TFZ TEQUILA1 IEM

Rating:
4.25/5,
  1. B9Scrambler
    TFZ Tequila 1: Pour me another, Tender of the Bar!
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published May 5, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Quality materials with good fit and finish - Meaty mid-range and deep bass
    Cons - Fit affected by heavy cable - Mild mid-bass bleed
    Greetings,

    Today we're checking out the Tequila 1, a product from The Fragrent Zither's (TFZ) new luxury lineup of earphones, TFZLUX.

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    TFZ has been on a roll with new releases since the brand came to be in 2015 and now has an extensive lineup of more than 10 unique models. At 139.00 USD, the Tequila 1 is one of their more premium offerings. Making positive first impressions is the new packaging. The matte black outer sheath with contrasting silver lettering has an upscale look to it. Sliding off the sheath reveals a clear viewing window with the Tequila 1's unique earpieces and the model name on full display. This upward move in quality continues with the accessories. Instead of a simple baggie the Tequila 1 comes with a white Pelican-style carrying case branded with the new TFZLUX 'TL' logo. Inside the foam-padded case are six pairs of single-flange silicone tips (wide and small bore, s/m/l sizes), organized within cardboard holders, along with a single set of medium sized foam tips.

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    There is also TFZ's new cable which ditches the silver plated cables of the Exclusive series for a more straightforward quad-core copper cable, though it is still terminated in the 0.78mm 2-pin connectors we've come to expect from the brand. Also returning are the pre-formed ear guides that work exceptionally well at keeping the cable behind the ear, and with reducing noise transmission through the cable when it rubs against your clothing. One major improvement is to the female connectors on the earpieces which wrap around the male connectors. This change gives the pins some protection from bending and addresses one of my main criticisms with the connectors on the My Love II, Exclusive 1, 3, and 5, and the Series 4, none of which provided any protection for the pins once plugged in.

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    Another change that I see as both a positive and a negative is to the materials used on the y-split and straight jack. Prior cables used dense rubber. With the Tequila 1 they've swapped them over to steel which certainly looks and feels more price appropriate. This also means they are significantly heavier to the point where it is a detriment in my eyes. The now present chin cinch, a welcome addition, is also steel and quite heavy. This results in it slipping down the cable during anything more vigorous than walking, reducing it's usefulness. It's a step in the right direction though. The steel straight jack also retains the bulk of that found on TFZ's prior models which means it's going to be a tight squeeze for many cell phone and DAP cases. Too bad because it looks phenomenal.

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    The CNC machined, semi-open back aluminum housings are also unique to TFZ and as I suspected upon first viewing, have been somewhat divisive in the public eye. The spider web inspired design my review sample features looks much better in person, especially in green, lacking the goofiness of the alternate version which is saddled with a nuclear symbol of all things. While I enjoy the look of this earphone, in my eyes TFZ missed a great opportunity to craft a product that's as visually mature as it is sounding. At least it's comfortable, with a fairly compact, rounded shape that rests in the ear nicely. The shells being aluminum are quite light with only the aforementioned weight from the y-split and chin cinch causing any potential for discomfort. Isolation is below average though, being semi-open back, something you can test yourself by cramming them into your ears backwards. Lots of sounds leaks in, and a fair bit leaks out too.

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    While the design is divisive, no one could dispute the build quality itself is fantastic. The machining of the metal is crisp and neat so all parts line up tightly without any gaps. On the inside of each ear piece is some printing which, amusingly, contains a spelling error; “HD Resolusion” instead of “HD Resolution”. Some care, I don't. The rest of the product is crafted with a level of attention to detail and quality often missing in pricier Chinese earphones. That said, if not only to appease picky Western buyers it would be nice to see that addressed in the future since it is such an easy fix.

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    At 8.9mm, the Tequila's titanium coated drivers are smaller than the 9mm and 12mm graphene drivers found throughout the rest of their lineup. This new driver features copper-clad aluminum voice coils, just like the more upscale and well-received King Pro, also sharing it's smooth, refined sound, though with a signature more geared towards modern pop and electronic music. The Tequila 1 gives off a gentle u-shaped signature with a minor bass focus, and to my ears is a more relaxed listening experience than other TFZs in my possession.

