One of my few luxuries that I invest or splurge on are tech accessories. Thankfully, I got my new TFZ (The Fragrant Zither) Exclusive King in-ear monitors technically for free.
Why In-Ear Monitors?
Ever since I tried in-ear headphones a few years ago, I was hooked. For me, it combined the best things about the normal headphones and earphones.
Headphones, at least the good ones, gave better sound isolation from your environment because it somehow seals off your ear. Over ear headphones usually work best for such situations. In addition, they are also louder than earphones. However, they are not that all comfortable to wear.
Earphones are more portable than headphones. Besides being lightweight, you'll also sweat less when using them on long commutes or even during workouts. The downside to earphones is that they do not generally give a tight seal.
In-ear monitors and earbuds provide a tight seal from inside your ear without being too bulky. Sometimes you'll get a slight discomfort from having them inside your ear for too long. Personally, I don't get that problem as I usually listen for just a few hours at a time.
TFZ Exclusive King In-Ear Monitor Specs
With that out of the way, it's time to see what the TFZ Exclusive King in-ear monitor offers. The specs was pulled directly from the Amazon product page.
- Driver: 12mm Double magnetic circuit Graphene unit
- Impedance: 12ohm
- Sensitivity: 110 dBmW
- Frequency response: 5Hz-40KHz
- Lowest power: 8mW
- Connectors: 3.5mm
- Plug type: Line
- Cable length: 1.2m
There were a lot of factors that I considered before choosing the TFZ Exclusive King. The actual specifications are a huge part of them. It took me a few days to search and read.
I wanted something that can give lower than 20hz, which is the standard lower-end of frequency spectrum which humans can still hear. While I am in no way an audiophile (which I personally think is a snobbish self-title that everyone misuses), I would still want to get that low rumble to help with the bass kicks and booms for songs.
Speaking of hearing frequency, I managed to still "hear" or at least feel 10hz in my ears thanks to the Exclusive King's lower 5hz range. You can try the test here with your own gear. For the higher frequency, my ears could only detect the 19khz limit. Try it out with this high frequency hearing test.
Note: Make sure that your gears (earphones, speakers, etc.) can actually output the range given in the test for accurate results.
The TFZ Exclusive King uses two 12mm dynamic drivers. This is probably one of the stronger reasons why it has a strong bass response. Dynamic drivers often provide a warm and bass-y sound signature.
More drivers doesn't necessarily mean better sound. It isn't the sole factor for sound quality.
TFZ Exclusive King Package Inclusions
Earbuds and Tips
The TFZ Exclusive King comes with A LOT of silicone earbuds. Inside the box, I found 13 pairs in total varying from the small to large sizes.
There is also a pair of foam earbuds included in the package. While I personally think they offered the best sound quality because of its seal and fitting, it can be hard to maintain its cleanliness.
For those of you who are really meticulous with the handling of your earphones or IEMs, the pouch will surely come in handy. It's large enough to store the IEM and the detachable cable.
Another interesting feature of most in-ear monitors is that they often have detachable cables. The TFX Exclusive King is not an exception.
Personally, I prefer detachable cables because it solves perhaps the most common issue for broken listening equipment: broken cables and wires. If your listening equipment suddenly stops working or only works with a certain position of the cable, that may be the problem.
Should the cable or wires fail, you can easily purchase a new one. They are also often cheaper than having to buy a new in-ear monitor altogether. You can also choose to
TFZ Exclusive King Sound Quality
Given that I have little to no background in sound engineering, please keep in mind that this part of the review may be highly subjective. The only background I had was a short audio production course during college and some light readings online.
Note: All tests were conducted using Deezer's Hi-Fi feature on desktop which streams 1411kbps. I didn't want to download FLAC files illegally. I am also aware that not all tracks may really output 1411kbps even on Deezer.
For my daily driver, I use Spotify Premium on my LG V20 which utilizes a quad DAC.
Sub-bass and Bass
Thanks to the 5hz lower limit, I can clearly feel and hear the lower frequencies. Those booms and kicks which are often found in electronic music (think dubstep, modern R&B, and hip-hop) can be distinctly felt and heard.
