I have here a quick look at what you get with the newbies in TFZ’s Exclusive lineup. Scroll down for first impressions. I’ll keep updating as we go along.
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.
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.
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. After further listening with Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’ and BT’s ‘This Binery Universe’ albums, I’d put them second behind The King on sound stage. 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. One annoyance with the silver model I ordered is that the red housing denotes 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.
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.
Sound stage comparison between the 3 and 5 w/ Daft Punk’s ‘Touch’ from Random Access Memories;
When Paul Williams started his singing after that creepy intro build (~1:50), he came across closer on the 5 vs. the 3. At around 2:30 when the cymbals and 70’s ‘wicka wicka’ effect (😀) kicked in, they were further back and to the right on the 5. On the three they lost the depth but were pushed out to the sides a bit more. When the song picked up energy around 3:24 it sounded like it was playing in a wider but flatter plain on the 3 vs. the 5. Instruments were coming from the same locations, but it was much more defined with the 5; drums in front right, trombone (?) back right, piano’s sprinkling on both sides just off centre, horns dead centre and forward, etc. As I suspected the 3 has the larger sound scape, but what the 5 lacks in raw scope it more than makes up for with technical prowess. It’s got a much more dynamic sound stage.
Thoughts So Far:
– 1 has great detail and clarity but they are overly aggressive and can get quite fatiguing. Sound stage 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 signature that really clicks with me.
Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to share your questions or experiences with the new TFZ lineup in the comments below!