The excellent bass and comfortable fit, and fun sounding signature make this a keeper set for me. The upper mids/lower treble can get occasionally fatiguing with longer listening sessions, but otherwise bassheads will like it for the great sub and midbass.
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RikudouGoku
RikudouGoku
@baskingshark does the No.3 Have driver flex? The 2019 my love edition has it and it is kinda annoying.
baskingshark
baskingshark
No driver flex for me at all. Could it be you have a defective IEM? Maybe u can ask the others in the forums about driver flex issues in the 2019 my love?
RikudouGoku
RikudouGoku
@baskingshark got my No.3 Yesterday and can confirm that there is no driver flex (for me). I contacted TFZ for the 2019 my love and he sent me a new one ( just the Left piece that i got driver flex on).
Pros: Discreet color doesn't draw attention
Decent fit
Nice packaging of accessories and cable
Good treble and mids
You didn't waste $300 on the metal shells
They feel so good when you take them out of your head
Cons: Recessed bass
Muddied mids
Wasn't given to me for free by someone at Linsoul
Can't return to China for a refund
UPDATE: After taking the advice of one of the commenters, I found that there was a cabling issue. I swapped out everything but the cable before shredding the 'phones. So yes, I'm an idiot. As a result, I'm upping the review to 4-stars. The earphone provides good full rich sound, something akin to a ZS10 Pro and yes, KPE with better fit. Does it now have slamming bass and a wicked V-shaped signature? No. It's got a textured bass, but not a thumping one. Isolation, by the way, is better than what you'd expect from a dynamic driver, given that they're, by definition, vented to the outside world. I'll leave this review up in its original state to memorialize my doltish stupidity. I knew I was going against the flow and posted it anyway because it's what I was hearing. Thanks for your encouraging feedback and helpful tips and support.

==

Today's review is about the TFZ No 3. This comes during a hypestorm where people are comparing these to the Kanas Pro for half the price, indistinguishable from the king of under-$200 chi-fi. However, behold: this probably is the first negative thing anyone has said about these: if these sound like your KPE, return your Kanas Pro to the nearest Radio Shack for service. Now, hurl your arrows and slings!

TFZ stands for The Fragrant Zither, but there is nothing fragrant about it, or zitherlike. More apt for: The Flat Zzzzzs. Why? Because to these ears, The No 3 was flat, boring, and put me to sleep.

<close-up photo of a plain white box with black text>

UNBOX

The IEMs arrived in a box. The box is about twice the size of a typical KZ purchase, and you figure you're about to get double the fun. What you do get is a stiff piece of cardboard or something that feels solid when you replace it. It's not as impressive as, say, the worthless metal plate in the AS10 that makes you feel you won a special award. It's a nice box. It's a box that you can be proud of, show off to your friends, take pictures of and post to the forums, right before you throw it in the trash. Because the box is so large, you won't keep it to carry around your earphones.

<photo of IEM on a wagon wheel coffee table resting against a rustic mug of lukewarm tea>

ACCESSORIES

The Floundering Zamboni also comes with a lot of nice tips of different sizes and colors. It comes with a flat cable that, according to some, doesn't tangle. This is partially true. The cable itself doesn't tangle, since it's not braided and more like the dual wires fused together flatly -- yet another way this is a flat IEM! -- in your typical plug you put into a wall outlet. However, the preformed hooks that go over your ears are so tightly curved that I had to spend about 20 seconds uncurling each one every time I wanted to use them. Further, the velcro strip that binds the cable is of such high quality that it will grip onto your clothes, your couch, the International Space Station, and anything that it comes into contact with, causing you no end to the fun of separating yourself from items around you.

<picture of IEMs dangling from a tree>

COMFORT AND FIT


The shells are a plastic in a size that fit inside my ear. Not quite DM6 perfect, because nothing else is. But not 1st generation ZS10 behemoths either. Maybe a hair smaller than the ZSN/ZST shell. A decent fit. Nozzle-wise, as usual, none of them fit my ears, though the large came close to almost staying in. My go-to Comply-stuffed-in-a-Spiral kind of worked, but the bores must be somewhat larger, as not long of listening there became discomfort from the pressure of the tips on my ear. I have never had to tip-roll so comprehensively as I did with these, Symbio, New Bee, Spinfits, settling on the Final Type Es as the least annoying, final-e. The best part of the fit is the relief of pressure when you finally remove them from your ear.

<image of IEMs near a sunflower in front of a sunset>

SOUND

High: The best thing about these is the treble Generally, things were clear and distinguishable, without much sibilance. That doesn't mean there isn't any, just that I couldn't hear it, a result of playing my car stereo too loudly when I was a stupid youth.

Mids: To me, without any scientific equipment to measure it with or anything, these were a jumbled mess.

Bass: If you're billed as a single dynamic driver, there should be some bass. I mean, you could even be expecting lots of bass, since that's kind of the thing dynamics are known for, and oh by the way, here are some highs also. The Failing Zebra has no bass. Like, at all. It's great that they respond to EQ but I mean what's the point of buying a dynamic driver if you're going to +8 every single frequency under 500? If you want bass while listening to these things, go get a KZ ATR, plug it into an old iPhone 3, and hit play while the ATRs are resting on the table at medium volume seven meters from you with the No. 3s in your ears. A dynamic driver IEM that doesn't play bass or subbass is like a chainsaw that can't cut wood, but has a really nice paint job.

<close-up photo of an IEM in the side of someone's head highlighting need of a dermatologist>

COMPARISONS

But how does the Freefalling Zelda compare with other dynamic drivers adjacent earphones?

Kanas Pro: I famously had a problem getting a good seal with these and hearing bass. That's not the issue here. I had a good seal. There is just no bass. As a result, the Kanas Pro, while not being bass cannons, are superior overall, since you hear the song as it was intended, assuming you can get the pencil sticks counterweighed by anvils to stay in your head. (mystery bonus: check out link in this paragraph to find which IEM I actually enjoy).

BGVP DMG: it's not even close. Get the DMG, put some Symbios or Comply foam tips on them, and enjoy some tunes with a fun signature.

**** ****: the DT6s are a better earphone, and a fraction of the cost.

Really, if you want to spend $110 on some great sound, just get 3 orders of the KZ ZS10 Pro and call it a day.

That's The Flat Zzzzs No 3. It's worse than number 2, it's number 3.

tl;dr - You know how the v-shaped signature is like BASS-mids-TREBLE!!! Well, after really listening to these, trying my best to like them, the best way to describe what I'm hearing is:

ᵇᵃˢˢ-mdis-TREBLE
lgcubana
lgcubana
Sounds like you reversed the connections. As the No. 3s do not lack bass

Fitment: the largest provided silicone tips were not suitable for my right ear. Every now and then, the earpiece would start to walk itself out. Looking through my teacup of unused tips, I found the blue, T2 memory foam to be best; I’m not saying that the blue tips will solve your issues. Just that TFZ couldn’t provide tips for every possible ear cavity.

Good luck
dharmasteve
dharmasteve
My guess is you have a faulty pair. These do not lack bass at all. They are actually an exceptional IEM.
Light - Man
Light - Man
It sounds like you have a faulty pair or have the wrong polarity. The bass is very good and certainly not muddy. Vocals are also very good

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