Another great thing is that it doesn't drown out the rest of the frequencies. In fact, it complements the rest of the spectrum. I was able to enjoy the playful drops and rumbles in "Jefe (Rickyxsan Remix)" and Rage Against the Machine's strong kicks and basslines in "Take The Power Back". It didn't muffle any of the mid to high frequency sounds.
Most decent in-ear monitors perform exceptionally well in the reproduction of midrange frequencies; the TFZ Exclusive King is more than decent. There is no "hollow" or "distant" sound. Everything is clear which is also thanks to the treble quality to polish out the details.
To test for mids, I listened to Tom Wait's "I Hope I Don't Fall In Love With You" which is heavy on the mid range. You can still clearly hear the lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and Tom's vocals.
Here is where I have a small problem with the TFZ Exclusive King. On normal to somehow loud volume levels, the treble gives off incredible detail that complements the rest of the spectrum. However, crank it up higher and you'll start to hear shrill and sibilance.
Thankfully, the normal volumes are loud enough for me. I don't need to listen on max volume and gain since the seal already takes care of the noise isolation.
One track that I used to test the treble quality is Max Roach's "Lonesome Lover," which highlights the impressive hi-hats and saxophone in the track. Kanye West's "Runaway" is also a good testing track.
In my own humble opinion, the TFZ Exclusive King shines most with its soundstage. The stereo imaging it can reproduce is impeccable.
Of course this still depends on the mastering of the tracks that you'll listen to. For instance, Red Hot Chili Pepper's "Otherside" sounds great for vocals but not really for its soundstage.
I was really blown away by Yosi Horikawa's "Bubbles." It really showed how much wide the Exclusive King can deliver. Other notable tracks from Yosi Horikawa is "Letters" which sits closely to an ASMR experience, and "Wandering" for its dynamic range.
Led Zeppelin's "I Can't Quit You Baby" also shows the stereo imaging power of the Exclusive King. It comes close to stereo imaging of my Audio Technica ATH M40x cans.
How Did I Get the TFZ Exclusive King For Free?
Disclaimer: This is in no way a paid or sponsored post for Capterra. I just liked the platform and how fast they gave the rewards. I will be posting my referral link though if you'd like to help out.
Capterra is a platform for online software reviews. Basically, you can get paid $5 to $10 (depending on varying promo periods) per review. You don't even have to write a detailed review like this one. It takes less than five (5) minutes to complete one review. You only need a few things:
- A valid email account
- A real LinkedIn account
- Real experience with the softwares listed
- Acceptable grammar
Having a LinkedIn account logged in will net you a higher chance of getting your review verified and approved. The software available for review also include even the common ones we actually use everyday such as:
- Google Docs
- Google Sheets
- Google Slides
If you have software specific to your field, you'll probably find it in Capterra too. For instance, I reviewed SEMRush as a tool. You only need to fill up ratings and a few text boxes with just a paragraph or two.
Write reviews now with Capterra through this link. I wrote 10 reviews to get $100 and I did it during lunch time.
Overall Quality for the TFZ King Exclusive
Since I don't really often buy expensive gear, I'd say that the TFZ Exclusive King would really provide great bang for the buck.
You'll be getting a more than decent IEM with a detachable cable. There are a lot of silicon earbuds already included but you can still buy your Comply foam tips if you prefer them.
Sound quality is superb. I am picky with how I listen to music and the TFZ Exclusive King does the job pretty well. Even Netflix flicks are experienced better when I use this IEM.
The only downside would be the sibilance on the higher frequencies and volume. You can easily remedy this by just lowering the volume a bit.
I'd recommend the TFZ Exclusive King for those who want a midrange IEM under the $99 (or ~PHP 5300) mark.
Other IEMs and earbuds I considered selecting instead:
See more IEMs under $100 HERE
Audio Technica Sonic Fuel ATH-CKX9iS
It has no detachable cable and only one driver. It does have an inline mic though.
Detachable cable but proprietary which means that it's going to be expensive to replace. Also, most reviews said that it had a weird fit even for the average ear.
1MORE Triple Driver
Great reviews but not detachable cable. It also has two balanced armature drivers and one dynamic driver which shows potential. Not under the 20hz limit though.
Mixed reviews. Shipping might take months because it comes from Massdrop.
Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear
No detachable cable here too but great reviews. Also has an inline mic.