TFZ Secret Garden 3 - Reviews
Pros: Punchy midbass
Beautiful vocal and instruments
Stellar airy highs with brilliant extension
Outstanding separation and layering
Expansive soundstage
Cons: Very slightly lean midrange
Fast decay making subbass slightly lean
Introduction:
In my search for upgrading from 1custom Junior (I could not get accustomed to the fit. Hence the venture), I found 2 options lying before me: Dunu DK-2001 and TFZ Secret Garden 3. Now I am no stranger to TFZ, having used Tequila1 in my earlier days. Although I did take to the sound signature then, a while later I started to feel dissatisfied with the overly dominating bass. But that’s a story for another time.

I was fairly certain that BA bass cannot satisfy me in place of DD bass (Being spoiled by the bass of Simgot EN700Pro). So I was kinda sceptical of the SG3(3 BA) and was kinda skewed to the DK-2001(1 DD, 3 BA). That was until I auditioned them. And the table turned.

I bought the item with my own money from pre-loved gears market. I am in no way affiliated to any manufacturer or online store. This is a completely unbiased opinion.

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Description:
TFZ Secret Garden 3 is a 3 Knowles BA driver iem, the configuration being: Knowles 30095 (high frequency) +29689 (mid frequency) +22955 (low frequency). Following are the other details of the iem:

Impedance: 13-23 ohm
Sensitivity: 110 dB
Frequency response: 5HZ-40KHZ
Lowest power: 8mW
Connectors: 3.5mm Line
Cable details: 1.2M 0.78mm 2-pin 4-core silver-plated oxygen-free copper
MSRP (Penon): 359 USD

The box contains absolutely bare-bone accessories except the iems and cable:

6 pairs of silicone eartips
1 pair of foam eartips
Earphone case

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The iem comes with dip switches to tune the sound signature as per user's preference. But no clear instruction can be found officially. The only details found on Penon's item page is:

Four-section adjustable switch :

13ohm: adjust high frequency
14ohm: adjust mid-high frequency
20ohm: adjust mid-low frequency
23ohm: adjust low frequency

The above details do not help in understanding how the switches work. From personal experience I can tell that the Left switch enhance lower mid a bit while on or up, and the Right switch enhance upper mids a bit while on or up. Although, the changes are very negligible to my ears. I used the iem with L up R down configuration. Stock tips did not fit me best, so used KZ Star tips.

Note: The cable in the picture is not the original cable.

Bass:
Tight and punchy midbass. Fast decay leads to making the bass very slightly lean, but even then also it has enough weight than some DD (MEE Pinnacle P2). The subbass is slightly lean too, although they have good extension and are present beautifully, focusing on the details and layers, not at all sounding hollow. But the fast decay makes the softest of notes, like very low piano notes, lack their presence somewhat. Noticed it while listening to the track Pink - Beautiful Trauma - But We Lost It. Of course it can't perform like DD bass, like that of EN700Pro - which has much more body, slower decay, and overall a more meaty presentation. SG3’s bass is all about punch and details, shedding off the extra weight to clean up the background and give way to the other frequencies, yet retaining the body and texture to deliver satisfaction to a DD-lover like me. Although I cannot comment on accuracy as I have not listened to any of the drums or other non-electrical bass instruments in person.

Massive Attack - Teardrop is my go-to track to check subbass rumbles. SG3 brings it out with authority. The texture is quite detailed with a moderately full body.

In the track Muse - Showbiz the vocals do not get suppressed when the bass guitar and drums come on. The bass guitar sets up a nice and just perfectly weighty bassline while the drums give punchy beats without muddying up the rest of the spectrum at all.

Bear McCreary - Battlestar Galactica Season 2 OST - Prelude to war track has some nice big drums. The sound from those drums are punchy, full, and yet fast enough not to drown the rest of the instruments. The texture is just so beautiful and satisfactory… Frankly, it ticks almost all the boxes.

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Mids:
Short story: Vivid Mids. As if music comes alive!
Long story: I’ll start with vocals. Both Male and Female vocals sound brilliant, obviously forward, have warmth, but are very very slightly lean. I do not prefer lean vocals, in fact lean mids, at all, but SG3 produced the mids, both instrument and vocals, with such warmth and body that it satisfied me completely. Not too thin that they will lose their characters, not overly thick and smooth and too forward that they will make the sound congested. Rather, they have a certain bite and are enriched with details. They are positioned within the head, slightly intimate but certainly not in your face, maintaining the sense of space quite well. Good layering is witnessed here - multiple parallel vocals can be easily distinguished.

Yao Si Ting sounds absolutely lovely in all her tracks - melodious and emotional, on a few occasions a bit edgy. Marko Saaresto’s voice sounds powerful with all the signature texture presented with great clarity. In the track Temple of Thought - Kamikaze Love the entrance of the background vocals can be perceived immediately and effortlessly - that shows how much transparency and layering prowess SG3 offers!

