The Fragrant Zither (TFZ) Reviews and Impressions Thread

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  1. B9Scrambler
    By now, most of you Head-fi'ers have probably heard of TFZ (The Fragrant Zither) and their new Exclusive series of earphones which consist of the Nano, 1, 3, 5, and King. The 1, 3, 5, and King all feature removable, two pin (.78 mm) cables and double magnetic circuit Graphene drivers. I don't really know anything about the Nano other than that it exists (or will exist).

    Some specs;

    Exclusive Nano
    Driver: 9mm Graphene unit
    Impedance: 12 ohm
    Sensitivity: 100 dB mW
    Frequency Response: 10 Hz - 30 kHz
    Lowest Power: 8 mW
    Material: Unknown

    Exclusive 1
    Driver: 9mm double magnetic circuit Graphene unit
    Impedance: 10 ohm
    Sensitivity:103 dB mW
    Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 40 kHz
    Lowest Power: 8 mW
    Material: Plastic

    Exclusive 3

    Driver: 9mm double magnetic circuit Graphene unit
    Impedance: 16 ohm
    Sensitivity: 105 dB mW
    Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 40 kHz
    Lowest Power: 8 mW
    Material: Metal faceplate, plastic back

    Exclusive 5
    Driver: 9mm double magnetic circuit Graphene unit
    Impedance: 24 ohm
    Sensitivity: 107 dB mW
    Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 40 kHz
    Lowest Power: 8 mW
    Material: All-metal

    Exclusive King
    Driver: 12mm double magnetic circuit Graphene unit
    Impedance: 12 ohm
    Sensitivity: 110 dB mW
    Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 40 kHz
    Lowest Power: 8 mW
    Material: Metal faceplate, plastic back

    *Stats pulled from the included manual.*

    Reviews

    Nano: n/a

    1: https://www.head-fi.org/f/showcase/tfz-exclusive-1.22502/reviews

    3: https://www.head-fi.org/f/showcase/tfz-exclusive-3.22503/reviews

    5: https://www.head-fi.org/f/showcase/tfz-exclusive-5.22504/reviews

    External review from Head-fi'er @rockingthearies: http://rockingthearies.blogspot.ca/2017/07/review-on-tfz-exclusive-5.html

    King: https://www.head-fi.org/f/showcase/...e-version-hifi-in-ear-earphones.22359/reviews

    VinceHill24 Impressions:

    https://www.head-fi.org/f/threads/tfz-exclusive-series-reviews-and-impressions.852820/#post-13547723

    https://www.head-fi.org/f/threads/t...s-and-impressions.852820/page-2#post-13559189

    James444 Impressions:

    https://www.head-fi.org/f/threads/t...s-and-impressions.852820/page-2#post-13567851

    (I'll keep updating this post as reviews and impressions come in. Feel free to PM with suggestions on how to keep this organized and relevant.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2017
    lucasbrea and nplateau like this.
  2. B9Scrambler
    Exclusive Series 1/3/5 First Impressions​

    The Exclusive series has an undeniable "house sound" to my ears with a number of qualities that are apparent through pretty much the entire range; large sound stage, accurate imaging, good depth to their layering and separation, treble and mid-range emphasis so they're bright but with a touch of warmth.

    These opinions are of course subject to change as I spend more time with each earphone. Curious to read what everyone else thinks.

    *Important: I ordered all mine through Penon Audio at a discounted rate solely for the purposes of reviewing. Feel free to keep that detail in mind when reading this and considering my personal opinions. If this practice bothers you, I encourage you to wait for further impressions from those that paid full price. Happy listening!*

    Exclusive 1:

    The 1 is my least preferred of the bunch though the more I use them the more they're growing on me. They're most like the King in their overall tuning but with even more more prominent treble and mids. I'm finding them lacking in sound stage depth so it comes across as large but flat, kind of how I found the Dunu Titan 1. Not so much of an issue because they have excellent separation. Mid-range clarity is stellar, but trends toward being overshadowed by the abundant top end which is a shame. Bass is clearly playing a supporting role but is quick and punchy, a good indication as to what you're getting throughout the rest of the lineup. Despite being so aggressive in the mids and treble, the 1 is surprisingly resilient when it comes to avoiding sibilance. Their overly forward and aggressive sound won't be for everyone, but you can't argue it's engaging. Too fatiguing for me though.

    Exclusive 3:

    Moving up to the 3 dials back the treble and reels in the overly forward mids of the 1. Bass prominence is about the same but because it's not being overshadowed by other frequencies it sticks out more. The 3 ends up coming across to me to be the most balanced of the bunch with only the mid-range sticking out a touch more than everything else. Soundstage improvements over the 1 are immediately noticeable as well with the 3 portraying much greater depth. This is the sweet spot of the lineup I feel with performance that nips at the heels of the 5 and King. Unlike the 1 which is all plastic, the 3 melds the metal face plate of the 5 with the plastic backing of the 1 which gives them a unique aesthetic. Once annoyance with the silver model I ordered is that the red housing denoted the left channel and blue the right. With pretty much every other product on the market doing it the other way around, it's a small complaint but something that TFZ could easily rectify.

    Exclusive 5:

    The 5 pretty much does exactly what I was hoping they'd do; bring sound quality that's essentially on the level of the King but in a smaller, more comfortable housing. It's treble prominence sits between the 3 and King being more polite than the latter while retaining it's crisp, detailed, and sibilance-free presentation. The 5's mid-range has an addictive, breathy texture to it as well which really makes female vocals pop. There is a certain body and weight to it's presentation that is missing throughout the rest of the lineup. This helps give their low end some extra punch to it that I really like.

