Updated: Nov 19, 2020
Pros: Good build, Aesthetics, Sibilance free, Comfort, Price-Value
Cons: Lower mids need more work, Boring upper treble, Timbre and tonality, lower treble glare
Driver Setup: 1 Dynamic Driver
Price: $40 (USD)
Disclaimer: I borrowed the TFZ S2 Pro from mistereden on Carousell Singapore for review purposes. It currently retails at $45.00 (SGD).
The Fragrant Zither (TFZ) has been around for a few years now and they have several successful launches such as the TFZ King a few years back, and other offerings such as The Secret Garden and the No.3. The S2 Pro is one of its entry-level offerings that possesses the TFZ “V-shaped house sound”.
Accessories (Score: 5.0/10)
The unit comes with a set of tips, a carrying pouch as well as a recessed 2-pin detachable cable. As usual, these are the basic set of accessories that comes in most of the offerings now, so it pretty much covered the necessities with no extra gimmicks or so. In my opinion, they probably channelled most of the cost to the IEM itself so for the price, I have no qualms at all.
Build Quality and Fit (Score: 7.5/10)
I do have some trouble with the tips they provided which affected my initial experience with them, but I managed to overcome it by swapping it out with Final Audio’s tips which solved most of the problems. (I will not deduct any marks here as I know of people fitting well into the stock tips but just a probability that this might happen to you) The shell is well designed and comfortable, with no pointy edges that will poke or annoy your ears. The design of the IEM (white one) looks really good in my opinion which goes really well with that transparent cable that it comes with.
The cable however feels unique and aesthetically pleasing (I do not know how to describe it, perhaps plasticky yet smooth and malleable?) however, there isn’t any chin slider or choker which I feel should be included in almost all offerings but oh well.
In general, for under $50, it’s pretty impressive that they are able to produce quality feeling builds.
Sound (Overall Score: 6.6/10)
The S2 pro carries a generic V-Shaped signature which is also prominent in many of their other offerings.
Frequency Response of the S2 Pro
- Ibasso DX120
- iPhone XR
- Atom DAC and AMP
Music and Albums, I listened to
- Alan Walker – Alone/Faded/Darkside
- Billie Eilish – When we all fall asleep, where do we go?
- Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture
- Chainsmokers – Sickboy
- Cigarettes After Sex – Cry
- The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
- One Republic – Human
- Keane – Fears and Hopes
- Nino Rota – The Godfather OST
- Osaka Shion Wind Orchestra – 2016 all Japan Band competition
- Fedde Le Grand – Cinematic
- ARTY – Rebound
- ACDC – Highway to hell
Bass (Score: 7.0/10)
The S2 Pro does have a stronger sub-bass emphasis as compared to its mid-bass which leads to me picking up more rumble in tracks but less slam and impact in its mid-bass. Bass resolution is somewhat average, and it can get muddy as well as boomy sometimes depending on the track/genre.
In general, the bass performance here is nothing impressive but it is good enough that it can stand on its own ground, flaunting the badge of an emphasised bass response that V-shaped IEMs so proudly wear.
Mids (Score: 6.0/10)
The lower mids on the S2 Pro sounds recessed which made male vocals sound less forward as compared to its upper mids which gives female vocals more presence in the overall presentation of the tracks. Its overall tonality sounds slightly off as per many V-shaped IEM. Vocals sound a bit thin but it is still acceptable in my opinion. It’s not too bad for what the tuning is but it certainly lacks some meat here as far as vocals are concerned. In general, the overall vocal presentation felt slightly skewed and unbalanced which I feel can be improved on.
Treble (Score: 6.5/10)
Treble here isn’t sibilant at all. Although it has some boosts in the 8khz region, it does roll off quickly after 10khz. However, lower treble was tuned a bit too aggressively resulting in a “glare” which can be grainy and unpleasant to listen to especially when it comes to synths in EDMs and Trumpets in pieces. To sum it up, the overall resolution isn’t spectacular nor does it excel in detail. Its safe tuning in the sibilant region was undone by the unwelcome boost in the lower treble, making it hard to enjoy at times.
The soundstage is average and tonality sounds slightly skewed towards the right along with that slight plasticky timbre. However, it does have its merits in the likes of safe treble tuning for V-shaped lovers without the sibilance, a decently good bass response that gives off good rumble and body in tracks, and a mid-range that doesn’t sound hollow and wonky. A good set of trade-offs for the price in my opinion.
The TFZ S2 Pro not only looks aesthetically pleasing, but I am also confident with its build and materials used that can endure our daily activities without giving way. Although its sound has much room for improvement, it is still a competently tuned V-shaped IEM that checks many boxes at this price point of $45.
In the next review, I will have a go with the T2 Galaxy and see how the S2 Pro fairs against its more expensive sibling.
Overall Grade: C-
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