It Looks The Same, But It’s Different
- Balanced and improved profile.
- Increased clarity, sparkle, definition and resolution level.
- Excellent price/performance ratio.
- No cable is a great idea, makes the product cheaper and gives the buyer freedom.
- Overall sound quality is excellent for the price.
- Perhaps it might be brilliant for some enthusiasts.
- No carrying case/bag.
- Somewhat redundant external design.
Link to the Store
The well-known IEMS brand TFZ is being very dynamic lately, bringing out many new products (IEMS, Bluetooth amplifier cables and cables). This time they are releasing a very special set. These are new IEMS with a relatively low price, which have the rather striking feature: they come without cables. This surprising decision can have many advantages, because the standard cable is not always good or to our liking. In this way, the user has the possibility to choose the cable that best suits our needs, without having to waste the standard cable. This will certainly reduce the price of the final product and offer a very original freedom. The price of this model is around $35 and for $15 more, you can certainly find a decent cable. And for those who don’t want to worry about choosing another cable, TFZ offers the audiophile cable that comes with their top models. It is a 3-wire gold-plated + silver-plated + high-purity copper mixed cable. It is priced at $30 and is great value for money. The other surprising point about this new release is that TFZ has also released a Bluetooth receiver cable that fits perfectly with this model, forming a combo that, together, is a very special price. But that will be covered in my next review.
This time, I’m going to review the TFZ T2 Pro together with the TFZ audiophile cable.
I would like to comment that lately, I have read some comments from fans about TFZ, questioning the dynamism of this brand. Some comment that the tunings are similar, that the names are repetitive, that the drivers are a mere revision of the previous model. That is why I would like to show that TFZ also knows how to innovate and this set is proof of that: affordable IEMS without cable, with a tuning that is not bassist, but much more balanced, a separate audiophile cable and a Bluetooth receiver cable, which can be added to the pack, at a lower price. How many brands offer this possibility at this price?
- Driver Type: Dynamic driver with Dual Magnetic Tesla 2.0 circuitry
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
- Sensitivity: 110dB/mW
- Impedance: 48 Ω
- Jack Connector: 3.5 mm SE straight gold-plated plug
- Capsule Connection Type: 2Pin 0.78mm
- Cable Length: 1.2m
The TFZ T2 Pro comes in a small, square, white box, 101x101x51mm in size, with a silver border, just like the brand’s lettering in the centre. On the back of the box there is not much information: the brand logo in the same silver ink, located in the top left corner. Roughly in the centre are the TFZ lettering. To its right is the warranty seal and below it is a large, horizontal sticker, which shows the colour of the chosen model, out of 10 possibilities, as well as the model name and a linear barcode.
Inside is a semi-translucent film that protects the IEMS, which are inside two holes in a piece of dense white foam rubber. After removing it, the rest of the accessories can be seen. In summary, the contents are as follows:
- The two T2 Pro capsules.
- Warranty manual.
- 1 set of 3 pairs of translucent white silicone tips, wide channel, sizes SxMxL.
- 1 set of 3 pairs of white translucent silicone tips, narrow channel, sizes SxMxL.
On the other hand, the cable comes in almost the same packaging, the same white box with a silver border but narrower (101x101x21mm). Inside is a white semi-translucent pouch. The cable comes with a white velcro strap to hold it, on which is written the web address and a plastic protection for the 3.5mm plug.
Actually, the capsules are of very good quality and the sound, as I will describe in the next section, is also of very good quality. But there is no box or bag to protect the product, nor does it come with the cable.
I understand that it’s about reducing the packaging, it doesn’t need to be big and bulky, but it should have the minimum and the transport and protection section is necessary.
Construction and Design
The shape of the capsules does not differ much from the models of the Live series in the shape of the outer face. What is most different is the gold-coloured rim and the inside of the outer face. It is a precisely selected and cut piece of cowhide, with ten colours to choose from. The metal rim is an aerospace-grade alloy.