    Final Thoughts:


    - 1 has great detail and clarity but they are overly aggressive and can get quite fatiguing. Soundstage is too flat to engage me like the others do. Their all-plastic build also feels a bit light and cheap compared to the rest of the lineup (makes sense as the entry level model). I'm looking forward to spending more time with them, even if I'm somewhat lukewarm towards them right now. At this time I'd give them a pass and go for the 3.

    - 3 offers the best bang for your buck hands down. It's performance is a notable step up from the 1 and nearly reaches the level of the 5 and King. In my opinion it's the most balanced of the four models I've tried. It's also the least fatiguing and easiest to listen to for long periods. The metal/plastic build is a welcome blend of the 1 and 5 and looks great.

    - The 5 is my personal favorite of the group. It offers nearly the same performance as the King (slightly smaller sound stage with more relaxed treble and more prominent bass) but in a smaller, more comfortable housing. There is just something about their take on this signature and that really clicks with me.



    1/3/5 Unboxing​
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017
  3. jant71
    Cool! What about 3 soundstage size vs. 5 soundstage size and the difference in the separation of things within each of their stages? Thanks!
     
  4. VinceHill24
    Gonna liven up this thread because i am really liking the new Exclusive line from TFZ. I don't have Exclusive 1 and Exclusive 5 but i just received my Exclusive 3 yesterday and on brief listening they're much balance sounding overall when compared to TFZ KING. The bass seems to be more on the Exclusive 3 and feels less bright with about the same level of clarity across midrange. Midrange seems to be more prominent too with the E3 which is more forward and is fuller and more natural sounding. Soundstage size and imaging feels about the same as EKing although it does not give the impression of same level of refinement overall as the EKing.

    Due to its superb tiny housing and extremely comfortable wearing (much much better than ZS5 and TFZ KING, sits in even more ergonomically in my ears than K3 Pro) i believe it is the IEM i'll take out for a listen more when i'm out and about while the King will still hold its place as the most refined of all for a more analytical listening.

    The cable quality is really really good that i can't believe this is the kind of cable i'd get for an IEM at this price. And about the colour for left and right mistakenly switched side, i was thinking are they trying to change some kind of established standard or what coz i noticed the new Simgot EN700 Pro also had the colour switched side from the picture i saw on their instagram.

    I know it is using a 2-pin 0.78mm standard connection yet i've tried to fit in a 2-pin 0.75mm cable and it kinda works fine. Not sure if it's actually damaging to the connection, can anyone enlighten me about this ?

    20170615_104939.jpg

    20170615_105024.jpg
     
    B9Scrambler likes this.
  5. B9Scrambler
    Yay! Finally some impressions from someone else. I'll be updating mine tomorrow as its almost 11 PM and I need to go to sleep. I gave the 3 some much needed attention tonight and am finding they're just behind The King on soundstage size. Will need to listen back to back with the 5 to see which has the edge in layering and separation, but I expect that to go to the 5. Listened to the 5 with an amazing track last night that @RvTrav showed me, but for the life of me I can't recall the name. It was doing some awesome stuff with placement and laying that the 5 excelled with.
     
  6. ajaxender
    Good timing with the Massdrop. Went for a 5 and a 3 because that's some savings. I have the old 1S model which I enjoy (although its not in main rotation, fit for me isn't the greatest), was happy to recommend that series to friends and such, hoping to get the same opinion of the Exclusives. Relying on your impressions, its a pity the 1 is further behind the others this time, the 1S was damn good value.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017
  7. mochill
    King should be the best
     
  8. Aiden Tan
    There should be another one coming right up in the lineup, the exclusive nano which is the entry level of all.
     
  9. stilleh
    I´m heavily debating between the 5 and the King at the moment. @B9Scrambler is at fault really. If he hadn´t written about my favourite iem, the Havi B3 Pro I , then the choice would be easy; I´d go for the 5 due to it´s better ergonomics and the metal casing. Now, I don´t know. I LOVE the soundstage of the Havis and for someone to compare them just makes me tingle all over. If the soundstage is equal then I´ll go for the 5. Dammit, why is my life so complicated?!
     
    scotvl likes this.
  10. Keller2
    Ditto.

    Also does anyone know whether massdrop ships from the USA or not? I might have to buy from ali because i dont want to deal with customs.

    Edit: Also, is the Exclusive 5 body metal and king body plastic? that might be enough to make me settle on the 5.

    As someone whose daily driver is the KZ ZST, Which one would be the most adequate. I really am leaning more to the 5 due to the metal housing now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017
  11. stilleh
    5 is solid metal, King is plastic.
     
  12. VinceHill24
    King is half metal half plastic and the dynamic driver is 12mm, bigger than exclusive 1,3,5 which housed 9mm. Exclusive 1 is fully plastic, 3 is half half just like King and 5 is fully metal. I do not have E5 but King is much heavier when compared to my E3 so there could be some discomfort when wearing for long. The weight i believe is not because of the metallic body, they must've used pretty solid and heavy magnet on all their exclusives graphene driver. E3 and E5 have those words crafted onto the faceplate and thus looks slightly more quality and premium looking than EKing. Now i'm contemplating again whether to get the E5 or not after reading @B9Scrambler 's impressions. The massdrop price now is dirt cheap but shipping on July sounds to me like it's gonna take forever factoring in if i'm gonna ship it internationally.
     
  13. Keller2
    I've decided on the 5. Metal housing did it for me. Now the only question is SHINY & CHROME vs Blue.
     
  14. slowpickr
    I just can't make enough money to keep up with all these new Chi-Fi offerings lol!
     
    lucasbrea and mrjimmybob like this.
  15. VinceHill24
    For me it's either gonna be the shiny silver / blue. The blue just looks stunning to me. The black/chrome looks kinda dull but maybe they didn't take a good picture of it i guess haha
     
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