Today we’re checking out the My Love II from TFZ, lesser known by their full name, The Fragrant Zither.
2017 has been a killer year for TFZ with the successful release of their Exclusive lineup of hi-fi focused earphones, and further additions to their original Series lineup with the 2 and 4. The My Love series has also been added to the lineup and based on looks alone, seem to be aimed predominantly at the female market. This is especially evident with the My Love II. It’s available in colors like Moonlight Purple, Moonlight Silver, and Violet, infused with sparkles and a faux-gem where a vent can be found on the Series 2 and 4.
Since this earphone arrived in August, I’ve been using them on and off but have been continually impressed with their fantastic sound quality that more than meets the high expectations set by TFZ’s other models. Let’s take a deeper look, shall we?
The My Love II was provided free of charge in exchange for a fair and impartial review. The thoughts within are my own and are not representative of TFZ, Penon Audio or any other entity. There is no financial incentive for writing this.
At the time of writing the My Love II could be picked up for 73.00 USD: https://penonaudio.com/TFZ-MY-LOVE-II
For at home use the My Love II was powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp or straight out of my Asus FX53V laptop. For portable use it was paired with an LG G5, HiFi E.T. MA8, Walnut V2s or Shanling M1, all of which brought it up to listening volume without any effort. It seems to scale quite well so while it’s not needed, try running it through a higher quality source for a more refined, powerful sound.
I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, MacaW GT600s, and thinksound On2 offer examples of signatures I enjoy.
- Sensitivity: 110dB / mW
- Impedance: 16 ohm
- Frequency response: 5-40kHz
Packaging and Accessories:
The My Love II’s packaging will be familiar to anyone that picked up a copy of the Exclusive series of earphone. It shares the same elongated cardboard box adorned with the company logo and model details on the front, while on the back is some contact information and manufacturing details. It’s been appropriately gussied up with a silver foil coating for that extra bit of flash, similar to the pre-release Exclusive King’s packaging.
Lifting off the lid you find a cardboard strip printed with “TFZ. Make Every Song Ambilight. Beautiful Like The Stars” that protects the ear pieces on display underneath. Also underneath is a smaller cardboard box once again printed with the TFZ logo and model details. Within that box is a plethora of accessories. In all I got;
- My Love II earphones
- 2-pin 0.78 mm silver-plated cable
- Carrying pouch
- Shirt clip
- 1 pair of foam ear tips
- 3 pairs of small bore silicone tips
- 4 pairs of wide bore silicone tips; extra medium set pre-installed
It’s a nice batch of accessories, though I have to point out the lack of bi-flange tips included on other TFZ models that use the same shell and match up quite well. They also tossed in an extra small, wide bore tips instead pf providing a pair of the small-sized small bore tips. Not an issue for me since I don’t use those tips, but that could affect someone’s enjoyment of the earphone if they do. Overall it’s just as pleasant an unboxing experience as any other TFZ I’ve had the pleasure of trying out.
Design, Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
While note really something I would be privy to wearing, I do find the My Love II a good looking product. The housings are very organic in shape which is highlighted by the silver and while color scheme. The silver sparkles molded into the clear face plate and faux-diamond really lends to the impression they’re meant to act as a piece of jewellery, in addition to a good sounding earphone.
The My Love II goes the all-plastic route for the housings and you might expect them to feel a tad cheap as a result. While they don’t have the same premium feel as the King or Series 4 with their metal face plates and hefty weight, they certainly don’t feel compromised. Fit and finish is good, though the female end of the plugs stick out more than I would prefer. I suppose this is good for cable swapping, but it does detract somewhat from the otherwise sleek build. There is also a noticeable gap between the face plate and the rest of the body of the housing, but this isn’t due to poor fitment. Instead, the gap hides a vent that otherwise might be blocked when the earphone is in place.