The inner face is the same as the Live 3. It is also complete black, plastic. The existing dot at the apex of the outer face is retained. This time, there are no letters written on the edge, but on the inside, near the connector. They are grey, they are the name of the model and the letter that determines the channel, inside a small circle. There is a small hole between these letters and the foot of the nozzle. The material is still polycarbonate. The mounting of the two-pin connection, which is shallow, is located on the upper edge of the capsule and consists of a transparent rectangular plate with two holes, the connections of which are gold-plated. The nozzles are fully integrated into the capsule and are made of the same material, without any division. They are almost 4 mm long. The first, lower part has a diameter of 5.6 mm. Then, there is a small flared crown, whose diameter is 6.2mm. Finally, the diameter of the outermost rim is again 5.6mm. Its interior is protected by a perforated metal grille.
The audiophile cable is slightly different from those Live models. Basically, the cable material changes. Here it is a mixed cable with 3 wires, one gold-plated, one silver-plated and one high-purity copper-plated. There are 4 strands protected by transparent plastic, twisted together. The connector jacket is straight, made of a light, gold-plated metal. It has a rough, thick and noticeable pattern. The plug is gold-plated. The divider is made of plastic, cylindrical, covered with a gold-plated light metal plate. There is no adjustment piece under the chin. The cable has a Velcro strap to collect the cable. With the cable coiled, the microphony is non-existent, although the over-ear guides also help to avoid this effect.
Many similarities in the construction level to the Live 3 model, with a metallic touch on the outside and the use of cowhide, which distinguishes it from the Live 3. The cable also has different wires. However, the overall design philosophy remains true to the idea of continuity, with the most visible part of the design being modified and many colours added. It is understood that this is a safe and ergonomic model, but it gives the feeling that it has been on autopilot for a long time.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
It is clear that the design works, my sensations are the same, because the shapes are identical.
The size and the classic appearance of the capsules, with a semi-custom external shape, with a very rounded interior and no edges or corners, provides a superficial fit, quite free of contact with the external parts of the ear. And, if it does exist, the friction is very soft, due to the smoothness of the material used. This means that, as the hours go by, it does not affect the perception of comfort provided by this model. In this way, the ergonomics, widely contrasted in other models of the brand, is high and quite good. Once fitted, there is hardly any possibility of rotation and, with the right tips, there is no risk of the IEMS becoming detached or falling out.
The size of the capsules is not very large, although they are a bit fat. Their weight is negligible and hardly noticeable in the ears.
With my silicone tips, filled with foam, although the fit is quite shallow, the seal is very adequate and the level of insulation is high.
TFZ persists, in this sub-$100 range, with balanced profiles. This time, the profile has a clearer tendency towards brightness, with the low end and the first half of the midrange being very linear. The upper-mid range has been softened and a little more sparkle has been added in the early treble. On the other hand, the greater linearity in the low end response brings a subtle benefit in the sub-bass.
Bass neutrality and TFZ seem an odd combination. However, it is something that may be more than just a one-off trend. Or at least I would like it to be. Yes, I would like the legendary brand with its V-profiles and great bass response to soften its profiles and look harder for a more balanced, neutral, bright or warm sound, as well as offering improvements in its more technical sections. In the meantime, it is time to review the second step on this particular new and good path. And this path takes the bass towards a fairly high neutrality and linearity. A remarkable degree of depth is achieved, the level of sub-bass presence is not merely subtle, but has a slight emphasis, albeit below mid-bass. It is from 40Hz onwards that the LFOs become more prominent, but the realism of their reproduction is guaranteed by TFZ, so don’t suffer. Thus, the low end, despite its neutral response, has a natural colour and timbre that is just as characteristic. The sonority neither suffers nor sounds strange, and the lower frequencies are reproduced within this neutral, colourless normality. And this is not easy to find in a lower range. The speed of the execution of the range is quite good, the punch is agile and the pickup is swift and without let-off. This means that the bass lines are well defined and shaped, enjoying a good separation and perception of all its development. The layering of planes feels somewhat more limited, because the range is not as deep. It’s not a flat area by any means, but the restraint of the punch and its quick pickup draws a somewhat simpler bass on this longitudinal axis. The texture is beyond smooth, without being too rough, it presents a descriptive level and pleasant, clearly perceptible undulations, raising the level of appreciation of the lower range. Again, another remarkable exercise in tuning a textbook low end.
