Quick Two Cents: TFZ with BA drivers
TFZ has been vigorously releasing new products and they’re doing quite good. For those who weren’t aware of, TFZ used to be the old TTPOD who created the TTPOD T1 which was pretty darn popular back in the days. It’s an affordable 2 dynamic IEM which was a great product except the potato durability. They later on released the T2 which had a 2BA+1DD configuration and the looks on those were simply amazing, even from now. Though it turns out the durability from T2 was worse than the T1 as well as the sound, the TTPOD brand went out of business. They later reorganized the entire team and started off fresh new brand called TFZ.
Jumping back to the TTPOD story, the T1 sounded pretty nice and they’ve done a pretty good job tuning those dynamic drivers. T2, however, was their first attempt on making a BA / hybrid IEM. After trying both of the IEMs, it definitely felt like they weren’t ready dealing with BA drivers. So how are they doing now as a new brand, TFZ?
My prior experience with TFZ
Until now, I’ve tried almost all TFZ IEMs and I could say that they are doing incomparably better than the TTPOD days. Most of their products were a success, both in sound and build quality. Their first product line-up as the TFZ brand was the ‘Series’ – including Series 1/3/5 (Will be talking about Series 7 later on). Those were just mediocre, but since they starting to release newer models like the Exclusive, King, or Secret Garden, those were surely worth the price and recommendable. Their recent products like No.3 or King III incorporated their 3rd generation tesla-level DD, which now sounds whole lot better. So far all of their products used dynamic drivers, except two – Secret Garden 3 and Series 7. So how are they doing now with either full BAs or hybrids?
Secret Garden 3 – bummer
I was much looking forward trying these out, not only because they had 2 switches on the earpieces but it was their very first attempt with full BA setups, for both TTPOD and TFZ. I did have a bit of a concern with the sound because of their history with BA drivers, and oh dang.. my expectation wasn’t much high from the first place but it was worse than I expected. The tonality was completely out to lunch, upper mids were extremely spiky, and the brightness from the highs was crazy.
The bandwidth and the staging was actually outstanding for a 3BA IEM, but the tonality and the spiky upper frequencies just couldn’t be tolerated. Of course, the spiky sibilance could still be appreciable for some (since I also know who digs into that type of sound) but the tonality was completely off to the point that I had to make sure if my units were sounding properly. Nice attempt, but it was no where close from being considered as a finished product.
Series 7 – bummer, again.
Series line-up was the very first products and was announced to be including Series 1 / 3 / 5 / 7, though the Series 7 never got released until last month – probably the one that took the longest until hitting the market. The designs completely changed from their old rendering image, but still pretty good looking. It has a 4BA+1DD configuration, being the most expensive IEM released from TFZ “so far” (since SG10 is known to be over 3k..) and is their 2nd attempt for trying hybrid setups.
I still had some hope with these as I thought they’ve learned their lessons from T2 and SG3, but sure enough they don’t seem to be quite there yet. The bass was not bad, actually pretty deep but with plenty of reverbs but everything else just wasn’t up to standards. Small and veiled mids, weak highs, unsatisfactory headroom size.. it was no good even compared with their cheap models like Exclusive 5, No.3, or King III.
I’m a TFZ enthusiast and quite interested in their products, but they got few things they need to fix up. First, they need to slower their releasing cycle. It’s just way too fast right now and their line-up structures started to get overwhelming and confusing. Second, they should put more attention and care when releasing products, especially for BA or hybrid IEMs. It simply doesn’t make sense for expensive premium, flagship level models to be sounding bad than entry level models. They’re known to be working on the Secret Garden 10 which incorporates 8BA+2ES, which is a move hard for me to understand. The current market trend turns out to be using ES drivers (electro-static).
For TFZ to be jumping right on to a $3k IEM gives me an impression that they’re just trying to hop on to the trend without enough awareness. In their current state, it’s hard for me to expect SG10 to really be a $3k worth IEM since they already started to show major weak points from SG3 and S7. While I’ve got to bite into a lemon twice from TFZ, my experience with them isn’t that bad ofter all – since I much enjoyed almost all of their other models. I hope they make some good changes and will keep my fingers are crossed looking forward to see how they’ll be doing with their future products.