The cable is the same as that found on the Exclusive lineup. The y-split is a thick disk with the TFZ logo, and the jack a pudgy straight plug that probably isn’t going to fit into a large number of cellphone cases. I was hoping they’d have moved to something more compact, but nope. Leading into the housings you find a very effective preformed ear guide. I’d take this any day over memory wire because it’s flexible, more comfortable, and doubles as strain relief. It also helps keep microphonics (cable noise) to a minimum. Outside of the unnecessarily beefy jack, the only other qualm I have with this cable is it’s tendency to tangle upon itself. Other than that’s it’s proven to be pretty solid for the price these sell for.
Once in place, the My Love II is extremely comfy. I found this housing nice on the King, but ditching all the extra weight that model carries around works wonders. The My Love II doesn’t quite disappear, after all it is quite large, but it doesn’t tug or pull at your ears. This is helped along by the preformed ear guides and the fact the ear pieces pretty much completely fill your outer ear. Since these are aimed at ladies who seem to have smaller ears, it would have been nice to see them shrink the housing a bit. That said, my mom was able to wear them without any comfort issues and she hates iems, so maybe it a non-issue after all?
Isolation is pretty much sub-par all around. The well-ventilated, all-plastic housings let in a lot of outside noise and leak a fair bit too, pending listen at unhealthy volumes of course. Using the included foam tips certainly helps, but doesn’t improve on their isolation beyond what I consider average for a ventilated, dynamic-based earphone; I can hear myself type, hold conversations with other around me, hear cars on the road outside my office, etc. These would not be a great choice for commuting.
Overall the My Love II is nice to look at, put together well, and pleasant to wear, but they’re not going to be blocking out much incoming noise.
Tips: While I don’t consider this a bright earphone, those who are sensitive to treble might. I recommend tossing on the included foams or small bore tips which soak up some of the high end; foams primarily. The preinstalled wide bore tips provide the most balanced sound out of the included tips.
Headphones that put a priority on fashion seem to skimp on sound quality, though probably to a lesser extent now than in the past. Just feel and listen to a current Beats product which is leaps and bounds better than early iterations. The My love II bucks past trends and offers a level of performance that would please anyone wanting the crisp, detailed, high quality sound found in other TFZ models.
Like other TFZ’s I’ve heard, the my Love II’s sound is on the brighter side with well-extended, vibrant treble. It’s presentation is more silky and less tiring than what I’ve come to expect from the brand, while still offering up loads of detail. The electronic shrieks and shrill scratching during the opening and throughout the rest of The Chemical Brothers epic “Escape Velocity” are rife with texture and edginess, but are not painful to ensure. The cymbal work on the live recording of King Crimson’s “Cat Food” off their The Great Deceiver compilation sounds natural and engaging with just the right amount of shimmer and decay.
My positive impressions carry on down to the mid-range where I have yet to be disappointed by a TFZ. The My Love II’s midrange is just a nice with music as it is with vocal-only pieces like podcasts. Upper mids and female vocals are a touch thin as evident when running through Jessie J’s “Bang Bang” or Lenzman’s “Open Page (Feat. Riya). Things thicken up heading into the lower mids where Paul William’s voice on Daft Punk’s “Touch” has an adequate amount of weight heft to it. The same can be said for the stringed instruments and horns throughout the rest of the track. Pianos still seem to lack the bite I prefer, however.
The My Love II won’t ever be considered bass light, though I doubt they’d be considered bass-head material either. They have a hefty low end boost with a good focus on sub-bass that really lets them rumble but they don’t push air quite as well as BGVP’s DM5 for example. This is evident on Ephixa’s “Dubstep Killed Rock n’ Roll” whose deep sub-bass lines are clearly felt throughout the length of the track. Bass guitars also sound hefty and well-textured as found on “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes. Mid-bass has some nice kick and to it as well. If you like you bass boosted but not overwhelming and with some visceral feedback, these should satisfy nicely.