Coming from a clearly neutral low end, there is no intrusion from it into the midrange and the freedom of this range is superior. In this way, the bass gives way to the central elements and never overlaps. The drums sound very clean and with a good level of speed and restraint, but well adorned by a large number of harmonics, which allow for detail and nuances throughout their development. This is the tonic in all elements of the middle range, a richer and more extended sonority on both sides, endowed with a superior descriptive level. There is a minimal level of warmth, which prevents the sound from being predominantly bright. This sweetens the notes and adds a slight touch of softness to the end of the sounds, avoiding undesirable flare. The T2 Pro’s tone is not analytical, but it is not overly smooth either. I could describe it as a great balance between all these parameters, because it enjoys a high level of transparency and clarity, as well as a generous exposure of details, but without losing an attractive musicality, which allows a prolonged use, with a large dose of enjoyment associated with a remarkable perception of nuances.
The absence of valleys and the linearity of the first half of the mids offers a cohesive, full-bodied, quite full sound, enhanced by a controlled excitation towards the upper-mids. I think this tuning has been very well implemented. First, because it strikes a balance between presence, proximity, prominence and balance. Secondly, because it avoids a marked enhancement of the sibilance zone, adjusting the bell gain to a borderline between sweetness and brightness. I can’t say that hiss is non-existent, not at all. But it is true that its existence comes to appear as an adornment, an almost natural ornamentation of the voices, perhaps a little more present, but never penetrating. That’s where the softness that exists at the end of the notes, which I mentioned earlier, comes in. It’s a characteristic that adds that extra bit of gentle, harmonious musicality that the T2 Pro’s mids possess. On the other side of the balance is the ability not to present the midrange as too near or close. The predominance of the midrange is true, but because it is predominant throughout and there is a good feeling of space and separation, there is no sense of stifling or overexposure. The elements are distributed in the space with freedom and mutual adaptation, maintaining a good relationship of realistic equidistance, as well as a synergic rapport, which gives a space for each sound, a sensitive depth and a high level of euphony, but without losing sight of that point of delicacy that enriches the development of the notes. The tonal presentation is very correct, underpinned by that great balance between subtle warmth and exposed but precise brightness. Who would have thought that a TFZ midrange would be so complete, rich, detailed and present.
Overall, it feels like the T2 Pro should be much brighter than it actually is. It is clear that they are not completely smooth or controlled treble. But I don’t find it uncontrolled or excessive. I think the tuning of the high end has been careful at critical points. After a measured initial exposure, the treble gradually relaxes. In this way extension is achieved and also the overall emphasis is softened. The crackle and sparkle is undoubtedly felt, but this brilliance does not linger, nor does it pierce. It is noticeable, but it helps rather than hinders. The result is a high end that is present, but has a realistic sonority. The fact that the treble comes from a dynamic driver helps to tame its sparkling character. I think this same tuning performed by an inexpensive BA driver would have been a disaster. But the skill of a well thought-out DD offers a beneficial solution to a difficult equation. On this occasion, the high notes don’t feel as thick and there seems to be a gain in the level of resolution. This thickness also helps to soften the feeling of excessive brightness. But it has gone a step further, achieving a sharpening of the treble and stylised response, achieving greater definition and more detail. The result is an adequate progress, a slight evolution that tries to enhance previous virtues, but with a slight but perceptible evolution.
The least elevated point is the top end. It may help in the control of treble projection, but it limits the sense of air. Although the improved level of resolution and definition counteracts this limitation.
In summary, the high end is exposed, but enjoyable, coherent and present, realistic and sparkling. An exercise to be enjoyed by treble lovers as well as midrange lovers, because its incidence in the midrange is very important.
The width of the scene is appreciable, there is a good sense of height, but it is the depth that suffers. Again, I repeat that this is not a flat sound, but I miss a little more longitudinal projection. In this way, the shape of the stage is drawn like a dome, rather like an orange wedge, standing upright on the inside and narrow: it is tall, it is wide, it is volatile, there is lateral and vertical separation and space all around, but not much depth. Despite this surrounding separation, the silence and darkness in it is not very pronounced. There is a greater presence of high notes than of central range nuances. This more direct presence subtly masks those finer details that try to resurface, but are represented to a lesser degree, due to the more hypnotic and attractive feel of the more sparkling notes.
Perception of focus is good and the level of definition enhances this effect. It is easy to fixate on a point and extract accurate musical information from it, which also implies a good quality of positioning and placement of elements in a scene that is never blurred, softened or toned down.