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    The Tequila's upper ranges are well extended, and while still there, treble peaks are reduced compared to prior releases like the Exclusive 5. They improve on the impressive detail and separation of lower end TFZs, especially on congested tracks like the reggae metal riffs from Skindred, without producing the same levels of fatigue over longer listening sessions. Dropping into the mid-range we hear a fairly thick and full sound, especially when pitting it against sub-200 USD champs like the Simgot EN700 Pro which comes across somewhat thin and recessed in comparison. The extra heft and and body the Tequila 1 carries into this region gives vocals and instruments a commanding and full-bodied presence. Despite being set slightly behind the bass and treble regions, the mids retain good clarity and authority in a track. This is a trait I've praised TFZs for in the past, and it was a pleasure to hear in this model too. Bass leads the Tequila 1's signature and is punchy, quick, and well textured with great sub-bass extension and emphasis, though mid-bass is slightly more prominent. This mid-bass hump gives the Tequila 1 its warmth and bleeds ever so slightly into the lower mids, though it's rarely a detriment, especially if you enjoy a bass forward signature. The semi-open back design of the Tequila 1 leads to a stage that is very open, not quite to the extent of the EN700 Pro but more so than the Exclusive 5 and even the Exclusive King. I find this impressive given the vast staging of those models is slightly exaggerated by their leaner presentations.

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    After spending the last three months with the Tequila 1, I have come away impressed with the additional level of refinement it offers over TFZ's more affordable models. In the very busy sphere that is the sub 150 USD market, it stands out for it's bassy but clear signature that doesn't make a lot of sacrifices to achieve the desired tune. It's not for those looking for a neutral or reference product, nor is it for those those that want an absolute bass cannon. They sit neatly in between offering glimpses of both worlds. And while TFZ's earphones seem to have always offered eye-catching designs, with a few exceptions in their older B-Series of earphones, those that I've heard have backed it with great sound quality and the Tequila 1 is no exception. In the end, this earphone delivers a quality audio experience in a visually appealing, or at the very least interesting package, backed by great build quality, solid ergonomics, with the only clear downfall being limited isolation.

    Thanks for reading!

    - B9Scrambler

    Disclaimer: Thanks to Penon Audio and TFZ for the complimentary review sample. The thoughts within this review are my own and do not reflect TFZ, Penon Audio, or any other entity. There was no financial incentive provided to write this review.

    Sources: For at home use the Tequila 1 was powered by my TEAC HA-501 desktop headphone amp. For portable use it was paired with the Auglamour GR-1 or Walnut F1 paired with my Shanling M1, LG G5, or HiFi E.T. MA8. The Tequila 1 is easy to drive with little benefit seen from amping. Bass tightens up somewhat, but not enough to justify the extra bulk that goes along with carrying a portable stack.

    Specifications: Driver: 12mm titanium crystal dual-chamber dynamic / Impedance: 20 ohm / Sensitivity: 109 dB/mw / Frequency Response: 5hz – 40khz / Lowest Power: 8mw

    Some Test Material: Aesop Rock - Skelethon (Album) / Daft Punk - Random Access Memories (Album) / Elton John - Yellow Golden Brick Road (Album) / King Crimson - Lark's Tongues in Aspic (Album) / King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black (Track) / Supertramp - Crime of the Century (Album) / Infected Mushroom - Converting Vegetarians (Album) / Infected Mushroom - Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album) / Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (Album) / Massive Attack - Mezzanine (Album) / Fleetwood Mac - Rumors (Album) / Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels (Album) / The Prodigy - The Day is My Enemy (Album) / Tobacco - F****d Up Friends (Album) / Felt - Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bone) (Album)
      hqssui and volly like this.
    1. misteral201103
      Nice review! I got a chance to listen to them when I was last shopping for IEMs and I was quite impressed - especially at the price they are going for. Not bad at all. Just not as good as what I had my eye (ear?) on!
      misteral201103, May 7, 2018
      B9Scrambler likes this.
  2. Moonstar
    TFZ TEQUILA1, the Eye-Catching IEM with HiFi sound
    Written by Moonstar
    Published Feb 12, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Eye-catching fashion styling,
    Good sound performance for the price,
    Replaceable cable option,
    Good build quality,
    Great Price to Performance Ratio
    Cons - Maybe not for people who prefer a neutral tuning
    TFZ TEQUILA1, the Eye-Catching IEM with Hi-Fi sound