Like other TFZs the My Love II has a great sound stage with a very airy, open feel to it. Imaging is crisp and precise, smoothly shuttling effects from channel to channel. Songs are well layered with great separation letting you hear each aspect clearly. This is helped along by a solid level of detail retrieval throughout the entire range, though it falls short of what you can get out of the Exclusive 5 and King models.
(Volumes matched as best I could using Dayton Audio’s iMM-6 calibrated mic with Audio Tool for Android.)
Series 4 (99.00 USD): The Series 4 and My Love II certainly share DNA. They’ve got the same basic shell, share their cable and accessory kits, and sound similar too. Is the Series 4 worth the extra 26 USD? Discounting the My Love II’s gender-focused design won’t have wide appeal, no, I don’t think so. The Series 4 weighs just as much as the King with it’s beefy driver and metal outer face plate. As a result the My Love II is more comfortable. They basic package is basically the same. In terms of sound the My Love II is slightly warmer and smoother with a larger sound stage. The Series 4’s presentation is slightly more physically forward and detailed with lesser emphasis at the outer edges of it’s signature; lesser sub-bass rumble and not as much treble sparkle, but more mid-bass punch. It’s mid-range has a slightly dryness to it not present in the My Love II which is neither a negative or positive, and is more prominent. Both sound great but I don’t think the Series 4’s price difference is warranted given they play on the same level for the most part. Comparing them back-to-back the My Love II ends up a more engaging listen, I just wish there was a version that looked more gender neutral.
thinksound TS03+mic (119.99 USD): The TS03+mic is warmer than the My Love II and has a better balance of mid- and sub-bass. It doesn’t have the speed and impact of the My Love II’s dual magnet 12mm driver, it’s more than a match when it comes to texture and extension. The TS03’s midrange isn’t quite as forward but is more detailed and has a woody smoothness to it the My Love II lacks. The TFZ is much more prominent in the treble regions and it’s detail is more apparent, though pulling the volume down on the TFZ to bring levels in line, the TS03 is just as clear. I think the TS03 is the better sounding of the two, but there is no comparison in terms of build and accessories. The TFZ’s cable feels much more durable and looks like a much more expensive item. It’s design is also flashier and more eye catching, though I love the subtle look of the TS03. The gunmetal aluminum and wood backing is much classier. Comfort will really depend on your ears. The TFZ works better for me, but their shells could be too large for you, and I know of a number of people that detest the feel of a cable going around their ear. I think the My Love II is a better value when you take into account build, accessories and overall sound quality, but the TS03 is the better sounding product and it’s subtle design is polarizing.
The My Love II is another solid product from TFZ and is one of the more versatile and value positive models out of theirs that I have tested; right up there with the Exclusive 3. It performs nearly as well as the Exclusive 5 and King and at least as good if not better than the Series 4, yet comes in at a much lower price point than any of them. It’s feminine design will limit it’s overall audience, but that’s not such a bad thing. This seems to be a male dominated industry in terms of design, so having something that’s distinctly feminine that also sounds pretty great is nothing but excellent in my books.
There are a few things I would like to see changed or improved such as making the plugs sit more flush with the housing to clean up the design and better protect them from potential damage. Shifting to a smaller, more compact housing, such as the one used on the Exclusive lineup, seems like a logical step as the My Love II is quite large. A smaller nozzle would be welcome too. I can’t think of a single lady I know that uses anything larger than a medium tip. Most I know use the smallest tip which is still a tad on the large size. The Fidue a31s has been a staple recommendation of mine because it’s the only readily available, sub 50 USD iem I’ve come across with such a tiny nozzle. Sonically the My Love II is vastly superior, but the A31s is much better ergonomically for those that just can’t accommodate a 5mm or larger nozzle.
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Test Tracks:
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)
The Chemical Brothers – Escape Velocity (Track)
Jessie J – Bang Bang feat. Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj (Track)
Daft Punk – Touch (Track)
Ephixa’s – Dubstep Killed Rock n’ Roll (Track)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Rudy (Track)