TFZ My Love 4
Normally, I usually write quite long comparisons. But on this occasion I’m clear, I’m not going to write lines and lines about a comparison that can be settled in a few words. The My Love 4 are the warmer, more musical, smoother, silkier version of the T2 Pro. If you want more clarity, more sparkle, more resolution and definition, finer notes in all ranges, the T2 Pro is the best choice. My preference? T2 Pro, because I like more clarity, as well as leaning towards a more analytical sound. Although I wouldn’t rate the T2 Pro that way, but it’s closer to that profile.
If you choose the TFZ T2 Pro and the audiophile cable of the same brand (like the one reviewed here), the final price of the set is $69. The Ikko OH2s are $10 more expensive. Overall, you could say that the price segment is similar. But if you just buy the T2 Pro and add another $15 cable, you would have a $50 set. Price aside and back to simple comparisons, the OH2s are the concrete version of the T2 Pro. The frequency response curve is very similar until the treble, where things change radically. If you hate treble, stop reading and your choice should be the OH2s. If you don’t, it might be worth continuing with the review. Overall, the differences are clear. The OH2s are champions of the simple, terse sound, without artifice or ornamentation, dry, fast and concise. The shaded trebles shorten the notes, leaving them brief in their descriptive capacity. On the other hand, the expansion, extension and superior treble presence of the T2 Pro floods the sound with sparkle, nuance and harmonics. The difference is like walking into a room with three lights and turning off the one at the end. That’s the OH2 versus the T2 Pro.
When it comes to range, the low end of the TFZs is deeper, with a subtler, more perceptible sub-bass. The overall bass sonority of the Ikko’s feels a little more coloured, with a focus on the mid-bass. I’d say the TFZs have a faster bass, with a drier punch and a quicker pickup, fading sooner. But I’m talking about small differences. Both have a very good textural feel and descriptive level, but TFZ is TFZ.
In the mid-range the tuning is very similar, but the travel and extension of the sounds is different. The OH2s are terse and leave room for silence and the tiniest details of this band. The T2 Pro’s are much more explicit and fill the mids with nuances, details and ornaments that are more natural. They don’t have the blotting paper filter of the Ikko and the descriptive power and sparkle is much more evident. It’s a clear battle between a sparse midrange and a lusher, brighter, more extended midrange.
The treble is almost like night and day, like clear and dark, similar only at the audible end.
The sense of openness of the scene is superior in the TFZs. The tighter sound of the Ikko narrows its soundstage. Meanwhile, the TFZs feel more volatile, ethereal, gaseous and expansive. They have more light, they have more extension and height. The Ikko’s sparse sound is also flatter.
In terms of size and ergonomics, the Ikko’s are smaller and lighter, actually fit very well and integrate remarkably well into the pinna. The T2 Pro are not bad in this respect either, but they are bigger.
If we talk about the cable, I prefer the handling of the TFZ, the Ikko’s cable is stiffer and I prefer the 2Pin connection to the MMCX.
TFZ’s initiative to sell cable-free IEMS should be applauded. Even more so, when it comes to a model that does not have a V-tuning and that represents a clear improvement in this sound. It is true that it repeats certain aspects: the shape of the capsules resembles other models of the same brand and the profile is similar to that of the My Love IV. But the price is excellent for the sound it offers and it can clearly compete with IEMS that are twice as expensive or more. And they also have the advantage that you can choose the cable you want, or even take advantage of others you already have. It is known that the TFZ 2Pin connection is a bit peculiar, but there are many good alternatives on the market. And if not, you can buy the tried and tested TFZ audiophile cable.
As far as sound quality is concerned, bass is predominant in this price range, and TFZ has gone against the grain. Alternatives to the classic V-sound of the budget IEMS are becoming more and more common, but the fact that TFZ is ahead of the curve in this respect is a reason to consider them for the future in this segment. I don’t think the T2 Pro is a revolution, but it’s a smart move that should put them back in a good position. For this money, are you going to miss out?
Sources Used During the Analysis
- ACMEE MF02s.
- ACMEE Magic Sound 4.
- xDuoo Link2 Bal.
- Hidizs S9 Pro.
- Earmen Sparrow.
- E1DA #9038D.
- HiBy R3 Pro.
- Burson Audio Playmate.
- S.M.S.L Sanskrit 10th MKII + iFi ZEN CAN.