    The TFZ TEQUILA1 IEM was provided to me by the company TFZ via Penon Audio for free of charge as a review sample. I am not affiliated with TFZ or Penon Audio beyond this review and these words reflect my true, unaltered, opinions about the product.


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    2. Introduction:

    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 a few years with it’s popular IEM (in-ear monitor) line, the TFZ Series 1/3/5 and the Balance 2/2M and models like the Exclusive King.

    The TFZ TEQUILA1 series is the new fashion style IEM group with double dynamic (DD) Graphene drivers.


    3. Price:

    The MSRP price for the TFZ TEQUILA1 is around 139,00 USD.

    Purchase Link: https://penonaudio.com/tfz-tequila-1.html
    Manufacturer website: http://www.tfzither.com/


    4. Package and Accessories:

    The TFZ TEQUILA1 comes in a small, black card box and includes the following contents;
    • 1 pair TFZ TEQUILA1 IEM
    • 1 pcs. of cable with 0,78mm 2 pin connection
    • 3 pairs of silicone ear tips with wide-bore
    • 3 pairs of silicone ear tips with small-bore
    • 1 pair of foam ear tips
    • 1 pcs. of Pelican Style Carry Case

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    Inside the box is a white hard case with a Pelican style look. The case is big enough to store the earphone it self and some silicone ear tips for on the go.

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    They are 3 pairs of silicone ear tips with a small and 3 pairs with a wide bore. TFZ also included 1 pair of soft foam ear tips. The tips are comfy and don’t fatigue after long listening periods. The only con could be the transparent-white color of the material that could get yellowish after sometime.

    The IEM comes with a cable that has 2 pin connectors.

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    5. Specifications:

    a) Driver:

    Inside the TFZ TEQUILA1 is a Dual-magnetic two-way Graphene driver with a relative small outer diameter of 8.9mm. The magnet of the driver is made of NdFeB N50, the voice coil of copper clad aluminum wire and the diaphragm of Graphene material.


    b) Cable:

    The TFZ TEQUILA1 comes with a nice looking 4 braided 5N OFC (Oxygen free Copper) cable that has 0,78mm 2pin connectors. The cable is sturdy and has low to non microphonics.

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    The stylish looking y-splitter and the chin slider are made of a relative heavy metal material that has a silver color.

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    The straight plug is also made of this silver colored metal and has 3.5mm gold plated TRS connector.

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    c) Drivability:

    The TEQUILA1 is an efficient IEM with its relative low impedance of 20 ohms and a high sensitivity of 105dB. This technical feature makes the TEQUILA1 to a good IEM option for devices with low power like mobile phones, tablets etc.


    6. Technical Specs:

    Driver: Dual-magnetic two-way graphene driver
    Magnet material: NdFeB N50
    Diaphragm material: graphene
    Diaphragm diameter: 8.9MM
    Frequency response range: 5HZ ~ 40000HZ
    Harmonic distortion: 0.5%
    Impedance: 20 ohm
    Sensitivity: 105dB
    Magnetic flux: 9000KGS
    Wire: core count 4 * 18 * 0.05 5N oxygen-free copper
    Outer sheathe: high flexibility transparent PVC


    7. Design, Fit and Build Quality:

    The monitor of the TFZ TEQUILA1 has a different look than traditional Hi-Fi level IEM’s. The housing is an all-metal aluminum CNC process shell and that has a quite small shell.