A similar story with instruments. Guitars sound full yet crisp, full of emotions. Violins sound fluid and rich, nicely textured.
Same story with wind instruments, for eg. Kenny G’s saxophone sounds rich and musical.
Yanni’s piano notes are the same.

Instrument section is enriched with plenty of details. They are not smoothened out, rather have the same bite as vocals that will snatch your attention and will make you move with their rhythm. There is good separation and imaging observed here. Plenty of air exists between instruments.

Listening to Toto - Africa was an immersive experience with SG3.
Snare drums notes are crisp with just the right amount of body, may be very very slightly lean, but I'm really nitpicking here. In Bear McCreary - Battlestar Galactica Season 2 OST - Prelude to war the snare drums sound absolutely snappy. I always look for this crispness when reviewing an iem.

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Highs:
If the mids are the star of the show, highs are...also the stars, no less. Brilliant extension with vivid clarity - every detail brought out beautifully. Never before experienced such transparency. Yet they are anything but lean. They have a lot of air in them too. Cymbal crashes come across clear and crisp, completely unapologetic. They are fast, yet having substantial note weight not to sound tinny. On some songs the highs can be mildly hot due to the energetic nature, but not so sharp as to cause headache (experienced with LZ A6 mini). This hotness rather enhances their presentation.

Christina Aguilera’s voice in Hurt (Back To Basics) sounds brilliantly powerful without sounding piercing. Despite having such energy, unwanted sibilance is very much absent, unless the track itself has it.
The Witcher game OSTs are literally treble showcase. SG3 went to town with them. The tracks just sprang to life. The beautiful ringing engulfs you from every side and subjects you to a surreal experience.

Soundstage, Separation, Imaging:
Soundstage is quite wide and deep. Has a good amount of height too. It's more wide than deep, although it's got enough depth not to make the presentation flat. There is very good separation between instruments that contributes to the airy presentation. Layering is quite distinct and precise. Likewise, imaging is pretty great. I cannot be satisfied without a good amount of soundstage and I was more than pleased with SG3's soundstage.

Comparison:

Dunu DK-2001:
Why I passed this over to go for SG3 even though I'm a DD lover? Because, primarily, fit. It did not sit well inside my right ear, causing pain, hence.
Secondarily, the mids. Don't be confused, 2001 has ample amount of details in the midrange also, quite similar to the SG3. But, being a V-shaped signature, it was a bit recessed, and once I got the taste of SG3's mids, it was difficult to let that go. Bass was of course much more on 2001, with ample subbass rumble that did not drown the mids. But the mid and fit of SG3 had already won me over by then. Treble on both were quite similar, I could not pick one over another, may be the 2001 had a touch thinner highs, nothing to complain about. Similar soundstage and separation too.

QOA Mojito: Where to start...I was quite surprised at these 2 nearly identical twins. Not joking, their sound signatures bear that much similarity. The only difference being Mojito having slightly more weight in the lows and mids - making them all the more full and engaging. SG3 sounded a bit less engaging having slightly drier bass and slightly leaner mids. But where SG3 pulls ahead is the Highs. I don’t know, maybe because of the slightly weightier tuning, treble on Mojito sounds...off. They have similar amounts of details and extension, but the tonality is slightly off. Sounds a little dull, missing the energy and the life of SG3’s highs. That may make the output easier for treble-sensitive ears, but for me it kills the fun. Pity, because it has similarly expansive soundstage, brilliant separation and accurate layering like SG3, better low and mid than SG3, and similarly detailed presentation.

BGVP Artmagic VG4: VG4 has a touch smoother mids and highs. They still have quite a good amount of sparkle, but compared to SG3 just a touch bit less. Mids have slightly more warmth on VG4 also. Bass is also just a touch bit more on VG4. But all these can be altered by the dip switches, and those work wondrously on VG4. Just shifting the 3 switch up will bring forward oodles of bass to the sound, 2 will make the mids thicker and more forward, and 1 will make the highs more prominent. Although, the biggest difference between VG4 and SG3 is soundstage, separation, and layering. Those are far superior on SG3 than VG4 in every sense. Although I do not know if that justifies the 130 USD price gap, may be they do, I do not have much experience in this price range.
Ace Bee
Ace Bee
You mean to say Legacy 3 is an upgrade over SG3? But as far as I have read Legacy 3 does not have that much detailed presentation.
Fawzay
Fawzay
Actually it has a good detail-
retrieval however, it will flop into bad source
Ace Bee
Ace Bee
I see. My main source is my Galaxy J6 mobile, guess that won't be a good pairing.
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