At 45 USD, the Series 2 is a fairly inexpensive earphone. Like most of TFZ’s current lineup, they use decently large 12 mm dual magnet, graphene diaphragm dynamic drivers with strong, N52 magnets. Their low impedance and high sensitivity make them perfect for pairing with basic mobile devices, and their removable 2-pin cables give them that extra added bit of durability and confidence to use them as a daily driver.
The Series 2 was provided free of charge for the purposes of a fair and impartial review. The thoughts here are my own and are not representative of TFZ, Penon Audio, or any other entity. There is no financial incentive for writing this review. The Series 2 currently retails for 45.00 USD over on Penon Audio; https://penonaudio.com/tfz-series-2.html
For at home use the Series 2 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, F.Audio S1, or Shanling M1, all of which brought it up to listening volume without any effort. Through the S1 there was some noticeable hissing, not unexpected given that player is intended to be used with higher impedance, lower sensitivity devices.
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: 105dB / mW
- Impedance: 16 ohm
- Frequency response: 5-40kHz
Packaging and Accessories:
The Series 2’s packaging is a nice take on the Exclusive Series’ packaging with the same, elongated shape. The exterior cardboard is a reflective chrome silver with contact information for getting in touch with TFZ, The Fragrent Zither, printed on the back. The transparent, plastic lid shows off the ear pieces and some of the same, odd translations found on other TFZ packaging; “Make every song ambilight” and “Beautiful like the stars”. Ambilight is a technology Philipsuses for some of the flat-screen T.Vs.
Removing the lid and pulling out the insert the ear pieces are contained within reveals the cable tucked away inside, neatly wrapped with a Velcro cable tie. In the chromed cardboard box below you find the product manual, a 12 month warranty card, and all the accessories. In all you get;
- Series 2 earphones
- 0.78mm two-pin detachable cable (OFC, silver-coated)
- Faux-leather carrying bag
- Shirt clip
- Single-flange, narrow bore silicone tips (s/m/l)
- Single-flange, wide bore silicone tips (s/m(x2)/l)
The omission of a set of foams tips is a bit of an oversight, just as it was with the Exclusive 1. The Series 2 is a brighter leaning earphone and foam tips would help those who are sensitive to treble. Other than that, the packaging is attractive, the accessories plentiful, and it’s all of pretty good quality.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation;
The Series 2’s housings are quite large but are also very light and ergonomic. That lightness comes at a cost, however. The plastic feels less dense than that used on the rest of TFZ’s lineup, save for the Exclusive 1. They don’t feel cheap or delicate, but they do feel like they’re missing something. It also doesn’t help that I was very easily able to pull off the rear faceplate, simply prying it off with my fingernail. The glue holding it on is pretty weak. Good for modders I suppose since they’re pretty straightforward to disassemble. Since the entirety of the shell is transparent, you can see all the inner workings which includes a metal mesh under the rear faceplate. It doesn’t do anything, but it looks neat.
The cable is not the same as that found on every other TFZ I own. It has a very loose braid and is just a touch thicker. It is very flexible, decently resistant to tangling, and uses the same uber-chunky jack and y-split, neither of which I am particularly fond of. The built-in ear guides do a great job of keeping the cable behind the ear, and cable noise is minimal. Overall a pretty nice cable. Better than many you’ll find at this price range, and in some ways nicer than that used on TFZ’s pricier models.
Once in place, the Series 2 is extremely comfy. I found this housing nice on the King, but ditching all the extra weight that model carries, just as they did with the My Love II, works wonders. It doesn’t quite disappear since it’s quite large, but it doesn’t tug or pull at your ears. The great fit is helped along by the preformed ear guides and the fact the ear pieces pretty much completely fill your outer ear, so once they’re in place there is little room to move around and lose a seal.
Isolation is sub-par. The well-ventilated, all-plastic housings let in a lot of outside noise and leak a fair bit too, pending you’re listening at unhealthy volumes of course. I consider them about average to slightly below for a ventilated, dynamic-based earphone; I can hear myself type, hold conversations with others around me, hear cars on the road outside my office, etc. These would probably not be the best choice for commuting if using the stock tips. Picking up some foam tips would definitely help with isolation and are worth looking into since they’re a cheap way to change/improve some aspects of any earphone.
Tips: The preinstalled wide bore tips provide a sound lightly tilted towards the treble that I can see many finding bright. The narrow bore tips help soften the treble response slightly and thicken mid-bass response.
**Since the Series 2 sounds so similar to the My Love II, I have re purposed that review’s sound section with mild changes to reflect the Series 2’s presentation. The Series 2 is slightly brighter, has a touch less sub-bass, and isn’t quite a smooth overall. These difference are minor, but together give the My Love II a noticeable edge.**
Like other TFZ’s I’ve heard, the my Series 2’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, though not quite a smooth as the My Love II. 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.