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    The TEQUILA1 has two different front cover (looks like a grill) designs; one has the look of a spider web and the other reminds me to the radioactive symbol and to the umbrella logo of of the umbrella company in the movies of Resident Evil, LOL. They are also many color options like red, blue, green etc. for each style.

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    The housing and the 0,78mm 2pin female connectors are very well made and it sits quite comfortable in my ears due the relative small size.

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    The noise isolation of the TFZ TEQUILA1 is above average.


    8. Albums & tracks used for this review:

    George Michael – Older Album (Apple Music)
    LP (Laura Pergolizzi) – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    Saskia Bruin – The Look of Love (DSF)
    Dire Straits – Money For Nothing (DSF)
    Mile Davis – Kind of Blue Album (Tidal Hi-fi)
    Michael Jackson - Billie Jean (DSF)
    Emmanuel Pahud (Claude Debussy) – Syrinx (Apple Music)
    Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer (Apple Music)
    Diana Krall - So Wonderful (DSF)
    Otto Liebert & Luna Negra – Up Close “Album” (DSF) – Binaural Recording
    Alboran Trio’s – Cinque Lunghissimi Minuti (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    Lazarus A.D. – The Onslaught (ALAC)
    Opeth – Damnation (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    Daft Punk – Get Lucky (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
    Michael Jackson - Billie Jean (DSF)


    9. Sources used for this review:

    IEM : TFZ TEQUILA1, Pinnacle P1, Whizzer A15Pro
    DAP/DAC : Cayin N5II, Aune M2Pro, Chord Mojo, Hidizs AP60II, Ipaid Air 2


    10. The Sound:

    This review is written after a burn-in process of apprx.160 hours. After some experience with some other monitors with Graphene driver, I have come to the conclusion that it needs more burn –in den regular PET drivers. I have used the stock silicone ear tips with the wider bore.

    The TFZ TEQUILA1 is an IEM with a slightly V shaped sound signature with emphasis on the top and low end.

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    Frequencies:

    The sub bass of the TFZ TEQUILA1 between the 30 – 50Hz frequencies has the right amount of weight without to be exaggerated. The extension of sub bass notes is great an there is plenty of depth with quite good accuracy.

    The speed of the double dynamic graphene driver inside the TEQUILA1 is quite fast, so that it is possible and able to produce fast bass notes. Bass notes between 60 – 250 Hz have fast attacks and decays so that it is possible so hear some nice kick drum and bass notes.

    The sound signature of the TEQUILA1 is V shaped, but the midrange is only slightly recessed so that there is a nice sense of space and some airiness without to be sounding too distant.

    Vocals and Instruments benefits from this tuning and the overall vocal and instrument presentation sounds in many situations quite natural, moreover male and female vocals sounding pretty emotional.

    For example; Laura Pergolizzi’s voice sounds quite intimate, just like the voice of George Michael in its epic album “Older”.

    Thanks to the good bass tuning, the TEQUILA1 sounds by no way muddy and it doesn’t exist any bass bleed that could be caused by the mid-bass area.

    The treble range of the TFZ TEQUILA1 is prominent due the V shaped sound signature, but there is no treble harshness or sibilance unless a track was recorded in that bad way.

    The upper treble range sounds crisp and tight and the clarity and detail retrieval is quite good for an in-ear monitor with dynamic drivers in this price range.

    The treble speed of the TFZ TEQUILA1 excels very well in some complex tracks like GoGo Penguin’s – Muration that makes a good impression for an sub 200 USD IEM.

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    Soundstage:

    The TFZ TEQUILA1 sounds pretty specious and has an above average soundstage performance. There is a nice out of the head presentation in Yosi Horikawa’s track “Bubbles”. The staging is pretty wide with a sufficient presentation of depth and the positioning of vocals and instruments is quite accurate.


    11. Comparison:

    Vs. Whizzer A15 Pro (125 USD):

    The Whizzer A15 Pro is one of my favorite IEM’s in the sub 150 USD price category.

    Design, Fit & Build Quality:
    It has a nice packaging and is well made. Both IEM’s are relative small IEM’s and have an above average isolation. The A15Pro is a small IEM but is not as comfy due the weight and the design choice. The TEQUILA1 is de better choice if you want listen to music for longer than 2-3 hours.

    Both IEM’s have cable upgrade ability’s. The TEQUILA1 has 2 pin (0.78mm) connectors, while Whizzer decided to use MMCX ones. This is my personal choice, but I think IEM’s and cables with 2 pin connectors are more durable and safe to use and to upgrade/change.

    Sound:
    The sound of this IEM’s is quite different. The Whizzer A15Pro has a colder and brighter sound presentation with more linear frequency response. The TEQUILA1 in the other hand sounds more musical and with its V shaped sound signature.

    The Whizzer A15 Pro is missing some bass weight that makes it not as conventional as the TEQUILA1. TFZ TEQUILA1 has the better tuning for a wide variety of music genres. The bass of the TEQUILA1 has better weight and response than the A15 Pro.

    The midrange performance of both is quite good, but the A15 PRO sounds a little bit too dry vs. the more emotional and intimate vocal presentation, especially for female vocals. The Instrument separation on both is quite good in the price range of between 120 – 140 USD.

    The treble definition and resolution for both IEM’s is good but the TEQUILA1 has the upper hand for the control and overall accuracy. The A15 Pro has also some minor problems like upper treble harshness in some genres like metal music. Some instruments like cymbals and bells do sound a little bit ear-piercing in some of my test tracks like Lazarus A.D. – The Onslaught. The TEQUILA1 sounds more controlled and softened at the upper treble register.

    The TEQUILA1 has the better depth, while the soundstage wideness of both IEM's is nearly equal.


    Vs. MEE audio Pinnacle P1 (199 USD):

    The MEE audio Pinnacle P1 is one of my favorite IEM’s in the 200USD price range.

    Design, Fit & Build Quality:
    The Pinnacle P1 is a very capable IEM with its single dynamic driver. It has a die-cast zinc alloy housings and replaceable cables with MMCX (micro-coaxial) connectors and fits nice in my ears. The downside of the shell is that it is relative heavy that makes it uncomfortable after some hours.

    The TEQUILA1 has a double dynamic driver configuration with 2pin (0,78mm) detachable cables and a full metal housing that is very comfy even after 2-3 hours.

    The Pinnacle P1 has a impedance of 50ohm versus 20ohm for TEQUILA1; this means that the P1 needs more juice to show its true potential. The TEQUILA1 in the other hand is very easy to driver and sounds also good with mobile phones and tablets.

    Sound:
    The TFZ TEQUILA1 has more sub-bass extension, depth and quantity than the Pinnacle P1 that you can hear and feel. The bass on both IEM’s is fast and shares similarities in body, pressure and weight. The Pinnacle P1 has only a hint more mid-bass extension.

    The midrange of both IEM’s sounds airy and has enough space for vocal and Instruments. The overall resolution goes to the TFZ TEQUILA1 that has little bit better micro detail reproduction and sounds more dynamic than the Pinnacle P1. The upper midrange on the Pinnacle P1 sounds a bit too dry and also thin compared to the more energetic and fairly controlled sounding TEQUILA1.

    The treble range on both IEM's sounds crisp and transparent with a nice amount of detail. The Pinnacle P1 has little bit more treble emphasis on the top end that makes it prone for treble harshness.

    The soundstage on both IEM’s is above average and there is better depth for the TEQUILA1, while the Pinnacle P1 has the wider staging.

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    12. Conclusion:

    The TFZ TEQUILA1 is an eye-catching IEM with its fashionable style. The build quality and fit is one of the best in this price category and the overall sound performance is pretty good for the price with its V shaped sound signature that gives it a musical presentation.

    13. Summary (plus and minus):

    + Eye-catching fashion styling
    + Good sound performance for the price
    + Replaceable cable option
    + Good build quality
    + Great Price to Performance Ratio

    - Not for people who prefer a neutral tuning

    UPDATED

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    This review was originally posted on "Moonstar Reviews" :
    https://moonstarreviews.net